U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Monday called the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election a “colossal waste of money and time,” saying that the summary of the investigation released over the weekend vindicated President Donald Trump.
The investigation, summarized by U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a four-page letter on Sunday, concluded that Trump’s campaign did not conspire with Russia to interfere in the election but left unresolved whether the president tried to obstruct justice.
Paul said it was common for countries to meddle in each other’s elections and that he wasn’t concerned that the report underscored findings that Russians had promoted Trump’s election in 2016.
“I think there’s a difference between saying whether or not the Russians tried to influence the election and whether it makes the election illegitimate because somehow Trump won because of the Russians,” Paul said.
Top Republicans and Democrats in Congress have said they want a copy of the full report of the investigation, conducted by special counselor Robert Muller.
Paul said he thinks the entire investigation shouldn’t be released to the public to ensure the secrecy of grand jury proceedings detailed in the report.
Paul said that the political climate in Washington is “more partisan now” as congressional committees continue to investigate the president.
“They won’t ever stop. If we give them a 100-page summary of this report, they’re going to ask for all 500,000 pages of this thing,” Paul said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the summary confirmed Trump’s claims that he didn’t work with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election, but called Russia’s efforts “disturbing.”
“I welcome the Special Counsel’s contributions to our efforts to understand better Russia’s activities in this regard,” McConnell wrote in statement.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s only Democratic congressman, released a statement on Sunday saying that Barr’s summary of the report “leaves many questions unanswered.”
“We still don’t know exactly what Trump campaign officials knew and did, even if they could not be successfully prosecuted for a crime. That is why the full report and all underlying evidence must be released to the American people,” Yarmuth wrote.