With Meghna Chakrabarti
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., responds to special counsel Robert Mueller's statements Wednesday, and discusses the next steps for Congress.
On whether Robert Mueller should testify before Congress
"I think eventually he probably should, but the key thing is that he underscored the critical point that the reason the president was not indicted was simply because of the Department of Justice policy against indicting a sitting president. But he essentially pointed America's attention to the overwhelming evidence that the president committed serial acts of obstruction of justice in trying to interfere with the Mueller investigation itself. And he repudiated Attorney General Barr's attempts to obfuscate and cloud that issue."
"We have 900 former U.S. attorneys and federal prosecutors who were Attorney General Barr's colleagues who are saying that based on the evidence set forth in the report, anybody else in America would be prosecuted for obstructing justice."Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
On how Congress will act next — and to what end
"What he was saying was, 'Everything that you need to know is in the Muller report.' And it is. There are 11 different episodes of presidential obstruction of justice which are recounted in minute detail there. He also discusses the sweeping and systematic campaign by the Russians to undermine our 2016 presidential election.
"Now, he did find that there were lots of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but he did not find sufficient evidence to believe that there was a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians. But he was not able to say though about obstruction. We have 900 former U.S. attorneys and federal prosecutors who were Attorney General Barr's colleagues who are saying that based on the evidence set forth in the report, anybody else in America would be prosecuted for obstructing justice.
"So this is what he passes over to Congress, and I think that yesterday's press conference was illuminating and clarifying because we've been laboring under a fog of propaganda for two months by Attorney General Barr who essentially has been misrepresenting and distorting the contents of the report. He basically has been you know getting going with the presidential mantra of 'no obstruction, no collusion,' when in fact that is not at all what special counsel Muller found. He found substantial evidence of obstruction and he laid it out in the report.
"We have multiple investigations that are taking place in different committees at this point. I am one of dozens of members of Congress, many of whom are on the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight Committee, who have called for an impeachment inquiry. Now, the critical thing to understand about that and the reason why I think there is such sentiment growing for it, is that an impeachment inquiry is different from impeachment articles. An inquiry is the investigation into whether there were high crimes and misdemeanors. And it kicks off this fact-finding process and this articulation of legal and constitutional values. But the final indictment is what comes at the end of the process. And most impeachment inquiries have actually not led to indictments. So it's not merely a formalistic distinction, and this is why I think there is a lot of steam gathering for the idea of launching the impeachment inquiry. There's little else we can do because of all of the evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors that have been passed over to us by the special counsel."
"It's not all about whether Donald Trump was able to get elected in the electoral college on his own. It's about an attack on American national political sovereignty and democracy."Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
On President Trump's response to Mueller's statement
"It's a scandalous and dangerous thing for our republic that the president of the United States refuses to accept the words of law enforcement, as well as all of the national security community and intelligence agencies that there was this sweeping and systematic campaign to interfere in our election that involved obtaining hundreds of thousands of emails by breaking into the computer systems at the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. It's not all about whether Donald Trump was able to get elected in the electoral college on his own. It's about an attack on American national political sovereignty and democracy. And the president, again, ... refuses to deal with that fundamental reality. There clearly was a lot of stuff he does not want found out. Remember when he said that if the special counsel looked into his personal finances, that was a red line, and threatened at that point to blow up the whole process. We know that he told [former White House counsel] Don McGann to go out and fire special counsel Mueller and to concoct a justification about conflicts of interest, and so on. So, the obstruction of justice continues to this day. The president has refused to allow members of the executive branch to come and testify before committees, he's refusing to turn over documents and they are defying congressional subpoena. So we're in the process of restoring congressional power and our preeminence, and members of Congress are not going to put up with these repeated daily assaults on the rule of law."
"We've been laboring under a fog of propaganda for two months by Attorney General Barr who essentially has been misrepresenting and distorting the contents of the report."Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
From The Reading List
PBS NewsHour: "Why Rep. Raskin says he’s changed his mind on impeaching Trump" — "The showdown over the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches continued to play out Tuesday on Capitol Hill, as Congress again sought answers from the White House, and the Trump administration declined to provide them. Lisa Desjardins reports, and Judy Woodruff talks to Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, about moving toward impeachment."
Politico: "Mueller statement emboldens some Dems on impeachment" — "Special counsel Robert Mueller handed Democrats a new weapon on Wednesday that they hope will convince Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
"So far, though, Pelosi isn’t embracing those calls — only reiterating her view that the House must continue to investigate Trump’s conduct.
"In his only public statement since the start of his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller explicitly said that he could not have charged Trump with obstruction of justice because of the Justice Department’s long-standing policy that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president."
Washington Post: "Opinion: A top Democrat warns: If we don’t confront Trump, he’ll grow more lawless" — "House Democrats are embroiled in an increasingly intense debate over whether to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, an outcome that appears to be growing harder for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to resist.
"The Post reports that at a meeting Monday night, Judiciary Committee Democrats pummeled Pelosi with the argument that initiating an inquiry would maximize legal leverage to force compliance with their oversight demands, which Trump is choking off on many fronts.
"Moments ago, former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who witnessed extensive and likely criminal obstruction of justice, failed to honor a Judiciary Committee subpoena, honoring Trump’s command not to appear."
Stefano Kotsonis produced this segment for broadcast.
This article was originally published on May 29, 2019.
This segment aired on May 30, 2019.