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Cotton on Mueller Report: ‘I Think It’s Important We Make as Much Available to the Public as Possible’

• March 28, 2019 3:00 pm

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) on Wednesday said that he would like to see "as much of that [Mueller] report" as possible released to Congress and the American public.

Cotton appeared on CNN's Situation Room to discuss special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether there was collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign associates and Russian government officials.  Mueller determined Trump did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, but he refrained from making a judgment on whether Trump attempted to impede the investigation.

"The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election," Attorney General William Barr wrote in a letter to Congress. "As the report states, ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.'"

Host Wolf Blitzer asked Cotton whether he agreed with the decision of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to block the resolution calling for a full release of the Mueller Report, noting that it passed in the House by a 420 to 0 vote.

"Wolf, I think we need to let Attorney General Barr go through the Mueller Report to ensure that we don't release any material that's prohibited by law. His letter on Sunday said that he wants to get out as much material as possible," Cotton said. "I agree, I think we should try to release as much of the Mueller report that we can, but of course there are some federal laws that govern the release of federal grand jury materials, so Attorney General Barr said he's going through that review; he expects it will take weeks, not months."

"Obviously, the public interest is very great and we really need to be able to examine as much information as possible and turn the page and move on to the issues ahead of us," Cotton continued. "I think it's important that we make as much available to the public as possible, Wolf."

Later in the interview, Cotton said that Democrats have been claiming Trump was going to fire Mueller for 22 months and pointed out that he never did, noting, "Mueller reached his conclusion, and he's closing up shop finding no evidence of collusion." This response prompted Blitzer to ask Cotton whether he believes Mueller should have "made a formal recommendation" instead of saying he couldn't make a formal recommendation.

"I would say a couple things though, first, in our system of justice it's not the job of a prosecutor or law enforcement to exonerate any American. Every American is presumed innocent until proven guilty, so the idea that the special counsel is supposed to exonerate the subject of investigation is simply contrary to the basic notions of fairness embedded in our justice system," Cotton said. "Second, I infer from Attorney General Barr's statement about many of these matters being public that we probably know a lot of what Bob Mueller is referring to in that report."

Blitzer followed up to ask Cotton about Trump threatening then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Twitter and why he believes Mueller punted on the "very sensitive issue of obstruction."

"[Trump] was acting like a man who had been unjustly accused, and Wolf, I think anyone from the president to a private citizen, if they had faced 22 months of accusations that they had committed treason against their country, and they knew that that was a false charge, would be acting in a pretty aggressive fashion in trying to defend themselves, and that's what the president did," Cotton said.