Special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly-anticipated report landed with a thud, as the more than 18-month investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 elections concluded that there wasn’t evidence to indict President Donald Trump with collusion or obstruction of justice.
“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its interference activities,” Attorney General William Barr wrote in a memo to Congress on Sunday, two days after receiving the report from Mueller.
“The special counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” Barr said.
Also, after making a “thorough factual investigation” Mueller considered whether to evaluate the conduct of obstruction of justice under the Department of Justice’s standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the president’s conduct constituted obstruction, Barr’s letter to Congress states.
Mueller stated that while the report does not conclude that Trump committed a crime, “it also does not exonerate him.”
Further, perhaps as a word of caution to the White House and others who are claiming victory from the report’s release, Barr noted that Mueller declined to “make a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” leaving it up to the attorney general to choose whether to bring obstruction charges against Trump.
Barr declined to do so based on the evidence presented and the Justice Department guidelines for prosecuting a sitting president, Barr said.
The report concluded an investigation that did result in 34 people being indicted, including several instrumental in Trump’s campaign and some in his inner circle.
Among those charged or convicted since the Mueller investigation began are Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn; former campaign chairman Paul Manafort; longtime political adviser Roger Stone and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
Additionally, several Russian nationals have been either indicted or convicted of various charges stemming from Mueller’s investigation.
Democrats are urging for the release of the full report, while Republicans such as Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, claim the findings exonerates the president.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) questioned the timing of Barr’s letter.
“Special counsel Mueller worked for 22 months to determine the extent to which President Trump obstructed justice. Attorney General Barr took two days to tell the American people that while the president is not exonerated, there will be no action by the Department of Justice,” Nadler said.
The Mueller report “must be made public — all of it,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
“It is not often that I agree with Richard Nixon, but he was right to say that the American people have a right to know whether their president is a crook,” she said.