Monday, 25 March 2019

'I told you there was no collusion': Triumphant Trump claims 'total exoneration' and calls Mueller probe an 'illegal take-down that failed' after report finds President did NOT conspire with Russia to win election

A joyous Donald Trump returned to the White House Sunday, hours after his campaign was cleared of allegations of Russia collusion, and told a crush of waiting reporters – twice – that 'America is the greatest place on earth.'
'I just want to tell you America is the greatest place on earth. The greatest place on earth,' the president said. He gave a thumbs' up as he walked off Marine One.
A senior administration official told  that the president is thrilled with the findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
'I haven't seen him this happy in months. It's like election night again,' the person said.  

'America is the greatest place on earth,' President Trump said Sunday upon his return to the White House
'America is the greatest place on earth,' President Trump said Sunday upon his return to the White House

Robert Mueller attended church near the White House on Sunday
Robert Mueller attended church near the White House on Sunday
The president had already boasted that Mueller's 22-month Russia probe ended with a 'complete exoneration,' slamming the entire operation as 'an illegal takedown that failed' and saying he hopes 'somebody is going to be looking at the other side.'
'There was no collusion with Russia, there was no obstruction and none whatsoever and it was a complete and total exoneration. It's a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it's a shame that your president has had to go through this,' Trump said in West Palm Beach, Florida before he boarded Air Force One to return to Washington D.C.
Trump called the concept that his 2016 campaign aides would collude with agents of Russia the 'most ridiculous thing I've ever heard,' and claimed the Mueller probe was illegal, an argument he has long made. 
'Before I even got elected it began. And it began illegally. ... This was an illegal takedown that failed, and hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side. So a complete exoneration, no collusion, no obstruction,' Trump emphasized. 
He also tweeted a victory message: 'No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!'
Trump has yet to take questions from reporters about the final chapter in the made-for-TV scandal that has hung over most of his time in office. 
President Trump claimed a 'complete exoneration' in the investigation
President Trump claimed a 'complete exoneration' in the investigation
Mueller concluded that Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russians in order to improve his chances of beating Democrat Hilary Clinton.
But the findings will not be an end to the investigations surrounding the president. Instead they likely signal a new stage that will involve round after round of congressional subpoenas and hearings as House Democrats probe how Mueller came to his findings. 
The special counsel did not draw a conclusion 'one way or the other' as to whether the president obstructed justice, according to the findings, but left that decision to Attorney General William Barr. 
Barr explained it was a joint decision between him and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - who was in charge of Mueller's investigation during the majority of its existence - not to charge the president.
He explained that the two men concluded 'the investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.'
He wrote in his letter to Congress that long-standing Justice Department tradition of not indicting a sitting president had nothing to do with the decision.
'Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president,' he wrote. 
But the Democratic leaders in Congress slammed Barr's decision, saying he was not 'neutral' in the investigation, and called for Mueller's full report and its supporting documentation to be made public. 
'Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay. Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report,' Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.
'And most obviously, for the president to say he is completely exonerated directly contradicts the words of Mr. Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility,' the two leaders added. 
Mueller's conclusions were announced by Barr in a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary chairmen and ranking members on Sunday. 
'The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election,' the letter states.  
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declared it a 'total and complete exoneration' of the president
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declared it a 'total and complete exoneration' of the president
William Barr leaves his home as Washington awaits Mueller report
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Barr notes that Mueller investigated 'a number of actions by the president' that have been the subject of public reporting but 'did not draw a conclusion - one way or the other - as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.'
But the letter also notes the special counsel did not 'exonerate' the president - a citation that Democrats are already clinging to as they push their demand for all the documents and evidence Mueller used in the making of his report.  
'The Special Counsel states that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,"' the letter states.
The president also remains under investigation by the Southern District of New York, which is looking into possible Trump campaign violations based on evidence Mueller's team seized when investigators raided the home and office of Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen last April. Cohen is cooperating with the probe
Barr reassured the lawmakers he plans to release as much of Mueller's report as possible to the public.
'My goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel's report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies,' although he did not give a timeline of when that might happen.
Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators plumbed a series of events from the 2016 campaign, including leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that WikiLeaks posted in the summer of 2016.

Mueller investigation by the numbers 

Employed 19 lawyers 
Worked with team of 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff
Issued more than 2,800 subpoenas
Executed nearly 500 search warrants
Obtained more than 230 orders for communication records
Issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers
Made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence
Interviewed approximately 500 witnesses 

Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone was indicted by Mueller for lying about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails that damaged Clinton's campaign. 
The Stone indictment alleged that a top Trump campaign official instructed Stone to get information from WikiLeaks about hacked. 
There were questions as to whether that Trump campaign official was the president himself. Stone claims that official is Rick Gates, who is cooperating with Mueller's investigation, and whom Stone claims is seeking a reduction in his sentence. 
Mueller's report confirmed the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did work to influence the 2016 election but the investigators also concluded no American knowingly or willingly helped Moscow in its efforts.
The special counsel found two fronts Russia worked on: the first was attempts by the Russian group Internet Research Agency to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord.
The second finding describes how 'Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.'
It was this finding that led to many of Mueller's criminal charges against Russian agencies and actors.
But, the investigators 'did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.' 
Mueller also examined the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 where then-campaign chair Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who claimed to have dirt that could harm Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Trump Jr. slammed the investigation, which entangled him, his siblings and the Trump Organization, in a statement.
'After more than 2 years of non-stop conspiracy theories from CNN, MSNBC, Buzzfeed and the rest of the mainstream media, as well as daily lies and smears coming from Democrats in Washington, the Mueller Report proves what those of us with sane minds have known all along, there was ZERO collusion with Russia,' he said.
'Sadly, instead of apologizing for needlessly destabilizing the country in a transparent attempt to delegitimize the 2016 election, it's clear that the Collusion Truthers in the media and the Democrat Party are only going to double down on their sick and twisted conspiracy theories moving forward,' he said.
He added: 'It's my hope that honest journalists within the media have the courage to hold these now fully debunked truthers accountable and treat them with the scorn and ridicule that they so deserve.'

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declared the findings a 'total and complete exoneration' of the president. 
'The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction. AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States,' she wrote on Twitter. 
Aboard Air Force One, she added a second tweet: ''A great day for America and for President @realDonaldTrump. After two years of wild anti-Trump hysteria, the President and his millions of supporters have been completely vindicated.' 
And Vice President Mike Pence said it was a great day for 'every American who cherishes the truth and the integrity of our elections.'
'After two years of investigation, and reckless accusations by many Democrats and members of the media, the Special Counsel has confirmed what President Trump said along; there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. The Attorney General also confirmed that there was no obstruction of justice. This total vindication of the President of the United States and our campaign should be welcomed by every American who cherishes the truth and the integrity of our elections,' he said in a statement.
Sunday did not, however, bring an end of investigations surrounding the president. 
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced on Twitter his committee would be calling Barr before them to explain how he reached the conclusion Trump should not be charged. 
'Special Counsel Mueller worked for 22 months to determine the extent to which President Trump obstructed justice. Attorney General Barr took 2 days to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ,' Nadler wrote.
'In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future,' he added. 
And Democrats vowed earlier Sunday to continue their examination of the president. 

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