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Mueller Report Is Out. Time For Republicans And Democrats To Comment

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So far, we know few details about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. We have a four-page summary from the Department of Justice. We do seem to know President Trump's strategy now that the investigation is over. He and Republicans are saying the cloud has been lifted. It is time to move on.

And let's talk about the way forward and also the position that Democrats are now in. We have Chris Buskirk with us. He's a conservative radio host and editor of the publication "American Greatness." And we're joined by Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. Welcome to you both. Thanks for coming on.

MARIA CARDONA: Good morning.

CHRIS BUSKIRK: Thanks, David.

GREENE: So Chris, let me start with you. If the special counsel wrote that he cannot fully exonerate the president on the question of obstruction of justice, does the president at least owe Americans an explanation right now for some of his actions?

BUSKIRK: No, and let me explain why. The reason is - look. Robert Mueller was brought in as special counsel to investigate Russian collusion. Any claim of obstruction of justice presupposes that there was an underlying crime, meaning that there was obstruction and that the president was subsequently trying to obstruct justice being done with regard to the underlying claim of collusion. The special counsel exonerated President Trump on all claims of collusion. Therefore, there can be no obstruction of that justice...

GREENE: Although, lawyers have...

BUSKIRK: ...Because there's no conspiracy.

GREENE: Lawyers have been telling us that you can obstruct. Even if it's not a legal case that can be made, you can obstruct an investigation. And Mueller clearly had enough to say that he can't fully exonerate the president. Why not come out and explain his actions to the American people before putting this behind him?

BUSKIRK: Are you talking about Mueller or Trump?

GREENE: Trump, the president.

BUSKIRK: Yeah, I don't - look. I just don't - I think it would probably be politically savvy for him. I don't think it's legally necessary. And I think he can come out, and I think he would probably be well-served to talk about those issues. And that is something that, again, I think is more of a political issue - and I would support it - more than a legal issue, which I think is probably unnecessary.

GREENE: Maria, let me ask you. Given the attorney general saying no charges are coming on obstruction of justice, despite the fact that Mueller at least left that an open question, Mueller has firmly said no collusion between the president's legal team and Russia. Doesn't the president have a right to declare victory and say this is over?

CARDONA: Well, he - whether or not he has a right to do it, he's doing it. (Laughter) This is what we know that Trump does, and he will continue to do that. I think the problem here is that we don't know what we don't know. And there is so much more that we don't know. And that's why Democrats are saying that we need to see the full report. Until we see the full report with all of the underlying evidence - barring any national security issues - then we can't really tell what is in there and what isn't and what the context is of what the quotes in the Barr letter were from the Mueller report.

And I think that's the problem. What Barr did in the letter is that he put a spin in there that Mueller himself didn't, which is while Mueller says that he cannot exonerate the president from charges of obstruction of justice, Barr and Rosenstein are doing that. Well, they shouldn't because we don't know the extent of what is in the Mueller report. And until we do, there are more questions in here than what it answers.

GREENE: But could...

CARDONA: And in addition to that, let's remember that there are tons of other investigations going on, so lots more to find out.

GREENE: But are - is there a point where it might be even just politically better for Democrats to move on instead of continue these investigations, now that the special counsel has spoken?

CARDONA: Well, let's be very clear. Democrats have a very, very clear oversight responsibility, which Republicans completely ignored and turned their back on when they were in charge of the House for the two year - first two years of the Trump administration. Regardless of what the Mueller report says - and it was a very narrow purview that he was investigating - there are a lot of other issues that Trump has been involved in that seem to point to a complete corrupt - culture of corruption within this administration, which is why so many of what Mueller found, he actually referred to several U.S. attorneys' office around the country.

If there was nothing else that Trump had to worry about from a legal standpoint or from a corruption standpoint, then there would be no other investigations. And so it is actually Congress's responsibility to take on these investigations, especially when Republicans turned their back on them for the last two years, to find out exactly what this president did, what he knew, what the people around him did, what they knew. There are so many connections with the Russians that they lied about. If everything was on the up and up, why did they lie about it?

GREENE: Well, let me ask you about - and this is an area I want to finish by asking you both about. The reality is Russia interfered in an American election. I mean, that does not seem to be in dispute anymore. Chris, let me ask you. I mean, is it - even if it's not politically wise to keep many of these questions or the issue in the news, does the president not have a responsibility to continue investigating that - what exactly Russia did, who they had contact with and how they interfered?

BUSKIRK: Absolutely right. No, I think that's right. And I think that I - you know, I saw over the weekend - you probably saw this too, David - you know, Matt Taibbi, who's from Rolling Stone, said that the Russia collusion hoax is the WMD conspiracy theory of this generation. I think he's absolutely right about that.

And it has harmed national security because it has stalled actual investigations into the actions that Russia has - took in the 2016 election because it politicized it in a way that was foolish. And I think that now that we can - hopefully, in a bipartisan way - turn our attention to saying, OK, look. What did Russia do? We know that they were running Facebook ads and social media and sponsoring rallies and things like this. What did they do? And it how do we prevent it in the future?

GREENE: Maria, let - just let me ask you. I mean, are Democrats willing to turn their focus away from suggesting presidential wrongdoing in order to focus more on protecting our elections?

CARDONA: I don't think that they have to do one or the other. They can do both because there are still issues of presidential wrongdoing. But the focus - absolutely, I agree with Chris - has to be also, what did Russia do? And how can we prevent it from happening in the future? And when this president still cannot accept and cannot admit that there even was an interference from Russia as he stands beside Putin and tells him that he's right and our national security apparatus is wrong, there's an issue with that.

GREENE: Conservative radio talk show host Chris Buskirk, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, thank you both.

CARDONA: Thank you.

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