Special counsel’s report is released; here are highlights

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Criminal Justice

Developing: Special counsel Robert Mueller found no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign using a definition of collusion informed by conspiracy law.

Mueller’s report was released Thursday about an hour after Attorney General William Barr emphasized at a press conference that the report found no collusion with the Russian government by President Donald Trump, by anyone associated with his campaign, or by any American.

Here are some report highlights:

Trump’s memory of events:

Trump stated more than 30 times that he doesn’t recall, remember or have an independent recollection of events for which investigators sought information, the Washington Post reports. The special counsel opted against pursuing a subpoena because it would cause a substantial delay.

Trump’s actions in regard to the investigation:

Trump called then-White House counsel Don McGahn at home in June 2017 and directed him to tell Justice Department officials to remove Mueller for conflicts of interest, the New York Times reports. McGahn did not carry out the direction. He decided he would rather resign than carry out another “Saturday Night Massacre,” a reference to Nixon’s attempt to fire the Watergate prosecutor.

Trump pressured McGahn to dispute press reports about Trump directing McGahn to fire Mueller. Trump also asked McGahn why he had told the special counsel about the president’s efforts to fire Mueller. “McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the president to be testing his mettle,” the report says.

The report also concludes that Trump likely fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to state that the president was not personally under investigation.

The report’s definition of collusion:

The report examined collusion based on the framework of conspiracy law, rather than the concept of collusion, which is not a term of art in criminal law. The special counsel’s office looked to whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian election interference.

The special counsel viewed coordination as requiring a tacit or express agreement between the campaign and the Russian government. “That requires more than two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests,” the report says. “We applied coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Campaign contacts with Russia as it tried to influence the election:

A Russian company used a social media campaign and political rallies to provoke political discord in the United States. The Russian government also used Russian military intelligence officers to hack Democratic emails damaging to the Clinton campaign.

During this period, there were a series of contacts between Trump campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government. Those contacts included business connections, offers of assistance to the campaign, and invitations for a personal meeting between Trump and Putin,

Russia believed it could benefit from a Trump presidency, and the Trump campaign believed it could benefit from the information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

But the investigation didn’t establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with election interference activities.

The Trump campaign’s interest in WikiLeaks:

The Trump campaign showed interested in WikiLeaks’ release of hacked documents and welcomed their potential damage to Clinton. Beginning in June 2016, an unnamed individual forecast to campaign officials that WikiLeaks would release information damaging to Clinton.

Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 in anticipation of receiving damaging information on Clinton, but the lawyer did not provide such information.

How the investigation started:

The FBI opened its investigation of Russian influence after a foreign government contacted the FBI in July 2016 to express concerns about information provided by Trump campaign foreign policy George Papadopoulos. He had told the foreign government that the Trump campaign had received indications that Russia could assist the campaign through release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton.




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