Mueller Investigation

On Volume One of the Mueller Report

"No Collusion," but . . . .

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Over at the Niskanen Center, I have posted some thoughts on volume one of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller. The first volume addresses Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the extent to which the Trump presidential campaign participated in that interference. The good news is that the campaign did not actively conspire with Russian operatives to influence the election and that the Russian efforts at interference were not terribly effective. The bad news is that Russian operatives clearly did try to influence the election and that the Trump campaign was at best unconcerned about Russian meddling and at worst would have been happy to encourage and benefit from it. You can read the whole thing here.

From the conclusion of the Niskanen Center post:

One need not deny the reality or legitimacy of Trump's electoral victory to recognize that the Russian threat should be addressed. The significance of the findings in volume one of the Mueller report should not be a partisan issue. Though the report might support the conclusion of "no collusion," it thoroughly undermines the president's own favored narrative that American intelligence agencies were worried over nothing in 2016. Both Russia and the Trump campaign created plenty of reasons for national security professionals to worry and to see the need for a more thorough investigation. That only one of Trump's campaign managers found himself imprisoned in the aftermath of the election or that Donald Trump's son-in-law thought it was a "waste of time" when a meeting failed to deliver the promised incriminating Russian government files is no cause for celebration.

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43 responses to “On Volume One of the Mueller Report

  1. “That only one of Trump’s campaign managers found himself imprisoned in the aftermath of the election”

    For, let us remember, something unrelated to the campaign.

  2. “Republican voters and politicians – reluctantly and unhappily – stood by the president as he invited Russia to “find the 30,000 emails that are missing” and when he confessed to NBC’s Lester Holt that he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey “regardless” because “this Russia thing” is a “made-up story.””

    Ok, so far this is pretty lame. The “find the 30,000 emails that are missing was nothing but a hilarious jab at Hillary, referencing the fact that her email server security had been so awful that every foreign intelligence service probably had on archive the emails she’d deleted to keep out of the hands of our own government.

    Such a damaging jab that Democrats hatched the talking point that he was asking Russians to hack and email server that had already been taken off line, erased, and probably fed into a cement kiln. It does not say good things about you that you take this talking point seriously.

    And, hey, didn’t Mueller determine that “the Russian thing” WAS a made up story? In the sense that “the Russia thing” was the Trump campaign’s supposed collusion with Russian, a narrative crafted by the Clinton campaign, and furthered by the Obama FBI collaborating with Fusion GPS.

    Even that meeting with the Russian lawyer turns out to have been a failed attempt at entrapment.

    1. Right. That email server and those emails were already long gone, even bleached into oblivion by Hillary “like, with a cloth or something” Clinton, so that even the FBI couldn’t see them!!

      And the circus about Russians finding them was the media’s talking point already being bandied about! So when Trump made his joke, those of us who were following along already knew what he was talking about.

      Amazing how the anti-Trump spin in this ridiculous saga seeks to have us forget what we knew.

      1. (Although the emails probably are, or at least were, sitting in an NSA database as well, the same database that was pillaged for use against the Trump campaign, but yet the FBI couldn’t see whichever emails Hillary saw fit to bleach. Odd that. But you know Hillary is very honest so she probably only deleted yoga appointment emails.)

        1. If there’s one point both party’s establishments are in agreement on, it’s that you don’t piss off the NSA by letting the public know that they’re actually a police state nightmare spying on everybody, and storing it away in enormous potential blackmail files.

    2. Ok, so far this is pretty lame. The “find the 30,000 emails that are missing was nothing but a hilarious jab at Hillary,

      Yeah, no. Trumpkins tried to claim at the time that he was just joking, but the Mueller report revealed that he was entirely serious.

      And, hey, didn’t Mueller determine that “the Russian thing” WAS a made up story?

      Well, no.

      Even that meeting with the Russian lawyer turns out to have been a failed attempt at entrapment.

      Even less true.

      1. Good grief. The Mueller report “revealed” that a mindbogglingly stupid Democratic talking point was true? Are you that stupid?

        Again, Hillary’s email server had been taken offline and wiped months before he made that suggestion. Perhaps he was serious about the Russians providing the FBI with the emails they were (nominally) after, perhaps he wasn’t, but it was in no way a suggestion that the Russians hack her email.

        Just that they provide our government with the results of having hacked it in the past.

        1. Good grief. The Mueller report “revealed” that a mindbogglingly stupid Democratic talking point was true? Are you that stupid?

          Not stupid enough to think that Trump was attempting a joke, let alone stupid enough to think that it was “hilarious.”

          And, yes, the Mueller report, which we all know you haven’t read (your protestations to the contrary notwithstanding) revealed that.

          Again, Hillary’s email server had been taken offline and wiped months before he made that suggestion. Perhaps he was serious about the Russians providing the FBI with the emails they were (nominally) after, perhaps he wasn’t, but it was in no way a suggestion that the Russians hack her email.

          In no way other than in the words he used, I think you mean.

          1. I used to think you were a bit of a political hack, but at least sane. Guess I’m going to have to rethink that.

  3. I continue to notice that people keep referring to the famous Trump Tower meeting as a meeting with “Russians”, almost no one points out that of the 6 “Russians” present at least 4 are US citizens. I have been unable to determine if the interpreter present (who had been employed by the State Department previous) and took no part in the meeting is a US Citizen but is seem likely he may be. That leaves only one “Russian” preset

    1. Right, a former client of Fusion GPS, who met with the founder of that organization the day before and the day after the meeting. That’s the “Russian” in question.

      The Russian who got her script from the firm Hillary paid to produce the Steele dossier.

      In any event, if she had evidence incriminating a major party candidate for President, wouldn’t it be a public service to obtain it and release it?

      1. We’re all colluding with Russians on this very blog, right? Ilya Somin, who else?

        1. The blog’s namesakes, Eugene and Sasha Volokh.

          1. OMG, the Russians are coming! Prof. Whittington is colluding with Russians! Not a pretty picture.

  4. The Russian threat! Lol. Our own media is a thousand times more “threatening” to our democracy.

    And what about the foreign intelligence agencies that colluded against the Trump campaign? That was virtuous of course, because orange man bad.

    Here’s Noam Chomsky the other day:

    “I should say, the Democrats are helping him. They are. Take the focus on Russiagate. What’s that all about? I mean, it was pretty obvious at the beginning that you’re not going to find anything very serious about Russian interference in elections. . . the Senate and the House went the same way as the executive, but nobody claims there was Russian interference there. In fact, you know, Russian interference in the election, if it existed, was very slight, much less, say, than interference by, say, Israel. . . Netanyahu, goes to Congress and talks to a joint session of Congress, without even informing the White House, to attack Obama’s policies. I mean, that’s dramatic interference with elections. Whatever the Russians tried, it’s not going to be anything like that. And, in fact, there’s no interference in elections that begins to compare with campaign funding. . . That’s massive interference in elections. Anything the Russians might have done is going to be, you know, peanuts in comparison.”

    1. It’s actually kind of amusing that Chomsky should complain about Netanyahu interfering in our domestic politics. Obama went so far as to spend taxpayer’s money to hire people to go to Israel and campaign against Netanyahu’s reelection. (A pretty outrageous thing to do to the leader of an allied nation!)

      All Netanyahu did was talk to Congress without getting the permission of a President trying to unseat him. Does Congress have no right to speak to foreign leaders on their own?

      1. Yup! The Chomsky perspective is always amusing in its mix of deranged leftism and genuine insight. But he’s also important among the left and his perspective therefore politically significant, it seems.

        The video I quoted Chomsky from and the Glenn Greenwald video below are both from “Democracy NOW!”

  5. As Glenn Greenwald put it:

    “When the Russians called and said ‘We have some dirt about your adversary Hillary Clinton that shows her to be really corrupt and criminal and we’d like to give it to you,’ the Trump campaign said yeah, we’d love to get that. You can say . . that’s unethical . . it’s clearly not illegal according to Robert Mueller . . even under campaign finance law, let alone conspiracy, but you can say it’s unethical, if you want. But then you have to deal with this fact: the DNC had contractors working for it, collaborating, coordinating, and working with the Ukrainian government, to dig up dirt on Manafort and Donald Trump’s finances. And they succeeded in doing it. They got dirt. . because the Ukrainians wanted to help Hillary Clinton win the election . . the Steele dossier was built by someone being paid by the [DNC] and the Hillary Clinton campaign, Christopher Steele, going through Moscow, working with his contacts within the Russian government, to try and get dirt about Donald Trump. So, if you really believe that it’s so nefarious for a political campaign to try and get dirt about their opponent if you work with a foreign government to do it, why isn’t the outrage just as high when it comes to the DNC’s efforts to work with the Ukrainian government . . or the use of Christopher Steele to get dirt from his contacts within Russian intelligence about Donald Trump, much of which turned out to be, if not all of it, utterly false?”

    1. I’m afraid I don’t buy this.

      If any of the Steele dossier actually came from Russia, then sure, Hillary would be guilty of wanting to benefit from Russia supplied dirt – or even worse, actively hiring someone to go and collect Russian dirt, rather than just sitting around passively absorbing offers of dirt from passing Russians (who turn out to have no dirt.)

      But if a Russian sourced dossier would have been way better. Never mind pee tapes, offering Carter Page a bribe of billions of dollars is the sort of thing you’d get in an old Batman episode.

      I don’t believe there’s anything from Russia in the dossier – it’s all made up by Fusion and laundered through Steele. So it’s c**p as we know. But it’s American c**p, delivered with a Briddish accent.
      Hillary is guilty of many things but probably not guilty of soliciting dirt from Russians. Cheaper just to make it up. But boy could she have hired a better scriptwriter.

      1. Interesting take. Although, I imagine Russian sources could possibly have fed absurd crap to the DNC’s contractors.

        But if you’re right, then what it means is this: What they did was so wrong, that colluding with Russians was their cover story. They only hoped we’d buy that they colluded with Russians, rather than find out the truth. And all of this was the basis for FISA warrants and spying on the Trump campaign.

        The bit about working with the Ukranian government seems to be a separate item, possibly about Manafort’s finances, where they did in fact get “dirt” from a foreign government.

  6. “The Russian threat should be addressed.”

    “The 1980s called. They want their foreign policy back.”

    “We have always been at war with Eurasia.”

  7. What almost everybody chooses to forget (or ignore) is that the Russians had been actively interfering in U.S. elections by no later than 2012. Obama knew it, he was briefed on it, and when his own intelligence agencies wanted to do something about it, his administration (I believe it was Susan Rice) dave them the direct order to “stand down”. The speculation is that Obama was trying to convince Russia to help him push through the Iran Nuclear Deal, and he didn’t want to upset putin by making an issue of Russian interference in American elections. They also forget that much of what Russia is accused of doing – stirring up the electorate by trolling social media sites, is indistinguishable from what Hillary did in 2011 on Russian elections when the State Department opposed Putin returning to power. But now it’s all Trump’s failure. Sure.

    1. More like since 1928.

      But invented Russian involvement also has a long pedigree – see the Zinoviev letter.

  8. Gosh… If only Trump had used a cutout firm to hire a foreign national to dig up dirt on his opponent, then used that dirt and released it into the news and delivered it to key law enforcement officials and politicians, in order to try to influence the election, in conjunction with that foreign national…

    Whoops. That was Hillary. No crime. Clinton rule.

  9. “One need not deny the reality or legitimacy of Trump’s electoral victory to recognize that the Russian threat should be addressed. ”

    It’s to be expected that other countries are going to try to influence our elections, just like we try to influence theirs. Everybody acting in what they perceive their own interest to be and all that.

    Since the primary “weapon” that Russia has to mess in our elections is to spread bullshit on social media, we could try being rational human beings and ignoring bullshit on social media, but that’s gonna require the partisans to engage their brains. So I’m not terribly hopeful…….

  10. One suspects the Mueller investigation and report was an ancillary goal of the Russian government when it helped source the Steele dossier. In short, because of media malfeasance and hackery inside the DOJ the Russians crippled the ability of both major party candidates to govern.

    1. It sounds a lot like the Democratic Party was colluding with Russia to interfere with Trump’s ability to govern. We need to appoint a Special Counsel to spend unlimited funds and unlimited time to investigate this collusion. And that Special Counsel needs to arrange for an armed group of FBI agents to raid Adam Schiff’s home at dawn, roust the whole family out of bed and march them to the curb, and get Fox News to cover the raid to get some salacious video.

  11. I see lots of ‘But Hillary’ and ‘But the Steele Dossier’ alongside ‘The Report says no collusion; I clearly read none of it.’

    All of that is some pretty shoddy partisans excuse making or just illiterate reality denying.

    But what about the growing amount of ‘actually, Russian interference was expected and no big deal and Trump being into it is also very normal?’

    Condoning Russian threats to our republic to own the libs.

    1. As referenced above, Russia has been interfering in American politics since about 1928. So, yeah, nothing new.

      And the FB stuff they did was a rounding error compared to what the campaigns were doing, so, yes, it really WAS no big deal. More of a joke than anything.

      Hacking into our election databases is a bigger deal, but the primary threat there is China, not Russia. But the Democratic party is mysteriously, (Or maybe not so mysteriously… The Democratic party has a long history of accepting financial help from China.) unconcerned with China, though they’re a hugely worse cyber adversary.

      And the answer there is mostly at the state level, not federal.

      1. What the Mueller Report highlighted Russia doing is not business as usual.
        It kinda looks like you didn’t even read any summaries of it.

        1. No, I didn’t read any summaries of it. I read the report itself.

          And, yes, what they were doing was business as usual for Russia. They’ve always been meddling in our politics. Are you seriously unaware of this?

          Sure, they wouldn’t have been buying FB ads before FB was a thing, but is that what you’re resting your “not business as usual” claim on?

          1. I don’t lightly accuse people of lying. I certainly believe you to write everything in good faith, at least usually.
            But the things you’re writing about the report flatly contradict the text of the report. Many times.

            Mueller discusses Trump ordering Flynn and others to look for those e-mails.
            Mueller said the Russian efforts represent a significant escalation and included vast new initatives.
            Mueller specifically did not determine there was no collusion, up to and including not determining whethere there was a case beyond a reasonable doubt.

            etc. etc.

            I don’t know what’s going on but your complete failure to engage with any of the actual text in the report makes it very clear that despite your claims you’ve not read it.

    2. I see lots of people complaining about “but Hillary” arguments who seem to have no other arguments to make.
      “You are a hypocrite” is not a fallacy, nor, is it ad hominem. It may not be dispositive, but it is not an argument ender.

      1. Y’all are the ones trying to knock down the report by pointing at Hillary’s server. I don’t need an argument; I have a Report that does it for me.

        Don’t pretend the but Hillary folks aren’t trying to make a disposition argument out of a collateral accusation of hypocrisy.

  12. I still don’t see people admitting a simple truth of life in the real world. every nation will interfere in the politics (including elections) of any other nation if they a) see an interest or advantage to be gained, and b) have a way in which to do so. that includes us. that includes Russia. it includes China, the UK, France, Germany, Mexico, Canada, and the rest of the just short of 200 countries in this world. we can discuss the ethics of using Russian (Trump campaign) or Ukrainian (Clinton campaign) provided dirt in our campaigns, and whether election laws were violated, but please stop sounding like Louis in Casablanca screaming that you are “shocked! shocked” that other countries are trying to mess with us (even our allies).

    1. “we can discuss the ethics of using Russian (Trump campaign) or Ukrainian (Clinton campaign) provided dirt in our campaigns, ”

      Look, it’s worse than that. The Clinton campaign did use Ukrainian provided dirt. The Trump campaign was offered Russian provided dirt as part of an entrapment attempt by the the same organization the Clinton campaign hired to get the dirt.

      Literally, the Russian lawyer who spoke with Trump’s people, and tried to interest them in some dirt, had met with Fusion GPS the day before the meeting, and then again the day after. Directions and action report, basically.

      She even later testified she’d gotten her talking points for the meeting from Fusion GPS.

  13. Literally, the Russian lawyer who spoke with Trump’s people, and tried to interest them in some dirt, had met with Fusion GPS the day before the meeting, and then again the day after.

    No, she hadn’t.

    She even later testified she’d gotten her talking points for the meeting from Fusion GPS.

    No, she didn’t. You just make up anything you feel like, don’t you?

  14. No, she hadn’t.

    You are unusually wel informed, it seems. How is it that Glenn Simpson himsef says she did (see Senate Judiciary testimony pages 117-18) – but you know she didn’t ?

    1. Also, Fusion GPS Founder Hauled From the Shadows for the Russia Election Investigation

      “Mr. Simpson was in court with Ms. Veselnitskaya hours before the Trump Tower meeting and saw her again shortly after it, his lawyer, Joshua A. Levy, confirmed.”

      As I said, the universe is bifurcating, we’re now living in two different realities, one where Trump is guilty of everything as proved by the Mueller report, and one where it cleared him.

      I wonder how much longer before the wormhole between the two realities snaps shut, and we lose contact with each other?

    2. You mean the part where he said that they were both at a dinner party sitting at opposite ends of a table but didn’t speak to each other? That testimony?

      1. What part of “met” are you finding difficult to understand ?

        let’s review that testimony :

        Mueller : “Now Mr Papadopoulos, have you ever met Grigori Topspyevski, head of the GRU ?”
        Papdopoulos : “Never met him. Never.”
        Mueller : “Sure you want to stick with that, because we’ve got photographs of you at a dinner party, sitting at opposite ends of the table ?”
        Papadopoulos : “Yeah, I’ll stick with my answer. That’s not meeting with that’s dining with
        Mueller : George. Son. Think this one through.

      2. Yes, that testimony. In the exact same way Lynch and Bill discussed the grand kids.

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