Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will appear today before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in televised hearings expected to draw a nationwide audience. As a resource, we’ve rounded up some of our experts’ analyses of the report itself and of Attorney General Bill Barr’s conduct since the investigation’s conclusion on Friday, March 22, 2019.
Primary Source Material
Bill Barr’s Handling of the Report
Attorney General Bill Barr released a four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s report on March 24, 2019, exactly four months ago. The Attorney General has since come under criticism for his handling of the report, including accusations that he has intentionally mischaracterized the report’s conclusions. In turn, Barr’s suggestion that U.S intelligence agencies engaged in nefarious “spying” on the Trump Campaign has fueled a narrative that the investigation was illegitimate at its root.
Volume I: Russian Interference and the Trump Campaign
Volume I of the Mueller report focuses on the Kremlin’s plot to interfere in the 2016 elections and on whether Americans joined the Russians’ two criminal conspiracies (the conspiracy involving the hacking and release of stolen emails and the conspiracy involving a social media campaign). Mueller’s team concluded “there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy” involving Americans, but in the course of their work uncovered an array of connections between Trump Campaign associates and Russian operatives. Much to the surprise of many close observers, the report assessed only criminal liability. Mueller had conducted simply a criminal investigation. The counterintelligence investigation — addressing concerns that Trump and his associates might be compromised by the Kremlin — had remained in the hands of the FBI.
Volume II: Obstruction of Justice
President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017 setting off a chain reaction that led to the appointment of the Special Counsel. That firing is one of ten instances of possible obstruction of justice that the Office of the Special Counsel assessed in its report. Controversially, Mueller declined to reach a prosecutorial judgement as to whether the President obstructed justice, citing both the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted and the fairness concern that the President should not be accused by federal prosecutors without a judicial forum in which to reply. The Special Counsel emphasized, however, during his May press conference, “If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”