United States Attorney-General William Barr has released a summary of the “principal conclusions” reached in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The full report has not yet been released, but Mr Barr’s four-page summary reveals broadly what the investigation did and did not uncover.
Here are the five main takeaways.
1. Robert Mueller says he found no evidence Trump officials colluded with Russia
The primary aim of Mr Mueller’s investigation was to uncover whether any Americans — including members of President Donald Trump’s campaign team — conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
His report said there were “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign”.
However, Mr Barr said the investigation determined the Trump campaign’s actions did not amount to collusion.
“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 US presidential election,” he said.
2. Russia influenced the US election in two ways
According to Mr Barr, Mr Mueller’s report confirmed:
- A Russian organisation called the Internet Research Agency (IRA) spread false information online and on social media to “sow social discord”
- Russian Government actors hacked into computers and released emails from people affiliated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Democratic Party organisations
But crucially, the report found no evidence that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, worked with the IRA or the Russian Government during those activities.
3. The report did not conclude whether Donald Trump committed a crime
During his investigation, Mr Mueller looked at whether a number of Mr Trump’s actions might have obstructed the course of justice.
One of those actions included, for example, firing his FBI director James Comey in May 2017.
Mr Barr said the special counsel made a “thorough factual investigation” into the actions, but did not “draw a conclusion one way or the other” on whether they constituted a crime.
Instead, the report presented evidence “on both sides of the question” and left it up to Mr Barr to decide.
“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate (clear) him,” the report stated.
4. Mr Barr doesn’t think Mr Trump obstructed justice
After reading the report, Mr Barr said he believed there was not enough evidence to establish the President had committed a crime.
“Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offence,” he said.
“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.
“Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the Government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding.”
5. It could be some time before we see the report
Mr Barr has promised to release as much of the report as possible, but says some parts of the document are legally sensitive.
As a result, his team now needs to comb through its pages to identify any material that cannot be released by law (they’ll get some help from the special counsel to speed up the process).
“As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable, law, regulations and departmental policies,” he said.