- Attorney General William Barr left out a crucial piece of information when he told Congress the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
- Barr quoted directly from Mueller’s final report in the investigation when he told Congress there wasn’t sufficient evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy.
- But when Mueller’s report was released Thursday, it revealed that Barr omitted a significant caveat prosecutors included in their findings.
- Specifically, Mueller’s team wrote that “the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and … the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
Attorney General William Barr omitted a crucial piece of information when he told Congress last month that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
President Donald Trump’s allies seized on the quoted portion, which was taken directly from Mueller’s final report in the Russia probe, and said it was definitive proof that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and anyone associated with the Russian government.
Barr doubled down on that claim Thursday, telling reporters at a press conference that there was no evidence of “collusion” in any of Mueller’s inquiries into Russia’s interference in the election.
The report did say, as Barr mentioned, that Mueller’s investigation did not establish that members of the campaign coordinated with Russia during the election.
But prosecutors prefaced that statement with a significant caveat: “The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and … the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
Barr made no mention of that finding by prosecutors in his initial summary of the report, in a subsequent letter to Congress, during several days of testimony before Congress, or at his Thursday morning news conference.
The special counsel’s report also featured other key revelations about Trump-Russia contacts and potential obstruction of justice, including but not limited to:
- Mueller quoted a Russian businessman as saying via text message that he had “stopped flow” of possibly fake, compromising tapes of Trump’s actions in Russia. The revelation reignited speculation about one of the most salacious allegations in the Steele dossier.
- When Trump learned Mueller had been appointed special counsel, he said, “I’m f—ed. This is the end of my presidency.”
- Former national security adviser Michael Flynn testified that Trump directed him to try to obtain deleted Hillary Clinton emails. That plan included contacting foreign intelligence services to learn whether anyone had hacked Clinton’s email server.
- The Trump campaign believed that Russia’s interference in the election would help propel Trump to the presidency.
- Trump largely failed at obstructing justice in the Russia investigation, but it was mainly because his advisers stepped in and refused to carry out many of his directives.
- The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told Mueller she lied when she told the public that “countless” FBI agents had contacted the White House after Comey’s firing to say they had lost confidence in him.
- In January 2018, after Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted in two separate cases in the Russia probe, Manafort told Gates he had talked to Trump’s personal lawyer and “they were going to take care of us.” Manafort then urged Gates not to plead guilty, telling him they should “sit tight” and “we’ll be taken care of.”
- Mueller referred 14 criminal matters to other US attorney’s offices. Only two are publicly known so far.
- The investigation “did not establish” that a Trump campaign official’s efforts to change the GOP party platform on Ukraine “were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia.”
- Trump repeatedly tried to curtail the public disclosure of emails related to setting up a June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials and two Russian lobbyists offering dirt on the Clinton campaign. Mueller also established that Trump “edited” an initially misleading statement Donald Trump Jr. put out about the meeting’s purpose. Trump’s lawyer subsequently misled the public about Trump’s involvement.
- During the campaign, Manafort discussed a plan to allow Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine with his Russian associate, the former intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik.