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Mueller finds no collusion with Russia, leaves obstruction question open

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not find sufficient evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the United States’ 2016 election and did not take a clear position on whether Trump obstructed justice.

The Robert F. Kennedy Building,  headquarters of the U.S. Department of Justice

The Robert F. Kennedy Building, headquarters of the U.S. Department of Justice

Mueller concluded his 22-month investigation and submitted a report to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, March 22. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reviewed the report over the weekend and filed a four-page summary of the report to Congress Sunday afternoon that was also released to the public.

In his letter to Congress, Barr summarizes the Mueller investigation as looking at two areas: Interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and obstruction of justice.

The special counsel found that Russia did interfere with the election, but “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

As far as obstruction, the Mueller report laid out facts on both sides but did not reach a conclusion. Barr’s letter said that “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”

But Barr said that he and Rosenstein "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."

Mueller and his team filed charges against 37 defendants, secured seven guilty pleas and one conviction at trial. Six former associates and advisors of President Trump were among those charged. The case of Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates was transferred Saturday from the special counsel’s office to federal prosecutors in Washington.

While no more indictments will come from the special counsel, investigations of Trump, his campaign and his businesses continue in Congress, and federal and state jurisdictions in New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Barr pointed out in his letter that parts of Mueller’s report dealt with grand jury testimony and would need to be reviewed and possibly withheld from Congress and the public.

There has been wide bipartisan support that the original Mueller report be released, and that Congress and the public have access to the report’s source material.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said that Congress must see the full report and all the evidence and was willing to use subpoena power to secure those.

“It was just announced there was no collusion with Russia,” Trump said Sunday “It was a complete and total exoneration.” Trump also added that the investigation was “illegal” but did not elaborate.

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