Why Did Mueller Include the June 9 Meeting Statement in His Obstruction Case?

I’ve got a bunch more posts on the Mueller Report I’m going to eventually write; I’ve still got a slew of theories and observations to share. But there’s one topic I just have guesses on, one I’d love to have more people weigh in on.

Why did Mueller’s team include Donald Trump’s statement on the June 9 meeting — which is described not as a false statement, but an effort to prevent the disclosure of Don Jr’s emails setting up the meeting — in his obstruction analysis?

The obstruction analysis on the June 9 meeting shows it’s not itself obstruction

As a number of reviews of the Mueller Report obstruction analysis show, the June 9 meeting cover-up is the one obstructive act where the report concludes the evidence did not establish it as an act of obstruction for all three factors:

As the obstruction analysis lays out, Trump talked hopefully about ensuring the emails didn’t get out, but there’s no evidence he took action, beyond lying publicly, to suppress them.

Each of these efforts by the President involved his communications team and was directed at the press. They would amount to obstructive acts only if the President, by taking these actions, sought to withhold information from or mislead congressional investigators or the Special Counsel. On May 17, 2017, the President’s campaign received a document request from SSCI that clearly covered the June 9 meeting and underlying emails, and those documents also plainly would have been relevant to the Special Counsel’s investigation.

But the evidence does not establish that the President took steps to prevent the emails or other information about the June 9 meeting from being provided to Congress or the Special Counsel. The series of discussions in which the President sought to limit access to the emails and prevent their public release occurred in the context of developing a press strategy.

It then repeats that analysis by showing that while withholding the emails might amount to obstruction, he did not withhold emails.

As noted above, the evidence does not establish that the President sought to prevent disclosure of the emails in those official proceedings.

Then, in the intent section, it shows Trump’s central role in crafting the adoptions statement, while again concluding that the statement doesn’t amount to withholding the email.

The evidence establishes the President’s substantial involvement in the communications strategy related to information about his campaign’s connections to Russia and his desire to minimize public disclosures about those connections. The President became aware of the emails no later than June 29, 2017, when he discussed them with Hicks and Kushner, and he could have been aware of them as early as June 2, 2017, when lawyers for the Trump Organization began interviewing witnesses who participated in the June 9 meeting. The President thereafter repeatedly rejected the advice of Hicks and other staffers to publicly release information about the June 9 meeting. The President expressed concern that multiple people had access to the emails and instructed Hicks that only one lawyer should deal with the matter. And the President dictated a statement to be released by Trump Jr. in response to the first press accounts of the June 9 meeting that said the meeting was about adoption.

But as described above, the evidence does not establish that the President intended to prevent the Special Counsel’s Office or Congress from obtaining the emails setting up the June 9 meeting or other information about that meeting.

Curiously, this analysis of intent doesn’t talk about why Trump may have wanted to hide the truth about the June 9 meeting, even though elsewhere the report suggests that, overall, one motive for Trump obstructing the investigation might be because he thought the June 9 meeting would be found to be criminal.

So Mueller spent over eight pages laying out whether Trump’s role in crafting a deceitful statement about the June 9 meeting was obstruction of justice when, according to the report’s analysis of obstruction of justice, it was not even a close call.

So why — in a report that might better be understood as an impeachment referral — did they include that?

Trump’s statement on the June 9 meeting as evidence of corrupt intent for other obstructive acts

I’ve commented elsewhere that one of the posts I’ll eventually do is a narratological analysis of the report. I said that, in part, for the way the report intersperses several acts of potential Trump obstruction that all happened during the same time period in summer 2017. While the report only mentions this in passing, Trump’s lies about the June 9 meeting occur during the same time frame as three other potential obstructive acts that the report shows do amount to obstruction: the effort to get Don McGahn to get Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, the request that Corey Lewandowski (!!) fire Jeff Sessions, and the effort to get Sessions to unrecuse.

And, as noted, the June 9 meeting is one of three things — along with the Trump Tower Moscow deal and Trump’s push to have Roger Stone optimize the release of the stolen emails — that the report posits might be the underlying facts Trump was attempting to hide with his other obstruction (note that the report never focuses on Mike Flynn’s discussion on sanctions, which I’ll return to in a later post).

Which suggests Trump’s involvement in the June 9 statement is there not for those actions themselves, but for the way his actions prove corrupt intent for other obstructive actions.

A story describing Trump’s unique actions that nevertheless leaves out the biggest detail

Still, the specific story the report tells is damning. It includes details that suggest this was a unique event, with Trump trying to retain plausible deniability even though several witnesses say he knew about the meeting, and describing Trump preferring to break his cardinal sin, remaining silent on a story. But note that the story leaves out one of the most important details: Vladimir Putin’s interactions with the President during the day Trump wrote his deceitful statement.

Here’s the story, as told in the obstruction section.

Trump claims he didn’t know about the meeting ahead of time, contrary to what several witnesses said.

According to written answers submitted by the President in response to questions from this Office, the President had no recollection of learning of the meeting or the emails setting it up at the time the meeting occurred or at any other time before the election 668

The Chief of Staff learns about the meeting from Sean Hannity, which is just crazy train.

[Reince] Priebus recalled learning about the June 9 meeting from Fox News host Sean Hannity in late June 2017.672

Trump tells Jared not to share details of the meeting with him, according to Hope Hicks.

According to Hicks, Kushner said that he wanted to fill the President in on something that had been discovered in the documents he was to provide to the congressional committees involving a meeting with him, Manafort, and Trump Jr.678 Kushner brought a folder of documents to the meeting and tried to show them to the President, but the President stopped Kushner and said he did not want to know about it, shutting the conversation down.’


On June 28, 2017, Hicks viewed the emails at Kushner’s attorney’s office 68° She recalled being shocked by the emails because they looked “really bad.”68′ The next day, Hicks spoke privately with the President to mention her concern about the emails, which she understood were soon going to be shared with Congress.682 The President seemed upset because too many people knew about the emails and he told Hicks that just one lawyer should deal with the matter.”‘ The President indicated that he did not think the emails would leak, but said they would leak if everyone had access to them.684

Later that day, Hicks, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump went together to talk to the President.685 Hicks recalled that Kushner told the President the June 9 meeting was not a big deal and was about Russian adoption, but that emails existed setting up the meeting.686 Hicks said she wanted to get in front of the story and have Trump Jr. release the emails as part of an interview with “softball questions.”687 The President said he did not want to know about it and they should not go to the press 688 Hicks warned the President that the emails were “really bad” and the story would be “massive” when it broke, but the President was insistent that he did not want to talk about it and said he did not want details!'” Hicks recalled that the President asked Kushner when his document production was due.699 Kushner responded that it would be a couple of weeks and the President said, “then leave it alone.”‘ Hicks also recalled that the President said Kushner’s attorney should give the emails to whomever he needed to give them to, but the President did not think they would be leaked to the press.692 Raffel later heard from Hicks that the President had directed the group not to be proactive in disclosing the emails because the President believed they would not leak.693

But Jared claims that didn’t happen. This narrative is largely sourced to interviews with Hope Hicks. Even in his second interview, Jared said it didn’t happen this way.

Hicks 12/7/17 302, at 7; Hicks 3/13/18 302, at I. Counsel for Ivanka Trump provided an attorney proffer that is consistent with Hicks’s account and with the other events involving Ivanka Trump set forth in this section of the report. Kushner said that he did not recall talking to the President at this time about the June 9 meeting or the underlying emails. Kushner 4/11/18 302, at 30.

Hicks is confused about why Trump wants to commit his ultimate sin.

On July 7, 2017, while the President was overseas, Hicks and Raffel learned that the New York Times was working on a story about the June 9 meeting.695 The next day, Hicks told the President about the story and he directed her not to comment.696 Hicks thought the President’s reaction was odd because he usually considered not responding to the press to be the ultimate sin.697 Later that day, Hicks and the President again spoke about the story.698 Hicks recalled that the President asked her what the meeting had been about, and she said that she had been told the meeting was about Russian adoption.699 The President responded, “then just say that.”706

The Report neglects to mention the Putin meeting where he and Trump talked about the subject of the statement.

[see this post]

Trump edits Jr’s statement because it admits they were offered dirt and discussed sanctions relief, defaulting on Putinesque spin.

On the flight home from the G20 on July 8, 2017, Hicks obtained a draft statement about the meeting to be released by Trump Jr. and brought it to the President.701 The draft statement began with a reference to the information that was offered by the Russians in setting up the meeting: “I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign.”702 Hicks again wanted to disclose the entire story, but the President directed that the statement not be issued because it said too much.703 The President told Hicks to say only that Trump Jr. took a brief meeting and it was about Russian adoption.704 After speaking with the President, Hicks texted Trump Jr. a revised statement on the June 9 meeting that read:

It was a short meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up. 705

Hicks’s text concluded, “Are you ok with this? Attributed to you.”706 Trump Jr. responded by text message that he wanted to add the word “primarily” before “discussed” so that the statement would read, “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”707 Trump Jr. texted that he wanted the change because “[t]hey started with some Hillary thing which was bs and some other nonsense which we shot down fast. “708 Hicks texted back, “I think that’s right too but boss man worried it invites a lot of questions[.) [U]ltimately [d]efer to you and [your attorney] on that word Be I know it’s important and I think the mention of a campaign issue adds something to it in case we have to go further.” 709 Trump Jr. responded, “lfl don’t have it in there it appears as though I’m lying later when they inevitably leak something.” 710

Hope Hicks channels the President hoping the damning emails would never leak.

Corallo told the President the statement had been authorized and further observed that Trump Jr. ‘s statement was inaccurate and that a document existed that would contradict it.722 Corallo said that he purposely used the term “document” to refer to the emails setting up the June 9 meeting because he did not know what the President knew about the emails.723 Corallo recalled that when he referred to the “document” on the call with the President, Hicks responded that only a few people had access to it and said “it will never get out.”724 Corallo took contemporaneous notes of the call that say: “Also mention existence of doc. Hope says ‘ only a few people have it. It will never get out.”‘725 Hicks later told investigators that she had no memory of making that comment and had always believed the emails would eventually be leaked, but she might have been channeling the President on the phone call because it was clear to her throughout her conversations with the President that he did not think the emaiis would leak.726

Trump’s flunkies deny that the guy who met Vladimir Putin twice during the drafting of the statement wrote the statement.

Over the next several days, the President’s personal counsel repeatedly and inaccurately denied that the President played any role in drafting Trump Jr. ‘s statement.729 After consulting with the President on the issue, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the media that the President “certainly didn’t dictate” the statement, but that “he weighed in, offered suggestions like any father would do.”730

The Report again neglects to mention the Putin meeting where he and Trump spoke about the subject of the statement.

On July 19, 2017, the President had his follow-up meeting with Lewandowski and then met with reporters for the New York Times. In addition to criticizing Sessions in his Times interview, the President addressed the June 9, 2016 meeting and said he “didn’t know anything about the meeting” at the time.734 The President added, “As I’ve said-most other people, you know, when they call up and say, ‘By the way, we have information on your opponent,’ I think most politicians – I was just with a lot of people, they said … , ‘Who wouldn’ t have taken a meeting like that?”‘735

[see this post]

Providing the framework for the Putin involvement

As I’ve said, I think it remarkable — though perhaps explicable on constitutional grounds — that the report does not mention Putin’s role in all of this, and Trump’s bizarre behavior at the G20 (where he had Ivanka sit in on a meeting while he worked on the statement) more generally. Trump’s interactions with Putin — and his efforts to keep them secret even from staffers — is the subject of other congressional investigation. Which is why this passage from the beginning of the obstruction section sticks out.

Given those considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.

As noted, I think Mueller included the June 9 meeting statement not because it, by itself, amounts to obstruction, but because the evidence laid out — plus evidence available publicly or via separate congressional investigation — provides an important motivational explanation for the rest of it. Trump made three separate attempts to gut the Mueller investigation in this period, all at a time he was acting unusually (for him) in his efforts to bury the June 9 meeting.

This is the lie he was telling while using his office to try to stop the investigation. Or rather, this is the lie he and Vladimir Putin were telling.


Two Exceptions to Trump’s “Do Not Recall” Responses: A Limited Answer on an Assange Pardon and a Non-Answer on Sanctions Relief

The Significance of Trump’s Obstruction of Investigation of His Family’s Campaign Finance Crimes, Plural

How “Collusion” Appears in the Mueller Report

Putin’s Ghost: The Counterintelligence Calculus Not Included in the Obstruction Analysis

Working Twitter Threads on the Mueller Report

The Trump Men and the Grand Jury Redactions

Mueller’s Language about “Collusion,” Coordination, and Conspiracy

The Many Lies and Prevarications of Bill Barr

Giorgi Rtslchiladze’s Honor Has Been Sullied because He Can’t Decide Whether He Knows the Tapes He Suppressed Exist or Not

Why Did Mueller Include the June 9 Meeting Statement in His Obstruction Case?

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. 

88 replies
  1. Yohei72 says:

    “The Chief of Staff learns about the meeting from Sean Hannity…”

    What?! That’s… that’s… well, crazy train.

    “he had Ivanka sit in on a meeting while he worked on the statement”

    THAT’S crazy train!!

    These are the kinds of details I come here to see excavated.

  2. JKSF says:

    Maybe to provide a script for upcoming hearings on the June 9 meeting. Judging from your rogues gallery tags that is going to be some very high ratings TV.

  3. the game's afoot says:

    The Mueller Report does appear to be a road map to impeachment. Rod Rosenstein seems to be in a state of denial.

  4. PeteT says:

    I know this isn’t helpful, but the blue squares remind me of the White Walker army aligned on the GoT war table.

  5. Doug R says:

    “Hicks recalled that Kushner told the President the June 9 meeting was not a big deal and was about Russian adoption”
    Well, she’s all in, ain’t she?

  6. HoC says:

    Prevezon Holding LTD. settlement with SDNY on May 12 2017. Connect the dots with participants in the June 9 2016 meeting. Preet Bharara firing and settlement 2 days before trial to begin. Adoption talks tied into Magnitsky Act.

  7. The Lorem Ipsum Conspiracy says:

    And waived again, what, yesterday? when he tweeted that he gave no such orders to McGahn.

  8. dwfreeman says:

    The New York Times and its daily book review section, have published two separate opinion pieces alleging not only did Mueller prove a criminal conspiracy with Russia, but the special counsel also used the wrong legal standard in connection with his fact-finding mission in allowing Trump’s obstruction to prevent the criminal standard from being met.

    In one article written by Murray Waas, he argues that two prosecutors from the Mueller team were prepared to conclude last year that they had uncovered sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump and associates conspired with the Russians to elect the president.

    And another opinion piece in the Times confirms that point, noting that except for applying the wrong legal standard, Mueller’s team would have also documented a conspiracy with Russia based on the preponderance of the evidence, while only obstruction by Trump and his minions, prevented the threshold for the criminal standard being met.

    In either case, the authors argue Barr went beyond the pale in claiming Trump committed no crimes of criminal conspiracy or obstruction. And they imply that Barr made his case even while Rosenstein was regularly briefed by Mueller every two weeks or less during the course of his investigation and knew exactly how his team intended to present the report and its findings based on the legal doctrine that a sitting president could not be indicted. You can find links for both stories under Seth Abramson’s twitter feed.

    So, essentially Barr knew in advance, even before March 5 from Rosenstein, given the status reports he regularly received, how Mueller intended to document and cite his report and base its findings. And he wrote it in a way that makes its obstruction case a referral for impeachment, similar to the Starr Report and Leon Jaworski’s so-called Watergate roadmap.

    • BobCon says:

      To be correct, it was the New York Review of Books, which is an independent publication from the NY Times Book Review.

  9. OldTulsaDude says:

    Nixon Articles of Impeachment, Section I, number 8:

    “making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: ”

    As I’m sure Mueller is aware from these articles, in impeachment the House determines the high crimes and misdemeanors, and lying to the public for political gain can be construed as failure to adhere to the oath of office.

    • Lulymay says:

      I tend to agree with you. I just cannot find anything to admire about Rosenstein because he looks like he made every effort to cover both sides of his butt — and all he really wanted was to retain his job and perhaps had designs on replacing Comey, who comes across, at least to me, as someone so full of self importance that that he actually underestimated just how low down and dirty Trump plays every game no matter what he perceives that “game” to be. A pox on all their houses!

    • Stacey says:

      To repeat myself from a previous post on this “WTF? Rosenstein” topic: Comey called Rosenstein “a survivor”, meaning whoever the Alpha Male is in his orbit, he carries water for him in order to survive. He’s been on too many of the competing sides of things historically to have a grounded center. This is the worst type of character to be anywhere near a seat of power like Trump!!!!

  10. x174 says:

    thanks for turning your sauron eye on this 448 page monstrosity.

    i was curious what you meant by “explicable on constitutional grounds” in the sentence: “As I’ve said, I think it remarkable — though perhaps explicable on constitutional grounds — that the report does not mention Putin’s role in all of this.”

    it certainly seems as though Mueller et al. were bending themselves over backwards to overlook crucial pieces of evidence, such as Don Jr’s role, and misapply standards of evidence. Preserving the factual evidence and applying the proper legal authorities is what you’s expect from the work of a team of legal eagles.

    like when you go to a car wash, you’d expect that when it’s over, your car is actually washed.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Two years into the Trump regime, Rod Rosenstein is disclosing how much he has joined Team Trump by blaming the Obama administration for not responding more forcefully to Russian interference. It almost brings a tear to your eye.

    Rosenstein seems not to have read that report on his desk about pervasive Russian influence on the 2016 election and, unimpeded since by his own administration, its likely attempts to influence the 2020 election. It makes one wonder (h/t Elizabeth de la Vega) how close the Mueller report we’ve seen is to the one that Bob Mueller wrote before he gave it to Rod and Bill.

    Rosenstein seems willfully ignorant of Trump’s interference with any investigation into Russia, of Trump’s refusal to impose any sanction or consequence on Russia, indeed, his unwillingness to spend any of the $120 million allocated to the State Dept. to combat Russian aims. Not one bent dime.


      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Those are among the questions Elizabeth de la Vega would like Mueller, Rosenstein, and Barr to answer in front of Congress, especially after reports that Rosenstein promised Trump that “he was on his team” and could, in the coded language familiar to Mickey Cohen, land his plane.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Cite to de la Vega’s questions: [https://twitter.com/Delavegalaw/status/1121905997654609921]

      • earlofhuntinggdon says:

        And here’s Dahlia Lithwick on Rosenstein’s newly adopted Trumpian talking points. I guess he’s really afraid of being fired by tweet without a ride home.


        [Moderator, please omit the extra “g” or allow the user to do it in edit mode. Tx]

        • MattyG says:

          The report describes itself as a summary to begin with – not a stretch that meddling hands dialed in some “summary”. Regarless, Congress must have Mueller appear – there are just to many basic questions like this that need answers – then the unredacted copy, then access to primary evidence as dictated by how things shake out, and to assist in Congressional investigations, impeachment etc…

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          “I guess he’s really afraid of being fired by tweet without a ride home.”
          Yeah. Kinda like what happened to Andrew McCabe–fired the day before he was to retire.
          Don’t cry for me, Rosenstein-ya.

    • Eureka says:

      I wondered as much upon seeing the parenthetical exculpation of the Don on the 2nd page of the Exec Summary (Vol. I), re the ~”Russia, if you’re listening…” part (‘parens’ tells us he later said he was “speaking sarcastically;” a HOM redaction immediately follows). That was not the first instance of my critiques of the report, more the first overt ‘wtf?’ moment. While the adjacent redaction blurs interpretation, that text read like an insert/edit to me.

    • JD12 says:

      Not only that but WaPo reported today that he tearfully begged to keep his job when Kelly went to fire him last year because of the reports that he talked about the 25th amendment and wearing a wire. He had to explicitly assure Trump he was on his team. I thought he was holding up well against Trump’s and House Republicans’ haranguing but it turns out he wasn’t. This kills his credibility.

      • Greenhouse says:

        “Sooner or later, one of us must know, you were only doing what you were supposed to do”

      • Stacey says:

        Rosenstein being as I now see him conclusively makes Andrew McCabe’s throwing him under the bus in his recent book tour make a whole lot more sense to me! At the time I was confused by that, since it could have resulted in inflaming Trump to fire Rod, and why would McCabe want to do that? Oh, if McCabe knew he was a pissy little weasel, then mystery solved! Throw away, McCabe!

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM continues its painful addiction to covering election horse races, even though the track is closed to the public and the horses are still at their training grounds. Joe Biden is not the front runner of anything yet.

    Joltin’ Joe did play the quiet, smiling second fiddle for Obama for eight years, assuring the public and lobbyists alike that not much was gonna change on his watch. He’s never won a race outside bankster friendly Delaware. The positions he has advanced for decades – the treatment of women and his abject support for bankers over consumers, in particular – are far to the right of the positions that brought about Democratic victories in 2018.

    There is no mythical undecided, white working class voter who will be drawn to milquetoast Joe. Anyone whose job has not been exported to China who likes Trump will vote for Trump. Anyone who thinks they’re getting shafted will vote for the candidate who credibly promises better jobs, healthcare and education, things Trump promised but failed to deliver and is powerfully determined not to deliver.

  13. John Forde says:

    Marcy, who created that fabulous graphic?
    The first thing I did was re-post it on my FB page. A flame war ensued. I guess those facts touched a nerve.

  14. fpo says:

    RE inclusion of the June 9 meeting statement in the MR obstruction case…here’s a guess:

    Recalling the widespread speculation prior to release of the redacted MR that the full, un-redacted report, together with support materials, GJ testimony, etc., might NEVER see the light of day, perhaps Mueller wanted to ensure that the content of those 8 pages – which could be of interest wrt other, related investigations (HR, USAOs, etc.) – would be in public view and might then point other investigators to testimony/evidence, albeit unrelated to t’Rump specifically, that they might not otherwise know about, residing within the full report and/or the support documentation. Bread crumbs. ;))

  15. Eureka says:

    Going back to the intent section you quote, adding the next sentence:

    But as described above, the evidence does not establish that the President intended to prevent the Special Counsel’s Office or Congress from obtaining the emails setting up the June 9 meeting or other information about that meeting. The statement recorded by Corallo-that the emails “will never get out”-can be explained as reflecting a belief that the emails would not be made public if the President’s press strategy were followed, even if the emails were provided to Congress and the Special Counsel.

    …makes me split the hairs this way: the fact that it “can be” explained that way reminds that the evidence “can be” interpreted that Sr. & Jr.s differing press strategies _in and of themselves_ might show that Trump _did_ intend obstruction, i.e. that investigators would also not see the emails. Jr. wants to modify Sr.’s (-Putin’s) sanitized statement (“primarily”), assuming that “they inevitable leak something.” Who is the “they” (that is not “us”)– I read that as congress/LE? Jr. is said to be dumber than the Don– certainly less practiced. Sounds like Sr. was counting on zero leaks, which suggests lack of access outside their immediate circle. Which might also explain some of Jared’s forgetting.

    Relatedly, Sr. may have ‘merely’ thought he’d get the investigation itself shut down before officials got access to the emails. Obstruction by proxy (of obstruction)?

    So is it possible they entertained these or other ways it “can be” explained, gave Trump the benefit here, and absent the CI (and Putin consults) left it in the obstruction section for congress to weigh (with Mueller/team perhaps believing that with additional info, it would fit obstruction)?

    My guess is that someone believed the evidence here as to _intent_ was differently interpretable, and since (going by Jurecic’s classifications*) act/nexus were also not established here, there was an argument to shade intent more favorably as well.

    *The only of her classes that gets ‘hotter’ in the intent category vs the obstructive act category is “Conduct toward Cohen (influencing testimony)”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yes, I had trouble with that “can be, could be” excuse. It conflates theoretical possibility with probability. It concludes that because something is possible, the much more probable cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

      That sounds like a dodge to distract from the elephant in Mueller’s living room: OLC opinions and DoJ guidelines prohibited indicting or prosecuting a sitting president, and neither Barr nor the current head of the OLC would have made an exception. The best he could do is make an impeachment referral to Congress.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is already pulling out all the stops and all the guns – and firing up his base to use ’em or lose ’em.

    “Trump withdraws from UN arms treaty as NRA crowd cheers in delight”

    The treaty is an attempt to regulate trade in conventional weapons. The US is the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of them (which means Trump was currying favor with big time lobbyists as well as people he makes fear for their lives). The treaty was signed in 2013 by the Obama administration, but has never been ratified by the GOP-controlled Senate.

    The NRA rally, in Mike Pence’s Indianapolis backyard, is a convenient distraction for the NRA. It appears to be imploding over claims of massive Russian influence, supposedly crashing donations, and a very public dispute over alleged self-dealing by its president and chief advertising firm. (It looks more longtime EVP Wayne LaPierre is feuding with the guy he thinks should be only a titular president, Ollie North.)

    Mike Pence, though, must have worn out more than one pair of knee pads delivering his homage to the Great and Powerful Donald. After having first warned the assembled throng to fear the Great and Powerful Socialist Satanic Democrats, Pence described the Great Donald’s legacy:

    “Despite the fact that this president has faced unprecedented opposition, obstruction, and resistance, I believe that when this president’s story is written, when he finishes his term in office, six years from now, I believe history will record: no other president in all the modern era has done so much for so many in so little time. President Trump has delivered.”

    Yea. That’s two pairs of kneepads and two bottles of Trump water. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/26/trump-nra-united-nations-arms-treaty-gun-control]

    • fpo says:

      The 2014 Arms Trade Treaty he spoke of exists to regulate international sales of conventional weapons – think tanks, missiles, ships, and yes, firearms. It was never – ever – going to ‘surrender American sovereignty’ or allow ‘foreign bureaucrats to trample on your 2nd Amendment freedom’ as Trump suggested.

      I guess he was counting on his audience knowing even less than he does about it. And judging by the applause…Yep, it’s gonna be a long, strange trip to 2020.

      • P J Evans says:

        it hasn’t been ratified, so it has no legal effect now. Can someone get that through Tr*mp’s vacuum-filled skull?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It is typical Trump: he’s taking credit for something he didn’t do and has no control over. The treaty was going nowhere until the Dems retook a majority in the Senate.

          Trump’s dramatic flourish achieves nothing of substance. But withdrawing the US signature on the treaty was another dig at his moderately successful predecessor, the guy who, unlike Trump, was not the Greatest President Evuh.

          It does give his base another imaginary monster to fear and another reason to praise him for. His few remaining staff must be scouring the earth looking for more such items to toss to the crowd along with the bread in the Circus.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        “think tanks”! Good Lord, If America starts exporting the likes of the American Enterprise Institute and Cato, there is no justice left in the world.

  17. Matthew Harris says:

    Other than the obvious narrative purpose of communicating the summer’s events, something that would be glaring by omission, it establishes a pattern of habitual acts of deception.

    I guess there could be an analogy to a more mundane criminal act: someone is preparing to rob a bank, and they obtain some illegal weapons, obtain some lock picking tools, get some forged passports for their escape, and get their car tuned up. The first three are illegal acts in themselves. The fourth is not an illegal act, but a prosecutor could use it as evidence to show a habit or intent.

  18. Charles says:

    “Curiously, this analysis of intent doesn’t talk about why Trump may have wanted to hide the truth about the June 9 meeting, even though elsewhere the report suggests that, overall, one motive for Trump obstructing the investigation might be because he thought the June 9 meeting would be found to be criminal.”

    This and the point Marcy makes about Mueller failing to discuss the Putin meeting the day of the editing of Don Jr.s remarks suggests to me that there’s a counterintelligence investigation that Mueller deliberately kept out of this report, allowing agents to sit in as auditors in a “why don’t you guys listen to what we’re talking about but please don’t let us know what you’re talking about” kind of way. Pure speculation, obviously, but it seems like a possible explanation.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This defense of Joe Biden by Jen Psaki, while technically correct, is powerfully hypocritical: [https://twitter.com/AJentleson/status/1121950068473462784]

    Elizabeth Warren would be a beloved Harvard Law Professor not a candidate for president if… [Obama and Biden] had not worked with her to make her idea to form a consumer financial protection bureau law.

    As Adam Jentleson says, the argument takes away from Warren all agency, a standard tactic the right uses to delegitimize women. In fact, Warren spent a career advocating for consumer rights in banking and bankruptcy. As a working spouse and mom, she worked her way up from middling law schools to become the tenured holder of an endowed chair at Harvard Law. That’s as unusual as a private soldier becoming a general officer.

    The CFPB was Warren’s idea. She worked to make it law despite the lack of support from centrist Democrats not wanting to rock Wall Street’s boat. If Obama and Biden worked hard on anything, it was to keep Warren from being the CFPB’s first head.

    Warren was appointed by [Sen. Harry] Reid to run TARP oversight, where she built a national reputation for holding banks accountable. She came up with the idea for the CFPB & fought for its inclusion in Dodd-Frank.

    Joe Biden, in particular, has been a devoted courtier to the banksters his entire career. He is the principal politician responsible for the viciously anti-consumer 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act. If this is the sort of defender and defense Joltin’ Joe has, he’s gonna implode by the Fourth of July.

    • P J Evans says:

      I wonder how much of Biden’s support is white males who think that women and minorities need to wait a while longer. (If he should be nominated, yes, I’d vote for him…because the other one is likely to be much, much worse. But I’d be holding my nose.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If it were a Democrat, a lot of voters would vote for that parrot trained to squawk when the police were coming rather than Donald Trump.

        The fight is over who that Democratic nominee should be. We have a year to engage in it before the Dem nominee faces off with the GOP. That fight will be hard. It should be.

        It’s not about “electability.” That’s the criterion preferred by MSM racing touts and change-averse centrist Dems. It is about who Democrats want elected and what specific changes for the better for ordinary Americans they expect.

        • Rayne says:

          “It’s not about ‘electability’.” LOL right.

          Except it doesn’t matter who applies that label to a candidate — MSM, centrist Dem, talking head, elected official — they’re applying that label to female candidates, and they use it this early in the race to explain their avoidance of women’s potential in office.

          • Stacey says:

            I loved what Joy Reid asked Elizabeth Warren at the “She The People” event recently. She referred to conversations with black women who WANT to vote for Warren because they think she’s the strongest candidate, but are afraid ‘to trust this country’s electorate to have their backs if they do’ and fear they must cling to the security of a white male candidate in order to not be beaten by the sexism that she will be up against. I loved the brilliance of the question and I loved Warren’s answer! In fact, Warren’s reception and performance at that event were head and shoulders above ANY of the other participants. Well worth the watch of the YouTube recording of the event.

        • Observiter says:

          The comments about who the Democrats should/will support is not really the topic currently at hand. But since you mentioned it, I will put in my two cents. I, for one, will vote for the candidate who can most beat Trump. These are not ordinary times and the consequences too dire. On that regard, I do believe Biden, and maybe Bernie, can turn back Pennsylvania and the other industrial states that in 2016 swayed towards Trump. Biden has strong connections to these states and Bernie, during and since the last presidential election, has been travelling to these states to talk about health care and the economy. The Democratic candidates are not all that different in regard to their views, including Biden. I say this while also stating I’m a woman and a life-long, strong, vocal supporter of women candidates and women’s rights. I do not believe the other candidates can beat Trump. However, I believe all the candidates must use this time to speak out loudly about the issues, especially while they have the attention of the press. BTW, in the last presidential election, I supported Bernie over Hillary.

          • P J Evans says:

            The Democratic base is heavily tilted towards people with low income, women, and minorities – and, unfortunately, neither Biden nor Sanders appeal to them. (Neither one seems to have realized that the party they’re trying to get nominated in is not the party that they started with, back in the 60s.)

          • Rayne says:

            A dead possum on the side of the road marked with a large D for Democrat could beat Trump at the polls *if* voter suppression and foreign interference do not affect the vote the way they did in 2016.

            If the race came down to the Democratic field only, both Sanders and Biden would have a tough time and likely wouldn’t win. Methinks you don’t have enough friends of color because the race looks very different to them. And all the dirt has yet to come out.

    • Eureka says:

      If Obama and Biden worked hard on anything, it was to keep Warren from being the CFPB’s first head.

      Yes indeedy.

      Re 2020, the “question” I’d like to ask Joe: “You’re just doing this to gaslight Trump, right?”

  20. Savage Librarian says:

    June 9, 2016: Mtg. Significance

    My guess about the reason Mueller included the June 9th meeting under obstruction, even though the release of information about it did not qualify as such on its own, is because it may link to the “Grand Bargain” struck by the various players. Or, at least, DT may have feared that it would reveal information about the bargain. And so he acted out of character, like Hope Hicks claimed, and insisted on revealing as little as possible about the meeting.

    Some things we know:

    1. For some reason, Putin decided to make RDIF (Dmitriev) a sovereign wealth fund on 6/2/16. Since it began in 2011 it had not been. Maybe this is significant. Maybe not.
    2. Prikhodko and Sater, respectively, tried exceptionally hard over an extended period of time, to get Trump and Cohen (respectively) to attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in mid June 2016. Putin, Deripaska, Zamel, Dmitriev (and others ?) would be there. The trolls were busy working nearby. The Forum was catering to Saudis and South Asia. Both DT and Cohen declined, maybe due to exposure about the email hacks.
    3. I can’t help wonder what the heck Susie Wiles was doing in Trump Tower at this time. Was she giving DT any advice? And Lanny Wiles, what was his business arrangement with Akhmetshin? If It is true that Lanny was giving him money, what was it for? Did it have anything to do with hacks or social media? If so, maybe they advised DT against going to the Forum, as a precaution.
    4. Grand Bargain
    (explains the grand bargain)
    “Linking the Khashoggi Disappearance to Trump-Russia”
    5. “THE “GRAND BARGAIN” IS STRUCK. August 3, 2016. Trump Tower. Nader (Saudi Arabia, UAE) and Zamel (Israel, Russia) offer Trump representatives Prince and Trump Jr. illegal pre-election collusive aid in the form of money and a digital disinformation plan. Don accepts—Per the NYT. “
    (A thread written by @SethAbramson
    “THREAD/ Here are the 50 MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS in the Trump-Russia timeline, RANKED”.)

    • r helder says:

      dear savage librarian: thanks for the head’s-up on “4. grand bargain.” just spent a couple hours reading and annotating the daily kos article (from october 14, 2018) you referenced. chilling! based on that article, this administration truly is a crime family, the trump organization has been in thrall to russia for decades, and jared kushner is equally as beholden to mohammed bin salman. of course they all conspired in 2015 and 2016 to elect trump!

    • r helder says:

      dear savage librarian: thanks for the head’s-up on “4. grand bargain.” just spent a couple hours reading and annotating the daily kos article (from october 14, 2018) you referenced. chilling! based on that article, this administration truly is a crime family, the trump organization has been in thrall to russia for decades, and jared kushner is equally as beholden to mohammed bin salman. of course they all conspired in 2015 and 2016 to elect trump

    • Eureka says:

      re #5- I thought they/campaign specifically _declined_ the social media ops (proposed at that meeting) because it had a price tag. IIRC.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Not sure if that is conclusive.


        “Rick Gates Sought Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm for Trump Campaign
        Oct. 8, 2018“
        “Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel have given differing accounts over whether Mr. Zamel ultimately carried out the social media effort to help the Trump campaign and why Mr. Nader paid him $2 million after the election, according to people who have discussed the matter with the two men.

        The reason for the payment has been of keen interest to Mr. Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter.

        It is unclear how and when the special counsel’s office began its investigation into Psy-Group’s work, but F.B.I. agents have spent hours interviewing the firm’s employees. This year, federal investigators presented a court order to the Israel Police and the Israeli Ministry of Justice to confiscate computers in Psy-Group’s former offices in Petah Tikva, east of Tel Aviv.

        The company is now in liquidation.“

        • Eureka says:

          Thanks SL. It reminds me of the (ostensibly) separate-but-related question of possible foreign* social media assistance _now_ during _this_ (perennial) campaign. He is thought of as POTUS, but he is also in a campaign. Complex questions– and how to ever unwind them: govts/regimes he supports would also support him…

          I am thinking here of Ben Collins’ exclusive the other day (23rd, IIRC) on the 5k accounts that twitter shut down, which were associated with a pro-Saudi operation and which were hashtagging ~ Russiagate hoax. Around the same time 45 was caterwauling to Jack about losing followers. Who is paying for this and how does does it dovetail with campaign fiance/coordination issues? Complex, as I said…

          *or SM assistance, period

          Adding relevant threads:

          Ben Collins: “Some exclusive news: Twitter banned over 5,000 bot accounts this weekend tweeting about how “Russiagate” is a hoax. The botnet has ties to… a rebranded pro-Saudi social media operation. Story coming on NBCnews.com and on MSNBC in a minute.”

          Rick Wilson: “1/ On the same day Donald Trump continues his revanchist, unhinged ragetweeting about the press being enemies of the people and demanding public apologies from journalists, he’s meeting with @jack.”

          • Eureka says:

            *finance: the issues are securely wedded by now.

            Also to be clear, a botnet associated with supporting a foreign regime doesn’t mean the botnet is not somehow domestic in origin. Still-worthy questions as all of the operations, regardless of origins, seem to duck-and-weave together on many topics.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr could find no credible evidence of obstruction of justice against Donald Trump in Bob Mueller’s report. But his DoJ has just filed federal obstruction charges against a Mass. state court judge and a court officer for allegedly interfering with ICE in its arrest of a person who had just been released after state charges were dropped.

    That’s Bill Barr lobbing a figurative flash bang grenade into every state court in America. He’s telling them – on behalf of Donald Trump – that the next one will be real if they do not stop interfering with ICE’s controversial practice of staking out state courthouses to look for immigrants to throw out for allegedly having violated their terms of entry through some alleged illegal act.

    Steve Miller has found a soul mate.


    • P J Evans says:

      My understanding is that the immigrant was misidentified by ICE, so they didn’t have a valid reason to pick him/her up in the first place. Barr needs to get his head unwedged. (He also needs to be out of office, permanently. He isn’t sufficiently familiar with laws or law enforcement.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That was reported in the cited article. Rationally, ICE should follow that logic and go find the right guy. But it is not required to substitute the state court judge’s and prosecutor’s judgment for its own validation of the facts.

        Unprofessionally and seemingly intentionally cruelly, ICE seems rarely to bother getting its fact straight. It just deports ’em and let’s God sort ’em out.

        Bill Barr, rather than demanding that DHS and ICE get their act together and do something right for a change, seems to be following Trump down his demented rabbit hole by blindly and, it would seem, viciously further enabling DHS’s reckless disregard for the truth and due process.

        To your point about Barr not being “sufficiently familiar” with current laws, I can’t agree. Bill Barr is a very bright guy. If he does not know something, his staff does. He does not care. As he has done his entire career, he is acting with intent and in a ruthless partisan way.

    • Eureka says:

      Steve Miller has found a soul mate.

      Pretty much sums it. Sessions’ aide is all grown up, an agent amongst peers.

      I was an early adopter of ~”Barr seems like he’ll be worse than Sessions.” So far, he’s making that case by both empirical standards, pace-wise, and by the affinities on display which sow those fruits.

  22. Savage Librarian says:

    Added: 6/9/16 mtg. significance –

    I would like to suggest that DT was very concerned about the prospect of public inquiry into Yuri Chaika, Bill Browder, and the details behind the Magnitsky Act. I am guessing that he especially did not want people to know the depth of Akhmetshin’s involvement and connections to Lanny Wiles, and consequently, to Susie Wiles and the Trump Campaign.

    This may be why he tried to shut down conversations about the June 9, 2016 TT meeting. And why he told Hope Hicks to keep it short and sweet.

    Here is supporting documentation that may assist in drawing your own conclusions:

    Browder –
    Browder’s letter to DOJ about Magnitsky Act (including allegations against Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya, Glenn Simpson, Rohrabacher, Behrends, etc.)


    Yury Chaika –

    1. Chaika attended the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

    (From: Russian Legal Information Agency, June 14, 2016)
    “ST. PETERSBURG, June 14 (RAPSI) – Russia’s Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika will take part in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum for the first time to speak on the protection of business with regard to both Russian and foreign investors, RBC news agency reported on Tuesday, citing Alexander Kurennoy, spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office.
    Chaika is to address the issues of sticking to law in the business sector, according to RBC. He will also report on routine inspections. Kurennoy claims that the Prosecutor’s Office is doing its best to diminish the number of planned and unannounced inspections initiated by regulatory agencies as agreed with prosecutors. However, the number of unannounced inspections carried without consultations with the Prosecutor’s Office is on the rise.
    The Prosecutor General’s Office is also interested in enhancing communication with business that faces problems caused by criminals. A communication service will be launched to meet this goal with restricted access for the officials of the Prosecutor General’s Office. Nobody will have access to the service, except Chaika and Alexey Pukhov, the Head of the Prosecutor General’s Office Department for Supervision over Observance of Businesspersons’ Rights, Kurennoy is quoted as having said. Chaika is going to deal with incoming information on the daily basis.”

    2. ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JUNE 16, 2016: Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika (L) and St. Petersburg at a panel session titled “Russian and Foreign Jurisdictions: Security for Doing Business” as part of the 2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre. Kirill Kukhmar/TASS (Photo by Kirill Kukhmar\TASS via Getty Images)

    3. “The man who drives Trump’s Russia connection” – Washington Post, July 22, 2017 – Andrew Roth -……………………………………………….“They regularly cross paths with Agalarov. Vorobyov cut the ribbon at the opening of Agalarov’s Vegas concert hall in the city of Krasnogorsk last year, and Agalarov wrote a sharply worded defense of Chaika in the newspaper Kommersant after a 2015 corruption allegation by the opposition leader Alexei Navalny.”

Comments are closed.