The Mueller report is out

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Amanda Wills and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 2355 GMT (0755 HKT) April 18, 2019
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3:59 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Carter Page didn’t coordinate with Russians despite ties to Russian spies, Mueller says

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Investigators scrutinized Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and concluded that he didn’t collude with the Russians despite his previous ties to Russian spies and campaign-era contracts with Russians.

“Russian intelligence officials had formed relationships with Page in 2008 and 2013 and Russian officials may have focused on Page in 2016 because of his affiliation with the Campaign. However, the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election," the report says. 

During one of Page’s multiple interviews with investigators in 2017, he appears to have partially confirmed a detail that first appeared in the controversial Trump-Russia dossier

The dossier said Page met the president of Rosneft, a state-run oil company, and discussed a deal for Trump to lift US sanctions in exchange for future energy cooperation between the two countries.

What's in the report: Special counsel Robert Mueller's report said Page actually met Andrey Baranov, Rosneft's head of investor relations. Page told investigators they “might have mentioned the possibility of a sale of a stake in Rosneft in passing.” But Page has always vehemently denied brokering any quid-pro-quo regarding Trump and Rosneft.

Some of the details of Page’s meeting have been previously reported from Page’s testimony on the Hill.  

Years before Trump ran for president, Russian spies in New York City targeted Page for recruitment, according to old court filings that Mueller cited in his report. Page had many contacts and meetings with one of the spies, and the Russians faced criminal charges in 2015.

3:52 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Fact check: Did Barr act improperly when he shared report with POTUS lawyers?

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand


In his remarks prior to releasing the redacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, Attorney General William Barr said that President Trump's lawyers were given the chance to read a final version of the redacted report before it was publicly released.

That has sparked a debate over whether Barr acted properly in sharing the report with the President's lawyers before sending it to Congress. In his remarks, Barr defended his decision, claiming it was "was consistent with the practice followed under the Ethics in Government act, which permitted individuals named in a report prepared by an Independent Counsel the opportunity to read the report before publication."  

Facts first: It's unusual that Barr relies on an act covering independent counsels, since neither he nor Mueller operates under it. That said, there's nothing in the special counsel regulations that pertain to Barr and Mueller that either prohibit or mandate sharing advance copies of a report with outsiders. 

The Ethics in Government act Barr references covers independent counsels (Robert Mueller, instead, was a special counsel). Regulation -- which expired in 1999 -- around independent counsels left it up to the courts to determine whether "any individual named in such report" would be permitted to review the report before its release. "(T)he court may make any portion of a final report ... available to any individual named in such report," according to the US code which addresses information disclosure from independent counsel reports.   

David Kendall, a lawyer for then-President Bill Clinton during Ken Starr's independent counsel investigation, sent a letter to Starr requesting that those named in his report be allowed to see the report before its release. Kendall closed his letter by asking Starr "to join with us in seeking a Rule 6(e) order from the Chief Judge to allow us to review the draft 'report' and file comments with it."  

While Starr disagreed with Kendall's legal interpretation of the regulations surrounding independent counsels and denied Kendall's request, it was not up to Starr to release the report to Kendall, et al. -- which is why Kendall was requesting Starr's support in asking the court to allow a review of the draft.  

Barr's suggestion that allowing those mentioned in the report to see it before its release "was consistent with" former practices is irrelevant because those practices and the act cited do not apply to Barr and Mueller's authority. Barr is not legally prohibited from allowing people to see the report before releasing it, so his justification for doing such is unnecessary and out of place.

3:43 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

House Majority Leader: "Impeachment is not worthwhile at this point"

From CNN's Dana Bash

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, told CNN there is nothing he has seen so far in special counsel Robert Mueller's report that would change the House leadership strategy to avoid impeachment proceedings.

“Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement,” Hoyer said.
3:10 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was interviewed about lunch he had with Trump

From CNN's Erica Orden

The special counsel team interviewed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in February 2019, two weeks after the release of his book, according to Robert Mueller’s report.

The focus of the Christie interview appears to have been a White House lunch he had with President Donald Trump on February 14, 2017, one day after the resignation of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Christie also recounted that meal in his book.

Here's what the report says about the interaction:

"Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over,” Trump told Christie, according to Christie.

Christie laughed and responded, "No way."

Christie continued: "This Russia thing is far from over" and "[w]e'll be here on Valentine's Day 2018 talking about this." 

“Christie told the President not to talk about the investigation even if he was frustrated at times,” according to the report. Christie also told Trump that he “would never be able to get rid of Flynn, ‘like gum on the bottom of your shoe.’”

According to the report, Trump also asked Christie twice to reach out to former FBI Director James Comey to say that Trump "really like[s] him. Tell him he's part of the team." Christie told the special counsel he never intended to fulfill those requests.

“He thought the President's request was ‘nonsensical,’” the report says, “and Christie did not want to put Comey in the position of having to receive such a phone call.” 

3:17 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Here's your 3 p.m. catch-up on the Mueller report


A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report has been public for about four hours now.

Here's what we've learned since our last catch-up:

  • Trump's aides refused his orders: Mueller’s report paints a vivid picture of Trump’s aides repeatedly ignoring or brushing aside his dictates — both in the interest of guarding the President from his own worst instincts and of protecting themselves from further legal implications.
  • Mueller declined to prosecute some close to Trump: The special counsel declined to prosecute “several” people on a range of charges, including Donald Trump Jr. and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  
  • Mueller looked into the tapes: The special counsel examined whether President Trump learned during the presidential campaign of the rumored existence of compromising tapes made of him years earlier when he visited Moscow.
  • About Trump's written answers: Mueller considered Trump’s written responses “inadequate” and sought an interview with Trump — but ultimately decided not to issue a subpoena for the interview. 
  • This is who financed an effort to get Clinton's emails: Security contractor Erik Prince, who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, helped finance an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's deleted emails in 2016.

3:11 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Rep. Nadler: "We clearly can't believe what Attorney General Barr tells us"

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, speaking at a press conference hours after Attorney General William Barr’s release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report, accused Barr of protecting President Trump and willfully ignoring key findings.

"Barr's words and actions suggest he has been disingenuous and misleading," Nadler said.

"The attorney general's decision to withhold the full report from Congress is regrettable. But no longer surprising," Nadler said.

Citing a number of instances laid out in Mueller's report, Nadler said it outlines "disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct." He said that it's what motivated him to invite Mueller to testify.

Nadler added, "That is why I have formally requested that special counsel Mueller testify before the House Judiciary committee as soon as possible — so we could get some answers to these critical questions. Because we clearly can't believe what Attorney General Barr tells us."

3:00 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Senate intel committee member: Barr "fundamentally mischaracterized" Mueller's report

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb

Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intel Committee, criticized Attorney General William Barr in a statement, saying he "fundamentally mischaracterized" special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

In a statement, he pledged that the committee’s own investigation will continue.

“Even a preliminary review of the material makes it clear that the attorney general fundamentally mischaracterized the special counsel’s findings in his pre-emptive press conference this morning. In the days to come, it is essential that Congress hear directly from the special counsel regarding his investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee continues its own investigation, and I expect to receive a full briefing, an unredacted report, and all the materials underlying the special counsel’s findings.”
2:53 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Trump saw his campaign as an "informercial" for the business, Cohen told special counsel

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

In former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s extensive interviews with investigators, he said he couldn’t remember anyone discussing the political implications of landing a Russian deal during the campaign.

But he did say that Trump told him participating in the presidential race would be a significant "infomercial" for Trump-branded properties.

2:25 p.m. ET, April 18, 2019

Mueller's report paints a picture of numerous aides refusing Trump’s orders

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Robert Mueller’s report paints a vivid picture of President Trump’s aides repeatedly ignoring or brushing aside his dictates — both in the interest of guarding the President from his own worst instincts and of protecting themselves from further legal implications.

At the same time, it portrays aides as willfully misleading the public (and, at times, each other) about his actions and mindset around some key developments.

It also characterizes deep enmity and tension between the President and his top officials, some of whom told Mueller they were themselves shocked by certain developments related to the investigation.

 “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote in the report.

According to White House officials, that dynamic has been a constant undercurrent to Trump’s presidency, including on matters of policy. The report bolsters that impression, and is peppered with examples of Presidential underlings spurning Trump’s orders.

Advisers Corey Lewandowski and Rick Dearborn each declined to deliver a message from the President to Jeff Sessions saying he should curtail the scope of the special counsel’s investigation.

Lewandowski, who took dictation of the message from the President, initially told Trump he would handle the matter himself, and took steps to arrange a meeting with Sessions that would avoid any public record.

But later he passed the note on to Dearborn, who he believed would be a better messenger, without saying the President had dictated the message himself. Reading the message, Dearborn said it “definitely raised an eyebrow.”

He never passed along the note, but told Lewandowski he had “handled the situation,” according to Mueller.

In another example, then-staff secretary Robert Porter declined to contact Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand after Trump asked him to reach out to her in order to gauge whether she was “on the team” and might be interested in overseeing the special counsel’s investigation.

“Porter didn’t reach out to her because he was uncomfortable with the task,” the report states. 

And Trump and then-White House Counsel Don McGahn engaged in a bitter dispute over whether Trump ordered Mueller’s firing, one that resulted in Trump castigating McGahn as a “lying bastard” and comparing him unfavorably to his onetime lawyer Roy Cohn.

McGahn refused Trump’s request to deny media reports about the firing, and later declined to draft a formal letter “for our records” that would deny the stories. 

“If he doesn't write a letter, then maybe I'll have to get rid of him,” Trump said, according to Porter.