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Mueller team relied on forensic accountants

By Michael Cohn

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team included forensic accountants who helped the former FBI director investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a letter released Sunday by Attorney General William Barr summarizing Mueller’s findings.

The four-page letter provides few details about the investigation or Mueller’s conclusions, but mentioned the composition of his team. “In the report, the Special Counsel noted that, in completing his investigation, he employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff.”

The brief summary did not discuss the exact work of the forensic accountants, but Mueller’s team was involved in investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted of tax fraud and bank fraud charges, and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who was convicted of tax fraud and lying to Congress. Mueller’s team also reportedly subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank concerning Trump-related entities.

The report acknowledged efforts by the Russian government and a Russian organization known as the Internet Research Agency to meddle in the 2016 election in support of the Trump campaign and hack into the email accounts of officials on the Hillary Clinton campaign and in the Democratic Party. However, the report seemingly cleared Trump of collusion allegations, according to Barr’s summary, while leaving many questions unanswered about the Trump team’s contacts with Russians. ”As the report states, ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’”

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also cleared Trump of obstruction of justice, but acknowledged that Mueller’s report wasn’t definitive on that point. “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’” Nevertheless, Barr added that he and Rosenstein had “concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Trump welcomed the news and claimed the report had completely exonerated him. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION,” he tweeted. “KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

Nevertheless, Democratic congressional leaders vowed to keep pressing for the full report to be released. "Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement. "The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.”

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