26 October, 2019

I read the Mueller Report

When Robert Mueller was called to testify before a US Congressional panel in July, three months after his report was delivered, it went something like this:

Q: We haven’t read the whole report; can you summarise the juicy bits for us?
A: No. Read the report.

Well, I did. To the extent that it’s been released, I read every last meticulous footnote. It was a slog, which is why it took me so long, so I would be very suspicious of anyone who claimed to have digested it in a weekend as many did.

By now, I would have thought all this would be a bit dated but now the president and his attorney general, who both claimed the report exonerated Trump the week it came out, are now preparing an inquiry into the inquiry because that’s what grownups do.

For those who are interested, here’s my tl;dr version:

The report is split into two chapters, one on the subject of collusion and the second on the subject of obstruction.

That there was interference in the 2016 presidential election by Russian interests is never in question. Nor is it ever in question that there was contact between some of these Russian interests and the Trump campaign. However, the report returns an open finding as to whether there was direct collusion with foreign meddlers by the Trump campaign. It isn’t established beyond reasonable doubt that senior members of the Trump campaign willingly colluded with Russia, as opposed to simply being used as useful idiots. It also fails to show that candidate Trump himself had any direct knowledge of the cooperation at the time.

To quote a line from The Godfather Part II, the family has a lot of buffers.

On obstruction of justice, the inquiry has Trump, his campaign and his administration bang to rights. There is ample proof and the defence submitted by Trump’s counsel is thoroughly rebutted. The only reason it hasn’t gone further is because Mueller chose not to test the constitutional grey area of whether a sitting president can be indicted. It doesn’t mean Trump can’t be arrested at 12:01pm on January 20th.

It is perhaps for this reason, and to distract from impeachment investigations on another charge that has arisen since the report was published, that the Trump administration is looking to launch a counter-inquiry. However, if they are successful in their attempt to discredit the Mueller investigation, it would also negate over 20 criminal prosecutions which have arisen from it, seven of which have already resulted in convictions or guilty pleas.