web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 294)

Mueller Report Updates: Questions Remain After Special Counsel’s Findings

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-muellerbriefing-facebookJumbo Mueller Report Updates: Questions Remain After Special Counsel’s Findings United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Mar-a-Lago (Palm Beach, Fla) Justice Department House of Representatives Barr, William P
  • After the release of the special counsel’s report on Thursday, President Trump declared himself exonerated and then departed for his resort in Florida to celebrate Easter. He left behind in the capital a much more complicated assessment.

  • The investigation will now shift from the executive branch to Congress, and the matter still appears far from resolved.

  • The president usually avoids news conferences at his Mar-a-Lago resort. But if he remains atypically quiet, Democrats are happy to fill the void, declaring that the report, far from clearing Mr. Trump, cataloged troubling evidence against him.

The Justice Department’s release of the report on Thursday elicited claims of validation from the White House and Democrats — and endless analysis of an unprecedented investigation into a foreign adversary’s efforts to influence American democracy and whether the president tried to obstruct justice.

Did Russia try to influence the 2016 presidential election? Yes, according to the special counsel team, led by Robert S. Mueller III.

Did the Trump campaign criminally conspire with Russia to try influence the election? No, the report found.

Did Mr. Trump obstruct justice? Unclear.

Attorney General William P. Barr said Mr. Mueller’s team did not make a determination about whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, but he and the deputy attorney general did: “The evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Mr. Barr said on Thursday morning before the report was released.

At an event at the White House on Thursday for wounded American troops, Mr. Trump said the investigation vindicated him. “It’s called ‘no collusion, no obstruction,’” he said.

But the report itself, even with redactions, describes a much more complicated consideration as investigators struggled to determine whether a number of the president’s actions constituted criminal obstruction of justice.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report said. “The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

The investigation of Mr. Trump’s activities related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including efforts to impede the inquiry, now moves from the executive branch to Congress, where the matter is anything but resolved.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, made that abundantly clear on Thursday when he bluntly said, “We clearly can’t believe what Attorney General Barr tells us.”

Mr. Nadler said Mr. Barr is scheduled to testify before his committee on May 2, and he also has asked Mr. Mueller to testify no later than May 23. Mr. Barr said he had no objection to Mr. Mueller testifying.

Mr. Nadler made clear that he and other Democrats would continue to investigate the president. He even held out the possibility of impeachment proceedings but said it was too early to call for that.

In the Senate, Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said Mr. Barr had “fundamentally mischaracterized” the special counsel’s findings, and demanded a briefing and access to the full report by Mr. Mueller.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Live Briefing: A Post-Mueller-Report America

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-muellerbriefing-facebookJumbo Live Briefing: A Post-Mueller-Report America United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Mar-a-Lago (Palm Beach, Fla) Justice Department House of Representatives Barr, William P
  • After the release of the special counsel’s report on Thursday, President Trump declared himself exonerated and then departed for his resort in Florida to celebrate Easter. He left behind in the capital a much more complicated assessment.

  • The investigation will now shift from the executive branch to Congress, and the matter still appears far from resolved.

  • The president usually avoids news conferences at his Mar-a-Lago resort. But if he remains atypically quiet, Democrats are happy to fill the void, declaring that the report, far from clearing Mr. Trump, cataloged troubling evidence against him.

The Justice Department’s release of the report on Thursday elicited claims of validation from the White House and Democrats — and endless analysis of an unprecedented investigation into a foreign adversary’s efforts to influence American democracy and whether the president tried to obstruct justice.

Did Russia try to influence the 2016 presidential election? Yes, according to the special counsel team, led by Robert S. Mueller III.

Did the Trump campaign criminally conspire with Russia to try influence the election? No, the report found.

Did Mr. Trump obstruct justice? Unclear.

Attorney General William P. Barr said Mr. Mueller’s team did not make a determination about whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, but he and the deputy attorney general did: “The evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Mr. Barr said on Thursday morning before the report was released.

At an event at the White House on Thursday for wounded American troops, Mr. Trump said the investigation vindicated him. “It’s called ‘no collusion, no obstruction,’” he said.

But the report itself, even with redactions, describes a much more complicated consideration as investigators struggled to determine whether a number of the president’s actions constituted criminal obstruction of justice.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report said. “The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

The investigation of Mr. Trump’s activities related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including efforts to impede the inquiry, now moves from the executive branch to Congress, where the matter is anything but resolved.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, made that abundantly clear on Thursday when he bluntly said, “We clearly can’t believe what Attorney General Barr tells us.”

Mr. Nadler said Mr. Barr is scheduled to testify before his committee on May 2, and he also has asked Mr. Mueller to testify no later than May 23. Mr. Barr said he had no objection to Mr. Mueller testifying.

Mr. Nadler made clear that he and other Democrats would continue to investigate the president. He even held out the possibility of impeachment proceedings but said it was too early to call for that.

In the Senate, Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said Mr. Barr had “fundamentally mischaracterized” the special counsel’s findings, and demanded a briefing and access to the full report by Mr. Mueller.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

DealBook: Socialist! Capitalist! Economic Systems as Weapons in a War of Words

Westlake Legal Group 17sorkin1-facebookJumbo DealBook: Socialist! Capitalist! Economic Systems as Weapons in a War of Words United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Stiglitz, Joseph E Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Presidential Election of 2020 Pelosi, Nancy minimum wage Democratic Socialists of America Democratic Party Capitalism (Theory and Philosophy)

Joseph Stiglitz settled into a booth at his favorite diner on the Upper West Side last week with a curious, almost satisfied smile on his face.

He won a Nobel Prize nearly two decades ago for identifying the inequities and imperfections in market economies and has spent a career warning of the perils of wealth concentration, railing against monopoly power and championing higher taxes.

At last, a lot of people seem to be listening.

“It’s been a long fight,” he said.

The cause has been taken up by the new stars of the left, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and can trace much of its current momentum to the rumpled rabble-rousing of Senator Bernie Sanders. The policy points Mr. Stiglitz talks about — a higher minimum wage, a public option for health insurance and more — could just as easily come from the mouths of any of those seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020.

And yet they demonstrate how the words we choose to talk about our economic priorities are almost as important as the priorities themselves.

Last year, for the first time in a decade, a Gallup poll showed that Democrats had a more positive view of socialism than they did of capitalism. Those two words may play a pivotal role in our next election: Some Democrats have embraced the label of socialist, one long attacked by Republicans. And even some of those who have profited most from American-style free markets have worried about their sustainability, with the billionaire investor Ray Dalio going so far as to say that “capitalism is broken.”

Mr. Stiglitz, stabbing his fork into his salad, said he believed there had been a critical misunderstanding of the terms themselves — and the economic theories behind them — that had allowed for their weaponization.

“The meanings of the words have changed over time,” said Mr. Stiglitz, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton and a former chief economist of the World Bank. And the words have become the subject of a branding battle crossing political and generational divides.

The professor in Mr. Stiglitz launched into a history lesson that reached back to the early 20th century, about how socialism and communism became linked. And he made the case that Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, wasn’t actually a socialist — at least as the identity has long been defined.

Mr. Sanders’s agenda — which drew a fair share of cheers during a Fox News town hall this week — is not focused on “ownership of the means of production” or a statist system, Mr. Stiglitz said. “He’s really concerned about the social contract of health, education,” he added.

It is not surprising that Mr. Sanders’s supporters trend young, a group for which the word “socialism” holds no fears of conflict with the Soviets or baggage associated with the Berlin Wall.

“Some people are trying to attach more emotions to the historical legacy of socialism, which was never the same as communism, but in the United States those distinctions have gotten blurred,” Mr. Stiglitz said.

The attacks from the right have been anything but subtle. Just this month, Mr. Trump declared, “We’re going into the war with some socialists.” And Republicans have posited that Venezuela’s challenged economy is the inevitable result of any movement in the policy directions embraced by the left.

The word leaves a bad taste even in the mouths of many on the left, including Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, who lived through the height of the Cold War. “I do reject socialism as an economic system,” she said on “60 Minutes” last weekend. “If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”

(In Europe, Mr. Stiglitz said, similarly minded politicians might rightly be called social democrats. A simple switch in word order emphasizes the “social” instead of “socialist.”)

It all comes back to semantics, Mr. Stiglitz said. And perception was on his mind when titling his new book, “People, Power and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent,” which is to be published next week.

In it, he maps out a plan that he calls a “social contract” to improve jobs, health, education, housing and retirement. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if it turned into the economic platform for a presidential candidate.

Mr. Stiglitz proposes using a combination of market forces and government nudges — a higher minimum wage and an expanded earned-income tax credit, for example — to help the poorest among us. He also supports a “public option” to improve competition in the private sector in areas like health care and even retirement savings.

That’s not to say he views government as a panacea. For example, he wants to see the mortgage industry privatized. “In a private-sector economy, to have this huge piece of the economy that’s not run by the private sector is odd,” he said. Still, he also recommends a public option so that the government could support the mortgage market in certain cases.

Mr. Stiglitz said he had chosen “progressive capitalism” for his book’s title because he worried about triggering a visceral reaction to the word “socialism.”

“I’m trying to avoid some of the emotions that are still attached,” he said. “I try in my title to use progressive capitalism to try to say I believe in a market economy, but I also believe in government regulation.”

Even as popular figures on the left have embraced the label of socialist — Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America — others have sought, like Mr. Stiglitz, to underscore their capitalist views. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who formally announced his candidacy for president this week, calls himself a proponent of “democratic capitalism.”

If the evolving meaning of socialism strikes you as an inventive bit of rebranding, Mr. Stiglitz believes the conservative idea of American capitalism as an unfettered free-market system is itself a myth.

“There is no Darwinian capitalism,” he said. “Everybody would say you need some degree of regulation of banks. I mean, no one is talking about real laissez-faire banking.”

Even the word “capitalist” has evolved, Mr. Stiglitz said. It is only since the late 20th century and the rise of the economist Milton Friedman, he contends, that “capitalist” stopped being a dirty word. It was once used in what he called “a pejorative way.”

Capitalists were “people who were exploiting workers,” he said.

That is an opinion, of course. And it is a view that is not hard to come by in some circles now, either.

Language changes, and as convenient as it can be to use linguistic shorthand, it’s important to remember that beneath the words are ideas — the things we should be talking about.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

On Washington: Mueller Findings Kick Off a Political Tug of War That’s Only Just Beginning

WASHINGTON — Minutes after the Justice Department released the special counsel’s report on the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, delivered his own verdict: Case closed.

“It is time to move on,” Mr. McCarthy said in a rapid-fire response.

That won’t be happening.

Despite furious Republican demands to drop the subject altogether, Democrats, if anything, appear more alarmed about the president’s conduct as outlined in the report and more determined to pursue several lines of inquiry and hear from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, himself.

Their characterizations were damning. Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey called it “one of the most tragic documents in the history of the American presidency.” The Democratic National Committee said the “redacted report paints a stunning picture of bottomless corruption.” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader who chooses his words carefully, said that “the report indicates that President Trump tried on multiple occasions to obstruct justice.” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called the report a “portrait of criminal wrongdoing and national scandal.”

These are not the kind of words that flow from those who are about to say all is forgotten, if not forgiven. Rather than walking away, Democrats appear to be gearing up. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who oversees the House Judiciary Committee, called the report a road map to holding the president accountable and suggested Democrats intended to follow it.

Democrats also seized upon a line buried in the more than 400-page report that they viewed as a direction from Mr. Mueller to pursue the obstruction case against Mr. Trump that the special counsel decided he could not bring — though he couldn’t clear the president, either.

“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,” the report stated, a comment highlighted by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, among others.

“Congress has an obligation to ensure that activities like those laid out in this report are never repeated,” she said.

The handling of the report underscored once again the consequences of the last election in delivering control of the House to the Democrats. Were Republicans in charge of both the House and the Senate, the findings could have been the end of the matter. But with Democrats holding House committee chairmanships, they do not seem at all willing to let the issue go. They were further motivated by what they saw as an egregious attempt by Attorney General William P. Barr to run political interference for the president.

The continued investigation — and the drumbeat by some on the left for impeachment — does pose a political problem for Democrats that they had hoped to avert. Opening an official impeachment inquiry could incite a significant political backlash before the 2020 elections.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153330108_f66ce4ba-cba9-4f9d-ad94-dbbaf56e6d17-articleLarge On Washington: Mueller Findings Kick Off a Political Tug of War That’s Only Just Beginning United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Republican Party Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department House of Representatives Democratic Party

“Congress has an obligation to ensure that activities like those laid out in this report are never repeated,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, after the report was released.CreditMelissa Lyttle for The New York Times

The threat of fallout is even greater now, with Republicans able to cite Mr. Mueller’s report that found no conspiracy by the Trump campaign to cooperate with Russian agents along with the special counsel’s refusal to cite the president for obstruction of justice.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said that she was not interested in pushing forward with impeachment unless the idea had bipartisan support — a condition that is currently far from being met.

Joining Mr. McCarthy, many other Republicans urged Democrats on Thursday to abandon the pursuit of the president and focus on legislative issues. “It is time for both sides to stop hyperventilating over the Mueller investigation and focus on reducing health care costs and making a college education worth it for students,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee.

Democrats insist they can do both — pursue their legislative agenda and White House wrongdoing.

For the moment, Democrats will try to finesse the matter. They will push for the evidence underlying the report and demand that Mr. Mueller and others central to his inquiry appear on Capitol Hill while stopping short of any impeachment discussion. That strategy has the advantage of keeping the inquiry and Mr. Trump’s conduct in the spotlight without getting into the charged impeachment talk. But Republicans will do whatever they can to portray Democrats as overreaching and maliciously harassing Mr. Trump out of political spite, riling up Republican voters in the process.

The response to the report showed anew that Republican lawmakers remain solidly behind Mr. Trump, with none raising any public concerns about the president’s conduct in trying to short-circuit the special counsel’s investigation such as encouraging a top aide to lie about his demand to fire Mr. Mueller.

“Like all of my colleagues, I look forward to carefully reviewing the report,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said in a brief statement.

The Republican shrug drew criticism from some quarters. “To my fellow Republicans: Having read the Mueller report, you may decide that nothing in it requires or justifies the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Bill Kristol, a prominent conservative critic of the president, said on Twitter. “But, having read the report, do you have no qualms about deciding this man deserves our party’s renomination as president?”

But most Republicans aimed any fire at the Democrats, not the president.

“While Washington Democrats hoped for the special counsel to deliver a collusion conclusion, this report instead delivered a death blow to their baseless conspiracy theories,” said Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican. He was also fast out of the box with a statement heralding Mr. Trump’s innocence, excoriating Democrats and blaming President Barack Obama for failing to halt the Russian interference during his tenure.

Democrats performed so outlandishly in their “smear campaign” against Mr. Trump, Mr. Scalise said, that they owed the American people an apology for misleading them.

From the sound of things, it doesn’t appear that Democrats — newly armed with the details of the Mueller report — feel as if they are the ones who should be apologizing for misconduct.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Portrait of the White House and Its Culture of Dishonesty

WASHINGTON — As President Trump met with advisers in the Oval Office in May 2017 to discuss replacements for the F.B.I. director he had just fired, Attorney General Jeff Sessions slipped out of the room to take a call.

When he came back, he gave Mr. Trump bad news: Robert S. Mueller III had just been appointed as a special counsel to take over the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and any actions by the president to impede it.

Mr. Trump slumped in his chair. “Oh, my God,” he said. “This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

It has not been the end of his presidency, but it has come to consume it. Although the resulting two-year investigation ended without charges against Mr. Trump, Mr. Mueller’s report painted a damning portrait of a White House dominated by a president desperate to thwart the inquiry only to be restrained by aides equally desperate to thwart his orders.

The White House that emerges from more than 400 pages of Mr. Mueller’s report is a hotbed of conflict infused by a culture of dishonesty — defined by a president who lies to the public and his own staff, then tries to get his aides to lie for him. Mr. Trump repeatedly threatened to fire lieutenants who did not carry out his wishes while they repeatedly threatened to resign rather than cross lines of propriety or law.

At one juncture after another, Mr. Trump made his troubles worse, giving in to anger and grievance and lashing out in ways that turned advisers into witnesses against him. He was saved from an accusation of obstruction of justice, the report makes clear, in part because aides saw danger and stopped him from following his own instincts. Based on contemporaneous notes, emails, texts and F.B.I. interviews, the report draws out scene after scene of a White House on the edge.

At one point, Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, said the president’s attacks on his own attorney general meant that he had “D.O.J. by the throat.” At another, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, complained to Mr. Priebus that the president was trying to get him to “do crazy shit.” Mr. Trump was equally unhappy with Mr. McGahn, calling him a “lying bastard.”

From its first days, Mr. Trump’s presidency struggled to contain the threat stemming from Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and suspicions about his team’s contacts with Moscow.

Just weeks after taking office, Mr. Trump pushed out his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, who lied to the F.B.I. about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

But Mr. Trump hugged Mr. Flynn, telling him: “We’ll give you a good recommendation. You’re a good guy. We’ll take care of you.”

Mr. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, mistakenly assumed that getting rid of Mr. Flynn would derail the investigation then being led by James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director. During lunch with Chris Christie, then the governor of New Jersey, Mr. Flynn called and Mr. Kushner spoke with him.

“The president cares about you,” Mr. Kushner told Mr. Flynn. “I’ll get the president to send out a positive tweet about you later.”

Mr. Trump was worried about Mr. Comey, too. During the lunch, he asked Mr. Christie to call his friend Mr. Comey. “Tell him he’s part of the team,” Mr. Trump instructed.

Mr. Christie thought the president’s request was “nonsensical” and never followed through.

Other advisers feared Mr. Trump was not telling the truth to the public. After a news conference at which he denied any business dealings in Russia, Michael D. Cohen, then the president’s personal lawyer who had been trying to arrange a Trump Tower in Moscow, expressed concern.

Mr. Trump said that the project had not yet been finalized. “Why mention it if it is not a deal?” he said.

With the investigation bearing down on him, Mr. Trump wanted to make sure Mr. Sessions remained in charge at the Justice Department, and he asked Mr. McGahn to tell the attorney general not to recuse himself because of his work on the Trump campaign. Mr. McGahn tried to head off a recusal by calling the attorney general three times, but Mr. Sessions announced his recusal that afternoon.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153682008_78778735-6afc-4088-8b78-32953ce410f9-articleLarge A Portrait of the White House and Its Culture of Dishonesty United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Trump, Donald J Sessions, Jefferson B III Sanders, Sarah Huckabee Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rosenstein, Rod J Priebus, Reince R Mueller, Robert S III McGahn, Donald F II Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) Kushner, Jared Kelly, John F (1950- ) Justice Department Hicks, Hope C (1988- ) Flynn, Michael T Comey, James B Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Christie, Christopher J Bannon, Stephen K

Television screens showing Attorney General William P. Barr’s news conference on Thursday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump was furious. Summoning Mr. McGahn to the Oval Office the next day, he said, “I don’t have a lawyer,” and added that he wished Roy Cohn, the famed bare-knuckled attorney who once worked for him in New York, was still his lawyer. Mr. Trump said that Robert F. Kennedy protected John F. Kennedy, and Eric H. Holder Jr. protected Barack Obama.

“You’re telling me that Bobby and Jack didn’t talk about investigations?” he demanded. “Or Obama didn’t tell Eric Holder who to investigate?”

Mr. Trump screamed at Mr. McGahn about how weak Mr. Sessions was, and Stephen K. Bannon, then the president’s chief strategist, thought he was as mad as he had ever seen him.

The president asked Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, if he could do anything to rebut news stories on the Russia matter. The admiral’s deputy, Richard Ledgett, who was present for the call, considered it the most unusual experience of his 40 years in government and prepared a memo describing the call that he and Admiral Rogers signed and put in a safe.

Mr. Trump groused about the Russia investigation with his intelligence chiefs on multiple other occasions. At one point, Admiral Rogers recalled a private conversation in which the president said something like the “Russia thing has got to go away.” But the intelligence chiefs said they did not feel pressured to take specific actions.

Mr. Trump increasingly focused his ire on Mr. Comey, who during testimony on Capitol Hill on May 3, 2017, refused to answer questions about whether the president himself was under investigation.

Angry, Mr. Trump wheeled on Mr. Sessions. “This is terrible, Jeff,” he said. “It’s all because you recused.” He added: “You left me on an island. I can’t do anything.”

Mr. Sessions said he had no choice, but said that a new start at the F.B.I. would be appropriate and that the president should consider replacing Mr. Comey.

Mr. Trump was fixated on the F.B.I. director. Mr. Bannon recalled that he brought up Mr. Comey at least eight times on May 3 and May 4. “He told me three times I’m not under investigation,” the president said. “He’s a showboater. He’s a grandstander. I don’t know any Russians. There was no collusion.”

Mr. Bannon told Mr. Trump that he could not fire Mr. Comey because “that ship has sailed” and that it would not stop the investigation.

Mr. Trump ignored the advice and fired Mr. Comey on May 9, justifying it on criticism of his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email the year before. Overruling objections by Mr. McGahn and Mr. Priebus, Mr. Trump insisted that the letter firing the F.B.I. director state that Mr. Comey told him three times the president was not under investigation.

Aides were alarmed. “Is this the beginning of the end?” Annie Donaldson, Mr. McGahn’s chief of staff, wrote in her notes.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then the president’s deputy press secretary, told reporters that the White House had talked to “countless members of the F.B.I.” who supported the decision to fire the director — but she later admitted to investigators that it was not true. Her comment, she said, was “a slip of the tongue” made “in the heat of the moment” and not founded on anything.

Mr. Comey’s dismissal led the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to appoint Mr. Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, to take over the investigation. Fearing it would mean the end of his presidency, Mr. Trump lashed out again at Mr. Sessions.

“How could you let this happen, Jeff?” he demanded. He told Mr. Sessions, “You were supposed to protect me,” or words to that effect.

“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels, it ruins your presidency,” he added. “It takes years and years, and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

Mr. Trump demanded that his attorney general resign. Mr. Sessions said he would, and he returned to the Oval Office the next day with a resignation letter he handed to Mr. Trump.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, spoke to reporters after the Mueller report was released on Thursday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The president put the letter in his pocket and repeatedly asked Mr. Sessions whether he wanted to continue serving as attorney general. When Mr. Sessions finally said he did, the president said he wanted him to stay. The two shook hands, but Mr. Trump kept the letter.

When they learned about the letter, Mr. Priebus and Mr. Bannon worried that if he kept it, Mr. Trump could use it to improperly influence Mr. Sessions; it would, said Mr. Priebus, serve as a “shock collar” keeping the attorney general on a leash.

The next day, May 19, Mr. Trump left the White House for the Middle East. On Air Force One flying from Saudi Arabia to Israel three days later, the president took the letter from his pocket and showed it off to aides. Later on the trip, when Mr. Priebus asked Mr. Trump for the letter, the president claimed he did not have it and it was actually back at the White House.

Three days after the president returned to Washington, he finally returned the letter to Mr. Sessions with a note: “Not accepted.”

But he did not give up trying to regain control of the investigation, calling Mr. Sessions at home to ask if he would “unrecuse” himself and direct the Justice Department to prosecute Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Sessions refused.

If the attorney general would not rein in the special counsel, Mr. Trump resolved to find someone who would. On June 17, Mr. Trump called Mr. McGahn from Camp David and told him to have Mr. Rosenstein fire Mr. Mueller because of conflicts of interest.

During a 23-minute conversation, Mr. Trump said something along the lines of: “You got to do this. You got to call Rod.” Mr. McGahn, who along with other advisers believed that the supposed conflicts were “silly” and “not real,” was perturbed by the call.

The president then called again. “Mueller has to go,” he told Mr. McGahn. “Call me back when you do it.”

Mr. McGahn decided he would resign, determined not to repeat the experience of Robert H. Bork, who complied with President Richard M. Nixon’s order to fire the Watergate prosecutor during the Saturday Night Massacre before going on to serve as an appeals court judge.

Mr. McGahn, saying that he wanted to be more like Judge Bork and not “Saturday Night Massacre Bork,” drove to the office to pack his possessions and submit his resignation. When Mr. McGahn told Mr. Priebus and Mr. Bannon, they urged him not to resign and he backed off.

Undeterred, Mr. Trump summoned his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to the White House two days later and dictated a message for him to deliver to Mr. Sessions that would have effectively limited the scope of the investigation to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the message, Mr. Trump ordered Mr. Sessions to give a speech declaring that Mr. Trump was “being treated very unfairly” by the investigation.

“He shouldn’t have a Special Prosecutor/Counsel b/c he hasn’t done anything wrong,” Mr. Sessions was to say. “I was on the campaign w/him for nine months, there were no Russians involved with him. I know it for a fact b/c I was there. He didn’t do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in American history.”

A scheduling conflict scotched the meeting, but Mr. Trump raised it again a month later, saying that if Mr. Sessions did not meet, Mr. Lewandowski should tell him he was fired. Mr. Lewandowski assured him that the message would be delivered.

Hours later, the president criticized the attorney general in an interview with The New York Times. While the meeting with Mr. Lewandowski was never held, Mr. Sessions understood his tenuous position and carried a letter of resignation in his pocket every time he visited the White House.

In late June, presidential advisers and lawyers learned about a Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the campaign hosted by Donald Trump Jr., along with Mr. Kushner and Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman. But the president said he did not want to hear about it.

A few days later, at the office of Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Hope Hicks, the president’s communications adviser, saw emails about setting up the meeting and offering “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton on behalf of the Russian government. In a meeting, Mr. Kushner played down the encounter with the Russians, telling the president it was about adoption.

A reporter outside the White House on Thursday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Ms. Hicks suggested getting ahead of the story by having Donald Trump Jr. release the emails as part of an interview with “softball questions.” She warned that the emails were “really bad” and the story would be “massive” when it broke, but the president again said he did not want to hear about it.

On July 7, while the president was at the G-20 summit meeting in Germany, Ms. Hicks learned that The Times was preparing a story about the Trump Tower meeting. Ms. Hicks, on the flight home from Germany, recommended disclosing the entire story, but the president rebuffed her, saying a draft statement said too much.

Instead, Mr. Trump suggested the statement say that his eldest son had attended a meeting about Russian adoptions.

Ms. Hicks then texted Donald Trump Jr. a statement asking if that was all right. The president’s son wanted to insert that they “primarily” discussed Russian adoption because, as he texted to Ms. Hicks, they “started with some Hillary thing which was bs and some other nonsense which we shot down fast.”

Ms. Hicks responded: “I think that’s right too but boss man worried it invites a lot of questions.” The younger Mr. Trump, who urged releasing the emails themselves, finally did once the White House learned that The Times was about to publish them.

Mr. Trump did not stop pressing Mr. Sessions to take back control of the investigation. On Oct. 16, the president met privately with Mr. Sessions and said he should look again at Mrs. Clinton’s emails. Mr. Sessions made no promises.

Two days later, the president posted the first of several tweets in the coming weeks complaining that the Justice Department was not investigating Mrs. Clinton. One of the tweets concluded: “DO SOMETHING!”

The pressure on the president rose in November when Mr. Flynn’s lawyers told Mr. Trump’s team that he would be accepting a plea deal. One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers left a voice mail message for one of Mr. Flynn’s: “[R]emember what we’ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains.”

On Dec. 6, five days after Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with the Russian government, Mr. Trump pulled Mr. Sessions aside after a cabinet meeting and again suggested he “unrecuse” himself. “You’d be a hero,” he said, while saying he was not going to “direct you to do anything.”

In January 2018, The Times reported about the president’s June 2017 effort to have Mr. Mueller fired. A livid Mr. Trump pressed Mr. McGahn to publicly rebut the story, but he would not because the article accurately reported the president’s desires.

Mr. Trump insisted that Mr. McGahn deny it. “If he doesn’t write a letter, then maybe I’ll have to get rid of him,” the president said, or something to that effect.

John F. Kelly, who had replaced Mr. Priebus as chief of staff, then arranged a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. McGahn.

“I never said to fire Mueller,” Mr. Trump said. “I never said ‘fire.’ This story doesn’t look good. You need to correct this. You’re the White House counsel.”

“Did I say the word ‘fire’?” he asked.

“What you said is, ‘Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the special counsel,’” Mr. McGahn replied. He refused the president’s request that he “do a correction.”

Mr. Trump then complained about Mr. McGahn writing things down. “Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.”

Mr. McGahn maintained he took notes because he was a “real lawyer” and they create a record.

“I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn,” Mr. Trump said. “He did not take notes.”

But Mr. McGahn did. And so did plenty of others.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mueller Rejects View That Presidents Can’t Obstruct Justice

WASHINGTON — Robert S. Mueller III laid out roughly a dozen episodes that revealed that President Trump was intent on using his position to protect himself and his associates from the investigation into links between his campaign and the Russian government’s covert operation to manipulate the 2016 election.

Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, relied on statements from the president’s own advisers to detail how Mr. Trump tried to install loyalists atop the Justice Department to oversee the inquiry, fired the head of the F.B.I. and even encouraged the top White House lawyer to go back on what he told investigators.

But Mr. Mueller, in a report released Thursday, declined to reach any conclusion about whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed justice. Citing a Justice Department view that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, the special counsel said it would be inappropriate to analyze the evidence while Mr. Trump is in office and busy running the country because it would be unfair to accuse him of an offense without giving him an opportunity to clear his name in court.

Mr. Mueller’s rationale for demurring for now stood in stark contrast to Attorney General William P. Barr. Mr. Mueller noted that Mr. Trump would lose immunity when he left office, and that his investigation had preserved evidence for that moment. Mr. Barr, however, pronounced last month that the evidence Mr. Mueller gathered was insufficient to charge Mr. Trump with obstruction, regardless of the constitutional problems with charging a sitting president.

The special counsel report also contrasted with the views of the attorney general — and the president’s personal lawyers — in another crucial respect. Last year, months before Mr. Trump appointed him, Mr. Barr wrote a lengthy memo for the administration laying out an argument that it was impossible for Mr. Trump to use the power of his office to illegally obstruct the Russia investigation, no matter his intentions, because he has full authority over federal law enforcement as head of the executive branch.

But Mr. Mueller devoted more than a dozen pages of his 448-page report, which Mr. Barr made public on Thursday with some deletions, to systematically dissect and rebut Mr. Barr’s sweeping theory of executive power, which Mr. Trump’s lawyers had put forward earlier in a more abbreviated form.

“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,” Mr. Mueller’s investigators wrote.

Many of the 11 episodes Mr. Mueller detailed had been reported in the news media. The president consistently sought to install a loyalist to oversee the investigation; tried to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to retake control of the inquiry after he recused himself; and asked the F.B.I. director to end the investigation into his first national security adviser.

Mr. Mueller also revealed new presidential attempts to thwart the inquiry. In mid-2017, Mr. Trump enlisted Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, in another bid to impede the inquiry. Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Sessions to declare that the special counsel’s investigation was “very unfair” to the president and asked Mr. Lewandowski to convey the message. Mr. Lewandowski never directly spoke to the attorney general about the request, according to the report.

Mr. Mueller relied heavily on Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, who told investigators about how Mr. Trump tried to have him fire Mr. Mueller in June 2017. The report said that Mr. McGahn stopped the effort, “deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” a reference to Richard M. Nixon’s firing in 1973 of the special prosecutor who was investigating him. That order, which prompted the top two Justice Department officials to resign rather than carry it out, helped undermine political support for Mr. Nixon among Republicans.

A central difficulty for prosecutors pursuing obstruction cases is proving that the defendant had a corrupt intent when he took steps that could impede an investigation. A key part of Mr. Mueller’s report described how Mr. Trump’s intentions changed over time.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_145440843_8a2262b4-6f35-4c00-80ed-aae2af5d616a-articleLarge Mueller Rejects View That Presidents Can’t Obstruct Justice United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Law and Legislation Justice Department Constitution (US) Barr, William P

Mr. Trump pressured Donald F. McGahn II, his onetime White House counsel, to fire the special counsel.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The first phase came before Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey as the F.B.I. director in May 2017. During that phase, the report said, Mr. Trump had been assured that the bureau was not investigating him personally, and it suggested that his primary motivation was to make that fact public. But that changed after the dismissal, when Mr. Mueller was appointed as special counsel — a step Mr. Trump told advisers was “the end of my presidency” — and he became aware that his own conduct was under investigation for obstruction.

“That awareness marked a significant change in the president’s conduct and the start of a second phase of action,” the report said.

“The president launched public attacks on the investigation and individuals involved in it who could possess evidence adverse to the president, while in private, the president engaged in a series of targeted efforts to control the investigation,” Mr. Mueller’s team added.

It was during this second phase, the report said, that Mr. Trump tried to have Mr. Mueller fired; to push Mr. Sessions to resume oversight of the inquiry and limit it; and to keep the public from learning the true nature of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. He also began to publicly attack “potential witnesses who might offer adverse information and to praise witnesses who declined to cooperate with the government,” the report said.

But after that buildup, Mr. Mueller stopped short of pronouncing any conclusion about what all that evidence added up to. He instead demurred with a bland truism: “Judgments about the nature of the president’s motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence.”

The gap between the implications of Mr. Mueller’s rationale for stopping short of rendering any legal conclusion and the impression Mr. Barr had created last month by declaring that Mr. Mueller’s demurral “leaves it” to him, as the attorney general, to make that determination was a critical takeaway from the disclosure of the obstruction component of Mr. Mueller’s report.

Mr. Barr left out of his letter that Mr. Mueller had decided it was inappropriate for prosecutors to decide whether the evidence met the standard for charging Mr. Trump because the president could receive no trial for now.

Instead, Mr. Barr cited a fragment of Mr. Mueller’s rationale in what appears to be a subtly misleading way. In his letter, Mr. Barr quoted Mr. Mueller as seeing unspecified “difficult issues” of law and fact in saying that the special counsel declined to decide the obstruction question “one way or the other.”

In fact, Mr. Mueller made clear that he would have pronounced Mr. Trump cleared on obstruction if the evidence exonerated the president.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mr. Mueller wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

Against that backdrop, Mr. Mueller explained that it would be unfair to analyze the evidence for now because it created the risk that he would conclude that Mr. Trump committed a crime with no possibility of a speedy trial to resolve whether that was true.

“An individual who believes he was wrongly accused can use that process to seek to clear his name,” Mr. Mueller wrote. “In contrast, a prosecutor’s judgment that crimes were committed, but that no charges will be brought, affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name-clearing before an impartial adjudicator.”

He added: “The concerns about the fairness of such a determination would be heightened in the case of a sitting president, where a federal prosecutor’s accusation of a crime, even in an internal report, could carry consequences that extend beyond the realm of criminal justice.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Excerpts and Analysis From the Mueller Report

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-muellerreport-facebookJumbo Excerpts and Analysis From the Mueller Report United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III McGahn, Donald F II Justice Department Comey, James B Barr, William P

After a sweeping, 22-month investigation, Robert S. Mueller III found there was insufficient evidence to establish that President Trump or his associates engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia to disrupt the 2016 election, despite numerous contacts between his campaign and Russians. Mr. Mueller’s report also detailed the president’s efforts to thwart the investigation, and the investigators debated whether the episodes amounted to criminal obstruction of justice.

Read more about the report’s findings or read the full 448-page report.


POSTED AT 1:24 PM

Vol II, Page 77: The President and White House aides initially advanced a pretextual reason to the press and the public for Comey’s termination … The initial reliance on a pretextual justification could support an inference that the President had concerns about providing the real reason for the firing, although the evidence does not resolve whether those concerns were personal, political, or both.

One of the biggest questions of the past two years — something that fueled the news coverage, the federal investigation and congressional scrutiny — is why so many people around Mr. Trump lied, misled and changed their stories. People hoping that Mr. Mueller would resolve those questions will be disappointed. Time and again, Mr. Mueller seems as confused as anyone else about the motives.
— Matt Apuzzo

POSTED AT 1:05 PM

Vol. II, Page 153: With regard to Cohen’s false statements to Congress, while there is evidence, described below, that the President knew Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen’s false testimony.

Mr. Cohen lied to Congress about the Trump Organization’s business dealings with Russia, prompting accusations that Mr. Trump had instructed him to lie. Mr. Mueller’s report paints a far murkier view. Investigators found evidence that Mr. Trump’s legal team advised Mr. Cohen to keep his statements to Congress “short and tight, not elaborate, stay on message, and not contradict the President.” Mr. Mueller made no finding on what, if any, role Mr. Trump played in that effort.
— Matt Apuzzo

POSTED AT 1:02 PM

Vol. II, Page 157: The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels. These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony. Viewing the acts collectively can help to illuminate their significance.

Many of the incidents Mr. Mueller examined for possible obstruction of justice had been the subject of public news reports and dismissed by Mr. Trump and his allies over the last two years. But Mr. Mueller tries to weave them together into a pattern of behavior that has implications for understanding Mr. Trump’s actions and intent.
— Nicholas Fandos

POSTED AT 12:54 PM

Vol. II, Page 27: Comey’s briefing included the Steele reporting’s unverified allegation that the Russians had compromising tapes of the President involving conduct when he was a private citizen during a 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant. During the 2016 presidential campaign, a similar claim may have reached candidate Trump. On October 30, 2016, Michael Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that said, “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know ….” 10/30/16 Text Message, Rtskhiladze to Cohen. Rtskhiladze said “tapes” referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe contest in Russia… Rtskhiladze said he was told the tapes were fake, but he did not communicate that to Cohen.

In a footnote of the report, a Russian businessman is quoted as stating via text message that he had “stopped flow” of possibly fake, compromising tapes of Mr. Trump’s conduct in Russia. This offers a new detail on the sensational question of whether, as claimed in the unverified dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, Mr. Trump was caught with prostitutes on video in his Moscow hotel in 2013. But the report notes that the Russian businessman who bragged during the campaign that he had “stopped” such tapes evidently later said he believed the tapes in question were “fake.”
— Scott Shane

POSTED AT 12:52 PM

Vol. II, Page 177: Accordingly, based on the analysis above, we were not persuaded by the argument that the President has blanket constitutional immunity to engage in acts that would corruptly obstruct justice through the exercise of otherwise-valid Article II powers protecting the integrity of its own proceedings and the proceedings of Article III courts and grand juries.

Mr. Mueller dissected and rejected the argument that it would be unconstitutional to apply obstruction of justice laws to the president’s use of his executive powers like firing a subordinate or supervising the Justice Department’s opening and closing of cases. This repudiated an argument laid out not only by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, but also by Attorney General William P. Barr in an unsolicited, 19-page memo he wrote for the administration before the president appointed him to lead the Justice Department. That means Mr. Mueller left open the possibility of charging Mr. Trump with obstruction after he is no longer president – a possibility that Mr. Barr has tried to take off the table.
— Charlie Savage

POSTED AT 12:46 PM

Vol. II, Page 182: If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.

Whether Mr. Trump engaged in obstruction of justice involves complicated legal and constitutional issues that do not apply to ordinary citizens, but the report explicitly says that the inquiry did not clear the president. Discussing whether the president could have obstructed justice while exercising his constitutional authority, such as by firing James B. Comey as the director of the F.B.I., the report notes that Congress is empowered to step in to stop the corrupt use of presidential power. Democrats in Congress will surely seize on that language as justification for their burgeoning inquiries.
— Sharon LaFraniere

POSTED AT 12:36 PM

Vol. II, Page 139: In early May 2017, Cohen received requests from Congress to provide testimony and documents in connection with congressional investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. At that time, Cohen understood Congress’s interest in him to be focused on the allegations in the Steele reporting concerning a meeting Cohen allegedly had with Russian officials in Prague during the campaign. Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false. On May 18, 2017, Cohen met with the President to discuss the request from Congress, and the President instructed Cohen that he should cooperate because there was nothing there.

This further undercuts explosive information in the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, the former British spy.
— Adam Goldman

POSTED AT 12:27 PM

Vol. I, Pages 53-54: [REDACTED] Manafort also [REDACTED] wanted to be kept apprised of any developments with WikiLeaks and separately told Gates to keep in touch [REDACTED] about future WikiLeaks releases. According to Gates, by the late summer of 2016, the Trump Campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, and messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks. [REDACTED] while Trump and Gates were driving to LaGuardia Airport. [REDACTED], shortly after the call candidate Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming. [REDACTED]

Mr. Barr said this type of material must be kept secret because it was relevant to a continuing criminal matter. That is probably, at a minimum, the indictment of the former Trump adviser Roger Stone Jr., who is charged with lying about his participation in such efforts. But this raises a larger question: whether the hidden evidence shows that the Trump campaign conspired with WikiLeaks. At his news conference on Thursday morning, Mr. Barr said any campaign collusion with WikiLeaks could not amount to a criminal conspiracy because WikiLeaks’ publication of the emails was not a crime so long as it did not help Russia hacking them.
—Charlie Savage

POSTED AT 12:25 PM

Vol. II, Page D-3: During the course of the investigation, the Office periodically identified evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction established by the Acting Attorney General. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office referred that evidence to appropriate law enforcement authorities, principally other components of the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Twelve of those referrals remain secret. Two others have been made public, including prosecutions involving Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, and Gregory B. Craig, a White House counsel in the Obama administration.
— Adam Goldman

POSTED AT 12:20 PM

Vol. II, Page 5-6: In early 2018, the press reported that the president had directed McGahn to have the special counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The president reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and to create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the special counsel removed. McGahn told those officials that the media reports were accurate in stating that the president had directed McGahn to have the special counsel removed. The president then met with McGahn in the Oval Office and again pressured him to deny the reports. In the same meeting, the president also asked McGahn why he had told the special counsel about the president’s effort to remove the special counsel and why McGahn took notes of his conversation with the president. McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the president to be testing his mettle.

This is one of the most damning episodes listed in the report, despite having already been reported by The New York Times. It demonstrated an active effort by the president to paint a false narrative about his conduct, both in the news media and with the special counsel.
— Maggie Haberman

POSTED AT 12:08 PM

Vol. II, Page 6: When Flynn’s counsel reiterated that Flynn could no longer share information pursuant to a joint defense agreement, the president’s personal counsel said he would make sure that the President knew that Flynn’s actions reflected ‘hostility’ towards the president.

The report does not state what the president might do in response, if anything. But the episode is part of a pattern, laid out in the report, of the president or his lawyers trying to determine what former aides were telling the special counsel, praising those who refused to cooperate and warning those who did help the special counsel’s team.
—Sharon LaFraniere

POSTED AT 12:06 PM

Vol. II, Page 13: Ultimately, while we believed that we had the authority and legal justification to issue a grand jury subpoena to obtain the President’s testimony, we chose not to do so. We made that decision in view of the substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely produce at a late stage in our investigation. We also assessed that based on the significant body of evidence we had already obtained of the President’s actions and his public and private statements describing or explaining those actions, we had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President’s testimony.

Without an interview, Mr. Mueller never had a chance to question the president about the central question of the obstruction investigation: what was his intention when he took a range of actions that could have impeded the investigation?
—Michael S. Schmidt

POSTED AT 12:05 PM

Vol. II, Page 4: On May 17, 2017, the Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation appointed a special counsel to conduct the investigation and related matters. The president reacted to news that a special counsel had been appointed by telling advisors that it was ‘the end of his presidency’ and demanding that Sessions resign. Sessions submitted his resignation, but the president ultimately did not accept it. The president told aides that the special counsel had conflicts of interest and suggested that the special counsel therefore could not serve. The president’s advisors told him the asserted conflicts were meritless and had already been considered by the department of justice.

The president immediately recognized the threat of the investigation. When he learned of Mr. Mueller’s appointment, he slumped in his chair and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

He also lashed out at the attorney general for what Mr. Trump viewed as a failure to protect him. This would ultimately become a key consideration for the special counsel in debating whether the president obstructed justice, or sought to. — Maggie Haberman


POSTED AT 11:58 AM

Vol. II, Page 3: Shortly after requesting Flynn’s resignation and speaking privately to Comey, the President sought to have Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland draft an internal letter stating that the President had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak. McFarland declined because she did not know whether that was true, and a White House Counsel’s Office attorney thought that the request would look like a quid pro quo for an ambassadorship she had been offered.

Even the president’s closest advisers were reluctant to protect Mr. Trump because they could not be sure he was telling the truth.
— Adam Goldman

POSTED AT 11:55 AM

Vol. I, Page 2: Like collusion, “coordination” does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests.

Mr. Trump likes to say there was “no collusion,” and Mr. Barr used that term again in his news conference on Thursday morning. But collusion is not a legal concept. In looking for evidence of a criminal conspiracy, Mr. Mueller said he was instead looking for whether there was evidence of “coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russia in its election interference activities. He decided that the evidence fell short of meeting that standard.

— Charlie Savage

POSTED AT 11:53 AM

Vol. I, Page 10: The Office investigated several other events that have been publicly reported to involve potential Russia-related contacts. For example, the investigation established that interactions between Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Trump Campaign officials both at the candidate’s April 2016 foreign policy speech in Washington, D.C., and during the week of the Republican National Convention were brief, public, and non-substantive. And the investigation did not establish that one Campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican Party platform on providing assistance to Ukraine were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia.

Reporters circled for months around rumors of meetings between members of the Trump campaign, including Jeff Sessions, then a senator, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador at the time, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington and elsewhere. There were also lingering questions about why a portion of the Republican Party platform about Ukraine had changed during summer 2016. People involved in each had publicly denied any untoward behavior, and Mr. Mueller appears to have confirmed that the meetings were “non-substantive.” His assessment of the platform change is more nuanced, but ultimately did not “establish” the platform change had been directed by Mr. Trump or Russia.
—Nicholas Fandos

POSTED AT 11:52 AM

Vol. II, Page 7: Several features of the conduct we investigated distinguish it from typical obstruction-of-justice cases. First, the investigation concerned the President, and some of his actions, such as firing the FBI director, involved facially lawful acts within his Article II authority, which raises constitutional issues discussed below. At the same time, the President’s position as the head of the Executive Branch provided him with unique and powerful means of influencing official proceedings, subordinate officers, and potential witnesses—all of which is relevant to a potential obstruction-of-justice analysis.

Mr. Mueller is saying that Mr. Trump’s powers as president were tied in with the actions he took that could have constituted obstruction, like ousting James B. Comey as F.B.I. director. This made building a case more difficult because Mr. Trump had the authority as president to take many of the actions that were scrutinized.
— Michael S. Schmidt

POSTED AT 11:51 AM

Vol. II, Page 5: On several occasions, the president directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9 [2016] meeting, suggesting that the emails would not leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited. Before the emails became public, the president edited a press statement for Trump Jr. by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with ‘an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have information helpful to the campaign’ and instead said only the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children. When the press asked questions about the president’s involvement in Trump Jr.’s statement, the president’s personal lawyer repeatedly denied the president had played any role.

This confirms a New York Times report in July 2017 that disclosed that the president had helped draft the misleading statement made by his son Donald Trump Jr. and pushed for a version that did not reveal the true nature of the meeting. That The Times learned of the meeting at the time shook the president and was a key factor in what was a tumultuous summer for the White House.
— Maggie Haberman

POSTED AT 11:48 AM

Vol. I, Pages 6-7: Both men believed the plan would require candidate Trump’s assent to succeed (were he to be elected president.) They also discussed the status of the Trump campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states.

This suggests that Russia was trying to influence the Trump campaign to support a plan that would have allowed Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine, which would have been a huge victory for the Kremlin. Mr. Manafort had shared internal campaign polling data with the Russian associate before their Aug. 2, 2016, meeting — and for some period afterward, the report said.
— Sharon LaFraniere

POSTED AT 11:44 AM

Vol. II, Page 5: In early summer 2017, the president called Sessions at home and again asked him to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation.

The president instructed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, in 2017 to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself. The president wanted an attorney general who would shield the president, and his efforts to put Mr. Sessions back in charge of the Russia investigation showed he actively interfered in Mr. Sessions’s recusal as a possible act of obstruction.
— Adam Goldman

POSTED AT 11:40 AM

Vol. I, Page 9: While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeak’s release of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation.

Mr. Barr repeatedly said that the president’s campaign did not collude with Russia. Mr. Mueller’s report offers a more nuanced definition. He writes that while there was ample evidence of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia as it carried out its social media influence and hacking campaigns, the evidence was not strong enough to support bringing criminal charges.
—Nicholas Fandos

POSTED AT 11:38 AM

Vol I. Page 89: Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Trump campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.

It has long been known that Mr. Papadopoulos, a young campaign aide, was told that the Russian government had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton. This goes much farther, and helps explain why the F.B.I. investigated members of the Trump campaign in 2016. Mr. Papadopoulos appeared to suggest an explicit offer by the Russian government to work with the Trump campaign to sabotage Mrs. Clinton.

— Matt Apuzzo

POSTED AT 11:29 AM

Vol. II, Page 4: On June 17, 2017 the president called McGahn at home and directed him to call the acting attorney general and say that the special counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.

We knew that Mr. Trump had ordered his White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, in June 2017 to have the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, fire Mr. Mueller, and that Mr. McGahn had refused to do so. We did not know that the president called him at home to pressure him. The “Saturday Night Massacre” refers to the Watergate episode in which the Nixon administration’s attorney general and deputy attorney general both resigned rather than carry out President Nixon’s order to fire the prosecutor investigating that scandal, leading to a severe political backlash.

— Charlie Savage

POSTED AT 11:23 AM

Vol. I, Page 2: An agreement “requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to other’s actions or interests.”

It was not enough for investigators simply to show the Trump campaign knew what the Russians were up to, and responded. Trump associates had to specifically agree with the Russians to violate the law.

— Sharon LaFraniere

POSTED AT 11:19 AM

Vol. II, Page 75: Substantial evidence indicates that the catalyst for the president’s decision to fire Comey was Comey’s unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation, despite the president’s repeated requests that Comey make such an announcement.

Mr. Mueller effectively finds that the White House’s initial explanation for the firing was untrue. White House officials said that Mr. Comey was dismissed over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The administration’s ever-changing justification for that firing led to speculation that Mr. Trump had fired him to sabotage the Russia investigation.

Matt Apuzzo

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Nafta Revisions Offer Modest Economic Benefits, Report Finds

Westlake Legal Group 18DC-USMCA-2-facebookJumbo Trump’s Nafta Revisions Offer Modest Economic Benefits, Report Finds United States Politics and Government United States International Trade Commission United States Economy Trump, Donald J North American Free Trade Agreement North America Mexico Lighthizer, Robert E International Trade and World Market Canada

WASHINGTON — A government report has concluded that the Trump administration’s revised North American trade agreement would offer modest benefits to the economy, challenging the president’s claims that the accord would make far-reaching changes.

Mr. Trump has reviled the quarter-century-old North American Free Trade Agreement as the worst trade pact in existence and blamed it for pushing up the trade deficit, or the gap between what the country imports and what it exports. Over the past year and a half, he gave his administration a mandate to improve the pact. In November, Canada, Mexico and the United States signed an updated accord, which the president rebranded as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and the new deal is awaiting ratification from legislators in all three countries.

On Thursday, the United States International Trade Commission, a government body, released an independent analysis of the accord’s potential effects on the country’s economy, a report required by law before Congress votes on the deal.

The report found that the agreement would increase gross domestic product by 0.35 percent after inflation, or $68.2 billion, and create 175,700 jobs — fewer than the economy has recently produced in a single month, on average. It would increase United States trade with Canada and Mexico by about 5 percent, as well as provide a modest lift to agriculture, services and manufacturing activity.

“In light of the size of the U.S. economy relative to the size of the Mexican and Canadian economies, as well as the reduction in tariff and nontariff barriers that has already taken place among the three countries under Nafta, the impact of the agreement on the U.S. economy is likely to be moderate,” the commission said.

Critics of the accord seized on the findings. “This report confirms what has been clear since this deal was announced — Donald Trump’s Nafta represents at best a minor update to Nafta, which will offer only limited benefits to U.S. workers,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

The administration, however, saw the report as evidence of the pact’s strengths, noting that the commission typically projects only modest benefits from trade agreements.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said the commission’s estimates of the deal’s contribution to economic growth were twice as large as its estimates for the effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation deal negotiated by the Obama administration. The commission has significantly updated its methodology, however, making comparisons difficult.

“There can be no doubt that the U.S.M.C.A. is a big win for America’s economy,” Mr. Lighthizer said.

Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said he believed that the report had underestimated some of the deal’s economic benefits, including provisions on intellectual property. But he said he was encouraged.

“I think that should be reassuring to anyone who is on the fence on this bill,” he said.

Since negotiations began in August 2017, the administration has secured some substantive changes to Nafta, including modernizing protections on digital trade, adding labor and environmental protections, opening up the Canadian dairy market and adding rules to restrict governments from manipulating their currency.

Many of the changes have been updates to Nafta’s existing framework. Other improvements were drawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from that agreement days after taking office, before Congress could act on it.

The Trump administration has also tightened regulations on how cars are manufactured — for example, raising the percentage of a vehicle that needs to be made in North America for it to be tariff-free — to encourage automaking in the United States.

The commission’s report projected that rule changes in the automotive sector would result in many of the largest economic changes from the pact. It estimated that rules meant to bolster American automotive manufacturing would add more than 28,000 jobs and increase investment by $683 million per year.

But by raising the cost of producing cars, the auto provisions would actually reduce American car exports and weigh on the economy over all, the report said.

Those figures clashed with a rosier analysis of the automotive effects of the deal released by the Trump administration. Based on information provided by North American automotive manufacturers, Mr. Lighthizer’s office estimated Thursday that the rule changes would result in $34 billion in investments in the United States, as well as $23 billion in annual purchases of American-made parts and 76,000 American jobs, all within five years.

A senior official in the trade representative’s office said Thursday that the deal’s auto provisions were “a substantial factor” in investments announced by Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and others. He said the updates to the agreement would close loopholes allowing companies to use more parts from countries like China and would help build an industry for autonomous and alternative-energy vehicles.

The trade commission’s model essentially simulates what the United States economy of 2017 would have looked like had the new agreement been in place then. It makes several assumptions that could affect the economic impact, including the premise that there is little room for the economy to add additional jobs without also driving up wage growth for workers.

Perhaps most notably for Mr. Trump, who views America’s trade deficit as a measure of economic success, the model assumes no change in the balance of trade between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Some of the largest economic benefits of the pact, according to the trade commission, would come from the parts of the deal that codify the free flow of data across borders — measures that have been supported by technology companies.

Industry groups called for the pact’s quick passage into law. Linda Dempsey, the vice president for international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers, said that the deal was “a win for manufacturers.”

Jordan Haas, the director of trade policy at the Internet Association, said the report underlined that the deal’s digital trade provisions were “critical to America’s future economic success” and “mean jobs and opportunities in every state.”

Still, the trade commission’s report is likely to add fuel to criticisms of the agreement, especially among some Democrats, who have criticized the deal’s environmental, labor and pharmaceutical provisions.

The Trump administration began the trade negotiations with the aim of appealing to more populist Democrats, who have long criticized Nafta for sending jobs out of the country. That support is more critical than ever for the administration, since the pact will probably need at least two dozen Democratic votes to pass the House of Representatives if every Republican votes for it, an outcome that is not guaranteed.

The revised deal includes changes meant to court labor unions and liberal politicians, including a minimum-wage requirement for the auto industry and the end of a special system of arbitration for corporations.

But as a vote in Congress approaches, opposition on the left appears to be hardening. Democrats say they are concerned that the agreement won’t adequately protect the environment and labor rights, and that its intellectual-property protections for the pharmaceutical industry could undermine legislative efforts to make health care more affordable.

While some Republican lawmakers objected to the Trump administration’s negotiating goals during the talks, most now appear to support the deal’s passage, in part to provide more certainty to companies in their districts.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 18dc-takeaways-articleLarge The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things. Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Justice Department Flynn, Michael T Federal Bureau of Investigation Comey, James B Cohen, Michael D (1966- )

Television reporters in front of the Justice Department on Thursday.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, produced a report of more than 400 pages that painted a deeply unflattering picture of President Trump but stopped short of accusing him of criminal wrongdoing. Here are seven takeaways.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Mr. Trump that a special counsel had been appointed in May 2017, Mr. Trump grew angry: “I’m fucked,” he said, believing his presidency was ruined. He told Mr. Sessions, “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

Mr. Trump began trying to get rid of Mr. Mueller, only to be thwarted by his staff. In instance after instance, his staff acted as a bulwark against Mr. Trump’s most destructive impulses. In June 2017, the president instructed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, to remove Mr. Mueller, but Mr. McGahn resisted. Rather than carry out the president’s order, he decided he would rather resign.

One of the unanswered questions of the past two years — which helped fuel the F.B.I. investigation, congressional inquiries and journalistic scrutiny — is why so many people lied, changed their stories and issued misleading statements to both the public and federal authorities.

The report recaps one false statement after another. Just a few examples:

Mr. Trump was livid when journalists revealed that he had unsuccessfully ordered Mr. Mueller’s firing. The president tried to get Mr. McGahn to say publicly that was false, but Mr. McGahn refused, saying that the news reports were accurate. Mr. Mueller’s report notably declared that Mr. McGahn was “credible.”

Mr. Trump also pressed the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to give a news conference about the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. The White House press office wanted Mr. Rosenstein to say it was his idea. Mr. Rosenstein told the president that a news conference was a bad idea “because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth.”

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, admitted issuing a statement to the news media “in the heat of the moment that was not founded on anything.”

No, F.B.I. agents didn’t actually call the White House offering support for Mr. Comey’s firing. (Vol. II, Page 72)

Mr. Mueller can’t explain why the stories about Mr. Comey’s firing keep changing. (Vol. II, Page 77)

President Trump speaking Thursday at the White House about the special counsel’s report.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The president has spent the past two years denouncing the news media. He has repeatedly accused reporters of making up sources to destroy his presidency. The report, though, shows not only that some of the most unflattering stories about Mr. Trump were accurate, but also that White House officials knew that was the case even as they heaped criticism on journalists.

In May 2017, for instance, The New York Times disclosed that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into the president’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Trump tweeted, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”

“Despite those denials,” Mr. Mueller wrote, “substantial evidence corroborates Comey’s account.”

In another instance, Mr. Trump appeared to use criticism of the news media as a legal strategy. He attacked a Times article suggesting that his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, might cooperate with the Justice Department and provide information about Mr. Trump.


Mr. Trump was quick to declare the report a total vindication.

But federal authorities went out of their way not to exonerate Mr. Trump. They wrote that his conduct in office “presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

If the evidence cleared the president, Mr. Mueller would have said so. It didn’t. (Vol. II, Page 8)


Mr. Trump repeatedly said he was eager to sit for an interview with Mr. Mueller’s team, despite his lawyers’ insistence that doing so would be a terrible idea.

The report makes clear why his lawyers were so worried about it. Mr. Mueller had a huge cache of unanswered questions, misleading and conflicting statements, and unexplained actions with which to confront the president. Sitting for an interview, the report makes clear, would have exposed Mr. Trump to far more problems.

Mr. Mueller said he chose not to subpoena the president because a court fight would delay the investigation. But that decision meant that the authorities were never able to ask the central question in the obstruction case: What was Mr. Trump thinking when he tried repeatedly to undermine the federal investigation?

Mr. Mueller believed he had the authority to subpoena the president. (Vol. II, Page 13)


Mr. Mueller makes explicit what Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on: Russia secretly manipulated the 2016 presidential election.

The investigation ultimately found no evidence that anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign participated in that effort, but the report reveals in stark detail the many suspicious interactions that had the F.B.I. so worried. Many of those have been reported, but the report amounts to a compendium that helps explain the origins of the F.B.I. investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”

For instance, it has long been known that George Papadopoulos, a young campaign aide, was told that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. But the report goes much further, revealing that Mr. Papadopoulos suggested an explicit offer by the Russian government to work with the Trump campaign to sabotage Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Papadopoulos indicated that Russia wanted to coordinate with the Trump campaign. (Vol. I, Page 89)


Prosecutors describe a president who was preoccupied with ending a federal investigation, a White House that repeatedly told misleading and changing stories, and a presidential campaign that was in repeated contact with Russian officials for reasons that are not always clear.

Even though prosecutors concluded that didn’t amount to provably criminal conduct, the report is astounding in its sweep. Yet it is also a reminder of how much the public has learned over the past two years about Mr. Trump’s conduct.

If the American public or members of Congress were learning these things for the first time, the political fallout would normally be devastating. The consequences of the report remain to be seen, but if people are not surprised or shocked by the revelations, then Mr. Trump may have benefited by the steady drip of news stories he has so loudly criticized.

The special counsel suggests a pattern of behavior by Mr. Trump to harm the investigation. (Vol. II, Page 157)

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Highly Anticipated Report, Mueller Reveals Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Russian Inquiry

WASHINGTON — Robert S. Mueller III revealed a frantic, monthslong effort by President Trump to thwart the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, cataloging in a report released on Thursday the attempts by Mr. Trump to escape an inquiry that imperiled his presidency from the start.

The much-anticipated report laid out how a team of prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, wrestled with whether the president’s actions added up to an indictable offense of obstruction of justice for a sitting president. They ultimately decided not to charge Mr. Trump, citing numerous legal and factual constraints, but pointedly declined to exonerate him.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mr. Mueller’s investigators wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Mr. Mueller inherited a sweeping inquiry 23 months ago into whether Mr. Trump or any of his aides had coordinated with the Russian government’s campaign to sabotage the presidential election. The report found numerous contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russians in the months before and after the election — meetings in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton — but said there was “insufficient evidence” to establish that there had been a criminal conspiracy.

While the report does not find that the president or his campaign aides had committed any crimes in their contacts with Russians, it lays bare how Mr. Trump was elected with the help of a foreign power. When a federal inquiry was started to investigate the Russian effort, he took numerous steps to try to undermine it.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153685329_83cfec66-fae1-4738-8e2c-f0031c6d9e33-articleLarge In Highly Anticipated Report, Mueller Reveals Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Russian Inquiry United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Federal Bureau of Investigation Comey, James B Clinton, Hillary Rodham Classified Information and State Secrets Barr, William P

“There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks,” Mr. Barr said.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

The special counsel found that Mr. Trump had the authority to make many of his most controversial decisions, including the firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, by virtue of the powers the Constitution grants him. At the same time, it is a far more damning portrayal of his behavior than the one presented last month in a four-page letter released by Attorney General William P. Barr.

“The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the president sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” the report said. “These actions ranged from efforts to remove the special counsel and to reverse the effect of the attorney general’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony. Viewing the acts collectively can help to illuminate their significance.”

In his letter, Mr. Barr announced that — while Mr. Mueller had made no judgment about whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice — he had decided that the president had not.

Mr. Barr defended this decision in a news conference on Thursday morning, and said that some of the president’s actions were understandable given the “context” of his situation.

“There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks,” he said.

The report is a sometimes gripping account of a presidency consumed by a sprawling investigation, and of a president seized by paranoia about what it might unearth.

Immediately after learning that a special counsel had been appointed to lead the Russia investigation, the report said, Mr. Trump became distraught and slumped in his chair.

“Oh, my God. This is terrible,” he said. “This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

Last month’s release of Mr. Mueller’s primary conclusions seemed to blunt any momentum on Capitol Hill to initiate impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump, and it appeared unlikely that the far more detailed accounting of the special counsel’s work would change that dynamic.

But on Thursday, top Democratic lawmakers seized on the report’s findings and suggested that the issue of impeachment was not settled. At the very least, Mr. Mueller’s report seems certain to give Democratic lawmakers — and the many Democratic presidential candidates — ample political fodder for attacks on the president until November 2020, when Mr. Trump will stand for re-election.

The release is the culmination of an investigation that consumed the national political conversation for nearly two years and was freighted with the outsize expectations of Mr. Trump’s most fervent critics.

Mr. Mueller achieved a cult status among some Americans obsessed with the prospect that he might deliver a report that would imperil the Trump presidency — an image fueled by his general refusal to give public signals about the direction of his investigation. Mr. Mueller and his staff seemed monkish and enigmatic, choosing to speak only in court appearances and highly detailed indictments of Russian intelligence operatives or some of the president’s advisers.

Some Americans invested so much hope in the Mueller investigation that they made plans to hold rallies in predetermined locations if Mr. Trump fired the special counsel and terminated the investigation.

Westlake Legal Group mueller-report-people-events-promo-1552676143429-articleLarge-v3 In Highly Anticipated Report, Mueller Reveals Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Russian Inquiry United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Federal Bureau of Investigation Comey, James B Clinton, Hillary Rodham Classified Information and State Secrets Barr, William P

Mueller Report: Who and What the Special Counsel Investigated

More than two years of criminal indictments and steady revelations about Trump campaign contacts with Russians reveal the scope of the special counsel investigation.

He never did. Instead, Mr. Mueller and his team were able to complete an investigation that amassed information from thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of search warrants and evidence turned over from more than a dozen foreign governments.

The Mueller investigation began in May 2017, but its origins go back nearly a year earlier. The F.B.I. opened the original inquiry into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in July 2016, in the midst of a heated presidential election contest that, the world now knows, Moscow made a concerted effort to sabotage.

That summer saw WikiLeaks release thousands of hacked emails meant to cripple Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, and American intelligence and law enforcement officials saw other ominous signs of Russian attempts to subvert the election.

Determining the scope of the Russian interference campaign was a centerpiece of the Mueller investigation, and will most likely be one of its enduring legacies. His report leaves no doubt that it was the Russian government that orchestrated the effort, and that many of Mr. Trump’s aides welcomed it — even if they did not actively coordinate with Moscow.

At the very least, in the face of repeated Russian efforts to make contact with Mr. Trump’s advisers, none of them thought to contact the F.B.I.

When Mr. Mueller began his work, there were still prominent voices at both ends of the political spectrum openly debating whether the hacking and leaking of emails — and the fake news that spread like a wildfire on social media in the months before the election — was the work of Russia, China, stateless hackers or, as Mr. Trump once liked to say, “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Television reporters at the White House on Thursday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Most of those voices of doubt fell silent after the special counsel’s team secured two indictments last year against a total of 25 Russian military intelligence operatives and experts in social media manipulation. The indictments gave exquisite details about the entirety of the Russian operation — how Russians paid unsuspecting Americans to stage pro-Trump rallies in battleground states, how Russian hackers penetrated the personal email account of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman and how a pair of Russian women took a scouting trip to the United States two years before the election to gather information for the planned assault.

Mr. Mueller and his team took over the F.B.I. investigation days after Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey and after senior law enforcement officials had opened a parallel investigation into whether the president had obstructed justice in his moves that appeared meant to derail the Russia inquiry.

Mr. Trump long denounced the inquiry as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” But since it began, a half-dozen former Trump aides have been indicted or convicted of crimes, most of them for lying to Congress or federal investigators.

Mr. Trump declared victory last month when Mr. Barr sent the four-page letter to Congress outlining the investigation’s main conclusions. Mr. Barr wrote that the special counsel had not found sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Trump or any of his advisers had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia.

“After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead,” Mr. Trump told thousands of his supporters at a Michigan rally days after Mr. Barr’s letter was made public. “Robert Mueller was a god to the Democrats. He was a god to them until he said, ‘No collusion.’ They don’t like him so much now.”

Even so, the revelations in Mr. Barr’s letter did not produce a noticeable bump in Mr. Trump’s approval rating, and polls taken in the weeks since Mr. Barr’s letter have shown that many Americans were reserving judgment until they had a fuller picture of Mr. Mueller’s conclusions.

Other Americans made up their minds long ago, and it is unclear what the effect will be of the release of hundreds of pages of investigative conclusions by a team of seasoned prosecutors. Those already convinced that the investigation was a witch hunt, and those already convinced that Mr. Trump conspired with Russia to win the presidency, are unlikely to be moved by the conclusions of Mr. Mueller and his team.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com