Thursday, April 18, 2019

Mueller Blog: The establishment

Photo by Picpedia.

From the executive summary to Volume I, in the cuttable-pastable version supplied by The New York Times:
Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
when substantial, credible evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence, the report states that the investigation established that certain actions or events occurred. A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.
And a bit later
the investigation did not establish that one Campaign official's efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican Party platform on providing assistance to Ukraine were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia. The investigation also did not establish that a meeting between Kislyak and Sessions in September 2016 at Sessions's Senate office included any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.
Looking more like my first thoughts on "did not establish" as it was quoted in the Barr letter in March were right—that it means "I know this happened but I can't prove it, yet." Especially obvious in the case of the platform change, which was so bizarre at the time (as I said recently, it was the first thing that started me imagining a Trump-Russia conspiracy, at a time when the idea was barely a gleam in Josh Marshall's eye). There was just no conceivable reason why that would have happened—the campaign clearly had no interest in any part of the platform other than this exotic bit of foreign policy and who on earth cared about that? Except the campaign manager Paul Manafort, who'd been working for the pro-Russia faction in Ukraine for what were soon to turn out to be many undeclared millions of dollars, and Ambassador Kislyak, attending the Republican convention in Cleveland for reasons that haven't been explained. And yet—how would you go about proving that they were doing it basically because Putin wanted them to?

Immediately after that bit the authors move on to talking in very general terms about the evidence they haven't got and why they haven't got it
The investigation did not always yield admissible information or testimony, or a complete picture of the activities undertaken by subjects of the investigation. Some individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination and were not, in the Office's judgment, appropriate candidates for grants of immunity. The Office limited its pursuit of other witnesses and information — such as information known to attorneys or individuals claiming to be members of the media — in light of internal Department of Justice policies...
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.
Mueller seems to me to be saying pretty nearly explicitly, "Please follow up on these items, Chairman Nadler."

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