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Democrats say Trump investigations not over, despite report

Updated March 25, 2019 - 6:39 pm

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats vowed Monday to pick up where special counsel Robert Mueller left off and continue probes into the president and his administration over possible obstruction of justice, land deals and special security clearances issued to his family.

“Since the report did not reach a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice, all supporting evidence in this investigation must be sent to Congress so that we can make a final determination,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

Titus is heading a House investigation into the Trump Hotel in Washington and whether the president used his influence to stop the planned relocation of the nearby FBI headquarters building.

Meanwhile, House Democrats stepped up their demands that the entire Mueller report submitted to Attorney General William Barr be released to the public, while Republicans countered with another line of attack.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters on Capitol Hill that as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee he would call Barr before his panel to “spell it all out.”

Graham also wants to investigate the role of the FBI and the Justice Department in the Russian investigation.

Mueller delivered a report Friday on his exhaustive investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to Barr, who released a four-page summary to congressional leaders Sunday that said the probe concluded that President Donald Trump did not collude with foreign nationals.

On the question of whether Trump tried to obstruct the special counsel probe, Barr said the report “does not conclude the president committed a crime, It also does not exonerate him.”

The full report filed by Mueller remains confidential, and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his panel wants the full document released and plans to subpoena Mueller to testify for Congress.

Other House Democrats said they would continue to look into other matters involving the president, his staff and former business associates and the campaign.

“We’re full speed ahead,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., “and that’s the constitutional role for Congress moving forward.”

Connolly said that as a co-equal branch of government, the House should carry out its oversight role, which he said was ignored the past two years when Republicans held the majority and turned a blind eye toward allegations of impropriety.

“We are going to do our job,” Connolly said.

Republicans have rallied around Trump, who claimed “total exoneration” following a two-year investigation that led to the indictment of 34 people, including 26 Russians and six former Trump campaign advisers.

The triumphant tone of Trump was echoed by Republican leaders who warned Democrats about continuing probes into the president and his administration.

“This should be a lesson to my Democrat colleagues that chasing imagined scandals and following a partisan investigatory agenda will not result in any meaningful change for our country. In fact, it will do the opposite,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

“It is time we move on for the good of our nation,” McCarthy said.

Graham also warned that continued investigations would be viewed by the public as politically-driven attacks by Democrats and seen as “you’re just out to get him.”

But in a twist, Graham said he would conduct an oversight hearing to determine the role of the FBI and the Justice Department under Obama-era leaders in the beginning of the Russian investigation, and the use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants on a Trump campaign aide.

Democrats, meanwhile, are demanding that Barr make all documents involving the two-year special counsel investigation public as they move forward with their oversight hearings.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Barr letter to Congress raises as many questions as it answers.

“The fact that special counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without further delay,” Pelosi and Schumer said.

Nevada congressional Democrats, Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, Jacky Rosen, and Reps. Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, have called for transparency that publicly releasing the Mueller report would bring.

House Democratic committee chairmen said they would continue to pursue hearings into the allegations of campaign finance irregularities, money donated to his inaugural committee by foreign nationals and Trump’s business dealings.

Titus, chairwoman of the House Transportation subcommittee on public buildings, is moving ahead with an investigation into the president’s involvement in the Trump Hotel in Washington and whether he played a role in preventing the relocation of the nearby FBI headquarters.

Titus is currently reviewing documents from the General Services Administration, which arranged the lease of the old Post Office building where the Trump Hotel is located. GSA has yet to fully comply with Titus’ request for documents, according to a congressional aide.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said his panel would continue to pursue a probe parallel to the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump campaign involvement and subsequent obstruction allegations.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and House Minority Leader McCarthy both called on Schiff to resign.

Pelosi, meanwhile, has tried to tamp down calls for impeachment from the liberal wing of the party. The speaker has said she would not pursue impeachment unless there is bipartisan support for such a measure, and whether the special counsel investigation found criminal wrongdoing.

Mueller’s report delivered a blow to impeaching Trump for alleged criminal violations, but Pelosi still faces pressure from liberal lawmakers and outside groups raising and spending money to push for the removal of a president who remains extremely popular with his political base.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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