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tv   The Mueller Report Special Coverage  CNN  April 18, 2019 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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around the obstruction line where he said the president could be exonerated. what he left out in that initial four-page letter that shaped public perception about the investigation, is the special counsel said we obtained -- the evidence we obtained about the president's actions and that prevent us from conclusive that no criminal conduct occurred and that was key and that is not in the four-page letter and now we are getting the better understanding of the reporting and why members of the mueller team were upset about the representation because they didn't feel like it was a fair reflection of the obstruction investigation. >> let's take a pause here and re-set at the top of the hour. i'm jake tapper in washington. >> i'm anderson cooper also in washington. the report on election interference by russia and the president is on public display, most of it any way.
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finds no evidence the trump camp conspired or coordinated with russians and the president trying to cut short the investigation. >> robert mueller writes on the very day of his appointment, may 2017, the president complained this, this is terrible, this is the end of my presidency, i'm f'd. >> and though mueller declined to conclude a criminal evidence was possible, he lays bare repeated evidence with him trying to interfere and white house aides refused to go along and carry out his orders of instruction. let's get to lara jarrett at the justice department. and the conspiracy charge will be discussed by evan. tell us about obstruction and where does mueller ultimately land when it comes to whether the president tried to illegally obstruct justice when it comes to this investigation? >> well, jake, the picture that
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emerges here is one of the president's aides and advisers and officials trying to protect him from his worst instincts. we see time and again here laid out chapter and verse different officials telling the special counsel different times they felt pressure to take actions they weren't comfortable with, them telling the president no and him continuing to berate them. and this is what the special counsel says on this issue. the president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsec sesful because the persons that surrounded the president declined to carry out orders and aseed to his request. one of the people is his former white house counsel don mcgahn who described a stunning episode where the president was facing media reports about obstruction of justice which obviously he took great displeasure in and on june 14th, i'm quoting from the report, on june 14th, 2017, the
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media reports that the special counsel office was investigating whether the president had obstructed justice. press reports called this a major turning point and go on to talk about while comey told the president he was not under investigation, following comey's firing, the president was now under investigation and the president reacted to this news with a series of tweets criticizing the department of justice and the special counsel investigation. on june 17th, the president called mcgahn at home and directed him to call the acting attorney general, rod rosenstein, and say that the special counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. mcgahn did not carry out that direction, however. deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential saturday night massacre. illusion to the water gate episode so famous and they describe in chapter and verse so many different episodes some of which we had known about, the firing of fbi director james comey and that was public but
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episodes that we didn't know as much about. the special counsel here describes an episode where trump tried to get a message to the former attorney general jeff sessions through a former aide, cory lewandowski and wanted to get a message to sessions to tell him that perspectively the special counsel could focus on elections going forward. but the insinuation is not to focus on the current investigation. almost trying to redirect the special counsel's investigation through cory lewandowski. lewandowski did not go forward with that. he did not aseed to the president's wishes but it paints a picture of the different episodes where again they were trying to restrain him from his own worst impulses. and on one of the more interesting pieces where you see daylight between the attorney general and bill barr, bill barr and the special counsel's team is on this issue of doing things in public.
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the attorney general has suggested you can't obstruct justice necessarily if all of these things were in public. it is suggesting there wasn't corrupt intent but the special counsel has a different analysis on that and essentially said the president wields a significant amount of power, especially over his subordinates and has a mas communication available to him at all times and just because it is in public doesn't mean it is not obstruction. jake and anderson. >> laura jarrett, thank you very much into we'll talk about the investigation into collusion or just covering the obstruction. want to go to evan perez for that. >> reporter: that is right, anderson. this is volume one of the two-volume report and it describes in great detail the efforts by the russian intelligence services first to try to undermine the election system here in the united states and secondly to hack into the clinton campaign and to distribute those emails to undermine her campaign and to help donald trump's campaign and
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it describes also in great detail in different ways that people associated with the campaign not only had conversations, knew about what they thought would be dirt harmful to hillary clinton and help the trump campaign and encourage that behavior and talk about the -- the special counsel report talks about different things that they looked into on the issue of collusion. they looked beyond the issue of conspiracy. they looked at whether or not there were any campaign finance crimes that they could charge. including that now infamous june 2016 meeting that donald trump jr., the president son's helped organize under the idea they were expecting to get dirt on hillary clinton. i'll read you a part of the report in which they say, quote, the office ultimately concluded that even if the principal lel questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that campaign individuals -- that the campaign officials or individuals connected to the campaign willfully violated the
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law. in other words, because the investigation couldn't prove that these people were intentionally trying to violate campaign finance law. that is the reason why in the end no charges were brought against donald trump jr. or anybody else associated with the campaign. they looked at in issue very, very closely. and then we also know that obviously from the various examples shown in this report, that there were different ways in which the trump campaign knew about what the russians were doing and really believe they were going to benefit from what the russians were doing to try to interfere with the election. i'll read you a part of that also in the report. it says, quote, although the investigation established that the russian government perceived that it would benefit from a trump presidency, and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected that it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through russia efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in the election
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interference activities and one of the key parts of the report, the special counsel describes that essentially they looked at whether or not there was an agreement between people associated with the campaign and the russians. that is the way they looked at this to try to decide whether or not there was a crime that was committed here and they couldn't find any evidence that there was an actual agreement. now there is some disagreement, i think among legal experts, as to whether or not some of the activity we saw in plain sight in 2016 and some of the evidence that we see here in this report would constitute a crime. i think some people would disagree with that but that is the way the special counsel arrived at its conclusion. and one last thing i want to mention of, the section that laura jarrett just covered, the obstruction section, we had previously reported was lightly redacted comparatively speaking but the part that i'm talking about, the collusion part has a lot of pages that look like
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this. a lot tv has to do with ongoing matters. they say that there is a harm to ongoing matters and that is the reason for the redaction. we know there are 14 cases referred by the mueller investigation. again a lot of pages that look like this. referring to parts of the investigation that are still not public. we don't know all of those investigations that are still ongoing, guys. back to you. >> evan perez, thank you so much. pamela brown, you're diving into the answers that president trump gave in his written response from mueller. he refused to sit for an interview with the special counsel. >> that is right. so the president's lawyers released this in full only part of the written answers were in the mueller report. so they wanted to release this in full because they felt like it was important to get the full picture here. and it started off with a letter with the lawyers making the case that mueller didn't need to interview the president because they had everything they needed from witnesses and documents and that is what the lawyers
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contended and one of the key questions from the robert mueller team is whether the president had any knowledge about the trump tower meeting that we reported on so much where the russian offered dirt about hillary clinton to don jr., paul manafort and jared kushner who were participating in that in june of 2016. in response the president said, i have no recollection of learning at that time that donald trump jr. or jared kushner or paul manafort would have negative information about hillary clinton or nor do i recall the june 19th meeting took place or the emails existed or that donald j. trump jr. has communications with aguilara and -- these were the communications we reported on where the initial offer was made by rob goldstone there could be negative information about hillary clinton of interest. and so this is a theme
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throughout the written responses which is very lawyerley and saying i don't recall -- >> and in mueller's report it is -- >> exactly. >> i don't know recall like that. but mueller viewed these answers as inadequate. they said there were more than 30 occasions where the president said, i do not recall. there is nothing wrong with that. any lawyer would advise you to do that but it flies in the face of the notion that mueller got everything that he wanted as it pertained to the president. what it clear is while mueller's team did not pursue a subpoena to interview the president for a variety of reasons, not wanting to lengthen the investigation, that would have been something they preferred over the written answers they weren't satisfied with. >> to be fair, is it not true there isn't any evidence that the president did know about that trump tower meeting -- >> that is absolutely right. there is -- he said he doesn't recall and there isn't any evidence that he did have knowledge about it beforehand or
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after. there is a lot of speculation surrounding it. don jr. himself denied he told his father this and he said that under oath to congress as well. and so this certainly is in line with our reporting of not being any evidence to support the president knowing about this meeting. >> and on the conspiracy arm of this, where the president and his family have been cleared of any criminal conspiracy with the russians, no evidence of that at all, it is not as though if the president had sat for an interview that there would have been any information that he would have given them that would have changed that conclusion. it is possible -- >> we don't know. >> what would he have said? yes, putin and i talked and we made a deal. there was nothing he could have said. now he could have gotten in trouble for perjury. >> that is what i'm saying. we don't know how he would have responded but you are right, this is -- these are his answers and saying i don't recall. now the whole question, the reason the lawyers didn't want him to go in front of the mueller team because they were worried about that, perjury --
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>> as well they should. >> but also to try to predict what the president of the united states is going to say in any given conversation is a hard thing to do. so he's claimed to have had a relationship with vladimir putin on numerous times over the years. >> because they were on 60 minutes together. >> there is no green room in 60 minutes that they would have happen to met and even before that, when he had the miss universe and talking about vladimir putin and the relationship. so just because rationally, yes, there is no evidence that we know of that would show anything, you just never know, as an attorney, you would not want -- >> and as an american we want the president to sit down and talk to whom ever because he has nothing -- i'm saying the most important part of the investigation is whether or not anybody on the trump team conspired with the russians and no evidence that it happened and i know -- and i understand the legal obstruction and i understand the president -- president clinton sat for an interview and president reagan
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sat down for an interview for iran contra and it is not as though the answers would have changed. >> the substantive part. and also note bill barr today said the white house was fully forthcoming with witness interviews and documents but let's not forget, in reporting, this is part of the white house strategy, to put forth witnesses and all of the documents so that the president didn't have to sit down for that presidential interview. so that is also something to keep in mind. >> another thing that sticks out from his answers is in one then asked about his comment, russia, if your listening, i hope you're able to find the emails and in his answer it he was he made it sarcastically and in jest and a line the white house picked up and on the multiple comments about wikileaks and later on in the report we find out regarding flynn and others, the president was directing people affiliated or associates of the campaign to try to find the hillary clinton emails. so it does show that is a question they could have followed up on instead of the
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written questions. >> he may have seen it in jest but he was serious. >> and in fact something else is just in for our cnn reporter marsha cohen, erik prince, the brother of the education secretary betsy devos and also he used to run black water and then changed his name to z or whatever -- a military contractor. he helped finance an effort to obtain hillary clinton's emails in 2016 according to the report. the effort was led by barbara la dean, a staffer and associate of flynn and claimed to have received a trove of emails that belonged to hillary clinton but wanted to authenticate the emails and prince, quote, provided funding to hire a tech adviser to ascertain the authenticity of the emails, and now since determined the emails weren't real. so whether or not the president was serious when he said, russia, if your listening, we want the emails, he and his buddies were absolutely trying to find them and all of the deleted emails.
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>> that is why it is important to get an interview. a good questioner could get more things and confront them with the inconsistencies and it is telling from a prosecutor point of view that mueller said the answers were inadequate. if he didn't have enough evidence from the answers, you say we didn't get enough evidence. >> and also i hope i'm not playing a semantic game here, but barr said that there was no evidence of collusion. no, what the conclusion of the report is is that there was no prosecutable case. there was not enough evidence to bring a criminal case, insufficient evidence to bring a criminal case involving the trump campaign and russian interest. that is different from no evidence. and i think there is more evidence in the report than i had certainly known about connections between the trump campaign and russia and i certainly understand and respect
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mueller's conclusion that there was not a criminal case to be made there. but the idea that this was somehow some fantasy and that there was -- that there was never any basis for suspicion about the relationship between the trump campaign and russia is clearly refuted by this report. >> and of course barr -- we all read his four-page synopsis and critical of robert mueller because it left the impression is here he is with all of the credentials wringing his hands, i don't know what to do and as opposed to his hands were tied by that prosecuting executive. and julian assange was just arrested last week. and there are now 14 investigations that were farmed out by the mueller probe. one of those -- we suspect are the 12 we don't know about, we know there was a sealed indictment from a year ago when it could have been during the tenure of the investigation. so i have to wonder, are there other reasons why there are
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redactions and are they related to wikileaks and that aspect. is the fantasy of the president calling people out for information, is there more to the story. >> i want to go to laura jarrett and one of the fascinating details in the mueller report on the obstruction issue is repeated efforts by the president to get other people around him, either in the white house or inity case of cory lewandowski and outside adviser working as a consultant to do things which they then do not do either for their own protection because they realize it is illegal or jeopardize them or perhaps it would jeopardize the president. >> really trying to save him -- the president from his own worst impulses. it appears from the narrative from the special counsel, a couple of new details that we had not seen before today, i just want to lay out for our audience. in one, the special counsel describes how the outside advisers namely cory lewandowski and rick dearborn each declined
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to deliver a message to the then attorney general jeff sessions saying he should curtail the scope of the special counsel investigation. cory lewandowski took this message from the president and he tried to get dearborn to do it and believing woe be a better messenger and interesting, dearborn told the special counsel, it definitely raised an eyebrow. he never passed along the note but he told cory lewandowski he handled the situation. and in another situation, the person who used to be the number three at the justice department, rachel brand and in that case the president asked his former aide rob porter whether brand was, quote, on our team and whether she would be tough and whether she would have any interest in overseeing the special counsel investigation. again just trying to find a way to skip over jeff sessions on that front and parter said he didn't actually end up asking brand whether she would be interested because he was
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uncomfortable with the task. so a couple of new tidbits there to shed more light on how he was really just so determined to try to get rid of sessions or sort of redirect the special counsel's work there. >> it is fascinating. cory lewandowski said the president -- oh, okay, i understand. i understand. a month goes by and nothing happens and he said what is happening and nothing happens soon he goes to dearborn, i think you're a better messenger and then said it is handled and nothing gets handled. >> yeah. exactly right. and again because you can sense the unease. and that is how they're describing it to the special counsel office. in their interview settings, how they felt at the time and only they could know but they are describing to the mueller team they felt uncomfortable with these requests. >> thank you, laura. the president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful. but that is largely because of the persons who surrounded the
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president declined to carry out orders -- or his requests. so he has good workers around him. >> and he told the special counsel that though it wasn't explicit his understanding was the president wanted to find someone to end the russia investigation or fire the special counsel. that is why he wanted -- rob porter to reach out to rachel brand, the number three at the justice department so she could take over potentially and clearly he did not want to do. and when brand left there was speculation she wanted to stay away from mueller and she shot that down and said she wanted to be at the job at walmart but clearly -- >> and point out when rob porter left the white house for the reasons that he left, because of allegations of what he had done previously to two women, the president spoke fondly of him and favorably of him and now we know he was part of this. >> and when you talk about you've been reporting, both of you two have been reporting about people around the president being worried about
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the mueller report coming out and how much is worried the president would see how often they ignored his orders versus them spilling the beans about various actions that the president -- >> and how they told the special counsel they knew it was wrong. they knew it was outside of the norm. and it is interesting, at one point it said when he wanted to fire the special counsel, he was told the deputy attorney general and rachel brand would resign and then told don mcgahn and his chief of staff were prepared to resign. people were prepared to resign to stop the president from doing what he wanted to do. >> everyone, thank up so much. our special coverage of the mueller report continues. chris cuomo will come back after a quick break. we switched. i switched. we switched. i switched to chevy. i switched to chevy. we switched to chevy. we switched for value. for family. for power. it was time to upgrade. i switched from ram to chevy. see why people are switching to chevy.
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good afternoon. i'm chris cuomo in new york. welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. this is our special coverage on the release of the mueller report. now please make no mistake, the public is only seeing a redacted version. these big black spaces for different reasons, it is all coded and you'll see that. attorney general william barr said he will allow a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to see the report with fewer portions blacked out. but the chairman of the house judiciary committee democrat jerry nadler said he has not received that assurance from barr. and if we learned anything, it is not easy to take mr. barr at his word where the mueller report is involved. and in fact, nadler said le issue a subpoena for the full report and its underlying evidence. nadler is due to hold a news conference at any moment. we will bring it to you live.
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there are two big takeaways. mueller found no evidence that the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with election interference by russians. what does that mean? there was no russian agent within the trump campaign and they could not make a criminal case against any. however, however the idea that nobody did anything wrong, that this was a witch hunt or a hoax is now demonstrably false. there is no reason to argue or speculate and the volumes are hundreds of pages of piece of proof after piece of proof that people with the trump campaign took meetings they shouldn't have, look for information from sources they shouldn't have wanted it from, that they showed they were open for business for foreign entities in a way they should not have done and they lied about the same. crimes, no, not necessarily, certainly not according to mr.
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mueller. however, wrong all the same to suggest otherwise is now demonstrably false. and second, multiple occasions when the president tried to intervene, let's use that word for now, the special counsel said, quote, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. the evidence we obtained about the president's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. now what does that mean? that is complicated and i think necessarily so. the president is unlike any of the rest of us. article two of the constitution
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gives him power over the same processes, the same investigations that he was being investigated about. so he had power to do things. so you would have to show specific intent. now we know two things in here. one is very clear, if the people around the president had done what he told them to do, at a very minimum, those people could have been charged with obstruction of justice, that is from mueller. here is the second thing. there was enough proof of potential criminality that mueller's team couldn't make a decision and arguably a third thing, mr. barr did america no favors when he suggested that it was an easy call for him and deputy a.g. rod rosenstein, there was no obstruction. the mueller people clearly agonized and clearly they didn't want the department a.g. or this a.g. to make the call, they wanted congress to make it. they go out of their way to say that in here. that they believe it is congress's role to play. quote, with respect to whether the found could be found to have obstructed justice by exercising
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his powers under ashticle two of the constitution we concluded that congress has the authority to prohibit a president's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice. do you hear the words a.g. or a request to kick this to them? you do not. we don't know the politics of how that happened but the disposition within this report with that let's get to cnn laura jarrett at the justice department. mueller looked at ten episodes basically involving the president and the issue of obstruction of justice and here is what we wrote as pretext, the president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful. but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or exceed to his request. and one example has to do with don mcgahn, what more could you tell us about that. >> reporter: chris, there are a litany of stories in this 400-page report about his
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interactions and his heated interactions with his former white house counsel don mcgahn. i want to just read to you one excerpt that really i think crystalized what was going on here. at least in mcgahn's mind and the special counsel says the following, on june 14th, 2017, the media reported that the special counsel's office was investigating whether the president had obstructed justice. press reports called this a major turning point in the investigation. while comey had told the president he was not under investigation, following comey's firing the president was now under investigation. the president reacted to this news with a series of tweets criticizing the department of justice and the special counsel investigation. on june 17th, so just three days later, the president called mcgahn at home and directing him to call the acting attorney general so rod rosenstein and say that the special counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. mcgahn did not carry out that direction, however. deciding that he would resign
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rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential saturday night massacre. and a reference to the famous episode of firing, the whole slew of justice department officials under the nixon administration. so a quite damning picture from mcgahn. but there are a litany of other officials that provide different accounts of what appears to be trying to save the president from his own worst instincts or trying to save themselves from being implicated in some obstruction scheme here. we see former aide cory lewandowski refusing to pass along a message to jeff sessions about curtailing the russia investigation. we see k.t. mcfarland refusing to provide a statement about russian sanctions and michael flynn because she wasn't sure whether it was true. we see them describing the potential issues that have involved paul manafort, the president's former campaign
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chairman. and how the president's public statements could have potentially affected the outcome of the trial. all things that the special counsel is looking at in this obstruction investigation. but at the end of the day, special counsel team sought that fairness, because the president couldn't be put on trial as the sitting president, fairness dictated that they not say in this report that he was implicated in a crime. that they do say congress, you have the ability to pick up the mantle and do something if you choose to. >> i think they took extra defense in regard to the president's legal rights that they couldn't make the case based on the evidence but it was a damn close call. the idea there is no evidence of wrong doing and what we hear from the president's attorneys, i don't know how that is justifiable and defensible. let me ask you, while i have you, that is not the only thing about mcgahn in here that
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matters. the idea of whether or not he was pushed to change what he was telling mulener the 30-odd hours of being with him, what have you picked up about that so far. >> reporter: well he was pushed and asked to write a formal letter for records, something the president was really pushing him to do, pushing his lawyer to have him do. and mcgahn refused to do it. he just -- he wouldn't do it and the president was really upset with him. castig ating him as a quote, lying bastard and comparing him unfavorably to his one time lawyer, his protector, roy cohn. so it is efforts from mcgahn -- >> and what did they want to him do. >> reporter: they wanted him to write a formal letter explaining, pushing back on some of the press reports. but mcgahn thought the press reports were basically accurate. that he did try to remove him and he got into whether he said the word "firing", that is
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semantics. mcgahn felt he was being told to have rod rosenstein removed as special counsel. >> laura, we'll check back with you in a little bit. you got to read it for yourself. it will take a long time. it is -- i'm about half way through the first volume. for any journalist, it is completely a seena kwon none. you must read all of this to understand it because the spin will fly in a million different directions. read it for yourself. it is worth it. you'll hear about this all of the way through the next election. so right now let's get to cnn chief white house correspondent jim acosta. and this report gives us insight into how the president reacted when he learned robert mueller was appointed as special counsel. and this plays out early on. >> reporter: it does. and there is plenty of spinning going on over here. i'll get to that. the president departing at 4:00 this afternoon and he will talk to reporters at that point about the mueller report. so that is must-see tv. but getting to what you were just talking about, yes, you are right, in 2017 after the
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appointment of the special counsel robert mueller one of the key portions of the mueller report talks about the president's reaction to all of that and he slumped back in his chair, according to the record, and said oh, my god this is terrible, this is the end of my presidency, i'm f'd and we don't want to use that expletive there. and we should point out that just a little while ago we talked to kellyanne conway, someone you are familiar with and asked about all of this and kellyanne conway said that she has never heard the president talk about things in in thfashion and never expressed thoughts. >> it is time for that stuff to end. the report is out, we know what they say he said. they could spin all they want and telling all of us there is nothing in this. this is b.s. and they know it. if you want to stick to criminality, fine. but if they say there is no proof of wrongdoing by president or anyone around him, they're in for a long life of quotes being thrown in their face.
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>> reporter: and chris, the b.s. beaters have been going off today in the press room. and that is a moment. and another moment is when i pressed kellyanne conway on the trump tower meeting in 2016 because one of the things she said when she came out to the cameras, there was no collusion, no conspiracy. but what the mueller report clearly lays out and you were just talking about this a few moments ago, there were these inappropriate contacts. >> 100%. >> reporter: unless you are the most die hard trump republican, i suppose you will say that is not inappropriate but just about everybody else in the world knows that is inappropriate. >> you could feel that. but one of the things that is blown out of the water, and look, let's give kellyanne conway her due, i don't see her anywhere in here. she wasn't asked anything about mueller or accused of anything. i don't think that she is a realistic target of any part of this probe except for the spinning and reckoning and that is a choice that she makes in defending the president. >> reporter: that is exactly right. and agree with you. and that is exactly right and gets to the key point that i was
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going to make and kelly anne said we told you what happened. they didn't tell us what happened. they told us it was about russian adoptions and it wasn't about russian adoptions. it was about getting dirt on hillary clinton so we know that is not true and it goes to this -- what i think will be one of the underlying lessons learned in all of this, chris, and that is if there was nothing wrong and nothing wrong was going on, why was there so much lying and why so much >> and why does it continue. >> reporter: sarah sanders in the briefing room time and again told us things that were just false. >> and she admitted it to mueller. she had to admit to mueller, because if you lie to him it is different than lying even to the redoubtable jim acosta. and she said multiple occasions,o oh, yeah that was based on nothing. that is a slip of the tongue in the meet of the moment. it is all b.s. >> reporter: and chris, one of the things they've said to us and doing this touchdown dance for about three weeks now and
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accusing the media of trying to pull a fast one on the president here and a fast one on the american people, time and again in this mueller report reporting from major news outlets is confirmed thisn this -- in this mueller report, they gave us instances where there were legitimate questions about paul manafort and the trump tower meeting and the bogus things to excuse this. and so my goodness, of course we're going to spend 22, 23 months very closely examining this because there were so many lies. my god, the mueller report at 400 and some odd pages can't possibly address all of the lies because there have been so many of them. that is the part that they get in trouble with. and when the president tweets no collusion, no obstruction, once again, it is a lie. in the mueller report, obviously it says the -- the special
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counsel was serious on this note saying they could not come to a conclusion on that answer and very important to note and we've been noting this and reporting this all day long, they didn't have enough information to say he didn't obstruct. and so i any that one of the underlying lessons learned in all of this, had they been telling us the truth and straight with us all along, they wouldn't have been in this mess, chris. >> jim, fair point. fair point. appreciate the reporting all along. i'll be talking to you a lot about this. let's bring in the better minds. cnn justice reporter shimon prokupecz and sarah murray and former fbi special agent josh campbell previously worked for mueller and comey and naumt and former special assistant at doj, michael zeldon. good to see you all. one of the key things here is -- there are a lot of key things. and i'm still digesting. and you'll hear journalists to ask you to do your own homework and i know that could see
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tedious and unless you want an echo effect of what is in your mind. read it for yourself. it is plain speak. it is obvious. now did the subpoena the president -- didn't make the case on obstruction and didn't make a call on obstruction. this report tells us why. let's take it piece by piece. shimon, in terms of why they didn't subpoena. >> i think it comes down to the timing. they felt it was something that would take too long and they also said they had established their own evidence or they had other evidence where they didn't necessarily need the president to make out their case of obstruction. the other issue i think is that had they subpoenaed the president it would prolong the process and he would have taken the fifth and his attorneys didn't want him testifying and essentially to get into his mind for intent purposes let's say because a lot of that is in this report about obstruction, if they needed to get into his mind no good lawyer will let him allow the special counsel inside of his mind and i think they
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felt they had enough evidence and gathered enough information it won't change anything for them if they did subpoena him and in the end the lawyers -- his lawyers did a good job. >> good job for the lawyers. what is fair is fair. raskin and mr. sekulow and guiliani. >> this is a situation that would have doomed him. >> and lawyers that came before him made a decision to make all of the other witnesses available and make all of these other documents available. so when you see the special counsel office say we felt like we sort of had a grasp of what was going on at the time, it is partly because all of the people, don mcgahn, reince priebus and steve bannon talked about private conversations with the president and that helped the prosecutors establish what the president was thinking at the time. and ultimately prevented the prosecutors from pursuing the subpoena to sit down and talk to trump. but it is amazing when you are reading this because you also read they felt like the president's written answers were
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inadequate. so they bring this investigation to a close -- >> they said it -- >> yes, without reaching a decision on obstruction of justice and calling the president's answers inadequate. >> now take us inside of the head of mr. mueller, josh, the idea this was worded where the obstruction is and that part i'm through and they go out of their way to do a couple of things. one is say this ain't nothing. now they speak a lot in the double negative in this and it is hard to follow. i get it. they're going through steps of legal analysis but trying to give a nod to political realities. you know him. is that something that is done lightheartedly or as just part of pro forma or you think he's sending a definite message about what he thinks is there and what should be done about it. >> i don't think any word in this 400-page report was there accidentally. i think each word was there for a specific purpose. and the reason why it is so -- and we have this robust report to tell the story and that was the goal. my problem here is that i can't
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understand -- i haven't come down on yet, which is worse, what is in the report, the damning nature, or the way in which this report was rolled out. i suspect that we, we the people, are the victims of flimflam artists here when you look at the way this was rolled out. there is something called the lie of omission. as you know as a lawyer, you tell a story and selectively leave things out. you go back nearly four weeks ago from when the attorney general came out with the letter saying this report found no collusion and i made the decision there was no obstruction. what he left out were the damning details that we see where they talk about the president attacking investigators and talked about the president trying to control the investigation. he talked about the president trying to tell witnesses not to cooperate. that is damning. why that was left out, we could try to speculate now, it doesn't look good. but had that been included and had the attorney general come out and said there are elements in here that paint a picture that may be damning and i determine this is the final conclusion and that is a lot different. but this is baked into the american people's narrative for
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the last four weeks and now it has to be undone by good people reading this for themselves. >> if you are satisfied with the basic measure, whether or not the president is a felon or a russian agent, then you should be satisfied. mr. mueller does not believe him to be a russian agent or anyone around him. if you were concerned of any actions by our president or his campaign that were wrong and that they lied to try to hide, you have a lot to digest. now i want to bring in former special assistant michael zeldon first with a thank you. you were one of the first you keep throwing around this world collusion and let me take you inside of the prosecutor's mind. collusion doesn't exist. it is a behavior and not a crime. if you analyze this you look at conspiracy and whether or not you could prove they did things to help russia interfere. you were exactly right. the special counsel goes out of his way in the introductory comments to explain exactly that. so the idea of no collusion is a
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red herring and a distraction. they couldn't prove the crime but there was plenty of collusion. there was behavior that was potentially wrong and they were de -- they were descentive about it. >> and there were contacted between russian and russian surrogates and the trump campaign and trump campaign surrogates which in mueller's mind did not rise to the level of criminal conspiracy or criminal coordination with a foreign national in violation of the federal election commission. but as mueller said, there was a bonafide effort to reach out to the campaign. and the campaign was receptive to that outreach. and when you read this report, and i'm pretty well through it. you don't see any time they say that the trump campaign officials were so alarmed by this outreach that they,
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themselves, reached out to law enforcement to say what should we do here. they avoid prosecution by lacking -- the capacity to know that this was criminal or not criminal. but they should have had the common -- they should have had the common sense to say, you know what, something is really bad here. they're dumping podesta emails at time of the democratic national committee to stir up trouble between the forces of clinton and sanders, they're reaching out to me, don jr., through wikileaks directly and roger stone is reaching out to them, we really ought to do something about this. they never did that. mueller said -- >> even after they came to them. even after authorities came to them and said the russians are trying to mess with us, be careful. after that, they still said nothing about these. >> that is right. and in fact, when robbie mook
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the chairman of the clinton campaign announced that their private company determined that this was russian hacking, don jr. went forward and said, the shamelessness of these people. that they will lie to advance -- to advantage themselves rather than to say, you know what, we should take this seriously. and that is, i think, to me one of the biggest shames on the clinton -- rather, sorry, on the trump orbit. that they just never took any action. they were just completely receptive to the overtures. >> and no shame in their game. shimon, we see that time and time again. no shame in their game. >> no. at the press conference with donald trump out there saying russia, if you have hillary clinton's emails, i would like to see them and then this did not constitution a formal agreement but russia responded within five hours, russian intelligence was trying to dig up -- >> and it wasn't a joke. he was asking his people to try to find the emails, see what you
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can do. and in here it says to mr. gates where in the mueller report said the president told gates more wikileaks were coming. >> how did he know. >> anything to win. do what we need to do to win. >> not a crime. >> push it but it doesn't make it okay. and when you look at the outreach from the russians and consistently for the first time we're learning actually oligarchs, russian oligarchs did cooperate with the special counsel and provided information about their outreach, all of the outreach had to do with putin in the end. it is all about vladimir putin. >> chairman natdler is speaking now. >> -- attorney general barr appears to undermine his own department in order to protect president trump. barr's words and actions suggest he has been disingenuous and misleading. in saying the president is clear of wrongdoing. attorney general barr's letter summarizing the report from
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march 24th quoted the special counsel report, quote, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. he ignored what is in the mueller report just two sentences before. where the special counsel concluded that, quote, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would state so. based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. obviously this changes the emphasis and meaning of the paragraph. and obviously he didn't include the key sentences. second, special counsel mueller went on to say that, quote, a thorough fbi investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the president personally
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that the president could have understood to be crimes, or that would have risen to personal and political concerns, closed quote. for some reason attorney general barr excluded this critical finding as well. from his version of events. the attorney general's decision to withhold the full report from congress is regrettable. but no longer surprising. barr is so far refused to work with the committee to provide us with information. the kind of information that is customarily provide in the past and to which the judiciary committee is entitled. these concerns and many others will be addressed when barr testifies before the committee on may 2nd. even in its incomplete form, however, the mueller report incomplete because part is redacted, even in the incomplete form, the mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that president trump engaged in
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obstruction of justice and other misconduct. contrary to the attorney general statement this morning that the white house, quote, fully cooperated, unquote, with the investigation, the report makes clear that the president refused to be interviewed by the special counsel, and refused to provide written answers to follow-up questions. page 13, volume two. makes clear that his associates destroyed evidence relevant to the russia investigation. page 10, volume one. the report concluded there was substantial evidence, in quotes, that president trump attempted to prevent an investigation into his campaign and his own conduct. page 76, page 78, page 90, page 157, volume two. that is why i have formally requested that the special counsel mueller testify before the house judiciary committee as soon as possible so we could get some answers to these critical questions. because we clearly can't believe what attorney general barr tells
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us. finally, it is clear the special counsel office conducted an incredibly thorough investigation in order to preserve the evidence for future investigators. the special counsel made clear that he did not exonerate the president and the responsibility now falls to congress to hold the president accountable for his actions. congress must get the full unredacted report along with the underlying evidence uncovered by special counsel mueller. congress required this material in order to perform our constitutionally mandated responsibilities. thank you. that is the statement. i'll answer some questions. >> congressman, when you say that it is congress's responsibility to hold the president accountable, does that mean impeachment? >> that is one possibility. there are others. we obviously have to get to the bottom of what happened and take whatever action seems necessary at that time. it is too early to reach those conclusions. it is one reason we wanted the
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mueller rorpt and still want the mueller report in entirety and other evidence too. >> congressman, will congress proceed with their own obstruction inquiries? >> we will proceed with our inquiries. the first thing we will do is make sure we get the rest of the report and the underlying evidence. we'll have attorney general barr testify may 2nd and i anticipate that mr. mueller will testify sometime in the next couple of weeks after that. and we'll probably hold a series of hearings on other aspects and we'll see where we go from there. >> did you choose to go toward impeachment, how important would this report be? do you think -- is it a road map? >> well, it is too early to talk about that. because we will have to go follow the evidence where it leads. and i don't know exactly where it will lead. if i did know, i wouldn't need all of this information.
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but certainly i think from the structure of the report, but i'm tentative because i've only skimmed it, haven't had it very long, i think it was written with the intent of providing congress a road map as other reports have in the past and with the relations and others, attorney general barr seems to be trying to frustrate that intent. >> one more question. >> you said you wanted to hear from mueller to better understand the findings. based on what you've seen from the report, what specifically do you want to hear from mueller about that you don't already have -- >> there are dozens of things we want to hear. >> just give me a few. >> well, for example, barr says -- i don't remember where he said it, verbally or in one letter, he told us that the special prosecutors determination that the president -- that he wasn't going to indict the president on
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obstruction charges, had nothing to do with the department of justice doctrine or opinion that a sitting president is unindictable as a matter of law. there is a lot of material in the report that seems to indicate that that doctrine was considerably important. we want to get to the bottom of that. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> so there is congressman nadler. and what we're seeing is the democrats believe that momentum has shifted here. that they now have at least a portion of the facts that justify more inquiry into an abuse of power by the president of the united states. now, that is an argument. but is it a winning one with the american people so close to an election cycle? let's get back to the panel on this. where is your head on that, sarah murray. you know politics so well. what do we know about the democrats? there are some that are rabid about this. they believe this president has abused power and that he has to go. then we have nancy pelosi, the
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ultimate pragmatist proven her veteran skills as being much more adept than people gave her credit for this time around, leave impeachment alone. if we don't have consensus, we have nothing. where are we. >> she knows a great way to inevitably lose in 2020 is to go out of your skis on the impeachment and embarrass yourself, the democrats trying to hammer this. but i do think after we what saw today from the attorney general and in this report, it is no wonder that democrats are out there saying, look, we want to hear from robert mueller directly. because what we heard from william barr this morning does not reflect in full what we are seeing here. >> do you think there is enough in there to get republicans in the house and two-thirds of the -- of the senate -- >> i don't think you'll move republicans on the impeachment question. if the democrats want to bring bob mueller up and ask him questions about why he didn't reach a decision on obstruction and whether he did leave to mean
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this question to congress. this is supposed to be a political discussion. there is a reason you cannot indict a sitting president. it is not supposed to be a decision that the justice department makesch it is supposed to be a decision that congress makes. whether they want to remove the president from office. i do not think that will happen in this case. republicans, no matter what this president has done, they've lined up behind him and i don't expect this will change that. >> and we can't lose sight is this is a day that we have been waiting for so long, so this could wrap up so the american people could see it and the baton is passed from law enforcement to the political leaders. now we heard representative nadler and we'll hear now from adam schiff in a couple of hours and republicans and everyone. this is how the system is supposed to work. it is messy, it is us -- it is ugly but this is what happens when law enforcement completes the work and collect the facts and hand it over and now i hope it is handled responsibilitily going forward. >> there is a problem with the attorney general and the way he conducted the press conference
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today sounding more like the president's lawyer tan the attorney general. certainly there are parts when i was sitting there and listening and how he almost -- you could say he was making excuses for why the president was behaving the way he was, saying you need to remember the context of where -- what was going on during that time as the president was entering the office, then saying talking about collusion, using the president's words in this investigation. very problematic and i think when he goes before congress -- >> problematic depending on your lens a very good job if you are looking at it from the trump -- >> the second half is go after the guys that did this to me. now we'll have to see if mr. barr has the gumption to attack his own when he knows after -- he knows already. he knows what is in the report. he knows it's not justifiable. but we'll see what he chooses to do with his time. let me get over to evan perez. this is a very anticipated report. probably


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