Some of the president’s closest allies echoed this celebratory sentiment. Vice President Mike Pence said Mueller’s conclusions were a “total vindication” of Trump. “No collusion and no obstruction,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) declared.
But Trump was not exonerated by special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — a fact that Barr made plain in his summary to Congress.
Mueller’s team did not find evidence to prove criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Barr wrote. The attorney general and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, also concluded that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
But Barr added that while Mueller’s report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” on the question of whether he obstructed justice.
It’s important to note that Mueller did not ― beyond not declaring Trump’s innocence ― make any conclusions in his report on whether or not the president committed obstruction of justice. His report “merely marshaled evidence on both sides,” The New York Times noted. Barr, who Trump appointed to the post of attorney general in December, and Rosenstein were the ones who pronounced the president’s guiltlessness.
These facts have not, however, stopped an exultant Trump from declaring his “complete and total exoneration.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later said in a statement that Mueller “did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction” in his investigation, and Pence declared Mueller’s conclusions to be a “total vindication” of Trump and “our campaign.”
Mueller’s report “should be welcomed by every American who cherishes the truth and the integrity of our elections,” the vice president added.
Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a tweet that the “cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called Mueller’s findings “good news” and said it was “now time for the country to move forward.”
“No collusion! No Obstruction! It’s time to move on,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
But Democrats, who’ve called for the public release of Mueller’s full report, say they’re not about to let the president off the hook.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on Twitter that Mueller “clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts.”
Nadler said his committee would be calling Barr to testify on the matter “in the near future.”