U.S. Justice Department releases redacted version of Mueller report on Russia probe
The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative report on the Russia probe.
Attorney General William Barr speaks about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. [Photo: AP]
The 448-page report is the culmination of Mueller's nearly two-year inquiry into whether Donald Trump's campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the president had obstructed justice.
The release came nearly a month after Attorney General William Barr penned a four-page summary of the report's "principal conclusions," which stated there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
According to the redacted report, Mueller said his team was unable to clear Trump on obstruction.
"The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred," the report said.
"Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him," it added.
Barr, who held a press conference at the Justice Department shortly before the report's public release, said Mueller did not make a "traditional prosecutorial judgement" regarding allegations that Trump had obstructed justice.
Instead, the special counsel recounts in his report 10 episodes involving the president and "discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense," according to Barr.
Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with some of Mueller's "legal theories" about obstruction of justice and concluded that the special counsel did not have "sufficient" evidence to establish that Trump committed an obstruction of justice offense.
Trump told an event at the White House on Thursday that he's "having a good day."
"It's called no collusion, no obstruction," he said. "This should never happen to another president again."
Trump's re-election campaign claimed in a statement on Thursday that the president "has been fully and completely exonerated yet again."
"Now the tables have turned, and it's time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump," said campaign manager Brad Parscale.
Mueller, whom Rosenstein appointed in May 2017, took over the investigation after Trump abruptly fired former FBI Director James Comey, a move that raised questions about his potential obstruction of justice.
According to the report, Trump was frustrated by the special counsel's appointment.
"Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it runs your presidency," Trump said, cited by 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."
Trump also had tried to seize control the Mueller's investigation and force his removal after media reports indicated that the special counsel was looking into whether the president had obstructed justice, the report revealed.
In June 2017, Trump reportedly directed then White House Counsel Don McGahn to call a Justice Department official and say that Mueller "had conflicts of interest and must be removed," which McGahn refused and threatened to resign.
"The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," Mueller wrote in the report.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lawyer, defended the president when speaking to Fox News on Thursday, saying that he "did not have a guilty motive."
The special counsel also wrote that he had the authority to issue a grand jury subpoena in order to interview Trump but decided against doing so because it would delay the investigation.
He said his team "had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the president's testimony."
Trump did provide written testimony on "certain" Russia-related topics, but not on "obstruction topics," said the report.
Democrats have demanded the full report, which Barr has said is redacted to protect grand jury material, sensitive intelligence, matters that could affect ongoing investigations and damage to the privacy rights of third parties, be made public to get a clearer picture of Mueller's investigation and conduct Congressional oversight.
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that his panel has formally invited Mueller to testify on the investigation.
"The public deserve the facts, not Attorney General's political spin," the California Democrat tweeted.
Barr said Thursday that he has "no objection" to Mueller testifying before Congress about his investigation.
Mueller took over the investigation after Trump abruptly fired former FBI Director James Comey, a move that raised questions about his potential obstruction of justice.
The wide-ranging inquiry led to felony charges against 34 people, including six Trump associates and advisers, and three entities.
According to Mueller's report, the special counsel referred 14 investigations to other U.S. attorney's offices.
Russia has denied any meddling in the U.S. election.