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Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Prosecutors investigated Trump associate Roger Stone, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks over the hacking of Democrats' servers and possible campaign finance violations but decided against charging them, newly unredacted Mueller report information shows.

Why it matters: The Department of Justice released an updated version of the report with fewer redactions Monday evening on the eve of the presidential election after a court ruled in favor of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by BuzzFeed News and the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center last month.

What's new: One newly unredacted section states investigators "considered whether to charge WikiLeaks, Assange, or Stone as conspirators in the computer-intrusion conspiracy," given the website's "role in disseminating the hacked materials, and the existence of some evidence that Stone played a role in coordinating" the release of Clinton adviser John Podesta's materials.

  • However, the Russia investigation team, led by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, decided they "did not have admissible evidence that was probably sufficient to obtain" a conspiracy conviction for any of them — noting that correspondence between WikiLeaks and officers of the GRU, Russia's main spy agency, was conducted "via encrypted chats."
  • "The Office also considered whether WikiLeaks and anyone connected to the Trump Campaign had liability in connection with WikiLeaks' months-long releases of stolen emails and other documents, possibly with the aim of influencing the 2016 presidential election," Mueller states.
"[S]ubstantial questions exist about whether the release of emails could be treated as an expenditure, whether the government could establish willfulness, and whether prosecution of this conduct would be subject to a First Amendment defense. In combination, those factors created sufficient doubt that the Office could obtain and sustain a conviction based on WikiLeaks's conduct."

The big picture: Stone was convicted following the Mueller investigation of obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering. He was released from prison last July after President Trump commuted his 40-month sentence.

Read the new version of the Mueller Report, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper: DOJ says Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents are not orders

Go deeper

Dec 17, 2018 - World

Russia is winning its war of disinformation

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

U.S. intelligence says Russia sought to disrupt the 2016 and 2018 elections and sow discord. Regardless of what Robert Mueller does, Russia did it — and is still at it.

The big picture: Multiple high-stakes, aggressive federal investigations were spawned by an initial FBI probe of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. And fallout from Russian meddling, including Democratic talk of impeaching President Trump, is likely to remain a dominant political issue as Democrats take over the House 17 days from now.

Aug 22, 2019 - World

Russian interference, 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are at each other's throats. Politically, socially and culturally, we suspect each other's motives and plain sanity. So certain are we of the other's intent to do the nation harm, some of us have joined political gangs and assaulted one another, resulting in at least 1 death.

Which is to say: Americans have played into Russian President Vladimir Putin's hands — again. It is assumed he can attack next year's elections if he so chooses, but since no outsider knows exactly how, what comes next is one of the great underlying mystery-dramas of the 2020 election campaign.

3 hours ago - Health

Meta removes over 600 accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China

Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta announced Wednesday it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the U.S. was pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

Why it matters: Though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.