U.S. lawmakers await details of Mueller’s Russia report
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers waited on Sunday for details of a confidential report into an investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that has cast a pall over Donald Trump’s presidency 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 conducted a 22-month-long Russia investigation.
Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, spent nine hours on Saturday studying the report. He had said he hoped to hand over a summary of its “principal conclusions” by the end of the weekend.
There appeared to be initial good news for Trump and his inner circle, as Mueller did not bring any additional indictments when he handed the report over to Barr on Friday.
That signals there might be no more criminal charges against Trump associates on the issue of whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to help the real estate magnate beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 White House race.
It was not immediately known what Mueller’s report says about another strand of inquiry: whether Trump committed obstruction of justice to hinder the Russia investigation by acts such as firing FBI Director James Comey in 2017.
Mueller brought charges against 34 people and three companies during his investigation, with prison sentences for some of Trump’s former aides such as campaign chairman Paul Manafort and longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
None of those charges, however, directly related to whether Trump’s campaign worked with Moscow. Mueller, a former FBI director, did not interview Trump in person for his probe. Instead, Trump sent written answers to some questions about contacts with Russia.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded shortly before Trump took office in January 2017 that Moscow meddled in the election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Clinton and helping Trump.
TRUMP GOES QUIET
Trump, at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, for the weekend, remained uncharacteristically silent about the completion of the Mueller investigation, which he has regularly derided as a “witch hunt.”
“Good morning. Have a Great Day!” was all he wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning, along with his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again!”
Trump denies collaborating with Moscow or obstructing justice. Russia says it did not interfere in the election.
Spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters the White House still has not received or been briefed on Mueller’s report.
Trump took part in no public events on Saturday and played golf with musician Kid Rock.
House Democrats have asked for the release of the full Mueller report, as well as other documents backing up its conclusions, and have threatened to issue subpoenas if necessary.
Trump and his team still face legal risks even if the report does not find that they committed crimes, and congressional Democrats on Saturday vowed to keep looking into his activities.
Trump’s business, his charity and presidential transition operation remain under investigation, said Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Other prosecutors have picked up strands of the Mueller probe, most notably the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which is looking into Trump’s business practices and financial dealings.
Under Department of Justice regulations, Barr is empowered to decide how much to disclose of the Mueller report publicly. He is a Trump appointee who only took office in February after the president fired his predecessor, Jeff Sessions.
Barr told lawmakers on Friday that he is “committed to as much transparency as possible.”
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in West Palm Beach, Florida; David Morgan, Makini Brice, Karen Freifeld, Susan Cornwell and Pete Schroeder in Washington; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Sandra Maler and Bill Trott)