Chuck Ross on April 18, 2019
Attorney General William Barr reiterated at a press conference Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence to establish that President Donald Trump or members of his campaign colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election.
“After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes,” Barr said at a press conference.
“We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign,” said Barr. “That is something that all Americans should be grateful to have confirmed.”
Barr, who was flanked at the press conference by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan, said that the Justice Department plans to send the report to Congress at around 11 a.m. It will be released to the public soon after.
Barr said the public version of the report will contain “limited redactions,” with most made for information related to ongoing investigations.
The White House declined to invoke executive privilege to block the release of any parts of the report, Barr said.
Barr said that Mueller investigated whether members of the Trump campaign or Trump associates helped in Russia-led disinformation campaigns or the release of emails hacked from Democrats. Mueller also probed links and contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians.
“After reviewing those contacts, the Special Counsel did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign,” said Barr. “So that is the bottom line.”
Barr also addressed Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed the FBI’s Russia probe. The attorney general acknowledged that he and Rosenstein shared some disagreement with the Mueller team’s “legal theories.”
He said that he “felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law.”
Barr offered some defense of Trump, while taking a jab at “relentless speculation” in the press.
“President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office and the conduct of some of his associates,” said Barr. “At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability.”
“Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion,” he added.