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Rep. Collins on ‘politicization’ of the Justice Department

A bipartisan effort from the House Judiciary Committee is pushing the Justice Department to explain why it began investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice. Judy Woodruff talks to the committee’s top Republican, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, about whether he’s satisfied with the attorney general’s summary of the Mueller report and eradicating “corruption” within the Justice Department.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    While we wait to see what is in special counsel Mueller's report, the action moves to Capitol Hill.

    As we heard, there was a bipartisan push from the House Judiciary Committee for the Justice Department to detail why it began investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice.

    The top Republican on that committee, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, joins us now from Capitol Hill.

    Congressman Collins, thank you very much for joining us again on the "NewsHour."

    First of all, I want to ask you, are you satisfied with the summary we have received so far by the attorney general of what's in the Mueller report, or do you want to see the whole thing?

  • Rep. Doug Collins R-Ga.:

    Well, the summary outlines what's in the Mueller report.

    I think we — sometimes, we make a distinction. The attorney general made it very clear. This was the top line. This was what the report actually said and what the report actually did. So, number one, it showed there was no collusion.

    In fact, it went even further than the letter. It said that even though they were contacted on several occasions, the Trump campaign rebuffed those attempts. And it also says that they could not come — the top prosecutors that Mueller could find could not come to a conclusion on anything about obstruction.

    And they said — the attorney general to say, you look at it and you decide. And him and Rod Rosenstein decided that there was nothing there. There was no obstruction.

    So I think you start with the starting point of the top line. He is now in the process of getting us the rest of the report, and we're looking forward to seeing that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you agree with Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, who yesterday said he's prepared to block a resolution that would call for the full release of the Mueller report? Do you agree that's correct?

  • Rep. Doug Collins:

    It depends on what we're talking about, about a full release.

    Let's go back to what the attorney general said. He would release everything that he legally could. In fact, in the House, just a couple of weeks ago, some of my Republican — my Democratic friends want to say that they voted for something different, but what they actually voted for was to do exactly what the regulation required.

    And that was that Bill Barr get the report. He's not to include classified information, 6(e), or grand jury information, or ongoing investigation material that could come forward.

    Other than that, he was going to provide everything he possibly could to the Hill. I think that's what is what probably the Senate majority leader is talking about, what we have talked about, and what Democrats are on the record as voting for in the House to make that report.

    Now that it came back with something they don't like, now they're trying to get everything else.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, let me ask you about what some Republicans and in fact what the president is calling for, is that — and that is for there now to be an investigation into the origins of the Mueller report, of the origins of this investigation into the president.

    Is that necessary now, after what we — what Mr. Mueller has been through?

  • Rep. Doug Collins:

    This is not a new investigation. I need to remind the viewers and also the things that we have been doing over the past few weeks is, we have been releasing transcripts.

    We started with Bruce Ohr. We went to Lisa Page, Peter Strzok. And, today, we did George Papadopoulos. And this was an investigation in the last Congress between the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight Committee on the investigations that started all the way back with the e-mail investigations that came through the original Russia investigations, which led us to the Mueller investigation.

    What we're looking at here is, is, you need to understand the corruption and the problems that were at DOJ and the FBI through the cabal of McCabe and Strzok and Page, and with the assistance of Ohr and Baker and others, that actually got us to where we are now.

    You have to understand the beginning to understand the end. So what we're looking for is saying, let's make sure that it doesn't happen again. And Bill Barr has said he's willing to look into that. He said that in his confirmation hearing. We're providing that for transparency's sake, for all Americans to see exactly what these folks had said.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, if I'm not mistaken, all those individuals you cited are now gone from the Justice Department or the FBI. What is the purpose then of the investigation?

  • Rep. Doug Collins:

    Well, Bruce Ohr is not gone. He is still there.

    And the question comes is, how did this allowed it to happen? Was there a politicization in the last administration, starting back with, frankly, an e-mail investigation involving a presidential candidate at the time that in which the attorney general had already said — and we see that from Lisa Page's transcript — he said that we're not going to go down a gross negligence claim here. We're actually going to say that it was a different standard.

    In other words, saying, we're not going to find her guilty, even if we found her guilty, even before we interviewed her.

    That's the Department of Justice leaning on the FBI. What we're saying is, does that still exist? Bill Barr is — in your department, is there still a politicization that could cause this to happen again?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, essentially, you're calling for further investigation.

    Is this something you think your constituents in Georgia support?

  • Rep. Doug Collins:

    My constituents in Georgia and all across this country, Judy, support the truth.

    What they have just found is the truth of the Mueller investigation. And since when is it wrong for Congress to pursue and oversight something that affects everybody? There's not a person in this country that doesn't — Democrat, Republican, independent or no political view at all — that doesn't want their Department of Justice and their FBI to be blind to carrying out the law, to no matter who they are or what status they had.

    What we found was, was a two-tier justice system, one for basically Hillary Clinton and others, and then one for candidate Trump. Even when Russia was interfering, we saw the hacking that was going on. But they chose to focus on a campaign and not the Russians.

    This is something that we need to look at. And I do believe people want the truth.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And just in a sentence, you're saying you don't have confidence that Mr. Barr is in charge of a Justice Department doing work that you can trust?

  • Rep. Doug Collins:

    That is not what I said.

    I said, I believe Bill Barr will get to the bottom of what is going on at the Justice Department and restore its integrity, after the previous administration and others had brought that down.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right. Representative Doug Collins, thank you for joining us today.

  • Rep. Doug Collins:

    Judy, thank you. It's good to be with you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We appreciate it.

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