WASHINGTON — Democrats from the Philadelphia region and across the country vowed Sunday to continue investigating President Donald Trump and to seek more information about what special counsel Robert Mueller found in his inquiry into potential coordination with Russian operatives and questions of obstruction of justice.
They called for more details even as the president and his allies reveled in what Trump considered “complete and total exoneration” from a four-page summary released by Attorney General William Barr.
Democrats immediately focused on Barr, questioning how the Trump appointee had concluded that there were no grounds for charging the president with obstruction of justice even as Mueller was inconclusive on that issue.
They called for a review of the underlying evidence gathered by Mueller, while largely ignoring the special counsel’s conclusion, as summarized by Barr, that there was no conspiracy between Trump or his campaign and Russia.
“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,” tweeted Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), a candidate for president and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Another member of the committee, Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) said Mueller’s uncertainty about whether Trump obstructed justice cried out for congressional review.
“The fact that the special counsel refused to reach a conclusion one way or the other about whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice means that more than ever we have a responsibility to get access to those materials and to conduct a thorough review of it,” Coons said on CNN.
Barr wrote that Mueller found evidence both for and against obstruction by Trump. But Barr added that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the evidence “is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” Barr also wrote that Mueller found no coordination between Trump or his campaign and Russia.
Democrats quickly demanded that more information be released, while Republicans from the Philadelphia region did not immediately comment on the long-awaited results.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.) tweeted, “Trump’s handpicked [attorney general] took 48 hours to clear Trump of obstruction of justice. Based on what evidence? Based on what interviews with Trump? It’s up to Congress to get these answers.”
The White House and top congressional Republicans saw the report as a complete victory for Trump, and called for Democrats to stop their investigations.
“Good day for the rule of law. Great day for President Trump and his team. No collusion and no obstruction. The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Now it is time to move on, govern the country, and get ready to combat Russia and other foreign actors ahead of 2020.”
Democrats, however, were already moving toward further review.
“A book review rarely paints the full picture and is often colored by the reviewer’s own bias. If you want the full picture, you need to read the book. I look forward to seeing the Special Counsel’s (full) report and analysis," tweeted Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Pa.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Her committee chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.), said he plans to call Barr to testify about his conclusions.
Democrats had argued even before Sunday’s developments that Congress has a broader scope of investigation than Mueller, who focused on potential criminal offenses related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, and potential obstruction of justice. Other criminal probes into Trump’s campaign or business activities are still ongoing in several Attorney General Offices. Democrats have argued that even if Trump and his associates stopped short of committing crimes, their actions still warrant scrutiny and public disclosure.
Coons said “it’s a good thing” the president did not conspire with a hostile power, but said questions remained. He pointed to the people close to Trump, including his former campaign manager and national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with Russia.
“It’s hard to see how that is a complete exoneration,” Coons said. “If there was nothing for them to hide, why did they do so much lying and misrepresenting?”
Before Barr’s letter was sent on Sunday, two Republicans from the Philadelphia area also had called for transparency around any conclusions, although they did not immediately release statements Sunday.
“The report must be made public and full briefings must be made to Congress,” U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), a former FBI agent, said in a statement Friday night. "We must insist on 100% full transparency on all investigative matters and full disclosure to the public. Once that occurs, and once we respond accordingly, it is time to move on.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) said in a statement Friday night that “it’s in the national interest for Attorney General Bill Barr to be as transparent as possible about the investigation’s findings with Congress and the public — consistent with the law and long-standing Department of Justice policy.”