Apr 18, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen
1 big thing: Top Mueller takeaways

Illustration: Eli Sinkus/Axios

701 days after Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein signed the order launching the Mueller investigation, he silently stood behind new AG Bill Barr as he previewed the report's contentious release.

The big picture: 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.

  • There were no criminal charges for the president, which we already knew, but there was tons of detail suggesting he wanted to obstruct justice, even if prosecutors didn't find enough evidence to charge him for it.

What's noteworthy:

  • Trump's reaction after Mueller was appointed: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f**ked."
  • Trump asked Michael Flynn to track down Hillary's emails. Flynn followed up.
  • Trump consistently asked his aides to take legally and ethically dubious actions, and their refusals to act are actually noted by Mueller.

By the numbers:

  • 30+: The number of times Trump's written answers told Mueller he didn't remember or remember events featured in the investigation.
  • 14: The number of criminal referrals Mueller made for other crimes, including 12 that aren't yet public. (Michael Cohen and former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig are already known.)
  • 6%: The amount of the report that was redacted before release, per ProPublica. (Top members of Congress will get be able to see one without redactions.)
  • 10: The number of episodes of potential obstruction examined by the investigation.
  • 0: The number of said episodes where Mueller reached a prosecutorial decision on obstruction.

Between the lines: The report answered a key question from last month's summary letter from AG Bill Barr: Why didn't Mueller take a stance on obstruction?

  • In his own words: Mueller didn't want to "place burdens on the President's capacity to govern" and believed Trump wouldn't have an opportunity to clear his name, Axios' David Nather notes.
  • And Mueller couldn't clear Trump completely: "The facts and the applicable legal standards" made it impossible to state that Trump "clearly did not commit obstruction of justice."
  • P.S.: "While the [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion concludes that a sitting President may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the President's term is permissible."

The bottom line: Today was just another act in an ongoing drama that moves next to Congress, where Democrats want Mueller to publicly testify.

  • “Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement," House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer told CNN today.

Go deeper:

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

The first tea leaves of the year are handpicked at the Moriuchi Tea Farm in Shizuoka, Japan.

  • Japan produces approximately 100,000 tons of green tea per year. From April to May, tea farmers on Moriuchi Tea Farm handpick Shincha (the first tea of the year) which is usually considered the highest of quality and most sought after.
2. What you missed
  1. Scientists announced that they have "cured," at least for the near-term, the rare genetic disorder commonly known as the "bubble boy disease." Go deeper.
  2. Facebook stored millions of Instagram passwords without proper security, expanding a disclosure in March that Facebook passwords had been left visible and unprotected inside the company's servers. Details.
  3. Average temperatures ticked upward to rank as one of the top 3 warmest Marches on record, new data from climate groups in Europe, Japan and the U.S. shows. Go deeper.
  4. Chinese coffee shop chain Luckin Coffee raised $150 million in new funding led by Blackrock, which is Starbucks' second-largest outside shareholder, at a $2.9 billion valuation. Go deeper.
3. 1 fun thing: Pop's team dinners

Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

ESPN goes deep on Gregg Popovich, the high-profile San Antonio Spurs coach who hosts huge team dinners meant to build team morale, in addition to delivering a great time.

  • "Popovich scouts restaurants and wine lists as obsessively as he might any opponent."
  • "As absurd as it seems, one of the greatest basketball coaches in history might be more revered in the culinary world."

Among his fans:

  • "Virginia Philip, a master sommelier who served Popovich in the 1990s at Ruth's Chris Steak House in San Antonio."
  • "Chris Miller, a master sommelier who's served Popovich in several cities, says, 'I can't possibly express the respect that I have for that man.'"
  • "In Phoenix, James Beard award-winning pizza maker Chris Bianco, who has also served the coach, says: 'I'm a huge Gregg Popovich fan.'"
  • "Chef Wolfgang Puck says simply: '[Popovich] knows wine.'"

The bottom line: "It's not a stretch to suggest that Popovich might ultimately drop a seven-figure annual investment on food and wine."

Enjoy.

Mike Allen