Both Sides Seek Political Leverage From Mueller’s Findings

    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. “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.

    That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, the lone Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation.

    “No collusion, no obstruction. Let’s move on. What a waste of $25 million,” he tweeted on Sunday night.

    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.

    Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, will play a central role in congressional Democrats’ ongoing investigation of the president and his associates. In a statement released Sunday night with House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Cummings called for the full Mueller report to be released.

    “After reading the Attorney General’s four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s findings, we reiterate our call for the release of the Special Counsel’s full and complete report and all underlying documents,” the lawmakers said. “We also call for Attorney General Barr to come forward to testify before the House Judiciary Committee without delay. Far from the ‘total exoneration’ claimed by the President, the Mueller report expressly does not exonerate the President. Instead, it ‘sets out evidence on both sides of the question’ of obstruction—including the evidence that President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.”

    Cummings, Schiff and Nadler also questioned the wisdom of Barr releasing a summary of the Mueller report so quickly.

    “It is unacceptable that, after Special Counsel Mueller spent 22 months meticulously uncovering this evidence, Attorney General Barr made a decision not to charge the President in under 48 hours,” they said. “The Attorney General did so without even interviewing the President. His unsolicited, open memorandum to the Department of Justice, suggesting that the obstruction investigation was ‘fatally misconceived,’ calls into question his objectivity on this point in particular.

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

    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.”

    Robin Bravender is Washington bureau chief for States Newsroom.

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