Attorney General William Barr has sent Congress a summary of what he says are the main findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The letter says that while Mueller’s report “does not conclude that [President Donald Trump] committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
According to Barr, Mueller’s investigation also “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.”
The letter can be found here.
Two key passages from the letter are below. First, on Russian interference:
Second, on possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Note that Barr makes clear that he made a personal determination that Trump did not obstruct justice—a conclusion that Mueller did not apparently reach himself and one that is sure to cause considerable controversy:
Barr’s statement had been feverishly anticipated since news broke on Friday afternoon that Mueller had submitted his final report about the investigation, which has taken nearly two years to complete. Barr told congressional committee leaders in a letter on Friday that he would determine “what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law.”
As attorney general, Barr has wide latitude over how much of the report to release to the public—or whether the report is released at all.
During the investigation, Mueller indicted more than 30 people, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who was recently sentenced to nearly eight years in prison. The Justice Department told reporters on Friday that there are no new indictments expected from Mueller.
Update, 4:07 p.m. ET: Sen. Lindsey Graham was one of the first members of Donald Trump’s inner circle of supporters to comment on Attorney General William Barr’s summary. In a series of tweets, Graham said it is a “Great day for President Trump and his team.”
He added in a follow-up tweet that “it is time to move on, govern the country, and get ready to combat Russia and other foreign actors ahead of 2020.”
Shortly after, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the Mueller report summary “a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States” (emphasis ours). It’s worth repeating, as reported above, that Page 3 of Barr’s letter states: “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called for “full transparency.”
“DOJ owes the public more than just a brief synopsis and decision not to go any further in their work,” he tweeted. “Attorney General Barr took 2 days to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ,” he added in another tweet.
Nadler said he would call Attorney General William Barr to testify before the House Judiciary Committee “in the near future.”
Update, 4:46 p.m. ET: Aaaand Donj has weighed in with a statement that criticizes CNN, MSNBC, and BuzzFeed, and refers to “Collusion Truthers.”
Minutes later, President Donald Trump spoke to reporters and repeated the statement that Barr’s summary letter “was a complete and total exoneration.”
“After a long look, after a long investigation, after so many people have been badly hurt, after not looking at the other side, where a lot of very bad things happened…it was just announced there was no collusion with Russia,” Trump said. “There was no obstruction, none whatsoever. It was a complete and total exoneration. It’s a shame that our country had to go through this…Hopefully, somebody’s going to look at the other side. This was an illegal takedown that failed…No collusion, no obstruction.”
Update, 5 p.m. ET: More calls by Democrats for Barr to release the full Mueller report to Congress. Look for other Democratic presidential candidates to release similar statements:
Update, 5:31 p.m. ET: MSNBC’s Ari Melber made an important observation:
Update, 5:44 p.m. ET: Bernie’s fired up:
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement citing Barr’s “public record of bias” against the Mueller probe and adding that “he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.”
Update, 6:04 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include more details about Barr’s letter.
This is a developing story and is being updated.