Special counsel Robert Mueller's report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller's removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him.
After nearly two years, the two-volume, 448-page redacted report made for riveting reading. Washington lawmakers joined the nation in reacting to the report.
Congressman Adam Smith, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, acknowledged he still needed to read the full report, but questioned the method of the release.
"The Justice department has been spinning more than they've been providing information." Smith, a Bellevue Democrat, said he believes a key message has been lost. "It's about national security, who helped them, how can we protect ourselves in the future."
Former state Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, said, "Russia did try to interfere with the election - and we're going to have to decide as a country what to do about that - because that's very serious." But, he felt Barr did an admirable job.
"He said in a summary letter, there was clear evidence that Russia tried to influence our elections," McKenna said. "Mr. Mueller concluded, as a matter of fairness, they would not reach a conclusion about whether the president might have broken the law."
Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA 10), who sits on the House intelligence committee, said he was "deeply disturbed" by the initial findings, but planned on reading the full report over the weekend. "This is far-away not the end of this conversation."
Heck and Smith also steered clear of whether the House should pick up another investigation or impeachment proceedings.
"Impeachment is inherently something that has to be bipartisan," Heck said. Smith agreed, "I agree with Speaker Pelosi on this, impeachment is an incredibly divisive move."
Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA 8), the freshman congresswoman from Issaquah, also acknowledged she needed to read the report, but said, "The first thing we've learned is it is important to get the source material."
Schrier also acknowledged her focus on other issues, given her medical background. "I hope we don't get too distracted as a country, get so distracted, that we forget this is the same Department of Justice that has sided with the Texas case that wants to make the entire affordable care act unconstitutional that's where i'm focusing my efforts."
Sen. Patty Murray released the following statement, "Along with many other serious concerns this redacted report raises, it’s clear there are tremendous discrepancies between what Attorney General Barr said about Special Counsel Mueller’s findings and what Mueller actually wrote on issues as important as obstruction of justice.
I’ve said from the beginning that the American people deserve full transparency about Russia’s confirmed efforts to interfere in our elections, as well as about any attempts to cover that up or obstruct investigations into their efforts."
This means Congress must be able to review the report in full and be able to continue to thoroughly investigate the many questions it raises—including having Special Counsel Mueller testify before both the Senate and the House."
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA 02) tweeted (sic): "...if we had confidence...that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state...we are unable to reach that judgment...while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does NOT EXONERATE him. Mueller Report p182"
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA 07) tweeted this message, "Congress has a duty - rooted firmly in the Constitution - to safeguard the justice system and prevent obstruction of justice. To do this, we must have the full report."