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How Rep. Collins interpreted what Mueller told Congress

With Robert Mueller’s long-awaited appearance before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees concluded, we hear a Republican perspective on his testimony. Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, talks to Judy Woodruff about why he thinks the Mueller hearings were “terrible” for House Democrats and whether the party is now “rudderless” on legislating.

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Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now, for a Republican perspective, we turn to the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. He's Representative Doug Collins of Georgia. And he joins us now from Capitol Hill.

    Congressman Collins, thank you very much for joining us.

    As you just heard from Congressman Jeffries, it is the case that the former special counsel, Mr. Mueller, didn't reach a conclusion about obstruction, but Democrats say the evidence is there. They are continuing to pursue that.

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    Well, it was pretty amazing.

    My friend Hakeem Jeffries, we have worked on a lot of pieces of legislation together. I wish he would go back the legislating. And that's just not been the case at this point.

    But really one of the most striking rebuffs of the obstruction arguments was to Mr. Jeffries yesterday, when he laid out an obstruction argument, used his little charts, put green marks up there. And Mr. Mueller said, I don't agree with your analysis.

    I think what we saw just a second ago with Mr. Jeffries, who I respect highly, he's having to lead a conference that is really right now lost, because they have spent all of their time focused on these investigations that have gone nowhere. They focused on the Mueller report that showed them nothing that we didn't learn three months ago.

    I think there's a reevaluation. My hope will be is that what he said in September is, they come back actually wanting to legislate.

    And I will show you an example. Today, we had another hearing about problems at the border. In seven months, they have never brought a piece of legislation to actually fix the underlying problems that President Obama or President Trump had pointed out in the border.

    That's the Democratic Party's problem right now. They're rudderless.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, they do say — and we did hear Congressman Jeffries tell us that they want to pursue other issues.

    But, meantime, they are saying no person is above the law in this country. And he talked about a massive executive branch cover-up that is under way.

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    I — you know, again, it's just amazing.

    You tell yourself a story so long that you have to try and make everyone else believe it. And I hear this. They say this massive cover-up. We have had hearing after hearing after hearing, and some of the most farcical hearings I have seen on the Judiciary Committee since I have been there, with John Dean and others.

    We even had a hearing in which three of their own witnesses said their subpoena to Bill Barr was illegal. I mean, how much more do we have to go through this?

    I would love to work with my Democratic colleagues to solve immigration, to work on intellectual property. I think today has been — this week has been terrible for them and their narrative. They have been basically deceiving the American people for now seven months, two years, if you count trying to protect the Mueller investigation.

    we need to find a landing pad in here. I'm hoping August will give them that chance to find something to come back to Capitol Hill and actually work for the American people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, another point that we heard Mr. Jeffries and other Democrats make is that what Mr. Mueller did say yesterday is that he is alarmed about what the Russians did in interfering with the U.S. elections in 2016, how they continue to be intent on interfering in elections, and how, in his words, there was cooperation at the highest levels of the Trump campaign with this.

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    No, Mr. Nadler or Mr. Jeffries are not concerned about that.

    You want to know how I know about that? They love to say it and use it as a talking point a minute ago, but they have never put a bill in our committee to actually address Russian or any foreign interference in our elections.

    If they're really serious about it, Judy — and you know this — they would actually put bills up that we could actually negotiate, that we could actually have markup. If you want to know if they're serious about this, look at what they do, not what they say.

    They're just simply trying to spin a very bad week for them. Mr. Mueller has said that since the report came out. Where's their solution? They don't have one. That's what they want to talk about.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, they do say and they point out that Democrats in the House have passed a number of bills aimed at election security, but the Republicans have stopped them at every at — every turn.

    The majority of Republicans in the House and in the Senate, they're saying there's an effort by the majority leader and others to block any action on election security.

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    If they claim the bill that they passed earlier — I believe it was HR-1 — is an election security bill, that's the biggest joke perpetrated in a long time on the American people, because that's simply an incumbent protection act.

    It was actually public financing of elections. It was trying to federalize state elections, didn't really do anything to take the foreign influence out.

    You want to look at an act that would do that, look at the DETER Act, which we have put forward. Look at the ideas and things that we had to actually deter foreign influence, instead of trying to make the election cycle something that is federalized, so they believe that they would have an advantage in future elections.

    Don't let them tell you that they have worked on anything on foreign election interference by telling you they passed something. That is not true, and they know it's not true.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, let me turn you to something that we — another thing that we heard from Mr. Mueller yesterday, and that was, when he was asked about President Trump's praising WikiLeaks, which is known by the intel — it's said by the intelligence community a grave, serious concern to American security.

    The president has said on a number of occasions he loves WikiLeaks loves to read WikiLeaks. How do you, as a prominent member of the United States Congress and a Republican, how do you explain that?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    I don't explain it for the president. The president made those statements.

    I think what we're looking at is what was happening in an election cycle in which he was running for president. What we have also got to understand is, is people want to report to — the issues of the Mueller investigation is in, how do we move forward?

    And I think what was very clear — my three points from yesterday were number, one, collusion and conspiracy were actually finally put to rest by Mr. Mueller. They're one and the same. And I'm tired of Democrats going out saying there is collusion in plain sight. When they say that, they're lying to the American public.

    Number two, any time they talk about obstruction or talk about the issues with the president and what he said, they — Mr. Mueller said, I don't agree with your legal theory of obstruction.

    So then we come to the — really the third thing that actually — from those reports that actually were there, and that was, when we — how we got to this investigation, how it started, and how we got to the part of where we had basically a corrupt cabal at the FBI and Department of Justice that began this whole thing.

    And when Mr. Mueller said, it is not in my purview, well, Mr. Mueller, the report actually named the Steele dossier. It actually named some of these people, but yet, undoubtedly, you either didn't realize that or didn't remember it.

    And I think those are the things you have to look at.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    On the last point, as you know, he pointed out that those things are a subject of ongoing investigation and review at the Justice Department.

    But just finally, are you saying, Congressman Collins, that you found Mr. Mueller not credible?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    No, I found Mr. Mueller told the truth.

    I think what the Democrats are saying is, is, they didn't like what he said. I found him credible, in the sense that he took the massive organization, over two years, multiple millions of dollars, many, many witnesses, many foreign intelligence sources, and he did his best yesterday to make sure he presented the report as he presented it back in March.

    What the Democrats don't like is, the story didn't change. But I could have told them that a while back. If we wanted anything new, it came in March. Read the report. They just didn't like what it said.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congressman Doug Collins, who is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, thank you.

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    Thank you, Judy. Take care.

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