Skip to main content

tv   The Mueller Report Special Coverage  CNN  April 18, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT

7:00 am
what the democrats feared it 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 evidence that the mueller investigation could have
7:01 am
gotten they didn't get, which was an interview with the president of the united states. so this enormous, the president faced an unprecedented situation, and there was speculation in the news media, and isn't it a very sad thing for poor donald trump, but all of that is put forward based on a record that doesn't include a sworn testimony from the president of the united states. >> and the attorney general said that special counsel mueller highlighted ten instances for the obstruction charge. and that he and deputy attorney general rosenstein didn't necessarily agree with mueller's interpretation of his legal theories, in terms of whether or not it was obstruction, and ultimately concluded there was insufficient evidence, but i know we're all going to look at what the ten instances were when we actually get the mueller report. >> exactly, we're going to look at what is the factual scenario that the special counsel laid out and was the attorney general
7:02 am
and deputy attorney general's judgment as a matter of law correct? so we'll be able to see that, but i have to say, the attorney general had an opportunity this morning to rise above the politics and to adhere to institutional justice department just sticking to what the process was that he was supposed to talk about and which he said he was actually talking about, and he blew it. i mean, he just came out and to say that the president took, quote, no act that deprived the investigation of witnesses or documents, when as jeffrey just said, the president, like other presidents have in the past with investigations, been willing to be interviewed by the special counsel's team in addition to all the things the president tweeted against witnesses and people who were involved in the case that could potentially be taken by them as aggressive or intimidating. it's just not a true statement, what the attorney general said just now, and that piece, he
7:03 am
should have stuck to the process because on the process, he actually is being consistent with his commitment to transparency. we'll see the report, but he says he's giving most of it to members of congress, even the information that is redacted in the public report. congress will then be able to go and challenge the 6-e information in court if they choose to. >> we should point out before the press conference, you were praising attorney general barr, saying if he does what he says he's going to do and outline in the spirit of transparency, executive privilege and the redar redaction process, it's great. >> if he would have stuck to the actual process, then i think he would have risen above the politics of it and he would have been able to say that he is just performing his role as attorney general. these gratuitous statements about the media, the gratuitous statements about the way the president has been impacted by the investigation, that was
7:04 am
completely inappropriate for the attorney general. >> and laura, i have to say, six or seven times saying the same sentence over and over and over. and look, theoretically, the american people should be happy that there is no evidence that mueller could find. mueller, highly respected investigator and law enforcement official, he could not find sufficient evidence that there was conspiracy by any american knowingly or any member of the trump team. that's great news. but barr repeating it over and over and over again six or seven times, i mean, that's a little excessive. even in washington, d.c. where people stay on message like it's a mantra. >> it was excessive and suspicious to be pounding the table and pounding it over american people's head, particularly the looming question for many is if that was the case, why were there so many lies after the fact? also in the first ten minutes of his entire discussion, i thought to myself, didn't the president once ask where is my roy kohn. he may have found him today
7:05 am
because he should be pleased with the person who now serves at his pleasure, because he spent an inordinate time talking about the oprah moment of the feelings of the president of the united states. you've got to be kidding me. what i thought to myself is naturally you would have these ten or so discrepancies and differences because you wrote an 18 to 19-page memo before you got the job outlining why you thought obstruction was going to be completely an untenable position to take, and now you have a controversial dynamic at play here where you essentially said, well my self fulfilling prophecy is complete because i have the prerogative to say what happened. i honed in when he said apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-motives weighs heavily against any allegation. are we dismissing the obstruction element that concerned two former presidents of the united states. he's the head of the executive branch. to be dismissive of, aside from
7:06 am
the play, how was your night, mrs. lincoln? that was the moment i took from this and thought, well, i'm sorry, mr. barr, but did you intend to give us a sound piece, a sound bite of the president of the united states or what you intended of the processes carrie was talking about. >> i want to point out president trump has just tweeted an image, what would you -- kind of game of thrones-esque and says no collusion, no obstruction. game over. >> precisely what the president wanted to hear from the attorney general. pamela brown has a specific question she wants to ask our legal team over here. pamela, goahead. >> one of the things that stuck out to me early on in what the attorney general had to say was about the trump campaign individuals being involved at all in the dissemination of those hacked emails. it seemed to me, laura coates, that the attorney general didn't rule out that anyone on the trump campaign participated in or encouraged the publication of those emails but rather it wasn't illegal because no one on the trump campaign the mueller
7:07 am
team found no one on the trump campaign actually was involved in the hacking of those emails. is that a correct understanding and what is your take on that? >> that's the high bar we're talking about that frankly was odd to note that was the new criteria and the element to set about the actual complicity in the hacking element of it. remember, we had known from when the indictment was filed there were going to be unwitting and perhaps other people that were named as individuals who were not actually named individually by mueller in this instance, but what was so shocking to me about that notion is we all know the cat's out of the bag, we're not going to get jurisdiction over those people who were part of that particular hacking endeavor. that was a speaking indictment, symbolic more than hauling them into court any time soon to take action against them. so for barr to on the one hand talk about a high bar, number two, to know that we're not going to be able to see information in the redacted portions because they deal with the ongoing investigation of the ira, which we'll never get jurisdiction over to ever be able to see, of course it leaves
7:08 am
out there this possibility that you're going to have people who were initially unnamed, initially who may have been unwitting or we don't know if they were witting or complicit, we're never going to see it. >> it leaves open two possibilities. if his legal standard is you have to participate in the theft of the materials, it leaves open the possibility, one, foreknowledge, that indeed, the trump campaign or stone or others got a heads-up that these materials were coming out, but you're the lawyers here, but does it not also leave open the possibility they might have helped disseminate. if he's saying it's only criminal if you steal, is that door still open? >> in fact, i think pamela raised a very good point, this was a very artfully lawyered section of barr's statement. because he was saying that it can only be a crime if you hack emails and disseminate them. >> is that true legally? >> i think it is. but if you only disseminate them, it's not a crime.
7:09 am
and there is evidence that roger stone and others did help disseminate the hacked emails. and the way he writes about it, it's in the guise of total exoneration of any connection to the hacked emails, and if you parse the language, it's a lot closer. >> what's interesting about that also is in the section of his remarks, attorney general barr, where he talked about the unprecedented situation that president trump was in, and again, you referred to it as an oprah moment, but i think barr when asked said the president's state of mind was relevant in terms of obstruction of justice. that said, he did refer to the illegal leaks president trump was facing. in other words, when "the washington post" broke the story that michael flynn had lied to fbi investigators about his conversations with the russian ambassador, so barr was, his outrage was sufficient to say those leaks were illegal, but meanwhile he's talking about
7:10 am
other matters and said it didn't rise to the level of the law, which is interesting. >> he kept making the point about criminal intent. you need to have criminal intent to prove there was a crime, and he said, you know, there may have been other reasons why the president and his associates are doing what they were doing. >> but the president never spoke to them. the president never sat down with the special counsel's office, and we have to -- maybe that's explained in the report why that did not occur. but it's very difficult to discover intent when you're actually not talking to the person who may have intended to obstruct justice. one other thing here that's interesting is these ten episodes involving the president that barr talks about. and he says very directly that he and rosenstein disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories, and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction. so we didn't rely solely on that
7:11 am
in making a decision, so what we need to see is what is the special counsel saying. >> this is so key because of all the things that the attorney general just did at the beginning of this press conference to say, to fall over himself to say how there was no collusion and how horrible this was for the president, and all of that, later, this key line, gloria, i agree with you fundamentally about warning that obstruction is going to be an issue. because what are we talking about here? we're talking about the question of what congress is going to do when they read this report. if the mueller report does lay out, as the attorney general is strongly suggesting by saying that they disagreed with legal theories that mueller pursued on obstruction, then it is really going to be a big question and a big pressure point for congress because this is directly about the president's actions while in office. >> and can i just talk about this issue of the president's
7:12 am
concerns about leaks? you know who else was concerned about leaks? richard nixon. and he set up a group called the plumbers. get it plumbers leaks. and it was illegal. it was one of the reasons he was impeached. the idea that being frustrated by leaks is exculpatory is exactly backwards. >> or something new. >> that a concern about leaks and response to them can be evidence of criminal intent. that's what it was in watergate, and -- >> never mind that it's important for us as the public to know, "the washington post" reporting about michael flynn led to michael flynn being fired, which would not have happened despite the actions he has admitted to, if not for the report. >> to that point, the attorney general was summarizing the mueller report. he did not mention that six people close to the president of the united states had been charged. >> including the national security adviser. >> including an attorney, michael cohen, including the chairman of the campaign, the deputy chairman of the campaign.
7:13 am
never mentioned that. never mentioned there were crimes committed. i took that as these are my crib notes. don't read the book. that's what the attorney general was just trying to do with that statement. >> and a lot of democrats feared he would do in having the statement and this news conference before anyone had a chance to read the document. >> and the one half full part of it was that the president did not assert executive privilege. everybody should be happy with that. we still need to read the record, and he said he was open to mueller testifying. he said he was not going to try to block mueller from testifying before congress. let's hear from the former fbi director who became the special counsel as to whether he would use the same language as the attorney general. >> and in terms of jerry nadler, of course, chairman of house oversight has released a letter -- house judiciary, saying he wants mueller to testify no later than may 23rd. >> to go back to the point you made about what barr did not say, he did not mention the six close associates of president trump who are now in legal
7:14 am
jeopardy. to carrie's point, barr did say that the white house provided the special counsel unfettered access to campaign and white house documents, directing senior aides to testify freely. asserting no privilege. at the same time, the president took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete this investigation. >> except himself. >> except we know, so it's written in a very clever way, which is he didn't do anything to prevent the special counsel from finishing his report. which is factually accurate, but we also do know he refused to sit for an interview, which certainly couldn't have helped the report be as thorough as possible. >> we know from our reporting and other news organizations that he called in his white house counsel and his chief of staff at one point and asked how can i fire the special counsel? let's see how that's addressed. the attorney general didn't mention that either. to your other point about the president's emotions, the attorney general, look, a lot of democrats even the democrats who
7:15 am
voted against bill barr, thought he's an adult, a bush republican. this will be different. he proved today he's a trump republican. it's clear he's a trump republican. to the idea the president is a victim, okay, maybe let's read the report. maybe robert mueller says, you know what, again, they took a lot of stupid meetings. they shouldn't have done this, should have known better. it wasn't illegal. if the president is a victim, he's a victim because the fbi saw his campaign meeting with russians during a presidential election and monitoring conversations where they find out they're offering dirt on his opponent. if he's a victim, it's because michael flynn lied to journalists and to federal investigators about his meeting with russians. and jared kushner said he didn't meet with the ambassador. he met with the ambassador. if he's a victim, he's a victim of the lies of the people around him thought got the fbi thinking what is going on here. >> also, if he's a victim, let rudy giuliani say that, let jay sekulow say that, his personal attorneys say that. the legal minds across the way here, is this something that we are supposed to see from the
7:16 am
attorney general of the united states? not the attorney general of the president of the united states? >> of course not. but when i talk about the feelings and why i call it the oprah moment, it leads the public to misbelieve whether the president is sensitive and lashing out, that could absolve someone of finding intent of a crime. i can't even tell you how rare it is for there to be a true full-fledged confession of someone saying here is my specific intent of why i have committed this crime and the interview will give you all the information. you can use context. you can use other evidence that can talk about this very issue. i think the conflict they're having and why i point out why he was so in tune to the sensitivity of the president is because without that direct interview and without an actual confession of what his intent would have been, all you had was circumstantial evidence to support, and you have tweets, what's public out there, and so for the attorney general to focus on that, i think, is so odd because he knows full well as a top prosecutor that all the time direct evidence is not
7:17 am
available, but you can still investigate and go forward. so why wasn't that done here? >> let me bring in pamela brown who has a question and a point she wants to make. >> yeah, just on this line of bill barr sort of playing the role of the president's protector, something that also stuck out to me beyond the fact he's using the president's term and not a legal term in saying there was no collusion repeatedly, he also said in this grap about the obstruction probe and the context, he said as he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office and the conduct of some of his associates. this is key because as far as we know, it wasn't until may of 2017 that the president actually became a target of an investigation. the fbi at the time the president entered office wasn't scrutinizing the president's conduct. they were scrutinizing four targets we know of associated with the trump campaign and remember how this all started with the trump campaign padopou
7:18 am
telling an associate the russianed had stolen emails from hillary clinton before the wikileaks dump. that's how this started, that's what the fbi was scrutinizing, not president trump when he entered office. they were looking at his campaign, but thus appears to be an effort by the attorney general to paint the president as a sympathetic figure and it's not truly truthful, frankly, to say that the fbi was focused on the president's conduct, because again, even james comey said he was not a target of the investigation until after he entered office, until after frankly the firing of james comey in may of 2017. >> let me ask the panel here a question because you can already hear conservatives saying okay, let's say barr is protecting the president. and president trump has said i wish i had an attorney general, he said this during jeff sessions' reign, i wish i had an attorney general protected me the way eric holder protected barack obama. you can't compare barack obama to donald trump in any number of ways but there is something in the hillary clinton email investigation, not to bring up
7:19 am
what about her emails, but there is something in there where the fbi was convinced loretta lynch, then the attorney general of the united states under obama, and those under her, were never going to be bringing a criminal case against hillary clinton, and you can -- the idea of the attorney general as this nonpartisan, above reapproach, never doing anything to protect the executive branch or people that they like, i don't think that squares with history. i mean, john kennedy's attorney general was his brother. literally. so i think we are all aware that the attorney general is a member of the president's cabinet. is invariably a political supporter of the president, and there's nothing wrong with that. that's part of how the system is set up. however, there are institutional interests that have by tradition made the attorney general different from the secretary of commerce. that the idea that law enforcement should operate at
7:20 am
some remove from the political interests of the president, and if you look at attorneys general who are greatly admired in the history of the justice department like edward leavy who was the attorney general under gerald ford, a revered figure in the justice department because he took the justice department out of the politics of the watergate era. this was the precise opposite. this was a political speech endorsing the president's behavior beyond the legalities of the situation. and that's just not what the attorney general is supposed to do. >> it's not done. >> saturday night massacre, the attorney general refused to carry out the president's order and quit, as did the deputy. >> and this is an attorney general who took it upon himself to say that the president essentially had non-corrupt motives, period. end of sentence. he was frustrated. he was being attacked. i don't know one president who hasn't been frustrated and who
7:21 am
isn't attacked when he's in office. he is accurate that the president's attorneys, ty cobb at that time and john dowd, gave everything to the special counsel's office, provided, you know, over a million documents and told everybody to testify. but in the end, the president, this is the one piece of testimony that i'm really interested in reading in the mueller report, is what about his counsel? what about don mcgahn, who spent over 30 hours testifying before the special counsel. we know "the new york times" and others have reported that the president wanted him to fire bob mueller. is that obstructive or just because he was frustrated? and you know, what barr said is apart from whether the acts were obstructive, comma, the evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation
7:22 am
that the president had a corrupt intent. >> a trump defender would say the desire to fire special counsel mueller and the act of firing special counsel robert mueller are two very different things. >> that's why we need to hear what don mcgahn said. don't forget, the reporting is that mcgahn then told somebody to tell the president, i can't recall who it was, that he would quit if he were told to -- if he were to fire mueller. and then the president kind of let it go. >> i want to go to kaitlan collins at the white house. she's getting white house -- they must be thrilled over there as to what the attorney general of the united states just said, a very, very strong defense of the president. not just the president but the president's aides, his associates, and others, clearing them of obstruction of justice, clearing them of conspiracy or collusion. >> yeah, and wolf, what we have to keep in mind is that the president and his lawyers already know what's going to come out in the next 40 minutes
7:23 am
or so because during that press conference, bill barr made some news by saying not only had the white house counsel seen the redacted report because they needed to review it to decide whether or not they were going to invoke executive privilege, which he said they did not, but bill barr also said the president's personal legal team requested an early look at the redacted mueller report. he said they did not make any redactions, and they were not given that option, but they did get a view of it. listen to what he said. >> 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 the exception of certain sections that were made available to i.c., the intelligence community, for their advice on protecting intelligence sources and methods. the president's personal lawyers were not permitted to make and
7:24 am
did not request any redactions. >> so he says they were allowed to get an early look at this. they know essentially what all is coming down the pipeline with this report comes out in the next 40 minutes, and that's before lawmakers have seen this report. that's before anyone in the american public has seen this report, but he did say earlier this week, they were given a look at it. we don't know what day that is, and what's interesting about this is a lot of people we have talked to in the west wing do not know the details of the report. this was kept small since they were allowed to read this and get an early look at it, but essentially, they know already what's going to come out today that we're going to be reading and capitol hill will be reading in the next half hour or so. where should note, we're expecting to see the president at a wounded warriors event in the next 20 minutes or so. we're not sure if the president is going to talk, but based on what bill barr just said, you can't really sigh why the president wouldn't take that opportunity to make some remarks. >> yeah, i would assume the president couldn't resist to go
7:25 am
out there and speak about what he sees as a glowing statement from the attorney general of the united states. you know the president, i know the president. sure he's going to be gloating about this fairly soon. >> i suspect no collusion will be something he says. no collusion. >> no obstruction. >> yeah. i'm good that way. i'm a regular uri gellar. i want to bring in some of the quotes and tweets that we're getting from democrats right now who have a less than favorable impression of that attorney general barr press conference. senator schumer, the democratic minority leader in the senate, tweeting, quote, now that president trump's campaign press conference is over, it's time for congress and the american people -- the american public to see the mueller report. of the democrats running for president, cory booker, the senator from new jersey, saying the american people deserve the truth, not spin from a trump appointee. senator warren, it's a disgrace to see an attorney general acting as if he's the personal attorney and publicist for the president of the united states, and it goes on and on and on.
7:26 am
along those lines. i want to bring the conversation back to the obstruction of justice charge. and let's go back and take a listen to attorney general barr just a few minutes ago talking about the ten episodes that special counsel robert mueller highlighted in the mueller report about potential obstruction of justice. >> 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 in 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. >> all right. so let's talk about this.
7:27 am
one thing we should point out is that special counsel robert mueller did something that i think a lot of people found unusual, which is he did not reach a conclusion, at least according to what we know, he left it up to the attorney general. >> right, and as i have talked to former justice department colleagues, this actually is the most surprising thing to those of us who had worked in bob mueller's orbit. which is that he didn't actually make that decision. what i did find really interesting from the attorney general's comments is i think i heard him say that he did not really have a substantive conversation with the special counsel about this decision. and i found that really surprising. this is a matter of the utmost importance. it's the most important decision that this attorney general will make in his tenure, and the fact that there was legal disagreement between the special counsel and his team and the attorney general, and the attorney general, again, if i heard him correctly, did not talk to the special counsel about it, i remember when i was
7:28 am
in government, there was an issue of national security where attorney general mukazy disagreed with somebody else in government, and he reviewed all the materials personally and then called that person up to have a substantive conversation about it. and so i'm really curious when special counsel mueller and when the attorney general testify, if they will be asked about did you actually talk to each other and have a meaningful legal conversation about this decision? because it is -- let's be clear, the president was not going to be prosecuted for obstruction. it is relevant because congress has a job to do, and they need to consider whether the facts that are outlined in the special counsel's report form a basis for impeachment inquiry. >> could it be that rod rosenstein -- i'm trying to play this out a little bit because rod rosenstein was there with barr the whole time, one would presume, so could it be that
7:29 am
rosenstein, who had been in charge of the mueller investigation, may have been an intermediary so the attorney general didn't have to talk to mueller? >> it's possible, but that is not the job of the a.g. once bill barr got there, he's the attorney general. he's made it very clear, this was his decision. his prerogative about what was going to be released. he made clear he didn't even have to release this report. it was a confidential report delivered to the attorney general. so i think he took it on, and -- >> there's one person who knows the intent of the president of the united states, and that's the president of the united states. this is at least with the take-home test, the written questions and answers, that was strictly free inauguration. this was about during the campaign. there were no questions either written or orally about obstruction of justice that the president could have answered. >> and again, we're going to presumably in minutes get a report that will tell us what does robert mueller think, not what does bill barr thing. that's a lot more important.
7:30 am
in an odd way, the attorney general may have done the president a disservice by what he just did if robert mueller's conclusions are as favorable to the president as bill barr just noted, then the attorney general from a political standpoint should have probably stayed out of it and let robert mueller give that word, because now you are in this world where you read chuck schumer's tweets and the tweets from the presidential candidates. if there's stuff in the mueller report that casts some of these decisions, meetings that shouldn't have happened, judgments that shouldn't have been made, cast them as well, they didn't know better, democrats won't believe it. now, the attorney general by giving that presentation where the president's a victim, president is a vim for attacking his own department? the attorney general was standing there in the halls of the justice department with rod rosenstein behind him. i would like to see if rod rosenstein is one of the tenant episode because he tried to fire him, too. >> those ten episodes that robert mueller investigated as possible obstruction of justice.
7:31 am
and that there was a disagreement between mueller and the attorney general on what the significance of it is. >> particularly about the issue of intent. did the president intend to obstruct justice? and the most extraordinary paragraph of the attorney general's statement is, you know, the sort of woe is me problem that the president had. there were leaks and there were people around him, he was frustrated. and that's evidence of guilt. it's not evidence of innocence. happy people don't obstruct justice. >> this is the sense, the president was frustrated and angered by a 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. >> that can be a reason to obstru obstruct, frankly. the idea if you're frustrated, if you're overwhelmed, sensitive, you feel there's a cloud over your presidency, that can also lead to you making decisions that perhaps a more
7:32 am
sane, resolved person would not make. it doesn't simply inoculate you because you have feelings about the issue. that's the part that's the most interest. and by the way, it's not going to be beneficial. they have already given their report and there is a rebuttal. happy people don't issue a rebuttal report. >> do you know who else the president shared those frustrations with? the russian ambassador in the oval office. he shared his frustration with james comey, with comey gone, some of the pressure would be off. yes, the president was concerned about it. what did he do as a result of it? wolf, you're right. what did we learn so far? those ten instances are news. we'll have those delineated in 30 minutes. are most of those ten things we already knew, are they the firing of james comey. we also know there are a lot of nervous people in the white house because they testified under oath. did they reveal conversations or requests from this president we didn't know about already that are now part of that list of ten instances where the president may have obstructed justice. >> you know, the attorney general seems to be saying here
7:33 am
that the president had no corrupt intent. so what was it then that led him to ask don mcgahn to get rid of mueller? and maybe we'll hopefully find that out in the mueller report, but could his best defense be that he was not fully informed about his role as president? what was right and what was wrong to do as president. and that i didn't know that firing mueller would have been seen as any kind of obstructive behavior or it would have been seen as obstructive or threatening my attorney general would have been seen as obstructive behavior or firing james comey. i didn't know that, and i was just sharing with the american people on twitter how i really felt about this. but in the end, i didn't do anything that was intentionally
7:34 am
obstructive. i mean, maybe that's the defense. i mean, we heard it from barr today. and maybe that's the other side, the flip side of the coin that we'll see laid out in the mueller report. >> presumably, we'll also hear at some point, sooner i assume rather than later, from the president of the united states. a quick reminder about why the attorney general's judgment faces a lot of scrutiny before president trump nominated barr to lead the justice department, the attorney general then as a private citizen wrote an unsolicited 19-page memo that argued that mueller's obstruction investigation was in the words of william barr, fatally misconceived. barr writing back in june of 2018, and i'm quoting now, mueller should not be able to demand that the president submit to an interrogation about alleged obstruction. this theory would have potentially disastrous implications, not just for the presidency, but for the executive branch as a whole.
7:35 am
pamela brown, i know you have been reading that very, very closely, going back to that initial memo, what he wrote as a private citizen. you have a question for jeffrey toobin. >> that was one of the key questions we still don't know the answer to, why mueller didn't seek a subpoena to interview the president. our reporting is there was a discussion about it, but ultimately, the request was never formally made. i do have a question to jeffrey toobin, after going through the attorney general's opening remarks because we still don't have the report, basically, he said in this graph about sharing the redacted report, not only with white house counsel, but also to the president's personal outside lawyers. that struck me because the white house counsel would review it for executive privilege because it's an institutional matter, but not the president's outside attorneys. and jeffrey toobin, the attorney general points to this act saying that the request was consistent with the practice followed under the ethics and government act which permitted individuals named in report
7:36 am
prepared by an independent counsel the opportunity to read it, but as we know in the late '90s, the independent counsel was replaced by the special counsel. so not to get too in the weeds here, but is this accurate that he handed this to the personal attorneys as well under this act? >> well, it is accurate that the ethics and government act, the independent counsel law, did allow people who were named in the report to read it in advance. however, as you point out, the independent counsel law, the ethics and government act is gone, so what the attorney general has done is cherry picked parts of that law that he liked, like giving the president's lawyer a chance to read the report in advance, and ignored parts of it that he didn't like. ken starr wrote a very famous report in his clinton investigation. it certainly didn't go to janet reno to get a scrub before it was released because that wasn't part of the ethics and
7:37 am
government act. there was no provision for that. so barr is taking the parts of the ethics and government act, which is expired, that he likes. letting the president see it, and ignoring the parts that he doesn't like, like allowing the report to go to the public unfettered. >> and we just got -- >> go ahead. >> no, go ahead. >> i was going to say, would it have meant that anyone mentioned in the report, the white house officials who we expect to be named, could have also looked at it in advance? >> that's right, that's how the ethics and government act works. i don't remember if peripheral people are entitled to see it, but certainly people who are prince pal figures named in the reports are allowed to see it, and many of them, as i recall, it's been expired for almost 20 years, i think, were allowed to come out swinging against the report if they disagreed with it. and obviously, that's what the president's lawyers are going to have this tremendous advantage over the rest of us today.
7:38 am
>> we have new reaction from the house speaker, nancy pelosi, democrat of california. she tweeted, quote, attorney general barr has confirmed the staggering partisan effort by the trump administration to spin the public's view of the mueller report, complete with acknowledgment that the trump team received a sneak preview. pelosi goes on to say it's more urgent than ever that special counsel mueller testify before congress. when she refers to the trump team receiving a sneak preview, is she referring to mueller, rather the attorney general allowing them to invoke executive privilege and then they refrained from doing so? >> she could be talking about the executive privilege review. she also could talk about what pamela and jeffrey were discussing, the review by the president's personal attorneys. there would have been a white house counsel potential review that would have obtained to executive privilege because they're there to protect the interest of the institution of the president. >> it was beyond the white house counsel. he said very clearly that the
7:39 am
president's personal counsel requested and were given the opportunity to read a final version of the redacted report before it was publicly released and he goes on to say that it's consistent with the practice followed under the ethics and government act. >> the key word is practice. so they were following, as jeffrey was describing, the practice under that law. they were not actually adhering to those provisions of law. because what's so ironic is that the entire reason we're in this particular special counsel regulation situation where it's a confidential report is because that was a complete reaction against the type of report that -- >> it's very significant. it's not the white house counsel that was given a sneak preview, allowed to read the redacted version. the personal counsel, whether it was rudy giuliani or someone else. somebody was allowed to read it. but that was what irritates members of congress is that the president's personal lawyers were allowed to read the report before they were allowed to read the report. >> then he said, he went on
7:40 am
because he knew there would be some reaction against this. he made the point that they were not allowed to make and didn't request any kind of redactions. so they were allowed to see it, to get a sneak peek of it, and obviously, this helps them do their rebuttal, whatever that is. but they didn't make any changes. >> and john king, let me bring you in here because right now, let's say you are the chairman of the house or the senate judiciary committee. lindsey graham of south carolina in the senate, jerry nadler, democrat of new york, in the house. you're sitting here and watching this all play out. the attorney general has just given a press conference in which he declared the president six or seven times, no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. we're talking about this, picking apart what he said, and we still haven't seen the report, and more importantly, they haven't. the congressional leaders of the house and senate judiciary committee. is there any reason why if this has been redacted, it's ready to
7:41 am
go, why this should not have been released at the exact same time that william barr spoke? why wait until 11:00 a.m. eastern? >> it depends on which lindsey graham, and i'll come back to that in a minute. sadly, it's not a laughable matter, but in the sense we could be avoiding the conversation you just had if bill barr said it's decent for the president's lawyers to see that before it's released publicly. i'm going to do that, but i'm going to call chuck schumer, nancy pelosi, kevin mccarthy, pick four, six, the gang of eight, a bipartisan group of congressmen and say it's the decent thing. i'm going to give the president's personal lawyer s your hours to look at it, here it for you as well. they see classified information every day of the week. bite your tongue, don't leak this. i'm going to hold you to it, then we're not having this conversation. that's why bill barr hurt himself today. >> this justice department gave to russians indicted in this
7:42 am
investigation prior to previous press conferences, remember, i said this before he came to speak, before the gru indicts, before the ira, the indictments were released publicly before they went in the justice department there and answered the public's questions. he did not do this here. he colored it. >> he's legitimized the questions about his politics. that's sad. to your other point about the chairman, at the beginning of this, remember, lindsey graham wasn't the chairman of the committee at the time, but now he is. said bob mueller is the perfect person for this job. let's hope lindsey graham remembers that and just like we know the house democrats will bring him in, let's be honest, the house democrats have a partisan agenda against the president. that doesn't mean some of them don't want to pursue facts as well, but there's too much politics involved. we don't have the report yet. it would be nice if you could have a group in congress call up the attorney general, call in the special counsel, and have a conversation about the facts. it would be nice if both committees could do that. maybe they could do it in a big
7:43 am
special committee setting. that would be logical, a less political way to do it, which means it will never happen. >> i have one other question about showing the president's personal attorneys this report beforehand. because in the statement, he said that it followed the ethics and government act, which permits individuals named in a report prepared by independent counsel the opportunity to read the report prior to publication. so did all of the other individuals, were nay named in the report, were they also -- were there lawyers also given the opportunity to read this or was it just the president of the united states? >> i think it was just the president of the united states. >> that opens the door to special treatment. >> let's not conflate, when you say the president's lawyers. i think everyone has to understand. the white house counsel versus rudy giuliani, jay sekulow, and his personal team, they have very different roles. that's why it's so telling why they chose one versus the other. the personal attorneys are as if anyone of us had an attorney going to bat for us, and they're going to be by definition biased
7:44 am
in favor of getting us to look in the best light possible. the white house counsel's role, though, is not just to protect the incumbent for today. it's the longevity and credibility and integrity of the office going forward. they're going to look at things very proactively, retrospectively and also going forward to figure out what will this do for the actual precedent set for a president in the future. so the choice by barr to say i'm going to ignore what the white house counsel going forward on executive privilege issues, figuring out what it would mean for the american people's confidence and i'm going to say jay sekulow, rudy glaunl, your personal team, your personal champions, you get to see it. that's what's so telling, i think, what goes against the idea of undermining the credibility and opportunity, as you were talking about, that barr had at the outset to say the question is not just whether the president is above the law, but whether the executive branch and the department of justice disregards the law. >> and one other thing that's interesting, barr was at odds
7:45 am
with president trump on one topic. and that is the culpability of the russian government when it came to the attack on the united states and the cyberattack, the interference in the 2016 election. president trump has been all over the map when it comes to whether or not vladimir putin and the gru, russian military intelligence and others, actually did what barr very definitively said he did. barr said the report details efforts by russian military officials associated with the gru to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals affiliated with the democratic party and the presidential campaign of hillary rodham clinton for the purpose of eventually publicizing the emails, obtaining such unauthorized access to computers is a federal crime. following a thorough investigation, the special counsel brought charges in federal court against several russian military officers for their respective roles in these illegal hacking activities. that's the big picture, free of the politics and free of the role that president trump and his team did not play, according
7:46 am
to the special counsel, in conspiring with these russians. that is the bigger picture, which is the russians attacked in 2016. we may never have any sort of definitive account of how successful they were in interfering in the election. they have certainly hijacked the news cycle for the last two years. and the question -- as well as the campaign. and the question of whether or not the gru is responsible, whether or not vladimir putin is responsible, and remember, president trump stood next to vladimir putin in helsinki and basically absolved him of any responsibility when it comes to what his own attorney general said happened. >> and it's a good point. >> you have a book coming out on this, jim. >> i'm too deep into it. i bore people at dinner parties. that's in fact the first thing he said. the first person he thanked was rod rosenstein, who has led this from the beginning and who the president, by the way, attacked repeatedly, not only for his handling of the whole investigation, but undermining the findings of the justice department and intelligence agencies on russian interference in the election. i reached out to a few people
7:47 am
prior to this saying what is your key question as the report comes out. jim clapper, former director of national intelligence who was director as this was happening said my key question is what more did they find about russian interference in the electoral process? at the end of the day, that's the big threat. that's a fundamental threat to u.s. democracy and one that has continued post-2016. we know they did stuff in 2018 and 2020. it is worth highlighting that, that that is something that both democrats and republicans agree on. serious threat, and it's happening. except for the president. >> and 17 intelligence agencies which have been saying this for the last couple years. and that has been a question, and the president, as you point out, has been noncommittal, i think is the best way to describe it. >> after the summit in helsinki with putin, he said why would he. >> he said he believed vladimir putin. >> what mueller says will be interesting. >> this is where we'll see the limits of using a special prosecutor to address this issue of foreign interference in the
7:48 am
election. because if the conduct that i think we're going to see in the report, which is going to have to include at least information about contacts between campaign individuals or people in the campaign orbit and pervasive erc efforts by russian intelligence and surrogates to affect them and to communicate with them, how are those facts going to affect how the country deals with the next election that we're coming up on. and if all we take away from today and from the report is that, well, it's not criminal activity, so it doesn't matter, that really raises a lot of questions about what is acceptable behavior for a campaign over the next one to two years. >> let me ask the lawyers this question. if the mueller report, and again, we don't know what it says, but if it says there were people who were being used by the russians but didn't know it, or were willfully being used but
7:49 am
weren't coordinating or didn't hack the election themselves, i mean, what would you say if they were saying okay, they were just being used but they weren't knowingly being used? >> the word knowingly was a word that attorney general barr used. >> exactly. >> no american knowingly disseminated material. >> that's the key word, so what do you say legally? >> it's worth remembering just because something is not subject to criminal prosecution doesn't make it right. you know, the trump tower meeting, this meeting to get dirt on hillary clinton from the russian government, you know, my mentor in journalism michael kinsly said the scandal isn't what's illegal, it's what is legal. what society decides not to punish that tells you what's going on. the fact that there is not a criminal prosecution emerging out of the relationship between the trump campaign and russia
7:50 am
doesn't mean that we should think it was all wonderful. and that's the problem with criminal investigations that they are all or nothing. and you know -- >> i want to play that clip. >> the world doesn't work that way. >> let me play the knowingly clip. what we heard from the attorney general. listen to this. >> 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 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. >> and he makes it abundantly clear, john king, that the mueller report, just like the u.s. intelligence community,
7:51 am
just like everyone else in the u.s. government with the possible exception once again of the president of the united states, they did conclude that russia interfered in the election with specific goals to undermine u.s. democracy, to sow dissent here in the united states, to help hillary clinton lose the election, to make sure she would lose the election, to help donald trump win the election, and if she were to win the election, to weaken her as much as possible going into the presidency. >> so to the point that was just raised, what happens in the next campaign and the one after that, i hesitate to use the word norms, but there used to be norms. somebody associated with the russian government you could easily in any internet search realize is a known russian operative requested a meeting with you to dump information on your political opponent, you're supposed to say no. so look, it is good if the attorney general is correctly reading, he said mueller did not establish collusion. then he went on to give a much flowery in his own view of the president's conduct and the
7:52 am
campaign's conduct. if it didn't happen, great. all americans should be grateful, but you did have a trump campaign that gleefully wanted this information from the russians. that had, look who was in the room for the trump tower meeting. this was not four interns grabbed off the new york city metro, off the subway. this was the president's son, the president's son-in-law, the campaign chairman, who himself had done business with the kremlin and the ukraine and all the like. this was not a bunch of nobodies in a room with russians. that's bad. >> also, even before definitively russian involvement was clear in this, president trump dozens of times on the campaign trail was praising wikileaks. praising wikileaks and calling for them to release more emails. before a press conference in the summer of 2016, he said russia, if you're listening, we need those emails. so again, what we have here is what's legal and illegal, and then we have what's unethical.
7:53 am
what's immoral, what's norm busting, what's not acceptable. and i suspect that there's nothing in the report that is illegal that we don't know about already, but there's going to be a lot in this pile. >> and what's a national security concern i would add to that list. as a former counterintelligence lawyer, this line that i think gloria is trying to get at which is between individuals who are completely unwitting who are themselves targets by the foreign intelligence service, that's one category, but that's the category of people that you would expect to self-report, who would say, well, this doesn't feel right. i'm going to call up the fbi and find out, you know, why this person is approaching me, this foreign government surrogate or this foreign intelligence service. the separate category, which i think is the most concerning from a national security perspective going forward, is this category of, well, it's not criminal behavior, but we don't mind receiving information from a foreign intelligence service or from wikileaks, which is working in concert with a
7:54 am
foreign intelligence service, according to our own intelligence agencies. that's where it's unresolved. >> as we await the report, the justice department is moments away, literally fewer than seven minutes away from delivering the redacted mueller report to congress. let's go to our congressional reporter manu raju on capitol hill, and manu, i imagine everyone is just waiting for the moment to get this report. >> yeah, any minute now, we're expecting the justice department official to come and drop off a disk of the redacted report to the house judiciary committee. he's also expected to go to other committees in congress. that would be the first time anybody outside the limited group in the justice department and apparently the white house has seen that redacted report. and then later, attorney general barr said that he would make available the report with limited redactions to a small group of members that does not include the grand jury information that the house
7:55 am
judiciary committee has been demanding, so they're not going to see the full report, but nevertheless, we're expecting in a matter of moments the disk to be dropped off with the redacted report. the first time members here will see and we'll see how much has ultimately been redacted and how much the public will see in the first brush here. >> manu raju, thanks so much. let's go live to kaitlan collins where the presidential event has been delayed. >> the president was supposed to come out around 10:30. he still has not come out to this event for wounded warriors yet where the president is going to make remarks. it still remains to be seen whether or not he's going to address the press conference that his attorney general bill barr gave earlier, but we know the president was watching it closely. we're still waiting to see whether or not the president is going to talk, but you can't ignore the timing here because now that it's 10:55, we know in a matter of mere minutes, the justice department is going to deliver the redacted mueller report to lawmakers on capitol hill, and it seems it's going to co inside with the presidnt
7:56 am
coming out at this event to give remarks. if he's going to address it, that's still a question, but what we do know and did learn from barr is the president has essentially seen this report because his legal team -- his personal legal team has seen it and the white house counsel was given an opportunity to see the redacted report. the people surrounding the president, the lawyers surrounding the president, already know what bill barr is going to be sending over to capitol hill. you have to know that's what's in the president's mind as he's in front of the reporters and cameras in a matter of moments. >> we'll veer what the president has to say. i'm sure he'll be happy reacting to what the attorney general, his attorney general, had to say. let's go to pamela brown. she has new reporting on when exactly the white house received the redacted report. >> you'll recall, wolf, the attorney general bill barr was kind of cagey in his hearing on capitol hill last week about communications with the white house over the report. and i have learned in speaking to the president's personal outside attorney, jay sekulow, that his outside attorneys made the request some time last week
7:57 am
to review this report. the redacted version of the report. and then it was late afternoon tuesday of this week that the president's personal lawyers, that would include jay sekulow and the raskins, who have been involved in this, they went to doj in order to review the redacted report. now, jay secehlo tells me they didn't make any redaction requests or anything of that nature, but what's interesting here is, as we have been discussing, bill barr pointed to this government ethics and government act, which is sort of debatable whether that really would permit the outside attorneys to look at that, as we have been discussing with jeffrey toobin earlier. there was an expectation earlier, several weeks ago, that only white house counsel lawyers would be looking at the redacted report for executive privilege because that's an institutional matter, not something that the personal lawyers for the president would be involved with, but now we're learning that the personal outside lawyers also looked at the redacted version of the report this week on tuesday, late afternoon. i also want to circle back to
7:58 am
this discussion on no conspiracy that bill barr talked about. as you said, there is a difference between the legal realm and the moral and ethical realm. he was very clear when he spoke today that they're not being -- he said there was no evidence, he was unequivocal about that, between trump campaign associates working with the russians on the misinformation campaign. no evidence between trump campaign associates working with the russians on the hacking, but he was very lawyerly on the graph when it talked about the dissemination of the hacked emails saying, and i want to read, that the special counsel also investigated whether any member or affiliate of the trump campaign encouraged or played a role in this dissemination effort, and here to, the special counsel's report did not find any person associated with the trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of that material. we may not find out today, though, more about that because as we know, there are going to be redactions about ongoing cases including roger stone, who
7:59 am
was charged in witness tampering for comments he made about attempted -- attempts to reach wikileaks. that leaves you hanging on were there efforts by trump campaign associates to play a role in the dissemination of those materials. it may not have been illegal because they weren't involved in the hacking, according to the attorney general, but were there efforts. >> important point. you have new information, as well. >> just to dovetail off what pamela was reporting that the president's personal attorneys, jay sekulow, others, we don't know if the raskins, the ones who were the worker bees the whole time, were there as well. this speaks to what we were talking about earlier, where the attorney general said specifically the reason he gave the president's personal attorneys a heads-up is because it's in keeping with the practice of allowing people who are named in a report to see the report before publication. i have just been communicating with more than one attorney for people who are absolutely going
8:00 am
to be named in this report, and guess what, you were right. they didn't get a heads-up. they didn't get a chance to read this report. so far, at least as far as we found, it's just one person, and that's the president of the united states. so that blows out of the water the argument of why he said he gave them a heads up, and even more gives even more suspicion to the reality that they wanted to allow the president's team to really work on this rebuttal report and get them ready politically. >> john, it's 11:00 a.m. here now on the east coast. we're told that the document is being made available to the chairman of the ranking member of the house and senate judiciary committee. they and their staff will begin to go through it, but it's 400 pages. that takes a while. >> so we'll see reactions coming out within minutes of them getting it. we were covering the white house back in the starr report day when we were reading it live on cable television, not recommending we go back to that, and i think it's imporha

27 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on