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- The Mueller report’s biggest mystery
There aren’t many.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation’s findings has not been made public — all we have so far is a four-page letter by Attorney General Bill Barr summarizing those findings.
Most of that letter is in Barr’s own words. And some Democrats are skeptical about whether Barr is characterizing the special counsel’s conclusions accurately, or leaving out important information.
But there are a few places where the attorney general quotes from the Mueller report itself — that is, where he quotes Mueller’s own words. For one, Barr reveals its title: “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” He also has the following quotes from the body of the report.
1) “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Barr presents this as the big “no collusion” quote. And indeed, Mueller is saying in his own words that his probe “did not establish” any conspiracy or coordination between Trump campaign members and the Russian government to interfere with the election.
What surrounds that quote — and even how the quoted sentence begins — isn’t clear. Is Mueller saying that there was absolutely nothing to any Trump/Russia collusion allegations? Or is it more along the lines of, there was some concerning evidence but not enough to “establish” a conspiracy?
2) “Coordination” [is defined as an] “agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.”
This is just Barr quoting, in a footnote, Mueller’s definition of “coordination”. It clarifies that Mueller wasn’t just looking for an “express” agreement between Trump’s team and the Russians, but also a potential “tacit” one.
3) “thorough factual investigation”
Barr here is quoting from the part of Mueller’s report into potential obstruction of justice by President Trump. He says Mueller’s team claims to have done a “thorough factual investigation” into a number of the president’s actions.
4) “difficult issues”
Here, Barr is explaining why Mueller’s team declined to make a traditional recommendation for or against prosecuting President Trump on obstruction of justice. Barr says that Mueller chose not to try and resolve “difficult issues” of law and fact about Trump’s actions and intent.
5) “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”
This is a clear statement from Mueller that he did not view his findings on obstruction as an outright exoneration of President Trump. Rather, the special counsel simply chose not to offer a recommendation one way or another. (Barr and Rosenstein then reviewed the report and concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction, they say.)
6) “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference”
Finally, Barr uses this quote from Mueller’s report to justify his determination that Trump didn’t obstruct justice. The language here is also interesting — that the “evidence does not establish” Trump was involved in a crime (specifically related to Russian election interference). It would be intriguing to see the context for this quote, but for now, Barr’s letter is all we have.