The mission of the Mueller investigation was to examine Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, consisting of possible links, or "collusion," between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government of Vladimir Putin as well as any allegations of obstruction of justice in this regard. It was also intended to detect and prosecute, where warranted, any other crimes that surfaced during the course of the investigation. The report consists of a detailed summary of the various investigations and inquiries that the Special Counsel and colleagues carried out in these areas. The investigation was initiated in the aftermath of the firing of FBI Director James Comey by Donald Trump on May 9, 2017. The FBI, under Director Comey, had already been investigating links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr on March 22, 2019, and the Department of Justice released the redacted report one month later.
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The Special Counsel's Investigation
On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — then serving as Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation following the recusal of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on March 2, 2016 — appointed the Special Counsel "to investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters." Office of the Deputy Att'y Gen., Order No. 3915-2017, Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election and Related Matters, May 17, 2017) ("Appointment Order"). Relying on "the authority vested" in the Acting Attorney General, "including 28 U.S.C. §§ 509, 510, and 515," the Acting Attorney General ordered the appointment of a Special Counsel "in order to discharge [the Acting Attorney General's] responsibility to provide supervision and management of the Department of Justice, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election." Appointment Order (introduction). "The Special Counsel," the Order stated, "is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017," including:
(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).
Appointment Order [??](b). Section 600.4 affords the Special Counsel "the authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel's investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses." 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a). The authority to investigate "any matters that arose ... directly from the investigation," Appointment Order [??] (b)(ii), covers similar crimes that may have occurred during the course of the FBI's confirm ed investigation before the Special Counsel's appointment. "If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate," the Order further provided, "the Special Counsel i s authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters." Id. iJ (c). Finally, the Acting Attorney General made applicable "Sections 600.4 through 600.10 of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations." Id. [??] (d).
The Acting Attorney General further clarified the scope of the Special Counsel's investigatory authority in two subsequent memoranda. A memorandum dated August 2, 20 17, explained that the Appointment Order had been "worded categorically in order to permit its public release without confirming specific investigations involving specific individuals." It then confirm ed that the Special Counsel had been authorized since his appointment to investigate allegations that three Trump campaign officials-Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos "committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government's efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election." The memorandum also confirmed the Special Counsel's authority to investigate certain other matters, including two additional sets of allegations involving Manafort (crimes arising from payments he received from the Ukrainian government and crimes arising from his receipt of loans from a bank whose CEO was then seeking a position in the Trump Administration); allegations that Papadopoulos committed a crime or crimes by acting as an unregistered agent of the Israeli government; and four sets of allegations involving Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor to President Trump.
On October 20, 2017, the Acting Attorney General confirmed in a memorandum the Special Counsel's investigative authority as to several individuals and entities. First , "as part of a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election," the Special Counsel was authorized to investigate "the pertinent activities of Michael Cohen, Richard Gates, Personal Privacy, Roger Stone, and PP "Confirmation of the authorization to investigate such individuals," the memorandum stressed, "does not suggest that the Special Counsel has made a determination that any of them has committed a crime." Second, with respect to Michael Cohen, the memorandum recognized the Special Counsel's authority to investigate "leads relate[d] to Cohen's establishment and use of Essential Consultants LLC to, inter alia, receive funds from Russian-backed entities." Third, the memorandum memorialized the Special Counsel's authority to investigate individuals and entities who were possibly engaged in "jointly undertaken activity " with existing subjects of the investigation, including Paul Manafort. Finally, the memorandum described an FBI investigation opened before the Special Counsel's appointment into "allegations that [then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions] made false statements to the United States Senate[,]" and confirmed the Special Counsel's authority to investigate that matter.
The Special Counsel structured the investigation in view of his power and authority "to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney." 28 C.F.R § 600.6. Like a U.S. Attorney's Office, the Special Counsel's Office considered a range of classified and unclassified information available to the FBI in the course of the Office's Russia investigation , and the Office structured that work around evidence for possible use in prosecutions of federal crimes (assuming that one or more crimes were identified that warranted prosecution). There was substantial evidence immediately available to the Special Counsel at the inception of the investigation in May 2017 because the FBI had , by that time, already investigated Russian election interference for nearly 10 months. The Special Counsel's Office exercised its judgment regarding what to investigate and did not, for instance, investigate every public report of a contact between the Trump Campaign and Russian-affiliated individuals and entities.
The Office has concluded its investigation into links and coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign. Certain proceedings associated with the Office's work remain ongoing. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office has transferred responsibility for those remaining issues to other components of the Department of Justice and FBI. Appendix D lists those transfers.
Two district courts confirmed the breadth of the Special Counsel's authority to investigate Russia election interference and links and/or coordination with the Trump Campaign. See United States v. Manafort , 312 F. Supp. 3d 60, 79-83 (D.D.C. 2018); United States v. Manafort, 321 F. Supp. 3d 640, 650-655 (E.D. Va. 2018). In the course of conducting that investigation, the Office periodically identified evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of the Special Counsel's authority established by the Acting Attorney General. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office referred that evidence to appropriate law enforcement authorities, principally other components of the Department of Justice and to the FBI. Appendix D summarizes those referrals.
* * *
To carry out the investigation and prosecution of the matters assigned to him , the Special Counsel assembled a team that at its high point included 19 attorneys — five of whom joined the Office from private practice and 14 on detail or assigned from other Department of Justice components. These attorneys were assisted by a filter team of Department lawyers and FBI personnel who screened material s obtained via court process for privileged information before turning those materials over to investigators; a support staff of three paralegals on detail from the Department's Antitrust Division; and an administrative staff of nine responsible for budget, finance, purchasing, human resources, records, facilities, security, information technology , and administrative support. The Special Counsel attorneys and support staff were co-located with and worked alongside approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, a paralegal, and professional staff assigned by the FBI to assist the Special Counsel's investigation. Those "assigned" FBI employees remained under FBI supervision at all times; the matters on which they assisted were supervised by the Special Counsel. 1
During its investigation the Office issued more than 2,800 subpoenas under the auspices of a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia; executed nearly 500 search-and-seizure warrants; obtained more than 230 orders for communications records under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d); obtained almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers ; made 13 requests to foreign governments pursuant to Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties; and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, including almost 80 before a grand jury.
* * *
From its inception, the Office recognized that its investigation could identify foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information relevant to the FBI's broader national security mission. FBI personnel who assisted the Office established procedures to identify and convey such information to the FBI. The FBI's Counterintelligence Division met with the Office regularly for that purpose for most Of the Office's tenure. For more than the past year, the FBI also embedded personnel at the Office who did not work on the Special Counsel's investigation, but whose purpose was to review the results of the investigation and to send — in writing — summaries of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to FBIHQ and FBI Field Offices. Those communications and other correspondence between the Office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not all of which is contained in this Volume. This Volume is a summary. It contains, in the Office's judgment, that information necessary to account for the Special Counsel's prosecution and declination decisions and to describe the investigation's main factual results.
II. RUSSIAN "ACTIVE MEASURES" SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
The first form of Russian election influence came principally from the Internet Research Agency, LLC (IRA), a Russian organization funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies he controlled, including Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering (collectively "Concord"). The IRA conducted social media operations targeted at large U.S. audiences with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system. These operations constituted "active measures" ([??]), a term that typically refers to operations conducted by Russian security services aimed at influencing the course of international affairs.
The IRA and its employees began operations targeting the United States as early as 2014. Using fictitious U.S. personas, IRA employees operated social media accounts and group pages designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and accounts, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists. Over time, these social media accounts became a means to reach large U.S. audiences. IRA employees travelled to the United States in mid-2014 on an intelligence-gathering mission to obtain information and photographs for use in their social media posts.
IRA employees posted derogatory information about a number of candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. By early to mid-2016, IRA operations included supporting the Trump Campaign and disparaging candidate Hillary Clinton. The IRA made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Some IRA employees, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated electronically with individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities, including the staging of political rallies. The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA's interference operation.
By the end of the 2016 U.S. election, the IRA had the ability to reach millions of U.S. persons through their social media accounts. Multiple IRA-controlled Facebook groups and Instagram accounts had hundreds of thousands of U.S. participants. IRA-controlled Twitter accounts separately had tens of thousands of followers, including multiple U.S. political figures who retweeted IRA-created content. In November 2017, a Facebook representative testified that Facebook had identified 470 IRA-controlled Facebook accounts that collectively made 80,000 posts between January 2015 and August 2017. Facebook estimated the IRA reached as many as 126 million persons through its Facebook accounts. In January 2018, Twitter announced that it had identified 3,814 IRA-controlled Twitter accounts and notified approximately 1.4 million people Twitter believed may have been in contact with an IRA-controlled account.
A. Structure of the Internet Research Agency
The organization quickly grew.
The growth of organization also led to a more detailed organizational structure.
Two individuals headed the IRA's management: its executive director Mikhail Burchik.
As early as the spring of 2014, the IRA began to hide its funding and activities.
B. Funding and Oversight from Concord and Prigozhin
Until at least February 2018, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two Concord companies funded the IRA. Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian businessman who served as the head of Concord.
Prigozhin was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in December 2016.
Numerous media sources have reported on Prigozhin's ties to Putin, and the two have appeared together in public photographs.
IRA employees were aware the Prigozhin was involved in the IRA's U.S. operations.
In May 2016, IRA employees, claiming to be U.S. social activists and administrators of Facebook groups, recruited U.S. persons to hold signs (including one in front of the White House) that read "Happy 55th Birthday Dear Boss," as an homage to (Prigozhin whose 55th birthday was on June 1, 2016).
C. The IRA Targets U.S. Elections
1. The IRA Ramps Up U.S. Operations As Early As 2014
The IRA's U.S. operations sought to influence public opinion through online media and forums. By the spring of 2014, the IRA began to consolidate U.S. operations within a single general department, known internally as the "Translator" [??] department.
IRA subdivided the Translator Department into different responsibilities, ranging from Operations on different social media platforms to analytics to graphics and IT.
IRA employees also traveled to the United States on intelligence-gathering missions. In June 2014, four IRA employees applied to the U.S. Department of State to enter the United States, while lying about the purpose of their trip and claiming to be four friends who had met at a party. Ultimately, two IRA employees-Anna Bogacheva and Aleksandra Krylova received visas and entered the United States on June 4, 2014.
Prior to traveling, Krylova and Bogacheva compiled itineraries and instructions For the trip.
2. U.S. Operations Through IRA-Controlled Social Media Accounts
Dozens of IRA employees were responsible for operating accounts and personas on different U.S. social media platforms. The IRA referred to employees assigned to operate the social media accounts as "specialists." Starting as early as 2014, the IRA's U.S. operations included social media specialists focusing on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. The IRA later added specialists who operated on Tumblr and Instagram accounts.
Initially, the IRA created social media accounts that pretended to be the personal accounts of U.S. persons. By early 2015, the IRA began to create larger social media groups or public social media pages that claimed (falsely) to be affiliated with U.S. political and grassroots organizations. In certain cases, the IRA created accounts that mimicked real U.S. organizations. For example, one IRA controlled Twitter account, @TEN_GOP, purported to be connected to the Tennessee Republican Party. More commonly, the IRA created accounts in the names of fictitious U.S. organizations and grassroots groups and used these accounts to pose as anti-immigration groups, Tea Party activists, Black Lives Matter protestors, and other U.S. social and political activists.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Meuller Report"
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Table of Contents
Introduction to Volume I, 1,
Executive Summary to Volume I, 4,
I. The Special Counsel's Investigation, 11,
II. Russian "Active Measures" Social Media Campaign, 14,
III. Russian Hacking and Dumping Operations, 36,
IV. Russian Government Links To and Contacts With The Trump Campaign, 66,
V. Prosecution and Declination Decisions, 174,