WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr scoured special counsel Robert Mueller's confidential report on the Russia investigation with his advisers, deciding how much Congress and the American public will get to see about the two-year probe into President Donald Trump and Moscow's efforts to elect him.
Partisan fury over the special counsel’s report may obscure the ways the president has damaged our democracy * Support the Guardian’s independent journalism and make a contributionThe White House at dusk on Friday, after Robert Mueller handed in his report. Photograph: Leah Millis/ReutersWe may never know for sure whether Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to obtain Russia’s help in the 2016 election, in return for, say, Trump’s help in weakening Nato and not interfering against Russian aggression in Ukraine.Trump and his propaganda machine at Fox News have so aggressively undermined the legitimacy of Robert Mueller’s inquiry – repeatedly conjuring a “witch hunt” and maintaining a drumbeat of “no collusion” – that Mueller’s report, whatever it shows, will almost surely be overwhelmed by a fog of alt-interpretation and epistemological confusion. What’s “collusion?” What’s illegal? What’s unethical? Has Trump been vindicated or not?The real danger is that as attention inevitably turns to the 2020 campaign, controversy over the Mueller report will obscure the far more basic issues of Trump’s competence and character.An American president is not just the chief executive of the United States, and the office he (eventually she) holds is not just a bully pulpit to advance policy ideas. He is also a moral leader, and the office is a moral pulpit invested with meaning about the common good.> A president’s most fundamental responsibility is to protect our system of government. Trump has weakened that systemAs George Washington’s biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman, explained, the first president believed he had been entrusted with something of immense intrinsic worth, and that his duty was to uphold it for its own sake and over the long term. He led by moral example.Few of our subsequent presidents have come close to the example Washington set, but none to date has been as far from that standard as Trump.In the 2016 presidential campaign, when accused of failing to pay his income taxes, Trump responded “that makes me smart”. His comment conveyed a message to millions of Americans: that paying taxes in full is not an obligation of citizenship.Trump boasted about giving money to politicians so they would do whatever he wanted. “When they call, I give. And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me.” In other words, it’s perfectly OK for business leaders to pay off politicians, regardless of the effect on our democracy.Trump sent another message by refusing to reveal his tax returns during the campaign or even when he took office, or to put his businesses into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest, and by his overt willingness to make money off his presidency by having foreign diplomats stay at his Washington hotel, and promoting his various golf clubs.These were not just ethical lapses. They directly undermined the common good by reducing the public’s trust in the office of the president.A president’s most fundamental responsibility is to uphold and protect our system of government. Trump has weakened that system.When, as a presidential nominee, he said a particular federal judge shouldn’t be hearing a case against him because the judge’s parents were Mexican, Trump did more than insult a member of the judiciary. He attacked the impartiality of America’s legal system.When Trump threatened to “loosen” federal libel laws so he could sue news organizations that were critical of him and, later, to revoke the licenses of networks critical of him, he wasn’t just bullying the media. He was threatening the freedom and integrity of the press.When, as president, he equated neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia by blaming “both sides” for the violence, he wasn’t being neutral. He was condoning white supremacists, thereby undermining equal rights.When he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa county, Arizona, for a criminal contempt conviction, he wasn’t just signaling it’s OK for the police to engage in brutal violations of civil rights. He was also subverting the rule of law by impairing the judiciary’s power to force public officials to abide by court decisions.When he criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, he wasn’t really asking that they demonstrate their patriotism. He was disrespecting their – and, indirectly, everyone’s – freedom of speech.In all these ways, Trump undermined core values of our democracy.This is the essence of Trump’s failure – not that he has chosen one set of policies over another, or has divided rather than united Americans, or even that he has behaved in childish and vindictive ways unbecoming a president.It is that he has sacrificed the processes and institutions of American democracy to achieve his goals. By saying and doing whatever it takes to win, he has abused the trust we place in a president to preserve and protect the nation’s capacity for self-government.The Mueller report must not obscure this basic reality.
Attorney General William Barr was expected to give Congress and the public a summary of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller who has conducted a 22-month-long Russia investigation. Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, spent nine hours on Saturday studying the report. There appeared to be initial good news for Trump and his inner circle, as Mueller did not bring any further indictments when handing over the report to Barr on Friday.
U.S. lawmakers waited on Sunday for details of a confidential report into a probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that has cast a pall over President Donald Trump's time in office and raised questions about possible collusion between the Republican's campaign and Moscow. Attorney General William Barr was expected to give Congress and the public a summary of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller who has conducted a 22-month-long Russia investigation. Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, spent nine hours on Saturday studying the report.
The "principal conclusions" of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on President Trump and Russian election interference will not reach Congress Saturday.
Robert Mueller finished his investigation into Trump's campaign and Russian election interference. Now, the world awaits the Mueller report. Here's what we know.
Democrats in Congress are gearing up for a fight to ensure that specialcounsel Robert Mueller's findings are made public, calling for the release ofthe full report
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With the long-awaited special counsel's investigation finished but its contents still shrouded in mystery, Americans waited for details, yawned with boredom or stayed fixed to their long-cemented positions on President Donald Trump, the man at the probe's center.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats plotted strategy Saturday as they awaited the conclusions of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, with senior lawmakers demanding full transparency and preparing for next steps if the results were favorable to President Donald Trump.
Over the short-run, we could see a volatile two-sided response to the initial release of the report. After that it’s all up to the Democrats and whether they have enough evidence to impeach Trump or if they decide to put their efforts into beating him in the 2020 election.
* Attorney general William Barr to release ‘principal conclusions’ * Trump, playing golf near Mar-a-Lago, said to be in ‘good’ mood * Support the Guardian’s journalism. Make a contributionRobert Mueller. Under DoJ rules, the full report does not have to be made public. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty ImagesWashington and America waited with bated breath on Saturday for the next stage in the Trump-Russia drama: the communication to Congress of the “principal conclusions” of special counsel Robert Mueller.By the early afternoon, it was clear they would have to wait a while longer. Multiple news outlets cited justice department officials saying Attorney General William Barr would most likely enlighten Congress on Sunday.Donald Trump did not offer comment. He was said to be feeling “good”, after playing golf at his course in Florida.If and when Mueller’s conclusions do become public, they will feed into a frenzy of Republican claims of vindication and Democratic attempts to hold the president to account.The special counsel was appointed in May 2017, in the aftermath of the firing of FBI director James Comey. He investigated Russian election interference, links between the Trump campaign and Moscow and potential obstruction of justice by the president.Having indicted three entities and 34 individuals including close advisers to Trump – among them campaign manager Paul Manafort and lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, both sentenced to jail – Mueller handed in his report late on Friday afternoon.> The underlying findings must be provided to Congress and the American people> > Nancy PelosiA letter announcing its completion was delivered to the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Congress in understated fashion, given the media hoopla it caused. An unassuming woman in a black puffer jacket held a plain manila envelope containing a single sheet of paper as she slipped past camped-out reporters.Under DoJ rules, the full report does not have to be made public. But attorney general Barr said in a letter to leaders of both parties he would give them “the principal conclusions” possibly as soon as this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, House Democrats held a call to discuss strategy. They emerged to demand transparency.On Friday, officials briefed the media that no further indictments would be made. That seemed to put Trump family members including Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner in the clear. But Mueller could still provide revelations damaging to the president and his hopes of re-election. A sitting president cannot be indicted but Mueller’s report could include details of wrongdoing, in particular obstruction of justice, that would inform debate over possible impeachment.The White House reacted with caution, saying it had not seen or been briefed on the report. It issued the same statement again on Saturday. When news of Mueller’s conclusion broke, Trump was already at his private club in Florida. On Saturday his Twitter account, his prime outlet for invective about Mueller’s work, was silent.According to the pool report, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the president’s mood was “good”. He declined to say who Trump played golf with and whether the Mueller report was discussed.Back in Washington, Republicans and supporters of Trump celebrated victory. Party chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted: “Imagine watching MSNBC or CNN for the last two years and learning: 1. Mueller finished his work without any DoJ interference. 2. No American will be charged for colluding with Russia. It wasn’t just Democrats who falsely speculated, many in the media went right along with it.”Democrats pressed for the release of the full report and discussed ongoing investigations of Trump by House committees they control.In an email to colleagues released to the press on Saturday, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Even if DoJ chooses not to prosecute additional individuals, the underlying findings must be provided to Congress and the American people.She wrote: “The attorney general’s offer to provide a summary of the report’s conclusions is insufficient. Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise.” It was also reported that Pelosi said she would refuse any offer of a classified briefing.On Friday night Adam Schiff, chair of the House intelligence panel, told CNN he would subpoena Mueller to appear if necessary. But on Saturday, one senior Democrat said the party should take care.“We have to be careful to use the resources and the abilities of the House majority in a focused and a responsible way,” Chris Coons, a senator from Delaware, told CNN.Referring to the protracted and politicised fallout from a deadly attack on a US facility in Libya in September 2012, he added: “I think there were 13 investigations by House Republicans of the Benghazi incident. I myself sat through three hearings in the Senate, and the Republicans in that case demonstrated overreach.”Coons said: “We need to focus on things that matter to the average American. I support Speaker Pelosi’s view that we ought to be able to explain what we’re going after and why.“There are lots of issues that we’ve known over the last two years, whether it’s Trump’s taxes and allegations of some impropriety there, or his policy making which in ways is unpredictable or inappropriate … there’s plenty of things which deserve our investigation [but] we should not overdo it.”Amidst intense speculation about what Mueller will do next, a spokesman said he would simply focus on closing down his office.According to the Politico Playbook email, a gossipy staple of Washington life, the former FBI director was spotted on Friday night “in his regular booth at Salt and Pepper in the Palisades”.“Over the course of the investigation,” Politico wrote, “locals often spotted Mueller on weekends dining with his wife Ann and others at the American-style restaurant. He likes the scallops. Ann typically orders the salmon on a ceasar salad, according to a source familiar with their visits.”
Attorney General William Barr’s “offer to provide the committees with a summary of the report’s conclusions is insufficient,” Pelosi of California said in a letter to Democratic colleagues released on Saturday, ahead of an emergency conference call of the House Democratic Caucus. “We are insisting that any briefings to any Committees be unclassified so that Members can speak freely about every aspect of the report and not be confined to what DOJ chooses to release publicly,” Pelosi said.
Mueller submitted the still-secret document Friday evening, capping an investigation into whether President Donald Trump or those around him conspired in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election that’s riveted Washington and cast a cloud over Trump and his administration for almost two years. Barr, 68, who was sworn in as Trump’s second attorney general about five weeks ago, is working with Deputy General Rod Rosenstein to figure out how to present Mueller’s conclusions, the official said.