Attorney General William Barr wrote to the Congress summarizing the contents of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Sunday evening, concluding that the special counsel did not find any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. As for the charges relating to obstruction of justice, Mueller reportedly did not exercise his prosecutorial judgment. According to Barr’s own summary, the special counsel presented both sides of facts before noting that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Mueller left the decision of whether or not the evidence was enough to bring impeachment proceedings against the president on the Attorney General himself. Barr, who has been pressured to release the Mueller report in its entirety, has refrained from bringing any charges against Trump, claiming that the evidence is not enough to prove that the president obstructed justice beyond a reasonable doubt.
Even so, Mueller did not either claim that the president is guilty, nor did the special counsel acquit him. But reacting to Barr’s letter, Trump tweeted it was a “total exoneration” for him.
“No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” Trump wrote.
The White House celebrated the summary of the report as well. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took to Twitter, saying the contents of Barr’s summary exonerated Trump.
“The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction. AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States,” she wrote.
But as noted here and also by several journalists on Twitter, the statements of both Trump and Sanders contradict what Mueller mentions in the report. He clearly states that the report “does not exonerate him” — but Trump and Sanders claim it does. Several social media users accused the president and the White House of gaslighting Americans by lying to them.
Apart from Trump and Sanders pointing out that Barr’s letter meant a complete “exoneration” for the president. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, went on CNN to utter the exact same words.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
“The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”
Special Counsel Mueller:
“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also DOES NOT EXONERATE HIM.”
— Ryan Knight ???????? (@ProudResister) March 24, 2019
SPECIAL COUNSEL: "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
WHITE HOUSE: "The findings of the DOJ are a total & complete exoneration of POTUS."
The Trump administration gaslights about everything. https://t.co/TeGeMG5sPG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2019
Mueller's report did not conclude Trump obstructed justice but 'also did not exonerate him,' Justice Dept. officials say https://t.co/QwKZgu8xsn
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 24, 2019
— CNN (@CNN) March 24, 2019
Meanwhile, despite the pressure on William Barr to release the report, the Attorney General noted in his letter that he wouldn’t be doing so. Citing the ongoing investigations against former Trump aides, Barr noted that it was imperative to first find out what can be revealed at the present moment under the law before releasing the entire report to the public.