This morning, the nation finally got its hands on a copy — albeit a heavily and obviously strategically redacted one — of Special Counsel Mueller’s report on President Trump and his campaign’s alleged effort to collude with agents of the Russian Federation.
Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr tried his best to muddy the waters this morning by holding a press conference in which he repeated over and over that there was “no collusion” and made the bizarre argument that somehow the president had to be innocent because he was emotionally distressed by the investigation.
It was an obvious partisan stunt designed to protect the president and dictate the narrative before the report itself dropped, and once it did, it was clear why they felt the need to do so.
When the Mueller Report was first completed about a month ago, Barr had quickly issued a series of short summaries declaring that there was not enough evidence to prove collusion and since that was the case, there could be no obstruction for a crime that had never been committed — summaries that were so generous the Special Counsel’s team took the unprecedented step of publicly challenging their conclusions, accusing him of downplaying the significance of their findings.
But even from a cursory examination of the Mueller Report, it’s clear that the president’s cries of “TOTAL EXONERATION!” and “NO OBSTRUCTION, NO COLLUSION” are not only premature but absolutely false.
For instance, reporters quickly noticed that Mueller disagreed with Barr on the issue of obstruction, specifically saying that Mueller was “unable” to state with confidence that Trump did not obstruct justice.
MUELLER disagrees with Barr on obstruction. He says in his report that proving obstruction doesn't require proof of an underlying crime.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) April 18, 2019
Mueller's obstruction conclusion: "…if we had confidence…that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment." pic.twitter.com/LhtK0YGQHt
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 18, 2019
Not only did Mueller think Trump obstructed justice, he also believed he could still be held legally accountable for it:
Mueller rejected the Trump team's argument that a president cannot possibly illegally obstruct a DOJ investigation: "Article II of the Constitution does not categorically and permanently immunize the President from potential liability for the conduct that we investigated."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 18, 2019
It turns out that while the president expended a great amount of effort into attempting to obstruct the investigation, he was frustrated by his own team, who simply refused to carry out his orders.
In other words, Mueller says that President Trump did not obstruct justice not for lack of trying, but because his aides wouldn't let him.
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) April 18, 2019
The report confirms that Trump tried to fire Mueller, but White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to do so.
Trump ordered McGahn to deny Trump tried to fire Mueller.
McGahn wouldn’t. pic.twitter.com/zkmu4J9fii
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) April 18, 2019
The overarching message of this report is that the Trump team attempted to both collude and obstruct justice but were so stunningly incompetent they failed to do both.
Michael Cohen tried to get in touch with the Russian government about Trump Tower Moscow but sent it to the wrong email address and then took two days to realize it pic.twitter.com/CvLT8zhX5m
— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) April 18, 2019
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s in the Mueller Report and its conclusions about Trump and Russia — and it’s clear that “no collusion, no exoneration” is very much NOT what it says.
The sheer amount of redaction likely hides extremely incriminating evidence that will trickle out over the next few weeks through committee hearings and subpoenas; no matter how hard Trump insists that it is, this is not over yet — and even as is, these are all still impeachable offenses.
2. @emptywheel is at the same place I am: the Mueller report can be read as an impeachment referral. Going further: it actually, in laying out the damaging facts, is a road map to impeachment. The question is: does congress use this road map.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) April 18, 2019