Transcript: Rep. Seth Moulton's interview on 'The Investigation' podcast

PHOTO:Democratic candidate for U.S. President, Congressman Seth Moulton addresses an audience during a Politics and Eggs gathering in Bedford, N.H., April 2019.PlayCJ Gunther/EPA via Shutterstock, FILE
WATCH Presidential candidate on why he's ratcheting up calls for Trump impeachment

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a former Marine Corps officer, sat down for an interview for the latest episode of “The Investigation," a new ABC News podcast. A transcript of Moulton's interview as it appears in this episode of the podcast follows here:

ABC NEWS' CHRIS VLASTO: Welcome to "The Investigation." I'm Chris Vlasto, senior executive producer here at ABC News, and I'm joined by my colleagues John Santucci and Matt Mosk, who are the lead reporters on the Trump investigation. Joining us today is Congressman Seth Moulton, who's also running for president and he is an outspoken voice calling for impeachment of the president, not only about the Mueller investigation, but also about other things that the president has done.

Thank you for joining us, Congressman. the Mueller testimony got delayed this week and it's going to but it seems like a lot of the air has come out of that balloon. Do you think so? Has the country lost interest in that?

REP. SETH MOULTON: Well I don't know, but I don't care. Because we spend too much time in this party debating the politics of impeachment, when the law is very clear and our constitutional duty is clear. This is a debate that we need to have because it's simply the right thing to do. And that's why I voted for it. Way back in December of 2017 before any other candidate in this presidential race, because at some point we just have to recognize that doing the right thing matters more than polls or politics.

VLASTO: I even noticed that during the two Democratic debates a couple weeks ago, impeachment and Mueller were hardly mentioned. It almost was an afterthought. Why is that?

MOULTON: Well I think it's a mistake. But I think it's because there are people in our party who are afraid to pursue this. They're worried that the politics may be against us or it may it may make it more difficult to win in 2020. But the way I look at it is I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Not the politics of my party. And Mueller has made it very clear that we have a constitutional duty to pursue this, pursue impeachment. And and I actually think the politics now have shifted so, when I first voted for this back in December of 2017, I wrote a vote explanation that said ‘The politics are tough, the timing is poor, I wish we had more information, but simply based on the merits of the case, this is the right thing to do.’ Now I think the politics are actually shifting in our favor, and more and more Democrats are shifting towards having this debate on impeachment than than ever before. No one's shifting in the other direction. Colleagues on Capitol Hill who are who are who are changing their minds but they're moving in my direction not away from it. And I think that having this debate before the American people will expose a lot of wrongdoing

ABC NEWS' JOHN SANTUCCI: Congressman, let’s focus on next week when Bob Mueller is going to come up to the Hill. He has said that his testimony will not go beyond the 400-plus page report that he submitted at the conclusion of his 22-month investigation. What do you feel, I know you're not on those committees, but for your colleagues that are going to be there and have the opportunity to question the special counsel. What do you feel are the areas that, your colleagues that are not pushing for impeachment yet, that they need to hear more about from Bob Mueller?

MOULTON: Well I feel like anyone who simply reads the executive summary of the Mueller Report can be easily convinced that this is this is a debate that we need to have in Congress. I don't expect Mueller to say anything he hasn't said in his report. But too few Americans have read it. I don't think most of my colleagues have even read it.

SANTUCCI: Have you read the full report, Congressman?

MOULTON: I have I haven't read every single footnote, I mean literally every word. But yes, I've read the report and it's clear that what Robert Mueller has done is conduct this investigation, but come to the conclusion that he can't prosecute, because he makes it very clear the Constitution says that the way to prosecute a president is through impeachment. So that's what we have to do. He's laid it up on a platter. And I imagine that this hearing will be much like his press conference from a few weeks ago, when he got up before the American people and actually didn't say anything that wasn't already in the report, but to many Americans it was new news because they haven't read the report and a lot of the news hasn't been accurately reporting it.

ABC NEWS' MATT MOSK: I'm curious when Mueller sits down, what do you want, if you think the American people who are not fully familiar with the report need to hear something, what is it that that stood out to you that you think they need to hear from him?

MOULTON: Well there are detailed accounts of obstruction of justice, and that's probably the most glaring charge that Mueller makes it quite clear should be debated at impeachment hearings. But to me, the most important, unmistakable conclusion of the report is that Russia wanted Trump elected president. And every American, whether you're the most ardent Trump supporter or the biggest Trump hater, every American should want to know why Vladimir Putin and Russia wanted this guy elected president. That's a national security issue. It's a Democratic security issue. It's an issue that could affect all of our lives and we don't know why.

VLASTO: Congressman you also, as I said before in the beginning, you also have called for the president to be impeached about other issues, including most recently the allegations of Jean Carroll. You know where she claims that she was raped by President Trump at Bergdorf Goodman. Do you believe he should be impeached for that?

MOULTON: I believe we should have the hearings to determine it, one way or the other. I mean that's the-- you know sometimes people get confused by what you mean by “be impeached.” Right? Congress does two things: we debate things and we vote on them. I'm not saying that now is the right time to have a vote on impeachment, but we absolutely need to start impeachment proceedings that's long overdue. And one of the things that comes up when you open these hearings, you can you can investigate a range of issues. That's what happened when Nixon was investigated. They raised issues that they didn't realize at first where we're going on. But having that debate before Congress and the American people is a responsibility that we have as a House of Representatives and as a Democratic party leading the House. And I don't know why our leaders are so afraid to have it.

SANTUCCI: Congressman I want to switch gears with you. Just because you said about her earlier how impeachment proceedings allow for different access for Congress, right. You're not saying the vote, you're saying just the actual investigation. So one of the things that impeachment would allow, that so far the Trump White House has been able to block from members of Congress, is testimony, right. We've seen the Trump Administration block certain members the administration, claiming presidential privilege, claiming executive privilege, to not allow people to go and face the various committees like Judiciary and Oversight that are doing these probes. If impeachment happens, and if these proceedings do start moving forward, that does open those floodgates. You can call whomever you want, to a degree. Who do you want to see testify before Congress that this administration is blocked so far?

MOULTON: Well, everybody that the administration has blocked should be testifying.

SANTUCCI: But but who's your number one?

MOULTON: Oh, I don't know who my number one is. But I do think that the most serious charges here are the national security charges. Where Trump has endangered the national security of our country by playing into what Russia has been trying to do and support his campaign and his presidency. And so I want to hear from more national security professionals in the United States to explain what is going on between Trump and Russia. Why does Trump believe Vladimir Putin over every American intelligence agency? Why does he do Russia's bidding and not the bidding of his military advisers? Those are the most serious charges. I think that we talk a lot about obstruction of justice and rightly so. But, the charge I'm most interested in is dereliction of duty by the commander-in-chief of the United States. Failing to stand up to Russia and keep us safe.

VLASTO: All right. Congressman, thank you very much for joining us.