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Washington politicians respond to release of Mueller Report

Activists participate in a 'Release the Report' rally in Times Square, April 4, 2019 in New York City. Democratic political activist groups MoveOn.org and Indivisible hosted rallies in several U.S. cities to call on U.S. Attorney General William Barr to 'immediately release Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Troubled,” “I don’t trust him,” and “no collusion or obstruction of justice by President Trump” are just a few of the varied words Washington politicians are using to describe the recently-released Mueller Report.

The redacted version of the Mueller Report was released Thursday morning by US Attorney General William Barr, detailing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Officials from around Washington responded to what they know so far, many indicating a growing mistrust of Attorney General Barr.

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Democratic Congressmember Pramila Jayapal released the following statement Thursday morning after the edited Mueller Report was released:

From day one, Congress and the American public have demanded release of the full Mueller report and all underlying documents; anything less is unacceptable. Congress has a right and responsibility to review the Special Counsel’s full investigation without omissions to determine what steps must be taken – and whether further action is necessary.

I am troubled by Donald Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General’s apparent protection of a President who could not be exonerated by the Special Counsel on at least ten counts of obstruction of justice, and the numerous willing contacts documented between the Trump Campaign and a foreign power that was explicitly out to influence our last elections and likely our upcoming elections.

Congress has a duty – rooted firmly in the Constitution – to safeguard the justice system and prevent obstruction of justice. To do this, we must have the full report. Attorney General Barr’s refusal to release the full report and underlying materials prevents Congress from doing our constitutional duty. Barr should be acting as the nation’s Attorney General not Trump’s personal attorney. Anything less is unacceptable.

Republican Congressmember Dan Newhouse said that the report concludes that President Trump did not obstruct justice. He blames Democrats and the media for stirring controversy.

For the past two years, Democrats and the media have been fiercely focused on the outcome of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. I appreciate Attorney General Barr’s commitment to publicly release the Special Counsel’s report, so the American people can see for themselves that there was no collusion or obstruction of justice by President Trump. We must continue to safeguard our election systems and protect our democracy from foreign interference, but with the release of the report behind us, I look forward to continuing to focus on the priorities of Central Washington.

Republican Congressmember Cathy McMorris Rodgers did not make any definitive statement on the report, other than to say she is glad that it has been released. She says she will take a few days to read through the report.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson told KIRO 7 that Barr is not following his oath of office. Rather, Barr is acting as the personal attorney for the president.

“There’s many parts of it that are disturbing, and we continue to digest it,” Ferguson said. “But one thing I focus on, as a state attorney general, is a lack of a certain independence of the US attorney general has from the president, and we see that throughout the report.”

Democratic Senator Patty Murray notes “discrepancies” between what the attorney general says and what the report states.

Along with many other serious concerns this redacted report raises, it is clear there are tremendous discrepancies between what Attorney General Barr said about the Special Counsel’s findings and what the Special Counsel actually wrote on issues as important as obstruction of justice.

I have said from the beginning that the American people deserve full transparency about Russia’s confirmed efforts to interfere in our elections, as well as about any attempts to cover that up or obstruct investigations into their efforts.

This means Congress must be able to review the report in full and be able to continue to thoroughly investigate the many questions it raises—including having Special Counsel Mueller testify before both the Senate and the House.

Democratic Congressmember Kim Schrier had not read the report when she spoke to KIRO Radio Thursday morning, but said that she had looked at summaries and transcripts from Attorney General Barr and that so far “nothing has surprised me.” Schrier said that she is not taking Barr’s conclusion — that Trump did not collude with Russia — as the truth just yet. She says there has been a lot of political spin on the report and she would like an unredacted version released.

“What I have read suggests there were multiple attempts at obstruction of justice,” she said. “But those were thwarted by people the president has surrounded himself with who knew it would be completely inappropriate to do the things he asked them to do …. I can tell you that the behavior is not befitting of the office, it is not respectful of the office of the presidency or of the American people.”

Democratic Congressmember Adam Smith told KIRO Radio that he won’t take Attorney General Barr’s word that there was no wrongdoing by the president.

“I certainly don’t trust (Barr),” Smith said. “I have no reason to believe, based on his actions since he became attorney general, that he is going to be fair in this matter. He very clearly is trying to protect the president.”

Smith argued that Barr has twisted the Mueller report, even saying President Trump cooperated with the investigation despite the report itself indicating that the president did no such thing. He wants members of Congress to see the full, unredacted report. He notes that the famous Starr report into President Clinton was not provided to the president before it was available to everyone else. Not so in this case.

“The most significant thing that has jumped out to me is the contrast between what’s actually in the report and the way Attorney General Barr has presented it,” Smith said. “He’s obviously tried to present it in a favorable light to the president, in some cases not at all accurately …. overall, what we saw today paints a much darker picture of the president’s actions, according to Mueller, and his investigation, and what the attorney general led us to believe this morning and three weeks ago.”

“Aside from what President Trump did, we want to know what the Russians did, exactly, and how we can stop them from undermining our democracy,” Smith added, noting that President Trump will not acknowledge Russian actions during the 2016 election. “President Trump won the 2016 election … but for him to stop a legitimate investigation into figuring out what the Russians did, and more importantly, how to prevent them going forward, and not do everything in his power as President of the United States to protect us from that type of foreign interference, that is completely unacceptable.”

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