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Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal Weighs In On Russia Investigation

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

And now, Senator Richard Blumenthal joins me now, Democrat from Connecticut and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Welcome, Senator.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Thank you very much for having me.

CHANG: So what do you expect to see in this report? I mean, will you be satisfied with the principal conclusions Barr hopes to share in the coming days, do you think?

BLUMENTHAL: No one should be satisfied with what we see unless it is full disclosure of the facts and evidence, not just the conclusions, but all of the findings that went into those conclusions.

CHANG: Are you saying you'd be dissatisfied if you see any redaction whatsoever?

BLUMENTHAL: Some redactions may be appropriate for classified information or privacy or other investigations, but no scrubbing for executive privilege, no involvement by the White House in censoring or reviewing and no claims of executive privilege.

Remember that these facts and evidence, first of all, are likely to show collusion and a lot of wrongdoing that may not be indicted. First, the policy of the white - of the Department of Justice is that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Second, the standard for indictment is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

So Congress and the American people really need and deserve to know all of the findings and evidence of wrongdoing and criminality that may not have led to an indictment but should lead to holding people accountable and changes in the laws.

CHANG: Our - NPR's Carrie Johnson is quoting a senior Justice Department official who says that Mueller will not be pursuing any additional indictments. It sounds like what you're saying is, all right, fine, but that doesn't mean there was no criminal behavior. Is that what you're saying?

BLUMENTHAL: That is part of what I'm saying, but also that the facts and evidence here may point to a national security threat in collusion with the Russians. And that's why this investigation really began as a counterintelligence investigation.

Second, there are other investigations that have been spawned and spun off in the Southern District of New York, possibly in the main Justice Department or the Eastern District of Virginia that may produce additional indictments. This one, the special counsel investigation, is done so far as indictments are concerned.

CHANG: How does the fact that it sounds like special counsel Robert Mueller will not be bringing additional indictments - how does that weigh into these other spin-off investigations you've just referenced, you think? What can we read from that?

BLUMENTHAL: Nothing can be read of the end of this investigation as far as criminal charges because each criminal charge depends on the evidence and facts in that individual case. There's a high likelihood that there's an indictment in Donald Trump's future, possibly members of his family, a high probability of additional indictments against others in the Trump orbit from the Southern District of New York, where the investigation concerns financial crimes such as bank fraud, tax fraud, as well as campaign finance fraud.

So stay tuned. There may be more indictments notwithstanding this investigation's conclusion.

CHANG: Now, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff has already said his committee will subpoena Mueller or others if Congress doesn't get the underlying evidence for the report. Will the Senate Judiciary Committee pursue its own inquiry, you think?

BLUMENTHAL: I hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee upholds its own responsibility and pursues the facts and evidence here independent of the House. We have an oversight function regarding the Department of Justice, including the special counsel. And the absence of indictments does not mean that there is no wrongdoing that requires that oversight.

So I would hope that Robert Mueller will be subpoenaed and that he'd be cooperative, and the Department of Justice as well by the House relevant committees, as well as by the Senate.

CHANG: Once you receive the report or a version of the report, what do you intend to do with it? What are your next immediate steps?

BLUMENTHAL: We're going to read everything that's provided very, very carefully, scrutinize it closely, ask strong questions about why...

CHANG: What are you going to be most looking for at this point?

BLUMENTHAL: Evidence of wrongdoing, possibility of additional criminality that has not been indicted. That could be the basis for congressional oversight, new laws - and, frankly, material that may be hidden that's implied by what is revealed. And that's where the documents, interviews, grand jury material are very relevant. Ordinarily, grand jury material under Rule 60 is kept confidential and secret.

This investigation is one involving betrayal of public trust. The public has a very special interest that justifies the judge here reviewing and waiving the Rule 60 that ordinarily would preclude that kind of disclosure. There ought to be full disclosure, full transparency.

CHANG: All right. That's Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

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