President Donald Trump with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the president spoke at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service, May, 15, 2017. Trump would later request Sessions' resignation, allegedly over Sessions recused himself from the investigation against Trump.

Doug Mills / The New York Times

President Donald Trump with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the president spoke at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service, May, 15, 2017. Trump would later request Sessions' resignation, allegedly over Sessions recused himself from the investigation against Trump.

April 19, 2019

Mueller Report Finds No Collusion Between Trump and Russia

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The redacted Mueller report was released to the public Thursday morning by the Department of Justice, concluding a two-year investigation questioning Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

The 448-page report detailed matters ranging from the role of Russian interference in the election to bringing into question whether Trump committed behavior guilty of obstruction of justice.

This investigation has sparked a wide range of responses on Cornell’s campus throughout its continuation. When Attorney General William Barr released his summary of the events on March 24, 2019, responses between Cornell Democrats and Cornell Republicans varied extensively. However, the full report has brought new evidence into light that went originally unmentioned in Barr’s initial summary.

“[T]he way in which Barr and the Trump administration have been sugarcoating the facts as they rolled out the report is disingenuous — his summary and his press conference were political tools that only served to obfuscate how upset the American public should be about these revelations,” stated Geneva Saupe ’21, political director of the Cornell Democrats, in an email to The Sun. “Protecting our democracy should not be a partisan matter, but it’s clear that members of the Trump administration, including the President, are more interested in their political futures than in the truth.”

The redacted report was divided into two volumes: Volume I focused on the extent of the Trump administration’s involvement in Russian interference, and Volume II concerned matters of possible obstruction of justice committed by Trump and his advisors.

In Volume I of the redacted report, it was determined that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election occurred in two major ways. One of these was through the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company based in Saint Petersburg.

According to the report, IRA operations included supporting the Trump Campaign and vilifying candidate Hillary Clinton by mid-2016 before the presidential election took place. Facebook estimated that as many as 126 million people were reached by the IRA through its Facebook accounts, and approximately 1.4 million people on Twitter may have been in contact with an IRA-controlled account.

The other way in which Russian interference occurred was through the website Wikileaks, an independent organization that publishes news leaks and classified media from anonymous sources.

According to the report, the Russian Federation’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) released hacked Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Convention documents through Wikileaks.

However, while the investigation confirmed that Russian interference transpired in the 2016 election, it was determined that no collusion took place between Russian operatives and the Trump administration.

According to the report, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

This conclusion that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives brought mixed responses amongst Cornell students.

“While the report did not find enough evidence of criminal wrongdoing to bring charges against a sitting president, it did find evidence that the Trump campaign met and talked with Russian operatives,” Saupe stated. “The extent to which a foreign power interfered in our election, and the fact that the Trump campaign was working with that power rather than against them, is deeply troubling to us. “

Cornell Republicans responded differently.

“The report confirms that neither President Trump nor his campaign ‘colluded’ or otherwise conspired with the Russian government to impact the outcome of U.S. elections, as was widely circulated by the media and the President’s other opponents,” Michael Johns Jr. ’20, president of the Cornell Republicans, said in an email to The Sun.

While this may be true, Volume II of the redacted Mueller report brings a new host of allegations against Trump, all centered around possible instances of obstruction of 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 asserted. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intents presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

In the report, Mueller provides 10 allegations of obstructive behavior against President Trump.

According to the report, these allegations include the following: “[T]he President’s conduct concerning the FBI investigation of Michael Flynn; the President’s reaction to the public confirmation of the FBI’s Russia investigation; events leading up to and surrounding the termination of FBI Director Comey; efforts to terminate the Special Counsel; efforts to curtail the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation; efforts to prevent disclosure of information about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and senior campaign officials; efforts to have the Attorney General unrecuse; and conduct toward McGahn, Cohen, and other witnesses.”

The report stated that while the investigation did not charge Trump with a crime, it did not exonerate him. Since the Mueller investigation has been officially concluded, Americans are now looking to Congress to either resolve or confirm the obstruction of justice allegations taken against Trump.

The findings of the report has sparked talk amongst Cornell student organizations about the implications of the Mueller investigation.

“Following a two-year report, Robert Mueller could not find sufficient evidence in the list [of allegations] to find evidence to prosecute,” Johns said. “Clearly Mr. Mueller himself did not find these items sufficient enough to warrant further action.”

Others found the list of allegations more troubling.

“The fact that [the report] examines 10 different instances in which the president may have committed serious crimes, and is unable to exonerate him, confirms to us what we already knew — Donald Trump is a liar who is only out for himself,” Saupe stated. “Despite technical legal reasons why charges can’t be brought, it’s important to us that the members of the Trump campaign who talked with Russia about interfering in our elections are held responsible, including Trump himself. Thus, we support efforts in the House to hold him accountable, and hope that the Senate will join in an effort to protect our democracy against corrosive forces both abroad and in the White House.”

Although the Mueller investigation is officially concluded, the report has generated 14 spinoff inquiries for outside prosecution.