Trump offers rave reviews for Mueller report he hasn’t seen

WASHINGTON — President Trump offered a rave review to the report written by special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday even though he has not seen the full document. Speaking to reporters while visiting the Capitol, Trump praised the summary of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and suggested that it fully cleared him of any wrongdoing.

“The Mueller report was great. It could not have been better. It said, ‘No obstruction. No collusion.’ It could not have been better,” Trump said.

Mueller delivered a report on his probe, which began in mid-2017, to Attorney General William Barr last Friday. Barr subsequently sent a four-page letter to the House and Senate Judiciary committees on Sunday wherein he summarized Mueller’s report.

Barr’s letter said the Mueller investigation had not found evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but it did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice.

About two hours after Trump made his comments about the Mueller report, Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the president had not seen the document. According to Kupec, Barr has not provided a copy of Mueller’s full report to the White House. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Congressional Democrats and 2020 presidential candidates have criticized Barr’s letter as inadequate, particularly since the attorney general was appointed by Trump and had criticized Mueller’s investigation before taking his current position. Many Democrats are pushing for the Department of Justice to release the full report.

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Former FBI director Robert Mueller attends the ceremonial swearing-in of FBI Director James Comey at the FBI Headquarters October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey was officially sworn in as director of FBI on September 4 to succeed Mueller who had served as director for 12 years. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama applauds outgoing Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) director Robert Mueller (L) in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on June 21, 2013 as he nominates Jim Comey to be the next FBI director. Comey, a deputy attorney general under George W. Bush, would replace Mueller, who is stepping down from the agency he has led since the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller applauds key staff members during a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW HEADSHOT)
391489 03: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a conference as he stands with Justice Department veteran Robert Mueller, left, who he has nominated to head the FBI, and Attorney General John Ashcroft July 5, 2001 the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller stands for the national anthem during a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) reacts to a standing ovation from the audience, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (C) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (R) during Mueller's farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller gestures during his remarks at a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
FILE PHOTO -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (R) and FBI Director Robert Mueller speak about possible terrorist threats against the United States, in Washington, May 26, 2004. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller reacts to applause from the audience during his farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and FBI Director Robert Mueller make their way to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (C) delivers remarks at a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Also onstage with Mueller are Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (FROM L), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director George Tenet and TSA Administrator John Pistole. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: (L-R) Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton attend the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol May 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder and other members of the Obama administration are being criticized over reports of the Internal Revenue Services' scrutiny of conservative organization's tax exemption requests and the subpoena of two months worth of Associated Press journalists' phone records. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. Mueller said on Thursday that the U.S. government is doing everything it can to hold confessed leaker Edward Snowden accountable for splashing surveillance secrets across the pages of newspapers worldwide. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (L) welcomes FBI Director Robert Mueller during their meeting in Kiev June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Efrem Lukatsky/Pool (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS)
FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) arrives for the Obama presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington. President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. Woman at right is unidentified. REUTERS/Win McNamee-POOL (UNITED STATES)
WASHINGTON, : FBI Director Robert Mueller answers questions before Congress 17 October 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller was testifying before the House and Senate Select Intelligence committees' final open hearing investigating events leading up to the September 11, 2001. AFP Photos/Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) CIA Director Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
399994 02: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller visits the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller (L) stand during the National Anthem alongside Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and Deputy Attorney General James Cole (C) during a farewell ceremony in Mueller's honor at the Department of Justice on August 1, 2013. Mueller is retiring from the FBI after 12-years as Director. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
399994 01: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller greets American forces on the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: FBI Director Robert Mueller, center, talks with Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, talk before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 06: OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COUNTERTERRORISM--Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, before the hearing. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
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However, Trump clearly feels the Barr letter has vindicated him. At the Capitol on Tuesday, he blamed Democrats for the Mueller investigation, which he has long called a “witch hunt.”

“They and others created a fraud on our country with this ridiculous witch hunt, where it was proven, very strongly, no collusion, no obstruction. No nothing,” Trump said.

Mueller’s investigation was started by the Department of Justice in mid-2017.

Trump’s comments at the Capitol were part of an ongoing victory lap by the president and his allies who have argued that Barr’s letter shows Trump engaged in no wrongdoing during the election. The president and top White House officials have extensively criticized members of the media who covered the investigation and Democrats who questioned Trump’s conduct in the days since the letter was released.

In the letter, Barr quoted Mueller as saying he conducted a “thorough factual investigation” into allegations that Trump obstructed justice. Barr suggested Mueller’s examination of potential obstruction focused on “a number of actions by the President — most of which have been the subject of public reporting.” Critics have argued Trump’s repeated comments attacking Mueller’s probe could constitute obstruction. They have also pointed to actions Trump took behind the scenes at the Department of Justice and his removal of top officials.

According to Barr, Mueller “ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” on the issue of obstruction and instead left it up to the attorney general to determine whether the conduct described in the report was criminal. Barr specified that Mueller “did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.” The letter specified it was Barr and his deputy attorney general, not Mueller, who found “that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” Barr quoted a single line from Mueller’s original report specifying that it did not vindicate Trump.

“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mueller wrote.

Barr’s letter suggested Mueller’s report was more definitive on the question of whether Trump’s campaign cooperated with Russian interference in the election.

“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,” Barr declared.

Barr also quoted a single line from Mueller’s original report that said, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Mueller’s investigation did result in charges against multiple individual members of the Trump campaign, including some for lying about their contacts with Russian officials.

None of these ambiguities — or the fact he hasn’t seen Mueller’s report — have stopped Trump from using Barr’s letter to attack his critics and declare himself completely vindicated. At the Capitol, Trump agreed when a reporter noted he was “accusing the people who launched the investigation into your campaign of treasonous acts.”

“I think it went very high up. I think what happened is a disgrace. I don’t believe our country should allow this ever to happen again. This will never happen again. We cannot let it ever happen again,” Trump said, adding, “It went very high up, and it started fairly low, but with instructions from the high up. This should never happen to a President again. We can’t allow that to take place.”

Asked if he thought the push to investigate him “reached the West Wing of the Obama White House,” Trump offered a coy response.

“I don’t want to say that, but I think you know the answer,” Trump said.

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