The Mueller Report is the official documentation of findings and conclusions of an investigation by Robert Mueller into efforts by Russia to interfere with the 2016 American presidential election. The team investigated allegations of conspiracy and coordination involving President Trump and Russia, as well as claims of obstruction of justice by the President. The report was officially titled "Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election".
The Mueller Report was submitted to the office of the Attorney General in March 2019 while a redacted version was released to the public in April 2019. The full report is currently under the President’s protective assertion.
The Robert Mueller report is divided into two volumes. The first volume concludes that Russia interfered with the presidential elections “in a sweeping and systematic fashion” through social media campaigns and computer hacking. The Trump campaign is said to have welcomed the interference since they expected to reap significant electoral benefits from it. The second volume looks into allegations of obstruction of justice by the President.
Key points from the Mueller Report
The publicly released version of the Robert Mueller report is a 448-page document that outlines the findings of the special counsel. This might be quite tedious to go through for many people. So, what is the Mueller report? Here are the top facts from the Mueller investigation.
1. Russia hacked Hillary Clinton’s staff
The Mueller report finds that The Russian Army’s General staff hacked the Democratic candidate’s staffers, including the campaign chairman (John Podesta). Bodies such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as well as the Democratic National Committee, were also compromised. The Russians obtained numerous documents from the hacked emails and distributed them through Wikileaks, DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0. The latter two were Russian creations.
2. Trump did not conspire with the Russian government
The Robert Mueller report notes that the hacking activities coincided with a series of communications between the Trump campaign and individuals connected to the Russian government. The report also points out that Russia stood to benefit from a Trump presidency and worked towards ensuring that outcome. The Trump campaign, on the other hand, believed that it would benefit from the documents obtained from compromised emails. However, the Mueller team did not find sufficient evidence to prove that the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 elections.
3. The President made efforts to curtail the investigation
According to the Mueller report summary, the President reacted negatively to the appointment of special counsel Mueller. He termed it as an end to his presidency and even worked towards having Attorney general Jeff Sessions get back to the investigations. This was done to have the special counsel removed from the investigation.
The President also allegedly worked towards preventing the disclosure of evidence through potential private and public witnesses. These conclusions are described in the second volume of the report that looked into allegations of obstruction of justice.
4. Russian government operatives infiltrated social media platforms
The agents, with ties to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), reached millions of people via well-coordinated internet campaigns. The plan involved promoting the Republican candidate (Trump) while criticizing the Democratic candidate (Hillary). Some of the Facebook accounts that had a massive following before being shut down included ‘United Muslims of America’ (300,000 followers) and ‘Don’t Shoot Us’ (250,000 followers).
According to data from Facebook, posts from these groups had reached an estimated 29 million Americans and more than a hundred million people all over the world. The IRA-affiliated social media accounts were brought down in August 2017.
5. The Trump campaign and Wikileaks were in direct contact
Trump Jr. was in contact with Wikileaks regarding a site linking the Republican presidential candidate with the Russian President. Part of the communication included Wikileaks asking the Trump campaign to disseminate some information that alleged the Democratic candidate had advocated the use of drones to target Julian Assange.
Wikileaks also asked the Republican campaign to tweet a particular link stating that it would help them dig through leaked emails. The Trump Mueller investigation notes that a few days later, Trump Jr. posted the link ‘wlsearch.tk’ on his Twitter page.
6. Russia was interested in a Trump presidency
Months after President Trump announced his bid to run, Russia became interested. The main reasons behind this included his name and public status. The President’s prior business dealings with individuals linked to Russia were also a part of the Trump Mueller investigation. The ‘Trump Tower Moscow Project’ was of particular interest to the investigators. The report found that Russia perceived a Trump presidency to be more beneficial than a Hillary presidency and worked towards ensuring that the same occurred.
7. One of Trump’s foreign policy advisors was a patsy of Russian intelligence
One of the most interesting Mueller Report Trump mentions concerns Carter Page. The campaign’s foreign policy advisor had lived in Russia and was at one time approached by Russian intelligence. The investigation notes that Russians had formed a relationship with Carter in 2008 and 2013. The 2016 interest in Carter was attributable to his affiliation with the Trump campaign.
During the campaign, Mr Page was a strong advocate for pro-Russia decisions and even visited the country, albeit in a personal capacity. However, the report did not find sufficient evidence to link Carter with efforts to coordinate with the Russian government to interfere with American elections.
8. Firing James Comey was not obstruction of justice
The report concludes that the firing of Comey did not amount to obstruction of justice ‘because the investigation continued’. The Mueller reports suggest that the firing of the former FBI chief was not effective in stopping the investigation. The team argued that the action would only have been termed obstructive if it had the natural and probable effect of interfering with the ongoing investigation.
9. It was all about potential business opportunities
One thing that stands out within the first volume of the report is how prominent people in the Trump campaign used their ties with the President to gain business favours. Carter Page and Paul Manafort have been particularly mentioned to have attempted to gain post-election business ties with Russia. It would seem that a majority of people in the Republican campaign had little faith in a Trump victory.
10. George Papadopoulos talked to someone outside the Trump campaign
George was in the foreign policy panel for the Trump campaign. He admitted to telling the foreign minister for Greece about Russia obtaining documents concerning the Hillary campaign. George had also spoken about the indications of possible Russian assistance to the Trump campaign. This would be achieved through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to the Democratic candidate.
The fascination surrounding the Mueller Report is unrivalled due to the broad range of issues and implications within it. Findings and conclusions by the special counsel have elicited mixed reactions from different quarters. There have even been talks of impending impeachment of the President based on the contents of the report. We can only wait and see how this legal drama unfolds.