I did it. I finished The Mueller Report including the Notes and Appendices (mostly) – YAY!! And patting self on back!
Bottom line: It is well worth the read if you’re interested. If you want the “good parts” I’d recommend Volume II (check the Table of Contents) but the whole thing is important.
Having followed the news and read a number of books on the Trump campaign and administration, (see my post about Trump books at: https://mybecky.blog/2018/09/27/trump-world-books/ )
I’m fairly well versed in the subject as a whole. But I thought I’d separate my impressions and the narratives of others from what really went down at investigation time with Mueller at the helm. Besides, much of this is old news now and it’s good to see it put forth in well-organized form so as to recollect and learn without being swayed by the day-to-day manics of this depressing presidency.
There were many things I’d forgot about and several I’d not heard of at all. With the abundance of material spewing forth from the media, it’s good to see something which separates substantive issues out of the noise we were hearing and reading.
The Mueller Report
by the Washington Post
2019 / 448 pages
Read by three – 19h and 3m
rating: 10 / legal document
(read and listened – and glad of it! )
It was nice that both the Washington Post and the Audible versions were free or very cheap when I got them (I think they still are.)
Volume 1: “Report On The Investigation Into Russia Interference In The 2016 Presidential Investigation
There’s quite a lot of substance in the first half of this document even though much has been redacted for various reasons. But with all the redactions it’s almost a listing of who met whom and where without many details. Details like what they talked about. There was quite a lot of talk about “adoptions” for instance. (I think “adoptions” must have been a kind of code word for sanctions and Magnitsky Act in general.)
Both sections are very well organized (as should be the case) and clearly written and narrated. There are a few typos in there, but I imagine the speed with which this report was released might have affected that.
There was also quite a lot of concern with Clinton’s emails. Later there are a lot of Russians apparently trying to establish working relationships with Trump for various reasons. It seems that the Russians were sometimes interested in saying they could provide more info re “dirt on Clinton” than the Trump team was willing to get involved with these people for – not all Russians were trusted and Trump’s people had certain top-level folks they wanted to deal with.
There’s no “smoking gun,” that’s for sure – there’s barely a gun at this point in the narrative as far as collusion to do anything specific. Trump apparently didn’t have to solicit information, but Jared Kushner and Don Trump Jr. were definitely interested in what various Russians dangled, but didn’t quite supply (as far as is unreacted).
The Russians were definitely in favor of getting Trump elected, (as opposed to Hillary? – You betcha!) but the Trump people were more interested getting verifiable dirt on Hillary (which might hold up in impeachment hearings?).
The whole thing about Manafort sharing polling data with the Russians goes nowhere because of lost evidence. There are a lot of characters involved, some legit, some not. And there’s a bunch of material on Wikileaks of course.
After the election there were still Russians around who were anxious to meet Trump and get various things going through Kushner or Cohen or someone. And by the time of this report several players had been tried and sentenced, others were not found to be willfully in violation of anything or it wasn’t going to be provable in a court of law.
The standing opinion on Trump and indictment is that although a sitting president cannot be indicted, when he leaves office it might certainly be the next move.
A Special Counsel shall not have civil or administrative authority unless specifically granted such jurisdiction by the Attorney General. ” [Mueller cites the authorizing document that guides his activity, 28CFR600.4(a)]
This volume is well footnoted with additional comments as well as sources for more info. The footnotes occasionally have footnotes. And in the Audible version the narrator reads, as they occur, the footnotes which have substance at the appropriate times.
This volume is different in both tone and substance. The narrative reads like a page-turner and very enjoyable. In MY mind there is obvious and substantial evidence for a charge of obstruction of justice – but at this point it looks to me like that won’t be done.
Again, it’s well organized and clear – maybe clearer than Volume 1 but the subject matter is a significantly different. (I think well organized might be a hallmark of most legal documents.)
This section uses the testimony of the witnesses for substance organized around about a dozen issues, it’s not usually verbatim but it is sourced. I’m not going to go through all the sections which delineate the conduct of various members of the Trump, his team and others but many of them pretty clearly show his culpability.
The Report also explains why no indictments were brought against Trump and the OLC had difficulty determining Trump’s state of mind – the report “does not exonerate him.” (Quoted from the report.) . But if you can’t indict a sitting president and the Republican Senate will not impeach him then …. (At the moment we may be in the first stages of a Constitutional crisis in order to get to impeachment.)
Appendix C which outlines the written questions submitted to Trump is interesting as are his responses (although the audio version uses a slightly different order to the Q/A than the Kindle version and the Audible version is easier to follow). Trump doesn’t remember a LOT of stuff, but he was very busy in those campaign days and at his best he’s not been exactly forthcoming. He manages to remember whatever was in the media and that’s about it.
Trump was not subpoenaed to testify because Muller knew there would be a court battle and it would drag on way too long – written responses were the best they could do. (I’m not sure but I don’t think he answered all of them.)
There are additional sections in the Washington Post Kindle version including some introductory pages as well as mini-background biographies on Trump and Mueller, glossaries many legal documents, indictments, transcripts, and other legal reports plus examples of political advertisements, reports on political rallies,, descriptions of related crimes and conspiracies, and more.
The final document is Attorney General William Barr’s 4-page summary of the 400 page Mulller Report which Barr provided to congress about 2 days after he got it. Not good.