National Security Agency—that concluded with high conﬁdence that Russia had intervened in the election through a variety of means to assist Trump’s candidacy and harm Clinton’s. A declassiﬁed version of the assessment was publicly released that same day. Between mid-January 2017 and early February 2017, three congressional committeesmthe House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (H'PSCI), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), and the Senate Judiciary Committee (SIG-announced that they would conduct inquiries, or had already been conducting inquiries, into Russian interference in the election. Then-FBI Director James Comey later conﬁrmed to Congress the existence of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference that had begun before the election. On March 20, 2017, in open-session testimony before HPSCI, Comey stated: I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to conﬁrm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. . . . As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed. The investigation continued under then-Director Comey for‘the next seven weeks until May 9, 2017, when President Trump ﬁred Comey as FBI Director—an action which is analyzed in Volume II of the report. On May 17, 2017, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed the Special Counsel and authorized him to conduct the investigation that Comey had conﬁrmed in his congressional testimony, as well as matters arising directly from the investigation, and any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a), which generally covers efforts to interfere with or obstruct the investigation. President Trump reacted negatively to the Special Counsel’s appointment. He told advisors that it was the end of his presidency, sought to have Attorney General Jefferson (Jeff) Sessions unrecuse from the Russia investigation and to have the Special Counsel removed, and engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses. Those and related actions are described and analyzed in Volume II of the report. *** THE SPECIAL COUNSEL’S CHARGING DECISIONS In reaching the charging decisions described in Volume I of the report, the Ofﬁce determined whether the conduct it found amounted to a violation of federal criminal law chargeable under the Principles of Federal Prosecution. See Justice Manual § 9-27.000 et seq. (2018). The standard set forth in the Justice Manual is whether the conduct constitutes a crime; if so, whether admissible evidence would probably be sufﬁcient to obtain and sustain a conviction;
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