The Associated Press fact-checked President Donald Trump and top administration officials following a flurry of misleading or downright false statements about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, and the results are exactly what you would expect.
Trump and his most prominent mouthpieces - Vice President Mike Pence, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Attorney General William Barr - have grossly misled the public on what the special counsel determined.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted that the special counsel "should not have been authorized in the first place" and that the report "was written as nastily as possible by 13 (18) Angry Democrats who were true Trump Haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself, the end result is No Collusion, No Obstruction!"
The president's other tweets on Saturday repeat the same theme - that the Russia probe was a "hoax" and a "witch hunt."
The AP quickly debunked this claim:
"Mueller, a longtime Republican, was cleared by the Justice Department to lead the Russia investigation. The department said in May 2017 that its ethics experts 'determined that Mr. Mueller’s participation in the matters assigned to him is appropriate.' The issue had come up because of his former position at the WilmerHale law firm, which represented some key players in the probe.
Mueller was appointed as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee."
Along with the claim that the report shouldn't have been authorized in the first place.
"He claimed as recently as last month that the probe was hatched by Democrats after losing the 2016 election. As evidence, Trump often points to a dossier of anti-Trump research financed by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The research that was ultimately compiled into the dossier was initially financed by anti-Trump conservatives, and later by the Democrats.
But the Mueller report makes clear that the FBI’s investigation actually began months before it received the dossier."
The report is far from an exoneration.
Barr argued that Trump’s emotions in his attempts to obstruct justice did not amount to criminal intent. In other words, Trump was angry, but not corrupt.
“In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context,” Barr said in his prepared remarks. “President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office...federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability.”
Pence also issued a dishonest statement on what Mueller found.
“Today’s release of the Special Counsel’s report confirms what the President and I have said since day one: there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and there was no obstruction of justice," Pence said on Thursday.
So did Conway: “What matters is what the Department of Justice and special counsel concluded here, which is no collusion, no obstruction, and complete exoneration, as the president says.”
AP nipped these claims in the bud:
"The special counsel’s report specifically does not exonerate Trump, leaving open the question of whether the president obstructed justice."
Mueller explicitly says this in the report: "Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report states.
In fact, Mueller's revelations on obstruction are far more damning than Barr and the others let on.
Mueller hinted that Trump did, in fact, attempt to obstruct justice.
“Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations. The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels.”
Though Mueller declined to formally accuse or indict Trump due to Justice Department procedure, he wrote that Congress has a duty ensure that no person, not even a sitting president, is above the law.
“We concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Mueller wrote of Trump’s suspected obstructive behavior. “The Constitution does not categorically and permanently immunize a president for obstructing justice.”
Mueller's report was a roadmap for impeachment.
“The conclusion that congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of the office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law," the report states.
Barr misled the public on this too.
“Well, Special Counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress," Barr said at his presser. "I hope that was not his view. … I didn’t talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision, but I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision.”
They lied? Shocker.
Mueller left Trump's fate in Congress's hands. Will they act?