Democratic leaders said Thursday that the just-released report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller undercuts claims by Attorney General William Barr that President Trump didn’t obstruct justice.
The nearly 400-page redacted report was released to Congress and then to the public Thursday, nearly four weeks after Barr released his own summary of the contents.
Mueller had been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Barr’s March 24 summary was championed by Trump and Republicans as clearing the president.
“The differences are stark between what Attorney General Barr said on obstruction and what Special Counsel Mueller said on obstruction,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, said in a joint statement. “As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller's report appears to undercut that finding.”
Barr, speaking to reporters, stood by his earlier summary.
“As I addressed in my March 24 letter, the special counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation,” Barr said. “Instead, the report recounts 10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.
“After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr said.
Earlier Thursday, Pelosi and Schumer had called on Mueller “to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible” to counter Barr’s “regrettably partisan handling” of the report.
Although both sides were still reading the report Thursday, Democrats were pointing to one portion that said Trump largely failed to obstruct justice in the investigation because those around him didn’t do what he wanted.
“The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report said.
Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called on the full, unredacted report to be released to Congress. Nadler said it was “too early” to discuss impeachment.
“We will have to follow the evidence where it leads,” he said.
Pelosi previously said she wasn’t for impeachment.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.