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Russia probe 'an illegal takedown that failed': Trump

Al Jazeera logo Al Jazeera 24/3/2019 Al Jazeera English
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump speaks upon his departure from West Palm Beach, Florida [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters] © [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters] US President Donald Trump speaks upon his departure from West Palm Beach, Florida [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

US President Donald Trump has criticised a 22-month probe into his links with Russia as "an illegal takedown that failed", claiming he was completely cleared by the results.

"It's a shame our country had to go through this. To be honest, it's a shame that your president has had to go through this," Trump told reporters on Sunday before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington from Florida.

"This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully, somebody's going to be looking at the other side."

In a summaryof US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings sent to Congress, Attorney General Bill Barr said no Trump campaign official was involved in the Russian conspiracies to hack Democratic computers and flood social media with disinformation to harm Trump's election rival Hillary Clinton.

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"The special counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts," Barr wrote.

On the other hand, Barr said Mueller declined to reach a decision on the evidence against the president of obstruction - almost guaranteeing that Democrats in Congress will push to investigate this further.

Mueller wrote that "while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him", Barr said.

Following the release of the summary, Trump wrote on Twitter: "No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!" 

Trump's legal team said the president was completely vindicated.

"This is a complete and total vindication of the president," the team said in a statement.

Investigations move to Congress 

Barr's letter marked the conclusion of the investigation into allegations that Trump's election campaign coordinated and colluded with Russians to skew the 2016 vote so the billionaire real estate magnate would win.

Mueller's team indicted 34 individuals, and reached guilty pleas or verdicts against five former Trump aides, including one-time attorney Michael Cohen, national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

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But it marked the beginning of a new phase, the determination of Democrats in Congress to further investigate Trump, using the evidence from the Mueller probe.

Democrats demanded to receive Mueller's entire report and his underlying evidence to further their own multiple investigations into the president.

"Seems like the Department of Justice is putting matters squarely in Congress' court," Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote on Twitter.

"Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts."

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