tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN March 24, 2019 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
. hello again, everyone. thanks so much for being with me. at any moment now attorney general william barr is expected to release the main conclusions from the mueller report to congress. we are hearing that it is coming today. barr is at the u.s. justice department right now with deputy attorney general rod rosenstein reviewing the report. the president, well, he just returned to mar-a-lago just moments ago after spending the day at his golf club in west palm beach, florida while he, too, awaits the brief. cnn has a team of reporters and analysts standing by who have covered this story for nearly two years now. let's go to cakara scannell. the deputy attorney general and
the attorney general about to release the details. in what way will they be released, do you know? >> we do expect the report to be delivered today, that's bill barr's report from the principal conclusions of the mueller investigation. that is expected to happen today, but the big questions still loom of what will we learn in this report? does it answer questions of obstruction of justice and collusion relating to the president's actions? do they explain why they did not interview the president and require a sit-down interview with him? another big question here is how detailed is this summary going to be? they've been together now two days behind closed doors, bill barr and rod rosenstein, so we can gather maybe they're trying to work through some of these issues. they know there is a bipartisan call for transparency on this report and the findings. i think what decision -- this is bill barr's first big moment as attorney general now -- >> this go-round? >> -- this go-round, and this is
and rod rosenstein to work through now, and we'll get the fruits of that sometime today. >> we're all waiting. boy, are we waiting. kara scannell, thank you so much. let's check in with the senior congressional correspondent manu raju on capitol hill. they're waiting up there, too. lawmakers want to see these details in, really, its entirety, and they're threatening to subpoena if they don't? >> certainly. what you're hearing from democrats right now, this building is empty, but staff committees and the judiciary committee will be the first ones sent this report. we expect it to be e-mailed to them and they'll get the chance to reed the conclusions. already democrats warning they will subpoena if they don't get the full report and warning that they could even go further to push for the underlying evidence to be supplied to congress, potentially also to the american public. they're gearing up for potential political and legal fight. jerry nadler, the chairman of the judiciary committee, said he believes this could take place
not in a matter of months but sooner than that. there is a fight to get the full report if they are not -- there is no indication that's coming. you're also hearing some democrats second-guess some of bob mueller's decisions. earlier today the house intelligence committee chairman, adam schiff, raised concerns about bob mueller not forcing the president to sit down and answer questions under oath. >> it was a mistake to rely on written responses by the president. that's generally more what the lawyer has to say than what the individual has to say. i can certainly understand why the lawyers like giuliani were fighting this, because the president is someone who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth for long periods of time. but nonetheless, if you really do want the truth, you need to put people under oath, and that should have been done. >> reporter: what the president did do was provide written answers to questions about russian interference in the 2016 campaign. one thing democrats and
republicans, too, will be looking for is exactly why mueller's team did not force him to sit under oath. there was lengthy negotiations over that, but we'll also see what the president said to the special counsel. will they shed any light on that? another big question democrats here have in the days ahead. fred? >> manu raju, we'll check back with you. thank you so much. let's talk more about all this with former director of the office of government ethics, walter schaub. senior justice correspondent ever evan perez, political legal analyst gloria borger and michael zeleny who is a former prosecutor. gloria, there is a lot on the line not just for the president, not just for congress but also for doj and bob mueller. >> and also for the country, quite frankly. i think it's been a drama that's played out for almost two years now. the american public wants to know what bob mueller thinks and
what he found. and i think the big question that, you know, kara was talking about is did bob mueller decide not to prosecute because he can't prosecute a president or because he shouldn't prosecute this president? and i think that's one question that the american public really wants answered. whatever they come out with, i can guarantee you is going to be interpreted in different ways. the president may claim vindication. at the same time the democrats say, this is enough evidence to impeach. that's the kind of country we're living in. >> who should be left to sbre t interpret? because we know if bill barr does that, if he interprets, if he editorializes, that could be a problem. >> i think he's trying not to do that. i think he's trying to take what mueller wrote and provide the facts of what mueller's conclusions were. >> we just got word officially now that capitol hill lawmakers have been told they can expect to receive a letter from the
attorney general, from bill barr, in the next 30 to 45 minutes. i think what this tells us is obviously this process is almost to a conclusion. one of the things that bill barr that we know has been wrestling with is how to distill a report from bob mueller, how much information to put in, especially derogatory information of people who are not charged. obviously we know there were no charges brought against anybody with regard to conspiracy with the russians or what people in sho shorthand call collusion. so the question is how is that addressed in the report, and does bill barr in his distillation get into that? i think that's a big question we all have at this moment. >> michael, as someone who has worked closely with robert mueller, we know that he has issued a comprehensive report. that's been the word issued and you heard from our evan right here that in about 30 minutes we are understanding that members
of congress will be receiving this letter from attorney general barr. what did he need to decipher through this entire report in which to come about these conclusions that he is willing to share with u.s. congress? >> fundamentally he has to remove anything that implicates executive privilege. he has to remove anything which is classified. he has to remove anything which is grand jury secret protected. after that he has to then write language that doesn't implicate any particular individuals who haven't been charged with criminal behavior. there is a lot of privacy concerns here. so they have to write a report, it seems to me, that says on this topic these are the facts that we found and this is the conclusion that we reached with respect to those facts. and not editorialize that it could have been this or could have been that like jim comey did with hillary clinton, but really just a recitation of this
is what we did, this is what we found, this is what we concluded with respect to the broad topics that we have an interest in. collusion, obstruction of justice, the question of the testimony of the president and matters like that. >> and walter, members of congress have already said they're bracing for a few different scenarios. they're ready to subpoena the full report if they don't get the full report, they're ready to subpoena bob mueller himself. then, of course, they're anticipating there is going to be an exertion of executive privilege, you know, by the white house to be able to preview this report beforehand. how do you see the next few hours playing out after the report or these conclusions are shared? >> you know, i'm hopeful that bob barr sees this as a first installment and that he'll come to the conclusion to release nearly everything by the time he's done. when they talk about executive privilege, it's important to
remember that this is intended to protect the operations of the executive branch. it's not intended as something analogous to diplomatic immunity. the president is not immune from scrutiny and particularly not from congress. congress is the body with the primary constitutional responsibility for holding a president accountable. >> so then what are the conditions of exerting executive privilege in this case when the subject is the president, the executive branch? >> i personally can't imagine there is a great deal that should legitimately be subject to executive privilege. i think there may be litigation over this if they push the bounds too far. one troubling gain this administration has played is to not expressly exert executive privilege but hint that's what they're relying on when they refuse to answer questions from congress, and it will be interesting to see if they're willing to play some kind of game with this. the fact that bill barr is involved in this leads me to
hope that they won't do that because he's a serious attorney and not as likely as white house attorneys to play that sort of game. >> evan, he's been called a lawyer's lawyer. but barr has been through this before. he's overseen other special counsel investigations under, you know, president george h.w. bush. but even during confirmation, he tried to reassure people that he would try to be as transparent as possible. >> right, and look, barr has a couple different jobs. one of the things he's trying to do, having followed the turmoil of the last couple years under jeff sessions is to sort of rebuild the justice department to try to get it back to where it was. one of the jobs that he sees himself responsible for is to undo and to get back from what james comey did in july of 2016 where he stood up and sort of recited all the things that hillary clinton did wrong even though, again, he was usurping the power of the justice department to say there were no
charges. so barr wants to restore where doj was. that's the first thing. that's why i think there is this wrestling behind the scenes as to how much information to put out while at the same time answering the core question, being transparent, as you said. and the other thing he's wrestling with is the idea that i think in this day and age you have to assume that whatever mueller turned over could eventually see the light of day. so barr needs to sort of prepare his report with that in mind so that whatever he produces is not contradicted or seen to be contradicted by whatever comes later. that's a tough job. >> whatever he puts out, it's not going to be enough for democrats who are saying we want to see the underlying evidence, we want to see everything, and i think they're not going to be able to see everything. >> in all fairness to the president, frankly. the president and his team are viewing this as being cleared or something like that, we have to see as much of that as possible.
in all fairness we ought to see more than that. >> if this is a level of frustration that barr has this on his shoulders after particularly comey's handling of the investigation involving hillary clinton, how does he keep it together, so to speak, stay focused on what his mission is and not feel like he's got to respond to any political pressure or the pressure of, you know, precedence? >> so comey -- rather, i'm sorry, barr is under strict regulatory constraints about what he is allowed to release. and that, you know, narrowly focuses him on a few summary points. the thing that is important to keep in mind is that the president of the united states has said he would like to see full transparency and this report released. that which ties comey -- i keep saying comey -- that which ties
barr's hands is the regulations. those regulations are executive branch regulations. the president has the power to change or rescind those regulations. so if the president truly wants there to be full transparency, he can change those regulations and free barr to release the entire report. similarly, it is the president who has the classification power. to the extent that there are things barr would like to have released but couldn't because of classification, the president can declassify or unclassify this. so there is a lot that the president can do to help barr, help the american people, help congress, avoid a fight with the executive branch by just changing some regulations, declassifying information and authorizing barr to act in a more transparent way. we'll see if he is true to his word that he wants to do that, or whether this is just like the statements that he made about
wanting to be interviewed, but that didn't work out so well. >> that's why i'm chuckling a little bit. which president trump are we likely to see, the one that wants transparency -- hold on, we actually have boris sanchez who is near the president in west palm beach. let's hear from you. is the president also receiving some notice that this conclusion would be sent to u.s. congress somewhere in the next 30 minutes, if not under? >> reporter: yeah, we're still waiting to find out. you can imagine that the white house and team around the president in mar-a-lago right now are bracing themselves for information coming from the attorney general. we know the president came down here this weekend with several of his attorneys, including emmett flood and pat cipaloni, as well as two press secretaries to prepare to respond to the findings in the mueller report. i should point out our cameras just a few moments ago captured the president leaving the golf club here in florida. he was golfing yesterday with a
couple lawmakers former and current, former congressman trey gowdy and his acting chief of staff mick mulvaney also in palm beach. if the president is anxious or worried about the findings of this report, the summary coming from the attorney general, he has not shown it at all. he remained relatively silent on twitter for some 40 hours after it was announced that mueller had wrapped up his investigation. this morning, as you saw, fred, he tweeted out good morning to everyone, so the president restrained so far. we'll see if that changes once we get word that barr has delivered the summary to the white house team and to congress, fred. >> okay. thank you so much, boris. walter, let met finish up on that question just on michael's point about discretion. the president has some discretion about, you know, how -- you know, what kind of content, indeed, could be conveyed. so which president trump are we expecting to see and hear from? the one who has called for transparency, the one who has
said, wait a minute, not everything? what's your expectation here? >> i think we've only seen one donald trump. we've heard from two donald trumps. he certainly said he wanted the chance to testify, but he didn't. and i think what we can certainly count on is every effort made that the white house can possibly think to make to put a wall between the american people and the information gathered in this report. i think that's the only thing we can be certain of. >> interesting. shimon prokupecz is back with us. it sends a few different messages, does it not, if you have nothing to hide, you're not worried about the content of the mueller report, then why would not you advocate for this full report if you're going to exert executive privilege to, you know, contain some of the information? now you're sending another message to the american people, i do have stuff to hide. >> right. let's see what happens in the next few minutes once this thing gets out and once the lawyers have read this and the president has read this. everyone is standing by. his lawyers are standing by.
certainly the president, his aides, other people here in washington, d.c. associated with the white house are standing by to start reading this to figure out what they're going to say. >> it's going to take some time to read, because, hello, it's been 24 hours, nearly 48 -- >> it all depends. i'm pretty optimistic we'll get a lot more here than we've all expected. we've already seen more than we expected in the letter the attorney general sent to congress. we've gotten word this is happening any moment now, and i do think once this gets out, i want to see how the president reacts to this, obviously. >> the issue of privilege is just not about donald trump today. there is a larger issue of privilege regarding any president of the united states and his conversations with people who work for him. so i think those things have to be balanced and whether only the president can claim privilege. so, you know, their strategy all along was when the witness interviews were being done, they did not claim privilege but they reserved the right to do so.
if some of these conversations are embarrassing -- yes? >> look at the effort they made to give up all these documents. >> exactly. >> they said, we were very cooperative. the initial legal team came in and was very cooperative, wanted to gifr tve the special counsel office everything they asked for. the new legal team took a different position. i think we'll know very soon here. let's see what happens. >> michael, you still with us? >> reporter: i'm here. >> michael, what do you want revealed in these conclusions? >> reporter: really everything that mueller investigated, the facts that gave rise to the findings and the ultimate findings. i think that it is in our national interest that all of these things that we've been waiting on for 22 months are revealed. and with respect to executive privilege, it is in the
president's prerogative to assert it, but we know that ronald reagan did not assert it in iran contra because he wanted there to be full transparency. so to my earlier point, the president really holds a lot of power with respect to the regulations that govern barr, the classification of the information that's underneath it, his freeing up people who are testifying before the grand jury to tell what they said to the grand jury because they are permitted to do so, and not asserting executive privilege. really, it's on the president to determine how transparent a view we'll have into what mueller did. not mueller and really not barr in the end. >> and, walter, what do you believe the american people are owed in these conclusions? >> and i think that's the most important question, because this has to do with the integrity of our government. and it's supposed to be a representative democracy. and so our representatives in congress need access to all of this information, obviously, with the exceptions that michael
laid out. and i think there is a danger that if the white house overplays its hand and withholds too much of this, congress could simply then undertake the same investigation that mueller undertook. because they do need this information to make decisions about presidential accountability, there is no reason to have to reinvent the wheel if the executive branch chooses to be frarntransparent. if it chooses not to be transparent, i think we can count on the house of representatives to dig deep and say, if you won't give us this information, there is no reason to investigate this all over again. >> the president has been relaxed, playing golf. he refrained from content on twitter except to say good morning to everyone. is it your feeling there will be greater relief as a result of these conclusions or greater frustration? >> i just don't know. we're going to have to wait and see what the details are. obviously there is great relief yesterday because there was word of no indictments, so from the
white house' point of view that was very good news. but i think they're just waiting to see what these conclusions are. why was no collusion charge, no conspiracy to defraud the united states government? why was there no obstruction charge against the president? was it because they couldn't or because they shouldn't do it? we don't know the answers to these questions and we shouldn't speculate about it five minutes before we get the report. >> minutes away. >> but i do think they're asking themselves the same questions. there could be very embarrassing stuff, for example. >> shimon, it may not answer why so many lies? if no collusion, if no obstruction, if no further indictments, what was the big worry? >> if you start addressing lies, you start addressing deliberations by the prosecutors and investigators, then you start violating policy and you start talking about things that the attorney general has said he does not want to do in this case. he doesn't want to bring up
derogatory information, he's not going to get into the deliberation process of prosecutors. that's going to be up to us to figure out and try to figure out why certain decisions were made. the thing here is there is a process for the department of justice to explain to the american people why it is they did not bring charges or why it is they did bring charges. >> there is an obligation. >> i do think the attorney general, if you read this letter that he sent to members of congress on friday, i do think he understands that and that's why he's trying to do it as quickly as he's doing it and that's why we're getting it today. that certainly surprised all of us, the idea he's going to send principal conclusions, that certainly took us by surprise. he's going to do as much as he can within the guidelines of the department of justice. >> and he says, i remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and the word "transparency" is the word of the day. that's the word we're hearing from democrats -- >> he used it during confirmation hearings but all of that came after his 2017 "washington post" op-ed where he
also took the side of the president justifying the firing of james comey. and that then helped create this confusion over where barr's loyalties were. is it to the president or is it to the letter of the law? >> good questions to ask. but the reason why most of the hardliners at the department of justice, the career people, why they agreed with the firing of comey was because of what he did in the clinton case, which is exactly what bill barr does not want to do in this case, and that is reveal information that should not be revealed from an investigation. >> and shimon, i'm going to say evan perez, not because i'm looking at you and you remind me of evan perez, but because ever an perez is with us. evan, what do you have so far? >> we have gotten word that bill barr will be able to send a letter to congress submitting the barr report which is
essentially what robert mueller found in his investigation. we suspect that as soon as that is done, the justice department is going to release the same letter to the public, so the public will get a chance to see whatever it is members of congress are being briefed on or being provided as a result of the letter from the attorney general. as shimon and i think everybody else has pointed out, i think it's very important for people to understand barr has been struggling with the idea of how much transparency to provide while at the same time trying to protect the justice department's principles of not divulging information that did not result in charges. that's one of the things that's been, i think, holding up this process. certainly why bill barr and the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein were behind closed doors yesterday for more than nine hours with just a small group of aides who are, frankly, the only people at this hour who know what robert mueller found
in his 22-month-long investigation. obviously you're hearing already from democrats that they're not satisfied. you're even hearing a little bit of second guessing certainly from adam schiff who was on one of the morning shows today saying that he believes it was a mistake to allow the president to essentially submit answers through what we've been jokingly calling a take-home test, which is written answers prepared by his own lawyers. if you remember, the president has made fun of and made a big deal of the fact that hillary clinton was allowed to be interviewed by the fbi during the e-mail investigation that he claims there was something improper about the fact they never swore her in, and he also has made much light of that situation, but obviously now the president got to go through an entire investigation, 22 months. bob mueller was asking for an interview with the president, and the president's lawyers said no. they managed to stretch this out, this negotiating process,
for over a year, and they managed to get this investigation over the finish line without the president sitting down for an interview with robert mueller. obviously the president's team was very concerned. we know the president has had some trouble perhaps keeping his story straight, and that was essentially their holy grail, which was to prevent the if the from sitting down with bob mueller and his team to do an interview. here we are 22 months taf the investigation, 675 days long. bob mueller was able to finish his investigation, and i think you'll hear from democrats more second-guessing perhaps of how mueller was able to do this depending on how -- what these conclusions that bill barr turns over. obviously we're expecting a very meaty document describing some of what the findings are. wolf? >> evan, thank you very much. there is breaking news, clearly,
that we're following right now. at any moment we could learn the primary conclusions of the mueller report. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. welcome to our special live coverage. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. cnn is now learning that capitol hill has officially been told to expect a letter from the u.s. attorney general, william barr, any minute. we've been awaiting barr's summary of special counsel robert mueller's findings to lawmakers and to the american public. that is about to happen. this now will formally end the nearly two-year-long investigation that has been hanging over president trump and so many others. our female investigative correspondent manu raju is up on capitol hill. manu, review with our viewers what we're learning. >> they are expecting to get a letter any moment from the attorney general telling what barr summarized from bob mueller's 675-day investigation
into russian interference in the 2016 election, any potential obstruction of justice that occurred. they are expecting to get barr's summary of those conclusions in just a matter of moments. now, the big question lawmakers have here is how much detail will barr provide to the committees about exactly what bob mueller found? will they get into specifics about the findings about russia interference, about who he decided to prosecute, who he decided not to prosecute, why he decided not to skpprosecute and what the president's involvement in this really was and whether he fired james comey, whether or not he tried to interfere this investigation. hovering over the presidency and hovering over bob's report rmt. the question here, too, will the full report be provided to
capitol hill? those are still unanswered to this day and we're already hearing democrats intensify their demands for all of that to be public, threatening to issue subpoenas to get it, warning they'll take it all the way to the supreme court. we'll wait to see what barr says, and if he detai-- for det. they're waiting and they're expecting to see that electronically and they'll get a first glimpse of what bob mueller found as part of this major investigation. >> major investigation, indeed. nearly two years. manu, stand by. i want to bring in a team of reporters that have been covering this the last two years, every angle of this story. remember on friday, attorney general william barr wrote to congress saying this. i am reviewing the report and i anticipate that i may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel's principal
conclusions as early as this weekend. that may happen in the next few minutes. >> i think when we read this letter, we were surprised by those words. we're going to get a lot more information in this report than he initially thought. the fact that many, the fact he used words like principal conclusions, that means he is going to tell them the findings of this investigation. there was always some skepticism whether or not bill barr would get into the meat of this investigation, whether or not he would be able to explain findings. what did the department of justice do? what did the special counsel do? we may have that here. those words, principal conclusions, the fact he's going to explain that i think is important higher, and i think for us we should look at this as a way of maybe when we see officials holding press conferences at the end of an
investigation, there are ways to release information that do not violate guidelines, that do not violate doj policies, and you can give this information so that the american public can feel this investigation was tried to be done here. >> and pamela, specifically they said these will be the special counsel's principal conclusions, robert mueller's principal conclusions, not bill barr's, the attorney general's princi l principal. >> they were basically wanting to keep thely. >> bill barr sent the tone with the letter that was sent on friday. this was more than we expected. one of the questions i have is will it gifr us any other insight l it give us.
why did he capitulate? because there wasn't the case there to pursue that. also, let's not forget the mandate. the mandate was about russian interference in the election and whether there were any connection between the president and president putin. what is this going to say about the president? >> and will this tell us the whys? we already know no indictments, no obstruction, no conspiracy to defraud the government. will these conclusions tell us why? is it because you just can't indict a sitting president, or is it because you didn't have anything that was prosecutable and you felt you couldn't take it further? and maybe the reason they didn't do that interview is because they already felt in advance that perhaps it wasn't going to be fruitful and lead them anywhere they didn't already know they were going to go. >> i don't think we'll see deliberations here as to how they came to certain decisions.
that then goes to -- you're violating policy if you're going to start discussing some of the deliberations and other ideas about what they were thinking. but again, we're going to see probably a little bit more here. >> if they lay out the case that there wasn't evidence of support xyz, then that could gifr ve us window to say, that's why they didn't pursue an interview. >> and there has been a debate about that in particular. we heard it all morning long with the house judiciary chairman, with republicans coming out and having a clash on what we're ultimately going to see that shows why they made this conclusion or, more importantly, why they didn't make that conclusion. and those underlying bits of information may be the raw evidence on both sides is going to be fascinating if we see it and it's a big, big if. in the short term, just the bottom line conclusion, what the whole mission was about.
as you said, pamela, was there any coordination, conspiracy -- collusion is not a legal term -- anything that may be isnbe isn' indictable but not a good thing between the russian campaign and trump officials beyond what we already know because it's come out in various indictments. >> he's left bread crumbs. there are a lot of distractions and there are bread crumbs that may have led to collusion that made you wonder, is there anything here? there were not conspiracy charges and that's significant. there were no indictments, according to laura jarrett. but will this fill the gap and put those pieces together so we have an understanding -- will we learn more about russian involvement? put the president aside for one moment. will we learn more about russian involved than we already know. we know there are indictments -- >> manu raju is getting new information on capitol hill. manu, what are you learning? >> the house judiciary chairman
jerry nadler just tweeted the doj sent us a very brief letter about the mueller report which we will share shortly. he says nothing more than that, but they got a very brief letter about the mueller report, according to jerry nadler. nadler not giving any indication of what's in this very brief lawyer, but it appears the summary about the mueller findings has been transmitted to capitol hill. he has sent a very brief letter about the report. we'll see what the house judiciary committee has to say but it appears this transition has been made to capitol hill so we'll begin the process of digesting exactly what was in this report and what was this letter sent to congress, wolf. >> manu, let's bring in dana. you spoke to jerry nadler, the chairman of the house judiciary committee. when he says a very brief letter, that's going to disappoint a whole bunch of democrats on capitol hill.
>> we'll see. the interesting part about it is that the hope among everybody, reporters, people in congress across the boefard, is that thi initial list of findings, the principal conclusions, as they're calling it, would have some meat on the bones. because we know that no matter what happens ultimately with the full mueller report, it's going to be awhile. there is going to be discussion even for those republicans who say let's get it out, they understand that there is this classified information, there will be discussion about executive political privilege and so forth. what i think is also important to underscore which jerry nadler did with me this morning on "state of the union" is that this is a letter written by the attorney general. it is not a cut and paste of robert mueller's conclusions in this two-year-long investigation that's added to the letter. it is barr's interpretation of what those conclusions are. which is a big difference.
>> uh-huh. because he, of course, is the president's hand-picked attorney general. and i think that was one of the reasons. barr understands that. that's one of the reasons why he put that in this letter. look, this is going to be mueller's findings even though he is the one providing this letter. >> jerry nadler has said this is going to be very brief. >> which is contrary to what we were anticipating. >> let's see it when we see it, but it could start a fight, because when he calls it a brief -- he's thrilled about it. if people want to know the whys of the story, if nadler sounds unhappy, as he said to dana this morning, he will do everything he possibly can to get out the mueller report. >> shimon, you were anticipating, a lots of us were
anticipating it wouldn't necessarily be, quote, very brief. on the other hand, in this very brief letter as jerry nadler is describing it, there is a line or two saying, if there is, more information is on the way, that would be encouraging. >> i am surprised from what we've already seen that they would not give us more information. we have to see, what does this mean? what does his interpretation of very brief mean? what question of this that he's sdrin r describing as very brief, is it going to include the collusion question involving the president? i'm going to say obstruction. >> looking at a pdf on an e-mail we just got, it's four pages long. >> that's more than i expected. >> we're going to -- it's very brief. it's four pages long and we are going to hopefully get a printout so that those of us who
are not -- >> it's lengthy here from what i can see. >> the first page, as we expected, lays out all of the resources that were utilized throughout the course of the investigation, how many prosecutors there were, how many subpoenas the special counsel issued, more than 23 subpoenas. >> i just went down to the third page. for gigive awfull of us because obviously reading it live. >> this is more of jerry nadler's tweets. the special counsel states that while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. that is potentially a very significant statement of the chairman of the house judiciary committee. all of us are beginning to just go through this four-page letter that bill barr, the attorney general, has now sent to the u.s. congress with details on
the so-called principal conclusions that the special counsel robert mueller has provided, and all of you are going through the actual letter. evan perez is going through the letter, our justice correspondent, as well. evan, give us some of the nuggets, some of the significant moments you're getting from this letter. >> the most important part of this letter right now is the part that says, the special counsel did not find that any u.s. person or trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the ira. this is the russian troll farm, the russian interference effort. in its efforts, although the special counsel brought criminal charges against a number of russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities. again, one of the most important things that the special counsel was assigned to investigate, wolf, was whether or not someone, an american, someone in the united states, someone part of the trump campaign, was part
of the russian efforts, the disinformation efforts, the interference with the 2016 election. according to this letter, one of the main conclusions is that they couldn't find evidence that anybody, any u.s. person, anybody associated with the campaign, anybody associated with the president was involved with that disinformation campaign. i think that's a very important thing for the justice department to explain, for bill barr to explain as a result of this investigation. obviously, as you've noted repeatedly, democrats want to see everything, but i think it's very important that bill barr got that answer out there, which is what frankly has been looming over the presidency of donald trump since the day he got elected. >> hold on for a moment. shimon, you're getting more information from this four-page letter. >> on the third page, this is probably one of the most important lines in this. in making the determination, we noted that the special counsel
recognized that the evidence does not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to russian election interference and that while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the president's intent with respect to obstruction. so there you go. that is the key line here right now. >> you have the collusion and also obstruction of justice, and it says, i have concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. that is key. the president was -- this was what all the questions surrounded the president. did he obstruct justice? they just cleared him. >> but it also says, and it quotes the special counsel saying, quote, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. >> and that is going to be what
the democrats count on. >> that's going to be the nub right there. >> what stands out to me in reading about the obstruction of justice and saying there wasn't sufficient evidence to establish that is they're saying, we never even had to get to the point of you can't indict a sitting president because we didn't have the evidence to support it. that is key and that might explain why they didn't pursue a subpoena against the president. >> that's exactly right. a subpoena against the president in order to get an interview. >> in order to get an interview. >> that's really key. that's been one of the important questions as weav've been looki at this. the mueller team got written questions and answers from the president only on the issues of collusion. >> right. >> the deal was that if the team wanted to have further questions about obstruction of justice, they would have to come back. they sort of half-heartedly did come back, got a no and then decided not to proceed with what they knew would be a court fight, and this is perhaps why. i just want to go back to the notion of obstruction of justice. yes, this makes clear in these
findings that they didn't see a case for obstruction of justice, but then if you kind of go down furth further, it also says that to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acting with corrupt intent engaged in obstructive conduct with a fixing nexus of a comprehending proceeding. meaning it's not that they didn't necessarily have all the goods, they couldn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. >> the president has just been exonerated. can we just take a step back and focus on the fact that this is nearly a two-year investigation that has swirled around the president since day one of his presidency, and he has just been exonerated. >> it's very important to remember, and this is an important line in this letter, that the determination basically saying they didn't have enough evidence to go ahead and charge the president of the united states with either obstruction or collusion or anything along
those lines, our determination was made without regard to and is not based on the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of the sitting president. >> can i clarify something? it does say that they cannot conclude he committed a crime and it does not exonerate him. for the president's purposes and his team's purposes, he's been exonerated. i wanted to clarify that. >> that's an important point. >> what mueller is saying here is i didn't decide not to indict because of the doj guidelines against indicting a sitting president. he said it was not based on constitutional considerations, but the case itself. >> he couldn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. as a result, there were no formal charges. and it wasn't, as this letter says, the result of the long-time justice department guidelines that you can't indict a sitting president. >> and we should note that while we're reading over all of this, on friday when bill barr put out
that letter saying he was going to deliver the key findings from mueller's report to congress as soon as this weekend, the white house was shocked by that. they were not expecting all of this to happen so quickly and they thought it was going to be a two-sentence statement. after that, that is when they were going to get more information, possibly weeks later, after they noted that investigation had ended. so all of this is going to be a surprise to the white house, and we should note that as of this morning around 10:00 a.m., they still had not received this report or been briefed by the key findings on mueller's report. >> can i just go back and read the key line? evan mentioned it but this is really crucial to pamela's point earlier. as noted, the special counsel did not find any u.s. person or trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the ira, meaning the russians, in its efforts. though the special counsel brought criminal charges against a number of russian nationals. so the russians obviously actively tried to impede the 2016 election. the mueller team indicted many
of them. but not collude. and it is important. and it is, in fairness, what the president has been saying, that there was -- i know collusion is not a legal term. but the special counsel, in the words of robert mueller, is not indicting him. >> anyone who was representing a regular client would be so thrilled with this report height -- right now. this is a win for this president who now for two years has essentially been screaming, there was no russian collusion. he is backed up by mueller. he's backed up -- this line again that i find, and it's in quotes here, the evidence does not establish the president was involved in an underlying crime related to russian collusion interference. >> it says the special counsel
issued more than 2800 subpoenas, issued 500 search warrants, 200 orde orders, 14 requests to foreign governors for efvidence and it interviewed approximately 500 witnesses. so not only does he not indict him for collusion, he has all that evidence. >> very, very specific statements by the special counsel robert mueller. evan perez, you're getting more information. >> certainly kaitlan was reiterating how comprehensive and exhaustive this investigation was. they knew once she sat down with the special counsel team that they knew everything, they knew their texts, they knew about their e-mails, and that really does underscore how exhaustive this was. what robert mueller dosays is, e
investigation did not establish that the president interfered in election activities. that's an bill barr decides he's going to quote directly from the mueller report. what he goes on to say in this letter, wolf, is they're going to pore over the rest of the mueller report and then decide how much of this they can provide access to for members of congress, who obviously are clamoring for more, for the public that wants to see more of what exactly was found here. so one of the things that bill barr describes in his letter is they're going to work with the special counsel, they're going to try to look to see whether there's grand jury material that can be removed to be protected to make sure that whatever they can turn over to members of congress, that can answer their questions and sort of address some of their suspicions that they already have.
but it's very important that this one phrase is quoted directly from the report, which again, this says the investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in the election interference activities. that's a huge line and a very -- probably the most important line in robert mueller's report, quoted directly in bill barr's letter. i think the president obviously has to be very, very relieved that bill barr is deciding to sort of air this out so that at least people can come away and say in the end whatever was happening, a lot of suspicions, a lot of smoke, it turns out there wasn't fire there. >> but it's very important just to underscore the bottom line once again in this document that the attorney general has just submitted to congress concluding after all this investigation, a nearly two-year investigation by the special counsel, robert mueller and his team, no collusion. bottom line, no collusion. bottom line, not enough evidence
to go ahead and prosecute the president of the united states but does not necessarily exonerate. not enough evidence to go ahead and prosecute the president of the united states on obstruction of justice. at the same time, does not completely exonerate the president of it. >> right. that's right, wolf. that's an important part of this investigation as well. the report points out, bill barr's report, letter, points out that a lot of the seemingly obstructive behavior by the president, his tweets, his comments, a lot of this happened in public, so we could see a lot of the stuff that president trump was doing to mess with this investigation. he mused about firing robert mueller to some of his associates. he fired james comey. a lot of this stuff the president did on his own and frankly made things worse for himself. he probably extended the time of this investigation as a result of some of his behavior. and what they say here is that they weren't able to establish that he had intent to obstruct.
that's a very important thing. obviously once you find that there is no collusion, then the question is, you know, did he try to obstruct the investigation, and in the end, the investigators decided that there wasn't enough evidence to prove that he was intentionally trying to obstruct. obviously he never fired robert mueller, despite the fact he mused about it behind closed doors and certainly was out there in public attacking and undermining the investigation. what the investigation decided was there wasn't enough here to essentially go after the president for what we all saw was obstructive behavior. >> jeffrey toobin has been doing through this four-page letter. give us your bottom line. >> certainly the most important thing is the total vindication of the president and his staff on the issue of collusion. there's just no other way around that. that was the heart of this investigation, and director mueller and his team did not conclude directly or indirectly
that the trump campaign helped russia. i think the obstruction of justice story is somewhat more complicated, and i think it's worth pointing out here that the vindication that is described in the obstruction of justice decision here is by attorney general barr and deputy attorney general rosenstein, not by mueller. mueller sort of presented the evidence of obstruction of justice to the department of justice, as i understand this, and then it was the attorney general and the deputy attorney general who decided that based on that evidence, there wasn't enough to prosecute. that is a -- it's still a vindication, but it's quite a different one from mueller's total vindication of the president on the issue of collusion with russia. >> and the important point also that was made in this letter, jeffrey, is that the decision not to go ahead and prosecute
the president either in obstruction of justice or conspiracy or collusion, it had nothing to do with the sitting justice department guidelines that a sitting president can't be indicted. let me read that line one more time. our determination was made without regard to and is not based on the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of the sitting president. that's very significant, jeffrey. >> that is. but again, it's important to point out that that determination was not made by mueller. it was made by the president's subordinates, the attorney general, barr, and rod rosenstein. it's a -- i don't understand the procedure, frankly, that -- why that was presented to the attorney general in that way, but the vindication on obstruction of justice, which was a factual one, as you point out, that they were not -- they
did not say, well, we can't -- the reason we're not indicting the president for obstruction of justice is we can't indict a sitting president. they didn't say that. they said, our conclusion is the evidence is insufficient to bring a case against the president for obstruction of justice, but that decision, as i read this letter, was made by barr and rosenstein, not mueller. >> we haven't gotten any reaction from the white house yet. we're still waiting. the president himself has not tweeted on the end of this report yet. we have an interesting tweet from the scheduler for the president, this woman named madeline. she sits right outside the president's oval office. he constantly refers to her when he has people in the oval office. she just tweeted, how many tens of millions of dollars did the more than taxpayers have to pay to find out what everyone else already knew, that there was no collusion. that's the first reaction we're getting from people inside the west wing, but expect more of that to come, especially in an
official statement from the white house. >> we got a statement from the president's social media assistant. fact, he says, as we've been saying for the past two years, the special counsel's investigation did not find that the trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 u.s. presidential election. >> i've got some breaking news. we got to get in here. sorry. we're just learning that the attorney general's chief of staff called white house lawyer emmett flood at 3:00 p.m. today, so before this was released publicly, to give him a, quote, read out directly from this four-page summary. we are told that is the extent of the conversations between the white house and the department of justice according to a justice official. we're also told special counsel mueller has not been in the building this weekend. he was not consulted on this letter. that's important. he was not consulted on this letter that we're going through. this was the product of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein.
you can imagine democrats will be pouncing on this because this is what they said from the get go, that they did not want the white house to be given a sneak preview. their concern was that the white house would somehow weigh in, make changes. we have no indication of that, but we're learning before this was made public, the white house was consulted. my reporting was that was the expectation, but it's something democrats will seize on. >> and democrats will also say that this was cherry picked. >> exactly. >> that this is -- you know, while they quoted from the mueller report, you can always quote from something and cherry pick it. and make it look the way you want it to look. one thing that i think is very important here on conspiracy and collusion is this footnote on page two, which says that the special counsel considered whether members of the trump campaign coordinated with russian interference election activities, and they defined coordination as an agreement, it is a i-- tacit or express.
obviously the special counsel said there was none. >> but it doesn't explain a lot of the bread crumbs that were spread out throughout the filings. why did paul manafort share polling data with a russian intel agent? why did rod rosenstein say in his memo that was unredacted that mueller account investigation collusion as it pertained to manafort and his meetings with russians? it didn't answer a lot of those questions we've had on the team, and that, i think, is what democrats are going to be pressing for. also the fact it says there's not evidence to conclude the president committed a crime on obstruction, but it doesn't exonerate him. they're probably going to seize on the fact that, look, the attorney general determined this, not mueller. mueller did not determine it like he did on collusion, saying there was no collusion with russians and the trump campaign. they left it up to the attorney general. >> as we're reviewing all this, we should note we haven't heard from president trump himself yet. we've heard from several white house officials. lindsey graham, who golfed with the president today at his golf course -- the president just left there about an hour ago to go back to mar-a-lago.
he's put out a statement on this about the primary findings. he says he thinks this is a bad day for those hoping the mueller investigation would take president trump down. he congratulates mueller, saying he did a great job, and he says now it's time to move on, govern the country, and get ready to comb combat russia and other foreign actors ahead of 2020. so he's complimenting the president, someone who's just spent several hours with him on the golf course. >> we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. very important, dramatic developments unfolding right now in the russia investigation. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. the special counsel, robert mueller, has submitted his report to the justice department, to the new attorney general bill barr. bill barr has just submitted a four-page, single-spaced letter to congress with a lot of details. his conclusions on what robert mueller and his special counsel team came up with. bottom line, he concludes there was no collusion. the president keeps saying no collusion. the special