- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that any American — neither on the Trump campaign or otherwise — conspired with the Russian government or its operatives to interfere in the 2016 election, Attorney General William Barr announced Thursday.

Mr. Barr said Mr. Mueller’s 22-month probe found Russia did indeed try to meddle, but didn’t get help from Americans.

“We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American: for that matter,” Mr. Barr said at a press conference to describe the findings in a nearly 400-page report.

Mr. Mueller investigated not only direct efforts by Russian officials, but also the social media disinformation campaign, including the stealing and release of Democratic campaign emails, and cleared everyone in the Trump campaign orbit of wrongdoing.

“After two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas and hundreds of warrants or witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential elections but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans clouded in those efforts,” Mr. Barr said.

Those findings undercut the narrative that launched Mr. Mueller’s 22-month probe in the first place.

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More complicated was Mr. Trump’s reaction to the investigation, which he repeatedly complained about, suggested was a “witch hunt,” and suggested he could obstruct.

Yet Mr. Barr said there was not enough evidence to actually find Mr. Trump did obstruct — and in fact, plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump’s public complaints were just griping, and behind the scenes his team fully cooperated.

“The president took no act that deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation,” Mr. Barr said.

He also said the context of the president’s comments was important: “President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office.”

Mr. Mueller said he would send the report to Congress at 11 a.m., and make it available to the public after that.

Mr. Trump seemed eager to have people watch Mr. Barr, tweeting to his tens of millions of followers Thursday morning to watch on either Fox News or One America News Network.

SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton allies fed FBI Donald Trump-Russia stories

“No collusion - No Obstruction!” Mr. Trump also tweeted.

Mr. Barr will testify to the House and Senate about the report and his decisions on May 1 and May 2.

Democratic leaders say that’s not good enough.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said they want to hear from Mr. Mueller himself, saying he should come to Capitol Hill to testify about his work and findings. They said Mr. Barr has proved to be a biased messenger who appears intent on protecting Mr. Trump.

“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the special counsel’s investigation is for special counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth,” the Democratic leaders said.

Mr. Barr said that would be fine.

“I have no objection to Bob Mueller personally testifying,” he said.

Mr. Mueller’s work spanned 22 months. His team issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for records and interviewed 500 witnesses.

He filed a nearly 400-page report last month, and Mr. Barr, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, spent the intervening weeks reviewing the report and preparing it for public release — with what Mr. Barr called “limited” redactions.

Besides grand jury information, the other classified material includes U.S. intelligence information, details about ongoing investigations and any details that could infringe on the personal privacy of “peripheral third parties.”

Mr. Barr said he will send another report to Congress that includes the secret information — though it won’t include grand jury information, which he said a law passed by Congress shields from release outside the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr said that broader report would be made available to a special bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The House Judiciary Committee has already voted to give Chairman Jerrold Nadler power to issue a subpoena for the full report without redactions, which could precipitate a clash with Mr. Barr.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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