tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN December 28, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
then i thrived. >> gilda radner was a great girl. >> not only were you brilliantly funny, you had a terrific soul. >> love gilda, new year's day at 9:00 p.m. >> thanks for joining us. fighting a shutdown battle by threatening a trade war. that's just one new threat president trump is making in his effort to win funding for his border wall. if it doesn't seem like a logical argument, well, this might not help. the threat is to end our current trade agreement with mexico if democrats won't agree to pay for the wall. the one he once said mexico would pay for, then later said it would pay for only indirectly. the president also threatened to close the southern border completely and shut off aid to honduras and guatemala for not preventing migrants from making their way north. we will be forced to close the
southern border entirely if the obstructionist democrats do not give us the money to finish the wall and change the ridiculous immigration laws that our country is saddled with. he went on to threaten to, quote, go back to pre-nafta before so many offo our compani and jobs were sent foolishly to mexico. whether you think house democrats are obstructionist or not, whatever your view on trade, this is an apple solution for an orange problem. the president is hoping to influence democrats by at best threatening mexico and at worst, by holding a gun to the u.s. economy's head, threatening to go back before nafta and before the trade agreement that replaced it. the one that just af few weeks ago he was proud to have signed. >> the usmca is the largest, most significant modern and balanced trade agreement in history. all of our countries will benefit greatly. in short, this is a model
agreement that changes the trade landscape forever. this is an agreement that first and foremost benefits working people, something of great importance to all three of us here today. >> the president barely a month ago signing a trade deal to replace the other trade deal he blew up. now threatening to blow up that deal and threatening more besides. does it make sense? that's one question. should it be taken seriously as a policy matter? that's another. the white house did tell us early on to consider presidential tweets official statements, which means even when they're not fully cogent or cooked. is that the case this time? are these real threats or is this just a case of a guy home alone venting to the walls? for more on all of this, let's go to abby philip at the white house. what more do we know about how the president spent his day dealing or i guess not dealing with the shutdown? >> reporter: until a few minutes ago, the president had been
rarely seen but plenty heard on twitter. sending the tweets you mentioned but staying out of sight here at the white house. sarah sanders said he came to the office today. he made some calls. it's not clear to whom. then a few minutes ago, the president went to the naval observatory, the vladimir putic residence. the trio most responsible for the president's side of negotiations in this government shutdown are having dinner. we still don't know where things stand. it seems like they don't stand much of anyplace at all. there has been a lot of blaming going on today from the white house, but not much in terms of specifics about where the compromise is going to be. sarah sanders was asked about how this would all end. she spent most of her time blaming nancy pelosi. listen.
>> i think that's a question you have to ask flan nancy pelosi. she's unwilling to do anything until she gets her speakership. she's more willing to protect that than she is to protect our borders and protect american lives. we hope we will see that change. >> reporter: the key question is, will president trump accept less than $5 billion for his border wall? sarah sanders declined to answer that question. i think we are left where we have been all week, which is no answers on the specifics and no end to the shutdown. >> it's interesting you said the president is dining with jared kushner. kushner, until today, was down in florida vacationing at mar-a-lago where today we learned the president will not go, at least for now. he is staying in washington for new year's. >> reporter: kushner was summoned back to washington to perhaps help deal with this government shutdown. he was down in florida with the rest of the trump family where they go nearly every year to
celebrate new year's eve. president trump and the white house announced today, pretty defendanti i definitively, he's not going before january 1. that seems to signal the shutdown will last at least that long. the president will not go to the new year's eve party he typically hosts at his mar-a-lago resort where we know guests have paid $1,000 per head to party president trump. he is not going to be there this year. he will be here. what happens after that is anyone's guess. it seems that the white house has been teeing up to nancy pelosi's speakership election, which is likely to happen on january 3. that may be the moment at which we have some progress on this front. until then, president trump will be here. the rest of his family in florida. melania went to go back down there yesterday. he is home alone again in the white house. >> he has jared to talk to. abby philip, thanks for being with us. with the president blaming
the shutdown on what he calls obstructionist democrats, we thought it might be useful to speak to a democrat. joining us now is the congressman from arizona. thanks for being with us. i know you said you are against any funding for the wall. you have urged fellow democrats not to negotiate. does that mean you would vote against anything $1 more than the $1.3 billion that is on the table for border security? >> look, the party is not an obstructionist party. we are the party that actually passed through consensus, house democrats and house -- and senate republicans a bill that got 100% of the vote in the senate, 99% in the house. the only obstruction is happening with this president. another thing to note is that we actually gave this president close to $2 billion last year in terms of border money for border security and he has not used 96% of it. the idea that we're going to throw more money at a campaign promise that he said mexico
would pay for i think is just not a proper use of government funds. will we continue to negotiate? of course. we are here to keep government open. the biggest sticking point you have is a president that cares more of what fox news pundits say than what the government actually needs. that's actually how a functional government that he is not leading. >> sarah sanders did say the president is willing to negotiate. we're not entirely sure what that means or how much. when democrats take over, when nancy pelosi becomes speaker, which we assume will happen january 3, are you suggesting there might be some room to budge at least a little off that $1.3 billion? >> look, we're here to talk. obviously, i can't speak for pelosi. i know democrats have always been the adults in the room. unfortunately, president trump has been hard to negotiate with. if he listened to us and negotiated with us two years ago, he would have had $25 billion for a wall and we would have had the dream act. instead, he ended up listening
to the worst elements of his cabinet. >> i want to ask you, his threat to close the southern border, his threat to withdraw foreign aid to those central american countries, do you take that seriously when he writes stuff like that? >> no. i think that's a bigger danger of the fact that no one takes this president serious. he is the boy that cries wolf a little too much. also, i think it's disturbing the president of the united states is holding the american economy hostage. there are problems with nafta. we have to renegotiate a lot of aspects of it. if you do such an abrupt action as closing down the border, you will affect a good one-third to one-fourth of the economy of this country. for people that do rely on paychecks. if he really wants to make america first and great and everything else, don't threaten the economy in the process of trying to fulfill your campaign promise, which you said, again, that mexico was going to pay for. >> now he says mexico will pay for it indirectly. lastly, i want to ask you about
a letter sent by two republican committee chairs today. they are both retiring. they sent the letter to the department of justice. among other things they said, there has been no effort to discredit the work of the special counsel. no effort to discredit the work of the special counsel. what do you make of that given the president, the republican president, goes after the special counsel robert mueller in the investigation every week, if not practically every day? >> it's not just the president. there have been plenty of republicans and leadership positions that have undermined the investigation, by their public statements as well as basically running some shoddy investigations. if you look at the house intelligence committee and their investigation, it was basically an effort to cover up whatever this presidency did. they didn't call the proper witnesses. they didn't subpoena the proper documents. they didn't put people under oath. this whole thing is for them to try to, i would say, recast
their part in allowing this presidency and the republican administration led by paul ryan to undermine this investigation the whole way. >> on their way out the door, as part of this six-page letter, one of the main points is they think there should be an additional special counsel brought on to investigate james comey's investigation of hillary clinton. what's your reaction? >> this is just pure obsession by these republicans. hillary clinton is no longer a presidential candidate. the president is donald trump. he has clearly done some levels of violation that should be investigated. they need to get over it. hillary clinton is not your president. she's not the person that should be investigated. the collusion, the crimes that have occurred have occurred under this administration. it's time to look into and see what happened instead of trying to dodge it and distract by throwing hillary clinton out there. >> the investigation is in collusion. there's been no conclusion on collusion just yet. i appreciate your point. thank you so much for joining
us. have a very lap pi nhappy new y >> thank you. happy new year. joining us kiersten powers and mike shields and michael sheer. kiersten, i want to start with you. this is a question i asked the congressman. what do you make of the president's threats to close the southern border and cut off aid to the central american countries? are these things that he can do? are these threats that we should take seriously? is this just as we suggested at the top, just venting at the wall? >> well, look, he is the president. when he says something, i think we should take it seriously. i think there's been plenty of things that people have shrugged off that he ends up following through on. i think he is making some pretty dangerous threats, in particular in terms of shutting down the border, which would have the potential of throwing us into a recession.
it would have a very serious impact on businesses. it could drive people out of business. these are very serious issues. we have a shutdown in the middle of the holiday season. people aren't getting paychecks. these are real ramifications for his decision to go forward and insist on the democrats funding this wall, which let's remember, i bring this up every time i'm on, his campaign promise was not just to build a wall, it was that mexico was going to pay for it. this temper tantrum is because he hasn't been able to get his campaign promise done the way he said he would. >> the $5 billion is an appropriation from the u.s. government, not from mexico to be clear what he is asking for right now. mike, the number two house democrat, who will be the majority leader, he told cbs news that the president's threats are a tantrum and the president needs to come to grips with the fact he is not a dictator. your reaction to that? >> look, the president is a
negotiator. h he is most comfortable when he is in negotiations. that's how he sees himself. that's the place he always wants to be. shutdowns are messaging wars about a negotiation. you need to negotiate with congress. the government shuts down. it's about winning a public communication fight. i used to work for newt gingrich. the government shut down for a month. congress passed a funding bill. the president didn't think it paid for enough for his priorities. he said he wouldn't sign it. we have the same thing happening. the congress is going to pass something. the president wants more funding. he is messaging. tomorrow, he will say something else. he will threaten something else. it's part of the negotiation. >> it's only a negotiating tactic if people take your threat seriously. i bring up that because the nafta thing, which is really just apples and oranges, the idea of funding for the border ball, so when he says something like that, i don't see how it
brings him closer to making a deal. i also wonder, if he may land nancy pelosi an early win when she takes over the speakership on january 3. >> some people may not realize, the trump administration actually just sent $10 billion of aid down to central america and southern mexico. when he is saying we cut off aid, i'm going to stop the aid i promised, he is talking about shutting the border, tomorrow he will say something else, he is trying to win a public war. the end game is he wants his base to understand that the democrats -- he wanted do this and the democrats wouldn't let him do it. it's their fault. >> michael, i want to ask you, where do you think nancy pelosi is on this today? do you think she has any incentive to budge before thursday when she takes over and even after thursday when she takes over? >> no. not at all. i think certainly between now and january 3, there's absolutely no incentive for the democrats to budge at all. there's no daylight between the democrats in the senate and house, regardless of the fact
that the president and the white house want to make it seem that way. mike is right. this is a public relations effort. both sides are trying to spin the ultimate outcome of who gets blamed for this. i think one of the things that's characterized this white house, mike talked about president trump is a negotiator. one of the problems that lawmakers on both sides have had with this president and this white house is not knowing who speaks for the white house and what the message is on the other side. you have an example of that the last couple of days where yesterday you had sarah sanders putting out a statement that admittedly was tough and saying, we're not going to budge on border security. the whole statement didn't even mention the wall. it literally never mentioned the word wall. you could imagine that you could read that as saying, maybe there's some wiggle room there. maybe the president is moving off the demand for the wall. then moments later, he tweets about the wall. you don't know. nancy pelosi and the republicans
don't know where the president is, where the white house is. that's making everything more difficult. >> we will pick this up in a minute. we will take a quick break. we want an update from capitol hill. later, as part of a special report on the mueller investigation, a closer look at how some of the people closest to the president are now facing intense scrutiny over their roles in the president's transition. when i first came to ocean bay, what i saw was despair. i knew something had to be done. hurricane sandy really woke people up, to showing that we need to invest in this community. i knew having the right partner we could turn this place around. it was only one bank that could finance a project this difficult and this large, and that was citi. preserving affordable housing preserves communities. so we are doing their kitchens
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we are talking about president trump's threat to shut down the u.s. southern border if he doesn't get funding for his wall and legislation to end the government shutdown. this is a shutdown that he once seemed eager for. >> i will tell you what, i am proud to shut down the government for border security. the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. i will take the mantle.
i will be the one to shut it down. i'm not going to blame you. the last time you shut it down, it didn't work. i will take the mantle. i'm going to shut it down for border security. >> lately as you have seen, he has been trying to bestow the mantle on democrats. this morning, jeff flake was asked whether he thought the president was still, in fact, responsible. >> any time you stand and say i own the shutdown, then you own it. politics, shutdown 101 tells you, shift the blame if you can. when the president said, i will take the blame, then he has it. that's why the democrats have felt no need to really come to the negotiating table. i think the president -- he said he would own it and he does. >> senator flake thinks the shutdown could stretch into the middle of next month. more now from phil mattingly who is at the capitol for us.
i'm almost hesitant to ask, because i can see and not for first time this week how empty it is where you are. what's the latest on any potential progress? >> reporter: not a lot going on up here. the reality is this. both sides remain entrenched in their position. democrats have made clear they will accept no more than $1.3 billion in border security funding. the president wants money for the wall. to take you behind the scenes, there's nothing happening behind the scenes. i'm told there have been no proposals traded over the last couple days. there have been limited communications. a lot of staff who are known to be talented and people who can thread the needle, didn't come to work today because they recognize their bosses were out of town and it's going to take a while to figure this out. at this point everybody is not just looking forward to 2019, but to the point where nancy pelosi becomes speaker of the house. that's where you will see the next legislative action. democrats will move to send bills to reopen to the senate.
mitch mcconnell burned once by the president when the senate passed a bill to reopen the government, has made clear he will not move forward on anything until the president signed off. that means whatever nancy pelosi sends over just means the next step in a battle that could last weeks. >> i love going behind the scenes only to find out there's nothing happening behind the scenes. as you have been speaking to staffers, who are they pointing to as triggering that migs that this? >> reporter: often, it's pain. it's pain organizations that they care about, that are in the states or districts feel. those are the things that haven't necessarily taken affect yet because of the holidays, because of the change in congress, because of the current paycheck schedule. here is where that will change. on january 11, that's the first time the 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed or not working or working without pay will not receive their paycheck. that's real impact on real
people and it's not just in washington, d.c. or northern virginia. it's around the country. there's one. another one to keep a close eye on, while the pentagon is funded, the coast guard is under the department of homeland security. that's 40,000 coast guard employees, a branch of the military that are working without pay. that matters to lawmakers. you have issues like that throughout the course of the real live impact of this. you could look earlier today at the office of personnel management putting out form letters for federal workers to try to negotiate down their rent payments, negotiate down their mortgage payments. this will have a real live impact. that spills over into lawmakers. will that change the primary dynamic where the president stands? that's an open question. those are the things that could contribute to something coming together. it's a matter of when and frankly how deep the pain will get. >> we are waiting. 800,000 federal workers waiting as well. thank you very much. if anyone sdedeserves a peacefu weekend, it's you.
back now. mike, i want to start with you. you say this is a negotiation the president is in the middle of. in this negotiation, does he need to give the democrats something they want? what would that be? >> first of all, i want to go back to the chuck schumer thing that you showed on there. it's an important point. jeff flake saying the president owns the shutdown. going back to my example, i worked for newt gingrich. by all accounts, he lost the fight. but he won the war. bill clinton was forced to sign a balanced budget. republicans won the messaging war with the people and he had to come to the table and in his second term sign the balanced budget. what president trump is negotiating for a long-t hflong. he will not get everything he wants. he is trying to go into 2020 having shown democrats are not serious about border security. every day they message on this, that gets further and further
implanted in american's minds. we heard that a california highway patrolman was murdered by an illegal immigrant. president trump is playing the long game with this negotiation. i don't know what he can give or how they can come to the table. democrats -- the base of the democratic party won't let them do anything with president trump at this point. >> newt gingrich and bill clinton who won the war, bill clinton was re-elected in 1996. >> the policy war -- >> many people look back to the shutdown that something gave him a boost. another aspect to this -- mike brought up chuck schumer. i'm fascinated by why the white house is pushing the narrative that chuck is willing to negotiate but not nancy. what do you think the white house gets out of that very aggressive spin? >> well, it's not true, first of all. the reason that they're doing that -- i don't want to call it spin. they're making up things.
they're lying. i think that they're doing this because they are still holding on to this idea that by demonizing the nancy pelosi, this powerful woman in the democratic party, and in the country, that that will help them. it makes their base happy. they did this during the last midterm election and it didn't work out very well. this is something that's just an old trick that they keep coming back to that they think they can try and demonize her and make her the person who is the problem, that's not willing to deal, when that's just not what happened. the democrats are completely united in opposition to the wall, because it's a stupid idea and it's too expensive. it doesn't have that much support. i think that, yes, they're trying to spin. i want to address this idea that the president is negotiating. we keep hearing. negotiations involve a give and take and a back and forth between people. they typically involve giving up something. that's not what he is doing.
he is just flailing and throwing a temper tantrum and making outlandish threats. that's not negotiating. it's not getting anybody any closer -- >> you have to create a position to negotiate. >> i want to let michael jump in here. how long do you think this goes on at this point? give us the final word on, is this just destined to be president trump's shutdown, given he took credit for it? >> i think it's clear that it could go on for weeks. there's no easy way that it ends. one possibility is that president trump could simply declare that the wall is being built and declare that he doesn't need the money in the first place and move on. that would be a declare victory and you can get out of the situation. look, i think that it's also possible that both sides continue to dig in. there's no obvious negotiation that's going on. we could be here in mid-january heading in february, heading towards the state of the union
speech with no resolution. >> from new year's to valentine's day. thanks. i appreciate it so much. secrets, lies and thousands of e-mails. donald trump waited to become president. will his transition team's dealing with russia face new heat from the mueller probe. a white house insider joins me next. if you have psoriasis, little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not a cream. it's a pill that treats moderate to severe plaque psoriasis differently. with otezla,75% clearer skin is achievable. don't use if you're allergic to otezla. it may cause severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. otezla is associated with an increased risk of depression. tell your doctor if you have a history of depression or suicidal thoughts, or if these feelings develop. some people taking otezla reported weight loss. your doctor should monitor your weight and may stop treatment. upper respiratory tract infection and headache may occur. tell your doctor about your medicines and if you're pregnant or planning to be.
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senior adviser jared kushner is not charged with any crime. he was free to travel. as we head into 2018, both men are on robert mueller's radar. tonight, we explore the controversy that surrounds the white house, including the presidential transition. >> reporter: robert mueller has his hands on tens of thousands of private e-mails between trump transition team members. part of the criminal investigation into the weeks following the election. under particular scrutiny, a meeting during the transition on december 1, 2016, puts trump's son-in-law jared kushner and general michael flynn, his soon to be national security adviser, together in a room at trump tower with a russian ambassador who has long been considered a spy. kushner asked sergei kislyak about establishing secure lines of communication with moscow, what some have called a back channel. >> the record and documents i
have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign. >> reporter: kushner told a congressional committee that he asked if they had an existing communication channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to general flynn. later in december, jared kushner and another questionable meeting. this time with russian banker sergey gorkov who had ties to vladimir putin. what was discussed remains a mystery. at the time, kushner was ceo of kushner companies, which was trying to attract financing for a building project in manhattan. still, the white house says there was no discussion at the meeting about kushner's company or sanctions. >> my dashboard warning light was on. i think that was the case with all of us in the intelligence committee. >> reporter: in a statement, kushner said there were no specific policies discussed.
we had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the obama administration. at no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate project, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind. around christmas, in 2016, general flynn spoke again with ambassador kislyak by phone. a call the white house did not acknowledge until a month later, saying flynn was only offering his condolences after the assassination of russia's ambassador to turkey. >> christmas day, general flynn reached out to the ambassador, sent him a text. it said, i want to wish you and -- a merry christmas and happy new year. >> reporter: flynn was fired in early 2017 after misleading the vice-president and others about the substance of phone calls he had with the russian ambassador. turns out, flynn discussed sanctions, a potential violation of federal law. flynn later wrote this letter of resignation, explaining he had
inadvertently briefed the vice-president and others with incomplete information. perhaps robert mueller will find more answers in all those transition team e-mails now in his possession. randi kaye, cnn, new york. in kushner considered it a unique campaign, how unique was the transition team's behavior? i spoke earlier with a former chief of staff to then first lady laura bush. she served under the last three republican presidents. you have served on three different presidential transition teams. what's the normal amount of contact between the transition and representatives from other countries? >> well, you know, typically the golden rule that applies during presidential transitions is there's one president at any time. particularly when it does come to relationships with foreign country, foreign delegations,
there's a procedure or process that is followed. it's not difficult to imagine and to expect that a presidential candidate or people from their team would encounter a foreign ambassador to this country. they all come to the conventions, both conventions. so they do hear from representatives of campaigns and later from transitions. but it's in a very general sense. it's certainly not making decisions or any promises on any future policies. >> the meetings that take place in a transition between representatives of foreign countries and people within that transition, they're supposed to be general, congratulations, how are you doing, not supposed to make policy? >> correct. yes, that's absolutely true. also, you know, it's well-known what the policy positions are of a candidate. certainly, foreign countries are following that very closely. the most important thing is they
are eager to at least establish a contact, a relationship, just even a meeting face to face. but really the context of the conversations are general or should be. >> any meetings that get beyond general would have to be run by the current or outgoing administration? >> absolutely. there is -- the rule of thumb honestly -- the gold standard for transitions is the one in 2008 between george w. bush and barack obama. that set the standard for relationships, conversations between an outgoing administration and an incoming. there always were, obviously, presidential transition processes before that. honestly, the first post-911 transition in 2009 set a different standard on how the outgoing and incoming administrations have regular contact with each other and work very closely with each other so
there is a seamless transition on day one. >> we have heard this on many different subjects. people associated with donald trump, many of them not professional politicians. they didn't have a lot of experience in government. is that enough of an excuse here? maybe ignorance. they didn't know better. >> well, listen, it may be an explanation. but i wouldn't say it's an excuse. i think at the end of the day, what we're talking about is our government and how our government operates and the very serious discussions that a president has to make at 12:01 after they are sworn in. it's serious business. i understand there are new people in the process. but there were people working on the trump transition who had been involved in other transitions. so i think that it's an
explanation, but not an excuse. >> anita mcbride, thanks so much. >> thank you. up next, what a naked selfie has to do with the mueller investigation. plus, new insight on the special counsel from some folks who have known him for decades. this new year's day at 9:00 p.m., don't miss the story of gilda radner. here is a preview of the cnn film. >> hi. i'm gilda radner. okay. now. >> people want to know what made you funny. >> from the time i was a kid, i loved to pretend. >> she was the very first performer chosen for the cast of "saturday night live." >> they loved her. >> i basically stole all of my characters from gilda. >> i can do almost anything if people are laughing. >> gilda was just not quite
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the news tonight that house republicans want further investigation of the early russia probe probably comes as no surprise to robert mueller, not that we would know because the office doesn't say much and leaks less. we only learn about his efforts in court filings. this one is a doozy. it's from lawyers for a russian company. one item is a selfie. a nude selfie. the company accused of taking part in efforts to disrupt the 2016 presidential election claim the photo was confiscated by the mueller team along with a lot of other data. it won't reveal who is in the photo. this is the latest court drama for mueller. so far, four people have been sentenced to prison, one person convicted at trial, seven pleaded guilty and 36 people or entities have been charged. one man, robert mueller, is under the microscope himself. here is cnn's gloria borger.
>> reporter: robert mueller is a mystery man. perhaps the most private public figure in washington. as the leader of the russia investigation, he and his team have become a political pinata after squeezing indictments and jail time and plea deals from former trump adviser, including his ex-campaign chair. >> there should have never been any mueller investigation. there was no collusion. there never has been. >> reporter: it's been a frame job says one of his lawyers. >> they are a group of 13 highly partisan democrats that make up the mueller team, excluding him. are trying very, very hard to frame him. >> reporter: an ang represidery hired someone more to his liking on the investigation. now delights in calling mueller a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue.
it's hard to remember that at the start -- >> i think he is the right guy at the right time. >> reporter: mueller was a bipartisan favorite. >> i would have been on anybody's list of the top five people in the country to have taken on this kind of a responsibility. >> reporter: the resume is long. at 74, he has been involved for decades in some of the justice department's most celebrated cases. mobster john gotti. manual noriega. the pan am 103 bombing in scotland in 1988. a case that still remains personal. >> i will never forget the visit i made to lockerbie where i saw the small wooden warehouse in which were stored the various affects of your loved ones. a white sneaker. a syracuse sweatshirt. christmas presents and photographs.
>> he has been the same bob mueller in every place he has worked, whether the u.s. attorney's office in san francisco, in the 1970s, whether that was the george h.w. bush administration in the 1980s, whether that was the d.c. homicide prosecutor's office in the 1990 9 90s or the fbi in t 00s. >> a registered republican. >> 4 1/2 years. i didn't hear him say anything political. >> reporter: really? in washington? >> yeah. i know that sounds weird. i might have said that guy is a jerk. i didn't see it as partisan. >> reporter: how would you describe list politics? >> not. >> reporter: there are none? >> he is apolitical. he is non-partisan. as i think has become clear, a
law and order guy. he doesn't speak of things in political terms. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. >> reporter: which is partly why president bush picked him to run the fbi in 2001. >> the fbi must remain independent of politics. and uncompromising in its mission. >> reporter: mueller arrived at the fbi seven days before 9/11. he served most of his term under bush. when president obama asked him to stay for to more years, it required an act of congress. the senate approved 100-0. his mo, a by the books guy even after hours. >> people told me after the christmas party, we're going to the director's house, that at the end of the party, he would flick the lights. it's going 7:00 to 9:00. at 9:03, it's on the invitation, it's 7:00 to 9:00. that's a signal. >> reporter: married for more than 50 years to a former
teacher, the father of two daughters, there wasn't much small talk about family at work. a buttoned up and buttoned down boss.>> i remember telling the director, you wear a while the button down shirt. can you wear something tattered. >> i found years after him being director, what was the deal with the white shirts when you were at the fbi? he said, i understood i was leading the fbi through a wrenching period of change. i wanted to wear the white shirt because i wanted the other fbi agents to be able to know that this was still the agency that they had signed up to join. >> his dress code as unforgiving as his work ethic. >> he was in the office between 6:00 and 6:30 every morning, and he would always plop his briefcase opposite my desk, not sit down and kibbitz or shoot the breeze.
immediately, what's happening, what's going on? >> very quickly you're going to go through the details of the case. >> would you assume he is managing the special counsel investigation the same way? >> heck yes. i wouldn't assume. it's not like a professional choice. that's his dna. what's going on today, what do you got, what do you got, what do you got? next, here's your decision, let's go. i never saw insecurity or nervousness >> never ever? >> never. >> mueller grew up in the wealthy philadelphia suburbs and attended an eat boarding school. a classmate of john kerry. vietnam inspired mueller to join the zblaernz he was wounded in combat, shot through the leg, received a bronze star with valor, purple heart, and was right back in the fight a couple weeks later. >> in some sense, you feel that
you have been given a second lease on life, and you ought to make the most of it to contribute in some way. >> reporter: after graduating the university of virginia law school, he soon found his way to the department of justice and remained there for the most of four decades. >> my colleagues -- >> reporter: two short breaks to give private practice a try. >> bob mueller has been notoriously unhappy every time he tries to be in private practice. he can't defend guilty people. he'll say, sounds like you should go to jail then. >> reporter: he'll tell his client- >> sounds like you're guilty. >> reporter: robert mueller is someone who sees the world in very black and white terms. >> robert mueller also has a history with james comey, both are former fbi directors and both have connections to a concentrati
. more now with special counsel robert mueller. when the democrats take control of the house next week, they plan to pursue a bill to protect him from interference and are seeking lawyers for their own investigations in the trump administration. the president is no fan of robert mueller's, nor of james comey whom he fired. what you might not know is the history that robert mueller and comey share. with that and more, here's gloria borger. >> reporter: by 2004 mueller was running the fbi when his phone rang. it was james comey, then deputy attorney general. it was the first time mueller and comey would find themselves in a very controversial legal drama. >> i was very upset. i was angry. >> reporter: comey was worried
the bush administration was determined to keep a warrantless evasive dropping program that mueller, comey, and their boss, attorney general john ash croft, thought was illegal. but ash croft was in the hospital recovering from surgery. leaving comey in charge. >> i was concerned that given how ill i knew the attorney general was that there might be an effort to ask him to overall me when he was in no condition to do that. called director mueller, it would have been a great help to me over that week and told him what was happening and he said i'll meet you at the hospital right now. >> reporter: they had to literally race administration officials to ash croft's bedside. >> director mueller instructed the fbi agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances. >> reporter: in the end, ash croft backed comey and mueller. >> he enlisted bob mueller because he knew that bob mueller had this incredible nonpartisan
reputation in washington. >> reporter: that was then. now trump compares mueller to joe mccarthy, and a trump ally warns there's trouble ahead. >> i think the report is going to be devastating to the president. >> reporter: after months of haggling, team trump has provided written answers to questions on collusion and is convinced trump's problems will be more political than legal. >> eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach. members of congress, democrat and republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. so our jury is the american people. >> reporter: now that jury awaits mueller, who is already letting his work speaks for itself as his office wrote to the court recently, senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards. >> bob mueller believes in american institutions. so i think he wants to set the institutions up to make the best decisions that they can.
>> stay with cnn for all the latest developments in the mueller investigation. we have a big night ahead. "all the best, all the worst" 2018 starts right now. buckle up, keep your hands inside, and hold on tight. 2018 was a rip roaring, heart pounding ride with the highest highs, the lowest lows, and we'll go through all the big stories, politics, pop culture, sports, music, movies and more with our guests. sports illustrated senior writer charlotte wilder, the stuff you should know, guys, josh clark, chuck bryant, the amazing violent tsotchke, standup comedian alonzo boden, van did he car low, and our own john berman. it's all the