The Kremlin says the Mueller report has not presented any evidence that it meddled in US elections, and President Donald Trump claimed vindication after the release of the long-awaited redacted document.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report has not offered any credible evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
There is “no evidence substantiated by any facts” that Russia interfered in the election and Moscow rejects the accusations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Trump called the investigation “a hoax” and said there had been “no collusion, no obstruction,” soon after the report was released on Thursday.
On Friday he referred to the document as” the Crazy Mueller Report” and said it contained “fabricated & totally untrue” statements about him.
After a 22-month probe Mueller concluded Trump’s team did not conspire with Moscow, but documented numerous contacts between members of Trump’s circle and Russia and that the campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts”.
It stated that Russia did interfere with the election.
“Russia’s two principal interference operations in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — the social media campaign and the hacking-and-dumping operations — violated U.S. criminal law.”
Mueller also wrote in his report, “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”
The report also said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge any campaign officials with working as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia.
In terms of whether the president obstructed justice, Mueller did not come to a conclusion, leaving that to the US legislature.
He detailed a number of instances of potential obstruction, including Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey, his efforts to have Mueller fired and his attempts to exert influence over the Mueller investigation.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report said.
Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi, would not comment on Friday on possible impeachment proceedings, saying it was not appropriate to criticise the president while she was abroad.
“The legislative branch has a responsibility of oversight of our democracy and we will exercise that,” she said to reporters in Belfast.
Mueller report controversy not over for Trump 2:17
Whatever the issue and challenge that we face, the Congress of the United States will honour its oath of office to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, to protect our democracy.”
President Trump had proclaimed “Game Over” for his critics, calling them “haters and radical left democrats” in a message on Twitter that, not for the first time, imitated the iconography of acclaimed fantasy series “Game of Thrones”.
Trump’s opponents point to the fact that the president was not questioned directly by Mueller, instead offering written responses to the investigator’s questions.
As part of an agreement with the president’s legal team, there were no questions about obstruction of justice.
While Trump has declared victory and cast himself as fully exonerated, Democrats appear poised to focus on looking into whether an obstruction of justice case can be made.
“Donald Trump has spent his entire presidency engaged in a nonstop campaign of obstruction, intimidation, and abuse of power,” said Democratic party chairman Tom Perez. “No one is above the law.”
With their newly acquired majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats now have the power to launch investigations, summon witnesses and subpoena documents.
The president’s actions are “deeply alarming” and “unquestionably dishonest, unethical, immoral and unpatriotic,” said Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.
“Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice” added chair of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler.
Both have reached the same conclusion: “The responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the President accountable for his actions.”
Nadler said on Thursday he will issue a subpoena for the full, unredacted copy of the Mueller report.
That could come on Friday
“Because Congress requires this material in order to perform our constitutionally-mandated responsibilities, I will subpoena for the full report and the underlying materials,” Nadler said in a statement.
In a letter sent to Congress on Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said that the Justice Department would make a less-redacted version of the report available to the “Gang of Eight”, the top-ranking House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, as well as the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Each politician can also have a staff member present.
Boyd said the report would be provided in a secure reading room at the Justice Department next week and in a secure room on the Capitol the week of April 29.
“It is clear that Donald Trump wanted nothing more than to shut down the Mueller investigation,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president.
“While we have more detail from today’s report than before, Congress must continue its investigation into Trump’s conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election.”
As part of these investigations, Democrats have called on Mueller to testify before the House of Representatives by May 23. The Trump administration has announced it would not oppose that.
Attorney General Bill Barr, who has come under heavy fire by Democrats for how he managed the publication of the report, will face Congress on May 2.
Redacted Mueller report released by US Justice Department