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Sen. Amy Klobuchar On What She Wants To Hear From Rosenstein

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here is Rod Rosenstein's job today - go before the entire U.S. Senate behind closed doors and explain why President Trump fired the director of the FBI - oh, and also talk about your decision yesterday to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russia, its interference in the presidential election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Rosenstein is deputy attorney general. His decision to name former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel is getting bipartisan praise. Here is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and Republican Congressman Darrell Issa.

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RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Bob Mueller has the experience and expertise, the guts and backbone to ensure the independence of this investigation.

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DARRELL ISSA: We now have a focal point of somebody that we all trust.

GREENE: OK, joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar. She's a Democrat from Minnesota, and she's on the line. Senator, welcome back to the program.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you, David. It's great to be on.

GREENE: You like the choice of Bob Mueller?

KLOBUCHAR: I do. This is like a breath of fresh air. I got to work with him for a few years when I first got to the Senate, and I actually got to see him work on some issues with my state with recruiting - terrorists recruiting from al-Shabab. And it wasn't an easy issue, and he did a good job. And I think a lot of people have had that experience. That's why you're seeing this broad bipartisan support. He's someone that worked through the Bush administration and the Obama administration. He's someone that actually President Obama asked to stay on for a few years.

GREENE: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: But I think people feel good about this because we want to have faith in the rule of law again. The administration, with all of these connections to Russia, from the attorney general being recused to the former acting attorney general being fired to the FBI director being fired to the New York U.S. attorney being fired - all of them potentially with some connections to Russia and the investigation - this brings back faith in the rule of law.

GREENE: Well, if you believe this brings back faith in the rule of law, are you ready to accept whatever Robert Mueller finds? If he concludes that there are those connections but that the Trump campaign really didn't collude at all in the presidential election, are you ready to move on from that?

KLOBUCHAR: I'm ready to accept it in the context of the criminal investigation because this is going to be the investigation that's happening on that side, and he is heading it up. But that doesn't mean that we don't want the Senate intelligence committee to keep doing their job, which is very different because it's focused on Russia's influence, not just the connections to the Trump campaign. And then I also still think we need an independent commission because we need rules of the game going forward. And a panel of experts appointed by both sides could say, OK, one, here's how we have to change our laws so we protect ourselves from these cyberattacks.

Two, here's some rules of the road going forward. If campaigns get things that are the fruits of a cyberattack from a foreign country, these are things we suggest you do. You could imagine the campaign's major parties could agree to something where they don't use this material, where the media agrees, just as the French media really didn't put all of the stuff out there that was the result of a cyberattack right before the election.

GREENE: Now, this sounds like an important point. I mean, if Bob Mueller - I just want to be clear here - said, you know, no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, you, other Democrats, Republicans, could all come together and say, OK, that issue is now over. Let's all come together and continue investigating the danger of having a country get involved in a campaign.

KLOBUCHAR: Right. And by the way, I don't think we should say what Bob Mueller's going to (laughter) find at all here because...

GREENE: Sure, sure.

KLOBUCHAR: ...From my perspective as a former prosecutor, there's a lot of fire here. There is a lot of signs that something was wrong here, with General Flynn, with the firing of Jim Comey. So let's get that aside first. That's why it's so important to have a special prosecutor. But yes, other work must continue because it was - Marco Rubio had said one time this was one candidate in one party and the next time it's going to be another candidate in the other party.

GREENE: Well, let's look at the other...

KLOBUCHAR: This is about our democracy.

GREENE: ...The other - the other possibility. I mean, if there was indeed obstruction of justice with which some have suggested, what's the next step there if Bob Mueller finds that that happened, that President Trump had been involved in that?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think we all know, and I always like to look at the facts before we make any conclusions. I mean, you know the process through Congress. But I think, first, we need to let this man do his job. And we have to stop litigating it ourselves and let someone do the actual criminal investigation.

GREENE: Well, the other thing that Rod Rosenstein is going to be asked about today is his memo suggesting that James Comey be fired. You've known Comey for some time, right?

KLOBUCHAR: I guess. We actually were in the same law school class. And I can tell you he was a good guy back in law school - not everyone was. And everyone enjoyed him. He also had a lot of respect and that, I would say, respect has carried through with how law enforcement and his fellow agents felt about him. So one of the questions I'm going to be asking Rod Rosenstein is how did they come to this conclusion to fire him. I mean, we've learned that the original memo he did was something of a pretense given what the president later said and given what spokespeople have said. And I'd like to know why they fired him given that from my experience he had a very good reputation with agents and then with law enforcement as a whole.

GREENE: OK. Well, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar will have a chance to ask the deputy attorney general those questions when he meets with the full Senate behind closed doors today. She's a Democrat from Minnesota. Senator, thanks as always.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.