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Former Washington Journalist
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Donald Trump may have begun Thursday prior to the release of the Mueller Report with yet another round of victorious tweets, and Attorney General William “Bill” Barr may have held a press conference laying out a case of essentially exoneration for the president.
But, then, finally came the long-awaited main event: the release of a partially redacted Mueller Report–400 pages to sum up a two-year investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, as well as any subsequent obstruction of justice.
Trump began his day tweeting: “No Collusion. No Obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.”
But reality is that this is anything but “game over,” particularly after a press conference in which even Fox News host Chris Wallace described Barr’s behavior as that more like a personal “counselor for the president, rather than the attorney general.”
Among the findings in the report:
- Special counsel Robert Mueller outlined at least 10 episodes where Trump tried to interfere with the investigation.
- Mueller left it to Congress to ultimately determine if there was obstruction of justice.
- Trump was lying when he claimed “complete and total exoneration.”
“The differences are stark between what Attorney General Barr said on obstruction and what Special Counsel Mueller said on obstruction,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a joint statement released once the Mueller Report was issued.
“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,” the joint statement added.
Pelosi and Schumer also jointly called on Mueller himself to testify before both the House and Senate as soon as possible.
“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. 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,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a separate statement.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) took Barr to task for his overly pro-Trump stances, announcing that he would both have Barr before the committee for testimony May 3, and would subpoena the full, unredacted Mueller Report.
“Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct,” Nadler said.
“The report concluded there was ‘substantial evidence’ that President Trump attempted to prevent an investigation into his campaign and his own conduct. Contrary to the Attorney General’s statement this morning that the White House ‘fully cooperated’ with the investigation, the report makes clear that the President refused to be interviewed by the Special Counsel and refused to provide written answers to follow-up questions; and his associates destroyed evidence relevant to the Russia investigation,” he added.
“The Special Counsel determined that he would not make a traditional charging decision in part because of the Department of Justice policy that a sitting President could not be indicted. Rather, the Special Counsel’s office conducted an incredibly thorough investigation in order to preserve the evidence for future investigators. The Special Counsel made clear that he did not exonerate the President. The responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the President accountable for his actions,” Nadler continued.
“Today and during the past few weeks, Attorney General Barr appears to have shown an unsettling willingness to undermine his own Department in order to protect President Trump. The redacted report directly contradicts several statements he made during his press conference earlier today. For example, the Special Counsel concluded that a ‘thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would have risen to personal and political concerns.’ Barr excluded this critical finding from his version of events,” the chairman said.
“The Attorney General’s decision to withhold the full report from Congress is regrettable, but no longer surprising. If he was willing to release this evidence, which is so clearly damaging to the President, just imagine what remains hidden from our view. Barr has so far refused to work with the Committee to provide us with information which has been customarily provided in the past, and to which we are entitled. These concerns and many others will be addressed when Barr testifies before the Committee on May 2nd. Additionally, I have formally requested that Special Counsel Mueller testify before our Committee by May 23rd.
“Contrary to public reports, I have not heard from the [Justice] Department about receiving a less-redacted version of the report. Because Congress requires this material in order to perform our constitutionally-mandated responsibilities, I will issue a subpoena for the full report and the underlying materials.
“I have been and continue to be prepared to make every effort to work with the Attorney General to find a solution that allows Congress to review the entire record—and not merely the fragments he chose to share with us today,” Nadler concluded.