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Thu Apr 18, 2019, 07:39 PM

Rubin: Five questions that still need to be answered in the Mueller report

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/18/five-questions-that-still-need-be-answered-mueller-report/


In the coming days and weeks, reporters and legal analysts will comprehensively analyze Robert S. Muller III’s report laying out in excruciating detail Russia’s attempt to interfere with our election, President Trump’s team’s willingness to benefit from such interference and even obtain Hillary Clinton’s purloined emails, and Trump’s systematic, continual efforts to thwart the investigation. For now, let’s look at five topics that will require further clarification from Attorney General William P. Barr, Mueller and some of the figures involved.

First, the degree to which Barr and other members of the Trump administration, including press secretary Sarah Sanders, actively and thoroughly misled or even outright lied to the public is jaw-dropping. In spinning the report, Barr has shown himself not only to be acting as defense counsel to Trump but also to be in violation of his professional ethics as a lawyer. ...

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Second, the idea that Mueller found there was “no collusion” has been debunked. Collusion, as we have pointed out numerous times, is not a legal term, and Mueller reiterated that very point, declining to render a judgment on collusion. What he looked at was whether there was sufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy. That, however, leaves a wide range of conduct that included encouraging hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails (which Russians did hours after Trump publicly suggested they do so); echoing Russian denials that they were interfering with the investigation; and Paul Manafort’s meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik in which Trump’s Midwestern campaign strategy was discussed (!). In sum, Mueller found the Trump team “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” and when, for example, WikiLeaks did just that, Trump went back to the WikiLeaks email dumps again and again.

Third, there is replete evidence of obstruction of justice. Mueller makes clear that he was not going to render a decision on criminality because Justice Department guidelines prevented him from doing so. However, both in his analysis and in his compilation of facts, he provides Congress with at least as much evidence for obstruction as existed against President Richard M. Nixon.

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Mueller specifically rejected the theory Barr laid out in his “audition” memo last year that Trump’s actions within his Article II powers could not be considered obstruction of justice.

Fourth, the mainstream media’s report on the incidents that Mueller examined with regard to obstruction were, in virtually all cases, completely correct. The White House’s denials were bogus and right-wing cheerleaders who claimed the media got it “wrong” were themselves wrong. Trump did try to fire Mueller; he did mislead the public regarding the Trump Tower meeting; and he did try to influence witnesses.

Finally, there is much more to come. Mueller’s investigation referred 14 investigations to outside prosecution, 12 of which were redacted in the report. ...

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One can question whether Trump should be prosecuted and whether it would be wise to impeach him, knowing the Republican Senate will never remove him. What is unarguable is that no person who has behaved in ways Mueller described — including repeated lies to voters and efforts to impair an investigation — should be reelected. Republicans who insist otherwise once more disgrace themselves.

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