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Trump, Post-Mueller

Mar 29, 2019
Originally published on March 29, 2019 5:04 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On this Friday morning Americans do not have the Mueller Report. A new survey finds an overwhelming majority want it to be public before they decide what to think. Americans do have a summary by President Trump's attorney general. William Barr says Russia worked to elect the president. He says the investigation found no evidence that President Trump's campaign conspired with Russia, and Barr decided not to charge his boss with obstruction of justice. That was enough for the president to celebrate at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich.

(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Russia hoax is finally dead.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: The collusion delusion is over.

INSKEEP: NPR White House correspondent, Tamara Keith, was in the crowd in Grand Rapids. Tam, good morning.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: The president sounds triumphant.

KEITH: Absolutely. It was a victory lap last night. In addition to declaring the investigation over, he also started going after his political enemies, mocking Congressman Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler - they're the heads of two House committees that are investigating the president. And, you know, that belittling had something of a purpose. Both the president trying to make them pay for what he says is two years of overreach, but also trying to undermine their investigations that are still lingering. And if it wasn't clear from the mocking and the nicknames, President Trump also made it quite explicit saying Democrats are quote, "defrauding the public with this ridiculous B.S.," and he did not say B.S.. And he also sort of mocked the left for hoping that Mueller would give them something.

(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)

TRUMP: Robert Muller was a god to the Democrats, was a god to them until he said there was no collusion. They don't like him so much right now.

INSKEEP: Although we have this new NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist Poll out this morning which finds overwhelming majorities of Americans are not so sure they're being patient, they want to wait and see what the full Mueller report says whenever it may be made public.

KEITH: Well, it's sort of a mix of things. So part of it is that people still have questions. 56 percent say they still have questions, and only 36 percent say that President Trump is clear of any wrongdoing. But the big headline number - and this includes both Democrats and Republicans who want this - 75 percent said that the full Mueller report should be made public, including a majority of Republicans and including a number of people outside the Trump rally who I spoke to last night. Jack Korkl, 19 years old, is one of the folks I talked to.

JACK KORKL: I think he's innocent. I think that it should be released in full. Personally I thought it was like kind of like they had laid out the groundwork for it in the previous administration and Trump - Mueller, I think he's an honest guy and he did the investigation. And I think now everyone should just move forward.

KEITH: I mean, the fascinating thing is that Republicans, Trump supporters, they want the report out because they think it's going to further vindicate the president. And Democrats want the report out because they don't trust that the attorney general really summarized this hundreds of pages in four pages.

INSKEEP: So while we wait for more of that report to come out, the administration has changed the subject to health care.

KEITH: (Laughter) Indeed they have. And someone might say that the president stepped on his own message. But the Trump administration has sided with a judicial ruling that says that Obamacare should be completely thrown out. And President Trump talked about that last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)

TRUMP: So we're going to get rid of Obamacare. And I said it the other day, the Republican Party will become the party of great health care. It's good. It's important.

KEITH: The president says that they're going to come up with a plan, he's even tasked some Republican senators to work on it. But there is no plan at this point. And Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was asked about this by Politico and he said he looks forward to seeing what the president proposes and can work out with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which is some Senate shade.

INSKEEP: Yeah. We had Mike Braun, one of the Republican senators, on the program just yesterday. And he was hoping to get past this whole lawsuit, leave Obamacare alone and actually try to focus on more positive Republican proposals. But there is - the question is what would the party actually get behind that could pass?

KEITH: And that's been the problem for the entire Trump presidency.

INSKEEP: Tamara, thanks so much.

KEITH: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR White House reporter, Tamara Keith, in Grand Rapids, Mich., today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.