Republican Rep. Tom McClintock Discusses Mueller Report
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Special counsel Robert Mueller did not come to a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice in connection with the Russia investigation. But Mueller did leave the door open for Congress to explore the possibility. Mueller wrote that Congress's ability to address the president's actions documented in his report, quote, "accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."
And so let's turn to a member of Congress. Tom McClintock is a Republican who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, and he joins us now. Welcome.
TOM MCCLINTOCK: Thank you for having me.
CHANG: So the president is treating this report as a total exoneration. Do you think that's a fair assessment?
MCCLINTOCK: Oh, very much so. I mean, for two and a half years, we've heard morning, noon and night from the Democrats and the media that the president was an agent of Russia who was coordinating with that hostile government to overturn our elections process. Well, now, after - what? - 22 months of investigation, $25 million, thousands of subpoenas, we now know definitively that was a lie. We know that it was...
CHANG: But on the question of obstruction of justice, the report does describe at least 10 instances of questionable conduct. President Trump requested top aides to lie for him. He told his White House counsel to get Mueller fired. He told other aides to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Russia investigation. Do you find any of those details disturbing?
MCCLINTOCK: First, I think Greg Gutfeld put it best when he says 10 times nothing is still nothing. This new lie that the President obstructed justice is a conclusion that the Mueller report does not make. The charges that we hear being attempted to be used to suggest that he was obstructing justice are based, frankly, on a man who was wrongly accused - literally of treason, blowing off steam behind closed doors over the injustice of it all.
But it's going to be very hard for anybody to make a convincing case on obstruction of justice when, A, there was no underlying crime, that there was no assertion of executive privilege. The president turned over every document that was requested - over a million - released his own attorney to be questioned for 30 hours by the Mueller team.
Now, you compare that to Hillary Clinton, who destroyed 30,000 emails that were under subpoena, going so far as to destroy the hard drives that contained them, and you begin...
CHANG: But putting aside...
MCCLINTOCK: ...To get a sense of the double standard that's involved in this discussion.
CHANG: But putting aside the question of whether there could have been a criminal charge for obstruction of justice, did you find any of the details disturbing, any of the details such as he requested top aides to lie for him, where he told his White House counsel to get Mueller fired? Does that, even though it may not strike you as criminal, does it strike you as unethical or improper?
MCCLINTOCK: I don't believe he used the word fired. I think that the quote was...
MCCLINTOCK: ...Mueller's got to go, Mueller's got to go. Well, that's not instruction to fire anybody. That's the guy blowing off steam. If - the president certainly had the constitutional authority to fire Mueller, he did not do so. He did not issue any explicit instructions for Mueller to be fired. And Mueller wasn't fired. So I find this absolutely absurd.
MCCLINTOCK: I think that the next phase of this investigation is not going to be obstruction of justice because there's no case to be made there. I mean, we'll certainly see the Democrats try to exploit that. But there's no case to be made.
I think what's going to happen next is we will be seeing within a few months' time the inspector general releasing a report, the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating the origin of this hoax that was used, first of all, to influence the presidential election. And we know that this was being done by top officials at the FBI, the Department of Justice and the intelligence agencies using a phony dossier they knew was false. And then when they failed to prevail in the election...
CHANG: All right. That's one...
MCCLINTOCK: ...They used it for two and a half years to undermine the legitimate election of the president of the United States.
CHANG: In the 30 seconds...
MCCLINTOCK: That's where I think the investigation is going from here.
CHANG: In the 30 seconds we have left, as - with respect to the Mueller investigation, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee is calling for Robert Mueller to testify. What questions do you have for Robert Mueller?
MCCLINTOCK: I want to know who was responsible for taking this phony dossier, leaking it to the press, using it as a justification for a phony FISA warrant to spy on an opposition presidential campaign.
CHANG: All right. That's Republican Tom McClintock of California. Thanks very much.
MCCLINTOCK: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.