Republican lawmakers were reticent to let go of the talking points Attorney General William Barr fed them in previous weeks, even after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the nearly two-year long Russia investigation.
The report, lightly redacted and released on Thursday, directly contradicts Barr’s earlier representations. Hours before the report was made public, Barr insisted that it proved President Donald Trump and his associates had committed “no obstruction” and “no collusion.”
However, Mueller specifically stated in his report that his team had not sought to establish “collusion,” citing a lack of legal framework to support the term. Rather, they had been unable to establish criminal coordination between anyone on the Trump campaign and Russian officials. He also specifically chose to leave it to Congress to determine whether Trump obstructed justice during the course of the investigation, laying out several instances that outlined possible interference on the president’s part.
Regardless of those findings, Republicans pushed their preset talking points on Thursday, lauding Barr for his “transparency,” despite significant redactions throughout the report and his clear efforts to spin its findings in Trump’s favor.
Seeing more claims that because the President was unhappy about being investigated, he must be guilty. Hard to call this critique anything other than completely unserious. Would you be happy about being accused and subsequently investigated for a crime you did not commit?
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) April 18, 2019
I am pleased that the Mueller report has concluded so that Congress can get back to legislating and begin fixing our broken infrastructure system and other problems. I hope my Democratic colleagues can put partisan politics aside and return to normalcy. There was no collusion.
— Rep. Doug Lamborn (@RepDLamborn) April 18, 2019
The release of the #MuellerReport today is long-awaited vindication for the Trump Administration after a blatantly partisan witch hunt initiated and funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.
— Rep. Doug LaMalfa (@RepLaMalfa) April 18, 2019
The bottom line of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation has already been known for weeks: There was no collusion with Russia. Releasing the full report today underscores that fact.
— Rep Tim Walberg (@RepWalberg) April 18, 2019
For 2 years, Democrats misled the American people with countless attacks on @realDonaldTrump. Today, we can confirm there was NO collusion & NO obstruction of justice. Despite Mueller’s findings, it seems nothing will stop Democrats from trying to baselessly attack the President.
— Congressman Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) April 18, 2019
In harsh juxtaposition of that praise, several Democratic lawmakers have since called for Barr’s resignation, saying he lied during an earlier press conference on Thursday to discuss the report’s findings.
I look forward to reviewing the Mueller report. Thank you to AG Barr for releasing as much of the report as possible while excluding classified material. Barr has done an excellent job ensuring transparency for the American people while also protecting sensitive intelligence.
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) April 18, 2019
— Rep. John Rutherford (@RepRutherfordFL) April 18, 2019
My full statement on the public Mueller report: pic.twitter.com/dB0tLifcaZ
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) April 18, 2019
— Rep. Arrington (@RepArrington) April 18, 2019
As if their statements had all been fed to them in advance, Republican lawmakers also repeatedly claimed that it’s “time to move on.”
The Mueller report, which found no collusion by President Trump or his campaign and brought no charges of obstruction, is now in the hands of the public as it should be. Let the people decide for themselves. America needs to move on.
— Rep. Vern Buchanan (@VernBuchanan) April 18, 2019
The charade is up. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And there was no coverup. Robert Mueller had the full resources of the Department of Justice and was unable to find criminal activity. It is time to move on. https://t.co/x0cYfnpzJS
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) April 18, 2019
I would like to thank Special Counsel #Mueller for his service.
Now it’s time to move on.
— George Holding (@RepHolding) April 18, 2019
Democratic lawmakers cited a number of significant concerns stemming from Mueller’s report that they wish to investigate further.
The report, for example, lays out 10 different “episodes” in which it appears Trump interfered with the Russia probe. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said the report detailed “disturbing evidence that … Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct.”
Nadler said the report was likely written “with the intent of providing Congress a road map” for drawing its own conclusions about the criminality of Trump’s actions.
Nadler has already subpoenaed an unredacted version of the report and called on Mueller to testify. “We clearly can’t believe what Attorney General Barr tells us,” Nadler said.
Barr is scheduled to testify before Congress on May 2.