Special Counsel Robert Mueller reiterates that the 2016 Trump campaign had “numerous links” to Russian officials who interfered in the election on behalf of Donald Trump.
Writing in The Washington Post, Mueller broke his post-investigation silence to comment on Trump’s commutation of the 40-month sentence of his “dirty trickster” operative Roger Stone, and on Trump’s falsehoods about a “hoax” inquiry.
The work of the special counsel’s office – its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions – should speak for itself.
But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office….
Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.
In 2016, Stone was the Trump campaign’s liaison with WikiLeaks as it published e-mails — obtained through hacking by Russian operatives — of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trying to cover up his involvement and to protect Trump, he was convicted in November 2019 of seven crimes including obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, and witness tampering.
“Trump Campaign Expected Benefit From Russian Efforts”
Mueller went beyond Stone to reject the attempt by Trump and Attorney General William Barr, appointed in January 2019, to discredit and bury the Trump-Russia findings.
The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate.
“We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel – Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government….
“The investigation did, however, establish 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.
While stopping short of the criminal charge of conspiracy, he Mueller Report, published in April 2019 detailed evidence against Trump of the criminal charge of obstruction or attempted obstruction of justice on at least eight occasions.
Barr’s Justice Department instructed Mueller that a sitting President could not be indicted; however, Mueller told legislators that Trump could be prosecuted as soon as he leaves office.
Recently unredacted portions of the Mueller Report support that possibility: prosecutors suspected that Trump had lied to them in written answers when he said he did not recall any conversations with Stone about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s prosecutors, tweeted late Friday:
Time to put Roger Stone in the grand jury to find out what he knows about Trump but would not tell. Commutation can’t stop that.
— Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) July 11, 2020
The Special Counsel concluded on Saturday, “Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood.”