Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is done. But members of Congress are just getting started.
Within moments of the Justice Department’s announcement Friday evening that Mueller had filed the report on his investigation into Russian election interference, congressional Democrats and many Republicans called for the full release of the report and its corresponding documents.
Democrats and Trump supporters each tried to capture the political advantage from a report they haven’t seen.
“Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts for themselves,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Any attempt by the Trump administration to cover up the results of this investigation into Russia’s attack on our democracy would be unacceptable."
Democrats, many of whom issued nearly identical calls for transparency within an hour of the release, want to see the report and the full scope of Mueller’s investigation. They began suggesting that they may have to subpoena Mueller to prove there was no political interference in the probe.
House Democrats hope the findings of the report will provide a road map for the congressional investigations to continue, as well as build public support for such an effort. Some progressives are still hoping the report will uncover evidence to support impeachment of President Trump, an idea House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has said she does not want to pursue without bipartisan support.
Trump’s Republican allies quickly tried to suggest that the report — details of which were not released Friday but could be sent to Congress as soon as this weekend — proved there was no collusion between Russians and his campaign during the 2016 race.
“Throughout this prolonged investigation, which cost tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and included aggressive surveillance tools, we still haven’t seen any evidence of collusion,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Attempts to keep the collusion narrative alive, especially for political reasons, will only serve to further harm our political discourse and play into the hands of our foreign adversaries.”
A senior Justice Department official said Friday that Mueller did not recommend further indictments, a point that amplified their efforts.
“If that’s true, it would mean we just completed 2 years of investigating ‘Russian collusion’ without ONE collusion related indictment. Not even one,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a White House ally, said on Twitter. “Why? Because there was no collusion.”
Democrats have expressed worry that the Justice Department, White House or congressional Republicans would release only portions of the report that reinforce their defense of the president.
Several Democratic members of Congress and many of the 2020 presidential contenders demanded that the full report be released.
Before the sun went down, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had sent an email to supporters to sign a petition to demand the report’s release and, if you click through, to donate to her campaign. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) issued a similar email.
“Atty. Gen. [William] 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,” Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement.
Several Democrats also called for Mueller or Barr to testify before Congress to prove there was no political interference in the investigation.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN that Democrats would subpoena Mueller or the report and its underlying evidence if necessary. He suggested that “evidence of compromise” that didn’t rise to the level of prosecution still deserves public scrutiny.
Mueller’s testimony would be vital to ensuring public confidence, said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin).
“I think the American people will need to hear from Mr. Mueller,” he said on CNN. “The report will not be fully accepted from the American people until we hear from” Mueller.
Harris said Barr needs to testify too.
“This is about securing American democracy and protecting voters’ confidence in our elections and our system of government,” she said.
While Republicans hope the investigation clears the president and undercuts any further efforts to investigate the presidency, they also want to see the document.
“The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible.”
Times staff writer Janet Hook in Washington contributed to this report.