Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report has revealed that US President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mr Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president.
The report said that in June 2017, Mr Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to call the acting attorney general and say that Mr Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest.
Mr McGahn refused — deciding he would rather resign than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre of Watergate firings fame.
For all of that, Mr Mueller said in his report that he could not conclusively determine that Mr Trump had committed criminal obstruction of justice.
The Justice Department posted a redacted version of the report online this morning, 90 minutes after attorney general William Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings.
The two-volume, 448-page report recounts how Mr Trump repeatedly sought to take control of the Russia probe.
Mr Mueller evaluated 10 episodes for possible obstruction of justice, including Mr Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, the president’s directive to subordinates to have Mr Mueller fired and efforts to encourage witnesses not to cooperate.
The president’s lawyers have said Mr Trump’s conduct fell within his constitutional powers, but Mr Mueller’s team deemed the episodes deserving of criminal scrutiny.
Mr Mueller reported that Mr Trump had been agitated at the special counsel probe from its earliest days, reacting to Mr Mueller’s appointment by saying it was the “end of his presidency”.
As for the question of whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Mueller wrote: “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”
Mr Mueller also said there was not sufficient evidence to charge any campaign officials with working as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia.
The report included an appendix that contained 12 pages of Mr Trump’s written responses to the special counsel. They included no questions about obstruction of justice, as was part of an agreement with Mr Trump’s legal team.
Attorney General Barr: 'The evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense' https://t.co/AYaxJwZTI1 via @ReutersTV pic.twitter.com/P9CPGRn9c0— Reuters (@Reuters) April 18, 2019
Mr Trump told Mr Mueller he had “no recollection” of learning in advance about the much-scrutinised Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer. He also said he had no recollection of knowledge about emails setting up the meeting that promised dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
He broadly denied knowing of any foreign government trying to help his campaign, including the Russian government. He said he was aware of some reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made “complimentary statements” about him.
Mr Trump said his comment during a 2016 political rally asking Russian hackers to help find emails scrubbed from Mrs Clinton’s private server was made “in jest and sarcastically” and that he did not recall being told during the campaign of any Russian effort to infiltrate or hack computer systems.
Mr Trump’s legal team called the results “a total victory for the president.”
Mr Trump tweeted moments after Mr Barr concluded his news conference, with an image inspired by the HBO show Game Of Thrones.
The image included the words “No Collusion” and “No Obstruction” and then taunted Democrats with the phrase “Game Over”.
Speaking at an unrelated White House event, Mr Trump said he was “having a good day” following the release of the report.
And he said that no president should ever have to go through what he did again.
He said: “It was called no collusion, no obstruction.” He added: “There never was, by the way, and there never will be.”
He also renewed his calls for an investigation into the origins of the inquiry, saying: “We do have to get to the bottom of these things.”
No evidence Trump obstructed Russia probe, says Attorney-General
The Mueller report says that the special counsel determined there was a "reasonable argument" that Donald Trump Jr. violated campaign finance laws, but Mr Mueller did not believe they could obtain a conviction.
It also found that Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a link to Podesta emails four days after WikiLeaks asked him to do so.
While the report detailed the efforts by Russian military officials to hack into Democratic Party computers and steal information, the Attorney-General said that while hacking the emails was a crime, publishing them was not if the person did not take part in the hacking.
“Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy,” Barr said.
After that explanation, Barr said the special counsel did not find anyone from the Trump campaign broke the law.
“The Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials,” Barr said.
Donald Trump has responded to the release of Mueller’s report into Russian election interference, saying: “This should never happen to another president again.”
The report also revealed that President Trump told then Attorney-General Sessions "This is the end of my presidency," when he learned a special counsel was being appointed.
It also found that Trump directed White House lawyer Don McGahn in June 2017 to tell the acting Attorney General that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed.
Attorney General William Barr has said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not uncover evidence that US President Donald Trump obstructed the Russia probe.
A redacted copy of Robert Mueller's report on alleged Russian interference into the 2016 US election has been released.
Confirming that President Trump was briefed on the report, the Attorney-General said."The president confirmed that, in the interests of transparency and full disclosure to the American people, he would not assert privilege over the special counsel's report:"
The report said prosecutors did not subpoena Trump because it would create a "substantial delay" at a "late stage" in the investigation, despite Mueller believing he had authority to do so.
It also accepted the longstanding Justice Department view that a sitting US president may not be indicted as part of legal analysis for obstruction.
However, the report did say there is "substantial evidence" that Trump fired FBI Director Comey due to his "unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation".
It says Trump asked Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland to draft an internal letter saying he had not asked Michael Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador. It added that there was "some evidence" to suggest Trump knew about Flynn's calls with the Russian ambassador, but it is "inconclusive" and could not be used to establish an intent to obstruct.
The report also found that Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shared internal polling data and the strategy for winning Midwestern states with Ukrainian ally Konstantin Kilimnik.
Earlier: Attorney-General: No collusion between Trump campaign and Russian hackers
A redacted version of a report into claims of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump's election campaign is being released.
Special counsel Robert Mueller led the FBI’s investigation which found there was no interference.
US attorney general William Barr has said there was "no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government hackers" as he spoke ahead of the release of Mueller's report into Russian election interference.
The fully published report said Russian operatives did not have the co-operation of President Trump or his election campaign.
Eager to get in the last word ahead of the public release of the special counsel's report, Mr Barr laid out in advance what he said was the "bottom line".
WATCH LIVE: Attorney General Barr says the Mueller report recounts 10 episodes involving Trump and evaluates whether they qualify as obstruction of justice https://t.co/fjwJEnmay0— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) April 18, 2019
While Mr Mueller drew no conclusion about whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice in the investigation, Mr Barr said he and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein personally had concluded that while Mr Trump was "frustrated and angry" about the Mueller probe, nothing the president did rose to the level of an "obstruction-of-justice offence".
He also said the special counsel found no evidence that any American conspired or coordinated with the Russian government and did not find any person "illegally" disseminated any hacked emails
In his press conference, Attorney General Barr defended his four-page summary of the Mueller Report, which probed the Russian government‘s interference and any potential obstruction of justice by President Trump and others.
Barr said Trump was "frustrated and angered" by the investigation, which did not establish Trump coordination with Russia, and he believed it was fueled by illegal leaks. The Attorney-General went on to say that the White House fully cooperated with Mueller's probe.
He said a less redacted report will be made available to a bipartisan group of members of Congress before adding that no information in Mueller report was redacted because of executive privilege.
Attorney General Barr said "significant portions" of the Mueller report could have been kept secret because of executive privilege, but were not.
He said he did not think there was enough evidence to pursue an obstruction of justice case against the president.
Mr Barr said Mr Mueller's report examined 10 episodes pertaining to Mr Trump and obstruction.
Mr Barr said he and Mr Rosenstein disagreed with some of Mr Mueller’s “legal theories” pertaining to obstruction of justice, but he said that did not influence their conclusion that Mr Trump did not commit a crime.
The Attorney-General said: "Although the Deputy Attorney-General and I disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theory and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision.
"Instead we accepted the special counsel's legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusions."
It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings. We are now requesting Mueller to appear before @HouseJudiciary as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/Mmo6PA4KPt— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) April 18, 2019
He added that he has no objection to Robert Mueller testifying to Congress.
Mr Barr said the president did not exert executive privilege to withhold anything in the report. And he said the president's personal lawyer had requested and gotten a chance to review the report before its public release.
The Justice Department will release a redacted version of the special counsel's report later, opening up months, if not years, of fights over what the document means in a deeply divided country.
The US President responded to the Attorney-General's press conference on Twitter.
He tweeted a photograph of himself, with the words: "No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats, Game over."
Even ahead of the report’s release, Democrats cried foul about Mr Barr’s press conference, for “spinning the report” in the words of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.
“The process is poisoned before the report is even released,” he said.
And moments after Mr Barr finished speaking, House judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler sent a letter requesting that Mr Mueller himself testify before his panel “no later than May 23”.
Mr Barr’s news conference ended abruptly after he bristled at the tone of some questions about how he handled the Mueller report.