Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 448-page redacted Mueller report that was released Thursday is a sprawling document based on hundreds of witness interviews and thousands of subpoenas — and its deeply sourced conclusions have already been subject to spin attempts from President Trump's legal team and administration as well as congressional Democrats.

What you need to know: The report largely refrains from making any grand, sweeping conclusions about Trump's conduct — especially on possible obstruction of justice, where Mueller's investigators made a point of not absolving him completely. It's not a great outcome for the president — but it also doesn't seem to contain any unexpected bombshells that might end his presidency, either.

1. The report doesn't find that Trump obstructed justice, but it also specifically doesn't exonerate him.

  • Mueller's team compiled 10 different episodes where Trump may have potentially committed obstruction of justice.
  • The report sets out from the start that the investigation accepted the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel's 2000 conclusion that a sitting president could not be charged or indicted with a crime. But it also notes that it "recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct."
  • The final words of the document are most telling: "Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

2. There was always a reason the potential episodes of obstruction of justice were inconclusive.

  • For example, the report says Trump told then-White House Communications director Hope Hicks and others not to disclose information about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign officials and a Russian attorney. But Mueller wrote that "the evidence does not establish" that Trump was specifically trying to prevent Mueller's team or Congress from obtaining the emails setting up the meeting — which is the only way his actions could have been considered obstruction.

3. Many of Trump's potential efforts to obstruct the investigations against him failed after staffers rebuffed him.

  • Mueller's team found "multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations."
  • The report specifically cites one-on-one meetings between Trump and top-level staffers where the president directed them to curtail investigations. For example, he asked then-White House counsel Don McGahn to have Mueller fired and requested that former staffer Corey Lewandowski ask then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of the Russia investigation.
  • The investigation ultimately found that Trump's efforts to influence it "were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."

4. Congress can still act against Trump on obstruction charges.

  • Mueller might have punted on concluding whether or not Trump committed obstruction of justice, but he leaves the door open for Congress to do so, writing that it "can validly regulate the President's exercise of official duties to prohibit actions motivated by a corrupt intent to obstruct justice."
  • That section of the report contains a lengthy constitutional analysis arguing that a congressional move against Trump wouldn't undermine his executive power outlined under Article II.

5. Mueller's team wasn't happy with Trump's written responses — and wanted an in-person interview — but ultimately believed their other sourcing was enough.

  • Upon receiving Trump's written answers in late 2018, Mueller's team notified Trump's lawyers that they were insufficient, saying "that the President stated on more than 30 occasions that he 'does not recall' or 'remember' or have an 'independent recollection' of information called for by the questions."
  • The investigators considered subpoenaing Trump, but ultimately decided that any benefits from an interview would be outweighed by fighting the lengthy lawsuit that would be sure to follow from the president's lawyers.
  • The investigation ultimately "determined that the substantial quantity of information we had obtained from other sources allowed us to draw relevant factual conclusions on intent and credibility, which are often inferred from circumstantial evidence and assessed without direct testimony from the subject of the investigation."

6. The investigation did not establish that Trump campaign members colluded with the Russian government, but the president's actions still may have influenced Russian actions.

  • Mueller's investigation established that although "the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, [it] did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
  • But the report details how Trump's famous July 2016 statement — "Russia if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press" — could have been effective. It states, "Within approximately five hours of Trump's statement, [Russian intelligence] officers targeted for the first time Clinton's personal office."

7. The media got a lot right in real time.

  • Thanks to reporting from media outlets throughout Trump's presidency, the main thrust of many of the events outlined in the report — in both its obstruction and collusion facets — were already public knowledge.
  • This timeline from PBS gives a sense of the scope for the reporting — from the NYT's bombshell report on the 2016 Trump Tower meeting to WaPo's more recent report on Trump's concealment of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin — that provided the public's first glimpse at much of the information that forms the backbone of Mueller's report.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.