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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Special Counsel Mueller Finishes Russia Probe, Delivers His Report To The Attorney General; DOJ Official: No Additional Indictments Coming From Mueller; Rep. Steve King Slams Hurricane Katrina Disaster Survivors. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 22, 2019 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Our buddy, Chris Cuomo, is off tonight.
We begin with the history that was made here today, and it's still being made, as we speak. For almost as long as Donald Trump has been President, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating him.
Today, that changed. The Mueller investigation is over. Right now, a select few people here in Washington know what he knows. William Barr, the Attorney General for one, Special Counsel Mueller delivered his final report to -- to Barr today.
It's said to be comprehensive. And Congress could get the conclusions as soon as tomorrow or sometime this weekend.
We've already learned a big one. And CNN's Laura Jarrett got the scoop. She joins us now with that.
So, explain what you are learning now, and -- and what -- what the biggest conclusion is that that you learned?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, all signs pointed to a significant day in the making.
And it was early, as our stakeout team that's been posted up in front of Mueller's office for months now noticed that the Special Counsel's team of prosecutors arrived to work early this morning, and they also left early, an unusual move that got our spidey sense up.
And we've now learned that the Attorney General received the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller early this afternoon.
He got it with -- within minutes of a sort -- Court Security Officer delivering it here to the Justice Department. It was also received by the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rod Rosenstein called to thank Bob Mueller for his work, I'm told.
And that the Justice Department also called the White House, the top lawyer over there, Emmet Flood, who's been working on the Russia probe was informed that the Justice Department has the report. But we are told that the White House has not actually seen the physical report. As for how long the report is, I know that's one of the big questions
on viewers' minds tonight. We do not have a precise page length. But I am told it is comprehensive from a Justice Department official, Anderson.
COOPER: And the -- the biggest headline from earlier, the biggest conclusion that you learned about, explain -- explain what it is?
JARRETT: The biggest takeaway here, I think, for us is that there are no further indictments charges coming from the Special Counsel's Office. That had been one of the looming open questions, whether we would see anything else, whether there would be superseding indictments for any of the key players that we've already seen thus far.
But I am told from a Senior Justice Department official that there are no further recommendations of indictments from the Special Counsel's Office. Now, that doesn't say that there won't be spin-offs or offshoots, as we've already seen from the Special Counsel.
Different U.S. attorneys across the country have sort of had the cases farmed out to them, for instance, Roger Stone, the Trump confidant here in D.C., the US Attorney's Office is taking the lead on that, of course, prosecutors in Manhattan taking lead on Michael Cohen, the President's former lawyer.
COOPER: And -- and what are the next steps in all of this? Sometime, this weekend, the Attorney General will be sending some sort of a summary, we understand, to -- to folks on Capitol Hill.
JARRETT: That's right. The next battle on the horizon is between the Justice Department and lawmakers.
Of course, as soon as tomorrow, our understanding is that Bill Barr will put together what he's describing as his principal conclusions from the Special Counsel's report, so not actually the report itself, but his takeaways, his core conclusions will be conveyed to lawmakers as soon as tomorrow, and they will also be conveyed to the public.
So, this will not be some sort of secret covert action whatsoever. But it's not the report itself which, of course, is what Congress really wants to get their hands on, Anderson.
COOPER: And do we expect the Attorney General to make any remarks?
JARRETT: We don't expect to say him make a public statement or any sort of press conference, anything like that, I'm told. He's basically spoken tonight through his statement to Congress.
But we do expect these principal conclusions, sort of his distillation of the Mueller report to answer sort of the core mission of what Mueller was appointed to do.
And what he was appointed to do was to get to the bottom of whether the Trump Campaign conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election, and that should be answered by this, Anderson. COOPER: All right, Laura Jarrett, appreciate it. I know you've had a long day.
COOPER: Great work, thank you so much.
So, the bottom line right now at this hour is good news for the President. No new indictments for -- certainly for him or for anybody else around the President.
Want to go next to CNN's Boris Sanchez, just outside Mar-a-Lago where the President is tonight. Has the White House made a statement about this at all? What are you hearing?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Anderson. Yes, there has been the public response from the White House and then the private response.
Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary put out a statement earlier saying that the next steps are up to the Attorney General, and that she looks forward to this process moving forward, as it should.
[21:05:00] The private response has been one of jubilation, frankly, and vindication as well. White House source, telling CNN, "The fat lady has sung," because, as you've said, no associates of the President were charged with conspiracy, or collusion, either during the campaign, or during his Presidency, they feel that this is absolutely embarrassing for Democrats, and for the press, as well.
Ironically, that's coming from an anonymous source, speaking to CNN, Anderson.
COOPER: Is the President's legal team down in Mar-a-Lago with him right now?
SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right.
It appears that the White House was anticipating the -- the release of the Mueller report to be imminent. We actually got a picture from someone at the Mar-a-Lago estate of the President, exchanging in conversation with Emmet Flood.
He's the top White House attorney overseeing the response to the Russia investigation. We also know that White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone is here as well.
So, the White House very clearly prepared for the results of this investigation and ready for the weekend for what they may hear from the Attorney General.
COOPER: And is there any indication we may hear from the President this week, I mean, who knows? I mean I don't even know why I asked that question, but is there?
SANCHEZ: Well -- well he -- he does have a dinner tonight at Mar-a- Lago, as I mentioned, the Lincoln Day Dinner. It's sort of a fundraiser. It's possible that he may make remarks there.
Former Congressman Trey Gowdy is there, Lindsey Graham is there, as well, the Senator from South Carolina. It's unclear what he might say behind closed doors.
He has no public appearances on the schedule tomorrow, though, he often goes golfing on Saturday, and then he starts watching cable news, so depending on what he sees, we may get a tweet storm from the President as often does happen here at Mar-a-Lago, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Boris Sanchez, thanks very much.
Democrat Richard Blumenthal sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's -- he has quite a weekend ahead of him, many weeks ahead of him as well. Joining -- he joins us now.
Senator Blumenthal, do you know at this point exactly, how members of Congress may be receiving these principal conclusions from the Attorney General this weekend?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We have no idea as to the specific procedure that Attorney General Barr is going to adopt in presenting his conclusions or his version of the Mueller report, but one point is absolutely certain.
We need to see the Mueller report, not the Barr report. The American people paid for the Mueller report, and they deserve to know all of the findings and evidence, not just Attorney General Barr's conclusions.
And as much as the President may be exalting in the lack of indictments, there are other potential facts and evidence of wrongdoing that may not be chargeable criminally, because Bob Mueller may have concluded that the Department of Justice policies have to be followed, sitting President can't be indicted, or there may be lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
But there still may be solid powerful evidence of wrongdoing that Congress and the American people should see. The public has a right to know.
COOPER: I -- I certainly understand the argument of seeing the actual Mueller report, and the American people getting to see it.
Is it a step -- I mean it's another step to actually get all the underlying documents, Congress, you know, you -- is able to investigate, and there's part of that investigation, I understand the desire to see the underlying documents.
That seems -- is that overreaching on the part of Democrats? I mean, isn't that going to be, if there is to be a court battle, wouldn't that be one of the big issues in it?
BLUMENTHAL: Far from overreaching, Anderson, Congress has an obligation to do oversight. There may not be overt chargeable criminality beyond a reasonable doubt, but there may be evidence and facts and findings that the American people should see.
And that may lead to changes in our laws, and there are likely to be other indictments in the Southern District of New York, in the Eastern District of Virginia, there's an active -- ongoing counterintelligence investigation. There may be other remedies for those violations.
But think of how much the Mueller rep -- investigation has already produced, not only the 37 indictments and seven convictions of individuals around the President, but the -- the facts that we know now.
For example, that polling information was provided apparently at the President's direction to Russians, while they were engaged in a social media manipulation campaign that the President himself was engaged in negotiations on Trump Tower Moscow, while he was campaigning for President, the help that the Russians provided the campaign.
All of this evidence goes to the heart of our democratic process. The Russians attacked our democracy. And Bob Mueller has produced really compelling evidence of the cooperative and collusive effort that the Trump campaign engaged in during that effort.
[21:10:00] COOPER: But just in terms of, I mean, whether or not the President or his campaign colluded with Russia, and whether or not the President obstructed justice by firing Jim Comey, it is possible the report's conclusions won't answer those questions, isn't it?
BLUMENTHAL: The conclusions may not answer those questions. And that is precisely why we need to see the facts and evidence that underlies the conclusions, the documents, the interviews, the Grand Jury material.
This case is precisely the kind of case where a Judge should waive Grand Jury secrecy under Rule 6(e). There are all kinds of evidence that the American people really need to see.
And if the President is serious, and he's in favor of transparency, he ought to back my bill that I've introduced with Senator Grassley to require that the report and all the facts and findings be made public.
That bill is bipartisan. It has two Republicans and two Democrats, including myself and Senator Grassley, and it would eliminate the near-complete discretion that Robert (ph) Barr has. It is near complete.
COOPER: Isn't that though, I mean, getting underlying documents, that's getting interviews of White House officials, and isn't that going to trigger just a huge legal fight that will go on for some time?
BLUMENTHAL: Not if the White House cooperates, and avoids invoking a fake Executive privilege. There is no Executive privilege under these circumstances. There's no Executive privilege to conceal evidence of criminal wrongdoing or, in general, law breaking or--
COOPER: You don't think they have any-- BLUMENTHAL: --wrongdoing of any kind.
COOPER: --argument for Executive privilege?
I mean there may be some conversations that had nothing to do with, or -- or there may be all the conversations may have had nothing to do with actual criminal activity.
BLUMENTHAL: There is no grounds for pre-review or a sneak preview by the White House of the facts and evidence made public. There's no claim to Executive privilege for a Special Counsel investigation that produces evidence of wrongdoing.
And there may be a court fight. Anybody can go to court. The courthouse doors are open to the White House and to the President's lawyers. But my hope is that it will be expedited and that any Congressional subpoena, which there should be, if necessary, will be quickly resolved.
COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, I appreciate your time in this busy day. Thank you very much.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
COOPER: Want to bring in Carrie Cordero, Sara Murray, Evan Perez, Jeffrey Toobin, and Carl Bernstein.
Evan, I don't -- I'm not even sure where to begin, what's just (ph) going on.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Look, Anderson, I think without a doubt this is a historic day for the President. This is an investigation that has gone on obviously for 675 days, the -- the Mueller investigation. But if you think about it, it goes beyond that.
I remember. We were part of the team that -- that told you that the -- that the FBI had -- FBI Director James Comey had briefed the incoming President, days before he took office about this Russia dossier.
And despite the fact that we didn't know, and the FBI at the time didn't know whether any of it added up to anything, it--
COOPER: By the way, I think, at the time, officials around the President all denied that -- that reporting, which of course turned not to be true.
PEREZ: Right, exactly. They denied that it even -- even happened. And so, it kind of sets us up for what we evolved sort of experience over the course of the last two years or so.
And I think it also, I think, when we look back, will explain a lot of what happened here, a -- a lot of the suspicion, a lot of the -- the innuendo, and a lot of the -- the fact that, you know, you had 16 Trump associates that's been revealed as part of this investigation.
At least 16 Trump Associates had some kind of contact with Russians that were suspicious to the FBI during the campaign or during the transition. And again, that propelled this investigation that has hung over this President.
But, without a doubt, this is a -- a -- a big day for the President because now, he can say without a doubt, the fact that there was no more indictments, right, and the fact that so far in the indictments and the public documents that have -- that have been released, there's been nothing that looks like collusion, nothing that looks like the conspiracy between people associated with the President or the President himself, to collude with the Russians to throw the 2016 election.
COOPER: Well, at least, nothing that rode -- rise to indictable level.
PEREZ: A criminal indictable level, correct.
COOPER: Or even if it did because he's the President, he can't be indicted.
PEREZ: Right, exactly. And so, I think that -- but that's a big moment for the President to be able to take stock.
PEREZ: And be able to say that "See, it's what I was telling you all along."
COOPER: Right. He can say no collusion even louder and with firmer authority.
PEREZ: He can say it without -- without a doubt.
And I think -- I think it -- it's time for people to give him his due on that. Now, again, there's a lot we don't know about what the -- what Bob Mueller found in this investigation.
[21:15:00] There's -- there's a lot of information in this report, possibly that will explain what they did find. And I think that remains a big open question that it's up to Congress to try to help us find out.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sorry. But I do think another, you know, victory, essentially for the President and his legal team is that they are watching Mueller conclude his investigation without President Trump ever sitting down for an interview.
MURRAY: He filled out some answers to questions, you know, with the help of his lawyers. They only had to do with Russian collusion. The President did not have to answer any questions about obstruction of justice. And now, it will go forward.
It will become, you know, a fight in Congress. It will become a political battle, in large part. But I think that, you know, it's -- that could have gotten the President in a -- in a lot more trouble.
I think even his lawyers would agree. That's why they were fighting it so hard.
MURRAY: Putting him in front of the Special Counsel and forcing him to answer questions truthfully. So, the fact that he made it out of this investigation without having to do that is a big deal.
And, you know, the other line that we got in this statement from the Attorney General, the other thing that he had to answer to Congress was, is there anything that Robert Mueller wanted to pursue that the leadership at the DOJ said you can't do that.
We were going to -- we're going to tell you, you know, this isn't appropriate, you got to stop here. And they answer the question. There --there was--
COOPER: It was--
MURRAY: --never a moment where Mueller's investigation was impeded, which I think, you know, was obviously a big concern--
MURRAY: --for people watching this play out.
COOPER: Well, also Carrie, I mean that gets to -- to -- to the point that -- that you just made, which is that if there was nothing that Mueller wanted to do that the Department of Justice said "No, you can't do," that means that Mueller did not try to or, you know, ask about actually subpoenaing the President or trying to get him -- force him to sit down for an interview.
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right.
And I think that's one of the questions that if Mueller were called before Congress, or the Attorney General were called before Congress, that would be one of the questions that they would have is, was there a discussion about subpoenaing the President? Why didn't as the invest -- Chief Investigator Special Counsel, why didn't you do that?
But that would have been specific, I think, to obstruction, in particular, because that would have been the charge conduct or the potential charge conduct that pertained to the President's intent.
And so, that was the specific issue that maybe his statements would have been most relevant because they -- that particular crime goes to intent. When we're talking about collusion, just to back up to the -- the
bigger case, when we're talking about conclusion, what we're talking about is whether or not the Special Counsel could charge conspiracy to defraud the United States. And that is a high bar whether or not Americans could have been charged in that conspiracy, which the Russian Intelligence officers were doing to affect the U.S. election.
What I think Congress and the public are probably going to be most interested in is the declination piece of this Special Counsel MO (ph).
What is it that they investigated, which would have fallen under that big umbrella of conspiracy that they looked at facts and they could not end up with a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits in terms of a criminal prosecution.
If they decided that they couldn't prosecute on those specific things, that still is going to be of interest to Congress, in terms of the conduct that went on behind the scenes during the campaign.
COOPER: Ken Cuccinelli, when you hear, you know, Democrats on -- in the Senate, perhaps in the House, talking about not only getting the full Mueller report, but also the underlying documents to you, does that just seem like they're moving the goalposts?
KEN CUCCINELLI, (R) FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND PRESIDENT: Well certainly there's some of that.
But, you know, I -- I think that because this began as a counterintelligence effort, and let's not forget, there were 25 individual Russians actually indicted for interfering in the election, the -- the material and information that the Special Counsel obtained related to those charges and anything like it are the things that are most likely to be withheld because of the intelligence value of them.
Then there's the -- also the question of unindicted folks who the Department of Justice has traditionally not outed, if you will, when they weren't going to indict them. So, I think that's where Congress is going to push the hardest if -- if such folks exist.
And I think we're going to learn this over the next couple of days and into the beginning of next week, the Attorney General seems very committed to moving very quickly on this, which is surprising how forcefully he advocated for that on for himself. I mean it's in -- the ball's in his court now.
So, but I do think, to your questioning, AC, that the Dems have moved the goalposts a little bit. But I don't think anybody's going to pay much attention to that this weekend.
COOPER: Yes. That's probably true.
Jeff, I mean you've said this before. But I mean it's hard to understate. This is a good night, certainly for the President, his family--
COOPER: --you know, for there was, you know, for -- Don Jr. was in the -- the meeting at Trump Tower. He's not going to be indicted. Jared Kushner, questions about him, he's not going to be indicted.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It is a really, really good thing, Anderson, not to be indicted. That is like unambiguously true.
[21:20:00] And -- and -- and, you know, there have been all sorts of accusations swirling about -- about Donald Trump Jr., about Jared Kushner, about Jerome Corsi, the Conservative writer who was even presented with a draft indictment by Mueller's people, and they have now -- they -- they have now backed away.
It is also, I think, a tribute to the Justice Department, and to Rod Rosenstein that they let Robert Mueller do the investigation he wanted to do. There -- there were no conflicts that -- that rose to the level that had to be reported.
On the other hand, I do think it is important to slow our roll a little bit, and say, "What are the facts that Mueller found?"
TOOBIN: I mean if there is a narrative in there, let's wait and see what he found. I mean, you know, the idea that "Well, Donald Trump wasn't indicted, so that's a vindication for him," he can't be indicted.
TOOBIN: So -- so, that -- that in itself is not, you know, a -- a huge victory.
And I think, you know, the -- the -- the question of what was the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian interests, unresolved. Good -- presumably we'll learn that since that was the focus of the investigation.
And what was the nature of the -- Donald Trump's behavior with regard to James Comey and others, and whether that amounted to obstruction of justice?
Those are key questions. They are unresolved. They are at the heart of Mueller's investigation. And let's see what he found.
COOPER: And -- and Carl, I mean that's probably why--
CUCCINELLI: Hey, Anderson.
COOPER: --at this hour, we have yet to hear from the President.
We've yet to hear really, you know, a public statement from the White House, you know, saying no collusion, because, frankly, it seems like they don't exactly know what the details are in the -- in the report.
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not sure that's the reason we haven't heard, and I suspect we're going to hear a -- a lot of gloating through -- through the weekend. But I think the -- the overall point is the right one. We do need to
know what all the underlying facts here are, and we have to remember what we know so far.
And -- and we have voluminous evidence, including guilty pleas, of a lot of people about lying in this investigation, about them obstructing justice, so we could not find out what happened, including around the President of the United States.
So, Mueller, I am going to make one speculative notion here, and that is that especially given the Watergate precedent of the Special Prosecutor there, doing what was called a roadmap, not pejorative, he laid out fact upon fact upon fact upon fact without making any judgments, I'm going to assume that -- that perhaps Mr. Mueller has done the same thing here.
And -- and that -- that's what we need to see.
BERNSTEIN: We need simply to see the factual roadmap and -- and see, I earlier referred to connective tissue, but there's a story here, and that story would that it would be totally exonerating of President Trump and those around him.
And what did the President say? Now is the time to release all of that connective tissue. I don't think we're going to see that. But -- but that's what we need, and we have.
Remember, this began as a counterintelligence investigation, and that has to do, what did the Russians do, who did they do it with, who did they try to co-opt etcetera, etcetera. We're going to find out some of that.
There'll be some excisions for national security, sources and methods that you can't disclose. But we have a long way to go to find out what all of this has been about, and what--
BERNSTEIN: --Mueller's investigation has been about.
COOPER: Ken, I heard you say something. Do -- do you think it's going to be that road map that Carl described?
No, and there's -- and the -- and the main clue on that point to me is that, first of all, it's two part.
One, the Department of Justice or, I'm sorry, the Special Counsel made clear, and Rod Rosenstein, that that -- that there was no impediment to anything that the Special Counsel wanted to do.
And they didn't make a run at sitting down with the President, which the legal authority suggests they would have succeeded on that. And they didn't even try to do that.
If they were going to let -- if it was going to be a road map type of report, they surely would have gone down that path. I just -- I just have a hard time seeing the absence of that effort when we know it was unimpeded -- an unimpeded opportunity, and yet, an expectation that there could be some road map.
COOPER: Understood. All right.
CUCCINELLI: So, I do not see that coming out of here. I think that the -- that there's plenty of ugliness here over the last two years for the President's team.
But -- but it does appear pretty clear that he is going to come out of this with as much of an exoneration as happens when you, you know, as Jeff says, tonight -- it's always a good day not to be indicted.
CUCCINELLI: But -- but they didn't even make the attempt to get the information that would set up an impeachment process.
COOPER: All right, every -- everyone stay with us. We're going to have more to explore on the breaking news.
[21:25:00] And later, in a pretty astonishing new claim from Congressman Steve King about the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. He made a comparison and it's, well, it's nothing like any of us saw for the people who survived the storm were left to fight and endure.
We're Keeping Them Honest, next.
COOPER: We've yet to hear from President Trump about the just finished Mueller report.
However, CNN resources are -- in Trump world are saying things like, "We won because there haven't been any charges related to conspiracy or obstruction." A White House official added "The fat lady has sung."
Back with Carrie Cordero, Sara Murray, Evan Perez, Ken Cuccinelli, Jeffrey Toobin, and Carl Bernstein.
Evan, you and I were just talking during the break, it is interesting, you were saying, how much of this was raised by the President himself.
PEREZ: Right, and people around him. Let's -- let's -- let's keep in mind. I mean he's the one that hired a Campaign Chairman who was deep in -- in business with -- with Russians, and people close to the Russian government.
These are things that caused a lot of suspicion for the FBI, and they didn't have enough time, certainly by the time President Trump took office, to have gotten to the bottom of this, right? And, again, I -- I -- I mentioned there was 16 Trump associates who had some kind of dealings with the Russians in during the campaign or during the transition, at least 16. And so, I think we have to step back and look at how much of this was brought on by the President.
[21:30:00] The President fired James Comey, and -- and talked about one reason why he fired Comey was because of the Russia investigation, again, breeding more suspicion that really propelled this investigation.
I'm not saying -- I'm not, you know, saying that it's all his fault in that way. But, you know, it kind of is. I mean he -- he did so many things, and people around him did so many things, that caused a lot of suspicion, and made this investigation even more difficult than it needed to be.
And so, I know that the President should -- he, definitely, and his team, and -- and his family should feel vindicated. But, you know, we have the -- the example of the -- the Trump Tower meeting that happens--
PEREZ: --in the 2016 period, right? And they talk about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. Again, these are things that normal campaigns don't do.
MURRAY: That's normally when you're contacted by some--
MURRAY: --like a Russian offering dirt on a -- on opposing candidate, you contact the FBI. You don't say--
PEREZ: You call the FBI.
MURRAY: --"Let's schedule the meeting."
PEREZ: And -- and they never did any of those things. And so, a lot of this stuff, we had to drag it out of them. They denied a lot of these things happened until they were forced to admit that it happened.
PEREZ: So, again, you know, going -- going into this two years later, I mean I think you have to understand--
PEREZ: --why there was so much suspicion around.
COOPER: Carrie Cordero, how likely is it that the Democrats will -- would be able to get underlying documents to the Mueller investigation?
CORDERO: First, I just want to say--
CORDERO: --they didn't just deny. They affirmatively lied about a lot of the things--
CORDERO: --that were related to the investigation and contacts with Russians--
CORDERO: --and the Trump Tower meeting, so just want to make that point.
But in -- in -- on the point of the -- what the Congress will be able to get, regarding the investigation, I think this is going to be a process. So, I think the first step is we'll see what attorneys--
COOPER: Is that what you call a lawsuit?
CORDERO: No, no, before we get to a lawsuit.
CORDERO: So, I think it's going to be -- the -- first, there's going to be an administrative process, a process between the two branches. So, first, when we get -- Attorney General Barr is going to provide whatever he's going to provide to Congress.
Then, they're going to go back and say, "We want more." So then, he's going to give an answer whether or not he can give more of the report. Then, they're going to probably call.
PEREZ: They're already saying they are.
CORDERO: Then they're going to call -- then they're going to go call the Attorney General and/or the Special Counsel to testify.
And that, I think, will be very revealing, which one testifies, or both, in what type of setting, whether it's open session, and a lot might get revealed through that back and forth with the dialog.
Then there's going to be the actual documents. They're going to ask for the under -- underlying documents. And I think as we whittle down then there probably will be some sort of subpoena served and lawsuit over some subset of documents.
COOPER: Ken Cuccinelli, is that sort of how you see this playing out?
CUCCINELLI: No. I don't think it'll be that many back and forths. We'll like -- like so many other things, I think we'll literally know in the next couple of days how drawn-out this is likely to be, based upon what the Attorney General provides to Congress and publicly.
Thus far, the President, the House, the Senate, and the Attorney General, when he was before the Senate prior to confirmation, and his statements in the letter today to the four -- four Members of Capitol Hill, the Ranking Members, Judiciary, and Chairman, has made it clear that he intends to be very open.
He did leave some Justice Department type room for himself. I mentioned one of those items earlier. It is not the practice of the Department of Justice to reveal the names of unindicted individuals for reasons that I hope are obvious to everyone.
But other than that, I think we're probably going to see an awful lot of disclosure, which is certainly something I've been advocating. I think it helps -- it certainly helps the President, the more of it that comes out, the better.
CORDERO: But the part where I think that the Attorney General--
TOOBIN: We'll see.
CORDERO: --is going to hold the line is on the issue of what were the declinations. What are the issues that the Special Counsel investigated but decided not to bring charges on?
And I think he's going to try to hold firm to what was just -- Justice Department process and tradition, and not do what former FBI Director Comey was accused of doing.
MURRAY: But the difficulty--
TOOBIN: I -- I have--
MURRAY: --the difficulty is you had what -- what Comey just did. And you have how Congress just proceeded after James Comey came out, and said, he was not going to bring charges against Hillary Clinton.
I mean up until just a couple of months ago, we have seen Congressional committees hauling people in to continue to ask questions about Hillary Clinton, and her email server, and they've continued to ask the Justice Department to provide information about her email server.
So, to say that that was OK--
CUCCINELLI: Yes, but think of what you just said.
MURRAY: --with Hillary Clinton even though she didn't face charges, but now, you know, we're not going to do that with, you know, President Trump, for instance, even though he can't face charges, I mean they've put themselves in a little bit of a box in that circumstance (ph).
COOPER: Yes. Jeff Toobin, I think I heard you guffaw.
TOOBIN: Well, no, I just -- I think there is no way the Democrats are going to get FBI 302s--
TOOBIN: --underlying -- underlying documents. The Justice Department does not give those up routinely in normal investigations.
PEREZ: They did under -- for the Hillary Clinton investigation.
TOOBIN: They did in the Hillary Clinton investigation.
PEREZ: Right. And see that's--
TOOBIN: And they won't do it again.
PEREZ: And I'll tell--
TOOBIN: And I mean I--
PEREZ: But -- but -- but, Jeffrey, here's the thing.
[21:35:00] PEREZ: Even inside the Justice Department -- even inside the Justice Department, senior officials were very concerned that the precedent that was being set under the -- under those -- under that investigation was going to have to be something they were going to have to live with, going forward.
And so, I can see that, you know, I -- I think you're right. Obviously, Justice Department's going to try to resist that, but a Judge may decide otherwise.
TOOBIN: I -- I--
BERNSTEIN: Let me suggest that, I'm sorry, if I'm rude (ph).
COOPER: Carl, go ahead. Carl, go ahead.
CUCCINELLI: But wait, but wait, remember one thing--
BERNSTEIN: The one (ph)--
CUCCINELLI: --about all this. Remember one thing--
COOPER: I'm sorry. Ken, go ahead.
CUCCINELLI: --about all this.
You -- it was said just a -- a moment ago, when the FBI decided not to prosecute Hillary Clinton, whoa, think about that statement. And that was the story for several years. Only just in the last few weeks has that story come unfolded, and it
now looks like the Department of Justice instructed the FBI to say that, or at least that's plausible. The FBI are police officers. They don't make prosecution decisions, except if you're Hillary Clinton.
So, the precedent had already been broken with respect to how that was conducted, how that was handled. And -- and -- and so, it -- but it's never been done that way again since then--
CUCCINELLI: --since July of 2016--
BERNSTEIN: Let me try and make one important--
CUCCINELLI: --including with the President--
COOPER: Carl, go ahead--
CUCCINELLI: --or this investigation.
BERNSTEIN: Let me make--
BERNSTEIN: --one important point here about what -- what is gettable, and what is necessary, and what is very logically going to come forth.
Let's take the example of Rick Gates, who is central, and his testimony is central to the Mueller investigation. He's the Deputy Campaign Manager. He was Paul Manafort's partner in their consultancy in the Communist and post-Communist world.
BERNSTEIN: He is the essential witness, if there is one, who stands out from the rest. There is no way in hell that the Congress of the United States is not going to want to see what his testimony was, and it's not going to call him before those Committees to find out what he knows--
BERNSTEIN: --and what he said. That's well the kind of connective tissue that is necessary for all Americans to have confidence in what has occurred here.
COOPER: All right. I -- I got a get a break in.
BERNSTEIN: And there's a -- there's a road map for it.
COOPER: I got to get a break in. Thanks everybody, appreciate it.
Coming up next, we're going to dig deeper into the partisanship, surrounding the investigation right from the beginning. Now that it's done, a question, will any consensus emerge? We'll take it up when 360 continues.
[21:40:00] COOPER: Congressional Democrats tonight are insisting that the entire contents of the Mueller report be made public, and that the White House not be allowed any advanced look at its content -- contents. I mean, maybe just a taste of the political combat ahead.
Joining me now is USA Today Columnist and CNN Political Analyst, Kirsten Powers, CNN Political Commentator, Van Jones, and former Trump Campaign Adviser, Michael Caputo.
Kirsten, you don't think this is necessarily great news for the President.
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't because the, you know, Nixon didn't get indicted, right? And we know that he obstructed justice.
And so, what -- what was -- what will show up probably in this report, if it's done in similar fashion as the Watergate report, is it just lays out the facts, and it lets Congress sort of determine, you know, whether or not there's political action to be taken in terms of impeachment, because it's generally understood that Presidents can't be indicted.
POWERS: You know, so, so--
COOPER: It is certainly good news for Donald Trump Jr., for Jared Kushner.
POWERS: Yes. It's good news for Donald Trump -- Donald Trump Jr. and for Jared.
But if you remember -- the other thing I want to say is people are saying, "No more indictments, that's such great news." But let's not forget that there were dozens of indictments, right, that happened, and there were six Trump associates who were indicted.
What they were indicted for though were for basically getting in way of the investigation, for lying. And so, it's not, you know, collusion isn't a crime. So, to say like they didn't find collusion, well that's not really -- that's not what people were charged for.
So, I think that we have to wait and see what the report says. And hopefully, the report will be released in full, so people can -- can actually look at it, and see -- and see what happened. And so, I think we have to wait for that.
COOPER: Van, I mean as far as the White House goes, an official tonight telling CNN that -- that "The fat lady has sung," the fact is we don't know anything yet about the details of the report. VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DREAM CORPS CO-FOUNDER: Yes. We -- we are still waiting to see what we know, is that someone says there's no more indictments, and we're kind of accepting that as a fact.
But beyond that, we really don't know anything at all. And so, you know, I think the reason this is such a big story though is because Democrats have hung so much on the Mueller report.
I can't tell you how many people have come up to me, you know, at airports and shopping centers, "Wait till the Mueller report. Man, when that Mueller report. He's out of here. He's going to prison. He'll be in Guantanamo. It's coming."
And now that it's here, and it doesn't seem like that's going to that that --that somehow Bob Mueller is Harry Potter who had this wand called the Mueller Report that was going to fix everything in America, now this -- I think there is a sense of disappointment and some disorientation.
But, look, this is just one more step in a very long journey for Americans finding out what actually happened. We still don't know why Trump acts so weird when it comes to Russians, when it comes to Putin.
We still don't know what all this is about. Why is everybody lying about something if there's nothing to lie about? So, we're still all confused.
But tonight is -- is a -- a moment where the -- the -- all the hope, you know, that Santa Claus is going to bring us some gift of a better country didn't come true. There is no Santa Claus. Robert Mueller is not going to save America. We got a lot of work to do to -- to recover from all this.
COOPER: Michael, I mean you certain -- certainly saw the -- the Mueller team, up close and personal in a way you never wanted to or expected to. I'm wondering, first of all, what -- just what your feelings are tonight, and how you see this moving forward.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL STRATEGIST, MEDIA CONSULTANT: Well I think I said it first on your show back in May, when I was, you know, interrogated by the Mueller team.
It's been like a long two-year proctology exam, for all of us who were involved in this thing. It's -- it's been horrible. My -- my family has had our lives on pause for more than two years, even before the Mueller investigation.
And -- and today, with this report out, you know, maybe the fat lady isn't singing, but she's warming up her pipes, and I plan on press and play on our lives as a result of this report.
I -- I think that people are still hopeful that there's something coming out here that's going to hurt the President. I -- I think that there -- those are false hopes. I mean if there's no more indictments, I don't think there's a lot of hope in this report for any evidence of conspiracy, for collusion or obstruction, or we'd see some kind of indictments on that.
Now, we've got Roger Stone still hanging out there, and he's got a -- a, you know, a motion to dismiss coming up in April. He's going to fight to the end. So, this thing isn't over for some of us. For -- but, for my family, this thing is over.
COOPER: Do you think the Democrats will -- would be successful in actually getting the full report released, and the underlying documents as well?
[21:45:00] CAPUTO: Well I'm with the President on this thing. I say let that -- let it all hang out, as far as I'm concerned. I don't think they're going to get the underlying documents. I think they'd be highly unusual.
But let that thing out there. I mean I -- I think transparency is a great thing here, you know, these indictments of what 25 Russians out of the 36 people indicted.
You know, let -- let people understand that these Russians had absolutely nothing to do with the Trump campaign that they were out there interfering with the American election on their own without colluding or conspiring with anybody that has anything at all to do with Donald Trump.
But let's not forget here. In my mind, the Democrats have no expectation that they're going to even find anything on Donald Trump. That's not the purpose of these ongoing investigations that are getting started up in the House right now. That's not what they're about at all.
It's about 2020. It's about trying to keep the Russia ball in the air--
CAPUTO: --because the air is out of that ball.
JONES: Well I -- I see it differently. I can understand why you might feel that way. And there's certainly some people who are -- who are that partisan.
I do though believe that there are people who are legitimately and genuinely concerned, and just confused about why the President behaves the way that he does, and they really do want answers.
So, yes, of course, there's some partnership in there. But it's not just a 2020 play. I don't believe that.
COOPER: Kirsten, you? POWERS: Yes. No. I just but -- I agree with that. But I also just want to really reiterate the fact that the President wasn't indicted is really meaningless because the President can't be indicted.
COOPER: Be indicted.
POWERS: So, we -- we need to remember that. And we need to remember that if that was true that Nixon was -- would have been free and clear, right?
COOPER: Yes. Got to leave it there. Kirsten Powers, Van Jones, Michael--
CAPUTO: Yes, Kirsten. I think that's why we should -- that's why we should put--
CAPUTO: --it all out there. Let -- let it out.
POWERS: OK, let's -- I agree.
COOPER: Michael Caputo, happy birthday, thank you. Much more will -- on the Mueller Report.
CAPUTO: Thank you.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
POWERS: Happy birthday.
[21:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: We want to take a few moments on this very busy day in Washington to focus on some new comments made by Congressman Steve King, comments which traffic, yet again, in racist stereotypes and are simply not true.
As you know, there's been a disaster in the Midwest. Entire towns have been flooded and lives have been lost.
Iowa Congressman Steve King, whose recent defense of White nationalism drew condemnation in the form of a disapproval resolution from all but one of his fellow House members, held a town hall in his district yesterday.
His focus was the flooding there. And, in fairness, he seemed to be doing all he could to offer encouragement to his constituents, who certainly are hurting.
But Congressman King chose to compare the suffering in Iowa and elsewhere, and the reaction of citizens there to the suffering in New Orleans and elsewhere after Hurricane Katrina. He did it in a way that yet again relies on racist stereotypes. What he said was unfair, untrue, and unbecoming of a Member of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KING, (R) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, IOWA: Here's what FEMA tells me. We go to a place like New Orleans, and everybody's looking around saying, "Who's going to help me? Who's going to help me?"
We go to a place like Iowa, and we go, we go see, knock on the door at, say, I'm giving -- I'll make up a name, John's place, and say, "John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you."
And John will say, "Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It's Joe that needs help. Let's go down to his place and help him."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, I'm not sure when comparing one terrible human tragedy to another terrible human tragedy became acceptable for elected officials or for anyone else for that matter, there should be no sliding scale of suffering.
Iowans today are hurting. They deserve all the help, all the compassion, all the respect that anyone can muster. But Keeping Them Honest, does any Iowa family feel any better by hearing their Congressman talk about how supposedly worse Louisiana -- Louisiana families behaved?
Congressman King seems to think so. He seems to believe that John or Joe would somehow not be moved by someone like Herbert Gettridge of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
When we met him in 2007, he was 83 and in the middle of rebuilding the home that he and his wife had lived in for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How's the rebuilding going?
HERBERT GETTRIDGE: It's going pretty good. Not as fast as I expected it to go, but we're making progress.
COOPER: And people might think they're talking -- you know, that you got some big company working with you rebuilding. You are in your house every day, every night, rebuilding it on your own?
GETTRIDGE: Well, I had quite a few people. I had a bunch of people from Kansas City, Kansas.
COOPER: A church group?
GETTRIDGE: The National Baptist Laymen, they call themselves. I've had common -- well, common relief, Billy -- Billy Crystal (ph).
COOPER: Came down to help.
GETTRIDGE: No. I have quite a few people. I can't think of all of them. Salvation Army.
GETTRIDGE: I had quite a few people come down and give me a pretty good help out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well Herbert Gettridge never talked to me about handouts. He got help, and you heard, from church groups, and good people, and they've gotten aid from FEMA as well. He was an American, and that's what FEMA is for.
When I met Mr. Gettridge, he was by himself working on the house he owned, the house that he had paid for, and the house that he'd loved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So you're sleeping -- you've been sleeping on a cot in your home that you're fixing up?
GETTRIDGE: I moved back in that house in March. I left Baton Rouge -- I left Madison in October of last year, and I moved to Baton Rouge with a daughter, and I couldn't stay there, for thinking about my house back here in New Orleans.
But the trouble was we couldn't get in here right away. They kept us out a long time. I think I got in here in December. We're not--
COOPER: Is it scary? I mean, you're virtually the only one in this neighborhood. At night, you know, there's no electricity around here.
GETTRIDGE: Man, I ain't scared of nothing, man. I've been all overseas. World War II carried me all over the world. I made it through Japanese and the Germans. I made it and I came back. I can come through Katrina.
COOPER: You're not scared?
GETTRIDGE: Not a big deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He wasn't scared of nothing, he said, not a big deal.
Mr. Gettridge had been through a lot in his life, and he was standing tall, and he was working hard, and I can't tell you how many people I met like him in New Orleans and Waveland, Mississippi, and Bay St. Louis, and lots of other towns.
More than 1,800 people died due to the storm. Mr. King made no mention of them, nor of the thousands who in the midst of their grief and their loss reached out to help their neighbors. Our thoughts are with the people of Iowa and Nebraska and all those who lost so much in flooding.
But 13 or so years after Katrina, almost 14, this -- this September, my thoughts are also still with the people of New Orleans and Mississippi, those who made it home, and those who didn't.
We are, all of us, human beings, and Americans, and the words Congressman King spoke yesterday say a heck of a lot more about him than they do about anyone or anything else.
[21:55:00] Mitch Landrieu was Mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018, helped the city rebuild, recover. He was also born and raised there. He joins me now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mayor Landrieu, when you heard what Congressman King said, what do you think? I mean it's -- it's -- I -- what did you think?
MITCH LANDRIEU, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Well it makes you furious, to be honest with you. You know, Anderson, you were here reporting after Katrina. You -- on the ground, you saw everything.
You saw bodies in the street. 1,800 of our fellow citizens were killed. 500,000 homes were hurt. 250,000 were destroyed.
And not only were the people here not waiting for somebody to help, although we thank -- we're thankful for every offer that was made, but you could see neighbor helping neighbor and lifting it up.
And the resurrection and redemption of the history of the City of New Orleans was historical in many ways. And it was because people really worked hard, not only to help each other, but to help themselves.
And so, for Stephen King to misrepresent that to the country and to the world is very painful. But we've come to expect that from him. You know, the -- the hearts of the people of New Orleans go out to the people of Iowa.
We know what that feels like and it hurts, and there's no shame in -- in getting help from other folks. That's what Americans do. So, it's a -- it was a sad comment from a guy that makes a lot of sad comments. And Iowa really deserves better than that.
COOPER: Yes. I mean the fact that he would sort of choose that opportunity to, you know, to praise the -- the response by his constituents by comparing it to fictional responses and, you know, that -- that he's just come up with.
I mean he claims that that he said he visited New Orleans four times after Katrina. I don't know if that's the case. But I can't imagine anyone--
LANDRIEU: I don't know. COOPER: --visiting there during the storm, after the storm, and not seeing neighbors helping neighbors, and people reaching out to one another, and, you know, people in boats from local communities coming and doing what they could and, you know, it's--
LANDRIEU: Well (ph)--
COOPER: --it's -- it's an insult.
LANDRIEU: I think -- a couple of thing -- first of all, it's a horrible insult, and it's -- and it's based out of -- out of ignorance or really a cold dark heart. But I -- I'd mention a couple of things to you.
First of all, in our darkest hour, when things were really terrible, the Sun came up the next day, and the joy in the moment was that people started helping each other out. And it was really miraculous to see how much people help themselves, and helped other people. That's first.
Second, Congressman King's view is worth thinking about, which is the need to step on each other -- other people's throats to lift each other up. And that happens to be an ethos in some parts of the country that's really not necessary.
That's not what America needs to lift itself up again. You can lift yourself up and lift other people up as well.
Look, the people of Iowa need help. And we should be there to help them, just like the people of Louisiana went to Houston, when they were hurt, and then went to Florida when they were hurt, and went to Puerto Rico and went to Haiti, we've -- we've -- we've paid it forward many, many, many times.
That's really the American Way, not stepping on somebody else to make yourself look good.
And that's just a -- not a good view of the world, and he ought to be ashamed of himself. He should apologize. And as I said many, many times to the good people of Iowa, they really deserve better.
COOPER: Do you think it's a coincidence at all that -- that King made these comments in a city that I think is like 99.4 percent White about--
COOPER: --I mean, clearly, he's playing in racial stereotypes, this idea of, you know, African-Americans asking for help, the -- the, you know, 60.2 percent African-American in -- in New Orleans.
It -- it -- it just seems like you can't help but avoid--
LANDRIEU: No. Not only -- not--
COOPER: --the -- the topic of race here. LANDRIEU: Not only is it not a surprise. Unfortunately, we've come to expect these kind of comments from Congressman King, and -- and it's happened over the past 15 years.
So, not only am I surprised. I've just continued to be as disgusted about his words today as I have been every time I hear him talk about it.
LANDRIEU: The -- the people of America have got to acknowledge, focus on, and then reject this idea of White nationalism or White supremacy. It leads to very dangerous circumstances.
COOPER: Yes. Just, finally, I knew Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana called Steve King a -- a White supremacist adding that, "When people show you who you are, you believe them."
Do you go -- do you agree with Congressman Richmond? And do you think King is a White supremacist?
LANDRIEU: I do. I -- I do. But I don't want to get lost in name- calling. I would ask the people of America just to think this.
If you speak a certain way and act a certain way, and that is racial and racist, then that is what you are. And I just don't -- we don't have to shy away from saying those kinds of things.
It's not being used as a pejorative term. It's very descriptive. And, like I say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's usually a duck. And, you know, it sounds like it.
But this isn't the first time he's done it. It's not a surprise. The only -- the only question is how long we're going to tolerate that from individuals like him.
I -- I love Iowa. I think the people there are wonderful people. They're great Americans, and they just deserve a lot better than him, and I hope they see fit to show him the door at some point in time.
COOPER: Yes. Mayor Landrieu, always appreciate talking to you. Thank you.
LANDRIEU: Great. Thank you very much, Anderson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's it for us tonight. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Don Lemon, CNN TONIGHT starts now.