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Legal, political battles begin after Barr releases Mueller report

Now that the Mueller report is public, the legal and political wrangling has begun.

A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report investigating Russian interference into the 2016 elections released April 18 by Attorney General William Barr outlined a litany of facts connecting the campaign of President Donald Trump to the Russians and with possible obstruction of justice. It did not conclude that there was either criminal conspiracy or obstruction. But the report’s release has far from settled these issues.

Federal prosecutors are pursuing 14 other investigations referred by the special counsel. Mueller also transferred 11 cases involving defendants awaiting trial or sentencing to other federal prosecutors.

Legal analysts debated whether obstruction charges could or should have been brought, but Barr insisted that the evidence was “not sufficient.”

Now, the process becomes more political. “Viewing this case through the lens of criminal law is a mistake,” Georgetown Law professor Victoria Nourse told Vox. “The constitutional power to judge a president is left to Congress. Congress must determine whether there has been a constitutional offense.”

The next step for Mueller’s report is up to the House of Representatives. Mueller, citing Office of Legal Counsel guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted, chose not to pursue charges but laid the groundwork for Congress to investigate.

Barr said he would allow select congressional leaders to see a full version of the report, except for grand jury information. Congress would have to petition a court to have that information released.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), issued a subpoena on April 19 after receiving the report that asked for all evidence, including summaries of witness interviews and classified intelligence from the report. “It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward,” Nadler said.

Barr is scheduled to testify before Nadler’s committee on May 2. Mueller has been asked to testify “no later than May 23.”

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