Michigan politicians react to Mueller report

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — Michigan Republicans called Thursday for Congress to move on from the Mueller investigation after the release of the long-anticipated report, which Democrats weren't so quick to dismiss, noting it doesn't exonerate the president. 

A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report detailed how President Donald Trump attempted to influence the Russia probe repeatedly but was impeded by advisers who "declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."   

Robert Mueller

Mueller wrote that investigators could not confidently conclude that Trump did not obstruct justice in relation to the investigation.

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Mueller's team also revealed new details about outside interference in the 2016 election, finding communication between Trump campaign aides and Russia but no evidence they conspired.

"The bottom line of special counsel Mueller’s investigation has already been known for weeks: There was no collusion with Russia," said Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton. 

"Now, it’s time to move on from this two-year distraction and get down to the serious work of governing and addressing real issues."

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, quoted a Wendy's commercial from the 1980s: "Where's the beef?" 

"You ask yourself, how is it that we're making so much out of this when, in fact, the report says hey, you know, the premise of this was flawed? Let's move on to do something that's more important. Let's stop the investigation frenzy, and let's do something for American people," Mitchell said on WJR-AM. 

Mitchell defended Attorney General William Barr's handling of the report and criticized Democrats for portraying him as a "play toy" of Trump's. Mitchell also called for an inquiry into the predicate for the investigation.

Democrats assailed Barr for hosting a Thursday news conference before the release of the Mueller's report, saying Barr was trying to spin the findings in a way that would protect the president. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said it’s “inappropriate” and "concerning” to have “what sounds to me like a huddled meeting between Attorney General Barr, the president and his administration” prior to the public and Congress seeing the report.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to look at the position of United States attorney general as the president’s attorney. It’s not the president’s attorney. That’s the people’s attorney,” said Nessel, a Democrat.

“I’m going to be taking a hard look at what was revealed today, evaluating it and talking to other attorneys general around the nation about next steps forward.”

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, said Barr’s "rush to defend the president by presenting only select facts calls into question his ability to serve." 

The American public can read the report and draw their own conclusions, he said.

"The special counsel’s report outlines, in painstaking detail, evidence that the Russian government interfered ‘in sweeping and systematic fashion’ in the 2016 election. In addition, the special counsel’s report lays out evidence that the president attempted to ‘curtail the special counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence,'" Kildee said. 

"While the special counsel’s report did not draw an ultimate conclusion about whether the President’s conduct was criminal, the report explicitly states that it does not exonerate the president."

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, echoed a call by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York for Mueller to testify before Congress. Barr said Thursday he would not object to Mueller testifying. 

Tlaib said it is critically important that Congress uses its committee processes to have a transparent hearing on an investigation that cost $25 million. 

"Everything outlined in the #MuellerReport is further proof of what I’ve been saying for a long time: it’s #TimetoImpeach," she tweeted. 

"The first step? The House Judiciary Committee launching an investigation into whether Trump committed impeachable offenses."

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said she would read the report herself rather than commenting on other people’s conclusions.

“It would be useful for Mueller to testify so that we can actually hear directly from the Special Counsel, not have others interpret his findings,” Dingell said.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, praised the steps taken to limit redactions and Trump's decision not to use executive privilege to withhold any information.

"With the report now public, I think everyone, especially Congress, needs to take a collective deep breath. For two years, some Members of Congress have actively sought to weave a false narrative because of their inability to accept the outcome of the 2016 election or overall dislike of the President," Huizenga said.

"Now, Congress should recommit itself to moving our nation forward. There are a host of serious issues including the growing crisis on our Southern border that require not only Congress’ attention but meaningful action.”

Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, also underscored the cost of the two-year probe: "countless political and media speculation, over $25 million of taxpayer dollars spent, and hundreds of witnesses."  

"Russia sought to sow discord in our country by casting a shadow on our electoral process. This threat must be taken seriously, and actions must continue to protect the integrity of our nation’s elections," Bergman said. 

"However, the findings of no collusion in the 2016 election should bring a sense of peace to all Americans, regardless of party affiliation."

Laura Cox, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said the accusations of collusion were "baseless" — nothing more than "partisan lies used by the Democrats and their media allies to try and discredit the president and his agenda."

"It’s time for Democrats to give up this witch hunt and start focusing on the real issues our nation faces," Cox said.