President Trump signaled Monday he would support the public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which he says exonerates him, while Democrats contested that interpretation and pressed for more information on its findings.
Neither Congress nor the White House has received the full report. According to a letter Sunday from Attorney General William Barr to senior lawmakers summarizing the report, Mr. Mueller didn’t find that Mr. Trump and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the election.
Mr. Mueller didn’t draw a conclusion on whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, according to the letter. In the absence of a determination from Mr. Mueller, Mr. Barr wrote, he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that Mr. Trump’s actions didn’t reach the bar of a crime.
In remarks Monday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Trump expressed relief the investigation has been concluded, telling reporters he wished it would have wrapped up a lot faster but that ultimately, “we’re glad it’s over.” He added that it “wouldn’t bother me at all” for the report to be released in full. A day earlier, he asserted that the report summary was a total exoneration.
Mr. Trump, in discussing the probe, also lashed out against unnamed people who he said lied.
“There are people out there who have done very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country,” he said. “They lied to Congress. Many of them, you know who they are. They’ve done so many evil things.”
Mr. Trump had repeatedly called the probe a witch hunt and attacked Mr. Mueller. When asked by a reporter Monday if Mr. Mueller acted honorably, Mr. Trump responded: “Yes, he did.”
“He’s more than happy for any of this stuff to come out because he knows exactly what did and what didn’t happen and now frankly the rest of America knows,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told NBC News.
In a separate interview with Fox News, Ms. Sanders also said several considerations were at play in whether to release the full report, including executive privilege and precedent for future presidents, while reiterating the decision would be made by Mr. Barr.
Mr. Barr said in his letter Sunday that he was seeking to release as much of the report as possible but also noted it contains secret grand-jury information that, in the absence of a criminal finding, generally can’t be shared with the public.
Democrats have called for the swift release of the report and its underlying documents, to enable the public to draw its own conclusions. For now, the report remains closely guarded at the Justice Department, which hasn’t stated publicly whether, how and when the report will be released to the public. The chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees have also called on Mr. Barr to testify.
“We have a four-page summary written by the person that was hand picked by Donald Trump to write it in a way that it was as favorable as possible by him,” Rep. Katie Hill (D., Calif.) said on CNN. “So, until we get the full report released and until we get all of the information that surrounds that, I don’t think that we should be jumping to any conclusions.”
Tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D., Calif): “Mueller did not exonerate the president on charges of obstruction of justice. My sense is that he intended for Congress to make that determination.”
Committee chairs in the Democratic-led House also indicated Sunday evening they would continue to pursue their own probes into obstruction of justice, abuses of power and corruption, among other issues.
“It’s a broader mandate than the special prosecutor had,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) told reporters Sunday evening.
Mr. Nadler said he would be willing to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to obtain the full report. He said he also plans to ask Mr. Barr to testify before his panel shortly.
“I will not be satisfied until the full report and all underlying evidence is made available,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said Sunday. “Americans deserve to know all the facts, which is why the report itself should be released—to the fullest extent of the law—in addition to the Attorney General’s summary.”
Democrats have also challenged Mr. Barr’s indication that he would seek to restrict the release of information around certain grand jury information. Democrats said there is precedent, including during the Watergate investigation, during which grand jury materials were turned over to Congress.
In addition, Democrats sent letters dated Friday to many federal agencies asking them to preserve all documents, communication and evidence amassed by Mr. Mueller and his team. The letters warn that destroying such material risks running afoul of federal records laws.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that while the special counsel’s report supported Mr. Trump’s account that his campaign didn’t conspire or coordinate with Russia during the 2016 election, it still raises serious issues about election meddling.
“Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere with our democracy are dangerous and disturbing and I welcome the Special Counsel’s contributions to our efforts to understand better Russia’s activities in this regard,” Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) said.
Former FBI Director James Comey, whose firing by Mr. Trump in 2017 as the Russia investigation was under way prompted the president’s critics to allege he was obstructing justice, wrote on Twitter, simply, “so many questions.”