tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN May 29, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT
investigation. and the fact that barr has been really the only voice speaking out on this has fed that perception. so with mueller now finally adding his voice, that will hurt the president's ability to continue this line of total exoneration, jim. >> especially when it's not true. doesn't match the facts. sarah westwood, thanks very much. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. top of the hour here. i am jim sciutto in new york. our breaking news, a bombshell in the making. robert mueller, the special counsel, who has not said a word in public since he took over the russia investigation two years ago this very month, is set to make a public statement, his first public statement one hour from now. this comes amid weeks of negotiations with the house judiciary committee over whether and how he will answer questions on the hill about the report that he submitted in march and will he take questions, will he take them in public? a lot of open questions there about the testimony. but no question now that in one hour, less than an hour, you will hear from that man there
for the first time since the start of this investigation. our dana bash is in washington. dana, you and i have been covering this investigation since the very start. tell us about the significance of this moment. >> you really can't overstate how significant it is, in that, as you said, we have not heard from robert mueller. obviously, we have a very dense, lengthy, detailed report from mueller and his team about the investigation that lasted two years, the conclusion of what it meant, but even in trial after trial, courtroom after courtroom, we heard and saw members of mueller's team. not robert mueller himself. we basically have, you know, the pictures and the video that our team got of him going in and out of his office all that time. so this is hugely significant. the fact that they are telling us from the justice department that he is going to make a statement. he is not going to take
questions, obviously begs a very big question in terms of the content. why does he feel so compelled to come out to say whatever it is that he's going to say, especially given the back and forth that you've been talking about with our colleagues over whether or not he should or will testify, not just privately, but more importantly, publicly before the house judiciary committee. >> you know, we have not heard his voice, words come out of his mouth, dana, but as you know, he did submit not one, but two letters to the attorney general following attorney general barr's characterization of the mueller findings, which mueller in those letters, we now know, says hey, wait a second, you're not saying what i said in my report here, and i wonder what kind of potential conflict that sets up in these comments here. again, we don't know if he's going to repeat that line of
argument. we also don't know if bill barr signed off on whatever public statement bob mueller's about to make here. but the fact is, there is already a public disagreement, is there not, between bob mueller and bill barr on this? >> absolutely. absolutely. a public disagreement that robert mueller clearly wanted to be public after he was frustrated, to say the least, by the way that the attorney general characterized his report in the summary that was sort of the only thing out there for weeks before the actual mueller report came out. you know, we don't know. the real -- we hate to see this when we're on television, especially at something so big. we are trying to do reporting, but we don't know the content of what he is going to say in about an hour. it is going to be about the most dramatic moment, i think, it's fair to say, that we have had. and that says a lot, given the drama that we have seen and we have been a part of for all of
these months and even years in the trump era. >> no question. it makes you think of the comey testimony a couple of years back after his firing. dana bash, stand by. certainly a lot more to cover here. laura jarrett is at the justice department where, in less than an hour, the special counsel will make these groundbreaking public comments, or at least public statement here. laura, what are you learning now as we get closer to that moment? >> well, jim, we're still trying to figure out exactly what he will say, but as dana pointed out, i think the timing here is really interesting. the investigation has been over for quite some time, so why now is the day that he chooses to speak out, of all days? we know that he's been going into work every day, we've been trying to figure out exactly what he's been up to. the justice department really won't provide any details on what he's doing every day and so we've been asking the question, and he's finally now going to get to speak for himself. we haven't even heard his voice. in many, many years, he hasn't made any public statement, he hasn't come to court, he hasn't appeared at the justice
department for any of the press conference that other senior justice officials have done on some of the cases, some of the indictments. he has let his deputies handle all of those proceedings. it so will be interesting to hear how he frames whatever argument or statement that he wants to make about the report itself or about his testimony. we don't yet know whether he will address some of the findings of the report. we recall, as you pointed out, in the last hour, he had concerns about how the attorney general, bill barr, had characterized some of the findings. he and his team members really wanted the attorney general to put out those summaries that the team had worked up, because he thought that those provided a more fulsome explanation of some of their findings and that the public wasn't getting the full picture. obviously, the attorney general opted not to do that and instead to release a redacted report. so we'll see how much of anything he mentions on some of the substance of the findings versus his testimony, which is still in doubt at this time, jim. >> laura, you know how that building works. and i wonder, based on the chain
of command, a statement announced bip ty the justice department to be given from the justice department, by a special counsel who by the chain of command serves under the attorney general, as head of the justice department, would that mean that this statement had been vetted by the attorney general or even perhaps the white house as well? >> i think the question is vetted versus given a heads up. i know our colleague jeremy diamond is told by a senior administration official that the white house was given a heads up, i think, last night, that he was going to make this statement. the attorney general, bill barr, is actually out of the country in alaska right now, so we're trying to figure out exactly what the coordination was between those two men. obviously, they go back quite some time. bill barr had been mueller's boss for many, many years back in the '90s, so they know each other well. we're trying to dig into what is going on there. but in terms of vetting the statement, i think you get in tricky terrain when you start talking about, someone vetting it in terms of editing it. i think mueller probably has some things that he wants to say
and there's nothing anyone could do to stop him at this point, jim. >> he's been around a while, he's an old marine scout from vietnam, he's proven himself to be his own man through the years. again, if you're just joining us now, bob mueller will make his first public comment on the russia investigation, the justice department statement says a statement on the investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. it will be the first time that we hear from the special counsel since the start of this investigation. i want to go to joe johnsons a to the white house. i imagine it's not a stretch to say that the white house is bracing itself for what words will come out of the special counsel's mouth in less than an hour now. >> reporter: that certainly appears to be the case. what is clear to us through our reporting from the white house team is, number one, that the white house got a bit of a heads up on the fact that he was going to make this statement. and also, that the white house will not make any statements until after they hear what mr. mueller has to say. one thing i can tell you from my
own personal experience in my time covering the justice department and the supreme court, bob mueller appears to be at least reasonably fond of making exit statements. and i know that because i interviewed him when he left the fbi in a round robin with a number of other journalists from around town. so the question, of course, we've been told for a while that he was about to leave any day now. the question is whether this would be the appropriate time for mr. mueller to make an exit statement, if you will, as he leaves the office of the special counsel. that's just based on past experience and no direct knowledge, though i have raised the question with the office of the special counsel, jim. >> interesting possibility. and again, as you say, we don't know. but is that what he's going to say? that he's completed his work and now's his time to go home? open question. we'll know in 52 minutes. a little less than that. david gergen is joining us now.
he's worked for a handful of presidents through the years. again, we're in theory territory now, because the special counsel has not tipped his hand yet. what is your view of what he hopes to accomplish here? >> ha-ha, great question. a dramatic moment. first time bob mueller has spoken in two years. he's almost been a sphinx-like character. you know, given what we learned in the last two or three weeks about his reluctance to testify in front of an open hearing in the house or the senate, that he does not want to get involved in a political circus, i think that's one pressure he's -- by putting this at the justice department with no questions, he can control the message and the atmosphere much better than going up to the hill. so i think he's partly doing that, but he is also under pressure to clarify, because he put out his report and then along comes barr, the attorney general, and puts a new gloss on the report, which is much more favorable to the president.
and so you have to -- mueller has to decide, do i want to take that on or not? or do i want to clarify what my thinking was and where we're going? so my sense is, he wants to clarify, but he does not want a circus and this is the compromise to get there. >> let me ask you this, because he doesn't want to be seen as political. okay. but this is a fundamentally political question, is it not? there's even a theory that what mueller tried to do here was, in effect, give this evidence and allow congress, a political body, to decide if this is evidence of impeachable offenses. i mean, we require a whole host of non-political figures, be the intelligence commanders to testify in public. what's so special about bob mueller's status to avoid such public questioning? >> i don't think there is all that much difference. but one could understand his reluctance, after spending two years of his life doing this and going so seriously into it. he and his -- in the final
report, he dodged the political questions. he stuck to the legal issues, and dodged the question of whether this -- these would be impeachable offenses, if the house so held. or whether he thought they were impeachable offenses. remember, since his report, we've had some 900, is it now, former justice department prosecutors on both sides of the aisle who come forward and said in a sense that if what mueller had presented to us, if trump were a private citizen, he would be indicted and charged and he'd be facing possible jail time. well, mueller has never spoken on that. and i think people are extraordinarily curious to know, what's his view? what is his view on obstruction given where we've been? and did the justice department distort and in some ways spin his report in ways that made him uncomfortable? >> and to be clear, just a reminder, we mentioned this a few moments ago and we have an image of the letter on screen, on march 27th, robert mueller sent a letter that we now have
and has been testified about in congress, it is public, in which he calls out the attorney general for not properly conveying the weight, the seriousness, the specifics of his findings there. so there's already a public disagreement. of course, the difference between one in writing and one -- a spoken public disagreement is different. >> yes, i think that's right. and jim, this may be the last time we hear from mueller. given his desire to stay out of the spotlight, to stay out of politics, you know, this may be the first and may be the last statement. we'll have to wait and see. it's clearly going to raise new questions pant what he thinks, about his judgment, and those reporters are going to be wanting those answers, as will members of various committees on the hill. but it may be very hard to extract them after this statement. this may be his sayonara. >> his sayonara. shan wu, you've encountered the special counsel through the years, shan, including representing a witness, a
significant witness in this investigation, rick gates, former deputy campaign chairman for trump and now someone who's pled guilty to crimes. tell us what questions he needs to address. he's going to answer questions, but what questions he needs to address in this statement? >> i think if it is a farewell statement, it kind of gives him a clear shot at saying what he wants to say. i think what would be really important is for him to address the whole question of, there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges about conspiracy or conclusion with russia. and the problem is, i just can't see mueller making some type of grand unveiling that in fact there was a lot here, it's an impeachable offense. i can't see him saying that in these circumstances. so he may just kind of amplify a little bit some summary of his findings. and i think that could be very disappointing. but that would be a really crucial piece of insight for him
to give us as to what was really going on there. do you think that even though there's not enough to bring a criminal charge, that these are very serious problems that you found and very serious misgivings and that you really did want congress to take a look at that. the problem is, i can't see him giving that much of an opinion about it. turning to the obstruction side, he's already opined that he cannot exonerate the president. so there he may be willing to speak more forcefully, and ideally, shed light on whether that office of legal counsel opinion really kept him from bringing a charge. and we've heard some rumors that there's actually an indictment drafted. so i think that would be something i really want the answer for. was it but for that rule that he would have been charged? >> will he address that. >> i want to quote from his letter march 27th from bill barr to robert mueller. he said the following. the summary letter that the department sent to congress and released to the public late in the afternoon on march 24th did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this
office's work and conclusions. that is already in letter form a public disagreement between the special counsel and how the attorney general portrayed the special counsel's findings as he put them together over those two years of this investigation. ga garb, i believe you're still with us. we've already had two people on the air raise the possibility this could be his swan song, his farewell here. are you hearing anything in that direction >> i just spoke with a key republican congressional source, one who should be in the know about what robert mueller was going to do, just even the fact that he's going to give this statement. and unlike the white house, which according to our reporting did get a heads up, just that he's going to give the statement, that heads up came last night, that did not happen for republicans, it seems, on
capitol hill. at least those who are in a position to before kind of, you know, dealing with this kind of thing. you know, we don't know yet and we're still doing reporting about whether or not the same goes for democrats who are in charge of the house of representatives, but when it comes to republicans, my understanding in talking to a key republican source is that did not happen, as it seems to have had with the trump white house. >> now, would hill need to be notified based on a special counsel law in advance if the special counsel was completing his work? >> that's a good question. the answer is "no." my understanding, i don't know, maybe you read it a different way, jim, but it's because the work has been completed. they did, by law, have to be notified when the attorney general got the report from robert mueller's team and, of course, they got notified when that report was going to be made public. but this is something that seems
to be outside the bounds of and the parameters of the special counsel rules and regulations that were put in place by the deputy attorney general when he appointed robert mueller two years ago. >> we should note, and again, if you're just joining us now, special counsel robert mueller will give his first public comments since the start of this investigation and of course, its completion, just a number of weeks ago. this is what the advisory from the justice department says. it says that he will make a statement on the investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. his statement will be about the investigation. is it his involvement in it? will he offer any clarity on his findings, particularly the characterization of those findings as they differ between what the attorney general has said about him and what the special counsel meant to say in his conclusions in this report? we're going to find that out in 43 minutes, 42 1/2 minutes right now. sunlen serfaty, i believe you're still with us, up on the hill. are you hearing from lawmakers, democrat and republican, as they
wait for the special counsel's statement? >> no word from any members yet, jim. certainly, i think, many people are waiting to see what he'll be saying in now just under 45 minutes today. and certainly, we've been discussing over the last hour, i think of utmost important to many on the hill is whether robert mueller today says whether he will testify or not. this has been the source of a lot of back and forth between the teams on the house judiciary committee and the special counsel's office over the last days and weeks. this has stretched on for over a month now, active negotiations of the terms of how that testimony might go down. they are still certainly negotiating this. many democrats are concerned about restrictions placed on his testimony. the fact that the special counsel's office behind the scenes has expressed some reluctance for him to testify for not only the opening statement, but the question and
answer segment in front of tv cameras in public. there have been some questions around him potentially being allowed to testify behind closed doors for the question and answer section. they say this is an issue of jut most gravity and importance and he should appear and explain his findings and be questioned by members of congress in front of the public. and that should happen before tv cameras. now, a lot of different potential variables that could come into that, including potentiallily him testifying behind closed doors and a transcript being made to public, but that not satisfying many democrats that are pushing hard for the entire testimony, if and when it happens, to be in front of tv cameras. >> the chairman of the committee, jerry nadler has been very clear that he says he will get mueller in front of his committee one way or the other. he has given him room to try to negotiate this, but he says that he will subpoena it if need be. and another issue that i know
you've been talking about, mueller still being an employee of the department of justice, you know nadler has questioned why he is still there. so this will be interesting to see if this is him issuing the end of his official employment there. nadler intimating that that could be a way for him to appear in front of the congressional committees, despite objections from president trump. >> sunlen serfaty, thank you. joe johns, i understand you've been speaking to house members about their expectation for the hearing. what are you hearing? >> i just got off the phone from one of the senior aides on one of the committees that is seeking very much to have bob mueller come and testify before him. and the indication i got from that senior aide is there has been no movement on negotiations to get mr. mueller to come voluntarily to the committee. of course, there is that option of a subpoena, which certainly has the potential to be
problematic, unless mueller would want a subpoena in order to do it along those lines. also, i do have to mention to you, and it's one of the things that's kind of underreported about the justice department, is that technically, regardless of whether the individual who worked for the justice department is an employee or is not an employee, according to doj rules, they may still be constrained from speaking publicly, unless they are authorized by the appropriate supervisor, in this case would likely be the attorney general himself. and the other thing i think is important to mention is running in the background of all of this is that mr. mueller, despite the fact he did do exit interviews years ago when he left the fbi has been very, very reluctant to go public, to speak in front of the cameras to news media unless he feels there's an absolute necessity. now, of course, the question here is, is this an absolute necessity? it certainly seems to be the case. back to you. >> we're getting new information
into cnn and that is that bill barr, of course, the sitting attorney general was notified ahead of time as to the special counsel's intention to make this statement in about 40 minutes' time here. barr not in washington, though. he's traveling in alaska now, so he will not be physically present, but it is notable that this statement will be coming from the grounds of the department of justice. special counsel serves under the department of justice and that's where he will be making this statement. again, no questions to follow. laura jarrett, you continue to follow this -- sorry, laura jarrett is making phone calls. news is breaking, our colleagues are making phone calls to learn more about this. evan perez also covers the justice department. evan, what are you learning as we get ready to hear for the first time from the special counsel since the start of this investigation? >> reporter: jim, one of the things that people have been puzzled by the is fact that members of congress have been pushing for mueller to come testify and there's been sort of weeks and weeks of talks that
have gone nowhere. and one of the things that i think people don't understand, perhaps, going on behind the scenes, is a reluctance by mueller himself to appear in what he believes is going to be a very partisan, very political setting. and a lot of what the democrats are asking of him, i think a lot of the questions and a lot of the answers that they're seeking are ones that he, most likely, won't be able to deliver on. hep won't be able to give them exactly what they're looking for. and that's one of the reasons why there's been this hesitation, as joe johns just mentioned, you know, joe obviously covered the justice department for many years. and i covered him for years at the fbi. and these things, these hearings were always the least favorite thing that he had on his calendar. perhaps, just behind talking to reporters. and one of those reasons, one of those things is that he would prefer to do private briefings for members. he would be able to talk a little bit more frankly, but he believed that his job was not to
become part of the partisan jockeying that happens at a lot of these hearings. a lot of the questions are not really questions, they're more about statements and trying to get a tv moment. and so that's one of the things that he dislikes the most. and i think that's one of the sticking points, one of the reasons why it's been so difficult to try to get -- to come to terms to do this public hearing. >> well, he wouldn't be the first official who would not -- would prefer not to take those questions. but it's a democracy. laura jarrett's at the justice department. you're getting new information, i understand, on what this statement -- the first public comments from the special counsel -- are about. >> reporter: well, jim, we're told that the statement will be substantial. what exactly it will say, how far it will go, whether it will go into the reports' conclusions or whether it will go into mueller's perception of how the attorney general depicted those conclusions in that controversial four-page memorandum, all of that remains to be seen. but i am told that it will be substantial, so it will be a substantiative statement.
it will not be just a two-minute good-bye. he is not taking questions, though, however. and so it is important to note, there will be no back and forth with reporters. it will only be mueller up there making a statement. i'm also told that the attorney general, bill barr, who is actually traveling right now in alaska, he did receive a heads up about this. i know that was a question that you had for me in the last hour. just in terms of the chain of command here, you know, mueller does report to the attorney general, obviously, as the special counsel. he has a great deal of autonomy, but he does still report to barr at the end of the day. so he did give his boss a heads up that he was doing this. and of course, the white house was also given a heads up, according to our colleague, jeremy diamond, jim. >> laura, just to be clear, and i don't want you to tell me who your sources are, but when you're told that this will be a substantial statement, you're hearing this from the justice department? >> a source with good, solid knowledge of what he plans to say. >> understood. >> when we say that barr got a heads up, that the special counsel is giving this
statement, a heads up simply that a statement was going to happen, or should we expect he also got a heads up on the content of that statement? >> a heads up on the content, a heads up that it was going to happen. i don't have any reporting on any sort of back and forth iterative. i don't expect that this was sort of, you know, a really lengthy process, but that he was informed, which should be expected, again, given the chain of command, given the role here, given that under the special counsel regulations, mueller does report to barr. that is to be expected. but, again, barr will not be with him. the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein is no longer here. there's a new dag in town, jeffrey rosen. so this is not going to be the same show of force we've seen in the past at press conferences at the justice department that have to do with the russia investigation. this is just mueller making a statement on his own. >> a substantial statement, your sources are telling you. final question, and this gets to chain of command.
the special counsel turns under the attorney general, the attorney general serves under the president, appointed by the white house. we know the wohite house got a heads up that this statement was happening. by past practice, would the white house get an okay on the content of the statement, as well? >> i think that would be unusual. it would be hard to imagine how they would even try to go about something like that. i imagine that the white house counsel's office would be involved. you recall, during all of the rollout of the actual report, even the closing down of the investigation, the white house lawyer, emmet flood, the top white house lawyer who has been working on the russia investigation, was heavily involved, talking about barr's staff about how everything was going. so i think that they have been in close contact throughout this investigation, but in terms of actually making a call on what he would say, i think that that would be unusual to say the least, jim. >> all right, laura jarrett, i know you're going to stay on top of that. please get back to us if you get anymore information. we're about a half hour away
from the special counsel. this is quite a moment for the country. it's been two years since this very consequential investigation started. this is the first time we're going to hear from him at that podium right there about 33 minutes' time at the justice department. first public comments from the special counsel. david gergen remains with us. been involved in a lot of administrations. tell us your thoughts again as we come up to this moment. >> well, i very much respect laura's reporting. i must say, jim, if you were at the justice department a senior to bob mueller, you would want to see the contents of the statement before he goes out. and the fact he's doing it at the justice department, you know, shows very much he's an employee of the justice department. and i would think that they would want us to not only see it, but if possible, have editing rights. i think that's a crucial questi question. is this coming directly from him or gone through channels and
been approved and check marked and so forth. we would put different weight on it if it's gone through channels than if we were told this is his raw statement and nobody else looked at it. >> well, you've been in government long enough the to know that the difference between seeing it prior and having editorial power, veto power prior is significant. >> it sure is. >> and this, of course, is a special counsel who at least in written form, has not shied away from differing with his boss, quote/unquote, bill barr. he issued a letter march 27th. we'll put it up on screen again in which he said, your summary did not get at the context, nature, and substance of this office's work. so it is a special counsel with some credibility here who you might expect would be willing to say something that he was not told to say, as it were. >> well, because he's not answering any questions, we may to that.ow the absolute answer - i'm sure there'll be background
statements coming out of the justice department officials and the white house and the like. but it would be really helpful if he, himself, clarifies exactly whose statement this is, whether it's from him and the counsel's team, period, or whether it had to be cleared. i can just tell you from a white house perspective, you would be really anxious to get your hands on that and have a clearance process before he goes public. you would be really anxious. it's just in the nature of the beast of the white house. you know, they try to be protective of the president. >> yeah, i'm sure they would beg, borrow, and steal to be -- we'll know shortly if they did. if they did. shimon prokupecz, you've been covering this investigation, like me, since the beginning here. we don't know what the statement and how far it's going to be. laura jarrett reporting that it's going to be substantial. we should expect, as a substantial statement now in the investigation into russian interference in the presidential election, how significant a moment is this for the investigation?
>> it's a significant moment for the investigation, really, a significant moment for this country. here we are, we're going to finally hear from this man who has been at the center of this investigation, who we have not heard from, has never spoken. all of a sudden now, today, we get word that he's going to speak and given all the buildup, you know, we've been waiting to see if we're going to hear from him in congress, it's clear he does not want to do that. this allows him to control the situation, this lengthy statement. he's going to do it his way and say what he needs to say. a couple of key things, i think, that people need to look for here is whether or not he is united with the department of justice, with specifically, the attorney general's findings, and what the attorney general has said in terms of this investigation. or is there some kind of divided front here, where he's going to offer his own take on how things went here. and really speak to what he feels in terms of this investigation. and the other thing is, i think what we're going to see, he's
going to really make this probably about russia, right? in the end, that's what this investigation was about. how much does he go into that versus the whole obstruction thing, which we've all been focused on, the obstruction part of this investigation. the other thing i think is important to note is that this is being done on a day when the attorney general is not in the building, right? he's traveling. i think that's really interesting, the fact that this is happening when the attorney general is not there. he's going to have the podium, robert mueller, on his own, sitting there, standing there, perhaps, and he's going to speak. look, a lot has been said about robert mueller for the past two years, about where he stands. there have been some assumptions made about his well-being, about things going on in his life. of course, people have been wanting to hear him speak for so long and now we're going to have this moment. and also, we're going to get a lot of detail, i think. if this is going to be as lengthy as folks have told us it's going to be, so, you know, i suspect he's going to go into a lot of the thinking behind his decisions. and really, ultimately, in the
end, try to defend what they did here and what they didn't do, which is just as important, jim. >> lengthy? how long are you being guided that this statement is going to be? >> we know it's going to be several minutes. i think laura jarrett has said it probably best in terms that it's going to be pretty detailed. depending on where he goes and how much detail he goes into, i think it's going to be pretty lengthy based on what she has heard. >> and just repeating our colleague laura jarrett's reporting there, is that the special counsel's stadium there at that podium, you're seeing live pictures where it will take place in 27 minutes, that that statement will be substantial. the department of justice says it will relate to the investigation into the russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. we still have a number of colleagues with us who have covered this investigation for some time. shan, you have the advantage of having, i don't want to say, participated in, but you've certainly been a party to this investigation, because you represented one of the most significant witnesses and that is rick gates, the former deputy
campaign chairman for the trump campaign in 2016. a substantial statement expected from the special counsel here, a special counsel who has disagreed, differed publicly with the attorney general on his characterization of the special counsel's findings. if it is, indeed, a detailed statement, what should we be looking for, as he takes that podium there? >> well, the details we'll be looking for, will be, i think, to expand upon what they really found on the russian side of the investigation, and i want to echo both david gergen and shimon's comments. looking at the hierarchy, the way the department usually works, there's a big difference between the independent counsel, like when he was counsel to janet reno, we had a lot of independent counsels, but we also had some special counsels working on specially designated cases. a special counsel like mueller is very much subject to the hierarchy and you would certainly expect that a statement would have been really vetted through the attorney general. now, to shimon's point, on the schedule, i found it was a very intriguing thought, actually. the ag's schedule is very well
known. everything has to be planned around when the ag is in town, when they're not in town. for something as significant as this to be planned when the ag is out of town, it suggests either barr is very comfortable with what's going to be said or mueller being quite an old hand and his team being quite e experienced, deliberately chose a day when the ag is not in known. >> it's a good point, shan. you've been around washington for a wile, that things like that -- listen, could just be an accident of timing here, but significant to have the boss out of town when that happens. so you would say, it's unlikely that those two things are not connected? >> i would say it's a little bit unlikely. those sorts of schedules are pretty carefully coordinated. and, you know, the sort of tableaus we've seen with everyone standing on the podium is how the department likes to project its unity. so to have this statement possibly mueller's last
statement be just the image of him be himself delivering it, rosenstein's not there anymore, barr's not there, that's a very different image than what the department normally likes to put on. >> understood. shan wu. we're joined now by jennifer rogers, former federal prosecutor here with me in new york. has been around cases like this for some time. jennifer, tell us what questions -- well, he won't take questions, but he will be making a statement. what information do you want the special counsel to address and do the american people need to hear the special counsel address when he goes to that podium 24 minutes from now? >> i think they do, because there's been so much misinformation about what the mueller report said. so i'm less interested in an, i said this and barr said this and i wrote a letter that said this, that back and forth. i want him to summarize in very simple terms why he made the decisions he made and what the report says. just in, you know, very, very concise statements.
because that's what the american people really don't understand, even though we've had the report for a month or so now. >> the trouble, of course, is since he is not taking questions, he can't be cross-examined. he could make a statement, characterize it any way he wants to, but you would want a reporter or a lawmaker in the room to say, wait a second, in your march 27th letter to the attorney general, you said his summary did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of your findings. why is that? did you have disagreements? how did you settle those disagreements behind closed doors? the trouble is, there are public differences here that if he doesn't address in the statement, we'll have to wait, i suppose until he goes to the hill. >> i think that's right, but at the end of the day, what the public really needs to know is what his investigation found h pcpc. so we can save all of that back and forth and was the attorney general misleading the public. i don't think robert mueller will want to get into all of that now. i think he thinks his job is to tell everyone what he and his
team found, spending 22 months investigating these things, what they concluded. because that's what's been lost in all of the back and forth and all of the misleading comments from the attorney general and the president's supporters. so i think that's really what we need from him. i hope that's what we get from him. and maybe he'll surprise us and also give us some information about why what he said is not what the attorney general reported. but i suspect not. you know, i suspect he'll keep it to the four cancorners of th report, and that's the most important thing. >> jennifer rogers, great to have you here. dana bash back with us in washington. a little more than 20 minutes away, dana. what are you hearing? >> i just thought it was noteworthy, listening to you talk with shan and laura jarrett about the fact that bill barr is not in that building. he is not in the justice department. he's traveling in alaska today. and, you know, it's noteworthy that bill barr isn't the only one gone from washington. congress, as well. this is a memorial day week and members of congress are not
here. and this is a man, robert mueller, who has been in intense negotiations, not with republicans who run the senate, because lindsey graham would be in charge of that and he says he doesn't need to hear from robert mueller, but house democrats who are desperate to try to find a way for him to testify in public. and as evan was talking about, there has been some stiff resistance, not from the justice department necessarily or the president, which has been quite public, but from robert mueller, because he has been so reluctant to jump into the political circus that is always congress. and the fact that he's doing this when congress isn't here, i think, is knows wortnoteworthy. now, it's 2019. there are cameras everywhere. people can use their iphones to make a video and make a comment, but it's not the same as having manu or phil or any of our colleagues chase after you in the hallways. >> no question. the significance of the special counsel speaking now after only
one, but one republican lawmaker has said it's not just democrats who believe the president has committed impeachable bayehavio here, because there is, of course, a school of thought that robert mueller's intention was, if he's not making a recommendation to indict, that his view is, it well and truly is up to congress, and that here, congress, is what you should consider. how different is it now that you have a republican very publicly voicing that opinion? >> you know, very publicly and he said during his town hall -- you're talking about justin amash -- that his gop colleagues have said that, not all, but some of them have said that to him privately, as well. you know, the fact is, jim, that impeachment is an inherently political decision. and there is no question -- i mean, it wasn't even subtle the way robert mueller spelled out what he thought. yes, he didn't make a decision.
he didn't say explicitly that the president of the united states obstructed justice, but he did pretty explicitly say, it is up to congress to make that decision. and so i think it's still a stretch to call the notion of wanting to start impeachment inquiry bipartisan. it is one republian. we'll see in that changes. but i'm not so sure that justin amash is going to push people who are very reluctant for political reasons on the gop side to say much more publicly, unless something changes significantly with what we've learned. >> dana bash, thanks very much. it's often been noted that the watergate proceedings took about two and a half years from break-in until the president's eventual resignation. it's not an direct or identical parallel to watergate here, but in that situation, republicans
were reluctant to join until later as well. you never know. gloria borger, you've been covering this like me from the beginning. a substantial comment from robert mueller happening in fewer than 20 minutes here. so a substantial statement. how significant is this moment to hear his first public comments? >> i think it's as i think shimon said earlier, i think it's a substantial moment for the country. i think everybody wants to hear from bob mueller. democrats and republicans. what we've heard from him is his 438-page document and the letter that he sent to the attorney general, which was stunning to us, saying that the attorney general had really misrepresented his conclusions in his report. i think what the question, the obvious question that everyone wants to know if he will answer today, and we don't know whether he will or won't is would you
have indicted the president of the united states if there were not an office of legal counsel opinion that said you cannot do that? and how did that play into your thinking and into your team's thinking. and i hope he elaborates a little bit on that. it's clear that he is a reluctant witness. he doesn't want to go before congress. it seems like he doesn't even want to go before congress behind closed doors. we will find that out. and so, i'm hoping that in this statement which laura jarrett says is substantial, that it is substantial and it does answer a question like that. >> absolutely. and another question, too, you know, whether he makes a statement on his decision to indict, does he -- does he address and say, in effect, that his boss, bill barr, the attorney general, did not pro r properly characterize the findings of the report, as he said, gloria, you know as well
as me, in a letter, you did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions. that would be a very simple thing for him to address here, and different, i imagine, to hear that coming out of his mouth as opposed to in written form and letter to the attorney general. >> he's done that, as you read from his letter. the question is whether he goes beyond that and whether he says like, this is now up to the congress. or gives the democrats any encouragement. we just don't know the answer. >> gloria borger, great to have you there. we know you're going to be there to digest these comments as they come. we have some news into cnn just now. and that is that the house judiciary chair, that, of course, jerry nadler, democrat from new york, was told in advance about the mueller statement. this a committee spokesman tells cnn, the committee has been in talks with mueller, as we've been reporting here, and those talks continue about robert mueller testifying on the hill, that the fundamental disagreement there has been the special counsel willing to make a public statement there, as
he's about to do here in 15 minutes' time, but also, as he's about to refuse to do here, not answering questions in public. the special counsel prefer as those questions on the hill to be made in public. that is not a position that the chairman of the house judiciary or other democrats, and in fact some republicans, support. shimon prokupecz, you cover the justice department here. 15 minutes from now we're going to hear from the special counsel, now, a substantial statement. what does that mean? >> probably pretty detailed. he's probably going to go into a lot of what we want to hear about, certainly in terms of the investigation i don't think he's going to get political. but the big thing is going to be whether or not there is a united front here. whether or not we're going to see robert mueller and ultimately, the department of justice, under the current attorney general, bill barr, whether or not there's a united front here in what has been said about this investigation, in how the attorney general feels about this entire investigation. and also, does he support the
fbi's work? that has come under scrutiny, obviously, in some ways by the attorney general, but the intelligence community. they're gathering, so to speak, the investigation of the investigation that we have heard so much about, how does mueller -- how does he talk about that? does he talk about it? does he go into detail and voice his support for how this investigation was conducted? he probably will. obviously, he wouldn't have been conducting this investigation. but you know, what he says, the optics of this are tremendous. tremendous for this country, they're tremendous for the department of justice, for all the work that has gone into this entire investigation that he has been overseeing all the scrutiny that he's been under by the president, by members of congress, by others in terms of this investigation. all will hopefully be addressed in this statement he's ultimately going to give. perhaps this is his good-bye here after being part of this for two years, jim. >> you raise a good point.
will he defend the investigators? you have the president of the united states accusing people who participated in this investigation early on of treason. he's used the word "treason." you heard a republican lawmaker, liz cheney said the same on sunday programs. will robert mueller come to their defense here. jennifer rogers is with me here in new york. a longtime federal prosecutor. tell us about from a legal standpoint the significance of an investigator here who likes, like many investigators do, to do their work behind the scenes, outside of the public eye, but let's be frank, this is a very public investigation, of public importance. tell us about how he walks that line. >> well, mueller's been even more reticent than many public servants are to speak publicly outside of the four corners of whatever document or indictment it is that he's working on. so for him, it is a big deal. and contrary to what many of the president's supporters say about him, he is a republican, he's a lifetime republican. so it must be challenging for
him to try to speak against bill barr and against the president and other people, at least that's how the president and his supporters see it, but i think first and foremost, he's a person who wants to uphold the rule of law. so that's going to take precedence over this loyalty that i'm sure he feels that he has to the republican party. at the end of the day, you know, he's got to do what's right in terms of the law. so i think that that's what he'll do here. >> we have some new reporting on this statement coming in. this also from our colleague, laura jarrett. she says that bill barr was not -- the attorney general, not only given a heads up that the statement was coming, but the attorney general was briefed on the contents of the statement, so he knows, in effect, in general, at least, what the special counsel robert mueller is going to say. however, when asked if barr requested that mueller make this statement, our colleague, laura jarrett is told, unequivocally, no. so at least based on that reporting that this is the special counsel who chose to make this statement. did give a heads up to his boss,
effecti effectively, the attorney general, as well as briefing him on the contents, but it was the special counsel's decision, the special counsel's decision to come out and make this statement at that podium. i'm going to turn you now over to my colleagues, jake tapper and wolf blitzer as cnn continues this special coverage of this truly momentous moment for the country and the russia investigation. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in washington along with jake tapper. just minutes from now, a critical turn in the russia investigation. the special counsel, robert mueller, will make a statement on camera over at the justice department. >> if you're racking your brain, trying to remember what robert mueller's voice sounds like, you might not actually have ever heard it. this will be mueller's first public comment since the start and the completion of his investigation into russian interference into the 2016
election. and mueller's remarks come amid the political debate over the findings of his report and specifically, whether president trump obstructed justice. also, whether attorney general william barr mischaracterized the findings of the mueller report zp report. >> the 22-month investigation loomed very large over the last two years of the trump presidency. a senior administration official tells cnn, the white house will wait until after mueller's statement to issue remarks of its own. our team of cnn reporters, our correspondents, our analysts all are here. let's go to cnn's laura jarrett. she's over at the justice department. what are you hearing, laura? >> reporter: well, wolf, after nearly two years of complete and utter silence from the special counsel, he is breaking that silence finally today at the justice department. we're expecting to see him very shortly up on the podium. i'm told that he is going to make a substantial statement, but we still are waiting for details on exactly what he will say. we know that he's been going into work every day.
we've been asking the justice department what exactly he's been up to now that the investigation has been closed, for nearly two months, they haven't commented. but he will now have his chance to speak about whatever he wants. he's not taking any questions from reporters, but again, i am told his statement will be substantial. just to give you a little bit of behind-the-scenes color on how this all came together, my colleague jeremy diamond is told that the white house was given a heads up yesterday that mueller would be making a statement. and i'm told by a source familiar that the attorney general bill barr was also given a heads up that mueller would be making this statement, and not only a heads up, but actually informed about the contents, briefed on exactly what he would say, and so even though the attorney general is actually traveling in alaska right now and will not be here for it, he knows exactly what is about to come out of the special counsel's mouth. and i was asking that source whether barr actually requested that mueller do this. after so much speculation about the report and all of the fallout over barr's memo, i asked if barr requested that
mueller did this, and the source said unequivocally "no" to that. so we wait to see what he'll see in just a short time from now. >> very interesting that barr is actually out of the country. >> he's in alaska. >> i'm sorry, he was out of the country, now he's in alaska. >> let's bring in cnn's abby phillip at the white house. and abby, the white house has had any number of interpretations of the mueller report. they have said it exonerated the president, which it does not do. they have attacked robert mueller. they have attacked his team. any idea of what they might say or if they even know what mueller is going to say? >> reporter: well, jake, it really is going to depend on what exactly mueller has to say in this statement. the white house will not say, at this moment, if they know of the content of what mueller will say at the top of the hour, but they were given a heads up, as laura just said, last night, that this statement was coming. and this morning, there has been a flurry of activity here in the white house. several senior staff meetings convened. it's not clear exactly what
those were about, but you can imagine that they might be trying to coordinate what their response might be. and as you pointed out, jake, the president has been saying this report was a complete exoneration of him, but at the same time, he has not let up on his attacks on the investigation itself. in fact, he has cheered this effort to investigate the investigators. so this is clearly a white house who is still on the defense about the content of the mueller report, even as they claim that it exonerates president trump. and the white house says they're going to wait until mueller completes his statement before responding. what's not clear, is, are they going to issue a paper statement, is the president going to respond himself, either in person or via twitter. but i think you can bet that he is not going to just let what robert mueller has to say stand. this is a president who's still deeply skeptical of this investigation from start to finish. he still calls this investigation an illegal witch hunt. so i don't think you're going to see the white house really
cheering anything that robert mueller has to say, based on their actions and their words over the last several months since the report was completed. >> we'll stand by to get reaction from the white house as soon as mueller finishes his statement. evan perez, you cover the jpt for us, as well. what are you hearing? >> well, wolf, i think a lot of people are taking note of the fact that the attorney general is out of town. but i should note that his immediate boss, robert mueller's immediate boss, who is the deputy attorney general, jeffrey rosen, he's in the office. he's actually still near washington. you know, just based on having covered robert mueller for a number of years, i don't expect, perhaps, that there will be that much daylight between him and the bosses. it's simply because, you know, that's not his style. again, we could be surprised here and he could stand up and go out with a big bang, but, you know, i think one of the things that he wants to do is let people hear from him. he still does not want to testify in public, in congress. i think he's always been reluctant to do that, because he
believes that when you're testifying, you invariably become a part of like this political football, you know. and i think he wants to resist that, especially for an investigation this important. so i think one of the things he's trying to do is show the public, here i am. if you're going to hear from me in private, then members of congress can do that and ask me questions, but in public, i don't expect that you're going to hear a lot of daylight or see a lot of daylight from him between him and his bosses. >> and people i'm talking to on capitol hill are leaning into the fact -- although i should be clear, that neither key republicans who control the senate nor democrats in the house, nancy pelosi included, got a heads up, not even about the content, but just about the fact that he is giving this statement. having said that, my impression in talking to sources, is that, like evan was saying, he wants to close this out. he's closing out his office.
there have been questions about when he's finally going to leave. so this is partly a swan song. but we can't forget the fact that laura jarrett is reporting, also, that it's going to be substantial and substantiative. so, yes, he's saying good-bye, but also clearly wants to make a very heavily -- a statement with a lot of heavy content. >> and shan wu, let me bring you in. one of the things that we don't know obviously, there are any number of topics that he could be discussing, why he doesn't want to testify publicly, for example. claims made in a book about whether or not the mueller office was pursuing charges against president trump, claims that the mueller office has denied wholeheartedly. james comey wrote an op-ed yesterday. i mean, there are any number of things that he could be addressing. >> right. i think he'll probably be expanding on what he thought might have been not fully represented in the attorney general's letters. but i think look to mueller for a very, as evan was saying, a
very carefully worded expansion. he's not going to be coming out to criticizing barr, but i think he feels a strong obligation to make sure that the american people have as full a picture and as accurate a picture as he can give. so i think we will get some details, but i don't think we're going to see some sort of strong disagreement between the two men. >> when you haven't spoken for two years -- he was asked one question outside of church and gave a one or two-word answer. he gave a commencement address that was previously scheduled. when you haven't spoken for two years in this town of constant tweets and constant controversy, your words have added import. just a backdrop, he's still a company man. he didn't wait until he leaves. he's coming into the headquarters to do it. that tells you he's a company man. but to the point of, what's he going to say? we've all been going through this now for quite some time. this is the letter from attorney general to congress and this is to attorney general to the special counsel to the attorney general saying, what's this?
you know, that this does not fairly characterize this, the mueller report. and so can he come out after two years -- he has to come out after two years, he has to understand this. he's a former fbi director, he's a former prosecutor, he's viewed as mr. integrity in washington. he has to address these things. is he going to try to bring some clarity to this, or does after two years he only adds to the confusion. that's a pretty big bar. >> and it's fascinating timing, because robert mueller did not want to come out and speak publicly when he finished his investigation. he did not want to be the one who shared the conclusions of what he found. he left all of this up to the attorney general. and he's coming out and speaking publicly at a time when members of congress want him to have testify. when many members of congress want him to testify publicly. so i think in some ways, maybe he will accomplish what evan says could be a goal here, which is to say, here i am, i'm speaking to you in public. i'm addressing you, the nation, but i want to testify in private. but in other ways, he may just irk members of congress, okay, you're going out there and speaking in front of the cameras to give this statement, now we
want you in front of the cameras in our committee. >> i'll be interested to hear if he strongly defends his team of investigators and prosecutors in the face of all of the hate that the president of the united states leveled against them. "18 angry democrats," "a coup," and all of that stuff. >> the evidence-free conspiracy theories that james comey in his op-ed pointed out that only fringe media is really paying any attention to. the other thing that i think is going to be very interesting to see is whether or not he addresses what president trump has said the report does, which is no collusion and the report actually takes great pains to say, we're not addressing the issue of collusion, per se, we're addressing conspiracy. and no obstruction, which again, the report does not exonerate the president on, but the president has been saying that for all this time. do you think that he might want to establish what his report actually does? or is that too political for him? >> if i were robert mueller, i would want to establish what my report actually does!
i would perhaps want to address the question of whether, you know, he didn't come to a finding on obstruction, because he meant to leave that up to congress. i mean, that said, he is doing this at the justice department. i think if he does decide to draw those sort of, you know, lines of difference from barr, he's going to do it gently. unless this is a very different robert mueller then everyone at the justice department is used to, then michael zeldin is used to, we're not going to see him coming out and flame throwing. that said, it wouldn't be surprise me if he does take time to thank his team for their hard work and for their professionalism, because they have said nothing in the face of being under attack for two years. >> if you're just joining us, we're expecting special counsel robert mueller -- here he is. let's listen in. >> good morning, everyone, and thank you for being here. two years ago, the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel and he created the special counsel's