Advertisement
  1. Nation & World

Mueller report: Trump campaign did not coordinate with Russia in 2016

Published Mar. 25

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department declared Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller's long investigation did not find evidence that President Donald Trump's campaign "conspired or coordinated" with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, setting off celebrations of vindication by Trump and his supporters. Mueller also investigated whether Trump obstructed justice but did not come to a definitive answer.

In a four-page letter to Congress, Attorney General William Barr quoted Mueller's report as stating it "does not exonerate" the president on obstruction. Instead, Barr said, it "sets out evidence on both sides of the question."

Trump, in Florida, said the report proved "there was no collusion" as he has contended for many months. He also claimed it showed there was no obstruction and said it was a shame that he and the nation had to suffer through "an illegal takedown that failed."

Barr released his summary of Mueller's report Sunday afternoon. Mueller wrapped up his investigation on Friday with no new indictments, bringing to a close a probe that has shadowed Trump for nearly two years.

But the broader fight is not over.

Congress' top Democrats, Chuck Schumer of New York in the Senate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, put out a statement saying Barr's letter raises as many questions as it answers, including about his own decision not to prosecute on possible obstruction.

"Given Mr. Barr's public record of bias against the special counsel's inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report," they said. Trump's claim of complete exoneration "directly contradicts the words of Mrs. Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility," they added.

The Justice Department summary sets up a battle between Barr and Democrats, who called for Mueller's full report to be released and vowed to press on with their own investigation.

For Trump, Barr's report was a victory on a key question that has hung over his presidency from the start: Did his campaign work with Russia to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton?

Still, Mueller's investigation left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and drafting an incomplete explanation about his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. That left it to the attorney general to decide. After consulting with other department officials, Barr said he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, determined the evidence "is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense."

Barr, nominated to his job by Trump last fall, said their decision was based on the evidence uncovered by Mueller and not based on whether a sitting president can be indicted.

Trump was at his Florida estate when lawmakers received the report. Barr's chief of staff called Emmet Flood, the lead White House lawyer on the investigation, to brief him on the findings shortly before he sent it to Congress.

Mueller's investigation ensnared nearly three dozen people, senior Trump campaign operatives among them. The probe illuminated Russia's assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.

Mueller submitted his report to Barr instead of directly to Congress and the public because, unlike independent counsels such as Ken Starr in the case of President Bill Clinton, his investigation operated under the close supervision of the Justice Department, which appointed him.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman said Congress needs to hear from Barr about his decision and see "all the underlying evidence."

Mueller "clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the president, said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. in a series of tweets, but Barr is telling "the American people that while the president is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ."

"There must be full transparency in what Special Counsel Mueller uncovered to not exonerate the President from wrongdoing. DOJ owes the public more than just a brief synopsis and decision not to go any further in their work," Nadler tweeted

Barr said that Mueller "thoroughly" investigated the question of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia's election interference, issuing more than 2,800 subpoenas, obtaining nearly 500 search warrants and interviewing 500 witnesses.

However, Mueller was not able to interview Trump in person.

Barr said Mueller also cataloged the president's actions including "many" that took place in "public view," a possible nod to Trump's public attacks on investigators and witnesses.

In the letter, Barr said he concluded that none of Trump's actions constituted a federal crime that prosecutors could prove in court.

Democrats are reminding that the House voted nearly unanimously, 420-0, to release the full Mueller report, which they say is more important not than ever. "This is about transparency and truth — and a 4 page summary from Trump's AG doesn't cut it," tweeted Rep. Mark Takano, D-Ca., the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. "The American people deserve to see the whole thing."

Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in New York, Deb Riechmann in Palm Beach, Florida, and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
  2. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, Washington. EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    The complaint, which the administration has refused to let Congress see, remains shrouded in mystery but is “serious” and "urgent.
  3. A man holds an inflatable alien at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, near Rachel, Nev. People gathered at the gate inspired by the "Storm Area 51" internet hoax. JOHN LOCHER  |  AP
    A man who was urinating near the gate was arrested and a woman was detained for an undisclosed reason, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said.
  4. In this Sept. 13, 2019 file photo, young climate activists march with signs during a rally near the White House in Washington. At left is the Washington Monument. In late September 2019, there will be climate strikes, climate summits, climate debates, a dire climate science report, climate pledges by countries and businesses, promises of climate financial help and more. There will even be a bit of climate poetry, film and music. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) SUSAN WALSH  |  AP
    Organizers expect millions to take part in marches, rallies and sit-ins for what could be the largest ever mass mobilization on climate issues.
  5. In this photo provided by Peter Sacco, a crowd gathers at a cordoned-off intersection near a shooting Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in a Washington D.C. neighborhood. Police say one man was killed and five other adults were wounded in a shooting in the courtyard of an apartment complex near Columbia Heights Metro Station in the nation's capital. PETER SACCO  |  AP
    Police say five victims in the Columbia Heights shooting were men and one was a woman.
  6. De Blasio launched his bid in May, but his campaign largely failed to take off. [TARA MCCARTY | Tampa Bay Times]
    De Blasio struggled to gain traction in a sprawling field of Democrats seeking the presidency. He announced his decision in an MSNBC interview on Friday.
  7. Jade McLain carries Thor out of a boat as she and Fred Stewart were rescued from their flooded neighborhood inundated by rains from Tropical Depression Imelda by Splendora Police officers on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Spendora, Texas. BRETT COOMER  |  AP
    By Thursday night, floodwaters had started receding in most of the Houston area, said the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner.
  8. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks to reporters after the panel met behind closed doors with national intelligence inspector general Michael Atkinson about a whistleblower complaint, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The administration is keeping Congress from even learning what exactly the whistleblower is alleging.
  9. In this Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 photo, a billboard depicting Shiite spiritual leaders and volunteer fighters from the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces who were killed in Iraq fighting Islamic State militants, is displayed in Basra, Iraq. As the U.S. and Israel step up their efforts to contain Iran, countries in Tehran’s orbit are feeling the heat. Nowhere is that being felt more than in Iraq, where Shiite forces tied to Iran pose a growing challenge to the government’s authority. NABIL AL-JURANI  |  AP
    Pro-Iranian militias across Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq are being targeted, both with economic sanctions and precision airstrikes hitting their bases and infrastructure.
  10. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement