Trump's 'delight' and the discomfort of Democrats: How global media is reacting to the Mueller report

Key Points
  • Global media are reacting to the results of one of the most gripping investigations into a U.S. president in modern times and the somewhat unexpected result of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Donald Trump.
  • The investigation found that Trump did not collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
  • Global media are reacting to the results of one of the most explosive investigations in modern U.S. history.
Here's how the Mueller report played out over its nearly two-year lifespan
Here's how the Mueller report played out over its nearly two-year lifespan

Global media are reacting to the results of one of the most gripping investigations into a U.S. president in modern times — and the somewhat unexpected result of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Attorney General William Barr summarized the results of Mueller's investigation on Sunday by saying it had not found that the Trump campaign had "conspired or coordinated with the Russian government" to influence the 2016 vote.

In addition, Barr said Mueller had not concluded one way or another as to whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to influence the investigation. Barr said Mueller's evidence was not sufficient to establish that Trump committed a crime.

Trump tweeted that the report's conclusions were a "total exoneration" of him. But in a letter to key members of Congress on Sunday, Barr noted that while Mueller's report "does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Trump tweet

Disappointed by Barr's summary of the investigation, Democrats have called Mueller's report to be published in full. Meanwhile, much of the global media have focused on the shock result and whether or not Trump is really "exonerated."

Here's a selection of global media reaction and commentary to the results of the Mueller probe:

No conspiracy

The Washington Post is headlined Monday "Mueller finds no conspiracy," attorney general says and notes in a separate article that "No collusion!" goes from defiant mantra to rallying cry for Trump's re-election" but senior editor Marc Fisher also noted that Mueller's report "contains enough fuel for both sides to cling to their version of the truth."

The New York Times also headlined with Barr's conclusions but noted that the report "stops short of exonerating Trump on obstruction of justice." The paper said that "with no impeachment in view, Democrats push forward with an investigation." Nonetheless, the paper's White House correspondent Peter Baker notes that "a cloud over Trump's presidency is lifted" and that the results will have "fortified the president for the battles to come, including his campaign for re-election."

The Wall Street Journal said "Trump's team sees political gold" in the results and that his team was already "crafting plans to use Robert Mueller's findings as a line of attack against Democrats" in the 2020 election.

WSJ tweet

Democrats' discomfort

Media outside the U.S. have also followed every twist and turn of Mueller's 22-month long investigation and have eagerly anticipated the results of the probe that Trump often called a "witch hunt."

U.K. newspapers largely focused on Trump's jubilant and delighted reaction to Barr's summary of the report and the Democrats' disappointment at the result — and what it could mean for the 2020 election race.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail noted that "Trump revels in "complete exoneration" and blasts "illegal' probe" and reported the president's happiness at the result, quoting an unnamed senior administration official as telling the paper that he hadn't "seen Trump this happy in months. It's like election night again." The U.K.'s center-right Daily Telegraph newspaper said "The findings left the president and his allies delighted" and "amounted to a major victory for Mr. Trump after 22 months of Mr Mueller's investigation."

The paper also focused on Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer demanding the full confidential report be published and their joint statement in which they noted that "Attorney General Barr's letter raises as many questions as it answers."

The Telegraph's U.S. editor, Ben Riley-Smith, and Washington editor, Nick Allen, noted in their reaction that "Democrats found themselves in a politically uncomfortable position, being asked during TV interviews whether they agreed there was no collusion and whether they trusted Mr Mueller — a man whose integrity they had repeatedly trumpeted in public."

'No respite' for Trump

The Mueller report has also caught the attention of continental Europe, a region with its own conflicted relationship with Trump following threats from the president to impose import tariffs on European cars.

France's Le Figaro said that while the Mueller report "clears" Trump and that the White House "triumphs" at the findings, the Democrats "wince." Le Monde said the findings "reinforce Trump in upcoming battles."

Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper said even though the report found "no proof (of collusion), the president is not absolved," while Germany's public broadcaster Deutsche Welle said on its website that the report actually gives "no respite" for Trump as other investigations into his administration and his business dealings will "continue unabated."

Daniel Friedrich Sturm, Die Welt's U.S. correspondent, wrote that "Sunday was a great day for the American president," and that the Mueller findings were "perhaps Trump's greatest triumph in the battle for power since his electoral victory two-and-a-half years ago." However, he noted that although the White House had downplayed the question of whether Trump had obstructed the investigation, "that will not be the last word" on the subject.

German business newspaper Handelsblatt said that "What remains after 3,000 subpoenas and more than 500 witnesses from the Mueller report (are) no conspiracy, no charges," but it added that while the result of the Russia investigation is "mostly good news" for Trump "the report contains worrying findings" and that "many questions remain unanswered, as long as the report is only a summary."

Trump's "victory" has barely made a dint in Chinese newspapers that largely report on the world through the lens of the ruling Communist Party. The China Daily newspaper is focused on President Xi Jinping's visit to France on Monday while the Mueller report's findings are also absent from the South China Morning Post and Communist Party-run People's Daily.

The view from Russia

Beyond Europe, Trump's reactions to the report will be just as closely scrutinized as Russia's. Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet publicly commented on the Mueller findings.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018.
Grigory Dukor | Reuters

Despite an apparent mutual respect between Putin and Trump, U.S.-Russian relations have been frosty of late, particularly against a backdrop of continuing U.S. sanctions on Russian organizations and individuals it says meddled in the U.S. 2016 election, as well as sanctions for any entity deemed to have been involved in its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Kremlin source: US election meddling claims 'not news to us'
Kremlin source: US election meddling claims 'not news to us'

Russian newspapers Vedomosti, Kommersant and Komsomolskaya Pravda carried very little analysis of the Mueller findings but Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which is published by the Russian government, carried an opinion piece by Konstantin Kosachev, a senior Russian lawmaker and chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Kosachev was damning of the investigation, noting that "two years were not just lost for Russian-American relations (but were) simply crushing for them." "Will someone answer for this damage or apologize?" he asked.