Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, made public las week in redacted form has had President Trump furious at what those pages have revealed to the public. Nearly half of those pages show how the president reacted to and fumed over the Russia probe, seeking to undermine it, curtail it, and even fire the special counsel himself.
That the contents of the Mueller report diverge so sharply from Barr’s portrayal has long seemed possible, based on his initial summary and subsequent appearance before Congress.
The attorney general Barr has implied that Mueller left that choice to Barr. In truth, the report makes clear that Mueller felt constrained by the Justice Department policy that a sitting president could not be indicted.
Barr was appointed as the nation’s AG after writing a memo casting the Mueller investigation as illegitimate.
Democrats want Robert Mueller, the man who collated the report, to publicly testify before congress about the work he has done. It comes after a redacted version of the document was released on Thursday.
Democrat congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in a joint statement said the report painted a “disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies and improper behavior”.
The party has begun moves to try to obtain the full, unredacted document and to have Mueller testify before Congress. There is a growing division in the Party as to impach the President or leave it to the people to decide on the fcate of the President in the next elections in 2020.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted March 25 and March 26 (after the Barr letter summarizing the Mueller findings) found that the Barr summation did not move the needle on public opinion. Forty-eight percent said they believed “Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.” This was down 6 points from the same question asked a week earlier, before the report was sent to the Attorney General.
And 53 percent said “Trump tried to stop investigations into Russian influence on his administration,” down 2 points from the same question asked a week earlier. Responses to the questions fell predictably along party lines, with Democrats believing in the President’s guilt and Republicans believing in his innocence. Barr’s comments today will be greeted as complete vindication by the President’s supporters and as a whitewash by his opponents.
But what everyone, supporters and opponents alike, seem to agree on is that they want to make their own decision. The Quinnipiac poll conducted from March 21-25 found that 84 percent of the general public wanted the Mueller Report made available to the public.
According to the report, Trump reacted to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in May 2017 as follows: “Oh my God, this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”
Trump’s legal team has said it completely exonerates the president. But while the report does say the Muller Team was unable to prove that president had colluded with the Russians, it did not come to a firm conclusion on the issue of obstruction of justice.
It also reveals several occasions when Trump tried to hinder the investigation itself – including attempting to have Mueller removed.
The 448-page redacted document is the result of a 22-month investigation by Mueller, who was appointed to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
There may be something in the redacted report that changes public opinion, but as Trump’s former aid Steve Bannon once noted, the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey may go down as the biggest mistake in “maybe in modern political history.”
The first section of the Mueller report details Russia’s efforts to upend the 2016 presidential campaign, and scrutinizes the many interactions between Trump associates and Russia. But it’s in the second half, which provides a litany of instances in which Trump may have obstructed justice, that the real bombshells await.
And then, as Mueller lays out in sometimes lurid detail, in at least 10 episodes over the ensuing months Trump sought to block or stop that very investigation. He did so even as Mueller doggedly made public the “sweeping and systematic fashion” in which the Russian government attacked the 2016 presidential election, and brought serious criminal charges—and won guilty pleas—from a half-dozen of the president’s top campaign aides.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report says. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgement.
“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The report says that potential obstruction of justice by the president only failed because members of his administration refused to “carry out orders.” Investigators viewed the president’s written responses to their questions as “inadequate” but chose not to pursue a potentially lengthy legal battle to interview him.
Mueller then points to Congress, not the attorney general, as the appropriate body to answer the question of obstruction. As Mueller wrote in what seems to be all but a referral for impeachment proceedings, “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”