Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s eagerly awaited report on Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election found no evidence of a conspiracy by US President Donald Trump’s campaign to collude with Russia, the Justice Department said Sunday.
Mueller also declined to rule on whether the evidence showed that Trump obstructed justice, according to a summary submitted to Congress by Attorney General Bill Barr.
In a letter to Congress summarizing the report’s key points, Barr quoted Mueller as saying: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Barr said the investigation did not recommend any further indictments and does not have any further sealed indictments outstanding.
In his own review of Mueller’s findings on obstruction – one of the most serious allegations against the president – Barr said “the evidence… is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
Barr’s letter marked the end of the 22-month investigation by Mueller, a former FBI director, into allegations that Trump’s election campaign coordinated and colluded with Russians to influence the outcome of the 2016 vote so the billionaire tycoon would win.
However, it marked the beginning of a new phase, the determination of Democrats in Congress to further investigate Trump, using the evidence from the Mueller probe.
“Seems like the Department of Justice is putting matters squarely in Congress’ court,” tweeted Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts.”
However, the White House insisted that Trump had been completely cleared.
“The special counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the president of the United States.”
Trump slammed the two-year probe into his links with Russia as “an illegal takedown that failed,” and said he had been completely cleared by the results.
“It’s a shame our country had to go through this. To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.”
Moments earlier, he tweeted: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.”
– with reporting by Agence France-Presse