Here’s What Mueller Found (Or Didn’t Find) On Collusion
Special counsel Robert Mueller was unable to establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russians, operated as foreign agents of Russia or violated campaign finance laws during the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, according to a report released Thursday.
In a 448-page document, Mueller laid out the various areas of inquiry undertaken by investigators during the 22-month long Russia probe.
Prosecutors looked at whether members of the Trump team directly conspired with Russia in the release of stolen emails or in the Kremlin’s social media disinformation campaigns.
Mueller & Co. also looked at whether any Trump associates — including Paul Manafort, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos — operated as unregistered Russian agents. The investigation also considered whether a meeting held at Trump Tower with a group of Russians during the campaign violated campaign finance laws.
On all counts, Mueller was unable to gather the evidence necessary to press charges in any of those areas.
“The Office evaluated the contacts under several sets of federal laws, including conspiracy laws and statutes governing foreign agents who operate in the United States,” reads one passage in the report. “After considering the available evidence, the Office did not pursue charges under these statutes against any of the individuals discussed in Section IV above — with the exception of [Foreign Agents Registration Act] charges against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates based on their activities on behalf of Ukraine.”
Mueller’s report lays out a litany of contacts between Russian nationals and members of the Trump campaign. It also details Russian intelligence’s efforts to steal and disseminate emails stolen from the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
The report also reviews evidence gathered from emails, witness interviews and grand jury testimony that sheds light on internal Trump campaign discussions involving the release of Democrats’ emails through WikiLeaks. Several sections of the report discuss former Trump campaign chairman Manafort’s discussions with fellow campaign official Gates regarding the dissemination of internal Trump campaign polling data to a mutual associate, Konstantin Kilimnik.
“[T]he Office’s investigation uncovered evidence of numerous links (i.e. contacts) between Trump Campaign officials and individuals having or claiming to have ties to the Russian government,” reads the report.
One surprising revelation in the document is that the special counsel also investigated whether Papadopoulos worked as an agent of the Israeli government.
“While the investigation revealed significant ties between Papadopoulos and Israel … the Office ultimately determined that the evidence was not sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction,” it said. (RELATED: Papadopoulos’ Wife: Mueller Wanted To Charge George As An Israeli Agent)
Papadopoulos has previously claimed that he was told by investigators that he could be charged as a foreign agent of Israel. The report details Papadopoulos’s interactions early during the campaign with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who claimed to know that Russia had “dirt” on former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The report also shows that prosecutors considered whether the June 9, 2016 meeting held at Trump Tower violated any campaign finance laws. Donald Trump Jr. accepted that meeting after receiving an offer from a music publicist named Rob Goldstone, a representative of the billionaire Agalarov family.
Goldstone told Trump Jr. that a “Russian government attorney” wanted to offer the Trump campaign information on Clinton.
Trump Jr. responded, saying, “If it is what you say I love it.”
Trump Jr. attended the meeting with White House adviser Jared Kushner and Manafort. Goldstone attended with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and a group of Russians.
Investigators looked at whether the offer of Clinton dirt constituted campaign finance laws regarding the provision of a “thing-of-value” by foreign governments, but “ultimately concluded that, even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected with the Campaign willfully violated the law.”
“Although damaging opposition research is surely valuable to a campaign, it appears that the information ultimately delivered in the meeting was not valuable,” the report says.
Separate from the collusion question was whether Trump associates worked at the “direction, control, or request” of the Russian government. Mueller’s investigation did lead to charges that Trump associates worked as unregistered agents of foreign governments. Manafort pleaded guilty to working illegally on behalf of Ukraine. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn admitted in a Dec. 1, 2017 plea agreement that he failed to register as a foreign agent of Turkey.
But Mueller found no evidence that Trumpworld figures worked as agents of Russia. That includes Page, the energy consultant who was the target of four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.
“In particular, the Office did not find evidence likely to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Campaign officials such as Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Carter Page acted as agents of the Russian government — or at its direction, control, or request — during the relevant time period,” reads the report.
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