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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/19/19

The Mueller Report: Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston on Trump-Russia Ties, Obstruction & More

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The Justice Department has released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's 448-page report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia and President Trump's attempts to impede the special counsel's investigation. The report states the campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts," but Mueller concluded, "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." Mueller also outlined at least 10 instances where Trump attempted to impede the special counsel's investigation, but Mueller came to no definitive conclusion on whether Trump broke the law by obstructing justice. In the report, Mueller suggests that this is a decision for Congress to make. We host a debate on the report's findings between two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists: Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept and David Cay Johnston, who has covered Donald Trump since the 1980s. His most recent book is "It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America."

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

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AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, the Justice Department released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's 448-page report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia and President Trump's attempts to obstruct justice in the special counsel's investigation. The report states, quote, the campaign expected to "benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts," but Mueller concluded, "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

Mueller also outlined at least 10 instances where Trump attempted to impede the special counsel's investigation, but Mueller came to no definitive conclusion on whether Trump broke the law by obstructing justice. In the report, Mueller suggests this is a decision for Congress to make. The report states, quote, "With respect to whether the president can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded Congress has authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice," unquote.

But many questions remain about the Mueller report. About 10% of the report was redacted. Mueller has yet to speak publicly about his findings.

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On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr held a news conference before the redacted report was released. Barr defended the president's actions, claiming Trump had a, quote, "sincere belief" that Mueller's probe was undermining his presidency.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: In assessing the president's actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president's personal culpability.

Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the special counsel's report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel's investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims.

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic lawmakers are accusing Attorney General Barr of mischaracterizing some of Mueller's findings. House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler has announced plans to issue a subpoena for the full, unredacted Mueller report and to request Mueller testify before the committee. Nadler spoke in New York Thursday.

REP. JERROLD NADLER: Even in its incomplete form, however, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct. Contrary to the attorney general's statement this morning that the White House, quote, "fully cooperated," unquote, with the investigation, the report makes clear that the president refused to be interviewed by the special counsel and refused to provide written answers to follow-up questions, page 13 of volume two; makes clear that his associates destroyed evidence relevant to the Russian investigation, page 10, volume one. The report concluded there was "substantial evidence," in quotes, that President Trump attempted to prevent an investigation into his campaign and his own conduct, page 76, page 78, page 90, page 157, volume two.

AMY GOODMAN: While Democrats urged further congressional probes into the findings of the report, some went further, turning to talk of impeachment, in the hours after the report was released.

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For more, we're joined by two guests. Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, founding editor of The Intercept, leading critic of the media coverage of alleged Russian collusion, he joins us from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. And David Cay Johnston is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, previously with The New York Times, now founder and editor of DCReport.org. He has covered Trump for years. His most recent book on him, It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.

We welcome you both back to Democracy Now! for this rematch. Today let's begin with Glenn Greenwald in Brazil. As you read through the 448-page report, Glenn, your overall response and what you thought was most significant about what Robert Mueller and his team found?

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