President Donald Trump responded to special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report in a most expected manner — by declaring his exoneration of alleged crimes, including collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice.
But that declaration rings particularly hollow if the president declines to release Mueller’s report to the public in full, so the American people can see the evidence for themselves.
At present, only Attorney General William Barr’s summary, delivered to Congress via letter over the weekend, has been publicly released. But that summary might not be free from partisan interpretation, as USA Today noted:
"The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities," Mueller's report concluded, according to Barr. But the special counsel said he couldn't reach a conclusion on the question of obstruction of justice: "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
Barr, together with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, concluded that Mueller’s investigation was unable "to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” but without seeing the evidence firsthand, it is impossible to have full faith in Barr’s conclusion.
Rather than the complete exoneration Trump and his surrogates have claimed, USA Today wrote in its analysis that all we know is that Mueller “didn't charge Trump or his associates of conspiring with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 election – the question at the core of Mueller's mission” and that Trump’s “boss, the attorney general, concluded that the president shouldn't be indicted for obstruction.”
Until Trump and Barr agree to release the report in full, the president’s declaration of proved innocence is all but meaningless.