Republicans have blocked an attempt by Democrats to force the release of Robert Mueller’s Russia report in its entirety – despite Donald Trump claiming it was “a complete and total exoneration” of him.
A day after attorney general William Barr released to Congress the main conclusions of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell stopped a Democratic effort to ensure all of it was made public.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted 420-0 in favour of making the report public, with no Republican opposition.
On Monday, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer asked for unanimous consent for the nonbinding resolution, previously passed by the lower chamber.
“Whether or not you’re a supporter of President Trump....there is no good reason not to make the report public,” Mr Schumer said, according to The Hill. “It’s a simple request for transparency. Nothing more, nothing less.”
But Mr McConnell did not agree.
He said given it took Mr Mueller and his team almost two years to complete his work, it was “not unreasonable to give the special counsel and the justice department just a little time to complete their review in a professional and responsible manner”.
On Twitter, he added: “No collusion. No conspiracy. No obstruction. It’s good news that we can conclusively set aside the notion that the president and his team had somehow participated in Russia’s interference in our electoral process.”
In his report, Mr Mueller said he found no evidence of a direct link between what he said were Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and the Trump campaign. On the issue of whether the president had obstructed efforts to investigate possible collusion, he set out the case for and against in regard to several incidents.
Yet he “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgement”. In turn, Mr Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, decided the president’s actions did not constitute a crime.
On Sunday, Mr Trump claimed the report had completely cleared him on both counts – something that was not true.
“It was a complete and total exoneration,” said Mr Trump, as he returned to Washington DC from Florida. “It’s a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.”
On Monday, at the White House, Mr Trump was asked whether he believed he full report should be made public – something Democrats are desperate to happen.
“Up the attorney general,” he said. “But it wouldn’t bother me at all.”