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In his summary of the Mueller report, Attorney General William Barr concluded there was no evidence that President Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. But what does the report itself say? Judy Woodruff speaks to Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., about why it should be made public and how Barr’s pre-existing views might have come into play.
Now that Robert Mueller has completed his report, attention turns to how Democratic lawmakers will respond.
U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland is on both the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. We spoke earlier this evening.
Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much for talking with us.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.:
So, the attorney general says that Robert Mueller, the special counsel concluded no coordination or conspiracy with the Russia's to interfere in the election by the camp, also concluded that — he himself said there's no obstruction of justice, even though Mr. Mueller said he couldn't reach a conclusion.
What do you make of this?
We need to read the Mueller report. It needs to be turned over in its entirety to the Congress and to the people.
It is a public document. It should be made public. The House voted 420-0 on March 12, I think it was, to make it public. And we're going to insist, on a bipartisan basis, I hope, that the report be turned over, along with any evidentiary support for Mueller's findings.
But, otherwise, all we have got, really, is the Barr report on the Mueller report. And Attorney General Barr has made his views on a number of the relevant issues clear a long time ago.
For example, you know, he wrote a long, I think, 19-page memo arguing that the president could not, as a matter of law, ever be found guilty of obstructing justice, because, as the president, he's in charge of the law enforcement apparatus.
Therefore, even if it's true that he told someone to lay off of a particular criminal suspect or to end an investigation, it could not be obstruction of justice because he's in charge.
So, are you saying you don't trust Mr. Barr's conclusions?
Well, Mr. Barr made his conclusion long before he received the Mueller report. He took the position that the president could not be guilty of obstruction of justice.
And then, when Mr. Mueller said, well, there's a substantial quantum of evidence that could lead to an obstruction of justice prosecution, we could go either way on it, and he left it to the attorney general.
At that point, Attorney General Barr's preexisting views obviously took over, or at least it's a reasonable surmise that they took over.
The point is that, as the lawmaking branch of government, with an independent constitutional oversight duty, Congress needs to get the Mueller report. We don't need the CliffsNotes version handed to us by the attorney general. We need the actual report, with all of the factual findings, with whatever legal conclusions are in there, and we need underlying evidence. And we have ample precedent for that.
But, as you know, Congressman Raskin, Robert Mueller, whom Democrats have praised over the last two years, did spend months after month working on this. It appears to have been a comprehensive investigation.
And for him to come away and say there's no evidence of a conspiracy or coordination with the Russians, I mean, is that significant?
Well, I mean, your framing of that question I think demonstrates the problem.
He didn't find that there was no evidence of cooperation or collusion. He said that there wasn't sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution, in other words, not enough evidence to convince a prosecutor that they could sustain beyond a reasonable doubt a prosecution.
But there may be a lot of stuff in there that's of profound interest to us, and that's why we want to get the Mueller report in its entirety and not accept the restatement of it by the attorney general.
So how much more investigation, more hearings, how much more needs to be done here? I mean, the country's been observing, been waiting for two years.
We have a report. You're right, we haven't seen it yet, but what are you saying exactly now needs to happen?
Well, the country is still waiting. In other words, all we have right now is, obviously, a huge P.R. victory for the president, who has been crowing today that this is a complete and total exoneration.
The amusing part of that claim is the one sentence that we actually get from the real Mueller report totally contradicts that. It said, this is not an exoneration of the president. But we don't know why, because all of the underlying factual evidence has been omitted, and we don't have it.
So what we're getting is kind of a choreographed display of some pre-packaged conclusions. And it's simply not going to be acceptable in terms of our being able to protect the law and the Constitution.
Look, if Mueller's report actually determines, as a matter of fact, that the president is a Boy Scout and the husband of the year and a decorated Vietnam War hero and someone who told Putin to take a hike when Putin offered him information about the Hillary Clinton campaign, great. Then we can all accept it.
But we haven't seen that. We don't know what's in that report. And we want to know what the specific factual findings are.
Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, we thank you.
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