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Attorney General Barr Clears Trump Of Obstruction Following Mueller's Report

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When Attorney General William Barr gave his press conference earlier today to summarize the Mueller report, he occasionally defended President Trump, especially the president's motives and feelings as the special counsel's investigation was ongoing.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

WILLIAM BARR: As he said from the beginning, there was, in fact, no collusion.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The question of whether the President obstructed justice covers nearly 200 pages of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. The special counsel laid out evidence and legal arguments but did not make a decision about whether to charge the president with the crime of obstructing justice. The report reads, quote, "while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

CORNISH: Attorney General Barr last month declined to charge the president. And today, he said it was important to consider context when assessing Trump's behavior, that the level of federal investigation and media scrutiny that surrounded him as he entered into office was unprecedented.

(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.

CORNISH: The attorney general added that the president had not asserted executive privilege to redact any portion of the report, though it was his right to do so. During the press conference, one reporter asked about Barr's characterization of the report.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: Here you have remarks that are quite generous to the president, including acknowledging his feelings and his emotions. So what do you say to people on both sides of the aisle who are concerned that you were trying to protect the president?

BARR: Actually, the statements about his sincere beliefs are recognized in the report that there was substantial evidence for that. So I'm not sure what your basis is for saying that I'm being generous to the president.

CHANG: That was Attorney General William Barr this morning at his press conference before the release of a redacted version of the Mueller report. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.