Special counsel Robert Mueller delivers report on Russian investigation

Photo pictures special counsel Robert Mueller — Photo courtesy of Flickr

Over the last two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has investigated Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.

According to the article “Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General” published in the New York Times, the Mueller investigation has gained the most public interest in the U.S. since Watergate.

On March 22, 2019 Attorney General William Barr submitted a summary of Mueller’s findings to Congress. Over 500 witnesses were interviewed for the investigation, and information was requested from 13 foreign governments according to an NPR article titled “Mueller Report Doesn’t Find Russian Collusion, But Can’t ‘Exonerate’ On Obstruction.”

“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Barr wrote in the summary.

Though no Americans were found guilty of collusion, six former Trump aides were found to have lied or deceived federal investigators or congress regarding their interactions with Russians during the campaign.

The first part of the investigation found two distinct Russian efforts to interfere in the election; one effort from the Russian government, members of which successfully hacked into computers associated with the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, and another effort from a non-government organization called the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

According to Barr’s summary, the IRA worked to “conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.” The Special Counsel has brought criminal charges against a number of these Russian actors, but did not find any coordination between these groups and any members of the Trump administration.

The second part of the investigation looked into whether or not President Trump has obstructed justice. “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Barr said.

Though the Special Counsel was unable to find substantial evidence of obstruction of justice, it is important to note that prosecutors were never able to personally interview the President. Despite the current policy that sitting presidents can not be indicted, Trump’s lawyers negotiated that he would only give written responses, fearing the possibility of political repercussions from an oral interview, according to the New York Times.

Many Democrats and Republicans have called for the full report to be made public.

In the summary, Barr wrote: “I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies. Based on my discussions with the Special Counsel and my initial review, it is apparent that the report contains material that is or could be subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure which imposes restrictions on the use and disclosure of information relating to matter[s] occurring before grand jury.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and New York Senator Chuck Schumer released a statement against the White House being able to preview the findings, saying, “The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public,” as quoted in the New York Times article “Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General.”

The Times also reported that polls demonstrate that the majority of Americans want to see the reports’ findings, and that the House of Representatives unanimously passed an agreement to publicize the report, though it is nonbinding. President Trump also calls for the investigation to be publicized.

He is quoted in the same New York Times article as saying,“Let people see it. … There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no nothing.”

It has since been announced that the report will be made public in mid-April. According to the New York Times article “Barr Says Mueller Report Will Be Redacted and Made Public by Mid-April,” the White House will not be able to see the document before it is made public.