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National Press Secretary For Trump 2020 Campaign Reacts To Findings Of Mueller Report


All right. We're going to turn now to Kayleigh McEnany. She's the national press secretary for President Trump's re-election campaign. Welcome.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Hi. Thanks for having me.

CHANG: So was this a good day for the president?

MCENANY: Absolutely. The president's in a great mood, as confirmed by those in the White House who are with him. He feels completely and entirely exonerated. This is finally over. And I know folks have been saying this is a two-year special counsel investigation, but it's really three years when you count the FBI investigation which opened in July of 2016.

CHANG: Well, now, you say president feels completely exonerated. The special counsel did write in his report, quote, "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state." That does not sound like the president has been exonerated.

MCENANY: Right. And that's the standard of proof that doesn't exist in a court of law. And it's a bit curious that Mueller would, in fact, make that the standard of proof. In this country, we have this principle that's existed for 200 years of jurisprudence called innocent until proven guilty. And Mueller is essentially turning that on its head with his standard, and I quote, "I can't be conclusively sure there was no obstruction." That's - any prosecutor would tell you that's not a real standard that exists.

CHANG: Well, even...

MCENANY: So we're very confident. And Attorney General Barr has said no obstruction. He was someone who was confirmed unanimously previously, until Democrats became so partisan. So we take the attorney general at his word. And we accept the no-conclusion exoneration from Mueller.

CHANG: OK. Even if it's true that the president is not going to be indicted, this report does lay out some troubling facts about his conduct while in office. He told his White House counsel to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. He asked then-FBI Director Jim Comey to clear him publicly. He asked deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland to write a letter saying he had not directed former national security adviser Michael Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

Those are just a few incidents from a longer list discussed in this report. Explain to me how these actions are not an abuse of presidential power.

MCENANY: Well, here's what I would encourage every single one of your listeners to do. Put yourself in the position of being a duly-elected president of the United States. You're accused of being an agent of the Russian government. That is literally the accusation at hand - that you conspired with a foreign government to rig an election.

Would you ask someone to issue publicly their statement to you privately that you're not under investigation? Would you ask the special counsel to be dismissed after they hired Hillary Clinton's lawyer for the Clinton Foundation? Would you find that curious?

I think everyone here who is innocent of a charge as egregious as collusion, and some would say arguing on treason if that were the case, every person listening would take this similar course of action and try to do everything in their power to prove their innocence. I don't think that that is corrupt at all, nor do I think it's an abuse of power.

CHANG: You said this report cleared everyone associated with the Trump campaign of collusion. That's true criminally - there was no criminal charge for conspiracy. But the report does say that there were many links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The campaign was receptive to certain offers of assistance from the Russians. Even if there wasn't enough evidence to prove the criminal charge of conspiracy, aren't these connections with an adversary of the United States troubling to you?

MCENANY: Well, look. I'd say also that it says there's no coordination. If we want to start using a different standard here, then we've got to put an onus on the Clinton campaign, who packaged misinformation from foreign intel sources into a dossier full of lies that was used as the basis to attain a FISA warrant to spy on members of the Trump campaign. So if we want to start talking about relations with foreign entities and foreign spies in the case of Christopher Steele, we can do so, but we've also got to put the onus on the Clinton campaign as well.

CHANG: Now Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says that Congress will hold the president responsible for his actions. Is the president concerned about Congress trying to hold him accountable for what's been laid out in this report?

MCENANY: No, not at all. And, you know, if Democrats want to continue down the path of investigation, they will do so at the risk of losing the American people because a Monmouth poll just came out that said 54 percent of Congress should move on and stop investigating. So if they want to investigate rather than legislate, which is what they've done up until this point, by all means because they'll lose the American people along the way and only make 2020 easier as November 3, 2020, approaches.

CHANG: Kayleigh McEnany is the national press secretary for President Trump's campaign. Thank you very much for joining us today.

MCENANY: Thanks, appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.