Mueller did not find Trump campaign “conspired” with Russia – CBS News

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities” during the 2016 campaign, he wrote in his final report. Attorney General William Barr summarized the report’s findings in a letter to lawmakers Sunday.

President Trump declared victory shortly after the summary was released, claiming it was a “complete and total exoneration.”

“This was an illegal takedown that failed and, hopefully, somebody’s going to be looking at the other side,” Mr. Trump told reporters in Florida before boarding Air Force One.

In his letter, Barr said Mueller described the facts surrounding his investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice but made no determination as to whether Mr. Trump committed a crime, deferring the question to Barr. The report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Barr quotes Mueller as writing.

But Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined the available evidence was insufficient to establish Mr. Trump had obstructed justice.

Democrats reacted angrily to Barr’s summary, with congressional leaders demanding Barr make the full report underlying investigatory documentation.

“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

“Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report,” the leaders said.

Barr’s letter was addressed to the top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House committee, vowed to call Mueller to testify before lawmakers “in the near future.” Nadler said there were “very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report.”

William Barr’s letter to Congress and report highlights

Mueller did not determine whether or not Trump obstructed justice

Mueller’s investigation into alleged obstruction of justice made no determination about whether Mr. Trump committed a crime, instead deferring to the attorney general:

After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.”

Barr determines obstruction evidence “not sufficient” to establish Trump committed crime

While Mueller did not make a judgment about potential obstruction, Barr said the available evidence was insufficient to determine the president broke the law.

After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.

No future indictments or sealed indictments

Barr writes that there are no outstanding indictments in the investigation nor any coming in the future:

During the course of his investigation, the Special Counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action. The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public.

Barr vows to release “as much” of report as consistent with law

Barr says he intends to release as much information from the report as possible:

As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.

Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6(e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6(e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible.

Earlier updates

Mueller spotted near the White House

2:08 p.m.: Mueller, known for keeping a low-profile during his long tenure at the highest echelons of U.S. law enforcement, was spotted Sunday morning near the White House after attending services at St. John’s Episcopal Church with his wife.

APTOPIX Trump Russia Probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller walks past the White House after attending services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Washington, on Sun., March 24, 2019. AP
Trump Russia Probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller, and his wife Ann, leave St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House on Sunday, March 24, 2019. Cliff Owen / AP

Jeffries: Trump could be a Russian asset or “useful idiot”

1:28 p.m.: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House, said special counsel Robert Mueller’s report should be made public so Americans can find out whether President Trump is a legitimate leader, an asset of the Russian government, a kingpin or a “useful idiot.”

“Let’s take the first step in terms of the full disclosure of the report and the underlying documentation,” Jeffries said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “The American people deserve to know whether Donald Trump is either: A, a legitimate president; B, a Russian asset; C, the functional equivalent of an organized crime boss or; D, just a useful idiot who happens to have been victimized by the greatest collection of coincidences in the history of the republic.”

Asked if House Democrats will seek to launch impeachment proceedings against the president regardless of Mueller’s conclusions, Jeffries said his party will focus on its legislative agenda and only initiate impeachment proceedings if the case against Mr. Trump is “compelling.”

Read more here.

Hakeem Jeffries says Trump might be illegitimate, a Russian asset or “useful idiot”

Jordan: Democrats fear report won’t be “bombshell”

12:56 p.m.: Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said congressional Democrats have started sweeping committee probes into President Trump because they’ll be disappointed by the report.

“Now it seems like they now think that this is not going to be the bombshell they thought it was going to be. So they’re launching all kinds of new fishing expeditions,” Jordan said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

Read more here.

Jordan says Dems fear Mueller report won’t be “bombshell” they expected

Schiff says Mueller report should be made public “ASAP”

11:15 a.m.: Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the Mueller report should be released to the public as soon as possible.

“I have great confidence in Bob Mueller’s judgment as to who should be prosecuted or who should not,” Schiff said. “We’re going to have to wait to see the report, and that report needs to be made public ASAP so we can evaluate the body of evidence on the issue of conspiracy and look at why Bob Muller decided not to indict.”

Read more here.

Schiff: Mueller’s report “needs to be made public ASAP”

White House says it hasn’t seen Mueller report

9:50 am.: Hogan Gidley, the White House deputy press secretary, said Sunday the White House has yet to receive or be briefed on the Mueller report. On Friday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course.”

Nadler: “Executive privilege cannot be used to hide wrongdoing”

9:40 a.m.: New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, which has the authority to initiate impeachment proceedings, said the president can’t exert executive privilege to cover up “wrongdoing.”

“Executive privilege cannot be used to hide wrongdoing,” Nadler said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, citing the precedent set by Richard Nixon, who was forced by the Supreme Court to turn over tape recordings and other subpoenaed materials after he tried to claim executive privilege during Watergate.

“The president may try to exert it, may try to hide things behind it,” the New York Democrat added. “But I don’t think that’s right or [will] be successful.”

Nadler said there is already damaging public information about Mr. Trump, regardless of the findings of Mueller’s report. He cited a conversation at the White House in 2017 in which the president reportedly told then-FBI Director James Comey to “go easy” on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who later plead guilty to lying to law enforcement officials and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.

Trump tweets for first time since report submitted

8:16 a.m.: The president broke a 40-hour Twitter silence with two early morning posts Sunday:

Mr. Trump is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and due back in Washington on Sunday evening.

House Judiciary asks DOJ to preserve documents related to probe

The House Judiciary Committee has asked the Justice Department, the FBI and the special counsel’s office to preserve all documents pertaining to Mueller’s investigation. Democrats will pursue this information as they try to make as much of the report public as possible.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in an interview with CBS News that the Judiciary Committee should have Mueller testify in order to “bring in the facts and understand his theories and why he declined to do things like file charges.”

“We know that there were interference in our election, we need to know why and how that happened. We have an election right around the corner,” Cummings said Saturday.

Other investigations continue beyond Mueller

Although the special counsel probe has ended, investigations are continuing in Congress and in federal and state courts.

Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has expanded the parameters of the committee’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Nadler, chair of House Judiciary, has launched an extensive investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey. In early March, the Judiciary Committee requested documents from 81 entities and individuals, from the White House to Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York has also launched investigations into Mr. Trump and the Trump organization.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Mr. Trump in 2017, told “CBS This Morning” last week that unlike Mueller, the Southern District is not blocked from any wider investigations by Justice Department guidelines.

“They can look at crime as they see fit, “Bharara said. “They can bring a case against anyone they think that justice needs to be served. They don’t care how powerful you are, they don’t care what party you’re from, they don’t care what your assets are. They’re tough and aggressive and independent.”

The New York state attorney general has also launched inquiries into Mr. Trump’s business dealings.