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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  March 24, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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"this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. >> robert mueller wraps his report. >> breaking news. >> the investigation is now over. >> this is monumental. >> the intensity of anticipation now goes into hyperdrive. >> congress has been notified. barr decides how much we'll see. >> let it come out. let people see it. it's up to the attorney general. we have a very good attorney general. >> the mueller report must be made public. >> we're going to insist upon it. >> the summary of mueller's conclusions could be sent to congress as early as today. president trump and his team celebrating the news of no new indictments. but does mueller's underlying report show damning evidence of
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obstruction of justice? the top democrat on the house intelligence committee, chairman adam schiff and the top republican on the house oversight committee, congressman jim jordan. we'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. the facts that matter this week. good morning, and welcome to "this week." 22 months. $25 million. 37 indictments, including 6 close associates of president trump. that's just some of what we know about special counsel robert mueller's investigation. the best news for president trump, mueller wrapped up his work without issuing any new indictments. that made for a happy night in mar-a-lago. how did mueller reach that decision? what else did he discover about contacts between the trump team and russia in the 2016 campaign? does he believe president trump obstructed justice? but interfering with the investigation?
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some answers may come as soon as today. william barr has the entire mueller report. he's been viewing it since friday afternoon. he's going to decide how much of mueller's report congress and all of us get to see. and investigations started by mueller have been farmed out to at least four other u.s. attorneys. so the last shoe has not dropped. the next phase of the battle filled with challenges for president trump and the democrats who want to push him out of the white house. we start with our correspondents on the front lines of this case. jon karl at the white house, mary bruce on capitol hill and pierre thomas at the justice department. pierre? >> george, barr has been going through mueller's report and working on a summary of key findings. he was in the office all day yesterday, joined by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. sources say he'll be back in some time this morning to continue that work.
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and the hope is that he'll finish the summary of key findings and release it to congress and the pres late -- press later today. that's the hope. no guarantee. >> do we have any good sense of how long the report is? >> right now, it's a state secret. i have never seen anything like it. a source told me yesterday it was, quote, quite comprehensive. but refused to give the last number of pages. i think barr is competing with his old friend, mueller, on who can keep secrets the best. >> mueller was good at keeping secrets so far. he's promised to consult with robert mueller about what can be released to congress later. >> we're waiting on the summary. it should answer the questions of was there collusion between the russians and the trump campaign and was there obstruction of justice. after that, barr, mueller, and rosenstein will go will you the report to see what else can be released. congress is going to want every word, every syllable. >> barr has not commented on the investigation since becoming attorney general. before he took office, he was
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quite skeptical of the obstruction of justice charges. >> he absolutely was kept call of prosecutors overreaching. given his belief that the president has authority as chief executive to fire people in his administration. he made clear he was talking about the firing of james comey based on what was disclosed publicly. he acknowledged in his hearings any decision had to be guided by the evidence and he did not have all the facts when he wrote the opinion of the case. >> to the white house. jon karl is there. president trump uncharacteristically quiet until about 8:00 this morning. good morning, have a great day from the president. a sunny tweet from president trump. what's been going on behind the scenes? >> well, george, prepared for the worst, the with him to mar-a-lago. now, the president appears relaxed. one top aide said he's in a great mood. there is a clear sense of relief that there are no more indictments. for all of the speculation,
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after 22 months of investigation, not a single member of the trump family was charged with everything. but while there is that sense of relief, it's a cautious sense of relief. the president's legal team is keenly aware that there still may be damaging information in the mueller report. damaging information particularly on the question of obstruction of justice. >> we know he was informed -- or at least their team was informed of no indictments some time ago. what more do they know about the report, if anything? >> as of this morning, i'm told the president and his legal team still have not been briefed on the mueller report. the president seems to be uncertain of how bill barr will handle the next steps. what they're preparing for, george, is a big fight over how much of the full report is released to the public. and not just the report.ele geuf press top advise ngress is go it.
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>> congress wans all -- wants all of it. you asked the president about it days ago. he said he wants it all out. is that true? >> they'll fight to make sure much of that never sees the light of day. >> and they want everyone to believe that the mueller report is the final word. >> they're going to say, you had 22 months of investigation into the question of russian interference. the idea that congress would reopen and litigate that again, when mueller had virtually unlimited resources and virtually unlimited time to investigate, they're not likely. they're continuing criminal investigations particularly the u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york. and democrats in congress are just getting started. >> let's take that to mary bruce. who covers congress for us. thank you, jon. as we just heard if -- from jon,
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mary, democrats say we're a separate branch of government. we have different constitutional duties. >> and democrats here are rallying the troops. speaker pelosi making the argument that americans deserve the full truth here. they're ramping up the pressure to get not just the full record, but the underlying evidence. i'm told pelosi will reject any classified briefing on the report. arguing that that would shield the public from the full findings. democrats are making clear, they want every detail, every single scrap of paper, every single note and document about this investigation. they're willing to use their subpoena power to get it. >> the republicans voted for that, too. the vote to release the report is 420-0. in the house. what else is the gop doing now to prepare? >> they're in a wait and see mode. until they see barr's unusual conclusions. but they are, of course, relieved and welcoming the news of no new indictments. they've been calling for transparency. they want the report to be
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released. >> they made it very clear yesterday, all of their investigations will continue. >> yeah, george. democrats are not going to wait to see mueller's report to continue their work here. they're ramping up scores of their own investigations. looking into everything from abuses of power to conflicts of interest to the president's finances. the trump administration and this president will continue to be under an intense microscope for a long time. >> okay, mary bruce. thank you very much. i'm here with our chief legal analyst, dan abrams. you have some unanimity that it should be released. >> there is certain information he must explain. that would have been if the special counsel had been fired. or if there had been a disagreement. where they overruled the special counsel. >> and apparently there were none. >> there were none apparently. now we're in the mays. the mays, that's up to the attorney general. he's allowed to decide what is in the public interest and what is not. >> and there are several reasons he could cite to holding on to
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the report. not revealing certain information. >> the strongest arguments. the first bucket. classified information, grand jury information, ongoing investigations. those are the easiest. ones to say, you know what, we can't release information about that. the harder ones are executive privilege. the president is saying i had private conversations with people and that shouldn't be released. and the typical justice department policy, which is, we don't talk about people who were not indicted. now, and that's what james comey -- got in trouble for. >> but rod rosenstein said that should be department policy. >> right. the problem with that is there's a specific provision in the special counsel law that says he may make it public. that makes this different than the typical federal investigation. >> one of the things that could make it easier to let out at least some of the information, apparently special counsel robert mueller did not go to a grand jury on the obstruction questions. those were just interviews. >> yeah, you rule that out. you can't say, well, there's grand jury information here.
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now we're back to the bottom line question is, can they release information about things that were not indicted? and specifically, mueller is required by the special counsel regulations to explain decisions day made not to indict. what are called declinations. the question is, will barr make that material public? >> the president has the power to declassify anything. he can order the attorney general to release everything. >> the real fight is going to be with congress subpoenaing. it's clear congress is going to say, we want to see the whole thing. they're going to subpoena it. it will be a real fight. >> we talked about this before going on air, former solicitor general neal cat yal has said congress will win the fight. are you sure? >> i'm not as sure. it will be a tough fight. there's an argument to be made that the statute was written in a particular way. if they wanted all information to be made public, they could have said it in the statute.
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it doesn't say that. it leaves the discretion to the attorney general. i think it will be a long, protracted, legally interesting fight. >> dan, thank you. let's bring in chairman adam schiff of the house intelligence committee. thank you for joining us this morning. >> thank you, george. >> the biggest news from robert mueller so far is that there are no new indictments in the case of the russians trying to interfere. we're already seeing rudy giuliani talking about that, citing you. he said, i trust he, that is you, adam shift, are releed there is though collusion. he said i trust he'll apologize for his mistake. we all make them. are you going to apologize? >> i think mr. giuliani would be wise to wait until the report is made public before making pro announcements about vindication. and likewise, people should wait to see how incriminating it is. we know the special counsel was not permitted to indict a sitting president.
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and we ought to see what evidence he produced on conspiracy and obstruction of justice. mr. giuliani would be wise to do something he's rarely done. that is wait until we see the facts. >> how do you square that with robert mueller's decision not to indict someone? >> there is significant evidence of collusion. we have set that out time and time again from the secret meetings in trump tower to the conversations between flynn, the russian ambassador, to the providing of polling data. to someone linked to russian intelligence. and stone's conversation with wikileaks and the gru through -- >> none of it prosecuted. >> no, that's true. and as i pointed out on your show many times, there's a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy. and as i've said before, george, i leave that decision to bob mueller.
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and i have full confidence in him. i think the country owes bob mueller a debt of gratitude for conducting the investigation as professionally as he has. so i trust in his prosecutorial judgment. that doesn't mean there is not compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the american people. >> you're seeing the president's allies saying this is vindication for the president. >> they have said with each indictment it's vindication that now, about six people close to the president have been indicted. that hardly looks like vindication to me. was again, let's see what the report has to say. if they're so confident hat the report is going to exonerate them, they should make that evidence public and available to congress. but i suspect that we'll find those words of transparency to prove hollow. that, in fact, they'll fight to make sure that congress doesn't get the underlying evidence. we're going to take it as far as necessary to make sure that we do. we have an independent obligation to share the facts with the american people. we in the intelligence committee have a particular obligation to
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determine whether there is evidence that the president may be compromised in any way, whether that is criminal or not. there are indications he was pursuing money in russia through trump tower and other potential real estate that could be deeply compromising. >> you say you'll take it as far as necessary. that means subpoena first, then sue? it means make the question. if the request is denied, subpoena. if subpoenas are denied, we'll hold people before the congress. and yes, we'll prosecute in court, as necessary, to get the informing. i'll say this i think that kneel cat yal's prognostication is quite correct. we'll win that litigation. >> why are you so sure? >> how do you make the case that after providing 880,000 pages to a republican congress that somehow you're precluded from providing that information to congress in the trump
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investigation? when likewise in the clinton investigation, there were no indictments for rod rosenstein or others to say, it's our policy not the share that information. they should provide that to lisa page, peter strzok, countless others, hillary clinton, for whom they provided hundreds of thousands of documents to congress much of it made public. i would hate to defend that double standard in court. if they're trying they'll not only lose, they'll damage any reputation for impartiality. >> you asked robert mueller to examine transcripts of donald trump jr., jared kushner, eric prince, are you surprised? >> i don't know. when we release the transcript, people can make their own judgments about how truthful or forthcoming they were. as i said at the time,
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i wanted the special couple to be able to review the transcripts, not just for the purpose of determining if people lied to us, which, indeed they did. but what evidence they show on the central issues. >> there is no public evidence that robert mueller even interviewed don jr. we know he didn't interview the president. mistake? >> yes. and i have said this all along. it was a mistake to rely on written responses by the president. that is generally more what the lawyer has to say than what the individual has to say. i can understand why the lawyers like giuliani were fighting this. because the president is someone who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth for long periods of time. nonetheless, if you want the truth, you need to put people under oath. and that should have been done. but the special counsel may have made the decision that, as he could not indict a sitting president on the obstruction issue, as it would draw out his investigation, that that didn't make sense. one other point in terms of the icink isigfint report, george,
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that is this report has come out so far in advance of the election that the contents can be made public. that the public can have that access to information without violating any policy about disclosure prior to an election. and that is very important. >> you mentioned that criminal investigation was only one part of robert mueller's job. you also took over the counterintelligence investigation into interference, as well. i was puzzled that the speaker is ruling out a classified briefing about that counterintelligence investigation. isn't that normal business of your committee and the so-called "gang of eight "? >> there may be a time down the road with respect to specific classified information that goes to a source or method where they would want to brief us on that. i think what the speaker is saying, and i completely agree, is, do not think you can bury
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this report. bury the evidence by briefing eight people in congress and say we have discharged our responsibility. that's not going to cut it. it is essential that the report be made completely public. and the reservations that you have mentioned, the legal issues, one thing is abundantly clear about the special counsel regulations. the attorney general has the discretion to make it completely public. if he's going to live up to his words that he will do so consistent with law and policy, that means making it all public. i think the speaker is quite right. there are key counterintelligence concerns we have as a committee. the counterintelligence committee. this began as a counterintelligence operation. we have seen all kinds of disturbing indications that this president has a relationship with putin that is very difficult to justify or explain.
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>> you told "the san francisco chronicle" on friday, if there is no bombshell, there is no impeachment. does no indictments qualify as no bombshell? >> not necessarily. they can't indict the president. that's the policy. there could be overwhelming evidence on the obstruction issue. i don't know that that's the case. but if there were overwhelming evidence of criminality on the president's part, congress would need to consider that remedy if indictment is foreclosed. it's too early to make those judgments. we need to see the report. i think we'll all have a factual basis to discuss what does this mean for the american people? what risks are we running with this president? what steps does congress need the take to protect the country? in the absence of those facts, those judgments are impossible to make. >> as you know, some of your republican colleagues say by continuing this investigation, you're moving the goal posts.
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>> the investigation is a criminal investigation. congress's responsibility is very different. that is it's our responsibility to tell the american people these are the facts. this is what your president has done. this is what his key campaign and appointees have done. these are the issues we need to take action on. this is potential compromise. there is evidence that the president sought to make money from the russians. sought the kremlin's help to make money during the presidential campaign while denying business ties with the russians. that is obviously deeply compromising. and if it's this president's view that he still wants to build that tower when he's out of office, that may further compromise his policy towards putin, russia, and other things. it is our duty to expose that and take corrective action. >> chairman schiff, thank you for your time this morning. >> thanks, george. up next, congressman jim jordan responds live. you, without the constraints of a full time job?
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report. what i do know is that, to date, not one bit of evidence to show any type of coordination, collusion, conspiracy between the trump campaign and russia to influence the election. that was the charge, george, when this thing started almost two years ago. the democrats said the president of the united states worked with a hostile foreign country to steal the election. there's not been one bit of evidence to suggest that any of that happened. >> there's been a fair amount of evidence that 14 associates of president trump had over 100 contacts with the russians. though you're right. does any of the information revealed about the contacts or the fact that so many in the trump world lied about the contacts concern you? >> well, i mean, look. the central charge of the special counsel was to see if there was conspiracy, coordination, or collusion between the trump campaign and russia to impact the election. as i've said, that was the focus of the entire special counsel investigation. we have not seen any of that. and again, remember, this is bob
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mueller. this is the guy the democrats, the republicans, everyone in town said, this is the guy we need to pick. he's right next to jesus. he can almost walk on water. this is the guy. we'll see the report. but all indications are that there is not going to be any finding of any collusion whatsoever. >> how about the other concern -- one of the other concerns that chairman schiff raised right there, that president trump might be compromised because he was pursuing the trump tower in moscow. may still be pursuing it today. >> come on, george. i mean, look. here's what's happened. they don't think this mueller report is going to be the bombshell they anticipated. now they're launching other charges, other investigations. they bring in michael cohen a few weeks ago. this was their first big hearing. their first star witness. the first announced witness of the 116th congress. a guy who is going to prison in six weeks for lying to congress. they bring him in. what does he do? he lies again. we think at least seven times
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under oath in front of the congress again. that didn't work for them. now, what does chairman nadler do? 81 different letters to 60-some different individuals. a fishing expedition. they go with chairman nadler and 81 different letters september out there. this is how the democrats are going to operate. we have to be used to it and understand that that's where they're going to go. >> do you stand by your vote that the country should see, congress should see the entire mueller report? >> the attorney general was clear in his letter friday. there was a lot of important things he said in there. he said he'll consult with rod rosenstein. with bob mueller. he'll release as much as he possibly can consistent with the law. i think the democrats should be -- that should be what we all want. an attorney general who operates according to the law. i'm for erring on the side of transparency. >> you voted to have the full thing released. you didn't have those qualifications in the vote. >> yes, we did. consistent with the law.
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that's what we want. and i think the democrats would want the same thing, too. i'll tell you this, george, if he's going to release all the information, then i want all of it released. i want the 302s. the conversations between bruce orr and christopher steele. the guy who wrote the dossier. glen simpson. the guy the clinton campaign hired to put it together. i want all those conversations that bruce orr had with glen simpson, christopher steele. i want those recorded -- those notes from the fbi. i want all that made public. i want the fisa application to be made public. they used that dossier. took it to a secret court. didn't tell the court the clinton campaign paid for the document. didn't tell the court a foreigner who was desperate to stop trump from being elected president wrote the document. if they're going to release everything, release it all. >> let's be clear. you agree all the underlying documents should be released, top to bottom, the mueller report should be released.
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we have just gone through the special counsel regulations. there is nothing in the law that precludes the attorney general from releasing all of that. >> i'm saying the attorney general should follow the statute. that's what he's indicated he is going to do. in consultation with rod rosenstein and bob mueller. i think the democrats should be happy with that. they said bob mueller was the guy they wanted to do this investigation. bill barr is going to consult with him and decide what to release. if they're going to release everything, then by golly, release it all. show us the fisa application. the 302s. the information they gave to the gang of eight. the gang of eight when they talked to them way back when about this dossier. about what took place at the fisa court. about the start of this counterintelligence investigation. show us that information, too. the american people deserve -- we have asked for that information to be made public a long time ago because that goes to what these top people, this cabal at the top of the fbi, what they did when they launched this thing in the fall of 2016, before the election. >> the president could order all this released on its own.
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all of it declassified on his own. will you urge him to do that? >> i urged him to release the stuff i just described. i sure have. the stuff jim comey, andy mccabe, peter strzok. all the things they started with. i have urged him to do that. >> will you urge him to order the release of the mueller report, as well? >> again, that's the attorney general's call. he's going to do it in accordance to the law. >> the president has the authority. are you asking the president to order the release of the mueller report? >> that's the president's call. he said he wants to it be made public. he said it the other day when he was walking, i think, out in front of the press, i think last wednesday he said that. that's the white house's call. >> you mentioned the hearing with michael cohen. as we know from the southern district of new york. they concluded the president was individual 1. who directed michael cohen to make the hush money payments.
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to influence the election. essentially directed a felony. does that concern you? >> michael cohen came in front of our committee, and he lied, we think, at least, seven times. that's why congressman meadows and i sent a criminal referral letter to the justice department. we know it was a lie when he said he didn't want a job in the white house. >> this was the conclusion of the southern district prosecutors. they said individual 1, president trump, directed michael cohen to do this. >> and there's -- they have their investigation that they're doing in the southern district of new york. what i choose to focus on is the fundamental charge of the special counsel was to look at collusion. we have not seen any of that. what i also know is michael cohen cannot be trusted. and he proved that when he came back in front of the committee and several times lied under oath. i think the real question here is, will chairman cummings join us?
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he was clear at the start of the hearing. he said, mr. cohen, if you don't tell the truth, i'm going to hold you accountable. >> so just to be clear. the president's involvement in the hush money payments doesn't concern you? >> the president has had an amazing two years. he was in ohio last wednesday. what i saw was people lining the street as he rode from the airport to the tank plant. where we build the best tanks in the world. i saw people cheering him because they understand this president is committed to fighting for the american people and getting accomplished the things he told the american people he would do. it was an amazing reception he received. from all kinds of folks here in the fourth district of ohio just last wednesday. >> congressman jordan, thank you for your time. >> thank you. we'll be right back. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. so why accept it from your allergy pills? most pills don't finish the job because they don't relieve nasal congestion. flonase allergy relief is different. flonase relieves sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose, plus nasal congestion, which pills don't. flonase helps block 6 key inflammatory substances. most pills only block one.
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so we can all keep advancing. when your blanket's freshness fades before the binge-watching begins... that's when you know, it's half-washed. next time, add downy fabric conditioner for up to 7 days of downy freshness. downy and it's done. ♪ good evening. i'm peter jennings. there has not been a day like it. it could only happen in the so-called "information age." in front of television sets every today, the world has been watching the president seemingly bare his soul about a sexual affair that has tormented the country for all these months. on television, and mostly on the internet, the world has had access to the most intimate details of the president and miss lewinsky's behavior. today, the independent counsel's report laid out almost a dozen reasons why he, mr. starr,
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thinks the congress should consider impeaching the president. >> more than 20 years ago, ken starr's report laid the ground work for impeachment of the president. let's talk about it with matthew dowd. sara fagen. former new jersey governor chris christie. and former dnc chair, former abc contributor but now fox news contributor donna brazile joining us now. matt, let me begin with you. the last 22 months, the white house has been under a cloud. about 22 months left in the term, what we learn from robert mueller could shape the next 22 months.
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>> as winston churchill said, it's not the beginning of the end. it may be the end of the beginning. >> i think you got it right. >> yeah. and to me, the fascinating thing about this is, we don't know what's in the report. speculate on what it all means is hard to do. we don't know why he did what he did in all of that. but i think the interesting thing about this, to me, is it never was going to be what so many people thought it would be. >> on either side? >> on either side. that's what fascinating. they thought, bob mueller's after him, he's going to get him, he's going to get his kids. he's called it a witch hunt. jim jordan bashed bob mueller, the investigation. and then people on the left, many democrats were like, he's going to get him, he's going to get him. that was never bob mueller's charge. it was to find the evidence, follow it where it goes, prosecute people that needed to be prosecuted if the evidence was there. as you have laid out in a number of different ways. and then turn the report in. that's what he's done. now we enter the political phase of this. >> the first piece of good news. no indictments on the underlying
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charge of joining the conspiracy. we don't know how or why he reach that conclusion either. >> we don't know that. you're right. there's no new indictment coming. that means there's no collusion. a significant number of people were charged. >> it means there was no conspiracy. collusion is not a legal term. >> fair enough. but of the people convicted of crimes, none of them were convicted for conspiracy or collusion or anything related to russia interfering with the u.s. i think we owe a debt of gratitude to bob mueller for exposing what the united states republicans and democrats alike, need to know. which is what other governments are trying to do in our elections. what's lost in all of this conversation is that. that's an important service to the country. and republicans and democrats alike should get that out and make sure that never happens again. >> two dozen indictments of russians for interfeerning in our doa brazile? >> well, now comes the hard part. the investigation. the investigation is over.
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the evaluation will start. it's not about collusion or no collusion. vengeance or vindication. it's about the integrity of our elections. and i hope what mr. mueller, who i agree, i applaud mr. mueller and his team for the hard work. and for enduring what many of us have seen as a vicious partisan attack for just doing his job. we need to see the report. we need to evaluate the findings. we need to understand more about what happened. and then i think, as americans, we can come up with our own opinions about how we move forward. i never -- as someone who saw it personally, felt it, understood it, when everyone else thought we were crazy and telling lies, we need to understand exactly why so many people in the trump orbit lied about their contacts with the russians. because we need to get to the bottom of everything. >> that is one of the big questions. the other is how much are we going to see? of what mueller wrote. you know robert mueller fairly well. the other question is how would he lay out these arguments?
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>> i think the way he's conducted himself over the last 22 months is how he'll lay it out. he's be careful. he's not going to pull a jim comey. >> he already hasn't done that. >> or a ken starr. or a ken starr. >> or a ken starr, for sure. either one of those. i think it is, as donna said, a tribute to bob mueller. i've been saying all along, as you know, on this show, is that he's a professional. he cares about the justice system and the prosecutions are the ones he believes he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. nothing more. here's the second part. matt brought up ken starr. remember what the special counsel statute is in response to. it's in response to the ken starr report. congress said they didn't like what starr did in laying out all that detail against people that were never going to be charged with a crime.
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they made all of this absolutely dependent now on the discretion of the attorney general. the attorney general gets to decide -- >> it doesn't prohibit anything. >> but it gives him discretion. that's really important. and bill barr made that very clear in his confirmation hearings. >> you're a former prosecutor. there are a lot of reasons not to prosecute. classified evidence. you might have compelling evidence. it might not be good enough to prosecute. not prosecuting is not the same as exoneration. >> well, let me tell you something, george. if you're any of the people who were being rumored to be indicted, you're going to take it as exoneration. because you're presumed innocent in this country. absent of charges brought and proven, you are innocent. >> innocent of a crime, but not necessarily of improper behavior. >> that's a political standard. that's different. i think it would be wrong for him to explain, as to people who are not being charged, why he didn't charge them. your job, he's part of the justice department, remember.
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he was appointed by the department attorney general. he works under justice department rules. and those rules, except for jim comey, apply this way. if you charge, you can put whatever you're willing to put in an indictment and have a grand jury sign off on. if you don't charge, keep quiet. you're not supposed to talk about people you're unwilling to charge. and that's, to me, was my principal objection to what jim comey did to hillary clinton. he killed her over the summer of 2016 without being willing to charge her. that's wrong. that's not what the justice department does. >> when you consider the facts that there were a number of trump associates involved in the meetings with the russians. >> 14. >> that's a fact. all of these folks, though, anybody close to republican politics, any operative would tell you most of these individuals, if not all of them, they could never survive in a christie campaign. would never have been hired or any other republican campaign. this is where i think --
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>> it's an indictment of the president. >> this is a challenge for the president that he has had to deal with. some of this has been brought on by the hiring around that campaign. now, you can say it was late. and he got in. he's not experienced. >> i take that point. but the president was the one who, from the very beginning, said none of this happened. no contacts with russians. i didn't have any business with russians. then he's pursuing the trump tower with moscow. >> that was a business relationship. you consider all these, i call them sort of rate "b" players. all trying to be the man or the woman. trying to have the meeting. trying to have the intel. that's the big challenge here. a lot of times, having worked in the government, having lived through these investigations, you realize that the left hand and the right hand -- >> so they may have been trying to collude. >> they weren't in a position to even collude, because they were not high enough in the organization to have power. >> i think sara's right about that part of it. but it should lead you to a
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natural conclusion is, what is the president doing hiring all these people? >> paul manafort was the chair of the campaign. >> that every single person knew was this way. and the second thing. let me just say this, the second thing. if bob mueller had not released all of the indictments, all of the convictions, all of that over the last 20 months, if on friday, he presented the american public with a report that said, oh, by the way, i'm going to indict -- i'm indicting the campaign's personal lawyer. the national security adviser. i'm indicting the chairman of the campaign. i'm indicting the person that advises on foreign policy. if he had done that, we would have an entirely different conversation. >> there was a pattern of secretive contacts with russian intelligence people. wikileaks. and they lied about it. that -- these were high-ranking officials. i have been a campaign manager. i've been a chair of the party. i know campaign chairs. they report to the president of the campaign of the candidate. this is a pattern of secretive. >> this is an old story.
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this is an old story. sara's right. i think about the way that a lot of these people were wannabes. some of them. not manafort. but a lot of them were in terms of the 14. but here's the older story. the president has made horrendous personnel choices. not just in the campaign. at the white house as well. and i've talked about this over and over again, that, and this is a product of two things. one, the president at times acts on impulse. we have seen that. he does it at times with hiring. the bigger problem is that there was no one screening these people who had the experience and the ability to be able to do it in a good way to present to the president. and so, garbage in, garbage out. you present an executive with three bad choices. it's a tough one to make. >> the fact remains the justice department never overruled the special counsel. >> he wasn't fired. >> he wasn't fired. and not one person was indicted on a crime related to russian interference. >> that's a point i was going to make.
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which is, i think, really important. there's good news here. the good news is law and order in the country has held. bob mueller has done his job, as we'll see more objectively in quiet and in secret. the couldn't constitutional standards of holding a government responsible in what they do is there. and i think bob mueller, and this is the good part about it, i think. bob mueller was never going to let congress or the american public off the hook. and congress has a responsibility just because the president wasn't held criminally liable as for as we know, just because his family wasn't held criminally liable, does not mean that congress has a standard that they hold a president. richard nixon, most of the richard nixon impeachment things were not criminal problems. they were a problem related to the constitution and how we function as a republic. and i think that's the good news. the congress has a responsibility and the voters have one. >> i think there is one thing that is important to say.
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there are some people that were really pilloried during this process. it turns out they stood up. rod rosenstein, or matt whitaker. who was pilloried pretty badly in the media. we have no evidence that matt whitaker did anything inappropriate. >> correct. >> in fact, we have evidence to the contrary. when he was approached by the president, he stood up and said no. i'm talking about the southern district and the unrecusal of jeff berman. so, i'm a justice department guy. that's where i got my start in this business. i will tell you. it's a proud day today for the department of justice. because they stood up. stood up for the rule of law. bob mueller, as a member of the department of justice. as special counsel. rod rosenstein, matt whitaker. bill barr all did the right thing. >> do you think the president realizes it? because he was the greatest pillorier of all. >> i think that when he looks back on it, he's going to realize that those of us that were telling him to slow down, keep quiet, let the justice system work, were right. he didn't realize it at the
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time. >> you may have been right. but did the president, by saying witch hunt a couple hundred times. >> or more. >> 183 times. >> did he change the standard? did he lower the standard by which he would be judged? >> of course he did. he tried to sully the process in every step along the way. george, in 589 days, we, as americans, will go back to the polls. we know that the russians tried to interfere in 2016. we know that they attempted again in 2018. >> and they were encouraged. they were encouraged to do it. >> thank you. we know that much of what they hacked and stole and used and the fact that we did have a campaign chairman, i'm not pointing at you, sara. it's church time. i'm trying to get in my beto moment. >> keep those hands moving, baby. keep your hands moving. it's absolutely nothing. you can run for president. >> the fact is is that we have to strengthen our pillars of democracy. this president has not done enough to strengthen and preven
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from the russians, than from others. the reason i want to see this report is not because i'm into the salacious gossip. i read the ken starr stuff. i don't want to see it redacted. justice redacted is justice denied. we need to see everything. >> sometimes yes, sometimes no. justice redacted against hillary clinton in the summer of 2016 would have been justice fulfilled. she didn't commit a crime. according to the justice department. and jim comey went out on national television and kicked her around. and it affected the election, donna. and listen, you was working for the other guy. the point is, it happens to her that day. it can happen to you the next day. >> quite an irony that the president is being protected by what hurt hillary clinton. >> exactly right. there's always been an irony to that. the other thing, as a challenge for republicans and democrats in the aftermath of this is are they going to focus on what donna talked about? protecting our election in 2020? or are they going to continue to
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beat each other senseless. over the allegations against the president and against democrats. they have to focus on what bob mueller found the biggest number of indictments against the russians. what do we do to stop that in 20 to 20? >> and there are a whole bunch of trees that are growing from this. bob mueller's investigation may be over. but there's a ton of other investigations going on that may bear fruit in all of this. >> and there, though, you get to a point you said earlier. the politics is just starting. i think the politics on overreach. is going to help the president. i think many americans, and many of those who sit in the middle who maybe like his policies but don't care for him personally, look at theyinating his busines. they're investigating his kids. they're investigating the inaugural. everything he's touched in his's something
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through the cohen stuff that deserves to be looked at. but it's so widespread that it's hard to almost take it credible. that every aspect of this person's life, when he's never been committed of a crime needs to be investigated. because democrats don't like the fact that he was elected. >> he wasn't investigated for the first two years at all. so i think there's a little catch-up to do. >> thank you. >> and i think that most -- the majority of americans, they may support him or not. but they don't believe he has integrity. that needs to be found out. >> i believe we have more to fear from secrecy than sunshine. >> i agree. >> more to fear from the secrecy. because what we have learned has come as a result of the investigation. and the indictments. we have more to fear from secrecy. justice redacted won't give us the comfort level we need as all americans. this was a playbook that was used to undermine the candidacy to try to destroy one of america's major political parties. >> it dependonhat is in there.
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individual americans. >> and maybe we'll find out later today. we're out of time. we'll be right back. tto harrison, the wine tcollection.. to craig, this rock. the redwoods to the redheads. the rainbows to the proud. i leave these things to my heirs, all 39 million of you, on one condition. that you do everything in your power to preserve and protect them.
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with love, california. that is all for us today. we'll be back with a live special report if and when the attorney general releases his report to the congress later today. i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
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up next, a deadly house fire on the peninsula. a home investigators are looking as they try to determine the cause. good sunday morning to you. pier 39, a live look, where we have filtered sunshine right now. slightly warmer today. the crowds will increase. the rain will hold off for your weekend. but you'll want to stay tuned for my accuweather seven-day forecast, next on "abc 7
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