CAPITAL REGION -- U.S. Attorney General William Barr has been "seriously misleading" the public about the contents of the Mueller report, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said this week
Tonko, who represents the 20th Congressional District, reacted this week after reading through what's public of the 448-page report by former FBI director Robert Mueller on Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and whether they were coordinated with the Trump campaign.
"The special counsel's team found ample evidence of troubling and possibly illegal activity by the Trump campaign, including numerous actions that could amount to obstruction of justice," Tonko said in a news release.
Tonko had then remained quiet on the issue while reading through the report, until this week.
The report found no conspiracy between the Russian efforts and the Trump campaign, despite repeated contacts -- but the report did outline instances where it appears Trump tried to interfere or stop Mueller's investigation, which has led to 34 indictments against Russians and Americans, and guilty pleas from a former national security adviser and others.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to hold Barr in contempt for refusing to appear before the committee last week to answer questions about the report. On the same day, Trump invoked executive privilege to withhold the remainder of the report, only part of which has been made public.
"I also find that Attorney General Barr has repeatedly and seriously misrepresented the special counsel's findings, including deceptive statements to Congress and the American people on multiple occasions," Tonko said. "His actions reveal America's top law enforcement officer serving as the president's defense attorney rather than upholding our laws and Constitution."
Tonko joins many other congressional Democrats in criticizing how the administration has handled Mueller's report on Russian interference.
In a conference call with reporters in late April, the Capital Region's other Democratic representative, freshman Antonio Delgado, said he was concerned about the Trump administration's interference with the report.
Barr "acted incredibly partisan and displayed the sort of behavior that is easy to describe him as a mouthpiece for the president," said Delgado, of Rhinebeck, who represents the 19th Congressional District. "And that is disturbing and it’s troubling.”
The region's only Republican representative, 21st Congressional District U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of Schuylerville, said at a town hall meeting in Schuylerville last month that Congress' focus should be on Mueller's findings about Russia's attempts to interfere in American elections, and seeking ways to prevent it from happening in the future.