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President Trump has been vindicated: The special counsel’s team was unable to procure a copy of the infamous 2013 Moscow Ritz-Carlton “Golden Showers” video allegedly featuring Donald watching Russian prostitutes urinate on each other while cavorting on the presidential suite bed that Barack and Michelle Obama once slept in. Other than that, Donald is guilty as hell of a slew of really bad, much of it illegal, stuff. Trump World would like you to view the report’s release as the end. It is the beginning. There will be congressional investigations of criminal and otherwise unethical presidential activities. There also will be determinations that we expect more from a president than simply avoiding provable-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt criminal culpability. (scroll down for full article)

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President Trump has been vindicated: The special counsel’s team was unable to procure a copy of the infamous 2013 Moscow Ritz-Carlton “Golden Showers” video allegedly featuring Donald watching Russian prostitutes urinate on each other while cavorting on the presidential suite bed that Barack and Michelle Obama once slept in.

Other than that, Donald is guilty as hell of a slew of really bad, much of it illegal, stuff. Trump World would like you to view the report’s release as the end. It is the beginning. There will be congressional investigations of criminal and otherwise unethical presidential activities. There also will be determinations that we expect more from a president than simply avoiding provable-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt criminal culpability.

“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f***ed.”

(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; 5/17/2017; as cited in Mueller, Robert S., III, Special Counsel; Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election [Submitted Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c)]; Washington, D.C.; March 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 78] (speaking to advisers upon being informed of the special counsel appointment; he said this instead of something like, “I’m innocent; we’ll fight to prove it”)

“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 1]

“The investigation also identified numerous links [140 or so contacts, 13 by Trump himself] between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 1]

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 2]

Mueller Report Particulars

On May 17, 2017, acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel to investigate Russian election interference. Mr. Mueller submitted his Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election to Attorney General William P. Barr March 22, 2019. Mr. Barr released a redacted version to Congress and the public the following April 18.

By the Numbers

Robert Mueller’s special counsel team comprised nearly 40 bodies, including 15-17 attorneys-prosecutors, a similar number of FBI agents, and support staff. The report is 448 pages long plus numerous appendices. It took 22 months to complete. It comprises the results of over 2,800 subpoenas, almost 500 search warrants, and interviews with approximately 500 witnesses (almost 80 of whom testified before the grand jury). It covers 10 categories of obstruction of justice (though some pundits refer to 11 or 12). It contains over 150 references to testimony by former White House Counsel Don McGahn. It lists 12 still-secret related investigations that are ongoing. It recites 37 instances in which Mr. Trump responded (in writing) to his written questions with some version of “I don’t recall.”

Two Volumes

The report is divided into two volumes. Volume I encompasses Russian election interference along with contacts and cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia. Volume II details evidence in 10 categories of obstruction of justice by President Trump. Mr. Mueller summarizes each category with a comprehensive analysis of how presidential actions meet the three criteria of legal obstruction of justice, i.e.: “1) an obstructive act; 2) a nexus [connection] between the obstructive act and an official proceeding; and 3) corrupt intent.” [Vol. II, pg. 9]

Horror Story

Mueller’s report is surprisingly easy to read and largely free of legalese. Most of it is an interesting play-by-play account of Trumpian criminality and other egregious behavior. Robert Mueller is fair to the president when warranted, pointing out why certain activities are not criminal. Overall, however, the report paints a devastating, horrifying portrait of this incompetent, corrupt administration and the man at the top.

Executive Summaries

If you can’t read the full 448 pages, I encourage everyone at least to read the two executive summaries, in Volume I, pages 4-10 (Russian interference, conspiracy), and Volume II, pages 3-8 (obstruction of justice). For those who follow current events and politics, it likely will be the most riveting 13 pages you have ever consumed. For those who aren’t avid news consumers, consider reading these summaries as part of your civic duty. Every citizen should know what has happened during this presidency, beyond any MSNBC or Fox News pundit analyses.

President’s Written Responses

The president responded in writing to prearranged (take-home) questions from the special counsel, but he refused to address any questions pertaining to obstruction of justice. So it was half a take-home assignment. Mr. Trump refused to testify at all in person, and Mr. Mueller decided the certain delay resulting from a subpoena fight would have been harmful to the public interest. In his responses, President Trump invoked some version of “I don’t recall” 37 times.

Social Media

The report states that — by Facebook’s estimate — the Internet Research Agency (one of the Russian government’s social media propaganda arms) reached more than 126 million persons through its phony Facebook accounts during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Other social media propaganda also was widespread, but other outlets offered no specific exposure estimates.

Collusion

Mr. Mueller found oodles of evidence of what is commonly understood to be collusion (contacts and mutual cooperation) between Russians, in or friendly to their government, and members of the Trump campaign. But Mueller noted that collusion is not a legal term. He did conclude that evidence of conspiracy rising to the level of criminality, i.e., provable beyond a reasonable doubt, was not established.

Obstruction of Justice

Robert Mueller laid out comprehensive, stunning, horrifying evidence of obstruction of justice committed by the president. The special counsel established that Trump knew his actions were illegal. But Mueller adhered to the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted, therefore cannot be even officially implicated by a prosecutorial conclusion. Instead, the special counsel’s report dispassionately gives up the goods and offers two other remedies:

1) congressional investigation and possible impeachment;

“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. … [W]e concluded that Congress can validly make obstruction-of-justice statutes applicable to corruptly motivated official acts of the President without impermissibly undermining his Article II functions.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 8, 171]

2) indictment after the president is no longer in office.

“The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office … [and] may be prosecuted at this time. Given those considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 1-2]

The most damning evidence for obstruction came from former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn, whose (reportedly 30-plus hours of) testimony was cited or referred to more than 150 times in Volume II of the Mueller report. The report established the following: 1) Trump ordered McGahn to instruct the DOJ to fire Special Counsel Mueller (which he refused to do by threatening his resignation); 2) after that story was leaked to The New York Times, Trump ordered McGahn to deny it publicly and document the lie — that Trump never ordered McGahn to have Mueller fired — in an official White House memo (McGahn also ignored this order); and 3) “the President had [otherwise] asked McGahn to ‘do crazy sh**.’” [Vol. II, pg. 87]

“[M]any of the President’s acts [of obstruction] directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, took place in public view. That circumstance is unusual, but no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the obstruction laws. If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony, the harm to the justice system’s integrity is the same.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 7]

The special counsel established 10 primary categories of possible obstruction of justice by the president. In each, Mueller’s team details the legal criteria for criminality: the act, the nexus (connection) to a proceeding, and intent. The 10 categories involve activities related to principals such as (former FBI Director) James Comey, (former National Security Advisor) Michael Flynn, (former Attorney General) Jeff Sessions, (former White House Counsel) Don McGahn, and (former Trump lawyer-fixer) Michael Cohen. Legal experts largely agree that activities in at least five of these categories rise well above the threshold for criminal obstruction of justice.

Mr. Mueller spelled out the obstruction story in the gripping, easy-to-read Volume II Executive Summary (pages 3 through 8). It is every American’s civic duty to read these five pages.

12 Secret Cases Still Underway

This is brand new information from the report. We’ve learned there are still 12 secret criminal investigations outstanding that Mueller has referred to other prosecution offices. This means there are at least 12 more people, targets, unknown to us but probably embedded now or at one time in Trump World, that possibly are cooperating with investigations related to the president. It ain’t over, yet, folks.




Mueller Report Nuggets

There are hundreds of surprises in the report. Here are a few of the interesting, ironic, disgusting nuggets that have been bouncing around news media since the special counsel released his 448 pages.

Nugget 1 — Maybe There Really Was a “Golden Showers” Video

“[FBI Director James] Comey’s briefing included the Steele reporting’s unverified allegation that the Russians had compromising tapes of the President involving [perverted sexual] conduct when he was a private citizen during a 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant. During the 2016 presidential campaign, a similar claim may have reached candidate Trump. On October 30, 2016, Michael Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that said, ‘Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know ….’ Rtskhiladze said ‘tapes’ referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 27, footnote 112]

Until the Mueller report, the tape’s existence had devolved into myth status, though Donald’s opponents still held out hope. Footnote 112 of the report indicates that just days before the 2016 election, Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen still had reason to fear the “Golden Showers” video release, meaning they feared Putin was holding a blockbuster piece of kompromat (compromising material) over the candidate whom they wanted to control.

The famous Steele Dossier is a collection of 17 memos assembled by British intelligence professional Christopher Steele during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. The Washington Free Beacon employed a U.S. investigative firm, Fusion GPS, who contracted Steele’s services as an expert on Russian intelligence. The Beacon is a respected, solidly conservative media outlet that vehemently opposed Trump becoming the Republican presidential nominee. When Donald dashed those hopes, Fusion GPS began working for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Curiously, the Clinton campaign never used any of the negative Trump information turned up by Steele.

Christopher Steele’s dossier reported myriad suspicious contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. These indicated definite collusion and likely conspiracy. Most of the dossier’s allegations have been borne out. Some have not yet been proved. None has been definitively disproved.

Note that Steele never swore every entry in his dossier was 100% accurate. He intended it to be his best portrait of Trump campaign and Russia contact that could be gleaned from his years of cultivating Russian intelligence sources. By his own early account, he viewed the dossier’s contents as about 80% accurate.

The most explosive (if not the most important) reporting by Steele was the possible existence of videotape, surreptitiously recorded by Russian intelligence, of Donald in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton presidential suite during the then-Trump-owned 2013 Miss Universe Pageant festivities. Apparently, Mr. Trump wanted to defile the bed that former President and Mrs. Obama slept in on a previous visit. As the reporting goes, Donald watched while prostitutes urinated on each other while frolicking in the bed. Trump initially denied the story by claiming he was a germophobe who could never have been in close proximity to urinating prostitutes.

Nugget 2 — Richard Burr Not so Independent

The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Richard Burr (R-N.C.), has been hailed as an independent actor who has been working in a nonpartisan fashion with his Democratic ranking member while conducting Senate investigations into Russian election meddling. He has received many kudos, as opposed to his former House counterpart, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who has been castigated for partisan defense of the president and ignoring the concept of congressional oversight.

Well, Burr turned up in the Mueller report doing something that was — though apparently not illegal — superpartisan and inappropriate:

“On March 9, 2017, Comey briefed the ‘Gang of Eight’ congressional leaders [including Burr] about the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference, including an identification of the principal U.S. subjects of the investigation. … The week after Comey’s briefing, the White House Counsel’s Office was in contact with SSCI Chairman Senator Richard Burr about the Russia investigations and appears to have received information about the status of the FBI investigation. … Dana Boente, who at that time was the Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation, authorized Comey to confirm the existence of the Russia investigation [during Comey’s March 20 congressional testimony] and agreed that Comey should decline to comment on whether any particular individuals, including the President, were being investigated. …

“On March 16, 2017, the White House Counsel’s Office was briefed by Senator Burr on the existence of ‘4-5 targets.’”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 52]

Nugget 3 — Dog Bites Man: Sarah Sanders Lied

“[White House press secretary Sarah] Sanders told the press after Comey’s termination that the White House had heard from ‘countless’ FBI agents who had lost confidence in Comey. But the evidence does not support those claims. … Sanders acknowledged to investigators that her comments were not founded on anything.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 76]

Then she lied about why she lied:

“Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue.’ She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment that was not founded on anything.’”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 72]

As MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell clearly demonstrated on his show, The Last Word, Sarah was reading from prepared statements during her “slip of the tongue” and “heat of the moment” comments.

Tom, What Do You Think?

Here are my primary takeaways from the Mueller report.

Trump Governing Ideology

The Trump administration is a culture of dishonesty and dysfunction from top to bottom, as described in detail in the Mueller report.

Election Interference

It has been proved beyond any doubt: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” [Vol. I, pg. 1]. Candidate Trump and his campaign eagerly and repeatedly invited, encouraged, and accepted extensive Russian help. At one point in 2016, the FBI warned the Trump campaign that Russian operatives were trying to infiltrate their ranks. The FBI asked the campaign to report any more contacts. Team Trump did not report any, though Russian operatives made numerous subsequent collusion-y contacts.

At no time did any Trump campaign member tell the FBI or other U.S. intelligence organization about Russian election help offers. At no time did anyone in the Trump campaign tell the Russians, “No thanks, that would be wrong.” Any ethical, patriotic campaign would have felt obligated to do so.

After the election, Russian nationals swarmed Trump World trying to establish inroads to the president-elect to push Putin policies. Jared Kushner attempted to set up a Russian back-channel (hidden from U.S. intelligence) communication network — at the Russian embassy. Russians also tried to set up information channels.

Since Inauguration Day, President Trump systematically has impeded and weakened U.S. government attempts to determine the methods and sources of Russian election interference. He has intimidated witnesses and encouraged them to lie or otherwise not cooperate. Donald repeatedly has taken the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials over the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous conclusions of extensive interference. One clear reason Trump denies the existence of Russian help is his pathological sensitivity to the perceived (and actual) illegitimacy of his presidency. Another reason is to protect his moneymaking opportunities in Russia — for which he needs Putin’s blessing.

Conspiracy

There was massive collusion — over 140 contacts (13 involving Donald himself) — between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Many legal experts believe the only reason none of it rose to the level of criminal conspiracy was due to incompetence on both sides.

Trump came within a buffoonish comb-over hair’s width of illegal, indictable, traitorous coordination with a foreign government to interfere with and steal a U.S. presidential election. The spoken or unspoken quid pro quo was an implicit promise from Donald to extend ridiculously pro-Russian policies and acquiescence in exchange for continuing opportunities to make scads of money — from Russian investments and through commercial leveraging of the presidency.

Obstruction of Justice

Mueller demonstrated Trump’s guilt on multiple, indictable counts. The only reason Robert Mueller didn’t indict — or draw an indictment-like conclusion — was due to the special counsel’s adherence to the OLC’s longstanding opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. He intended for Congress to use his evidence to draw the proper conclusion and take proper action (investigation, impeachment), notwithstanding AG Barr’s prevarication to the contrary. Mueller meticulously preserved all the evidence for the option of indicting Trump after he is pushed out of office, one way or another.

Unsuccessful Obstruction

It is irrelevant that the president’s primary attempts at obstruction largely were unsuccessful (due to staff refusals to carry out his orders). Many legal experts are positing that the president’s saving grace was that as an executive he was too incompetent and ineffective to complete the obstruction, which likely would have led to a Saturday Night Massacre-like multiple firing and near-certain impeachment. His downfall will be that success is not necessary for criminality, only the (incompetent) attempts.

Intent and Motive to Obstruct

It is irrelevant that the underlying crime of conspiracy was not found to be provable beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not necessary to prove obstruction (again, notwithstanding AG Barr’s prevaricacious implication in his March 24 “summary”).

“Although the obstruction statutes do not require proof of such a crime, the absence of that evidence affects the analysis of the President’s intent and requires consideration of other possible motives for his conduct.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 7]

The president had ample “other motives” to obstruct: 1) He likely feared his conspiracy offenses did rise to the level of criminality, rather than come in at a comb-over hair short; 2) He feared the Mueller investigation would uncover many of his other, unrelated corruptions and crimes; and 3) Donald’s psyche cannot accept any evidence of pro-Trump Russian election interference indicating he possibly (likely?) didn’t win on his own merits, which would delegitimize his winner persona. This is why he never has definitively acknowledged nor acted upon the unanimous conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community since 2016 — and the indisputable Mueller finding: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” [Vol. I, pg. 1]

Quid Pro Quos

Finally, since his election, Trump’s implicit quid pro quo with the Republican Party has been this: The president supports their extreme policy goals, e.g., ultra-right-wing judge court-packing and lifting regulations that help business but hurt workers and citizens. And he won’t tweet-attack GOP legislators when they’re up for reelection. In return, the GOP allows Trump to make hundreds of millions of dollars leveraging the presidency, no matter how unethical, corrupt, or illegal his actions become. Oh, and in the process the party has to give up long-standing conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutional adherence, and general decency.

Notice any theme here? The president leans green — and I don’t mean environmental policy.

Ultimately, even if much of President Trump’s activities and behavior did not rise to indictable criminality, he still did do, and asked his people to do, some “crazy sh**” (— thanks to White House counsel Don McGahn) [Vol. II, pg. 87].

The bar for presidential behavior should be substantially higher than not technically criminal.

We have the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani telling America on NBC’s Meet the Press that there is “nothing wrong” with a presidential campaign accepting help — i.e., receiving illegally hacked data on your opponent — from Russia or any other foreign entity. The obvious question is, Why isn’t this illegal? And now that we know it’s not illegal, Why hasn’t there been an immediate introduction of an overwhelmingly bipartisan bill making it illegal?

Attorney General Barr Lies (as defined by your mother)

BREAKING NEWS: The April 18 release of the redacted Mueller Report fills in the blanks of Attorney General William Barr’s false and misleading March 24 summary. Barr originally included this altered tidbit from the then-still-hidden-from-the-public report:

“[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Aficionados of copy editing pointed out the “[T]he” was not the first word in the original sentence. But what did Barr cut out to protect Trump? Only the most damning segment in the entire report. Finally, we have the full sentence, the awful truth about Donald’s crimes, directly from the Mueller Report:

“Even though the president is a lying sack of sh** who has done everything in his power to discredit and poison this investigation, and even though he has taken every opportunity to favor America’s arch enemy Russia and kiss Putin’s a**, and even though Mr. Trump consistently has acted like a guilty man, and even though the Trump campaign had numerous questionable contacts and interactions with Russian operatives though they did not quite rise to the level of provable criminality, and even though everyone in Trump World has lied persistently about all-things Russia, and even though the president himself openly welcomed and encouraged help from the Russians during the campaign through WikiLeaks and other sources, and even though Donald consistently has denied and discredited unanimous U.S. intelligence findings (to Putin’s delight) that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the clear intent of putting Trump in office, and even though it now is clear that Mr. Trump was pursuing Russian business opportunities (for which he needed Putin’s blessing) worth hundreds of millions of dollars and lied to the country about that, ‘the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’

(— writer’s embellishment)

Though true, though indisputable, Mueller didn’t include these sentiments in his report (except for the last, bolderized phrase).

As independent legal experts have lamented, Barr has acted more like Trump’s defense attorney than a United States attorney general for the people, which we sorely need at this point in history. For this, Barr should resign or be impeached.

Your Mama

Attorney General Barr has consistently misled and lied to us in his summary and press conference leading up to the report’s release, which he delayed as long as possible to establish his false narrative in servitude to the president. Some semantics experts say the attorney general was careful not to lie in the literal sense by meticulously parsing his words to say one thing but convey another.

First, I disagree. I think AG Barr blatantly, literally lied at times. Second, we all know our mama’s definition of lying: it’s giving the wrong impression by misleading or leaving stuff out. By your mama’s definition of lying, Barr is clearly guilty.

Let me count the ways.

The Biggest Lie: Summary, No Summary

Barr’s biggest lie of all — again, going back to your mama’s definition — is his lie of omission, what he left out of his March 24 “summary” two days after the report was submitted but not yet released publicly. The attorney general said he wanted to get something out fast in the national interest, but the report itself needed review for redactions, which would take time. So he released his own “summary of principal conclusions” that were so misleadingly pro-Trump, Donald could have written them.

What Barr did not say was that there were two executive summaries within the report (on conspiracy and obstruction) that were prepared by Mueller’s team for public consumption, meaning few redactions were necessary. But Barr read those 13 or so pages and realized they were devastating to the president, so he did not release them.

Then Mueller’s team leaked — for the first time in 22 months — that they were upset with Barr’s false narrative and that the executive summaries, suitable for public release, existed. Then the DOJ issued a statement that said because all pages of the report were stamped “May Contain Material Protected Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e),” they were precluded from releasing them before review. Except that once they released the report, everyone could see those executive summaries were reviewable for redactions in a matter of hours, not weeks — because few redactions were necessary.

The Press Conference

The attorney general held an illegitimate press conference April 18 at the Department of Justice several hours before he released the redacted Mueller report to Congress and the public. At this press conference, he again endeavored to summarize the report, in false terms favorable to the president, rather than letting the Mueller team’s words speak for themselves. What follows are excerpts from AG Barr’s statements juxtaposed with contradictory information, including excerpts from the Mueller report.

Item 1 — Transparency

“I am committed to ensuring the greatest possible degree of transparency concerning the Special Counsel’s investigation, consistent with the law.”

(Barr, William, R-Va., U.S. attorney general; press conference; Department of Justice; 4/18/2019.)

After the report was available for public consumption, every fair-minded news consumer who read it knew this statement of Barr’s was grossly false. Barr knew it would be exposed as false. But he doesn’t care. This development alone has made it clear that Barr sees himself as protector of the president rather than attorney general for the people.

Item 2 — Conspiracy

As you will see, the Special Counsel’s report states that his ‘investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

Again, with the leaving stuff out. Here’s the full report quote:

“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 1-2]

Not all bad acts are illegal. “[D]id not establish,” here, means that the evidence didn’t rise to criminality provable beyond a reasonable doubt. But bad acts were committed, and any thinking person agrees they should be illegal.

Item 3 — Collusion

“Put another way, the Special Counsel found no collusion by any Americans in the IRA’s [Russia’s internet propaganda arm] illegal activity. … In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government’s hacking.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

Collusion is the word that Trump has always used. You can just picture numerous Trump legal team focus groups determining that that’s the word for Donald to lean on publicly. Ironically, Mueller’s report details plenty of collusion, though Barr was careful to parse “collusion with the Russian government’s hacking.” It probably is true that the Trump campaign did not help the Russians hack. They just solicited and accepted the fruits of that hacking.

Mueller also states his team disregarded collusion as a legal concept. In other words, Mr. Barr, the Mueller report never once said it found “no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government.”

“In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of ‘collusion.’ In so doing, the Office recognized that the word ‘collud[e]’ was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 2]

Item 4 — Collusion

“So that is the bottom line. After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel … did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

This is not true. Barr keeps going back to the phrase “no collusion,” but Mueller specifically did not determine “no collusion,” which brings many legal experts and pundits to conclude that Barr’s comments are for an audience of one: President Trump.

Item 5 — Obstruction of Justice

“I concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 2]

Notice any cognitive dissonance here?

Item 6 — Obstruction of Justice

“Although the Deputy Attorney General and I disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

Barr said, “some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law.” That sure sounds like, then, some episodes did.

Item 7 — Presidential Justification

“[T]here is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

First, “frustrated and angered” is no justification for obstructing justice, and certainly the president wasn’t “frustrated and angered” while welcoming, encouraging, and accepting election interference help from a foreign government, whether technically illegal or not. Second, AG Barr left the distinct impression through his careful wording that the investigation was “propelled by his political opponents.” This has been Trump’s wildly false conspiracy theory from the beginning.

Item 8 — Presidential Cooperation

“[T]he White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

Another blatant lie by Barr. First, the most important witness of all, Trump himself, refused to testify as one of the “witnesses necessary to complete [the] investigation.” Second, it takes no expert in linguistics to know that several serious attempts to end the investigation by firing the FBI director and former attorney general, and unsuccessfully ordering the special counsel’s firing, does not constitute full cooperation. Further, we now know that the president discouraged witnesses from testifying and suborned perjury.

“[M]any of the President’s acts [of obstruction] directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, took place in public view.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 7]

This goes well beyond your mama’s definition of lying. If Barr would have been under oath, he could have been charged with perjury.

Item 9 — Corrupt Intent

“Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of noncorrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

As I laid out above, the president had three substantial reasons to obstruct the investigation: 1) he feared the collusion efforts were illegal — and, in fact, they did come within a comb-over hair of indictability; 2) he feared the discovery of unrelated Trumpian crimes and corruption; and 3) he feared the confirmation of Russian election help would delegitimize his victory and presidency — which it rightly did.

Item 10 — Presidential Preview of Report

“[E]arlier this week, the President’s personal counsel requested and were given the opportunity to read a final version of the redacted report before it was publicly released. That request was consistent with the practice followed under the Ethics in Government Act, which permitted individuals named in a report prepared by an Independent Counsel the opportunity to read the report before publication.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

Legal experts on all sides of the debate maintain it was highly inappropriate to allow the primary target of the investigation to review the report before its public release. This was one more way Attorney General Barr supported his efforts to create an early, false narrative to offset the awful factual reality contained in the report. The president’s legal and communications teams had three days to hone and solidify their mendacious response to the obscene true story inherent in the report.

Item 11 — Conclusions in Light of OLC Policy That a Sitting President Can’t Be Indicted

“[W]e specifically asked him [Mueller] about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking the position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion. And he made it very clear several times that that was not his position. He — he was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime; he made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

Because it was so good the first time, I quote the special counsel again. It doesn’t get any clearer than this: AG Barr lied outright.

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 2]

Item 12 — DOJ Preempts Special Counsel’s Non-Indictment

“[B]ecause the special counsel did not make that decision [to conclude or not that a crime was committed], we felt the Department [of Justice] had to.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

“[A] President does not have immunity after he leaves office [and] … they may be prosecuted at this time. Given those considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 1-2]

Does this sound like Mueller intended for the attorney general to conclude there was no crime? This makes it crystal clear: If any other person in the world besides the sitting president had committed these criminal acts, that person would have been indicted.

Item 13 — Did Mueller Intend for Congress to Take the Next Step?

“Special Counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress.”

(Ibid.; Barr; 4/18/2019.)

“[W]e concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice. … 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.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 8]

Need I say more? Again, if AG Barr had been under oath when he said this, he’d have been guilty of perjury.

7 Key Takeaways From the Mueller Report

Following are the main points and succinct excerpts from an important April 18, 2019, The New York Times article by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman: “The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself:

1) Trump did try to sabotage the investigation. His staff defied him.

Mr. Trump began trying to get rid of Mr. Mueller [right after his appointment], only to be thwarted by his staff. In instance after instance, his staff acted as a bulwark against Mr. Trump’s most destructive impulses.

2) So many lies. So many changed stories.

So many people lied, changed their stories and issued misleading statements to both the public and federal authorities. The report recaps one false statement after another.

3) Fake news? Not so much.

The president has spent the past two years denouncing the news media. He has repeatedly accused reporters of making up sources to destroy his presidency. The report, though, shows not only that some of the most unflattering stories about Mr. Trump were accurate, but also that White House officials knew that was the case even as they heaped criticism on journalists.

4) No obstruction? Not so fast.

Mr. Trump was quick to declare the report a total vindication. But federal authorities went out of their way not to exonerate Mr. Trump. They wrote that his conduct in office “presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

5) Evading an FBI interview proved a successful strategy.

The report makes clear why his lawyers were so worried about it [letting Trump testify to Mueller in person]. Mr. Mueller had a huge cache of unanswered questions, misleading and conflicting statements, and unexplained actions with which to confront the president. Sitting for an interview, the report makes clear, would have exposed Mr. Trump to far more problems.

6) No conclusive evidence of conspiracy, but lots of reason to investigate.

“Mr. Mueller makes explicit what Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on: Russia secretly manipulated the 2016 presidential election. The investigation ultimately found no evidence [beyond a reasonable doubt] that anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign [illegally] participated in that effort, but the report reveals in stark detail the many suspicious interactions that had the FBI so worried. Many of those have been reported, but the report amounts to a compendium that helps explain the origins of the FBI investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”

7) Reading this report cold.

Prosecutors describe a president who was preoccupied with ending a federal investigation, a White House that repeatedly told misleading and changing stories, and a presidential campaign that was in repeated contact with Russian officials for reasons that are not always clear. … If the American public or members of Congress were learning these things for the first time, the political fallout would normally be devastating. The consequences of the report remain to be seen, but if people are not surprised or shocked by the revelations, then Mr. Trump may have benefited by the steady drip of news stories he has so loudly criticized.

(Apuzzo, Matt & Goldman, Adam; “The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things”; The New York Times; 4/18/2019.)

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My Appendix

Read the report in full. Until then, enjoy some of the most interesting excerpts I came across that are not included above.

“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 1]

“President Trump reacted negatively to the Special Counsel’s appointment. He told advisors that it was the end of his presidency, sought to have Attorney General Jefferson (Jeff) Sessions unrecuse from the Russia investigation and to have the Special Counsel removed, and engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 8]

“[S]ome associated with the Trump Campaign deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 10]

“The Office identified multiple contacts — ‘links,’ in the words of the Appointment Order — between Trump Campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. I, pg. 66]

“The threshold step under the Justice Manual standards is to assess whether a person’s conduct ‘constitutes a federal offense.’ … Fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching that judgment when no charges can be brought. The ordinary means for an individual to respond to an accusation is through a speedy and public trial, with all the procedural protections that surround a criminal case. An individual who believes he was wrongly accused can use that process to seek to clear his name. In contrast, a prosecutor’s judgment that crimes were committed, but that no charges will be brought, affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name-clearing before an impartial adjudicator.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 2]

“Trump also denied having any business in or connections to Russia, even though as late as June 2016 the Trump Organization had been pursuing a licensing deal for a skyscraper to be built in Russia called Trump Tower Moscow. After the election, the President expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 3]

“Soon after the firing of Comey and the appointment of the Special Counsel, however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction-of-justice inquiry. At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 7]

“Consistent with precedent and the Department of Justice’s general approach to interpreting obstruction statutes, we concluded that several statutes could apply here. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505, 1512(b)(3), 1512(c)(2). Section 1512(c)(2) is an omnibus obstruction-of-justice provision that covers a range of obstructive acts directed at pending or contemplated official proceedings. No principle of statutory construction justifies narrowing the provision to cover only conduct that impairs the integrity or availability of evidence. Sections 1503 and 1505 also offer broad protection against obstructive acts directed at pending grand jury … proceedings.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 7]

“[T]he proper supervision of criminal law does not demand freedom for the President to act with a corrupt intention of shielding himself from criminal punishment, avoiding financial liability, or preventing personal embarrassment. To the contrary, a statute that prohibits official action undertaken for such corrupt purposes furthers, rather than hinders, the impartial and evenhanded administration of the law. It also aligns with the President’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. Finally, we concluded that in the rare case in which a criminal investigation of the President’s conduct is justified, inquiries to determine whether the President acted for a corrupt motive should not impermissibly chill his performance of his constitutionally assigned duties. 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.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 8]

“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

(Ibid.; Mueller; 2019.) [Vol. II, pg. 2]

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Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget