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These are the big takeaways from Barr's Mueller report summary

Posted at 6:19 PM, Mar 24, 2019

Attorney General William Barr on Sunday released his summary of the main conclusions from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Here are the top takeaways:

No collusion

President Donald Trump has been saying -- and tweeting -- a similar refrain for two years now: "NO COLLUSION!"

Trump says Barr's summary proves him right. "[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities," the letter states.

Trump and his allies are already seizing on that line of the summary released Sunday, and it's undoubtedly a major headline pushing back on two years of Democrats claiming they had evidence of collusion.

Of course, numerous Trump world contacts with Russians during the campaign and transition have already been established. So what does it mean that Mueller didn't find conspiracy or coordination?

Barr's summary includes a footnote that explains how Mueller defined coordination: an "agreement -- tacit or express -- between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference."

In addition, Barr wrote that no Trump associate conspired or coordinated "despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,"

No exoneration for obstruction

The Justice Department decided not to prosecute the President for obstructing justice with his behavior -- both public and in private -- but Trump isn't fully cleared. He is likely to still face a hailstorm of political criticism for his actions after taking office, when more of Mueller's investigation is revealed.

Mueller said he thoroughly investigated the obstruction question, though he didn't interview Trump. Ultimately he left the question to the President's political appointees, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to decide what to do.

Barr and Rosenstein chose not to prosecute. They decided that they couldn't have a case against Trump because they didn't have evidence of an underlying crime, Barr's letter said Sunday.

Barr also said the President's actions did not "constitute obstructive conduct" and were not "done with corrupt intent." (His and Rosenstein's decision hadn't factored in the constitutional briar patch of indicting a sitting president.)

"While this report does not conclude that the President committed crime, it also does not exonerate him," Mueller wrote in his report, Barr quoted him on Sunday.

Perhaps without collusion, there could be no obstruction, Shan Wu, a CNN contributor who previously represented Rick Gates in the investigation, said on Sunday. It's possible Barr didn't want to indict the President because an obstruction charge wouldn't stand alone without an underlying collusion case.

Notably, Barr has always been opposed to an obstruction case against the President. Before he was attorney general under Trump, Barr wrote a memo in June 2018 to top Justice Department officials, saying he believed an obstruction case against Trump was "fatally misconceived."

There's more to come

The release of Barr's summary is hardly the end.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats are already raising questions about Barr making the prosecution decision on obstruction of justice, and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says he will call on the attorney general to testify "in the near future."

Parts of Mueller's original report could still become public, too.

Barr wrote that Mueller would be involved in the scrubbing of the report to remove secret grand jury material and any content related to ongoing investigations before it could be made public.

"As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies," Barr said.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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