The Justice Department on Thursday released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials and whether the president obstructed justice.
While the investigation did not find hard evidence of collusion, the report detailed numerous instances in which Trump tried to interfere with the probe.
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We’re annotating the document in real time, pulling out the excerpts we find most interesting, and giving you the analysis you need to understand Mueller’s findings.
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
Trump pressure rises on Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Trump made no secret of his frustration that Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation — even stating publicly that he would have never appointed Sessions had he known that Sessions would recuse. Sessions said he felt a recusal was necessary due to his deep involvement with the Trump campaign as an adviser and surrogate.
Trump considers new ways to intervene in the Mueller probe.
Trump’s former staff secretary Rob Porter spoke with Mueller — and he revealed that Trump mused about installing other senior DOJ officials like Rachel Brand to supervise Mueller.
Trump pushes the Department of Justice to go after Hillary Clinton
Trump went to great lengths to encourage Sessions to investigate a political enemy: Hillary Clinton. But Sessions routinely did not commit to honoring such requests, which clearly irked the president. Mueller notes that Trump’s tweets in the following days reflected his ire.
This is also the first we’re learning that Porter took contemporaneous notes about things the president said in private. But he notes that Trump specifically told Sessions he wasn’t “telling you to do anything” — which might have given Barr and Rosenstein a reason to question whether Trump had corrupt intent to obstruct an investigation. ”
Trump sought to restrict the probe
Contra Trump’s claims of no obstruction, Mueller is again saying that he found evidence of obstruction. Specifically, Mueller says here that Trump sought to influence the investigation in a way that would “restrict its scope.”
Trump pushes McGahn to lie about his order to fire Mueller
Here, Mueller reveals that Trump tried to get ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn to deny the New York Times story that Trump directed McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn refused because he knew that the story was true. Meanwhile, Trump was publicly deriding the Times story as “fake news.”
Trump’s campaign knew it would be helped by Russian interference
This is the top-line finding of the first volume of Mueller’s report, which focused on Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion. Though the report didn’t find evidence that Trump campaign officials conspired with Russia, it notably confirms that the campaign believed Russia’s efforts would be a political boon as Trump faced off with Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Trump confidante Roger Stone told the campaign about Wikileaks’ plans.
The portion is redacted here to avoid “harm to ongoing matter,” which likely refers to Roger Stone’s upcoming trial. Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Stone had told Trump about an upcoming WikiLeaks release in June 2016.
Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort discusses Ukraine with suspected Russian intelligence agent
This is the first confirmation from Mueller that Kilimnik’s peace plan would have benefited Russia, and that the campaign continued to share polling data with Kilimnik — a suspected Russian intelligence agent — well after August 2016.
More efforts to influence Trump’s Russia policy
A new detail about further efforts — allegedly cleared through the Russian president — to influence the incoming Trump administration through a backdoor plan, facilitated by Kushner. Dmitriev also met with Erik Prince, who had advised the campaign informally, in the Seychelles to discuss U.S.-Russia relations, according to Mueller.
A potentially notable redaction on who was investigated
The report references an Oct. 20, 2017 Justice Department memo detailing the special counsel’s authority to investigate five individuals as part of its probe into Russian interference. Mueller’s report, however, only names three of them: Michael Cohen, Richard Gates and Roger Stone. The other two names are redacted, citing “personal privacy.”
Trump associates boosted the Russian disinformation campaign.
Mueller’s report reveals that “numerous high-profile U.S. persons” amplified fake Twitter accounts created by the Internet Research Agency, a company often dubbed a “troll farm” with close ties to the Russian government that was central to the country’s influence campaign ahead of the election. Among them: Roger Stone, Sean Hannity, Michael Flynn, Jr., and Michael McFaul and members of the Trump campaign.
Michael Flynn asked Peter Smith to find Clinton’s emails, at Trump’s request
This at least partially resolves the Peter Smith mystery — Smith was a GOP operative who tried to solicit dark web hackers to find Clinton’s emails. Mueller says the effort was sanctioned by Trump and Flynn in July 2016, but the fact that Smith was searching for the emails around the same time that Russia was hacking the DNC seems noteworthy. This is also the first we’ve heard of Erik Prince’s involvement in the efforts to find Clinton’s emails.
Smith killed himself in May, not long after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his experience, though a suicide note left by Smith said “there was no foul play, no one assisted him, he had a recent bad turn of health and that his life insurance policy would soon expire.”