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White House Says Attorney General Will Make Next Decisions With Mueller Report

Mar 22, 2019
Originally published on March 22, 2019 6:36 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All right, let's go to the White House now, where our White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe is. Hey, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Hello.

CHANG: So what's been the White House reaction so far? Are you hearing anything there?

RASCOE: Well, so right now you did have Sarah Sanders - she released a statement. And now President Trump is down in Mar-a-Lago, and Sarah Sanders she released a statement saying that the next steps are really going to be up to the attorney general, and that the administration is looking forward to the process kind of taking its course. She also pointed out that the White House has not received or been briefed on the report yet. Now, President Trump, before he let for Florida, he was still kind of complaining about this investigation. Here's what he said.

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PRES DONALD TRUMP: Well, we're going to see what happens. It's going to be very interesting. But we'll see what happens. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. Everybody knows it. It's all a big hoax. It's - I call it the witch hunt. It's all a big hoax. So we'll see what happens. I know that the attorney general, highly respected, ultimately will make a decision.

RASCOE: So you have President Trump there slamming the investigation, basically, and saying we'll...

CHANG: Right, as he has for a long time now.

RASCOE: Yes, as he has for a long time and kind of slamming it. And so we'll see what happens. We have the Sanders statement. Everyone, I think, will be watching the Twitter feed to see if there will be more from President Trump on this.

CHANG: Do you have any sense of what the next steps are for the White House? I know that they have been preparing a counter-report that was already pretty lengthy last year. Any news on that front?

RASCOE: Well, so a White House official basically said that it will be - the White House response will kind of depend on what's in the report. But the tricky thing about that is, though it's not necessary - the report doesn't necessarily just go to the White House, so it'll kind of be up to the president to decide whether to demand to see the report. That's not just automatic. And he can talk to the AG if he wants to. They're not really - they're not adversaries here. So technically, he could talk to the AG about what's going on with the report. That will be another decision that he will have to make. Of course, he will have to think about how that kind of looks and whether complaints could be raised about that.

CHANG: Right. Explain that a little more. As we just heard Mary Louise Kelly and Carrie Johnson talking about, it's up to the attorney general at this point to decide what version of the Mueller report will get released to the public, ultimately. What version will the White House see? Is that up to the attorney general's discretion, or since the White House runs the Justice Department, President Trump will get to see whatever version he wants to see?

RASCOE: Well, and that's the thing - I guess, technically, President Trump could demand, hand over the report; hand over everything for me to see. Those are decisions that the White House has to make, and it sounds like, talking to officials here, those haven't been made yet. Right now, publicly, they're putting everything onto Barr, and when you heard President Trump talking earlier, that's what he was saying; that this will be up to bar, and that these decisions will be made by him. But President Trump has also said that he thinks that the report should just be released to the public, that people should be able to see it and decide for themselves. So he's kind of been giving different messages about this.

CHANG: There's also been some remarks from his legal team, that they might be interested in invoking executive privilege to portions of the report. Have you heard on plans to do that, for that strategy to actually unfold?

RASCOE: It's not clear right now. So you have the report, you have the comments from them, at this point, just kind of - from his lawyers, welcoming the report and saying that it's great that it's - that this process has been completed right now, and so we don't know whether they will try to throw up some roadblocks as time goes on. Right now it's really a waiting game.

CHANG: Still too early to tell. That's NPR's Ayesha Rascoe. Thank you, Ayesha.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.