Attorney General William Barr on Thursday morning transmitted a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's highly anticipated report on Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign to members of Congress, making public for the first time substantial portions of the nearly 400-page document.
ABC NEWS WAS PROVIDING LIVE UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY ON ALL THE MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS.
5:22 p.m.: Mueller report makes political case against Trump: Analysis
ABC News' political director Rick Klein writes of the special counsel probe that something happened on the path to "complete and total exoneration."
Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report did not result in a legal case that will be brought against President Donald Trump, despite 22 months of a special counsel inquiry.
But Mueller’s team of investigators constructed an intricate and detailed political case against the president, with vast implications for the current Congress and for leaders inside both parties in advance of the 2020 election.
4:17 p.m.: Trump leaves White House, does not take questions
President Donald Trump, holding hands with first lady Melania Trump, took no questions from reporters and headed straight for Marine One on Thursday afternoon.
The Trumps were heading to Mar-a-Lago for the holiday weekend.
On Wednesday, Trump said he might hold a news conference after the redacted report was released and earlier on Thursday counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said that she expected him to speak to reporters before departing.
Walking from the White House, the president only waved as questions were shouted at him. Then, at Andrews Air Force Base, he boarded Air Force One shortly after Marine One landed.
-- ABC News' Meridith McGraw
4:07 p.m.: Mueller's reference to allegations of Russian "kompromat" on Trump
The special counsel report offers new details suggesting then-candidate Donald Trump was aware of rumors of a compromising video recording being circulated by the Russian government during his 2016 campaign.
A footnote in the Mueller report discusses the unverified allegation, which was first raised in the so-called dossier -- a series of opposition research memos prepared by a former British agent. The dossier suggested Russians had recorded a tape of Trump during a 2013 visit to Moscow showing Trump cavorting with prostitutes in his suite at the Moscow Ritz hotel.
Trump has always maintained the allegations are false. It has been previously reported that then-FBI Director James Comey shared information about the salacious allegations with Trump after the 2016 elections, during the transition period.
"During the 2016 presidential campaign, a similar claim may have reached candidate Trump," the Mueller report says.
Two weeks before the election, the report says Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen received a text from a Russian businessman that said, "Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there's anything else. Just so you know . . .. "
The businessman said the "tapes" referred to "compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia," the report quotes. Trump had partnered with the Crocus Group to host the beauty pageant.
The report says Cohen told investigators that he spoke directly to Trump about the issue after receiving those texts. The businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, later told investigators the tapes were fake, but added that he had not communicated that to Cohen at the time.
-- ABC News' Matt Mosk
2:57 p.m.: Nadler weighs in
In a brief press conference, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said the Mueller report "makes clear that the president refused to be interviewed by the special counsel and refused to provide written answers to follow up questions."
2:55 p.m.: Trump asked people affiliated with campaign to find Clinton’s emails "repeatedly," according to Flynn
After Trump’s July 2016 press conference inviting the Russians to find them, Michael Flynn contacted multiple people about finding the "missing" Hillary Clinton emails from her personal server, according to the report. That included contact Flynn made to the late Chicago financier Peter Smith and Barbara Ledeen (a long-time staffer to Sen. Chuck Grassley who was already on the hunt).
Erik Prince provided funding to try and authenticate some emails that were obtained by Ledeen but the tech advisor hired said they weren’t real.
The special counsel didn’t find evidence Flynn or other campaign-linked figures initiated or directed Smith’s efforts..
2:10 p.m.: 2020 candidates slam AG Barr as Mueller report sends ripples through Democratic field
Democratic presidential candidates were quick to vent their frustration on Thursday at the conduct of Attorney General William Barr, swiftly called on special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before Congress and demanded that the full unredacted report be released to the public.
The ire directed at Barr comes after he held a press conference defending President Donald Trump's actions and to speak publicly and take questions from journalists before the report from the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election was released.
None of the sitting U.S. senators who have declared a presidential bid voted for Barr's confirmation.
1:31 p.m.: Insight into Trump's written responses to the special counsel team's questions
The answers President Donald Trump gave to special counsel Robert Mueller have finally been released as part of the redacted version of the special counsel's report.
Trump's willingness to participate in an interview with the special counsel, the topics of the questions and whether that interview would take place in person or in writing was the subject of a months-long negotiation between Trump's legal team and the special counsel.
In June of 2017, the president told ABC News' Jonathan Karl that he would "one hundred percent" be willing to speak under oath to his version of events if Mueller asked him to. Eventually, the president and his legal team backed off of Trump's initial willingness to sit for an interview, instead advocating that the president respond to select questions in writing. Trump submitted his written responses to the special counsel on November 21, 2018.
12:23 p.m.: Here's a look at what it took to produce Mueller's probe
And here's what those efforts produced:
12:12 p.m.: Trump orders White House counsel Don McGahn to deny the president tried to fire the special counsel
After news broke that Trump ordered McGahn to fire the special counsel, Trump pressured McGahn to deny that he had been directed to do so, even suggesting to aides that he would fire him unless he complied. Mueller concludes that there is evidence to suggest Trump acted this way to impede his investigation.
According to the report: "The President then directed [staff secretary Rob] Porter to tell McGahn to create a record to make clear that the President never directed McGahn to fire the Special Counsel. Porter thought the matter should be handled by the White House communications office, but the President said he wanted McGahn to write a letter to the file "for our records" and wanted something beyond a press statement to demonstrate that the reporting was inaccurate. The President referred to McGahn as a 'lying bastard' and said that he wanted a record from him. Porter recalled the President saying something to the effect of, 'If he doesn't write a letter, then maybe I'll have to get rid of him'."
Mueller concluded that "Substantial evidence indicates that in repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of influencing McGahn's account in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the President's conduct towards the investigation."
12:08p.m.: Trump tried to block release of emails related to June 9 Trump Tower meeting: Report
In a section of the report divided into four subsections, Mueller’s team cites at least three occasions "between June 29, 2017 and July 9, 2017- when the president directed Hope Hicks and others not to publicly disclose information about the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and a Russian attorney. The office of the special counsel concluded that" these efforts by the president were directed at the press, ad
ding that these acts would amount to obstructive acts only if the president sought to withhold information or mislead congressional investigations or the special counsel. On May 17, 2017, the president’s campaign received a document request from SSCI that clearly covered the June 9 meeting."
In the analysis section, the special counsel specifically addresses the phrase attributed to Hope Hicks, "it will never get out"—in reference to the emails setting up the June 9 meeting. Hicks said she "had no memory of making" that comment and always believed the emails would eventually be leaked. The Special Counsel writes that the Hicks statement "can be explained as reflecting a belief that the emails would not be made public if the President’s press strategy were followed, even if the emails were provided to Congress and the Special Counsel."
11:46 a.m.: Cohen had "extensive" discussions with the president's personal counsel
The Mueller report states that Michael Cohen, President Trump's then-personal attorney, had "extensive" discussions with the president's personal counsel while working on his statements to Congress.
The report further lays out myriad instances of the president's conduct with Cohen including:
--Cohen had numerous brief conversations with Trump about the Trump Tower Moscow project from Sept. 2015 onward, as well as conversations with Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. In Dec. 2015, Felix Sater asked Cohen for a copy of his and Trump's passports to facilitate travel to Russia. By Jan 2016, growing frustrated with Sater, Cohen reached out directly to Dmitry Peskov and later had a conversation with Peskov's assistant that he recounted to Trump.
--The day after Cohen's conversation with Peskov's assistant, Sater texted Cohen saying that the Russian government liked the project and invited Cohen to come visit Moscow. Cohen continued to brief Trump and Donald Trump Jr. on the project through the spring. Cohen and Sater worked to determine a time for a potential visit from then candidate Trump to Russia. The visit never happened. Cohen also decided not to visit. Cohen recounts telling trump that the project was "going nowhere" sometime during the summer of 2016.
--In January 2017, Cohen received press inquiries about Trump Tower Moscow, and told President-Elect Trump about the inquiries. He was concerned being honest about the project would not be consistent with the president's previous comments about his relationship with Russia.
--To stay on message Cohen told a NYT reporter that the Trump Tower Moscow deal ended in January 2016. Cohen said he discussed this talking point with Trump.
--Cohen entered into a joint defense agreement with the president and others after Congress requested he testify. Cohen assumed he would be asked about allegations in the Steele Dossier. Cohen spoke with the president's personal counsel "frequently" leading up to his congressional testimony.
--Cohen was told by the president's personal counsel that the joint defense agreement was working well. His bills were being paid by the Trump Org. Cohen said the president's personal counsel told him he was protected by the JDA, and he wouldn't be if he "went rogue"
--Cohen prepared a draft letter to congress which included several false statements. That letter was circulated around and edited by members of the JDA. The president's personal counsel also told Cohen not to make reference to an attempt to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin during the 2015 United Nations general Assembly.
--Cohen submitted his statement. He recalled speaking to the president "more generally" about his plans to stay on message during his testimony
Earlier in the day, Cohen vowed "Soon I will be ready to address the American people again...tell it all...and tell it myself!"
11:45 a.m.: The president’s further efforts to have AG Jeff Sessions take over the investigation
Special counsel Robert Mueller appears to conclude that President Trump’s actions with regard to Jeff Sessions could constitute as obstruction.
"On multiple occasions in 2017, the President spoke with Sessions about reversing his recusal so that he could take over the Russia investigation and begin an investigation of Hillary Clinton…There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President’s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that could restrict its scope…A reasonable inference from those statements and the President’s action is that an unrecused Attorney General would play a protective role and could shield the President from the ongoing Russia investigation."
11:31 a.m.: Mueller considered Trump's written answers 'inadequate'
Special counsel Muller lays out his negotiations with President Trump’s attorneys regarding an interview with the president. Mueller writes in the introductory note that they advised counsel that "a[n] interview with the President is vital to our investigation." Mueller says that Trump "stated on more than 30 occasions that he "does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an "independent recollection’" of information called for by the questions." Mueller received the president’s responses in November 2018. Beginning in Dec 2017 they sought to interview the president on "topics relevant to both Russian-election interference and obstruction-of-justice."
Mueller writes that "Other answers were "incomplete or imprecise."
"We again requested an in-person interview, limited to certain topics, advising the President’s counsel that "[t]his is the President’s opportunity to voluntarily provide us with information for us to evaluate in the context of all the evidence we have gathered." "The President declined."
Mueller says "we considered whether to issue a subpoena for his testimony" given that Trump would not volunteer an interview. "We viewed the written answers to be inadequate. But at that point, our investigation had made significant progress and had produced substantial evidence for our report. We thus weighed to costs of potentially lengthy constitutional litigation, with resulting delay in finishing our investigation, against the anticipated benefits from our investigation and report."
11:26 a.m.: On looking into potential obstruction of justice
The report says while they believe they had legal authority "and legal justification" to subpoena Trump" for an interview, they chose not to due to the delay in investigation that it would cause. "We also assessed that based on the significant body of evidence we had already obtained of the President’s actions and his public and private statements ... we had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President’s testimony."
Read more about what we know about: potential obstruction of justice
As for retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador, the report notes: "some evidence suggests that the President knew about the existence and content of Flynn’s calls when they occurred, but the evidence is inconclusive and could not be relied upon to establish the President’s knowledge."
On the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting, the report says Trump had "substantial involvement" in the communications strategy over the Russia probe. But "the evidence does not establish that the president intended to prevent" Mueller or Congress from getting those emails to Donald Trump Jr or other information related to the meeting.
11:25 a.m.: Trump: "This is the end of my Presidency. I'm f***ed"
According then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, Jody Hunt, the president upon learning that a special counsel had been appointed, the president reportedly slouched back in his chair and said ""Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f-----."
On Thursday, President Trump said following the release of the Mueller report: "I’m having a good day, too! It was called no collusion, no obstruction."
In the report, Mueller says he did not clear President Trump on obstruction of justice.
11:16 a.m.: On looking into potential collusion
The probe "Uncovered numerous links — I.e. contacts — between Trump campaign officials and individuals having or claiming to have ties to the Russian government."
Among the people: Carter Page, an unpaid adviser to Trump's campaign, George Papadopoulos, one-time campaign foreign policy adviser, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, JD Gordon, a campaign adviser, Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, Erik Prince, Trump ally and Blackwater founder, and Jeff Sessions, a forrmer senator and attorney general. The report notes, as ABC first reported, that Sessions when he was attorney general was investigated for perjury over his testimony to Congress about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
The "collusion" report talks extensively about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the promise of "dirt" on Clinton.
The Russians reached out again after the meeting to the transition team, but the transition team did not respond.
Mueller’s team determined it would be hard to prove "campaign officials or individuals connected to the campaign willfully violated the law."
"On the facts here, the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful."
"Schemes involving the solicitation or receipt of assistance from foreign sources raise difficult statutorily and constitutional questions."
11:15 a.m.: The report has posted
The full report has posted:
In the report, there are two binders, one on "collusion" and one on obstruction. ABC News will offer a breakdown of what the report says about each of these areas.
10:50 a.m.: The Russia probe: A timeline from Moscow to Mueller
As we await the redacted version of the Mueller report, here's a look at every major step in the Russia investigation, chronologically.
The timeline is based on publicly-released FBI documents, congressional records and testimony, court filings, and certain media reports confirmed to ABC News by sources with knowledge of the matter.
10:29 a.m.: 10 episodes of potential obstruction to be disclosed in Mueller report
There are ten episodes depicting potential obstruction of justice outlined in the impending Mueller report, according to attorney General William Barr's remarks at the Department of Justice.
The special counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgement on obstruction of justice, as was outlined in Barr's letter last month.
"Instead the report recounts ten episodes involving the president and discusses legal theories for connecting those activities," Barr said. After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report and in consultation with the office of legal counsel and other department lawyers. The deputy attorney general and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not subject to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense."
In Barr's March 24th letter, he wrote that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
-- ABC News' Allison Pecorin
10:19 a.m.: A reminder of some of the key players in the Russia probe
Since May 2017, the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has been a constant presence in U.S. politics – a complex narrative that has included a rotating cast of characters and myriad plotlines.
Here is a roundup of the various figures who have been connected to the investigation at various points since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.
10:01 a.m.: Trump tweets "Game Over"
Minutes after Attorney General William Barr's press conference ended, President Trump tweeted "No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and radical left Democrats--Game Over," an apparent reference to the Game of Thrones television show.
9:34 a.m.: AG Barr's press conference begins
At a news conference Thursday morning, Attorney General William Barr said was committed to providing "the greatest degree of transparency" that is "consistent with the law."
"As the special counsel report makes clear, the Russian government sought to interfere in our election process, but thanks to the special counsel's thorough investigation, we now know that 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," Barr said.
"In other words, there was no evidence of the Trump campaign’s collusion of the Russian government’s hacking." he said.
Barr held the news conference hours before he was set to send special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report to Congress and make it public, drawing sharp criticism from congressional Democrats.Barr, after thanking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his efforts, also confirmed that he intends to transmit redacted versions of the report to the chairman and ranking members of the House Judiciary committees.
Rosenstein joined Barr for the news conference Thursday morning.
Democrats on Thursday morning stepped up their criticism of how Barr has handled the Mueller report and its release, slamming him for holding a news conference at 9:30 a.m. EDT, hours before DOJ officials say he will send the report to Congress and make it public.
--ABC News' Trish Turner and Cheyenne Haslett
8 a.m.: Trump tweets ahead of release
Ahead of the Mueller release, President Trump tweets that the investigation is "the Greatest Political Hoax of all time!"
@realDonaldTrump: The Greatest Political Hoax of all time! Crimes were committed by Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats.
President Trump will have the chance to watch the DOJ press conference at 9:30a this morning -- the first thing on his schedule today is the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier ride at 10:30a in the East Room where he is expected to deliver remarks.
8 a.m.: Topics AG Barr is expected to address during his presser
Attorney General William Barr is expected to address three topics during his press conference scheduled for 9:30 this morning, according to Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec.
Those three topics are:
Executive privilege and whether it was involvedWhite House interactions with the Department of Justice over the past several weeks since the last letter issued by Barr on March 29.The redaction process.
The press conference is expected to last 20-30 minutes.
-- ABC News' Jack Date
8 a.m.: Mueller arrives at office, not attending Barr newser
Special counsel Robert Mueller arrived at his office as he usually does, driving himself in his Subaru. He will not attend Barr's news conference at the Justice Department, a spokesman said.
-- ABC News' Erica King
7:42 a.m.: Barr arrives at Justice Department
Attorney General William Barr arrived at the Justice Department in a two-car detail ahead of his controversial news conference later this morning.
-- ABC News' Luke Barr
6:15 a.m.: Top Democrats call for Mueller to testify before Congress 'as soon as possible'
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Barr's handing of the report release has created a "crisis of confidence" and said having Mueller testify was the "only way to begin restoring public trust."
"Attorney General Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning — hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it — have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality," they said.
"We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth," Schumer and Pelosi said in the statement.
- ABC News' Sarah Kolinovsky
Mueller submitted his findings to the Justice Department on March 22, and Barr spent the next two days reviewing the document before releasing his initial letter to Congress.
Since then, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for the full release of Mueller's report.
House Democrats set a deadline for Barr to release the full report by April 2, but the attorney general declined that request, citing the need to redact sensitive grand jury material, information legally blocked from public release, information that could compromise intelligence sources and methods, and any "information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties."
Though Thursday's anticipated release of a redacted version of Mueller's report may answer lawmakers' demands for more information, it will likely be met with calls for even more.
In a letter from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent just hours after Barr's initial letter, the Democratic leaders wrote that "Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise."
The amount of underlying documents supporting the report is expected to be substantial. In his letter Barr wrote that "the Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants" and "interviewed approximately 500 witnesses."
Mueller's full report covers the scope of an investigation lead by a team of federal prosecutors that lasted 22 months and lead to 37 indictments and seven guilty pleas. Some of the cases related to the special counsel's probe are ongoing and have since been turned over to prosecutors in U.S. Attorney's offices.
ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman, Jack Date, Ali Dukakis, Katherine Faulders, SooRin Kim, Lee Ferran, Mike Levine, Pete Madden, Matt Mosk, John Santucci, Pierre Thomas, Trish Turner and John Verhovek contributed to this report.