Trump ‘exonerated’ in Russia meddling claims

Washington, Monday

US President Donald Trump  claims he has been completely exonerated by an inquiry into allegations Russia conspired to help him win the 2016 election.

A summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report released on Sunday found that Trump campaign had not conspired with Russia.

However it was inconclusive on whether Trump had obstructed justice. The Russia allegations had cast a shadow over Trump’s presidency and his chances of re-election in 2020.

Opposition Democrats are demanding full access to Mueller’s report, which was summarised for Congress by Attorney General William Barr.

More than happy

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump would let Barr decide what to release but the president himself was “more than happy for any of this stuff to come out”.

“I think it’s a day America’s looked forward to for a long time. I think it’s a great day for America,” she said.

The report was the culmination of two years of investigation by Mueller which saw some of the president’s closest former aides prosecuted and, in some cases, imprisoned, although not for collusion with Russia.

Speaking at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida, Trump declared: “There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction…It was a complete and total exoneration.”

“It’s a shame that our country had to go through this,” he added. “To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this. Before I even got elected it began and it began illegally.”

Having repeatedly described the inquiry as a witch hunt, Trump said it was an “illegal takedown that failed”. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that it was a “great day for President Trump and his team”. “The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report,” he said.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway sent the president “congratulations” on Twitter, saying: “Today you won the 2016 election all over again. And got a gift for the 2020 election.”

In his summary, Attorney General Barr writes, “The special counsel did not find that any US person or Trump campaign official conspired or knowingly co-ordinated with Russia.”

Won again

But on the issue of whether justice was obstructed, Mueller’s report says: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that Trump’s claim that he had been “completely exonerated” was “not to be taken with any degree of credibility”. -BBC

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