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AG Barr affirms ‘no collusion’ in Trump-Russia probe as Mueller report released

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a House subcommittee in his first appearance before lawmakers on Capitol Hill. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
April 18, 2019

Attorney General William Barr held a press conference Thursday to discuss the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion that ended late last month.

The highly anticipated, redacted report is expected to be released to members of Congress, on compact discs, sometime this morning.

“After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government-sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 Presidential election, but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts,” Barr said Thursday at the presser.

Barr affirmed that there had been “no collusion” by President Donald Trump.

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Barr went to say the report clearly showed “the Russian government sought to interfere in our election process.” He went on to describe efforts by the Russian government-tied Internet Research Agency (IRA), as well as the Russian military intelligence organization GRU.

Barr discussed the efforts by the IRA, which engaged in actions to “sow social discord among American voters through disinformation and social media operations.” Some IRA-connected individuals and entities have already been charged by U.S. federal court.

“The Special Counsel report found no evidence that any American, including any member of the Trump campaign, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the IRA in this illegal scheme,” Barr explained.

Barr then noted the GRU’s efforts to “hack into computers to steal documents and emails from individuals associated with the Democratic party and the Hillary Clinton campaign,” for which federal charges have also been brought against some entities.

Barr added that the GRU “then transferred some of the stolen materials to WikiLeaks for publication. Wikileaks then made a series of document dumps.”

The investigation found “no evidence of collusion with Russian hacking” or involvement in “the dissemination of the materials” by Trump or anyone on his campaign.

“Special Counsel did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russian-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign,” Barr added.

Barr also highlighted allegations that Trump obstructed the investigation and said there was no evidence of any obstruction.

“The White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely and asserting no privilege claims,” Barr explained. “At the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”

In fact, Barr said it was President Trump who ordered the report to be released, and his attorneys did not order any redactions, which were later made by Barr.

Some members of Congress were outraged upon hearing that there would be redactions made to the report before they could view it.

Barr explained that the redactions are designed to “prevent harm for ongoing matters.” The redactions consist of grand jury information, information that could risk disclosure of sources and methods, information that would interfere with current investigations and prosecution, as well as information that “implicates the privacy and reputational interest of peripheral third parties.”

All but grand jury redactions will be removed in the version of the report sent to members of Congress.

“I believe that this accommodation, together with my upcoming testimony before the Senate and House Judiciary committees, will satisfy any need Congress has for information regarding the special counsel’s investigation,” Barr explained.

Mueller concluded his investigation on March 22 after nearly two years of probing whether or not President Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 Presidential election, and whether or not Russia influenced the 2016 Presidential election.

The report was delivered to the Justice Department where it was reviewed by Barr, who wrote a four-page summary letter to Congress of the report’s findings.

Mueller did not issue a statement upon submitting the long-awaited report.