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Mueller report: Trump cleared of conspiring with Russia?

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been the cause of political confusion ever since it was submitted to Attorney General William Barr on 22 March 2019.  According to the summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report US President Donald Trump’s campaign did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 election. The allegation clouded the first two years of Mr Trump’s presidency and his allies see the report’s finding as a boost to his re-election chances.

But Attorney General William Barr’s summary is inconclusive as to whether Mr Trump obstructed justice. Opposition Democrats are demanding full access to Mr Mueller’s report. Having repeatedly described the inquiry as a witch hunt, Mr Trump said it was an “illegal takedown that failed”. Despite the inconclusiveness of the report regarding allegations he obstructed justice, the president said it constituted “complete and total exoneration”.

Mueller’s summaries took on special significance on 30 April 2019 when a letter he wrote to Barr the month before became public. Mueller wrote in that letter that he was dissatisfied with Barr’s own initial summary of the report because it “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” so Mueller requested Barr release Mueller’s own summaries to the public.

While Mueller made this request on 25 March 2019, the day after Barr released his four-page summary of the report, Mueller’s summaries weren’t available to the public until the full, redacted version of the report was publicly released on 18 April 2019. However, Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice could not clear President Donald Trump, according to a redacted version of the special counsel’s report, which provided new details of Trump’s efforts to influence the investigation into his campaign and Russia. The report details numerous cases in which Trump asked his aides to take actions that would have obstructed the investigation, but stated they were unsuccessful because the aides refused his orders.The report claims that “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,”

The 448-page report, which includes two volumes and appendixes, paints a starkly different picture than the one laid out by Attorney General William Barr. Barr said that Mueller’s investigation did not establish a conspiracy with the Russian government and that Mueller did not make a decision on obstruction. But the full report lays out a significantly more complicated picture as Mueller’s team weighed whether to prosecute cases.

The report includes multiple episodes that were previously unknown, stemming from both the collusion and obstruction investigations, which are likely to fuel investigations in Congress into Trump. It’s also likely to add to the wave of criticism Barr has faced from Democrats, who were infuriated that he held a press conference.

Mueller wrote he accepted the Justice Department opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted. But the special counsel report rejected the Trump team’s legal argument that a President cannot commit obstruction of justice, leaving the door open for Congress to continue to investigate Trump.”With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” the report says

On May 16, 2017, Mueller interviewed with Trump to again serve as the Director of the FBI but was not hired. The next day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to serve as special counsel for the United States Department of Justice. On May 17, 2017, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to take over the previous FBI investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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