What Is the 'Mueller Report'?
'Mueller Report:' The Special Counsel Investigation Of 2017 to 2019
It Began With The Firing Of James Comey
According to the person who started it, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, the investigation that led to the publishing of the "Mueller report" began in the days following his appointment when President Donald Trump fired Director James Comey on May 9, 2017.
The appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller was among other options discussed by intelligence officials, including invoking the 25th Amendment and secretly recording President Trump in the Oval Office. Mr. McCabe spoke about this at length with 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley in an interview hosted with MSN. Trump later fired McCabe, purportedly for leaking information to the media, hours before he would qualify for full retirement benefits, after 20-plus years of civil service.
In early 2017, Trump himself boasted to Russian government officials, in the Oval Office, that firing FBI Director Comey helped ease "pressure" from ongoing investigations, as reported by NBC. The president had previously asked Comey to be lenient with a case involving Russian ties to fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein to "write a memo listing the reasons Comey had to go."
Prior to the events that led to the start of the Mueller report investigation, investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election were already underway. Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions found his personal connections to the investigations to be of a nature that required him to recuse himself from them, as reported by The Guardian. This left deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein to act as attorney general in the matters.
Robert Mueller: Appointed By Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
Read The Full, Redacted 'Mueller Report'
Full 'Mueller report,' hosted with Wikipedia
Trump Publicly Linked Comey's Dismissal To Russia
Trump: Mueller Report The Work Of 'Haters'
Andrew McCabe launched two investigations. One asking if President Trump fired James Comey to "impede" the Russia investigations and a second asking if Trump acted "on behalf of the Russian government." Among the reasons he gave for his decision, McCabe described how he felt pressure from the president to adopt a story that the membership of the FBI was pleased with Comey's firing, when he actually observed "shocked" fellow agents.
"I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russian case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion, that were I removed quickly, or reassigned, or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace," Andrew McCabe told 60 Minutes.
President Trump has wavered between praising the results of the Mueller report and cutting it down as merely being the work of detractors. Trump seemed to take conflicting stances in an April 20 tweet.
"Despite the fact that the Mueller Report should not have been authorized in the first place & was written as nastily as possible by 13 (18) Angry Democrats who were true Trump Haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself, the end result is No Collusion, No Obstruction!"
Andrew McCabe, Robert Mueller, and Rod Rosenstein are all Republicans, as featured with 60 Minutes and Bustle. Both parties "resoundingly supported" Robert Mueller's appointment. The Justice Department has characterized Andrew McCabe's statements as "inaccurate and factually incorrect." Nevertheless, the former deputy FBIs director's story matches neatly with many publicly known facts.
The investigation headed by Mueller led to 34 indictments. USA Today reports that those charged included Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Alex van der Zwann, Richard Pinedo, Konstantin Kilimnik, 12 Russian agents, 13 Russian citizens, and three corporate entities. Furthermore, the president still faces ongoing investigations by the Justice Department, Congressional committees, and the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office, as reported by Vox.
President's 'Own Worst Impulses'
Despite President's Claims, Report Does Not Exonerate Him
The Mueller report neither accused the president of criminal acts, nor exonerated him outright of obstruction of justice. Many observers consider publicly known information about Trump to be examples of obstructing justice: many are contained in the report itself. Time has featured Robert Mueller's respect for longstanding Justice Department policy stating that a sitting U.S. president "cannot be indicted," because it would hinder their ability to effectively govern.
The report appears to leave a path for Congress to conduct its own investigations. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President." Along with Senator Elizabeth Warren, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has joined a growing number of Democratic politicians calling for Trump's impeachment, as reported by MSNBC and CNN.
The New York Times has compiled "episodes" of President Trump's potential obstruction of justice included in the Mueller report. They include his statements about his "ties to Russia," attempting to sway James Comey, his stance towards Jeff Sessions' recusal, his attempts to sway Sessions' oversight of the investigation itself, his reaction to learning that he was being investigated, the firing of James Comey, his overall stance toward Robert Mueller, "misleading" statements concerning a Trump Tower meeting with Russians, his attempts to replace Sessions, possible witness tampering, and "interacting with his personal lawyer."
Vox has noted that impeachment requires a House majority, currently Democrat, and two-thirds of the Senate, where Republicans have maintained control. A number of the Senate GOP membership would have to vote against a Republican president and their party leader in order for impeachment proceedings to succeed.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Stephen Sinclair