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Leon Panetta: It's 'Good News' That Trump Did Not Collude With Russia06:06
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Leon Panetta, pictured here in 2013, was White House chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Leon Panetta, pictured here in 2013, was White House chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton. (Susan Walsh/AP)
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President Trump and some Republican lawmakers are on the offensive following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to Attorney General William Barr, suggesting on Monday that those behind the Russia probe be investigated themselves.

Barr released a four-page summary of the Mueller report to Congress on Sunday that said Mueller’s investigation did not find any evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders are calling on the attorney general to release the Mueller report in full by April 2.

Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and CIA director under President Obama, tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson it is likely the report will be released in full after it is reviewed for grand jury and other classified material.

“I think that there's no reason why at least a majority of that report ought not to be made public,” Panetta says. “There are possibly some classified portions of it based on some of the evidence that they derived from looking at the Russian issue. But I suspect that even the intelligence committees ought to be able to receive that information.”

The big question that remains following the release of the Barr letter is whether or not Trump obstructed justice by trying to influence the investigation. Mueller concluded he could not exonerate Trump on that issue.

“It's important for the American people to get a full picture of just exactly what was contained in the Bob Mueller investigation.”

Leon Panetta

The only way to figure that out, Panetta says, would be to take a closer look at the full report, and to call Barr and Mueller to testify about their conclusions.

“If the report determined that the president was not exonerated, I really do think that the country needs to ask more questions about why did the Justice Department make the determination that they did not to prosecute? And what exactly is in this report that does not exonerate the president?” Panetta says. “It's important for the American people to get a full picture of just exactly what was contained in the Bob Mueller investigation.”

Barr’s letter showed that there was good news and bad news in this report, Panetta says, but now both Trump and Democrats need to be careful not to overplay their hand on the issue.

“I think it is good news that the Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government. To have a president or his campaign engage in treasonous activities, certainly would be horrible for the country,” Panetta says. “I think this is a time to be careful about looking at the evidence, but more importantly, for both sides to begin looking at the bigger issues facing this country.”


Chris Bentley produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt.

This segment aired on March 25, 2019.

Jeremy Hobson Twitter Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.

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Samantha Raphelson Twitter Digital Producer, Here & Now
Samantha Raphelson is a digital producer for Here & Now, based at NPR in Washington, D.C.

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