DEARBORN, Mich./MIAMI, March 24 (Reuters) - Retired Ford assembly plant worker and Donald Trump supporter Henry Thompson was giddy as he listened to a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report on TV at a Dearborn, Michigan, diner on Sunday.
After years of allegations the Trump campaign worked with Russia to win the 2016 U.S. election, Mueller’s findings of no such collusion delighted Trump followers, and proved equally sobering for 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.”
Trump, who has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt,” quickly hailed the announcement as “complete and total exoneration.”
Mueller did not present enough evidence to warrant charging Trump with obstruction of justice, according to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who presented the summary of the report.
The announcement was a watershed moment for many Americans who did not vote for the president.
For Miami-based television and film producer Alfred Spellman, the report showed it was time for Trump’s opponents to focus 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, whose credits include documentaries like “Cocaine Cowboys.”
Calling Mueller one of the most respected U.S. law enforcement officials, Spellman, an independent, said Americans should be relieved to learn the campaign of a sitting president did not collude with a foreign government.
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.”
Some Democrats refused to put away questions about Trump and Russia.
“So if Trump did not collude with Russia, then why is he so subservient to Vladimir Putin?” asked Hassan Ali, a 30-year-old nursing student as he ate an early dinner at a Middle Eastern eatery in an area home to many Muslim-Americans.
Other Trump opponents 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 the president.
“I want Trump defeated at the ballot box because he is a disgusting, immoral man,” said Stone. “I want the people to come together to say this in a way he can’t deny,” (Reporting by Steve Friess in Dearborn, Michigan and Zachary Fagenson in Miami; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Peter Cooney)