The massive report compiled by special counsel Robert Mueller has been out for more than two weeks, but its length and density resist easy analysis — and offer numerous details that require closer attention.
One section, from Mueller’s analysis of President Donald Trump’s reaction the public confirmation of the FBI’s Russia investigation, and his subsequent firing of then-FBI director James Comey, offers a strong suggestion that the special counsel believed he was investigating a possible criminal conspiracy.
Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum flagged two sentences from that analysis, found on pages 76-77, saying they had not received enough attention given their apparent weight.
“As described in Volume I,” the report states, “the evidence uncovered in the investigation did not establish that the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official.”
“But the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns,” the report continues.
This section of the analysis comes after Mueller’s investigators lay out evidence that Comey’s firing meets the three common elements in federal obstruction statutes — an obstructive act, a nexus between the obstructive act and an official proceeding, and a corrupt intent.
“The President had a motive to put the FBI’s Russia investigation behind him,” Mueller’s team concluded in that analysis. “The evidence does not establish that the termination of Corney was designed to cover up a conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and Russia.”
But, as the two sentences flagged by Frum point out, Mueller’s team believed that a thorough FBI investigation would have turned up, at minimum, personally or politically damaging evidence against the president, or, at worst, evidence implicating Trump in a criminal conspiracy.