tv CNN Right Now With Brianna Keilar CNN March 25, 2019 10:00am-11:00am PDT
. i'm brianna keilar live from washington headquarters. the mueller report is over and the questions are just beginning. the report does not conclude that the president committed a crime but specifically does not exonerate him. no finding of collusion, but on obstruction of justice, mueller leaves it to the attorney general to decide and bill barr says the president's actions don't constitute a crime. plus, politics. the president scores a big win and democrats who hung so much on this report wonder, where do we go from here? we begin with breaking news. president trump speaking out about the mueller report.
in the oval office just moments ago, he was asked if the entire mueller report should be made public and here's what he said about that and more. >> up to the attorney general. wouldn't bother me at all. there are a lot of people out there who have done some very, very evil things, very bad things, i would say treasonous things against our country. those people will certainly be looked at. i have been looking at them for a long time, and i'm saying, why haven't they been looked at? they lied to congress, many of them. you know who they are. they've done so many evil things. i will tell you, i love this country. i love this country as much as i can love anything. my family, my country, my god. but what they did was a false narrative and it was a terrible thing. >> robert mueller found no collusion between the trump campaign and russia, but he did not reach a conclusion on the issue of obstruction of justice. that is according to a summary by attorney general bob barr.
the president is claiming total exoneration. the democrats are demanding access to the whole report which remains secret. laura jarrett joins us. laura, you have learned about the procedures of the special counsel's conclusion on obstruction of justice. tell us what you learned. >> three weeks ago the special counsel met with other officials, and at that meeting with bill barr and rod rosenstein, who has been overseeing the special counsel since its inception, they said they would not be reaching a conclusion on whether or not the president obstructed justice. that was one of the key parts of this investigation along with the collusion question, and yesterday, when we learned from attorney general bill barr's four-page memo that essentially mueller had punted on that question, many of us raised the question of whether the justice
officials had felt blindsided, even though, obviously, they had been kept in the loop on the status of the investigation all along, the question was whether that was a surprise. i was told by a source familiar with this meeting that actually it was unexpected when the special counsel's team delivered that news just three weeks ago. but what it also means is that the justice department has known for at least three weeks that this is where we were headed. so when bill barr put together his memo over the weekend, i think some had wondered whether 48 hours was enough time to put all that together and all that analysis on obstruction. we now learned he's known about it for quite a while, brianna. >> lauren jarrett at the justice department, thank you. republicans are claiming this is a victory for the president. democrats are doubling down on calls for the attorney general to release the mueller report. let's go to capitol hill. tell us about the reaction you're hearing today now that congress is back.
>> reporter: so much of the reaction centers on the battle for information and what will potentially be released to congress. of course, many democrats calling for the full mueller report to be released. but we did just hear from senator lindsey graham, a republican from south carolina, who was one of president trump's closest confidants here on capitol hill, and in fact, golfed with him over the weekend. lindsey graham this morning saying he was going to hop on a call with the attorney general, stating that call was to happen in the last hour, and he is going to call on him to come up here to capitol hill and testify before the senate judiciary committee. interestingly, graham, too, said he believes as much of the report should be released as possible. he also wants a new special counsel to look into the 2016 campaign, including looking into hillary clinton's campaign. >> what's next, i hope, will be that he will come to the committee, release as much as possible of the mueller report.
when it comes to the fiso warrant, the political campaign has been swept under the rug except by a few republicans in the house. those days are over. going forward, hopefully in a bipartisan fashion, we will begin to unpack the other side of the story. >> reporter: and certainly we have seen many republicans up here on capitol hill echo a lot of what's come out of the white house. they feel that this is vindication and essentially it's time to move on from all of this. here's what a few republicans had to say about this, kevin mccarthy saying there was no collusion, lindsey graham calling this a good day for the rule of law, and it concludes the president's accounts. you have democrats wanting the full mueller report to be released as well as the underlying evidence. schumer, pelosi saying it brings
up more questions without answers. they want robert mueller on the hill to testify. >> that is becoming very clear. sunlen, thank you. we have more breaking news. this is involving lawyer michael avenatti who represented stormy daniels against the president. carol, what do we know? >> reporter: we just learned that the u.s. attorney's office in manhattan has charged lawyer michael avenatti with multiple counts including extortion for allegedly trying to extort nike, the athletic apparel maker, of multi-million dollars, as much as 22$22.5 million. they are holding a press conference on the eve of nike's quarterly earnings and the eve of the ncaa basketball tournament. this happened last week according to these charges. they said avenatti was trying to extort nike. there was a meeting last week,
multi-million-dollars. we haven't heard from avenatti about these charges. avenatti was a key player in the investigation surrounding the payment to stormy daniels. they have investigated michael cohen's payments, and it appears avenatti is wrapped up in several allegations of extortion with nike, threatening them that he would go public with damaging information just before the earnings call and the start of the tournament if he was not paid multi-millions of dollars, as much as $25 million, brianna. >> and we don't know what information he was going to put out there? >> we're still reading through the complaint that was filed, and so we're gleaning more information from that, but he apparently was in talks with someone who had had a relationship with nike, who wanted to put forth some negative information about the sneaker company. >> dig into that. we'll get back to you as you do, kara scannell, in the newsroom.
now we have eric columbus, a justice department official under obama. he's here with our senior legal analyst ross garber and carrie cordero. let's talk about this michael avenatti development. what do you make -- do you make anything of this as we are still learning what exactly information he was putting out there, anyone? ross looks scared. >> we're still learning a lot, but obviously it is a big problem for michael avenatti. i'm sure the u.s. attorney's office was looking at this for a long time. he was very good on tv. it's one thing to be good on tv, it's another thing to be a good lawyer. you know, he's entitled to a presumption of innocence, but this is a troubling development. >> that they would charge him tells you something. >> sure. >> let's talk about our new reporting on the mueller report, which has been sent to the attorney general. the attorney general summarized
it in four pages. to be clear, we have not seen the report but there are some key parts in there, including that robert mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice, whether the president committed obstruction of justice, and he left that to the attorney general. he actually informed barr and the deputy ag rod rosenstein three weeks ago he wouldn't reach a conclusion on this. does that surprise you, carrie? >> actually, i said on our air last night that i wasn't buying into the idea that attorney general barr made the decision that obstruction charges were not warranted or supported by the evidence in 48 hours. that just didn't ring true to me. so i'm glad that our reporting has been able to confirm that, in fact, this was something that he had substantial lead time on and probably was developing what his determinations were going to be and his final recommendations and his final decisions well before the actual formal
delivery of the final report on friday evening. >> this is not traditional to go ahead and not say. he puts the facts out there and allows barr to decide. >> there is not a lot about this whole process that's traditional. there hasn't been a lot of use for these sort of special counsel regulations in the past. this is sort of a run-through to see kind of how they work. i'll admit, i was actually surprised that special counsel mueller didn't make the call himself. that's generally why you have a special counsel, to take it out of kind of direct doj decision making. on the other hand, i guess in this case i could see it. these are complicated legal issues, and these are issues that the attorney general himself, bill barr, before he was attorney general, did a lot of thinking about and actually wrote a memo to the deputy attorney general -- before the attorney general was the
attorney general, he wrote a memo, about 19 single-spaced pages, giving his ideas about the issues. >> were you, eric, surprised that robert mueller punted on this, that he did not take that traditional step of determining himself whether obstruction of justice had been committed? >> i think there's a logic to what bob mueller did in that situation. because the president -- sitting president cannot be indicted under doj, policy and interpretation of the constitution and was subject to that. i believe he wanted to focus on the facts. he laid out the facts, pro and con, and he realized that the president -- any president -- is subject to the voters and possibly to removal by the
impeachment process. by putting the facts out, he's focused on the matters rather than the legal determination of whether the law was violated. >> do you agree with that? >> here's the issue with that. i'm not sure special counsel mueller expects his analysis to actually come out. it's not typical for prosecutorial decisions to come out, and there is no guarantee. in fact, i think that much of mueller's work won't come out here. i think eric is right, that on some level it probably made sense for him to lay out all the facts, let the ag make the call because it was such an important decision. >> do you think we're going to see the full report? do you think congress will see the full mueller report? >> i think eventually we'll see a substantial part of it. i think there will be portions of it that the attorney general will adhere to the grand jury secrecy requirements that certain parts of it won't be public, but i think it's as a result of a process. i think the first part would
even be counsel of mueller will be called to testify before congress, and i think there will be parts that relate to declarations, the things the special counsel recommended not to prosecute might be redacted, but i think it will be hard for most of the report. >> there are also things that never made it into the report. >> that may be true. i think what congress and the public will look for, is there any information in the report. i think what's going to happen, they're going to talk about charging people, a class action, and i think there is a big issue with executive privilege. >> where does that leave us, eric, in terms of transparency
and people who have been watching this unfold for the better part of two years wanting answers to their questions? >> i think that there is -- i think that bill barr will lean in favor of transparency to the extent he feels he can consistent with the law. and i think we saw that -- i'm speculating, but i don't think he would have written that memo yesterday if it he intended to say jurks take my word for it, the president did not violate the law. the fact he came to that dngs and slide -- >> even if a substantial part or some part of the special counsel's report is provided to congress and is publicly released in some part, i actually don't think that whatever the special counsel wrote will answer all of the questions, won't answer all of the questions about why members of the trump campaign and administration lied about
various meetings with russian government surrogates. it won't answer the bigger narrative, and i wrote a piece back in 2017 arguing this. it won't answer the big narrative. it's not a ken starlike. the report that the special prosecution wrote is going to be about power. >> thank you, guys, for your expertise. next we'll speak live with the white house about whether the president still. more on our breaking news. lawyer michael avenatti charged with extortion. we're learning some new charges in a separate case. and as parkland mourns the loss of two students who killed themselves within a week, there is more tragic news. the father of a child killed at sandy hook also dies of an
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it is a good day for the white house with the conclusion from the special counsel that the president of the united states and his associates did not collude with russia on interference with the 2016 presidential election, but the four-page summary from attorney general william barr leaves a lot of unanswered questions. and steve groves is joining us now, hopefully to answer some of those. he's the deputy white house press secretary. he was prooefeviously a deputy former white house counsel ty cobb before moving into the press office in january. thank you so much for being with us. we really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me on. >> we've seen this four-page summary from the attorney
general. it's a summary of the mueller report which did not establish collusion. the description as well of barr and rod rosenstein's conclusion that the evidence in the mueller report is not sufficient to establish that the president committed obstruction as well. the process right now of determining what can go to congress, because there are certain considerations about what would be secret before a grand jury, is happening as we speak. i wonder, though, what does the white house want to see? is there a concern that if this does not become public, the president has said he doesn't have a problem with that -- is there a concern that americans won't be able to put stock in the mueller report if they don't see it? >> well, as the attorney general made clear, he's going to make as much of this report available as possible as can be done under law. we know there has to be classified information there as
well. as i understand it, they're working on that right now. >> what about executive privilege stuff? is the white house going to make a case for what should not be made available to congress or to the public? >> we would cross that bridge when we came to it. that would only be necessary if attorney general barr's summary had to include information that could possibly deal with executive privilege. if that were to happen, then we expect the attorney general would reach out to the white house and say, hey, in my summary, i want to include executive privilege information. can we have that type of discussion? >> so, then, you would expect -- that seems very likely. you would expect the attorney general to reach out to the white house before this -- at least what he can conclude of the mueller report going to congress? >> i think he can write out his summary by classified sensitive material without any input from the white house at all. he's an expert in what those
things are. if he has to, and i'm not convinced that he has to, write a summary that would include presidential conversations, presidential deliberations, but if he is wanting to write his report and his summary with that information, he would probably come and check with us first to make sure the president didn't want to assert executive privilege. >> the president's written answers to the special counsel's questions? >> those may or may not be included in the report. understand those were directed toward the collusion side of the investigation where even special counsel mueller said that there was zero evidence of any type of conspiracy on behalf of the president or any of his campaign. so that will -- >> zero evidence isn't a quote, right, just to be clear? that's not a quote. i just want to be clear, because it talks about not -- that's not a quote -- that's not a quote from robert mueller. if we're going to say what robert mueller is saying, then we cannot say that, zero evidence. >> i had the letter before, i can quote from it.
but he made it clear that they did not find evidence of any type of conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russian government. >> all right, i just want to be clear on sort of what's in here. it doesn't say zero evidence. >> no. it's a definitive statement about a lack of evidence about conspiracy. >> legal findings and what raises to the level of a charge, right? just to be clear. >> right. >> so why not include that for the sake of transparency, the president's written answers? >> i don't know. that really is a question for attorney general barr. i don't know if his summary requires -- >> he doesn't want it, right? he wants that to remain private. why? >> you would have to ask jay sekulow that. i'm more concerned about what the attorney general needs to do to make his summary available, publicly available. he'll make that decision over at the department of justice. >> so before congress gets --
what would the process be, then -- so you believe the process to be that the attorney general would flag potential executive privilege information and then the white house would be able to see the summary report before it would go to congress? is that what you would expect? >> it's possible that if there were executive privilege issues that attorney general barr would only raise those issues and those issues alone with the white house. he doesn't necessarily need to provide his full summary to the white house in order -- >> parts of the summary, though? i guess what i'm asking is, would you see parts of the report before it would go to congress in order to deal with the executive privilege? >> only if general barr wanted to have executive privilege material in his summary, would he come to the white house, and if he needed a determination on those and if the president needed to assert, then those would be the only portions that the white house might see. but i'm really speculating. this is a process that's going to be driven by attorney general
barr over at the department of justice. >> just to go back to what you're saying, the evidence does not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to russian election interference. just so we're clear about what we're talking about. >> sure. >> just last week the president said robert mueller should not have been able to write a report. he's called the investigation a witch hunt on twitter more than 170 times. he's welcoming the result of what came from the barr letter, of course. he said that it's a sham. now it's a total exoneration, as he says. which is it? is it a sham or is it a report that should be taken seriously? >> well, i don't think there is any inconsistency about being critical of an investigation that you didn't think ever should be launched, and then when that investigation is completed to look at the results and say, of course, i'm exonerated. i've been saying that i haven't done anything wrong for two years. so i don't see any inconsistency with him being critical of the fact that the investigation was
opened into him and his campaign, and then when the investigation is over, we know the attorneys that ran the investigation saying, look, they found what i've been telling you all along. >> how do you hang your hat on something that you alleged 170 times was completely illegitimate? this isn't just criticism. this is questioning the entire legitimacy of this investigation. >> i don't know that the president can be said to be hanging his hat on anything. he's been delivered results of a report of a two-year vefr investigation into his campaign and into his administration and saying, god, can you believe it? after all this time and money and the democrats who ran this investigation against me, they still couldn't find anything. that's not inconsistent with being critical of the fact that it was -- >> it wasn't anything about him, to be clear. because this actual investigation was about russian meddling in the election. so now having dispensed with those concerns, is he now concerned about russian meddling in the election process which
continues, as we know, from his intel chiefs to such a degree that he is now going to resource pushing back against russia doing that? >> i think since he's taken office, election interference and election security has been one of his priorities. he's issued an executive order, they're working with the department of homeland security on elections. the midterm elections came and went without, i believe, significant interference and the interference that we believe did happen was reported and made public. so i think all of the eyes of the administration and the white house are on election security. >> why have his intel chiefs testified before congress something different? >> what did the intel chiefs testify to? >> that this really hasn't -- essentially what they said was that this is something that continues to go on and doesn't have the focus that it needs. they seem clearly more concerned about it than the president. sdp
>> that's your characterization. i think the president is concerned with it. it's your characterization, let's be fair about this. >> then let's just talk about what the president thinks. >> sure. >> is the president upset with the russians over the findings? because while he may be tweeting about how he's exonerated, in his words, by this report, the russians clearly are not. when you look at the charges, 34 people, three companies, a lot of russians. >> a lot of russians, by the way. >> that's right -- by what the russians did here? >> sure, why wouldn't he be, but the important thing is he was angry about the fact that there were ties and allegations that had been going on in very irresponsible ways by politicians and members of the media that somehow he or his campaign had something to do with that. he had a right to be upset about that. those were completely spurious allegations, that he have been blown out of the water during this investigation. it's good robert mueller
investigated those accusations, but it's clear that he didn't collude with the russians. >> you're saying that the president has appropriately made this a priority, to combat russian meddling in american elections and that that is what is going to -- the attention that he's given it so far is the attention he's going to continue to give it? >> well, it's one of the things that he works on. i mean, he does lots of other things. he's meeting with israeli prime minister today. there are a lot of things on his foreign policy agenda. it's something his people are seized on, especially at the department of homeland security. they are watching these elections. steve groves, thanks so much for coming into the studio. we appreciate you being here with us. >> thanks for having me. among the unanswered questions, what about the trump tower meeting? what about paul manafort sharing polling data? we're going through those issues and see where they land after
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starting to ramp up. still under scrutiny by new york prosecutors as well as congress, trump's inauguration, the trump organization, the trump campaign, the trump administration, the trump foundation and house democrats have a laundry list of investigations that they are pursuing, from the pre-election hush money payments to the two women the president allegedly had affairs with to donald trump's family separation policy. everything in between, as you can see by this list on the screen right now. house democrat congresswoman madeline dean is joining me now from capitol hill. she is a member of the judiciary committee and the financial sfrss committee. congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. just give us your reaction to it's not the mueller report, it's a summary from the attorney general, four-page summary of this report. what's your reaction? >> my reaction is a couple of things. we ought to recognize something good. number one, special counsel mueller completed his investigation with a team of able investigators and prosecutors, and i'm thankful
that that investigation has come to a close. number two, we should be glad that the preliminary finding that we know of the mueller report is that there was no coordination, no conspiracy. notice the words that they used. no coordination, no conspiracy of the trump campaign with russia's known interference with the 2016 election. number three, there was known interference by russia in a very serious and great way with the election of 2016. i hope this administration, and i'm certain congress will take that very seriously, as we head into the next election. but in terms of barr's letter, what i hope people will recognize is that it's only a very partial summary. it summarizes that first point. the second point that it makes is that mueller was unable to say -- to exonerate the president from obstruction of justice. that's a very important telling second part. >> not unable as much as he chose not to, congresswoman.
>> he said he would not, you're right. >> he laid out the facts and he left it to the attorney general. >> and what you notice is the attorney general, in the four-page letter, offers only partial quotes, very little evidence of what that evidence was. all of that leads me to say we need to see the report. congress needs to see the report, and the american people need to see the report. even the president has said that. >> he said he wouldn't be bothered by it coming out. what the attorney general is doing right now, with respect to the law, he's making sure that he can release what he can release. that's what he says in this, respect of the law and some of the facts that were before the grand jury. do you agree that that is important, and how concerned are you, especially -- we just heard from a deputy white house press secretary that if there is issues when it pertains to executive privilege, the expectation would be that the attorney general would touch base with the white house and
then the white house would be able to make its opinion known about information going to congress and what should and should not be going to congress. do you have concerns about that process? >> i do have concerns about that. certainly grand jury testimony would have to be asked of the judge if that can be released. i understand we have to follow the laws there. in terms of executive privilege, i don't see where executive privilege falls in here. the other thing i think people do not understand or haven't had a chance to read is that attorney general barr does not just summarize these two larger portions of the mueller report. he comes to a legal conclusion. he says, after weeks of talking with special counsel mueller, he and rod rosenstein have decided there was no obstruction of justice. he comes to a legal conclusion in this four-page letter. that's a leap that i think is very puzzling. >> so you have concerns about that. what do you need to allay those
concerns? do you want to hear from bill barr? do you want to hear from robert mueller? and what questions do you need answered? >> number one, we would like to see the entire report. that's where we would have to start, and the evidence that underlies it. number two, we absolutely should take the chance and the time to talk with attorney general barr. as you know, he wrote about a 19-page memo prior to being considered for attorney general, and you see echoes in this four-page letter. i've compared the two. we would like to talk to barr. i'm hoping our chairman jerry nadler will call him. >> when you say the entire report, just to be clear, what you hear in this letter, bill barr talking about pulling out of the report any information as it pertains to that which should not be released, maybe negative information about folks who were not charged, some information that may have been before the grand jury but would not go before congress. are you okay with that? do you agree with that?
>> one of the things i think you're thinking about and i'm concerned about and i'm mindful of, i understand we should not put out information about people who are not going to be charged, that there just wasn't a body of evidence to charge them. there is one problem with that. the department of justice has already put out its policy that the president cannot be charged. so i think he should be the one exception to that warning and that i think exact barrier, appropriate barrier to those who are not going to be charged with any crime. by accepting the president and by saying the president is in a special privilege place, we still need to see all the evidence as to the president. >> congresswoman, thank you so much. congresswoman madeleine dean joining us. we really appreciate it. still ahead, we have much more on our breaking news. a second state is now charging attorney michael avenatti with some pretty serious crimes. and among the unanswered questions in this mueller report summary, the four-page summary from the attorney general, what
contacts that they had with the russians. what were they thinking? >> i think that's going to be an ongoing question certainly for all of us try and get answers for. why did they spend all of this time lying? what were they afraid of? in the end i think what it was about is just really, yes, it was protecting themselves, people like michael flynn, michael like george papadopoulos, but also protecting the campaign, protecting the president. they knew the fbi was in the middle of this investigation, trying to figure out what the russians were doing, and they were trying to hide it from investigators. >> there are the actual criminal lies that have been charged and things like the misleading statements that were put out, for instance, the trump tower meeting. initially the trump campaign said it was about adoptions or mostly about adoptions, it had nothing to do with dirt on hillary clinton. the stories kept changing on all of these things and sometimes they actually got caught. >> there seemed to be a fear of being interested in some sort of behavior that could be tied to
colluding, right? >> yeah, there certainly was and that was a lot in part because there was so much attention. everyone was doing stories about it, about possible collusion with the russians. if they started admitting that they were communicating with the russians or there were people that were offering dirt, it would have created problems for the campaign. i think that was one of the central things here, they wanted to hide it so they didn't hurt the campaign. >> right, and then the individual decisions that were made by people when they were talking to the fbi certainly seemed puzzling in hindsight and maybe they didn't think they would actually get caught, they didn't think they would get charged, some lying to congress. mueller showed that was a road they were going to go down and now these people are having to pay. you guys, stand by. we have a lot more to talk about. i want to ask about the open-ended cases involving rick gates and roger stone. where are those? we'll be right back. se room
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mark and shimone are back with us to talk about the mueller report and a lot of this sort of i guess the spin off series of the mueller report. there are a lot of sofrt open ended cases at this point. rick gates. roger stone. what's going to happen there? >> gates will get sentenced and we heard his cooperation is ongoing in various investigation, so we have to see what he's been providing. stone will go to trial for what he is being charged. there are these ongoing spin offs in virginia, new york, the b obviously the michael cohen case spun out of the mueller
investigation. what we saw over time was wail mueller got narrower and really very focused on these core issues. conspiracy with russia and obstruction. and anything that came in their path, they farmed out. so gates, we're still going to be hearing about them into the future. >> paul manafort, the former campaign chairman, one of them, we found out he had actually shared polling data internal polls, which is is the information you hold close to the vest and he had shared that. whatever came of that? because there was a question of was that used to target perhaps an influence voters in certain areas. seems like maybe not. do we know? >> we don't. here's the problem, the prosecutors made this allegation in court in a sealed proceeding then manafort's attorneys accidentally put it in court documents and we were able to
read it. but the problem is the way the prosecutor described it. this was at the heart of the mueller investigation. and really by that point, i would think that they knew they were not at a point they could argue there was collusion. some of us have been questioning well why would he bring that up in those proceedings and leave it hanging like this. it's a good question to ask. we don't know. >> thank you so much. lawyer michael avenatti has been arrested and charged in two separate cases. we have live pictures here. prosecutors are going to be speaking any moment. we'll bring that to you as soon as it begins. we switched. i switched. we switched. i switched to chevy. i switched to chevy. we switched to chevy. we switched for value. for family. for power. it was time to upgrade. i switched from ram to chevy. see why people are switching to chevy. we love our chevy. i love my malibu. my colorado.
like never before store. the xfinity store is here. and it's simple, easy, awesome. you're watching cnn on this monday. i'm brooke baldwin. here's the breaking news. michael avenatti, who represented stormy daniels is now facing federal charges in california and new york. prosecutors in new york are expected to announce wire and bank fraud charges against this map. this after he was just arrested in new york today in a separate case and accused of trying to extort $20 million from nike. nick watt and cara are following