US AG William Barr says the two-year Mueller probe found no evidence of President Donald Trump colluding with Russia. Instead, it leans heavily on the repeated allegations that Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 election.
Speaking to the media before the release of the redacted 400-page report on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of claims Trump was helped into office by Russia, Barr debunked what every anti-Trump ‘Resistance’ member was pinning their hopes on for the past 22 months. He said the probe found no evidence that Trump – or any American – “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
Barr maintains the allegation that the Russian government made efforts to interfere in the election through the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Kremlin-controlled “troll farm,” as well as “hacking efforts” by the Russian intelligence agency GRU.
On the matter of obstruction of justice, Barr said he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, reviewed Mueller’s evidence and “legal theories,” and found that there is no evidence to show Trump tried to disrupt the investigation.
He said Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.
Barr also responded to criticism that he was trying to shield Trump ahead of the report’s release, saying that everything he was doing was in line with his duties as AG.
Most of the redactions in the report were made to protect ongoing investigations and the personal information of “peripheral third parties.”
Barr said that no one outside the Justice Department took part in the redacting process or saw the unredacted version, except for the intelligence community, which was given access to parts of it to protect sources.
Trump did not ask to make any changes to Mueller’s report, Barr said. However, the president’s personal counsel was given access to the redacted report before its release.
A number of Trump-affiliated people, as well as Russian nationals, have been indicted, charged or put on trial by Mueller over the course of the past two years, but none for election-related conspiracy.
The bogeyman of Russia looks set to survive the release, however, as Barr leaned heavily on the report’s claims that Moscow used social media manipulation through the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a supposed Kremlin-controlled ‘troll farm’, to shape public opinion, and hackers from the GRU were involved in obtaining the damning DNC emails that arguably cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.
He alleged that the “GRU hackers” obtained those emails and provided them to whistleblowing website WikiLeaks for dissemination – a claim that has long been repeated by Washington’s intelligence community.
Barr said that he does not object to Mueller testifying before Congress, something that top Democrats have been calling for. Democrats in Congress as well as numerous establishment media personalities have been insisting that Barr, Trump’s AG pick, is somehow “spinning” the report’s findings in order to protect and exonerate Trump, and are demanding to see the full report as soon as possible.
They have equally condemned Barr’s decision to hold a news conference before the report is release, claiming he is trying to shape public perception in Trump’s favor.