Fact-checking two Tulsi Gabbard claims about the Barr Letter and the Mueller Report

Republished from Apollo Corner

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, claimed that now-former Special Counsel Robert “Bob” Mueller found that no collusion took place between the 2016 campaign of now-President Donald Trump and the Russian government, and that Mueller found Trump not guilty of collusion:

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It is important to note that the full report of the Special Counsel’s findings (henceforth referred to as the Mueller Report) has not yet been publicly released in full, and that only a four-page summary of the Muller Report authored by U.S. Attorney General William “Bill” Barr (henceforth referred to as the Barr Letter) is currently publicly available. I will also note that I, the author of this blog post, am not an attorney, and I do not claim to be an attorney. I will also note that I am currently undecided on who to support for the Democratic presidential nomination next year.

There are two major parts to the Barr Letter. The second of the two parts deals with allegations that Trump obstructed justice, which is not the subject of either of Tulsi’s claims. The first of the two parts deals with allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to aid the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election to the political benefit of Trump, which is the subject of both of Tulsi’s claims.

I will first examine Tulsi’s claim that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russian government. On the second page of the Barr Letter, the Barr Letter quotes a portion of the not-yet-released Mueller Report, which states, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”; a footnote at the bottom of the second page of the Barr Letter described the definition of “coordination” that Mueller used during his investigation as “an “agreement – tacit or express – between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.””. It is unclear what the underlying meaning of “did not establish” is in the context of the Mueller investigation, since, due to the full Mueller Report not being publicly available at this time, it is not clear what evidence, if any, was considered by Mueller’s office during the investigation in regards to the allegations of collusion, and, therefore, it is not clear whether there was no evidence supporting the allegations of collusion, or there was not enough evidence supporting the allegations of collusion to warrant criminal charges against members of the Trump Campaign for crimes related to collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government.

Based on the available facts, the truthfulness of Tulsi Gabbard’s claim that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is not yet determined. A release of the full Mueller Report is necessary to determine whether Tulsi’s claim can be proven to be true or false.

I will now examine Tulsi’s claim that Trump was found not guilty of conspiring with a foreign government to interfere with U.S. elections. In regards to this claim, it is important to note that there is a significant difference between a criminal investigation by a prosecutor, which Mueller was during the time that the Special Counsel probe was active, and a criminal trial. A criminal trial in the U.S. federal jurisdiction is an adversarial proceeding in which one side is a prosecuting authority representing the “United States of America”, which is how the side that is levying the criminal charges is listed in a federal indictment, and the other side is/are the defendant(s), who are individual(s) or entit(y/ies) who have been charged by the prosecuting authority, with either a jury or, if a bench trial, the judge presiding over the trial, delivering a verdict either convicting (i.e., finding guilty) or acquitting (i.e. finding not guilty) the defendant(s). Tulsi’s claim has the implication that Trump was actually charged by either Mueller’s office or a different prosecutorial authority and was acquired in a criminal trial, which is not the case in regards to the Mueller investigation. There was never a criminal trial in which Trump was charged with collusion-related crimes; instead, there were simply no charges filed against Trump for collusion-related crimes or any other crimes.

Based on the available facts, Tulsi Gabbard’s claim that President Donald Trump was found not guilty of collusion is absolutely false. A false rating would not adequately describe how false Tulsi’s claim is, since there was never a criminal trial in which Trump could have been found guilty or not guilty of collusion-related crimes, and, therefore, no basis of truth to Tulsi’s claim exists.