The redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report of Russian interference in the 2016 election has been made public. We discuss it all on America Uncensored.
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NO COLLUSION: Making Sense Of The Mueller Report
April 19th, 2019
William Barr: Thanks to the special council’s thorough investigation. We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes, did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American for that matter.
Robert Bianchi: And what I liked about what Barr did here, and there’s some things I didn’t like, I just call it as I see it, but what I did like was that elected to the DOJ, not himself, to make the decisions. He gave the guidelines as to what should be redacted. Those guidelines aren’t unusual, but he did not himself have any involvement per se, in the redaction. He let other people; nonpolitical people do that.
Stephanie: Joining me now is a Law and Crime Network host and a former Prosecutor and a Criminal Defense Attorney, Bob Bianchi. Bob, thank you so much for being here. And today’s a pretty big day. The redacted version of the special counsel, Robert Mueller’s Russia report dropped. This is all of the buzz today, 400 pages. I’m not sure if you got through all 400 pages, but I know that you’ve definitely skimmed through it, right?
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, absolutely. I mean there’s a lot, there’s a lot to it. And I concentrated mainly on the obstruction pieces since that seems to be the wobblier part of all this, given the fact that they indicated there was no collusion, i. e. in the legal world, conspiracy with regard to the Trump campaign and Russians.
Stephanie: So, what are the biggest takeaways for you? Obviously, we know over the past two years, President Trump and anyone in his orbit have pretty much been dragged through the mud saying that they were Russian operatives, that they were taking direction from the Kremlin, but clearly that wasn’t true. And this report again is evidence of that.
Robert Bianchi: Yes, Stephanie. I think that we, I, the people are politicizing this based upon whether you like Trump or you don’t like Trump. And where you sit is where you stand in terms of the ideas here. But as a Prosecutor, let’s, let’s flip it for your audience a little bit and say this was Hillary Clinton, that wanted this investigation. And they get information from a foreign intelligence source that indicates that somebody, either Clinton and or her campaign or working with foreign nationals in order to influence the campaign, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican doesn’t make a difference. The FBI is an investigative agency. This is a profoundly problematic thing for our democracy. So, it’s no shock they would open up a file up. They didn’t, they would be considered malfeasant for not having done so. And I think with the public gets concerned about in the political world is that their guy or their girl gets investigated, that that they believe automatically means that that person is going to be found guilty or responsible. I opened up many political corruption investigations and at the end of the day I had to do it. If I didn’t, people would think, well, you’re just being favorable to one side or the other and in 95% of those cases there was not sufficient evidence to move forward in order to bring charges or an indictment. And that’s what I think is really fascinating to me about the Mueller report. I think it was very thoroughly done. I thought it was very professional, but people also mix up the idea of what Prosecutors do when they make decisions to either prosecuted or the Declination, that is the refusal to prosecute. They have to prove a case in a very specific way to 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt. They had to do that with OJ, and OJ was found not guilty, but that doesn’t mean that OJ didn’t do it. A civil jury with a lesser burden or proof of preponderance of the evidence found on the same exact evidence that in fact he was responsible. So, there’s a huge difference between proving a case beyond the reasonable doubt and the truth.
Stephanie: How do you compare our Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the report versus the entire report? Obviously, this is a redacted version. There were things cut out. I actually expected more to be blocked and cut out from this report, but they were pretty generous.
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, I was in heartened to see that, Stephanie. I was under the belief that we were just going to be looking at a lot of blank pages. I, and what I liked about what Barr did here, there’s some things I didn’t like. I just call it as I see it. But what I did like was that he left it to the DOJ, not himself, to make the decision. He gave the guidelines as to what should be redacted. Those guidelines aren’t unusual, but he did not himself have any involvement per se, in the redaction. He let other people; nonpolitical people do that. So, we got a lot more data and information then I expected, and I think that’s healthy for our country.
Stephanie: We heard a lot from Rudy Giuliani and he, you know, is still, again, talking about how this whole investigation came to be. He’s also talking about how unfairly the president was treated and he was talking about the Donald Trump Jr, Trump tower meeting with some Russians and was basically saying that this was a setup.
Rudy Giuliani: That meeting was a set up. I mean, the day before the meeting, the Russian woman, Natalia met with the person who ran Fusion GPS. Boy, that’s a coincidence, right? And this guy testified under oath. They never talked about the meeting they’re going to have the next day. And then she met with him the day of the meeting and then she met with him the day after the meeting. They shut up the meeting on the pretext that it’s going to be about dirt on Hillary. Nobody has any dirt on Hillary. They don’t talk about dirt on Hillary. They talked about the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions. And then they walk out and they never really seriously call back and follow up on it, and several of them are counterintelligence operators. That was a pure set up.
Stephanie: Do you think there is any truth in anything to Giuliani is saying?
Robert Bianchi: No. The June 9th 2016 meeting at Trump tower with Junior, Jared Kushner, Manafort, [inaudible] a Russian operative for the government, which is very clear to me and other Russians, is supported by the emails that were secured where it indicated it was very clear that that meeting was for the purpose of securing dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now that is technically a crime to attempt to do that. Where people get confused about that is that they say, well, they never got anything. Well, they’ll never got anything, that defense doesn’t work for anyone else in the world, especially to a little guy. It’s the attempt to do it. Now as a Prosecutor, I can decline to prosecute if I feel maybe they were naïve. Maybe they didn’t get what was going on. They didn’t understand the gravity of what happened. And in fact, because they did not get anything and it did not have an impact on the election, I would be very weary to bring charges against people under those circumstances. I’ve done this many times where I would write to the political establishment to say, hey guys, FYI, why I’m declining to prosecute. This kind of conduct cannot occur on the, in the future. You are on notice that the attempt to get information from foreign nationals to effect an election, whether it affects it or not, it’s technically a crime. Don’t do it again. But you know what? Listen, it was like the Hillary Clinton investigation when I was opining about that. The mere fact that you may have a technical violation of a law of a high level authority figure doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to prosecute the case because you’ve really got to have your i’s dotted, your t’s crossed, and you better be absolutely certain you could prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt before you go after such high level officials. And I think what Mueller was saying in his report, to get back to that, on the obstruction piece was here are 10 areas that we find either alone and or in combination with one another that while we’re not doing a traditional prosecutorial analysis, Stephanie, I’m telling you what the verbiage is here. Look at page one and two, the report, they can’t do a traditional prosecutorial analysis here because there’s a DOJ memo that doesn’t allow the prosecution of a sitting President. And I think Butler was very circumspect and correct in saying that it would be unfair to hold Donald Trump accountable and say he committed a crime, if in fact that’s what he wants to do. And I’m not saying that’s what he wants to do but imagine how unfair this would be to the President. To just say, we believe you committed a crime. We can’t prosecute you because of the DOJ memo. And now Donald Trump is left with no recourse to be able to defend himself. And I say that whether it’s just Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. That would be an unfair thing and I think it would be detrimental to the national security interests of this country.
Stephanie: But it’s not, it wasn’t illegal for a campaign to collect dirt. I mean, campaigns did that all the time. And also, I mean, if we’re talking about that, you can look at the DNC and the Clinton campaign paying a British spy to come up with all of these really salacious claims for the, the Steele Dossier, that then went to buzz feed that then was used, to bring to the [inaudible] court. I mean, that doesn’t seem right either. Obviously, that’s not in this report. But there was a couple things that stood out to me that we’re finding out that people are talking about would be that the report revealed that Trump was worried about the Mueller probe and how it would paralyze him domestically and abroad. I mean, to have this cloud over your Presidency for your first two years is, it’s not a great position to be in if you’re the President of the United States.
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, well, and that kind of goes to the idea that before you can charge somebody with obstruction, even with those intent points step Mueller punted over to Congress, you have to show a corrupt intent. It has to be a corruptive intent now, if you don’t like the idea that let’s assume for the sake of argument, here’s how I’m putting it, that we know there’s no underline crime here. That’s a big factor in favor of the President. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be charged with obstruction, but it’s a biggie in terms of the analysis. And let’s assume that he says this is a witch hunt, and I’m being prevailed upon, and this is a lie, and I can’t move forward with my administration because of this constant cloud over me. Well, he has article two powers to be able to exercise his authority over these individuals. And if he fired Comey, say for example, or wanting to get rid of Mueller because he felt that that was the appropriate thing to do to move forward, as opposed to covering up for a crime, then you don’t have a corrupt purpose and it would be completely lawful. And I think that’s kind of the flavor of what the report says there is that you have to get into the mind of an individual. And as Prosecutors when you do that, if there are alternative explanations as to why a person is using their authority and doing the things that they’re doing, and it could be that it’s in the, for a non-nefarious purpose. You can’t, in my mind prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt without a smoking gun.
Stephanie: What are your thoughts on this? They’re saying that Trump attempted to influence Mueller’s investigation, but ultimately failed because his aids refused to comply with orders.
Robert Bianchi: Well, listen, this is an interesting piece too, the fact that they McGann and, Corey Lewandowski and other individuals refused to follow with the President was asking them to do, is really close to the line. I mean, it’s not so much what they did, it’s what his intent was when he was asking them to do that. But again, I go back to the idea that if he was asking them to do that because he believed he was being unfairly treated, that his administration was being scuttled merely for the purposes of politics, as opposed to the, you know, looking into a legitimate or lawful investigation, then you’re going to, as a Prosecutor in my mind, not be able to convince 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a corrupt intent in those things. So, what Mueller did was he took those intent pieces and said either individually or alone, it may or may not be, we can’t exonerate him. And if we could exonerate him, we would, which tells you they felt, or at least, some on that team felt, all of those things combined together could have amounted to a case of a corrupt intent.
Stephanie: I believe, Giuliani was saying that like this case necessarily. Like how would, how would they go about exonerating him in this case? Was that the duty of this case or wasn’t it really just to show that there was no Russia collusion?
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, no, there were two pieces to the investigation, but you bring up a really good question. Let’s go back to James Comey, when he got up with that ill-fated news conference where he exonerated, if you will, Hillary Clinton. Which was crazy because I wasn’t his job to do that, but he then went on to personally attack her for being reckless, which is clearly outside the parameters of me, as the head of an agency, willing to give a press conference. You would never make those gratuitous personal comments about your feelings about them being anything other than guilty of a crime. So here we have an alternative scenario where they’re not going to accuse him of a crime and it would be inappropriate for them to stand up there and say, look, we have all this evidence here. We believe it’s a crime, but we’re not going to charge him because of the DOJ memo. I think Mueller pulled back from that and said, here’s where we got, you guys in Congress decide what it is you want to do. I think that that was the appropriate way to resolve that issue.
Stephanie: What about the President not being subpoenaed for an interview with Mueller? We know that his team, you know, he was given some good recommendations to not, because this could have set himself up for a disaster because if he says one wrong thing, if we can take it out of context and it could be spinned into some sort of lie.
Robert Bianchi: Well, you know, since we, the caveman, had the fifth amendment right to remain silent. And I’m kidding. I’m being facetious when I say that, we as lawyers say all the time, and as Prosecutors we get as a famous supreme court decision that said, the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent not only protects the guilty but protects the innocent as well. It would have been, in my opinion, defense lawyer malpractice to bring any client in under these circumstances, especially when you don’t know what it is that they have. Because you, like you indicate, may inadvertently say something where somebody could say, now you’re lying and obstructing justice. Or you may walk yourself into an element of the offense that they did not have and they couldn’t prove, but your statement locks you in. I can’t count how many times as a Prosecutor if it weren’t for the fact that the defendant or the target at the time spoke to us, we never would have had a case against them.
Stephanie: Well, and especially considering what happened to some of the people in President Trump’s orbit, I could see, I could see why they would have given him that advice. Now. Lastly, Giuliani thinks it would be good if Mueller testified before Congress because now there are some angry democrats. They’re not happy with the report. They weren’t happy with the summary. The, I mean really, they’re just not happy that they have, some of them had been pushing a conspiracy theory for the past two years that President Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians. So now they’re going after Mueller. Is that, what do you think, what would you advise Mueller to do?
Robert Bianchi: Well, I think Mueller should testify. I think it’s important that the American people hear the process upon which he went about what he did when he did. I would suspect though if that report were more scathing or if it came out and said the crimes were committed, Mr. Giuliani would say that he should not testify. So, where you’re at right now, Stephanie, is a political thing. It’s no longer legal thing. It’s one side wanting to champion something, if it’s good for them and if it’s not good for them, the shoes on the other foot. If Mueller came out with a report that was more scathing and, and more problematic, he’d be a bum. But now that it comes out with something that’s a halfway decent, if you will, if you want to look at it that way, now he’s a hero. And it’s unfortunate that there’s such, there’s such intellectual dishonesty where we as lawyers, as Prosecutors, even as defense lawyers, try to get to with a quote unquote truth is, but make no mistake about it, the Democrats are going to make a lot of the fact that he did not indicate that he was exonerated from the obstruction. And when you get into the political process, you don’t have to prove the case beyond the reasonable doubt. You just need to prove the case in a court of public opinion. So, I assume that this is going to go on and on and on with respect to these obstruction charges.
Stephanie: Well, thank you so much for your insight, Bob. We really appreciate it.
Robert Bianchi: You got it, Stephanie. Thank you.