June 12, 2019
Trump Claims Mueller Report Says Campaign 'Rebuffed' Russians, The Word Mueller Actually Used Was 'Welcomed'

Since special counsel Robert Mueller completed his report on his Russia and obstruction of justice investigations into Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has repeatedly claimed that the report showed that Mueller found "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia. He used the phrase "no collusion" 69 times on his Twitter account alone since Mueller handed in his report on March 22, according to the Trump Twitter Archive.

Trump's claim is seemingly not accurate, according to the Mueller report itself, in which Mueller states that he did not investigate "the concept of 'collusion,'" which he said in the report — available online via The New York Times — is "not a specific offense" found in the United States Code.

But on Wednesday, Trump added a new, apparently false assertion about the Mueller report to his repertoire of such claims. In a brief exchange with reporters at the White House, as Raw Story reported, Trump claimed not only that Mueller found "no collusion," but that Mueller actually stated that Trump "rebuffed" Russian efforts to connect with the 2016 Trump campaign.

"It said no collusion and no obstruction and no nothing," Trump said in his brief media session. "And, in fact, it said we actually rebuffed… Russia, that we actually pushed them back, we rebuffed them."

Trump earlier this month had also claimed that Russians were "rebuffed at every turn in attempts to gain access" to his campaign, The Washington Post reported.

The word "rebuffed" does not appear anywhere in the 448-page Mueller report. In fact, Mueller in the report makes the opposite findings — at one point even using the word "welcomed" to describe the Trump campaign's response to one specific instance of Russian interference of the 2016 election. Mueller found this reported interference was designed to help Trump win and damage Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump's campaign "showed interest in WikiLeaks's releases of documents and welcomed their potential to damage candidate Clinton," Mueller wrote on Volume One, Page Five of the report.

With regard to the other aspects of the Russian operation to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, Mueller found that the Trump campaign — far from having "rebuffed" the Russians — "expected it would benefit electorally" from the Russian interference operation.

Mueller in a public statement on May 29 said that he found "insufficient evidence" — though not zero evidence — "to charge a broader conspiracy" between the Trump campaign and the Russians, according to a transcript of Mueller's statement posted by Vox.

Robert Mueller addresses reporters.
Getty Images | Scott Olson
Special counsel Robert Mueller.

But Mueller did not actually investigate a "broader conspiracy," according to legal expert John T. Nelson, writing Tuesday on the national security analysis site Just Security.

Mueller for unexplained reasons chose to focus only on "a narrow investigation of evidence of conspiracy in Moscow's social media interference and hacking and release of Clinton campaign emails," Nelson wrote, adding that it now falls to Congress to investigate what "led the Special Counsel's Office to focus only on these facets of Russia's electoral interference" while ignoring other matters that could have a direct bearing on possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Mueller fails to explain, Nelson wrote, why he apparently neglected to investigate Trump's finances, even though he performed "extensive forensic analysis of (Trump 2016 Campaign Chair) Paul Manafort's accounts." Manafort is now serving a sentence of more than seven years in federal prison for financial crimes uncovered by Mueller, as NBC News reported. But Mueller never bothered to perform a similar investigation into Trump's own financial transactions, Nelson writes.