Trump Attacks News Media for Russia Probe Stories
CAPITOL HILL —
U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at the U.S. mainstream news media Tuesday, saying it was being condemned throughout the world for its wide coverage of what he called the "Russia Collusion Delusion."
Trump retweeted a supporter's claim that the 22-month investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller should never have been opened. Attorney General William Barr, in a summary of Mueller's conclusions, said Sunday the prosecutor had concluded Trump and his 2016 campaign had not conspired with Russia to help him win, but had reached no conclusion whether the U.S. leader obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation.
Trump's attack on the news media, a grievance he has long voiced, came as he and Republican allies in Congress vowed to carry out their own investigations of his prominent critics and those behind the probe of links between his 2016 campaign and Russian efforts to disrupt the election.
"There are a lot of people out there that have done some very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country," Trump said Monday, without specifying anyone in particular. "Those people will certainly be looked at."
During the investigation, many Democrats repeatedly expressed their belief that Trump's inner circle had colluded with Russia and that the president later sought to evade justice — pronouncements that did not go unnoticed by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
"It's hard to obstruct a crime that never took place," Sanders told the U.S.-based cable news network, CNN. "The Democrats and the liberal media owe the president, and they owe the American people, an apology. They wasted two years and created a massive disruption and distraction from things that impact people's everyday lives."
Guilty pleas, convictions
Mueller secured guilty pleas or convictions of five figures in Trump's orbit for a variety of offenses and indicted a sixth who is awaiting trial. Among those convicted were Trump's one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort; his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; and his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised Monday to "unpack the other side of the story" of the Mueller investigation and to look into how the Justice Department started it.
For nearly two years, Trump had repeatedly blasted the special counsel probe as a "witch hunt." With the investigation complete, the president said, "We can never, ever let this happen to another president again." But he said that Mueller had acted honorably in clearing him of the collusion allegation.
Trump claimed total exoneration, while opposition Democrats contended otherwise and demanded release of the full Mueller report. Barr said he will release more of it after confidential information contained in it is redacted.
"For the president to say he is completely exonerated directly contradicts the words of Mr. Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a joint statement.
The Democratic leaders added: "Attorney General Barr's letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel 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."
By contrast, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn urged Congress "to move on," and that "the worst thing we could do is to get bogged down in a re-litigation of all of these issues."
At the same time, Cornyn urged the release of as much of the Mueller report as possible, consistent with Justice Department regulations and U.S. law.
On Monday, Schumer urged a Senate vote on a resolution calling for the release of Mueller's full report. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, objected, saying Barr must be given time to determine which portions of the report can be divulged without revealing classified information.
But the six chairs of committees in the Democrat-controlled House sent Barr a letter Monday, demanding he turn over the full Mueller report by April 2.
Graham said he hopes Barr will testify before his panel.
VOA's Michael Bowman contributed to this report.