U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not find that President Donald Trump or members of his campaign worked with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
The “investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or co-ordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Barr told a news conference.
Referring to the Russian entity the Internet Research Agency, which engaged in cyberattacks and hacking, Barr, using Trump’s preferred term of “collusion,” said, “The special counsel found no collusion by any Americans in IRA’s activities.”
Barr said the redacted report will be delivered to Congress on compact discs between 11 a.m. ET and noon and then afterward be posted on the special counsel’s website.
Barr, confirmed as attorney general in January, said Trump was given the opportunity to read the report, and did not invoke executive privilege over any portions of the report.
Democrats have vowed to fight in court for the disclosure of the additional information from the report and say they have subpoenas ready to go if it is heavily redacted. They are also interested in seeing Mueller testify on Capitol Hill.
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 co-operate in Mueller’s investigation, including Trump’s former campaign chairman, former national security adviser and former personal lawyer.
Trump went on a social media offensive early Thursday, again denying that he colluded with Russia.
Barr was accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017 just a few weeks after he joined the Justice Department. The decision came shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey less than halfway into this 10-year term.
Trump, with a letter written by Rosenstein, claimed the firing was a result of the FBI’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private servers while secretary of state, but days later Trump admitted “this Russia thing” was a primary driver of the decision. Comey testified Trump pressured him to drop an investigation of Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who lasted just three weeks early in Trump’s presidency before resigning.
Barr did leave room for an interpretation Democrats could pounce on, saying there was no evidence “any U.S persons knowingly or intentionally co-ordinated” with Russia. Critics of the Trump campaign have said advisers such as Carter Page and George Papadopoulos could have been unwitting agents for Russian efforts.
This story originally appeared on CBC