You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings

The Hill logo The Hill 3/23/2019 Olivia Beavers,Jacqueline Thomsen and Morgan Chalfant
Donald Trump, Robert Mueller are posing for a picture: Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings © The Hill Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings

President Trump and Congress are bracing for the conclusions of Robert Mueller's investigative report, which the special counsel submitted to the Department of Justice on Friday.

Attorney General William Barr has received the confidential report, but its contents remain unknown to both the president and the American public. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill will get a glimpse of Mueller's findings as soon as this weekend.

The report will present a massive test for Trump, who has consistently maintained there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow and regularly derided the investigation as a partisan "witch hunt." Mueller spent almost two years examining ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and possible obstruction of justice.

Trump did not tweet about the report on Friday, and the White House said that same day he had not been briefed on it.

Congressional Democrats immediately put tremendous pressure on Barr to make Mueller's report public. The attorney general has been careful not to commit to releasing the report in its entirety, saying earlier that he is committed to releasing as much of the text as possible within the confines of the law.

House Democrats could look into subpoenaing the full report or demand Mueller's testimony if they are unsatisfied with what they receive from Barr.

The attorney general said in his letter notifying Congress of the probe's conclusion that he "may be in a position" to brief lawmakers on the report's overall findings as soon as this weekend.

Two House sources told The Hill on Friday evening that Barr had not scheduled a time to brief the committee.

Barr is also likely to brief leaders of Congress' intelligence committees, which are both conducting their own Russia probes. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement Friday he was "looking forward to reviewing the report."

Democrats are signaling they will aggressively push to make the Mueller report public.

In a joint statement, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and three other Democratic chairs indicated they will fight to make the report's underlying evidence public.

"Consistent with the Justice Department's past practice and to ensure Congress can discharge its constitutional responsibilities, we also expect the underlying evidence uncovered during the course of the Special Counsel's investigation will be turned over to the relevant Committees of Congress upon request," the six House chairs said. "To be clear, 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."

Schiff separately fired a warning shot, telling CNN that if the Justice Department doesn't cooperate willingly the House will have to "subpoena the evidence" and "subpoena Mueller and others" to come before the Congress to answer questions.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Friday that "nothing short" of a declassified version of Mueller's report "would suffice." Fellow committee member and 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) went a step further, calling for Barr to publicly testify about the report's findings.

Some Republicans are also indicating the report should be made public.

"I fully expect the Justice Department to release the special counsel's report to this committee and to the public without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law," Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Friday.

Top Democrats, however, have issued a warning to Barr: Do not allow the president to review the report in advance.

"Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any 'sneak preview' of Special Counsel Mueller's findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement on Friday.

The White House said Friday that Barr will determine what comes next.

"The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel's report."

Rudy Giuliani insisted in an interview with The Hill on Friday that the president's legal team had not asked for a special preview of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

"We have not made any request, we have not made any demand," he told The Hill, pushing back on an Associated Press tweet earlier in the day that suggested Trump's lawyers wanted an "early look at Mueller's findings before they are made public."

Conservative lawmakers aligned with the president have seized on the end of the probe without any charges of collusion as vindication for Trump.

"The Mueller report delivery suggests no more indictments are coming from the Special Counsel. If that's true, it would mean we just completed 2 years of investigating 'Russian collusion' without ONE collusion related indictment. Not even one," tweeted Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a close Trump ally.

"Why? Because there was no collusion," he added.

Fellow Freedom Caucus member and Trump friend Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) celebrated the probe's conclusion by tweeting: "This distraction is finally over."

All signs point to Barr facing bipartisan pressure to make the entire report public. The House voted unanimously earlier this month in favor of doing so, and Trump said this week that he also wants the public to be allowed to read the report.

Barr, during his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year, declined to commit to making the entire report public, saying he would follow Justice Department guidelines in his handling of the document.

He reiterated as much in his letter to the top Judiciary committee lawmakers on Friday, stating that he plans to consult with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to "determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the special counsel regulations, and the Department's long-standing practices and policies."

"I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review," Barr added.

Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any links or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. He charged six Trump associates and more than two dozen Russians in the course of his sprawling inquiry, but none of the indictments alleged a conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin to meddle in the election.

Among the figures caught up in the investigation were former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump's former longtime "fixer" and personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Mueller could refer any ongoing investigations to other branches of the Justice Department. Legal experts have said the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York could pick up any probes that began as a result of the special counsel's inquiry but didn't fall under its purview.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From The Hill

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon