NYT Guest Post: The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things.

New York Times

By Matt Apuzzo 

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, produced a report of more than 400 pages that painted a deeply unflattering picture of President Trump but stopped short of accusing him of criminal wrongdoing. Here are seven takeaways.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Mr. Trump that a special counsel had been appointed in May 2017, Mr. Trump grew angry: “I’m fucked,” he said, believing his presidency was ruined. He told Mr. Sessions, “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

Mr. Trump began trying to get rid of Mr. Mueller, only to be thwarted by his staff. In instance after instance, his staff acted as a bulwark against Mr. Trump’s most destructive impulses. In June 2017, the president instructed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, to remove Mr. Mueller, but Mr. McGahn resisted. Rather than carry out the president’s order, he decided he would rather resign.

Two days later, Mr. Trump asked another trusted adviser, Corey Lewandowski, to tell Mr. Sessions to end the investigation. Mr. Lewandowski did not want to, so he punted to a colleague, Rick Dearborn. He, too, “was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through.”

One of the unanswered questions of the past two years — which helped fuel the F.B.I. investigation, congressional inquiries and journalistic scrutiny — is why so many people lied, changed their stories and issued misleading statements to both the public and federal authorities.

The report recaps one false statement after another. Just a few examples:

Mr. Trump was livid when journalists revealed that he had unsuccessfully ordered Mr. Mueller’s firing. The president tried to get Mr. McGahn to say publicly that was false, but Mr. McGahn refused, saying that the news reports were accurate. Mr. Mueller’s report notably declared that Mr. McGahn was “credible.”

Mr. Trump also pressed the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to give a news conference about the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. The White House press office wanted Mr. Rosenstein to say it was his idea. Mr. Rosenstein told the president that a news conference was a bad idea “because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth.”

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, admitted issuing a statement to the news media “in the heat of the moment that was not founded on anything.”

No, F.B.I. agents didn’t actually call the White House offering sup...(Vol. II, Page 72)

Mr. Mueller can’t explain why the stories about Mr. Comey’s firing ... (Vol. II, Page 77)

The president has spent the past two years denouncing the news media. He has repeatedly accused reporters of making up sources to destroy his presidency. The report, though, shows not only that some of the most unflattering stories about Mr. Trump were accurate, but also that White House officials knew that was the case even as they heaped criticism on journalists.

In May 2017, for instance, The New York Times disclosed that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into the president’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Trump tweeted, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”

“Despite those denials,” Mr. Mueller wrote, “substantial evidence corroborates Comey’s account.”

In another instance, Mr. Trump appeared to use criticism of the news media as a legal strategy. He attacked a Times article suggesting that his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, might cooperate with the Justice Department and provide information about Mr. Trump.

That tweet coincided with outreach to Mr. Cohen by Mr. Trump’s associates, and Mr. Cohen understood that this was all part of an effort to get him to “stay on message and be part of the team.”

The president accused the “dishonest media” of making up stories th.... (Vol. II, Page 147)

Mr. Trump was quick to declare the report a total vindication.

But federal authorities went out of their way not to exonerate Mr. Trump. They wrote that his conduct in office “presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

If the evidence cleared the president, Mr. Mueller would have said ... (Vol. II, Page 8)

Mr. Trump repeatedly said he was eager to sit for an interview with Mr. Mueller’s team, despite his lawyers’ insistence that doing so would be a terrible idea.

The report makes clear why his lawyers were so worried about it. Mr. Mueller had a huge cache of unanswered questions, misleading and conflicting statements, and unexplained actions with which to confront the president. Sitting for an interview, the report makes clear, would have exposed Mr. Trump to far more problems.

Mr. Mueller said he chose not to subpoena the president because a court fight would delay the investigation. But that decision meant that the authorities were never able to ask the central question in the obstruction case: What was Mr. Trump thinking when he tried repeatedly to undermine the federal investigation?

Mr. Mueller believed he had the authority to subpoena the president. (Vol. II, Page 13)

Mr. Mueller makes explicit what Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on: Russia secretly manipulated the 2016 presidential election.

The investigation ultimately found no evidence that anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign participated in that effort, but the report reveals in stark detail the many suspicious interactions that had the F.B.I. so worried. Many of those have been reported, but the report amounts to a compendium that helps explain the origins of the F.B.I. investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”

For instance, it has long been known that George Papadopoulos, a young campaign aide, was told that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. But the report goes much further, revealing that Mr. Papadopoulos suggested an explicit offer by the Russian government to work with the Trump campaign to sabotage Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Papadopoulos indicated that Russia wanted to coordinate with th... (Vol. I, Page 89)

Prosecutors describe a president who was preoccupied with ending a federal investigation, a White House that repeatedly told misleading and changing stories, and a presidential campaign that was in repeated contact with Russian officials for reasons that are not always clear.

Even though prosecutors concluded that didn’t amount to provably criminal conduct, the report is astounding in its sweep. Yet it is also a reminder of how much the public has learned over the past two years about Mr. Trump’s conduct.

If the American public or members of Congress were learning these things for the first time, the political fallout would normally be devastating. The consequences of the report remain to be seen, but if people are not surprised or shocked by the revelations, then Mr. Trump may have benefited by the steady drip of news stories he has so loudly criticized.

The special counsel suggests a pattern of behavior by Mr. Trump to .... (Vol. II, Page 157)

Matt Apuzzo is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in Brussels. He has covered law enforcement and security matters for more than a decade and is the co-author of the book “Enemies Within.” @mattapuzzo

Adam Goldman reports on the F.B.I. from Washington and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. @adamgoldmanNYT

Views: 64

Comment by koshersalaami on April 18, 2019 at 8:27pm

Thank you for digesting this

Comment by Ron Powell on April 18, 2019 at 11:53pm

This 'digest' is the work of the two NYT writers credited here...

After quickly sifting through material re reaction to the release of the Mueller Report , I determined that this is the best of the thumbnail presentations we're likely to see....

Comment by Doc Vega on April 19, 2019 at 3:04am

Hundreds of thousands turning away from the Democrat Party thanks to 22 month fruitless investigation, fabricating an attempted coup by the Deep State over a falsified dossier paid for by Hillary and the DNC, 20 million spent on a report that did not find criminal conduct, yet Democrats continue to attempt interdiction with their lies! an NYT reporter? What a fucking joke! Now the GOP and conservatives will begin their genuine investigation HEADS WILL ROLL. Mark my words!

Comment by Ron Powell on April 19, 2019 at 6:35am

Vega, if you honestly believe any of what you're saying here, you're in worse trouble than I, or anyone else, could imagine you to be in...

Just don't drink any more of the kool aid...

Comment by koshersalaami on April 19, 2019 at 7:41am

If you haven’t figured out that he believes this by now, you don’t read him. 

Doc, just to tell you, your name’s in the Deep State dossier. Be careful. 

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 19, 2019 at 8:54am

Vega- it is truly sad when anyone toes the party line over the truth that dangles right in their face. So, face it, your guy is a crook, just like Nixon. The first tell should have been his use of Joe McCarthy's lawyer, you know, the one who didn't take notes (wonder why?). This election was a total Active Measure Victory. The former Soviet's used TRUMP CAMPAIGN polling data, provided directly to our 70 plus year arch enemy by THE CAMPAIGN MANAGER. This data, now in the hands of the world's premier Internet experts/hackers/trolls, for the last time they are the former Rocket Scientists of the now defunct USSR, was then used to fool scared white credulous fools in highly targeted areas of defined swing state, thanks to the greed and stupidity of another thief, Zuckerberg (who stole Facebook from the Winklevoss Twins to start his 'career'). Since every imbecilic useful idiot is on 'The Social Network', and since Zuck is such a greedy seditious piece of human trash, it was child's play to play to the racial fears (totally made up) and actual herstoric hate of the 'Trump Voter' (read KKK member or sympathizer, just like Trump's Daddy). It worked, for a time, (look at your own 'opinions' on this- you're totally brainwashed, a truer sucker there never was), but that time just got Muellered Up! From now own it is a downhill run for you, your primitive thinking collaborators (read imbecilic fools who will believe ANYTHING if it comes from the leader of their 'Tribe'), and anyone who listens to Barr and doesn't see a natural born liar and treasonous criminal. Good luck Doc.

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