Mueller probe finds no conspiracy of Trump campaign with Russia, Trump claims 'complete exoneration'

2019-03-25 08:20:40Xinhua Editor : Gu Liping ECNS App Download

U.S. Attorney General William Barr told Congress Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence that Donald Trump's campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government to allegedly interfere in the 2016 election.

"The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election," Barr said in a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

"The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired with the Russian government in its election interference activities," Barr wrote, quoting the confidential report submitted by Mueller on Friday.

Barr's letter was a summary of what he called the "principal conclusions" of Mueller's nearly two-year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

According to the letter, the Mueller report did not reach a conclusion as to whether Trump had obstructed justice, stating that it "does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Barr said Mueller's "decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions" leaves it to him to determine whether Trump's examined conduct described in the special counsel's report "constitutes a crime."

The attorney general added that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined "that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense."

Trump, who has spent his weekend at his private club in Florida, touted Barr's summary as a "complete exoneration," while lashing out at Mueller's investigation that has shadowed his presidency.

"This was an illegal takedown that failed and hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side," he told reporters Sunday before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington D.C.

Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, said the president's legal team is "very pleased" with Barr's letter.

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday insisted that Mueller's report does not exonerate the president.

Judiciary panel Chairman Jerry Nadler tweeted that Trump "may have acted to obstruct justice, but that for an obstruction conviction, 'the government would need to proved beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct.'"

In another tweet, Nadler said his panel will call Barr to testify in near future "in light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report."

Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing for the release of Mueller's full report for their independent oversight and legislating to address issues that the special counsel's findings may raise.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he will not be "satisfied until the full report and all underlying evidence is made available."

"Americans deserve to know all the facts, which is why the report itself should be released - to the fullest extent of the law - in addition to the attorney general's summary," he said in a statement.

Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein in May, 2017, to lead the inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 election and whether the president obstructed justice, among other things.

The investigation has led to felony charges against 34 people, including six Trump associates, and three entities, triggering fierce criticism from the president and his political allies.

Much of the charges related to lying to Congress or federal investigators. Russia has denied any meddling in the 2016 election.

Barr said Sunday that Mueller's report "does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the special counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public."

The attorney general also revealed in his letter a massive effort by Mueller through the nation's court system and in interviewing witnesses to reach his findings.

Mueller's team issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, as the special counsel employed 19 lawyers and was assisted by a team of 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and other professional staff.

The process of determining what else can be released from Mueller's report "has begun," CNN reported, citing a Justice Department official.

There's a small team working on it, and no firm timeline for release, according to CNN.

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