TEN EASY PIECES: TRANSLATING ROBERT MUELLER’S LEGALESE

[This post first appeared on June 2, 2019, at Dan Rather’s News & Guts.]

On May 29, special counsel Robert Mueller made his first and, he hopes, last comments on the investigation culminating in his report. “We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself,” he said.

Those words cover 448 pages. They may speak to fellow lawyers, including me. But they’re not reaching a general public suffering from Trump fatigue, bombarded with disinformation, and accustomed to processing what they see and hear in tweets and sound bites. If Mueller had stated his views in lay terms, he could have led with this headline: There’s plenty of evidence that Trump is a criminal. But I can’t indict him, so the House of Representatives must decide what to do next.

Translated into readily understandable English, here’s the rest of Mueller’s message:

  1. Forget what my boss, William Barr, told you about my report. I wanted Barr to use summaries that I’d prepared. Instead, he wrote his own misleading one, released it to the public, and sat on my report for a month.
  2. Anyone saying that I found “No Collusion” is lying. (Vol. I, p. 2, Vol. II, p. 2)
  3. Russia attacked the US presidential election to help Trump win. (Vol. I, p. 1)
  4. Trump’s campaign embraced Russia’s effort and publicly denied the truth — that it had multiple contacts with Russia. (Vol. I, pp. 5-7, 66-173; Vol. II, pp. 15-23)
  5. Anyone saying that I found “No Obstruction” is lying. (Vol. II, p. 2)
  6. Trump made it more difficult to discover the truth. As a result, I don’t know the whole story about Trump and Russia. Neither does Congress or the public. (Vol. I, p. 10)
  7. Because of existing Justice Department policy, I couldn’t even consider charging Trump with a crime. The Constitution specifies the process for dealing with presidential wrongdoing: impeachment — not me or Barr. (Vol. II, pp. 1-2)
  8. I haven’t written or said anything publicly about the counterintelligence aspect of my investigation. Congress and the public still don’t know if Putin has compromising information on Trump or others close to him. (Vol. I, p. 13)
  9. My investigation was never a “Witch Hunt” or a “Hoax.” Many former Trump campaign officials are now behind bars; others face pending cases. (Vol. II, App. D)
  10. Despite Trump’s persistent assertions to the contrary, Russian election interference was and is real; it should trouble every American patriot. (Mueller’s 5/29/2019 Statement, final sentence)

Mueller’s parting message to the House of Representatives: I’ve done my job. In accordance with the nation’s founding document, it’s time for you to do yours.

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