The Mueller Report: Attorney general’s memo to Congress was a ‘book review,’ one Pa. lawmaker says, pressing for full release

WASHINGTON — The conclusions of the long-awaited report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller have Republicans declaring victory for President Trump, as Democrats demand more answers and pledge further investigations.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr submitted his four-page summary of Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to lawmakers on Sunday evening.

Almost immediately, Congressional Democrats were pressing for a full public release of Mueller’s report, complaining that Barr’s synopsis didn’t provide enough detail.

According to Barr, Mueller’s investigation did not find evidence that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference. Mueller also declined to draw a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice, saying that while his report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, compared the four-page excerpt that Barr sent to Capitol Hill on Sunday to a “book review,” noting that “a book review rarely paints the full picture and is often colored by the reviewer’s own bias. If you want the full picture, you need to read the book.”

“I look forward to seeing the Special Counsel’s (full) report and analysis based upon his extensive/thorough investigation of the questions that were referred to him,” Scanlon, the vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee said. “Transparency is paramount as we work to restore faith in our democratic institutions and uphold the rule of law.”

Trump, meanwhile, heralded the findings. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” the president wrote on Twitter Sunday.

Trump’s allies were quick to rally behind the president, portraying the entire exercise as a waste of time and money.

His spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, labeled the Mueller probe a “two-year waste of taxpayer time and dollars,” speaking on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.

“The Special Counsel’s findings make clear that President Trump nor any members of his campaign engaged in collusion with the Russians during the 2016 election,” freshman U.S. Rep. John Joyce, a Republican from north-central Pennsylvania’s 13th District, said in a statement. “It is now our responsibility as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to put this combative time in our country’s history behind us, and get back to work for the American people on the issues that matter the most. The Special Counsel’s conclusions have provided much needed closure and I look forward to returning my focus to growing the economy, making healthcare more affordable and accessible, fighting the opioid epidemic, protecting life and securing the border.”

Democrats seized on the obstruction of justice comments in the report to call for further investigations. They continue to push for the release of the entire Mueller report.

“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement.

“The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay. Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.”

Pelosi and Schumer added that “for the president to say he is completely exonerated directly contradicts the words of Mr. Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility.”

In a Friday tweet, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said he “commend[ed] the independent work and public service of Special Counsel Mueller and his team. This report was paid for with taxpayer dollars and must be made public as quickly as possible.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said he plans to call Barr in to testify before his committee “in light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President.” He plans to summon Barr “in the near future,” he wrote on Twitter.

The U.S. House voted 420-0 earlier this month in support of a resolution to release the full Mueller report.

Sanders said on the “Today” show Monday that the president is leaving it up to Barr to decide whether to release the report. “I don’t think the president has any problem with” releasing the report, she said. “He’s more than happy for any of this stuff to come out because he knows exactly what did and what didn’t happen.”

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