The special counsel found insufficient evidence to bring a criminal charge of conspiring or coordinating with Russia. He found the evidence on obstruction of justice was so ambiguous that he did not recommend prosecution. Attorney General William P. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein concluded that I did nothing illegal. Those findings come as a surprise to a lot of people — including me.
To be sure, I know that I am no Russian agent. But I was fearful that my political opponents would manufacture evidence to frame me. I was especially concerned because so many of Mueller’s lawyers were Democrats. Angry at this investigation, I lashed out at the special counsel and his team in ways that I now realize were inappropriate. Mueller proved himself to be a consummate professional. I hope that all the Democrats who praised Mueller for two years, and all the Republicans who lambasted him, will now join me in lauding him for concluding his investigation fairly and honorably.
I hope everyone accepts Mueller’s findings. I certainly do. I once called the Russian interference in our election a “hoax.” I now accept it was a fact, and I strongly condemn the Russian actions. President Putin, if you’re listening, I hope you hear me loud and clear: What you did was unacceptable, and you will pay a heavy price should you ever mess with our democracy again. I want to assure all Americans that I was and will be as tough as necessary in countering Russian aggression while, at the same time, holding out the hand of friendship to the Russian government should it decide to improve its behavior. Russia can start by freeing the Ukrainian sailors it captured in November.
While the Mueller report clears me and my campaign of any criminal wrongdoing, the special counsel did find that some of my campaign associates had inappropriate contacts with Russian representatives and that some broke the law. I was not aware of this at the time, and I strongly condemn it now. I am a very loyal guy and I initially resisted accepting these conclusions when they were first reported. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, my heart and best intentions still tell me that no one who worked for me did anything wrong, but the facts and evidence tell me otherwise.
In retrospect, I think some of my associates got carried away in the heat of a campaign. Frankly, so did I. I now regret saying “I love WikiLeaks,” because I recognize that WikiLeaks was a front for Russian intelligence. In 2016, I was new to politics and assumed that any campaign would make use of any information no matter the source. I vow to be more careful in the future. I will certainly not tolerate any future foreign interference in our politics — whether for me or against me, it doesn’t matter.
At the end of the day, we are not Democrats or Republicans, pro- or anti-Trumpers. My supporters are not “deplorables” and my opponents are not traitors. We are all patriots who want to make America great again. As a sign of reconciliation, I have asked Bill Barr to step down as attorney general after only a few weeks on the job. He is a great supporter of mine, but I want no hint of political favoritism at the Justice Department. That’s why I have asked Bob Mueller to extend his public service by becoming my new attorney general. His first task will be to immediately release his entire report, redacted only for classified information. I am launching a new era of openness because I have nothing to fear from the truth.
Thank you, and God bless you.
Of course, this is a fantasy. Instead of trying to reconcile with Democrats, Trump has used the end of the Mueller inquiry as another opportunity to lash out. Rather than bringing the country together, the president is trying to force his critics out of Congress and off television. He is, in short, continuing his strategy of firing up his base and alienating everyone else. This helps to explain why his poll numbers haven’t gone up since the end of the Mueller investigation. Same old Trump. To paraphrase Abba Ebban, he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.