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'Yes he did': Trump says Mueller 'acted honorably'

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump also accuses unidentified opponents of doing "treasonous things against our country."
  • The president says Mueller's investigation, which found no evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and declined to draw a conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice, was "100 percent the way it should've been."
  • The apparent about face came after nearly two years of consistent attacks on the special counsel by the president.
President Donald Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, DC, March 25, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Monday accused unidentified opponents of doing "treasonous things against our country" and responded affirmatively to a question from reporters about whether Robert Mueller "acted honorably" in his investigation.

The report found no evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election but did not make a determination as to whether Trump obstructed justice.

"Do you think Robert Mueller acted honorably?" a reporter could be heard asking Trump during a White House event Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Yes, he did," Trump replied.

The apparent about face comes after nearly two years of consistent attacks by the president on the special counsel.

During the joint appearance with Netanyahu, Trump answered another question about Mueller in the Oval Office.

Asked whether the Mueller probe turned out to "not be a witch hunt after all," Trump replied, "It lasted a long time, we're glad that it's over, and it was 100 percent the way it should've been. I wish it could've gotten done a lot sooner, a lot quicker."

After briefly praising Mueller, Trump then turned to the subject of his adversaries, whom he did not name but whom he accused of doing "treasonous things against our country."

"There are a lot of people out there who have done some very, very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country," Trump said. "Hopefully people that have done such harm to our country, we've gone through a period of really bad things happening, those people will certainly be looked at.

"I've been looking at them for a long time. And I'm saying, why haven't they been looked at? They lied to Congress, many of them, you know who they are. They've done so many evil things," Trump said.

It was not immediately clear to whom the president was referring. His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to making false statements to Congress about the timeline of Trump's business dealings in Russia.

"It was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing," Trump continued. "We can never let this happen to another president again."

Mueller submitted a final report to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, and on Sunday, Barr sent a letter to Congress that outlined the principal findings of the 2-year-long investigation into Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election.

The Barr letter quoted Mueller's report as saying, "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

Mueller also probed whether Trump's alleged attempts to interfere in the FBI's investigation of members of his administration, and later to pressure Justice Department officials into closing the special counsel probe, amounted to the crime of obstruction of justice.

But the special counsel decided "not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgement" on this evidence, Barr wrote, and instead to leave the final decision of whether Trump's actions met a prosecutorial standard up to Barr, a recently confirmed Trump appointee.

Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, another Trump appointee, together determined that no, Trump's actions did not meet the threshold for criminal obstruction of justice.

Following the release of Barr's letter, Trump and his allies claimed the president had been totally vindicated in his longtime denials that he obstructed justice or that his campaign colluded with Russia.

This was not a completely accurate reading of Mueller's findings, however. According to Barr, "while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."