The Report: Part XV: Mueller's Report
November 12, 2019 6:51 AM - Subscribe

It's Friday, March 22, 2019. It's been nearly two years since Robert Mueller was first appointed Special Counsel. Now, he's ready to submit a final report to the Attorney General. He has uncovered a sprawling and systematic effort by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. And he's developed a mountain of evidence about the president's efforts to obstruct his investigation, things like witness tampering, ordering the creation of false records, and trying to fire Mueller himself. But Mueller's got a problem: a Department of Justice memo says he can't indict a sitting president. So what is he supposed to do with all this evidence? Mueller decides to just lay it all in the report, all 448 pages of it. It'll be someone else's problem to decide what to do about it: maybe a future prosecutor, maybe Congress, maybe the America electorate. That isn't really Mueller's concern. He's done what he was asked to do. Now his report can speak for itself.

This episode explains how Mueller dealt with a series of legal and evidentiary challenges after he had completed the investigation. If there was no underlying crime, could the president have obstructed justice? Obstruction usually happens behind closed doors, but what if the president interferes with the investigation in plain view? How can you establish the president’s intent if Trump refused to sit for an interview with investigators? Is it even possible for a president's behavior to qualify as obstruction? Mueller successfully navigated these questions but struggled to deal with two obstacles from within his own agency, the Department of Justice. The special counsel felt bound by an Office of Legal Counsel opinion barring indictment of a sitting president. And Attorney General Bill Barr pre-empted the release of Mueller's report by issuing his own summary, filled with misleading generalizations about the special counsel’s conclusions. Mueller goes to testify before Congress a few months later, but he never strays from his laconic injunction: the report speaks for itself. Although Mueller’s work is done, the story is far from over. It’s up to Congress and to Americans everywhere to decide: is this all ok?
posted by General Malaise (4 comments total)
We've reached the final episode, and I have to say, all in all, that this might be the most important piece of journalism done this year. Laying out every piece, step by step, and explaining the legal processes and ramifications of each piece of the Report, I learned far more than was put out by the regular news channels.

I understand where Mueller was coming from, but it really is a shame he just let the report speak for itself rather than speak for it at his testimony.
posted by General Malaise at 6:54 AM on November 12, 2019

Also could Mueller really not have used the “unindicted co-conspirator” term that we are (mostly) all familiar with? I get the due process/speedy trial/court of public opinion argument but sheesh. I feel like it also could have ended with a stronger conclusion I.e. THE RUSSIANS ARE STILL AT IT. /he did but it got lost in the stupid faux summary.
posted by emkelley at 12:22 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks for taking the time and effort to make these posts, General Malaise. I haven't yet mustered the emotional energy to listen, but I did appreciate following your summaries and the resulting links/comments here--helpful and illuminating. Appreciate you doing the work to spread a more comprehensive, nuanced, and in-depth understanding of The Report; it has been highly valued by myself and other silent folk out here I am sure.
posted by youarenothere at 6:40 AM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks, youarenothere. I appreciate that. If these posts end up as placeholders for future discussion as more people are able to dig into the podcast, or even if it's just gotten a couple of people who'd otherwise have never heard of it to give a listen, it'll be worth the extremely little work I did putting them up. I have nothing to do with Lawfare—I just listened to the first episode and immediately thought "Holy shit, more people need to listen to this. Nobody is doing this as a primarily legal analysis."

I hope you are able to listen to it soon. As an added benefit, it oddly gives a lot of legal context for even the seemingly unrelated business going on now that's also seemingly missing from the Discourse.
posted by General Malaise at 5:04 PM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

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