Monday April 22, 2019
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Trump Celebrates when Found No Evidence of Collusion with Russia in 2016 Election

"There are a lot of people out there that have done some very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country," Trump said

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U.S. President Donald Trump smiles during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican allies in Congress pledged Monday to carry out their own investigations of his prominent critics and those behind the probe of links between is 2016 campaign and Russian efforts to disrupt the election in favor of Trump.

“There are a lot of people out there that have done some very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country,” Trump said, without specifying anyone in particular. “Those people will certainly be looked at.”

During the investigation, many Democrats repeatedly stated their belief that Trump’s inner circle did collude with Russia and that the president later sought to evade justice — pronouncements that did not go unnoticed by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

 

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr leaves his house after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election in McLean, Virginia, March 25, 2019. VOA

“It’s hard to obstruct a crime that never took place,” Sanders told the U.S.-based cable news network, CNN. “The Democrats and the liberal media owe the president, and they owe the American people, an apology. They wasted two years and created a massive disruption and distraction from things that impact people’s everyday lives.”

The comments came after Attorney General William Barr released a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings from the exhaustive, 22-month probe, which led to dozens of indictments as well as guilty pleas from some of Trump’s closest former associates.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Barr said Mueller concluded that Russia unquestionably meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but that Trump and his campaign did not conspire with Moscow to help him win the White House.

On the question of obstruction, however, Barr wrote, “The report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” On that basis, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided that charges against Trump were not warranted.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised Monday to “unpack the other side of the story” of the Mueller investigation and to look into how the Justice Department started it.

For nearly two years, Trump had repeatedly blasted the special counsel probe as a “witch hunt.” With the investigation complete, the president said, “We can never, ever let this happen to another president again.”

Reaction from lawmakers

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers had sharply differing reactions.

“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 Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a joint statement.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walks from a Democratic Caucus meeting after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 25, 2019. VOA

The Democratic leaders added: “Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers. 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.”

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said on CNN, “Mueller’s report, at the least the summary that we’ve gotten from Barr, leaves wide open both the question of obstruction, and I think, makes it clear that other investigations should proceed.”

By contrast, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn urged Congress “to move on,” and that “the worst thing we could do is to get bogged down in a relitigation of all of these issues.”

At the same time, Cornyn urged the release of as much of the Mueller report as possible, consistent with Justice Department regulations and U.S. law. He also called for a review of steps taken by federal officials in launching the Russia investigation.

Full report

On Monday, Schumer urged a Senate vote on a resolution calling for the release of Mueller’s full report. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, objected, saying Barr must be given time to determine which portions of the report can be divulged without revealing classified information.

But the six chairs of committees in the Democratically controlled House sent Barr a letter Monday, demanding he turn over the full Mueller report by April 2. They also told Barr to start handing over all evidence the special counsel used to write the report.

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Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to the media after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 25, 2019. VOA

The six Democratic leaders — five men and one woman — say Barr’s four-page summary is not sufficient for Congress to do its work. They also say Congress needs to make an independent assessment of the evidence regarding Trumps alleged obstruction of justice.

Meantime, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said he hopes Barr will testify before his panel.

Graham also promised Monday to “unpack the other side of the story” of the Mueller investigation and will look into how the Justice Department started it.

During the investigation, many Democrats repeatedly stated their belief that Trump’s inner circle did collude with Russia and that the president later sought to evade justice — pronouncements that did not go unnoticed by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

“It’s hard to obstruct a crime that never took place,” Sanders told CNN. “The Democrats and the liberal media owe the president, and they owe the American people, an apology. They wasted two years and created a massive disruption and distraction from things that impact people’s everyday lives.”

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But the six chairs of committees in the Democratically controlled House sent Barr a letter Monday, demanding he turn over the full Mueller report by April 2. They also told Barr to start handing over all evidence the special counsel used to write the report. VOA

Investigation numbers

Mueller charged 25 Russians with election interference, although they are unlikely to stand trial because the United States and Russia do not have an extradition treaty.

ALSO READ: No Evidence of Trump ‘Collusion’ with Russia in 2016 Elections: Mueller in Final Report

He also has secured guilty pleas or won convictions for a variety of offenses against six Trump aides and advisers, including the president’s one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort; his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; and his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Barr’s summary noted that Mueller had 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents working with him on the investigation, issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, talked to about 500 witnesses and carried out nearly 500 search warrants.

Next Story

Trump Moves to New Phase with Public Release of Mueller’s Report, Obstruction Charges Set for Release

Congress and the American people will for the first time see for themselves in detail what Mueller examined

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, April 17, 2019. VOA

One of the dominant stories in the two-year presidency of Donald Trump moves into a new phase Thursday with the public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of election collusion and obstruction of justice.

Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to comment about Mueller’s report at a morning news conference, with copies being sent a short time later to Congress and then posted online.

Congress and the American people will for the first time see for themselves in detail what Mueller examined as he and his team of federal investigators worked to determine whether Trump’s campaign or its associates worked with Russia in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 election that brought Trump to power.

U.S. intelligence agencies in early 2017 assessed that Russia, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, carried out a campaign to undermine the vote and had a clear preference for Trump to win.

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FILE – William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be attorney general of the United States on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

Lightly redacted

People familiar with the 400-page Mueller report who spoke to the The Washington Post and The New York Times said the document released Thursday will be lightly redacted and go into great detail about the various allegations of Trump obstructing the federal investigation into Russia’s election-related activities.

Barr has released a short letter with his summary of Mueller’s findings, most notably that Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia and that in Barr’s opinion the information from Mueller did not show enough to support charges the president obstructed justice.

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FILE – The letter from Attorney General William Barr to Congress on the conclusions reached by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia probe, March 24, 2019. VOA

The Mueller report would have been scrutinized in great detail even without Barr’s letter, but many will be looking to see how his conclusions appear when compared to the more complete underlying information that will be available to the public.

Congressional Democrats are expected to use subpoena powers to demand the full report. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Wednesday that assuming the report is heavily redacted, his committee would “most certainly” issue subpoenas “in very short order.”

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FILE – Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice. VOA

Barr will be joined at his news conference by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who for much of the Mueller investigation was the one overseeing the probe at the Department of Justice. No one from Mueller’s team will take part in the briefing.

Trump said Wednesday he was considering holding his own news conference Thursday. Speaking on The Larry O’Connor Show on the local radio station WMAL, Trump said, “You’ll see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow. Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a news conference. Maybe I’ll do one after that; we’ll see.”

‘Spinning the report’​

Nadler and the heads of key House committees strongly objected to the way the report’s release is being handled, saying Barr’s media appearance is “unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it.”

They called for Barr to cancel his news conference. But Georgia Congressman Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, defended Barr, accusing Democrats of “trying to spin the report.”

In addition, The New York Times reported Barr consulted with White House lawyers in recent days about the report, which helped Trump’s legal team in its preparations to respond to the release.

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House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., speaks with a reporter as he departs a news conference after the House voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, April 4, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Nadler, along with the heads of the House intelligence, oversight, financial services and foreign affairs committees, said in a letter, “There is no legitimate reason for the department to brief the White House prior to providing Congress a copy of the report.”

“These new actions by the attorney general reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump,” they wrote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the attorney general had “thrown out his credibility” with a “single-minded effort to protect” Trump.

“The American people deserve the truth, not a sanitized version of the Mueller Report approved by the Trump Admin,” she said on Twitter.

This is not the end

Whatever Congress and the public learn Thursday, the issues covered in the report are certain to endure in U.S. political discourse in the short term, with Barr scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, followed by an appearance at the House Judiciary Committee the next day.

Nadler has also said he will “probably find it useful” to call Mueller and his team to testify before his committee.

Looking to the longer term, it is highly unlikely the investigation will fade to irrelevance before the next presidential election in November 2020.

In one measure of public demand for the information, several publishers are offering people the ability to purchase printed copies of the report, and pre-orders alone on Amazon’s website ranked among the site’s top 100 in book sales before the report was even released.

What have long been public are the legal ramifications of Mueller’s probe.

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FILE – Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 13, 2013. VOA

Trump associates in jail

Some of the closest figures in Trump’s orbit pleaded guilty or were convicted of a range of offenses, often for lying about their contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign or just before he took office in January 2017.

Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, just before Trump assumed power, and is awaiting sentencing. A low-level foreign affairs adviser, George Papadopoulos, was jailed for 12 days after he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Russia contacts.

Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in the early stages of a 7½-year prison term after being convicted and pleading guilty in two cases linked to financial corruption from his years of lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

Rick Gates, a business associate of Manafort’s and his deputy on the Trump campaign, was a key witness against Manafort at his trial, after pleading guilty to conspiring with him in financial wrongdoing from their years as lobbyists for Ukraine. He is awaiting sentencing.