The 448-page redacted Russia report has now been released, nearly a month after Attorney General William Barr sent Congress his four-page list of “principal conclusions” from the nearly two-year-long special counsel probe. And despite the minimal level of bipartisan unity in calling for the report’s release, it’s doubtful that the political fight over its findings — and their interpretation — will cease.
In a news conference about 90 minutes before the full report was made public on Thursday, Barr reiterated that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had “concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that [President Donald Trump] committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
The report itself offered a more circumspect stance. “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred,” Mueller’s team wrote. “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Yet days ahead of its release, Trump claimed Barr’s summary of the report meant amounted to a “complete and total exoneration.” After the report was released, the Republican National Committee echoed Trump, saying the report, too, was a “complete and total vindication” of the president.
At an unrelated White House event — and before the report was available — Trump said, “It was called no collusion, no obstruction,” adding that “there never was, by the way, and there never will be.”
Republican congressional leadership mostly struck a more neutral tone, thanking Barr and saying they looked forward to reviewing the document.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer decried Barr’s “partisan handling of the Mueller report.” Later, they said in a joint statement that the “differences are stark between what Attorney General Barr said on obstruction and what Special Counsel Mueller said on obstruction.”
“As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller’s report appears to undercut that finding,” they wrote.
Democrats have requested that Mueller — who has not given any public comment during or after the investigation — testify before the House Judiciary Committee by May 23.
Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, head of the House Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that he’s going to issue a subpoena for the full report because the Justice Department has yet to provide a less-redacted version to Congress.
Here’s what lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, have said on the matter.
President Donald Trump
Aside from his earlier comments to wounded veterans, Trump also tweeted a “Game of Throne”-like image that read, “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2019
Trump’s legal team, too, said in a statement that the report was a “total victory.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“I’m grateful for the Attorney General’s diligent work to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as possible to Congress and to the American people,” McConnell said in a statement. “The nation is fortunate to have an experienced leader like Bill Barr in place to ensure maximum possible transparency while carefully protecting classified material and legally restricted grand jury information. Like all of my colleagues, I look forward to carefully reviewing the report.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C.
Burr said he was reviewing the report “carefully” and commended Barr for committing to release the full report publicly.
— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) April 18, 2019
“The American people have a right to review as much of the report as possible to understand the Special Counsel’s conclusions and the reasoning behind them,” he wrote.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Graham said in a statement that his panel is studying the report. The South Carolina Republican says he’s eager to hear Barr’s May 1 testimony to his panel.
“Once again, I applaud Attorney General Barr for his commitment to transparency and keeping the American people informed,” he wrote.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
In a statement, McCarthy said, “Nothing we saw today changes the underlying results of the 22-month long Mueller investigation that ultimately found no collusion.”
In a tweet, McCarthy turned to Democrats, saying they “want to keep searching for imaginary evidence that supports their claims, but it is simply not there.”
Democrats want to keep searching for imaginary evidence that supports their claims, but it is simply not there.
IT IS TIME TO MOVE ON. https://t.co/xenl3H2xOZ
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 18, 2019
“IT IS TIME TO MOVE ON,” he added.
House Judiciary Committee ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.
No collusion. No obstruction. No OLC opinion on sitting presidents considered in these determinations. No executive privilege asserted. No redactions proposed or made by anyone outside DOJ. No one outside DOJ viewed unredacted report. No cover up when there’s nothing to cover up.
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) April 18, 2019
Collins said in a tweet: “No cover up when there’s nothing to cover up.”
Rep. Devin Nunes, D-Calif.
Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, took aim at the FBI’s conduct during the investigation.
“The Mueller report ignored a wide range of abuses committed during the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign,” Nunes said in a statement.
“The biggest takeaway from the entire Russia hoax is that our nation’s counter-intelligence capabilities should never again be abused to target an administration’s political opponents,” Nunes added, calling on the media, Democrats and the Clinton campaign, among others, to apologize for what he said was maligning innocent people and deceiving the American public.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Addressing Barr’s news conference before the report was released, Pelosi said the attorney general has “confirmed the staggering partisan effort” by the Trump administration to steer the public’s view of the final report. She added that it was “more urgent than ever” that Mueller testify before Congress.
Pelosi earlier released a joint statement with Schumer that read: “Attorney General Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning — hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it — have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality.”
The statement continued: “We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
Nadler, who earlier this month told the PBS NewsHour that Barr is “not a fair broker,” said in a tweet that it’s “clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings.”
Later, in a much longer statement, Nadler said, “Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct,” saying that, among the findings, the report points to the president refusing to be interviewed by Mueller’s team and provide written answers to additional questions.
Nadler also said that Mueller didn’t advance a “traditional charging decision” in part because the Justice Department has a policy that says a sitting president couldn’t be indicted.
“Rather, the Special Counsel’s office conducted an incredibly thorough investigation in order to preserve the evidence for future investigators,” he said. “The responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the President accountable for his actions.”
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.
“The President and his Attorney General expect the American people to be blind to what we can now see,” Cummings wrote in a statement. “This report catalogues in excruciating detail a proliferation of lies by the President to the American people, as well as his incessant and repeated efforts to encourage others to lie.”
Cummings called Barr’s actions “misdirection” and called on Congress to “subpoena the full report and underlying documents.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Schiff, echoing other Democrats, called for Mueller to testify before Congress.
“After a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin,” he said in a tweet.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
The report “provides significant new details” about Trump’s efforts to interfere in the investigation, Feinstein said in a statement.
The ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Barr to “not interfere with other investigations, including the 14 investigations mentioned in the report and all congressional reviews,” and said she will ask Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham to hold hearings with Mueller.
“Congress has an obligation to ensure that activities like those laid out in this report are never repeated,” she said.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
While Warner said he is still reviewing the Mueller report, “Even a preliminary review of the material makes it clear that the Attorney General fundamentally mischaracterized the Special Counsel’s findings in his pre-emptive press conference this morning,” Warner said.
He added that, as the Senate Intelligence Committee continues its own investigation, he expects to receive a full briefing, the unredacted report and all materials underlying Mueller’s findings.
2020 presidential candidates
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
“Congress should get the full, unredacted Mueller report,” Gillibrand tweeted. “The American people have the right to know the facts—without the spin.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
“Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation’s Attorney General,” Harris tweeted, adding that the attorney general’s news conference was a “stunt.”
“Americans deserve the unvarnished truth,” she said, also calling for Mueller to testify.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
“It is clear that Donald Trump wanted nothing more than to shut down the Mueller investigation,” Sanders tweeted. Sanders said that the report released Thursday provides more detail than before, but Congress “must continue its investigation into Trump’s conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
Swalwell called for Attorney General William Barr to resign: “He has proved that he’s an embedded Trump ally,” he said in a statement.
“Barr never should have been confirmed, but once confirmed, he should have recused himself from all oversight of the Mueller investigation,” he added.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Tweeting out a picture of a heavily redacted page of the report, Warren called the redactions “a disgrace” and called on Mueller to testify publicly before Congress.
Former Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska
Gravel took a different approach to the Mueller report. He tweeted that his team won’t be tweeting about the report “because it’s pointless.”
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.
Hickenlooper tweeted that Barr should be working to protect the interests of the American people, not Trump. “It’s clear from this morning’s press conference where his allegiances lie. The American people deserve answers,” Hickenlooper said.
Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.
“The Attorney General should be the nation’s top law enforcement officer – not a spokesman for the president,” Inslee said, calling the news conference “a disgrace.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Before the report was released, Klobuchar released a video in which she said Mueller should testify before the Judiciary Committee, of which she is a member. She said the report was important to national security and the “future of our democracy.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio
“We need to hear from Mueller directly,” Ryan tweeted. “The American people deserve the full truth.”
Former Gov. Bill Weld, R-Mass.
The only candidate to so far challenge Trump in the Republican primaries said in a series of tweets that confidence in the nation’s leaders and institutions “has been shaken.”
“No American and no President is above the law and can attempt to obstruct justice without consequence,” Weld tweeted. He said he has “every confidence” in Mueller’s ability and integrity but also called on him to testify before Congress.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
Booker kept his message on Twitter simple.
“The American people deserve the truth. Not spin from a Trump appointee. Release Mueller’s full report now,” he wrote.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Indiana
“The Mueller report is a disturbing if not completely surprising collection of evidence that shows a president putting his own interest ahead of the country’s,” Buttigieg said on Twitter.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro
“This report makes clear: Donald Trump is looking out for himself, not for America. We must restore integrity and accountability to the White House,” Castro said in a tweet.
Castro called on Mueller to testify before Congress.
Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.
Delaney took aim at Trump in a series of tweets.
He said Trump put the election security of the U.S. at risk by trying to thwart the special counsel’s investigation.
“The truth is we need a President who always puts the security of our nation first. No matter what,” he said.
Williamson, an author and activist who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Barr has proven to be “just another political lackey” who does the president’s bidding.
“The president said he wanted a Roy [Cohn] and apparently he found it,” Williamson tweeted, referring to the man who had been Trump’s mentor, as well as Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel during McCarthy’s investigations of suspected Communists.
Yang said he was “glad” the Mueller report was made public because it was important to the American people. “My focus is on beating Donald Trump at the ballot box and solving the problems that got him elected in the first place,” he said in a tweet.
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