Attorney General William Barr vigorously defended President Trump in a press conference Thursday morning ahead of the release of the Special Counsel’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Barr repeatedly stressed that the report concluded no members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, often using one of the favored phrases of the president himself: “no collusion.”
And while the special counsel’s report apparently did not determine whether certain acts committed by Trump and his administration would constitute obstruction of justice, Barr said he concluded that the evidence they presented was not enough to establish an obstruction of justice offense.
Barr defended Trump’s actions concerning the investigation by saying he faced an “unprecedented situation” when he came into office, citing scrutiny from federal prosecutors and “relentless speculation in the news media” about his personal culpability. He stressed that the White House had fully cooperated with the investigation and defended the redactions he had made to the public report, noting that he will make a less redacted version of the report available to Congress.
Barr also said he had “no objection” to Special Counsel Robert Mueller personally testifying before Congress.
Barr maintained that, overall, the report largely exonerated the Trump campaign from any claims of working with the Russians to influence the 2016 election.
“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,” he said, “but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts.”
Barr didn’t discuss the Trump Organization’s pursuit of a deal in Moscow to build a residential tower.
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani admitted in January that Trump’s discussions to build the skyscraper — with approval from key Russian officials — continued through election night in 2016. Former fixer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that the president instructed him to lie about when negotiations ended.
Felix Sater, a former Trump associate, previously said the Trump Organization considered his idea to offer Putin the $50 million penthouse in the skyscraper. The tower was never built.