Mueller report finds ′no collusion by any American,′ says William Barr | News | DW | 18.04.2019
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Mueller report finds 'no collusion by any American,' says William Barr

The Justice Department has released special counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report on the Russia investigation. Before that, Attorney General William Barr delivered his take at a press conference.

Watch video 02:18

US officials release redacted Mueller report

Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the 22-month investigation by Robert Mueller, summarized the findings of the nearly 400-page report at a news conference on Thursday.

The report investigated key details of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and whether Donald Trump's associates conspired with the Kremlin, as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president.

What did the Department of Justice (DOJ) say?

  • Barr said the "investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
  • He noted that Trump was "frustrated and angered" by the investigation, and said the White House cooperated fully.
  • Barr said Trump's lawyers reviewed a redacted version of the report prior to its release. 
  • Barr said Mueller examined 10 episodes relating to Trump and obstruction of justice, but "evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense." 
  • He added: "Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of noncorrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation." 

A largely unredacted version of the report was given to Congress later on Thursday, while a redacted version was made public at the DOJ website then, as well.

Why was 'obstruction of justice' such a gray area?

Although Barr made no mention of this, Mueller reported that Trump had tried to seize control of the investigation and remove Mueller from his position. Furthermore, Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen spoke repeatedly with Trump lawyers before he submitted false statements to Congress, though Cohen said he did not recall speaking with Trump about the specifics thereof.

Mueller and his team said that it was not possible to accurately judge all of Trump's actions and intent and conclusively determine that no criminal activity took place. 

"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment," the report said.

Democrats: This proves Mueller should testify

Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler of New York, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, highlighted the previous statement by Mueller's team in a tweet after the report was made public, writing, "This is exactly why we need to hear directly from Special Counsel Mueller and receive the full, unredacted report with the underlying evidence." Just hours before, Nadler sent Mueller a formal request to appear before his committee, which he also posted on Twitter.

How did Trump react? 

Trump, who had been highly active on Twitter even by his own standards on Thursday in the lead-up to the press conference, posted an image on Twitter in the style of hit the TV show Game of Thrones, which read: "No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — game over." 

Prior to this, Trump had been sharing various material, mainly from a conservative think tank calling itself Judicial Watch, in his support.

The White House was also quick to mobilize online. 

Trump, who has often said and tweeted that "this should never happen to a president again," delivered a speech honoring wounded soldiers in the White House at the same time the Mueller report was released. However, beyond his opening words, saying he was "having a good day" and repeating his mantra "No collusion. No obstruction," the president avoided the topic and took no questions from reporters. 

Core facts about the Mueller report

  • Mueller's inquiry started in May 2017, after the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  • The initial FBI investigation began after news of meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives were reported in July 2016. 
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because of his own dealings with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, infuriating Trump; he was later fired.  
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to investigate the Trump campaign's ties with Russia as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president.
  • Once Barr took over as attorney general in January 2019, he assumed responsibility for overseeing Mueller's report. 
  • The Mueller report, which took almost two years to compile, and runs some 440 pages, was handed over to Barr on March 22.

js, cw/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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