CNN had a weird Friday night after Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his Russia investigation and delivered his report. Analyst Jeffrey Toobin repeatedly had to explain to viewers and fellow contributors that, yes, the investigation really is over and no, there are no arrests forthcoming.
But it wasn't just the contributors and analysts, Democrats from the House and Senate appeared on CNN to discuss the implications of the report and their reactions to it, among them Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, also known as "the Starbucks Martyr."
Swalwell was noticeably angry in the wake of the report, and the reporting about the report, and testily told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer how angry he was about President Trump never going under oath before the investigation. He also said that Trump will "taint" the report by looking at it, that they can't take Attorney General Barr's "word for it" when it comes to conclusions in the report, and, most amazingly, that we shouldn't even listen to any response from Trump, and that such response should be "deemed irrelevant."
Blitzer pressed Swalwell on why the congress should get the report before or to the exclusion of the executive branch, and that's when the temper kicked in.
"The president is a subject. He's a subject of an investigation," said Swalwell. "There is an honor code that presidents when they are subject to investigations back off but they followed the rule of law. It is inappropriate he would even touch this."
"If he didn't do anything wrong he would keep his hands off of it, say the public can read every word, every sentence, every comma, every period. He's not going to do that. I think it will taint its release," said Swalwell. This is a Democrat member of congress stating in advance that the report will be "tainted", laying the groundwork to not accept it. A trial balloon?
Blitzer then asked the angry congressman if he has confidence in Barr to give congress the maximum amount of detail from the report that he legally can. Swalwell answered that he could trust but verify, and dismissed the caveat about what is permissible under the law by saying that Democrats "outnumber" the president and can subpoena what they want.
"I also think we'll have to hear from Bob Mueller himself. I don't know how we could just accept it at Mr. Barr's word without the lead investigator telling us whether he was limited in any way," said Swalwell. Rep. Adam Schiff on Friday already floated the idea of a subpoena for Mueller.
Swalwell added without prompting by Blitzer that Trump's opinion and comments about the report about him and his campaign, which followed a two-year investigation into him and his associates and family and campaign, should be considered irrelevant.
"I just want to say this, Wolf. I do not want to hear from a president who was unwilling to go under oath as a subject of this investigation, attack a report where others so willingly did go under oath," said Swalwell. "He has no credibility. The state of the evidence will not include his testimony, so anything he says about it I think should be deemed irrelevant."
Later in the exchange Blitzer notes that if there are no indictments forthcoming the Justice Department guideline is that you don't "release negative information about someone who is in charge."
Swalwell said, "that's a guideline I think that we're going to fight."