Mueller considered charging Donald Trump Jr with computer crimes, new version of report states

BuzzFeed FOIA request leads to pages of 2019 report being unredacted

John Bowden
Tuesday 15 February 2022 13:33 GMT
President Trump claims 'total exoneration' in Mueller report

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Louise Thomas

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A newly published version of Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia reveals that he considered recommending charges against Donald Trump’s eldest son related to hacked data obtained by Wikileaks.

The Justice Department published a new, less-redacted version of the 2019 investigation’s findings over the weekend after BuzzFeed News filed a FOIA request for some of the redacted information. Among the newly public portions is the revelations that Donald Trump Jr attempted to gain access to a website denouncing his family’s alleged ties to Russia via a password stolen by hackers and published by Wikileaks.

Donald Trump Jr apparently came quite close to an indictment: The report stated that while Mr Mueller’s team believed they could prove every element of a misdemeanour had occurred, it would be difficult to secure a conviction given that the password had been released publicly by Wikileaks.

“In this instance, Trump Jr. accessed the website shortly before it went public using a ‘guessed’ password that, although it was sent to him individually, had also been posted by WikiLeaks to its public Twitter account, such that anyone following WikiLeaks could have gotten the same preview of the website that Trump Jr. did,” it reads.

“Given that Trump Jr. did not himself initiate the plan to access the website or guess the password, the absence of evidence that his acts caused any damage to the website or obtained valuable information, the technical nature of the violation, and the minimal punishment that a misdemeanor conviction could be expected to carry in these circumstances, the Office decided against pursuing charges,” Mr Mueller’s report continued.

Wikileaks, the site founded by Julian Assange, became the host of information stolen from the Democratic National Committee and other sources, allegedly by operatives working for Russia, during the 2016 election. Some of the documents contained politically-damaging information about inner deliberations of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC.

Donald Trump Jr
Donald Trump Jr (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

News that his own son came close to an indictment was ignored by the former president. Instead, he has spent the past several days claiming that court filings alleging that a lone tech executive exploited his company’s relationship with the White House to analyse supposed connections between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank proved that the Hillary Clinton campaign was somehow involved in an effort to spy on his office. There’s no evidence that actually occurred, other than an attorney who represented the executive identified in the filings having previously worked for Ms Clinton’s campaign.

The former president and his allies have continued to hope for some sort of vindication against Hillary Clinton and her allies after the years-long investigation into his own campaign headed by Mr Mueller ended up being politically damaging and resulted in criminal charges for some of his allies; none of the charges were related to work for Russian operatives.

On Monday, Mr Trump swiped at the House committee investigating the bloody assault on Congress last year and claimed that they should instead be investigating the unrelated accusations that John Durham, the special counsel reviewing the FBI’s handling of the Trump investigation, had made in court on Monday.

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