This piece was first published on 22nd April 2019
When last updating the Donald Trump saga, following the release of Attorney General’s William Barr’s four page summary into Russia investigation, I urged caution in drawing conclusions before the actual Mueller Report was published. Now a heavily redacted version has been released, that analysis is vindicated.
Betfair markets dismissive of Mueller
However judging by the market moves both before and after Thursday’s release, those warnings fell on deaf ears. At 2.3, the president is shorter to win the 2020 Election than at any time since his inauguration.
There isn’t anywhere near enough space here to go through the report in detail. Those wishing to do so can buy a redacted copy online – it is number one on the best-seller lists.
In short, we already knew that Mueller had determined that any collusion with the Kremlin had not met the bar required for criminal charges. As it turns out, that is about the only good news for Trump.
Report very damaging on multiple fronts
Mueller has done what was expected of a special prosecutor. He has laid out the evidence and arguments in detail, making a plethora of criminal referrals, while handing the big, political questions over to Congress. Few legal experts ever predicted he would declare a ‘smoking gun’ found. It is a complex process and experienced prosecutors were always going to play it by the book.
What he has done is make it clear that Trump is anything but exonerated on obstruction of justice, either with regards the sacking of James Comey or attempts to undermine the inquiry. The president showed clear criminal intent but underlings such as White House Chief of Staff Don McGahn didn’t act upon it.
Nor does the report in any sense justify Trump’s messaging that the Russia scandal is a witch-hunt. On the contrary. It lays out numerous meetings and co-ordination with Kremlin actors. That no criminal conspiracy could be proved misses the point – this is political poison.
"As a former federal prosecutor, when I look at Mueller’s work, I don’t see a murky set of facts. I see a case meticulously laid out by a prosecutor who knew he was not allowed to bring it."
— POLITICO Magazine (@POLITICOMag) April 20, 2019
Next, Congress takes control. Democrat-led House Committees are sending dozens of subpoenas. Mueller and Barr will doubtless have to appear. So too McGahn and many more Trump staff and associates. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders – exposed by Mueller as lying over the Comey sacking – has lost any lingering credibility.
Most damaging information is probably redacted
Moreover, Congress will eventually manage to obtain an unredacted version. Mueller referred no fewer than 14 related investigations to other FBI divisions – such as the infamous Southern District of New York that charged Michael Cohen and has a long, hostile relationship with the Trump Organisation. 12 of the 14 were fully redacted.