tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN March 23, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PDT
principle conclusions possibly as soon as this weekend and most are expected to be made public. congressional democrats wasting no time demanding that the entire report be released to the public and they are threatening to subpoena the document and possibly mueller himself if not handed over to congress. also tonight a senior justice department official making clear to cnn there are no more indictments coming from the special counsel. president trump meanwhile is at mar-a-lago estate down in florida with many top ates also making an appearance at a fundraiser and sarah sanders saying the white house has not seen or been briefed on mueller's report.
that as the white house lawyers. here we go. good round. lots to talk about tonight. big news. i want to bring in matthew rosenburg and this part is over and now comes the second face of this. there is a conference tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. what do you know. >> the dems are meeting with a conference call tomorrow at 3:00 and what he's told is this is going to be about the mueller report. they will have a conference call and discuss the next steps. suspected they will be briefed on maybe what is in the mueller report. we do expect barr is going to brief members of congress or advice them of information. we expect a busy day tomorrow and the idea that the dems will
have this conference call could mean they will be getting information that they want to share with their members. >> okay. let's go through this. i have a lot to cover. if you could give brief answers, i would appreciate it. this is the beginning of the next phase. the investigation is over. a lot of unanswered questions. let's break it down. is it possible the report reveals attempts at collusion or conspiracy that don't rise to criminal conduct but could be considered impeachable? >> there could be behavior around the president but anything that would have been impeachable or criminal would have come out in some other fashion through indictments or through the court system mueller was using. i don't think we'll see anything tomorrow at least that will say ah-ha here is the collusion, here is everything mueller is looking at and this is why the president should be impeached?
>> julia, this is for you. so many points of contact between team russia and team trump and the russians like that june 2016 trump tower meeting. are we going to find out the facts behind the meeting? >> we may. to repeat, the content of what these findings are we don't know. the only news today is that port of the investigation is closed and others are going on. no more indictments. that means mueller decided not to, you know, go to the hill, the constitutional hill and go after trump or possibly his family members and there was nothing that mueller wanted to do that the department of justice did not allow him to do. i think that was a key point in barr's findings. nobody should claim defeat or victory. this is the end of one piece and it goes to the sdny and political arena and the big question, which is russia. >> so ranado, how about the president crafting the misleading statement about the meeting? he said it was primarily about
adoptions, remember? is that going to be part of the report? >> i do. without a doubt. mueller asked for documents and talked to witnesses about those issues. i would be surprised if not covered by the report. if i'm looking what is going to be the most interesting part of the report is going to be the obstruction piece of this clearly within mueller's per view and we know he subpoenaed documents and talked to witnesses about it and the public evidence seems overwhelming. i'm very interested to see what he has to say about it because no one has been indicted in relation to the conduct. it will be interesting to see what he concludes one way or the other on that. >> matthew, let me bring you in. paul manafort, manafort's attorneys let it slip he shared campaign polling data with konstantin kilimnik.
this raises all sorts of questions. will we have answers to that? >> i don't know if we'll have answers to anything. who knows what is in there and will be public and whether prosecutor or an investigator should be kind of detailing things they chose not to charge. the manafort case is a great example if something that probably isn't a federal crime but i think politically, it's reasonable to question these are the people you want running your country? you know, that's a question america has to ask. they will get a chance to answer that again in another year and a half. but i do think also you're starting to see it on the left, too, resistance twitter out of hand. people are like oh my god, the mueller thing. it's the beginning of something new. this investigation is over. there are going to be
congressional investigations and stuff in the southern district looking at more closely trump finance issues but the idea that we'll see some kind of russia conspiracy collusion charge just doesn't seem -- >> no, that's not going to happen. when i say the next phase, the next phase for us, this is what we're talking about now, will it be released? is in the report? will congress subpoena for information? that is the next phase for journalist and what people want to know. the democrats are saying we want it all out there. so they will fight for it even if it takes a subpoena. they want robert mueller to testify. let me get back to the questions because it's important people have been asking lots of questions. the president never sat down for an interview with mueller. but he did submit written questions and sources are telling cnn that the president claimed that roger stone didn't tell him about wikileaks and never informed of the 2016 trump tower meeting.
we don't know if mueller believes the president told the truth or not, do we? >> no, we really don't. given the doj's policy given indictment of a president, i think the lack of an indictment doesn't mean anything and the devil is in the details of the report. i will say i find it very unusual that mueller concluded the investigation without interviewing the president or at least trying to seek that interview so one thing that's interesting is to find out what steps mueller took to get a sitdown interview with trump and why he ultimately decided he was not going to pursue a subpoena or try to compel the testimony and -- >> maybe he had enough information that didn't indicate the president did anything wrong? therefore didn't need to do it. >> you know, i got to say it's possible but based on publicly available information, hard to believe on obstruction issues he wouldn't want to speak to the president to find out his intent, his thoughts on it. on that issue it's very hard for me to understand it. >> okay.
so matthew, there was also the reporting jared kushner spoke to them and sergei about set something up a back channel between the trump transition team and russia and remember, it was kushner who according to the washington post wanted to use russian diplomatic facilities and equipment so they wouldn't be monitored. will we learn what was going on with that? >> you know, again, will we learn from this report? i don't know. we know a lot about that and, you know, is it unseemly? that's unseemly. is it illegal? probably not. doesn't look like it. nobody is being charged in connection with it. that's time and again that you come back to with the mueller investigation. this is about criminal charges. building a criminal conspiracy case is difficult and complicated but all political collections one should ask and americans will get a chance to ask and answer again. >> unanswered questions about two trump associates cooperating with investigators, rick gates and michael flynn.
do we know what is next for them? >> no, they are still busy. mike flynn not as much and rick gates very busy. a grand cooperator here and really as a result of the mueller investigation he decided to cooperate and helping what we know is in several investigations and back to the point, here is the thing, there are a lot of other investigations still on going and certainly the issue of the sharing of the campaign data with that russian intelligence official is not going away any time soon. it's still a very critical question to the special counsel team which means the fbi and department of justice goes to the heart of their investigation. that very much i think is still going to go on. i also think very much as we see with these cooperators like rick gates their help -- >> wait, wait, wait. that part is not over because of the counter intelligence investigation? >> yeah, there is a counter intelligence investigation.
it doesn't go away. a lot of parts of this report were taken out or will not be made public is because the fbi is continuing to work intelligence, continuing to work on information as it relates to what russia was doing and what they are continuing to do. >> julia, i know you want to get in on this. what did you want to say? >> i think it is quite possible that mueller did what he was sort of ordered to do, which was essentially bring the indictments that you can bring and those that you can under doj guidelines you won't and that the decision about wither trump or not is ultimately always been a political question. and we don't know what these findings are if they are going to galvanize a political response or if it comes through an election, but this idea that, you know, this report was going to be a smoking gun and everyone would be walked out of the white house and, you know, handcuffs was a delusion about what it is
in fact mueller was going to do and the most important thing picking up on what everyone said is the president could be acting in a way where he is compromised willingly or unwittingly by the russians that doesn't rise to the level of criminal conduct that is a political question. does that bother us enough politically to start proceedings or to vote him out? so, you know, kudos to mueller. he finished his report. let's not forget that was not written in stone and it continues. >> i'll take we don't know, alex, for 1,000. that seems to be the answer of the night. thank you. appreciate it. the investigation is done but there are a lot more unanswered questions. we'll talk about that more next. ahoy! gotcha! nooooo... noooooo... quick, the quicker picker upper! bounty picks up messes quicker and is 2x more absorbent.
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first, speak to the significance of what today means for the trump white house going forward. >> look, something big happened today, don. we don't know what. we can infer certain things. the probe is over and it ended without anybody named trump or kushner being indicted. that suggests certain things with a broader conspiracy or charges related to that and the white house will call that vindication and hoist mueller whose integrity is now the gold standard of investigations. there are 12 other investigations that have spun off. 34 people have been charged as a result of this and the congress will dig deeply into certain areas mueller felt were not appropriate to him given the
charge and mandate that he had as the special counsel so there are many more pages to be turned here but this clearly was the end of a big chapter. >> okay. so we're trying to find out how much we'll learn from the attorney general and i want to go back. i want to play what the fbi director said about the clinton e-mail investigation. watch this. >> we did not find clear evidence secretary clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws, there is everyday they were extremely careless in their handling of classified information. for example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the top secret special access program at the time they were sent and received. those chains involved secretary clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails about those same matters. there is evidence to support a
conclusion that any reasonable person in secretary clinton's position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. >> so even though secretary clinton was not indicted, he still went public with all the bad things he thought she did. do you think the doj will avoid doing something similar with president trump? >> well, i think they will be very careful but here is the point. what bob mueller did discover and what we now know because he acted on it was that there was a broad based plot on the part of the russians to infiltrate the election and it involved not just hacking the dnc and conspireing to have those e-mails released but something much more insidious in terms of trying to influence voters and so there was a really insidious matter that is now public and
the question is what did the trump organization or the trump campaign have to do with it and why all these contacts with russians during the course of the campaign? why did the chairman of the campaign give for example his polling data to a russian security apparatus? these questions have to be answered. the issue with hillary clinton was she handled her e-mails in a careless way that exposed them to exploitation but this is about a major plot by a hostile foreign nation to infiltrate our elections and potentially some participation on the part of some people to aid and abet it. we need to know what the answers are about that. so i can't imagine the set of circumstances under which at the end the day the mueller report isn't largely known. no matter what the attorney general decides in the short
term, i don't think the congress will sit for it and i don't think the public will sit for it. >> interesting. thank you -- >> don, if i can jump in -- >> go on. >> so david raises a really interesting point here, which is mueller has never actually told us about this polling data hand off to konstantin kilimnik. we know this because paul manafort's lawyers can't redact properly. this is obviously something mueller raised in court filings mueller considers serious and yet has never come out publicly in way that mueller has been willing to make it part of the narrative that he's told us here. one of the things we should be looking for in the report is presumably mueller explaining why that polling data matters. i mean, david sort of made the point that there was this big russian criminal conspiracy that mueller helped uncover that aided the election of donald
trump but let's not also forget there was a second criminal conspiracy that aided the president's election that the president himself has been named unindicted co-conspirators and spun out of this mueller investigation. mueller we're sort of sitting here saying oh, this might be great news for donald trump's presidency. bob mueller in two years pulled together information that there were two separate criminal conspiracies that helped elect donald trump president of the united states. i mean, douglas brinkley last hour was talking about an asterisks presidency, this is what we're talking about when we talk about an asterisks presidency.
a president who won only with the help of criminal conspiracies. >> there are still many unanswered questions, garrett. cnn has previously reported federal investigations were examining whether there was a computer server and alpha bank, russian bank and cnn reported mueller wanted to know about trump's campaign ties with the nra. will we get answers? is a report going to answer that? >> bob mueller to these george nature was cooperating with a would be middle eastern power and spent a lot of time, brought in a lot of witnesses to look into this part of the probe and none of which we have seen publicly. and then there is a lot of odd loose threads. remember, in november and december we saw jerome corsi actually come up to the point where he had a plea agreement that he was negotiating with robert mueller's team. clear evidence that they believe
that he committed a federal crime and that plea deal blew up and we didn't see any indictment coming out of that. there is a lot of sort of weird leftover stuff right now and we don't know how much of this is going to sort of make sense to us after reading the report and how much of it is going to be left dangling. >> we may know more as early as this weekend. that's what we're being told. i'll let you go to get rest because you'll probably be here tomorrow and sunday. appreciate it. robert mueller completed the investigation but we know a lot. we'll take a look at who, what and where the who, what and where of the mueller investigation. that's next. after 67 five days mueller
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cnn's jason carol takes a look back at how we got here. >> two years we've gone through this nonsense. there is no collusion with russia. you know that better than anybody and no obstruction. >> reporter: before robert mueller's appointment it was clear what donald trump thought of the russia investigation and those responsible for it. >> the entire thing has been a witch hunt. >> january 2017. >> more famous than me. >> reporter: classified documents are presented to president elect donald trump at trump tower by then-fbi director james comey. and the documents include allegations that russian operatives claim to have compromising information about trump from that explosive beginning came an early set back for the new administration as questions are raised about attorney general jeff sessions and contacts he had with a russian official during the 2016 presidential campaign. >> i didn't have communications with the russians.
>> reporter: turns out sessions had communicated with sergei kislyak, the russian ambassador to the united states. >> it's good to be with you. >> reporter: march 2017, sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation. >> they said since i had involvement with the campaign i should not be involved in any campaign investigation. >> reporter: may 9th, 2017 a startling development. >> a bombshell at the white house. >> reporter: trump fired fbi director james comey, the man charged with overseeing the investigation. what's more, trump told nbc news he was considering the russia investigation when he was deciding whether to fire comey. >> i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. >> reporter: may 17th, rod rosenstein addresses mueller as the special counsel and with each passing month, the
investigation moved closer to trump associates. october 2017, paul manafort and his business partner and former trump deputy campaign chairman rick gates are indicted on charges of conspiracy and money laundering. gates later pleaded guilty to two counts and became a cooperating witness in the investigation. manafort was tried, convicted and sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison. trouble for trump reached his innermost circle. >> donald trump as the next president of the united states of america. >> reporter: december 2017 former national security advisor michael flynn pleads guilty to lying to the fbi regarding his conferses with kislyak. flynn also agrees to cooperate with the mueller probe. >> i feel badly for general flynn. he led a strong life and i feel very badly.
>> reporter: february 2018, mueller indicts 13 russian nationals and 3 russian companies for interfering with the election through social media. april 2018, things took a dramatic turn. >> you want to get -- >> reporter: acting on a referral from mueller to prosecutors in the southern district of new york, fbi agents raided the home, hotel room and office of trump's personal attorney michael cohen. cohen pleaded guilty in august to eight criminal counts including campaign finance violations. >> i acted loyal to a man when i should not have. >> reporter: november 7th, the day after the midterm elections after months of publicly attacking him, trump fires jeff sessions. sessions chief of staff matthew whitaker had been critical of the mueller probe took his place. >> i have usually been the only one that says there is no evidence of obstruction of justice or collusion.
>> reporter: as the trump investigation appeared to be winding down earlier this year, long-time trump associate roger stone is indicted. in january, the fbi raided stone's florida home. the special counsel alleges stone coordinated and sought e-mails that could damage trump's opponents and awaits his fate on the charges he faces and proclaimed his innocence. >> the justice department is telling us that attorney general bill barr received the report from special counsel robert mueller. >> it will be up to trump's attorney general william barr to decide how much of the report will be made public. jason carroll, cnn new york. >> thank you very much. after everything that's happened over the past two years now that mueller finished his investigation, what will happen next? ♪ ♪
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mueller's investigation is done. and we may learn about his principal conclusions this weekend. laura coates is here. harry, it's dress down friday i see. >> yeah, in florida. spring training. >> good to have you both on. laura, jason just laid it all out in his story for us after almost two years of investigating. mueller is done. now what? >> i think people are celebrating if you're in the trump administration and the celebration may be premature. what needs to happen now is the actual information. sure the report is done but now what is actually in it and that will be the crux here. we're battling between indicting a sitting president but should
you according to doj policy be able to layout information that may be negative or disparaging towards somebody? if it in fact can't lead to an indictment, that will be the crux of the issue and what barr hands over and if he'll talk about the disclosure of information as a floor or ceiling of transparency. we don't have much more to go on. >> okay. so harry, listen, i'm reading. i want to read a portion from your piece in the washington post. you say a critical point is the department's policy against indicting a sitting president, which barr indicated as his confirmation hearings he would retain. it would be outrageous if the president exploited his policy as both sword and shield. the department cannot decline to bring charges against him because of the policy but then at the same time, declined to describe his conduct or the
ground that he wasn't charged. all right. so do you think we'll hear the details into the president's conduct? >> yeah, my best guess is yes, there is going to be an overwhelming demand for it. i don't know if the department will fight hard on it or not. my sense is they have already kind of gamed this out. this is not the first time barr saw the report and they have a pretty good sense of what they will pass on. as laura says, it's a flat out catch 22. we know a big part of what mueller investigated had to do with the president's conduct. that's certainly been included to barr and the general policy that you don't talk about people who weren't indicted i think gives ground here. not just because of the logic of the catch 22 but because of the overwhelming public interest. i think the congress will fight to its last breath for that piece. >> can i ask you, what happens, what if mueller determined that the president would be indicted if he was any other citizen?
>> is that for me? >> yeah, it's for you. >> that will be the strongest sort of summery point in favor of impeachability. right? that means he's concluded he's committed crimes that are serious enough that they have led to impeachment or resignation in the past. so that will be the final test of the senate republicans kind of indifference and they have maintained all this time. if we have mueller saying that crimes were committed, we can't charge them. that becomes a political issue for now and the possibility he loses in 2020 and indicted immediately thereafter. that's a separate point. i think it becomes front and center the impeachment question. >> yeah, that's a lot and we don't know and once the information comes out if released, we'll know. laura, no more indictments are coming from the special counsel but i don't know, on going investigations?
the southern district of new york or sdny and elsewhere, does that mean legal jeopardy for president trump and other people at the center of this? >> absolutely. you hit the nail on the head when you said no more indictments from the special counsel. we've seen over the course of this investigation that some of the indictments that have loomed around people in the circle of the united states, namely his personal attorney and fixer although he since disclaimed him, those did not arise specifically out of robert mueller and the special counsel. because like everybody else who was falling along through the tweets about the attorney general jeff sessions and the attorney -- and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein and the witch hunt, everyone knew mueller required or needed to for at least the self-preservation of the actual investigation to farm out and put it on auto pilot. it very well could be there are other investigations that are pending that don't arise from
mueller but still in the works and we know that in new york state at least there are already a number of investigations into the trump organization, the trump business associations, et cetera. i don't think people are totally in the clear in terms of having legal jeopardy but i want to be very clear here, don, we would never hear the world collusion come out of robert mueller's report and won't be ultimate because it's anti trust term. the idea that would come out of this is anyone that associated with the campaign may have been susceptible to or in line with people who were trying to influence the election. that could still be there and that's what is pending and the declination is important. why did they not pursue anyone else. we have a lot to look forward to reading. >> thank you both. appreciate it. one way or another, the mueller investigation will be a turning
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democrats demanding mueller's report be released. rick is the author of "everything trump touches dies." good evening, everyone. ryan, you first. seems to me that we are at a tricky point here. this has been so political. is there anything short of full disclosure that will not further divide the american public on this? >> no. i think one way or the other everything that mueller did needs to have full transparency. you know, my -- the conventional
wisdom tonight seems to be that this report will in someway not prove the worst suspicions about trump and russia, right? and you know, i've been thinking about this. if it is true that the president of the united states did not -- is cleared of the most horrifying crime one could imagine, an act of treason. if it's true mueller comes to the conclusion that president trump did not actively participate in an enemy's attempt to influence our election in 2016, the worst possible outcome that some of us feared and that he only passably benefitted from that interference i think everyone should breathe a sigh of relief, right?
if mueller's conclusion is the president didn't commit treason, you know, i've looked into that thoroughly, it didn't happen. that's a good outcome for the country, i would say. now, the problem for the president, of course, is in the course of that exhaustive investigation, a lot of other issues have cropped up and mueller who only was concentrating on the core russia issue found them out to other u.s. attorneys and those aren't going away. >> also, i just thought about this and the report of the extent of which russia went to interfere with the election beyond the president's involvement. rick, what's your reaction of the no indictments? do we need an explanation why, you think? >> no. >> one of the things that's happening here, bob mueller is farmed out to sdny and d.c. and other venues and some of the cases spun off of this and some
of the obstruction type things. we don't know what other part of mueller investigation fed into the ongoing encounter intelligence going on inside the fbi. we don't know the things that'll be revealed to congress will end up leading to new investigations. so we really don't know. washington's great gain has been when will we see the report. today's great game is what's in the report. everyone is speculating and barr knows what's in the report, we don't yet. and no one around him has done anything wrong and the fact that seven of his key advisers have been indicted in this thing and 20 something others indicted. mueller is laying out a path work to show us how russia is playing in the 2016 election. i don't think this premature
lapse is the one they are to be proud of. >> scott, first, i want to note that you said the mueller report should be made public. are you surprised that the president is staying quiet so far at least? >> i do believe that although i do think if there are sources and methods that the fbi and the investigators use to do these things we need to protect so other folks can't see how we do our work, that's appropriate. the content of this, all of the conclusions and information and i think it all ought to come out. the american people deserve it. we have been at this for two years and we spent a lot of money and heard a lot of speculations. a lot of people think they know what happened. only bob mueller knows and only him can answer questions about it. don, the report should be made public and he should answer questions in front of congress because there may be people that have questions of the way everything is handled. that would give the american people a lot of confidence.
i am not here to gloat or fret of any of this. i am here to celebrate a properly and normally functioning government tonight. we have a two-year deal. this report was not interfered with and bob mueller was never fired. he submitted all the rules and regulations and now we are going to see what's in it. this all happens exactly the way it should. that's a point that we should be happy about. >> i agree with that. usually in washington everything leaks. nothing. pretty much nothing leaks from this investigation in large part to robert mueller. ryan, do you think the mueller investigation, regardless of the findings, do you think it is going to leave a mark on the trump's presidency? >> purely and politically, the president set a metric for the report. did he commit treason essentially?
did he collude with russians in an illegal conspiracy to hack and steal e-mails and to you know implemented sophisticated, you know, media campaign against in our election, 2016. that's the bar he set. did he enter into a conspiracy with putin. the no collusion, no collusion repetition, i think that politically had the effect of setting that of the only question a lot of people on the right cared about. i think that's an important question. i don't think that's the only one. i think once the dust clears from what mueller says about collusion and if it is closer to what trump has said or what democrats have argued, there is still a lot of threads that are
being investigated and in new york it is not just the southern district of new york, it is the attorney general, it is the tax and finance, division of new york state, those are serious investigations. if you listen to michael cohen's testimony before congress, what was he saying? he was saying i don't buy the russia collusion stuff. i think this guy was a criminal and ten other ways. if that proves to be true, that's bad. >> at least in this particular investigation of this part is over. >> this part is over. >> i am talking about the other part as they go along. >> we don't know if the conclusion is important. >> no more indictments including family members or people close to this president. that's a breathing a big sigh of relief. i got to ask you rick, what do you expect to hear from your
fellow republicans or republicans in congress. are they smart enough to wait and find out more? >> well, one of the funny traps they're going to find themselves in now is up to two years, they have been screaming that mueller was apart of this steep cover up and this coup against the president. if he thinks he's exonerated by this and the various investigations, you are going to run out and say mueller is great all along and he's an amazing american. it is one of the irony of trumpism. >> that's not what happened before. >> he was terrible. terrible, terrible -- before. >> he suddenly saw the light. >> i got to give scott the last word. he spoken the least. quickly, please. >> i thought mueller was the right choice for this all along. i think he's a great american and i am glad he did his job. i want to know apart of the trump's world that we are talking about, what went on with the russians? and clearly they ran something. i have not been convinced that it had to do with trump. the technical part, i hope mueller gives us a real window
into that so we can secure our democracy in the future. >> i agree with you. >> it is still happening. >> thank you, thank you all, have a great weekend. >> thank you, don. >> next week i will be hosting a town hall with democratic candidate and senator cory booker. that's wednesday night right here on cnn at 10:00 p.m. thank you for watching, our coverage continues. [boy gasps] for real cold and flu protection with lysol, you can help protect them from a real cold. lysol disinfectant spray kills the #1 cause of the cold and clorox wipes don't. lysol. what it takes to protect.
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we are following breaking news on two fronts this day. the u.s. backed syrian democratic forces announced they have defeated isis, repeating, they have defeated isis. the terror group's last stronghold in syria. robert mueller delivered his report to the attorney general. welcome to viewers from the united states and around the world. i'm george howell. first, the breaking news out of syria is an historic day on