When Attorney General William Barr wrote the four-page letter assessing the conclusions reached by special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe about possible coordination between Trump and Russia during the 2016 election, he never mentioned the word “collusion.”
According to The Washington Post, Barr wrote that Mueller’s probe “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Trump seized on Barr’s report to reinforce the idea that there was no collusion. “After a long investigation, after so many people have been so badly hurt, after not looking at the other side where a lot of bad things happened, a lot of horrible things happened, a lot of very bad things happened for our country — it was just announced there was no collusion with Russia,” Trump said after Barr’s letter was released. “The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
Barr never mentioned the word “collusion” in his letter, so it is difficult to ascertain how Trump reached the conclusion that there was “no collusion.”
During his Thursday news conference, Barr more directly addressed collusion. He said, “The Special Counsel found no ‘collusion’ by any Americans in the IRA’s illegal activity.” The IRA is the Internet Research Agency in Russia that attempted to spread dissent on social media.
Barr also said, “There was no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government hacking.”
He continued, ““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.”
In the excerpts of Barr’s remarks from the Department of Justice’s website, he puts “collusion” in quotes. He seems to be using the word colloquially. This may have been a way to uphold the idea that Trump did not engage in any obstruction of justice.
“In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context,” Barr said. “President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.”
Barr specifically exonerated Trump from collusion in two possible areas. “The Special Counsel’s report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations,” Barr said. No one ever made the accusation that anyone affiliated with the campaign helped conduct the hacking.
Barr does not address the attempt to release the hacked material, which the Trump campaign was involved in, as they shared links to WikiLeaks’ dumps of the stolen material.
Barr also said that there was no collusion with the IRA’s work. Quoting Mueller, he said: “The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation.” it is known that some Americans aided that effort, though.
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