April 19, 2019

Whitehouse Statement on Redacted Mueller Report

Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has released the following statement regarding the redacted version of the Mueller report:

“ My initial reactions are:

  1. The redacted report details an alarming account of Russian interference in our elections — one of sufficient magnitude, touching 120 million Americans and involving massive thefts of campaign information, to have tipped the close election in Trump’s favor.  Russia may have chosen our President.
  2. The Russian/Wikileaks influence campaign engaged with multiple Trump campaign personnel, including direct communication with Trump family; and Trump’s circle repeatedly engaged with Russian interests seeking political advantage in the race.  The conduct is disgraceful and unpatriotic if not criminal.  
  3. The report chronicles a sordid tale of low-life behavior, with Trump and his associates engaging in all manner of legally and ethically dubious behavior; and has so far produced 200 criminal charges, 37 indictments, and eight convictions – including Donald Trump’s former campaign manager.  
  4. The redacted report references 14 other investigations and includes over 400 redactions that signal ongoing investigative matters.  The ongoing investigations reach very close to Trump and his circle, including right into his Trump Tower personal office, so clearly this is not over.
  5. The report’s obstruction decision was influenced by the OLC policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, a policy not tested in the judicial branch.  Even thus, the President could not be exonerated.  Despite the centrality of intent to this determination, the President was not subpoenaed or interviewed.  
  6. Concerns about delay as an excuse for not interviewing the President seem ill-founded, given the lengthy negotiations resulting in no subpoena and the value of accuracy and completeness in criminal investigations.  Unless you are up against a charging deadline, time is not ordinarily such a priority over accuracy and completeness as to the central element of the charge. 
  7. The President’s conduct regarding the investigation manifestly violates any fealty to rule of law, and more closely resembles deliberate efforts to interfere and obstruct, akin to banana republic governance.  Only fearful subordinates prevented his efforts at actual obstruction under criminal law.
  8. It is odd to refuse to charge the President or his circle because they were unaware of the illegality of their collusive conduct, and then protect the President from obstruction charges on grounds of intent because he had committed no underlying Russia conspiracy crime, something he did not know.   He did know he was the subject of a criminal obstruction investigation.  There is a lot of contortion around the obstruction decision.  
  9. The report exposes an extraordinary number of false statements made by Trump and his circle.  These are not chargeable as false statements because they were not made in the course of official proceedings, but nevertheless reveal a likely unprecedented trail of falsehood by an American President.  

“Our job in Congress in the coming months is to conduct a full and public accounting; the effect on the investigation of the Justice Department’s internal policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted and the many peculiarities around the obstruction decision only heighten Congress’s role. 

“Attorney General Barr’s performance regarding the report is a mixed bag.  I have no reason to believe his redactions to the report were not made justifiably and in good faith.  On the other hand he has over the past few weeks used his office to perform what I consider to be inappropriate PR services for the Trump White House: rosy summary language creating White House “spin” opportunities; delay in releasing the redacted report allowing the “spin” to set; and the deliberate use of inappropriate language feeding conspiracy theories favored by Trump, derogatory to DOJ agencies.  The contrast between the speed with which the obstruction decision was made and the delay in getting redactions done is notable.  It is more important than ever that the Senate Judiciary Committee have an open hearing with Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Mueller.”


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