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The Democratic Response To The End Of Robert Mueller's Investigation

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For the first time in almost two years, the week has begun without special counsel Robert Mueller investigating interference in the 2016 election and whether the President obstructed justice.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Mueller delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr on Friday.

CORNISH: Late yesterday after Barr released his summary of the report, we learned some of what Mueller found. He found no coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

CHANG: And on the question of obstruction of justice, Mueller declined to come to a conclusion.

CORNISH: But the attorney general concluded that the evidence Mueller and his team developed during the investigation was not sufficient to charge the president with obstruction of justice.

CHANG: But not everyone is satisfied with what's known. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler wants the attorney general to testify before Congress.

CORNISH: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are calling for the report to be made public as soon as possible.

CHANG: Well, now we're joined by another Democrat to get reaction on what we know about Robert Mueller's investigation. Hakeem Jeffries is chair of the House Democratic Caucus. He joins us now from Capitol Hill. Welcome.

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Good afternoon.

CHANG: Tell me. What are the most pressing questions you still have?

JEFFRIES: Well, first and foremost, the American people deserve to get a full and complete understanding as to why Bob Mueller arrived at the conclusions that he did. In order for that to occur, then the entire Mueller report needs to be publicly disclosed as well as the underlying documentation. The American people have clearly expressed their perspective.

In a poll recently, more than 80 percent of the American electorate, which includes majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents, have said the report should be publicly disclosed. The president last week indicated it should be publicly disclosed. The House of Representatives voted 420-0 that the Mueller report should be publicly disclosed. That is the only way that we can ever really bring some closure to this very sordid episode.

CHANG: Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has always maintained that the threshold for impeachment was bipartisan support. Republicans are saying now, well, this closes the case. Clearly there will not be bipartisan support for impeachment. Are you willing to say that impeachment is off the table now?

JEFFRIES: Well, I have maintained consistently - which is the position that Speaker Pelosi and others have articulated that any impeachment discussion is premature because we as House Democrats continue to focus on executing our for-the-people agenda focused on lowering health care costs, a real infrastructure plan and cleaning up corruption and bringing our democracy to life here in Washington, D.C.

CHANG: But...

JEFFRIES: The standard that the speaker articulated..

CHANG: Yes.

JEFFRIES: ...Is a clear, robust and important one, which means the case for impeachment should be compelling. Two, the evidence should be overwhelming. And three, as you indicated, the sentiment around impeachment should be bipartisan in nature.

CHANG: Which it will not be now. So does...

JEFFRIES: To the extent that that does not exist - right, to the extent that that does not exist - then we will continue to keep our focus where it's been on kitchen table, pocketbook issues. However, we do need to get an understanding as to why Bob Mueller chose not to exonerate the president on obstruction of justice charges. As you know, that is a very serious charge. It had implications for Bill Clinton's presidency and had implications for Richard Nixon's presidency. And so we need some clarity with respect to that issue.

CHANG: Now, your colleague Adam Schiff, who's now chair of the House Intel Committee - he's been saying for quite some time now that there was significant evidence of collusion, but the Mueller report says there was not. So now Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are calling for Schiff's resignation from the Intel Committee. Do you think Adam Schiff has a credibility problem now?

JEFFRIES: Not at all. Let me tell you who has a credibility problem. Any Republican calling for Adam Schiff to step down as chair has a credibility problem. The American people threw them out of office because for the last two years, they didn't get anything done other than jam a reckless tax scam down the throats of the American people that will subsidize the lifestyles of the rich and shameless. That GOP bill where 83 percent of the benefits went to the wealthiest 1 percent was disgraceful. And then this is the same group that wants to lecture us...

CHANG: But...

JEFFRIES: ...About the Intel Committee when Devin Nunes...

CHANG: Do you...

JEFFRIES: ...Who conducted himself like a stooge for the last two years as chair was allowed to sort of run rampant over the rule of law.

CHANG: All right.

JEFFRIES: Of course anything that they've said should be dismissed.

CHANG: That's Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Thanks very much.

JEFFRIES: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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