Special counsel Bob Mueller could not find evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russian operatives after associates “materially impaired” the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to Mueller’s final report.
The report details why no charges were brought in the numerous episodes of possible collusion detailed in the report. The report says there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the campaign but notes that campaign associates repeatedly acted to derail the probe by lying and deleting communications.
"[T]he investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters," Mueller's report said. "Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference."
"The Office charged some of those lies as violations of the federal false statements statute," the report added.
Trump associates also deleted messages:
Mueller noted in the report that Trump’s campaign and associates took measures to conceal their discussions from investigators.
“The investigation did not always yield admissible information or testimony, or a complete picture of the activities undertaken by subjects of the investigation,” the report said, explaining that some aides invoked their 5th Amendment rights while others simply lied.
“Further, the Office [of the special counsel] learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated–including some associated with the Trump Campaign–deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with their known facts,” Mueller explained.
“Given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report,” he added.
Mueller found obstruction, but could not charge Trump:
Along with explaining why no one was charged with collusion, Mueller explained that despite finding numerous episodes that met the standard for an obstruction of justice charge, he could not charge the president because of Justice Department guidelines precluding the president from being indicted.
Instead, Mueller wrote, Congress should use their Constitutional authority to resolve the case.
"With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice," the report says.
“Under [the Office of Legal Counsel’s] analysis, Congress can permissibly criminalize certain obstructive conduct by the President, such as suborning perjury, intimidating witnesses, or fabricating evidence, because those prohibitions raise no separation-of-powers questions,” the report continued.
“For example, although the President’s power to grant pardons is exclusive and not subject to congressional regulation, Congress has the authority to prohibit the corrupt use of ‘anything of value’ to influence the testimony of another person in a judicial, congressional, or agency proceeding, which would include the offer or promise of a pardon to induce a person to testify falsely or not to testify at all. The offer of a pardon would precede the act of pardoning and thus be within Congress’s power to regulate even if the pardon itself is not,” the report added.
Ultimately, Mueller found that Trump repeatedly tried to influence the investigation but aides refused to break the law for him. Mueller wrote that the attempts were “mostly unsuccessful” but “that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”