Rep. Jerry Nadler

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Political Leaders, Experts React To The Redacted Mueller Report

April 18, 2019 - 3:45 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A number of local politicians and political experts are voicing their opinions now that the redacted version of the Russia report from special counsel Robert Mueller has been released.

The two-volume, 448-page report details Russian interference during the 2016 president election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump and his campaign.

Ahead of the public release of the report, Attorney General William Barr announced the “bottom line” during a pre-scheduled press conference saying there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government hackers.

Meanwhile, President Trump himself tweeted a “Game of Thrones”-inspired photo of himself with text that read, “No Collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats— GAME OVER.”

However, Jonathan Turley, George Washington Law School professor, says there’s much more to the report than possible collusion.

“There's a difference between being exonerated and being vindicated and to some degree, the president was vindicated by not being tied to any crime, it doesn't mean he was exonerated from blame in terms of his conduct,” he said.

The fact is, part of the report is redacted – something Manhattan Congressman Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, thinks is "regrettable, but no longer surprising."

“We have repeatedly said what is demanded by the situation and that is that the Judiciary Committee be given the entire report and the underlying evidence,” he told reporters.

In a statement on Thursday, Nadler said  the report "outlines disturbing evidence" that President Donald Trump engaged in misconduct and notes that it's up to Congress to hold the president accountable.

Still, Trump’s legal team says the results of the investigation are a “total victory” and that Mueller's report is “nothing more than an attempt to rehash old allegations.”

Long Island Republican Congressman Pete King agrees, telling WCBS 880: “It does, on the issue of Russian collusion, totally exonerate the president.”

“The Russians attempted a number of times to interfere with the campaign and nobody with the president, in anyway cooperated with them – there’s no cooperation, no collusion,” King said.

He adds that the two-year investigation by the special counsel was a “disgrace.”

While Mueller drew no conclusion about whether Trump had obstructed justice in the investigation, Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally concluded that nothing the president did rose to the level of an “obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Rep. King says: “I fully agree with Attorney General Barr and with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. There was no obstruction whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal called the report a “deeply damning document.”

He says special counsel Mueller’s report is “a portrait of wrongdoing in tremendous detail and depth” and called Barr’s summary “sunshine spin.”

Despite President Trump saying the report fully exonerates him, Blumenthal says the report details “at least 10” instances in which the president potentially obstructed justice.

“There is a lot here that need in-depth review. I’m going to be demanding that Robert Mueller appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I sit,” Blumenthal says. “I will be demanding the documents and underlying evidence for this report and I will be demanding more facts that the Americans people need and deserve, to make judgements about how to stop this kind of Russian attack in the future.”

Brooklyn Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries also points out that the report points to 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice by President Trump.

“That is a deeply troubling revelation that should concern every single American,” he said.

The Brooklyn congressman sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which Mueller was invited to testify before on May 23, to find out more about Russian election interference.

“Seventeen different intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered with our election, attacked our democracy in order to try and artificially place Donald Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – that strikes at the heart of our Democratic Republic. We need to figure out from Bob Mueller what happened, why did it happen and how do we prevent this type of attack on our democracy from happening again,” Jeffries said.

Daniel Lippman, co-author of Politico Playbook and Politico reporter, adds that it’s “amazing how much Mueller found.”

When asked if he thinks the Russia report will be left in the past or if it will continue to be rehashed until the next presidential election, Lippman noted that it’s important to remember the number of other investigations still ongoing into President Trump’s campaign.

“You have the investigation into the Trump inauguration committee, whether that accepted foreign money. You have the campaign finance investigation related to Michael Cohen and those payoffs to those mistresses. And then, you have all those congressional investigations,” Lippman said.

He says even if Mueller did not find something to charge President Trump with, he could still be in legal jeopardy, especially when he becomes a private citizen once again.

Frank Sesno, a former CNN correspondent and current director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, also says that the report was exactly what he expected.

“The initial impressions are that this is what I expected it to be, which is a very careful, very complex narrative and description of what a very extensive investigation uncovered. What it did not uncover, according to Mueller anyway, was something that was indictable was something that was a clear cut legal case of obstruction of justice or actually and active collusion, however you define that word, with the Russians during the 2016 campaign," he says.

He notes that the report is a “very hard thing to absorb in a soundbite” and says that it will take several days, if not weeks for it to be fully understood.

“There is a very detailed, very long report that covers a considerable period of time in many personalities,” Sesno advises. “Journalists should take this report one story at a time.”

He says there is no “big, sweeping headline” that covers the entirety of the Mueller report and notes that the political landscape will not be dramatically changed from the report.

“This report is 400 pages of shades of grey,” he said. “It gives ammunition to both sides, but the ammunition fundamentally reinforces battle lines that were already drawn.”