Trump breaks silence on Mueller report, claims vindication
President Donald Trump claimed vindication after nearly two years of unrelenting investigation on Sunday, seeing “complete and total exoneration” in the Justice Department’s account of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings and signalling he was eager to go on offence in the political fight ahead.
A buoyant Trump reacted to the release of Mueller chief findings with a mix of celebration, personal grievance and calls for political retribution. He cast the investigation as politically motivated, and bemoaned the probe’s toll on the country — and on him.
“It was just announced there was no collusion with Russia.” Trump said in brief remarks to reporters. “It’s a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.”
Trump spoke shortly after the Justice Department released a letter saying special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not find evidence that Trump’s campaign “conspired or co-ordinated” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The four-page summary by Attorney General William Barr was less definitive on the question of whether Trump obstructed the probe. Mueller’s report “does not exonerate” on that issue and instead “sets out evidence on both sides of the question, ” Barr wrote. Barr, however, said he found insufficient evidence of a crime on the issue.
Trump and his aides did not let that distinction — between Mueller’s findings and Barr’s determination — prevent them from declaring victory. Trump, speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One, was clear he was ready to fight back against Democrats who have said they intend to use Mueller’s report as a road map for further investigation into Trump and his inner circle.
“This was an illegal takedown that failed,” he said, repeating his unproven claims that the investigation was launched by people trying to undermine his presidency after being devastated by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s loss.
Trump’s victory lap came after he kept a low profile over the weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump was briefed on Barr’s letter in his residence by staff and attorneys. Gidley said Trump reaction was brief. “This is very good,” he said, according to Gidley.
The White House, like lawmakers on Capitol Hill, has yet to see the full account by the special counsel. (Source: CTV News)