CAPITAL REGION — The Capital Region congressional delegation members agreed that the redacted special counsel's report released Thursday showed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election represented a serious threat that needs further examination.
Most were cautious in their first takes on how deeply President Donald Trump was implicated, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that there was no knowing collusion with the Russian efforts, but didn't clear Trump of obstructing justice.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said just before the redacted report was released that Trump hasn't obstructed the investigation, but Democrats say the report itself has damaging revelations.
"As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller's report appears to undercut that finding," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.
Reaction came in gradually on Thursday, as local representatives needed time to review the 448-page report, parts of which were blacked out to protect ongoing prosecutions or for other reasons.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said he wanted to take the time to read the report before reacting, but noted the investigation has already "uncovered serious wrongdoing that has led to 34 criminal indictments, a guilty plea by President Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and the arrest and conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight felony charges."
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, said in a Twitter post that he also wants to take the time to read the report and understand the Russians' threat. The freshman representing the 19th Congressional District didn't refer directly to Trump, but did call for all branches of government to work together to address the Russian interference.
"As our intelligence community has made clear, Russia directly interfered in the 2016 election. All branches of government must work together to uphold the rule of law, protect our democracy against interference from adversaries and restore public trust in our elections," Delgado wrote.
Some Republicans in Congress said the report settles the entire matter with Trump cleared of wrongdoing, and Congress should "move on," but the Republican who represents the North Country's 21st Congressional District -- the only Republican in the Capital Region congressional delegation -- said Russian interference must be probed further.
“I have consistently supported the Mueller investigation and was one of the first members to call for transparency of the Mueller report to the American people. I will be reading the Mueller report as it is made available to members of Congress," U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said in a prepared statement.
She continued: “AG Barr was clear that the process was completed with a high degree of transparency, no executive privilege, limited redactions, and resulted in a report of no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. I am proud of my record of calling for full transparency, and will continue to focus on what matters: interference in our elections by Russia and other foreign adversaries.”