Mueller told DOJ about obstruction impasse 3 weeks ago

Washington — Democrats are renewing their calls for the public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s entire report in the wake of Attorney General William Barr releasing a summary Sunday of Mueller’s findings.

The special counsel concluded that the Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government in Moscow’s interference campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Three weeks before submitting his report on Friday, Mueller informed the Justice Department he wouldn’t be able to reach a conclusion on his probe into whether Mr. Trump committed obstruction of justice, a source familiar with the situation told CBS News’ Justice Correspondent Paula Reid.

Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined that Mueller’s findings were not “sufficient” to prove Mr. Trump committed obstruction of justice. Nevertheless, Barr outlined is his summary that the special counsel stopped short of exonerating the president. “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mueller’s report read, according to Barr’s summary.

Barr is expected to release more information from the report in the coming weeks, but Democrats have vowed to subpoena both Mueller and Barr and compel them to testify before Congress about the nearly two-year long investigation.

The White House, meanwhile, is hailing Mueller’s findings as a victory, with press secretary Sarah Sanders calling the report a “complete and total exoneration” of the president.

Follow our live coverage for updates.

From “witch hunt” to campaign slogan: Trump sees Mueller as boost for re-election

For the better part of his presidency and as recently as last week, Donald Trump denigrated Robert Mueller’s investigation as a partisan “witch hunt,” and he has at times said it was led by a “a prosecutor gone rogue” and a group of “angry” Democrats.

Now, after the probe found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the president’s view has evolved — he now sees the special counsel’s conclusion as a boon to his re-election campaign.

“Democrats took us on a frantic, chaotic, conspiracy-laden roller coaster for two years, alleging wrongdoing where there was none,” said Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale. “Despite a roving Special Counsel and desperate Democrats trailing him every step of the way, President Trump has kept his focus where it belongs: achieving for the American people.”

Read the news analysis by CBS News’ Caitlin Huey-Burns here.

Graham says Barr would be glad to testify before Congress

Attorney General William Barr told Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham he would be glad to testify before Congress, according to Graham. Members of Congress have a number of lingering questions for the attorney general after he summarized special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in a four-page letter released Sunday.

Graham, who spoke with Barr after the release of the attorney general’s summary, said Barr told him he would be glad to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee but needs time to extract grand jury information and classified information.

Asked if Barr provided a timeframe for such a process, Graham shook his head, saying, “He’s got to talk with Mueller, they’re working on it. Sooner rather than later is the request and I’m sure he will honor that.”

Graham said he doesn’t see “any reason” for Mueller to testify before Congress, which is what a number of Democrats are calling for after the release of Barr’s summary.

Alan He contributed to this report.

Mueller told DOJ about obstruction impasse 3 weeks ago

Three weeks before submitting his report, special counsel Robert Mueller informed Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that he wouldn’t be able to reach a conclusion on his probe into whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice, a source familiar with the situation told CBS News’ correspondent Paula Reid.

Trump wouldn’t mind if full Mueller report were released

President Trump said it’s “up to the attorney general,” but it “wouldn’t bother” him if William Barr released the full Mueller report.

Answering questions during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Trump said no other president should be subject to the kind of investigation that Mueller conducted.

“We can never let this happen to another president again,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

The president, who has said Barr’s summary of the Mueller report completely “exonerated” him, added that other people, who he did not name, should be “looked at” for lying to Congress, committing “evil” deeds and participating in “treasonous things.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019. Carlos Barria / REUTERS

Graham: Trump came out “stronger” from investigation

Graham said that Mr. Trump “got scrutiny like nobody in the history of the presidency since Nixon, probably.”

He said that the president has since “come out stronger” as the investigation has wrapped up.

Sen. Lindsey Graham calls for new probe into FBI, DOJ following Mueller report

Graham said he asked Trump to his face if he colluded with Russia

Graham said what Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ruled with regards to obstruction of justice was “very appropriate.”

“Somebody has to decide and the attorney general is not conflicted, he’s not part of the campaign so the big thing for me has always been did Trump work with the Russians.

Graham recalled that he told Mr. Trump “to his face almost two years ago, if you did, that’s it between me and you, and anything that follows you deserve.” He said after an “exhaustive examination in this case…the answer is no.”

Lindsey Graham slated to speak with Barr on releasing report

The South Carolina Republican told reporters on Capitol Hill that he will have a phone call with the attorney general on Monday to discuss the release of Mueller’s report. He said he still expects Barr to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee and release as much information as possible.

He said that Mueller was highly qualified and “the right guy to pick to deal with such a difficult issue” such as the Russia probe.

Meanwhile, Graham called out much of the investigation as political, saying that the “rule of law applies to both Republicans and Democrats.” He called the FISA warrant issued against Trump adviser Carter Page “disturbing”, claiming the FISA warrant application process was used for “political purposes.” He suggested that he wants “somebody like a Mr. Mueller” to probe the FBI and DOJ for “playing politics” during the 2016 campaign.

“If the shoe were on the other foot, it would be front page news all over the world. The double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing,” said Graham.

The Republican said that many issues stemming from the Russia investigation, including Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, have been “swept under the rug” and vowed to get to the bottom of such issues.

Graham said he now plans to ask the attorney general to set up a new special counsel to look into the FISA warrant process to determine what led to the Russia investigation in the first place.

Pence hails Mueller report as “total vindication” of Trump, campaign

“I just have to say, yesterday was a great day for our country, our president and every American who cherishes the truth,” Vice President Mike Pence said to a room full of applause at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington.

He added, “After two years of investigation and reckless accusations by many Democrats and members of the media, the special counsel confirmed what President tTrump said all along, there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election and the attorney general confirmed there was no obstruction of justice.”

Pence went on to say that the report was a “total vindication of the President of the United States and our campaign”, adding that Mueller’s findings “should be welcomed by every American.”

Tune in tonight: “The Mueller Report: A Turning Point”

CBS News will broadcast “The Mueller Report: A Turning Point,”, a one-hour primetime special on Monday, March 25, (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The special will be simulcast on CBS News Radio and available on CBS stations via CBS All Access. The special will be also available at 1:00 AM ET on CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 digital streaming news service and CBSNews.com.

Sanders calls Russia investigation a “two-year absurdity”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at the White House on Monday that Mueller’s findings were a “complete and total exoneration” of the president. She said that Democrats and members of the media should be “absolutely embarrassed by their behavior” over the course of the investigation, claiming they had “hoped for the takedown of the President of the United States.”

Sanders added that while Mueller did a “good job” by finishing his investigation, it was “disgraceful” that it took two years and millions of dollars to “chase a witch hunt that never should be.”

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow slams Congress’ ongoing Russia probes as a “waste of money”

President Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow says that Congress needs to move on from its ongoing probes into the president’s alleged ties to the Russian government in light of Special counsel Robert Mueller concluding that the Trump campaign did not “conspire or coordinate” with the Russian government in its interference of the 2016 presidential election.

Sekulow told “CBS This Morning” on Monday that while the special counsel’s probe has ended, ongoing congressional investigations are a “waste of money” and slammed their inquiries as “political.”

“Let’s get on with the people’s business,” Sekulow said, highlighting the need for unresolved legislative issues like immigration reform to take precedence over the Russia investigation.

“There’s lot of good things that can happen in Congress…the idea that there’s going to be these ongoing congressional oversight hearings on something that’s been delved into,” said Sekulow, citing the numerous subpoenas and search warrants carried out over the 22 month-long investigation.

Kellyanne Conway blasts media coverage of Russia probe

In a gaggle with reporters Monday morning, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway lambasted the media for their coverage of Robert Mueller for the last 2 years and said that journalists owe an apology to the American people who depend on the media to inform them what the White House is doing.

“We have joint custody of this country for the next six years,” she said to reporters, adding that President Trump has been made a “great victim.

“The failure to find obstruction means that no obstruction was written into the report,” she said of the special counsel’s findings.

Meanwhile, Conway urged Rep. Adam Schiff to resign, saying he should “get off the TV and do his job.” Schiff is currently leading an expanded probe by the House Intelligence Committee into Mr. Trump’s business dealings and potential ties to the Russian government.

Reporting by Katiana Krawchenko

John Podesta: “I accept” conclusion of Mueller report

John Podesta, the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, told “CBS This Morning” says that he accepts the conclusions made by Special Counsel Robert Mueller despite being the subject of Russian hackers during the 2016 campaign.

“I think he’s [Mueller] great professional and he did a through investigation of this, he also found that there were 100 incidents where agents of the Russian government talked to members of the Trump campaign and there were 28 meetings, he concluded ultimately that there was not beyond a reasonable doubt evidence of a conspiracy and I accept that conclusion. But I think its important for us to see the whole report, not just Mr. [William] Barr’s four-page summary of it as well,” said Podesta.

Podesta was one of many interview subjects by Mueller’s team of investigators after Wikileaks began publishing a trove of emails from Podesta’s personal email account in October 2016, detailing the inner workings of the Clinton campaign.

While Mueller’s report concluded that no Trump campaign members coordinated with Russia despite multiple offers by Russia to do so, Podesta said that the “rule of law needs to prevail in this country.”

“The bottom line is Russia did interfere in our election, there were indictments forthcoming, they did try to help Donald Trump get elected president, his national security adviser, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, his personal lawyer have all either plead guilty or been found guilty, so to call that a total exoneration is something.

Amy Klobuchar demands “entire” Mueller report

2020 Democratic presidential contender Sen. Amy Klobuchar says Mueller’s report and Barr’s summary “leaves open a lot of questions” pertaining to Congress’ ongoing probes of the president, particularly as it relates to the issue of impeachment proceedings.

“To me if I’m in the House and looking at that question I want to see the whole report and certainly the public wants to see the report,” Klobuchar told “CBS This Morning” on Monday.

Klobuchar said that she oftentimes gets questions about the Russia probe from supporters on the campaign trail, saying “they want to see what happened and the most important reason they ask is they want to have an election free of invasion of foreign power.”

Asked what it would take for Democrats to move on from the Russia investigation, Klobchuar said Congress’ goal is “oversight” and to “get the facts out to the American people.”

“Please remember in 2018, the election was about Republicans not kicking people off of their health insurance for pre-existing conditions. 2020 is going to be very focused on economic issues. So, guess what? We can do two things at once,” Klobuchar added.

Trump quotes Fox News, calls it a “good day for America”

President Trump issued his first tweet of the day in the wake of the report’s release, quoting Fox News’ Bret Baier.

“No matter your ideologies or your loyalties, this is a good day for America. No American conspired to cooperate with Russia in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 election, according to Robert Mueller, and that is good,” the tweet read.

After briefly tweeting out more favorable headlines from the morning news, Mr. Trump proceeded to retweet his weekend messages, once again emphasizing “no collusion” and wishing followers to have a “great day.”

Russian lawmakers react to Mueller news

Across the globe, lawmakers in Russia’s government are reacting to news of the investigation concluding.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Russian senate, said in a transalted Facebook post Sunday night that the report “proved what Russians knew from the start: no collusion between Trump or his team with the Kremlin.”

“There is no reason for us to celebrate it here in Russia – the accusations against us still stand. The ‘celebration’ takes place over there, in the U.S., among the pro-Trump part of the establishment. The rest are about to mourn,” he added, saying it’s been “two years of incessant lies.”

“Two years of high-level politics built on the notion of collusion. Collusion that supposedly explained Trump’s pro-Russia stance and that forced him to, effectively, take harsher measures towards Russia.”

Aleksei Pushkov, a Senator in the Russian government, tweeted that “from the the very start” Mueller’s investigation was “a biased, artificial, provocative, conspiratorial, designed-to-fuel-hatred towards Trump campaign. Its second goal was to demonize Russia and prevent any U.S. moves towards better relations with Moscow.”

William Barr’s letter to Congress and report highlights

Mueller did not determine whether or not Trump obstructed justice

Mueller’s investigation into alleged obstruction of justice made no determination about whether Mr. Trump committed a crime, instead deferring to the attorney general:

After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.”

Barr determines obstruction evidence “not sufficient” to establish Trump committed crime

While Mueller did not make a judgment about potential obstruction, Barr said the available evidence was insufficient to determine the president broke the law.

After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.

No future indictments or sealed indictments

Barr writes that there are no outstanding indictments in the investigation nor any coming in the future:

During the course of his investigation, the Special Counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action. The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public.

Barr vows to release “as much” of report as consistent with law

Barr says he intends to release as much information from the report as possible:

As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.

Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6(e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6(e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible.

House Judiciary asks DOJ to preserve documents related to probe

The House Judiciary Committee has asked the Justice Department, the FBI and the special counsel’s office to preserve all documents pertaining to Mueller’s investigation. Democrats will pursue this information as they try to make as much of the report public as possible.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in an interview with CBS News that the Judiciary Committee should have Mueller testify in order to “bring in the facts and understand his theories and why he declined to do things like file charges.”

“We know that there were interference in our election, we need to know why and how that happened. We have an election right around the corner,” Cummings said Saturday.

Other investigations continue beyond Mueller

Although the special counsel probe has ended, investigations are continuing in Congress and in federal and state courts.

Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has expanded the parameters of the committee’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Nadler, chair of House Judiciary, has launched an extensive investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey. In early March, the Judiciary Committee requested documents from 81 entities and individuals, from the White House to Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York has also launched investigations into Mr. Trump and the Trump organization.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Mr. Trump in 2017, told “CBS This Morning” last week that unlike Mueller, the Southern District is not blocked from any wider investigations by Justice Department guidelines.

“They can look at crime as they see fit, “Bharara said. “They can bring a case against anyone they think that justice needs to be served. They don’t care how powerful you are, they don’t care what party you’re from, they don’t care what your assets are. They’re tough and aggressive and independent.”

The New York state attorney general has also launched inquiries into Mr. Trump’s business dealings.

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