Donald Trump and his campaign did not “conspire or coordinate” with the Russian government in its attempts to influence the 2016 election, according to a Department of Justice summary of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report, and there is not enough evidence to charge him with obstruction of justice.
No evidence of collusion with Russia
In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the US Congress judicial and intelligence committees, attorney general William Barr quotes from Mueller’s report directly on the conspiracy and collusion: “As the report states: ‘The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.'”
Russia used the Internet Research Agency, which makes fake social media accounts, to sow discord, and hacked into Democratic and Hillary Clinton campaign email accounts, the special counsel concluded, Barr’s letter says. But the Trump campaign did not conspire or collude with the Russian government in these efforts, “despite multiple offers from Russia-affiliated officials to assist the Trump campaign,” Barr writes.
Less clear on obstruction of justice
The results of Mueller’s investigation into obstruction of justice charges are less clean-cut, the letter says. The special counsel did not draw a conclusion, instead laying out “evidence on both sides of the question” and referring to “‘difficult issues’ of law and fact,” Barr writes. According to Barr, the special counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The decision about obstruction is then left up to the attorney general, Barr writes. He and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein–who appointed Mueller–“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.”
Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who heads the House judiciary committee, said the Department of Justice had “sent us a very brief letter about the Mueller report,” and that he was pushing for “all the underlying evidence.”
The investigation took 674 days to complete, employed 19 lawyers, assisted by 40 FBI agents, as estimated to have cost over $30 million. It also netted over $20 million in forfeiture of assets to the US Treasury, and resulted in 27 indictments and seven guilty pleas.
Minutes after Barr’s letter was released, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the DOJ’s findings were a “total and complete exoneration” of the president.
After tweeting “Good morning, have a great day,” and “Make America Great Again,” Trump spent the morning and early afternoon golfing at the Trump International Golf Club in Florida with Trey Gowdy, the former South Carolina Congressman, Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, and Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator, who chairs the Senate judiciary committee.
Still, Trump could not let the moment pass without tweeting about “total exoneration”:
Full report won’t be public
Barr also said he would not make the entire report public, because it contains information about matters that occurred in front of a grand jury, which is prohibited from being publicly disclosed. Democrats are already pushing back on that.
“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer in a statement. “The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.”
Aside from the Mueller report, there are numerous House-led investigations are into various aspects of the Trump administration, as Quartz recently reported. These include the process used to dole out security clearances, Trump’s taxes, and a separate probe into Russian interference spearheaded by the House intelligence committee.