tv New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman CNN April 18, 2019 5:00am-6:00am PDT
the east. this is chris cuomo, he joining us this morning, john berman is off this week. great to have you. it's a very busy morning. >> pleasure is mine. let's make a little history together. >> let's do that. it is a landmark day in american political history about 90 minutes from now attorney general william barr will hold a press conference, this is before he releases the redacted version of the mueller report. >> we have new information. we just learned the top picks that the ad wants to talk about today as democrats are accusing barr of improperly trying to color mueller's findings before the public or lawmakers could read the mueller report. by definition he's doing just that. he isn't releasing the report but he wants to talk to us again about what he thinks matters. cnn's jessica schneider is live outside the justice department. so we have three areas to expect, what are they? >> reporter: that's exactly right. we just got that briefing from the department of justice spokesperson, carrie kupek, she's giving us a bit more
information about what we can expect from the attorney general bill barr when he briefs the press at that 9:30 press conference. yesterday we knew he had given an overview of this report but now we are getting more specifics about what bill barr will address. first we know he will talk about executive privilege, whether or not it was invoked, whether or not the white house has exerted executive privilege over any of the material in this 400-page special counsel's report that will be redacted. so that's the first thing. executive privilege. the attorney general will also talk about interactions with the white house because we know that just last week he refused to answer those questions on capitol hill from lawmakers about what kind of interactions he's had with the white house in this whole month-long process of redactions, what he has talked about them with if anything. of course, we know last night from reporting with the "new york times" they're reporting in the past several days department of justice officials have been in touch with white house
lawyers briefing them on the special counsel's conclusions. of course, that's giving a heads up to white house lawyers as well as the president's personal attorneys about what they can expect here and how exactly they can respond in their own rebuttal report. so the ag will be breaking down what interactions he and other justice department officials have had with the white house over the past several days and the past several weeks. this will serve as an update to what the attorney general said in his letter at the end of march to congress when he really indicated that there hadn't been any interaction between the justice department and the white house as it pertains to the mueller report. finally we know that the attorney general will be talking about the redaction process itself because, remember, he got the report from the special counsel way back on march 22nd, almost a month now, and since then we know that he has been working with the team and consulting with robert mueller about what exactly needs to be redacted because, remember, when this report comes out to congress and to the public, we
will be seeing those color-coded redactions on those four categories, the categories being the grand jury material that they cannot by law release, also classified information, also any information pertaining to any ongoing investigations, plus any details on things that might be derogatory to third parties. so we know that those are the four categories that will be redacted. the attorney general will be giving a bit more information on that. so, chris and alisyn, just to recap a little bit of an update here as to what the attorney general will be talking about at that 9:30 press conference, he will be talking about whether or not the white house exerted any executive privilege over this document, over the report and contributed to the redactions, what kind of interactions department of justice officials have had with the white house over the past several days and the past several weeks and then also talking about the redaction process here. a little bit of color for you, the spokeswoman saying that william barr that is a calm
demeanor this morning, he is ready to face the cameras at this 9:30 press conference. this coming amid this outcry from democrats calling for this press conference to be canceled and then, of course, really saying that the attorney general has been playing into this whole spin on behalf of the trump administration. so we will see what the attorney general says just about an hour and a half from now, but expected to address those three main points. >> i know what my question would be now. >> what is it? >> after learning to elie honig. my question to the ag would be are you concerned that the way you've controlled this process plays into what is a potential obstruction of justice? that the way this has been handled, is this something that you're concerned will play into the narrative about whether this process was transparent or obstructed by the president and others. >> maybe one of those reporters at that press conference in an hour and a half will ask that. we will co-op your question and pose that. joining us to answer this and more we have joe lockhart former clinton white house press secretary and cnn political
commentator. renato mariotti, sara murray is here and is that moan pro could you mess. with the new information that jessica schneider just gave us, helpful to get inside into why bill barr is doing this or at beast what he plans to talk about at this press conference since that was unexpected yesterday. give us the big picture. >> i think the news tells us this is really a press conference about bill barr not about robert mueller or about his report. it's about why was he talking to the white house and revealing things to them in advance which appears to be improper, did i withhold anything due to executive privilege. the answer he had previously told us is no. either he's doing that to remind us that he didn't do something wrong or he's going to change his answer. third did i do these redactions in an appropriate manner which with he would ordinarily expect but given the skepticism that's rightfully been thrown on this process he think this is a defensive press conference by bill barr.
>> joe, you are the perfect guest for this because it's always been about what happens from here on out. the spin, the narrative. because renato's world is over, theres no criminality, it's not going to wind up in a courtroom, it's going to be in the court of public opinion. this process of how this has been handled, how does it set the table for the president? >> i actually think they've handled this very poorly. let me explain why. claiming total exoneration from the outset means that every piece of evidence that doesn't -- that goes against exoneration becomes outsized, becomes much more important and every piece that comes out you will read -- we're going to go through this report and people are going to be able to go to the white house and say here is ten examples where you weren't exonerated, how do you answer that? keeping quiet would have been a much better strategy from my point of view. you're right, it is political now, it will go to the hill.
ultimately bob mueller will speak for himself and what they've done here by barr taking center stage today and the president planning to -- they're just building the drama for mueller on capitol hill in his own voice, in his own words saying what he thinks. and that doesn't help the president. >> some of jessica's new reporting is that rod rosenstein will be there, will be present, but he will not speak at the press conference. which you find peculiar. >> i do, because he's there, why isn't he speaking? this is the man who made so many critical decisions in this entire investigation the last two years, he was running it essential, he was mueller's boss, mueller was reported to him. i think what we're getting from the department of justice right now is we're not going to talk about the report, we're going to just talk about the process. they're saying it's going to last about 20 minutes. sounds like william barr is trying to protect himself, like i think what everyone is sort of saying, he wants to explain why he chose to do this the way he's
doing it and it really is now it seems all about him and about the process, the redaction process, the communications with the white house and then we will see. it doesn't appear right now that they are going to take any questions in terms of the investigative steps, the decisions that they made here, which i think is really interesting. so you're going to get up there, have a bunch of reporters really good reporters who have been at the department of justice for quite some time, including our evan perez and laura jarrett, they will be up there asking tough questions about some of the -- >> you don't think he's going to answer. >> it doesn't seem that way based on the guidance we're getting. seems like it is all about process. >> they're also handcuffed, they don't have the report. that's what you want to dive into with him and that's going to wait. in terms of how the white house is handling it, we had the story come out the aides are worried what am i going to be exposed about. i think you have to believe that if barr and the doj officials have been talking they know what's headed their way. the president is tweeting early
this morning and he's hitting his main themes, biggest witch-hunt, hoax, for whatever, in history and that this is presidential harassment. so he's on message. the rest of them pretty quiet. >> yeah, i mean, they are pretty quiet. one of the things that will be interesting to hear bill barr address in the limited things he has decided to address is the question of executive privilege. donald trump said i'm not going to get into this, but they've obviously been having conversations. we will see if that decision-making has changed at all. it is true there are people inside the white house, who have left the white house, who are very worried because they know they provided information that doesn't make president trump look great. it may not be evidence that reached criminality but it doesn't make their boss look good and they are still in the inner circle or one step removed from the inner circle and that's why you're seeing the president furiously tweeting. if he had nothing to worry about, he knew this was going to be a great day for him, a great report, there were not going to
be any problems i don't think we would see the furious spinup on twitter. you know when he is agitated, waiting for something, worried something could be bad you see him tweeting like this. >> we don't have the mueller report but i do have the starr report here. i've been practicing reading it. 473 pages. joe, does this make you break out in hives? >> no, i love it. it's a real page turner. >> so today will be different than this, renato. every single salacious detail is in here, 473 pages, footnotes, et cetera, et cetera. what do you expect when you finally get your hands on the mueller report today? >> well, i do expect some redactions. here literally the entire report was dropped on congress. exactly. literally went on the internet, we were all sitting there and reading it ourselves, right? that's not going to happen. i think also what we're going to see is summaries and a lot more analysis and detail that is more
careful and cautious. i think the starr report for better or worse was trying to make a prosecutorial argument to congress to suggest that there should be -- >> that was his mandate, though. we have to -- a little bit of history, joe lived through it, democrats and republicans hated that independent counsel statute so much because of what had happened through the starr report and the republicans feared it was going to be revisited on them that when it expired this he created the special counsel guidelines which don't create the mandate or the extensive powers that the ic had, joe. you didn't like that he could find his way to monica lewinsky when he started off with a land deal and that he had a mandate to give even potentially impeachable things right to congress, but though the frustration is you will get less. >> certainly and the public should focus a little bit, i don't know that they have, on the differences. ken starr was accountable to no one really. he was accountable to a three-judge panel. judge sentel gave him free rein, he went from a land deal to travel-gate to vince foster and
finally found monica lewinsky and the case that he wanted to make. there was such a reaction to that, as you said, you now have a special counsel who is dependent on the attorney general. so when they did the independent counsel statute no one ever envisioned someone out of control like ken starr. i think when they did the special counsel provision, when they wrote that, no one envisioned donald trump and bill barr, people trying to abuse the system to protect abuse of power. so it's very, very different. and i think the key question that mueller may answer in the report or he may have to ultimately answer is why didn't he subpoena the president. they certainly subpoenaed president clinton, they came and took blood in the white house. so it's as intrusive as you can get. i think it's a combination of he knew it would take two more years, he knew that there were people inside justice that he was accountable to, didn't
want -- and i think he knew the president ultimately would take the fifth and that would create a constitutional crisis, that's something he wanted to avoid. none of this -- credit on the president of the united states. >> it's all going to be what story you want to tell. luckily you will be able to read the book for yourself but it's going to be about spin. nancy pelosi and chuck schumer they didn't want this press conference to happen this morning. now they're saying that mr. mueller himself has to come, do it in public, both houses of congress, imagine what that would be. we will discuss the implications when we come back. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. we're the tenney's and we're usaa members for life. call usaa to start saving on insurance today. and we're usaa members for life. everything we have, we've earned. we got no free pass. the unmistakable lexus is. lease the 2019 is 300 for $329 a month for 36 months.
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only for a limited time. the whole thing is about the waiting and there is a legitimate question about why we still have to wait this way. why do we have to have a press conference with the ag to tell us his thoughts and feelings about why he did what he did. just put out the report, renato mariotti, joe lockhart, sara murray, shimon prokupecz. people will say, don't worry, it's coming. listen, man, the process matters here in terms of how we're able to figure out what this is about and get into it. light redactions. now, that was put out last night to counter all the heat that was on this process. don't worry, they are only going to be light redactions. what does that mean to you? >> well, light redactions as to the obstruction of justice section. i will be very surprised if there's light redactions in the collusion, what people call collusion section, there there's
much more justification. i frankly don't think there's much justification for any redactions in the obstruction section. grand jury wasn't used, no the really classified information, not ongoing case. i'm surprised there is any redactions there, that struck me as spin because barr has been taking some pete. i wonder whether the press conference has changed, we heard top picks this mornings, i wonder whether that has changed, originally it was framing the report, now it's framing are what barr did because they're getting push back. what people should be skeptical about and looking for, one of the things i will look for is the sentences that barr quoted half of in that letter, what's the full sentence and why didn't he include the full sentence in his letter? what is the full picture? that's what i think people should be looking to. >> the executive privilege could come up in the obstruction part of the investigation. i think that's where maybe that's where we will see some redactions and that's why maybe barr is going tomorrow could out and explain. i think the fact he's going to
talk about executive privilege at this press conference is kind of strange. maybe that's going to be the excuse of why he was communicating with the white house because of this issue with executive privilege. we'll see. the collusion investigation i think what's going to be most interested is to learn just how much activity was going on the campaign and the russians. >> to renato's point he didn't say anything about how many redactions there is. >> there are ongoing investigations. i do think we will get a good window into some of the interaction and exactly more specifically what the russians were trying to do here. but that is going to look bad for the campaign because they were accepting these conversations, they were okay in talking to some of these folks about it, they never alerted the fbi that this was going on. so you have to start to wonder just the optics of that, again, and politically how bad that is going to look. >> a couple things are happening as we speak. bill barr has just left his home. there is the action shot, sara,
of him leaving his house. i don't know if it gets more exciting than that action shot. michael cohen has also just tweeted soon i will be able to tell the american people the whole story and tell it all myself. i smell oprah here. >> you know -- >> but who knows what any of that means. i guess the point is that things are percolating, it will not be over today, there are more people who want to tell their stories and talk. >> yes. i mean, heaven forbid that a big news day goes by that michael cohen does not insert himself into the headlines. i think that does tell you there are investigations that will continue, there are investigations related to the mueller report but there are also spinoff investigations, things that are going on in sdny and those will continue to loom over the president's head. what michael cohen has to say, who knows how relevant that is to ongoing investigations or how credible that is to ongoing investigations. the big show today is still going to be the mueller report. i think it's easy to get side lined by what is going on with
bill barr and this press conference and what a bizarre thing it is to do something like that before we get the report but at the end of the day bill barr is a political appointee, he is being the attorney general chosen by the president of the united states. we are still going to get this report and it's up to us to go through it and see what might not have been criminal but what is relevant, what the american people should know and they are about to go into another election. you want to know if over and over again the trump campaign decided to take these offers of help from the russians and you want to know if over and over again the president tried to fire robert mueller even if he ultimately wasn't successful. i think we're going to get some of those details today. >> so joe lockhart, you were making a good point in the break that we think we know everything. we've reported all these things out and even if there are just some few scant new details it's all new again because now it's official and real. >> yeah, no, and you have a special counsel who is -- has experience as a prosecutor putting this together. we don't know what his
conclusions r we know what bill barr says they are. so we shouldn't say because it's not new it's not important. everything in this report will be important and that's why he spent two years on it. the second point i would make is here is the big difference politically between the starr report and -- the starr report came out and trust me it was a painful day at the white house to read through that and read through some of the behavior of someone i worked for and someone who i loved and admired. but the american public went through the same process. they knew when that report came out every question they had was answered. every question. we're going to get to the end of today and people are going to have as many questions tonight as they had last night because of the way -- >> why? >> because of the way bill barr had done this, because of the redactions, because of the way the president in my view has tried to obstruct justice and, as i was saying during the break, the public read the starr report and the president the day it came out was at 63% job
approval, president clinton. the day he was impeached months later he was at 73%. they read it, they said, okay, that was really bad, but let's move on. this is where i think the trump people have made the mistake. they will not get a clean break today. they absolutely not. they have claimed total exoneration, which is like saying mission accomplished, with george w. bush. and he won't be exonerated and we are going to keep going. >> you don't think you will see a spike in the polls? >> i don't. look at from off of bill barr's letter, something like 30% of the people believed he was exonerated. i don't think so. >> i also think what's going to happen is we are going to get a window into what barr described in the letter he put out, the difficult issues of law and facts concerning the obstruction investigation. many lawyers are going to view this differently. you have different lawyers in a room and even people on the special counsel team probably people at the doj probably view these difficult issues of facts and law differently. so that's going to be
interesting, too, to see how that starts to develop. >> friends, stay close. a lot is happening in the next hour. meanwhile, there's this news, north korea testing the trump administration again. their new demand and a breaking headline from russia about kim jong-un next. rain. [ horn honking ] [ engine revving ] what's that, girl? [ engine revving ] flo needs help?! [ engine revving ] take me to her! ♪ coming, flo! why aren't we taking roads?! flo. [ horn honking ] -oh. you made it. do you have change for a dollar? -this was the emergency? [ engine revving ] yes, i was busy! -24-hour roadside assistance. from america's number-one motorcycle insurer. -you know, i think you're my best friend. you don't have to say i'm your best friend. that's okay. you don't have to say i'm your best friend. on a john deere x300 series mower. because seasons change but true character doesn't. wow, you've outdone yourself this time. hey, what're neighbors for? it's beautiful. run with us. search "john deere x300" for more.
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supporters have tried their best to make a two-fer out of the barr summary of the mueller report. they insist there was no collusion and no obstruction, but that is specifically not what this report says. and turns out there's some very good reasons for that. who has them? john avalon in the reality check. do tell. >> hey, guys. chris, good to have you back. look, we are hours away from the release of the redacted mueller report. it's easy to get lost in the spin cycle, but we're getting the increasing sense that attorney general william barr is in the president's defense. barr and his staff have summarized the report, redacted it, briefed the white house on it and will soon offer a press conference to frame expectations all before congress or you the attorney people have seen it. this has allowed team trump to
hammer home their talking points. >> there was no collusion, there was no obstruction, there was no anything. >> and it completely exonerates the president. no collusion, no obstruction of justice. >> no collusion, no obstruction. >> but we know from the 101 words released out of the roughly 400-page report that it says while the report does not conclude the president committed a crime it also does not exonerate him. if mueller found that collusion did not occur, obstruction is a very different issue. now, barr tells us mueller couldn't make a determination as to whether the president obstructed justice, the report reportedly offers evidence on both sides of the question. that's what a lot of people will be looking for. evidence of possible obstruction has been in plain sight the whole time. let's look at five key examples that could look a lot like obstruction to the average american. number one, after the firing of fbi director james comey which was first officially blamed on his handling of the hillary clinton email investigation trump suddenly offered up a very different explanation. >> when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you
know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election. >> number two, the day after comey's firing trump immediately welcomed russian foreign minister lavrov and ambassador kislyak into the oval office with no american press present. trump told the pair he had faced, quote, great pressure over the russia investigation and since he fired that, quote, nutjob, comey, the pressure had been taken off. that's according to the "new york times." number three, as reporting broke about the june 2016 trump tower meeting when don jr. was promised difrt on hillary clinton by the russians his dad drafted a statement upon air force one saying the meeting was about a russian adoption program, a tall tale misleading at midwest and outright lie at worst. president trump has tried to conceal meetings with vladimir putin including confiscating his own interpreter's notes.
number five, president trump has dangled the pardon power in front of witness, michael cohen was told by a trump lawyer sleep well tonight. you have friends in high places. this fact pattern could look like obstruction to casual observers and obstruction is one central question we need answers on, others include the role of wikileaks, cambridge analytica and the money trail. read the redacted report. follow the facts first and decide for yourself. that's your reality check. >> good advice, john avalon. thank you very much for reminding us of all of that. people are on the move in washington, d.c., the attorney general has just arrived, this is his motorcade, this is him arriving at the justice department because less than an hour from now he will address the american people, he will have a press conference and we have just learned what he will talk about. next. considering?
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"the new york times" today is reporting that the justice department officials have had numerous conversations with white house lawyers about all of the conclusions made by mueller's team in just the recent days. however, here is what william barr told congress just last week. >> anyone in the white house seen any of the report? >> i'm not going -- i'm not going -- as i say, i'm landing the plane right now and, you know, i've been willing to discuss my -- my letters and the process going forward, but the report is going to be out next week and i'm just not going to get into the details of the process until the plane is on the ground. >> all right. joining us now we have david gregory, cnn political analyst, josh campbell, cnn law enforcement analyst and former fbi agent who worked with both robert mueller and james comey and david chalian, cnn political detector. >> everyone is waiting to see
what bill barr says at this press conference wells what the mueller report says. why didn't attorney general barr, why wasn't he honest? why didn't he just say, yes, we have been coordinating with the white house? where is the shame in that? is that not right to do? >> i think he knew that he shouldn't be doing what he was doing. essentially he answered the question in many ways by not willing willing to answer it. >> it is wrong to coordinate with the white house lawyers? >> the idea that he would have given the white house some heads up that the report is coming makes sense to me. the idea that he would give them the actual report or walk them lieu with detail the specific arguments before it's been released to congress and the public, he is essentially given the president who is the subject of the investigation a heads up in a which that allows him to craft his argument and response and that's problematic. if you want it to be fair we want to see mueller's report and then we want to have a conversation about that and a he's giving it to the president on the side, i have a problem with that. >> the toxic part is not admitting t he's landing the plane, making it look like it's
one of those 737 max 8s that we are all so worried about because of the way he's land tg and lack of sophistication and the danger in tainting the product with the process. you worked with mule sh, you worked with comey, you know what the regulations and the normal practices are. how much would you tell the white house about something like this. >> >> what's being sacrificed is public confidence. that the justice department is operating independently, operating fairly and if you are sitting in that seat at doj you have to understand that the public is looking to you and, again, this toxic political climate and historically the doj has been that independent arbiter, we are not republican, we are not democrat, we don't choose sides. it's not a good look to hear that the department of justice was coordinating with the white house just as it wasn't a good look during the hillary clinton case when you had the attorney general meeting on an airplane with president clinton. it's the same thing. again, they have to know that and a the fact that they did it anyway because causes a lot of questions. >> david gregory -- >> i have a slightly different
view. >> go ahead. >> i don't have a problem with the idea that they're giving -- this is the president's justice department and attorney general giving his counsel's office a heads up about key findings in the report. we don't know the extent of that briefing. my problem is that if you're going to do this with integrity then bring in key members of the congressional leadership statement to walk them through. don't play yourself as attorney general in a role where you're going to be the gatekeeper of information and you're going to be the one to frame how the world sees the findings of robert mueller. that's my issue. >> i would rebut that by saying that it's not the president's justice department, it's the american people's justice department and particularly when the president is a central player in this and people in his orbit, i think they have to be hypersensitive to the notion that the american people are expecting fairness and any deef i can't igs from that is going to cause a lot of questions. >> david chalian, you are the perfect person to ask this. in terms of how this has been handled, it's about what the
political optics are of it and this was barr saying i'm going to go by the book and the democrats three of them voted for him, but that confirmation was relatively gentle. did they just forget what he did as olc, what he did as ag under bush? >> they didn't forget because they did press him on that during the confirmation hearing. some of that stuff came up but it was rather gentle. i think there was a hopefulness on the part of democrats because of his previous tenure in that job that there would be some tradition of independence. here is what i just look at optically. bill barr had a choice, he could have bent over backwards to make every public statement and appearance and move on this matter seem completely across the board without concern to the president's feelings about it. he chose not to do that. so it may not be improper or
completely out of the realm of his job as attorney general and a member of the president's cabinet to brief them, but it is a choice that barr has made to not bend over backwards to have that layer of independence. he chose a different path which is at every turn it seems he wanted to ensure in some way that he didn't get out of step the way jeff sessions did with the president. >> i mean, josh, you know -- i just want to go back to what we're about to see less than an hour from now and that's the press conference. having lived through the james comey backlash where would have was heaped on him because he decided to speak about this and talk about his process. we know from jessica schneider that bill barr is going to come out in less than an hour and talk about his process. >> i think the difference is what we're not going to see is editorializing on the part of the attorney general. we go back to james comey there was deviating from the justice department but also characterizing her behavior,
hillary clinton's as sloppy. the problem with what we're going so see today is it's completely backwards. we don't know what's in the report yet we're going to be hearing from officials. the way i would accept what's going to happen is if the attorney general comes back to the microphone tonight or tomorrow morning after we've had time to read the report and answer questions. >> can i take issue with just one piece, the editorial piece. we've already seen barr editorialize. i think we are going to see him do exactly what he did in that four-page summary which is to put his frame and spin on it, that the president didn't do anything wrong, and he will couch if it in language of he is no the exonerated but -- as though he is not guilty of anything. i think we have to be careful about seeing barr for what he is. he is not calling it straight down the middle. >> here is a look at the room and the room where it will happen. >> wait a second. does it get more exciting than that? >> who was that? >> i don't know. that meant something. >> why is that flag moving? which flag is it? are two the same?
david, what was your point? >> let's just remember that bill barr is not the only major player here. he is a major player in terms of how i agree in terms of how he has cast what we're going to see. the fact that he has been the gatekeeper of the report and his initial letter and now we're going so see redactions, but do have rod rosenstein who brought in the special pros durt, who approved everything mueller did all along the way. we are going to actually have a report and there will be mueller presumably on capitol hill at some point. the attorney general will be answering questions on capitol hill. so this is more than a one-day extravaganza. this is going to play out over plenty of time. we should also remember when jeff sessions was fired, the initial reaction which i think was a react one, was to start to ask is this the beginning of the end of the mueller probe? here is a new attorney general who said it would be illegitimate to charge the president with obstruction coming in and getting the job.
was all of a sudden this going to be derailed and it was not. so, you know, mueller is going to have the last word here with a 400 plus page report and i think all the admonitions to read it, to digest it are important and well taken. let's remember the contrast to the starr report. we all remember that was actually read word-for-word live on the air or major portions of it certainly were. it's a striking difference from how the ability for this attorney general and certainly the white house to immediately try to spin what this is, what the conclusions are, which is what's going to happen today. >> it's an important distinction. the starr report was a different animal, it came as a creature of statute that doesn't exist anymore and the irony is they couldn't wait for that law to expire, they wanted to curtail the special counsel more, wanted less power, less purview, less potential political possibilities. they will get all that now. >> and less transparency.
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for help with belly pain and recurring constipation. ask your doctor. you see that, that's not bill barr. >> no. >> could be his stand in. minutes away from the ag, william barr, giving a press conference before the release of robert mueller's report. with us right now david gregory, josh campbell, anne milgram, david chalian. david, this is all about politics unfortunately now, the ag is part of a political process, this is a pageant that's going on. we know he wants to talk about why he did what he did in terms of forming what we're going to get later this morning. what's the plus/minus on the political play here? >> well, we have a little bit of history, recent history, about how the politics played out here with his four-page summary or principled conclusions that he
came to from going through the mueller report and we saw how sort of the battle lines were formed. i remember a lot of us said at that time clear political victory for president trump obviously that he wasn't indicted and that there was -- that this was out of the criminal realm now, that was a huge cloud lifted but that was going to be the best day for him in this process. what's going to happen today as we see this, 400 pages minus the redactions and each one of those pages is likely to have something that chips away at total complete exoneration, nothing to see here the way the president would want it. so, again, the battle lines are going to get formed in politics, the democrats are going to demand for full transparency, none of the redactions should be there, they want to see the full report, you've already heard they want mueller to come up and testify which i'm sure he will, but you're seeing where the president is, he's saying this is pure harassment. i think as we've seen over the last couple weeks it is possible that the politics of this is
something we already know which is that it is not likely to necessarily move the american public one way or the other very much. >> here is an interesting development -- hold that thought, david -- the "washington post" has exchanged texts with rudy giuliani, the president's lawyer. here is a quote, rudy giuliani says, quote, we are ready to rumble. the rebuttal -- their rebuttal that they have prepared is 30 pages long. how do they know what they're rebut sng we don't. in other words, because they've been having conversations with bill barr they already have their rebuttal prepared before we know what's in the report. >> completely. it sounds like what they've set up is they're trying to frame the issues, we will have barr, the report, the rebuttal, it's like a trump sandwich. >> even this, david gregory, this is part of it, we're ready to rumble. what is this? this is a street fight. this is about who can, you know, get the most cuts on the other one. this was always the plan for rudy giuliani. do you remember early on when
people used to criticize him, say he doesn't sound like a lawyer, he doesn't seem to be serving his interests. this was the interests and the raskins the couple who have been doing the lawyering getting mueller's team to not insist on any questions written even about obstruction, that was the win. everything after that was going to be optics. >> exactly right. and this was a television investigation that required a television lawyer to defend the president who was on television constantly going after the investigation. i agree with david, i don't think minds are going to be changed here because unless barr has totally misrepresented what the conclusions are, if the conclusions are that they looked at collusion and coordination with russian interference, didn't find any, looked at obstruction of justice, decided it was, you know, a jump ball and wouldn't bring the charges, that's the result. the rest will be politics. now, there could be plenty of
information in this report that is damaging to the president, but we know a lot of what the president has done that is damaging, we've been reporting on t talking about it for two years and that didn't change the conclusion by mueller. certainly with regard to any potential criminal conspiracy by those in the trump campaign. so what about the behavior? what about conversations? what about actions that the president may have taken that we don't know about, do those potentially hurt him? do those lead to democrats saying this is so serious that we have to initiate an impeachment proceeding against him, regardless, this is going to get back to the hardened politics around donald trump and around this investigation. i think it's going to be enormously difficult to move people off of that and mueller is certainly trying to steer a very centrist course here and presumably will stick to that even if he testifies on the hill. >> in terms of the politics,
david chalian, it also doesn't help that what bill barr effectively did was start the narrative, get the headline out there, three to four weeks ago, and let that bake in. that is now baked in people's minds and people's opinions and so now there will be new stuff that is released today and people who are really interested will pour over it and learn new things, but in terms of the headlines of people's opinions, that already might have congealed. >> yeah, that's why i think the way they did this was politically advantageous to the president and the way barr released that letter for exactly what you're saying, alisyn. i do think they are -- they are going to be in a bit of a spot, the white house, because, again, i think on each page of this there's going to be something to go back and say, this is not total and complete exoneration. you know, especially as we're talking about the obstruction of justice stuff. but that is not -- the president is prepared for that. that's why rudy giuliani is
saying he's ready to rumble. they're ready to go toe for toe. as david was just saying, we've seen this for two years, the obstruction case and the data points have been in plain sight. i'm eager to see if there's some surprise that mueller has been holding on to that we didn't know about at all, but barring that the data points on obstruction have been out there and it's why the president has been so aggressive in trying to damage mueller's reputation and damage the reputation of the investigation. >> josh, you have ten seconds, your final thoughts. >> i was going to say that the american people have been shoveled political talking points for the last two years, today it's going to come at them like verbal suppression fire. everybody should be on guard, read the report itself, don't believe talking points. >> they're firing at you, take cover with the truth and read the report when it comes out. >> thank you all very much for helping us preview it and understand what we are about to see in less than an hour. jake tapper and wolf blitzer
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released. >> or at least part of it. i'm jake tapper. in day has been 23 months in the making, may 17th, 2017, that's when the redacted former fbi director robert mueller was given his marching orders to investigate, quote, any links and or coordination wean between the russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of president donald trump and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, closed quote. it's going to be a very unusual day in many ways, we know the report is being released this morning, how much of the report we do not know. there will be redactions, maybe a few, maybe a lot. >> that will be very, very important to discover the decision was left in the hands of the attorney general of the united states, william barr, the man president trump says is doing a fine job. it's the attorney general's choice what congress and what the american public will see. in a puzzling twist we will actually hear from the a