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Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski Discusses Russia Investigation


All right, let's bring in someone who is firmly in President Trump's corner, his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Welcome.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you for having me.

CHANG: So President Trump is obviously gearing up for his re-election campaign now. Let's say this report is bad for the president. How much of a liability do you think that will be as he heads into 2020?

LEWANDOWSKI: Yeah, but let's just be honest. The report is not bad. And let me tell you what the indicators are. The indicators are that Bob Mueller has now told the attorney general that he'll be leaving as the special counsel, which means not only are there no indictments in this report related to Russia collusion. There are no sealed indictments related to the Russia collusion narrative because they just put out - the special counsel recently put out a statement that said they will keep a small cadre of staffers to close down the office. So I don't believe in the premise that the report is bad. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite is what we believe to be true, which is the vindication that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign, something that I've known all along.

CHANG: Actually, though, it is the Justice Department's position that a sitting president should not be indicted. So this news that the special counsel won't be bringing any additional indictments does not necessarily mean that Bob Mueller found the president committed no crimes.

LEWANDOWSKI: But the special counsel hasn't brought any indictments at all - not against the president or anyone else related to Russia collusion.

CHANG: That said, it does not necessarily mean that there was no criminal behavior found in this report. It's just that it's the position of the Justice Department not to bring indictments against a sitting president.

LEWANDOWSKI: So are you saying there is criminal behavior in the report?

CHANG: I have not seen the report. Neither has the rest of the country except for the attorney general at this point.

LEWANDOWSKI: This report is very clear. Attorney General Barr said he will have a statement on it by the end of the weekend. It is going to show that after 675 days - one year, 10 months and six days - there was no interference by acting Attorney General Whitaker, the former deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein or Attorney General Barr to prevent Bob Mueller from doing his job. And Bob Mueller is very clear about that in his report to Congress.

CHANG: We should just make clear that no one outside the special counsel's office has seen this report except the attorney general, William Barr, at this point. Let me ask you this. Even if Trump is in the clear with respect to criminal indictments stemming from this Mueller report, there are still spinoff investigations pending here in D.C., in Virginia, in the Southern District of New York, in Congress. And there is the open question of whether lawmakers might find enough basis inside this report to even bring impeachment proceedings perhaps.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, we know that Congressman Swalwell and Congressman Schiff said that they were 100 percent certain that they have seen collusion. We now know that the Mueller report is going to say there was no collusion. That's very evident by the information and has already been leaked out and the fact that Attorney General Barr believes that he's going to be able to give a statement to the American people by the end of the week. And so I don't think we can take either Chairman Schiff or Eric Swalwell at their word. They've lost their moral leadership on this when they said they were 100 percent certain that they witnessed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

CHANG: Just to be clear, you have repeated this number of times in the interview already. You seem quite certain that this report has found absolutely no indications of collusion. What is your basis for saying that as someone who has not actually seen the report?

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm reading the tea leaves, and if there were...

CHANG: What are the tea leaves?

LEWANDOWSKI: ...Collusion, we would see additional indictments taking place. We would see a team of the special counsel remaining together to pursue individuals. We would see Dr. Jerome Corsi, who was offered a plea deal, potentially being referred to the Southern District of New York. That has not happened. We've seen no additional evidence whatsoever that this investigation is going to move forward. As a matter of fact, the opposite is 100 percent true. And this marks the final conclusion of the special counsel's investigation into the Russia investigation - potential collusion narrative between the Trump campaign and the Russians. This is the end of it after 675 days.

CHANG: Corey Lewandowski was campaign manager for Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

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