Yes, Collusion. Yes, Obstruction.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a less redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference. The new details confirm everything the president has tried to deny: Yes, the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. And yes, President Donald Trump obstructed justice to prevent investigators or the public from finding out.
The newly unredacted sections confirm that Mueller’s team had evidence that Roger Stone—who was convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness intimidation—set up a backchannel to the Russian cut-out WikiLeaks to exchange information. It also reveals that he then conveyed that information to then-candidate Trump himself. Furthermore, Mueller believed that Trump may have made false statements in his written answers to the special counsel.
- The newly unredacted section alleges that, according to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, before Russia began releasing emails through WikiLeaks, Stone called Trump to tell him in advance that Wikileaks would be releasing information.
- Cohen spent much of the campaign pursuing an effort to develop Trump Tower Moscow with Kremlin-linked officials, including a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Cohen has testified that he regularly updated Trump and other members of the Trump family on these efforts.
- A Kremlin-linked professor told Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos months in advance that Russia had stolen “thousands of emails” from Trump’s political opponents and planned to anonymously release them to help Trump.
- An emissary for a Russian oligarch close to Putin offered Donald Trump Jr. dirt on former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. eagerly took the meeting and brought in Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner.
- According to the Mueller report, Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates shared polling data and internal campaign strategy with Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Gates suspected was a Russian spy, on the express understanding that he’d share it with Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska. (Manafort has said he did not believe Kilimnik was a spy. Kilimnik has denied any ties to Russian intelligence.)
- Michael Flynn, whom Trump had picked to be his national security adviser, conspired with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to undermine the Obama administration’s response to Russian interference.
- According to the new sections, Mueller’s team investigated whether Trump intentionally lied to them about his conversations with Stone. In his written answers, Trump wrote, “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him, nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.”
- Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, then confirmed in a nationally televised interview that he did so to impede the Russia investigation. He also tried to fire Mueller multiple times—only failing because the advisers he instructed to do so balked—and tried to have his White House counsel Don McGahn create a false record saying Trump hadn’t tried to fire Mueller.
- Because DOJ guidelines prevent the indictment of a sitting president, Mueller declined to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” about whether Trump obstructed justice. However, he also wrote that, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
- After the report was released, more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors signed an open letter saying that, were Trump not president, he would likely have been prosecuted for obstruction of justice.
- Cohen, Stone, Papadopoulos, Manafort, and Flynn have all been convicted of or pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about their contacts with Kremlin-linked actors during the 2016 campaign. (The DOJ has attempted to drop its charges against Flynn. The judge in the case has resisted the effort.)
Trump colluded with the Russian government’s attack on American democracy to win the 2016 election. He subsequently did everything he could to obstruct the investigation into that attack. The Mueller report makes all of this very clear, and the president’s frantic efforts to undermine the investigation cannot change these simple facts.