Attorney General William Barr said Special Counsel Robert Mueller recounted 10 episodes of potential obstruction by President Donald Trump, though Barr said there was evidence that Trump had “noncorrupt motives.”
Barr said he and his deputy disagreed with some of Mueller’s theories on obstruction. “The president took no action that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete the investigation,” the attorney general said at a news conference Thursday.
Barr disclosed that he let the president’s personal lawyer see the report in advance of its delivery to Congress at 11 a.m. with “limited redactions.” The White House didn’t request that additional material be withheld and there were no redactions based on executive privilege, Barr said.
“Game Over,” Trump tweeted immediately after Barr’s news conference, using a meme that evoked HBO's "Game of Thrones."
The attorney general also said that Russians didn’t have the “knowing assistance” of any Americans in their interference in the 2016 campaign.
“The Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign — or the knowing assistance of any other American for that matter,” Barr said.
Barr said leaders of several congressional committees will be given a version of the report with no reductions except those relating to grand jury information, he said. He also said he wouldn’t object to Mueller testifying before Congress, as lawmakers have sought.
Democrats blasted Barr’s decision to hold a briefing before the public could see Mueller’s findings, portraying it as an effort to spin the findings in Trump’s favor. Five House chairmen released a joint statement calling on Barr to cancel the news conference and “let the full report speak for itself.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that the only way to restore public trust after Barr’s “regrettably partisan handling” of the report was for Mueller to testify “as soon as possible” before Congress.
Barr previously had said he would withhold material in the report that touched on classified information, continuing investigations and grand jury proceedings or that could damage the reputations of people “peripheral” to the investigation.
Democrats are demanding the full report — and all the evidence behind it. The House Judiciary Committee voted on April 3 to authorize a subpoena for Barr to provide that material. If no accord is reached between the lawmakers and the attorney general, a subpoena could result in a legal clash that could reach the Supreme Court.
In a four-page summary Barr released last month, he said that Mueller didn’t establish that Trump or anyone associated with his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia “despite multiple efforts by Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
However, Mueller said his probe didn’t “exonerate” Trump on the question of whether he obstructed the investigation, according to Barr’s summary. Rather, Mueller said he found evidence “on both sides of the question.”
Nonetheless, Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appeared alongside him Thursday, reached their own conclusion that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to establish that Trump committed a crime.
Trump and his allies seized on Barr’s summary to declare that the president was exonerated by Mueller’s report. “The Greatest Political Hoax of all time!” Trump said of the Russia probe in a tweet Thursday morning.
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