Things are getting nasty in Washington, DC.
The fights going on now are not legal, but political. Through the “spinning” of the facts and through a major PR effort both sides hope to win the hearts and minds of the American voting public.
Donald Trump’s allies last night were all over social media and conservative media outlets, claiming victory for the president.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and staunch Trump ally, took to Twitter immediately to argue the lack of additional indictments would reveal the investigation was a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
“It would mean we just completed 2 years of investigating ‘Russian collusion’ without ONE collusion related indictment. Not even one. Why? Because there was no collusion,” he tweeted.
The Mueller report delivery suggests no more indictments are coming from the Special Counsel. If that's true, it would mean we just completed 2 years of investigating 'Russian collusion' without ONE collusion related indictment. Not even one.
Why? Because there was no collusion
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) March 22, 2019
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also issued a statement Friday afternoon saying:
“The reports that there will be no new indictments confirm what we’ve known all along: there was never any collusion with Russia.”
“I am glad Attorney General Barr will now be able to review the report, and I look forward to Congress being fully briefed on its findings, including the cost to taxpayers.”
On Fox News, Scalise told Sean Hannity that the lack of additional indictments “does vindicate President Trump” and “gives credence to those claims that this was a witch hunt.”
“I’d like to see not only the report made public but how many tens of millions of taxpayer dollars were spent over nearly two years to meander around and, as you say, bully people,” Scalise said.
Scalise also demanded that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, be held accountable for what he called the “smearing” of “good people.”
Former Trump advisor George Papadopoulos, who was sentenced to jail for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, tweeted on Friday, “Time to hit back!”
Time to hit back!
— George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) March 22, 2019
Congressional Democrats are putting great pressure on Barr to make Mueller’s report public. House Democrats might subpoena the full report or demand Mueller’s testimony if they are not happy with what they receive from Barr.
The attorney general said in his letter notifying Congress of the probe’s conclusion that he “may be in a position” to brief lawmakers on the report’s overall findings as soon as this weekend.
As of this writing, Barr has not yet scheduled a time to brief the committee. But it is expected that the attorney general will soon brief the leaders of the intelligence committees of both the House and the Senate. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement Friday he was “looking forward to reviewing the report.”
In a joint statement, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and three other Democratic committee chairs said they will fight hard to make the both the report and Mueller’s underlying evidence public.
The statement from the six House chairs said:
“Consistent with the Justice Department’s past practice and to ensure Congress can discharge its constitutional responsibilities, we expect the underlying evidence uncovered during the course of the Special Counsel’s investigation will be turned over to the relevant Committees of Congress upon request.”
“To be clear, if the Special Counsel has reason to believe that the President has engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct, then the Justice Department has an obligation not to conceal such information.”
Schiff also issued a separate warning. On CNN he said that if the Justice Department doesn’t cooperate willingly the House will have to “subpoena the evidence” and “subpoena Mueller and others” to come before the Congress to answer questions.
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) tweeted Friday that “nothing short” of a declassified version of Mueller’s report “will suffice.”
Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts of the Mueller report for themselves. It must be provided to Congress immediately, and the AG should swiftly prepare a declassified version for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) March 22, 2019
Fellow committee member and 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) went a step further, calling for Barr to publicly testify about the report’s findings.
The investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller may be over, but the political battle over his final report has just begun.