Mueller concludes Russia probe, submits report to US Attorney General
Special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted the much-awaited probe report to US Attorney General William Barr on alleged collusion between Russia and US President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, ending an investigation that has cast a shadow over the Trump presidency for nearly two years. A justice department official said that Mueller's report did not recommend any further indictments. Read the details here.
During his 22 months of investigation, Mueller, a former FBI director, criminally charged three companies and 34 individuals, of which seven pleaded guilty and one was convicted. He had also posed questions to US President Trump, which were responded to in writing.
Attorney General William Barr, to whom the report was delivered yesterday, told Congressional leaders that he may submit to them its summary "as soon as this weekend." Trump has repeatedly claimed that he was a victim of "witch hunt" while asserting that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. The White House, meanwhile, said they have not received the report yet.
Reacting to the development, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, "The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr and we look forward to the process taking its course. The White House has not received or been briefed on the special counsel's report." President Trump's counsel Jay Sekulow and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani also issued a joint statement over the report submission.
Sekulow and Giuliani said, "We're pleased that the Office of Special Counsel has delivered its report to the attorney general pursuant to the regulations. Attorney General Barr will determine the appropriate next steps." The probe report, which justice department officials described as a comprehensive one, does not recommend any further indictment. The Democrats are, however, demanding the report to be made public.
The Democratic leadership had previously alleged that Russian interference helped Trump in the 2016 polls. "Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the attorney general, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.
Further, the two top Democratic leaders said, "Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any sneak preview of Special Counsel Mueller's findings or evidence." "The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public," they said, adding the American people have a right to the truth.
"The special counsel's investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation. The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency," said the two leaders said. Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna also demanded that the report be made public.
"There's no room here for selective editing or political favors. The entire Mueller report must be made fully available to the American people," said Khanna. While CNN described the completion of the investigation an end of one of the most dramatic chapters in Trump's presidency, Fox News said this marks the end of "the politically explosive probe and the beginning of a new battle".
The New York Times reported, "While Mr. Mueller is not recommending any new charges be filed, lawmakers conducting their own inquiries will still be able to refer criminal charges to the Justice Department, for instance, if a committee finds that a witness lied under oath."