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November 5, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called President Trump on Sunday to plead with him to highlight the economy, not his hardline immigration views, in the final two days of the 2018 midterms, Politico reports, but Trump instead "boasted to Ryan that his focus on immigration has fired up the base." It isn't that Republican candidates in swing districts objected to Trump warning about the migrant caravan slowing walking toward the U.S. border, they just "fear Trump went overboard — and that it could cost them dearly in key suburban districts, from Illinois to Texas," Politico says.

"Trump has hijacked the election," one senior House Republican aide told Politico. "This is not what we expected the final weeks of the election to focus on." While House Republicans in districts with sizable suburban areas are trying to change the subject from birthright citizenship and up to 15,000 U.S. troops shooting unarmed migrants, GOP Senate candidates are embracing Trump's heated rhetoric, looking for a boost from Trump's hardcore supporters as they work to beat Democrats in red or purple states.

In any case, "Trump has hardly been cowed by the criticism," The Washington Post notes. "As the campaign has barreled toward its final hours, the president expanded his nativist appeals, proudly calling himself a 'nationalist' and trying to drive his base with threats about" the caravan. "Barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight," he said Saturday, touting his troop deployment to the U.S. border.

But there's more at play than just strategy, the Post adds. "The 2016 election confirmed that a potential president could run — and win — after stoking racism. Now, in their closing days, the midterms are shaping up as a demonstration of whether the entire Republican Party can succeed by following his lead." You can read more about this election's "blatant and overtly racial attacks rarely seen since the civil rights era of the 1960s" at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

5:37 p.m.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Sunday agreed with the White House that the newly-released summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is a victory for President Trump — at least when it comes to allegations of collusion with Russia.

Toobin offered his analysis on CNN after Attorney General William Barr said that Mueller didn't find that Trump or his associates conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Toobin said that the report is a "total vindication of the president and his staff on the issue of collusion."

When it comes to whether Trump obstructed justice, though, this is "somewhat more complicated," Toobin observed. This is because the summary notes that while the investigation "does not conclude Trump committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." It was Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that reached the conclusion that there was not sufficient evidence on obstruction, Toobin explains.

"That is still a vindication, but it's quite a different one than Mueller's total vindication of the president on the issue of collusion with Russia," Toobin said. He later added that although it may turn out that Barr and Rosenstein's conclusion on obstruction was the correct one, the fact that this came from "the president’s appointees" makes it a "very different thing from an independent conclusion." Watch Toobin's analysis below. Brendan Morrow

5:16 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not definitively conclude that President Trump or his associates during his 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russian election interference, Attorney General William Barr's letter to Congress briefing them on the matter revealed on Sunday.

That revelation has already led to the White House declaring Mueller's findings a "total and complete exoneration" of Trump.

However, the report also did not make a conclusive decision on whether or not Trump obstructed justice during the investigation. Instead, it will be up to Barr "to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime."

So, on the obstruction front, Trump still does not appear to be completely in the clear. Tim O'Donnell

5:08 p.m.

President Trump declared victory on Sunday over the findings of Special Counsel Robert Muller's investigation into 2016 election interference, which he called an "illegal takedown."

Trump spoke with reporters after Attorney General William Barr told Congress that Mueller did not find that Trump or his associates conspired with Russia to influence the election. Mueller did not reach a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice, saying the investigation did not exonerate Trump of this crime. Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded there was insufficient evidence.

Trump called the investigation a "complete and total exoneration," saying that "it's a shame that our country had to go through this" and that "it's a shame that your president had to go through this." He also called the investigation an "illegal takedown that failed" and said that now "hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side." Watch Trump's comments on the Mueller report below. Brendan Morrow

5:00 p.m.

House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) isn't completely convinced of President Trump's self-described exoneration.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his investigation of the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding Russian election interference to Attorney General Barr on Friday. On Sunday, Barr shared preliminary conclusions from the report with congressional Judiciary Committees, notably saying that Mueller's report "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."

Still, Barr conceded that Trump "may have acted to obstruct justice," as Nadler put it in a series of tweets after receiving the letter. And while Barr said there wasn't enough evidence to charge Trump on that crime, Nadler's tweets implied that he'd like Barr to take a bit more time before drawing that conclusion, since Barr said he's still reviewing Mueller's report. Nadler also pledged to call Barr to testify before his committee "in the near future."

Read what's in Barr's letter to Congress here. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:50 p.m.

There has been a lot of uncertainty as to just how much of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's conduct amid Russian election interference would be made available to Congress and the public. That still remains unclear after Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress briefing them on the "principle conclusions" of Mueller's investigation.

However, Barr did say that he intends to release as much of the report as possible, CNN reports.

He also said that Mueller will be involved in redaction efforts, particularly in terms of removing secret jury testimony, as well as material that is pertinent to ongoing investigations that have branched off from Mueller's initial investigation.

Barr wrote that once that process is complete he will "move forward expeditiously in determining" what can officially be revealed. Tim O'Donnell

4:33 p.m.

The White House on Sunday called Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference a "total and complete exoneration" of President Trump.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reached this conclusion in a statement, saying that Mueller "did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction."

Mueller's report did not find that Trump's campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election, according to Attorney General William Barr, although it did not make a determination on whether he obstructed justice. Barr quotes Mueller as saying that "while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Barr says that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to show Trump obstructed justice.

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, similarly told CNN on Sunday that the report is a "complete exoneration" of Trump. Brendan Morrow

4:17 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday celebrated the news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not conclude President Trump or his associates conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Graham, a close ally of Trump, in a statement released after Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report said this is a "great day for President Trump and his team," adding that the report shows there was "no collusion and no obstruction," per Bloomberg News. Graham also said that "the cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report."

Barr's report said that Mueller'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 US Presidential Election." It also says that Mueller's report did not reach a conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice. Brendan Morrow

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