Prof Hadar Aviram’s close reading of Mueller, 2

[ by Charles CameronHadar Aviram continues her distillation of the Mueller report, here providing us with the essence of volume 2 ]

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Mueller Investigation Report, Volume II: Obstruction of Justice.

2. The report starts off with a decline of the “binary” decision to prosecute or decline, because of the DOJ’s opinion that indicting a sitting president would “impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.”

3. Despite Mueller’s opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted, they conducted the factual investigation “when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.” The report EXPLICITLY states that “a president does not have immunity when he leaves office.”

4. They deliberately refrained from an ordinary determination whether crimes were committed because ordinary channels for clearing one’s name are unavailable in this case, and because the consequences of a recommendation would extend “beyond the realm of criminal justice.”

5. Most importantly: they did not find that the president did NOT obstruct justice and say so explicitly. The money shot is enclosed:

6. The report proceeds to review the efforts to cover up the contacts with Russia, which were reviewed in my previous thread. The chronology is as follows:

7. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly denied links to Russia, denied that the leaks were coming from Russia, and denied that he or other campaign officials sought any information from Russians. As my previous thread shows, the Mueller team found these denials to be false.

8. In Jan 2017, Flynn lied to Pence about meeting Kislyak. When Trump found out, he summoned Comey, then FBI director, and told him that he needed “loyalty.” He then proceeded to fire Flynn and commented to an outside advisor, “now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over.”

9. Later that evening, Trump summoned Comey to a one-on-one meeting, telling Comey, “I hope you can see your way to letting this go.”

Trump proceeded to ask Deputy National Security Advisor McFarland for a letter saying that Trump did not order Flynn to meet Kislyak. McFarland declined because he did not know if it was true and didn’t want that to look like a quid-pro-quo favor for his Ambassadorship.

11. As Sessions began to consider recusing himself, Trump asked White House counsel McGahn to instruct Sessions not to recuse, and after Sessions’ recusal, took Sessions aside and asked him to “unrecuse.”

12. Later, when Comey admitted that there was an FBI investigation on Russia, Trump reached out to National Security Advisors asking them what they could do to dispel this suggestion. Despite McGahn’s advice to the contrary, he also reached out twice personally to Comey.

13. On May 3, Comey testified in a congressional hearing, refusing to say that Trump himself was under investigation. Within days, he was terminated. Trump claimed that the termination was unrelated to the testimony, but the timeline does not bear this out.

14. On May 17, Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel. Trump reacted by telling advisors that this was “the end of [his] presidency.” He first demanded that Sessions resign (but then did not accept his resignation.)

15. Trump then argued that Mueller had a conflict of interest, but his advisors told him that claim was meritless.

16. When Mueller announced that Trump was a target, the latter called McGahn at home and asked him to fire Mueller. Fearful of starting a Saturday Night Massacre, McGahn resigned, instead.

17. Two days after the convo w/McGahn, Trump met with Corey Lewandowski, asking him to relay a message to Sessions, who as you recall had recused himself.

18. Lewandowski was to instruct Sessions to issue a public announcement that, notwithstanding his recusal, Trump had done nothing wrong, and to instruct the Special Counsel to redirect the focus of the investigation toward “future elections.”

19. Lewandowski told Trump he understood the message, but did not want to relay it himself, so he asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to do it. Dearborn didn’t want to do it either and did not relay the message.

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