Catching Up on the Mueller Report: What’s Next?

A report of more than 400 pages detailing the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, revealed the scope of an ambitious Russian campaign to sabotage the 2016 presidential election and explored whether President Trump engaged in acts of obstruction to impede the investigation.

The report, which the Justice Department redacted before releasing it to the public on Thursday, cast the president in an unflattering light but did not accuse him of criminal wrongdoing. It did not exonerate him, either.

Here is what you need to know:

The report explicitly stated that the investigation did not clear the president of obstructing justice. “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report said.

While Mr. Trump has tweeted that there was “no collusion,” collusion is not a legal concept.

Mr. Mueller instead was looking for evidence of a criminal conspiracy or “coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russia in its election interference activities. Mr. Mueller decided there was not enough evidence to prove coordination.

The report revealed that Mr. Trump continuously and impulsively asked staff members to take steps that would have led to the removal of the special counsel.

Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, was asked to remove Mr. Mueller but the report said Mr. McGahn decided “he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” a reference to Richard M. Nixon’s firing in 1973 of the special prosecutor investigating him.

[Read more about Mr. McGahn’s role in the investigation.]

Soon after Mr. McGahn’s resignation, Mr. Trump asked an adviser, Corey Lewandowski, to get the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to end the investigation. Mr. Lewandowski instead asked his colleague Rick Dearborn to do so. Mr. Dearborn chose not to because he “was uncomfortable with the task,” the report said.

The report summarized and elaborated on false statements, exploring why so many people lied, changed their stories and issued misleading statements to both the public and federal authorities — all of which helped fuel the investigation.

One of those instances came when it was reported that Mr. Trump asked Mr. McGahn to fire Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump denied the reports to reporters but Mr. McGahn confirmed them to investigators.

After the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, was fired, Mr. Trump wanted the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to tell the news media that the firing was Mr. Rosenstein’s idea. Mr. Rosenstein refused, saying that if “the press asked him he would tell the truth,” the report said.

While Mr. Trump has called unflattering reports about his behavior as president “fake news,” some of the most unflattering stories about Mr. Trump were accurate, and White House officials often knew that was the case even as they heaped criticism on journalists.

[Read more about how the term “fake news” has played a role in Mr. Trump’s presidency.]

White House aides declared the report to be a clear victory for the president but it hardly means an end to the scrutiny.

The investigation identified potential criminal activity outside the jurisdiction of the special counsel, which made 14 referrals to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. Twelve of those referrals remain secret.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains wary of starting the impeachment process, fearful that it could raise Mr. Trump’s standing in the polls.

[Read how Democrats are contending with the possibility of impeaching Mr. Trump.]

“Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, told CNN on Thursday. “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment.”

Democrats plan to continue investigating and to bring the results to the public’s attention in an effort to hamper Mr. Trump’s re-election bid in 2020.


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