Mueller report: Trump claims Russia probe was 'illegal takedown' and suggests Democrats should now be investigated

Samuel Osborne

Donald Trump has described Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between his election campaign and Russia as an “illegal takedown”, while suggesting Democrats should now be investigated.

The president claimed the report represented a “total exoneration”, when in fact Mr Mueller specifically said that while his probe did not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also did not exonerate him.

Mr Mueller did not make a determination on whether Mr Trump committed obstruction of justice in the Russia probe, and attorney general William Barr and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein determined the evidence gathered by Mr Mueller was insufficient.

The summary of Mr Mueller’s report does say the special counsel did not find the Trump campaign or its associates “conspired or coordinated” with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 election.

Mr Trump claimed, without evidence, the investigation was “an illegal takedown that failed”.

Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington from a weekend at his private club in Florida, the president said: ”It’s a shame that our country had to go through this.

“This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully, somebody’s going to be looking at the other side.”

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said Mr Mueller’s report was more positive than he had anticipated. “It’s better than I expected,” Mr Giuliani said.

Echoing the president, Mr Giuliani and others on Mr Trump’s outside legal team said in a statement: “This is a complete and total vindication of the president.”

In his first comment after Mr Barr sent a letter to members of Congress summarising the report, Mr Trump tweeted: ”No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

However, in addition to Mr Mueller’s report saying it did not conclude the president committed a crime but also did not exonerate Mr Trump, the House Judiciary Committee chairman said the special counsel “clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the president”.

Democratic representative Jerry Nadler tweeted to say Mr Barr’s letter to congress said that while the president might have acted to obstruct justice, the government would need to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

But Mr Nadler tweeted to say Congress must hear from Mr Barr about his decision making and see “all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts”.