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July 17, 2018

Update 9:25 a.m. ET: After this article was published, several journalists confirmed that Butina is indeed not pictured in a widely circulated photo of President Trump meeting with Russians in the Oval Office. The woman in question is an NSC staffer. Our headline has been updated, and our original article appears below.

Just one day after U.S. prosecutors unsealed criminal charges against Mariia Butina, an alleged Russian agent, eagle-eyed readers noticed a 2017 Oval Office visitor who looks mysteriously like the Russian national.

In a photo published last year by The New York Times, Russian officials and Russian media are gathered in the Oval Office with President Trump. Skulking in the background of the photo is a woman who some people say is Butina, who was accused Monday of conspiracy against the United States. Back when Trump was a presidential nominee, the Justice Department said, Butina tried to broker secret meetings between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin, allegedly at the behest of Russian officials.

Not everyone is convinced that the photo constitutes smoking-gun evidence that Butina managed to infiltrate high-level meetings with Trump; some skeptics, like Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, say the image isn't definitive. Others, like pollster Matt McDermott, noted that the only reason this photo is available to the public in the first place is because it was released by Russian state media.

Until the photo is confirmed one way or the other, take a look for yourself below. Summer Meza

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 first 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 did not reach a conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice. Brendan Morrow

4:05 p.m.

Attorney General William Barr said he's still reviewing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the investigation into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian election interference in 2016. But he has outlined the principal conclusions of the investigation in a letter to Congress.

"I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel," he wrote in the letter.

Read Barr's letter to Congress below or on the House Judiciary Committee's website. Tim O'Donnell

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