Donald Trump has stated on numerous occasions that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report shows that there was “no collusion” between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, and Attorney General William Barr has also claimed that Mueller found no collusion, as Fox News has reported.
But in his first and only public statement since he was named special counsel two years ago, Mueller appeared to contradict those “no collusion” claims, indicating that he did, in fact, find evidence of a “broader conspiracy” between Trump and Russia. Mueller’s Wednesday morning statement may be viewed online via the CNN YouTube page.
In the statement, Mueller also announced that he was resigning from his job as special counsel, closing down the special counsel’s office, and planning a “return to private life,” according to a Washington Post transcript.
But among the most significant statements in his nine-minute remarks on Wednesday was a change from what Mueller said in his report — which is accessible online via The New York Times — to new language when it came to describing possible Trump-Russia conspiracy.
According to journalist Marcy Wheeler, whose Empty Wheel site specializes in Trump-Russia investigation coverage, Mueller “departed from the language of the report” in which he said only that his investigation “did not establish” the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated” with Russia to tamper with the 2016 presidential election.
Instead, Wheeler noted, Mueller on Wednesday said that “there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.”
“There was, obviously, a good deal of evidence that there was a conspiracy between Russia and people in Trump’s camp. Just not enough to charge,” Wheeler said, explaining Mueller’s remarks.
Trump himself appeared to acknowledge the difference in Mueller’s emphasis as well. In a Twitter post about half an hour after Mueller concluded his statement, Trump did not repeat that there was “no collusion,” but instead wrote, “There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed!”
But with Mueller now making clear that he found evidence of a “broader conspiracy,” albeit an “insufficient” amount to bring a criminal charge, Wheeler said that the entire contents of volume one of Mueller’s report must now be seen as presenting that evidence of conspiracy. Volume one of the report focused on Mueller’s “investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and its interactions with the Trump Campaign.”
Volume one contains descriptions of “the links between Russian-linked individuals and the Trump campaign,” including Trump’s effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, contacts with alleged Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik who was given private campaign polling data, and as The Inquisitr reported, an offer of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton by Russian-born campaign adviser Dimitri Simes, and many other examples.
Those links between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to Wheeler, would all be included as “effort emanating from Russia to influence the election,” and as a result, evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia — though Mueller emphasized that he did not believe the evidence was enough to bring a prosecution.