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GOP lawmaker wilts after he’s grilled over Trump lawlessness: ‘I’m not an expert in these questions’

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) faced tough questions on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about President Donald Trump’s refusal to comply with constitutional law — and he finally admitted he was no “expert” on those issues.

Co-host Mika Brzezinski opened the interview by asking Kinzinger whether he agreed with Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who became the first GOP lawmaker to say special counsel Robert Mueller’s report showed the president had engaged in impeachable conduct.

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“No, I do disagree with him, because, you know — look, I like Justin personally, like, we get along, but there’s never really been anything out here politically or in policy that we agree on,” Kinzinger said, “and this is one of those, too. I read the Mueller report, I think a lot of congressmen, maybe most congressmen have.”

“It’s long and there’s a lot of legalese,” he continued. “When I read it, I said, first off, there’s no evidence of collusion. When it comes to the obstruction issue, there’s no final thing mentioned on that, and what it comes down to is, people that were responsible were held responsible. You have Manafort, etc., now serving time. Even the Democrats aren’t saying impeach right now, so this idea that there’s a dam in the Republicans breaking is unrealistic.”

Brzezinski challenged the Illinois Republican to say whether Attorney General William Barr had perjured himself during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — and he did not agree.

“Not that I’ve seen, no,” Kinzinger said. “I get that this is — when Mueller came out and said we don’t have evidence to say let’s indict and send the president to jail, it created this kind of storm. A lot of people invested years in this narrative. Now they’re going to do investigation after investigation, and look, they’re in the majority. That’s their opportunity, their option to do it. I just disagree, and when you have most of the Democrats not even saying impeachment again, this idea there’s going to be some shift in the Republican belief I think is unrealistic.”

Brzezinski pressed him further on Barr’s misleading statements, and Kinzinger insisted he saw no evidence of perjury.

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“I’m open,” he said. “I want to be a fair congressman and do the right thing, but I don’t see that. I see a party that invested a lot in a narrative, and now is desperate to see the narrative true.”

MSNBC analyst Mike Barnicle then pressed Kinzinger to defend White House claims of executive privilege to prevent current and former administration officials from complying with congressional subpoenas.

“It’s tough to tell on some of them,” Kinzinger said. “I think if there’s legitimate executive privilege, they should be able to file executive privilege. If there’s not, we should get as much of the story as we can. I’m not mired on that committee in the day-to-day, the reasoning of it. I watch it on the news and get information here, and my view is, I think Congress should be an equal branch to the presidency.”

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“Things like getting the president’s tax returns,” he added, “every American, even the president of the United States, has a right to keep those private unless Congress can show a compelling reason, and right now it just appears the compelling reason is because he hasn’t done it yet, which is not required of a president of the United States.”

The Associated Press White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire asked Kinzinger to comment on White House arguments that Congress only has the authority to investigate the executive branch when the probe can be tied to forthcoming litigation, and the lawmaker fumbled.

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“I don’t know,” Kinzinger admitted. “Look, I’m not an expert in these questions. I just hear from people what’s going on. I hear a compelling argument about why there should be executive privilege and why when people, for instance, go and testify to a grand jury they should be able to have that information protected and given to Mueller, and it doesn’t have to necessarily come out and be displayed over public. There’s sanctity in the grand jury.”

“Again,” he added, “if there’s evidence where I hear compelling evidence that Congress has a right to hear from these folks, then yeah, sure. The Democrats, ultimately, are putting a lot of investment in this narrative. They have the majority, that’s how it’s going to play out in many cases is in politics.”

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