Attorney General William Barr on Thursday framed special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the premise that its findings were favorable to President Donald Trump, emphasizing the report found no wrongdoing by the President.
“The special counsel found no evidence that any Americans – including anyone associated with the Trump campaign – conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the (Internet Research Agency, a Russian company with close ties to the Russian government) in carrying out this illegal scheme,” Barr said at a press conference ahead of the redacted report’s release.
“Put another way, the special counsel found no ‘collusion’ by any Americans in the IRA’s illegal activity,” Barr said.
In defending Trump’s cooperation with the investigation, Barr said Trump entered office in an “unprecedented situation,” citing US intelligence investigations into Russian interference in the election.
“There was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability,” Barr said Thursday. “Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.”
He continued: “There is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”
The redacted report – which was released to Congress and the public later Thursday morning – provides more details into what was uncovered during the 22-month special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russia, as well as possible obstruction of justice.
Barr said the President’s lawyers were provided the opportunity to read the redacted report ahead of time. They were “not permitted to make, and did not request, any redactions,” he said.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May 2017, was in attendance at Thursday’s event. Mueller, however, was not.
CNN’s Laura Jarrett, Eli Watkins and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.