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3 reasons the United States has lost the Middle East

The United States has become isolated in the Middle East just as new players move in and traditional powers re-align their geo-strategic positions.

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Iraq’s Vice President Nouri al-Maliki recently stated that the Trump administration does not have a clear policy vision, let alone policy plan for the Middle East. Events on the ground bear this out, but the fact is that America’s isolation from the future progress of the Middle East actually began under Barack Obama and to an extent George W. Bush. This trajectory is now largely irreversible.

With America losing its grip on the Middle East, other powers have moved in, particularly Russia, China and Iran.

Here’s why and how.

1. Chinese economic might 

With the world fixated on the military events in Syria and Iraq, China has been quietly but un-ambiguously working with the Syrian government to fix the terms on which Chinese companies will invest in Syria’s economy and help to rebuild Syria’s largely destroyed infrastructure when the conflict ends.

Earlier this month, the Syrian embassy in Beijing held an expo where 1,000 Chinese companies came to discuss what they could offer in terms of investment and redevelopment in post-war Syria.

At the event, Imad Mustafa, the Syrian Ambassador to China confirmed that China will be given priority in the rebuilding of post-conflict Syria. He stated,

“China, Russia, and Iran have provided substantial support to Syria during the military conflict. Therefore, it is these three countries that will play a major role in the reconstruction of Syria”.

It has now been confirmed that China is set to invest $2 billion into rebuilding Syria and this could only be the beginning.

Both Syria and Iran are on the map of China’s New Silk Road (the One Belt–One Road). As such, transit roots from East Asia to the Middle East will positively impact not only Syria and Iraq but also Iran and Turkey.

This comes at a time when the government in Baghdad remains committed to good relations with both Tehran and Damascus. In this sense, America’s illegal regime change in Iraq dating back to 2003 has backfired spectacularly. Iraq which was an enemy of Iran and had more or less frozen relations with Syria is now open to both countries which will make China’s life easier while potentially shutting America out.

Far from seeing One Belt–One Road as an opportunity, the United States has opposed it politically, the US continues to provoke China in the South China Sea and over the Korean Peninsula and furthermore, the US is currently engaged in many conflicts which happen to be along the planned Road.

READ MORE: US troops in Europe and the Middle East are there to provoke China more than Russia or Iran

By failing to cooperate with China on its flagship commerce and infrastructure project, the US is not only on the losing side of history but has been increasingly shut out of economic opportunities in regions where America once had considerable economic influence which it is gradually losing.

2. Russian geo-political, military and energy might 

The last five years alone have seen Russia gain new Middle Eastern and Eurasian allies and strengthen traditional alliances while not alienating a single power in one of the world’s most fraught regions.

Russian involvement in the Syrian war has strengthened an old alliance with Damascus. Just yesterday, Russia’s Federation Council approved a deal between Moscow and Damascus which will allow for the presence of Russian bases in Syria for the next 49 years with an option to extend the agreement by another 25. In this sense Russia and Syria’s alliance will last well into the final decades of the 21st century.

Syria also stated that Russia will be given priority along with China in Iran, in areas of post-war redevelopment, particularly in the energy sector where Russia is a global leader while importantly retaining independence from OPEC.

At the same time, Russia is building a partnership with Iraq. Baghdad just purchased a substantial amount of T-90 tanks from Russia and Iraq’s Russophillic Vice President is currently in Moscow where he is set to deepen cooperation between the two countries.

Russia’s relations with Iran remain at an all time high, with Iran looking to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the near future. Russia along with China founded the SCO in 2001. India and Pakistan both jointed this year.

Egypt under President el-Sisi continues to expand on historically good relations with Russia which date back to the Nasser era. Egypt and Russia have pledged to cooperate against terrorist threats and just today Russia confirmed the creation of a new de-escalation zone in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta. The agreement was signed in Cairo which demonstrates Egypt’s increasingly important role in cooperating with Russian led peace initiatives.

In respect of Egypt’s neighbour Libya, the faction of Libya’s failed state which is the only one that could reasonably form a legitimate government, the secular Tobruk based Libyan House of Representatives, has good relations with both Egypt and Russia. This could become increasingly important as the armed forces of the House of Representatives, the Libyan National Army continues to make gains against jihadists.

In the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia’s attempt to isolate Qatar has backfired spectacularly. Russia is now seen by the Qataris themselves as well as those in the wider region as a legitimate broker of peace. Russia has called for a peaceful and amicable solution to the crisis which has been praised by Doha. At the same time, Russia continues to improve relations with Saudi Arabia.

All of this has happened while Russia remains one of the few powers in the world to have good relations with both Israel and Palestine.

All of this puts Russia in a unique position as a super-power with either close relations or at minimum good working relations with all the major players in the wider Middle East.

3. Turkey’s realignment and Iran’s re-emergence 

Ever since joining NATO in 1952, Turkey has been a close US ally in the Middle East and Eurasia. However, Turkey’s relationship with Washington continues to plunge to new depths.

Under Donald Trump, America’s backing of the Kurds, Turkey’s number one regional enemy, has caused to Ankara distance itself from both NATO and the pro-NATO bloc, the European Union. Turkey’s participation in the Astana Peace Process along with Russia and Iran is symptomatic of Turkey’s increasingly good relationship with Russia and moreover, of Turkish President Erdogan’s good personal relationship with President Putin.

READ MORE: America has pushed Turkey straight into Russia’s arms

Two related events have also brought Turkey closer to Iran. Russia was able to draw two historical adversaries into the Astana Peace Process while Turkey’s strongly pro-Qatari position in the Gulf has put Tehran and Ankara on the same page.

President Erdogan’s interventions into the internal affairs of Arab countries has made Turkey’s relations with the Arab states of Syria, Iraq and Egypt deeply strained. To compensate for this Turkey is looking increasingly outside of both Europe and the Levant for allies and is drawing nearer to Russia, Iran and Qatar.

This has the effect of putting the two large non-Arab powers of the Middle East firmly in a camp which has totally different geo-strategic priorities vis-a-vis the United States President Erdogan’s enthusiastic participation in the One Belt–One Road forum in Beijing is a further sign that Ankara is increasingly looking east after a 20th century where both culturally and geo-strategically, it had tended to look west.

CONCLUSION

All of this leads to America’s increased geo-political and consequently economic isolation in the Middle East. Iran’s increased prestige in Syria and Iraq looks set to define the next generation of Levantine and Mesopotamian relations with Tehran while Iran’s pragmatic relationship with Qatar could hold the key to continued Iranian economic growth.

Turkey’s pivot away from both the Arab world and the west is being largely compensated for with good relations with historic regional rivals turned potential partners, Russia and Iran.

Russia is in a unique position as a respected power broker and security partner throughout virtually all of the Middle East, while China’s One Belt–One Road which runs through much of the region is an economic super-giant in the making. America by contrast has not offered any original thinking in respect of the economic future of the Middle East, this is why many  Middle East governments are increasingly seeing America as yesterday’s lost opportunity rather than tomorrow’s hope.

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journey80
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journey80

Bush, Billary, Obama

nibs
Guest
nibs

1. China, Russia, Iran all are close or have borders in the region.
2. These countries operate foreign policies in their own interest, whereas the USA is massively swayed by what Israel tells them to do, and ends up doing things totally at odds with the US interest.

Conclusion: lose the Neocons.

stevek9
Guest
stevek9

An important aspect of Russia’s increasing influence in the World is nuclear power. This does not get a lot of discussion. Nuclear power will be the primary energy source for the World in this century. Despite irrational fears, this is the only source of energy outside coal which can power world-wide economic development. Russia is one of, if not the premier technical leaders in nuclear power technology (the BN800 is a case in point). And, they have an aggressive and effective export strategy. They will completely finance the construction of nuclear plants in their ‘build-own-operate’ model (which they implemented in… Read more »

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

Russia is doing wonders with solar energy that it can also help its ME friends set up not only for their own citizens but for sale in order to build their economies.
http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/solar-power-russia-emerges-shade/ri20035

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

Russia insider bans lots of people so their comments will not be seen. Discern anything that comes from RI…the owner is a real sleaze and DOES have hidden agenda .

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

Russia has huge natural gas supplies. They should be buying China turbine generators and lots of wire to supply China electricity.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

“Nuclear power will be the primary energy source for the World in this century.”
Absurd ramble.

Mike John Elissen
Guest
Mike John Elissen

Less than 2 years ago US/EU politicians and political/strategic analysts were dead certain Russia would face `a quagmire` and `a repeat of the Soviet debacle in Afghanistan` in Syria. Anno now, the results of the Russian intervention in Syria are clear, while NATO faces its own `quagmires`… especially in Afghanistan, where a 15-year old war/occupation produces casualties, hatred and none of the fairy-tale promises made. Handing out cheques after butchering innocent people (or even the `cops` that you trained) doesn`t obscure the fact that NATO`s military adventures are failures – by any standard. Anyone with a memory capable of remembering… Read more »

Walter Dublanica
Member
Walter Dublanica

The U.S. could have had Russia as an ally. Instead we listened to our neocon cabal which hates everything Russian. Now Russia looks the other way like who needs the U.S.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The Neocons are the satanist children and grandchildren of the Trotskyite Jews who ran the Holocaust of Russians between 1917 and 1960 or so, and then again under Yeltsin. They are afraid that their evil may catch up to them if they stop murdering people – especially Christians and especially Russians.

Walter Dublanica
Member
Walter Dublanica

You are right in your assessment of the “tribe”. We have to be cleansed of their evil intentions.

Dan Kuhn
Guest
Dan Kuhn

If you want allies you have to offer something other than a demand that they are either with us or against us. What has the US given the Middle East? War and lots of it. When they offer economic help it is only with military hardware. The US has flattened at least three countries in the Middle East just since the turn of the century and is currently assisting Saudi Arabia in the destruction of another. What the US offers is even more misery piled upon the misery they have already inflicted on that part of the world. What is… Read more »

Ray Joseph Cormier
Guest

What an excellent and insightful analysis, so close to Reality vs political propaganda spin and delusions of grandeur. More than any other reader, I read it as a Revelation and confirmation, the details unfolding only NOW Day by Day, are GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of this letter published by a Major US daily in the ‘Heartland’ of the Nation in the Spirit of ’76. September 13, 1976, the major daily THE KANSAS CITY TIMES published this Vision of the FUTURE: “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November TO DO… Read more »

lickeyleaks
Guest
lickeyleaks

Looks like UN wont prosecute US for being there and they wont pay compensation for damage so 1 foot in the grave for them!!
China is gonna help rebuild,Russians will look after defences,Iran will be a good friend,who needs US??

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Or, to quote that superb humanitarian and world class US diplomat, ‘Cookies’ Noodleman: “Fuck the EUSA”!

samo war
Guest
samo war
Debbie Beane
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Debbie Beane

The real losers? comment image

ColinNZ
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ColinNZ

Great article, excellent overview.

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

That was a really good one by Garrie. Backed by facts, no political bias and a clear-headed analysis.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Three reasons the United States has/have lost the Middle East?

1 The
2 United
3 States

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

I want to congratulate The Duran for getting on this site: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/the-duran/Check as ‘unreliable fake news and propaganda’. Who does the site ‘trust highly’?
WAPO, The NYT, the BBC and… the MOSCOW TIMES ! Priceless.

Simon
Guest
Simon

LOL they also had Bellingcat in their ‘least biased’ list. Good grief !

André De Koning
Guest
André De Koning

“America by contrast has not offered any original thinking in respect of the economic future of the Middle East…” So true as they never contribute in any way and only rob and destroy. Very good summary and overview. Also good news to hear RUssia is there to stay in Syria. This time I did believe the US administration would leave Syria and that all loss of lives and destruction has been for nothing. Get them out and rebuild!

seby
Guest
seby

Hallelujah!

The “end of the new American century” pronounced by the pentagon.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/07/23/the-end-new-american-century-pronounced-pentagon.html

samo war
Guest
samo war

barrrrbarian invasion ?

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

“Russia remains one of the few powers in the world to have good relations with both Israel and Palestine”

Apparently Russia has not figured out that Israel said their Kol Nidre prayers and will stab Russia in the back….covertly of course.

Putin's baby
Guest
Putin's baby

I love it! Hopefully these filthy yanks will be kicked out of ME soon as possible… then they will have to frack their country to pieces to have their energy… no water tho, just gas.. ho ho ho

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Parliament Seizes Control Of Brexit From Theresa May

Zerohedge

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Schaeuble, Greece and the lessons learned from a failed GREXIT (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine a recent interview with the Financial Times given by Wolfgang Schäuble, where the former German Finance Minister, who was charged with finding a workable and sustainable solution to the Greek debt crisis, reveals that his plan for Greece to take a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone (in order to devalue its currency and save its economy) was met with fierce resistance from Brussels hard liners, and Angela Merkel herself.

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Via FT

“Look where we’re sitting!” says Wolfgang Schäuble, gesturing at the Berlin panorama stretching out beneath us. It is his crisp retort to those who say that Europe is a failure, condemned to a slow demise by its own internal contradictions. “Walk through the Reichstag, the graffiti left by the Red Army soldiers, the images of a destroyed Berlin. Until 1990 the Berlin Wall ran just below where we are now!”

We are in Käfer, a restaurant on the rooftop of the Reichstag. The views are indeed stupendous: Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz loom through the mist. Both were once in communist East Berlin, cut off from where we are now by the wall. Now they’re landmarks of a single, undivided city. “Without European integration, without this incredible story, we wouldn’t have come close to this point,” he says. “That’s the crazy thing.”

As Angela Merkel’s finance minister from 2009 to 2017, Schäuble was at the heart of efforts to steer the eurozone through a period of unprecedented turbulence. But at home he is most associated with Germany’s postwar political journey, having not only negotiated the 1990 treaty unifying East and West Germany but also campaigned successfully for the capital to move from Bonn.

For a man who has done so much to put Berlin — and the Reichstag — back on the world-historical map, it is hard to imagine a more fitting lunch venue. With its open-plan kitchen and grey formica tables edged in chrome, Käfer has a cool, functional aesthetic that is typical of the city. On the wall hangs a sketch by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric in 1995.

The restaurant has one other big advantage: it is easy to reach from Schäuble’s office. Now 76, he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, and mobility is an issue. Aides say he tends to avoid restaurants if he can, especially at lunchtime.

As we take our places, we talk about Schäuble’s old dream — that German reunification would be a harbinger of European unity, a step on the road to a United States of Europe. That seems hopelessly out of reach in these days of Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, Lega and the Five Star Movement in Italy.

Some blame Schäuble himself for that. He was, after all, the architect of austerity, a fiscal hawk whose policy prescriptions during the euro crisis caused untold hardship for millions of ordinary people, or so his critics say. He became a hate figure, especially in Greece. Posters in Athens in 2015 depicted him with a Hitler moustache below the words: “Wanted — for mass poverty and devastation”.

Schäuble rejects the criticism that austerity caused the rise of populism. “Higher spending doesn’t lead to greater contentment,” he says. The root cause lies in mass immigration, and the insecurities it has unleashed. “What European country doesn’t have this problem?” he asks. “Even Sweden. The poster child of openness and the willingness to help.”

But what of the accusation that he didn’t care enough about the suffering of the southern Europeans? Austerity divided the EU and spawned a real animus against Schäuble. I ask him how that makes him feel now. “Well I’m sad, because I played a part in all of that,” he says, wistfully. “And I think about how we could have done it differently.”

I glance at the menu — simple German classics with a contemporary twist. I’m drawn to the starters, such as Oldenburg duck pâté and the Müritz smoked trout. But true to his somewhat abstemious reputation, Schäuble has no interest in these and zeroes in on the entrées. He chooses Käfer’s signature veal meatballs, a Berlin classic. I go for the Arctic char and pumpkin.

Schäuble switches seamlessly back to the eurozone crisis. The original mistake was in trying to create a common currency without a “common economic, employment and social policy” for all eurozone member states. The fathers of the euro had decided that if they waited for political union to happen first they’d wait forever, he says.

Yet the prospects for greater political union are now worse than they have been in years. “The construction of the EU has proven to be questionable,” he says. “We should have taken the bigger steps towards integration earlier on, and now, because we can’t convince the member states to take them, they are unachievable.”

Greece was a particularly thorny problem. It should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place, Schäuble says. But when its debt crisis first blew up, it should have taken a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone — an idea he first floated with Giorgos Papakonstantinou, his Greek counterpart between 2009 and 2011. “I told him you need to be able to devalue your currency, you’re not competitive,” he says. The reforms required to repair the Greek economy were going to be “hard to achieve in a democracy”. “That’s why you need to leave the euro for a certain period. But everyone said there was no chance of that.”

The idea didn’t go away, though. Schäuble pushed for a temporary “Grexit” in 2015, during another round of the debt crisis. But Merkel and the other EU heads of government nixed the idea. He now reveals he thought about resigning over the issue. “On the morning the decision was made, [Merkel] said to me: ‘You’ll carry on?’ . . . But that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].”

It is an extraordinary revelation, one that highlights just how rocky his relationship with Merkel has been over the years. Schäuble has been at her side from the start, an éminence grise who has helped to resolve many of the periodic crises of her 13 years as chancellor. But it was never plain sailing.

“There were a few really bad conflicts where she knew too that we were on the edge and I would have gone,” he says. “I always had to weigh up whether to go along with things, even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do, as was the case with Greece, or whether I should go.” But his sense of duty prevailed. “We didn’t always agree — but I was always loyal.”

That might have been the case when he was a serving minister, but since becoming speaker of parliament in late 2017 he has increasingly distanced himself from Merkel. Last year, when she announced she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party that has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, Schäuble openly backed a candidate described by the Berlin press as the “anti-Merkel”. Friedrich Merz, a millionaire corporate lawyer who is the chairman of BlackRock Germany, had once led the CDU’s parliamentary group but lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002, quitting politics a few years later. He has long been seen as one of the chancellor’s fiercest conservative critics — and is a good friend of Schäuble’s.

Ultimately, in a nail-biting election last December, Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly beat Merz. The woman universally known as “AKK” is in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor when her fourth and final term ends in 2021.

I ask Schäuble if it’s true that he had once again waged a battle against Merkel and once again lost. “I never went to war against Ms Merkel,” he says. “Everybody says that if I’m for Merz then I’m against Merkel. Why is that so? That’s nonsense.”

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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part I – cold, hard reality

The full text of Attorney General William P Barr’s summary is here offered, with emphases on points for further analysis.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The conclusion of the Russiagate investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was a pivotal media watershed moment. Even at the time of this writing there is a great deal of what might be called “journalistic froth” as opinion makers and analysts jostle to make their takes on this known to the world. Passions are running very high in both the Democrat / anti-Trump camps, where the reactions range from despondency to determined rage to not swallow the gigantic red pill that the “no collusion with Russia” determination offers. In the pro-Trump camp, the mood is deserved relief, but many who support the President are also realists, and they know this conflict is not over.

Where the pivot will go and what all this means is something that will unfold, probably relatively quickly, over the next week or two. But we want to offer a starting point here from which to base further analysis. At this time, of course, there are few hard facts other than the fact that Robert Mueller III submitted his report to the US Attorney General, William Barr, who then wrote and released his own report to the public Sunday evening. We reproduce that report here in full, with some emphases added to points that we think will be relevant to forthcoming pieces on this topic.

The end of the Mueller investigation brings concerns, hopes and fears to many people, on topics such as:

  • Will President Trump now begin to normalize relations with President Putin at full speed?
  • In what direction will the Democrats pivot to continue their attacks against the President?
  • What does this finding to to the 2020 race?
  • What does this finding do to the credibility of the United States’ leadership establishment, both at home and abroad?
  • What can we learn about our nation and culture from this investigation?
  • How does a false narrative get maintained so easily for so long, and
  • What do we do, or what CAN we do to prevent this being repeated?

These questions and more will be addressed in forthcoming pieces. But for now, here is the full text of the letter written by Attorney General William Barr concerning the Russia collusion investigation.

Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins:
As a supplement to the notification provided on Friday, March 22, 2019, I am writing today to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and to inform you about the status of my initial review of the report he has prepared.
The Special Counsel’s Report
On Friday, the Special Counsel submitted to me a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c). This report is entitled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.
The report explains that the Special Counsel and his staff thoroughly investigated allegations that members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, and others associated with it, conspired with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, or sought to obstruct the related federal investigations. 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 forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.
The Special Counsel obtained a number of indictments and convictions of individuals and entities in connection with his investigation, all of which have been publicly disclosed. During the course of his investigation, the Special Counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action. The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public. Below, I summarize the principal conclusions set out in the Special Counsel’s report.
Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
The Special Counsel’s report is divided into two parts. The first describes the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts. The report further explains that a primary consideration for the Special Counsel’s investigation was whether any Americans including individuals associated with the Trump campaign joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the election, which would be a federal crime. The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 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.”
The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. As noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, although the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities.
The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.
Obstruction of Justice.
The report’s second part addresses a number of actions by the President most of which have been the subject of public reporting that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns. After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. Over the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel’s office engaged in discussions with certain Department officials regarding many of the legal and factual matters at issue in the Special Counsel’s obstruction investigation. After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have 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. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.
Status of the Department’s Review
The relevant regulations contemplate that the Special Counsel’s report will be a “confidential report” to the Attorney General. See Office of Special Counsel, 64 Fed. Reg. 37,038, 37,040-41 (July 9, 1999). As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
Based on my discussions with the Special Counsel and my initial review, it is apparent that the report contains material that is or could be subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure which imposes restrictions on the use and disclosure of information relating to “matter[s] occurring before grand jury.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(2)(B) Rule 6(e) generally limits disclosure of certain grand jury information in a criminal investigation and prosecution. Id. Disclosure of 6(e) material beyond the strict limits set forth in the rule is a crime in certain circumstances. See, e.g. 18 U.S.C. 401(3). This restriction protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.
Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6(e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6(e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible. Separately, I also must identify any information that could impact other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other offices. As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
* * *
As I observed in my initial notification, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of” notifications to your respective Committees “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.9(c). I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you.
Sincerely,
William P. Barr
Attorney General

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