Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) –
Trump keeps trying to hypnotize people by saying “No collusion, no obstruction,” and saying that Mueller exonerated him. Since so few Americans and so few in Congress will actually read the Mueller report, he thinks he can get away with the Big Lie.
Mueller explicitly denied yesterday that he had exonerated Trump. So that’s a Trump lie.
The Mueller report contains ample evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct the Mueller investigation. In fact, we know that Trump tried as hard as he could to simply fire Mueller for the purpose of obstructing the Mueller report.
Although Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca) did not in fact elicit from Mueller, as Alex Ward at Vox showed an admission that he had decided on Trump’s guilt but did not indict, Lieu carefully walked Mueller through the report to establish fairly conclusively that Trump committed what any reasonable person, knowledgeable of the law, would conclude was obstruction of justice:
Objections that McGahn did not follow through on the order are irrelevant, since obstruction is defined as attempting to obstruct, which Trump did. Objections that the obstruction was to stop an investigation into collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, which was not proved, are also irrelevant, since an accused person can attempt to obstruct an investigation even if the investigation’s premise is never proved.
Rep. Sheila Jackson’s (D-TX) questioning demonstrated underlined that obstruction can be committed even in non-criminal matters, for instance to avoid personal embarrassment.
As for collusion, what Mueller found was that there was insufficient evidence of criminal conspiracy, which is an actual Federal crime, to bring charges. He did not conclude that there was no criminal conspiracy, only that he could not prove one. Collusion is a much vaguer conception and is not a defined crime in the law. But Mueller did not rule out collusion, as WaPo’s Philip Bump points out.
In fact, since “collusion” is not a legal term of art, it seems obvious that there was collusion. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca.) elicited from Mueller, the Russians extensively interfered in the 2016 election, and the Trump campaign team actively welcomed this Russian interference in the election.
That would be a form of collusion.