'Time to move on,' Democrats 'refuse to accept that': Mulvaney on Mueller report

On "This Week," ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl interviews acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on the Mueller report, immigration and health care.
17:14 | 03/31/19

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Transcript for 'Time to move on,' Democrats 'refuse to accept that': Mulvaney on Mueller report
Joining us now president trump's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Thank you for joining us. The president has said over and over again that he is okay with the Mueller report being released, because of those public statements. Attorney general bill Barr said he won't submit the white house for a privileged review, can you assure us that the American people that the president will not change his mind on this, that he won't first ask to see that report before being released? From the very beginning, we have said that Mr. Barr gets to handle it. That's how the law works. Mr. Barr made it clear that he's going to release it to congress before he shows it to us. That's his decision. We'll let the system work. Keep in mind, this is an extremely thorough report, it took two years, hundreds of people, thousands of subpoenas, it worked the way it was supposed to work. We don't think it should have taken place in first place, but since it did we're glad as it's thorough as it was. It said there was no collusion or obstruction. We're happy that it's over. At the same time not surprised by the conclusions because it's exactly what we said it was going to be. So, if Mr. Barr wants to show it to congress first, he's going to do it. If he's going to redact part of it, he is. That's how the system is supposed to work. Very happy to let the system play out the way the law intended. So, there's no question that Barr quotes Mueller directly in saying that he did not find that there was collusion between the campaign and the Russians, but why do you and why does the president say that Mueller found no obstruction? In fact, he makes no such statement, let's look at his exact words. This as quoted by bill Barr, while this report doesn't conclude president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. So, the president's out there saying full exoneration. The words are does not exonerate him. Keep in mind, I think that's a pulled quote from the Mueller report. That's not Barr's interpretation. Yes, that's right. Keep in mind, that's not what these documents do. When you do an investigation like this, there are two outcomes, either indictments come down or it quietly goes away. What you'll sehere is Mueller saying, you know what I'm going to let Barr call this one. He had plenty of evidence on collusion, absolutely not. He punted over to Barr, again, that's the way the system can and does work. It says he and rod Rosenstein, up until last week was a darling of the left, found that not a single piece of conduct, not a single act that constituted obstruction. That's why we're absolutely comfortable saying that the president has been fully exonerated. Yes, Mueller does use those words. But, again, those words you would typically find in this type of investigation. But the president's saying that the special counsel exonerated when the special counsel said he didn't exonerate him. Let me ask you, another thing that the Democrats are asking for here, in addition to the full release of the report is the underlying materials, but there's one thing that the white house could release right now and that is the president's written q&a, you know, he answered questions in writing from the special counsel. Will the white house release those answers? Keep in mind, we followed the law. We'll continue to do that. Congress, mostly Democrats, all Democrats in congress want to keep going. Our attitude is sort of, enough is enough. You had your two years, you had all this money, you had all this opportunity to look everywhere and you did and there's nothing there. There's no there there. It's time to move on. Enough of this. Apparently Democrats refuse to accept that. We don't know what more Mueller could have done. In fact, in another part of Mr. Barr's letter, you see that they gave the president zero special treatment. There was a lot of conjecture that somehow the president would get special treatment about the doj not indicting a sitting president. The Barr letter makes it very, very clear that special treatment wasn't applied here. There's still no grounds for any criminal charges. There's no collusion or obstruction. I know a lot of friends in the other party are still upset that Donald Trump is president. But it's time to move on. Because enough is enough when it comes to collusion and obstruction. But I asked about the president's written answers, will he release those? Mr. Barr is going to decide what he releases. Congress doesn't get to do criminal investigations. That's not an article 1 authority. The law has been followed. Again, we didn't think it was necessary in the first place, we think the basis for bringing the special investigation was wrong. But now that it's done it's been done properly. Congress needs to find something else to worry about. So, I want to play what the president said to me about the Democrats shortly after the release of Barr's letter. There are a lot of people out there who have done some very evil things, I'd say treasonous things against our country, those people certainly will be looked at. And here's what the president said just last month in his state of the union address. We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good. So, why is the president talking about his opponents being evil and treasonous and suggesting that he wants revenge or retribution, isn't that directly in contrast to what he told the American people in state of the union? You can make the case the reason it played out the way it did was that there was a small group of people within the law enforcement community, specifically the FBI and doj who really did want to overturn the election. They were completely stunned by the fact that Donald Trump won. We call it trump derangement syndrome. They can't accept the fact that he's president. Before the election that actually set the table to try and prevent him from becoming president. If that happened, that's a challenge to our republic, the likes of which we haven't seen for a long time. The president would only be doing his job if he tries to make sure whether or not that happened and if it did, to make sure that people who committed those acts are brought to justice. That's not revenge. That's simply protecting the democracy. You heard the president said multiple times, it should never happen again to any president, Republican, Democrat, or whatever, you can't have the state, the deep state, have the ability to try and overturn an election. Rand Paul suggested that congress should actually investigate Barack Obama. Does the president think that's a good idea? I haven't paid close attention to this. But there have been some folks who have suggested that perhaps folks in the oval office, certainly in the west wing, might have known about this at a very early stage. That's conjeurure on my part. If we do investigate, I think you need a full investigation to find out exactly who made these decisions to try and overturn an election. Okay, let's move on. The president threatened closing, shutting down entirely the Mexican border as soon as this upcoming week. He obviously made the same threat back in December. What would it take for him not to do this week? Something dramatic. Keep in mind, wh J Jeh Johnson says it's a crisis, I hope people now believe us. They didn't believe us. Democrats didn't believe us a month ago or two months ago. What's happening at the border is a humanitarian crisis and a security crisis. I'm very glad to see that Jeh Johnson is admitting we were right and people coming across this border this month, that's a crisis. Why are we talking about closing the border? Because not for spite and not to try and undo what's happening, but to simply say, look, we need the people from the ports of entry to go out and paul in the desert where we don't have any wall. We hate to say we told you so but we told you so. We need border security and we're going to do the best we can with what we have. The Democrats won't give us any additional money to do this, additional people, and they won't change the law that's acting as this giant magnet for people from south and central America to come into this country. Faced with those limitations the president will do everything he can. The Mexican foreign minister has responded to this, to the president's words by saying, Mexico does not act on the basis of threats. Your response to the Mexican government? The same response we give to all of our friends to the south, which is, we need your help. We need more action. Mexico could be doing more. El Salvador could be doing more. Honduras could be doing more. We do give these countries hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. We need them to do more. Mexico has taken some good steps. I think you saw a record number of people return to Mexico. But when you're dealing with 100,000 people a month, taking a couple hundred people a day doesn't help the problem. We need northern triangle countries to do more about not allowing their people in Mexico. They can help us. We need them to do that. If not, it makes little sense for us to continue to send them aid. Can you explain to me, kirstjen Nielsen visited central America this week, she met with representatives of the Mexican government. She actually praised Mexico for helping on this issue, and announced an historic agreement, her words, historic agreement with the governments of central America, the northern triangle to deal with this problem. Literally the next day, the president announces he's going to shut down the border and he's going to take back all aid or stop all aid to Central America. How is the president at odds with his own secretary of homeland security? He's not -- He's not? She said she praised Mexico, Mick. That's fine. Kirstjen is right to thank them for their words, but we need action. You can make all the promises you want. When you're still sending 100,000 people across the southern border, actions speak louder than words. We need their assistance. The other thing that secretary Nielsen has asked for is authority from congress to detain children for longer period of time, you know, the issue with the court decision that you can't do it more than 20 days. She wants to be able to detain the children with their families for a longer period of time, these asylum cases could take years? Listen, dhs is in a pinch a bunch of different ways. They're dealing with unaccompanied children. They're only allowed to hold those children for 72 hours. HHS doesn't have any place to put them. Dhs cannot release them, because they're unaccompanied children. They can't send them by law back to the countries they came from. Dhs has gone to congress saying, look, we need legal help. Give us the right to return these children to their country. Right now, they're in a box. Congress can fix this. But, again, when you have a democratic party, not able to admit the facts, when you have such a disconnect like that, it's clear that the Democrats aren't going to help us. It shouldn't surprise anybody that we're turning to what people think are extreme measures. The way it's supposed to work is not working. We're supposed to fix this by changing the laws, Democrats won't do that, we're looking at closing off aid and closing the borders. Another the big announcement from the white house is joining us, asking the courts to essentially terminate all of Obamacare. I want to ask you, 8.5 million people are enrolled in Obamacare in 2019. You also had another 61 million at the very least who have pre-existing conditions and have been able to get health insurance in part because of the guarantee under Obamacare even if they have pre-existing conditions. Also, about 6 million Americans who are 26 and younger are on their parents' health plans because of Obamacare. Can you guarantee that if you succeed in court, those tens of millions of people who have health care coverage, guaranteed because of Obamacare, won't lose their coverage? Yes, let's talk about pre-existing conditions. Every single plan that the white house has put together has covered pre-existing conditions. Every single plan considered by the senate covers pre-existing conditions. The debate about pre-existing conditions is over. Both parties support them. Anyone telling you anything differently is lying to you for political gain. The debate becomes how do you best do it? Obamacare is not working. Even Democrats admit it, which is why this week it didn't get a lot of coverage, they introduced their own fix bill. Because they know Obamacare doesn't work. Those numbers you gave are accurate. Keep in mind, you keep those people together, more people than that, most of them in the middle class paid a fine last year so they didn't have to take Obamacare, people are actually paying money to the government not to have to take Obamacare, that's a symptom of something that's desperately broken. We would love to work with the Democrats on fixing that. We don't think the Democrats will work with us unless this court case proceed and Obamacare is found to be unconstitutional. Which is what we believe. Republicans think Obamacare is unconstitutional. The position we took this week in court this week is correct. We look forward to working with Democrats. And I want to ask you about special olympics. Obviously, the budget called for eliminating federal funds for the special olympics. Betsy Devos said that she was working behind the scenes to protect that funding. The president overruled his people to guarantee that funding. If not Betsy Devos and not the president, who exactly was pushing to defund the special olympics? Keep in mind, debates like this happen every single day in Washington, D.C., about various policies. We have disagreements all the time about policy. I would hope folks appreciate the fact that we're having critical review of how we spend government money. What you saw this week is the way the system is supposed to work. The president made the final decision. He actually listened to the public, the public said, you know what, Mr. President, we don't like that proposal. In your budget. He said, you're right, I'll change it. This is how the process is supposed to work. This is the president's budget. It's not the omb budget. It's the president's budget. Keep in mind, the budget is $1.3 trillion, of which special olympics is about 17 of 1 million 300,000. The system worked like it's supposed to. The president made the decision. It's the right decision. He did it because he listened to people. I'm happy to see that process work out. I think the end result is the right one. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, by the way, are you going to lose the acting in your title? Listen, we all serve at the pleasure of the president. I enjoy going to work every single day. He enjoys having me there. We'll call you today, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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