US president Donald Trump signalled that he would support the publication in full of the Mueller report, as the fallout from the conclusion of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election continued on Monday.
Attorney general William Barr on Sunday submitted to Congress a four-page summary of Robert Mueller's report, which found no evidence of conspiracy between the Trump election team and Russia.
While Mr Mueller did not make a judgment on whether the president had obstructed justice, Mr Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, concluded there was no evidence that the president had done so.
Answering reporters’ questions in the Oval Office as he met Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Mr Trump said that the 22-month special counsel investigation had been a “terrible thing”.
“It’s lasted a long time, we’re glad it’s over . . . There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, some very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country,” he said. “I will tell you, I love this country. I love this country as much as I can love anything – my family, my country, my God. But what they did – it was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing. We can never let this happen to another president again . . . Very few people I know could have handled it.”
Asked if he would support the publication of the report in full, he replied: “Up to the attorney general. Wouldn’t bother me at all.” The president was also asked if he believed Mr Mueller had acted honourably. He replied: “He did.”
But he declined to answer if he would pardon any of his former associates who were convicted as a result of evidence uncovered during Mr Mueller’s investigation. “Haven’t thought about it,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the president went on the offensive on Twitter. “The Special Counsel did not find that the Trump Campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or co-ordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump Campaign,” he wrote. He also referenced various news reports on the outcome of the investigation.
As Democrats vowed to continue their investigations into Mr Trump and to subpoena the full Mueller report, Republicans attacked their opponents. In a morning interview, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway called for the resignation of House of Representatives intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff.
‘Impeached or indicted’
"He ought to resign today," she asserted. "He has been on every TV show 50 times a day for practically the last two years promising Americans that the president would be impeached or indicted." But a spokeswoman for House speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the Californian Democrat. "Chairman Schiff has done an outstanding job and that's the reason why he's subject to these ridiculous attacks," she said.
There was speculation that Mr Barr could appear before a congressional committee as early as April 9th. The attorney general is due to testify before the House appropriations committee in connection with the department of justice budget, but could be questioned about the Mueller report.
Meanwhile, Republican senator Lindsey Graham vowed to investigate whether the justice department and FBI inappropriately tried to influence the 2016 election to prevent Mr Trump from being elected. Mr Graham, chairman of the powerful Senate judiciary committee, said in a morning press conference at the US capitol building that he would examine in particular the FBI's tapping of former Trump aide Carter Page.
“I’m going to get answers to this,” he said, highlighting the amount of money and time that had been spent on the Mueller investigation. “The double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing.”