Politics

Lawmakers, Partisans Weigh in on Mueller Report

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Reaction to the release Thursday morning of the redacted report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III fell into familiar partisan patterns.

Republicans echoed President Donald Trump in hailing the report released to the public by Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as representing total vindication for the president. Democrats argued that the 448-page report offered a less definitive conclusion about the president’s actions.

“No Collusion – No Obstruction!” the president tweeted Thursday morning, repeating his refrain of the past several months. He also tweeted a “Game of Thrones”-themed meme: No Collusion. No Obstruction. For the Haters and the Radical Left Democrats … Game Over.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, leaped to Trump’s defense in a statement issued less than an hour after the report was made public.

“The release of Robert Mueller’s report to Congress and the public today, once again, very clearly, indicates there was no collusion and no obstruction between then-candidate Donald Trump — or his campaign — and Russia,” and reinforces the March 24 summary issued by Barr, Johnson said.

Johnson echoed the proposition, advanced by conservative circles and Trump’s re-election campaign, that it’s the investigators who need to be investigated.

“Now that the Trump-Russia ‘collusion delusion’ has finally been put to rest, the American people deserve to know how this mess started and who was behind it (by the way … we already know the why). Those responsible for perpetrating this hoax must be held accountable — and, I think they will be,” he said.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale agreed.

“Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever,” he said. “Now that the collusion and obstruction conspiracy theories have been exposed for the pathetic hoaxes they always were, the Obama-era [Department of Justice] and FBI must answer for their misdeeds and the scam that they perpetrated against the American people.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was in Vietnam Thursday with other senators and would review the report when he is able to do so, a spokeswoman for the senator said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said that while the report – which he and his office are still reviewing — didn’t conclude that Trump committed a crime, neither did it exonerate him. Further, Trump “has a history of not telling the truth,” he said.

“Already, five people in the president’s circle have been convicted of crimes and there are as many as 14 ongoing criminal investigations that have yet to be resolved. So, the American people deserve to hear the truth directly from Robert Mueller in public testimony before Congress,” Brown said.

“At the same time, we cannot afford to lose focus on the fact that a foreign government attacked our elections,” he continued. “Our security is bigger than any one political party, and Republicans and Democrats need to come together and do what it takes to protect our institutions. President Trump should get off of Twitter and help lead that effort.”

The report again proves the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the “explicit goal” of helping Trump win the presidency, said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio.

“It is time for President Trump to stop believing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin over our intelligence community,” he said.

Ryan lamented that Barr demonstrated he is Trump’s personal attorney “rather than fulfilling his role as attorney for the American people,” a decision he called “beyond unacceptable.” He said he would continue reviewing the redacted report and would pressure the Justice Department to reconsider its decision to not release the full report to the American public.

“I support the House Intelligence Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House Oversight Committee in continuing to investigate these matters and get to the bottom of what happened in the 2016 election and if President Trump obstructed justice. Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be called to testify before Congress. No more summaries, no more redactions — the American people deserve complete transparency. Full stop.”

The Republican National Committee targeted the national Democratic Party, and “2020 wannabe” Ryan in particular, in an email charging that they were “so intent on destroying” Trump that facts never mattered, and they “continued to move the goalposts” after Barr released his four-page summary last month by demanding the report’s full release.

“President Trump has been completely vindicated by the rule of law. While Democrats remain intent on destroying President Trump’s pursuit of progress, the American people are sick and tired of baseless, partisan witch-hunts,” RNC spokeswoman Mandi Merritt said. “It’s past time that Tim Ryan and Democrats in Congress accept the findings of no collusion once and for all, and move on for the good of the American people.”

Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken echoed the position that the report was “a complete and utter exoneration” of the president, and characterized the investigation as baseless.

“Democrats will be held accountable at the ballot box for why they started a senseless and harmful investigation that cost taxpayers over $25 million and upended the integrity of our entire democratic process,” Timken said.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, like Ryan, accused Barr of acting as the president’s lawyer rather than that of the American people and said Congress needs to see the entire report.

“The redacted report paints a stunning picture of bottomless corruption,” Perez said. “When a foreign adversary attacked our democracy, Donald Trump and his team were thrilled to reap the benefits. When an investigation was launched to get to the bottom of that effort, he launched a two-year interference campaign to conceal the truth from the American people.”

CLICK HERE to read the redacted Mueller report

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.