by

Paul Waldman:

To that end, here are just some of the most important things that have become clear, laid out as simply as I can:

  • The Russian government very much wanted Donald Trump to win the 2016 election, and in order to make it happen they mounted a comprehensive effort that involved both social media manipulation and the hacking of Democratic email accounts.

  • As a result of this investigation, five Trump aides—his national security adviser, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, a foreign policy adviser, and his personal lawyer—have been convicted or pled guilty to crimes. Dozens of Russian nationals have been indicted for their part in the scheme to help Trump get elected.  

  • On the campaign trail, Donald Trump publicly implored Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That very day, they attempted to do so, without apparent success.

  • Russia did, however, successfully obtain emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, which it released through Wikileaks to coincide with key events in the campaign to maximize the assistance it would provide the Trump campaign. In the last month of the campaign, Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in public, drawing maximal attention to the Russian government’s efforts.

  • While Trump was running for president, he was pursuing a spectacularly lucrative hotel deal in Moscow. He lied about it repeatedly, claiming he had no business interests in Russia; when the lie was discovered, he said, “There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?” At the same time as he was pursuing this deal, Trump called for cuts to U.S. sanctions on Russia.

  • When Trump’s son Don Jr. was approached by an acquaintance suggesting a meeting with a group of Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” he eagerly agreed and assembled Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to join in.

  • When the infamous Trump Tower meeting was revealed, Trump personally dictated a false statement about it to deceive the public, claiming it was for the purpose of discussing adoption of Russian children. When that lie was discovered, he claimed that “most people would have taken that meeting,” which is false.

  • During the campaign and transition, “Donald J. Trump and at least 17 campaign officials and advisers had contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries,” adding up to over 100 contacts in all.

  • According to former FBI director James Comey, President Trump asked him to go easy on Michael Flynn, who was being investigated for lying to FBI agents about Russia. Trump later told both Lester Holt of NBC News and the Russian ambassador and foreign minister that he fired Comey in order to make the Russia investigation disappear. (“I faced great pressure because of Russia,” he told the Russians. “That’s taken off.”)

  • Trump reportedly also asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to intervene with the FBI to quash the investigation of Flynn.

  • Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the almost universally accepted conclusion that Russia attacked our electoral process in order to help him become president, most vividly at a shocking press conference in Helsinki in which he took Vladimir Putin’s denials at face value.

The fact that Mueller decided not to pursue a prosecution of the president changes none of this.