politics robert mueller

‘I Feel Compelled To Respond’: Robert Mueller Hits Back After Stone Commutation

"We made every decision in all our cases, based solely on the facts and in accordance with the rule of law".

By Robert S. Mueller III, as originally published by The Washington Post

The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.

Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names — fronts for Russian military intelligence — also released Clinton campaign emails.

Following FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination in May 2017, the acting attorney general named me as special counsel and directed the special counsel’s office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The order specified lines of investigation for us to pursue, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. One of our cases involved Stone, an official on the campaign until mid-2015 and a supporter of the campaign throughout 2016. Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

Uncovering and tracing Russian outreach and interference activities was a complex task. The investigation to understand these activities took two years and substantial effort. Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes.

Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.


9 comments on “‘I Feel Compelled To Respond’: Robert Mueller Hits Back After Stone Commutation

  1. Another whose words must be said, as the others who have felt compelled to comment on their time near this administration. Sad,very sad.

  2. Curt Tyner

    Does it feel like we have lost our way to such a extent that hypocrisy shoved right in our collective faces has taken the rule of law that defines us away. Anyone who is “normal” should see how truly fu*ked up every system we cherish that is manipulated and cheated so that we (as in most of us) are left stunned by the shear depth of our loss. This republican and democratic incompetence will and has killed many who didn’t have to die. Trump is a true expression of all that is dishonest about where we are as a country. The timing of his appearance is truly unfortunate. We could use a lot of self examination about now.

    • The only remedy that remains is a decisive electoral change in November 2020. The current president and the current leadership in the Senate have no interest in ensuring the rule of law. This is a demonstrable fact. While there is plenty of room to criticize Democrats as well, it is clear that the immediate need is to remove Republicans from power. Mitt Romney appears to be the only prominent Republican who is willing to stand up for principles at this point.

      • There are many prominent Republicans out of office who are vocally castigating their own party.
        Whether they can sway Republican electorate is another matter. However if they significantly sway Independents that may be enough at this time.

    • A start to that self-examination has been undertaken. However, tearing down our history and scrapping some statues is not the answer. What is needed is to stand up and embrace our history. From the first permanent settlement in 1620 until today, that’s 400 years, Americans, using any excuse they could come up with, have profited from the work of millions of kidnapped slaves and committed genocide on millions of indigenous people whose land and property we craved and didn’t wish to pay for. This week even the SCOTUS said, enough is enough and declared that half of OK is still actually “Indian” land. The people involved there have actually been robbed three times, first in Fla, then in OK and finally when they were denied the billions of trust funds the government has held from them for decades after we stole their resources. Settlers have lived here continuously for 400 years but women have only been permitted to vote for a quarter of that time. Authorities claiming certain rights have practiced forced sterilization of women and persons of color for more than a century. Even after the slaves were freed American terror organizations such as the KKK have threatened and murdered free citizens, and do so even today. American has notably created much economic wealth for some, is a rich country, blah, blah. But at what cost in human lives and misery? America may be better that Saudi Arabia as an ethical bastion for human rights, but to complain about China’s treatment of their citizens, while justified, still represents utter hypocrisy coming from us. America has in the past and continues today to extract a steep human toll to accumulate the wealth it has amassed. It’s time to really become the place we claim to be. What we are doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

  3. With Trump having a 96% approval within the GOP, it seems clear that the party is now the party of Trump. Those in the GOP who oppose him are a tiny, inconsequential group, who aside from Mitt R, are mostly found on cable news bashing him, and have no power within the party. If Trump is dumped and there is a Blue Wave it will be interesting to see what emerges from the ashes. For an outside observer, at least in terms of entertainment value, re-electing Trump would be fun to watch, at least from a perspective of how a post-election America would process that given what would have transpired in the 4 months ahead of the election to make that happen. In short, what set of facts would cause the country to move away from DEMs to the GOP? It is not so much a skepticism about the Blue Wave as much as wanting to see what would happen if DEMs were frustrated again and had to live with Trump for another 4 years.

    • Vlad is Mad – indeed. What a shocking message he writes. Oh the “entertainment” he looks forward to having! Does he have any idea how perilous is the current state of affairs in the USA already? To make such a shallow response is unworthy of this otherwise almost always serious and thoughtful site. Shame on Vlad.

  4. Trump’s presidency campaign was such a farse. It is amazing (I do not live in the US nor am I from there) that the citizenry believed that an “outsider” could “solve all the problems”. It is baffling how citizens elected a person who had never managed public funds before, let alone hold any form of public office or even remotely work within a public officer’s mandate. The chaos that unfolded in the first year, with the massive staff turnover, was enough to any observer to realize what a disaster it is to elect an ‘outsider’ with 0 public office experience. Managing a government requires experience in government! And so, obviously, without any experience whatsoever, this person would break all the rules and laws, since, of course, they do not know them

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