Three weeks ago I wrote No, the Meuller report ***DID NOT*** “find no collusion!” in which I lambasted and parsed Barr’s conclusory snippet of the Mueller report, to wit, that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
I pointed out that:
… the bracketed [T] in Barr’s quote of Mueller is doing a lot of work. Because it means that there was a first part of the sentence that was omitted. Put that together with the fact the Mueller’s quote then specifically references that “the investigation did not establish …” and there is compelling evidence that the first part of the actual sentence was a qualifier. …. Almost certainly the first part of the sentence is something like “Although…’” “Since …’” or “Despite …” followed by “the investigation…”, or a formulation like “The grand jury’s work is incomplete, and so the investigation …”
Now that we have (most of) the actual Mueller report, we know that the complete sentence reads:
“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Exactly as I thought, and said. The first part of the sentence Barr quoted severely qualified the portion he chose to highlight.
I also wrote:
While the “no finding” formulation is consistent with a “finding of no collusion,” it is also consistent with other readings:
1. The investigation isn’t complete yet (which is almost certainly a correct statement).
2. The evidence is inconsistent, weak, or contradictory.
3. There are too many unknowns to come to a conclusion.
4. While the evidence of collusion is strong, it is not strong enough to support a jury verdict beyond reasonable doubt.
Mueller’s report makes clear that, first of all, he made “no finding” as to the narrower question of criminal conspiracy, which requires an actual or tacit agreement, rather than encouragement and coordination, I.e., “collusion.” Further, he explicitly qualifies his “no finding” by noting gaps in the evidence, in the form of witnesses who refused to testify under oath, and/or deletions of crucial communications Mueller’s report leaves open the possibility that the conclusion could change if the missing evidence were provided.