POSTED AT 11:55 AM
It’s about ‘coordination’ — not ‘collusion.’
Like collusion, “coordination” does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests.
Mr. Trump likes to say there was “no collusion,” and Mr. Barr used that term again in his news conference on Thursday morning. But collusion is not a legal concept. In looking for evidence of a criminal conspiracy, Mr. Mueller said he was instead looking for whether there was evidence of “coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russia in its election interference activities. He decided that the evidence fell short of meeting that standard.
— Charlie Savage
POSTED AT 11:53 AM
Mueller found several prominent Trump-Russia contacts — and a Republican platform change — were innocuous.
The Office investigated several other events that have been publicly reported to involve potential Russia-related contacts. For example, the investigation established that interactions between Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Trump Campaign officials both at the candidate’s April 2016 foreign policy speech in Washington, D.C., and during the week of the Republican National Convention were brief, public, and non-substantive. And the investigation did not establish that one Campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican Party platform on providing assistance to Ukraine were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia.
Reporters circled for months around rumors of meetings between members of the Trump campaign, including Jeff Sessions, then a senator, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador at the time, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington and elsewhere. There were also lingering questions about why a portion of the Republican Party platform about Ukraine had changed during summer 2016. People involved in each had publicly denied any untoward behavior, and Mr. Mueller appears to have confirmed that the meetings were “non-substantive.” His assessment of the platform change is more nuanced, but ultimately did not “establish” the platform change had been directed by Mr. Trump or Russia.
POSTED AT 11:52 AM
Mr. Mueller said that one of the complications he faced in building an obstruction case was Mr. Trump’s authority as the head of the executive branch.
Several features of the conduct we investigated distinguish it from typical obstruction-of-justice cases. First, the investigation concerned the President, and some of his actions, such as firing the FBI director, involved facially lawful acts within his Article II authority, which raises constitutional issues discussed below. At the same time, the President’s position as the head of the Executive Branch provided him with unique and powerful means of influencing official proceedings, subordinate officers, and potential witnesses—all of which is relevant to a potential obstruction-of-justice analysis.
Mr. Mueller is saying that Mr. Trump’s powers as president were tied in with the actions he took that could have constituted obstruction, like ousting James B. Comey as F.B.I. director. This made building a case more difficult because Mr. Trump had the authority as president to take many of the actions that were scrutinized.
— Michael S. Schmidt
POSTED AT 11:51 AM
Trump tried to limit what would be publicly disclosed about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer
On several occasions, the president directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9  meeting, suggesting that the emails would not leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited. Before the emails became public, the president edited a press statement for Trump Jr. by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with ‘an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have information helpful to the campaign’ and instead said only the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children. When the press asked questions about the president’s involvement in Trump Jr.’s statement, the president’s personal lawyer repeatedly denied the president had played any role.
This confirms a New York Times report in July 2017 that disclosed that the president had helped draft the misleading statement made by his son Donald Trump Jr. and pushed for a version that did not reveal the true nature of the meeting. That The Times learned of the meeting at the time shook the president at the time and was a key factor in what was a tumultuous summer for the White House.
— Maggie Haberman
POSTED AT 11:48 AM
During the campaign, Paul Manafort discussed with a Russian associate a plan to let Russia control part of Ukraine.
Both men believed the plan would require candidate Trump’s assent to succeed (were he to be elected president.) They also discussed the status of the Trump campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states.
This suggests that Russia was trying to influence the Trump campaign to support a plan that would have allowed Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine, which would have been a huge victory for the Kremlin. Mr. Manafort had shared internal campaign polling data with the Russian associate before their Aug. 2, 2016, meeting — and for some period afterward, the report said.
— Sharon LaFraniere