Donald Trump ‘did not conspire with Russia’, Mueller report finds
US president claims ‘total exoneration’ after special counsel files report
Special counsel Robert Mueller found that Donald Trump did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election, according to a summary of his report submitted to Congress yesterday.
Although the Justice Department said the report does not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice, the US president heralded the outcome as “complete and total exoneration”, describing the inquiry as “an illegal take-down that failed”.
The New York Times says “the darkest, most ominous cloud hanging over Trump’s presidency” is all but lifted, while the Washington Post predicts that “No collusion” will transform from a “defiant mantra” to a “rallying cry for Trump’s re-election”. The BBC’s North America editor Jon Sopel said: “What was that film called? As Good As It Gets? That's how Donald Trump must feel.”
The inquiry spent nearly two years investigating Trump’s election, issuing 2,800 subpoenas, hundreds of search warrants and conducting countless hours of interviews.
The summary of the report, released by US Attorney general William Barr, found 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”.
However, Mueller uncovered definitive evidence that Moscow did interfere in the election, via a coordinated onslaught of disinformation and by hacking emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign team.
The special counsel also found that there had been “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign”.
Analysts had predicted that Trump would be particularly vulnerable on the question of obstruction, particularly given his sacking of the FBI director James Comey, who fronted the investigation prior to Mueller. Barr ruled that the evidence outlined in Mueller’s report “is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offence”.
However, Mueller had sat on the fence on the question. Barr explained: “The special counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”
Democrats are already calling for the full report to be released along with all of the evidence considered. Barr has said he will release more, but warned it would take some time to decide which materials could be shared.
Several other investigations are continuing to examine the US president, including inquiries by Congress and a federal investigation that is looking into possible election-law violations by the Trump campaign and his businesses and possible misconduct by the Trump inaugural committee.
For now, though, Trump is wallowing in the outcome of Mueller's probe. He said on Sunday it was “a shame that the country had to go through this”.