Law & the Courts

Barr Delivers ‘Principal Conclusions’ of Mueller Report to Congress

William Barr on Capitol Hill in January 2019 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr on Sunday delivered to Congress a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings, setting off what is sure to be a protracted partisan battle over how much of the report will eventually be made public.

According to Barr’s summary of the report, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly-two year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election failed to produce sufficient evidence that Trump or anyone involved in his campaign aided in Russian efforts to sway the election in his favor.

“Special counsel did not find anyone with the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” Barr wrote in a four-page letter to lawmakers that summarized his “principal conclusions” after reviewing the report.

Barr similarly explains in the letter that the special counsel declined to reach a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice. “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” reads a section of the report pertaining to the obstruction issue, according to Barr. It’s a concession Democrats are sure to cite as they proceed with the myriad ongoing Congressional investigations into Trump, his associates, his campaign and transition team.

Congressional Democrats have issued a unanimous call for the report to be made public in its entirety. They are joined by a smaller contingent of House Republicans, led by Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who agree the Justice department should prioritize transparency when determining how much of the report to make public.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Barr vowed to make public as much of the report as possible while observing Justice Department guidelines, one of which prohibits the identification of individuals who were investigated but never charged.

The special counsel investigation produced evidence of a widespread Kremlin-backed effort to disrupt the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf by spreading disinformation online and hacking key institutions like the Democratic National Committee to release damaging information. Despite Mueller’s failure to demonstrate that Trump campaign officials aided in those Russian efforts, certain Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), have continued to assert that information that’s already been made public is sufficient to conclude that Trump’s associates did in fact collude with the Russians.

“There’s a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy,” Schiff told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

The White House, meanwhile, celebrated Barr’s summary as a vindication of the president.

“The Special Counsel did not find any collusion & did not find any obstruction. Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings…are a total & complete exoneration of the President of the U.S,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated since its initial posting.

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