Lawmakers Call for Release of Full Report on Russia Investigation
23 March 2019, 05:35
Special counsel Robert Mueller has completed a long-awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by President Donald Trump, drawing calls from lawmakers for the report to be released, VOA news reports.
Mueller handed the report Friday to the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, who is now reviewing it.
The results of the report are still confidential, but the Justice Department confirmed that it includes no new indictments.
Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, said he could update Congress as early as this weekend about the findings in the report, which concluded Mueller’s nearly two-year-long investigation.
It is not clear how much of the report will be provided to Congress or how much will become public.
Top congressional Democrats said it was “imperative” to make the full report public. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement, “The American people have a right to the truth.”
They also said that Barr must not give Trump any “sneak preview” of the findings or evidence.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the White House had not received or been briefed on the report and that “we look forward to the process taking its course.’’ She said the next steps were “up to Attorney General Barr.”
The Associated Press reported that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani had requested an early look at the findings before they are made public, but had not received any assurances that the Trump legal team would get a preview.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hoped that Barr would “provide as much information as possible” on the findings, “with as much openness and transparency as possible.”
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said he expected the Justice Department to release the report to the committee without delay “and to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
Another top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said the findings must be made public to end the “speculation and innuendo” that hangs over Trump’s administration.
34 people have been charged
It is not known whether Mueller found what he deemed to be criminal conduct by Trump or any of his staff, beyond the charges already brought against several aides. So far, Mueller has brought charges against 34 people, including Russian intelligence officers, and three Russian companies. Charges have also been filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
The Democratic heads of five House committees wrote a joint letter Friday to Barr, saying, “If the special counsel has reason to believe that the president has engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct, then the Justice Department has an obligation not to conceal such information. The president must be subject to accountability.”
In a letter to Congress, Barr said that the Justice Department did not block Mueller from taking any action during the investigation. Barr is required to report to Congress any instance in which the Justice Department overruled a requested action by Mueller.
Trump’s lawyers, Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, issued joint statements Friday saying they were “pleased” that Mueller had delivered his report on the Russia investigation.
A spokesman for Mueller said he would be concluding his services as special counsel in the coming days and that a small number of staff would remain to assist in closing the office’s operations.
The central questions that Mueller, a former FBI director, has been examining are whether Trump or his aides colluded with the Russians to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and whether the president attempted to obstruct the subsequent investigation to protect himself and his political advisers and aides.
Trump has denied any collusion and obstruction, and has called the investigation a “witch hunt.” Russia has denied interfering in the election.