Attorney General William Barr announced to Congress in a letter on Sunday that the Special Counsel investigation found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, vindicating President Trump’s long-stated assertions.
Barr quoted from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report directly in a letter to Congress, saying, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
He later again quoted Mueller’s report, saying, “The evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”
His report ends an almost three-year investigation — started by the FBI and continued by Mueller — into whether President Trump or anyone from his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Barr’s letter summarized Mueller’s confidential report, which was submitted to him by the special counsel’s office on Friday afternoon.
Barr stated in his letter that his “goal and intent is to release as much of Mueller’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies,” making it unlikely that he would quote Mueller out of context.
Barr said Mueller’s report did not make any determination on whether the president obstructed justice, instead leaving that determination up to Barr.
Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded the evidence developed during the investigation is not sufficient to establish that the president committed-an-obstruction of justice offense.
Barr noted in his letter that Mueller wrote in regards to his office declining to make a judgment on obstruction, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Some journalists and pundits have pointed to that line to argue that Mueller did not “exonerate” the president, without mentioning that Mueller left the decision on obstruction to Barr and Barr said there was no sufficient evidence that Trump obstructed justice.
Barr said Mueller’s report also explained that the Special Counsel and his staff thoroughly investigated allegations of collusion and obstruction, employing 19 lawyers assisted by approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff.
“The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communications records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses,” Barr wrote.
Barr also added in his letter a footnote that the Special Counsel defined “coordination” as an “agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.”
Many Trump critics had claimed that Trump joking on the campaign trail for Russia to find missing Clinton emails, or that Donald Trump Jr.’s positive response to a British publicist setting up a meeting between the campaign and a Russian lawyer who supposedly had dirt on Clinton constituted collusion.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) famously claimed those instances were evidence of collusion “hiding in plain sight.”
However, the letter makes clear that the Special Counsel did not consider that to be conspiracy or coordination.
Shortly after the letter was released, President Trump tweeted, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION”:
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019
A number of Republican lawmakers also cheered the outcome. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) noted that the House Intelligence Committee, had established a year ago that there was no collusion.
“Democrats who falsely claim to have such evidence have needlessly provoked a terrible, more than two-year-long crisis,” he added:
The Russia investigation was based on false pretenses, false intel, and false media reports. House Intel found a yr ago there was no evidence of collusion, and Democrats who falsely claim to have such evidence have needlessly provoked a terrible, more than two-year-long crisis.
— Devin Nunes (@DevinNunes) March 24, 2019
Meanwhile, Democrat lawmakers demanded that Mueller’s full report be made available to the public, so that they could confirm Barr’s conclusions for themselves.
JUST IN: Joint statement from @SpeakerPelosi and @SenSchumer doesn’t mince words. Attorney General Barr “not a neutral observer” of the #MuellerReport and Trump’s comments today “not to be taken with any degree or credibility,” they say. pic.twitter.com/rMqjM8SWAH
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) March 24, 2019