The Mueller report is out

11:10 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Special counsel: Trump campaign "expected" benefit from Russia's illegal actions

The special counsel's 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, Robert Mueller's report said.

 "Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in the election interference activities," the report said.

Mueller specifically said Trump's presidential campaign "showed interest" in WikiLeaks' releases of emails that the Russians stole from the Democrats to hurt his opponent Hillary Clinton.

Barr noted earlier Thursday that "publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy." 

2:08 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Mueller was unable to conclude that "no criminal conduct occurred"

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was unable to clear the president on obstruction. The report states that the evidence obtained “about the about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

Here's what the special counsel team said:

"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, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
11:05 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

JUST IN: Justice Department releases redacted version of the Mueller report

The Department of Justice has posted a redacted version of the special counsel report.

10:50 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

What Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are tweeting as we wait for the report

Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Top Democratic lawmakers are tweeting ahead of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded a full public release of the report:

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said it is now "more urgent than ever" that Mueller testify before Congress:

10:49 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

White House's cooperation was important part of the investigation, Barr says

Attorney General William Barr gave credit to the at-times controversial White House strategy throughout 2017 and 2018 for giving Robert Mueller’s team “unfettered” access to campaign and White House documents, as part of his judgment that President Trump did not obstruct justice.

Trump “took no act” to hamper that effort, Barr said.

The approach to hand over so much material — under Trump’s lawyer John Dowd and White House attorney Ty Cobb — was in contrast to a more combative approach against Mueller taken by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. (Giuliani took over after Dowd and Cobb left the legal team.)

Here's what Barr said at his news conference:

“As the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”

10:41 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

These 2020 presidential candidates want to see the unredacted report and hear from Mueller himself

As we wait for Attorney General William Barr to submit a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report to Congress, some 2020 Democratic candidates are weighing in on it.

Some are calling on Mueller to testify, while others are asking for Barr to make a full, unredacted version of the report public. Some are also criticizing Barr's remarks at this morning's news conference.

Sen. Cory Booker

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Rep. Eric Swalwell

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

10:41 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Barr vs. Trump on Russian hacking

Attorney General William Barr gave a full endorsement of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment against Russians hackers.

This puts him at odds with President Trump, who has never unequivocally accepted the conclusions from US intelligence agencies that the Russian government was responsible. Trump even questioned those conclusions while standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki summit last year.

Here’s what Barr said: 

"The report details efforts by Russian military officials associated with the GRU to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals affiliated with the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton for the purpose of eventually publicizing those emails. Obtaining such unauthorized access into computers is a federal crime. Following a thorough investigation of these hacking operations, the Special Counsel brought charges in federal court against several Russian military officers for their respective roles in these illegal hacking activities."

Over the years, Trump has speculated that the hackers could have been working for the Chinese government, other countries, or even some random person "sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."

He has also suggested -- in June 2016 -- that the Democratic National Committee hadn't been hacked at all, and in fact conjured the story itself after the party's research on Trump was purportedly sent to journalists by a hacker.

"We believe it was the DNC that did the 'hacking' as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader. Too bad the DNC doesn't hack Hillary Clinton's 33,000 missing emails," he said at the time.

10:34 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Legal analyst Elie Honig examined Barr's remarks. Here's what he found.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr just wrapped up his news conference on special counsel Robert Mueller's report and legal analyst Elie Honig examined his prepared remarks.

Here's what Honig found:

On the hacking, the bar here is did they participate in the hacking effort? This line of the conspiracy is up to the prosecutor, and this is very narrowly defined. We will have to see what Mueller says about efforts to receive and publish the information once hacked, which may not have been seen as criminal but could be problematic from a legal and ethical standpoint. 

Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. Here, too, the special counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.

The first hint that Barr and Mueller did not approach obstruction in the same manner. Barr says he accepted the framework from Mueller, nonetheless, but it was not solely the basis of Barr and Rosenstein’s ultimate decision.

Although the Deputy Attorney General and I disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision. Instead, we accepted the special counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusion. 

This is a debatable premise to negate the idea of obstruction. In fact, it could be argued this would speak to motive for obstruction.

And as the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.   
10:26 a.m. ET, April 18, 2019

We're waiting to see the Mueller report. Here's where things stand right now.

We're expecting Attorney General William Barr to release a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report soon.

While Barr just held a news conference and answered several questions about the forthcoming report, it still hasn't been released. Here's what we know so far:

  • What's in it: Barr, at the news conference, said the report shows no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. "So that is the bottom line ... the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes."
  • About the redactions: Barr said there are "limited" redactions in the report, and none of them were made due to executive privilege. He said an almost unredacted version of the report will be available to some Congressional leaders (That one will only redact grand jury information.)
  • Timing: Congressional committees will be sent a redacted version of the report at 11 a.m. ET. Sometime after that, a copy will be posted on the special counsel's website.