Washington: US President Donald Trump has declared himself completely exonerated after his campaign was cleared of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election, in a major boost for his re-election hopes.
The long-awaited final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Moscow's election meddling concluded that no member or associate of the campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia in its plot to boost Trump in the vote more than two years ago.
While the Mueller report did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice, Attorney General Bill Barr's letter to Congress summarising the still-secret document cleared a dark cloud that had hung over the Trump's legitimacy since he took office in January 2017.
“There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction. It was a complete and total exoneration,” Trump said on Sunday of Mueller's conclusions.
“It's a shame that the country had to go through this,” he added. “This was an illegal takedown that failed.” Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Trump was “in a really good mood” and “very happy with how it all turned out.”
Gidley said the president watched television, talked to staff and made calls during his flight home from Florida.
Following the release of the report, the Kremlin again said that Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 presidential vote that brought Trump to office – a denial at odds with the conclusion of the US intelligence community.
Summarising Mueller's findings, Barr said no Trump campaign official was involved in Russian conspiracies in 2016 to hack Democratic computers and flood social media with disinformation to harm Trump's Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton.
He also said there were no new surprises coming from the Mueller team, which is disbanding – no further indictments being referred, and no sealed indictments outstanding.