- The Mueller report, officially titled Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, is the official report documenting the findings and conclusions of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 United States presidential election, allegations of conspiracy or coordination between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, and allegations of obstruction of justice. The report was submitted to Attorney General William Barr on March 22, 2019, and a redacted version of the 448-page report was publicly released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 18, 2019. It is divided into two volumes. The redactions from the report and its supporting material were placed under a temporary "protective assertion" of executive privilege by then-President Trump on May 8, 2019, preventing the material from being passed to Congress, despite earlier reassurance by Barr that Trump "confirmed" he would not exert privilege.Volume I of the report concludes that the investigation did not find sufficient evidence that the campaign "coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities". Investigators ultimately had an incomplete picture of what happened due to communications that were encrypted, deleted, or not saved and due to testimony that was false, incomplete, or declined. However, the report states that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was illegal and occurred "in sweeping and systematic fashion" but was welcomed by the Trump campaign as it expected to benefit from such efforts. It also identifies links between Trump campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government, about which several persons connected to the campaign made false statements and obstructed investigations. Mueller later stated that his investigation's conclusion on Russian interference "deserves the attention of every American".Volume II of the report addresses obstruction of justice. The investigation intentionally took an approach that could not result in a judgment that Trump committed a crime. This decision was based on an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion that a sitting president is immune from criminal prosecution, and Mueller's belief that it would be unfair to accuse the president of a crime even without charging him because he would have no opportunity to clear his name in court; furthermore it would undermine Trump's ability to govern and preempt impeachment. As such, the investigation "does not conclude that the President committed a crime"; however, "it also does not exonerate him", with investigators not confident of Trump's innocence. The report describes ten episodes where Trump may have obstructed justice while president and one before he was elected, noting that he privately tried to "control the investigation". The report further states that Congress can decide whether Trump obstructed justice and take action accordingly, referencing impeachment.On March 24, Barr sent Congress a four-page letter detailing the report's conclusions. On March 27, Mueller privately wrote to Barr, stating that the March 24 Barr letter "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions" and that this led to "public confusion". Barr declined Mueller's request to release the report's introduction and executive summaries ahead of the full report. Also on March 24, Barr's letter stated that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the evidence was "not sufficient to establish" that Trump had obstructed justice. On May 1, Barr testified that he "didn't exonerate" Trump on obstruction as "that's not what the Justice Department does" and that neither he nor Rosenstein had reviewed the underlying evidence in the report. In July 2019, Mueller testified to Congress that a president could be charged with crimes including obstruction of justice after the president left office. In 2020, a Republican-appointed federal judge decided to personally review the report's redactions to see if they were legitimate. The judge said Barr's "misleading" statements about the report's findings led him to suspect that Barr had tried to establish a "one-sided narrative" favorable to Trump. (en)
- Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man.
But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that's at least part of what we've seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can't resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis's to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites. (en)