Russia is reacting with an "I told you so" in state media after the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Moscow's involvement in the US presidential election didn't find evidence of collusion.

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. (Reuters)

Russia is ready to improve ties with the United States but it is up to Washington to make the first move, the Kremlin said on Monday after the conclusion of a US investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Moscow in the 2016 election.

The US Department of Justice said on Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation did not find evidence that Trump's campaign "conspired or coordinated" with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller also investigated whether Trump obstructed justice but did not come to a definitive answer.

That brought a hearty claim of vindication from Trump but set the stage for new rounds of political and legal fighting.

Trump cheered the outcome but also laid bare his resentment after two years of investigations that have shadowed his administration. "It's a shame that our country has had to go through this. 

In a four-page letter to Congress, Attorney General William Barr quoted Mueller's report as stating it "does not exonerate" the president on obstruction. Instead, Barr said, it "sets out evidence on both sides of the question."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the report on a conference call and said Russia had never interfered and did not plan to interfere in the United States or other countries' internal affairs and elections.

"...It's hard to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat," Peskov told reporters.

Trump, in Florida, celebrated that the report showed "there was no collusion." He also claimed it showed there was no obstruction. 

His legal team said the president was completely vindicated by Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"This is a complete and total vindication of the president," the team said in a statement. 

TRT World's Liz Maddock reports.

Both sides react to Mueller report

Barr released his summary of Mueller's report on Sunday afternoon. 

Mueller wrapped up his investigation on Friday with no new indictments, bringing to a close a probe that has shadowed Trump for nearly two years.

But the broader fight is not over. 

The justice department summary sets up a battle between Barr and Democrats, who called for Mueller's full report to be released and vowed to press on with their own investigation.

Congress' top Democrats, Chuck Schumer of New York in the Senate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, put out a statement saying Barr's letter raises as many questions as it answers, including about his own decision not to prosecute on possible obstruction.

"Given Mr Barr's public record of bias against the special counsel's inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report," they said. 

Trump's claim of complete exoneration "directly contradicts the words of Mr Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility," they added.

TRT World's Kate Fisher has more.

US Attorney General William Barr's four-page letter to US congressional leaders on the conclusions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election is seen after being released by the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, U.S. March 24, 2019.
US Attorney General William Barr's four-page letter to US congressional leaders on the conclusions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election is seen after being released by the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, U.S. March 24, 2019. (Jim Bourg / Reuters)

The House Judiciary Committee chairman said earlier Congress needs to hear from Barr about his decision and see "all the underlying evidence."

Mueller "clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, said Representative Jerry Nadler, Democrat-New York, in a series of tweets, but Barr took two days "to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ."

"There must be full transparency in what Special Counsel Mueller uncovered to not exonerate the President from wrongdoing. DOJ owes the public more than just a brief synopsis and decision not to go any further in their work," Nadler tweeted.

US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday he was disturbed by Russia's ongoing efforts to interfere with US democracy and looked forward to reviewing additional information from the special counsel's report.

"I appreciate the Attorney General’s commitment to continue to review the record in this matter over the coming days, in conjunction with Special Counsel (Robert) Mueller, with the goal of producing as much information as possible, consistent with the law. I look forward to reviewing that information," McConnell said in a statement.

Barr decides insufficient evidence

For Trump, Barr's report was a victory on a key question that has hung over his presidency from the start: Did his campaign work with Russia to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton?

Still, Mueller's investigation left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and drafting an incomplete explanation about his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. That left it to the attorney general to decide. 

After consulting with other department officials, Barr said he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, determined the evidence "is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense."

Barr, nominated to his job by Trump last fall, said their decision was based on the evidence uncovered by Mueller and not based on whether a sitting president can be indicted.

TRT World speaks to Mica Mosbacher, a Trump adviser for 2020.

Trump was at his Florida estate when lawmakers received the report. Barr's chief of staff called Emmet Flood, the lead White House lawyer on the investigation, to brief him on the findings shortly before he sent it to Congress.

Mueller's investigation ensnared nearly three dozen people, senior Trump campaign operatives among them. The probe illuminated Russia's assault on the American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the release of hacked Democratic emails to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.

Mueller submitted his report to Barr instead of directly to Congress and the public because, unlike independent counsels such as Ken Starr in the case of President Bill Clinton, his investigation operated under the close supervision of the justice department, which appointed him.

TRT World's Harry Horton reports.

2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants and interviews

Barr said that Mueller "thoroughly" investigated the question of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia's election interference, issuing more than 2,800 subpoenas, obtaining nearly 500 search warrants and interviewing 500 witnesses.

He said Mueller also catalogued the president's actions including "many" that took place in "public view," a possible nod to Trump's public attacks on investigators and witnesses.

In the letter, Barr said he concluded that none of Trump's actions constituted a federal crime that prosecutors could prove in court.

Democrats are reminding that the House voted nearly unanimously, 420-0, to release the full Mueller report, which they say is more important not than ever. 

"This is about transparency and truth — and a 4 page summary from Trump's AG doesn't cut it," tweeted Representative Mark Takano, the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. 

"The American people deserve to see the whole thing."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies