- The special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report in the Russia investigation landed with a bang on Thursday, marking a dramatic inflection point in the nearly two-year FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
- Mueller’s work is complete, but as INSIDER has previously reported, there are dozens of ongoing threads and court cases that will continue well past the report’s release.
- Still, the 448-page report — which was lightly redacted — revealed several key nuggets of information about Mueller’s findings, contacts between President Donald Trump’s associates and Russians, potential obstruction of justice, and multiple instances when Trump and those around him have lied to the public.
- Scroll down to read the 11 biggest takeaways from the Mueller report.
Thursday marked a dramatic inflection point in the FBI’s nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, whether members of President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow during the race, and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice after he learned of the investigation.
The Justice Department released a lightly redacted version of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report in the investigation to Congress and the public on Thursday morning. The report’s release caps Mueller’s work as special counsel, but as INSIDER as previously reported — and as the report confirmed — there are still dozens of ongoing investigative threads and court cases connected to the Russia investigation that are unresolved.
Still, the Mueller report, which totaled 448 pages, revealed several key pieces of information that shed light on Mueller’s findings and potential wrongdoing by the president and those in his orbit:
Scroll down for the 11 biggest takeaways from the Mueller report and why they matter:
A footnote fuels speculation about the most salacious allegation in the Steele dossier
What was perhaps the most interesting detail in the report was buried in a footnote.
In it, Mueller quoted a Russian businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, as telling Michael Cohen via text message on October 30, 2016, that he had "stopped flow of tapes from Russia" that featured compromising, and potentially fabricated, material on Trump.
The revelation reignited intense speculation about one of the most salacious and sexually lurid allegations in the Steele dossier — that the Russian government possessed video evidence of the president engaging in sexual acts involving urination with Russian prostitutes in Moscow.
Rtskhiladze said the "tapes" he mentioned referred to compromising material said to be in the possession of people associated with Crocus Group, the real-estate firm owned by the developer Aras Agalarov. Agalarov and his son, Emin, helped host Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
The Agalarovs were also the ones who pitched an offer of Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign in June 2016. Rob Goldstone, Emin’s publicist, characterized the overture as being "part of Russia and its government’s support" for Trump’s candidacy. Donald Trump Jr., who received the offer, enthusiastically accepted it.
Trump’s many attempts to exert control over the Russia probe failed largely because aides refused to carry out his orders
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
In the obstruction probe, the special counsel found that Trump’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."
The special counsel then outlined several instances in which Trump ordered an adviser or administration official to do something, and they declined to do so:
- Former FBI director James Comey’s refusal to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. That decision, Mueller said, "ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI."
- Former White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal to tell then acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein to oust Mueller. McGahn was prepared to resign instead of following Trump’s order.
- Former campaign advisers Corey Lewandowski’s and Rick Dearborn’s refusal to deliver a message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions telling him to constrain the scope of the Russia probe to cover only future election meddling.
- McGahn’s refusal to publicly deny reporting about Trump’s efforts to have Mueller removed as special counsel. "McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction" to remove Mueller, "despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so," the report said.
The Trump campaign ‘expected it would benefit’ from Russia’s election interference
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Attorney General William Barr quoted directly from Mueller’s report when he told Congress the investigation "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
But prosecutors prefaced that statement with a significant caveat: "The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and … the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts."
Barr made no mention of that finding by prosecutors in his initial summary of the report, in a subsequent letter to Congress, during several days of testimony before Congress, or at his Thursday morning news conference.
- Mueller referred 14 criminal matters to other prosecutors, but only 2 of them are public so far
- Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions carried around a resignation letter in his pocket for a year, according to Mueller’s report
- Hope Hicks warned Trump that Don Jr.’s emails setting up the Trump Tower meeting were ‘really bad,’ but the president told her not to go to the press