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.
“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.