KTEP - El Paso, Texas

The Legal Implications Of AG Barr's Mueller Report Summary

18 hours ago
Originally published on March 24, 2019 6:43 pm
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And Congressman Chris Stewart is with us now. He is a Republican. He represents the 2nd District of Utah, and he serves on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

CHRIS STEWART: Good evening.

MARTIN: What's your reaction to today's report?

STEWART: Well, I am relieved. I'm relieved for the president and people associated with him who have been under a dark cloud for several years and accused of various serious crimes. But more than that, I'm relieved for the American people. I mean, it's astounding to me to listen to some people who are disappointed by this finding. For heaven's sakes, what a meaningful event it would have been had the president actually been charged with collusion and conspiracy, which are treasonous offenses, in the - during the time of his campaign.

This is good news for Americans. And hopefully we can move beyond this now. But I'm a political realist, and I think it's unlikely that we do. This is just such a politically-charged time. But I'm relieved and just grateful that we finally came to this conclusion.

MARTIN: On the obstruction question, though, William Barr quoting the special counsel report states that, "while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." What's your take on that?

STEWART: Yeah. Well, look. The attorney general and the deputy attorney general - who, by the way, appointed the special counsel - looked at the evidence that says there's not sufficient evidence to move forward on this. And I think it's just basically unfair to create the impression of, well, you know, he's guilty of obstruction. We're just choosing not to proceed or we don't have enough evidence to proceed. If there's not enough evidence to make a charge and to prove the charge, then it's, as I said, I think it's unfair to keep that cloud over someone and say, well, but we still think he's guilty. I think the American people will reject that. Either he's being charged and he would then be - face trial over those charges, or he hasn't been charged, in which case I think you have to remove the cloud of guilt associated with that.

MARTIN: You probably heard the chair of the House Judiciary Committee say earlier today that he wants the attorney general, William Barr, to testify. Do you want to hear from him?

STEWART: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I've said for months that I want this report released, the special counsel's report released. We're not dealing with truly classified information. There's very, very little in this that would reveal any sources or methods. Now, some of the underlying documents we would have to be careful with - the grand jury testimony, for example, our communications with some of the 13 foreign governments that were involved with this investigation. But the report itself, I'm fairly confident, will have very little if any truly classified information in it. And once we scrub that, I want it released to the American people.

I would love for the special counsel to come and testify before Congress. It's part of the processes, as I said earlier, putting this to rest, answering questions for the American people so that there isn't this speculation, this innuendo, this kind of idea of, well, you know, we didn't get to see it, so we don't really know if we can trust it. I think in fairness to those who've been accused and in terms to the American people and the body politic as we're trying to move past this, the more information we can get the better it is for everyone.

MARTIN: As briefly as you can, the House Intelligence Committee has its own investigation. Should that continue?

STEWART: Well, I mean, if our chairman, Adam Schiff, wants to continue investigating Russian collusion, I mean, good luck with that. I mean, we've had the House Intelligence Committee initial report a year ago. We had the Senate Intelligence Committee that found no evidence of collusion. We have the - now the Mueller investigation, which many of us supported. And many of us have said for, you know, going on more than a year, let's wait and see what Mr. Mueller finds. I mean, he had an incredible effort - as you know, 40 agents, 19 lawyers, I mean, a remarkable 500 witnesses. But if Mr. Schiff thinks that he can go find something that Mr. Mueller can't, I guess, you know, as I said, good luck.

MARTIN: That's Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

STEWART: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.