WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States President Donald Trump slammed the two-year probe into his links with Russia as “an illegal takedown that failed” on Sunday (March 24), and said he has been completely cleared by the results.
The final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that Mr Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election but left unresolved allegations that Mr Trump obstructed justice in his attacks on the probe.
“There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction. It was a complete and total exoneration,” Mr Trump said.
“It’s a shame that the country had to go through this,” he added. “This was an illegal takedown that failed.”
In a summary of the final report by Mr Mueller sent to Congress, Attorney General Bill Barr said no Trump campaign official was involved in the Russian conspiracies to hack Democratic computers and flood social media with disinformation to harm Mr Trump’s election rival Hillary Clinton.
“The special counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts,” Mr Barr wrote
On the other hand, Mr Barr said Mr Mueller declined to reach a decision on the evidence against the President of obstruction – almost guaranteeing that Democrats in Congress will push to investigate this further.
Mr Mueller wrote that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”, Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr, however, added that his own review of that evidence together with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein showed it was “not sufficient” to prove whether Mr Trump’s multiple attempts to interfere with Mr Mueller’s investigation rose to an obstruction-of-justice offence.
The White House claimed the cloud over the White House has been lifted after the 22-month probe.
“The special counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction,” White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said in a tweet. “AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”
Investigations move to Congress
Mr Barr’s letter marked the conclusion of the disturbing investigation into allegations that Mr Trump’s election campaign coordinated and colluded with Russians to skew the 2016 vote so the billionaire real estate magnate would win.
Mr Mueller’s team indicted 34 individuals, and reached guilty pleas or verdicts against five former Trump aides, including one-time attorney Michael Cohen, national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
But it marked the beginning of a new phase, the determination of Democrats in Congress to further investigate Mr Trump, using evidence from the Mueller probe.
Democrats demanded to receive Mr Mueller’s entire report and his underlying evidence to further their own multiple investigations into the President.
“Seems like the Department of Justice is putting matters squarely in Congress’ court,” tweeted Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts.”