The Mueller Report – Introduction, Volume I

The Introduction puts the important conclusion right up front.

The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.

That’s a stark way to begin, followed by a quick summary of the major events of the Russian campaign and the American response. Obviously Muller intends that conclusion as a takeaway.

The investigation identified two Russian operations. (I will frequently peel out Mueller paragraphs into bullets to make them more readable.)

  • First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
  • Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents.

We are now learning in the news that there were more Russian operations. The report goes on to say that the Trump campaign expected a benefit from the Russian operations but does NOT say that the operations changed any results in the election. That is difficult to determine and outside the scope of the investigation.

The treatment of evidence is described in detail.

  • The report describes actions and events that the Special Counsel’s Office found to be supported by the evidence collected in our investigation.
  • … the report points out the absence of evidence or conflicts in the evidence about a particular fact or event.
  • … when substantial, credible evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence, the report states that the investigation established that certain actions or events occurred.
  • A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.

The last is particularly important to keep in mind, in view of Attorney General William Barr’s and President Donald Trump’s claims.

The report explicitly disavows the word “collusion” as being useful. Discussion of conspiracy is consistent with criminal law. The word “coordination” appears in the appointment order but, like “collusion”, does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law.

We understood coordination to require an agreement-tacit or express-between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests.

What the report contains:

Volume I describes the factual results of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and its interactions with the Trump Campaign. Section I describes the scope of the investigation. Sections II and III describe the principal ways Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Section IV describes links between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign. Section V sets forth the Special Counsel’s charging decisions.

Volume II addresses the President’s actions towards the FBI’s investigation into Russia’ s interference in the 2016 presidential election and related matters, and his actions towards the Special Counsel’ s investigation. Volume II separately states its framework and the considerations that guided that investigation.

Here are a couple of articles relevant to the general topic.

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Barr’s vs. Mueller’s Statements about Special Counsel Report

The Articles of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump: A Draft

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