Barr releases Mueller report
by Harvest Prude
Posted 4/18/19, 01:37 pm
The Department of Justice released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to Congress and the public Thursday morning. The 448-page report is divided into two sections, one that examines Russia’s activities related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and another that considers whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice during the investigation.
The first section confirms that Mueller’s team found no collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. The second section contains 10 episodes recounting the president’s actions that might have amounted to obstruction of justice. The accounts include the president firing FBI Director James Comey, asking White House lawyer Don McGahn to remove the special counsel, and encouraging witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. The report ultimately renders a hung-jury verdict, stating, “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we should so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Democrats may seize on this inconclusive finding to rehash the evidence or bolster their case for impeaching the president. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., issued a statement Thursday calling for Mueller to provide public testimony to both chambers of Congress due to Attorney General William Barr’s “regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report.”
At a news conference before the report’s release, Barr said because Mueller declined to render a traditional prosecutorial judgment on whether the president obstructed justice, “we felt the Department had to,” Barr said. He said in conversations with Mueller, the special counsel “did not indicate he wanted to leave [that decision] to Congress.” Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reached the conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice because Trump “took no act that deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete the investigation.” Barr said the absence of proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia “is something all Americans should be grateful that is confirmed.”
The White House reviewed a redacted copy of the report earlier this week, Barr said, but the president did not assert executive privilege to exclude any of the information in the report.
The report contained some redactions, with color coded notes about whether the redactions concealed grand jury information (red), individuals’ private information (green), an ongoing investigation (white), or classified information (yellow). Barr said he would also give a version of the report that contains no redactions except for grand jury information to a bipartisan group of leaders of Congress.
At an event Thursday honoring wounded veterans, Trump gave his interpretation of the report. “It was no collusion, no obstruction,” he said, adding that no president should ever have to go through what he did again. The president also said the Department of Justice should continue to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s investigation. Trump is scheduled to leave Thursday afternoon to spend Easter weekend in Florida at Mar-a-Lago.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.