Trump-Russia report handed in, U.S.
lawmakers seek rapid release
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[March 23, 2019]
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. law
enforcement official could release as early as Saturday the main
findings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's confidential report on his
22-month-long inquiry into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential
election and any potential wrongdoing by President Donald Trump.
Attorney General William Barr, who received the report from the former
FBI director on Friday, told U.S. lawmakers he may be able to inform
them of Mueller's "principal conclusions as soon as this weekend." Under
Justice Department regulations, Barr is empowered to decide how much to
The big question is whether the report contains allegations of
wrongdoing by Trump or exonerates him. Mueller investigated whether
Trump's campaign conspired with Moscow to try to influence the election
and whether the Republican president later unlawfully tried to obstruct
Mueller did not recommend any further indictments, a senior Justice
Department official said, signaling there might be no more criminal
charges against Trump associates arising from the investigation.
Throughout his investigation, Mueller brought charges against 34 people
and three companies, with prison sentences for some of Trump's key
Lawmakers in both parties urged a quick release of the report, and
Democrats in particular demanded that nothing be held back, saying they
would issue subpoenas if necessary. Barr, who took office in February,
was appointed by Trump after the president fired his predecessor Jeff
Sessions in November.
"I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep
you informed as to the status of my review," Barr told lawmakers in a
By handing over the long-awaited report to Barr, Mueller marked the end
of his work, with his spokesman saying the 74-year-old special counsel
would conclude his service in the coming days.
Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied election
interference. Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling
it a "witch hunt" and accusing Mueller of conflicts of interest. But he
said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the
Key Trump aides, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort,
national security adviser Michael Flynn and personal lawyer Michael
Cohen, have already either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges
brought by Mueller.
None of those charges, however, directly related to the question of
collusion between the campaign and Moscow. The Justice Department has a
policy that sitting presidents cannot face criminal charges.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic
leader Chuck Schumer - the two top Democrats in Congress - said it was
"imperative" the full report be made public, that Barr not give Trump
and his team a "sneak preview" of the findings and that the White House
not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts are made
They said the investigation focused on questions that "go to the
integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly
interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to
hinder that investigation."
[to top of second column]
Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of
the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion
between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington,
U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
The White House has not received or been briefed on the report,
spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, adding that "we look forward to the
process taking its course."
'OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in
Congress, said, "The attorney general has said he intends to provide
as much information as possible. As I have said previously, I
sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much
openness and transparency as possible."
Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican and a
strong ally of the president, expressed confidence the report would
not find collusion with Russia.
"The reports that there will be no new indictments confirm what
we've known all along: there was never any collusion with Russia.
The only collusion was between Democrats and many in the media who
peddled this lie because they continue to refuse to accept the
results of the 2016 election," Scalise said.
Even if the Mueller report exonerates Trump, that may not spell the
end to his legal troubles. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to
campaign finance violations in a case overseen by federal
prosecutors in Manhattan, who said in court filings that Cohen
carried out the crimes at the direction of Trump.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan is also looking at the
spending of Trump's inaugural committee and business practices at
the Trump Organization, the family's company.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the
election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda
aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic
candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.
A small number of House Democrats have pushed for Congress to
impeach Trump and remove him from office but the party's leadership
including Pelosi has urged caution. No president has every been
removed from office via impeachment.
Several House committees in the meantime are conducting aggressive
investigations of Trump and people around him.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Eric Beech,
Makini Brice, Karen Freifeld, Susan Cornwell and Steve Holland in
Washington, Nathan Layne in New York and Roberta Rampton in Florida;
Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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