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White House Responds To Conclusion Of Mueller Report And Its Findings

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It took 19 lawyers...

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Almost 500 search warrants...

CHANG: ...More than 2,800 subpoenas...

CORNISH: ...And 22 months. And now, after Attorney General William Barr issued a summary, we finally know some of what is in special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

CHANG: The special counsel found no coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. The attorney general concluded that the evidence Mueller collected during the investigation was not sufficient to charge the president with obstruction of justice. But Democrats say Barr's letter is not the Mueller report. Here's House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JERRY NADLER: The entire unfiltered report as well as the evidence underlying that report must be made available to Congress and to the American people. As much information as can be made public should be made public without delay.

CORNISH: And here's what President Trump had to say earlier today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country.

CORNISH: Adam Kennedy is the deputy director of communications for the White House. He joins me now on the line. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

ADAM KENNEDY: Thanks for having me on.

CORNISH: I want to start with the president's comments. Who is he referring to when he talks about treasonous things being done?

KENNEDY: I think what the president's referring to is that we've had almost, in fact, over two years of a very costly investigation into collusion and obstruction that has turned out to completely vindicate the president and what he's been saying all along that there was no collusion, and there was no obstruction.

CORNISH: The Mueller report specifically notes that it does not exonerate the president on the issue of obstruction. What's your response - who say that the attorney general moved too quickly in deciding that the president didn't obstruct justice when he fired the FBI director James Comey?

KENNEDY: Well, on the issue of obstruction, they gathered evidence. And if there was enough to bring a case against the president, they would have. They chose not to do that. They chose to leave the decision up to the Department of Justice. And it wasn't just Attorney General Barr, but it was Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein who both agreed that there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges. I'd say that's a complete vindication considering we've had two years of Democrats and some in the media essentially saying that the president was already guilty.

CORNISH: The public has not seen the Mueller report itself, nor have we seen the evidence on the issue related to obstruction of justice. Should the attorney general publicly explain his rationale for reaching that judgment?

KENNEDY: Well, I think that he laid out a lot of it in the letter yesterday. He essentially said that they saw almost zero evidence to make them have that conclusion. I think that he went on for about a page going over exactly why there was no grounds for obstruction. In terms of revealing the report, the president wants this to be as transparent as possible, consistent with the law. And I know that Barr said in his letter yesterday that they're looking to do that.

CORNISH: Is the president going to refrain from speaking with the attorney general until the Mueller report is released out of concerns of not being seen as trying to influence what is released in the end?

KENNEDY: Well, I think that the president, if anything, is pushing for as much of it to be released as possible - in fact, more than maybe some might be comfortable with. But the president is putting that decision with the attorney general to follow the laws that apply to this report.

CORNISH: The special counsel is finished with his work, but Congress is still investigating. Will the White House be cooperating with those congressional investigations?

KENNEDY: Well, I mean, the White House has always cooperated with the investigations. And in fact, every investigation so far that has spoken about either collusion or obstruction has also vindicated the president, including the Senate Intelligence Committee. So yes, I think that there will be cooperation, as there has been, consistent with the law. And I think the president has nothing to hide, which is what we've said from the very beginning.

Really, at this point, it's time for Democrats in Congress to stop this futile effort to try to undermine the president and join with him to push forward policies, commonsense policies, that every American can get behind - like lower drug prices...

CORNISH: I want to...

KENNEDY: ...Infrastructure...

CORNISH: ...Jump in for a second because you had Kellyanne Conway today saying that the House Intelligence Committee chair, Adam Schiff, should resign for how he's talked about the investigation over the last two years. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the same. Do you agree with that?

KENNEDY: Well, I think there have certainly been some people that have been far, far out, way beyond what is reasonable in terms of what they've said about the president and his conduct. Now that we've seen a definitive conclusion to this, we see that they were not just completely wrong but to mislead - misleading the public and the American people about what the president has done. And I think they should certainly be held accountable to that.

CORNISH: We note that the attorney general said in his letter that the special counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action, right? And we already know the Southern District of New York - there were state attorney generals in New Jersey, D.C. who are investigating the president's businesses and past and inauguration committee and things like that. Are the legal troubles for this president over?

KENNEDY: Investigations will continue at various venues. But let's not forget where this all started. This all started with charges of collusion and then followed by charges of obstruction. Those have been the two key points, the two points, that have kind of had this whole investigation world revolve around. And we've now seen the conclusion to that, a conclusion that showed that neither one occurred.

And I think that that completely vindicates what the president's been saying since the day one, that he won the election because he was the best candidate with the best message.

CORNISH: That's Adam Kennedy, deputy director of communications for the White House. Thank you for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

KENNEDY: Thanks for having me on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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