DEARBORN, Mich./MIAMI (Reuters) - Retired Ford assembly plant worker and Donald Trump supporter Henry Thompson was giddy as he listened to a summary of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report on TV at a Dearborn, Michigan, diner on Sunday.
Mueller found no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, according to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, delighting Trump’s followers in battleground states and bewildering opponents.
“Finally we get to stick it to all the haters who want to undermine our president,” said Thompson, a lifelong Democrat who backed Trump in the 2016 campaign for his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“How many times did Trump say: ‘No collusion’ - and he was right. They say the president lies. But his enemies have lied about this from the beginning,” he said.
Trump, who will hold a rally in Michigan on Thursday and has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt,” quickly hailed the announcement as “complete and total exoneration.”
Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump broke the law by interfering with probes into the 2016 election and left Barr to make a decision. The attorney general said Mueller did not present enough evidence to warrant charging Trump with obstruction of justice.
Democrats like Sam Skardon of Charleston, South Carolina, said they wanted to see the full report, not just the summary presented by Barr, a recent Trump appointee.
“I’m not going to take William Barr’s word for what the findings are. I want to see for myself. I want the full report,” said Skardon, 30, who works in economic development.
However, the announcement was a turning point for other Americans who did not vote for Trump.
Miami, Florida-based television and film producer Alfred Spellman said the report showed it was time for Trump opponents to work on beating him at the polls, rather than trying to find grounds to impeach him.
“Whatever other issues they have with the president are political issues and should be resolved at the ballot box,” said Spellman, an independent, whose credits include documentaries such as “Cocaine Cowboys.”
Florida, like Michigan, is a battleground where polls show Trump’s support has softened since he won the states in 2016.
In Dearborn, Trump supporter David Chalamet saw the Mueller report as a personal victory.
“This isn’t just vindication for Trump, it’s vindication for me,” said Chalamet, 21, a first-time voter in 2016 who backed the New York real estate magnate to the dismay of his Democratic parents.
“My friends and family that are Democrats keep asking me how I can still support him when he’s so corrupt. But he’s not. He’s just not a typical politician. Now let him do his job and stop harassing him,” he said.
Democrats like Charlie Stone now relished the chance of trying to beat Trump in the 2020 election.
“In a way, I’m glad this was the outcome because I don’t think impeachment is a very good idea,” said Stone, 40, a resident of the Detroit district of Democratic U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, who wants to impeach Trump.
“I want Trump defeated at the ballot box because he is a disgusting, immoral man,” said Stone.
W. Melvin Brown, an emergency room physician in Charleston, was skeptical about Mueller’s decision to neither accuse nor exonerate Trump of obstruction. But he wanted the country to move on.
“Should Congress keep pushing for it? I say no, because these legal things can drag on for years,” said Brown, 49, who described himself as an independent voter leaning towards the Democratic Party. “I think we should get back to the business of running the country rather than fighting for your party.”
Reporting by Steve Friess in Dearborn, Michigan, and Zachary Fagenson in Miami; Additional reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston, South Carolina; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Tait