WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump quickly claimed vindication Thursday following the release of Robert Mueller's report, even as congressional Democrats pressed for the special counsel to testify about his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"I'm having a good day," Trump said at a White House event for the Wounded Warrior Project. "It’s called no collusion, no obstruction.”
"This should never happen to another president ever again,” he said of Mueller's investigation, which he again called a “hoax."
The newly released Mueller report revealed that members of Trump's campaign showed interest in benefiting Russian government efforts to sway the election in his favor, but investigators did not find evidence that their conduct amounted to a crime.
Investigators found that some of Trump’s aides engaged in contacts with people linked to the Russian government, and that they then “lied” to the special counsel and Congress about those interactions. “Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference,” the report said.
Mueller's 448-page report was the culmination of a nearly two-year investigation into Russian election interference and whether anyone from the president's campaign conspired with Moscow.
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The report detailed steps by the president and those around him to thwart the investigation, including 10 instances of possible obstruction by the president. Mueller’s office did not conclude that Trump's actions were illegal, but also pointedly refused to clear him of wrongdoing, stating "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”
Later Thursday, in a tweet from Air Force One, Trump said he could have fired Mueller if he had wanted, but he didn’t. Trump also defended himself against obstruction claims by saying he allowed aides to testify and had his attorneys turn over thousands of documents.
“I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted,” Trump said. “I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn’t!”
After arriving at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he will be spending the Easter weekend, Trump continued to tweet complaints about the investigation. In one post, he argued there couldn't be obstruction because there was no "underlying crime."
Trump’s legal team called the Mueller report “a total victory for the president.”
“It is clear there was no criminal wrongdoing,” attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow, Jane Raskin and Martin Raskin said in a written statement. “Nothing withheld; nothing concealed; nothing deleted; nothing destroyed; and nothing bleached.”
The attorneys said it’s clear that Trump acted properly in firing former FBI Director James Comey, whom they argued “lied and displayed disdain for the values at the core of the FBI.” Comey and his lawyers launched “a biased, political attack” against Trump, they said.
Comey, however, told two congressional committees in December the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia originated with four Americans who were thought to be potentially helping the Kremlin in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
Trump’s firing of Comey in 2017 triggered a chain of events that led to the naming of Mueller as the special counsel for the probe into possible links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Trump's legal team has been working on a "counter-report" to the Mueller report. But it was uncertain when their report would be released.
On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, congressional Democrats demanded the release of the full Mueller report, including the redacted material, while Trump's GOP allies argued the report's conclusions were a complete vindication of the president.
"It’s about as definitive as it gets,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, told USA TODAY.
Asked if he found anything concerning in the report, Jordan, who is close to the president, responded he was concerned about the reasons the investigation began in the first place. He called for a probe into the investigation now that the Mueller's work is done.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., already has said he plans to look into the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe. But it is unlikely the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee will follow suit.
Contributing: Eliza Collins
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump reacts to Mueller report: 'It’s called no collusion, no obstruction'