WASHINGTON • Colorado’s representatives in Congress expressed concerns about Russian influence in the 2016 election described in the redacted Mueller report released Thursday, but disagreed along party lines about whether it vindicated President Donald Trump.
The report from special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that the Russian government interfered in the election, largely by disseminating information that favored Trump on social media.
“The report also confirms what we already know, Russia interfered in our election,” Republican Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement. “I will keep up the pressure on the Putin regime and pursue additional sanctions — they cannot go unpunished.”
Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been critical at times of Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, there was no evidence in the Mueller report that Trump directly colluded with the Russians, only that members of his campaign had links with them.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said, “The redacted report makes clear that the president’s behavior, and that of his team, should deeply concern every American. The report documents the president’s failure to cooperate with the special counsel, efforts to mislead the American people, and troubling interactions with Russia, a foreign adversary.”
The report said the evidence was inconclusive on whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation by hiding evidence or intimidating accusers.
Mueller suggested that Congress continue to investigate the obstruction of justice allegations.
Members of Colorado’s delegation split on the extent that the Mueller report accused the president of misbehavior.
“After nearly two years, the Mueller report is now available to the public and it shows no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn said in a statement. “It is time to move away from the false collusion allegations that stem from the Democrats and the media.”
Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Aurora said Attorney General William Barr had gone too far in trying to protect the president during a news conference Thursday before the release of the redacted report.
Barr told the media Trump took office under suspicion of cooperating with the Russians to help his election campaign.
“At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability,” Barr said. “Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was, in fact, no collusion.”
On the allegations that the president had attempted to obstruct the investigation, Barr said there was no evidence of a crime, only that Trump was “frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency.”
Crow said Barr had acted improperly in defending Trump.
“The role of the attorney general is to uphold the rule of law, not to be the personal lawyer for President Trump,” Crow said. “This morning’s press conference was deeply troubling and made clear that Attorney General Barr would rather serve the political agenda of the president than provide the American people with an independent and transparent assessment of the facts.”
Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, echoed Crow, disputing Trump’s and Republican’s claims that the report exonerated the president.
“The report released today paints a very different picture than what the president and attorney general had hoped the American people would see,” DeGette said.
Rep. Ken Buck, a Greeley Republican and recently elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, criticized Democrats for continuing their attacks on Trump.
“For two years, Democrats misled the American people with countless attacks on [Trump],” Buck said in a Twitter message. “Today, we can confirm there was no collusion and no obstruction of justice. Despite Mueller’s findings, it seems nothing will stop Democrats from trying to baselessly attack the president.”