Mueller's Russia report outlines episodes of possible Trump obstruction

US Attorney General William Barr, flanked by Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, speak at a news conference to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, in Washington | Photo: Reuters
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 US election detailed a series of actions by President Donald Trump to impede the probe, raising questions about whether he committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

The release on Thursday of the 448-page report that disclosed the findings of a 22-month investigation represented a watershed moment in Trump's tumultuous presidency. Mueller did not make a conclusion on whether Trump, whose presidency has been overshadowed by the Russia investigation, had committed obstruction of justice but did not exonerate him either.

The report provided fresh details of how the Republican president tried to force Mueller’s ouster, directed members of his administration to publicly vouch for his innocence and dangled a pardon to a former aide to try to prevent him from cooperating with the special counsel.

It also concluded, as Barr announced last month, that Trump and his campaign had not engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia during the election.

Barr in March concluded that Trump had not broken the law, but told a news conference on Thursday that Mueller had detailed "10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense."

Trump appeared to be in a celebratory mood, saying at a White House event with wounded US troops that he was “having a good day” following the report's release, adding, "It's called no collusion, no obstruction."

The report's disclosure, with portions blacked out by Barr to protect some sensitive information, is certain to launch a new political fight in Congress and on the 2020 presidential campaign trail, as Trump seeks re-election in a deeply divided country.

Trump has long described Mueller's inquiry as a "witch hunt."