Trump Russia Probe

Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — Republican members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation praised the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year probe into Russia’s election interference — some viewing it as vindication for President Donald Trump’s campaign and others as a step needed to move on to more pressing issues.

“There is no longer any doubt: there was no collusion with the Trump campaign,” U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Jefferson Parish Republican and close ally of the president, said in a statement shortly after the 488-page redacted report was released to the public Thursday morning. “Democrats who have been running around for the last two years making outlandish claims about the President and his family ought to apologize to the American people for misleading them and the press about this smear campaign.”

[RELATEDClick here to see the Mueller report.]

The Mueller report’s long-awaited unveiling prompted a wave of frenzied analyses. It does not explicitly conclude whether Trump should face obstruction of justice charges.

But, like Scalise, Louisiana Republicans who are closely aligned with Trump were quick to declare a win in the hours after its release.

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, said the report proves the whole investigation was a "witch hunt."

"There was no evidence of criminal collusion or obstruction by the President or his campaign," Higgins said. "Democrats, on the other hand, should take a deep breath because the witch hunt they began has now shifted to the frightening reality of possible criminal collusion to corrupt our 2016 presidential election by their own candidate and her allies."

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, an Alto Republican who is currently running for governor, took a jab at Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

“The report of the Mueller investigation confirms what I’ve been saying from day one: There was no collusion and this investigation is a witch hunt,” Abraham said.

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, a Baton Rouge Republican, summed up the general reaction nationally and predicted people will interpret the report based on their pre-existing biases.

"The reality is that people are going to read and hear what they want," Graves said. "Those that support President Trump will hear 'no collusion;' those that dislike him will extract lines from the report that appear to show inappropriate actions."

"Robert Mueller found stupidity, but no crimes committed by the president," Graves said. 

Some members of the delegation want more time to digest the investigation's findings but generally praised the full release.

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Shreveport Republican who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, said he was looking forward to reading the report.

“For nearly two years, this investigation has been a source of great division in our country; however, my hope is that this report will provide the clarity and peace of mind needed for Congress to move ahead and devote our time, energy and resources to solving America’s most pressing issues,” Johnson said.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said he also plans to review the thick document’s findings in more detail.

“It’s important this report is public so Americans can review the facts for themselves,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Sen. John Kennedy, a Madisonville Republican who serves on the influential Judiciary Committee, said he wants time to read the report before commenting on its contents. Kennedy was vocal in his support for its release and minimal redaction.

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, the only Democrat among the delegation, didn't respond to a request for comment.


Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.