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GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn Reacts To Barr's Testimony

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn was one of the senators questioning Attorney General Bill Barr today. Welcome.

MARSHA BLACKBURN: Thank you so much.

CHANG: So a big topic of conversation among some of your Democratic colleagues today was the attorney general's representation of the findings in the Mueller report. Do you think that Barr's four-page summary fairly reflected the findings of the special counsel?

BLACKBURN: Yeah. When you look at the report, which - people can now get this report. They can read it. What the attorney general did was to put forward an accounting of what was in that report. And he offered for Mr. Mueller to be able to review that before he sent it out. Mr. Mueller did not. And now you're hearing that there was a back and forth. But let's leave that conversation to Mr. Barr and Mr. Mueller.

CHANG: Well, that conversation is now widely public. I mean, how do you square the concerns Mueller raised in his letter - a letter that was released today, a letter that he sent to Barr? And these concerns - let me read them out to you here. I'll just quote. Barr's summary, quote, "did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions." He goes on to say, this threatens to undermine public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. Are you taking issue with the special counsel's viewpoint expressed in his letter?

BLACKBURN: You had General Barr today say that many of the problems were with how the media had represented the report. And General Barr, like any of us, cannot control what the media is going to say or the opinion that they are going to express. And...

CHANG: Well, the special counsel said in his letter that he felt misunderstandings resulted from Bill Barr's four-page summary, misunderstandings...

BLACKBURN: And if you get...

CHANG: ...That may have been repeated in the media.

BLACKBURN: If you get 10 lawyers in a room, you're going to have 12 different opinions.

CHANG: Do you want to see Robert Mueller testify before Congress?

BLACKBURN: You know, there are some that would like to see him come and testify. I think most people say, look; the report is filed. What more are you going to learn?

CHANG: Well, how do you feel? Would you object to him testifying before Congress?

BLACKBURN: The American people and Tennesseans, by and large, will say, look. Let's get to work on some issues. Let's make certain that government is accountable, and then let's move on to dealing with transportation, with health care, with keeping the economy going. They like to talk about brighter futures for their families, and those are the things that are their emphasis. The Mueller report has been filed, and they're ready to see us do some work that is important to them.

CHANG: Well, given that there are so many real-world concerns that people have, that voters have, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, has said that he wants to investigate the origins of the Mueller investigation. You have just said, look; it's time to move on. The investigation is over. There is real work to be done on real issues. Do you think what Senator Graham is proposing is a productive use of time and resources?

BLACKBURN: You know, it's consistent to say the report is there and the findings are there. And it's also consistent to say, let's hold the government agencies accountable. And if there are bad actors, let's deal with these bad actors. Most people want...

CHANG: So you do think it's a productive use of time.

BLACKBURN: ...Transparency. They want to know how we got to this point so that no presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, ever sees something like this happen to them.

CHANG: So you would like to see an investigation of the investigation. You do think that's a productive use of time.

BLACKBURN: What I want to make certain is we know that bad actors are rooted out and that we are going to be well served by individuals who realize we are a nation of laws, that we will abide by the rule of law. And you are going to have law enforcement there that is to uphold the law.

CHANG: Marsha Blackburn is a Republican senator from Tennessee. She sits on the Judiciary Committee. Thank you very much for joining us.

BLACKBURN: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.