On Thursday morning, Attorney General Bill Barr gave a press conference on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller found that Russia did indeed attempt to interfere in the election, but he also found no evidence that any Americans — including President Trump or Trump campaign officials — colluded in those efforts. Barr personally concluded that there is no evidence Trump obstructed justice, either.
“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government and its election interference activities,” Barr quoted from the Mueller report.
“As the special counsel report makes clear, the Russian government sought to interfere in our election process,” Barr continued. “Thanks to the special counsel’s thorough investigation, we know 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. That is something all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed.”
Barr summarized two Russian efforts to interfere in the election: social media operations from the Internet Research Agency to sow discord in America, and hacking efforts against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party orchestrated by the Russian intelligence arm GRU. Those hacked documents were disseminated to WikiLeaks. In both of these efforts, no American — and no one on the Trump campaign — coordinated with Russia.
“After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts,” Barr repeated.
Yet Mueller also turned to the question of “whether certain actions of the president could amount to obstruction of the special counsel’s investigation,” the grounds for an obstruction of justice charge. The report recounts 10 episodes that could have formed the basis of such a charge, Barr reported.
“After carefully reviewing the report and in confirmation with the department’s legal counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and I concluded the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish the president committed an obstruction offense,” the attorney general added.
In his evaluation of the obstruction case, Barr said he and the deputy AG “accepted the special counsel’s framework and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusions.”
Barr said he would release the redacted Mueller report to authorities at 11 a.m. Eastern time. The public should be able to see the report soon after that.
Shortly after the Barr press conference, former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy told Fox News, “the special counsel did not resolve the prosecutorial decision on obstruction, so this is a decision for Barr to make.” According to McCarthy, Barr believed “they couldn’t conceivably make an obstruction case” if they had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump obstructed justice.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.