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What we are still waiting to learn from the Mueller report

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 3/25/2019 Rosalind Helderman

a person wearing a suit and tie walking down the street: It remains unclear whether Robert S. Mueller III’s full report will ever be released. © Cliff Owen/AP It remains unclear whether Robert S. Mueller III’s full report will ever be released. Attorney Gen. William P. Barr’s four-page summary of the conclusions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation has left a host of unanswered questions about various lines of inquiry Mueller is known to have pursued.

Barr said the special counsel concluded that no one associated with Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with the two major Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign — the hacking of Democratic email accounts and a social media campaign to inflame an already polarized American electorate.

Mueller also examined whether Trump committed obstruction of justice after becoming president, Barr reported, but Mueller sidestepped any traditional prosecutorial recommendation, declining to conclude the president committed a crime or to exonerate him. 

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But Barr’s summary provided no details about Mueller’s specific findings, leaving unresolved a number of investigative strands made public over the course of the 22-month investigation.

It remains to be seen whether the special counsel’s full report will be made public — and whether all his findings will ever be revealed.

Barr wrote in his memo that his goal is to release as much of Mueller’s report as possible, but some material related to grand jury testimony, other investigations and privileged content will probably be redacted.

For now, the country is left to wonder what, exactly, Mueller found on a variety of topics he explored. They include:

What potential acts of obstruction by Trump did Mueller examine — and why did he decline to draw a conclusion about whether they constituted crimes?

Barr indicated that Mueller explored a number of actions by the president that potentially raised “obstruction-of-justice” concerns, noting that most have been the subject of public reporting.

But it is not yet clear which of Trump’s private actions Mueller scrutinized that were not previously reported by journalists.

How Mueller analyzed the evidence of possible obstruction and why he failed to come to a finding also remain unknown.

Why haven’t prosecutors charged Roger Stone’s associate Jerome Corsi?

Corsi, a conservative author and conspiracy theorist, cooperated for months with the special counsel’s team as prosecutors pursued a major line of inquiry: whether Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, had contact with WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails in 2016.

That cooperation ended abruptly in November, when Corsi rejected a deal to plead guilty to one count of perjury, saying he would have been forced to say untruthfully that he intentionally lied to investigators.

Corsi then released a plea agreement drafted by the special counsel’s office that he said he refused the sign. According to the document, Corsi alerted Stone in early August 2016 that WikiLeaks planned to release material damaging to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Corsi accused Mueller’s team of pressuring him to say he intentionally lied about his communications about WikiLeaks’s plans, when he simply forgot about them and exaggerated his knowledge.

Prosecutors are not supposed to encourage people to plead guilty unless they have the evidence to prove the case in court.

Stone, who has repeatedly denied that he had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’s plans, was indicted in January and accused of making false statements and obstruction, but he was not charged with coordinating with WikiLeaks.

In an interview this week, Corsi said he felt vindicated. “They tried to give me a plea deal that was a lie, and I exposed it,” he said.

What information did former national security adviser Michael Flynn provide?

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his post-election contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding U.S. sanctions.

As of December, he had met with the special counsel’s office 19 times, according to court filings. His sentencing has still not been scheduled.

Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, declined to comment Monday.

What did Mueller learn about the Trump Tower meeting?

Mueller’s team investigated a meeting held in Trump Tower in June 2016 with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who Trump Jr. was told was going to provide damaging information about Clinton as part of the Russian government’s support for his father.

Rob Goldstone, the music promoter who arranged for the meeting, has said he was interviewed by Mueller’s team and also testified before the grand jury in Washington.

But Mueller’s prosecutors have not mentioned the meeting in any public court filing.

Whether Mueller learned anything new about the meeting that did not rise to the level of a crime is unknown.

“After 2 years, Robert Mueller has delivered his report, stating there was no collusion in the 2016 Presidential election. That includes my email to @DonaldJTrumpJr and the subsequent Trump Tower meeting. . .which as I have stated from the beginning, had nothing to do with collusion,” Goldstone tweeted.

What information did former campaign chairman Paul Manafort share with his Russian employee — and why?

In February, one of Mueller’s prosecutors told a federal judge that Manafort passed campaign polling data to a Russian employee who has been alleged to have intelligence ties.

In court, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said that a meeting Manafort had with Konstantin Kilimnik at a New York cigar club in August 2016 went “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.”

Prosecutors said Manafort lied about the encounter during interviews after he pleaded guilty and began to cooperate. But they did not charge him with any crimes related to his campaign interactions with Kilimnik.

What did they learn about Manafort’s interactions with his Russian associate?

Jason Maloni, a Manafort spokesman, declined to comment Monday.

The Washington Post filed a motion in court seeking to have more information about that incident released publicly. The special counsel’s office has until April 1 to tell a judge whether it opposes the release.

Why was Carter Page repeatedly placed under surveillance?

Then there is the case of Page, a former Trump campaign aide who visited Moscow in June 2016 while advising the campaign.

Congressional Republicans revealed in February 2018 that federal investigators suspected Page was possibly a Russian agent and in October 2016 secretly secured from a judge permission to monitor his communications.

The surveillance application was renewed three times and lasted until September 2017, after Mueller’s appointment.

What was discovered during that time has never been clear. Page has not been charged with a crime, and Republicans have decried the surveillance as overreach by federal prosecutors.

In a text message, Page said he has “always viewed the witch hunt as a sideshow which distracts from the real crimes that were committed against President Trump and his supporters.”

What did Mueller learn about the Steele dossier?

Congressional Republicans have revealed that the FBI referred to a research dossier about Trump’s ties to Russia written by former British spy Christopher Steele in their application for a warrant to surveil Page.

Mueller’s investigators traveled to London in September 2017 to interview Steele, according to people familiar with the matter.

What other steps Mueller’s team took to verify Steele’s allegations — and how seriously they took them — remain a mystery.

rosalind.helderman@washpost.com

Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.

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