Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019)
The first Special Counsel investigation was an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, links between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials. It was conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller from May 2017 to March 2019. The investigation culminated with the Mueller Report which concluded that there was insufficient evidence to bring any conspiracy charges against Trump or his associates. The Report did not conclude that the President committed a crime, as investigators would not indict a sitting president.
About Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019) in brief
The first Special Counsel investigation was an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, links between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. It was conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller from May 2017 to March 2019. The investigation culminated with the Mueller Report which concluded that—though the Trump campaign welcomed Russian interference and expected to benefit from it—there was insufficient evidence to bring any conspiracy charges against Trump or his associates. The Report did not conclude that the President committed a crime, as investigators would not indict a sitting president per an Office of Legal Counsel opinion, and would not accuse him of a crime when he cannot clear his name in court. However, the investigation found both public and private actions by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations. The report states that Congress can decide whether Trump obstructed justice, and has the authority to take action against him. Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had authorized the Mueller probe, decided on March 24, 2019, that the evidence was insufficient to establish a finding of obstruction ofJustice against the President. The report concluded that the Internet Research Agency’s social media campaign supported Trump’s presidential candidacy while attacking Clinton’s, and Russian intelligence hacked and released damaging material from the Clinton campaign and various Democratic Party organizations. A redacted version of the report was released to the public on April 18, 2019. It is alleged that the Russian government interfered in the US democratic process and favored presidential candidate Donald Trump over rival candidate Hillary Clinton.
In July, Mueller testified that a president could be charged with obstruction of Justice after he left office. The first public public disclosure of Russian efforts to influence the US government came in September 2016, by Senator Dianne Feinstein and House member Adam Schiff on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. In January 2017, an assessment was released by the Office of the Director of the National Intelligence, which asserted that Russian leadership had personally ordered an \”influence\” on Hillary Clinton’s electoral campaign. The FBI has been covertly investigating activities by Russian operatives and by members of the Trump presidential campaign, under the code name ‘Crossfire Hurricane’, since July 2016. However, ultimately \”the investigation did not establish that members ofthe Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russiangovernment in its election interference activities\”. The evidence was not necessarily complete due to encrypted, deleted, or unsaved communications as well as false, incomplete, or declined testimony. Mueller later said that the investigation’s conclusion on Russian interference \”deserves the attention of every American\”. In July 2016, Senator Feinstein and top Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a joint statement on September 22, 2016, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordering an ‘influence campaign’ on Clinton’s campaign. In May 2017, Deputy Attorney general Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller, a former FBI director, to take over the FBI’s work. Mueller was an appropriate choice in his view.