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January 16, 2019

While campaigning, President Trump made it a point to court rural voters, telling them that their lives would improve if he was elected. On Tuesday night, Seth Meyers decided to check in on one portion of the area dubbed Trump Country, to see if things really are on the upswing.

Meyers focused on West Virginia, where Trump made "impossible promises" to voters, telling them they would get "so tired of winning." "I don't think he gets how winning works," Meyers said. "You don't get tired of it. I've never heard a New England Patriots fan burning his Tom Brady jersey and moving to Cleveland."

Trump promised he would put coal miners back to work, and after he became president, he returned to West Virginia and crowed that he had "ended the war on beautiful, clean coal." A new report out earlier this month contradicts Trump's claims; coal mines are closing faster than ever, with more shuttering during the first two years of the Trump administration that the first four years of the Obama administration.

This isn't because of regulations, but rather competition from cleaner and cheaper forms of energy. Meyers notes that this isn't even Trump's fault, "it's the march of time," but the problem is Trump gave a lot of coal miners false hope, and continues to insult them by saying they are incapable of doing any other jobs. Watch the video below for more on Trump's promises to coal miners, plus how cutting regulations on power plants is bad news for the air we breathe. Catherine Garcia

3:04 p.m.

The differences between Attorney General William Barr's and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's conclusion on obstruction are night and day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Thursday.

Pelosi and Schumer in a statement said the "differences are stark between what Attorney General Barr said on obstruction and what Special Counsel Mueller said on obstruction." They also said that Mueller's report, the redacted version of which was released hours earlier, "appears to undercut" Barr's conclusion that Trump did not obstruct justice.

Barr had said in his four-page summary to Congress that Mueller's report does not make a determination on obstruction but "also does not exonerate him." Barr explained that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined there was insufficient evidence that Trump criminally obstructed justice.

While the report indeed does not reach a conclusion obstruction, it does outline 10 instances of potential obstruction and says that "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." Mueller's report also says that Congress has the authority to make this determination. Barr said in a press conference prior to the report's release that he "disagreed" with some of Mueller's legal theories on obstruction.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) also slammed Barr on Thursday, saying he "fundamentally mischaracterized" the report during his Thursday press conference, while House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Barr's statements were "disingenuous" and "misleading." Brendan Morrow

2:59 p.m.

Depending on whom you ask, the president is either having a great day or a terrible one. Luckily, the internet is the winner either way. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian election meddling was heavily redacted, as was expected, here are a few of the best spoofs and commentaries about the redactions and how one or two well-placed black boxes can change a whole paragraph. Jeva Lange

7. Pardon?

6. Your sharpie is going to run out of ink.

5. Nothing to see here.

4. This is [redacted].

3. One of those days.

2. Should have seen this one coming.

1. A Tale of Two Special Counsel Reports.

2:36 p.m.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an escape plan all along.

Sessions had been one of President Trump's top internal enemies after he recused himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in early 2017. According to that same investigation, released with redactions on Thursday, that move convinced Trump to fire Sessions in July 2017 before eventually backing down. Trump did turn to insulting Sessions on Twitter, though, and those "frequent public attacks" had Sessions worried, the report says. In fact, that July, Sessions wrote a resignation letter of his own and "for the rest of the year carried it with him in his pocket every time he went to the White House," Sessions' then-chief of staff Jody Hunt told Mueller investigators.

Sessions ended up sticking it out, and was eventually forced to resign the day after 2018's midterm elections. Read the whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:28 p.m.

Far from a total exoneration, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin believes Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report actually contains an invitation to Congress to impeach President Trump.

Mueller in his report did not draw a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice but specifically said that "if we had confidence" Trump did not do so, "we would so state." The report also says, "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."

This is the sentence that Toobin says is key, calling it "all but an explicit invitation to Congress to impeach the president." Toobin also concluded that there's "no other way" to read this sentence other than Mueller telling Congress he "cannot enforce the obstruction of justice laws against the president" but that lawmakers "can do it" through impeachment.

Toobin clarified that he's not sure whether Congress will — or even should — actually impeach Trump. But he flagged this part of the report as being "highly contradictory" to Trump's repeated claims that it fully exonerates him. Brendan Morrow

2:00 p.m.

Kellyanne Conway called Thursday the best day for President Trump since his election, a summation that certainly isn't shared by his critics, who claim Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report neither absolved Trump of "obstruction" nor "collusion." Conway, though, had an entirely different vision of the report when addressing the press.

Appearing on Fox News, Conway went as far as to paint a rather unwelcome portrait of the Mueller investigation. "This has been a political proctology exam, and [Trump's] emerging with a clean bill of health," Conway said. "There's no other way to look at it."

Well, I sure wish there had been. Watch the interview below. Jeva Lange

1:57 p.m.

President Trump directed campaign affiliates to find Hillary Clinton's personal emails, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report says.

Trump, who in July 2016 publicly called on Russia to find deleted emails from his Democratic opponent, "repeatedly" requested his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, do so. The report says that Flynn "contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails."

These people included Senate staffer Barbara Ledeen and Republican donor Peter Smith. Smith made claims that he was in contact with Russian hackers about the emails "and that his efforts were coordinated with the Trump campaign."

But while Mueller's report says that Smith was in contact with Flynn and Trump adviser Sam Clovis, the investigation didn't find that Trump's campaign initiated or directed his efforts. It also says the investigation didn't establish that Smith actually was in contact with Russia hackers or that he or the Trump campaign obtained the emails. The Week Staff

1:24 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full investigation into Russian election meddling went public on Thursday, although it might be generous to really call it "full." More than a third of the pages of the investigation contain big black blocks of redactions, the Los Angeles Times reports. All sorts of information could be redacted for many reasons, including "secret grand jury information," "classified information," "information related to other continuing investigations," and "information about 'peripheral' people," The New York Times reports.

Still, you can't help but wonder about some of the more intriguing redactions. Here are a few of the best in the Mueller report. Jeva Lange

9. And that...?

8. Yikes.

7. The plot thickens.

6. Whom?

5. Well at least you know what airport they were going to!

4. Then who was on the phone?

3. Wait ... almost ... nope.

2. This entire page.

1. Oh, do tell.

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