Mueller’s redacted report says Trump didn’t commit crime — stops short of exonerating him
The U.S. Department of Justice released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday, capping a 22-month investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mueller’s 448-page report, titled “Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Election,” did not make a conclusion on whether U.S. President Donald Trump had committed obstruction of justice but did not exonerate him, either.
While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges,” Mueller stated.
WATCH: U.S. Attorney General William Barr on the Mueller report
He added that the evidence “prevents us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred … it also does not exonerate him.”
The report said Trump repeatedly sought to take control of the investigation, but the attempts “were mostly unsuccessful.” But that was because the people surrounding the president “declined to carry out orders to accede to his requests,” the report stated.
Mueller said when Trump found out about the Russia probe, he “launched public attacks on the investigation and individuals involved in it who could possess evidence adverse to the President, while in private, the President engaged in a series of targeted efforts to control the investigation.”
“For instance, the President attempted to remove the Special Counsel,” the report stated.
WATCH: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff reacts to Mueller report
Mueller evaluated 10 episodes for possible obstruction of justice. For example, the report said there was “substantial evidence” that Trump fired FBI director James Comey due to his “unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation.”
Mueller said there was “some evidence” suggesting Trump knew about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s controversial calls with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office, but the evidence was “inconclusive” and could not be used to establish intent to obstruct.
The report also included Trump’s written responses, without redactions, submitted in the Russia probe. Trump told Mueller he had no recollection of several key events in Mueller’s probe, including a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between top aides and a Russian lawyer offering help to his campaign.
WATCH: Trump admin, U.S. lawmakers react to Mueller report
In the report, prosecutors called Trump’s answers “inadequate.” They considered issuing a subpoena for the president but decided against it after weighing the likelihood of a long legal battle.
The report said Trump has been agitated at the Russia probe from its earliest days and reacted to the news of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel by saying it was the end of his presidency.
“Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f****d,” the report quoted Trump as saying.
Longtime Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway denied Thursday that Trump has ever referenced his presidency being over.
WATCH: Conway denies Trump said Mueller appointment was ‘end of my presidency’
“I’ve been by his side for three straight years now, on the campaign and here. He has never expressed that,” she told reporters.
The report stated that Trump lashed out at then-attorney general Jeff Sessions for having recused himself in the matter.
“How could you let this happen, Jeff?” the report quoted Trump telling Sessions.
“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency,” Trump said, according to the report. “It takes years and years and I won’ t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
The president later went so far as to order White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn refused “for fear of being seen as triggering another ‘Saturday night massacre,'” the report stated.
Trump had wanted Mueller removed in June 2017 on the grounds of conflict of interest, the report said.
Two days later, the report said, “the President made another attempt to affect the course of the Russia investigation.”
WATCH: McConnell defends Barr, Rosenstein, Mueller after release of report
He asked his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to deliver Sessions a message that he should announce publicly that the investigation was “very unfair” to Trump, that the president had done nothing wrong and that he would allow Mueller to “move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections.”
Mueller’s report also said there was evidence indicating Trump intended to encourage his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, not to cooperate with the government.
Manafort was among the first people charged in the Russia probe, and though the allegations did not relate to his work for Trump, his foreign entanglements and business relationship with Russian intelligence have made him a pivotal figure in the probe.
“The evidence supports the inference that the President intended (former campaign Chairman Paul) Manafort to believe that he could receive a pardon, which would make cooperation with the government as a means of obtaining a lesser sentence unnecessary,” the report stated.
Barr says no collusion
The redacted document comes after U.S. Attorney General William Barr reiterated Thursday that the report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or the president conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. election.
Speaking to the media, Barr said report confirmed that the Russian government sought to meddle with the election.
WATCH: ‘I disagreed with some of Robert Mueller’s legal theories on obstruction of justice,’ Barr says
“That is the bottom line,” Barr said. “After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the investigation confirmed 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.”
He also said the findings in the Mueller report were not sufficient enough to establish whether Trump obstructed justice.
Barr said there was “substantial evidence to show the president was frustrated and angered” by the investigation but added that Trump’s motives were “non-corrupt.”
He said Mueller’s report examined 10 episodes pertaining to Trump and obstruction.
Barr said the president did not exert executive privilege to withhold anything in the report. And he said the president’s personal attorney had requested and gotten a chance to review the report before its public release.
WATCH: I am committed to the greatest degree of transparency, Barr says
Immediately after Barr’s press conference ended, Trump took to Twitter and posted an image of himself surrounded by fog with the words: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — GAME OVER.”
While delivering remarks at an event for wounded veterans, Trump reacted to the release of the redacted Mueller report on Thursday, saying the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was a “hoax” that “should never happen to another president again” and proclaimed his innocence from collusion, garnering a round of applause.
Hours later, Trump quoted Fox News commentator Jesse Watters in a tweet, saying, “Donald Trump was being framed, he fought back. That is not obstruction.”
The president added, “I had the right to end the whole witch hunt if I wanted. I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use executive privilege. I didn’t!”
Trump’s legal team called the results “a total victory for the president.”
WATCH: Trump reacts to redacted Mueller report, says ‘hoax’ should never happen to another president
Democrats blast report
Democrats were quick to criticize the report, demanding the full, unredacted version, be released. The party also called Mueller to testify before May 23 on the report. Barr has said he would welcome the testimony.
New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the Mueller report “outlines disturbing evidence” that Trump engaged in misconduct.
WATCH: Jerrold Nadler disagrees with William Barr on obstruction findings
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there’s a big difference between Barr’s previously released summary of the report and the contents of the document released Thursday.
Mueller turned over a copy of his confidential report to Barr on March 22. Two days later, Barr released a four-page letter summarizing what he said were Mueller’s primary conclusions. In that letter to Congress, Barr said Mueller’s investigation did not establish that members of Trump’s election campaign conspired with Russia.
Barr also wrote that Mueller presented evidence “on both sides” about whether Trump obstructed justice, but he did not draw a conclusion one way or the other. Barr said that he reviewed Mueller’s evidence and made his own determination that Trump did not commit the crime of obstruction of justice.
Democrats in Congress do not believe Barr, a Trump appointee, should have the final say on the matter.
A Kremlin spokesperson told the Guardian Thursday the Mueller report was “not an issue for (them).”
“It is not a thing that interests us or causes us concern,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. “We have plenty of other important, interesting, fruitful and constructive things to do. That’s what we prefer to focus on.”
—With files from Reuters, the Associated Press and Jesse Ferreras
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