Special counsel Robert Mueller III did not find that Donald Trump’s campaign or any of his associates conspired with Russia in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a summary of Mueller’s findings sent to lawmakers Sunday.
“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the four-page summary by Attorney General William Barr said.
On the question of whether the president might have sought to obstruct the high-profile investigation, Mueller’s team did not offer a definitive answer.
“The Special Counsel … did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” the Barr letter said.
“The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the letter said.
The highly anticipated summary of Mueller’s investigation was sent to Congress on Sunday.
Mueller’s central mission has been to determine if Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election were aided or assisted in any way by Americans, including people close to Trump.
In all, Russian citizens interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and presidential transition, according to public records and interviews.
Of particular concern was the interaction between a London-based professor and a low-level Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. According to court filings, the professor told Papadopoulos in April 2016 that the Russians held damaging information about Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the form of thousands of emails.
Mueller also dug into a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer after being told she had incriminating information on Clinton that was being offered as part of the Russian government’s support for the GOP candidate, according to emails exchanged in advance of the meeting.
The lawyer has said she was not working on behalf of the Russian government. Trump Jr. and Kushner have said she did not provide any information about Clinton at the meeting.
Seeking to answer the collusion question, Mueller has also scrutinized the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which released batches of Democrats’ emails that U.S. investigators say were stolen by Russian intelligence officers.
Since his appointment in May 2017 as special counsel, Mueller has also wrestled with the question of whether the president attempted to obstruct justice once the FBI began investigating those close to him. Current and former White House officials who were questioned by Mueller’s investigators were repeatedly asked about how the president spoke of the investigation behind closed doors, and whether he sought to replace senior Justice Department officials to stymie the probe, according to people familiar with the interviews.
The special counsel’s work led to criminal charges against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers.
On Saturday, officials said that one of those cases – that of Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates – will be transferred from the special counsel’s office to federal prosecutors in Washington. Gates pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, and he continues to cooperate with prosecutors while awaiting sentencing.
A senior Justice Department official said the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments – a revelation that buoyed Trump’s supporters, even as additional Trump-related investigations continue in other parts of the Justice Department, in Congress and in New York state.
Lawmakers awaiting the findings appeared on the Sunday morning news shows, with some declaring they’d already reached their own conclusions.
On ABC News’ “This Week,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., reiterated that there was “significant evidence of collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said: “We know there was collusion. Why there’s been no indictments, we don’t know.” A senior Justice Department official said Friday that Mueller has not recommended any further indictments.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Nadler said it was “way too early to speculate” about the prospect of impeaching the president. He said he still believes Trump obstructed justice, although “whether they’re criminal obstructions is another question.”
Republicans accused Democrats of trying to revive a dead investigation in order to hobble the president.
The ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, said on “This Week” that Democrats had asserted that Mueller was “right next to Jesus and can walk on water” but that “all indications are that there’s not going to be any finding of any collusion whatsoever.”
Rep. Douglas Collins of Georgia, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, pledged to fight any efforts to use Mueller’s files as a springboard for impeachment.
“It is not the Department of Justice’s job to give Chairman Nadler and the House Judiciary, or any committee in the House or in the Senate for that matter, what they want to do to go off on a purely partisan investigation that could lead to impeachment,” said Collins.
Trump spent the weekend at his Florida resort, golfing and largely staying quiet on the investigation, which at times has threatened to consume his presidency – and which he has publicly labeled a “witch hunt.” He was scheduled to return to Washington on Sunday evening.
The president’s supporters are hopeful he will be vindicated now that Mueller’s inquiry has ended, while Democrats pledged that the special counsel’s findings will bring new focus to congressional inquiries aimed at the administration.
The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez, Paul Sonne and Drew Harwell contributed to this report.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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Trump’s 2016 Campaign Didn’t Collude With Russians, Finds Mueller Probe – NDTV News