Despite Donald Trump’s repeated claim, reiterated Wednesday morning on his Twitter account, that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation showed “No Collusion, No Obstruction,” a former top CIA official who headed the intelligence agency’s Russia operations says that Trump is likely not out of the woods yet.
In fact, “between the lines” of the Mueller report are strong indicators that Trump remains under investigation for collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election campaign, according to ex-CIA official Steven L. Hall. He made these claims in an op-ed for The Washington Post that was published on Wednesday morning.
“This is far from a clean bill of health for the Trump administration and its dealings with President Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” Hall wrote in his essay for The Washington Post, going on to say that “counterintelligence investigations” rarely result in criminal charges.
In his report, one made available online by The New York Times, Mueller stated that “the investigation did not establish” that Trump or his associates had “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” But Hall says that Mueller’s wording holds a clue about other investigations that may remain underway.
By specifying only that his own investigation “did not establish” a Trump-Russia conspiracy, Mueller “does not preclude the possibility that there could be other investigations” currently uncovering information about Trump’s contact with Russia, according to Hall.
According to The Cipher Brief, Hall retired from the CIA in 2015 after 30 years of service, during which time he rose to the most senior level of the agency’s National Clandestine Service. He spent much of his career overseeing CIA operations in the Soviet Union, and later Russia, as well as other former Soviet republics.
In his essay, Hall notes that even Attorney General William Barr — who, as another Washington Post analysis claimed, “buried, misrepresented or ignored” evidence in the Mueller report to convey the impression that Trump was somehow cleared by Mueller — accepts Mueller’s finding that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 election. The Russians did so “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” the report claims.
While the Russian interference operation reportedly began as an attempt only to “sow discord in the U.S. political system,” per the Mueller report, by 2016 the Russian program “evolved” to promote Russia’s “favored candidate Trump.” Mueller would go on to imply that the Russians saw promoting Trump as an effective way to “sow discord.”
“This is no time for celebration,” Hall wrote. “Putin can be proud of what he has helped bring about in this country: a divided, weakened America.”