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 evening by saying that 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 that Mueller had not concluded one way or another as to whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to influence the investigation. As such, Barr concluded that 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, Attorney General Barr noted that while Mueller’s report “does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
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:
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 the Post’s Senior Editor Marc Fisher also noted that Mueller’s report “contains enough fuel for both sides to cling to their version of the truth.”
Meanwhile, 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 noted 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.”
Likewise, reaction in The Wall Street Journal notes that “Trump’s team sees political gold” in the results and that his team were already “crafting plans to use Robert Mueller’s findings as a line of attack against Democrats” in the 2020 election.
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 Mueller investigation that had been likened to a “witch hunt” by Trump.
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 noted that the findings of the report “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.”
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 noted that the Mueller report “clears” Trump and that while the White House “triumphs” at the findings, the Democrats “wince,” Le Monde newspaper also said that the Mueller findings “reinforce Trump in upcoming battles.”
Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper noted that while the report said there was “no proof (of collusion) the president is not absolved” while Germany’s public broadcaster Deutsche Welle noted 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 noted 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.
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 report’s findings.
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.
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,” before asking, “Will someone answer for this damage or apologize?”