The report identifies and analyzes 10 episodes of concern in the obstruction investigation:
conduct involving then-FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn;
the president’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation;
the president’s termination of Comey;
the appointment of a special counsel and efforts to remove him;
efforts to curtail the special counsel’s investigation;
efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence;
further efforts to have the attorney general take control of the investigation;
efforts to have White House Counsel Don McGahn deny that the president had ordered him to have the special counsel removed;
conduct toward Flynn, Manafort, and a redacted individual (likely Roger Stone); and
conduct involving Michael Cohen.
Each episode includes a detailed set of factual findings and then analyzes how the evidence maps onto the criminal charge of obstruction, which requires (1) an obstructive act; (2) a nexus with an official proceeding; and (3) a corrupt intent. We have summarized all of the episodes and Mueller’s analysis of them under the obstruction statutes here.
For present purposes, the critical point is that in six of these episodes, the special counsel’s office suggests that all of the elements of obstruction are satisfied: Trump’s conduct regarding the investigation into Michael Flynn, his firing of Comey, his efforts to remove Mueller and then to curtail Mueller’s investigation, his campaign to have Sessions take back control over the investigation and an order he gave to White House Counsel Don McGahn to both lie to the press about Trump’s past attempt to fire Mueller and create a false record “for our files.” In the cases of Comey’s firing, Trump’s effort to fire Mueller and then push McGahn to lie about it, and Trump’s effort to curtail the scope of the investigation, Mueller describes “substantial” evidence that Trump intended to obstruct justice. Only in one instance—concerning Trump’s effort to prevent the release of emails regarding the Trump Tower meeting—does the special counsel seem to feel that none of the three elements of the obstruction offense were met. It is not entirely clear how Mueller would apply his overarching factual considerations, discussed above, to the specific cases, but he does seem to be saying that the evidence of obstruction in a number of these incidents is strong.