Donald Trump has claimed for weeks that the Mueller report completely exonerated him regarding allegations of obstruction of justice. In fact, the Mueller report says the exact opposite: that Mueller’s team decided not to draw any conclusions about Trump’s conduct. Further, the report indicates that Trump knew the Russia investigation could end his presidency.
For reference, the report is available via the Department of Justice.
On page 394 of the document released by the Department of Justice, Mueller’s words contradict Trump’s claims, plainly and unambiguously, about obstruction of justice and other conduct.
“Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the president’s conduct… 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 paragraph concludes with Barr stating that the report neither concludes that Trump committed a crime “nor exonerates him.”
That paragraph alone conflicts with statements that the president, his staff, and his supporters in Congress have been making for weeks about the report.
Read the full redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report, which reveals Trump’s efforts to seize control of Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal. https://t.co/k4GpWyjvhx
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 18, 2019
Mueller initially turned in his report to his boss, Attorney General William Barr, on March 20. Days later, Barr released only a summary of the report.
Almost immediately, the ambiguity about the report’s contents were taken by the Trump administration as a complete and total exoneration of the president, as Vox reported at the time. President Trump declared victory, as well.
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019
The fact that Mueller didn’t draw a specific conclusion on whether or not Trump committed a crime spells an uncertain future for Trump and his adversaries moving forward.
The House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats, has the power to impeach the president. And indeed, most Democratic leaders have stated that there is no reason to move forward on impeachment without the Mueller report being in their hands.
Now that the redacted report is indeed in the hands of those in Congress, what happens next remains unclear. The chamber may proceed with plans to subpoena the entire, unredacted report — a process that could take months to be hammered out in court. The chamber may proceed with impeachment based on the information that they have. Or the chamber may wait until other investigations play out before proceeding with impeachment, or not proceed with impeachment at all.
Elsewhere in the report, Mueller recounts a reported conversation in which Trump purportedly admitted that the Russia investigation would doom his presidency.
On page 290, the report states that on May 17, 2017, Trump was told that a special counsel would be investigating him and his supposed ties to Russia. Trump didn’t take the news well, according to Mueller’s recounting of the conversation.
“This is the end of my presidency. I’m f****d.”
This is a developing story. More information about the Mueller report, and the significance of its contents, will be published as soon as it is available.