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Mueller report: AG Barr says no evidence of Trump collusion

The head of the Justice Department sets expectations ahead of the Mueller report's release to Congress and the public.

US Attorney General William Barr speaks Thursday about the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report as US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein listens.

US Attorney General William Barr speaks Thursday about the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report as US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein listens.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Before the world gets to read the Mueller report, the Justice Department offered a foreword: The Trump campaign didn't work with Russia to hack the 2016 presidential election. 

On Thursday morning, shortly before letting Congress and the public see special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling, Attorney General William Barr held a press conference to highlight elements of the report.

The report will be released to Congress at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, and then posted publicly on the special counsel's website after that. 

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Barr opened the press conference with statements about Russian efforts during the 2016 election campaign to spread disinformation on social media, through a company known as the Internet Research Agency, and to hack President Trump's opponents, by Russian military officials connected to the GRU intelligence operation. Among other actions, Barr said, the GRU provided stolen emails and documents to WikiLeaks, which then dumped them into public view. 

The attorney general said that while these efforts played a role in the election, Trump's campaign wasn't involved with it.

"The Special Counsel's report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations," Barr said.

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He noted the same for the activities of the Internet Research Agency, the group behind the disinformation that plagued Twitter and Facebook. 

"The special counsel found no collusion by any Americans in IRA's illegal activities," Barr said.

Even so, the nearly 400-page report is expected to be a political bombshell. The Justice Department has spent weeks reviewing the material, and Barr said the report would contain "limited redactions," meaning aspects that would be blacked out.

Mueller's team has spent nearly two years investigating President Trump's team and potential links to Russia. Charges were brought against key members including Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen, longtime associate Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The special counsel's investigation was primarily focused on political activities, but technology played a significant role in Russian election meddling. While the investigation was ongoing, Mueller's team announced indictments on a dozen Russian hackers suspected of infiltrating the Democratic National Committee's network, as well as 13 Russian operatives alleged to have spread disinformation on social media

Barr spent much of the press conference noting that Trump's campaign did not coordinate efforts with Russia over these activities. He said "no collusion" four times through the first 20 minutes, and said the report did not find evidence that Trump's team worked with Russian officials on any hacks.

"As you will see, the Special Counsel's report states that his 'investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,'" Barr said. 

Right after Barr ended the press conference, President Trump tweeted a Game of Thrones meme, with "Game Over" emblazoned across a photo of himself. 

Originally published at 6:47 a.m. PT.