Mueller report does not exonerate Donald Trump citing possible obstruction acts
Mueller and his team declined to make a “prosecutorial judgment” about whether Trump committed obstruction. Attorney General Barr later concluded that the evidence didn’t support that.
After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some Trump-Russia answers straight from Robert Mueller. Eager to get in the last word ahead of the public release of the special counsel's report, Attorney General William Barr on Thursday laid out in advance what he said was the "bottom line:" No collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government hackers.The redacted report is now available on the special counsel's website.
Follow all the latest updates as it happens here:
Mueller's team declined to prosecute Donald Trump, Jr. Here's why
"Taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in a campaign-finance prosecution and the difficulty in establishing the required valuation, the Office decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges against Trump Jr. or other campaign officials for the events culminating in the June 9 meeting." the report said. "The Office ultimately concluded that, even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law."
12:09 pm ET: Trump tried to get Mueller fired
On June 17, 2017, after media reports indicated that Mueller was investigating whether Trump had obstructed justice, Trump called former White House lawyer Don McGahn at home and directed him to call the acting attorney general and say Mueller "had conflicts of interest and must be removed."
McGahn declined to do so, deciding that he would "rather resign than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre."
12:06 pm ET: Trump on Mueller appointment: "This is the end of my Presidency"
In May 2017, after Trump learned from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump “slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm f***ed.’”
11:52 am ET: Mueller report does not exonerate Trump citing possible obstruction acts
"If we had confidence after after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller wrote in his report. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment."
The report detailed “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”
11:25 am ET: Trump's lawyers call the report a "total victory for the President"
"The results of the investigation are a total victory for the President. The report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning - there was no collusion - there was no obstruction. After a 17-month investigation, testimony from some 500 witnesses, the issuance of 2,800 subpoenas, the execution of nearly 500 search warrants, early morning raids, the examination of more than 1.4 million pages of documents, and the unprecedented cooperation of the President, it is clear there was no criminal wrongdoing. Nothing withheld; nothing concealed; nothing deleted; nothing destroyed; and nothing bleached."
11:15 am ET: Congress still has ability to find the President obstructed justice, says Mueller report
"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."
11:09 am ET: Justice Department releases redacted version of the Mueller report. Find it here
10:59 am ET: Chuck Schumer demands full public release of the report
10:56 am ET: Pelosi says it is now "more urgent than ever" that Mueller testify before Congress
10:53 am ET: 2020 presidential candidates want to see unredacted report and hear from Mueller himself
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
10:35 am ET: Russia responds to release of Mueller report
Russia has responded to the impending publication of the Mueller report. “This is not an issue for us,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told Guardian when asked if Moscow was concerned about the imminent release of Mueller’s report. “It is not a thing that interests us or causes us concern… We have plenty of other important, interesting, fruitful, and constructive things to do. That’s what we prefer to focus on.”
10:20 am ET: Nadler says 'cannot take Barr's word for it'
10:16 am ET: House Judiciary Committee sends letter to Mueller requesting his testimony by May 23
Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has sent a letter to Mueller asking him to testify soon. "I request your testimony before the the Judiciary Committee as soon as possible — but, in any event, no later than May 23, 2019," he wrote.
Barr holds press conference before release of Mueller report
- Barr says Trump's personal lawyer was allowed to read Mueller's redacted report before release
- Trump channels 'Game of Thrones'
- Barr says Mueller told him that he "had not made the determination that there was a crime."
- Barr is now taking questions
- Barr says no material has been redacted based on executive privilege. "The presidents personal lawyers were not permitted to make, and did not request, any redactions."
- Barr says White House had "voluntarily cooperated with the special counsel" and that they therefore had plenty of authority to assert executive authority.
- Barr says the report contains "limited redactions". He says the report will contain notes on why redactions were made
- Barr says there was incredible scrutiny surrounding Trump, and whether he was personally culpable. He also blamed the media in part for Trump's actions.
- Barr says the Russian government sought to interfere in "our election process." Barr said Mueller's report shows that Russian operatives sought to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. He added that the special counsel found "no collusion by any Americans."
- Barr says that the investigation found no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russian hacking
- Barr says that the special counsel investigation also analyzed hacks into the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign
9:38 am ET: Barr says that Rod Rosenstein has been an "invaluable partner"
9:24 am ET: Justice Department will release 2 versions of the redacted Mueller report
There will be two versions of the redacted special counsel report: One being released to the public and one that will eventually go to a limited number of members of Congress with fewer redactions, the Justice Department said.
9:17 am ET: Trump tweets video of himself saying 'no collusion'
8:57 am ET: Trump tweets 'presidential harassment' ahead of redacted report's release
8:27 am ET: Here's what we know so far:
9:30 a.m. ET: Barr will hold a news conference on Mueller's report at the Justice Department, DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said.
11 a.m. ET: A redacted version of the report will be sent to Congressional committees
Sometime after that: A copy of the report will be posted on the special counsel's website
Later: Trump told WMAL Radio’s Larry O’Connor on Wednesday that he may have a news conference after Barr's
8:06 am ET: Trump denounces investigation 'hoax'
8:01 am ET: Barr has a history of misleading Congress, says law professor
New York University professor of law Ryan Goodman on Monday highlighted that AG William Barr was involved in a remarkably similar fight to the one he is in right now. In 1989, when he was the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Barr reportedly misled Congress by omitting parts of a Justice Department Memo.
The OLC had determined that the FBI was allowed to take people into custody in foreign countries without the consent of those countries’ governments—a ruling that seemed to pave the way for the eventual arrest of former Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega, according to Goodman.
Barr was asked to provide the memo offering the detailed legal rationale for allowing such detentions.
First, he declined. He then offered a 13-page document that “summarizes the principal conclusions.” When Congress, and then The Washington Post, obtained the full opinion in 1991, it was quickly noted that several conclusions from the full document hadn’t been included in Barr’s summary.
Foremost among them was that the opinion that authorized the president of the United States to ignore the United Nations Charter.
7:34 am ET: Top 5 things to look out for in the 400-page redacted document
1. Obstruction of Justice: Barr's four-page summary of the Mueller report detailed that although there is no evidence against the president of committing a crime, the report "does not exonerate him." The report also mentions evidence of potential obstruction of justice by Trump and the Special Counsel left the decision of charging the president on Barr, who decided against it.
2. Trump Campaign's Russia Contacts: Although the report did not find any concrete evidence of collusion, there are signs that the report holds new information on the Trump campaign's contact with Russia. A source close to Mueller's team told NBC News that the report “paint[s] a picture of a campaign whose members were manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation”.
3. Redactions in Report: One major thing to look out for in the report would be how much of the information would be redacted. Barr is considered a Trump loyalist who thinks little of the Mueller probe. The AG is set to redact four categories of material, and the redactions would be color-coded by category. Barr would possibly be asked to explain why he thought certain material in the report was unfit for public consumption.
4. Summaries Created by Mueller Team: The Special Counsel's team had included multiple summary paragraphs for quick public release in the document, however, it is reported that Barr was displeased with the summary and released his own interpretation.The report was prepared “so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately – or very quickly” a member of the Mueller team told The Washington Post.
5. Clarity on unresolved cases: The report would possibly provide clear details of cases like the Trump Tower Meeting and whether Trump was involved in it or knew of the infamous meet up with a Russian official. It will also detail the circumstances which led to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's arrest, and former FBI chief James Comey's firing.
7:17 am ET: Pelosi, Schumer condemn Barr’s 'partisan handling' of Mueller report
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement Thursday morning condemning "Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report," which they said had "resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality."
They cited "his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning – hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it."
"We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible," the two leaders said in their statement.
"The American people deserve to hear the truth.”
5:30 am ET: Publishers readying print copies of Mueller report
Three major publishers—Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint, Skyhorse Publishing and Melville House—will be publishing Mueller’s report as a physical book, even though it is will be available free on the internet. All three are offering it for preorder online ahead of the document’s imminent release.
5.29 am ET: Barnes & Noble offering free download of the Mueller report
Bookseller Barnes & Noble said that it's offering "The Mueller Report" for pre-order to customers. On its website, Barnes & Noble said it is offering a "PDF/direct replica" of the nearly 400-page report — "Barr redactions and all." It can be pre-ordered using the company's Nook e-reader or app, and delivered upon release. The bookseller described the report as "essential reading for all Americans on both sides of the aisle."
"We've received strong demand from our customers for this report, and want to make it as easy as possible for them to access it for free as soon as possible," Tim Mantel, the bookseller's chief merchandising officer, said in a statement.
5.25 am ET: Justice Department going old school, to deliver report on CDs
The report will be color-coded based on four categories, allowing people to know why certain passages or words were not made public. Barr said the removal categories are:
1) Materials from grand jury proceedings
2) Classified information
3) Information related to ongoing prosecutions
4) Materials which touch on third parties who are not directly involved in the Russia investigation
5.10 am ET - Ivanka not concerned about Mueller report
First daughter and the President's top adviser Ivanka Trump said she was not worried about Mueller report. "I knew that there was no collusion. I knew that there was no obstruction and this was affirmed in the Mueller report and Attorney General Barr's subsequent summary," she told the AP in an interview during a trip to Africa to promote a global women's initiative.
4:16 am ET: House Democrats have subpoenaed nine banks
The subpoena is as part of an inquiry into President Trump’s financial interests, according to people familiar with the matter, including six U.S. firms and three foreign lenders, reports Wall Street Journal.
The list includes U.S. giants JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America as well as Capital One Financial Corp. It also includes Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank
4:13 am ET: Five senior House Democrats call on Barr to cancel press conference
This is what they said in a statement:
“The Department of Justice announced today that the Attorney General will hold a press conference tomorrow morning before Congress has even seen Special Counsel Mueller’s report. This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it.
“In addition, we understand from press reports that the Department of Justice has had ‘numerous conversations’ with lawyers from the White House about the report, which ‘have aided the President’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report.’ There is no legitimate reason for the Department to brief the White House prior to providing Congress a copy of the report.
“These new actions by the Attorney General reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump. The Attorney General previously stated, ‘I do not believe it would be in the public’s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.’ We agree.
“He should let the full report speak for itself. The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested. With the Special Counsel’s fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress’ responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly.”
4.06 am ET : Nadler blasts Barr
At a press conference, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler blasted Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the Mueller report release: “The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump.”
Barr “is trying to bake-in the narrative” to benefit the White House, Nadler said. “This is wrong. This is not the proper role of the attorney general." Nadler added that depending on how heavily redacted Thursday’s released report will be, the House Judiciary Committee could still decide to subpoena Mueller and his staff for more clarity.
4:06 am ET: Democrats outraged
Democrats have expressed alarm that Barr will speak before the report is delivered to Congress, a move that would offer the attorney general a significant advantage and condemned the reported consultations between the White House and the Justice Department.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Barr had "thrown out his credibility & the DOJ's independence with his single-minded effort to protect" Trump.
"Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller's nearly two-year investigation," said Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler. "This is wrong. It is contrary to the attorney general's own words to the committee."