Some Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump have been railing against Republicans for admitting that they haven’t read former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report for the Russia investigation and for saying that they don’t plan to. But journalist and Trump critic Jed Shugerman takes a different approach in an in-depth piece published in the Daily Beast this week: rather than attacking Republicans and Trump supporters for not bothering to read the report, Shugerman argues that Mueller’s report isn’t as damning of the president and his allies as it should have been — and that Mueller is downplaying the importance of some key events.
“The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts or even the basics of writing right,” Shugerman asserts. “When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this.”
In his report, Mueller concluded that the 2016 Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians, although questionable, didn’t rise to the level of a full-fledged criminal conspiracy. But Shugerman views Mueller’s analysis as flawed.
“It seems Mueller did not hire any legal experts with experience in campaign finance regulation,” Shugerman complains. “Given that this investigation was about campaign crimes, this appears to a revealing oversight with serious consequences.”
Shugerman goes on to say that Mueller’s “errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia.” And the Daily Beast writer adds that Mueller “failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, for felony campaign coordination.”
In 2018, Manafort was vigorously prosecuted in federal court for a long list of financial crimes thanks to Mueller’s investigation — and Gates became the prosecution’s star witness. But neither of them was accused of “felony campaign coordination,” Shugerman writes.
Shugerman, in his article, goes on to list and describe, in detail, interactions between Trump’s campaign and Russians in 2016 — and those interactions, he believes, are more damning than Mueller concludes in his report.
For example, Shugerman asserts, “Mueller should have concluded that both Manafort and Gates engaged in felony campaign coordination, and he should have indicted Manafort for it. Manafort is a lawyer with decades of experience working for presidential campaigns: it would be less difficult to establish knowing and willful violations. And Manafort’s extraordinary record of lying to prosecutors — and coordinating his lies with Trump’s lawyers — would help prove the case as an inference of consciousness of guilt.”
Shugerman concludes his piece by stressing that when Mueller publicly testifies before two committees in the House of Representatives on July 17, he hopes members of Congress will address some of the ways in which his report falls short — and why the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians three years ago were more damning than the report indicates.
“Given Mueller’s failure and Trump’s exploitation of that failure,” Shugerman stresses, “it is now Congress’ duty to the public, the candidates under investigation and future candidates to identify the law clearly and to explain that some of this behavior was a civil violation — and in fact, a criminal violation.”