Shortly after Attorney General William Barr shook up Washington by releasing a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Republicans were quick to celebrate. Just like President Donald Trump and many of his key allies, Republican lawmakers said the summary vindicated the president. Democrats, however, insisted they needed more information before reaching any conclusions.
Democrats seized on two main talking points as they reacted to the Barr summary that said Mueller had found no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia in the 2016 election. On the one hand, they continued with the message they had been pushing all weekend that they wanted to see the full report and not just a summary from someone whom Trump appointed. That was the clear message that the presidential hopefuls focused on. Some went further, though, and accused Barr of inserting his own conclusions into the summary, particularly focusing on how Mueller did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice.
Below is a summary of some of the main reactions from both sides of the aisle.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement calling on the release of the full report, saying that his summary “raises as many questions as it answers.” Considering 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,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “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.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will call Attorney General William Barr to testify “in light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department.” Specifically, Nadler was referring to how Barr wrote that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that Mueller’s evidence was “not sufficient” to bring a charge of obstruction of justice against Trump.
“I want to read the document itself, not someone’s principal conclusions about it,” Sen. Brian Schatz wrote on Twitter. He later added: “It’s gonna be very hard go say the report exonerates POTUS but no you cannot read it.” And then just to drive the point home: “I suppose I could construct a more clever way to say this but just give us the document.”
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote that while he will “carefully review” Barr’s summary, “I will not be satisfied until the full report and all underlying evidence is made available.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell said Barr’s letter “leaves more questions than answers,” adding that “a sanitized summary from Trump’s handpicked bodyguard is not acceptable.” Pascrell noted that “the ball is squarely in our court” because it is now “up to Congress to investigate.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said “it is abundantly clear, without a shadow of a doubt, there was no collusion.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows agreed with that assessment, writing that “the clock has finally struck midnight on the ‘Russian collusion’ fantasy. No collusion.”
Rep. Steve Scalise wrote that the report “vindicates” Trump and “gives credence to the claims that this was a witch hunt that cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a slightly different approach, warning about the dangers of Russia’s efforts to interfere with U.S. democracy. McConnell acknowledged that the conclusions “confirm the President’s account that there was no effort by his campaign to conspire or coordinate with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.” But he also said that “Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere with our democracy are dangerous and disturbing, and I welcome the special counsel’s contributions to our efforts to understand better Russia’s activities in this regard.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren focused her reaction on demanding the full report be released as quickly as possible. “Congress voted 420-0 to release the full Mueller report. Not a “summary” from his handpicked Attorney General. AG Barr, make the full report public,” she wrote. “Immediately.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders also made his feelings on the summary clear: “I don’t want a summary of the Mueller report,” he tweeted. “I want the whole damn report.”
Sen. Kamala Harris also said that the full “Mueller report needs to be made public” and “the underlying investigative materials should be handed over to Congress, and Barr must testify.” At the end of the day, “a short letter from Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General is not sufficient.”
Sen. Cory Booker sang a similar tune. “The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately—not just the in-house summary from a Trump Administration official,” Booker wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also said that the full report needs to be public. “Not just a letter from someone appointed by Trump to protect himself—all of it. The President works for the people, and he is not above the law,” she tweeted.
Julián Castro said that it shouldn’t be up to a “politically appointed attorney general” to decide what should be made public. “The full report should be released and Robert Mueller should testify to its findings,” Castro tweeted.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.