WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN/AP) — After years of investigating, the Department of Justice released a redacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report Thursday (April 18).
The report is nearly 400 pages and covers subjects ranging from questions about Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election to whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
Barr held an 8:30 a.m. news conference to present his interpretation of the report’s findings, before providing redacted copies to Congress and the public. The news conference, first announced by Trump during a radio interview, provoked immediate criticism from congressional Democrats.
Attorney General William Barr says he will give Congress a redacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative report at 10 a.m. CT.
He told reporters at the Justice Department that he would transmit to Congress copies of the public version of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Democrats complained that Barr’s news conference was an effort to influence reaction to the report ahead of its release.
Attorney General William Barr says President Donald Trump did not exert executive privilege over any information included in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
He said the White House counsel reviewed a redacted version of the report before Trump decided not to invoke executive privilege.
Barr said “no material has been redacted based on executive privilege.”
Barr says special counsel Robert Mueller’s report recounts 10 episodes involving President Donald Trump that were investigated as potential acts of criminal obstruction of justice.
Barr says Mueller did not reach a “prosecutorial judgment” and that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded the evidence was not sufficient to establish the president committed an offense.
Barr spoke and answered questions about his “process” before the report’s public release. He was accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017. Mueller and other members of his team did not attend.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Barr had “thrown out his credibility & the DOJ’s independence with his single-minded effort to protect” Trump. And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “The process is poisoned before the report is even released.”
“Barr shouldn’t be spinning the report at all, but it’s doubly outrageous he’s doing it before America is given a chance to read it,” Schumer said.
Hours before Barr’s press conference, Pelosi and Schumer issued a joint statement calling for Mueller to appear before Congress “as soon as possible.”
They said Barr’s “partisan handling” of the report has “resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality.”
The report is expected to reveal what Mueller uncovered about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia that fell short of criminal conduct. It will also lay out the special counsel’s conclusions about formative episodes in Trump’s presidency, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey and his efforts to undermine the Russia investigation publicly and privately.
The report is not expected to place the president in legal jeopardy, as Barr made his own decision that Trump shouldn’t be prosecuted for obstruction. But it is likely to contain unflattering details about the president’s efforts to control the Russia investigation that will cloud his ability to credibly claim total exoneration. And it may paint the Trump campaign as eager to exploit Russian aid and emails stolen from Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign even if no Americans crossed the line into criminal activity.
Overall, Mueller brought charges against 34 people — including six Trump aides and advisers — and revealed a sophisticated, wide-ranging Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Twenty-five of those charged were Russians accused either in the hacking of Democratic email accounts or of a hidden but powerful social media effort to spread disinformation online.
Five former Trump aides or advisers pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation, among them Trump’s campaign chairman, national security adviser and personal lawyer.
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Lisa Mascaro and Zeke Miller in Washington and Jonathan Lemire and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.