tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN March 25, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT
committee is to grill attorney general bill barr over his summary of the still confidential full report. democrats are questioning the conclusion reached not by mueller but by barr that the evidence developed is not sufficient to prove the president guilty of obstruction. muell mueller himself wrote that the president should not be seen as exonerated on this charge. that is key. at the least the president's critics want to see the mueller report for themselves and barr is promising to release as much is allowed. we are following all the questions and repercussions starting with our senior justice correspondent evan perez. a clear no on collusion with russia. a sort of in between answer on obstruction of justice. >> the fact that mueller punted on the question of whether or
not there was obstruction of justice by the president left it up to bill barr and rod rosenstein. and they landed on a final decision that said that they did not believe the president's actions which they said a lot of it was out in the public. a lot of it we saw with our own eyes, did not reach poto the pot where they could consider it obstruction of justice. he clearly was able to make a clear final answer on the question of collusion which, of course, was the big question looming over the presidency of donald trump. i think it's important for us to read that one part. in bill barr's letter he quotes directly the investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in election interference activities. let there be no doubt that this
letter and mueller's report made clear that the russians did interfere in the 2016 election. they tried to help donald trump get elected. the president has yet to really accept that answer, but that much is clear. as you pointed out, bill barr now says he is working. as a matter of fact, the justice department today is working on trying to find a way to release more of the mueller report to members of congress. one of the big things that they have to work on is to remove any grand jury information to make sure that that law is followed. but you can bet that members of congress have a lot more questions and we'll see mueller, barr and rosenstein on the hill before too long answering questions. >> and perez, we know you are following. now the question is how much of the full mueller report will be made public and when we the public might see it. do we have a sense of the timeline? we understand that teams are
already reviewing the full report to look for classified information. is that a matter of days, a matter of weeks before portions at least can be made public? >> the timing right now all in flux and a bit uncertain here. the attorney general made it clear in the letter to congress that his goal is to release as much of the confidential report as he can. he has to clear two significant hurdles. this team has to look through the special counsel's report and determine what information still pertains to the ongoing investigations. they are all over the place whether in the southern district of new york or right here in d.c. so that's first. secondly, they also have to look through this report and determine what information and materials in there were gleaned from the grand jury. this was a grand jury that was convened throughout mueller's nearly two year investigation. they have to look into this because any release of grand jury material would be illegal. so this is all happening.
this team is now scrubbing this report. it is happening right here at the justice department. this team really started almost immediately. we got word yesterday that this team was assembled and going through this report to determine what had to be redacted. as far as the timing on this, we are not sure, we are not sure how much will be redacted from this report, if and when it eventually gets released. members of congress are clamoring for the full release of the report. yesterday it was jerry nadler who says not only does he twhauwant the entire report released, but he plans to get willier barr to testify before his committee. >> is there clarity in the special counsel regulations for whose decision it is or should have been on obstruction of justice?
because in effect the special counsel punted that question to the attorney general. here is the evidence. he cites in the report there is evidence on both sides. is that clearly the way it should be done or is that a judgment call by robert mueller? >> this was all done in consultation with the attorney general. i mean, this nearly two-year process here, robert mueller was briefing throughout this deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. this was really done in conjunction here. when i talked to a justice department official this morning and asked her whether or not this decision to not ask to bring charges of obstruction of justice or not to bring obstruction of justice charges themselves was made initially solely by bob mueller or if the attorney general in his last month here because he has only been on the job for one month, whether or not bill barr would have -- this spokesperson told
me that this was mueller's decision not to recommend bringing these obstruction of justice charges. and obviously bill barr followed through with that in making that final determination in conjunction with the deputy attorney general. we saw rod rosenstein walking into the building today. he was asked how are you feeling today. even that he said no comment splmpt dw you said it is your reporting that mueller recommended not to pursue obstruction of justice charges, did not just leave it hanging out there for barr. >> i talked to a justice department official skpmand i a was the attorney general in the past month that he has been here in the justice department did he weigh on robert mueller in making the decision not to recommend bringing obstruction of justice charges? this official made clear this was robert mueller's decision on his own not to recommend that these charges be brought, not to bring these charges.
there was no weighing in on the attorney general on this part. >> that's material to this goal forward. thanks very much. president trump not surprisingly taking a victory lap this morning. senior administration official says there is a sens of vindication among the president and his team. joe johns joins us with reaction from the white house. that sense of vindication certainly not surprising. the question is what does that generate now? a more aggressive white house pushing for investigations of the investigators? >> this is just about the best news cycle of the trump presidency and the question is what happens next going forward? will the white house call for investigations of people who said certain things on camera? and that issue was raised this morning to me by kellyanne conway when i asked about it. she said perhaps people like jim comey ought to get more questions themselves.
and it's also true that the white house is not going to be able to stop beating the drum on the investigation simply because there are other investigations. there is one up on capitol hill. there is one at the southern district of new york. and that also applies to this issue of obstruction that you have been talking about. since jim comey punted, one of the biggest questions we have is, is it settled or not? is the issue of obstruction on the president gone from view? that question posed this morning to sarah sanders. >> i frankly disagree with you and so does the attorney general and the deputy attorney general. the report found that they were unable to make a decision that went over tathe department of just wrs they did make a decision. the attorney general followed the legal process. he worked with the deputy attorney general who has been involved since the very beginning of this two-year absurdity. they made a decision that there was no obstruction. so that makes it a complete and
total exoneration. i don't know any other way to look at it when the whole purpose of this investigation was to determine whether or not there was collusion. >> so complete and total exoneration is what the white house is saying. of course, the report suggests it is no exoneration. we are hoping to see the president today. he is meeting with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu and the question, of course, is whether it will go public. we'll see. back to you. >> thanks very much. as republicans praise the summary of the report democrats say it is inadequate. they are demanding the full report before they draw their own final conclusions. for more on the latest reactions from capitol hill, should we expect hearing subpoenas from the hill to mueller, to barr for the full report? is this going to continue?
>> reporter: absolutely it will. democrats have been preparing for this fight and waiting for this fight. they are making it very clear that they are going to be very aggressive in the battle for the information. you see this narrative that democrats on capitol hill are already very eagerly crafting around the release of bill barr's summary. they are calling it nothing but a four page document, insufficient, saying it is just an interpretation. you can see the narrative reflective saying the letter raises as many questions as it does answers, that the american people deserve the mueller report and not just the barr report and saying it is inadequate. it is clear that democrats are going to be pushing not only for the full release of the mueller report but also the underlying evidence, underlying materials that bob mueller used in his own investigation. we have heard from jerry nadler. he said he could potentially
subpoena mueller's report. he made it clear he wants to see bill barr up here on capitol hill testifying. democrats are really zeroing oin the fact that mueller didn't exonerate trump over obstruction of justice. i think that will certainly be very important going forward as they have their own investigations going on outside of this on capitol hill. >> it won't stop. thanks very much. we know you will stay on top of it. are parties now in the work for trump associates who were convicted of federal crimes? democrats are vowing to continue their investigations of the president. could that hurt them potentially in 2020? russia still on the hook for meddling in the 2016 and 2018 elections. what is being done oo stop them as we approach 2020? (client's voice) remember that degree you got in taxation?
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with robert mueller finding that there was no collusion between the trump campaign and the russian government, are pardons on the way for allies of the president such as paul manafort, michael flynn who were found guilty or pleaded guilty of federal crimes. let's discuss with michael moore, former u.s. attorney. michael, on the question of pardons, there is history here. bill barr served as attorney general under george h.w. bush. at the time, he recommended that president bush pardon several of the chief people involved in that scandal. does that indicate to you that he might do the same thing here? >> it seemed to me yesterday when he spoke twice before
boarding air force one and when he got off of the helicopter that he thought that this was a witch hunt, obviously, but that the whole process was just so corrupt that i think it gave him the foundation to say, you know what, they found nothing as to me. all these other people caught up in all these process crimes, i'm going to get them pardoned. the one question i don't know the answer to is manafort because manafort was not a process crime. his was not like papadopoulos or flynn which was lying about something underlyingunderlying. i would be worried if i were manafort that i would not get it but the others i would be encouraged. you say on the obstruction question here, you believe that his intention, mueller's intention was to leave the
determination not to bill barr, the president's appointed attorney general but to congress. why do you believe that? and is that power now u surped? >> i thought it was an interesting part of the letter that we saw from barr to congress. we have heard about mueller punting, did he punt on the question? i don't know that he really punted more than a handoff to congress. he said i don't know. i'm not going to exonerate him. here is what i have. remember, he was governed and guided by the rules of the department of justice and in consultation with the department throughout. there are regulations that talk about who has the authority. i think the trick is going to be if the democrats decide to look at it they don't need to play it as if they are trying to run a hail mary but take it as a handoff and make a decision. i thought that the wording was unique and just the way that
barr put that question in his short memo to congress seems to me to justify the calls for the request for the full report be made public and turned over. >> so i'm going to continue the football metaphor here, punts, handoffs. i wonder, based on presenting evidence from both sides in his report to barr, does that indicate to you that there was disagreement in the huddle here as they were coming to the end of the report whether even mueller's team couldn't make a decision or mueller's team in conjunction with the justice department couldn't make a unanimous decision on whether there was obstruction? >> i think that is right here. i think we have the office of special counsel wanting to proceed with a thereo of obstruction of justice which was this mosaic of lots of little parts. some of which included things that the president could do
constitutionally. i believe that mueller's team or components of mueller's team wanted to proceed with that theory. they couldn't convince just toos proceed that way. and then they ultimately deferred to justice under the regulations to let justice make the final call. i'm not sure that i agree with that approach. i think if perhaps mueller felt he wanted to go forward with the obstruction theory he should have pushed for a subpoena and proceeded. and this i think is a failure in the special counsel regulations. if there were an independent counsel statute then mueller would not be able to consult with d.o.j. and he would have been able to make this determination. under this system, the special counsel is not really independent. we saw that play out where mueller says i don't know what to do. you guys have a different opinion than i and i will let it up to you. >> do you agree that this was --
you said you don't see it as a punt, but do you agree that it is a fault, then, in the special counsel's regulations as they are set up? >> i think that is probably right, but i also see a strange coninfluence of events happening and that is you have a new attorney general overseeing the investigation. remember early on he sent this memo questioning whether the special counsel is even appropriate and whether or not a president can be convicted of obstruction. you have the special counsel trying to work within the regulations that he has. so it looks to me like he said my hands are going to be tied and i'm not going to give you what you want d.o.j. and mr. president. i will say you are not exonerated and let the chips fall where they may. >> and that's pretty strong wording from the special counsel to say the president is not exonerated of obstruction of
justice. that is no small thing. my two favorite michaels on this issue. thanks very much. robert mueller's report clears the president of collusion but says russia clearly set out to help get him elected. more on how the russian government interfered in the 2016 election and continuing to attempt to do so. that's nextism you're turning onto the street when you barely clip a passing car. minor accident -no big deal, right? wrong. your insurance company is gonna raise your rate after the other car got a scratch so small
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. welcome back. according to the attorney general special counsel robert mueller's report clearly says there is no collusion but that does not thend very real threat of russian interference. the report found that russians use social media to spread disinformation with the aim of interfering with the 2016 election. mueller says russia stole e-mails frumt clinton campaign and democratic party and spread those e-mails through groups including wiki leaks. joining me now is sean turner and steve hall. steve, notable in the summary of the mueller report, attorney general bill barr notes that russian affiliated groups made multiple offers to help the trump campaign. as we know already in public one of the offers the famous trump tower meeting was accepted though apparently nothing came out of it. i wonder from a propaganda point
of view, a foreign adversary interfering in the election makes multiple offers and are not immediately rebuffed, is that helpful to that foreign power? is that a propaganda win for russia? >> i think there is a couple of wins here for the russians. what you mentioned i think would be at least perceived by them to be a win. i think their perception is an important thing to focus on as we look at imparsing the barr letter. on the russian side i think what they have learned from this experience is that they look ahead to continue their work there which is one of the things that they really perfected. how to attack a foreign adversary like the united states with not unconventional weapons but other ways using propaganda. i think they have learned that there is a much larger universe of things they can do and get away with than they thought
before. i think they say look it's obvious from the report that they found out that we the russians did make several offers, reached out to the trump campaign and at the end of the day there is a long investigation and really so far nothing has happened. so i think that will increase the likelihood that they will move forward aggressively in the future certainly in 2020 to try to do similar types of things as they did by the mueller report's own admission in 2016. >> that's a key point. before we get there because it was an interesting detail in this report. the barr summary says that mueller did not establish that the russian government specifically and trump or trump campaign officials did not cooperate here. does that -- i don't want to read too much into that either, but does that exclude other russians who were private
individuals but with ties to the kremlin? did you read that as an important distinction? >> no. i think it is an extremely important distungz. mueller answered whether or not there was collusion between the president and his team and the russians. what that does not account for is there are individuals associated with the campaign who are working on the president's election effort who did have relationships with russian individuals. i think that what we will ultimately find is that those individuals, people like paul manafort and others, we are likely to find that they leveraged those relationships on behalf of the campaign and i think that what mueller found was that involved individuals acting on their own but still in support of the campaign. so that's why this did not rise to the bar of collusion between the official campaign or between the president as they look into what happened with regard to
russia's efforts. >> not to minimize this. the special counsel said that russia interfered in this election to help donald trump win. here we are a year and a half away from another presidential election. does russia do the same thing again? there have been some consequences, some sanctions, but the fact is russia has continued on interfering here and in europe. should we presume they will attempt the same in 2020? >> absolutely. it's only a question or whether or not we are going to catch it and how they have shifted to try to avoid us detecting it. if you sit back and look at what the russians have learned here -- i like the phrase leveraging relationships. the russians now understand that as part of their future they can continue to leverage people. remember leveraging somebody or blackmailing somebody for lack of a better phrase, you don't need their participation freely
as in collusion or conspiracy. when you are blackmailing somebody which i think the russians will probably try to do in 2020, you don't need their cooperation. you say whatever aid or campaign person, remember the information that we have on you and make sure you do the right thing vis-a-vis russia. that's in my view one of the reason s we don't have rising t the legal level of collusion. you have the russians and the relationships that the best explanation for that russians had information that they could leverage. >> we're going to keep following it. thank you very much. if some republicans were wary of throwing full support behind the president before, does barr's interpretation change their minds?
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president trump and his republican allies are celebrating the end of the russia investigation after attorney general bill barr says that the mueller report clears the president on collusion, but does it clear the way forward for a more united republican party? let's get to republican strategist and director for the rnc. always good to have you on. so prior to the release of this report in the last couple of weeks you have had moment wheres republicans, lawmakers have challenged this president. they disagreed with him on the emergency declaration, on the yemen war, u.s. support for
saudis in the yemen war, also talk of defying the administration on the khashoggi killing. i wonder if the results of this report in your view will likely unify the party or at least make republicans less likely to challenge the president? >> i think it depends on what they are challenging them on. as republicans have learned, if you challenge donald trump as donald trump there is a really big back lash. it's why mark sanford lost his congressional primary for instance. if you take a principle stance on an issue and disagree on policy that is where republicans are able to have more success. the difference with the wall and the emergency declaration is there is no issue that combines the personality of trump and the policy of trump more than the wall. so that's why you saw a lot of back lash on the republicans who voted no or talked about voting no. this party is united behind donald trump and following the great news of the mueller report for the administration it is more so now. >> wall street journal reporting
that the trump campaign plans to poll soon on whether attacking democrats on the russia probe works for them on 2020. i want to ask this question. this is the list prior to the most recent election of voting issues and i believe this is across party lines. look where the russia investigation is down at the bottom below the economy, hillary clinton, president trump, trade policy and taxes. i wonder if democrats are in danger of overplaying the russia investigation, are republicans in danger, as well, if the president just goes down this attack line on the mueller probe? >> i think donald trump is going to do that in the short term tlmpt is going to be a victory tour. i think it will start in michigan. it's a concert tour of sorts. if this is the message moving forward for the next year and a half that can become problematic for donald trump and
congressional republicans. this is time for republicans to put together a positive legislative agenda. they are having some trouble getting democrats to work on them even on bills they have worked on before. that shouldn't hold back republicans on putting forth bills ask talking about those issue that effect americans most directly. most americans are moving on from the report now that it has been done. >> and a lot of them might have been moving on before it. i'm sure you talked to people in the country that having been paying as much attention. new jersey governor chris christie says this is a complete home run for the president. there should be no more talk of russia going forward. we should note that the report also found as the intelligence community had prior russia interfered in the 2016 election. it did so to help donald trump and the president has repeatedly questioned those findings. we know russia will attempt to
interfere in 2020. should it be the end of the talk of russia or should americans not call on their president to challenge russia on this? >> i think it should be the end of the word collusion. it's very clear. we need to see the full mueller report, not just the four page summary from the attorney general. this is the end of collusion. we should be talking about russia and how they try to interfere with our elections and often unfortunately for president trump as the helsinki. the word collusion should be banned from political jargon and that is a huge home run for the president. >> thanks very much. >> thank you. robert mueller has finished his report. democrats on the house judiciary committee say their investigation is not over. could that hurt them in 2020? we will ask a member of that committee coming up. alright, i brought in
one plan, a subpoena for attorney general bill barr. this is happening as a former aid says that president trump will likely use the mueller findings as quote a political bludgeon for the 2020 election. could democrats make damaging worse by continuing to investigate the president on russia and other things. joining me now congresswoman, thanks for taking the time this morning. >> thank you. >> let me begin on the general question. the special counsel cleared the president on the most central question of the investigation. did he or his advisers collude,
cooperation or conspire. did democrats in your view unfairly hang the allegation over his head without evidence sufficient to support it? >> no. i don't believe that we did at all. this to me is a very important step that the report has done. now we need to see the report. what we have seen is a four-page memo from the attorney general. we need to see all of the report and the underlying evidence. to me, this is an important milestone. >> robert mueller, i will grant you on the obstruction question it is unclear. robert mueller was very clear on the question of collusion laying it out in the language quoted by bill barr there. and yet hours before that summary is released you have adam shif, one of your colleagues saying that he has seen quote significant evidence of collusion. if that's true that democrats
see that evidence, should they not release that evidence to backup that allegation despite what the special counsel has now found? >> first of all, chairman schiff is the chairman of the intelligence committee. you know a lot of what happens in that committee happens in a classified setting so i certainly cannot speak to that. >> if you are demanding the full mueller report, isn't it only fair to say if democrats are saying there is significant evidence to back it up if you are making the public allegation shouldn't the public see that, as well? >> i think the public should. we do need to see the full report. and on the issue of obstruction of justice, remember according to the four-page memo it says that mueller could not make a decision or did not make a determination one way or another. there was evidence there was and evidence there wasn't. he did not make an opinion. the attorney general basically said after 48 hours of reviewing the documents said that there
was no basis for obstruction of justice. you do need to remember that almost a year ago the attorney general, current attorney general sent a 19-page memo saying that there was no basis for obstruction of justice. so one absolutely has to weight his credibility in that matter. he seems as though he was clearly transitioning for a job. we still have a lot of work to do. >> we have had lawyers on this broadcast including in the last hour say that they read mueller's statement on obstruction of justice as not punting as it were to bill barr, but handing this to congress to say this is the evidence. i have evidence on both sides. is it your view that the attorney general is attempting to or has usurped a congressional view. >> it is one of the reasons our chairman said he wants to come before the judiciary committee.
again, i will remind you, he came to that conclusion over a year ago. >> let me ask you a final question. there is the issue of law. there is also the issue of politics here. this is in large part a political question here. in your view, and i wonder if this came up on the call of judiciary committee members last night. is there concern in your party of overplaying now the russia investigation going forward, that patience is running out? and i will throw this on the screen again because i think it is indicative that the russia investigation ranks far down on voting issues running into the mid term elections with the economy, health care above it. >> my view going forward is that we won the house of representatives in november because our candidates talked about health care. they talked about the price of prescription drugs. they talked about economic issues that are important to the
american people. so we do understand that. frankly, the democrats have been very active on an agenda for the people, voting rights, corruption. we have passed a number of pieces of legislation that are very significant. they have nothing to do with the m mueller investigation. there is the obstruction of justice. there is conflict of interest. there is corruption. there is a variety of things that we do need to investigate and provide oversight for. you have to remember that for the last two years when the republicans were in charge, they basically provided no oversight of this administration. and that is our constitutional duty. so are we going to continue with our responsibilities? absolutely, yes. it is not all about the russia investigation. but the first step is we have to have the full report and the underlying evidence and then we will take it from there. >> representative karen bass, thanks very much for joining us this morning.
>> thanks for having me on. right now inside the department of justice the mueller report is being scrutinized line by line, page by page. when will we be able to see that full report or most of it? please stay with cnn. . liberty mutual customizes your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need. nice. but, uh... what's up with your... partner? oh. well, we just spend all day telling everyone how we customize car insurance, because no two people are alike, so... limu gets a little confused when he sees another bird that looks exactly like him. [ loud crash ] yeah. he'll figure it out. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪ but how do i know if i'm i'm getting a good deal? i tell truecar my zip
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we know another survivor took her life. her mother says she suffered from survivor's guilt and post traumatic stress disorder. dianne gallagher joins us now from parkland, florida. the suffering extending for beyond a year since the shooting. how is the community and school responding to the deaths now? >> reporter: they are doing what they have been able to do best really in the past 14 months and that is trying to react quickly, swiftly and as a community. yesterday after word got out about this latest suicide, they came together. we are talking community leaders. we are talking parents of current students and parents of victims. they got together. they held an emergency meeting to discuss making sure that mental health resources were readily available for everyone here in the parkland community,
to make sure that they were speaking openly about what has happened and about how feel people. i want you to listen to ryan petty. he lost his daughter in the shooting. what he says is most important for parents to do -- >> i think we knew that some of our students were suffering. sometimes we don't know which ones are suffering because they pretend things are okay. whether or not you believe your child is at risk, they are at risk. take it seriously. ask them the questions. understand how they're feeling. and then get them the help they need. >> reporter: and most importantly, they say to ask direct questions specifically about suicide. sometimes that is an uncomfortable conversation. people don't think they should approach it directly. experts say ask very direct questions. if you are suffering out there, if you feel these thoughts, if you are having ideauation you can reach out to someone you
know, to hotlines. they are telling people now that if any of this is triggering for you to reach out. they are on spring break which adds another layer of concern here. there were three different centers that are open just around the parkland area. they scheduled activities so that if students are out of school and they feel like they need somewhere to go just to be around people so they don't have this idle time by themselves that there is this resource in this community. they are trying to work with lawmakers in the state of florida to potentially get additional funding to help with the recovery process. this goes to show that it is not over for them. this community sort of feels retraumatized right now. this is a difficult week for them all over again. they are trying to work together and want people out there to know that if you are struggling that there is help and it does get better. >> just the last thing anyone would wish for this community. dianne gallagher, thanks very much for staying on top of it. take this number down.
if you or someone you know might be at any risk of suicide, here is how to get help. in the u.s. call the national suicide prevention life line 1-800-273-8255. that number saves lives. please take it out and share it as widely as you can. thank you for joining us today. i'm jim sciutto. at this hour starts right now. hello everyone. thanks so much for joining me. did the president and his team conspire with the russian government? no. but did the president obstruct justice? that seems to be unresolved according to the mueller report which is officially complete. only a select few people in the justice department have seen the report. the entire world has seen the attorney general's four-page summary of it. and to sum up the reaction to the