WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday embraced the findings of the special counsel’s Russia probe as “complete and total exoneration” while simultaneously casting the sweeping investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia as “an illegal takedown that failed.”
“It’s a shame that our country had to go through this,” Trump told reporters in West Palm Beach shortly after Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page memo outlining the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“This was an illegal takedown that failed,” Trump said of the investigation that resulted in the indictments of six of his campaign aides on a range of charges, but found no evidence Trump conspired with the Kremlin to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. “Hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side.”
On Sunday, after nearly 48 hours of silence regarding the end of the Mueller probe, Trump broke his silence on Twitter, exclaiming: "No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
The White House also cast Barr’s memo as evidence of “total and complete exoneration,” despite Barr noting in his memo that Mueller stated “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” in regard to the question of whether the president attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation through his actions.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement said: “The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction. AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”
Trump’s campaign also seized on the release of the memo, issuing a statement accusing Democrats of taking Americans “on a frantic, chaotic, conspiracy-laden roller coaster for two years, alleging wrongdoing where there was none.”
The special counsel probe was launched by Republican Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in part over his handling of the Russia investigation. The probe was led by Mueller, a Republican who previously served as FBI director under the administrations of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“Despite a roving Special Counsel and desperate Democrats trailing him every step of the way, President Trump has kept his focus where it belongs: achieving for the American people. He is making historic economic progress that benefits all Americans, all to Make America Great Again,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
Vice President Mike Pence, in a statement, celebrated Barr's summary as "a great day for America, President Trump and our entire administration."
White House aides on Sunday said the president was in a "good mood" and "feeling very good." Upon arriving at the White House on Sunday night, Trump told reporters: "I just want to tell you, America is the greatest place on Earth. The greatest place on Earth."
For nearly two years Trump has railed against Mueller’s probe, often using all-caps tweets to describe the investigation as a “WITCH HUNT!”
Trump’s increasing frustration with the investigation has been documented in his stream of tweets — from dismissing the investigation as “fake news” in 2017 to taking direct aim at Mueller by name for the first time in March 2018, saying: “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”
Upon arriving at the White House on Sunday evening Trump told reporters: "I just want to tell you, America is the greatest place on Earth. The greatest place on Earth."