WASHINGTON, DC (AFP) — US President Donald Trump declared Sunday that he had been completely exonerated, after his campaign was cleared of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election campaign.
But the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller left unresolved allegations that Trump obstructed justice in his attacks on the probe.
“There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction. It was a complete and total exoneration,” Trump said.
“It’s a shame that the country had to go through this,” he added. “This was an illegal takedown that failed.”
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019
In a summary of Mueller’s findings sent to Congress, Attorney General Bill Barr said no Trump campaign official was involved in the Russian conspiracies to hack Democratic computers and flood social media with disinformation to harm Trump’s election rival Hillary Clinton.
“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,” Barr wrote.
On the other hand, Barr said Mueller declined to reach a decision on the evidence against the president of obstruction — almost guaranteeing that Democrats in Congress will push to investigate this further.
Mueller wrote that, “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Barr said.
Barr added that his own review of that evidence together with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein showed it was “not sufficient” to prove whether Trump’s multiple attempts to interfere with Mueller’s investigation rose to an obstruction-of-justice offense.
The White House claimed the cloud over the White House had been lifted after the 22-month probe.
“The special counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a tweet.
“AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the president of the United States.”
Investigations move to Congress
Barr’s letter marked the conclusion of the disturbing investigation into allegations that Trump’s election campaign coordinated and colluded with Russians to skew the 2016 vote so the billionaire real estate magnate would win.
Mueller’s team indicted 34 individuals, and reached guilty pleas or verdicts against five former Trump aides, including one-time attorney Michael Cohen, national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
But it marked the beginning of a new phase, the determination of Democrats in Congress to further investigate Trump, using the evidence from the Mueller probe.
Democrats demanded to receive Mueller’s entire report and his underlying evidence to further their own multiple investigations into the president.
“Seems like the Department of Justice is putting matters squarely in Congress’ court,” tweeted Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts.”