Friday, April 19, 2019

Contrary to AG William Barr's claims about administration's cooperation with investigators, some Trump officials discarded "relevant communications" that might have changed outcome of Mueller Report

William Barr at press conference

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, at a press conference yesterday morning before release of the Mueller Report, repeatedly proclaimed there was no collusion and no obstruction by anyone connected to the Trump administration in the Russiagate scandal. Barr based his obstruction finding largely on a determination that "the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims."

Barr went even further, stating: "The President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation."

There is a slight problem with the words in quotation marks above -- they aren't true, and the Mueller Report itself says so.

Of course, Barr ignores the most obvious evidence that Trump had "corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation" -- that Trump refused to sit for an interview with the the Special Counsel's team, plus Trump's written answers to questions have been described as "inadequate." But Barr's cherry-picking, obviously designed to deceive the public, goes way beyond that.

On page 10, the Mueller Report addresses a number of events that point to contacts between Trump Campaign representatives and Russian officials. In other words, this was about possible collusion, also referred to as "conspiracy" and "coordination." Specifically addressed were contacts between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Trump officials, including former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). The report concludes that these interactions were "brief," "non-substantive," or in "passing."

Was the Mueller team, however, able to reach these conclusions based on a complete evidentiary record? Did they, as Barr claimed, have "unfettered access" to key documents? No, they did not. From the last two paragraphs on page 10 of the Mueller Report:

Further, the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated-including some associated with the Trump Campaign---deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts.

Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.

In other words, some sources -- including some associated with the Trump Campaign -- intentionally took steps to discard "relevant communications" (emails, text messages?) ensuring the Special Counsel did not have a complete record. And the Mueller team admits these gaps in the record could, if filled, provide important new light on the investigation's outcome.

Here are just a few questions that immediately come to mind:

* Who were the individuals who deleted information or obscured it by using certain communications apps?

* Did these individuals make such deletions on their own or did someone instruct them to do it?

* Would it be possible for computer-forensics experts to recover all, or some, of the missing data?

* Could such deletion constitute a crime under the Federal Records Act or similar statute? Many conservatives thought Hillary Clinton committed a felony regarding retention of emails? What about when members of the Trump Administration deliberately discard "relevant communications" that are public property?

Barr's misstatement about Team Trump's response to the collusion investigation was not the biggest whopper the AG dropped on the American public yesterday. There is at least one other that is much bigger than that. We will have details in an upcoming post.


Anonymous said...

If Trumpies were confident of being exonerated, why were they deleting emails and texts?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like criminal activity to me.

Anonymous said...


This might be the most important post you've ever written. It has international importance, and needs to get out there. I think it generally has been missed by the press.

Anonymous said...

This is destroying evidence, pure and simple.

legalschnauzer said...

Roll Call has an article about the destroying-evidence issue. It went up about three hours ago and is the only post I've seen on the subject besides ours.

legalschnauzer said...

From Roll Call:

In investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian individuals, Mueller’s team ran into technological hurdles, in addition to old-fashioned ones such as unavailable foreign witnesses, according to the report.

The special counsel’s office “learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated — including some associated with the Trump Campaign deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long term retention of data or communication records,” the report said. “In such cases the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with the other known facts.”

Apps such as Snapchat, for example, delete messages once they have been viewed, and the company says it deletes all messages from its servers after 30 days. WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Viber are some of the apps that offer end-to-end encryption of messages. The report does not mention which individuals may have used such apps.

legalschnauzer said...

The scandal that took down former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, in part, involved his use (and his staff's use) of a secretive texting app called Confide:

legalschnauzer said...

From the KC Star on Eric Greitens and Confide:

Greitens’ explanation of how he used Confide lines up with a handful of his senior staff who were interviewed by the attorney general’s office. Greitens’ staff said Confide was used to discuss their government jobs, but described the nature of their Confide communications as consisting entirely of non-substantive matters such as logistics and scheduling.

All told, 12 senior members of Greitens staff have admitted they had Confide accounts associated with their personal cell phones. Greitens also has an account under the user name "Er Robert."

The Star first reported in early December that Greitens and his senior staff were using Confide. The revelation sparked an investigation by Attorney General Josh Hawley into whether Confide was being used to destroy public records.

legalschnauzer said...

The Missouri State Highway Patrol used a secretive phone app called Silent Phone for about four years:

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle the crew was holding a round table discussion. Mary Mac uttered that Mike would never clear his name because the Mueller Report did not contain any information that would help Mike. Captain Marshall replied,"We got no money going down the mountain." Mary Mac asked the Captain to please explain. The Captain replied that Mike knew there was no collusion between Trump and the Russians. His plan was for Cliff to whisper in Trump's ear that the Obama/Clinton DOJ started the investigation to cover-up the Bingo Trial Corruption. The Captain continued that Mike will acquire his reward going back up the mountain when the new Attorney General pins the collusion probe on the Obama/Clinton DOJ hold-outs. Ms Chapelle interrupted the Captain to remind him that the Russians had started the probe to protect their assets. Ms Chapelle added that Obama's Attorney General had deceived him concerning Campus Crest. The Captain replied that Gov. Bentley had given Mike a Letter of Marque and Reprisal to capture the Truth about the Bingo Trials and Trump's Wrath will accomplish this. The Captain was interrupted by Dr.Foreman entering the galley. Dr.Foreman handed the Captain a package and said," The General brought this to you. I also need 4 volunteers to man two stretchers." the Captain asked who the second stretcher was for and Dr. Foreman replied that they were both for Theodora's luggage. He added that she is also seeking political asylum. Admiral Tyron asked the Captain if he was familiar with the PCF 94 Vessel that is bivouacking on the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry. The Captain replied that it was a Vietnam Era "Swift Boat". Ms Chapelle reminded the Captain that a Letter of Marque was issued to a Ship and not the Captain and inquired that since he now commandeered The Eliza Battle, did he have a plan to capture the Truth about the Abandoned Marines of VMA aw 224. The Captain replied that the Truth had been captured, but was held hostage by American Traitors and enemy combatants for political gain and that the Eliza Battle had set the Truth free. Ms Chapelle asked the Captain to please explain. The Captain replied that Ms Chapelle had thought that the Captain was being extremely harsh towards McCain, but actually the Captain had set McCain free. Elements of McCain's election committee had duped him into posing for a photo with a foreign adversary with the Abducted Marines of VMA aw 224 in the background. The Captain continued that during the months of May and June 2017, Roger's Blog revealed the Truth about the Marines of VMA aw 224 and on July 27,2017, McCain performed the defiant act of a Man whom has had a great burden removed from his shoulders when he voted thumbs-down to Trump's Affordable Care Act legislation. The Captain continued that Future Historians will record the reason Senator Grassley surrendered the Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee to Senator Graham in Jan. 2019.