There was “no collusion” on the part of the 2016 Trump campaign amid repeated Russian efforts to interfere in the presidential election, Attorney General William Barr confirmed on Thursday.
His comments came in a news conference in advance of the public release of the report from special counsel Robert Mueller, who spent nearly two years and some $25 million investigating. His report is redacted to withhold grand jury testimony, names of some third-party individuals and investigatory methods.
Mueller also found there was insufficient evidence that the president tried to obstruct any part of his investigation or report. Barr said, however, Trump clearly was frustrated with the “relentless speculation” in the news media and in Washington about the investigation.
Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and Barr confirmed, “As he said from the beginning there was, in fact, no collusion.
“There is substantial evidence to show he was frustrated and angered that the investigation,” which was “propelled by political opponents,” was “undermining his presidency,” he said.
Nevertheless, the president and his counselors “cooperated fully” at all times, asserted no executive privilege and “took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of documents and witnesses.”
The investigation was fueled by a political opposition research document funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign that was used to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
Mueller concluded the Russian government tried to interfere in the 2016 election.
However, Barr said, “Russian operatives that pursued these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or his campaign.”
Barr said the report concludes Russians tried to create discord through social media operations and a disinformation campaign, and charges were filed against those operatives.
“The special counsel found no evidence that any American, including anyone associated with the Trump campaign, cooperated,” he said.
Charges were filed against Russian military officials who hacked computers and stole files from the Democratic National Committee, he said.
“Again the special counsel did not find any evidence member of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” Barr said.
Yet there was no evidence the Trump campaign worked with Russians to publicize the stolen documents, and there was “no conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and persons linked to the Trump campaign.”
“Special counsel confirmed Russian government sponsored efforts to interfere, but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded,” Barr said.
The attorney general also confirmed that at no point did President Trump exercise his legitimate executive privilege and ask that anything be removed from the report.