Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice could not clear President Donald Trump, according to a redacted version of the special counsel’s report released Thursday, which provided new details of Trump’s efforts to influence the investigation into his campaign and Russia.
The report details numerous cases in which Trump asked his aides to take actions that would have obstructed the investigation, but stated they were unsuccessful because the aides refused his orders.
“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller says in the report.
Mueller also explains that the investigation into possible collusion found that members of the Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia’s illegal actions to influence the election, but didn’t take criminal steps to help.
The 448-page report, which includes two volumes and appendixes, paints a starkly different picture than the one laid out by Attorney General William Barr. On Thursday morning, before the report was released, Barr said that Mueller’s investigation did not establish a conspiracy with the Russian government and that Mueller did not make a decision on obstruction. But the full report lays out a significantly more complicated picture as Mueller’s team weighed whether to prosecute cases.
The report includes multiple episodes that were previously unknown, stemming from both the collusion and obstruction investigations, which are likely to fuel investigations in Congress into Trump. It’s also likely to add to the wave of criticism Barr has faced from Democrats, who were infuriated that he held a press conference Thursday morning.
Mueller wrote he accepted the Justice Department opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted. But the special counsel report rejected the Trump team’s legal argument that a President cannot commit obstruction of justice, leaving the door open for Congress to continue to investigate Trump.
“With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” the report says.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, whose committee is investigating Trump, told reporters he thought it was “probably written with the intent of providing Congress a roadmap.”
The investigation has clouded Trump’s presidency for nearly two years, and Trump was clearly worried about the potential findings of Mueller, the former FBI director, the report shows.
In May 2017, after Trump learned of Mueller’s appointment, Trump “slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.’”