Speed Reads

the mueller report

Mueller Report leaves open possibility that Trump obstructed justice

President Trump on Thursday claimed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian meddling in the 2016 election proved there was "no collusion" and "no obstruction," although the text of the report itself does not back up such claims. As Mueller wrote in the report, which is now available to the public:

The evidence we obtained about the president's actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, 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. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. [Department of Justice]

Other parts of the report also indicated that Mueller's team hesitated over the question of if Trump obstructed justice. Mueller wrote that after former FBI director James Comey was fired, "the president engaged in a second phase of conduct involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both private and public to encourage witnesses not cooperate with the investigation."

The report is also clear to add that "no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the obstruction laws. If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony, the harm to the justice system's integrity is the same." While that might seem straightforward, The Washington Post explains Mueller's difficulty in reaching a conclusion: "The issue was complicated, [Mueller's report] said, by two key issues — the fact that under department practice, a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, and that a president has a great deal of constitutional authority to give orders to other government employees." Read the public report in full here.