IOWA — The Mueller Report has been released to the public, and Iowa’s congressional leaders are predictably split on party lines with their initial reaction to the report.
Attorney General William Barr highlighted repeatedly that the Mueller Report cleared the Trump campaign of collusion. The report presented a potential case for obstruction of justice by President Trump in trying to interfere in the investigation. However, Barr says the evidence doesn’t support a criminal charge.
The release of the report comes with Congress away from Washington on a holiday break.
Channel 13 spoke with Congresswoman Cindy Axne in Des Moines. She says obstruction of justice isn’t what she finds most revealing in the report. “We really need to be focused though on the fact that Russia did try to interfere in our elections and we need to make sure that we protect that process and ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” Axne said, “Back in Washington those are the issues that I’m working on.”
Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer released a statement as the report was being released. While she reviews the report she said in a statement that there are a few things she’ll be focused on:
“Today, Special Counsel Mueller released an approximately 400-page report that I look forward to reviewing. Making the report public has been essential to ensure that the best interests of every American rise above partisanship. We must always support, secure, and defend our elections from foreign influence.”
Senator Charles Grassley says the report shouldn’t be the in the end of the investigation. In a statement released Thursday he called for a closer examination of alleged political biases of high-ranking authorities in our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, as well as the media and its coverage of the investigation.
“We must take a hard look at how we got here and at the relevant issues that the Mueller report did not address. Were our premiere law enforcement and intelligence agencies co-opted by candidate Trump’s political opponents in an attempt to take him down? Did political bias or unverified claims taint decisions by senior agency officials? How did the media allow unsubstantiated innuendo and speculation to fester at max volume for so long? And how did many opponents of President Trump allow themselves to be turned into tools of Putin to divide our nation? Attorney General Barr is right to review the Justice Department’s actions in the Russia saga and the Inspector General is doing the same. These are issues that all Americans, especially those running for president, should want examined.”
-Senator Charles Grassley
Minnesota Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar was also in Iowa today as the report was released. She doesn’t care what William Barr has to say about the report. There’s only one person she wants to hear from right now.
“Why would we … ask a question of an Attorney General that just got into office and had nothing to do with this investigation?”, Klobuchar asked at a Des Moines campaign event Thursday morning, “I want to be able to ask Mr. Mueller who was formerly appointed FBI Director about what happened in this investigation.”
Both Klobuchar and Grassley are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that would could likely call hearings now to review the investigation.
The Mueller report is coming: Attorney General William Barr is expected Thursday to release a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report detailing the findings of the special counsel investigation.
The redacted report, which is nearly 400 pages, will fill in some — but likely not all — of the details explaining what Mueller’s team uncovered during the 22-month investigation that’s hung like a cloud over Donald Trump’s presidency while the special counsel investigated possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russia and any possible obstruction of justice.
At a 9:30 a.m. ET press conference, Barr is expected to discuss whether executive privilege was invoked, Justice Department interactions with the White House in the past few weeks and the redaction process, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
About 90 minutes later, some time in the 11 a.m. ET hour, the report will be released to Congress on discs, according to a senior Department of Justice official. After it’s been delivered to Congress, it will be posted on the special counsel’s website.
A source familiar with the report told CNN Wednesday that the publicly released version of Mueller’s report is expected to have relatively minimal redactions in the section on obstruction of justice. The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening the report will have an in-depth look at Mueller’s investigation into potential obstruction of justice by Trump. The report will show Mueller could not determine Trump’s intent and some of his actions could have innocent explanations, the Post reported.
Trump and Republicans have claimed total exoneration after Barr released a four-page summary last month, in which the attorney general said Mueller did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s team and Russia and left the obstruction question undecided.
But Democrats have demanded to see Mueller’s full, unredacted report, charging that Barr cannot be trusted to provide an accurate accounting of Mueller’s findings as a Trump political appointee who previously argued against the merits of an obstruction case against the President.
Congressional Democrats rose up in anger at Barr’s decision to hold a press conference before the release of the report. Five House Democratic committee chairs said in a joint statement Wednesday night that Barr should cancel the press conference and slammed Barr.
“With the Special Counsel’s fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress’ responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly,” the joint statement read.
On Thursday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer jointly called for Mueller to testify before Congress publicly, saying there was a “crisis of confidence” in Barr’s 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 said.
Democrats have been particularly suspicious at the fact that Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the decision there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute such a case, especially in light of reports that some on Mueller’s team have told others they were unsatisfied with Barr’s characterization of the investigation.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler questioned why Barr was having a press conference to explain the report at all, saying he was “deeply troubled by reports” the White House had been briefed on the report ahead of release, as The New York Times reported. He likewise said it was “wrong” for the Justice Department to time the release of the redacted report to Congress for after Barr’s press conference.
Congress will get to see a little bit more of Mueller’s report and his findings than the general public once the report is delivered to them.
Federal prosecutors said in a court filing related to the case against Trump associate Roger Stone on Wednesday that there would be two versions of the redacted special counsel report, with one for public release and another, less redacted, version for a limited number of members of Congress.
Congressional Democrats have already authorized a subpoena for the full report and the underlying evidence, and they urged Barr to change course and provide them an unredacted version. They’re likely to move forward now with the subpoena, which could spark a court battle between House Democrats and the Trump administration.
After Barr released his summary of Mueller’s conclusions, Barr told Congress that he would redact four types of information before making the report public: grand jury material, classified material, material about ongoing investigations and “information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
Democrats have argued that some of that information cannot be made public, but it should still be turned over to Congress as part of the legislative branch’s oversight role. Nadler made clear the day his panel authorized a subpoena for the full Mueller report that he was willing to take the fight to the courts if the Justice Department would not turn over all of Mueller’s materials.
“If the Department still refuses, then it should be up to a judge — not the President or his political appointee — to decide whether or not it is appropriate for the committee to review the complete record,” Nadler said.