The Trump Men and the Grand Jury Redactions

Much of the discussion over the Mueller Report in the last day has centered on two questions: Why didn’t Mueller force both Donald Trumps to testify?

That discussion, however, has largely not taken notice of two redactions of grand jury materials. The first comes on page 117, at the beginning of the discussion of the June 9 meeting. After saying that the office had spoken with every participant of the meeting save Natalia Veselnitskaya and Don Jr, it explains that the President’s son would not testify voluntarily, which is followed by a grand jury redaction.

Update: Here’s a second instance where discussion of Jr’s testimony is redacted for grand jury reasons.

One likely explanation for these redactions is that they explain the Special Counsel’s consideration of subpoenaing the failson to appear before the grand jury. They might say, for example, that the grand jury did subpoena him, but that he invoked the Fifth. They might say they considered it but decided not to upon being told that he would invoke the Fifth.

The report does say (page 5 of Volume I) that some people invoked the Fifth but weren’t given immunity.

Some individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination and were not, in the Office’s judgment, appropriate candidates for grants of immunity.

There’s one other possible explanation for the redaction: It might say they decided against subpoenaing him since he was a target of the investigation (and given the very narrow statements about findings of criminal conspiracy, it’s possible his later conduct is still under investigation).

The second redaction comes on page 13 of the obstruction volume, in the discussion of attempts to get the President to provide testimony. After stating that the Special Counsel tried to get Trump to sit for a voluntary interview, only to have Trump stall for more than a year, there’s a redacted sentence or two.

The discussion explaining that the office had the authority and legal justification to call the President is not redacted. That suggests the redacted line must pertain to something actually involving the grand jury itself — perhaps a characterization of the discussion with the grand jurors about the issue or maybe even something noting that the grand jurors did want to subpoena the President.

Update: Here’s a second instance of a redacted grand jury discussion.

In other words, for both the Trump men, there remains an open question about how they dodged testifying about their actions. These two redactions are two of the things Bill Barr is protecting by refusing to ask Chief Judge Beryl Howell to approve sharing of grand jury material with the House Judiciary Committee, as is constitutionally proper. Given how little grand jury material we’re actually discussing, it is all the more problematic that Barr is hiding these two passages even while claiming — as he did yesterday — that the President fully cooperated with the investigation.

We don’t know why Mueller didn’t call Don Jr to testify, and we don’t know whether the grand jury wanted to force the President to testify.

Those are two questions, however, that House Judiciary Committee is in a constitutionally proper position to demand to know.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

146 replies
  1. Willis Warren says:

    Now, if trump leaves office, can this GJ be reconvened and subpoena him? It seems to me that Mueller’s “third” point in his decision making outline suggests that he wasn’t going to *charge* a sitting president anyway, and didn’t want to subpoena him

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One thing about Bill Barr that should be more obvious to those oblivious of his bio, is that he is not tethered to reality when he makes a claim. Like Trump, he invents what he needs to in order to do his job on the protective detail. Congress might take note of that as it has further dealings with him.

    • Vern says:

      Impeach Barr, establishes a strong predicate for obtaining an unredacted report and maybe curtails his Cohn Headedness.

      • rip says:

        I think that is a good step – impeaching Barr.

        Not sure I can visualize a cone(Cohn)-shaped hat on his toady head.

      • dw says:

        If Barr is removed from office by impeachment, does FVRA entitle Trump to appoint another Matt Whitaker-type character in his place?

        • Vern says:

          Actually, I think BDTS comes out better in this. No doubt venal, but incompetent.

          Impeachment boils down to enforcing norms and Barr isn’t acting like a normal AG. He’s an artful liar in a post of fundamental trust and a several times previous offender of the very things he’s doing now. Barr’s being a Cohn Head and should be held accountable.

      • Vern says:

        Chait on impeaching Barr:

        “… Next to the president himself, the attorney general is the most crucial actor in the safeguarding of the rule of law. The Justice Department is an awesome force that holds the power to enable the ruling party to commit crimes with impunity, or to intimidate and smear the opposing party with the taint of criminality.

        There is no other department in government in which mere norms, not laws, are all that stand between democracy as we know it and a banana republic. Barr has revealed his complete unfitness for this awesome task. Nearly two more years of this Trumpian henchman wielding power over federal law enforcement is more weight than the rickety Constitution can bear.”

        • bmaz says:

          Thing is, there is sooo much more as to Trump that needs investigating beyond just the Mueller Report. The are the illegal actions, the refusal to abide by the Constitution, the refusal to submit to oversight, the emoluments. All of that could be folded into an impeachment investigation. Not saying that the House has to vote out articles of impeachment, but the process of an impeachment investigation would greatly enhance their powers to collect evidence across many issues instead of piecemeal. And it would be extremely hard for a court, even SCOTUS, to deny that evidence. What you call the investigation matters. A lot.

        • Vern says:

          Agree with all that, but wouldn’t it make tactical sense to also confront Barr/slap him upside the head with an impeachment inquiry? Wouldn’t that serve to make the fucker look over his shoulder/keep his head down? Just to start.

          There’s a road map for Trump thanks to Mueller. Investigate away.

          In the meantime Barr (and the country) need a significant emotional event. We didn’t get to prosecute Roy Cohn, perhaps we could constrain Barr’s Cohn Headedness?

        • Drew says:

          I mentioned impeaching Barr when his letter came out–largely as a way to get the whole Mueller report. I agree with you here, however. It is among the things that might be helpful, but not the only good course. The important thing is getting the whole truth out and exercising effective accountability.

          While and official impeachment inquiry on Trump would be most desirable, rather than spend too much energy amongst Democrats on this prudential debate about whether, it makes sense to me for the various House committees to aggressively go about finding facts and questioning witnesses, etc. until such time as there is more of a consensus on a specific impeachment inquiry, per se.

          Who knows, maybe some Republican will get frustrated and say out loud, “Nadler, if you want to continue on this course, you need an impeachment resolution.” and the Honorable Jerry will say, “Thank you, I think we will.”

        • timbo says:

          Would there be any criminal charge of Barr? What would it be? Perjury? As for impeachment, certainly it seems that Barr is more interested in advocating for the President then he is for the Constitution as it is literally written.

        • BobCon says:

          The House has some leverage in this fight as far as the DOJ budget, and I truly hope they are thinking through what steps they may have to take.

          They need to be pushing through Appropriations language now that would give them greater control over Barr’s actions. This, of course, will run into the Senate’s opposition and draw a veto threat, but the lines of debate need to be set ASAP.

          I assume there will be a brutal fight over FY2020 funding for the whole government. Now is the time for the House Democrats to anticipate a GOP shutdown, and make good behavior by DOJ a key condition for any deal.

        • Marinela says:

          From reading the links and comments, the concern is that Bill Barr could successfully curtail the remaining investigations that Mueller farmed out.
          If he is willing to spin the Mueller results when he knows a copy of the report gets eventually released, to congress and the public, what stops him to politicize the remaining investigations, that are not so public, and we have many unknowns.
          What stops him to feed Trump to info about them?
          Banana republic.

  3. CaliLawyer says:

    Seems likely that Mueller wasn’t able to parallel construct everything he would’ve liked; there could well be plenty of information obtained in the CI investigation that was never going to make it into court, and therefore left out. The reliance on public reporting might well cover some of this, but the combination of the SCO’s narrow remit and the destruction of direct evidence make the report feel incomplete.

    • JamesJoyce says:


      Even “Columbo” would not leave such ripe investigative dangling dingleberries for the plucking to dehydrate on a grand jury vine…

      There was a reason a village was razed to probably destroy

      Fraud 1933

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump and others have touted a defense to his criminality along the lines of this: he’s open and notorious about it, people accept it and voted for him. They have forgiven and ratified his earlier conduct.

    That flies in the face of his other behavior, which is to demand a grotesque non-disclosure agreement from anyone who touches his world, including government employees. That’s an actor hiding a lot of secrets. That he claims to be open and notorious, a what you see is what you get guy, is another of his sham marketing campaigns. Instead of selling cheap steaks, bad wine, and unbuilt condos, this one is his attempt to print a get out of jail free card.

    Like a check scam – where a fraudster writes one empty check after another, depositing them into a circular arrangement of accounts to pump up his apparent worth – Trump only gets away with this scam as long as he gets away with it. Stop writing one check, and the accounts and net worth crash to the jailhouse floor.

    One way to take Trump’s get out of jail card away from him is to just say, no. Impose social, political and legal sanctions on him. Stop working for him. Stop repeating his lies unfiltered and without context. Stop attending to his every false word. Expect something from him. Don’t accept his ersatz substitutes. He’s never lived like that. He shouldn’t now. If you don’t, you are as complicit in his wrongs as he is.

    • Ed Walker says:

      My solution is for media to create a section called “liars corner” where they just recite whatever these liars say, and put the actual facts in the positions where they are likely to be read first.

      • rip says:

        Page A4 or perhaps in the “Society” pages. Nicely framed in orange (if paper does colors cheaply.) The day’s/week’s top whoppers. Maybe with a header: Biggest Berders

        • P J Evans says:

          Needs to be on the first (or maybe last) page of the section, where people who don’t read more than that will see it. Putting stuff inside tends to hide it, as NYT and WaPo know well.

      • orionATL says:

        now that is an excellent suggestion.

        I am so damned tired of mainstream media calling trump a liar, as if they had done their days work with that trivial effort, and then gone off for a long nap.

    • Jockobadger says:

      One way to take Trump’s get out of jail card away from him is to just say, no. Impose social, political and legal sanctions on him. Stop working for him.

      Nice one Earl. It’s been reported that he’s having real trouble recruiting any credible, quality people to work at the WH. I wonder if he’s foresighted enough to actually be appointing “acting” cabinet members, department heads, etc., as part of a larger plot to become King of the USA? Nope. No way. People just don’t want to work for him because he’s a lying, cheating fool and if you work for him, you’re tainted. We need to get and stay organized, folks. 2020 is just around the corner and we need to vote this carpetbagger out so he can face the justice he so richly deserves.

        • P J Evans says:

          He’d have to pay a premium for temp/contract people, and we know how he is about that kind of thing.
          Besides, temps know good bosses from bad, and they’d be walking out the first time he yelled at them for not doing something that’s illegal.

    • Marinela says:

      There is a primary challenger to Trump in 2020.

      Would be useful to vote in the republican primaries. Are they open to everybody or you need to be a registered republican?

        • Marinela says:

          It is confusing. The state I vote, is Minnesota.

          I found this about primaries in MN:
          The presidential primary results must bind the election of delegates in each party.

          Does it mean that I vote for delegates rather than a specific candidate?
          In MN, can only request a republican or democratic primary ballot, which is fine by me, as I don’t really care who gets nominated by the democrats. Well I do, but I care more if I can help that Trump gets primaried so he gets to face the music before the obstruction clock runs out.

        • P J Evans says:

          Presidential elections are like that, in all states: you see the candidate’s name, but you’re actually voting for electors pledged to that candidate. Some states require that the electors not vote for anyone else if their candidate wins (“faithless elector” laws), which isn’t how it was supposed to work.
          But whether you can vote in the primary of the other party is entirely dependent on which state you’re in.

        • Marinela says:

          Primary presidential, not general.

          So you are saying there is no guarantee on how the republican delegates are going to vote, in primary, but voter is going to choose a candidate on the ballot.

        • P J Evans says:

          When you vote for a presidential candidate, you’re actually voting for a slate of electors pledged to that candidate.
          The primaries are there to choose the one (or more than one) that gets nominated at the convention. The US has never had direct election of presidents and vice-presidents.

        • Marinela says:

          Ok, let me rephrase this question below:
          So you are saying there is no guarantee on how the republican delegates are going to vote, in primary, but voter is going to choose a candidate on the ballot.

          The question I meant to ask:
          So you are saying there is no guarantee on how the republican delegates are going to nominate at the republican convention, in primary, but voter is going to choose a candidate on the republican primary ballot.

          If this is the case, how transparent is the process?
          For instance, if Weld wins the republican primary in MN, but the delegates that pledged for Weld switch the votes to Trump, would this be public knowledge?

          I know that if this happens in the general election, it is obvious it happened, but not sure how it works in primary.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      They will have to ask it half a dozen different ways, because if Barr does not just say, “I’m not talking about internal management issues,” he will parse his words better than a former president. Mueller, on the other hand, might be more forthcoming, despite his famous reluctance to talk out of school.

      • RWood says:

        “I would like to know if Barr shut down Mueller….”

        I think Mueller’s abrupt change in tone at the end of the document somewhat confirms that. He was slowly building up to something along the lines of ” …and for these reasons we recommend an indictment,” only to suddenly change direction and place it in the hands of congress.

        I’m still unsure how to process that, but to me it says “if he weren’t sitting in that chair he’d be facing multiple charges”.

        • dwfreeman says:

          Look, there was clearly disagreement. Based on Trump’s ongoing push to get the probe done and the time between Barr’s appointment and confirmation, makes pretty clear that Barr accelerated the process. Whether it significantly impacted the resulting work, only Mueller can say.

          In the end, Barr dictated the roll-out. He knew exactly how to play the process, having done it before, and used the same playbook. He used Rosenstein to counter Mueller’s conclusions in a way that makes Rosenstein look like his stooge rather than a Mueller protector and partner in seeking truth against the grain of partisanship. That issue is paramount here and I can’t shout it or repeat it enough. This was a Republican enterprise through and through in spite of the character of all the players and their outlook about the constitution and whether they think it has meaning in defending themselves or the rule of law.

          But the best evidence of Mueller’s view of the Barr takeover is this: He didn’t participate in the public presentation of his own report and wanted no part in commenting on Barr’s misrepresentation of it. A good soldier stands by his commanding officer. A soldier who disrespects the manner in which his command and force’s work was shaded for political purposes and the benefit of an unfit leader, does not need to stand as a sunshine patriot of a false cause. Mueller is no fool and he knows better than anyone, the subject of which he spent the past two years investigating.

        • Stephen says:

          I haven’t plowed through Volume II in its entirety yet. But the change in tone you describe could have an innocent explanation. It’s something I have not seen discussed yet, but once you see it, it’s pretty obvious. In the Introduction to Volume II, the investigators make four basic statements, to wit:
          1. They cannot make a standard prosecutorial decision because of the DOJ policy against indicting a seated president.
          2. They feel justified in conducting the investigation anyway because he won’t be in office forever and there are other entities (i.e., Congress) who are not so constrained.
          3. If they believe he is guilty they cannot say so, because it would not be fair to make such an accusation without going to trial (even Trump deserves his day in court, a chance to establish his innocence).
          4. If they believe he is innocent, on the other hand, they can say so, because this harms nobody. However, they will not say so.

          So from a prosecutor’s point of view you are either guilty or not guilty. You are not “not guilty.” Therefore…

          And so the argument developed in the text will point toward the obvious conclusion, but the authors must “pull back from the brink” and leave it up to Congress to act.

        • dwfreeman says:

          With more detailed reporting on this topic by the Washington Post, it is now clear there was a major disagreement on intent as it related to what the Mueller team aimed to do and in its probe, and what Barr saw as its job and his in dealing with it.
          Both as Trump’s handpicked guy and maintenance of his own legal position on obstruction.

          Mueller apparently made it clear that his investigation was never about recommending a criminal prosecution of a sitting president, even one whose case was largely investigated on the two campaigns that were run to elect him. Meaning he was given the protection of the office of president while being the subject and potential target of possible crimes that challenged the legitimacy of the office he holds.

          Curiously enough, toward that end as it relates to intent and obstruction itself, his own lawyers prevented him from answering any questions that dealt with subject matter outside the campaign, and then he failed to answer nearly 40 of them based on faulty recollection.

          So, Barr and Rosenstein were both supposedly surprised to learn on March 5, that Mueller would be submitting a report detailing no prosecutorial desicions on any crime, either because of longstanding DOJ policy and because Mueller and his team didn’t view it as their job to make such recommendations under Special Counsel regulations, but instead leave that up to the constitutional responsibility of Congress with a detailed record in place to guide it for pending or future prosecution. Both sides were hamstrung by their own expectations and conclusions, which is why Barr and Rosenstein apparently chose to fill in the blanks with their own legal interpretation, while Mueller declined comment on that.

          Let’s acknowledge that Trump never hired anyone for attorney general because he wanted that person to best represent the people’s law enforcement and legal interests. He hired three guys all of whom have bent themselves to serve Trump’s needs, which is why Sessions got fired, because he failed to go all-in for Trump.

          When Trump says Sessions should have told him he was going to recuse himself before he was hired if Trump’s campaign activities got him in legal trouble, Barr is whom he was actually envisioning as the second-coming of Roy Cohn.

          As Frank Rich once observed of Cohn’s mentorship of Trump, it was he who taught Trump to “counterpunch visciously, deny everything, stiff your creditors, manipulate the tabloids.”

  5. Badger Robert says:

    Trump Sr. is an experienced scammer. Everything is done with indirection and deniability.
    People end up feeling privileged to commit crimes for him. Honest people structure an alternative career and leave.
    Trump, Jr. is too dumb for anyone to trust. He is allowed to participate by conspirators who want to erase deniability. “But your son was there” is good blackmail material.

  6. BobCon says:

    I’m really curious if as MW raises, “it’s possible his (Jr.’s) later conduct is still under investigation.”

    I also look forward to finding out some day why Jr. was so deeply involved instead of Eric. I have to wonder if the Russians intentionally targeted the dumbest one — or if the targeting was also something Dad was behind.

      • BobCon says:

        I know there’s a running debate on whether Don Jr. or Eric is dumber. I’m still on Team Don, but I admit I could be wrong.

        • Doug R says:

          I suspect like me Eric is smart enough to realise how easy it is to be overwhelmed when trying to be dishonest whereas Jr is a chip off the old buffalo chip as it were.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Not a chance. Protecting the GOP, its patrons, and the president from its contents is why he’s there. Nor is anyone better at choosing what should stay in, be redacted, or given a pro-Trump spin.

    • e.a.f. says:

      Barr may be crooked, but he isn’t stupid (well in my opinion). Some thing I read recently advised he worked for a legal firm which also had clients such as some of the Russians and those affiliated with them. the writer was of the opinion, Barr, as Sessions did, ought to have recused himself, because of that.

      My take on Barr, given his history, he’s there to “cover” for Trump. That was why he was hired. He’ll do his job, go on his way and who knows join the talking head idiots on CNN

      Don Jr. is so full of himself, he doesn’t know he’s dumb as they come. it was interesting to hear Ivanka entered a “proffer” arrangement with the Mueller inquiry. Perhaps she wanted to ensure she was in the clear. Always thought she’d be the first of the off spring to throw daddy under the bus if she thought he might through her under a bus.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    Slightly OT, but isn’t this exactly what Barr said would constitute obstruction by the president?

    pg 157 Muller report:

    “to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”

    • timbo says:

      Yes, his testimony during his confirmation hearings would be interesting to pour over and compare to the wording in the Mueller report… might be a case for impeachment of the AG in fact…

  8. Boy c says:

    So if campaign finance was spun off to SDNY, and the trump tower meeting could constitute campaign finance violations, and Trump tower is in NY, and JR wasn’t interviewed by OSC which doesn’t interview targets….hmmmnn

    • timbo says:

      At the center of all this is the hamstringing of our legal system by the OLC’s opinion that a sitting President can’t be indicted. There is no law on the books that sez this, this is a policy of DoJ that federal prosecutors must follow. The Congress needs to know immediately which crimes the President would be/have been indicted for if this wasn’t DoJ/OLC policy. And then we need to pass a law that explicitly tells the OLC that they cannot formulate this policy as it violates the idea that no person is above the law, not even if they’re elected President.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In one of her many critical observations on twtr, Marcy describes, “Flynn’s text leaving off the sanctions discussion (which was the entire point of the call to Kislyak) sounds like laying a false paper trail.”

    That highlights something important. Trump is feral but staggeringly ignorant. His elder sons are woefully dim, if not quite as feral. But there are many people around Trump involved in these scandals who are neither.

    Flynn was, for example, a three-star general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He knew espionage, counter-intel and sigint. He had tradecraft. Manafort graduated from Georgetown and Georgetown Law. Gates, like Barr, from GWU.

    There are few coincidences here, but a lot of hiding, scheming, and lying corruption for fun and profit. They intended to fuck anyone who got in their way, even by being a teensy bit “disloyal,” by refusing to commit a felony to cover for them. People knew what they were doing.

    • Jenny says:

      Power and greed.
      “Give power in the hands of a greedy and mean person, and he will show you his extent of greed.” Beenish

    • timbo says:

      This. For how is it that the most well heeled could be so clueless about their obligations to the law and the country?

  10. JAFive says:

    It’s very interesting that they discuss declination of the campaign finance charges against Trump Jr, but they don’t discuss the declination on false statements charges.

    The report details follow-up to the Trump Tower meeting, and Trump Jr. testified that there was no follow up. The report doesn’t establish or suggest that Trump Jr knew about the follow-up, so I’m guessing that’s why he wasn’t charged there, but why not include that if so?

    Trump Jr also has (had?) apparent false statements exposure in relation to the August 2016 meeting with Prince and Nader (, the broad strokes of which Trump Jr confirmed. What’s really interesting here is that, despite the discussion of post-election activities by Nader and Prince, there’s no discussion of that meeting at all. There’s a very passing reference on p. 148 that “Nader developed contacts with both U.S. presidential campaigns…” It’s very odd that the report does not mention that Nader had met with Prince and Trump Jr. in August 2016 (conceivably the redacted section on p. 148 covers this, but that seems very unlikely).

    It seems pretty plausible to me that Mueller passed off a false statements charge (and maybe broader investigation) related to Trump Jr’s contact with Nader

  11. edge says:

    Dumb question – Is anyone besides the AG (e.g. Congressional committee chairs?) allowed to ask the judge to approve sharing GJ material?

    • JAFive says:

      Yes, Nadler can go straight to the judge. It might, however, require an impeachment proceeding for him to do so.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “It might, however, require an impeachment proceeding for him to do so.”

        Well there you are! That’s why the Democratic leadership is tryin’ to drown the impeachment baby in the bathtub. I wonder how long before Nadler puts Pelosi on the spot and calls for an impeachment inquiry.

    • Tech Support says:

      According to the Politico link I posted above, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has already filed a petition to that effect.

    • Eureka says:

      Yes if bmaz or harpie were here, they’d be noting the Boutrous [] (et al.) filing (discussed at Tech Support’s link).

      bmaz and others initially advocated for Barr and Nadler to join the petition. Though as discussion on this evolved, some (including bmaz, IIRC) now see Schiff as having a possibly clearer path over Nadler (absent an ongoing impeachment proceeding).

      • bmaz says:

        I’m here! Yes Ted filed that on behalf of RCFP back on the 1st of April. I still think Nadler is the right one to join in that, and he and HJC should do so. Schiff has a different path he should be pursuing under Rule 6(e)(3)(D).

        • Eureka says:

          Thanks for clarifying. Also glad I found your twitter to keep up on this stuff, plus your news-coverage takes– when you rant at the teevee, you scream for all of us!

        • Badger Robert says:

          OT: what has happened to the NRA and the Russian money story? How many of Sanders campaign was Russian influenced?

        • Rugger9 says:

          It’s not really OT, since the NRA appears to be one of the main funnels for Russian rubles (let’s not forget Mariia Butina) and they are quite willing to be the enforcement arm to keep the herd together. It’s why the GOP fears primaries more than history, because the NRA is very adept at pushing the MAGA tribe buttons.

    • timbo says:

      Yes. It’s in the regulations. Basically all attorneys involved in the prosecution appear to have the discretion to make such a request. What that means in reality though is another question.

  12. Willis Warren says:

    I’m still fascinated by this statement

    Third, we considered whether to evaluate the conduct we investigated under the Justice
    Manual standards governing prosecution and declination decisions, but we determined not to apply
    an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.

  13. Dr. Bob says:

    Given what the comments suggest and what has been reported AND what I have read of the report I have a lingering question and a possible answer:

    Was the probe terminated prematurely? I think YES!

    I think that prior to Barr being sworn in he and the ‘Orange Buffalo’ sat down and had a discussion. I believe he was told to end this investigation NOW!

    From the looks of the report, it does not look as though Mr. Mueller was done with his investigation. It also looks like the report was finished abruptly. It leaves too many lose ends. There are far more questions that remain un-answered then Mr. Mueller would have liked.

    No detail/explanation concerning the counter-intel investigation. Why?

    If this is a road-map for congress to investigate …. Well fine. I think that Mr. Mueller could have used another 2 yrs! look how long Water-Gate took, Clinton investigation, etc. .

    If he would have had the resources and backing we had in Water-Gate I think we would have had far more indictments, trials, conditions, and sentencing processes then we have had!

    I also think we would have been closer to the truth then we are now!

    ‘As hard as it is to learn about a secret, it is even harder to keep a secret ….. secret’

    • Strawberry Fields says:

      Mueller clearly shut it down exactly when he wanted to. Otherwise it would be in the report under “obstruction” section.

      • Phil says:

        It seems to me that if Barr cut short Mueller’s work, it wouldn’t appear in the obstruction category because, by definition, he can no longer explore that line of inquiry. Would this be an incorrect interpretation?

      • Bill Smith says:

        Would Barr shutting things down have been reported in some way that Mueller wanted to do something and he was told no?

        March 22, 2019 In addition to this notification, the Special Counsel regulations require that I provide you with “a description and explanation of instances(if any) in which the Attorney General” or acting Attorney General “concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted
        under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.9(a)(3). There were no such instances during the Special Counsel’s investigation.

  14. Zinsky says:

    As one pundit wrote, “if we don’t punish this president for these crimes by impeaching him, when will we use these powers against any sitting president?”

    Oh wait, that’s what Lindsay Graham said about Bill Clinton in 1999!!

    • e.a.f. says:

      saw a young Lindsay Graham saying that on a clip. best joke I’d heard all Good Friday Wish some one would ask Graham on camera, which he thinks is worse? I know, I know, the bible thumpers will say a blow job is against the bible, but not corruption, etc. that’s o.k. you’re supporting the political party which supports that god and jesus guy.

  15. RWood says:

    I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else yet, but I was surprised by the almost total lack of the name Steve Bannon in Mueller’s report.

      • e.a.f. says:

        Bannon was one of those who was in a “proffer” agreement with the Mueller inquiry. Love to know what was said…….

        Could use a laugh. After all if this is what the Russians did to the U.S.A. wonder what they try with the Canadian federal election this Oct. I suspect the trolls are all ready out doing their work.

  16. jaango says:

    Unfortunately, the use of Satire is difficult to address that is this requirement for our subject matter. Further, my attention to the Latino-oriented Republican alignment, is one not of consternation, but one of a chilling ‘quietude.’ Thus, Pence’s voluntary resignation of today would put himself as the first “among equals” in 2022 for the RNC’s nomination.

  17. Oldguy says:

    One thing that was truly troubling about Barr’s communications regarding the Mueller report was that he stated, if memory serves, that Mueller had not referenced the OLC “you cannot indict a sitting president” opinion. Did he say that in any of his congressional testimony? I have been looking for full transcripts and have come up empty. If he did, it would be a pretty good club to use on him, I would think.

  18. JD12 says:

    After reading the report, most of the collusion smoke appears to be people like Papadopoulos, Page, and Manafort trying to position themselves to wet their beaks if Trump won.

    That said, it sure looks like the June 9th meeting did result in Trump agreeing to “look at” the Magnitsky sanctions if the emails helped him win. Or at least the Russians thought it did. With Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya refusing to talk, we can’t know for sure.

    But what really stuck out to me was page 121, “Participants in the June 9, 2016 meeting began receiving inquiries from attorneys representing the Trump Organization starting in approximately June 2017.”

    So right after Mueller was appointed (and Trump said “I’m fucked”) Trump Org lawyers saw the June 9th meeting as a problem. That, to me, shows consciousness of guilt. And then, when the meeting became public and Don Jr. released the statement his father dictated, Trump lawyer Alan Futerfas sent Goldstone an email suggesting he release a similar statement.

  19. Margo Schulter says:

    In response to Oldguy at 2:34 pm. Checking Barr’s “nonsummary” of March 24, I’ve confirmed my recollection that Barr’s statement refers to the determination he reports as made by him and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein that there was no basis for bringing obstruction charges against Trump — and not to Mueller’s declining either to conclude that the President committed a crime or to exonerate him.

    The quote is as follows (March 24 statement, p. 3): “Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.[2]” Note 2 cites the OLC position of 2000 rejecting the indictment and trial of a sitting president.

    So, as I read it, Barr on March 24 was speaking for himself and Rosenstein, not Mueller — who, of course, gave a central role to the Department of Justice policy (going back to 1973) that a sitting president may not be indicted and prosecuted. Mueller added the corollary that since a sitting president cannot be speedily tried, with the opportunity for timely vindication, it would be improper for the OLC to find that the President committed a crime. Rather, the roadmap approach leaves the decision to the constitutionally appointed authority, Congress with its power of impeachment.

    • Oldguy says:

      Thanks, with your help I was able to find it in the non-summary summary. This leaves a pretty interesting logic puzzle. Mueller’s report cites the OLC guideline as a reason not to indict, but declines to exonerate, which presumably he would need to do if any of the three conditions cited by Barr as standard were absent, since they are conjunctive. Therefore, for each instance of obstruction, the judiciary committee could ask Barr which of the three conditions were failed for each, since he waived the OLC prohibition, and have him cite the basis since he is apparently at odds with Mueller. They could then go back and ask Mueller if he agreed on an item by item basis, and if he did not, again cite the evidentiary basis in the report. It would be a good test of the Barr team’s skill.

  20. viget says:

    No, I think Mueller ended when he wanted to. He probably would have liked more time, but the loose ends for his investigation were Andrew Miller and the Mystery Appellant stuff. Perhaps he felt they weren’t likely to be fruitful.

    Most of the really bad stuff, I am sure, is in the farmed out investigations. I think the GOP is going to turn on Trump (Romney is the first sign of this), this report is TOO damaging. It will be interesting to see what the takes are next week when Congress gets back from its recess.

    Sure, McTurtle, Graham, Nunes, Gaetz, Burr will probably all defend him (they’re all in on it too!), but wouldn’t be surprised if the rest cut and ran. Already, we’re seeing signs that Grassley may defect.

  21. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    I will apologize in advance for this comment being OT but if there are any folks out there who are as depressed as I over this entire kabuki dance with the Mueller report and are worried that the common folks out here in Trumpland are swallowing all the bullshit and are ready for desert, I would like to relate an event that might portend the Dumpster as the main course here pretty quick. About 2 weeks ago a private prison outfit made an application for a zoning variance in this little burg of 9,000 folks. They requested approval of the city to construct an immigrant detention facility right on the edge of city limits next to the private golf course. The city announced a public meeting to be held on April 23rd so the firm could reassure the community of the benefits of a prison facility for asylum seekers. Immediately upon hearing of this proposal Indivisable and Forward Action as well as the ACLU began to organize resistance and we began putting up signs announcing the public meeting and denouncing the idea of an immigrant prison in this little white bread community. Yesterday the corporation pushing the project announced that they were withdrawing the proposal. This happened in a community that went 55% for the Dumpster in 2016. This experience has galvanized folks here beyond even the recall efforts of Governor Walker and these people are not going back to sleep. Namaste brothers and sisters.

    • BobCon says:

      Glad to hear about the grassroots in action.

      I think there are a lot of really bad takes among politicians and the media about the things that motivate everyday Americans. There is a very strong yearning for an end to oligarch and corporate control. Impeachment should be seen as a supplement to bringing the billionaires back to earth, not a replacement.

    • fpo says:

      After a long, lousy travel day, most of it spent waiting in ATL for a plane – then for a flight crew – and then for a break in the weather…finally back home, take a peek at EW and yes! Really good to see this story. Well done!

      Indivisible is active here – and there’s lots of work to do in this neck of the woods, too. The KoolAid mix of immigration fear mongering and 2nd Amendment bs proved to be irresistible for way too many folks in this swing state. But after two years and nothing much to crow about, starting to see some chinks in the armor. And to your point, the ability to effect real change, right at home, is powerful medicine.

      Add a little E. Warren news…yep. Feeling better already.

  22. Margo Schulter says:

    Addendum for Oldguy at 2:34 pm. While my first reaction was to look at the March 24 “nonsummary” by Barr, I now suspect that you may have in mind a comment Barr made at the press conference yesterday. Barr said that he had asked Mueller “whether or not he was taking the position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion” (that a sitting president cannot be indicted or tried). And Barr maintained that Mueller had made it clear that “that was not his position.”

    Given the language of the Mueller Report itself, which does treat the OLC opinion as vitally important, I might hypothesize that Mueller additionally felt that it was inappropriate himself to address the ultimate question of whether Trump had committed a crime (or an impeachable offense) because this was properly in the province of Congress. At least, that explanation would seem to me to fit nicely with what Mueller himself has written in the report.

    • Oldguy says:

      Thanks, the presser comment is what triggered my question. What I could not remember was whether the issue had come up when Barr appeared at his budget hearings before the house and senate committees. Clearly, his dance around the issue is a tender spot for Barr, and I would love to see someone like Schiff, who can keep his composure, hammer him on it.

  23. K-spin says:

    Interesting discussion! One indication for me that Mueller concluded early is the implications for the release of the report on ongoing cases such as that of Roger Stone. IANAL but it would seem that the report gives his defence team material (of the ‘no collusion’ variety) that may influence either their case or the jury? I can’t help thinking that this is not an outcome Mueller would have wanted.

  24. MattyG says:

    Slightly OT, but do we have a read yet if the CI stuff Mueller handed off to the FBI was considered innappropriate by Muller to include as evidence in his official evaluation of DTs culpability? I ask given his rather narrow reading of his remit (did I get that right?) and his explanation for not pursuing a ordinary prosecution suggest that sensitive CI may have been “firewalled” similarly to the curious separation they made between conspiracy with “official” Russian governement personel, and Moscow intermediaries.

  25. Charles says:

    I think it helps to look at the Mueller Report as an interim report. There are many matters that are still hanging, some of which are apparent in the Report.

    The simplest explanation for what we have on the 6/9/16 Trump Tower meeting seems to be that, as Marcy long ago suggested might be the case, there may have been a second, smaller–and substantive–meeting at Trump Tower, with the meeting involving Don Jr. and Manafort serving as cover to bring together the principals. What Veselnitskaya proposed might have been a campaign finance violation, but since there was no acceptance of her insubstantial offer of dirt on the Ziff Brothers, I don’t see how it could have been prosecuted (but IANAL). This is speculation, but it makes more sense than the explanation offered by the participants in the meeting.

    The hacking was done by early June, and the releases were beginning. But the Guccifer 2.0 effort wasn’t particularly successful, and a better avenue was needed. Five days after the Trump Tower meeting, Guccifer 2.0 contacted Wikileaks. My speculation is that this second meeting (if it happened) could have been to provide materials from the hacks to Trump so they could know what to expect and/or to seek an alternative avenue. The Mueller report indicates that Wikileaks had prepared a system to release HRC e-mails months earlier. Did someone suggest to them that they could expect dirt on HRC? I certainly don’t know. But the timing is right for the Trump Tower meeting being a troubleshooting effort to solve the problem of Guccifer 2.0’s ineffectual release.

    • Bill Smith says:

      Didn’t Assange hold some press conferences / gives some interviews saying he was going to publish stuff about Clinton?

      • Charles says:

        I’ve been reading the Mueller report, PJ. For example, “Theft of Documents from DNC and DCCC Network” lists June 1 as the end of that particular theft. “Wikileaks First Contact With Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks” says Wikileaks created a searchable archive of FOIAd documents in March, before the hacks, stating that it may encourage people to send them more leaks.It gives June 14th as the date that DCLeaks contacted Wikileaks.

        As for the second meeting, it’s something that I responded to Marcy about on these very message boards. You can read it here:

        I would think that by now you would know that I research things before posting.

    • DMZ says:

      Side Note : I have always thought that the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower also served as a “Blackmail” event for the Russians. Once the meeting took place on Trump’s turf, the Russians had him. Putin must have laughed and laughed all the way to the bank, once Trump took that meeting with a Foreign Hostile Power at his own office.

      Trump served up his own Blackmail on a Silver Platter.
      The fact that an experienced Manafort didn’t warn them tells you everything you need to know about Manafort.

      Remember what Bannon said : The meeting was Treasonous.
      I guarantee you there were other Russians in the vicinity snapping photos.

  26. Sebrof says:

    Mueller confuses “significant body of evidence” with “complete body of evidence,” merely assuming evidence was substantiated elsewhere. Integrity is not complicit with “good enough,” and it does not bend to illusory time constraints. What am I missing?

    Is there a reason it should’ve taken over a month to redact this document? Is there any reason to assume the only difference between the original and the redacted version are the redactions themselves? Is there any reason to assume Mueller was a legitimate proctor to begin with? Is there any reason to assume this wasn’t a farce to bolster Trump’s base, gearing for 2020? After all, that was the preliminary result. I want to take ample care I am not merely one single tier of sheep higher than his common denominator.

  27. Diggo says:

    (Sorry for veering OT, but this thread has almost finished anyway)

    “This is not normal”

    How many times has that sentence been raised in alarm since Trump won candidacy? Psephologists, and philosophers (maybe even psychiatrists & neuroscientists) will dine on this for years as an updated, detailed example of anti-democratic conservative mindsets which have no problem with blatantly lying about matters which have very serious consequences for entire populations.

    Paradoxically, a large percentage of conservatives also believe in a non-existent medieval authoritarian God with whom they conduct personal conversations and attempt to appease by corrupt rituals, incantations and gifts of money to manifestly corrupt individuals and organizations. A sizable subset derive their state of the world via ludicrous inanities such as this:

    https: //www. raptureready .com/rapture-ready-index/ **

    Progressives also lie of course, but nowhere near as brazenly damaging to society as corrupt conservatives. Progressives are often hopelessly naive about truth, justice and the strength of democracy. Conservatives seem more vulnerable to F.U.D and consequently more willing to rely on authority figures. Corrupt authoritarian grifters like Trump operate by creating chaotic arguments to exploit progressive naivety and ideological restraint. This is ultimately where the banality of evil prospers.

    In this regard, “The Trump men” are (paradoxically) deeply cynical authoritarian true believers who simultaneously revere the rule of law while perverting it to achieve domination over their ideological enemies. Whatever it takes. They are professional illusionists wittingly engaged in tribal Us vs Them, yet unwittingly and ultimately deceiving themselves as described by Robert Sapolsky in this article a month ago:

    None of the above is intended to denigrate competent, truthful conservatives like Mueller, of which there are many, but insufficient in number to counteract the philistines who currently hold the most powerful positions within the Trump administration.

    [** Link broken to avoid accidental click-through by community members since the site is unfamiliar and unvetted for malware. /~Rayne]

  28. Jan says:

    This story is far from over, but I just have to say thank you Robert Mueller for demonstrating to all of us that we can believe our own eyes and ears. Barr’s summary a few weeks ago really had me questioning – how could it be that what I saw and heard wasn’t so? Now we know, Barr was engaging in gaslighting, and followed it up with – more gaslighting. Thank you EW for staying the course, you’ve been the solid mast in this storm. All the best to to you all, and thanks.

  29. Rita says:

    Is anyone else concerned that some key Congressional members in any Impeachment proceeding are also candidates for the Presidency?

    Klobucghar, Harris and Swalwill come to mind?

  30. P J Evans says:

    None of them are committee chairs, which makes it much less of a problem. Besides that, the election isn’t for more than a year, and they may very well drop out before then.

    • G Holland says:

      Why does everyone assume so blithely that there will BE an election in 2020? I have lost all faith in the entire system of what used to be a three-branch government with checks and balances. I apologize in advance for catastrophizing, but by 2020, couldn’t we just as easily be in the middle of a civil war and/or living under a dictatorship? DJT can take his gold sharpie in his short stubby fingers and sign an Exec Order doing away with free & fair elections due to the “national emergency” of people not being nice to him.

      What evidence is there that ANYONE with the power to do something about it is going to do something about it?

      That’s not a rhetorical question. Please – tell me what evidence there is, so I can stop researching emigration (better to leave while I’m still allowed to own a passport, I figure).

      • P J Evans says:

        Because state, counties, and cities HAVE ELECTIONS TOO. There’s no legal way to shut down elections in the US.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah this kind of stuff by G Holland is not right. The erosion of democracy and voting does not come that way. It comes, cool and slow (h/t Jim Morrison) out of the swamps of the Federalist society and the Republican brain trust eliminating voting rights, civil rights and the ability of the majority to exercise their will.

        • G Holland says:

          P J Evans said it exactly right, though: there’s no LEGAL way to shut down elections in the US. But there are plenty of illegal ways to accomplish the same result (e.g., the person running for office is the same person who oversees the election and counts the votes; voter suppression in GA & elsewhere; also see NC’s 9th district)…just like bmaz said above.

          The rule of law is lying by the side of the road, after being viciously attacked by the rough beast (which crawled out of the swamps of the Federalist society, thank you bmaz for that description) now slouching towards Bethlehem (Yeats was prescient).

          You say “this kind of stuff by [me] is not right” – but both your responses appear to agree with my underlying position if not the details. OK, the 2020 election won’t be eradicated by a gold sharpie, I take your point. But I never believed DJT would be the successful nominee; then I never believed he’d be elected; then I never believed he’d stay in office this long; then I never believed Congress would turn a blind eye to so many facts and so much evidence – so I no longer trust my beliefs that the voting public will oust DJT in 2020.

          What is going to occur between now & then that smothers the MAGA cult in its own swamp & renders it powerless?

      • Bay State Librul says:

        I agree.
        We are constitutionally fucked.
        Some say Mueller left a road map.
        All I see is a smash-up
        Impeach now.
        Barr is already planning his next steps…
        Maybe someone at the DOJ will blow that whistle.
        If Trump loses the election he will simply say it was rigged.
        Stop the Crises Now.
        The rule of law is on a death watch

  31. Bay State Librul says:

    A call to arms

    This what we need immediately.
    An impeachment…
    Warren is right
    No fucking around.
    Reason: We need a trope. We need to tell a story. A story the audience will understand. Our audience are the voters.
    Mueller has told his story, but it is too complex for most of Americans to grasp. It is too fucking legalistic.
    The only other alternatives are a “whistleblower” or “pitchforks and hitting the streets.”
    Barr will kill the remaining investigations. He has his marching orders. No more passes.

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    To repeat a theme that needs greater visibility, impeachment is not just about removing a political figure from office. Impeachment is about the process of holding political figures to account when their behavior is far outside the legal and political norms expected of those who hold great public trust.

    Mueller’s report, despite some of its milquetoast conclusions, demonstrates that Trump’s behavior merits investigation, censure, removal and prosecution. If the Democrats fail to act, it will reward Trump – as he has been rewarded his entire life – and ensure that few but more Trumps ever sit in the Oval Office.

    The Democratic-controlled House can hold an impeachment investigation and document its findings for itself and the public. It could, instead, blabber about a malleable public’s views – a public that does not share its constitutional duty to act.

    It could blabber that the public has been exhausted or wants to move on. What that would really mean is that a fearful Democratic leadership is exhausted, bereft of ideas and the will to fight for them. Less likely, it could be honest and admit that its largest patrons abhor the notion of holding the powerful to account. We could call that the bankster rule.

    The Democrats seem determined to pretend that there is nothing to see here and nothing to be done, and pray that Not Being Trump will be enough for them to take the White House and Senate. I would not take those odds to Vegas unless I were willing to spend the rest of my career wandering in the desert.

    • Tom says:

      The rationale for holding off on impeachment now is that the main goal, for the benefit of Americans and the rest of the world, is to get President Trump out of the White House. That goal, according to some Democrats’ thinking, is more likely to be achieved in the course of the 2020 Presidential election than by embarking now upon an impeachment proceeding that will likely never get past the Republicans in the Senate. But if the Democrats decide to forego impeachment now, it will be hard for them to argue next year that Trump is such a bad President that he must be voted out of office. The obvious GOP retort to that will be: “Then why didn’t you impeach him?” If you don’t impeach a President with the record that Trump has, then who do you impeach? It’s also important for the morale and reputation of the Democratic Party to be seen to be doing the right thing as it will demonstrate that they are thinking of the good of the nation and not just their own political fortunes.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The main goal of impeachment is not removal from office. It is accountability. To concede that the GOP’s efforts against Bill Clinton tainted it so much as to make it off limits would throw the match.

        Not demonstrably acting on Mueller’s report – not further documenting his malfeasance and seeking to hold Trump to account for it – will make campaigning against him harder, not easier (the Democrats’ apparent position).

        The most harmful thing it would do is affirm Trump’s conduct. If the only forum in which the Dems raise Trump’s malfeasance is in an election campaign, it will look opportunistic and self-serving. It will be spun by the GOP against the Democrats in countless ways, one is sour grapes, which portrays the Democrats as saying of Trump, “Why didn’t we think to operate the presidency that way?”

        It would be hard to imagine a better way for the Dems to self-destruct. Gresham’s Law will come into play, and Trump’s corruption and dirty tricks – and his peculiar use of patrons, foreign or domestic – will become the norm.

        As digby points out, with the GOP in control of the Senate, it’s not as if the Dems have any other House-led agenda that would go anywhere.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      Impeachment is also about making it crystal clear that the actions spelled out are high crimes and misdemeanors.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Twtr is abuzz that Trump “cheated’ to win the presidency and repeatedly tried to shut down his own government’s investigation into his cheating.

    Um, Trump cheats at golf. He cheats on his wives. He cheats on his taxes. He cheats his business partners, lawyers, advisers, suppliers and customers. He cheats the people out of the honest services expected of a president.

    He’s laughing that he will retire after four years having done little but watch television, enrich his clubs on the public dime, enrich his ego with fawning campaign rally after campaign rally, done deals with foreign and domestic potentates who want favors, and corrupted law enforcement and the regulatory state. For all that, he will have the lifetime status as a “respected” former president, a lifetime of Secret Service protection, and a pension worth over $200,000/year.

  34. Michael says:

    Papadopoulos is making a big deal about the fact that the Mueller report says he spoke to an agent of a foreign government on May 6 and he spoke to Downer on May 10. Do you think it’s just an error or there’s some significance?

  35. RWood says:

    OT, sorry if already mentioned, but I was just reading the Butina sentencing.

    “…the defendant provided the Russian Official with the name of an individual she claimed was being considered for Secretary of State. She asked the Russian Official to seek the input of the Russian government on the name she provided and told him, “our opinion will be taken into consideration” in the United States.”

    Well, isn’t that special?

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