The Phoenix Flyer

From “no collusion” to “evidence of corruption:” FL lawmakers in Congress divided on Mueller report

By: - April 19, 2019 12:54 pm

U.S. Capitol. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Florida lawmakers in Congress are splintered along party lines over findings in the long-awaited Mueller report that investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — which isn’t unusual in the partisan bickering of Washington, D.C.

“Special Counsel Mueller has found staggering evidence of corruption, abuse of power, and obstruction of justice by President Trump and his associates,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, of the Orlando area, said in a press release.

In contrast, Republican Rep. Daniel Webster, who represents Central Florida communities, released a statement saying: “For the last two years, Robert Mueller along with a team of 19 lawyers; 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, and forensic accountants investigated President Trump and the actions of his campaign staff.  Today, his conclusions have been provided to Congress – there was no collusion between President Trump and Russia.”

The Florida Phoenix reviewed press statements and Twitter feeds about the report that has long obsessed Congress, President Donald Trump and political groupies.

Democratic Rep. Al Lawson, Jr., whose district spreads from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, echoed his colleagues in criticizing numerous redactions in the Mueller report of more than 400 pages.

“It is important that the full Mueller Report be released to Congress, not the highly redacted version we were presented with today (Thursday),” Lawson tweeted. “The President has the responsibility to be transparent as we work to restore the trust of the American people.”

In fact, U.S. House Democrats on Friday are pushing to get an unredacted copy, the New York Times reported. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to get the full version, the Times reported.

Earlier today, Florida’s U.S. senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, had not yet put out statements or Twitter and Facebook feeds. Many lawmakers may be trying to get through the bulky report before making comments.

Late this afternoon, Rubio released a statement, saying:

“The Mueller report accurately and comprehensively laid out the details of Putin’s efforts to sow political divisions in America and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, and it found no evidence that these efforts occurred in coordination with the president’s campaign.”

Rubio added that Putin’s attempts to interfere in the U.S. election “should no longer be doubted by anyone and the fact that those efforts were not in coordination with our president should elicit a sense of relief from all. Sadly, there remain fringe voices that continue to deny what Putin did, and sadly, instead of relief, too many of my colleagues appear disappointed that the president was not a part of Putin’s efforts.”

Meanwhile, several Florida lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives stated their views quickly when the report was released Thursday.

Here are some samples:

Republican Rep. Neal Dunn, representing northwest Florida communities, published Twitter feeds: “The House voted unanimously to release the report & that is exactly what the AG (U.S. Attorney General William Barr) has done. By working directly w/ Special Counsel on necessary redactions I believe he has more than fulfilled his promise & it is time for Dems in Congress to end their witch hunt & get back to work…..Dems will never be happy w/ the truth & they have made it clear that they will continue to waste time & resources until they create the result they want.”

Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor, of the Tampa area, included in a statement: “Every American should be outraged that the Russian government attacked our presidential election to boost Donald Trump and that Trump’s response to this ‘information warfare’ was to embrace it.”

“While the Special Counsel did not have sufficient evidence to charge Trump or his campaign associates with ‘conspiracy’, the report is a damning indictment of Trump’s contempt for the high ideals that Americans hold for our presidential candidates and presidents.  Russia broke the law and Trump cheered them on.”

Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, representing Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough counties, tweeted: “The Mueller report, which found no collusion by President Trump or his campaign and brought no charges of obstruction, is not in the hands of the public as it should be. Let the people decide for themselves. Americans need to move on.”

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, representing South Florida communities, wrote: “Attorney General Barr has not been an honest broker with the American public, especially on the issue of obstruction of justice. Clearly, Attorney General Barr is now acting as Trump’s personal lawyer. Given this conflict, Barr should resign. An Attorney General cannot pursue justice while simultaneously trying to shield the President from facing it. Congress has a clear mandate from this report to determine whether the President obstructed justice. Congress should take up this responsibility immediately.”








Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.