AG Barr
© Fox News/KJN
Attorney General William Barr
A reasonable reading of Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller's findings is that President Trump was falsely accused of conspiring or coordinating with Russia to fix the 2016 election. The same goes for people around Trump who were also falsely accused.

Attorney General William Barr wrote in a letter to Congress Sunday:
"The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: '[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.'"
Mueller made clear that he not only considered conspiracy charges in connection with the election but also looked into whether there was some sort of coordination between Trump and the Russians, which Mueller defined as an "agreement -- tacit or express -- between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference." Mueller did not find any such agreement. "The evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference," Mueller wrote, according to Barr.

On Twitter, Trump called it "complete and total EXONERATION. " He was right, as far as collusion goes. And collusion was the foundation of the entire Trump-Russia affair. It was the original accusation from which all other accusations flowed. It was the issue on which many on the left accused the president of treason, of selling out the United States to a foreign adversary, of being an agent of Russia, or seeking to corrupt an election, and more. Those charges, often made by prominent commentators with prestigious positions in media and government, were false.

But now many of those same commentators have switched their attention to the issue of whether Trump obstructed the Russia investigation. On that, Mueller did not reach a conclusion. Barr wrote:
"For each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as 'difficult issues' of law and fact concerning whether the President's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'"
Instead of a Mueller conclusion, Barr himself, along with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, examined Mueller's findings and decided that
"the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense."
One of the factors Barr and Rosenstein considered was the collusion finding. If there was no underlying crime, they reasoned, then there was less motive for the president to cover up. While that was "not determinative," Barr and Rosenstein concluded, the absence of evidence of an underlying crime "bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction." In other words, whatever Trump did, he wasn't trying to cover up evidence of collusion.

Not surprisingly, Democrats seized on Mueller's decision not to make a call on the obstruction issue as a reason for more investigation. They must have all of Mueller's evidence, Democrats said, to show the American people whether the president obstructed justice. Not that they have any doubts on the matter, remember that not long ago Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, stated flatly, "It's very clear that the president obstructed justice." Republicans, of course, also support the release of Mueller's evidence.

Democrats will now point out that one can be charged with obstruction of justice even if there was no underlying crime. That is indeed true. But the Trump-Russia fight of the coming year will not be a legal debate. It will be a political debate, as Democrats seek to damage the president going into the 2020 election. And in the political debate, Mueller's clear conclusion on the underlying issue of collusion, that there wasn't any, will give the president a very powerful argument: You're saying I obstructed an investigation into something that didn't happen? I defend myself against false charges, and that's obstruction?

It's not a legal point. It's a commonsense point, the kind that voters consider when they make their decisions. And that is the case Trump will make in the coming months.