Top Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for special counsel Robert Mueller to testify “as soon as possible” before Congress about his office’s report regarding Russian involvement in the 2016 race.
Additionally, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York set a deadline of “no later than May 23” in a letter to Mueller.
The requests came the same day at Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the Mueller report to the public.
In a news conference from the Justice Department prior to the report’s release, Barr reiterated the conclusions of the report, which he had addressed in a four page summary of it issued on March 24.
“(T)he Special Counsel’s report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations,” Barr said on Thursday. “In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government’s hacking.”
Barr also addressed allegations that President Donald Trump sought to obstruction justice during the course of the Mueller investigation.
“As I addressed in my March 24th letter, the Special Counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation,” the attorney general said. “Instead, the report recounts ten 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.
The DOJ head was asked about Mueller’s absence from the news conference, given it was his report.
“It’s not (his report),” Barr answered. “It’s a report he did for me as the attorney general. He is required under the regulation to provide me with a confidential report. I’m here to discuss my response to that report, and my decision, entirely discretionary to make it public.”
On special counsel Mueller's absence at presser, AG Barr says: “It’s not [his report], it’s a report he did for me as the attorney general…I’m here to discuss my response to the report.” https://t.co/3ZKq6CwMeV pic.twitter.com/MdooGP6wDs
— ABC News (@ABC) April 18, 2019
In a joint statement on Thursday, Pelosi and Schumer said, “Attorney General [William] Barr’s regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report, including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning — hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it — have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality.”
“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible,” they continued. “The American people deserve to hear the truth.”
Nadler tweeted a copy of a letter he wrote to Mueller requesting his appearance before the Judiciary Committee “no later than May 23.”
“It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings,” he wrote.
It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings. We are now requesting Mueller to appear before @HouseJudiciary as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/Mmo6PA4KPt
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) April 18, 2019
Following the conclusion of Barr’s news conference, Trump tweeted a “Game of Thrones” inspired meme, which read: “No collusion, no obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2019
Trump has called for an investigation of the investigators who originally launched the counterintelligence probe during the 2016 presidential campaign that became the special counsel investigation in May 2017.
On Wednesday, he tweeted, “Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier’s discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele. @OANN @JudicialWatch The Witch Hunt has been a total fraud on your President and the American people! It was brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC.”