U.S. lawmakers serving North Dakota and Minnesota followed party lines in their reactions to a report the Department of Justice received Friday, regarding allegations of collusion between President Trump and the Russian government during the 2016 election.
The report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed nearly 22 months ago, went to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Friday. The report has yet to be seen or reviewed by anyone outside Barr's agency.
On Sunday, Barr said the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation was not enough to prove Trump had obstructed justice. The report, according to a four-page summary from Barr, concluded on its own there was no evidence Trump or his presidential campaign had colluded with Russia.
In North Dakota, an all-Republican congressional delegation called on fellow lawmakers to move on.
"The liberal fantasy that President Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election is dead," Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., said in a Sunday statement.
He went on to call Mueller's investigation a "limitless" one, built on what Barr listed was 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, 230 communications record requests, 13 information requests of foreign governments and interviews with 500 witnesses. The process cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
"With the report finished, I hope both sides will move forward with a renewed focus on growing the economy, bolstering national defense and securing better trade deals for American workers," U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a statement Monday afternoon. "Unfortunately the Democrats' obsession with all things Russia may prevent them from doing so."
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a Monday statement Congress should focus on holding Russia accountable for its interference in the 2016 election.
"As I've said throughout this process, we need to get the facts. The Special Counsel worked to do that and found there was no collusion between the president and Russia," said Hoeven. "Clearly, Russia interfered in our election process and we need to continue to hold them accountable, and do all we can to prevent this interference going forward."
Mueller's report described two main efforts to influence the 2016 election, according to Barr's summary. The first effort was by the Russian Internet Research Agency, which worked to "conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord," Barr wrote.
The second was by computer hacking, Barr wrote. In his summary, the attorney general said Mueller confirmed Russians were responsible for hacking and leaking emails from Trump's 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.
In Minnesota, the state's two Democratic senators have prioritized making Mueller's report public.
"Full transparency is essential to preserving faith in our democracy," said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., in a statement from her office Monday. "All Americans deserve to see the entire report."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., released a statement on Friday asking for the same thing.
"This decision is not about politics but about protecting our democracy," Klobuchar said. "Now is the time to do the right thing. The American people deserve the truth."
Klobuchar is one of many Democrats who have declared a president run in 2020. UND political science professor Robert (Bo) Wood said on Monday the report's effect on Democrats and the 2020 election will depend on how much the public seems to care for the report.
"I think there are Democrats in the House who have positioned themselves as crusaders, and they're going to have to start thinking about re-election real soon, and in order for them to do that they'll have to show they were aggressive and that they were moving forward on this issue," Wood said. "They're going to be watching to see how much the public pays attention to this, how much interest there is among the public. If it turns out that people want to move on, then I think that will fade and we will move on."
Wood said it's likely the U.S. House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, will continue its investigations on collusion. He said it's also likely Barr will release Mueller's support in some capacity.
"I think that the attorney general is aware of the heightened public sensitivity to this issue, and I think he will have to release something because there's too much public demand for this," Wood said. "The best case would be everything but stuff that can't be shared because it's classified. I think the more redacted it is, the more abbreviated that is, the more it's going to continue to raise questions."
The office of U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. Peterson serves District 7, covering much of northwest Minnesota.