Mueller special counsel investigation

US investigation into Russian interference in US elections / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Mueller special counsel investigation was an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, links between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials, and possible obstruction of justice by Trump and his associates. The investigation was conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller from May 2017 to March 2019. It was also called the Russia investigation, the Mueller probe, and the Mueller investigation.[1][2] The Mueller investigation culminated with the Mueller report, which concluded that though the Trump campaign welcomed Russian interference and expected to benefit from it, there was insufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy to charge Trump.[3] The report did not reach a conclusion about possible obstruction of justice of Trump, citing a Justice Department guideline that prohibits the federal indictment of a sitting president.[4][5][6] The investigation resulted in charges against 34 individuals and 3 companies, 8 guilty pleas, and a conviction at trial.[7][8]

The order dated May 17, 2017, appointing a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections
On April 18, 2019, a redacted version of the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election was released to the public.

The Mueller investigation was created by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Former FBI director Mueller was chosen to lead it due to a shortage of senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys. The dismissal of James Comey was a factor in the decision to use a Special Counsel. The Mueller investigation took over the FBI's investigation, which the FBI had named Crossfire Hurricane.

According to its authorizing document,[9] the investigation's scope included allegations of "links and/or coordination" between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.[10][11] Mueller was also mandated to pursue "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." The probe included a criminal investigation that looked into potential conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges against President Trump and members of his campaign or his administration.[12]

The investigation was officially concluded on March 22, 2019. The report concluded that the Russian Internet Research Agency's social media campaign supported Trump's presidential candidacy while attacking Clinton's, and Russian intelligence hacked and released damaging material from the Clinton campaign and various Democratic Party organizations.[13] The investigation "identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign", and determined that the Trump campaign "expected it would benefit electorally" from Russian hacking efforts. However, ultimately "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities".[14][15][16] Mueller later said that the investigation's conclusion on Russian interference "deserves the attention of every American".[17]

On potential obstruction of justice by President Trump, the investigation "does not conclude that the President committed a crime",[18] as investigators would not indict a sitting president per an Office of Legal Counsel opinion.[19][20] However, the investigation "also does not exonerate" Trump, finding both public and private actions "by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations".[21] Ten episodes of potential obstruction by the president were described.[22][23] The report states that Congress can decide whether Trump obstructed justice,[24] and has the authority to take action against him.[25][26][27] Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had authorized the Mueller probe, decided on March 24, 2019, that the evidence was insufficient to establish a finding that Trump committed obstruction of justice.[28] Upon his resignation on May 29, 2019, Mueller stated that: "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing".[29][30][17] In July 2019, Mueller testified to Congress that a president could be charged with obstruction of justice (or other crimes) after he left office.[31]