Democrats vying to take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election joined the roar of criticism over the Justice Department’s release of Robert Mueller’s redacted report on Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia’s interference.
The Justice Department’s news conference held ahead of its release was one major point of contention. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called the conference, led by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a “spin from a Trump appointee.”
“The American people deserve the truth,” Booker, a 2020 contender, tweeted after the start of the news conference.
Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), another 2020 Democratic candidate, also criticized Barr’s appearance ahead of the report’s release.
“Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation’s Attorney General,” she tweeted, adding that the event was a “stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who deflected Twitter insults from Trump this week, chided the president for trying to shut down Mueller’s investigation, as noted in the report. The senator urged Congress to continue investigating Trump’s misuse of power separately.
While Mueller declined to make a determination on whether Trump obstructed justice, the special counsel did not exonerate him on that allegation. According to the redacted report, the special counsel looked into 10 instances of possible obstruction in which Trump used his authority to interfere with the federal investigation.
“It is clear that Donald Trump wanted nothing more than to shut down the Mueller investigation,” Sanders tweeted, adding that “Congress must continue its investigation into Trump’s conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election.”
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), like many other Democrats, were alarmed by the number of redactions made by the Justice Department in Thursday’s report.
Both senators launched separate petitions calling on Barr to release an unredacted version of the full report to Congress, which House Democrats plan to subpoena.
Mueller “should testify before Congress and the American people as soon as possible,” Warren said in a statement with her petition.
In her call for signatures, Gillibrand said that Barr, “Trump’s handpicked AG,” couldn’t be trusted.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), who announced his candidacy earlier this month, focused his frustration on Barr. The attorney general faced criticism from Democrats and the media for holding a news conference to talk about the redacted Mueller report before handing it over to Congress for review.
In light of the report’s release, Pete Buttigieg, the Indiana mayor who’s become a fast-rising 2020 contender, accused Trump of “putting his own interests ahead of the country’s.”
“Today again demonstrates why we need to change the channel in 2020,” he tweeted.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota highlighted how quickly Mueller’s report noted his team’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, despite Trump downplaying Russia’s meddling.
The first page of the report revealed that Russia interfered “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” Klobuchar tweeted with a copy of the page. “So despite the endless doubts cast by the President, this happened.”
Klobuchar also called on Mueller to testify to Congress in public hearings.
“Our democracy demands it,” she said.
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro described the investigation’s findings as “far from exonerating anyone” and said it revealed “disgraceful behavior by Donald Trump and his inner circle.”
“This report makes clear: Donald Trump is looking out for himself, not America,” Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary under the Obama administration, tweeted.
He also called on Congress to continue investigating Trump on claims of obstruction of justice.