Sunday 21 April 2019

Mueller hands in report over Trump’s links with Russia

Lawmakers clamour for findings to be made public ‘without delay’

Long-awaited report: Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Long-awaited report: Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Sarah Lynch

Special Counsel Robert Mueller yesterday handed in a long-awaited report on his investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by US President Donald Trump, setting off a clamour from lawmakers in both parties for the document's release.

Mr Mueller submitted the report to Attorney General William Barr, the top US law enforcement official, the department said.

The report was not immediately made public - Mr Barr will have to decide how much to disclose - and it was not known if Mr Mueller found criminal conduct by Mr Trump or his campaign, beyond the charges already brought against several aides.

Mr Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since May 2017 whether Mr Trump's campaign conspired with Moscow to try to influence the election and whether the Republican president later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.

Mr Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied election interference.

The Russia investigation has cast a shadow over Mr Trump's presidency and ensnared key figures including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, national security adviser Michael Flynn and personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who already have either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges brought by Mr Mueller.

The big question now is whether the report contains allegations of wrongdoing by Mr Trump himself.

Mr Barr, a Mr Trump appointee who took up his post in February, told lawmakers in a letter that he may be able to provide information to Congress on the report's findings as soon as this weekend.

Mr Barr in his letter said he did not find any proposed actions by Mr Mueller that were inappropriate or unwarranted.

Lawmakers from both parties, including the Democratic chairman and the top Republican member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, called for prompt release of the report to key congressional committees and to the American public.

"I fully expect the Justice Department to release the special counsel's report to this committee and to the public without delay and to the maximum extent permitted by law," said Doug Collins, the committee's senior Republican, in a statement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer - the two top Democrats in Congress - said it was "imperative" that the full report be made public and that the White House plays no role in determining what is released.

"The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency," they said in a joint statement.

Mr Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling it a "witch hunt" and accusing Mr Mueller of conflicts of interest.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Mr Trump.

Mr Mueller's investigators have looked into a large number of contacts between people associated with Mr Trump's campaign and Russia, such as a meeting in New York's Trump Tower between members of the president's inner circle including his eldest son and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer five months before the election.

Mr Mueller sought to determine whether the campaign co-ordinated with Moscow, though it was not immediately clear whether the special counsel found evidence of a conspiracy.

Mr Mueller has brought charges against 34 people, including Russian intelligence officers, and three Russian companies, including one described as a "troll farm".

Irish Independent

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