tv Robert Mueller Hearing Coverage CNN July 24, 2019 4:30am-5:01am PDT
obstruct that investigation. i'm jake tapper. >> and i'm wolf blitzer. there will be back-to-back hearings today. mueller will first be sworn in before the house judiciary committee who will focus on the obstruction documented in the mueller report. then the house intelligence committee will get its turn concentrating on what russia did to attack the 2016 presidential election here in the united states. >> mueller is clearly a reluctant witness. he stressed he's going to limit his testimony to what is in his 448-page report. but even if mueller only recites aloud some of the key points, that effect could be stunning and these could have blockbuster potential. we gathered our analysts to bring you full coverage. >> i want to go to capitol hill right now. manu raju is up there. manu, there have been overnight developments involving a last-minute request by robert mueller. what are you learning now?
>> reporter: yeah. sensitive negotiations having going up until the last minute of this high profile high stakes hearing in the aftermath of robert mueller making a request to have his top deputy testify -- to sit along side him and actually be sworn in. republicans objected to that request but it was allowed for him to sit next to robert mooul per. he's not expected to speak at the judiciary committee but the intelligence committee will actually swear him in so he can answer questions potentially about personnel matters. republicans have a lot of questions about that. we'll see how he answers. adam schiff told us last night that he actually believes that zebly won't overshadow. the justice department is trying to limit mueller's testimony to essentially the boundary os of the mueller report.
he said there's nothing that binds you to that report. he sent this letter to mueller telling him he's free to testify. at the same time, there deliberations have been intensive behind the scenes. democrats held a mock hearing, one of three different mock hearings that democrats and republicans have held behind closed doors. very unusual on capitol hill. someone sat in as an aide in a mock hearing yesterday. one played jim jordan the republican who sits on this committee because of democrats trying to prepare for procedural hurdles and other objections that may be raised. and this some of the most intense hall crowding in the hallway that i've seen in some time. people have been waiting since last night sleeping overnight to come into this packed hearing room here in the rayburn house office building waiting for this key moment, this high stakes moment that both parties are preparing for, sharpening their
questions. crowds are lining up. we do expect robert mueller to appear any minute for this hearing that will take place in just under an hour. >> thanks very much. you know, jake, there are a lot of people waiting to get inside. and mueller's going to be arriving any minute. he's going to have a little preliminary behind closed doors with some members. then they go into the open session. >> let's turn to justice correspondent jessica stainer. how have they reacted to mueller wanting this depth now sworn in before the intention committee? >> reporter: really objecting to any other person testifying in conjunction with robert mueller. aaron zebly is a private citizen and all the department of justice can do at this point is object. he is no longer an employee of the justice department, no long aeromember of the special
counsel's team. this was a late-night request from robert mueller himself. we know he will be appearing next to him when he goes in front of the house judiciary committee in an hour. also sworn in as a witness. mueller wants him to possibly help him with any questions he might not be able to fully answer. the spokesperson for robert mul ser not commenting on whether or not they've heard any further objection from the justice department. the justice department doesn't have full authority here. zebly is a private citizen and can testify. we heard from mueller's spokesperson yesterday putting it this way saying aaron zebly was the assistant to the special counsel and had day-to-day oversight.
i did just speak to robert mueller's spokesperson. he'll be accompanied by some of his team from the special counsel's office. this is presumably the same group of people who have been working with ront mueller as he's been preparing at the offices of william hale. that's robert mueller's former law firm right here in washington, d.c. we know that he has been preparing throughout the past few days or weeks. so that group of people will be with him. presumably we'll see them sit just behind robert mueller at the hearing as he begins to testify at 8:30 this morning. but so far no more word from the justice department. but we know they are objecting to zebley testifying alongside mueller which he's expected to do in the second part of the day. >> jess is a snyder, thank you so much.
president trump has been on edge ahead of the mueller hearing. using the phrase he often uses, witch hunt. let's go to boris sanchez. what's the latest over there? >> reporter: even though president trump says he's not anxious about the testimony today, it's clear that this investigation and the potential damaging information to come from mueller is consuming the president. we've heard that he's been phoning allies asking them specifically about what mueller may say in his testimony. the president also public i yesterday made comments to a group of young conservatives complaining that this investigation is continually overshadowing his presidency. the president letting his anger be known in a series of tweets this morning as well. take a look. the president writing so democrats and others can fabricate a crime, try pinning it on a very innocent president. when he fights back against this treasonist attack on our country, they call it wrong. why didn't robert mueller investigate the investigators?
the president also taking exception to aaron zebley testifying alongside robert mueller. he tweeted this out about the deputy special counsel writing, quote, it was never agreed that robert mueller could use one of his many democrat never trumper lawyers to sit next to him and help him with his answers. this was specifically not agreed to and i would never have agreed to it. the greatest witch hunt in u.s. history by far. we should point out it's not especially known that aaron zebley is a never trumper or he's a democrat. federal records indicate he's never donated to either political party. still the president wants to paint him a certain way just as he tried to paint robert mueller in a negative light suggesting he had conflicts of interest. as for whether the president will be watching earlier this week, he played coy. might watch parts of the testimony. knowing this president just how much he consumes cable news, it's safe to say he'll be watching. as for when we might hear from
him outside of twitter, the president has a fund raider later tonight in west virginia. we will hear what he has to say about this testimony as he departs the white house. >> it's interesting. we're going to get back to you. the president using the word treasonest. treason carries a death sentence. >> people say you should take him seriously but not literally. let's bring in our experts right now. pamela brown, president trump insisting he's not going to watch the testimony. his aides insisting he's irritated but not anxious about this. you look at his twitter feed, the window into his soul, and you see he was tweeting about robert mueller at 10:30 last night before he went to bed. he was tweeting about robert mueller at 6:50 a.m. as soon as he got up. this is consuming his day. >> it is certainly. it seems as though he is anxious this morning at the very least right before this testimony begins. because remember, robert mueller has played an outsized role in
his presidency. he has cast a shadow of his presidency with the russia probe. now we're going to hear from him for the first time answering questions about this russia probe. we have heard from him in the public statement. but he's going to be answering questions in a nonscripted environment. this is a very big deal and a very big deal for the president. if he's not watching from beginning to end, he is getting briefed on it. we expect him to watch some of it. that is what he has said. i talked to white house source who is say they don't expect anything new to come out of this because of robert mueller saying he's going to stick to what was said in the report, stick to his public statement, but they are expecting some unseemly headlines to come out. >> dana barsh, it's very clear that even if it's just kept within the constraints of what's in the mueller report, they have clear goals about what they want to educate mueller about. here are the five incidents we
say constitute obstruction of justice. russians offered to help the trump people, welcomed the help, then the trump people lied about it. they know what they want the public to know. >> exactly right. educate the public is the key phrase that you just used there. because if you look at the big picture of the will they or won't they on impeachment, the leadership, their argument they're making to their very anxious rank and file and to the grassroots is hold on a second. the public isn't where you are yet. we need to get them there. that is what for the leadership, this is about. now, obviously if you would give them truth serum, they're hoping they don't get to where they have no choice but to start hearings. if you look at the chairman of the committee this morning, jerry nadler, he's made it very clear he wants to start impeachment hearings.
he's at odds with the democratic leadership. that's why this hearing is so crucial. even if he can get robert mueller to say what is in the report, to explain the areas where he couldn't charge the president for obstruction but he laid out areas where there clearly was, that's key. and the other point that is really critical is that this is a road map for impeachment. and so if they can get robert mueller to articulate this road map on obstruction, then the people who want to push for impeachment can take that map and use it. >> and jim sciutto, this is also -- this might be a road map for impeachment, but the mueller report is also a case study. the democrats on it at least is to make the case that the russians are still doing this. this is how they did it last time. they might try similar tricks next time. >> the expectation is they will and they already attempted in 2018. remember that phrase from his
previous public statement sweeping and systemic interference in the report. you talk about educating the public. this educates the public on how sweeping and systematic that was. but let's look at the statistics here. 470 fake fast locebooscebook ac. 3500 fake facebook ads. all traced back to this troll farm in st. petersburg known as the ira. run by a close friend of vladimir putin. that is sweeping. that is systematic. you had the stolen dnc emails, stolen john podesta emails. all released with intent. this was times to have impact on this election and we have another presidential election coming up next year. and the expectation from everyone in the intelligence
community and law enforcement is that russia will try again. imagine if russia does and how this country will receive that given that the fact of this interference has become a partisan issue. it should not be, but it is because the president has made it such. >> we've heard from the president and others close to the white house that suping information from the russians -- there's not necessarily something wrong with that. you're looking at live pictures of the committee hearing room. we are going to take a quick break. we'll be right back with more on robert mueller under oath testifying before the american people.
>> potentially. but, you know, even within the very strict rule that mueller has agreed to follow, there's a lot of leeway in terms of how he actually talks about his report. will he describe what's in his report? will he talk about the meetings that the democrats say are obstruction of justice? or will he simply say, see page 35? i already talked about that in my report. how much he agrees to engage with his question is how much he actually talks about what he uncovered is at this moment unknown. and if he simply says, read my report, that would be a very big disappointment to the people who want the public to know what was in the report. >> because laura coates, he is a reluctant witness. he made it clear a couple months ago he didn't want to do this. >> he did. he has a deputy with him as well who may suggest he wants to be
comprehensive. wan wants to get this done right now. i'm looking for two things. why he made decisions, why he was inclined to make decisions and also credibility. the whole point of this is the same reason you don't hand to a jury police reports. you want to actually have some legs and some teeth. he can provide the credibility to say, look, here's why i meant what i said. it's making it plain. >> preet, what are you going to be looking for? >> same thing everyone else is looking for. see what explanations bob mueller gives about the decisions he made and why he didn't make some decisions particularly on obstruction. i agree with jeffrey that there's potential but also chance for disappointment. bob mul ser oeller is pretty forthcoming but didn't evade questions, doesn't filibuster. in this instance bun one of the things the democrats keep
saying, maybe they'll have bob mueller narrate and read portions of the report. i don't think he wants to be a prop in that way either. i'm not sure if asked to read passages from the report, bob mueller will even agree to do that. i think he'll do what jeffrey said which is you can read the report as well as anyone, here's the page number to look at. >> you've written the biography of robert mueller and also interviewed his deputy who's going to be joining him throughout the day. tell us about him. >> aaron has been mueller's right-hand for almost a decade now. both as his right-hand as a chief of staff and with robert mueller in private practice before coming back in as special counsel. he's a career fbi agent. was actually one of the agents on squad 49 chasing al-qaeda before 9/11. and probably his biggest piece, he and his partner steve gouden, actually went under cover in the
south african immigration and refugee service and captured the bomb maker in the natanzinian embassy bombing. i have spoken to aaron zudly, cnn him for a decade. he is in the finest traditions of a nonpartisan careered justice department official. if anything for the fbi he's conservative. >> when the president of the united states goes out or here mueller's arriving up on capitol hill right now. you see him walking in. clearly got some security which is totally understandable given the nature of what's going on right now, we're going to watch,
jake, as he goes in. he's going to go into a room off the hearing room first, get himself ready and soon the leadership of the ranking member chair will come out and say high. >> when he was reported a lot of republicans sung his praise, talked about he was a man of integrity, decorated vietnam veteran, somebody who served with honor at the fbi, and of course he's seen his name dragged through the mud or at least the president and his minions have attempted to drag his name through the amud. i believe he generally has his reputation in fact, but it's been an unpleasant experience for him. all he's testified on capitol hill i think 88 times before and he does not like -- >> some reporters were shouting a question or two. obviously he's just walking into that room right off the hearing room, get himself ready. we're a little bit more than a
welcome back to our special coverage. all these attacks on robert mueller and his team coming from the president of the united states, how's that going to impact mueller today? he's going to clearly want to defend himself and his team. >> i would hope so. bob mueller is somebody who people work with respect immensely. he models behavior and models integrity. squun and one of the things i think is most important for him to today about peter struck and all sorts of allegations made by the president is to forcefully reject those allegations, defend the integrity of the
investigation. people need to hear it from bob mueller himself. >> and it's going to be a significant development, laura, when we watch all of this unfold because mueller as we've been saying he didn't want to have to do this but he's been doing it. >> it is. and he didn't want to have to write a letter to william barr saying please present my summaries i gave to you. i think it lays the groundwork to say any statements on the integrity base claim, to defend the honor or career legacy of his team is going to be viewed as him simply trying to preserve himself as opposed to the american people. >> the democrats, they've been practicing, they've been rehearsing. they've had mock hearings. >> you know what they should practice the most? shutting up. they should let mueller talk. they only have five minutes, and obviously they all know how much attention there is going to want
to be on this. and they're going to want to talk for their five minutes and i think the great challenge for these politicians is going to be you actually let the witness do the talking. >> you can see the hearing room beginning to fill up and the democrats and republicans are going to try to equally divide the time they have for questions. they say there are five things they want the public to learn about the potential obstruction of justice. one is the president according to former white house counsel don mcgahn telling him to fire mueller. another is don mcgahn saying that president trump then told him to lie about it publicly. another is the president according to cory lewandowski, hiss former campaign manager, telling lewandowski to tell jeff sessions the then attorney general to restrain what the investigation is about.
the fourth is lewandowski saying then the president said to sessions if you don't meet with me the president is going to fire you, and the fifth one is what the democrats consider to be witness tampering. inducements for manafort not to cooperate, inducements for cohen not to cooperate, and then threats to his family according to democrats after he did stop cooperating. do you think democrats could actually make that case with those five elements? >> it's a lot of stuff. it depends on how much mueller wants to stay, he wants to amplify. as we've been talking about, the best way might be to have a member of the democratic side recite the fact and just ask mueller to agree with him and maybe he'll embellish a little bit. it the way you laid it out, if bob mueller just laid it out as you said it and talk about how significant those things were, that will be a momentous thing. >> i want to welcome our viewers all around the united states and around the world. we have live special