Former special counsel Robert Mueller backed away from charges he was considering filing against Donald Trump Jr. and Republican operative Roger Stone, according to documents disclosed by the Department of Justice.
The government issued a less-redacted version of Mueller’s findings on Russian election meddling on Friday. The document, which was made public in response to a Freedom of Information Act complaint filed by BuzzFeed News, exposes new facts about the special counsel investigation that resulted in many convictions of former President Donald Trump’s associates and foreign agents.
According to the inquiry, Trump Jr. used a password provided to him by WikiLeaks, a group notorious for disclosing secret documents, to access a website called “putintrump.org” in the run-up to the 2016 election. Trump and his connection with Russian President Vladimir Putin are criticized on the page.
According to the article, Trump Jr. was able to access the website using a password. Despite the fact that it is unknown what Trump Jr. did with the access, the report claims that Mueller found enough evidence to charge Trump Jr. with a federal “computer intrusion” misdemeanor.
The study concluded, however, that “the prosecution was not justified” because the password Trump Jr. used had been published on WikiLeaks’ public Twitter account.
“Given that Trump Jr. did not himself initiate the plan to access the website or guess the password, the absence of evidence that his acts caused any damage to the website or obtained valuable information, the technical nature of the violation, and the minimal punishment that a misdemeanor conviction could be expected to carry in these circumstances, the Office decided against pursuing charges,” reads the report.
Trump Jr. was able to access the website using the password, according to the story. Regardless of what Trump Jr. did with the access, the report states that Mueller discovered enough evidence to charge Trump Jr. with a criminal “computer intrusion” misdemeanor.
However, the researchers decided that “the prosecution was not merited” because Trump Jr.’s password had been made public on Wikileaks’ public Twitter account.
Stone had previously bragged about his ties to Wikileaks and Julian Assange, the organization’s founder.
According to the updated version of the report, Mueller determined that the “evidence was insufficient” to charge Stone, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, with crimes including hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers and email accounts.
According to the report, Mueller’s staff lacked sufficient evidence that Stone and WikiLeaks were aware of “ongoing computer intrusions.”
“The absence of evidence as to knowledge, in short, would both hinder the government’s ability to prove conspiracy liability and also potentially provide a First Amendment defense,” the report reads. “Therefore, the Office did not seek charges against WikiLeaks, Assange, or Stone for participating in the computer-intrusion conspiracy.”
Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and impeding a congressional committee during its investigation into Russia’s election meddling in 2016. In 2020, Trump granted him clemency.
“This further vindicates what we have been saying all along, that Mr. Stone did not have anything to do with Wikileaks’ activities and did not know anything about their plans,” Grant Smith, Stone’s lawyer, told Newsweek in an email.