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Explainer: Here are the key findings of the Mueller report into Russian collusion

The US President has claimed “total vindication”, but here’s what his Attorney General’s summary of the report says.

A copy of a letter from Attorney General William Barr advising Congress of the findings of the Mueller probe.
A copy of a letter from Attorney General William Barr advising Congress of the findings of the Mueller probe.
Image: Jon Elswick/PA Images

US ATTORNEY GENERAL Bill Barr released a summary last night of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report into allegations that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

Over the course of the two-year investigation the president regularly denounced it as a witch hunt, before claiming vindication upon its completion.

While the US President is claiming “total exoneration”, Democrats are highlighting elements of the summary which specifically do not exonerate Trump.

Here’s what Barr’s letter summarising Mueller’s report says:

Collusion

Mueller found that there was conclusive evidence that Russia did interfere in the election, both through a coordinated campaign of disinformation and by hacking emails from Hillary Clinton’s election team.

In a letter to lawmakers, Barr said that Mueller found that there had been “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign”.

Trump Russia Probe Special Counsel Robert Mueller Source: Cliff Owen/PA Images

It was found that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. 

Barr said: “The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency, to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.

“The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.

The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.

But quoting directly from Mueller’s report, Barr said that the special counsel’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities”.

Obstruction

Many observers had predicted the biggest danger to Trump came from a possible accusation of obstruction of justice, particularly over his decision to sack the FBI director James Comey, who headed the investigation before Mueller.

But Barr said that the evidence outlined in Mueller’s report “is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offence”.

“In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgement, constitute obstructive conduct,” Barr added in his letter.

But while Barr – who was appointed by 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.

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

No more indictments

Trump’s former national security advisor Mike Flynn, his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his campaign chairman Paul Manafort are among the 34 individuals already indicted by Mueller but they will be the last, according to Barr.

“The report does not recommend any further indictments nor did the special counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public,” Barr said in his letter to the heads of the Senate and House judiciary committees.

Barr added that Mueller “recognised that the ‘evidence does not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,’ and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the president’s intent with respect to obstruction”. 

Call for full report

The immediate reaction from Democrats was to call for the publication of the full Mueller report, after Barr released his four-page summary last night. 

But with the report declining to determine whether there was obstruction of justice by the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer escalated their demands for the full document’s release.

“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,” the Democratic pair said in a joint statement.

UPI 20190226 Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer Source: UPI/PA Images

They also said Barr, nominated just months ago by Trump, is “not a neutral observer” in the process and that his summary of the report is not an objective determination about Mueller’s findings.

The two Democrats also said Trump’s declaration that the report is a complete exoneration of the president because it clears him of colluding with Russia “directly contradicts the words of Mr Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility.”

Other senior Democrats, such as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, called for the full report.

“I don’t want a summary of the Mueller report. I want the whole damn report,” he said.

© AFP 2019 - with reporting from Seán Murray

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