Mueller report summary is out

5:21 p.m. ET, March 24, 2019

Mitch McConnell: "Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere with our democracy are dangerous and disturbing"

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just issued a statement regarding Attorney William Barr's findings on special counsel Robert Mueller's report, calling Russia's efforts to interfere in US democracy "dangerous and disturbing."

McConnell acknowledged that Mueller's findings also concluded that the Trump campaign did not coordinate with Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections. He added that he was looking forward to reviewing more information from Mueller's report.

Read his statement: 

“I thank the attorney general for promptly advising the Congress of the special counsel’s principal conclusions in this matter, consistent with his Friday letter to the Congress.
The special counsel’s conclusions confirm the President’s account that there was no effort by his campaign to conspire or coordinate with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. 
However, Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere with our democracy are dangerous and disturbing, and I welcome the special counsel's contributions to our efforts to understand better Russia's activities in this regard. And I look forward to the continuing work of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the threats posed to our democratic institutions by foreign interference.
I appreciate the attorney general’s commitment to continue to review the record in this matter over the coming days, in conjunction with special counsel Mueller, with the goal of producing as much information as possible, consistent with the law. I look forward to reviewing that information.”
5:14 p.m. ET, March 24, 2019

Trump campaign says Barr's summary is a "total vindication" for the President

A senior Trump campaign official calls Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller report "total vindication."

The senior official went on to say, "No collusion, no obstruction, and despite the past two years… being filled with people screaming to the high heavens… it’s the same as it was on day one: no collusion."

The official suggested that the news could help persuade moderate voters who may have been undecided on Trump.

“This definitely lifts that (cloud of the investigation). It shows he’s been unfairly targeted over what we know now to be a lie,” the official said.

The official also pointed to the many Democratic lawmakers who said there was collusion, perhaps previewing a future talking point: “What kind of credibility do they have left?” they asked.

5:05 p.m. ET, March 24, 2019

Here's what's next for the Mueller report

The process of determining what else can be released from special counsel Report Mueller’s report and scrubbing it of grand jury material, among other things, “has begun,” according to a Justice Department official.

There’s a small team working on it, and no firm timeline for release.

5:07 p.m. ET, March 24, 2019

William Barr has left the Justice Department for the night

Attorney General William Barr sent a letter with his findings on special counsel Robert Mueller's report earlier today.

He spent the entire weekend at the Department of Justice after receiving the report on Friday.

5:05 p.m. ET, March 24, 2019

Barr once called Mueller's obstruction inquiry "fatally misconceived"

In a June 2018 memo, William Barr reached a decisive and controversial conclusion that Trump's interactions with ex-FBI Director James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice. A copy of that memo was released to senior Justice officials in December.

Barr had not yet been confirmed as attorney general at the time of the memo release. He discussed the memo with Trump and told him it would likely come up during his Senate confirmation, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN.

Barr has not shied away from defending Trump's firing of Comey, but the June 8 memo offers a detailed analysis of one of the most consequential episodes of Trump's presidency, concluding that while he's "in the dark about many facts," Robert Mueller's obstruction inquiry was "fatally misconceived." 

Barr added that Trump asking Comey to let go of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and later firing Comey were within his powers as head of the executive branch.

"Mueller should not be able to demand that the President submit to an interrogation about alleged obstruction," Barr wrote. "If embraced by the Department, this theory would have potentially disastrous implications, not just for the Presidency, but for the Executive branch as a whole and the Department in particular."
5:04 p.m. ET, March 24, 2019

Democratic congressman: "The special counsel did not exonerate the President"

Alex Edelman/Getty Images
Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Rep. David Cicilline, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, insisted that special counsel Robert Mueller did not exonerate President Trump.

In a statement, the Democratic lawmaker said Attorney General William Barr needs to provide Congress with evidence showing that.

“The special counsel did not exonerate the President. In fact, according to the attorney general’s letter, he described a pattern of evidence suggesting the President engaged in obstruction of justice. The attorney general needs to make this evidence available to Congress immediately, along with the entirety of the Mueller report, so we can decide what steps to take next," Cicilline said.
4:52 p.m. ET, March 24, 2019

Trump: "It's a shame our country had to go through this"

President Trump, speaking in Florida after Attorney General William Barr released his summary of Robert Mueller's report, said it is "a shame" that the US "had to go through this."

"It’s a shame our country had to go through this. To be honest it’s a shame your President had to go through this," he said.