(MOSCOW) — In its first response to the report that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found no evidence of conspiracy between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, the Kremlin said it is not able to comment because it has yet to see the full report and again denied that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.
“We haven’t seen the report itself. In fact, almost no one has seen it, and so we don’t have the opportunity to comment in detail,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in his daily briefing call on Monday.
“We have seen a certain condensed version, a summary, which, moreover, tells nothing new, except the acknowledgment of the absence of any conspiracy,” Peskov said.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr publicly released a letter to Congress on Sunday with his summary of the key findings of Mueller’s report.
Peskov reiterated the Kremlin’s long-standing blanket denial that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, rejecting Mueller’s finding that Moscow mounted a two-pronged influence operation by using a social media campaign and stealing, then releasing, documents from the Democratic Party.
Commenting on Mueller’s investigation, Peskov said, “It’s hard to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if it isn’t there.”
According to Barr, Mueller’s report did find that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election through an information campaign targeting American social media, using a so-called “troll factory” in Saint Petersburg, and by hacking the computer and emails of the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and then disseminating the stolen material through various intermediaries, including Wikileaks.
Barr’s summary said, “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, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
Peskov said Russia wants “good relations” with the U.S. and that the “ball is [in Trump]’s court” to improve them — referencing a literal soccer ball Putin gave Trump at a press conference last July — following the conclusion of the Mueller investigation.
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