1/ Attorney General William Barr repeatedly insisted that Robert Mueller "found no evidence" that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that Russian efforts to interfere "did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign." Barr also claimed Mueller's report did not find "collusion" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Further, Barr said that even if the Trump campaign had colluded with WikiLeaks, that was not a crime. Mueller identified "numerous" Trump campaign-Russia contacts, but the report says there was "insufficient evidence" to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump or his campaign aides and their contacts with Russians. The report outlines how Trump was elected with Russia's help and when a federal inquiry was started to investigate the effort, Trump took multiple steps to stop or undermine it. Barr said Mueller examined 10 "episodes" where Trump may have obstructed justice, but that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes did not amount to obstruction." According to Barr, Trump acted out of "noncorrupt motives" because he was frustrated by Mueller's investigation, as well as media coverage that he felt was hurting his administration. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 700: Trump's pick for attorney general criticized Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation in an unsolicited memo he sent to the Justice Department in June . William Barr said "Mueller's obstruction theory is fatally misconceived," claiming that Trump's interactions with James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice, because Trump was using his "complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding." If confirmed as attorney general, Barr would oversee Mueller's work. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / Washington Post)

  • READ: Barr's prepared remarks. (New York Times)

  • [BEFORE REPORT]: Mueller's report will reportedly be "lightly redacted" and is expected to reveal details about Trump's actions in office that came under scrutiny. According to an outline the Justice Department used to brief the White House with, Mueller did not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction of justice because he couldn't determine Trump's intent behind his actions. Separately, the Justice Department will let a "limited number" of lawmakers review Mueller's report "without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case." (Washington Post)

2/ Mueller's office chose not to charge Trump with obstruction out of "fairness concerns," because "we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct." According to the report, Mueller considered Trump's written answers "inadequate," but knew a subpoena would impose "substantial delay" and they believed they had "sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President's testimony." Trump stated more than 30 times in his written answers that he "does not 'recall' or 'remember' or have an 'independent recollection'" of information investigators asked about. Mueller, citing numerous legal constraints in his report, declined to exonerate Trump, writing: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment." (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • "GAME OVER," Trump tweeted immediately after Barr's press conference. Trump spent the morning tweeting about "Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats" and complaining of "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT." (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 666: Trump said he answered Robert Mueller's written questions himself "very easily," but he hasn't submitted them because "you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions." Rudy Giuliani said there are at least two dozen questions that relate to activities and episodes from before Trump's election. Trump spent more than five hours in meeting over three days this week with his attorneys working out written answers for Mueller about alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Despite telling reporters that "the questions were very routinely answered by me," Trump's temper boiled during all three meetings. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump targeted Mueller on Twitter yesterday, calling the special counsel team "thugs" and the investigation a "witch hunt." (Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 670: Trump submitted his written answers to Robert Mueller's questions "regarding the Russia-related topics of the inquiry," according to Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow. Mueller has not ruled out trying to compel Trump to sit for an interview after reviewing the written answers. (Bloomberg/ CNBC / New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ The Justice Department briefed White House lawyers about the conclusions made in Mueller's report before it was released, which aided Trump's legal team in rebutting the report's findings. Barr initially refused to answer whether the Justice Department had given the White House a preview of Mueller's findings. Later, Barr confirmed that he gave Trump's lawyers access to Mueller's report "earlier this week" – before it was to be sent to Congress and made public – and that Trump's lawyers did not ask for any redactions. (New York Times / Associated Press)

4/ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Barr of "waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump." Nadler charged that Barr was attempting to "bake in the narrative to the benefit of the White House" and to protect Trump by holding a news conference about Mueller's report hours before it was made public. Yesterday, Nadler and other House committee chairs issued a joint statement urging Barr to cancel the news conference and "let the full report speak for itself." The House Judiciary Committee plans to review the redacted report, and then ask Mueller and his team to testify before Congress. (Washington Post / ABC News / Politico)


🔍 Mueller Report Key Findings (so far):

A high-level overview of what's been learned from the Mueller report. All summaries are sourced from the live blogs linked to below or directly cited inline (or both).

  1. Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation was influenced by a Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion that says a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller's report says the team was "determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes."

  2. Trump engaged in "multiple acts" to influence on law enforcement investigations, but that his efforts were "mostly unsuccessful" because his aides refused to carry out his orders.

  3. Trump urged campaign aides to find Hillary Clinton's private emails. After Trump publicly asking Russia to find Clinton's emails in July 2016, Trump then privately "asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails." Michael Flynn told Mueller that Trump "made this request repeatedly," and Flynn "contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails," including Peter Smith, a longtime Republican operative, and Barbara Ledeen, who worked for Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. (Washington Post)

  4. The Trump campaign "expected it would benefit" from information released by Russia, but "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." The report continues: "The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome." Putin's "preference was for candidate Trump to win."

  5. When Trump learned of Mueller's appointment as special counsel, he said: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked." Trump then repeatedly berated then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his recusal from the Russia probe, saying Sessions had let him down. "How could you let this happen, Jeff?" Trump demanded.

  6. After Trump fired James Comey, he attempted to have his White House counsel fire Mueller a month later. Trump twice told Donald McGahn to call Rosenstein and order him to fire Mueller, saying: "Mueller has to go" for alleged "conflicts that precluded him from serving as special counsel." McGahn refused, saying he did not want to repeat the "Saturday Night Massacre." McGahn then called Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, and told him Trump had asked him to "do crazy shit." Trump later pressured McGahn to deny that he tried to fire Mueller.

  7. "Substantial evidence" corroborates Comey's recollection that Trump pressured him to let Flynn off easy. "I hope you can let this go," Trump allegedly told Comey. "While the president has publicly denied these details, other Administration officials who were present have confirmed Comey's account of how he ended up in a one-on-one meeting with the president," the report says. "And the president acknowledged to Priebus and McGahn that he in fact spoke to Comey about Flynn in their one-on-one meeting."

  8. Trump weighed installing Rachel Brand, then the Department of Justice's number three official, "to end the Russia investigation or fire the special counsel." Trump asked Staff Secretary Rob Porter what he thought of Brand and if she "was good, tough and 'on the team.'"

  9. Paul Manafort told Rick Gates to "sit tight" and not plead guilty because Trump is "going to take care of us." Mueller's report says "evidence […] indicates that the President intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government." Gates ended up cooperating with Mueller.

  10. Trump's personal attorney directed Cohen "stay on message and not contradict the President" regarding testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project that continued behind January 2016. Trump's personal lawyer told Cohen that he "was protected, which he wouldn't be if he 'went rogue.'"

  11. Mueller declined to prosecute "several" people connected to the Trump campaign who lied to the special counsel's office or to Congress about their contact with Russians and on other matters, including Trump Jr. and Sessions.

  12. Federal prosecutors are pursuing 14 other investigations that were referred by Mueller. Two were disclosed in the redacted report: potential wire fraud and federal employment law violations involving Michael Cohen, and charges against Gregory Craig, the former White House counsel under Obama, who was accused of lying to investigators and concealing work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine. The other 12 referrals were redacted because the details could harm continuing investigations.

  13. Mueller left the door open to the possibility that after Trump leaves office, prosecutors could re-examine the evidence which could "potentially result in a judgment that the president committed crimes." Trump's lawyers have argued that it was impossible for Trump to illegally obstruct the Russia investigation, because he has full authority over federal law enforcement as head of the executive branch. "The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law," Mueller's team wrote. (New York Times)

Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg

The Mueller Report: Annotated and Live Analysis


In other news.

  1. House Democrats subpoenaed nine banks as part of an investigation into Trump's financial and potential money laundering tied to Russia: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Investigators on the House Financial Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee have focused their early efforts on Deutsche Bank, which has said it in engaged “in a productive dialogue” with the committees. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  2. North Korea said continued nuclear talks would be "lousy" if Mike Pompeo remains involved, demanding that the Secretary of State be replaced by someone who is "more careful." A North Korean foreign ministry official said last week that Pompeo "spouted reckless remarks, hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership" after he agreed with the characterization of Kim Jong-un as a tyrant. That same official warned on Thursday that if Pompeo remains involved, "the talks will become entangled." (BBC)

  3. North Korea said it test-fired a new type of "tactical guided weapon." There was no evidence the test involved a nuclear detonation or an intercontinental ballistic missile. (New York Times)


Become a member.

Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.
Learn more