As It Happens

Mueller report synopsis just 'propaganda' from the AG, says Democratic congressman

"We haven't seen the Mueller report," says Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin. "We've seen the Barr report."

'We haven't seen the Mueller report,' says Jamie Raskin. 'We've seen the Barr report'

Robert Mueller has found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government, according to a summary of his report. (Molly Riley/Reuters)
Listen6:04

Read Story Transcript

Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin says the public has no way of knowing what's really in the Mueller report.

According to a four-page memo released by Attorney General William Barr on Saturday, Special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence that U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign "conspired or co-ordinated" with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Barr's summary also says Mueller reached no conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice, instead setting out "evidence on both sides" of the question and stating that "while this report does not conclude the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Raskin, a Maryland lawmaker who sits on the House judiciary committee, told As It Happens guest host Megan Williams that he wants to see the full report. Here is part of their conversation.

At this point, are you willing to accept that there was no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia?

We haven't seen the Mueller report. We've seen the Barr report. We've seen a four-page memo characterizing it and interpreting it and fitting it into Attorney General Barr's perspective on the world. But we haven't seen the report.

So I'm willing to accept anything that's in there. If they've got in there that Donald Trump is husband of the year and a decorated Vietnam war veteran and somebody who told [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to take a hike, and that's what they found, I'm willing to believe it.

We want to see the report itself and all the evidence that it's based on.

Jamie Raskin says he doesn't trust the attorney general's summary of the Mueller report. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

But we do know that that's Mueller's conclusion.

Actually, we know it's Mueller's conclusion, for example, that there was no conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but we don't know about other Russian actors.

There's a lot of very cleverly and slyly worded things in the Barr letter.

President Trump is already saying that this is, quote, "total exoneration." How much does this take the wind out of the sails of the Democrats that the main thing Mueller was tasked to investigate, he found no evidence of?

I'm really much less interested in the politics of it than trying to get to the truth of the situation.

The amusing part about the president broadcasting his complete and total exoneration is that we've seen exactly one sentence from the Mueller report itself, which completely contradicts that.

He said that although we don't have enough evidence to prosecute for the crime of obstruction now, this is definitely not an exoneration. And the president takes that and says this is a complete and total exoneration. So you make of it what it what you will.

Attorney General William Barr released a four-page memo summarizing the key findings of the Mueller report. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Now on the issue of obstruction of justice, Mueller's position was was less clear. What exactly are the questions you're left with about that aspect of the investigation?

He seemed to find that there was a substantial quantum of evidence that would support a prosecution for obstruction of justice. But for some unstated reason, which the attorney general does not clarify, he was not willing to say that he wanted to go ahead and he left that to the attorney general.

It may have to do with the fact that Attorney General Barr's position — as he outlined in a 19-page, single-spaced memorandum, which doubled as a job application — that the president cannot, as a matter of law, be found guilty of obstruction of justice because the law enforcement function reports to him.

Obviously, that's a dubious or at least controversial thesis that's been advanced by the attorney general. But it might explain why he took the factual evidence that was brought forward by the special counsel and said legally this cannot support an indictment.

The House judiciary committee that you sit on has already launched its own probe into the administration, demanding documents on many members of President Trump's inner circle. When it comes to the public, how much appetite do you think there is for these investigations now that Mueller's report has failed to find a smoking gun?

First of all, we don't know what the Muller report found, because we haven't seen the Mueller report. 

But look, the public appetite for the truth is insatiable. People want to know what exactly happened. And this is a democracy. In a democracy, people have a right to know.

Now the Washington Post today quoted [an unnamed] former White House official saying that Democrats have just handed"on a silver platter" the Trump campaign the "greatest election issue in modern political history." Do you agree?

No. What's happened is that the attorney general of the United States has handed President Trump the greatest propaganda coup of the Trump presidency simply by virtue of manipulating the evidence and closely controlling public access to what is in the Muller report.

Just turn the report over and we can judge for ourselves what's in there, but the rest of this is just propaganda.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from The Associated Press. Produced by Chris Harbord. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.