Mueller Report Still Attracts Attention From Both Sides Of The Aisle

Apr 22, 2019
Originally published on April 22, 2019 9:13 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So first there was the waiting for the Mueller report, then the release of the redacted Mueller report, and now we have the fallout from the Mueller report. And this fallout includes a lot of different interpretations. Democrats now have even more questions, a lot of questions. The White House is really looking to have it both ways. They're claiming the Mueller report was rigged. They're also insisting that it exonerates Donald Trump, even though the report says the opposite.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

RUDY GIULIANI: They tried very, very hard to create a case that the president was involved in Russian whatever. Couldn't do it.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: The Mueller report itself says that there was no interference.

GUILIANI: There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.

CONWAY: The president is not going to jail. He's staying in the White House for 5 1/2 more years.

GREENE: All right. We heard there the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, also senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, on "Fox News Sunday," ABC's "This Week" and CNN's "State Of The Union." I'm joined by NPR White House correspondent and host of the NPR Politics Podcast Tamara Keith. Hi, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi.

GREENE: So the president's team - I mean, is this a love-hate relationship with the Mueller report? What are they saying here?

KEITH: Yeah. I think that they are looking at a couple of different things. They are both talking about, legally, the president was not indicted on anything. So they're saying, look, clean bill of health, on the law. You know, Mueller did not find anything that was prosecutable. And then they're also saying, but, hey, this report has a lot of stuff in it that is negative and could be embarrassing to the president, like a bunch of his subordinates not doing what he told them to do. And so the report, they say, is rigged or various other terms. The president used a term that we can't repeat on the radio to describe the report.

GREENE: So they're basically saying, I mean, the law is what's important, ignore the morality and ethics and other things that may have come up with this behavior.

KEITH: Quite literally. Rudy Giuliani, on CNN, said, morality, that isn't what prosecutors look at. So they are very much focused on the law. Democrats, on the other hand, are going to be focused, as they continue to hold hearings and do the investigations that they've already started, they're going to be looking at things about, like, what is right and wrong, what example to set, whether there was abuse of power and other things that aren't illegal but may be questionable.

GREENE: And they have - the House Democrats have what sounds like a pretty important conference call, maybe to talk about strategy, this morning. What are they thinking about?

KEITH: Well, they are considering how to proceed. Several top Democrats have said in the last several days since the Mueller report came out, hey, there's a lot of stuff in here that we're very concerned about. We don't want to set a precedent that it's OK for a president to, you know - for a campaign to accept help from a foreign adversary or for a president to want to shut down investigations and order people to shut down an investigation.

But on the other hand, they're saying impeachment would be the course. But how do you proceed on impeachment? That's their concern because they say the Senate certainly wouldn't convict. So is it a political folly to move in that direction?

GREENE: Although, some Democrats saying it's worth it no matter what the Senate would do, I mean, because the important role that they feel they'd play, which really speaks to the moment for Democrats in terms of what to do next. Is this a good campaign issue? I mean, are they talking about it on the campaign trail?

KEITH: They aren't talking about it much on the campaign trail. Elizabeth Warren did bring it up, said that she thought that they should move to impeachment. But many other candidates are keeping their distance in part, they say, because they aren't hearing a lot from voters about demands for impeachment.

GREENE: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Tam, thanks.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.