Lawmakers clash over whether conclusion of Mueller investigation signals no collusion

Democratic and Republican lawmakers clashed Sunday over whether the delivery of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's final report to the Department of Justice signals there wasn't collusion between President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE's campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

Republicans argued that the end of the probe and the revelation that Mueller won't be issuing any new indictments hint that the special counsel concluded that Trump and his campaign didn't coordinate with Moscow.


"I have been consistent saying this president didn't collude, and now it appears that the facts will support that assumption," House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Mueller report poses new test for Dems Washington in frenzy over release of Mueller report MORE (R-N.C.) said during an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

"And so if there was collusion, either Bob Mueller decided not to actually prosecute somebody with evidence being there, which I find hard to believe that that would happen," Meadows added.

Another member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDems digging into Trump finances post-Mueller Overnight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Cummings accuses Oversight Republicans of obstructing drug price probe MORE (R-Ohio), made a similar argument during appearances Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" and ABC's "This Week."

"We’ll see the report, but all indications are that there’s not going to be any finding of collusion whatsoever," he said on "This Week."

And Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Liberal survey: Sanders cruising, Buttigieg rising MORE (R-Texas) said during an interview on "State of the Union" that it would be "good news" if Mueller concluded that there wasn't evidence of collusion.

"If ... there are no indictments for collusion with the Russians, that's good news for the American people. Those were serious charges when they were raised two years ago, and if the special counsel concluded that there is not evidence that that occurred, that would be very good news," he said.

Democrats, however, emphasized that conclusions shouldn't be drawn until the report's findings are made public and maintained that there could have been collusion even if it wasn't enough to warrant criminal charges. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said on "State of the Union" that saying Trump didn't coordinate with Russia before seeing the contents of the report would be "disingenuous."

"To say there’s no collusion when we haven’t seen the report … I think is disingenuous," she said. "We need to look at everything, not just the summary conclusions but everything underneath. There certainly is precedent, thanks to the Republicans, for releasing even classified information."

Mueller, who was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, on Friday submitted a confidential report to Attorney General William Barr, signaling the end of the investigation. A summary of the report's findings could be released to Congress as soon as Sunday. 

Trump has long railed against the special counsel, often lashing out at investigators for what he claimed were conflicts of interest and arguing that the probe was a politically motivated "witch hunt," even as Mueller secured convictions and guilty pleas from several of Trump's former associates.

The president also maintained throughout the investigation that there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.

On Sunday, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, argued that Trump's claims of no collusion had been "proved right."

"In their main core of the collusion or investigation of obstruction, they’re seemingly coming to the point that the president and those around him had nothing to do with this," Collins said of the special counsel on "Fox News Sunday."

"That is the core finding at least in what we’re seeing so far," he added.

But top Democrats on Sunday did not back down from their assertions that there is already evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOn The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report MORE (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said there is "significant evidence of collusion" even if Mueller concluded that it didn't amount to criminal conspiracy.

"There's a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy," Schiff said during an interview on "This Week."

Similarly, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that there was collusion "in plain sight."

Nadler, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," pointed to the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian and former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWhy did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? Manafort transferred to minimum security federal prison Poll: Nearly half of Republicans say no one on Trump campaign committed a crime MORE sharing polling data with a Russian associate.

"Maybe it's not indictable, but we know there was collusion," Nadler said. "The question is to what degree and for what purpose."