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tv   The Mueller Report Special Coverage  CNN  April 18, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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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 attorney general before, yes, before he
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releases the actual report. coming up in under 30 minutes the attorney general will talk about and take questions about the report. no one outside his inner bubble has actually seen. at his side will be the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, the man who gave robert mueller his initial mandate. >> robert mueller will not be there for any of the press conference. democratic leaders nancy pelosi of the house and chuck schumer of the senate are calling on mueller to testify publicly before congress as soon as possible. so the public can hear his conclusions and possibly a rebuttal of what we are about to hear from attorney general bill barr. don't forget, this investigation has led already to 199 criminal counts, 37 people and entities being charged, seven guilty pleas. don't forget these six associates of president trump were indicted, all as part of this investigation. we're going to bring you live coverage of attorney general
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barr's news conference which is set to begin moments from now. democrats are accusing the attorney general of trying to spin ahead of time the mueller report in the president's favor in advance of its release. i want to bring in jessica schneider. give us a preview of what we expect to hear from the attorney general this morning. >> as members of congress and the american public actually wait to get their hands on this redacted report and see all 400 pages of this report, we know that the attorney general will be briefing us in just a few minutes and we've learned from his spokesperson here at the department of justice that the attorney general will be addressing three main points, so first off, ag bill barr will be talking about executive privilege and whether or not the president and his attorneys at the white house exerted executive privilege over any part of this 400-page report. that will be the first topic. secondly, the attorney general will be talking here about the interactions that the justice department officials have had with the white house, the
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attorneys there and the officials in the administration. of course, it was just last week where the attorney general was on capitol hill testifying before congress, refusing to answer whether or not he has had any interactions with the white house, whether any officials at the justice department have talked with the white house attorneys, attorneys for the president himself. we do know that the attorney general did address this in his letter in late march saying that there had not been any communications with the white house, but of course we know that about four weeks have passed since then and with the "new york times" reporting that justice department officials have, in fact, been briefing the white house officials over the past few days, letting them know the conclusions that the special counsel came to, so, of course, white house officials and the lawyers can really prep their rebuttal report. so we're going to hear directly from the attorney general about these interactions with the white house, how many there were and what they entailed. then of course the third thing we will hear from the attorney general is information about these redactions because he has
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told us before that there are four broad categories of redactions here, they will all be color coded in this report, corresponding to these four different categories that will be blacked out. first of all, any information related to the grand jury, that will be blacked out, that's mandated by law. any information on classified information, that will be blacked out as well. and then also any information pertaining to ongoing investigations, because, of course, we know that there are several investigations both here in d.c., virginia, as well as the southern district of new york that have stemmed from this special counsel problem. that will be blacked out as well. finally the fourth category that will be redacted is any information that could be derogatory to any third parties. so the attorney general in just minutes will get to the podium, he will address these three main points here and we're told that this morning the attorney general is quite calm about this. he has faced a lot of criticism from democrats on the hill about
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holding this press conference well before its release to congress. as for the timeline here, the attorney general is speaking at about 9:30 this morning, we know that this report will go to the hill, we know it will be in disc form and that should be sometime in the 11:00 hour. after that, we're not exactly sure on the timing, but at some point after it goes to members of congress it will be released to the public. that will be via the special counsel's website. so all of this transpiring in just the next few minutes, but our first point at 9:30 this morning, wolf and jake, the attorney general taking to that podium to express these three main points of executive privilege, whether it was exerted by the white house, also interactions with the white house by justice department officials, and then the redactions that could make up perhaps a large portion of this 400-page report. wolf and jake. >> we're waiting for that news conference to start supposedly in 24 minutes, jessica. we will get back to you. according to the "new york times" the justice department and the white house have spoken several times, numerous times,
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we're told, in recent days about the special counsel robert mueller's findings ahead of today's official release. cnn's white house correspondent kaitlan collins is joining us right now. kaitlan, what are you hearing from sources over at the white house right now and what is the justice department already revealed to them? >> reporter: well, wolf, there is definitely a sense of anticipating here at the white house because even though there have been those conversations between justice department lawyers and white house lawyers about the main conclusions in mueller's findings, a lot of people in the west wing still do not feel that they have a sense of what's going to be released in this report when it comes out around the 11:00 hour. and their into err is that some of their colleagues who sat down with the special counsel or former colleagues may have revealed some pretty damning information about president trump's behavior. that's a fear we reported on this week that even those people who sat down with the special counsel are worried about what they told mueller and his team coming out and having their name attached to it. now, we know the president is going to be paying very close attention to the attorney
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general's press conference this morning because he's already been tweeting about it several times along with repeating what he has said essentially for the last 23 months, that he believes this is harassment, he calls it a hoax. you see in there tweeting all of that just from this morning, wolf and jake. so the president is going to be watching this closely. the tvs in the west wing are tuned to the press conference, waiting for it to happen and as soon as that report comes out i'm told that essentially what white house aides are planning on doing is splitting up this report so they can read it as quickly as possible and basically they will be learning a lot of this as soon as we are outside of the president's legal team. >> all right. kaitlan collins, thank you so much. democratic lawmakers as we mentioned say that they are furious ahead of attorney general barr's news conference. let's go to manu raju who is on capitol hill. manu, this outrage they say stems from how the trump administration has chosen to roll out this report, how the attorney general has decided to do this. some committee chairmen calling
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upon the attorney general to cancel the press conference this morning. >> reporter: yeah, that's right. the five democratic committee chairmen in the house asked for that to be canceled this morning. of course, that's not what's going to happen. it will take place in a matter of moments. the reason why they are up in arms, one reason, is that the report will actually be hand-delivered by disc to the door right behind me about an hour and a half or so after the press conference it concluded and the chairman of this committee, the house judiciary committee jerry nadler made it clear that he does plan to subpoena for the full report, it could happen as soon as this week and the underlying evidence and just this morning the two top democrats in congress, minority leader in the senate chuck schumer, the house speaker nancy pelosi made clear that they want robert mueller to testify publicly. they said this in a statement. attorney general barr's regrettably partisan handling of the mueller report including his summary letter, irresponsible testimony before congress and
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his inn defense of a plan to spin the report in a press conference hours before he allows the public or congress to see it have resulted in a crisis of company confidence in his independence and impartiality. bill barr is still expected to appear before the house and senate judiciary committees on the first two days of may and the chairman of that committee, the house committee, jerry nadler last night at a press conference also made clear his disdain for this process. >> it now appears the attorney general intends to once again put his own spin on the investigative work completed by the special counsel and his team. the fact that the attorney general is not releasing even the redacted report to congress until after his press conference will again result in the report being presented through his own words rather than through the words of special counsel mueller. >> reporter: now, republicans are pushing back, they're saying democrats are overreaching,
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reacting two outrage that they shouldn't be reacting to because they say the attorney general has done the right thing, provided the public with some sense of what the top line findings were, consulted with the special counsel's team over the redactions, worked with the deputy attorney general, you should expect to hear that from bill barr today defending the process and from republicans defending the process, but nevertheless not satisfying democrats who have subpoena power here in the house and they plan to use it. >> manu, thank you. we will get back to you, the reaction from capitol hill i'm sure will be intense. one part of it, jake, will be how much of this nearly 400-page report will, in fact, be redacted. >> we don't know about that. let's bring number so of our panelists, dana bash, democrats on capitol hill talking about how bill barr is trying to spin the report, but according to our reporting and according to what the justice department is telling reporters, he's there to talk about executive privilege what has been invoked and what has not, the interactions between the justice department and the white house and the redaction process.
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it doesn't sound like from the description we're getting that he intends to talk about the contents of the mueller report. >> it doesn't sound that way. it sounds like at least they're telling us ahead of time that his focus will be on process. important process, but process. but make no mistake about it, he's going to get asked about content, even the process is important to the content. executive privilege, things like the conversations that the doj has had with the white house and how he describes that and whether or not there is any question of it being inappropriate. i mean, right now knowing what we know it doesn't seem very appropriate to have really any conversation beyond executive privilege if they did give more than that to the white house. but if you kind of take a step back and look big picture at this, this is the moment we've been waiting for for almost two years and we're going to be watching and listening to the
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to'ing and fro'ing about whether he's spinning it or not, but finally after all of this time, after our hundreds of hours of reporting on what exactly happened with russia, what exactly happened with the trump campaign team and more important what exactly did the mueller team feel and see and learn from the president's own aides about his attempts to obstruct justice, we are hopefully even if some of it is redacted, going to get a real sense finally from the mueller team. >> and i suspect gloria we're going to learn a lot even in this redacted 400-page document. >> and i think the thing we are all looking for is this question about why mueller decided on obstruction that he couldn't make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. was it because he couldn't determine intent because he wasn't allowed to, you know, sit down with the president? was it because there wasn't any underlying crime and therefore he would have a harder time proving intent? was it because the witnesses themselves were all damaged in
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one way or another? also, as barr wrote about in his four-page letter, was it because lots of the president's actions took place in public view? so we're going to find out just why -- and on both sides of the argument because i do expect mueller to kind of lay out the facts, that's who he is, and he will say this is why it was so difficult and let you know what -- essentially the arguments were and why they decided to not make any decision. >> then of course, john king, the other larger question is separate from the obstruction discussion, the conspiracy discussion and the fact that at least according to the barr's quoting of mueller, there is not sufficient evidence of conspiracy between the trump team and the russian government and yet there is a lot of smoke, right? there's this trump tower meeting, there is manafort sharing polling data with somebody with connections
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allegedly to russian military intelligence and on and on. hopefully there will not be so many redactions that we are not able to understand why it is there was so much smoke, so many lies told about these things and yet no fire ultimately. >> and the actual interference itself, which often gets lost in the political conversation. a foreign state actor that is not a friend of the united states was meddling in a presidential election trying to put its thumb on the scale in favor of one candidate. forget the names of the candidate. what did robert mueller find about that. how deep are the roots. that's important. to the conspiracy question is he going to say these were a bunch of people who thought donald trump were going to lose and trying to create business interest or friendships for themselves and they were all idiots that had meetings this he should not have had that they should have reported to the fbi or should have stepped back and said no way. we don't know. by the end of today we will actually be able to talk about what robert mueller found, what he investigated, what he couldn't prove, what he suspected, not about how bill barr is handling the release and
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the spinning of it. but the preview this morning, the power play, it's a power play by the attorney general. imagine being a reporter. you don't know what question to ask, whether it's about executive privilege was something redacted you don't know. bill barr is having a power play. is it a political play? that's the debate that's going to happen in washington as that plays out. is he trying to help the president spin this? my big question is will in i believe have an open mind? will democrats have an open mind to say we've said all these horrible things about the president, the top cop, robert mueller said it's not there, okay. will republicans have an open mind to say, wow, this is actually pretty damning, we should work together to look further into how this this happened. will the american people have an open mind, the president whatever you think of him has done a good job conditioning his people to not believe a word of what's going to happen in the next 100 hours. >> including his tweets this morning. jeffrey, was it appropriate for the justice department to have these briefings for white house counsel in numerous briefings in
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recent days? >> i think it was, actually. the justice department is part of the executive branch and executive privilege is relevant to this -- to this report and the only way that can be determined is through the lawyers for the president. now, should they have disclosed that they were having these conversations? yes, they should have and they engaged in unnecessary secrecy which bred suspicious. if i can just respond to one thing john said, you know, not only do i think we should focus on the report itself rather than the reactions to it, but i think the hotter the take, the faster the response, the less attention we should pay to it. because this is a 400-page report, no one who has a press conference at 11:30 is going to have read it. so i just think we should be aware that the facts matter and the report matters more than
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whatever the partisans say about it. >> this is from the attorney general's letter on march 24th, forget the spin on it, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 230 orders for communications orders, 50 orders authorizing pen registers meaning to track people's emails and text messages, 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, approximately 500 witnesses. this is going to take a little time. >> so fight against the dna of 2019 politics and the twitter phenomenon. >> and there's also something else going on here which is the legal decision about not to go further with anyone else, not to charge anyone else from mueller has apparently been made and what we're going to find out today has to do with a lot of behavior that is unethical perhaps, immoral perhaps, shady perhaps, depending on your point of view and depending what's in the report, but not necessarily illegal. >> right. so what the justice department has said is that there is special counsel has not made any more charging decisions, we are not going to see -- there is not some sealed indictment that the special counsel's office launched, but they did refer a
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lot of matters to u.s. attorneys offices and there are ongoing investigations going on in several different u.s. attorneys offices. so one thing that i'm going to be looking for in the actual report is how much information is redacted that looks like it pertains to ongoing investigations and i think that will give us a sense of how much unfinished business there was that the special counsel spun off to other prosecutors. >> just to clarify, nothing related to conspiracy with russia has been farmed out to any other -- >> as far as we know, right. those would be second order prosecutions related to other matters. >> campaign finance crime in the southern district of new york. >> it doesn't look that -- all the indications are that there is no indictment that the special counsel has brought, will brought -- they are done as far as someone being involved in the conspiracy of the russian interference in the election. >> because, laura, in the march 24th letter to congress the attorney general specifically said the report does not recommend any further
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indictments nor did the special counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public. >> that's true. of course, at this point given the track record of the way this is rolled out i'm more inclined to have the trust but verify in the actual report what the nuances may have been, what the reasoning for not having additional indictments were based on. with as it about that fourth category of information, the intent to redact which is prejudicial information to third party peripheral beings? how are they defining that term? who are they saying is a third party. why i'm most interested in the way in which they're going to describe the interactions between the white house and bill barr's team because executive privilege is one thing, certainly he has the mark on that, but the idea of has consulted about redacting information that may hit close to home or may be not a prejudicial third party or on the periphery in some way, that's what i'm inclined to do. this whole idea of the credibility crisis we have heard that term before, this is largely a wound on behalf of bill barr because had he taken
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the route of asked permission as opposed to it's easier to apologize than ask permission later on which is what he seems to be doing at the press conference, perhaps he wouldn't have that cloud that's over him and ultimately on the department of justice. >> and jim sciutto one argument i've heard made from democrats really largely is that imagine if today the day we're getting the mueller report was the day we found out that six associates of president trump were charged, convicted or sentenced, including his former campaign chairman paul manafort, his former deputy campaign chairman rick gates, michael flynn, george papadopoulos, georger adviser roger stone and former personal attorney and fixer michael cohen. if that dropped down at the same moment that the mueller report was released, then the impression, the narrative that has been formed of nothing to see here, folks, we've been cleared, we've been exonerated which is what you hear from the white house would be challenging
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to put forward. >> that's the challenge with digesting the drip, drip of this investigation. each revelation many important is digested, people form their opinions and kind of move on. and make those judgments before they see the whole network, the whole web of clues and how they tie together and frankly if they tie together. we may see this report and the whole web of contacts with russia may look not nice, but not necessarily nefarious. that's possible. that's the trouble. with the way this has been farmed out. but i think that all of us and folks at home, too, should just remember there are genuine open questions. we don't know the answer to and won't until we read this whole report. inclusive of the conversation of cooperation with russia. are there other meetings that have not yet been revealed in are there other communications? about those communications and meetings we already know about is there information about those that we will learn today, for instance, michael fln was talking to the russian ambassador during the transition, the topic of russian sanctions came up. was he drakted to have those
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conversations with the russian ambassador to indicate that the new sheriff in town the president elect was going to deal with them differently than president obama. did the president know about them? does mueller know? he may answer that question, he may not but that's a key question. when you look at the questions about roger stone communications with wikileaks, et cetera, was the president ever informed? it's been a constant open question. we don't have evidence, people have speculated about it, today we may learn mueller looked loo in a, there's nothing there or we will learn there was a conversation that's been documented. then on the obstruction case clearly mueller found evidence of obstruction because he couldn't exonerate the president. he said so much. even barr had to quote him as saying that much. what is the evidence beyond what we already know in terms of what's been revealed. these are all open questions and i think the country has to take a breath and step back, absorb it and make their own judgment. at the end of the day from the beginning this has always been a political judgment more than a legal judgment because it involves a president and folks are going to have to decide if
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this is behavior they can accept from their president or they cannot. >> can i just point out on this question of conspiracy and collusion in one of barr -- in barr's initial letter there was a footnote and he quoted from mueller about how mueller was defining conspiracy and it was a very high bar, i think, that mueller set because it said in order to establish coordination you would have to have an agreement at that sit or expressed between the trump campaign and the russian government on election interference. that's a pretty high bar. between the campaign it would have to be a concerted coordinated effort. all we know about so far is a bunch of meetings that people had, like, you know, the trump tower meeting in don jr.'s office. and that kind of thing. so i'm interested in seeing whether even in the absence of indictments which we did not have whether there is some sense
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that the campaign itself was misbehaving in any way and, you know, did things that it should not have done and whether he makes that judgment. or leaves it. we don't know. >> barr in his march 24th letter quotes the special counsel as saying while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. that's a significant -- >> on the obstruction charge. >> on the obstruction of justice issue. 500 witnesses were interviewed over the course of the 22-month mueller probe, that includes the former white house lawyer don mcgahn, secretary of state mike pompeo, former chief of staff john kelly and former white house communications director hope hicks. let's go to our senior white house correspondent pamela brown. more than two dozen current and former trump administration officials gave interviews to mueller and his team during this investigation. what's their concern now? >> reporter: well, it just depends on what they told robert mueller's team. remember, key white house
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officials current and former members in the white house spoke to robert mueller's team, don mcgahn, reince priebus, steve bannon, hope hicks, stephen miller just to name a few and they were key witnesses in the obstruction of justice probe. my colleague laura jarrett is reporting that is the section of the report released later today that is lightly redacted and their names are expected to be revealed. remember they spoke to robert mueller's team under penalty of lying to the fbi which lends more credence to what they told mueller's investigators. so that is going to be key. that's really what we're focused on. at the time the strategy in the white house was to let robert mueller speak to basically whoever he wanted to besides the president in order to try to prevent an interview with the president. well, that may have worked, but as one source says that i spoke with, one of the witnesses who spoke to robert mueller's team, that may not be good for these former and current white house aides who may have provided embarrassing information about the president and i am told that some of them, especially those who have left the white house,
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are concerned that perhaps they could draw the president's ire once this report is released, particularly those who rely on access an influence to the white house as part of their business model. they're concerned they are going to be on the outs in the trump world. one person i spoke with said at the time it was indicative of the live now deal with it later type of scenario and the later has come with this report being released later today. >> all right. pamela brown, thanks so much. michael cohen who is headed to jail next month is also tweeting this morning as we wait for the report, he writes, quote, soon i will be ready to address the american people again, tell it all and tell it myself. i'm not sure what exactly he's talking about there. john king, that hes been a thorn in the side of the president, into i can alley cohen, but they have made the case, the white house, that michael cohen is not a reliable narrater >> he is a textbook example of how the president has attacked anybody who has brought up
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information incriminating to the president, damaging, unfavorable to the president, whether it's robert mueller whos surrounded by angry democrats if you believe the president and he is conflicted, if it's michael cone he is a liar. the president has some leg to stand on the case that michael cohen is an admitted liar. we know there's a book in the works, talks of interviews before he goes to prison and the like. michael cohen will continue to tell his story and we are in this environment where, a, we will let the facts in the mueller report hopefully trust the documentation of the professionals to sort out the difference -- >> are you suggesting that people around this have an agenda? >> everybody around this has an agenda. look, the attacks that the president -- we're going to have a lot of outside the norms, meeting at the trump tower with russians promising dirt on your political opponent is outside the norms. is it outside the law? let's see what robert mueller says. there is a lot of outside the
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norms. a president of the united states who attacks everybody is outside the norms. so that's what he has done from day one of this, robert mueller, everybody around him, his previous attorney general, current deputy attorney general who will stand with bill barr in the room. that part to me rod rosenstein who appointed robert mueller, empowered him the entire time will be standing there, too. if it's damaging to the president he attacks you over and over again. to what end? to get the 35% of the americans who are in his camp to not believe anything this he hear. >> do you know what else is outside the norms? with all the other steps in this investigation the report came out then there was a press conference with the indictments of russian military intelligence for interference in this election with all those indictments reporters read the report, congress, members of congress read the report and then justice officials came out to answer questions about it with the indictments regarding the russian troll farm, ira, report and press conference. barr has flipped that. first of all, he released a
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summary and now he's going to defend his handling of this before anybody has the ability to look at the information to then ask him questions. that's turning something on its head. >> so just a quick response to that. so i actually have a little different take which is if i was giving advice to attorney general barr i would tell him to do exactly this, which is only to talk about the process and not to take the questions on the actual content of the report. that's because -- >> we disagree with that. >> i know. everybody here would disagree with that. from his perspective there is absolutely nothing to be gained by opening up an entire press conference, comparing his letter to the actual report and getting into the weeds. he's going to have an opportunity to do that and that's going to be when he's called to testify before congress and so today what he should stick to from his own perspective and the justice department is the actual process and what i'm most interested in that, though, is the fact that
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executive privilege was not something that he put in his march 24th letter and so if there has been -- so that's something that i'm going to be listening for, if there has been a change between when he issued the march 24th letter and what's -- >> jeffrey, why don't you explain to viewers because we are just throwing around this term executive privilege. >> right. >> what exactly is being discussed in terms of executive privilege and what is executive privilege. >> carrie raises an important point that the attorney general in his earlier comments said there were four categories of information that he was going to keep off limits, there was classified information, grand jury material, material related to other investigations and innocent third parties. that's -- those are the four categories. what we learned today is that he is also going to be talking about the issue of executive privilege. now, executive privilege is a legal doctrine, it is not a law, it's something that's been created by the courts, mostly the supreme court of the united
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states, which says that certain communications between the president and his advisers are off limits for public disclosure because the president should be entitled to get unvarnished advice from his advisers. now, what is covered by executive privilege is not entirely clear. it is a murky legal doctrine, there have not been a lot of cases about it. the most famous case is the united states versus nixon where the united states supreme court said in 197 # that the nixon tapes could be released as part of the watergate investigation, but what carrie is discussing and i think it's a very interesting point, is is executive privilege a category of information where there will be some things removed from the mueller report. >> a new category. >> a new category which is news to us. >> can i just -- >> and maybe he will say executive privilege wasn't invoked, but -- >> or was waived.
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>> or it was waived can i just add to that. >> it's 9:31 right now, it's supposed to start at 9:30. we're waiting for the attorney general of the united states to walk out momentarily. he will make a statement then he will answer reporters' questions. >> and, carrie, you are exactly right. something did change. rudy giuliani told me on sunday four days ago explicitly that there had been no conversations between the white house counsel's office and barr's office about anything and obviously that includes executive privilege. that obviously changed. >> he's going to have to explain that. >> and the request he is why. >> in barr's march 29th letter, though, he said the president would have the right to assert privilege, but the president has stated publicly he intends to defer to me and accordingly there are no plans to submit the report to the white house for a privilege review. in other words, if there are claims to privilege made, barr is the one in charge here.
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that's what he seemed to be saying here, which is i'm not going to consult with them. has that changed? we don't know. >> we know his personal view, though. bill barr's personal view on a strong executive power. >> the thing about privilege it only covers if you have been a part of the executive branch. the mandate that mueller has is about the campaign as well. it is murky in the way you're talking about, but also is it going to cover the conversations or any activity that took place before even a transition period, before he was actually inaugurated as the president of the united states? that's largely the bulk of it. we want to keep in mind if there is a discussion that barr is prepared to have about executive privilege being asserted he better be prepared to explain whether or not it's going to extend for the entire period of time that trump was a candidate they would not be able to use that privilege. >> you cannot claim executive privilege if you are not the executive yet is what you're saying. >> cory booker couldn't claim executive privilege, kamala harris, pete buttigieg, they are not the united states, they are
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not the ses of becoming them fully. they can't say as a candidate i'm able to use t he's going to have to define the narrow period of time in which that privilege would apply to which he would talk to the president of the united states about how to extend it and what reason -- >> hold on because here comes the attorney general of the united states, with he see him walking up to the microphone right now. he will have an opening statement. >> good morning, everybody, and thanks for being here this morning. as you know, on march 22nd the special counsel robert mueller concluded his investigation into matters related to russian attempts to interfere in our 2016 presidential election and he submitted his confidential report to me pursuant to department regulations.
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as i said during my senate confirmation hearing and since, i'm committed to ensuring the greatest degree possible of transparency concerning the special counsel's investigation consistent with the law. at 11:00 this morning i'm going to transmit copies of the public version of the special counsel's report to the chairman and ranking members of the senate and house judiciary committees. the department of justice will also make the report available to the american people by posting it on the department's website after it has been delivered to congress. i'd like to make a few comments today on the report. before i do that, i want to thank deputy attorney general rod rosenstein for joining me here today and for his assistance and counsel throughout this process. rod, as you know, has served at the department for nearly 30
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years with dedication and distinction and it's been a great privilege and pleasure for me to work with him since my confirmation. he had well deserved plans to step back from public service that were interrupted by my asking him to help in my transition. rod has been an invaluable partner and i am grateful that he is willing to help me and has been able to see the special counsel's investigation through to its conclusion. thanks, rod. >> thank you. >> i'd also like to thank special counsel robert mueller for his service and the thoroughness of his investigation, particularly his work exposing the nature of russia's attempts to interfere in our electoral process. as you know, one of the primary purposes of the special counsel's investigation was to determine whether president
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trump's campaign or any individual associated with it conspired or coordinated with the russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. volume one of the special counsel's report describes the results of that investigation. as you will see, the special counsel's report states that his, quote, investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in its election interference activities. i am sure that all americans share my concern about the efforts of the russian government to interfere in our presidential election. as the special counsel report makes clear, the russian government sought to interfere in our election process, but thanks to the special counsel's thorough investigation, we now know that the russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes
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did not have the cooperation of president trump or the trump campaign or the knowing assistance of any other american for that matter. that is something that all americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed. the special counsel report outlines two main efforts by the russian government to influence the 2016 election. first, the report details efforts by the internet research agency, a russian company with close ties to the russian government, to sew social discord among american voters through disinformation and social media operations. fog a thorough investigation of this disinformation campaign the special counsel brought charges in federal court against several russian nationals and entities for their respective roles in this scheme. those charges remain pending and the individual defendants remain
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at large. but the special counsel found no evidence that any american, including anyone associated with the trump campaign, conspired or coordinated with the russian government or the ira in this illegal scheme. indeed, as the report states, quote, the investigation did not identify evidence that any u.s. person knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the ira's interference operation, unquote. put another way, the special counsel found no collusion by any americans in ira's illegal activities. second, the report details efforts by the russian military officials associated with the gru, the russian military intelligence organization, to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals associated with the democratic party and hillary clinton's campaign for the purpose of eventually
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publicizing these documents. obtaining such unauthorized [ inaudible ] -- following a thorough investigation of these hacking operations the special counsel brought charges [ inaudible ] russian military officers for their respective roles in these illegal hacking operations. those charges are still pending and the defendants remain at large. but, again, the special counsel's report did not find any evidence that members of the trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in these hacking operations. in other words, there was no evidence of the trump campaign collusion with the russian government's hacking. the special counsel's investigation also examined russian efforts to publish stolen emails and documents on the internet.
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the special counsel found that after the gru disseminated some of the stolen documents to entities that it controlled, d.c. leaks and guccifer 2, the gru transferred some of the stolen materials to wikileaks for publication. wikileaks then made a series of document dumps. the special counsel also investigated whether any member or affiliate of the trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role in these dissemination efforts. under applicable law publication of these types of material would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. hereto the special counsel's report did not find that any person associated with the trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials. finally, the special counsel
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investigated a number of links or contacts between the trump campaign officials and individuals connected with the russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. after reviewing these contacts, the special counsel did not find any conspiracy to violate u.s. law involving russian-linked persons and any persons associated with the trump campaign. so that's the bottom line. after nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but did not find that the trump campaign or other americans excluded in those efforts. after finding no underlying collusion with russia, the special counsel's report goes on
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to consider whether certain actions of the president could amount to obstruction of the special counsel's investigation. as i addressed in my march 24th letter, the special counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation. instead, the report recounts ten episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting those activities to the elements of an obstruction offense. after carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report and inn consultation with the office of legal counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and i concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. although the deputy attorney general and i disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined
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did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not radioreal lie solely on that to make our decision. we accepted the special counsel's legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusions. in assessing the president's actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. president trump faced an unprecedented situation, as he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and afterct f some of his associates. at the same time there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president's personal culpability, yet as he said from the beginning, there was, in fact, no collusion. as the special counsel's report acknowledges, there is
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substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks. nonetheless, the white house fully cooperated with the special counsel's investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and white house documents, directing senior aides to testify freely and asserting no privilege claims. at the same time the president took no act that, in fact, deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of noncorrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation. now, before i take questions i want to address a few aspects of
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the process for producing the public report that i am releasing today. as i said several times, the report contains limited redactions related to four categories of information. to ensure as much transparency as possible, those redactions have been clearly labeled so that the leaders can tell -- the readers can tell which redactions correspond to which categories. now, as i -- to recall those categories are 6-e material, grand jury material, information that the ic believes would disclose sources and methods, information that would impair the investigation and prosecution of other cases that are under way and, finally, information that implicates the privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third
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parties. as you will see, most of the redactions were compelled by the need to prevent harm to ongoing matters and to comply with court orders prohibiting the public disclosure of information bearing on ongoing investigations and criminal cases such as the ira case and the roger stone case. these redactions were applied by department of justice attorneys working closely together with attorneys from the special counsel's office as well as the intelligence community and prosecutors that are handling the ongoing cases. the redactions are their work product. no redactions done by anybody outside this group. there were no redactions done by anybody outside this group. no one outside this group proposed any redactions and no one outside the department has seen the unredacted report, with
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the exception of certain sections that were made available to ic, the intelligence community, for their advice on protecting intelligence sources and methods. consistent with long standing executive branch practice, the decision whether to assert executive privilege over any portion of the report rested with the president of the united states. because the white house had voluntarily cooperated with the special counsel, significant portions of the report contained material over which the president could have asserted privilege and he would have been well within his rights to do so. following my march 29th letter the office of the white house counsel requested the opportunity to review the redacted version of the report in order to advise the president on the potential invocation of privilege which is consistent with long standing practice. following that review the president confirmed that in the interest of transparency and
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full disclosure to the american people, he would not assert privilege over the special counsel's report. accordingly the public report i am releasing today contains redactions only for the four categories that i previously outlined and no material has been redacted based on executive privilege. in addition, earlier this week the president's personal counsel requested and was given the opportunity to read a final version of the redacted report before it was publicly released. that request was consistent with the practice followed under the ethics and government act which permitted individuals named in a report prepared by an independent counsel the opportunity to read the were not permitted to make and did not request any redactions. in addition to making the redacted report public, we are also working with congress to accommodate their legitimate
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oversight interests with respect to the special counsel's investigation. we have been consulting with chairman graham and chairman nadler through this process. and we will continue to do so. given the limited nature of the redactions, i believe that the publicly released report will allow every american to understand the results of the special counsel's investigation. nevertheless, in an effort to accommodate congressional requests, we will make available subject to appropriate safeguards to a bipartisan group of leaders from several congressional committees a version of the report with all redactions removed except those relating to grand jury information. thus, these members of congress will be able to see all of the redacted material for themselves with a limited exception of that which by law cannot be shared. i believe that this accommodation together with my upcoming testimony before the senate and house judiciary
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committees will satisfy any need congress has for information regarding the special counsel's investigation. once again, i would like to thank you for being here and i will now have a few questions. >> mr. attorney general, we don't have the report in hand. so could you explain for us the special counsel's articulated reason for not reaching a decision on obstruction of justice and if it had anything to do with the department's long-standing guidance on not indicting a sitting president, and you say you disagree with some of his legal theories. what did you disagree with and why? >> i would leave it to his description in the report, the special counsel's own articulation of why he did not want to make a determination as to whether or not there was an obstruction offense. but i will say that when we met with him, deputy attorney general rosenstein and i met
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with him, along with ed o'callaghan, who is the principal associate deputy, on march 5th, we specifically asked him about the olc opinion and whether or not he was taking a position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the olc opinion. and he made it very clear several times that that was not his position. he was not saying that but for the olc opinion, he would have found a crime. he made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime. >> what did you disagree with him on? >> given that, why did you and mr. rosenstein feel the need you had to take it to the next step to conclude there was no crime, especially given doj policy? >> the very prosecutorial function and all our powers as prosecutors, including the power
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to convene grand juries and compulsory process that's involved there is for one purpose and one purpose only. it's to determine yes or no, was alleged conduct criminal or not criminal. that is our responsibility and that's why we have the tools we have. and we don't go through this process just to collect information and throw it out to the public. we collect this information. we use that compulsory process for the purpose of making that decision. and because the special counsel did not make that decision, we felt the department had to. that was a decision by me and the deputy attorney general. yes. >> the special counsel indicate that he wanted you to make the decision or that it should be left for congress? and also, how do you respond to criticism you're receiving from congressional democrats that you're acting more as an attorney for the president
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rather than as the chief law enforcement officer? >> well, special counsel mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to congress. i hope that was not his view, since we don't convene grand juries and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose. he did not -- i didn't talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision, but i am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision. >> attorney general barr, hi, there. is there anything you can share today about your review of the genesis of the russia investigation and whether assets have been provided to investigate? >> today i'm really focused just on the process of releasing this report. >> asked for robert mueller himself to testify. robert mueller remains a justice department employee as of this moment. will you permit him to testify
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publicly in front of congress? >> i have no objection to bob mueller testifying. >> a republican appointed judge on tuesday said you have, quote, created an environment that has caused a significant part of the american public to be concerned about these redactions. you cleared the president on obstruction. the president is fund-raising off your comments about spying, and here you have remarks that are quite generous to the president, including acknowledging his feelings and emotions. what do you say to people on both sides of the aisle who are concerned you're trying to protect the president? >> actually, the statements about his sincere beliefs are recognized in the report. that there was substantial evidence for that, so i'm not sure what your basis is for saying that i am being generous to the president. >> you face an unprecedented situation. it seems like there's a lot of effort to go out of your way to acknowledge -- >> is there another precedent for it? so unprecedented is an accurate
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description. >> what do you say to people saying you're trying to protect the president? >> there's a lot of public interest in absence of the public counsel and his team. why is he not here? this is his report you're talking about today. >> he did for me as the attorney general, he is required under the regulation to provide me with a confidential report. i'm here to discuss my response to that report and my decision, entirely diskrexzary to make it public, since these reports are not supposed to be made public. that's what i'm here to discuss. >> is it impropriety to come out and what it appears to be spinning the report before the public has a chance to read it? >> thank you very much. thank you. >> all right, so there you have almost a complete vindication of the president of the united states by the attorney general of the united states. he says, and we still haven't seen this nearly 400 page redacted report, and he said there are limited redactions but
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several times, maybe four, five, six times, he said precisely what the president of the united states wanted to hear, no collusion. >> yeah, at least six or seven times he made the very clear point that the special counsel found no evidence that there was any attempt by any on the trump campaign or associated with the campaign or any american knowingly conspiring with the russians. he made the point several times which will no doubt please president trump. i guess the question is now, what does the report say? and how well does that line up with what the attorney general just said? a couple things struck me. first of all, there was this attempt to get into the president's head at one point. the attorney general talking about in assessing the president's actions, discussing the report, talking about potential obstruction of justice, it's important to bear in mind the context. president trump faced an unprecedented situation as he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities.
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agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct and the conduct of some of his associates at the same time there was relentless speculation about his personal culpability. when asked, the attorney general said the president's state of mind is relevant in terms of whether or not he obstructed justice and he took issue with the question who characterized it as you're being generous to the president. he said if it's not unprecedented, can you tell me a precedent? there is this part of his comments that is going to be highly debated and discussed over the next several days, weeks, months, about whether or not he was bending over backwards to try to put him in the president's shoes, be empathetic to president trump, but there are those who will argue it is relevant to the president's state of mind. there are details that are fascinating that again we have to wait to see what's in the actual report. that's why so many people have been critical of the attorney general talking about this, people talking about this press conference as bill barr's second
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summary letter in the sense he's getting out his interpretation of events before we actually see the actual report, and one of them has to do with, and jim was talking about this, whether or not anybody on the trump team had anything to do with pushing these stolen emails that were published by wikileaks, guccifer 2.0, and d.c. leaks, the latter two, d.c. leaks and guccifer 2.0, being russian agents. wikileaks taking information, we assume from the russians, although we don't know that definitively, and knowing under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. that's something we'll be poring over. but bigger picture, the big question is why did the attorney general do this? we were told it was just to be transparent, that he was just going to be talking about how executive privilege was not waived and his decisions on redaxzs, et cetera, but it was what the democrats feared it
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would be, which was the attorney general getting out there and getting his niarrative, his tak on it as vigorously as possible. >> it was basely a repetition of the march 25ths letter when he concluded yes, the russians did interfere in the election, but no american, whether involved in the trump campaign or outside the trump campaign, illegally did anything to help the russians. >> it was much more ringing in its endorsement of the president's conduct than even the press conference several weeks ago. i mean, it was an extraordinary political commercial for the president. i mean, this was a discussion of the sympathy and the difficulty and the challenge that the president faced, and how not withstanding all of that, the white house cooperated. however, he left out the fact that the single most important piece of


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