Mueller report details 2-year investigation; weighed 10 cases of potential obstruction - Kogonuso

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Apr 19, 2019

Mueller report details 2-year investigation; weighed 10 cases of potential obstruction

The Justice Department on Thursday released the long-awaited report from special counsel Robert Mueller, with redactions, which specifies the two-year Russia investigation and details how the team found no evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign before the 2016 U.S. election.

Mueller's report echoes the summary given last month by Attorney General William Barr, saying there was insufficient evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia. One question that's lingered for weeks is the report's details on potential obstruction of justice charges against President Donald Trump. Thursday's release detailed 10 episodes in which questions over such charges were weighed.

The episodes include the president asking former FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn to curtail the Russia investigation; Trump's reaction to the ongoing investigation; Trump's firing of Comey; Mueller's appointment as special counsel; attempts to curtail Mueller's probe; efforts to prevent disclosure of evidence; efforts to have the attorney general take over the investigation; efforts to have former White House counsel Don McGhan deny Trump ordered Mueller be fired; conduct involving Flynn and campaign chairman Paul Manafort; and Trump's conduct involving former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

The investigation ultimately failed to find sufficient evidence the episodes amounted to obstructing justice.

"In consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and I concluded the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offence," Barr said Thursday.

In response to the report Thursday, Trump tweeted a graphic that read, "Game Over," in a style from the HBO drama Game of Thrones. Trump had an entirely different attitude when he first learned Mueller had been appointed special counsel to keep the investigation going.

"Oh my god, this is terrible," Trump said, according to the report. "This is the end of my presidency. I'm f--ked. How could you let this happen, Jeff [Sessions]?"

Trump went on to say then-Attorney General Sessions was his most important appointment and that Sessions had "let [him] down."

"Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I wont' be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me," Trump is quoted in the report.

The report, 448 pages in length, describes in detail how the Russian GRU intelligence unit hacked campaign emails of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, which were subsequently leaked by WikiLeaks. It also specifies there were some links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

"The investigation ... identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign," the report states. "Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency ... the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election activities."

Barr previewed the report immediately before its release. He told reporters the investigation found the Russian Internet Research Agency spread disinformation on social media during the 2016 election "designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States."

"By the end of the 2016 U.S. election, the IRA had the ability to reach millions of U.S. persons through their social media accounts," the report says. "Multiple IRA-controlled Facebook groups and Instagram accounts had hundreds of thousands of U.S. participants."

It said the IRA staged political rallies inside the United States by posing as U.S. grassroots entities, many of whom made contact with Trump supporters and campaign officials.

"We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign," Barr said.

Charges are pending in these cases but the Russian agents are at large.

Barr also said Trump became frustrated that the Mueller investigation was "undermining his presidency" but emphasized that the White House fully cooperated.

Democratic leaders are now calling for Mueller to testify in Congress "as soon as possible," a joint statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said. They said Barr's handling of the report has created a "crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality." Pelosi later tweeted she's concerned Trump's team had a preview of the report.
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