U.S. lawmakers drew battle lines on Sunday over how to handle a special counsel long-awaited report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election that has cast a pall over Donald Trump’s presidency.
They also raised questions about collusion between his campaign and Moscow.
Members of Congress, the media and Trump himself were waiting for Attorney General William Barr to release a summary of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller after his 22-month investigation of Russian connections.
Trump, who decried the probe as a witch hunt and waste of time, was at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he went to his golf club on Saturday and Sunday, however, remained uncharacteristically silent about Friday’s conclusion of the Mueller probe.
Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, spent nine hours on Saturday studying the report.
He and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who appointed Mueller, were at the Justice Department again on Sunday.
Barr said he hoped to make public a summary of its “principal conclusions” over the weekend.
“The White House has not received or been briefed on the report,’’ spokesman Hogan Gidley said.
Democrats, whatever the report concludes, vowed to pursue investigations on a wide range of issues involving Trump, from his business dealings to hush-money payments.
They called for the full release of the report, as well as documents backing up its findings, and have promised to subpoena any information they do not get.
Many Republicans also want the report released and say it will vindicate Trump, while some cautioned portions of it might need to remain confidential.
There appeared to be initial good news for Trump and his inner circle, as Mueller did not bring any additional indictments when he handed the report over to Barr on Friday.
That signals there might be no more criminal charges against Trump associates on the issue of whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to help the real estate magnate beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers, however, disagreed about whether no criminal charges meant there was no cooperation between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Mueller’s court filings already showed a number of top Trump aides had contact with Russians during the campaign and after the election and that some of them lied about it.
“We know there was collusion. Why there have been no indictments we don’t know,” U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said such comments revealed Democrats were determined to try to go after Trump.
“What they’re basically saying is that they’re going to impeach the president for being Donald Trump,” Cruz told CNN.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in Congress have rejected talk of impeachment as premature.
Trump took White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Emmet Flood with him to Florida, his only public statements on Sunday were two tweets: “Good morning. Have a Great Day!” and “Make America Great Again!”
Trump denied collaborating with Moscow or obstructing justice, while Russia has said it did not interfere in the election.
Trump and his team still face legal risks even if the report does not find that they committed crimes.
Media report said that Democrats on Saturday have vowed to keep looking into his activities.