Mueller’s Emphasis: Russia’s Greater than Two Efforts to Interfere in the Election

I want to parse a few things that Robert Mueller said in his press conference today.

First, he departed from the language of the report — which said the investigation “did not establish” a conspiracy — and said “there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.” The meaning is the same, but the emphasis is different. There was, obviously, a good deal of evidence that there was a conspiracy between Russia and people in Trump’s camp. Just not enough to charge.

That’s significant for two other reasons. He ended his statements by saying, “there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.”

Now consider how he described Volume One, with that “insufficient evidence” language:

The first volume details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.

Everything in Volume One is, by this description, an effort by Russia to influence the election. That means Mueller is treating the third part of the volume, describing the links between Russian-linked individuals and the Trump campaign, as “an effort emanating from Russia to influence the election.” (The report itself states that the office selected which outreach to include.) That appears to mean that Mueller considers the things included in the volume — including the multiple Trump Tower Moscow dangles, the Kislyak outreach (including to JD Gordan), Konstantin Kilimnik’s outreach, and even Dmitri Simes’ advice (the latter of which surprises me, somewhat) — as a third systematic effort to influence the election.

He’s not saying Trump’s people conspired in that effort (though especially with Page and Manafort, the report is inconclusive on their willingness to participate). But he is suggesting that that outreach constitutes further “systematic efforts to interfere in our election.”

164 replies
  1. RWood says:

    My favorite line: “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”

    Loosely translated, I believe that means ITMFA!

    • Charles says:

      Nothing forbade him from saying so explicitly. He did a disservice, in my opinion, by speaking indirectly at a time when we need straight talk.

      • Sandwichman says:

        “Nothing forbade him” — except staying within his remit. One step outside that line would be denounced as “political spectacle.”

        • D3 says:

          How this isn’t better understood by folks is really mystifying to me. Mueller is about as “by the book” as they come, and in this situation in particular it seems completely unlikely he’d step outside that boundary.

        • Charles says:

          I don’t agree. Mueller’s audience is not just legal professionals. Those who hear his speech will not understand that “requires a process other than the criminal justice system” = “must be done by Congress or the state courts which, by the way, don’t any precedent to conduct a legal process regarding a sitting president.” Or, of course kick it off to the next election which, by the way, Trump has made it clear he doesn’t respect.

          When specialists speak in language that their audience cannot understand, they are not communicating. They are not doing their job. indeed, I have had to explain *to my elected representatives* this very point, i.e. that Mueller is saying that only Congress can do this.

          This is a critical period in our democracy. We need straight talk.

        • bmaz says:

          Why in the world would a legal professional speak in language less precise than is called for?

        • Lex says:

          Because for at least a few more days he remains a Department of Justice employee and subject to its restrictions?

        • bmaz says:

          I don’t think so. My guess (totally just a guess) is that his official last day is Friday. That said, it could well have been today. Could be wrong, but I see little to no chance that was an issue.

        • Americana says:

          This is extreme straight talk that deals w/our democracy in a robust but politically subtle manner by telling Congress they are the ones to decide this “matter” of Trump’s courting of the Russians and his obstruction of justice over the Russian enquiries, NOT ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR.

          That presser by Mueller had him indicating there are two paths open for dealing w/Trump’s criminality viz the 2016 election and his actions during his presidency. You can wait and indict him after he leaves office for certain crimes, many of which crimes are likely already in a legal pipeline in one jurisdiction or another. Or you can IMPEACH HIM, which is the one way, the ONLY WAY, to deal w/the criminal misbehaviour of a POTUS while he’s in office.

          There was absolutely NOTHING MYSTERIOUS in what former Special Counsel Mueller said at this press conference. Congress is on notice that Mueller has rectified the misrepresentations, aka DISTORTIONS and LIES of AG Barr and both parties are now fully aware that Mueller expects them to do their job, without partisanship and with the expectation they will OBEY RULE OF LAW and what’s best for the country given the revelations in the Mueller report.

        • Charles says:

          Americana says, “There was absolutely NOTHING MYSTERIOUS in what former Special Counsel Mueller said at this press conference.”

          You have much greater confidence in the American people and in the Congress than is justifiable. I am telling you that at least some *Democratic* members of Congress don’t understand the situation. Justin Amash is apparently the only Republican to have read and understood the Report. You can choose to disbelieve me, but in my direct experience, to at least some of them, Mueller’s statements *are* mysterious.

      • elevator says:

        I believe he spoke as plainly as he can. With some nuance and reading between the lines Mueller said that there was evidence of conspiracy, just not enough to be charged. and that there is evidence of obstruction. I believe he said he would testify, even publicly, although he did not see a value. I am certain the evidence for both crimes, coming from his lips in open testimony would have tremendous weight and influence on the public.

        [Welcome to emptywheel. Please advise in a reply what username you would like to use. Unfortunately your comment had been entered in the username field and has been replaced with a temporary placeholder. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          Excellent. I did look and saw nothing caught up. Apologies if there was a lost comment. And, welcome here!, and thanks for understanding how and why we do things. If there is a problem in the future, let us know. We will sort it out.

      • chicago_bunny says:

        Agreed. Our media and population don’t do well with subtlety. Mueller should have said explicitly that Congress is responsible for next steps.

  2. Skippy says:

    Why in the name of Buddha did Bob provide cover to Barr by saying he (Barr) acted in good faith in suppressing his summaries? That comment has prompted me to realize that NO ONE can be trusted. Jesus, life has become an X-Files episode

    • viget says:

      Good question. Can only surmise it means that Barr said to Mueller, I agree with your report, but I cannot release it until you have redacted everything that needs to be redacted. And Mueller believed that reasoning.

      So maybe the decision not to release was made in good faith, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Mueller agrees with the process of announcing that decision or Barr’s cherry-picked “summary” of the report. Nor does it mean that Barr’s motivation for doing what he did wasn’t also influenced by politics. It just means that Mueller could see a good faith reason for not releasing his executive summaries immediately.

      • Skippy says:

        Even if that’s Bob’s reasoning, Barr, just last week, was given the authority to investigate the investigation and redact whatever can be used to keep the con going. To say ANYTHING positive about Barr under such circumstances is a betrayal of the people whose lives he is about to try and ruin. WTF

        • viget says:

          I mean, publicly, he’s not going to criticize Barr. Not only are they purported friends, but also he’s his superior at DoJ. It’s not going to happen publicly. And even if he wanted it to come out, it will be via things like team members grumbling to the press, or his letter, which was eventually released.

          Also, I take the good faith comment as a neutral one, not a positive one. He’s just saying that Barr had a legit argument for not releasing the report piecemeal, that’s all. I totally disagree with that argument, and perhaps Mueller does too, but at the end of the day, again, Barr’s his supervisor, and he cannot go around him.

          Also, we don’t know yet how this is all going to play out. Something kept Mueller there these past 2 months, Marcy seems to think (and I hope she’s right) that it was securing the Miller testimony as well as the subpoena’d documents from the Mystery Appellant. Marcy also seems to think he was successful at both.

          If it was so important for the investigation writ large, then this means there must be other shoes out there to drop. Likely these shoes have nothing to do with the Russian attempts to influence the election but rather with the aftermath and ongoing corruption. Those charges may be very serious, and perhaps even more serious than any election conspiracy charges that could have been prosecuted but for some obstruction by Manafort et al.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Well said, Viget. Bob Mueller acted just as I’d expected him to act – by the book. He’s a Marine and there’s no such thing as a “former” Marine. He sticks absolutely to his remit – the mission – and adheres to chain-of-command and good order. He chose those words oh so carefully and I think we’ll find that there are a good many more shoes to drop and probably some real beauts. I’m sure the whole affair has been truly distasteful for a real patriot like RM, but I am also certain he did his absolute very best. There aren’t all that many people around one can say that about – certainly not in this administration.

          The whole bunch of them will be in prison sooner or later thanks to the work that RM did in the SCO and that was spun off to other juridictions. He’ll look great in the history books. Barr now…..he can f*ck off.

        • viget says:

          Well, yet again, Marcy was RIGHT! Miller to testify on Friday to GJ.

          Dear @Emptywheel– one other question though– how are you so sure about Mystery Appellant complying with the subpoena? What evidence have we of that? It’s a subpoena, so there will be no GJ appearances.

          Or is there some link between Mystery Appellant, Stone and Miller? (which would be weird, since Zainab Ahmed was on the Flynn docket and on the Mystery Appellant, but not on Stone)

        • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

          Thank you all, once again for your insights for which I am grateful daily.

    • Drew says:

      I’m not so sure that Mueller provided that much cover for Barr. To publicly state that a major official and colleague acted in bad faith would be a violent and radical thing for a rule-following establishment guy like Mueller to do. He might as well lead off with a flame-thrower and M-16. (I have said that bishops in my own denomination were acting in bad faith and it really was that radical a thing to do. I had basically chosen to leave the scene in a blaze of glory. Mueller’s not the type to do something like that.)

      Mueller chose to emphasize that if Trump was innocent, they would have said so. Now it’s up to Congress to do their job.

      • Katherine M Williams says:

        “To publicly state that a major official and colleague acted in bad faith would be a violent and radical thing for a rule-following establishment guy like Mueller to do…”

        But these are violent and radical times. The country is about one terrorist attack away from Trump, with senate & SCOTUS approval, taking complete control and becoming president forever, with Barr heading up his police-state.

        • Mona Williams says:

          Yes, these are violent and radical times. It is fair to call for a re-examination of motives and methods on the part of every well-meaning actor. But I think a person of the integrity and strength of character of Robert Mueller will be able to adapt only so far to the tactics of the other side. While others, with my blessing, will go further, I recognize that Mueller’s reputation has allowed him to play a perhaps unique part in this terrible drama.

        • Rayne says:

          I think you’ve pointed to the challenge Mueller may have been aware of, resulting in his less-than-transparent presentation. He and his team may have been thought it best to handle the weaponization of information by providing zero information. It was the best adaptation available in the face of unrelenting attacks and not just those he referred to in his statement.

          I’m debating whether to post something about this.

        • Drew says:

          It was noteworthy to me that a few hours later, the White House, Giuliani and Trump started making responses to Mueller (mostly in the form of ‘whistling in the dark’ –how bad impeachment would be for the Democrats, etc) that appear to me to be more frightened than anything to date. Mueller is not our hero or our savior, but his statement did not give any comfort to Trump or to Barr’s spun narrative.

  3. Terrapin says:

    I think what we’re going to find out in the end is that both the Trump campaign and the Russian government largely insulated themselves from conspiracy charges by having the coordination done by people not officially connected to either entity. Trump seems to have used Roger Stone as his cut out and Putin used oligarchs as his cut out. It strikes me as significant that Mueller always referred to a conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government. Not Russians with unofficial ties to the Russian government. As a man with extensive counterintelligence experience Mueller has got to know that conspirators often use unofficial intermediaries so there is no clear legally proveable connection between them. I think he knows what went on if for no other reason than Trump unwisely did not hide these informal ties from some members of his inner circle, like Michael Cohen. But Cohen’s credibility is suspect. And I think Mueller tried to flip Roger Stone, but Stone refused to do so. So Mueller in his would be swan song makes a stern comment about the hacking evidence (what he can prove), makes it clear he didn’t clear Trump on obstruction, washes his hands publicly by saying “the report speaks for itself” and tries to walk away. Fat chance.

    • chill says:

      The Special Counsel knows everything Stone did and said. You know the terrifying surveillance powers that Marcy used to argue against before Trump fried her brain? The Special Counsel used those powers in this case. The same goes for the excessive legal powers of federal prosecutors. If Stone had done anything wrong, they would have found it and published it.

      [This is your third username. Sockpuppeting is not permitted here. /~Rayne]

      • Rayne says:

        Nice try. You’ve clearly not been paying attention OR you’re here for the purposes of disinformation and provocation.

        I’m not going to tolerate ad hominems. Knock it off.

      • Katherine M Williams says:

        If anything, Mueller probably handed over evidence of conspiracy to our counter-intelligence, leaving himself with “not enough”. Hopefully, someday they’ll act on it.

    • RWood says:

      Several ways to read that statement from him. Voicing publicly that he will not be speaking any further on the subject provides him cover from the right. It also forces the House to subpoena him, which might just be what he wants. I seriously doubt he feels this is the end of this for him and he can just walk away. I feel the statement he gave today was made partially to give him some control over his own future roll in this mess.

      • Don The Con says:

        Barr got Mueller to pull a Barr ….not on his report…
        …..but on his future Congressional testimony.
        Trump/Barr will repeat the Barr Summary treatment for Mueller’s statement.

        • P J Evans says:

          Where the f*ck did you get that conclusion? It doesn’t follow from Mueller’s statements.

    • viget says:

      This is an important point, regarding the language used vis a vis conspiracy with the Russian Gov’t. And the reason I think he keeps coming back to that is that “Russian Gov’t” is what is used in the Rosenstein appointment letter. Not “Russian persons” or “oligarchs” or “agents of Russia.” Thus he is constrained into what he can investigate and charge.

      Note that there would be no such constraints on the counterintelligence side.

    • dwfreeman says:

      I think that conclusion is already abundantly clear in the evidence gathered in the Mueller Report. But this point is buttressed by the timeline of events and contacts to fully understand the context of what really happened in the 2016 presidential election cycle.

      It’s also clear by the way the Trump campaign and the Kremlin mirrored each other in their sources and methods in campaign messaging.

      Let’s be clear, Trump knew all the primetime characters in the Russian drama personally because he actually met many of them in connection with his real estate business and ties to the Miss Universe Pageant, first in Moscow 2013 and then later in Las Vegas. He met the Agalarovs and Goldstone in August 2015 when foreign intelligence started picking up on Kremlin-linked efforts to assist Trump’s presidential candidacy, which he’d announced two months earlier.

      And as time progressed and Trump secretly pursued his dream to build a Moscow tower while running for president, there was always an implicit agreement without written consent on both sides how they would proceed, and what it would take to benefit each other.

      Underpinning this conclusion, more than 250 known contacts and meetings between the two sides, 88 after Trump got his first official Aug. 17,2016 FBI briefing about potential foreign interference in the presidential election. Trump’s team, whatever their individual level of involvement in the campaign, did nothing ever to alert federal authorities about any of it.

      That date is significant in many ways. Manafort was let go officially or otherwise two days later, Steve Bannon, was brought in as Trump’s third campaign manager, ostensibly to improve messaging, even though Bannon had been connected with the Trump campaign since June through his board role in Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm hired by Jared Kushner to handle campaign digital messaging.

      Not long after, Cambridge Analytica, under contract with the Trump campaign, would ask Julian Assange whether it wanted the firm to help organize dissemination of emails stolen by Putin’s military intelligence from Democrat servers. Assange would privately decline the request.

      This level of widespread collusion was absolutely predicated on Russian sanctions relief. This message was repeated over and over again as the quid pro quo behind Putin’s motivation to prevent Hillary from winning the White House and guiding US foreign policy going forward, strengthening NATO relations, instead of undermining all of that.

      Putin did this using Trump’s inexperienced campaign pawns shepherding their engagement, dangling personal and professional gain to secure their ongoing cooperation, doing so through multiple messengers and oligarchs charged with different campaign roles and tasks. The campaign infiltrated the NRA, influenced GOP cooperative support with laundered money and influence operations, and even broke into voting systems in dozens of states. This is what Republicans and the Trump campaign are hiding, the complete illegitimacy of Trump’s election.

      And this is backed by 37 indictments and 7 guilty pleas which the Republicans are in complete denial about as they seek to gin up some scandal about what led to Mueller’s appointment and his impeachment referral to Congress.

      Consider that a Russian government asset wrote and helped organize Trump’s first foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel on April 27, 2016 in which Trump’s first attorney general would lie about his first meeting with Russia’s ambassador. That would morph into a private meeting with Russia’s prime minister in the Oval Office laughing over Trump’s firing of his stone in his shoe FBI director, “nut job” James Comey.

      • AtticusFlinched says:


        Clearest recap I’ve read ANYWHERE. Including the Mueller Report / Exec Summaries, media, tea leaves, entrails, etc. Fantastic contribution.

        THANK YOU.

  4. chill says:

    Now we can see why the Democrats are trying so hard to make sure Mueller doesn’t testify. He appears to be in the early stages of senility.

    And he lied at this press conference, so there’s no telling what kind of trouble he’d get himself into when questioned under oath. He said that the OLC opinion held him back from considering obstruction charges, but we know that isn’t the case since Barr testified under oath that Mueller emphasized the OLC opinion played no role (and Barr also testified that he has witnesses to that).

      • pjb says:

        What Chill wrote above is clearly bullshit but I do have a question about the OLC memo. Mueller treats it as a jurisdictional bar to prosecuting a setting president. But, do we not think the DOJ actually treats it as subject to a fact and circumstance analysis? I mean, what if, instead of firing Comey, Trump executed him in the Oval office in front of 10 eyewitnesses and video cameras. Would the DOJ conclude that it could not prosecute him for federal capital murder of the FBI Director? And if it is the case that it depends on the severity of the crime, what do we think Mueller would have done if he had found smoking gun beyond reasonable doubt evidence of criminal conspiracy by Trump?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, that would still be their position unless and until the OLC opinions are withdrawn or modified/distinguished.

        • AtticusFlinched says:

          Distinguished? Extinguished? Not nitpicking, Bmaz … just want to be sure of your intended meaning.

          Meanwhile, as for The Great Pumpkin, if he’s feelin’ froggy about Oval Office homicides, green light to jump. Apparently, the coast truly is clear.

        • bmaz says:

          In law, to distinguish a case means a court decides the holding or legal reasoning of a precedent or case will not apply due to materially different facts between the two situations.

        • AtticusFlinched says:

          Thank you.

          I noticed your comments from yesterday stamped ~5PM, so I certainly didn’t expect an answer so quickly at ~5AM.

          And again thanks to you, Rayne and, of course, Marcy, for the unrelenting flashlight you’re shining on all the dark ish going on. It helps. A lot.

        • bmaz says:

          Ha, for some reason unknown, I often wake up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. It truly sucks, but you have to occupy that time somehow. So I catch up on things.

        • Rayne says:

          Impeachment would have been immediate. The problem is and remains the GOP stranglehold on the Senate; in the scenario you imagine if the Senate’s GOP majority was not corrupt as it is now, the House would impeach and hand off an indictment to a Senate who would remove the president immediately for criminal prosecution.

          The OLC memo, as cumbersome as it is now with regard to Trump, protects presidents from indictments arising from Ken Starr-like nuisance investigations.

        • pjb says:

          thanks, guys. Does seem to either of you that the determination that the DOJ policy reflected in the OLC memos precluded the SCO’s prosecutorial determination is one that should have been made by Rosenstein, and not Mueller? And, if potential criminal charges against Trump were never possible, wouldn’t it have been prudent to have publicly disclosed this at the outset of the investigation? Lastly, I am still uneasy at the: I can’t accuse where I can’t prosecute but [very next sentence] I’d exonerate if i could but I can’t based on the evidence. Aren’t those two notions incompatible? Was this second sentence just anticipatory of Trump falsely claiming exoneration? Because that seems like p.r. and not legal reasoning.

          Sorry to be a pain, but I don’t know anywhere else I can get clarity of thinking about this stuff.

        • bmaz says:

          No, Rosenstein just as bound by OLC as Mueller was. And he likely did discuss it with Rosenstein. And,no, you never give that up early because it affects conduct by other potential targets. No,don’t see those two sentences as inconsistent, given the view of the OLC memos.

        • pjb says:

          I get you on the first two. On the third, can you spin this out for me? I guess I am stuck on the notion that if it is inappropriate to say whether evidence meets prosecution standard because you cannot prosecute, why is it okay to opine that you would have said so if it didn’t meet that standard? Cannot everyone read that to mean Mueller thinks the standard was met? And by Mueller’s lights, isn’t so tipping his views unfair to the uncharged Trump?

        • AtticusFlinched says:

          Me too. Stumped, that is.

          “I’m not saying he did (because I can’t), but I’m not saying he didn’t (and if I could, I would),” seems too cute by half.

          I’ve read ALL the explanations / rationalizations / justifications on this linguistic jiu-jitsu but, at the end of the day, how is it not the same thing as acceding that criminal wrongdoing occurred (without the requisite opportunity to clear one’s name)?

          Not TRYING no be dense (no effort really needed). I mean, I’m GLAD that Mueller lays out the wrongdoing so it can’t be buried forever under an avalanche of Trump BS — but how does the non-exoneration (wink, wink) differ from a de-facto accusation?

          Can one of the legal eagles actually explain this in terms mortals can understand? Thanks in advance.

        • pjb says:

          I have also listened to many people on this issue and like you, have concluded that it is, as you put it “acceding that criminal wrongdoing occurred without the requisite opportunity to clear one’s name.” I would say Mueller obviously recognized this but felt it more important to emphasize the severity of the obstructive conduct he found – even at the risk of right-wingers making hay with the “Mueller flipped the presumption of innocence on its head – prosecutors don’t exonerate, they charge or don’t charge” argument. The proof to me is that this point is one of the few things he felt important to repeat from the Report in his presser.

        • Katherine M Williams says:

          The OLC memo, as cumbersome as it is now with regard to Trump, protects presidents from indictments arising from Ken Starr-like nuisance investigations.

          Except it didn’t. Also, observe that the memo was ‘confirmed” in 2000, when Bush2 was anointed president.

    • SteveR says:

      chill, you need to pay better attention. It’s quite telling to watch you fall into Barr’s deception trap and then cite to the misimpression Barr created as “evidence” Mueller is lying. Barr did not assert that Mueller told him the OLC opinion “played no role” in Mueller’s decision–that’s what Barr wanted people to hear, but that’s not what Barr said. If you listen closely, what Mueller said can be reconciled with Barr’s actual words. But Mueller has made a clear statement on a matter where Barr sought to mislead and in doing so Mueller has persuasively established both that he is telling the truth and that it is Barr’s intent to mislead.

  5. Charles says:

    Rectitude is Robert Mueller’s tragic flaw, and for that the nation must suffer.

    Nothing forbade him from naming impeachment directly.

    Nothing forbade him from stating that Barr’s letter about his report misled the public by implying that Trump had been cleared of conspiracy.

    Nothing forbade him from pointing out that ongoing matters might yet produce evidence of conspiracy,

    Nothing forbade him from stating that the OLC opinion about indicting a sitting president should be changed to acknowledge that some crimes so endanger the safety of the American people that they require intervention by a federal prosecutor.

    And yet he remained silent on these points. He even,as Skippy pointed out above, gratuitously defended Barr’s “good faith,” presumably to defend the reputation of the Department of Justice.

    When the Law itself has been corrupted by corrupt administrators, rectitude in following mere norms and rules leads to disaster.

    • Jockobadger says:

      I suspect that as RWood wrote above, RM expects to be subpoenaed and by making his statement exactly as he did, he will be free of charges of grandstanding by the right. He has already said that he does not want to be viewed as in any way “political.” He probably wanted to do this now because he knows 2020 is coming and he is now free to be called into the HJC for closed hearings. He may even have consulted with Nadler about how best to go about it. This was not mere rectitude. He ran the FBI. He knows better than any of us that tr*mp et al are crooked and corrupt and he did not just drop the ball. No way.

      • AtticusFlinched says:

        Geez, I hope so, Jocko. You’re taking A LOT on faith.

        Nothing that has happened so far — no charges against Trump offspring-vermin, no subpoenas to compel DJT’s complete/truthful responses to written questions or follow-up (let alone, actual in-person testimony, subject to cross-examination), NO mention of financial or other quid pro quo in his report (and no indication we’ll EVER see the counter-intel findings), etc — to suggest that Mueller is suddenly going to “come to the rescue” in this fiasco. Most of the insiders here have said “he DID his job, within the lines, now it’s Congress’ turn to do theirs” and that’s that.

        It’s taken two years, but I’ve learned to stop holding my breath waiting for Mueller to do ANYTHING to make this nightmare end.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      I understand how you feel about rectitude. My initial reaction was: impeachment referral-just say it-it’s the last thing this country can ask of you. But he probably can’t just say that. And in this saga his rectitude is arguably a larger strength. When everything else that passes in proximity to Trump emerges covered in gore and smelling of offal, Mueller’s rectitude allowed his ultimate “work product” to stand untainted (can’t bring myself to say unimpeachable). I do not think Trump’s enablers will be able to sink it. At least I hope not. In my line of work there is a truism that the data never speaks for itself, it needs someone to tell its story. And I think that is true of the Mueller report as well. But I guess in the end it seems to me its apparent that person needs to be somebody besides Bob Mueller. I would, however, love to know if its true that his team drafted up obstruction indictments.

  6. Tom says:

    Not just “insufficient evidence to charge”, but insufficient evidence to charge with an 85% chance of conviction. At least, that’s the general guideline I’ve heard mentioned in previous weeks and months. I think the most significant point Mueller made was that if he and his team could have cleared the President of obstruction, they would have said so–and they didn’t! So Mueller couldn’t clear Trump of obstructing an investigation into what the SCO actually did establish was true; that is, that the Russians carried out a “sweeping and systematic” attack on the 2016 election. It’s a mistake to think there’s going to be a Perry Mason style climax where Mueller produces a surprise witness or piece of evidence and Trump crumples to the floor sobbing, “All right! I admit it! I’m guilty! Lock me up! Lock me up!”

  7. Amers says:

    “we chose those words carefully”

    thank you marcy for your perpetual parsing, as it has brought me great peace of mind in understanding this process.

  8. mospeck says:

    Interesting that Mueller both opened and closed his presser with Russia. The Russians are formidable foes and looks like old Bob seems to think that they’re going to try some new and clever things in 20.

    Here’s an old flying story courtesy of the F4 and A6 sticks (pilots) back in Vietnam: you go as low and as fast as you possibly can, and with very sharp turn points, on North Vietnam bomb runs. However, some Pentagon genius has you start your runs regular on the clock. Russian advisors (RAs) were embedded with the NV soldiers and noted that the A6s would be flying over hill xray at 300 feet and 550 knots at 4:01. This was a very difficult problem for the Russian SAMs back in those days. But some RA figured to have 30 NV regulars up on the hill shooting off their AKs straight up exactly 4 o’clock. Then the bombers would show up on schedule and FOD out their engines (Foreign Object Damage). In the bar the old Nam sticks used to laugh about how a ten cent bullet could bring down a ten million dollar airplane.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks for this story, which is truly a parable for our (re)current mess (re our exploitable predictabilities). I know someone who used to repair the F4s, will have to ask about this story from his pov.

  9. BobCon says:

    This is one area where Mueller testimony before the House, simply repeating what is in the report, is extremely valuable.

    Simply leading him to repeat the long list of what the Russians did changes the equation — it puts major pressure on the press to stop insinuating that Russian interference is bothsides stuff Democrats charge and Trump denies. It moves it into the realm of reportable fact that timid reporters can state without qualification.

    The sad fact is that for much of the press, if it’s not on TV, it didn’t happen. So this is one thing the Democrats need to get stated clearly for the record on TV.

  10. Jim says:

    Thought RM remarks re: Barr were telling. Trying to throw his friend a lifeline by saying that since he released the full report (mostly), there’s no questioning his good faith (by releasing bogus summary first).

    Read to me like an admonition of his old pal — “you stepped in it, I can help keep you clean — but watch it.”

    • P J Evans says:

      You’re assuming they were friends. They were acquaintances – we can’t say that they were friends, as the evidence isn’t there.

  11. Zinsky says:

    I know that I am opining on things outside the four corners of the Report, but I thought it was cowardly of Mueller to not at least passingly offer words of support to his former colleagues like Comey, McCabe and Sally Yates who have been called traitors and slandered by this reckless, immature and unfit president.

    • Avattoir says:

      I do not think you understand that word you’re using, “cowardly”.
      Whatever else it means, it does not derive from using precisely correct adult language and syntax in an accurate way, writing and speaking with due observance for protocol and otherwise staying within the lines of the relevant regulations, and lastly declining to use such an appearance as this for superfluous special pleading.

        • bmaz says:

          Listen, you have submitted exactly 20 comments, over well less than a year, that are pretty much all simplistic lashing out bullshit.

          Avattoir, on the other hand has been with us well over twelve years, since a blog known as The Next Hurrah. Commentary always excellent. And is a lawyer that knows both the inside the government practice, and outside. Attacking Avattoir is not going to work here, it is tantamount to attacking me, Marcy or Rayne. We really do not take well to that. If you have trenchant analysis, ante up. But this bunk is not going to cut it.

        • bmaz says:

          Heh. You may have noticed we are pretty consistent in the face of this kind of bunk over the years. Trolls can carp all they want, we are not changing.

    • Americana says:

      This particular press conference was neither the time nor the place to do anything other than what Robert Mueller did which was to force Congress to recognize it was given the necessary tool and information to impeach Trump. There are other venues far more suited for the defense of those individuals and we’d best be vigilant about policing them and putting our two cents worth in each and every time some Russian trolls start chanting lists of names and saying, “STRING THEM UP!” The bloodthirstiness is sickening. It’s like listening to the Romans in the Coliseum screaming for the next gladiators to set upon or the next round of Christians to be set loose for the lions. Of course, if those Russki trolls focused on facts, they’d fall flat on their faces… and their comments would fall flat as well.

  12. Jimmy the Fish says:

    Barr said Mueller did not indicate that but for the OLC memo, he would’ve charged Trump. That’s true, as far as it goes. The fact is, Mueller said that because of the OLC memo, he couldn’t consider whether a crime was committed at all. Since he couldn’t consider whether or not a crime was committed at all, he never totaled up all the evidence to determine whether charges were justified. Splitting hairs? Yes — as a sort of masterful misdirection. Presidential criminality was never part of any consideration taken up by the OSC. Sucks, but true.

      • Avattoir says:

        Moreover there’s that little but not really so little matter of Trump being effectively identified as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a charge laid against another that’s gone thru full disposition.
        So, checking the score: 1) as above, what you say Mueller said is not actually what Mueller said, and 2) what you say Mueller said is inconsistent with the record of what all charges the SCO actually pursued.

  13. Badger Robert says:

    If there was obstruction of justice, wouldn’t that cause some of the evidence that would prove co-ordination to be unobtainable? The SC’s statement that there was insufficient evidence also implies that some witnesses did not tell the truth during questioning and some documents were missing. Mueller did not answer the “but for obstruction” question, but logic leads one to the examine the report to question whether certain witnesses lied or did not testify and that concealed criminal behavior. In that case, obstruction is the crime.

    • CapeCodFisher says:

      I keep saying the exact same thing. There was “insufficient evidence” of collusion because the president obstructed the investigation. It seems so obvious. I don’t know why this isn’t the major theme going forward. Once the obstruction is eliminated, the collusion will probably be evident.

      • Drew says:

        There was not sufficient evidence to charge *CONSPIRACY* –it’s important to remember that *collusion* is bracketed out here as a concept that has no definition. In fact, if you use ordinary understandings of the term collusion, much of the Mueller report is a documentation of a lot of collusion (much of it of the ‘wink and a nod’ variety).

        Mueller is neither hero or villain in this piece, he’s just a lawyer doing his job. Now it’s up to people who are supposed to be grownups doing the job of Congress to step up and do their jobs.

  14. sand says:

    IMHO, Mueller properly emphasized the election threat as the first priority for “every American.” Congress can legislate now. The Klobuchar-Lankford bill, or something like it, needs to get a House vote and head to McConnell’s desk. Then maybe Lincoln’s ghost or Trent Lott could convince McConnell plus 10 righteous Republicans in the Senate to let it pass before Putin sends a rain of burning sulfur upon our 2020 elections.

  15. RWood says:

    What did we learn? (in less than ten minutes)

    1- Don’t lose sight of Russia.
    2- Mueller is clearly calling for Congress to use its impeachment power. “…requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”
    3- While denying any desire to do so, and in an attempt to give himself cover from the Right, Mueller fully expects to be subpoenaed and is ready to testify before the House.
    4- Mueller strongly disputes Barr’s publicly stated reasoning for not charging the president with a crime.
    5- Barr is actively taking steps to deny key information to congress. Congress should act quickly.
    6- Through his comments today Mueller has asserted as much control as possible over his own future in regard to the investigation and his report.
    7- Mueller to Barr: Don’t do that thing you’re thinking of doing.
    8- Mueller is no longer in a position to safeguard the report’s findings.
    9- There’s more, but congress will have to dig for it themselves.
    10- Don’t lose sight of Russia.

    What else?

    • Capecodfisher says:

      11- Democracy only works when the will of the people is followed, and when you give the presidency to the candidate with the second highest vote total, ridiculously stupid and incompetent things start occurring?

      • RWood says:


        I would say that we, as in the collective American we, have been committing our fair share of ridiculously stupid and incompetent things since we arrived on this side of the pond…but I get your point.

    • AtticusFlinched says:

      My takeaway on your list’s #5 and #7 are in sync with my own reading of Mueller’s VERY restrained choice of words … still a warning that Barr is CURRENTLY up to no-good, needlessly classifying or otherwise insuring that the underlying evidence (FBI 302s, witness document production, etc) is beyond the reach of Congressional investigators unless and until he is ordered to disgorge them by no less than the SCOTUS.

      Am I reading too much into your list, or is my Spidey sense working overtime for a reason?

      • RWood says:

        I would say you are right on target in regards to #5.

        As for #7, only Mueller and Barr really know, but I took it as Muller saying “If you take a shot at me, you best not miss.”

  16. CD54 says:

    And if the Gang of Eight were to get full access to the CI investigation and see the inadmissible evidence of conspiracy . . .

    • Areader2019 says:

      Good point.

      Mueller made a judgement that there was insufficient admissible evidence to get a conviction on conspiracy charges. This is not the same as ‘no evidence’. Certainly a far cry from ‘complete exoneration’.

      The counterintelligence investigation might have a lot to show us.

      • Herringbone says:

        Has he said specifically “insufficient admissible evidence?” Not that I don’t doubt there’s plenty of inadmissible evidence. I just don’t think I’ve seen Mueller refer to it explicitly.

        • harpie says:

          Here’s the transcript:

          …and all three mentions of the word “evidence”:

          […] The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. […]
          […] The Department’s written opinion explaining the policy against charging a President makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report. And I will describe two of them:
          First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged. […]

        • Areader2019 says:

          I had to search….part 1, page 182. When the report discusses charging decisions, they evaluated ‘whether admissible evidence would probably be sufficient and sustain a conviction…”.

          So while a counterintelligence investigation might have access to NSA feeds, the decisions Mueller made would not consider them.

  17. Tom says:

    I thought it was significant that Mueller said the Wikileaks releases “were designed and timed to interfere with our election and damage a presidential candidate”, obviously meaning Hillary Clinton. This would seem to imply that Trump and his team had a motive, means, and opportunity for conspiring with the Russians and for obstructing the investigation into the Russians’ activities.

    • RWood says:

      “…the Wikileaks releases “were designed and timed to interfere with our election and damage a presidential candidate”, obviously meaning Hillary Clinton.”

      Sounds like “something of value” to me….

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      David Frum today put this all together.

      1. “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” Mueller wrote. This help “favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”

      2. The Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” and it “welcomed” this help.

      3…..“the social media campaign and the GRU hacking operations coincided with a series of contacts between Trump Campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government.”

      There may not be enough to indict, but there is enough to know something untoward occurred.

      • Jockobadger says:

        If I understand this correctly, it was No. 3 that effectively scotched the investigation. RM’s remit required that there be coordination with the Russian Gov’t or a Russian Gov’t Official. Using the cutouts on both sides left RM with no hand to play simply because of the verbiage of RR’s appointment letter. Damn. “ties to the Russian Gov’t” wasn’t quite good enough. I hope RM is good and angry and not just exhausted and frustrated to the core.

  18. CD54 says:

    @bmaz: at 4:41 pm

    Apparently not this (from DOJ):

    “Schiff has also asked for a briefing by Justice Department officials on the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into Trump-Russia, which began before Mueller’s probe but whose current status is unclear.”


    And IIRC there hasn’t been a IC briefing in about 2 years.

  19. Chetnolian says:

    Just gone back to Muller’s actual very precise words. He does not truly address how complete was evidence of obstruction. He is very careful to say policy did not allow him to opine on possible guilt. That means regardless of the evidence. That does strongly suggest to me that the evidence was good.

    • bmaz says:

      Chetnolian!! Good to see you. Hope the spring and coming summer are treating you well. And condolences on the almost as idiotic crap (maybe more so? I don’t even know any more!) going on at your side of the pond.

    • SteveR says:

      Yes. Both Mueller and Barr are very smart guys. And both choose their words very carefully. That’s pretty much where the comparison ends. Mueller chose his words carefully to be sure he conveyed the truth to any who read/heard them. The truth becomes more clear as you read them more closely. That’s pretty much the essence of clarity. By contrast, Barr chose his words carefully to ensure three things (1) first, that they misled anyone who did not read carefully, (2) that they meant little to anyone who read carefully, and (3) that he didn’t technically “lie” — “Gee, if you read my words carefully, you will see I really didn’t say anything.”

  20. 200Toros says:

    So Mueller says “there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.”

    Trump/Sanders: “See? No Collusion, Total Exoneration, I’m innocent! Case closed.”

    They really couldn’t have made it any more clear that they don’t give a damn about our country….

    • RWood says:

      I hopped over to State TV to see how they were spinning things. You’ll all be glad to know that perpetual ass-hat Trey Gowdy still thinks there’s nothing to see here.

      “I don’t think there’s a prosecutable case for obstruction.”

      Correct, Trey, there’s not A case, there’s TEN. As in the number of failed Benghazi investigations you launched.

  21. timbo says:

    The cynicism of the OLC opinion about not being able to charge a sitting President has turned out political system into a “winner-take-all” system with regard to the Presidency. I would like to see a Constitutional amendment that specifically bars the OLC or any other Executive branch entity from purposely blocking the investigation of ANY official of the government simply as policy. That’s where the problem is at the moment, the fact that the Congress and the two major parties prefer to have a winner-take-all Presidency rather than actual constraint on the Executive branch.

    • P J Evans says:

      As far as that last line – ONE major party prefers that, and ONE house of Congress, which is controlled by that same party. Jumping to a conclusion about *both* houses and *both* parties requires more evidence than is presented.

      • timbo says:

        Your explanation for Pelosi’s reluctance to turn the current investigations into a centralized impeachment inquiry is what exactly? Basically, Pelosi has not been keen on looking too deeply into the morass that is our political system for the past 13+ years, that much is clear. What’s your theory on why she’s avoided looking hard under the hood of our Republic? To save it?

        • P J Evans says:

          What’s your basis for your claims about her, other than you apparently don’t like her? Who would you prefer as the chief cat-herder in the House?

  22. Molly Pitcher says:

    I would benefit by bmaz or another lawyer here giving a brief definition of ‘sufficient evidence’ and ‘insufficient evidence’, something you would tell a first year law student.

  23. foggycoast says:

    As always IANAL. i am stuck by Mueller’s tortured language of stating what was not found instead of what was found. It smacks of legalistic spin.

    Regarding conspiracy, by stating “not sufficient evidence” we need to infer that there was evidence because only one scintilla of evidence also qualifies as not sufficient. so unless the report explicitly states on any given point that “this is evidence of conspiracy” it is left open to interpretation which is not helpful.

    Which begs the question that if Mueller was willing to qualify the evidence for conspiracy why not also for obstruction. stating that “if we were certain there was no obstruction we would have said so” is far different from saying “there was (or was not) sufficient evidence to establish obstruction” regardless as to the “fairness” of making that accusation. Is “fairness” a legal precept given the unique status of a sitting president not being subject to indictment? What about fairness to the American people which is who the DOJ is supposed to represent, not the President.

    The public deserves to know the conclusions regarding Trump in terms of what WAS found regarding conspiracy and obstruction rather than what was not found.

  24. Eureka says:

    The “insufficient evidence”/”_broader_ conspiracy” phrasing won the day for me, as I’d always found “(did not) establish” to be the bezoar. Better to have this new quote to use, especially as you roll it into the main point of the post– which I think is (~heretofore) a subtlety worth amplifying, as you have.

    Very important (that he sought) to take the wind out of the sails of the deep-state conspiracy nutters– sadly, apparently, including his now-former boss.

    Score 1 for Mueller’s preempt and EW’s recognition of same. I anticipate you’ll have more to say about this…

  25. Peacerme says:

    Woodward: disappointing. Nothing new but he was just on msnbc stating “there was no evidence of a conspiracy.” WTH!! Neil Katyal, who seems both bright, articulate and dedicated to facts, basically tried to fix that misrepresentation. What happened to Woodward? He clearly did not even read the report to make an “absolute” statement like that one. His book describes a weak leader, but why would he make such an absolute statement like that? There is “no” evidence of conspiracy in volume one? Yes he referred to “insufficient evidence” but ended stating “no” evidence!!! And he implied that it would not change. There are so many tranches that could shift because justice HAS been obstructed. The truth is like water behind a dam. It could still become more clear with investigation over time. I just am so disappointed in his inability to discern facts here. That kind of statement from a man like Woodward adds to the muddy water.

    Stop putting him on tv.

    • William Bennett says:

      Woodward has been a lazy member in good standing of the courtier media for a long time.

  26. Willis Warren says:

    everyone needs to calm down, imo

    Mueller’s presser was pretty obvious, even the doofi at Fox news understood it to be well different than Barr. Marcy got the big points right.

    Again, as I’ve been saying all along, the Vol 2 introduction CLEARLY stated the SCO was not authorized to make the president look guilty, and Mueller expounded on that (since he wouldn’t be able to defend himself in a trial).

    This is on Pelosi at this point. She needs to stop fucking up and present the evidence Mueller lays out to the American people. She needs to put someone in charge who is good at that and won’t be punked by doctored video. The democrats need to get their shit together. If this is allowed to stand, we’re gonna be punk’d forever.

    • Veni Vidi Vasi says:

      Point taken, but this is the inevitable result of one side ignoring the rules. In my 6 decades, this is the worst I have seen. And I remember Nixon.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. Your first username was ‘Sambucus’, by the way. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • AtticusFlinched says:

        Never made time to study Latin. Somehow found the time to watch a lot of mafia movies (who knew this would come in so valuable decades later?).

        In “The Valachi Papers,” Joseph Wiseman — the actor who played Dr. No (in, yeah, Dr. No) — as NYC mob family boss, Salvatore Maranzano, explains “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” to his eager-to-learn driver/muscle, Joe Valachi (Charles Bronson) how Caesar came, saw and kicked ass/took names. Never forgot it. Important foundational mafia first-principles, apparently. So thanks for taking me back to my youth and making me smile at the end of a tough week.

    • Hops says:

      But how does Pelosi get through to the Fox News audience?

      For sure, Trump is damaging this country and the whole planet in the long run. But people aren’t feeling it at the pump or the grocery store yet. Even the record storm outbreak in the mid-West isn’t getting through to many people about climate change and what that looks like.

      I think Pelosi is right to keep stockpiling ammo. If the courts are willing to expedite hearing and compel compliance with subpoenas, let that go on for a while yet. Either Trump people will defy the courts as well, or a lot of damaging information comes out. We want to add emoluments and tax evasion and money laundering to the articles of impeachment. Impeachment will be like war, started small and escalating, and not a war to lose.

      BTW, I see the number of former DOJ attorneys who signed the letter saying Trump obstructed justice is 1001 today. But most Americans probably couldn’t define what that is.

      • Rayne says:

        We have to give up the idea of getting through to the Fox News audience. There will *always* be a percentage of the population which is authoritarian; the baseline is 20-30%, and they’re likely Fox’s core audience.

        The challenge is establishing a different authority authoritarians recognize. The constant bashing by the triad of white nationalists/Russian+corrupt oligarchy/Christian fundies-evangelicals attacks any attempt to establish new authority. Figure out how to break their cyclical attacks and we may have a chance.

        In the mean time we have to hope Fox News doesn’t ditch personalities like Judge Napolitano whose explanation about Trump’s obstruction is one of the clearest so far. Though he places the burden of declining to indict on Barr’s shoulders, omitting the OLC memo, he spells out clearly multiple counts after defining obstruction. Rare occasion when I’ll point to an RCP page:

        The one nit I take with Napolitano’s explainer: at the very end there is one word he doesn’t use and it’s ‘impeachable’. Watch for yourself.

      • bmaz says:

        Bollocks to the thought that Pelosi is smart to keep plugging along with individual little court challenges bases on mere oversight authority. If you are going to court, and they will b e either way, take your strongest and most unassailable power with you, and that is the Constitutional impeachment power.

        Again as I keep reminding people, that does NOT mean you have to ever vote out articles of impeachment and send them to the Senate for trial. It simply means you exercise the exact power given to the House by the Constitution, the impeachment power.

        Every day they diddle their thumbs because they are worried about the petty concerns of their electoral future is yet another day they degrade the vitality of using the impeachment power, and another day they are a disgrace to the oath of office they took to defend the Constitution. The dithering and fecklessness is stunning. They need to get on with it now.

    • bmaz says:

      Willis, that is exactly right about Pelosi and the overall Dem caucus. The times now. How they can dither after Mueller all but imploring them to take it up is unbelievable.

        • Peacerme says:

          I think they also have a rhythm problem. They don’t know (like trump does) how to use momentum. They wait until trump swings back and then they try to build momentum against the tide created by trumps “retaliation” and get lost in the ground swell. Dems needed to make a big noise. Right now. Build on what mueller laid out. Instead they will tamp it down. You have to get the public demanding more. You have to feed the emotion, and regulate the house members (at the same time) while dysregulating the electorate. Nancy Pelosi is doing well to regulate emotion in response to trump but it’s a balance. She doesn’t have to be the one, but I think this is something that Warren does more effectively. And where is Biden’s voice?? Now?? Hillary’s speech was excellent. We need to build momentum so when he acts out the lather is up not down.

        • Willis Warren says:

          I think Pelosi is trying to time it, maybe with the Roger Stone trial (I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt), but that could backfire more than the Senate voting it down. Maybe she’s waiting on the tax returns. I’m not sure why she’s waiting, tbh. I fear that she thinks she be unable to work with republicans in the future… or something equally dumb

        • timbo says:

          I think Pelosi is compromised in some way, possibly with having sanctified (or at least known of) the torture regime under GWB. Then there’s other possibilities having to do with her and her family’s business interests, etc, etc. But, frankly, she acts like someone who is compromised in some way…

        • Willis Warren says:

          Pelosi isn’t compromised. My fear is that she’s hoping she can work with Republicans at some point. That’s fucking dumb, imo.

          A better scenario is that she’s hoping the Stone trial will open a gateway, or the tax returns will show Russian money laundering. She doesn’t really act like she has inside information, though.

        • Peacerme says:

          I don’t think she’s compromised. I’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist. They tend to blow up all the best “planning” and “manipulating”. Mueller just told us in no uncertain terms that 2016 election was compromised. We aren’t behaving commiserate with that reality. And codependent attempts to control him or his followers will back fire. The electorate “should” be upset. He’s planning something big at the border. I have a feeling he’s about to take another huge leap toward totalitarianism and he will use the reaction as cover to further bury the importance of this issue. Dems should go with the momentum and attention while they have it as he is soon to steal it back.

  27. klynn says:

    Oh boy. Someone in the WH reads EW. Marcy now has a breaking news story on her Twitter feed in the form of a timeline evolving from her tweet and a DTr-mp post she linked to! Looks like it could serve as evidence to me…Marcy should write a post about her tweet:
    “Mark Meadows defined “collusion” last fall as Trump’s campaign benefitting from emails Russia stole.”

    Just reading the timeline of DT deleting the tweet then as folks note it was deleted and how bad that looks in terms of confirming the truth of cooperating with the R-ssians, DTr-mp reposts the tweet. OMGosh it is lovely!

    • Rayne says:

      ~shaking my head~ I can’t believe we are still struggling with such a massive moron whose guilt leaks out like that.

      It’s a reminder to screencap his most iffy tweets, too.

      • klynn says:

        I started laughing in amazement as her tweet comments unfolded. Definite screencap. Remember my timeline question about a month ago? Think about a timeline that gives pre and post tweet and speech comments a timeline context. That kind of timeline would provide evidence.

        • klynn says:


          I’ve been pulling various timelines together to create a master timeline to have a baseline to work with.

        • P J Evans says:

          Frank Vyan Walton, at Kos, has a long series of posts with timeline information, sometimes including actual time. (Link is to profile page; you can access the posts from there.)

    • Jenny says:

      4:57 AM – 30 May 2019 Donald J. Trump tweets:
      Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist. So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media,…..

      “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” Help from his comrade.

  28. tjallen says:

    In his press conference, Mueller says the OLC opinion allows the OSC to collect and… “preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available.” Later, Mueller comments, “In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.”

    Does this material belong to the Executive branch? Is this a hint to Congress to get hold of this evidence and work product? I can’t imagine any of it being withheld or destroyed. I hope the congressional committees are jumping on this.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Many in the press have criticized Bob Mueller’s use of language. Much of it misses who he is and what he was asked to do. It ignores how many misplaced hopes were pinned on Bob Mueller, as if he were the only game in town.

    I criticized his language, for example, when he conflated a “constitutional” requirement with a requirement that, as a subordinate officer of the DoJ, he follow OLC guidelines, which do not allow indicting a sitting president. There may be no practical distinction for Mueller – and neither the OLC nor Barr would have changed those rules – but the distinction is important. OLC opinions define the law for the DoJ and the rest of the executive branch – but not for the legislature or judiciary. They were written to protect the president and can readily be changed.

    The more general criticism of Bob Mueller was why didn’t he speak in plain English. Plain speaking is for the news media, politicians, educators, and other interpreters of events. It’s the job of the Democrats in the House, for example. It must be done if the public is to understand what’s happening and what needs to be changed. But it’s not Bob Mueller’s job.

    Bob Mueller’s job, as a federal prosecutor, was to investigate and document the record, and to reach conclusions about what conduct, if any, justified a criminal indictment. That’s a very narrow mandate. It requires that he stick to precise rules and use precise language and terms of art. His language is intended for judges, prosecutors and defense counsel, and for congressional staff counsel and their congresscritters, many of whom are lawyers, whose job is to write and revise laws and to conduct oversight into how well they are followed or abused.

    Too many looked on Bob Mueller as their sacrificial lamb: he would save use from the big bad Donald Trump. Life’s never that easy. That is primarily a political job for members of Congress. It’s the job of the media, to better interpret events and provide the context to interpret them – access journalism be damned. It’s the job of political activists and ordinary citizens to stay informed and to loudly and persistently express their belief if something seems rotten in the state of Donald Trump.

    We should stop expecting Bob Mueller to solve all our troubles and start solving them ourselves.

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump is obsessed with words like, “dirty,” “filthy,” and “disgusting.” He used them to describe impeachment and, indirectly, to describe Bob Mueller and the idea of investigating His Greatness for wrongdoing.

    Lil’ Donny’s potty training must not have gone well. It makes one wonder what other mommy and daddy issues he has.

  31. jaango says:

    Had I been present at Mueller’s press availability, I would have tossed at him, one of our fruitful copies of America’s indigenous flag. To wit, the Flag contains three elements, that being “Honor Achieved…Honor Acknowledged…Honor Reciprocated”

    Therefore, I must better my practice for self-restraint, knowing that Mueller is unfamiliar with our perceived Arc of Power and which is lurking just around the next corner that we label our demographics. However, the insightfulness of internet bloggers should be awarded our Kudos, for addressing this ‘insider’s game’ between our Elected Officials versus our Appointed Officials.

  32. Badger Robert says:

    The fact that the Russians attacked the election is indisputable. It just involves IT and cyber warfare, otherwise its similar to Pearl Harbor, or 9/11.

  33. Badger Robert says:

    The SC investigation was about Russian attacks on a vital national interest, and developing possible counter measures. People who interfered in that investigation, for gain, to avoid embarrassment or to protect friends and associates, were obstructing federal agents, and analysts. Those people were helping a foreign opponent, similar to the Japanese military or the Taliban. This particular opponent happened to use secret methods instead of overt acts of military force or terrorism.

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