Congressional Republicans claimed victory Sunday that a letter from Attorney General William Barr summarizing the special counsel investigation ended the debate about whether Donald Trump’s campaign knowingly colluded with the Russian government.
But Democrats said the letter did not adequately allay their concerns about whether the president is guilty of obstruction of justice, and demanded that the attorney general hand over the full Mueller report and its underlying documents.
Because while special counsel Robert S. Mueller III “did not establish” that members of the campaign colluded with Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 election, he left the question of obstruction up to Barr.
“Until we hear from Mueller, call it the Barr Report,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, said.
Until we hear from Mueller, call it the Barr Report.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) March 25, 2019
Watch: Lindsey Graham calls for a special counsel investigation on ‘the other side of the story’
Mueller wrote in his report “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” from obstruction of justice charges, according to Barr's summary.
Still, Trump claimed “Complete and Total EXONERATION” in a tweet Sunday.
Many Republican lawmakers followed suit, claiming complete vindication for the White House, with some demanding apologies from Democrats for conducting an investigation at all.
“Democrats in Congress who have stated that they found ‘ample evidence’ of collusion, that there was ‘direct evidence’ of collusion, and that there is a ‘cloud of treason’ surrounding the White House were wrong. These statements were lies. The people who spread these lies owe President Trump and the American people an apology,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, The Associated Press reported.
Gaetz accused Democrats and the media of using “overheated, hyperbolic rhetoric” to discredit Trump.
Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 24, 2019
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, accused Democrats and the media of a “a collective scam and fraud.”
“I encourage Socialist Democrats and their radical news media allies to cleanse their souls and atone for their sins by apologizing to the American people for the fraud and scam they committed in an effort to delegitimize the 2016 election and enhance their own power grab and election prospects,” Brooks said.
But Democrats are not apologizing, and have redoubled their push for a release of the full report and source documents.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, said those documents will be valuable for probes into questions of corruption that reach beyond the scope of the Mueller investigation.
“We have responsibility for and jurisdiction over obstruction of justice of course, but also abuse of power and public corruption,” Jayapal said on CNN Sunday. “Now that we have the gavel we are finally beginning those investigations. The information that Mueller has gathered will be key to those investigations.”
I joined @andersoncooper on @AC360 to discuss why the AG should #ReleaseTheReport. We need to show the American people that we have seen the report and underlying documents, and understand how he got to his conclusions. pic.twitter.com/Qxh83Ouc1p— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) March 25, 2019
“Releasing as much of the report to the public as possible would go a long way toward ensuring accountability in this process,” Boozman said.
Some Republicans in the House joined that chorus.
“I look forward to reading the complete report as soon as it is available. I remain consistent in my opinion that the American people should have that opportunity as soon as possible so that we can put this period of doubt and division behind us and begin to restore faith in our institutions,” Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said in a tweet.
But others in the president's party denied an investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election was ever necessary, and said the Mueller probe had damaged the credibility of leaders in U.S. intelligence.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, accused the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency of “corruption.”
“It will take [years] for agencies to rebuild reputations. How were such political hacks elevated to these positions,” Stewart said in a tweet.
Comey is right. So many questions. The corruption of former leadership of FBI/DOJ/CIA is astounding. It will take yrs for agencies to rebuild reputations. How were such political hacks elevated to these positions. Give Comey his wish: answer questions. 2nd special council now!— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) March 25, 2019
Republicans have also said they are eager to set aside the 22-month long investigation and dig into other issues.
Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., said the Mueller investigation amounts to nothing more than “Democrat posturing that wasted 25 million of taxpayers money, for nothing.”
“Instead of political grandstanding & hysteria, can we focus on the addiction crisis, healthcare costs & policies that impact everyday Americans,” Riggleman continued.
#MuellerFindings is Democrat posturing that wasted 25 million of taxpayers money, for nothing. I came to congress to legislate. Instead of political grandstanding & hysteria, can we focus on the addiction crisis, healthcare costs & policies that impact everyday Americans.— Congressman Denver Riggleman (@RepRiggleman) March 25, 2019
Some Democrats have also sought to shift the focus to health care.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, stressed on Twitter Monday morning that Democrats picked up seats in the midterm elections with an emphasis on Republican efforts to undermine protections for people with preexisting health conditions, not combatting Russia.
“We promised to lower healthcare costs #ForThePeople. And that’s exactly what we are doing,” Jeffries said.
House Dems picked up 40 seats last November.Our candidates didn’t run on collusion or impeachment. We promised to lower healthcare costs #ForThePeople. And that’s exactly what we are doing. FACTS. — Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) March 25, 2019