Special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report is more damning than President Donald Trump has publicly claimed, detailing Trump’s aggressive efforts to interfere in the Justice Department’s Russia probe and declining to rule out that Trump obstructed justice.
Far from the “complete and total exoneration” the president has declared in recent weeks, the report depicts a president who made repeated moves to thwart the investigation into his campaign and presidency, possibly because Trump was trying to hide other, potentially criminal behavior — although Mueller found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy to help Russia influence the 2016 election.
The report, which riveted Washington Thursday, recounts Trump’s repeated attempts to fire Mueller and his anger when those efforts became public. It also details an effort to pressure staffers to send an email exonerating him and notes that the president had more knowledge of an aide’s potentially criminal behavior than he may have let on.
One implication of the report is that Trump may have escaped a finding that he obstructed justice only because his top aides refused to carry out his most dramatic orders. Indeed, Mueller’s team describes several of Trump’s actions as satisfying all the legal elements of obstruction.