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tv   William Barr Senate Hearing  CNN  May 1, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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prosecutor's perspective and this is going to be all about credibility. not just the credibility of any person, any witness, the credibility of the attorney general of the united states. now, i think bill barr has already done serious damage to his credibility, we've now seen the report. every time bill barr has talked before, nobody who was questioning him had seen the report. this is going to change the game and on top of that we now know that robert mueller has serious questions about this report. what we're not going to see today is some dramatic moment of recantation, we are not going to see a jack nicholson moment from a few darn men. good morning and welcome to cnn special live coverage of william barr, the attorney what the strategy is what i would recommend is chip away at general of the united states the credibility because under oath before the senate ultimately you are setting the judiciary committee. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. stage for robert mueller. it's barr's first congressional this is going to be a death match to the legacies of robert appearance since he released mueller versus bill barr. most of the mueller report and if you can chip away at bill overnight the tensions, the suspici barr's legacy the man who did suspicions, the resentments that already surrounded barr's the work can have his say and handling of the special counsel credibility. probe and conclusions, they >> manu, are you there? set the scene for us. exploded. cnn has confirmed that mueller what are we about to see before the senate judiciary committee?
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himself was displeased by the you heard and you just saw bill attorney general's initial four-page letter to congress on march 24th. barr, the attorney general, in a letter to barr dated march arrive, walk through the corridors and go into that room. 27th and first revealed by the >> reporter: extremely conte "washington post," mueller said contentious hearing expected that barr's summary and i'm right off the bat. quoting now, did not fully democrats going to assail the capture the context, nature and credibility of the attorney general and push him about substance of this office's work exactly what the special counsel and conclusions. said to him, why he decided to he went on and i'm quoting put out the four-page letter the again, there is now public conclusion about critical way he did, why he had the press aspects of the results of our conference and characterized it investigation. as you may know, barr has as essentially the president being cleared, despite the steadfastly highlighted mueller's findings that the concerns that had been raised by the special counsel. president's campaign did not that's going to be the theme conspire or coordinate with throughout this hearing, expect russians who meddled in the the democratic presidential election. candidates, too, to use this as and where mueller cited at least a forum of sorts to go after ten examples of apparent presidential obstruction of his investigation, barr decided the bill barr. republicans coming to his defense. lindsey graham already has told evidence simply wouldn't support a criminal charge. our colleague lauren fox that he in early april barr appeared had a conversation with the before house and senate justice department last night in appropriations panels, where all of this came up. which barr had said that i want you to hear two mueller's complaint was mainly about how the media had reported exchanges, very important exchanges, keep in mind at this about his four-page letter, not
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point the mueller report itself necessarily anything else. was still under wraps. here is senator dick durbin. senator durbin, how much does >> did bob mueller support your conclusion? what you learned yesterday impact what you plan to -- how >> i don't know whether bob mueller supported nikon you plan to question bill barr collusion. >> reports have emerged recently, general, that members about the -- about the mueller of the special counsel's team report? are frustrated at some level how does that change your approach and your questioning. with the limited information >> on two separate occasions both the house and senate included in your march 24th letter, that it does not committees attorney general barr adequately or accurately was asked whether he had any feedback from mueller and he necessarily portray the report's said no. well, it turns out there was a findings. do you know what they're letter that was delivered weeks referencing with that? before by mueller to attorney >> no, i don't. general barr saying that what he had said didn't properly >> today's hearing starts a little less than one hour from characterize the findings of that report. now right at the top of the that's a pretty significant hour, which is also the deadline, by the way, set by the disclosure. >> reporter: do you think he should resign? chairman of the house judiciary >> i would just say this, he committee, jerry nadler, for needs to be held accountable for what he said. barr to produce mueller's letter two different occasions under in full. oath. he also needs to be accountable our team of experts is with us, for his role in the future so let's start with our justice correspondent, laura jarrett who criminal referrals. is with me right now. there are 14 this is a pretty dramatic development that's occurred he has power as attorney general to have a direct impact on them. overnight. >> absolutely, wolf. i think the stakes have been we need to know whether he will
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considerably raised for this reaccuse himself. hearing for barr today given the >> thank you, senator. you hear from one senator there, riff that we now know between expect that line of questioning through the course of the day, these two long time friends, wolf. and also we are learning now, long time colleagues and in moments ago that the mueller particular it starts with this letter has, in fact, been letter and it comes out just a few days after barr released delivered to capital hill. that four-page summary and essentially mueller's complaint was you didn't provide the full jerry nadler has received and context, you didn't provide enough of the nuance that i raised questions about barr's provided in my 448-page report. credibility. 10:00 a.m. deadline they're expecting on the house side, subpoena says the full mueller it's then followed up by a report should be turned over to conversation the next day. barr calls mueller and capitol hill unredacted. essentially i'm told he said we don't expect the justice we're friends, we've been department to meet that friends a long time, let's hash deadline. lot of fire works on the house this out, let's talk this and senate sides on capitol hill through. i'm told it was a cordial will happen in a matter of minutes. >> stand by, manu. conversation, it was polite, but it was clear there was disagreement on some fundamental laura jarrett, our justice correspondent, is with us. you have the letter. this is the sensitive letter that the special counsel, robert issues here and mueller felt that his full report was not mueller, wrote to bill barr a getting adequate coverage few days after bill beto because of that four-page o'rourke's principle conclusions summary we had seen days before. barr didn't want it to come out were released. in piecemeal fashion, he wanted >> it's a short letter. to get the full report out so he i'll read it in full for the pushed them to continue on the redactions. >> i understand the justice benefit of everybody.
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department has released the advanced text of barr's opening it's only a little bit over a statement. page. >> they have and it's i previously sn sent you -- addressed to bill barr. interesting. i previously sent you a letter it mostly sort of lays out a dated march 2019 that enclosed timeline of events instead of providing any new color on the an executive summary for each volume of the special counsel's more explosive news that we saw report, marked with redaxs to overnight, but i want to read to you a piece of this because it i remove any information that think sheds light on what barr potentially could be protected is subliminally saying to by criminal procedure rule 60 on mueller here. he says, quote, the special counsel's report demonstrates that there are many subsidiary grand jury materials, considerations informing that declarations or related to a charge case. we also marked an additional two prosecutorial judgment, meaning the decision about guilt or sentences for review and have now confirmed that these innocence. he goes on to say including sentences can be released publicly. whether particular legal accordingly, the enclosed theories would extend to the documents are in a form that can facts of the case and whether be released to the public, the evidence is sufficient to consistent with legal prove one way or the other requirements and department element of a crime. but at the end of the day, the policies. i am requesting that you provide federal prosecutor must decide these materials to congress and yes or no. authorize their public release that is what i sought to address in my march 24th letter. at this time. so what he's saying here is as we stated in our meeting of essentially mueller didn't do march 5th and reiterated to the his job so i did the job. department early in the >> that's a very dramatic afternoon of march 24th, the development. introductions and executive let's get some analysis right summaries of our two volume
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report accurately summarize this away, gloria borger, in this office's work and conclusions. letter that into you willer wrote to barr he said the the summary letter the department sent to congress and conclusions as explained in that initial four-page document that released to the public late in barr released did not fully the afternoon of march 24th did capture the context, nature and not fully capture the context, substance of his work, of nature and substance of this mueller's work. office's work and conclusions. we communicated that concern to eventually we did get a redacted version of the 400 plus page the department on the morning of document. >> that may have been the thing march 25th. that inspired them to redact less rather than redact more there is now public confusion because mueller was saying, you about critical aspects of the know, you have to -- you have to bring this out to the american results of our investigation. this threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the public. but it's kind of stunning for me department appointed the special that mueller who doesn't get out counsel, to ensure -- to assure full public confidence in the there on a soap box at all ever outcome of the investigation. felt the need to put this in see the department press writing, put it in writing, not release. while we understand that the just have that phone call, but department is reviewing the full put this in writing to the report to determine what is appropriate for public release, attorney general, with whom he a process that our office is is an old friend, and say, look, working with you to complete, you guys made a big mistake here that process need not delay the release of the enclosed because you mischaracterized our materials. again the redacted materials. work and that is not the way the release at this time would
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special counsel is supposed to alleviate misunderstandings that work. it was very clear that mueller have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and was quite upset about it. outcome of our investigation. >> you know, it's a very it would also accord with the significant moment right now and standard for public release of the tension is going to be very notifications to congress, cited in your letter. apparent as soon as he starts answering questions from the and then he cites the provision of the federal code there. democratic senators. >> here is the thing, bill barr >> and he signs it, right? can make the argument that it's the attorney general's decision >> robert s. mueller iii. whether to prosecute. so clearly you see two main he is the prosecutor, he can thrusts. make that decision. he wanted those public summaries mueller is not saying that. mueller is saying what you did out. it's interesting he didn't is you mischaracterized our attach them to his original sub findings, our evidence as presented. that's what bill barr is going admission when he provided the full report to the justice department but did it a few days to have to answer for today. both in the four-page summary later and was adamant, if you and later, remember that press release those, they'll have more conference that bill barr gave of the context. as we remember from those before releasing the full report, it wasn't just about summaries, it laid out chapter getting the report out there, he and verse everything that we very clearly was making an then see in the 448 pages to argument in the president's favor as to the findings of that come. it lays out his theory on why he report and what bob mueller is didn't think a sitting president saying, that does not accurately could be indicted. reflect what we put together in it lays out that 11 different this report. you have the right to make the instances of potential decision on whether to obstructive conduct and so he prosecute, but you did not tell clearly thought if you put those
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out, the public will have a the american people in the better understanding of my work correct way, in the most full because right now with your four-page letter, the public is some way what our findings were not understanding. >> because he makes it clear in and barr has to answer that and this letter that he feels that barr distorted the bottom line i think ultimately bob mueller has to be willing to speak in public and answer questions conclusions. he also makes it clear, you know about this. i wonder if bill barr didn't see what? you have summaries that we have this coming. he's been around a few decades. provided that were already he knew that bill barr is redacted. everything was ready to go. sitting in a political position why not release those and mark, appointed about i this president. he had to know that this was going to be colored in a i know you want to weigh in on political sphere to some degree. this as well. >> it's clear now from this bob mueller if he wants to letter that there is more than clarify for the american people one letter. he's got to come and speak >> yeah. >> that there was a before the american people. communication, march 25th, which >> well, and he also knew how is the day after barr's letter strongly barr believes in comes out. executive authority and >> right. executive power and he's -- he >> this 27th letter is actually wrote about this in his june a follow-up. >> yeah. >> it is quite extraordinary in 2018 memo, he has been writing this letter that you see that there was back and forth over about it for decades. that weekend between mueller's so obviously mueller knew that office and barr's office about what to put in. it was probable or likely that and barr, if i remember barr would come down on the side of the president, which leads me correctly, kind of characterized this was -- be we looked at it. to ask why did barr leave it we made our own judgments. undecided? sort of in a vacuum outside of
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>> hold on for one moment. i want to go to capitol hill. mueller. clearly this shows that this manu raju is up there. set the stage for us. was -- mueller team over that first of all, what are you weekend wanted to get more into learning about the democrats' that original. approach this morning, the >> hold on for a minute. republicans and the senate judiciary committee, lindsey does not say it was media graham, the republican is the confusion, that bar misled on chairman, dianne feinstein is the findings of the report. the ranking member, the democrat. it belies the lindsey graham what are you learning about what claims that this was about the the democrats are planning on press coverage. he said barr misinterpreted it. doing? >> reporter: democrats are going to go pretty hard at the >> barr did not want to put out something piecemeal, right? attorney general's credibility. he was like, okay, we're going to wait. we're going to give you this they will question exactly why he took the steps that he did, whole thing all at once and do the redactions and mueller is and also try to argue that he working with me. should not have -- why -- push as we all presumed beforehand, him on his decision not to mueller wasn't born yesterday. when he wrote his report and he prosecute the president over had these summaries, we knew -- obstruction of justice, they want to push him further on we knew that they were probably that, but they are going to try ready to go and had been to show the differences between what was in the mueller report versus what the attorney general said publicly and ask him, of scrubbed in advance. course, about that phone call and that was, in fact, the case. that occurred between mueller what mueller is saying in this and barr, as well as that letter. we will see how much the letter, you're not only undermining us, but you're attorney general ultimately reveals. undermining the special counsel and that's a larger problem. while that's going on the senate
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judiciary committee, the house judiciary committee across the >> jeffrey toobin, i'm anxious to get your thoughts. >> well, you know, if i could capitol will be carrying on its translate some legalese in the letter that laura just read, own debate about what to do for that is a scathing, outraged a hearing tomorrow, thursday, bill barr threatening not to appear because of the format of letter. >> right. that hearing. >> accusing the attorney general expect a lot of criticisms of bill barr there, potential of completely distorting and discussions about subpoenas to lying to the public about what bring nim this there. that's the chamber that has mueller spent two years on. i mean, that is not a polite subpoena power. republicans will take a bit of a different approach. if we look at what lindsey letter among old friends. graham told our colleague lauren fox this morning, the senate that is an accusation of judiciary committee chairman said that he did have a political interference in conversation last night with the mueller's work. justice department in the wake that is not a routine letter in of these reports and he said that what bob mueller was any sense of the word. and i just think, you know, actually saying to have bill we'll have the opportunity to barr was not anything about what read it and -- but let's be barr said, it wasn't the concern about what barr said but how the clear about what mueller is media covered what happened according to lindsey graham he saying, that the fix was in and said his complaint was not he is saying that barr really anything that barr has done, just the way it was being reported. deliberately distorted his so expect that to be the conclusions for the political argument from republicans here
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gain of the president. in this wearing. that's what that letter says in we will see what war actually plain english. says in just a matter of >> and it's very significant, you know, susan hennessy, machines. >> i know we will get back to because the four-page summary you. manu is up on the hill waiting for this hearing to start at the barr released march 24th in this top of the hour. susan hennessy you wanted to letter we now have confirmed, he make a point about this says this, mueller. explosive potential for this we communicated that concern to dispute that has developed. >> one thing that's important to the department on the morning of march 25th. keep in mind is that the old so even before he drafted this independent counsel has an letter a few days later, he impeachment referral provision already called them and said, whereby an independent pro cuter you know what? could assemble materials for we've got a problem and it's a congress. the new regulations don't have significant one. >> right. that provision. i do think that this letter seeing the actual mueller report it's quite clear that mueller shows barr's conduct in the believed he was preparing intervening period between the something that was in line with initial summary to the actual release of the report is that independent counsel impeachment referral provisions fundamentally indefensible. and so to sort of suggest that there will need to be a serious barr was just confused here, conversation about whether or not he has the credibility to that he didn't understand what was going on, you know, i think lead the department moving forward. gloria mentioned that barr has that's giving the attorney said he didn't want to release general a little bit too much credit in this case. things piecemeal. it's clear from anybody who read but he did release things mueller's report, certainly piecemeal. >> of course. >> instead of releasing a anyone who had heard mueller's concerns that what he was version that had been cleared that was the special counsel concerned about was the speaking in his own voice, he misrepresentation about what
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mueller had done, about what he offered sort of his own, quite intended and so for senator distorted take. graham or others to suggest that it's important to keep in mind this is just a matter of the the reason we have special media coverage counsel investigations at all. mischaracterizing, you know, and that's to have public it's an active and intentional confidence and integrity in these kinds of findings, to mischaracterization. >> let me get jeffrey toobin understand that they are free from political interference. into the conversation as well. let me read a couple sentence what bill barr has done, what toss give some context. robert mueller is fairly clearly this is from the "washington post" which had some quotes from accusing him of having done is the mueller letter to war. the summary letter the undermining the central purpose department sent to congress and of having a special counsel. released to the public did not this is the most critical fully capture the context, nature and substance of this example, an investigation of the president into the circumstances office's work and conclusions. of his election, potential that we've been reading. crimes committed while in here is the next sentence, office. that really is just though, there is now public confusion about critical aspects indefensible. >> laura, barr has some of the results of our explaining to do right now. investigation. this threatens to undermine a >> like "i love lucy" he does. central purpose for which the department appointed the special and we have to start calling him counsel to assure full public attorney general lucy after confidence in the outcome of the this. i have to say he is fast and investigations. loose with the truth. how do you see it? now he has a lot of explaining >> well, what happened here is, he has to do, precisely because, number one, this reminds me of a i think, an example of no good deed goes unpunished.
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what the mueller office said was we can't say that there is a contemporaneous memo trying to codify what conversation they prosecutorial -- that we have the right to prosecute the have. they do so because there's a fundamental lack of trust. president. it would be unfair to say there here we have a formal congenial is a prosecutorial case if there relationship or collegiate is no chance for the president relationship between friends and to respond, as he could in a now i have to write down that i trial. so they left the issue open for congress to deal with. am not an inept person. i feel as though the attorney barr took that deference, took general, according to mueller, that opportunity that the must misconstrue that phrase of president -- that mueller gave you serve at the pleasure of the to the president to respond to president. mueller seemed to be very clear shoot down all his findings, to that you do not serve the president, nor do you serve to say that there was no case here. and that's the core of the please the president. this report, facts stated as problem is that mueller did not they were, should have been released and i repeatedly asked equivocate, did not say i can't you to do so. more than three weeks later went make up my mind. by before you had barr give a what he did was he deferred and barr took that as an opportunity hearing, a conference in front to say there's no case here. of everyone and then wait an that's why muler is so upset additional 90 minutes before because he's not -- his findings providing it. >> we know barr has been xloelt
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were deeply and totally dismissive of mueller's legal mischaracterized by barr is that theory of obstruction. important point. he made that very clear in his mark mazetti of the "new york four-page letter. he said i considered them. times," you've been doing a lot i disagreed with them. of reporting on this, you i'm wondering how much of a reported it last night as well. surprise it actually came to how angry do you sense mueller right be right now? >> a couple weeks ago we barr -- i mean to mueller that reported that there was barr did it this way. frustration and anger inside the >> one thing that might help, mueller team about that how easy it would have been for four-page letter. barr to do the right thing, the fact that this team together release the executive summaries, to offer his own opinion, he with mueller's name on it took could have also given his read this step to send it to the on whether he thought this was obstruction, but to give that attorney general is significant, it is a sign. whatever the language s it is a minimal level of transparency to sign of the anger, sign that the feeling that there was a real mischaracterization. robert mueller may have thought he could submit the report, go i a way, be done with this, but the fact that that letter happened over that weekend and then mueller took the step to say, this distorts the conclusions of our report, it's a sure thing that it isn't going away, we are probably going to
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eventually hear from robert mueller and this simmering tension between doj and the special counsel's office is going to continue. i wanted to make one other point on those two clips you showed at the beginning of barr's testimony and i think there is a difference between the two. one of them is focused on whether mueller disagreed with barr's conclusion about o.j. simpson -- obstruction of justice and he said i don't know. the second one seems to be more on point, did he know about frustration, anger about his letter inside the team and he said i don't know. but clearly he did because he had the mueller letter. so that may be a potentially more significant issue for them. >> not only had the mueller letter, laura coates, but he also had a phone conversation that followed the mueller letter supposedly about a 15-minute conversation in which they discussed mueller's frustration. >> and of course that makes the amnesia go from improbable to absolutely absurd. you had a phone call and a
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letter. lawyers don't pick up the phone when a computer is available unless they do not want to have a record of what followed from there. mueller took the time to write something out in a memo knowing full well it was likely going to be released and with it did it would show that he was not the inept person that barr's four-page letter allowed us to believe. he had one job, yield and reach a conclusion he didn't do that according to barr in a four-page letter. now what mueller appears to look like is someone who was once called inept, a campaign by trump to show that the entire investigation should be investigated because of ineptitude and number two he is now on his heels trying to recover and say, hold on, if i do testify i'm defending my honor and integrity as opposed to what american people care about which is the substance of the investigation. so with one stone, two birds were actually not over. >> everybody, stand by. there is a lot developing right now. we're just one hour away.
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less than one hour away right now, the top of the hour the attorney general of the united states, william barr, will be facing tough questions from senate judiciary committee members, specifically the democrats on that committee. i will speak with a top democrat on the committee right after this. my experience with usaa has been excellent. they really appreciate the military family and it really shows. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. it was funny because when we would call another insurance company, hey would say "oh we can't beat usaa"
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we're now about 40 minutes away from the attorney general of the united states william barr's appearance in front of the senate judiciary committee and the stakes have gotten higher. we now know the special counsel robert mueller did, in fact, object to barr's four-page letter in the 448-page report. how will democrats take this on today during this upcoming hearing? joining us now senator and democratic whip dick durbin of illinois, he is a leader in the u.s. senate and he is also a
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leader on the judiciary committee as well. senator, thanks so much for joining us. let's get right to the substance of this huge uproar that has developed overnight. on april 10th your democratic colleague senator oath this que bob mueller support your conclusion? barr's answer was, and i'm quoting him now, i don't know. we now know mueller stated his concerns to barr on march 27th, a letter. did barr lie to congress? >> and if you go the day before on april the 9th congressman chris of florida asked virtually the same question and, again, attorney general barr said, no, he wasn't aware of any concerns by the mueller investigative team about his earlier statement. let's follow from start to finish, wolf. this started off as a matter of grave national importance, russian interference in a presidential campaign, then we had a recusal of a sitting attorney general jeff sessions
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because of his involvement in the same campaign and undisclosed context with the russians. third, we appointed a special counsel bob mueller, we gave him $25 million in two years and said find out what happened here. before his report was public for the american people to reach their own conclusions, in steps the new attorney general bill barr and white washes the report. comes to a conclusion that there's no collusion, there's no conspiracy, there's no obstruction of justice. now we know that bob mueller made it clear at the beginning that his conclusions, barr's conclusions, did not reflect the reality of that report. >> so do you believe he lied? did barr lie in front of congress which, of course, would be perjury, that's illegal. >> well, i'm not going to say a crime was committed but he clearly misled congressman chris and senator van holland. he knew sitting there he had received a letter from bob mueller saying that his report, his letter of march 24th to the american people failed to provide the context and the
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substance of the report that mueller had worked on for two years. >> do you believe he should resign or be impeached? >> i will say this, i'm gravely concerned that the 14 remaining referrals, criminal referrals for investigation related to this same matter are really under the supervision and control of attorney general barr. he has virtually disqualified himself to be the kind of person we expect to stand back and make sure that justice is served when it comes to these 14 referrals. >> he will be sitting in front of your committee in a few moments. what will you ask him? >> well, clearly i'm going to go into this matter because it gets down to the bottom line here. bill barr has told us not just this time when he came after the position of attorney general, but previously that attorney generals should not show any political favoritism. he did exactly that with the march 24th letter. he did exactly that with the press conference before the release of this report. it's inconsistent with his promise to the american people and to the judiciary committee, the conduct that followed.
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>> how does mueller's letter that we now know existed, i anticipate we will be getting the full text of it fairly soon, how does that letter change your approach to today's hearing? >> well, as of last night and the disclosure of that letter it was no longer speculation or conjecture as to what mueller agreed -- whether mueller agreed with barr's -- his own version of the report. we now know that he didn't and he put it in writing. as one of your earlier people said on your show when an attorney puts something in writing it's pretty significant. >> if you could ask mueller, you know, anything you want right now, and i don't even know if he's going to agree at some point to testify before your committee or another house or senate committee, what would you ask? >> well, i'd ask him this, attorney general barr said that the white house fully cooperated with the mueller investigation. the mueller report says the president refused to be interviewed. did the white house and the president fully cooperate with
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the mueller investigation? that would be a question i would ask mueller. that's number one. number two, did you believe that it was up to attorney general barr to reach a conclusion as to whether the president obstructed justice? is that what you were asking for in your findings and as a result of this investigation? i doubt that his answer would be in the affirm testi affirmative >> i want you to listen to mike lee of utah. listen to what he said last night. >> the fact is that this has been a very thorough investigation, it took them two years, they concluded that there was no collusion and so now they're losing their minds because they've been relying on the mueller report as this sort of holy grail from wednesday was going to come all of this blessings and they didn't have that and they are frustrated. they want to take it out on barr. we can't let them do that. >> what's your message to senator lee and others on the republicans, others supporting the president who feel the democrats are right now simply
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grandstanding? >> mike lee is my friend but i disagree with him. i respect bob mueller and i said i will stand by his findings whether i agree with them or not because i believe he is a honest map with integrity. i don't agree with everything that he concluded in his report but i believe it's clear that what bill barr did with these findings was to twist them politically to the benefit of the president. i don't believe that is his role as attorney general, i don't believe he served the cause of justice. >> the chairman of your committee we will be hearing from him fairly soon right at the top of the hour, lindsey graham, he told our manu raju on monday he said that the democrats in his words are political hacks in their pursuit of more information. what's your reaction to that? >> you know, it's amazing to me to listen to my republican colleagues. think back just for a moment all of the hearings at benghazi and hillary clinton's emails, millions and millions of dollars, days and days of hearings, all the investigations over and over, repeating themselves, and now they're
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saying that we have gone too far to ask for basic information from the trump administration about something as serious as whether the russians undermined our election. >> senator dick durbin of illinois, thanks as usual for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> this morning the president has been unleashing on twitter once again, tweeting or retweeting more than, get this, 60 times. 60 times in just a few hours. is he responding to robert mueller's letter objecting to the attorney general's summary of this report? stick around, we will be right back. we have to be able to
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once again we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we are minutes away from the attorney general of the united states bill barr arriving up on capitol hill to testify before the senate judiciary committee
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and this morning the president has been very, very active on twitter. so far he's not commenting on this very high stakes hearing specifically, but he is commenting on the russia probe, it's very much on his mind. let's go to our white house correspondent kaitlan collins. what are we hearing from the president? >> reporter: wolf, no word yet specifically on this hearing, but the president did tweet a few minutes ago referencing the russia investigation, once again calling it what he believes is the biggest political con job in history. we are also hearing push back from the president's allies and white house officials who say they are exasperated about i this latest [ inaudible ] about bill barr because they had thought that the russia investigation was finally going to be behind them and now there is a fresh level of scrutiny on how the attorney general conducted himself. the president's attorney is ent kming on the news last night about bill barr saying in a statement to cnn and i'm quoting him now, mueller should have made a decision and shouldn't be complaining or whining now that
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he didn't get described correctly. now, wolf, we should note that mueller did not make a decision in part because of a justice department guideline that you cannot indict a sitting president. that is something that bill barr did not initially describe when talking about the report when he just said that mueller hadn't made a conclusion about whether or not the president obstructed justice and of course we later is a you that mueller didn't make the conclusion not regardless of evidence but in part because of that justice department guideline about indicting a sitting president. now there will be questions about whether or not bill barr conducted himself appropriate and we should note that the president does not have anything on his public schedule until 2:15 today so plenty of time to watch his attorney general testify in front of lawmakers. >> kaitlan, we will see what other reaction we get from the white house. i expect we will be seeing plenty of that. kaitlan is over at the white house. jing us now renato mariotti, a former federal prosecutor and
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elliot williams, former counsel to the senate judiciary committee. renato, we know that barr will have to answer lots of questions about this letter he received from robert mueller, barr will have to explain why he put out what clearly was a misleading summary of the report. so what does this letter do to barr's overall credibility? >> i think it takes credibility that was already at an all time low and i think it makes it even lower, wolf. you know, before this news broke there was certainly a lot of discussion, myself included, i had written some columns kind of walking through how i thought the letter was misleading, how i thought the press conference was misleading, but now we know that mueller himself had a similar view and barr has to know that eventually robert mueller is going to come forward and give his side of the story, give his explanation. i think that barr is going to be very defensive today, he's going to be trying to provide an explanation and put his view out there to try to blunt the
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criticism that's going to come, not just for the, you know, months to come, but also for his own legacy. >> barr had testified, elliott, under oath that he, quote, didn't know if mueller supported his summary conclusions in that four-page letter. we now know that wasn't true. did barr, do you believe, that barr actually lied under oath? >> i don't know if i'm -- i don't know if i'm willing to make that legal finding here. he's got some explaining to do today and tomorrow. a number of members of congress will want to specifically hone in on that precise question. look, there are people now going to be calling -- people are certainly calling for ses nation and impeachment, but on a lower level for barr disciplinary -- ba a.r., not b.a.r.r., barr disciplinary actions for an individual who has lied about the proceeding with the intent to mislead. even if it doesn't rise to the level of perjury it rises to the
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level of certainly inaccurate and troubling statement. just to piggyback on a point that laura coates had made earlier, it bears mentioning how robert mueller made the choice to put this in writing knowing full well that this letter is going to be released. there's nothing that bars public disclosure of this letter, it's not deliberative information, it's not going to be grand jury material. so he is creating a record of his public dispute with william barr and frankly this testimony, this contradictory testimony, is also part that have record is is the press conference, as is the letter. as reno had said he started with credibility problems and it's gotten worse and he has explaining to do over the next two days. >> all the more extraordinary given the friendship that has existed over mueller and barr over many years and their wiefrs happy to be very good friends as well.
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renato, how significant is it when the united states attorney general misrepresents what mueller says the context, nature and substance of such a critical investigation? >> i think it's so serious, wolf, that it not only impacts barr's credibility, but i think it impacts the credibility of the entire justice department. i know when i worked at the justice department i'm sure elliott has a similar view, we were always instructed that a lawyer for the justice department was above, was held to a standard above the standards of an ordinary attorney. in i attorney was trying to comport themselves as if they're representing the united states of america and its people, holding themselves to the highest eye dleels of that office. obviously the attorney general of the united states has an even greater responsibility. he is the lawyer for all of us or he's supposed to be. here he's operating below the standards that i would expect from the young lawyers who work for me at my law firm. you know, the reality is any lawyer who misrepresented to a
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judge in the way that mr. barr a misrepresenting to congress and the american people would be censured by the judge, would be called out. if i acted this way at the justice department i would expect to be reprimanded or disciplin disciplined. i think it's a problem. >> based on what we -- we've seen reporting, but based on what we understand mueller put in his letter, a big concern of his was protecting the integrity of the investigation. frankly, you know, the public perception plays into the integrity. it appeared to him and he sort of seems to have said this and we will see this when we read the letter but it seemed to had i'm that the statements that were out there even if not inaccurate or even if not untruthful were confusing the public and hurting the public's integrity and their faith in investigations. this is the kind of then renato was talking about, you want to not just have everything -- have the i's dotted and t's crossed
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but have the public have faith that the investigation has been carried out in a neutral manner, but also the findings are conveyed accurately to the public. that seemed to have been mueller's goal and barr has at into um rouse instances undermined that. i don't want to call it a fight but a public dispute and disagreement playing out in front of all of us as to how we should characterize that i saw findings. >> elliot williams, renato mariotti thanks very much. we will get back to you later. our special coverage continues. a crucial moment up on capitol hill now, only a few moments away as we await the attorney general, bill barr's testimony before the senate judiciary committee. house democrats expected to vote in just minutes on whether to allow staff attorneys to grill barr on the mueller report tomorrow morning. will that push barr to skip tomorrow's hearing? stay with us.
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there you are looking at jerry nadler the chairman of the house judiciary committee, let's listen in. >> -- the introduction and summaries of the report because the special counsel felt that the attorney general's public statements were misleading and he said so, they're misleading as to the contents of the report, and he says release the summaries and the -- and the introduction, which accurately reflect the report and they're properly redacted, et cetera. the attorney general's failure to do so is another step in trying to mislead the public to shelter the president but to mislead the public into what the report was all about and completely misrepresented it for another month. this makes it even more important that barr come in and testify before our committee
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tomorrow and that mueller testify, which they have agreed to do subject to setting a date and we will see if this he do that sometime in may. >> has your committee reached an agreement with the justice department? >> no, we have not. we are going to today -- we are marking up the equality act today, but before we do that today we're going to amend the committee rules to permit the counsel to question witnesses after the members do, this is not unprecedented, there is resident for it, and we think it's particularly important that especially in light of this letter now that we have the ability to have follow-up questions beyond what the five-minute rule permits. so that's why we're doing that. [ inaudible question ] >> no. no. they simply -- they -- no.
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i will take a charitable view and assume it's just a question of setting a date and hopefully that's true and we will find that out in the next couple days. [ inaudible question ] >> no. no. no. [ inaudible question ] >> i'm sorry? [ inaudible question ] >> i think there are great difficulties with the attorney general at this point, he seems -- besides the fact that he clearly misled the american people, he seems to have testified nontruthfully to the senate and to the house, which raises major questions. [ inaudible question ] >> well, the more important reque request is the fact that we issued a subpoena for the underlying report and underlying evidence that is due today. if he doesn't supply that today we will take steps to enforce the subpoena. that's it. thank you. >> so there's jerry nadler, the chairman of the house judiciary
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committee with some very, very strong words of warning to the attorney general of the united states, bill barr. you know, elie honig, you are a former u.s. assistant attorney in the southern district of new york. all of a sudden they're raising questions about whether the attorney general
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