Rick Bowmer, AP File Photo

Utah GOP Congress members hail Mueller conclusion that Trump didn't conspire with Russians

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Updated - Mar 24th, 2019 @ 7:19pm | Posted - Mar 24th, 2019 @ 3:27pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Republican members of Congress hailed special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusion Sunday that Donald Trump's presidential campaign didn't conspire with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, called it a "great day for America" in a tweet shortly after Attorney General William Barr sent a four-page summary of the nearly 2-year investigation to Congress.

Stewart said he wasn't surprised about the findings after the House Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member, did a "very, very thorough" investigation of its own.

"I just thought it was incredibly unlikely that Mr. Mueller would find things that we just didn’t even see a hint of," he said in an interview.

Mueller’s investigation concluded without finding adequate evidence to show that officials with the Trump campaign aided Russian attempts to meddle in the election.

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the special counsel wrote in his findings, according Barr's letter.

Stewart said it's "disappointing to me to see how many people seem to be disappointed and discouraged by this. I mean, for heaven sakes, this is good news whether you lean left or right, you’re Republican, Democrat or independent."

"It’s not good news for the American people to be told that their president potentially was colluding with Russia, and to have that cleared I think that’s good for everyone," he said.

Democrats raised doubts about Barr's decision to not prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice just two days after receiving Mueller's report. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., intends to call Barr to testify before the panel.

Barr wrote that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the evidence developed in the investigation is not sufficient enough to establish that Trump committed obstruction of justice.

“The special counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,’” Barr wrote.

Trump, though, called the findings a "complete and total exoneration."

"This was an illegal takedown that failed, and hopefully somebody's going to be looking at the other side," he told reporters.

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Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said it's "good news" that the special counsel concluded that neither the president nor his campaign colluded with the Russian government.

"The Mueller investigation, led by a person of such honor and integrity, has faithfully applied the rule of law despite accusations and fears to the contrary," Romney tweeted.

"It is now time for the country to move forward," he added.

Members of the Utah delegation continue to call for the full report to be made public.

Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, said how much of the report will be available to Congress is still evolving, but he continues to support full public disclosure and transparency to the extent the law will allow.

"I have always maintained that all sides should withhold judgment until the independent investigation has concluded and the results reviewed," he said in a statement. "If the Mueller report supports the conclusion that no additional criminal matters are unresolved, then it is time for the country and the Congress to move on.”

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said he looks forward to reading the complete report as soon as possible.

"I remain consistent in my opinion that the American people should have the same opportunity as soon as possible so that we can put this period of doubt and division behind us and begin to restore faith in our institutions," he said in a statement.

Mueller’s report does not take a clear position on whether Trump obstructed justice.

“For each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leave unresolved what the special counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the president’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction,” Barr wrote in the letter to leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees.

Stewart said if the issue were a matter of law, Mueller's report would put the accusations against Trump to rest.

"But this is a political exercise more than it is anything else," he said. "It's very clear that the Democratic leadership and the Democratic Party want to keep this president under a cloud through the (2020) election."

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said he is "heartened" at the special counsel's conclusions.

"While I am pleased with the outcome of this investigation, I am all the more pleased to be able to now put these questions behind us and get on with the important duty of working for the American people without an overshadowing political distraction. America deserves our full attention," he said in a statement.

Mueller employed 19 lawyers and a team of 40 FBI agents to conducted the investigation, estimated to cost as much as $25 million. The special counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, made 13 requests to foreign governments and interviewed about 500 witnesses.

Stewart said he supposes the expense and effort was worth it in the sense that allegations were made against the president and people deserved a full accounting of those allegations. But, he said, the accusations were made without any evidence.

"That bothers me quite a lot," he said.

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