Attorney General Bill Barr gave Trump a full-throated “no collusion” seal of approval during his Thursday press conference preceding the public release of the redacted Mueller report, repeating variations of the phrase at least five times during the 25-minute presser.
The long-awaited press conference was widely seen as an effort to provide spin on the redacted report hours before its public release, with all the major networks airing Barr’s remarks as he repeated a favorite line of the president’s: “No collusion.”
Should Barr’s characterization of Mueller’s findings prove accurate, it would represent a stunning result for the President.
Trump immediately heralded Barr’s announcement on Twitter, with the following message:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2019
In his remarks, Bar went topic-by-topic through the collusion allegations, adding emphasis each time on his denial that there was any “knowing assistance” from Americans in the Russian government’s campaign.
Barr said that Mueller found “no ‘collusion’ by any Americans” with the Internet Research Agency’s social media influence campaign and “no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion'” with the Russian government’s hacking of key Democratic party institutions and individuals.
The attorney general added that Mueller’s redacted report also addresses Wikileaks’s publication of emails stolen by Russian government hackers.
Barr appears to have hedged his description of “no collusion” slightly on this count, saying that “under applicable law” there would only be a crime if “the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy.”
“Here too, the Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials,” Barr said.
He went on to announce, once more, for the public that, “The Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”
A redacted report addressing the underlying claims is expected to be released within the next few hours, after its scheduled delivery to Congress at 11 a.m. ET.