U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling 448-page report, released Thursday, encompasses his findings from a two-year-long investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential race.
The extensive probe has led to sweeping indictments as well as guilty pleas from and criminal convictions of members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle on charges unrelated to the Russian effort.
Here are the top 10 things you need to know from Mueller’s finished product.
- Trump feared for his job
“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f***ed,” Trump said, according to notes of a May 2017 meeting with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that were obtained by Mueller’s team and published in the redacted version of his report. The comments were made just as Robert Mueller was named to lead the independent probe.
- The special counsel did not find sufficient evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia’s effort to subvert the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.
The report notes that while the Russian government sought to sway the election “in sweeping and systematic fashion”, Mueller’s team determined “the evidence was not sufficient to charge any campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal”.
- But it did not clear Trump of obstructing justice for seeking to stymy the probe
“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” Mueller wrote, noting he is not doing so based on department practice. Still, he added that if his team was confident that Trump was clear of any possible obstruction, it would explicitly make the judgment. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment,” Mueller wrote.
- Trump ordered former White House counsel to have Mueller fired
Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn in June 2017 to speak with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Mueller because Trump believed he had alleged conflicts of interests.
- Mueller’s findings emphasize that while his team will not determine one way or another on matters of obstruction, it is Congress’ duty to ensure criminal law applies to all persons — including the president
“Congress clearly has authority to protect its own legislative functions against corrupt efforts to impede legitimate fact-gathering and lawmaking efforts,” Mueller wrote. “Congress enacted the obstruction-of-justice statutes to protect, among other things, the integrity of its own proceedings, grand jury investigations, and other criminal trials. Those objectives are within Congress’ authority and serve strong government interests.”
- Trump attempted to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions “unrecuse” himself from the special counsel probe
Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation was a major sticking point with the president, who fumed publicly and behind closed doors about it, at times lambasting the top lawyer in the public eye. Sessions recalled that shortly after news of the special counsel’s appointment reached him, Trump told him “you were supposed to protect me,” or similar words.
- Mueller says “substantial” evidence supports Comey’s version of Flynn’s firing over Trump’s account
Former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired, said Trump pressured him into letting former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn off easy for lying to federal investigators, telling him “I hope you can let this go” — a narrative Trump denies. But the fact that Comey’s version of the story, in which he said Trump asked others who were present to leave the room, was corroborated by others who were present, including Sessions, led Mueller to determine that “substantial evidence corroborates Comey’s account”.
- Trump “repeatedly” asked intelligence leaders to state he had no ties to Russia
The president asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and former CIA director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if they could state publicly that there was no nexus between him and Russia following a March 22, 2017 meeting. While he did not recall being asked to stay behind after the meeting — unlike Coats, who did — Pompeo “recalled that the president regularly urged officials to get the word out that he had done nothing wrong related to Russia”.
- White House spokeswoman lied to the public about reasoning for Comey’s firing
At the time of his abrupt dismissal, the White House sought to suggest that Comey was fired because the FBI’s rank-and-file was unhappy with his leadership, saying the White House heard from “countless members of the FBI” who lost confidence in Comey. That statement, Sanders admitted to Mueller’s team, was completely detached from fact. She sought to explain by saying the statement was a “slip of the tongue” made “in the heat of the moment”.
- Stephen Miller wrote the letter terminating Comey
Stephen Miller, Trump’s far-right senior advisor, wrote the letter dismissing Comey from his post that sought emphasize, among other things, that Trump was not under investigation. Miller began authoring the letter after Trump asked him to do so during a May 3, 2017 dinner at his New Jersey golf resort.