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What The White House And Lawmakers Are Saying About The Mueller Report


The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has delivered his report to the attorney general, William Barr. We don't know what's in it. It's been nearly two years in the making. Lawmakers from both parties have said the findings ought to be made public. Senior Washington correspondent Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Congress is still in recess, but from a strictly political point of view - because we've talked about some of the legal implications - what do you expect?

ELVING: They're back next week, but we've already heard from many of the key figures - the party leaders and committee chairs in the House and the Senate - all of them saying the report should be released to the public and the Democrats in particular saying it should be released in full with its supporting documents. So the fight in the days and weeks ahead - maybe months ahead - is going to be over the guts of the report, the full story of what Mueller has learned and the claims of executive privilege that we're likely to hear from the administration.

SIMON: The special counsel is not recommending other indictments, according to our report and those of several other news organizations. Each party is drawing a different lesson from that, aren't they?

ELVING: Yes, it's a source of at least short-term relief and celebration for the Trump camp but with some degree of restraint. As of this moment, as we speak, the president has not tweeted a response. And that's a remarkable thing to say in our time. But that restraint reflects...

SIMON: Gandhian self-denial really.

ELVING: Well, it's the first day all week that he hasn't talked about this report, and that reflects a simple fact that the absence of new indictments in this report may not be the final word. Other elements of the Justice Department may be in possession of evidence that could lead them to bring charges. State authorities may also be in possession of such evidence, as we've seen already in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

SIMON: And what do you make of the president's tweet storm this past week in the run-up to the release of this report? He tweeted about his dislike of Senator John McCain, even in death, to the economy, to the special counsel himself. Was all this distraction or strategy?

ELVING: The amazing thing is the president spent the last week trashing it without seeing it. He has been doing that, of course, for quite some time. He attacked Robert Mueller this week, as he has throughout the process, making a string of false characterizations, calling Mueller a Democrat when he's a lifelong and well-known Republican. But as you say, the most bizarre element in these Twitter storms has been the focus on the late Senator McCain. The president blames McCain, at least in part, for the existence of the Mueller probe in the first place. And that flurry of personal attacks on a man widely still considered a national hero has further alienated some, even in the president's own famously loyal party.

SIMON: The president said this week that he recognizes and the U.S. will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and seemed to reverse the North Korean sanction imposed one day earlier. A strategy there or just spontaneous eruptions of policy?

ELVING: The Golan Heights may be mostly a gift to his embattled ally, Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces his own legal and political difficulties in Israel, and the backing off of some of the enforcement in North Korea may also be a personal gesture. But these things, too, can be seen as part of the distraction campaign.

SIMON: Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.