Attorney General William Barr Holds News Conference on Mueller Report CSPAN April 18, 2019 9:33am-9:57am EDT
charged. i am opposed against it. hi. host: we heard your comment. we have got your comment previously if you want to add onto that. caller: i will be watching and i'm totally 100% for this country being made great again. almostst thinking that $500,000 for this book coming out at $9.99, follow the money. host: in maryland, reva, hello. caller: i think everybody should read the document themselves, not just depend on what pundits say. not glad melville house is doing any extra stuff on their. that's on there. -- on there. everybody should read it and
make up their own mind. host: the document will be provided online and provided to congress at 11:00 this morning. look on c-span.org to read it, and you can watch the press conference featuring attorney general william barr. a.g. barr: good morning, everybody, and thanks for being here this morning. 22,ou know, on march special counsel robert mueller concluded his investigation into matters related to russian attempts to interfere in our 2016 presidential election. he submitted his confidential report to me pursuant to
department regulations. as i said during my senate confirmation hearing and since, i am committed to ensuring the degree possible of transparency concerning the special counsel's investigation, consistent with the law. at 11:00 this morning, i will transmit copies of the public version of the special counsel's report to the chairman and ranking members of the senate and house judiciary committees. the department of justice will also make the report available to the american people by posting it on the department's website after it has been delivered to congress. i would like to make a few comments today on the report. before i do that, i want to thank deputy attorney general rod rosenstein for joining me, and for his assistance and counsel throughout this process.
he has served at the department for nearly 30 years with dedication and distinction, and it has been a great privilege and pleasure for me to work with him since my confirmation. plans toll-deserved step back from public service that were interrupted by my asking him to help in my transition. rod has been an invaluable partner and i am grateful he has been willing to help me, and has been able to see the special counsel's investigation through to its conclusion. i would also like to thank special counsel robert mueller for his service, and the thoroughness of his investigation, particularly his work exposing the nature of russia's attempts to interfere in our electoral process. one of the primary purposes of the special counsel's
investigation was to determine whether president trump's campaign or individuals associated with it conspired and coordinated with the russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. volume one of the special counsel's report describes the results of that investigation. the special counsel's report states that "the investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government and its election interference activities." i am sure all americans share my concern about the russian interference in our election. as the special counsel report makes clear, the russian government sought to interfere in our election process. thanks to the special counsel's thorough investigation, we know
the russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of president trump or the trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other american, for that matter. that is something all americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed. the special counsel report outlines two main efforts by the russian government to influence the 2016 election. first, the report details efforts by the internet research agency, a russian company with close ties to the government, to discord among american voters through social media operations. following a thorough investigation of this disinformation campaign, the special counsel brought charges in federal court against russian nationals and entities for their respective roles. those charges remain pending in
the individual defendants remain at large. the special counsel found no evidence that any american, including anyone associated with the trump campaign, conspired or coordinated with the russian government or the ira in this illegal scheme. "deed, as the report states, the investigation did not identify evidence that any u.s. person knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the ira's interference operation." the special counsel found no illusion by any americans in ira's illegal activities. the report details efforts by russian military officials theciated with the gru, intelligence organization, to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals associated with the democratic party and hillary clinton's campaign, for the
purpose of eventually publicizing these documents. obtaining such unauthorized access is a crime. a thorough investigation of these hacking questions, the courtl counsel brought to russian military officers for their respective roles in these illegal hacking operations. those charges are still pending and the defendants remain at large. the special
counsel's report did not find any evidence that members of the trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in these hacking operations. in other words, there was no evidence of the trump campaign collusion with the russian government's hacking. the special counsel's investigation also examined russian efforts to publish
stolen emails and documents on the internet. special counsel found that after the gru disseminated some of the stolen documents to entities it controlled, d.c. leaks and lucifer ii, they transferred some of the materials to wikileaks. wikileaks made a series of document dumps. the special counsel investigated whether any member or affiliate of the trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role in these dissemination efforts. under applicable law, publication of these types of material would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. here to, the special counsel's report did not find that any person associated with the trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.
finally, the special counsel investigated a number of links or contacts between trump campaign officials and officials connected with the russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. after reviewing these contacts, the special counsel did not find any conspiracy to violate u.s. law involving russian linked persons and any persons associated with the trump campaign. that is the bottom line. after nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but did not find that the trump campaign or other
americans colluded in those efforts. after finding no underlying collusion with russia, the
special counsel's report goes on to consider whether certain actions of the president could amount to obstruction of the special counsel's investigation. as i addressed in my march 24 letter, the special counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation. the report recounts 10 episodes presidentgarding the and legal theories for connecting those two an element
of obstruction offense. after carefully reviewing the report and in confirmation with the dehart legal counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and i concluded the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish the president committed an obstruction offense. although the deputy attorney general and i disagreed with some of the special counsel's
legal theories and felt some of result ines did not obstruction, we accepted the special counsel's legal framework and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusions. in assessing the president's actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. president trump faced an unprecedented situation. as he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities, prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office in the conduct of his associates. at the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president's personal culpability. yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.
as the special counsel's report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political
opponents and fueled by illegal leaks. nonetheless, the white house fully cooperated with the investigation,'s providing unfettered access to campaign in white house documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. the president took no act that deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. apart from whether the acts were obstructive, these non-corrupt motives weigh heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.
before i take questions, i want to address a few aspects of the process for producing the public report i am releasing today. as i said several times, the report contains limited reductions related to four categories of information. to ensure as much transparency as possible, those reductions have been clearly labeled so the readers can tell which redactions correspond to which categories. categoriesall those six the, grand jury material, information the icy believes would disclose sources and methods, information that would impair the investigation and prosecution of other cases that are underway, and finally information that implicates the privacy and reputational
interests of peripheral third parties. as you will see, most of the reductions were compelled by the need to prevent harm to ongoing matters and to comply with court orders for headbutting the public disclosure of information these reductions department ofy justice attorneys working closely together with attorneys from the special counsel's office, as well as the intelligence community. prosecutors are handling the ongoing cases. there reductions are there work product. no reactions done by anybody were --the -- reactions redactions were done by anyone outside this group and no one outside the
department has seen the un redacted report, other than the portions made available to the intelligence community for protecting intelligence methods. assertision whether to executive privilege over any portion of the report rested with the president of the united states. house hade white voluntarily cooperated with the special counsel, significant portions of the report contained material over which the president could have asserted privilege. he would have been well within his rights to do so.
following my march 29 letter, the office of the white house counsel requested the opportunity to review the redacted version of the report in order to advise the president on the potential invocation of privilege, which is consistent with long-standing practice. following that review, the
president confirmed that in the interest of transparency and full disclosure to the american people, he would not assert privilege over the special counsel's report. the public report i am releasing only contains redactions
for the four categories i outlined, and no material has been redacted based on executive privilege. earlier this week, the president's personal counsel was given an opportunity to read the final redacted report before it was publicly released, consistent with the practice under the ethics in government provides an individual the opportunity to read the report before publication. the president's reporters did not make or request redaction's.
we are working with congress to -- their legitimate oversight interest with respect to the special counsel's investigation. we have been consulting with chairman graham and chairman nadler through this process and will continue to do so. i believe the publicly released report will allow every american to understand the results of the special counsel's investigation. in an effort to accommodate congressional requests, we will make available appropriate to groupards to a bipartisan with all reductions removed, except those relating to grand jury information. these members of congress will be able to see all of the redacted material for themselves, with a limited of thaton -- exception of which by law cannot be shared. this accommodation, along with
my upcoming testimony, will satisfy any need congress has for information regarding the special counsel's investigation. i would like to thank you for being here, and i will have a few questions. >> mr. attorney general, we do not have the report in hand, so can you explain the special counsel's articulated reasons for not reaching a decision on obstruction of justice, and if it had anything to do with the department's long-standing guidance on not indicting a setting president? a.g. barr: i would leave it to his description in the report, the special counsel's own articulation of why he did not want to make a determination as to whether or not there was an obstruction offense. i will say when we met with him,
deputy attorney general rosenstein and i met with him o'callaghan, the principal associate deputy, on march 5 and asked about the opinion, and whether or not he was taking the position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the olc opinion. he made it very clear several times that that was not his position. he was not saying but for the olc opinion, he would have found a crime. he made it clear he had not made the determination there was a crime. >> what did you disagree with him on? >> given that, why did you feel the need to take it to the next step to conclude there was no crime, especially given doj policy? a.g. barr: the prosecutorial function on all of our powers as
prosecutors, including the power to convene grand jury's and the compulsory process involved, is for one purpose. it is determined, yes or no, was alleged conduct criminal or not criminal? that is our responsibility and that is why we have the tools we have. we don't go through this process just to collect information and throw it out to the public. we collect this information and use that compulsory process for the purpose of making that decision. because the special counsel did not make that decision, we felt the department had to. that was a decision by me and the deputy attorney general. --special counsel indicates did special counsel indicate that he wanted you to make the decision or it should be left to congress? how do you respond to criticism that you are acting more as an
attorney for the president, rather than the chief
law enforcement officer? a.g. barr: special counsel mueller did not indicate his purpose was to leave the decision to congress. i hope that was not his view, because we do not convene grand jury's and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose. i did not talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision, but i am told his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general make that decision. is there anything you can share today about your review of the genesis of the russia investigation, whether assets have been provided to investigators? a.g. barr: today, i am just focused on the process of releasing this report. they have asked for robert mueller to testify.
he remains a department of justice employee. will you object to him testifying? a.g. barr: i have no objection. >> the democrats that have questioned it this, a republican appointed judge said that you cleared the -- you president on obstruction in his fundraising, and you have remarks that are quite generous to the president, including acknowledging his feelings and emotions. what do you say to people concerned you are trying to protect the president? the sayings about his where in these report so i am not sure your basis for saying i am being generous to the president. is there another precedent for it? >> no. a.g. barr: unprecedented is an
accurate description, isn't it? >> yes. >> there is a lot of public counsel in the special to join you on the podium. why is he not here today? me asarr: what he did for the attorney general, he is required to provide me with a confidential report. i am here to discuss my response to that report in my decision, entirely discretionary to make it public since these reports are not supposed to be made public. is it proper for you to come out and sort of spin the report before people are able to read it? >> thank you very much.