FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 25, 2019
Congress gets summary of special investigator Robert Mueller’s report into 2016 election
Summarize one or more key findings when a summary of the report comes out.
Share new reactions from a presidential ally and a critic.
Now pick a local voice commenting on this topic in a news story, column or letter to the editor. Tell why you agree or disagree.
One phase of a long federal inquiry into Russian meddling with our last presidential election is over and a new phase starts in Congress. Robert Mueller, a special Justice Department investigator, on Friday sent his confidential report to Attorney General William Barr – who gave a four-page summary Sunday afternoon to eight congressional leaders and to news media. The 22-month inquiry found that neither President Trump nor any of his aides conspired or coordinated with the Russian government's 2016 election interference – supporting Trump's frequent tweets and statements about "no collusion." Mueller's team draws no conclusions about whether Trump obstructed justice. "While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him," the special counsel writes. Congressional Democrats and media commentators urge Barr to release the full findings, a step he's reviewing.
The special counsel was appointed in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee an investigation into alleged election interference by Moscow's government on behalf of Trump, as well as related matters. His office issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained mroe than 230 court orders for communication records and interviewed about 500 witnesses. Criminal charges were filed against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers. Fresh talking points from the Republican National Committee encourage supporters to say that "after two years, millions of taxpayer dollars and multiple congressional investigations confirming there was no collusion, it's good this report has finally concluded."
Though Mueller doesn't call for additional charges, his findings could hurt the president politically as he prepares to run again in 2020. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes the extreme step of an impeachment (removal) hearing unless justified by evidence that is "compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan." That effort would start at the House Judiciary Committee, whose chairman – Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. – said Sunday that he believes Trump obstructed justice, although "whether they're criminal obstructions is another question."
Barr plans "as much transparency as possible . . . consistent with the law," he said Friday. He added Sunday: "I am mindful of the public interest in this matter." But the report apparently has classified information and grand jury evidence that can't be disclosed. The attorney general also may decide to omit portions about people not accused of wrongdoing, and is expected to honor any "executive privilege" request from the president – who nominated him three months ago – to withhold materials involving confidential discussions with aides. Democratic leaders vow to press for virtually the complete document. "Executive privilege cannot be used to hide wrongdoing," Rep. Nadler said Sunday, adding that any attempt to keep the full report from Congress would be "a coverup." Another Democrat, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, said Sunday: "If they're so confident that the report is going to exonerate them, they should fight to make the report public. I suspect we'll find those words of transparency hollow." A unanimously passed House resolution calls for the report's release, an approach endorsed by large majorities of Americans in recent polls.
TV commentator says: "Wherever this process leads, it is likely nearer its beginning than its end." – James Fallows, "CBS Sunday Morning"
Senator says: "The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public." – Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Congressman says: "Do not think you can bury this report. Do not think you can bury the evidence in secret by briefing eight people in Congress and say we have discharged our responsibility. That's not going to cut it. So it is essential that the report be made completely public." -- Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
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