Republican delight, Democrat dismay as Mueller details released

The Associated Press
Jerry Nadler Calls on William Barr to Testify over Mueller Report AP

26 March, 2019

With the Mueller probe running its course, the various congressional investigations into possible Trump team connections with Russian Federation may enter the spotlight. The attorney general cautioned that while Mueller's report "does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him" on obstruction of justice. The Republican House Intelligence Committee's 250-page report on alleged Russian collusion found that the IC assessment of Putin's strategic intentions for allegedly interfering in the US election to aid Trump "did not employ proper analytic tradecraft" and contained "significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence" in the judgments, including the failure to "be independent of political considerations".

On Saturday, officials said that one of those cases - that of Trump's former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates - will be transferred from the special counsel's office to federal prosecutors in Washington.

"The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired with the Russian government in its election interference activities", Barr wrote, citing a confidential report that Mueller submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday, marking an end to his almost two-year investigation.

As we have said all along, there was no collusion and no obstruction.

Trump's current attorney, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told CNN that Barr's letter was "better than I expected".

Trump, who was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter for much of the weekend, was in his private quarters at his Mar-a-Lago resort when he got the news from his advisers. He said that "hopefully somebody's going to look at the other side", an apparent reference to Democrats. Trump has always denied collaborating with Moscow or obstructing justice and Russian Federation says it did not interfere in the election.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are pursuing at least two known criminal inquiries, one focused into possible corruption in Trump's inaugural committee and another on the hush-money scandal that led his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty previous year to campaign-finance violations.

In a joint statement, Nadler, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, nearly seemed to concede that collusion had not been found, saying they have confidence in Mueller, "notwithstanding the very public evidence of Trump campaign contact with and willingness to receive support from Russian agents".

It was a good day for the US president.

Still, a probe that "did not establish" enough evidence to meet the Department of Justice's high burden isn't quite the same as Mueller's team saying they don't believe collusion occurred.

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Mr. Mueller did not recommend prosecution for obstruction of justice, but left the decision up to Mr. Despite Trump's claim of total exoneration, Mueller did not draw a conclusion one way or the other on whether he sought to stifle the Russian Federation investigation through his actions including the firing of then-FBI director James Comey. Barr added that the special counsel declined "to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment" on obstruction of justice, leaving it up to the attorney general to draw a conclusion about actions such as the president's firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

On questions about the potential obstruction of justice by the president, the report "does not conclude that Trump committed a crime".

But Mr Mueller had bipartisan stature and credibility that none of the President's other pursuers have, despite Mr Trump's own efforts to tear him down. "It was complete and total exoneration..."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who would lead any impeachment effort, said he would call Barr to testify soon "in light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department".

Jaso said the fact that Barr made the determination in concert with Rosenstein provides Barr with political cover.

"I'm interested in moving on and trying to get this behind us, but people have to pay for what they've done for the past two years", said former Trump campaign aide David Bossie.

The new landscape leaves Democrats on Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail facing a more complicated path forward.

Mr Mueller's team confirmed that Russian Federation did try to tilt the election to Mr Trump, but its conclusion that he did not conspire with the effort may ease the way for Mr Trump to reorient United States foreign policy towards Moscow and President Vladimir Putin without as much concern about domestic consequences.

The Democrats are unlikely to go down without a fight and have demanded the release of the entire Mueller report.

Shortly before the report's release, Trump called it "ridiculous" while speaking to reporters outside the White House, and said that he hoped it was shown to the public.

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