House Oversight Committee Chair, Rep. Elijah Cummings(D-Md.) said Friday he’s “begging the American people to pay attention to what’s going on” the day after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“I think we are in a very difficult time in this country’s history and I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what’s going on,” the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“And I often say that people are going to look back at this time 200 years from now and ask the question, ‘What did you do to reverse this?’” he said.
Cummings also slammed Attorney General William Barr for saying the president did not obstruct any investigations into Russian election interference when the Mueller report declined to take a stance regarding obstruction of justice.
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) April 19, 2019
The report documented ten potential instances of obstruction of justice based on testimony by current and former White House officials.
“I just found that Attorney General Barr went overboard in trying to represent the president when he should have been representing the people of the United States of America,” he said.
Cummings also said his committee will seek to uncover which Trump associates destroyed evidence which impaired Mueller’s investigation and whether the president gave the order.
“There apparently has been some destruction of evidence, that’s another thing that we want to look into,” said Cummings. “You know, there is a presidential records act, and I want to know who was destroying evidence. That’s another thing that stopped Mueller from being able to complete his job. And a lot of this stuff may have been directed by the president.”
On page 10 of Mueller’s heavily-redacted report, the special counsel’s team detailed efforts by Trump’s campaign and associates to conceal information from investigators.
“The investigation did not always yield admissible information or testimony, or a complete picture of the activities undertaken by subjects of the investigation,” the report explained.
The report then detailed how some persons of interest claimed their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned by investigators. Some information was “covered by legal privilege” and could not be used by Mueller’s team of investigators.
Individuals also provided false and misleading information to investigators, according to the report, hindering the investigation. The report named three specific individuals—former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and Trump’s personal and corporate attorney Michael Cohen, each of whom has already entered guilty pleas about lying to investigators or to Congress.
“Further, the Office [of the special counsel] learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated–including some associated with the Trump Campaign–deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with their known facts,” the document explained.
“Given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report,” the investigators wrote.
“Special Counsel Mueller’s report paints a disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies and improper behavior and acting as if the law doesn’t apply to him. But if you hadn’t read the report and listened only to Mr. Barr, you wouldn’t have known any of that because Mr. Barr has been so misleading,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said in a joint statement Thursday.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) Friday morning subpoenaed the Justice Department for the Mueller’s unredacted report and his underlying evidence.
“The special prosecutor made very clear that he couldn’t reach a determination on obstruction of justice basically because of certain Justice Department guidelines which didn’t allow him to do that but that he laid it out for Congress to do. Not for the Attorney General to arrogate to himself the power to do,” he said Friday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”