Mueller report released (minus redactions)

The report following the investigation led by Robert Mueller into whether there was Russian interference or collusion has now been released, which has opened a bunch of discussion points.

Time:  Here Are the Biggest Takeaways From the Mueller Report

Although Russia “perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency” and the campaign “expected it would benefit electorally” from Russian hacking efforts, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the report said.

When investigators began looking into Russian influence operations, however, Mueller found that Trump attempted to interfere with the investigation in a number of ways, from firing FBI Director James Comey to trying to limit its scope.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report said.

Trump’s response to Mueller’s appointment: ‘I’m f-cked’

According to Mueller, the president was despondent when Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed him that the special counsel had been appointed in 2017.

“This is the end of my presidency. I’m f-cked,” the President said to Sessions.

Trump ordered a White House lawyer to fire Mueller

Trump called McGahn at his home on June 17, 2017, according to phone records. He ordered McGahn to call the acting attorney general and tell him that Mueller had conflicts of interest and needed to be removed, saying something to the effect of, “You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod [Rosenstein],” McGahn told investigators.

McGahn told Mueller that he decided that he would rather resign, because he didn’t want to end up like “Saturday Night Massacre Bork” — a reference to Solicitor General Robert Bork, who fired a special prosecutor at President Richard Nixon’s request during the Watergate scandal, setting off a massive political firestorm.

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report said.

Trump didn’t like his lawyer taking notes

McGahn later told former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that the President had asked him to “do crazy sh-t.”

After reports emerged in early 2018 that Trump had ordered McGahn to fire Mueller, the President told his aide Rob Porter to ask McGahn to tell the press that he’d never received the order. McGahn again declined, telling Porter that the media reports were true.

Later, the President met with McGahn and asked him to deny that he’d been ordered to remove Mueller.

“I never said to fire Mueller. I never said ‘fire.’ This story doesn’t look good. You need to correct this. You’re the White House Counsel,” Trump said, according to McGahn and former Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Trump also asked McGahn why he had told Mueller about the effort to fire the special counsel, and also why he had decided to take notes during their conversations.

“What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes,” Trump said.

A White House spokeswoman admitted she made up a Trump defense

During a press briefing on May 10, 2017, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders defended Trump’s decision to fire Comey by saying that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence” in him.

But under oath with Mueller’s team, Sanders conceded that she had not heard from any agents, calling it a “slip of the tongue.”

Trump said he was just joking about asking Russia to find Clinton’s emails

After Mueller inquired about the public comment, Trump replied that he made the statement “in jest and sarcastically, as was apparent to any objective observer.”

Despite his insistence that he was joking, Trump later emphasized his comments on Twitter, writing “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”

Trump fired Comey because he wouldn’t publicly exonerate the President

Two days after James Comey refused to deny that the Trump was under investigation during a 2017 congressional hearing, Trump told his family and advisors that he was planning to remove the FBI Director, according to senior advisor Stephen Miller.

Trump also insisted that Comey’s resignation letter declared that Trump wasn’t personally under investigation.

How much of the report is redacted?

Substantial portions of the report are redacted. The omissions make certain sections – including the portion of the document which concerns Wikileaks – difficult to understand.

Fox News – Mueller report sparks new DC war over Russia probe: Subpoenas, payback and more

The public release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday marked the dramatic final note of a lengthy and contentious investigation, but also sparked a tinderbox of new calls for subpoenas, congressional testimony, resignations, and even impeachment proceedings — all despite the probe’s central finding that no evidence showed that President Trump’s team “coordinated or conspired” with Russia.

The whirlwind moments kept coming, even hours after the report’s release, as more and more revelations from the 448-page document trickled out. The White House, for its part, claimed total victory and vindication for the president who, according to the report, once fretted that the special counsel’s appointment meant he was “f—ed” beyond the possibility of redemption and that his agenda would be derailed by partisan distractions.

Within minutes of the report’s publication, House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., charged that the special counsel had provided “disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice” and, referencing the report’s limited redactions, finished with a tantalizing flourish: “Imagine what remains hidden from our view.”

Nader immediately called on Mueller himself to testify, and top Republicans, including Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr, said they would have no objections to him doing so.

Republicans, meanwhile, called the day a resounding win, pointing specifically to several portions of Mueller’s findings that debunked long-held conspiracy theories and media reports that misrepresented the Trump team’s contacts with Russia.

For example, notably absent from Mueller’s analysis was any mention of the unverified report that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had “secret talks” with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London’s Ecuadorian embassy months before stolen emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign were published.

Summing up the positive news for his administration in the report, Trump tweeted a reference to the popular “Game of Thrones” television series, with the words, “No collusion, no obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.”

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that Thursday was the “best day” since Trump’s election, calling the Mueller probe a “political proctology exam” and the final report a “clean bill of health.”

“It should make people feel really great that a campaign I managed to its successful end did not collude with any Russians,” Conway said. “We’re accepting apologies today, too, for anybody who feels the grace in offering them.”

Democrats, however, raised a slew of objections and charged that Barr had improperly given cover for the president. 2020 presidential contender Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., called on Barr to “resign,” after Barr pointed out in his press conference that Trump’s mental state — including his apparent frustration at the long-running investigation — was relevant to the question of whether he obstructed justice.

On collusion, according to the report, the Trump team believed it would benefit from Russian efforts and sought to share published emails that had been pilfered from the DNC and Clinton campaign, but did not coordinate with Russia on any hacking or misinformation efforts.

In one notable lead that was explored, former national security adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that Trump repeatedly requested that his team find tens of thousands of emails deleted from a private server controlled by Hillary Clinton.

At a July 2016 campaign rally, Trump remarked sarcastically, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

After that statement, Flynn contacted operatives in the hopes of uncovering the documents, according to Mueller. And Peter Smith, a GOP consultant, “created a company, raised tens of thousands of dollars, and recruited security experts and business associates,” the report stated.

The full report (redacted) plus more comment at NZH: The four key takeaways from the Mueller report into Russian interference in US election

3. Aides often ignore Trump’s false and dubious directives

One of the most intriguing parts of this report is the window it provides into how Trump’s aides view him. We’ve had many leaks suggesting internal discord in the White House, but here the aides were compelled to tell the truth.

And a common thread is forming: Trump often asks aides to falsely deny things or do things that make them uncomfortable. Oftentimes, they simply didn’t follow through.

In one section, then-White House counsel Donald McGahn got a message from Trump’s personal lawyer saying Trump wanted McGahn to put out a statement denying a New York Times report that said Trump had tried to fire Mueller. McGahn declined, because Trump had in fact tried to fire Mueller.

4. Many of Trump’s “fake news” claims are disproven

One of the unhelpful realities of the Russia probe thus far has been that so many revelations were based upon anonymous sources. That has allowed Trump to argue to his supporters that the stories were wrong, totally made-up “fake news.”

Except now many of them have been confirmed by the Mueller report.

And so the Washington circus continues.

Sideshow Don continues on Twitter, Burr explains Senate investigations

Donald Trump’s obsession with investigations into collusion and his obsession with being seen as great continue on Twitter:

Highly respected Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of Senate Intelligence, said today that, after an almost two year investigation, he saw no evidence of Russia collusion. “We don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.” Thank you!

Not only did Senator Burr’s Committee find No Collusion by the Trump Campaign and Russia, it’s important because they interviewed 200 witnesses and 300,000 pages of documents, & the Committee has direct access to intelligence information that’s Classified.

Now we find out that Adam Schiff was spending time together in Aspen with Glenn Simpson of GPS Fusion, who wrote the fake and discredited Dossier, even though Simpson was testifying before Schiff. John Solomon of

The mainstream media has refused to cover the fact that the head of the VERY important Senate Intelligence Committee, after two years of intensive study and access to Intelligence that only they could get, just stated that they have found NO COLLUSION between “Trump” & Russia….

Actually no, only one member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said “we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia” before a draft of their final report has been started, and before the Mueller investigation has concluded.

Burr: “”What I’m telling you is that I’m going to present, as best we can, the facts to you and to the American people. And you’ll have to draw your own conclusion as to whether you think that, by whatever definition, that’s collusion.”

I presume no facts have been presented to Trump yet, but he has been asserting ‘NO COLLUSION’ since the allegations and investigations began.

..It is all a GIANT AND ILLEGAL HOAX, developed long before the election itself, but used as an excuse by the Democrats as to why Crooked Hillary Clinton lost the Election! Someday the Fake News Media will turn honest & report that Donald J. Trump was actually a GREAT Candidate!

This relates to this from CBS News:  Richard Burr on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, 2 years on

The investigation into Russian intelligence activities by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence turned two years old, without fanfare, last month.

For almost as long, the inquiry, led by Republican Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, has been held up as the last bastion of bipartisanship in Washington.

After a parallel investigation divided the House Intelligence Committee last year, the Senate’s probe has been under intense pressure to offer a single set of findings.

Burr has spoken little about the probe he leads. But he thinks deeply about how its conclusions should be presented. And he acknowledges now that the investigation is broader, and perhaps more consequential, than it has long been thought to be.

For more than an hour, Burr detailed the committee’s work and findings to date, explained why its investigation will stretch beyond its second year, and addressed the potential of a partisan breakdown at its conclusion. He described the committee’s coordination with the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, its plans for delivering a final report, and hinted at what kinds of questions it may, at least for now, have to leave unanswered.

He made clear that the investigation is not compiling the story of one pivotal election, but of something larger, more complicated and, from a counterintelligence perspective, more nefarious. The final report may be so highly classified, he said, that a meaningful portion may not be made public at all.

Burr said he felt vindicated by his decision to empower the committee’s staff to run the investigation. He said their access to highly classified intelligence from the agencies the committee is equipped to oversee often allowed them to know in advance what they needed to elicit from a witness.

“It also gave us tremendous insight to know when somebody was lying to us,” he said, adding that the committee had “not been shy” in referring individuals for criminal prosecution.

To date, the committee has interviewed more than 200 witnesses and reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents; it has held more than a dozen public hearings and released two interim reports.

The first, on election security, was issued last March and found that the Department of Homeland Security’s response to Russia’s incursions was “inadequate.”

The second, released in May, included the initial findings of a review of the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russia’s active measures — an unclassified version of a more comprehensive report is still forthcoming.

“We see no reason to dispute the conclusions,” of the ICA, Burr said at the time, in a simple assertion that nevertheless generated headlines for its contrast with a finding by the House Intelligence Committee’s Republican majority.

Their final report cited “significant intelligence tradecraft failings” in the assessment made of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s intentions. On a bipartisan basis, the Senate committee substantiated the finding that Putin had developed a “clear preference” for Donald Trump.

Burr would only say that Steele remained of interest, but out of reach.

Burr has previously said it would be impossible to assess the credibility of the dossier without understanding who Steele’s sources and sub-sources were; failing to speak directly with Steele suggests that the committee has not, itself, come to a determination of the dossier’s reliability.

Was there collusion?

For now, Burr appears to have arrived at his answer. “If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” he said.

He told Fox News in September that the committee had found no “hard evidence” of collusion, though new information could still come to light.

He now doubled down, adding it was “accurate with everything we’ve accumulated since then.”

It was the first time the chairman sounded like he was not speaking for the entirety of his committee, given the disconnect between his view of a set of facts and that of the vice chairman. (Warner declined to be interviewed for this article.)

In January, Warner said the revelation that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate of Manafort’s known to have ties to Russian intelligence, was the “closest we’ve seen” to collusion.

Burr did not use the word then and would not now. Manafort, he said, “shared polling data with a former partner of an effort to do campaign services in the Ukraine.” It was a “stretch,” Burr said, to call that collusion.

He argued that the underlying motivations behind some interactions were often hard, and sometimes impossible, to determine, and that what might look like collusion could have an alternative rationale.

“There’s an awful lot of connections of all these people,” he said. “They may not be connections that are tied to 2016 elections in the United States, but just the sheer fact that they have a relationship — it may be business. It may be Russian intelligence. It may be they’re all on the payroll of Oleg Deripaska,” he said.

“I have no belief that at the end of our process, people that love Donald Trump are going to applaud what we do. And I have no belief that people that hate Donald Trump are going to reverse and say, ‘Well, you know, this clears him.’ They are solidly in one camp or the other,” he said.

“I’m speaking to what I hope is the 60 percent in the middle that are saying, ‘Give me the facts that I need to make a determination in this one particular instance — what happened.’ And that’s what our focus is,” he said.

There is also the Mueller investigation.

Burr has often voiced his awareness that his committee’s report will be tested by the special counsel’s findings. He has said he’s comforted by it, in part because Mueller, by virtue of having more and better investigative tools, may provide answers that proved elusive to his team.

But he remained evasive as to whether Mueller’s final report should itself be made public — even if it could conceivably fill in some gaps within his own probe. “I’m going to leave that up to whoever the A.G. is at the time,” he said.

No overall findings yet.

How the committee will issue its overall findings, once it arrives at them, also appears to be an open question. Burr said a formal draft had not yet been started, and he could not make a prediction about how much of it, ultimately, would be declassified.

“What I’m telling you is that I’m going to present, as best we can, the facts to you and to the American people. And you’ll have to draw your own conclusion as to whether you think that, by whatever definition, that’s collusion,” he said.

“My only advice to you is, be careful. There are a lot of false narratives out there,” he said.

It is a highly complex issue, being investigated by the Senate, by Congress, and by Mueller.  None of them have come to final conclusions, and if they do they could remain classified.

Trump, the media and any of us don’t know anywhere near the full story – and we may never know it.

Will the investigations end up doing any good? Who knows?

Was Trump a great, or as he puts it, a GREAT Candidate? Many thought he was. Many thought he was terrible. He ended up getting fewer popular votes overall than another flawed candidate, Hillary Clinton, but his campaign was good enough to win the presidency under the electoral college system. Some voters would have thought neither candidate was great and voted for the least worst.

Will Trump end up being seen as a great president? It’s far too soon to judge that. There are and will be positives and negatives, it depends on how they all add up.

Was their collusion. That is up to both evidence and interpretation. But we shouldn’t be fixated on ‘collusion’, there are other bad practices, even illegal practices, that could be proven, or disproven, or neither.