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Mueller report release: No collusion by Trump or his campaign, Attorney General says

10 episodes involving President Trump are examined in Mueller’s report.

Trump Russia Probe Attorney General William Barr speaking to reporters this morning Source: Patrick Semansky/PA Images

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP and his campaign team did not collude with Russia in the 2016 Presidential election, Attorney General William Barr told a news conference this morning ahead of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report later today.

Barr, alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the 22-month Mueller investigation, held a press conference this morning where he told reporters that the full report will now be delivered to Congress. It will then be released to the public by the Department of Justice online. 

At this morning’s press conference, Barr told reporters that – while it was clear Russia attempted to meddle in 2016′s Presidential election – there was no evidence of cooperation and Mueller’s report “did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts”.

Barr said he has taken measures to release Mueller’s report “with the greatest degree of transparency” and concluded that Russia “did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign.”

The Mueller report is likely to be heavily redacted and will be colour-coded, defining sensitive material contained within the report, Barr said. 

The report’s main findings were already pre-rempted by Barr’s March 24 statement which said the Mueller investigation found no criminal collusion by Trump’s 2016 campaign with Russia, and insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice.

‘Conclusion’

But while Barr – who was appointed by President Trump – concluded that the president had not obstructed justice, he acknowledged that Mueller himself was inconclusive on the question of obstruction.

“The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or another – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” he said in his 24 March statement. 

“The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”

Speaking this morning, Barr told reporters that the report examined 10 episodes involving the President himself but that there was not enough evidence to conclude that Trump obstructed justice. 

“Although the Deputy Attorney General  [Rosenstein] and I disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision,” Barr notes.

“Instead, we accepted the Special Counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion.”

Mueller. Special Counsel Robert Mueller Source: PA Images

Top Democrats have already called for Special Counsel Mueller to testify before the House and Senate. 

In a joint-statement today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer criticised Barr for holding a press conference before Mueller’s report was delivered to Congress and hit out at what they described as his “slanted” letter from 24 March. 

“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth.”

The focus for many will now be on the 10 episodes involving Trump referenced by Barr this morning and and examined in Mueller’s report, a less-redacted version of which will now come before Congress. 

Asked by a reporter this morning had Mueller asked Barr to make a decision regarding obstruction of justice, Barr responded: “Special counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress. I hope that was not his view since we don’t convene grand juries to conduct criminal investigations for that purpose.”

“I didn’t talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision but I was told his reaction to that was it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision.”

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