Key findings from the attorney general’s summary of the Mueller report
Washington — In what the White House claimed as a “total and complete exoneration” of President Trump, Attorney General William Barr said special counsel Robert Mueller did not find Trump campaign associates had “conspired or coordinated” with Russian government during the 2016 campaign.
In his four-page summary to the chairs and ranking members of the Judiciary Committees in both chambers of Congress, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also determined, without considering a longstanding Justice Department opinion stating sitting presidents cannot be indicted, that Mueller’s findings were not “sufficient” to prove Mr. Trump committed obstruction of justice.
Still, Barr said Mueller stopped short of exonerating the president of obstructing justice. “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mueller wrote in his report, according to Barr’s summary.
Here are some of the key findings from Barr’s summary of Mueller’s long-awaited report.
No future indictments or sealed indictments
Barr said Mueller did not recommend more indictments in his report, which was submitted Friday. He added that the special counsel’s team did not obtain sealed indictments which have yet to be made public.
The attorney general also mentioned Mueller referred several cases to other law enforcement offices for “further action.”
During the course of his investigation, Mueller secured seven guilty pleas and charged 34 individuals and three separate companies, including some of Mr. Trump’s former aides and confidants.
No conspiracy or coordination found between Trump campaign and Moscow
According to Barr’s summary, Mueller wrote in his report that his investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded the Russian government orchestrated a sophisticated operation to meddle in the 2016 election and sow discord among the public. Top law enforcement and intelligence officials have said the Kremlin wanted Mr. Trump to win.
During the summer of 2016, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Trump Jr. held a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Although he initially said the meeting was scheduled to discuss adoption policy, Trump Jr. later admitted he had expected damaging information on Clinton. The president has repeatedly denied having knowledge of the meeting.
“They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her and help him,” former FBI Director James Comey said in his congressional testimony in 2017, referring to the president and Clinton.
Mueller did not conclude whether Trump’s conduct constituted obstruction
Barr said Mueller did not “draw a conclusion” as to whether the president’s conduct examined by his team constituted obstruction.
“The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” the attorney general wrote. “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.”
Democrats have long insisted there is ample public evidence of Mr. Trump obstructing justice. They have pointed to a 2017 conversation between the president and then-FBI Director James Comey in which Mr. Trump asked Comey to “go easy” on Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who later pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.
Mr. Trump has also been accused of obstructing justice by firing Comey in May 2017. The president told NBC News he considered “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire the FBI director.
Report does not “exonerate” president — on obstruction of justice
Summarizing Mueller’s report, Barr said the special counsel left “difficult issues” of “law and fact” about whether the president’s “actions and intent” could be classified as obstruction “unresolved.” According to Barr, Mueller stopped short of exonerating the president.
“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mueller wrote in his report, according to the attorney general.
Barr and Rosenstein — not Mueller — determined Trump had not committed obstruction of justice
Since Mueller did not make a conclusion on whether Mr. Trump committed obstruction of Justice, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined, based on Mueller’s findings and advice from Justice Department officials, that there was insufficient evidence to prove the president committed an obstruction offense.
“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,” Barr wrote.
Barr and Rosenstein reached conclusion without considering Justice Department guideline not to indict sitting presidents
Barr said he and Rosenstein decided the president’s actions did not amount to obstruction of justice without considering the longstanding Justice Department conclusion that presidents can’t be indicted while in office.
“Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president,” he wrote.
During his confirmation hearing, Barr told lawmakers he agreed with the longstanding Justice Department opinion.
Barr: Trump took “no actions” constituting “obstructive conduct”
Barr said he determined none of the president’s actions detailed in Mueller’s report proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Mr. Trump, with “corrupt intent,” engaged in obstruction of justice.
“In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of justice offense,” the attorney general wrote, suggesting most of the actions probed by Mueller were already public.
Barr vows to release “as much” of report as consistent with law
After citing statutes and regulations that will make disclosing all of the report’s contents extremely difficult, Barr wrote he was nevertheless committed to releasing “as much” of Mueller’s findings as possible.
“As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter,” he added. “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.”
Barr said the timing of any release of information from the report will be dependent on Justice Department officials officials identifying which findings need to be redacted. House Democrats will likely seek to secure congressional testimony from both Barr and Mueller in the coming months, precipitating yet another standoff with the administration.
After Barr’s summary was released, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he will be asking the attorney general to testify before Congress in “the near future.”