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Attorney General Barr Releases Redacted Version Of Mueller Report

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Mueller report is out. For nearly two years, special counsel Robert Mueller and his team investigated questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed that investigation.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Today, their conclusions were made public in the form of a partially redacted version of the report released by the attorney general, William Barr. This morning at a news conference, the attorney general emphasized the report's findings on conspiracy with the Russians.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

WILLIAM BARR: There was no evidence of the Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government's hacking.

CORNISH: The question of obstruction of justice proved harder for the special counsel to answer. The report investigated actions taken by the president as possible obstruction. Some incidents had been previously reported.

CHANG: Others were new. Upon hearing the news of the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, the report recounts that Trump, quote, "slumped back in his chair and said, oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency," end quote. He then added a curse word - I'm F-ed. Afterward, the president called White House counsel Don McGahn at home to order Mueller's firing - McGahn refused.

CORNISH: The report says, quote, "the president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his request." In the end, the report both declined to charge the president and declined to exonerate him.

CHANG: It reads, quote, "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."

CORNISH: That decision then fell to Attorney General Barr, who last month declined to charge the president with obstruction of justice. This morning at his news conference, Barr emphasized the need to evaluate the president's actions in a greater context.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

BARR: There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks.

CHANG: Today, however, President Trump seems to be feeling emboldened. And he's sticking to his message of total exoneration.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm having a good day, too. It was called no collusion, no obstruction.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: There never was, by the way, and there never will be.

CHANG: That was Trump earlier today speaking at an event for wounded veterans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.