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Analysis

The Mueller Report Is Here

The nearly 400-page report addresses allegations of coordination and obstruction of justice.

  • Brennan Center for Justice
April 18, 2019

The Justice Depart­ment released on Thursday a redac­ted version of special coun­sel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump campaign and Russian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion. Mueller first submit­ted his report last month to Attor­ney General William Barr, who released a four-page summary on March 24. Lead­ing up to Thursday’s release, Barr held a news confer­ence in which he defen­ded the pres­id­ent’s actions.

The nearly 400-page long redac­ted version of the report is divided into two volumes — the first volume focuses on coordin­a­tion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team, and the second focuses on Trump’s possible obstruc­tion of justice after assum­ing the pres­id­ency.

Read some of the main takeaways from Bren­nan Center experts:


Michael Wald­man, pres­id­ent, Bren­nan Center:

“The issue of whether a pres­id­ent has obstruc­ted or can obstruct justice is very import­ant: it’s not just about whether there’s enough evid­ence for a grand jury to bring crim­inal charges. We’ve always held pres­id­ents to a differ­ent stand­ard. When it comes to pres­id­ents, it’s an abuse of power.”


Wendy Weiser, director, Demo­cracy Program:

“Putting aside the strik­ing narrat­ive of Russian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and pres­id­en­tial miscon­duct, I am taken aback by the extremity of Attor­ney General William Barr’s misrep­res­ent­a­tion of the report’s find­ings and seem­ing disreg­ard for even the appear­ance of impar­ti­al­ity. This is a seri­ous blow to the Depart­ment of Justice and the rule of law.”


Lawrence Norden, deputy director, Demo­cracy Program:

"Separ­ate and apart from the issue of collu­sion or obstruc­tion of justice, the Mueller report is a reminder just 18 months before our next pres­id­en­tial elec­tion that a foreign power engaged in a major effort to inter­fere in our elec­tions in 2016. In addi­tion to a massive effort on social media, includ­ing the purchase of polit­ical ads, Russia targeted state and local elec­tion boards, breached and extrac­ted data from a state regis­tra­tion data­base, and used spear phish­ing attacks to gain access to and infect computers of a voting tech­no­logy company and a Flor­ida County.

In the coming months, we must take addi­tional crit­ical steps to ensure public confid­ence in the 2020 elec­tions. That should include: (1) Congress and the states provid­ing more money to upgrade and secure crit­ical elec­tion infra­struc­ture; (2) ensur­ing that the 12 states that presently use voting machines without paper backups replace those systems; (3) mandat­ing robust post-elec­tion audits to confirm voting machine totals; (4) mandat­ing the shar­ing of cyber threat inform­a­tion between elec­tion vendors, federal author­it­ies, and local elec­tion offi­cials; and (5) passage of the Honest Ads Act in Congress, which would make it more diffi­cult for foreign powers to purchase polit­ical advert­ise­ments on the inter­net."


Rudy Mehrb­ani, Bern­ard and Anne Spitzer Fellow and senior coun­sel:

"I worked in the White House for more than four years, under four White House coun­sels and four chiefs of staff. The conduct outlined in the report is simply unima­gin­able and without preced­ent: The pres­id­ent and the chief of staff asking another offi­cial to create a false record, seem­ingly in exchange for an ambas­sad­or­ship (pp. 254–55, 260); the pres­id­ent ignor­ing the advice of his chief of staff and White House coun­sel to meet one-on-one with the FBI director (pp. 245–46); the pres­id­ent contact­ing the FBI director about an ongo­ing invest­ig­a­tion over the White House coun­sel’s objec­tions (pp. 269–71); the pres­id­ent lying to his chief of staff about the loca­tion of the AG’s resig­na­tion letter (pp. 291–92); the pres­id­ent telling his WH coun­sel to inter­vene in the AG’s recusal decision (p. 263); and the pres­id­ent commu­nic­at­ing through inter­me­di­ar­ies with the subject of a crim­inal invest­ig­a­tion who was fired from the White House (pp. 255–56). The list goes on.

The Saturday Night Massacre pales in compar­ison. This is why we gravely need to codify the restraints we previ­ously assumed pres­id­ents and senior offi­cials would follow – as recom­men­ded by our National Task Force on Rule of Law & Demo­cracy. It’s also why Congress needs to invest­ig­ate and make its own inde­pend­ent judg­ment about the pres­id­ent’s conduct."


Daniel I. Weiner, senior coun­sel:

“The Mueller report’s analysis of poten­tial campaign finance viol­a­tions by the Trump campaign, includ­ing those arising out the June 2016 Trump Tower meet­ing with agents of the Russian govern­ment, leaves many unanswered ques­tions. The law prohib­its candid­ates from accept­ing anything of value from a foreign national, includ­ing agents of a foreign govern­ment. Full stop. The fact that a prosec­utor decided (rightly or wrongly) that he could not prove crim­inal intent does not mean the law was not broken. It is now up to the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion to pursue these seri­ous alleg­a­tions through the civil enforce­ment process. Alas, given the Commis­sion’s track record, I am not optim­istic. Hope­fully I will be proven wrong.”


Spen­cer P. Boyer, director, Wash­ing­ton Office:

“As a former intel­li­gence officer who regu­larly briefed the Obama White House on Russian inter­fer­ence in the West, I was grat­i­fied to see the Mueller report give a fuller picture of how the Krem­lin and its prox­ies attemp­ted to influ­ence Amer­ican senti­ments lead­ing up to the 2016 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion. Despite Pres­id­ent Trump’s claims to the contrary (and sole focus on whether or not collu­sion was proven), the report reminds us all how vulner­able we still are to foreign inter­fer­ence. The report also reminds us that while the pres­id­ent has broad author­it­ies, Congress must embrace its Article I power to protect federal invest­ig­a­tions, the courts, and congres­sional proceed­ings from attempts to under­mine them.”


Ian Vandewalker, senior coun­sel:

“…and there­fore, the #MuellerRe­port conclu­sions, contrary to pre-release spin, do not consti­tute exon­er­a­tion.” pic.twit­ter.com/6xAJaql5h4— Ian Vandewalker (@Ian­Vandewalker) April 18, 2019