April 21, 2019

White House in disarray: Trump's victory lap clouded by chaos

03 April 2019, 09:41 | Silvia Roy

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and President Trump. More

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and President Trump

"Our progress is such that I anticipate we will be in a position to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner", Barr wrote in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of NY, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Republican of SC.

He said he would testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 1 May, and the House Judiciary Committee the following day, and denied that his letter released last week was a "summary" of Mr Mueller's report, instead referring to it as a "supplemental notification".

Barr's summary of Mueller's report said it didn't find a criminal conspiracy between Russian Federation and Donald Trump's campaign to swing the 2016 presidential election. Barr said the report is "nearly 400 pages long", not including appendices and tables and "sets forth the Special Counsel's findings, his analysis, and the reasons for his conclusions".

Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings said Wednesday that the delay allows President Donald Trump to spend weeks taking a victory lap in the wake of the generally favourable findings summarized by Attorney General William Barr. His four-page overview of Mueller's report dealt a blow to Democrats, who had hoped the special counsel's account of his wide-ranging probe into the president's campaign and election meddling would bolster their wide-ranging investigations into Trump and his business dealings.

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But Mr Barr has said he will not divulge the full report to Congress immediately because he is redacting grand jury testimony and other elements.

Mueller left unresolved in his report the question of whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by impeding the Russian Federation investigation. This point is lost in the political drama surrounding the Mueller Report, but is far more important to America as a country. That's left some White House aides expressing regret the investigation's end wasn't matched with a more effective strategy to harness the momentum into advancing Trump's agenda.

Congress is already pushing to see the full report with no redactions.

"My March 24 letter was not, and did not purport to be, an exhaustive recounting of the Special Counsel's investigation or report", Barr wrote. Since President Richard Nixon's abuses of power and corruption of the Justice Department brought on his downfall, occupants of the White House have rightly kept their distance from the law enforcement arm of the federal government (with some notable exceptions). The ambiguity of this quote has raised concern and has prompted Democrats to call for the full release of Mueller's findings, which are now not public.

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Speaking at his first political rally since the Mueller report was submitted, Donald Trump reiterated his claim that the report was a "total exoneration". Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

Barr's letter revealed new details about the process of releasing the report (including revealing its length: almost 400 pages, not including tables and appendices), but while some of Democrats' concerns may have been allayed, they're already gearing up for a new phase of the fight.

Democrats have previously threatened to subpoena Mueller's report if the document is not released in full. "They're probably saying in Russian Federation, you know, if we did like this guy, we've made a big mistake, we'd rather have crooked Hillary Clinton..."

In a letter to lawmakers on Friday, Barr said that sensitive material such as grand jury evidence will be stripped out of the version he sends to Congress.

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Asked whether he agreed with Barr's decision to release the Mueller report to the public, Trump said, "If that's what he'd like to do I have nothing to hide".

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