Mueller report: What you need to know
Published Thursday, April 18, 2019 11:32AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 18, 2019 2:58PM EDT
Nearly two years after former FBI director Robert Mueller was tasked with looking into allegations of links between the Russian government and the electoral campaign of U.S. President Donald Trump, the public now has a chance to see most of Mueller's findings.
A partially-redacted version of Mueller's report to Attorney General William Barr was released on Thursday.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the 448-page report:
Russia interfered in the election: Mueller concludes that Russian operatives did interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign by hacking into the computers of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and releasing stolen emails to WikiLeaks, as well as by disparaging Clinton and promoting Trump in an organized social media campaign.
Links between Russia and Trump: The report makes note of “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,” saying Russia believed it would benefit from a Trump presidency while campaign officials believed they would benefit from Clinton’s emails being released.
Dozens charged: Thirty-four people were charged as a direct result of Mueller’s investigation. Several of them have already been convicted. High-profile cases include former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to investigators, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to lying to Congress, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort receiving a 7.5-year sentence for offences including obstruction of justice, tax fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
No proof of collusion: Mueller wrote his investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” It’s not quite the “no collusion” conclusion Trump has repeatedly asserted, but it’s also a suggestion that he may be right about that.
Social media disinformation: The Russian-backed Internet Research Agency was found to have made attempts to divide Americans along political lines, creating social media accounts which garnered hundreds of thousands of American followers and reached up to 126 million people on Facebook alone.
The election didn’t end it: Russian government operatives and business leaders continued to try to woo the Trump team following the election, Mueller found – having been encouraged to do so by “the most senior levels of the Russian government.”
‘Inadequate’ answers from Trump: Mueller wrote that written answers Trump provided his team were deemed “inadequate,” but prosecutors decided not to press him further, which would have meant issuing a subpoena and likely starting a long legal battle if the president refused to grant a formal interview.
Not a full picture: Investigators were unable to get “a complete picture of the activities undertaken by subjects of the investigation,” Mueller wrote. A number of reasons were cited for this, including people refusing to give information that would incriminate themselves, witnesses providing “false or incomplete” testimony, and other witnesses deleting emails or otherwise not retaining relevant communications.
What we don’t see: Large portions of the report are blacked out. Barr decided the public should not be able to see grand jury testimony, classified information and items related to ongoing investigations, as well as anything “that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests” of private citizens who were not charged. Democrats have said they will explore legal avenues to have the full, unredacted report made public.
Colour-coded redactions: When information is blacked out, colour-coding was used to explain why. Yellow text and the letters IT mean the contents might reveal an investigative technique. White text and the letters HOM mean Barr believed making the information public could cause harm to an ongoing matter. The letters PP, in green, are over information that was blacked out for personal privacy reasons, and the red letters GJ represent information presented to a grand jury.
Further probes possible: The report details 10 times Mueller felt Trump was attempting to seize control of the investigation, including efforts to encourage witnesses not to co-operate with the probe and an order to have Mueller fired, which was refused. Mueller says these incidents are deserving of criminal scrutiny.
With files from The Associated Press