Both sides seek political leverage from Mueller’s findings; Virginia Democrats call for report’s release

By: - March 25, 2019 12:06 pm

A redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released in March. Since then, Washington has been consumed with debate over his decision neither to charge nor exonerate President Donald Trump. Mueller is scheduled to testify before Congress today. Mueller is pictured here when he was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation — Photo taken May 16, 2013 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The conclusions of the long-awaited report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller have Republicans declaring victory for President Trump, as Democrats demand more answers and pledge further investigations.

The four-page summary of Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was submitted to lawmakers Sunday by Attorney General William Barr.

According to Barr, Mueller’s investigation did not find evidence that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference. Mueller also declined to draw a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice, saying that while his report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Trump heralded the findings, which he also mischaracterized. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” the president wrote on Twitter Sunday.

Trump’s allies were quick to rally behind the president, portraying the entire exercise as a waste of time and money.  

His spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, labeled the Mueller probe a “two-year waste of taxpayer time and dollars,” speaking on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.

“Democrats in Congress who have stated that they found ‘ample evidence’ of collusion, that there was ‘direct evidence’ of collusion, and that there is a ‘cloud of treason’ surrounding the White House were wrong. These statements were lies,” Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said in a statement. “The people who spread these lies owe President Trump and the American people an apology.”

Democrats, meanwhile, have seized on the obstruction of justice comments in the report to call for further investigations. They continue to push for the release of the entire Mueller report.

“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement.

“The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.  Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.”

Pelosi and Schumer added that “for the president to say he is completely exonerated directly contradicts the words of Mr. Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said he plans to call Barr in to testify before his committee “in light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President.” He plans to summon Barr “in the near future,” he wrote on Twitter.

The U.S. House voted 420-0 earlier this month in support of a resolution to release the full Mueller report.

“Attorney General Barr must make the full Mueller report public, and provide Congress with all of its underlying documentation and findings,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said in a statement. “Mr. Barr must also refrain from giving President Trump or his team advance access to the findings or its evidence. Any White House interference into what is made public would be wholly inappropriate.”

Sanders said on the “Today” show Monday that the president is leaving it up to Barr to decide whether to release the report. “I don’t think the president has any problem with” releasing the report, she said. “He’s more than happy for any of this stuff to come out because he knows exactly what did and what didn’t happen.”

Virginia lawmakers react:

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., called for the full report to be released. “Let the findings be out there for all to see,” he tweeted Friday evening. “The American people deserve it. Our democracy deserves it.”

On Sunday, he cast doubt on Barr’s interpretation of the report and tweeted, “I, for one, would like to see it for myself.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner shared Kaine’s concern about Barr’s involvement.

“Congress and the American people need to see the Special Counsel’s full report — not a shorthand summary from the President’s handpicked Attorney General,” Warner tweeted.

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-8th, called out the president and Sanders f or claiming the investigation exonerated Trump, calling it “Orwellian spin” that “insults the intelligence of the American people.” Barr’s letter to Congress specifically says it “does not exonerate the president.”


U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, called for the Department of Justice to make the the report available to Congress and the public “as soon as possible.”

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11th, said how the report is handled will be a “test for the rule of law in America.”

U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10th, also called for the report to be released.

U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-5th, had the same take as some of his Republican peers and said the report was a waste of time and money.

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Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.