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Mueller Team Reportedly Frustrated; Biden Responds To Allegations Of Inappropriate Touching


Joe Biden says he will be more restrained from now on. The former vice president is on the verge of a presidential campaign, and he released a video answering women who have said that his conversational style - leaning in, hands on the shoulders, his face close to her face, maybe a kiss on the head - makes them uncomfortable. NPR's Domenico Montanaro is with us. Domenico, good morning.


INSKEEP: Is this video an apology?

MONTANARO: You know, I think that's a key question. You know, I think Biden would say he is apologizing - that he, quote, "gets it." But let's hear him in his own words. Here he is.


JOE BIDEN: Social norms have begun to change, they've shifted. And the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. And I get it. I get it. I hear what they're saying. I understand it. And I'll be much more mindful. That's my, responsibility.

MONTANARO: So he's trying to clean it up here. I mean the fact is he's had four women now come forward saying that he made him - that he made them feel uncomfortable in various situations at political events. And this is not a great way for Biden, who wants to potentially launch a presidential campaign, to get started.

INSKEEP: Well, how is this going over?

MONTANARO: Not great with at least some of the women who have accused him of making them feel uncomfortable. Lucy Flores, who ran for lieutenant governor in Nevada and who, you know, first came out with how she felt about this, said yesterday that this was not an apology - that he has not apologized to them - at least to her. So, you know, it's not exactly going down great in - with the people who Biden ostensibly would have to win over.

INSKEEP: And some people have pointed out also, of course, that Biden, by releasing a video in this way, doesn't take questions - isn't confronted with questions about his behavior here.

MONTANARO: Yeah, absolutely. He's not taking questions. It's, I think, surprising for some. If he wanted to go kind of old school and deal with it this way, then he could have gone on and talked with some interviewer...


MONTANARO: Sure, why not?

INSKEEP: You're invited. You're invited. Another story I do have to ask about, Domenico. We still do not have the Mueller report, the special counsel report. We now have competing interpretations. William Barr, the attorney general, as we know, said the special counsel did not accuse President Trump's campaign of criminal conspiracy with Russia, although Russia did interfere with the election. Barr did not charge the president with obstruction of justice, but now some investigators have their own views?

MONTANARO: The Times and the Post talked to associates and officials who were told by members of Mueller's team that they were disgruntled with Barr's letter. The four-page letter that Attorney General William Barr put out to Congress describing what is an approximately 400-page report that no one has seen except for those within the Justice Department.

There's been a team of investigators really working on this for the Mueller team, you know, for almost two years. And it's not surprising that there would be some people who've worked on that who didn't feel that that four-page letter was enough in describing what they see to be as serious potential problems and ethical issues that the president may have had.

INSKEEP: How is the president's team responding?

MONTANARO: Well, we heard from White House - we heard from Trump's counsel, Rudy Giuliani, outside the White House. He was on Fox News last night responding. Here's some of what he said.


RUDY GIULIANI: They're a bunch of sneaky, unethical leakers. And they are rabid Democrats who hate the president of the United States. And I am absolutely confident that the report will bear out the conclusions - no obstruction, no Russian collusion of any kind. It will bear that out.

MONTANARO: Yeah, and we're going to hear from the president, I'm sure, in the coming hours and days.

INSKEEP: OK. NPR's Domenico Montanaro, thanks so much.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
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