President Donald Trump, backed by his attorney general, declared himself fully vindicated Thursday in the investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion with his campaign — before the long-awaited full probe report was made public.
“Game Over,” Trump tweeted, using a “Game of Thrones” style montage that pictured him standing in dramatic fog.
Just about an hour later, the Justice Department released the full — though redacted — report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which nevertheless raised questions about Trump’s actions, saying investigators were “unable” to clear him of obstruction.
Weeks ago, Attorney General Bill Barr said in a summary of the report that there was no collusion between Trump and Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election in his favor.
In a nationally broadcast news conference held right before the report’s release, Barr repeatedly drove that point home.
“We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign,” Barr told reporters, in a statement that effectively sought to spin the report before it was released.
“The special counsel found no collusion by any Americans,” Barr said.
“That is the bottom line.”
The extreme secrecy surrounding Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation ended abruptly at about 11:00 am (1500 GMT) when the 400-odd pages of the report were made public to Congress, the media and the public.
The report’s publication marks a new peak in a political storm raging over Washington throughout the first half of Trump’s first term in office.
While leftist opponents long hoped that Mueller would either charge Trump with crimes or provide evidence for impeachment, the outcome so far has favored the divisive, right-wing Republican president.
“NO COLLUSION. NO OBSTRUCTION,” a triumphant Trump wrote in his “Game of Thrones” pastiche tweet.
Later, he said at the start of a speech: “I’m having a good day.”
– ‘Angry’ but not criminal –
Barr emphatically sought to clear Trump of allegations that his actions — including his public attacks on Mueller and firing of then FBI chief James Comey — were not legally actionable.
The Trump-appointed attorney general had already asserted this in his summary of Mueller’s report a month ago, despite noting that Mueller himself had been unable to rule clearly on the issue.
At his news conference, Barr said he was standing by his own ruling, noting that Trump had no intention to obstruct and had merely been “frustrated and angered.”
“The White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims,” he said.
“And at the same time, the president took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”
But the report said: “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.
“Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
– Debate to rage on –
Publication of the report — minus parts blacked out for legal or security reasons — will in theory give everyone a chance to get the full picture on a scandal that has been tangled in conspiracy theories.
But given the volcanic political temperature in Washington and the left-right chasm through the rest of the country ahead of Trump’s 2020 re-election bid, the debate over what really happened is likely to rage on.
At a minimum, the details — based on exhaustive interviews by Mueller’s prosecutors with Trump insiders — could paint an unflattering picture of the president and his links to Russia, including a previously undeclared real estate project in Moscow.
The deeper analysis of whether he committed obstruction of justice could also provide headaches for the White House.
Trump himself is supremely confident that his opponents have failed in what he claims was high-level “treason” to destroy his presidency.
“The Greatest Political Hoax of all time! Crimes were committed by Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats,” the president said before Barr took the podium, reprising many of his favorite slogans about his opponents.
Claiming that Barr has been working to hamper and whitewash the Russia report, Democrats will push for still more details and testimony in the near future — including from Mueller himself.
“It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler tweeted.
Nadler set a deadline of May 23 for Mueller to come to Capitol Hill.
Trump official Mina Chang quits after being busted inflating her resumé
President Donald Trump has lost another top official in his State Department, days after Marie Yovanovitch testified the department had been "hollowed out."
"Mina Chang, a high-ranking State Department staffer who vaulted into the public spotlight after NBC reported she had inflated her resume, has resigned from her position," Politico reported Monday.
Popular right-wing radio host says he was fired in the middle of his show for criticizing Trump
Liberals and progressives aren’t the only ones right-wing media can be unfair to: they can also be horribly unfair to conservatives. And one of them appears to be radio host Craig Silverman, who says he was fired by Denver’s KNUS 710 AM on Saturday for criticizing President Donald Trump on the air.
As much as right-wing outlets complain about “political correctness” and hypersensitive liberal “snowflakes” who are intolerant of other points of view, those same outlets often expect their employees to be in total lockstep politically — which, in 2019, often means not saying a word against Trump. According to Silverman, he was doing a segment on the late right-wing attorney Roy Cohn (who represented Trump in the 1970s) when KNUS’ program director entered the studio and told him, “You’re done.”
Trump’s European golf courses lost over $20 million last year
For the fifth straight year in a row, Donald Trump's Ireland golf course, Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Doonbeg, reported a loss of $1.7 million in 2018. According to a report from The Washington Post, filings made public by the Irish government this Monday "underscored that the Trump Organization has yet to find a profitable formula at its European golf courses," despite large sums of money going into the properties.
Although all of Trump golf courses in Europe saw revenue rise, there was no overall profit. As the Post points out, losses last year for the properties totaled more than $20 million. However, Trump's course in Doonbeg, Ireland, saw a slight improvement, posting an operating profit of over $3,300, contrasted with an operating loss of nearly $400,000 in 2017. Additionally, the 2018 loss was an improvement over the previous year, which saw losses of $2.1 million.