The Mueller report is out
The redacted version of the Robert Mueller report has been delivered to the House and Senate Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill.
In special counsel Robert Mueller's report, the team writes that:
"With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice."
In the portion of the report that focused on collusion, Mueller offered a big-picture overview of the myriad contacts between Trump associates and Russians that occurred in 2016.
"The Russian contacts consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and Putin to meet in person, invitations for campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved US-Russian relations," Mueller wrote in the report.
Many of these contacts are already known. At least 16 Trump associates had Russian contacts during the campaign or transition, according to public statements, court filings, and reports from CNN and others. Some of the Trump aides lied about these contacts and were charged with lying to investigators.
These contacts include the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, negotiations with a Russian company to build a Trump-branded tower in Moscow, meetings with the Russian ambassador, and more.
The special counsel's investigation into possible collusion found that members of the Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia's illegal actions to influence the election, but didn't take criminal steps to help, Robert Mueller's report said.
"Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in the election interference activities," the report said.
Mueller specifically said Trump's presidential campaign "showed interest" in WikiLeaks' releases of emails that the Russians stole from the Democrats to hurt his opponent Hillary Clinton.
Barr noted earlier Thursday that "publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy."
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was unable to clear the president on obstruction. The report states that the evidence obtained “about the about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”
Here's what the special counsel team said:
"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. 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. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
The Department of Justice has posted a redacted version of the special counsel report.
Top Democratic lawmakers are tweeting ahead of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded a full public release of the report:
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said it is now "more urgent than ever" that Mueller testify before Congress:
Attorney General William Barr gave credit to the at-times controversial White House strategy throughout 2017 and 2018 for giving Robert Mueller’s team “unfettered” access to campaign and White House documents, as part of his judgment that President Trump did not obstruct justice.
Trump “took no act” to hamper that effort, Barr said.
The approach to hand over so much material — under Trump’s lawyer John Dowd and White House attorney Ty Cobb — was in contrast to a more combative approach against Mueller taken by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. (Giuliani took over after Dowd and Cobb left the legal team.)
Here's what Barr said at his news conference:
“As the special counsel’s report acknowledges, 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. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”
As we wait for Attorney General William Barr to submit a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report to Congress, some 2020 Democratic candidates are weighing in on it.
Some are calling on Mueller to testify, while others are asking for Barr to make a full, unredacted version of the report public. Some are also criticizing Barr's remarks at this morning's news conference.
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Rep. Eric Swalwell
Sen. Elizabeth Warren