Donald Trump has held a joint press conference with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign a proclamation formally recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights as the fallout from the Mueller report continues.
Attorney-general William Barr, a Trump ally handpicked by the president, came to the conclusion Mr Trump had not colluded with Russia to win the 2016 president election after reading FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's report, submitted following the conclusion of a 22-month investigation into the allegation.
In a four-page letter to Congress, Mr Barr quoted Mr Mueller in conceding: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
“A number of actions” carried out by Mr Trump could raise obstruction of justice concerns, Mr Mueller thought, but Mr Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, decided these actions did not reveal “corrupt intent”.
A jubilant Mr Trump was quick to hail the verdict as a “complete and total exoneration”, repeating his long-running attack on the “witch hunt” as “an illegal takedown that failed” - to the delight of Trump loyalists - while Democrats called for the Mueller report’s full release.
The summary by Mr Barr notes the special counsel's office did not “draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” but rather set out evidence for both sides, leaving the question unanswered.
The attorney general wrote in the summary that ultimately he decided that the evidence developed by Mr Mueller was “not sufficient” to establish, for the purposes of prosecution, that Mr Trump committed obstruction of justice
Mr Barr’s summary also notes that Mr Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia. To prove a crime, the special counsel's office must generally meet a standard of proving an offence beyond a reasonable doubt.
The summary did not clear the president of improper behaviour regarding Russia but did not establish that “he was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” Mr Mueller said in a passage from the report quoted by the attorney general.
The four-page summary signed by Mr Barr gave the bottom line only as he and Mr Rosenstein saw it. Mr Mueller’s detailed findings remain confidential at least for now.
Additional reporting by AP. Read The Independent's live coverage on the White House from Monday below.
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