The Report, Episode 7: Charging Decisions
Previously on the report two years ago the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel and he created a special special counsel's office. It is important that the offices written works before itself it contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were multiple systematic systematic efforts to interfere in our election and that allegation deserves the attention of every american and if april eighteenth twenty nineteen attorney general bill bar summons reporters to the department of justice in washington d._c. Robert muller's report is about to be released doc before the press and the public finally document for themselves bar wants a chance to tell his own version of the story contain. His version sounds sounds like this. The special counsel found no evidence that any america including anyone associated with the trump campaign conspired or a coordinated with the russian government or the i._r._a. In this illegal skein put another way the special counsel found no collusion by any americans hurricanes in i._r._a.'s illegal activities. The special counsel's report did not find any evidence that members of the trump campaign or anyone so she ate it with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in these hacking operations in other words there was no evidence uh of the trump campaign collusion with the russian government's hacking so that's the bottom line after nearly two years of investigation thousands thousands of subpoenas hundreds of warrants and witness interviews the special counsel confirmed that the russian government sponsored efforts to illegally illegally interfere with the two thousand sixteen presidential election but did not find that the trump campaign or other americans colluded in those offers bars version sounds suspiciously similar to president trump's account. I can only say this. There was absolutely no collusion. No collusion which i knew anyway the coordination don't nothing time no collusion no obstruction. We want to get back to running our great country. There was no collusion. There was no anything anything i didn't but is the bottom line according to bar the same as the bottom line according to robert muller. We'll let you decide. This is the report episodes seven charging decisions. The previous episodes have told the story of the factual findings of the mullahs report. What did investigators figure out about what happened and what were the questions. They couldn't fully answer. Conducting the investigation is one part. The special counsel is job collecting evidence and assembling record but the investigation actually supports muller's larger responsibility. He must reach us that of legal conclusions about the evidence his team has found the special counsel needs to decide which parts of the story late on in volume one of the report amount to prosecutable crimes. This episode covers those decisions where does mother decide to bring charges and when he doesn't is that because he thinks nothing improper or possibly criminal occurred or is it because he finds that the evidence just isn't sufficient to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt. Here's what the mother report says about how the special counsel's office made those decisions. It's it's being read by. Benjamin witness who as always is reading or paraphrasing the report itself the office evaluated whether the conduct of the individuals considered for prosecution constituted a federal offense and weather admissible evidence would probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction conviction. Here's how muller rather than bar describes his bottom line. The investigation established multiple links between trump campaign. Officials and individuals vigils tied to the russian government. Those links included russian offers of assistance to the campaign in some instances. The campaign was receptive to the offer for a while in other instances. The campaign officials shied away ultimately the investigation did not establish that the campaign coordinated or conspired wired with the russian government in its election interference activities that may sound a bit like no collusion but is it really the answer turns out is complicated and we'll get to it but to do so we i have to walk through muller's charging decisions broadly speaking those fall into five major categories of judgments. The first category involves russian social media manipulation remember the russian trolling operation. The russian campaign began in mid two thousand fourteen. That's employees of what's known as the internet research agency. I came to the u._s. To gather the material that they would later use their elaborate social media postings by the end of twenty sixteen the russians had set up fake social media accounts that reached millions of voters. They knew exactly what they were doing. They knew exactly how to build audience our political dysfunction our tribalism in our hyper partnership with something that we really easy for them to stoke the clearly stated that the russian government was in fact behind. You've guinea progressive. He's one of russia's richest and most powerful oligarchs larks donald trump junior and top advisors kellyanne conway all reach weeded these fake accounts according to robert mueller that whole operation was illegal good afternoon a grand jury in the district of columbia today returned an indictment presented by the special counsel's office for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the united states political system system the defendants allegedly conducted with they called information warfare against the united states on february sixteenth two thousand eighteen. A federal grand jury in the district of columbia returned an indictment charging thirteen russian nationals and three russian entities including the internet research agency agency and concord management and consulting with violating u._s. criminal laws in order to interfere with u._s. Elections and political processes the indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the united states conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and aggravated identify theft as of this writing the prosecution of concord remains ongoing before the u._s. District court for the district of columbia the other defendants pendants remain at large how does setting up a troll farm to send tweets and buy facebook ads amount to a criminal conspiracy. Mary mccord hard who formerly headed d._o._j.'s national security division explains. The defendants were charged with a conspiracy to defraud the functions of u._s. Government agencies a a conspiracy to defraud the united states doesn't necessarily have to mean that you conspired to commit a specific crime but you conspired fired with others to inhibit through deceit and fraud to prevent u._s. Government agencies from doing their job so in the case of the i._r._a. Indictment statement this conspiracy as allege is to defraud the federal election commission to defraud the department of justice into fraud department of state because the federal election in commission is charged with ensuring among other things that our elections are not improperly influenced by foreign governments and that means foreign governments can't contribute contribute money to campaigns can't engage in campaigning the department of justice administers the foreign agent registration act and is responsible for ensuring during that people who are representing and and lobbying and putting out public statements have a foreign governments are registered as foreign agents. Here's former u._s. Attorney and senior justice department and f._b._i. Official chuck rosenberg there are a bunch of rules that limit the way ahah foreign national can participate in a u._s. election how they would travel in this country with whom they'd have to register what they would have to disclose and the like <hes> here the russians it didn't follow any of the rules they assume a false identities applied for visas using false names and fictitious information they defrauded or impeded or impaired the state department and doing so and making expenditures to affect the outcome of an election they also impeded unimpaired the f._c._c. and in addition. They didn't take the requisite disclosures to the attorney general at the united states on this one. The no collusion thing is fair enough jewelry culver memphis owed one muller all are found that no americans knowingly participated in the i._r._a. Operation including anyone from the trump campaign. We'll trump campaign officials re tweeted i._r._a. Eric content and shared it they were just dupes not conspirators and so the only american who is charged with anything here is a guy named richard pinedo although who participated in the identity fraud but he didn't know he was helping the russians when he did so this set of indictments targets russian nationals who probably probably won't ever see the inside of a u._s. Courtroom it is unlikely that the u._s. will ever obtain actual physical custody of these defendants. These these individuals are not going to travel some place where they would be subject to being extradited and they're certainly not going to travel here <hes> because they aren't going to want to be arrested for this offense so what's the point of inviting them. Mcchord says it's partly to use the indictment to tell the story well. I think in this case in particular learn the the conspiracy fraud the united states allowed mr mueller and the rest of the special counsels team to paint a really vivid picture of what was going on in terms of this disinformation campaign it allowed him to paint a broad picture of what was going on which had as its effect the interference this with the ability of three government agencies and departments to do their job well. The individual defendants are all still in russia. One of the corporate defendants concord management enjoyment has appeared in u._s. court and will actually face trial concord management is alleged in this indictment to have essentially been one of the primary funders of of this disinformation campaign and so even though it's a russian company <hes> it decided after the indictment was returned to hire american lawyers lawyers and they did move to dismiss the indictment and those motions were denied by the district court judge here in the district of columbia that case has yet to go to trial the second group group of cases involved the russian hacking and dumping operation you deploy as a tactic spearfishing gre you stole the password and identities as of network administrators and use those to get access to democratic files of fate online profile hold controversial point and then leaked information. I i through dedicated websites then two weeks. It was kind of like a trial balloon message right russia if you listening. I hope you're <music>. Charging the russian hacking itself is fairly straightforward indictment charges twelve russian military officers by name for conspiring spiring to interfere with the twentieth sixteen presidential election on july thirteenth two thousand eighteen. A federal grand jury in the district of columbia returned returned an indictment charging russian military intelligence officers from the g._r._u. with conspiring to hack into various u._s. computers used by the clinton in campaign the d._n._c. the d triple c and other u._s. Persons the indictment also charges a separate conspiracy to hack into the computers 'puter of u._s. Persons and entities responsible for the administration of the two thousand sixteen election as of this writing all twelve defendants remain at large the indictment alleges that the defendants conspired with one another and with others to hack into the computers of u._s. Persons and entities involved often the two thousand sixteen u._s. presidential election steal documents from those computers and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere in the election election. The indictment also describes how in staging the releases the defendants use the goose for two point persona to disseminate documents through wikileaks key leaks. Here's rosenberg again in the indictment. The conspiracy was to violate for instance the computer fraud and abuse act to the hack into protected computers to steal information and to dump that information into the public domain. That's a conspiracy to violate. A substantive offence contained elsewhere in the federal code. The computer fraud and abuse act is basically an anti burglary law for computers. You can't make unauthorized use of a computer and you can't and <hes> then damage or destroy it or tamper with it or steal from it. <hes> <hes> things of value and of course this was these were things of value that were taken a and and there was also just the straight unauthorized access so in this case the defendants really are a number of people that are part of the russians military intelligence eligible agency called the main intelligence directorate of the general staff which we call the g._r. You and that means we are not. We're no longer in the world of private company. That might have ties. The russian government format like this is the russian this would be like. Are you know like our c._i._a. Right and so this charges them with hacking into emails of individuals associated with the clinton campaign hacking into the network of the democratic national campaign committee and the democratic congressional national campaign committee the deep d triple c as it's known in order to steal emails the place where the story becomes more complicated than the i._r._a. Indictment is is in the dissemination of hacked materials like the i._r._a. Trolling indictment no americans are ultimately charged with hacking and dumping activity but that isn't because no americans are involved in the hacking and dumping plot. It's true. No americans participated in hacking computers but the trump campaign is plenty involved involved in the leaks. Remember back from episode three russia. If you're listening i hope you're able to find the thirty thousand emails gosh trump junior policies again and he says what's behind this wednesday fell source is not the government roger stone was talks with a senior trump campaign officials steve bannon about wikileaks during the twenty sixteen presidential race recall that at the trump campaign's request eight stone went out and tried to get more information about future wikileaks releases of clinton related emails from drum coursey and randy krecko and that he directly communicated with goose for two point. Oh who's actually the gre. You said stern tax reads big news wednesday wednesday. Now you don't know stone fees wednesday. Hillary clinton has done hush wikileaks and remember remember that don jr. communicated with wikileaks himself which even gave him the password to a website of an anti-trump superpac. The wikileaks account sends is a direct message to donald trump junior and says. There's this anti-trump pack that is we figured out the password here it is and if you wanna take a look at this. There are a number of potential legal questions here. Some of those mother deals with quickly bowler ruled out bringing charges for trafficking in or receiving stolen one property for the post hacking dissemination of materials. The office says the law in question applies only tangible goods so stolen emails. Don't count count more also declined to bring a criminal case against someone. It's not clear who because the section is almost entirely redacted for violating the computer fraud fraud and abuse act for what appears to be an incident of quote careless or inadvertent unauthorized access to a computer but the big question here is one of conspiracy baresi. Here's muller's bottom line on that score. A russian intelligence service conducted computer intrusion operations against entities employees as and volunteers working on the clinton campaign and then released stolen documents the investigation also identified numerous links between the russian government and and the trump campaign although the investigation established that the russian government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome come and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through the russian efforts. The investigation did not establish is that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in its election interference activities to understand this statement. We we need to unpack it line by line. The first two lines are easy enough. The russian intelligence service hacking democratic entities and releasing documents is addressed in the g._r._u. Are you in diamond and the quote numerous links between the russian government and the trump campaign are all throughout the report but there's nothing illegal about a campaign gene having links to a foreign government suspicious maybe but not illegal but listen to this line again the investigation established that the russian the government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and work to secure that outcome and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information shen stolen and released through russian efforts know what mother is saying here that both sides understood that the russians were stealing and dumping information attention and that this was good for the trump campaign and then finally this is the key line legally the investigation and did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in its election interference activities in other words while the investigation could establish that the russians did the hacking and dumping that they reached out to trump campaign officials and that trump campaign officials were enthusiastic asterik about the email dumps. The investigation quote did not establish that the two sides were actively collaborating with one another when muller says quote the investigation did not establish. It's important to understand what he means and what he doesn't mean a statement that the investigation nation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts. It only means that there isn't enough evidence. It's to contemplate a criminal case so does all this mean barbara's right when he said this. The special counsel's report did not find any any evidence that members of the trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in these hacking operations perations in other words. There was no evidence of the trump campaign collusion with the russian government's hacking the special counsel's report did not find that any person associated with the trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials to answer that we need to i understand the relationship and the mullahs report between the three c words collusion coordination and conspiracy in evaluating waiting whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime we applied the framework of conspiracy law not the concept of collusion lucien. The term collude has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation but collusion is not a specific offence or theory of liability ability found in the united states legal code nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law for those reasons. The offices focus in analyzing sizing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy. Remember that muller is a prosecutor not a journalist or historian or a podcast podcast star so he's only interested in crimes. Collusion isn't a crime. It's just a word so he doesn't evaluate whether trump campaign activity would meet a reasonable person's understanding of collusion and actually coordination in the setting isn't a crime either. Here's what the report says about. How muller defines coordination like collusion coordination does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law we understood stood coordination to require an agreement tacit or express between the trump campaign and the russian government on election interference that requires requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the others actions our interests we applied the term coordination in in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the trump campaign coordinated with the russian government in its election interference insect species so it all boils down legally speaking to conspiracy. Here's chuck rosenberg again. Conspiracy is actually actually a fairly simple concept. It's an agreement to do something that the law forbids and then a step any step one step two accomplishing that that goal certainly doesn't have to be in writing it can be implicit. It can be implied from the facts but there has to be an agreement. It's not enough that the russians are doing things both they and the trump campaign nowhere illegal and no will benefit trump politically even though the trump campaign welcomes it and works to maximize the benefit benefit to themselves without an agreement between the parties. There is an illegal conspiracy so we'll muller says that the trump team wasn't knowingly involved involved in the trolling operation. The report says something different about the hacking and dumping operation it says that the trump teams knowing an enthusiastic involvement and the dissemination of hacked materials doesn't amount to a criminal conspiracy. This brings us to the third broad category oriented possible charges the great many other contacts with russians. Those contacts took many forms business deals attempts at meetings back channels but was any of that crime the trump administration is facing new allegations about connections to russian officials. The trucks incoming national security adviser michael flynn was communicating with the russian ambassador about sanctions imposed on russia by the obama administration. Canada trump may have discussed the trump tower moscow project with michael cohen all the way up until election day. I have no loans no dealings and no current pending the trump campaign officials and other associates had repeated contact with russia's intelligence before the election jeff session discussed campaign related the issue during last year's presidential handshake is not a meeting a casual conversation is furtive attempts divert democracy in swing the election result in the office's investigation uncovered evidence of numerous links between trump campaign officials and individuals israel's having or claiming to have ties to the russian government the office evaluated the contacts under several sets of federal laws including conspiracy laws and statutes governing foreign agents who operate in the united states after considering the available evidence the office did not pursue charges under these statutes against against any of the individuals with the exception of charges under the foreign agents registration act against paul manafort and richard gates based on their activities on behalf of ukraine here again mother says he's not thinking about the language of collusion he's looking to conspiracy law and the reason when he doesn't bring charges here is similar to the hacking and dumping situation. The investigation did not establish that the contacts described amounted to an agreement to commit commit any substantive violation of federal criminal law but there are other issues here to the special counsel's office also evaluates the various russian in contacts under laws governing people who are acting as foreign agents in the united states. David letterman served as the chief of d._o._j.'s counterintelligence and export control section. He explains one of those laws. The foreign agents registration act so faira is a federal statute that is focused predominantly on promoting transparency and disclosure in general it requires parties who fit the definition of quote agent of a foreign principle all in quote to register with the department of justice. The registration requirement applies only f- <hes> someone is acting within the united states to engage in one of several denominated categories of of conduct in doing so at the direction order control a request of that foreign principal the first first and broadest <hes> is defined in the statute is quote political activities and that's defined as any activity that the person intends to in any away influence any agency official of the governor and the ad states or any section of the public with reference to the domestic or foreign policies of the united states aids or with reference to the political or public interest policies or relations of government a foreign country or a foreign political party ultimately the special counsel does charge engine number of individuals under the foreign agents registration act but not for activity directly related to russia two of those individuals are paul manafort fort and rick gates the investigation uncovered extensive evidence that paul manafort's and richard gates's pre-campaign work for the government of ukraine and violated the foreign agents registration act manafort and gates were charged for that conduct and admitted to it when they pleaded guilty in the district of columbia the prosecution metaphor he admitted that from two thousand six to two thousand fifteen he led a multimillion dollar lobbying campaign in the united states at the direction the govern of ukraine rain. He admitted that he knew it was illegal to engage in such lobbying without registering in that he intentionally did so when the justice department contacted mr manafort and his associate didn't <hes> richard gates in september two thousand sixteen to determine if they had an obligation to register they caused false and misleading letters to be sent to the department of justice. Mr gates has acknowledged being a in an essence a confederate of paul manafort and carrying out the scheme to which manafort himself pled. You'll see in the district of columbia muller also developed evidence regarding michael flynn's violation of farah with respect to work performed on behalf of turkey. Mr flynn lynn pled guilty to making a false statement in connection with conversations he had with russian ambassador kislyak and he was convicted only of that he was not convicted of any faira <hes> related violation however in his plea agreement he did admit to having done done work on behalf of turkey <hes> that required registration and having failed to <hes> meet his obligations under under faira. The conduct in question is related among other things to an op ed flynn had publish on election day two thousand sixteen calling for the extradition of a turkish cleric lyric from the united states. It was an op-ed that read as f it had been written by president irwan of turkey and the conference investigation instigation. I think resulted information that the turkish government or other foreign principles had involvement in the preparation of that and u._s. Persons in its propagates dissemination listen in a manner that should have resulted in feira registration muller also considered whether george popadopoulos carter page had violated this law the office investigated whether george papadopoulos acted as an agent of or at the direction and control of the government of israel while the investigation revealed field significant ties between pavlopoulos and israel the office ultimately determined that the evidence was not sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction action under the foreign agents registration act and d._o._j. Was able to obtain multiple reauthorization of fifa warrant on carter page as the agent of a foreign power muller says the evidence wasn't enough to pass the higher standards required at trial in order to to get a pfizer warrant. The government has to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the foreign intelligence surveillance court that someone is acting as an agent of a foreign power but the burden of proof government has to meet in that add context is only probable cause that the individual was an agent of a foreign power. That's a fairly low standard probable. Cause is a standard of us to obtain search warrants lawrence hundreds of times a day all across the united states and that determination ended there was probable cause that carter page with an agent of a foreign power is not nearly enough to determine that there are sufficient admissible evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction of him for violating any law faira is primarily about disclosure and registration requirements requirements but there are places where u._s. law draws firmer lines against foreign participation. One of those places is elections. It's illegal for a foreign national to participate in u._s. Elections by contributing anything of value with the intent to influence an election. Here's the fourth category of possible charges muller's team considered whether to charge members of the trump campaign rain with violations of campaign finance law including for their participation in the june ninth trump tower meeting with russians offering dirt on hillary clinton britain the office considered whether the june ninth two thousand sixteen meeting at trump tower constituted a prosecutable violation of the campaign finance laws laws so what exactly is the law in question federal campaign finance law broadly prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions donations nations or expenditures in connection with elections and prohibits anyone from soliciting accepting or receiving such contributions or donations foreign foreign nationals may not make and no one may accept solicit or receive from them a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value in connection with john election. Here's bob bauer an expert in campaign finance and election law who served as white house counsel under president obama in addition to the prohibition mission on foreign nationals making any contribution or expenditure anything of value in supportive in american presidential campaign the rules prohibit the u._s. nationals from from engaging in that activity one is they not solicit a campaign contributions or support of any kind including anything of value and under the law solicitation is a direct direct request or an implied requests for support another portion of the regulations prohibits u._s. nationals from substantially assisting foreign nationals channels in violating the statute in short. A foreign national is prohibited from giving anything of value. Whether it's money or something else for the purpose of influencing an election yeah so it does not mean for example that a foreign national to a violated the statute would bring a cash contribution or for example valuable that could be redeemed for cash hash anything that could be useful to the campaign and they can be valued as useful to the campaign would constitute something of value in turn treated as a contribution contribution in violation of the statute from the foreign national. How does this apply to the trump tower meeting morning. The now infamous trump tower meeting. We're always rob. Goals tale donald trump junior writing and part offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary. It's what you say. I love kevin especially for later in the summer. Goldstone passed along and offer purportedly from a russian government official to provide quote official documents and information on quote to the trump campaign for the purposes of influencing the presidential election trump junior appears to to have accepted that offer and to have arranged a meeting to receive those materials documentary evidence in the form of email chains supports the inference against that kushner and manafort were aware of that purpose and attended the june ninth meeting anticipating the receipt of helpful information to the campaign from russian sources as you recall in the original email exchanging was the invitation was issued from russia and the dirt on hillary clinton was generally characterized arises such don jr. in a famous email says something to the effect of if it's what you say it is i love it. That would suggest right. He's soliciting it. He's interested in it. It has value muller's office says that the dirt offered by the russians likely qualifies as a thing of value under the law. There's no doubt and muller team concedes much in the report that opposition research has value after all campaigns higher research teams that do both research on the candidate it himself or herself but also opposition research research on the opposition. There really isn't a category of campaign spending that is subject to more rigorous prohibitive prohibitive treatment than the foreign national prohibition but here's an added complication. You have to know the actual value in question to decide. If a violation is a misdemeanor or a felony the criminal benchmarks are two thousand dollars and twenty five thousand dollars for a felony violation valuing negative information can be hard heard. How do you know how much dirt is worse and there's another problem a bigger one but ultimately stopped smaller from attempting to bring a case in order to prove a crime the government has to show that the violation was quote knowing and willful meaning that a person knows they're breaking the law at the time and the special counsel's office says they don't believe they can prove that trump junior kushner or manafort knew knew they were violating the law at the time of the meeting on the facts here the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the june ninth anthony meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful. The investigation has not developed evidence that the participants in the meeting were familiar. Oh you're with the foreign contributions ban or the application of federal law to the relevant factual context. The government does not have strong evidence of surreptitious. Che's behavior or efforts at concealment. At the time of the june ninth meeting. Ultimately muller decides not to pursue charges taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in campaign finance prosecution and the difficulty establishing the required valuation the office office decided not to pursue criminal campaign finance charges against trump junior or other campaign officials for the events culminating in the june ninth meeting muller's judgment here is controversial. A lot of analysts think he's being overly cautious by find that completely baffling the campaign manager had been on five or six presidential campaigns. He was a senior advisor to bob dole in the nineteen ninety six campaign which was characterized among other things by allegations set for nationals had provided improper support to bill clinton's reelection effort so the notion that somehow there would have been no awareness zone of legal hazard here. I i just find very difficult to understand but even if the trump tower meeting doesn't amount to a prosecutable campaign finance crime muller doesn't doesn't quite treat it as no collusion either. He treats it as a close call whether or not to bring charges and even without charges the facts are well what they are and people can judge the trump tower meeting was part and parcel may be the most dramatic well-known example of an american presidential campaign that was welcoming for national support most notably the president united states now now the united states then presidential candidate donald trump openly appeal to the russians to locate what he believed to be a damaging missing e mails from hillary clinton but there were other contacts between the russians and the trump campaign at no time. Is there any suggestion that the trump campaign discouraged the russians from contacting them discourage ridge their desires or their offer of assistance. I do not believe anybody in good faith with contests not a campaign finance lawyer anyone familiar with the campaign finance finance laws democratic republican independent you know animal vegetable or mineral would have agreed for a moment to a senior campaign command in response to those e mail inquiries inviting a delegation from foreign power to come and offer quote unquote dirt on the the opposition candidate. There is no chance in light of the history of the prohibition question and the breath which congress crafted that did not present the highest level of legal risk and not just general legal risk as in the potential for civil enforcement by the f._c._c. criminal enforcement legal risk all of this brings us to the final group of charges the massive number of lies about everything the lies about the hack and leak and wikileaks the lies about the june ninth meeting the lies about trump tower moscow the lies about the contact with the russians the list goes on and on why all all allies. You're convicted blind. Michael flynn was convicted of lying. Cohen was convicted of li- i talked to general flynn they did not discuss anything. I'm having to do with the united states decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against it's disgusting. It's so phony i mean. I can't think of a bigger live. It isn't a crime for the trump campaign or the trump administration to lie to the american public the remedy many for that is political not criminal but it is a crime when someone lies to federal investigators or congress and that's what happened here. The office determined that certain individuals associated with the campaign lied to investigators about campaign contacts with russia and have taken in other actions to interfere with the investigation as explained below the office therefore charged some u._s. Persons connected to the campaign with it false statements and obstruction offenses. Here's scott anderson a senior editor at law fair and a fellow the brookings institution eighteen u._s._c. one thousand one is a criminal provisions in law that specifically makes it a criminal act to make false statements to government investigators whether those investigators there's are in the legislative branch for instance with congressional committees or whether they are in the executive branch like with f._b._i. Agents generally there are three of those kind of more like four elements that go into a one thousand one violation. I the statement that the defendant made has to be false fictitious or fraudulent second defendant has to know it was a false statement and third although sometimes lumped with the second one has he has he or she has to have known it was illegal to make a false statement in that context and the final element is that it has to be immaterial fall. L. statement meaning has to have reasonably been known or expected to have some sort of substantial impact on the agency's activities or their expectations and how they went about their their objective in interviewing discussing with the defendant. Here's the chairman of the house. Intelligence committee congressman adam schiff questioning muller when he appeared appeared before congress when investigation looked into these matters numerous trump associates lied to your team the grand jury and congress number of persons that we interviewed viewed in our investigation it turns out did land. Mike flynn lied. He was convicted of lying. Yes george papadopoulos was convicted of lying true. Paul manafort was convicted of lying through all manafort was in fact went so i encourage other people to lie that is accurate manafort's deputy rick gates lied accurate that is accurate michael. Cohen presence lawyer was indicted for lying true. You lied to stay on message with the president allegedly by him. The the first person this special counsel charged with making false statements was george popadopoulos. Here's anderson was charged under section one thousand one for a variety of false statements he made in january twenty seven two thousand seventeen interview with the f._b._i. In regards to his prior interactions with several figures here's who are believed to be potentially associated with the russian government popadopoulos essentially asserted that he primarily made contacts with these individuals prior air to really becoming part of the trump campaign <hes> in fire that sort of interaction and generally tried to play down his interactions on january twenty seven th two thousand seventeen papadopoulos agreed to be interviewed by f. b. i. agents who informed him that the interview was part of the investigation into potential russian in government interference in the two thousand sixteen presidential election during the interview papadopoulos acknowledged that he had met joseph myths and that mifsud told him that the russians had dirt on clinton in the form of thousands of emails but papadopoulos stated multiple times that those communications occurred heard before he joined the trump campaign and that it was a quote very strange coincidence unquote to be told of the dirt before he started working for the campaign. This account was false. Papadopoulos met mifsud for the first time after papadopoulos had already learned that he would be a foreign foreign policy adviser for the campaign mifsud showed interest in papadopoulos only after learning his role on the campaign and mifsud told papadopoulos adopt us about the russians possessing dirt on candidate clinton in late april two thousand sixteen more than a month after papadopoulos had joined the campaign hand and been publicly announced by candidate trump later he ended up pleading guilty to violations of section one thousand one for this <hes> where essentially essentially he acknowledged that in fact he did interact with masud in these other people and made contact with them after joining the trump campaign according to <hes> <hes> the muller report this really had an impact in different parts of the investigation and shaping how the f._b._i. Approach to in particular with their own interview with joseph masud sued which took place on february tenth regard the line of questioning they pursued with him <hes> which ended up being <hes> a limit opportunity as they mr masuda sense since kind of disappeared from the radar as one of the big kind of blank spots. We have investigation papadopoulos also falsely claimed that he met olga holon on skyro- before he joined the campaign and falsely told the f._b._i. That he had no relationship at all with her. In truth. However papadopoulos topless matt pollen sky after he joined the campaign he believed that she had connections to high level russian government officials and could help him arrange a potential foreign policy trip to russia and it seems like there is a pretty consistent theme to the misrepresentations that were made in regards these different interactions and the theme to those across the board was to try and downplay those relationships and to reorient them in the timeline to make it so that they did not appear to have any sort of correlation with the time which popadopoulos became involved with the trump campaign given the seriousness of the lies and omissions commissions and the effect on the f._b._i.'s investigation. The office charged papadopoulos with making false statements to the f._b._i. Popadopoulos louis pleads guilty ultimately to one charge of violating section one thousand one. He gets about two weeks in prison about a ten thousand dollar fine and i think around two hundred hours of community service muller's office also charged michael flynn for false statements. Michael flynn agreed to be interviewed by the f._b._i. On january twenty fourth two thousand seventeen seventeen four days after he had officially assumed his duties as national security adviser to the president during the interview flynn made several false statements events pertaining to his communications with the russian ambassador. Michael flynn was charged under section one thousand one for making false statements to the f._b._i. Those false statements specifically related interactions. He had with russian ambassador kislyak in one point. He told the f._b._i. That he had a not engaged in any any discussion with kislyak urging sort of sort of action where in response to the imposition of sanctions by the obama administration this was later he admitted was false statement <hes> he also indicated that he had urged his lactic any particular action regarding u._n. Security council resolution in relation to israel and settlement activity that was also oh. He later confessed a false statement. Flynn made these false statements to the f._b._i. At a time when he was serving as national security adviser and when the f._b._i. Had an open investigation estimation into russian interference in the two thousand sixteen presidential election including the nature of any links between the trump campaign and russia shah flynn's false statements and omissions impeded and otherwise had a material impact on that ongoing investigation flynn made separate submissions to the department of justice pursuant to the foreign agents registration act that also contained materially false statements and omissions in addition addition to that <hes> he was found to have made certain false statements <hes> in regards to registration materials he again also filed under fara although he ultimately wasn't wasn't asked to plead guilty regard separate charge to that but it is included his kind of statement of offense but that related not activity he pursued in regards to rush in any away but independent activity that he engaged in on behalf of the government of turkey based on the totality of that conduct the office decided to charge flynn with making making false statements to the f._b._i. On december first two thousand seventeen flynn pleaded guilty to that charge also admitted his false statements to the department hartman in his farah filing flynn is awaiting sentencing and michael cohen was also charged with and pled guilty to making false statements. I am sorry from my lies and for lying to congress. I am sorry for actively working to hide from the truth about mr trump when you need it most. I have lied but i am not a liar. Michael cohen is charged as well with violations of of section one thousand one <hes> but this case. It's not regulation in relation to interviews he had with the f._b._i. At least not primarily <hes> instead it relates it's two in the first instance testimony he provided to the house permanent select committee on intelligence and the senate select committee on intelligence in two thousand seventeen as part of that testimony cohen made a number of assertions primarily regarding constructing a tower in moscow in late august two thousand seventeen in advance of his testimony cohen how in caused a two page statement to be sent to the senate intelligence committee and the house intelligence committee addressing trump tower moscow. I cohen stated that the trump toss cow project had ended in january two thousand sixteen and that he had briefed candidate trump on the project only three times before making the unilateral decision to terminate it second cohen represented that he never agreed to travel to russia in connection with the project and never considered asking trump to travel bowl for the project third cohen stated that he did not recall any russian government contact about the project including any response to an email that he had sent sent to a russian government email account all three of those statements cohen later conceded were inaccurate <hes> it is he basically said you know the project continued through june two thousand sixteen <hes> that essentially he had briefed president trump on it regularly and that he he had changed sort of testimony in his prior meeting before thousand senate committees in an effort to adjust the time line of the trump tower project to push it before the republican my primaries mary's build some separation between that project and the president and that project in president trump presidential run as at that point at least he was no not yet the republican the nominee in according to cohen in his original testimony had a minimal role in fact he had a larger role. One person who the special counsel determines did not commit perjury three or false statements is former attorney general jeff sessions muller examined sessions statements to the senate that he hadn't had contact with the russians ends in light of revelations that sessions had interacted with russian ambassador sergei kislyak multiple times however muller concluded that because of emberg you ity in the questions and answers it isn't clear sessions was being intentionally misleading when they were evaluating these sorts of statements sessions came came back and <hes> in addition to kind of conceding that he had misstated himself initially really made the point that he understood that the queen this questions to be asking primarily about lines of communication between or on behalf of the trump campaign and the russian government of some sort of substantive exchange not as covering these sorts sorts of incidental meetings or handshakes <hes> in which he was involved as a senator as a campaign official with large number of people that didn't have much substance substantive information information <hes> exchanged or in fault and their vir- for he had not meant to were intended to make a sort of false statement because that element of intent was lacking <hes> the special counsel office ultimate concluded in march two thousand eighteen that pursuing charges would not be appropriate <hes> an informed session that they did not intend to do so and then a final mostly redacted section muller acknowledges that during the investigation there were other individuals interviewed who omitted material israel information or provided false information to investigators applying the principles of federal prosecution the office did not seek criminal charges against any individuals other than those listed above in some instances that decision was due to evidentiary hurdles to proving falsity in others the office. I determined that the witness ultimately provided truthful information and that considerations of culpability deterrents and resource preservation weighed against against prosecution. Where does this all leave us. The russians interfered the u._s. Election to help donald trump and trump new and welcomes that assistance but no one in the trump campaign engaged behavior the met the legal standards for a prosecutable crime of conspiracy. Is that really the same as no collusion. Here's the trump camp answer to that question. There was no collusion with russia. The most ridiculous dealers thing i've ever heard it was a complete and total exoneration <hes> so that makes it a complete and total exoneration. I don't know any other way to look at eric. My fellow americans. This was a total indication president of the united states and our campaign <music>. That's the version of the story. According to people like president trump attorney general bar and their supporters muller's congressional testimony money congressman adam schiff offered his own version of the meaning of the contents of the report investigation determined that the trump campaign including donald trump himself knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it built russian meddling into their strategy you and used it. How else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of foreign offer of dirt on their opponent which did did not publicly shun it or turn it away but which instead invited encouraged it and made full use of it this is also a story about money mm-hmm about greed and corruption about the leadership of a campaign willing to compromise the nation's interest not only to win but to make money at the same time time for your report also tells a story about lies. Lots of lies lies about a gleaming tower in moscow and lies about talks with the kremlin. Uh lies about secret negotiations with the russians over sanctions and lies about wikileaks lies about polling data and lies about hush money payments lies about meetings in the seychelles is to set up secret back channels and lies about a secret meeting in new york. Trump tower lies to the f._b._i. Lies to your staff and lies to this committee committee lies to obstruct an investigation into the most serious attack on our democracy by a foreign power in our history. We've come to the end of volume one the story of the investigation into what russia did did and who helped but volume one is only half of the story volume. One is the story uncovered by the investigation volume. Two is the story of the investigation itself more specifically. It's the story of how the president of the united states tried to stop it. Thank you for listening to part seven of the report as a programming. Oh grabbing note. We'll be taking the next two fridays off before launching the report volume two for those weeks you'll hear bonus episodes going into parts of the report but didn't make it into official episodes. We hope you'll continue to listen and in the meantime. Please continue to share the report. This podcast is made possible by the generous support of the william and flora hewlett foundation and the democracy fund by listeners like you to support this project act. Please go to law fair blog dot com. The report is a production of l'affaire goat rodeo in washington d._c. Ian enwright is the executive producer from the lafayette team. The project is led by executive editor. Susan hennessy editor in chief is benjamin witness interviews conducted by managing being editor quinta jurassic recordings by michaela fogel and jacob shorts additional assistance you yellow streak vishnu khan and hardly baker acre special thanks to mary mcchord chuck rosenberg david lawmen bob bauer scott anderson and you the listening audience to support the show. Please share this podcast wherever you can and while you're at it please subscribe and review this podcast on apple podcast spotify or wherever you listen our website l'affaire blog dot com is where you can learn more about law fair. We'd our work and support our mission until next time <music>. You're listening to go rodeo keeping your ad for us.