President Trump celebrated what he says is vindication on charges of Russian collusion Sunday by tweeting: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
More than two years after the election of Trump to the presidency, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a letter Sunday with “principal conclusions” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation apparently vindicating the president against allegations of collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign.
“The special counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its effort” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, stated Barr’s letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
It had examined allegations that the Russian group known as the Internet Research Agency was conducting “disinformation and social media operations” designed to “sow discord” in the U.S.”
Mueller also hunted for evidence that members of Trump’s campaign team hacked emails belonging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as well as the Democratic National Committee, or DNC.
“The Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated” with Russians who worked on those hacking efforts, according to Barr’s letter, “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
“It’s a shame our country had to go through this,” Trump said Sunday on Fox News.
“It began illegally,” the president said of Mueller’s probe.
“And hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side, this was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side. So it’s a complete exoneration, no collusion, no obstruction, thank you very much.”
But did Trump somehow obstruct justice in connection with the claims?
Barr’s letter says Mueller’s team could not reach a solid conclusion.
“The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” the letter indicated.
“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.”
His letter concluded: “After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues … 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,” Barr said, while adding “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does no exonerate him.’”
After Barr’s letter went public, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced he’ll be calling Barr to testify because “Mueller did not exonerate the President” of obstruction.
Nadler tweeted: “In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future.”