What came out of the Mueller report? Here’s what you need to know in 6 minutes


JUDY WOODRUFF: All this week, we have been
going through the report by special counsel Robert Mueller and its key findings. We finish that series now with a look at the
document in its entirety. Lisa Desjardins and William Brangham are our
guides. LISA DESJARDINS: The Mueller report is unique
in American history. At times, it reads like a novel, even a thriller. At other times, it is dense legal opinion. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So what did it find? First, that the Russians attacked the 2016
election. The Mueller report is loaded with examples
of how Russian operatives launched what they call information warfare on the U.S. They wanted to distract and inflame voters
to benefit Donald Trump’s candidacy and to damage Hillary Clinton’s. LISA DESJARDINS: And while Mueller shows the
Trump campaign worked with individual Russians, he found the evidence didn’t show any conspiracy
or coordination by the Trump campaign. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction, and none whatsoever. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s been the president’s
mantra ever since Mueller’s report came out. And like Lisa said, on the collusion-conspiracy
issue, the president is right. The Mueller report doesn’t establish any such
wrongdoing. But on the issue of obstruction, Mueller doesn’t
agree with the president. LISA DESJARDINS: To Mueller, obstruction is
a crime of paramount importance. He went out of his way to say that in public
last week. ROBERT MUELLER, Russia Probe Special Counsel:
When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators,
it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers
accountable. LISA DESJARDINS: Mueller’s report lays out
a long string of examples where it finds evidence, sometimes substantial evidence, that the president
tried to obstruct justice. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For example, the president
asked FBI Director James Comey to let go of one investigation. He told his White House counsel, Don McGahn,
that Mueller has to go, and later told him to lie and deny that conversation ever happened. In other cases, Mueller says what seems like
suspicious activity wasn’t obstruction, like when President Trump tried to bury e-mails
showing how his son welcomed a meeting with Russians who were offering dirt on Hillary
Clinton. Mueller concludes that didn’t affect the investigation. LISA DESJARDINS: Overall, Mueller writes:
“The evidence does point to a range of personal motives animating the president’s conduct. Those include concerns the investigation would
call into question the legitimacy of his election and whether certain events could be seen as
criminal activity by the president, his campaign or family.” WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But, despite that, Mueller
decided not to indict the president. The reason, he said, is a Justice Department
opinion issued during the Watergate scandal. It says that a sitting president cannot be
indicted. This is internal agency policy from 1973,
not a law or court ruling. Because of this policy, on the issue of obstruction,
Mueller put his conclusion this way: ROBERT MUELLER: If we had had confidence that
the president clearly didn’t commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination
as to whether the president did commit a crime. LISA DESJARDINS: Mueller seems to understand
this is not a satisfying conclusion for anyone, saying the case raises difficult issues. But he writes: “U.S. law rests on the fundamental
principle that no person in this country is so high that he is above the law.” On the question of what to do now, Mueller
points to Congress. ROBERT MUELLER: The Constitution requires
a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president
of wrongdoing. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He’s talking, of course,
about the impeachment process. This is why the stakes are so high with this
investigation. But the report, written as a legal document,
is tough to absorb. LISA DESJARDINS: Mueller actually writes that
he wants to help readers. He does this in the appendix with a glossary
of 211 people and entities mentioned in the report, as well as the president’s full written
answers to Mueller’s questions. Both are worth checking out. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: OK, so what did this investigation
produce? Mueller lists all of the court cases triggered
by his probe. So far, a total of 34 people have been indicted. The vast majority of those are Russian nationals. But the investigation also led to a three-year
prison sentence for Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on fraud and campaign finance
violations. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort
is serving seven-and-a-half years on charges unrelated to the campaign. Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, and former
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and have
yet to be sentenced. LISA DESJARDINS: Meanwhile, another big case
is heading to trial. Trump confidant Roger Stone is charged by
Mueller with obstruction and lying to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks and the
release of Democratic documents stolen by the Russians. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And there are more than
a dozen other ongoing cases Mueller cites, but those are fully redacted, and we just
don’t know who or what is involved. The report leaves open its most wrenching
and difficult question, whether the president himself broke the law. LISA DESJARDINS: The report’s final conclusion
is that single, complicated paragraph you may have heard before. It reads in part: “If we had confidence after
a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly didn’t commit obstruction
of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal
standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report doesn’t conclude
that the president committed a crime, it also doesn’t exonerate him.” ROBERT MUELLER: Thank you. Thank you for being here today. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Mueller so far has spoken
publicly for just nine minutes about this report. He indicated he wants to leave the stage and
return to private life. Whatever Mueller’s future, his report remains
a challenge for America’s leaders on all sides. If you missed any of our recaps of this report,
they are all online. LISA DESJARDINS: We did our best, but, obviously,
this was a 448-page report with a lot of detail. So, we thank you for watching, but we also
encourage you to look for yourself. The full Mueller report is on our Web site.

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