President Trump sought Friday to discredit damaging portions of the report by the special counsel, while Democrats subpoenaed the full report that led to no criminal charges but laid bare what they characterized as “alarming” behavior by Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pledged rigorous congressional oversight following the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that Democrats said showed that Trump sought to obstruct justice in trying to undermine the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller reached no conclusion on that issue in the report, but Attorney General William P. Barr said Thursday that the president’s action did not amount to criminal conduct. The report also found insufficient evidence to charge Trump with illegally coordinating with Russia during the 2016 election.
Washington Post coverage:
●Paranoia, lies and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report
●Through email leaks and propaganda, Russians sought to elect Trump, Mueller report finds
●Mueller report lays out obstruction evidence against the president
●Mueller’s findings paint a portrait of a campaign intrigued by Russian overtures
11: 45 a.m.: Holder says Congress has a responsibility to act after report
Former attorney general Eric Holder, who led the Justice Department in the Obama administration, seemed to suggest in a tweet Friday morning that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against Trump for obstruction of justice.
“ANY competent public corruption prosecutor would bring obstruction charges against Trump/win,” he wrote.
Holder pointed to a section of the special counsel report explaining why Mueller didn’t charge the president. Mueller wrote that he was limited by precedent that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and that he didn’t want to “potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.”
Holder interpreted that to mean “Congress now has a constitutional responsibility” to act.
10: 50 a.m.: Pompeo says U.S. will continue to press Russia on election interference
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would continue to press upon Russia that interference in other countries’ elections is “unacceptable behavior” with consequences.
He challenged the assertion from the Kremlin that the Mueller report did not prove that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“The work they’ve done to interfere in elections around the world is real, there are real interferences,” Pompeo told reporters during a news conference. “I don’t think there’s been a discussion between a senior U.S. official and the Russians in this administration where we haven’t raised this issue and concerns about interference in our elections.”
Trump critics have questioned how forcefully the president raised the issue in private meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They have also condemned Trump for saying he believed Putin when the Russian president said he didn’t try to influence the U.S. elections.
But Pompeo said this administration has shown its willingness to “take tough actions which raise the cost for Russian malign activity.”
The United States imposed new sanctions on Russian businesses and individuals in response to the election interfering, but Trump has been lukewarm at best about punishing Russia.
10: 35 a.m.: White House says Democrats’ subpoena is ‘political grandstanding’
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley lashed out at House Democrats for subpoenaing the unredacted version of Mueller’s report, saying they are engaged in “more political grandstanding.”
Gidley’s comments came shortly after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced a subpoena seeking Mueller’s full, unredacted report and its underlying documents.
“When does this ever stop?” Gidley asked during an appearance on Fox News. “The Democrats have nothing to talk about. They don’t want to talk about their agenda, making America socialist. . . They’d rather talk about trying to go after this president.”
“We’re not going to deal with Jerry Nadler in that manner,” he added. “This is just more political grandstanding.”
Gidley asserted that Mueller’s report proved Trump “completely innocent of any crime.”
Many Democrats, including Nadler, have said Mueller’s report suggests that Trump obstructed justice and provides a road map for Congress to follow up on that issue.
Asked how Trump plans to spend his day, Gidley said he is spending time with his family at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“I imagine he may play a little golf today,” Gidley added. “We’ll see.”
9: 35 a.m.: Top Judiciary Republican says subpoena of full report is ‘wildly overbroad’
Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of issuing a “wildly overbroad” subpoena to Barr.
Collins’s statement came shortly after Nadler announced the issuance of a subpoena seeking Mueller’s full report and underlying documents.
“It commands the [Justice Department] to provide Congress with millions of records that would be plainly against the law to share because the vast majority of these documents came as a result of nearly 2,800 subpoenas from a grand jury that is still ongoing,” Collins said.
He also argued that the May 1 date of production is unrealistic.
“This is politically convenient for the chairman because the attorney general has offered to appear before our committee the following day, allowing the chairman to grandstand and rail against the attorney general for not cooperating on an impossible timeline,” Collins said, adding that Nadler needs to “give the department a meaningful chance to respond.”
9 a.m.: House committee subpoenas full Mueller report after Justice Department releases redacted version
The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed the full Mueller report following the release of a redacted version on Thursday by the Justice Department.
Earlier this month, the committee authorized its chairman, Nadler, to subpoena Mueller’s report and the investigation’s underlying documents from Barr.
The subpoena requests that Barr turn over the documents by May 1 at 10 a.m.
The fight over the Mueller report could land in the courts.
In a statement, Nadler said he is “open to working with the Department to reach a reasonable accommodation for access to these materials, however I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of Congress in the dark, as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight and constitutional accountability.”
“My Committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice,” he added, calling the redactions “significant.”
“Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates,” Nadler said. “It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”
— John Wagner and Rachael Bade
8: 30 a.m.: Oversight GOP lawmakers make case that Trump didn’t commit a crime
Top Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Mark Meadows (N.C.) tried to make the case that Trump didn’t obstruct justice because the nefarious things he allegedly asked others to do were never carried out.
“Asking matters, Jim,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said during a joint interview of the two lawmakers. “If I ask you to punch Mr. Meadows and you don’t do it, the request was still wrong.”
“Yeah, the request may have been wrong, but it’s not a crime unless he assaults me,” Meadows responded.
“Is that our standard?” Cuomo asked.
Meadows didn’t directly answer that but said the report should be used to “identify some of those areas where an administration should go and shouldn’t go, but let’s use this as a learning lesson and not go into this and say ‘let’s prolong this investigation another two years’.”
Jordan and Meadows have led GOP efforts in Congress to push back against the Democrats’ probes into Trump.
8: 10 a.m.: Trump profanely pushes back against descriptions of his behavior in the report
President Trump sought Friday to discredit portions of the Mueller report in which others described his behavior, calling their claims “total bullshit.”
In morning tweets, Trump complained that he was not able to respond because he chose not to testify during the probe. Mueller tried to get the president to sit for an interview for more than a year, but Trump and his lawyers resisted.
“Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue,” Trump wrote. “Because I never agreed to testify, it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the ‘Report’ about me, some of which are total bullshit & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad).”
Trump did not specify which portions of the report he is disputing, but he was likely pushing back against descriptions of acts that Mueller catalogued as possible instances of obstruction of justice.
In a television interview, Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani also sought to discredit portions of the report, calling it “highly biased” and “not a fairly written report.”
“It can’t be possible with all the detail that some of it isn’t wrong,” Giuliani said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.”
Giuliani also tried to excuse some of the conduct described.
“You have to see it in the light of a man who is being accused of a crime that he did not commit,” he said.
8 a.m.: Cummings: ‘I am begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on’
House Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) blasted Barr for the way he handled the release of the Mueller report and urged Americans to “pay attention to what is going on.”
“I think we are in a very difficult time in this country’s history, and I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what’s going on,” Cummings said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Cummings accused Barr of going “overboard in trying to represent the president when he should have been representing the people of the United States of America.”
“I was so disappointed in Attorney General Barr,” he said. “It was phenomenal, and most lawyers will tell you that part of our duty is that we’re always officers of the court, and we’re always supposed to be telling the truth.”
Cummings said his committee will continue to probe Trump’s finances — something the Mueller report did not do — to see if there are any outside forces influencing his decision-making.
“We want to figure out whether there were conflicts of interest,” Cummings said. “When he makes certain decisions, are they in the interest of the American people or the interest of himself.”
7: 20 a.m.: Nadler says full Mueller report will be subpoenaed in ‘next couple of hours’
Nadler said Friday morning that his panel will subpoena the entire unredacted report by Mueller “in the next couple of hours.”
“We need the entire report, unredacted, and the underlying documents in order to make informed decisions,” Nadler said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“We will subpoena that entire report today,” Nadler said. “That subpoena will come in the next couple of hours.”
He said the subpoena will include grand jury evidence, which Barr has said he does not believe should be shared with Congress.
Nadler also said that in his view, Trump committed obstruction of justice.
7: 15 a.m.: Sanders calls for the country to ‘move on’
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that she hopes the country can “move on” now that the Mueller report has been released, ending a nearly two-year investigation into Russian election interference.
“The big takeaway … is that there wasn’t collusion with Russia, and it should be a day that every American can celebrate and not be sorrowful like we’ve seen over the last 48 hours from the Democrats that are actually sad that the president didn’t work as a foreign agent,” she said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I hope collectively as a country we can move on because great things can happen under this president,” she added.
Sanders was also pressed on a claim she made in May 2017 that the White House had heard from “countless members of the FBI” who had lost faith in former FBI director James B. Comey.
According the Mueller report, Sanders’s statement was “not founded on anything.”
“It was the heat of the moment, meaning that it wasn’t a scripted talking point,” Sanders said on ABC. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t a robot like the Democrat[ic] Party that went out for two and a half years and stated time and time again that there was definitely Russia collusion between the president and his campaign.”
7 a.m.: Kremlin dismisses Mueller report, says it offers nothing new
MOSCOW — Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Friday that the Mueller report “does not contain any new information” and “does not present any conclusive evidence of the alleged interference by the Russian Federation in the electoral process in America.”
Peskov also said that Russian business executives mentioned in the report shared their U.S. contacts with President Vladimir Putin and chalked up their activities to normal international business practices.
According to the Mueller report, the “Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome,” and “the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
— Matthew Bodner
6 a.m.: Pelosi pledges ‘oversight of our democracy’ but declines to comment on potential impeachment proceedings
Pelosi pledged Friday that Democrats would fulfill their role of “oversight of our democracy” but declined to comment on potential impeachment proceedings against Trump in the wake of the Mueller report.
Pelosi was asked about the possibility of impeachment during an event in Belfast, where she is leading a congressional delegation.
“We do not leave the country to criticize the president of the United States,” Pelosi said, before adding: “Whatever the issue and challenge that we face, the Congress of the United States will honor its oath of office to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, to protect our democracy.”
“The legislative branch has a responsibility of oversight of our democracy, and we will exercise that,” she said.
On Thursday, top congressional Democrats said that Trump sought to obstruct justice in trying to undermine the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and promised a thorough investigation.
In his report, Mueller signaled that Congress should decide whether the president broke the law.
In a letter to her Democratic colleagues Thursday night, Pelosi said that the report included “several alarming findings.”
“In his summary letter and press conference, Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the President did not obstruct justice. The Mueller report appears to directly undercut that claim,” Pelosi wrote.
She said Democrats are planning a conference call on Monday to discuss “this grave matter.”
6 a.m.: Kellyanne Conway’s husband calls for removing ‘a cancer on the presidency’
George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, is calling on Congress to impeach Trump.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post published Thursday night, George Conway, a conservative lawyer who is a frequent Trump critic, said there is “a cancer in the presidency” and urged lawmakers to remove it “without delay.”
“The president may have the raw constitutional power to, say, squelch an investigation or to pardon a close associate,” Conway wrote. “But if he does so not to serve the public interest, but to serve his own, he surely could be removed from office, even if he has not committed a criminal act.”
Kellyanne Conway was among the White House aides proclaiming victory for Trump on Thursday.
In an exchange with reporters, she said Trump was in a “great mood” and that Thursday was “really the best day since he got elected.”
“We’re accepting apologies today, too, for anybody who feels the grace in offering them,” she said.
6 a.m.: Mueller laid out ‘thorough and compelling’ case of obstruction, but Barr decided Trump wasn’t guilty of a crime
In his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller cites instance after instance of President Trump pushing to end the investigation, scale back its scope and influence witnesses involved in the probe — all with an intent that could amount to criminal obstruction of justice.
But the special counsel’s team stopped short of accusing the president of this crime, in part because it did not believe it had the legal authority to do so.
Barr did not feel so inhibited and definitively declared that the president hadn’t obstructed justice. He went so far as to suggest during a Thursday morning news conference before the report was released that the president’s actions were understandable because he was upset that the investigation and the attention it received were undermining his presidency.
Read more here.
— Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey