WASHINGTON: Top congressional Democrats said on Sunday (Mar 24) it was "urgent" that the full report on Russian interference in the 2016 US election be publicly released, stressing it does not exonerate President Donald Trump.
The president was quick to claim vindication by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report findings which, according to a summary by Attorney General Bill Barr, found that no Trump campaign official was involved in Russian conspiracies to interfere in the 2016 US election.
Such a conclusion would no doubt blunt a key weapon for Democrats desperate to oust Trump in 2020.
But with the report declining to determine whether there was obstruction of justice by the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer escalated their demands for the full document's release.
"The fact that Special Counsel (Robert) 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 any further delay," the Democratic pair said in a joint statement.
They also said Barr, nominated just months ago by Trump, is "not a neutral observer" in the process and that his summary of the report is not an objective determination about Mueller's findings.
The two Democrats also said Trump's declaration that the report is a complete exoneration of the president because it clears him of colluding with Russia "directly contradicts the words of Mr Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility."
Congressional Democrats appeared stung by the failure of Mueller's report, after a 22-month investigation, to directly uncover presidential wrongdoing.
'I WANT THE WHOLE DAMN REPORT'
Several lawmakers including 2020 presidential hopefuls like senators Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker vented on Twitter, saying a mere summary by a Trump ally was insufficient.
"I don't want a summary of the Mueller report. I want the whole damn report," tweeted Bernie Sanders, a liberal senator in the 2020 race.
Several Democrats have called for Barr and Mueller to testify before Congress.
"Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the president, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts," said House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler.
His panel will call Barr to testify "in the near future," Nadler said.
With the Mueller probe running its course, the various congressional investigations into possible Trump team connections with Russia may enter the spotlight.
Nadler's committee is one of at least three pending congressional inquiries.
Earlier this month he launched the Democrats' most ambitious investigation yet into alleged obstruction of justice and abuse of office by Trump, targeting 81 individuals and entities.
The probe has already yielded more than 10,000 documents, ensuring that the probe carries on for several months or longer.
House Republican Liz Cheney hinted at the influence the Mueller's report findings will have on the presidential race, saying Americans "will long remember how wrong and irresponsible the Democrats have been."