NEW ORLEANS, LA. (WVUE) - The release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation prompts reaction from members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation and pundits.
"There was no evidence of the Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government’s hacking,” said U.S. Attorney General William Barr at a press conference shortly before he released the report that has numerous words redacted.
But the 400-page report does not clear President Trump of obstruction of justice, and it lays out episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
"The real key is that the special counsel specifically went out of his way to say that he could not exonerate the president on the obstruction of justice charge because he could not identify the president’s intent. I think that’s really going to be the issue. I think the Democrats are going to drill down on that,” said Robert Collins, PhD., a Dillard University political analyst.
Trump tweeted, “Game Over” for his accusers, but Collins, who worked in the U.S. Senate, does not believe that is the case. He noted that Democrats control the House’s investigative committees.
"It's definitely not game over because the Democrats have a majority in the House right now,” Collins stated.
Democratic New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond criticized the attorney general in a statement released to FOX 8.
“The press conference and the Attorney General’s statements on behalf of President Trump were alarming. The actual report and facts included within are downright an abuse of power at best and criminal at worst. As I continue to read and study the report and other information, I’ll better be able to determine which is the case.”
GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana says now that the report is out, it is clear there was no collusion with Russia and there was no obstruction of justice. And Scalise again called on high-profile Democrats to apologize to the nation for suggestions that Trump engaged in collusion.
"Instead of apologizing, now they’re going to go and try to get the president’s tax returns and keep harassing the president personally and, by the way, they keep harassing his family,” Scalise told FOX 8 News.
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., said he was reading the entire voluminous report.
"Looking forward to reviewing the Mueller report in detail. It’s important this report is public so Americans can review the facts for themselves,” Cassidy said.
Tulane University law professor Keith Werhan worked for the Justice Department in Washington and said blacked out words in such documents are meant to protect certain individuals who assisted with the probe.
"As a former Justice Department lawyer, I would say that you want to be very careful that you don’t publicly disclose what are described as sources and methods of intelligence, and that usually means disclosures that will compromise the identity of agents who will be put in danger if that information is disclosed or will dry up channels of intelligence,” said Werhan.
He added that courts can waive the secrecy around grand jury testimony.
"An interested party could go to a court and basically ask the court to allow the disclosure to go forward, and that has happened in prior reports of this nature,” Werhan said.
Scalise said he favors a probe into the origins of the investigation.
"I would hope that the Justice Department roots out the bad apples that are over at the FBI. We’ve seen from abuses of the FISA court process,” he said.
But Collins doubts Scalise will see Democrats apologize.
"Steve Scalise, he’s a member of House leadership for the Republican Party, and so because of his job he has to take a highly partisan position and he has to defend the president, so I think he’s simply doing his job. But no, I don’t think the Democrats owe anyone an apology. They’re simply doing their job, as well,” Collins stated.