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Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
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Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Jayapal calls Barr's action on Mueller report 'deeply troubling'

Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal says the Mueller investigation of Russian tampering in the U.S. election may be over, but House Judiciary Committee is just getting started.

Jayapal spoke to KUOW’s Angela King about the Mueller report and how House Democrats will proceed.

King: What's your reaction to what we know so far about the special counsel's report?

Jayapal: We don't know very much. All we got really is a three-and-a-half page letter that summarizes the conclusions.

But the most troubling thing to me is that after 22 months of investigation, hundreds of interviews, over 34 indictments, the special counsel was not able to exonerate the president of the very, very serious charge of obstruction of justice.

He appears to have come back and said there are actually two sides to this and was not able to come to a determination. So then to have the current attorney general who should have been conflicted out, but refused to do that, make the determination that there isn't sufficient evidence here to prosecute and to do that within less than 48 hours after a 22-month investigation I think is deeply troubling.

So we have said that we need to get the full report released.

Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler says he is going to call Attorney General Barr to testify about his decisions regarding the Mueller Report. What questions do you specifically have for the attorney general?

It's difficult to say without seeing the full report, but obviously the big question is why did he quickly make this determination that there was not enough evidence to prosecute on obstruction of justice?

What was the underlying case that was presented by Bob Mueller?

And why did Attorney General Barr essentially say, OK, nothing here, without really allowing Congress to weigh in, without looking at the entirety of the underlying information?

Does the special counsel's report make independent investigations by the House harder?

No, I don't think so. The Judiciary Committee has a much broader purview and jurisdiction than what was given to Bob Mueller. Bob Mueller was solely investigating Russian interference in our elections and coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Judiciary Committee has power over public corruption, abuse of power and obstruction of justice in the broadest sense, and so our investigations do have to continue.

There are other investigations as well that spun out of Mueller's investigations in the Southern District of New York and other places that are also continuing, so I think we are far from over.

Are you worried about public perception of Democrats continuing to go after the president? Do you think that you're going to get more of a pushback from the White House?

I'm sure we will, but remember even before the Mueller report the White House was doing everything possible to undermine Bob Mueller — called it a witch hunt over 130 times. This has been the goal of this Trump administration, to de-legitimize any investigations into the administration and its behavior.

And so it wouldn't surprise me if this becomes the rallying cry. But I do trust that the American people themselves want to see the report, want to make sure to understand what's in it and want Congress to do its job.

I don't think that the American people are comfortable with an executive who asserts sweeping privileges on all sorts of issues, from family separation to an emergency declaration to actual corruption.