Such a president can have openly, actively encouraged and welcomed foreign government support for his political campaigns, and his campaign can reinforce the point in direct communications with that government’s representatives. The Barr summary reveals that the special counsel uncovered not just a couple but “multiple offers” of support from the Russians, and yet neither Mr. Trump nor his campaign reported them to counterintelligence or law enforcement authorities. Mr. Trump went further still — while in office, he dictated a statement for his son and campaign aide, Donald Trump Jr., that falsely represented the purposes of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior campaign representatives and a Kremlin-connected representative (and others) offering assistance in the 2016 election.

Mr. Mueller proceeded cautiously on this and other evidence. Federal campaign finance laws prohibit soliciting and receiving support from foreign nationals or “substantially assisting” them in their efforts to influence an American election, but Mr. Mueller concluded that the rules as applied to the facts did not support a criminal prosecution. This was a conservative judgment — but it underscores again the urgent work norms must do if the law is inadequate to the task.