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Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Interviewed About the Release of the Mueller Report; Special Counsel Mueller Ends His Investigation, Delivers Report To Attorney General; Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) was Interviewed About the Mueller Report; Department Of Justice Official, No More Indictments Coming From Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired March 22, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] FMR. MAYOR MITCHELL LANDRIEU, (D) NEW ORLEANS: I love Iowa. I think the people there are wonderful people. They are great Americans and they just deserve a lot better than him. And I hope they see fit to show him to do at some point in time.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Mayor Landrieu, I always appreciate talking to you. Thank you.
LANDRIEU: Great. Thank you very much, Anderson.
COOPER: That's it for us tonight. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
You know, it is impossible to overstate the importance of our breaking news tonight. This is a day really for the history books, one way or another, a turning point in the Trump presidency.
After 675 days, Robert Mueller's job, done, the special counsel delivering his completed investigation of Russia's election interference, possible Trump campaign collusion with Moscow, and obstruction of justice, delivering it to the attorney general.
William Barr sending a letter to House and Senate judiciary leaders announcing that the investigation is over. So, let me read you the letter in full, OK? So here we go. Here's what it says.
It says, Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins. I write to notify you that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters.
In addition to this notification, the special counsel regulations require that I provide you with a description, an explanation of instances, if any, in which the attorney general or acting attorney general concluded that a proposed action by a special counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established departmental practices that it should not be pursued. There were no such instances during the special counsel's investigation. The special counsel has submitted to me today a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions he has reached. I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel's principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.
Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the special counsel regulations and the department's longstanding practices and policies.
I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as the status of my -- as to the status of my review.
Finally, the special counsel regulations provide that the attorney general may determine that public release of this notification would be in the public interest. I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you. Sincerely, William P. Barr, Attorney General."
That's the letter. There's a whole lot of news in that one-page letter. So, here's what -- let's go over what we know right now, OK? This is what we know right now. No more indictments from Mueller, sealed or unsealed. No more grand jury proceedings. Anybody who hasn't been charged yet in the Mueller investigation will not be. Anybody who has not been charged yet in the Mueller investigation will not be, though that doesn't apply to any other investigations, and that includes the Southern District of New York and Congress, OK?
But as far as Mueller goes, his investigation is 100 percent done, finished. We've also learned that the investigation was completed without a sit-down interview between the president and Mueller's investigators, which by any measure is a big win for team Trump.
And we may learn more as soon as this weekend, OK? We could learn a lot more, a lot sooner than many people had expected. They had expected it to take some time. When Barr says he anticipates sending his own summary of Mueller's principal collusions to Congress. That summary will then be made public.
But we don't know yet whether Congress or the American people will see the full report. There's nothing in DOJ rules that directs the attorney general to release it. But the House has voted unanimously to demand the public release of the report. And just a few days ago, the president himself said, let people see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't mind. I mean frankly, I told the House if you want, let them see it. Let it come out. Let people see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: White House lawyers expect to be able to review whatever Barr intends to submit to Congress and the public. Democrats in Congress say if the full report is not released, they may try to subpoena Mueller, who hasn't spoken publicly in almost two years. That's as the president who this morning said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:05:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you expect the Mueller report to be submitted today?
TRUMP: I have no idea about the Mueller report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was in Washington. He's at Mar-a-Lago tonight, surrounded by his legal team and other staffers. You see him here. This is a little while ago with White House lawyer -- that's Emmet Flood.
We've been told we won't see the president again tonight. But sources on team Trump are already framing the Mueller report as a win for them. One source telling CNN, quote, "zero indictments mean we're clear." Another saying the fat lady has sung.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions tonight, but the biggest is how much Attorney General William Barr will reveal from the Mueller report. We don't know. We have to wait and see. He's reading it now.
While we wait to learn more, it is worth remembering what we already know. Here's what we know. We know that Mueller has brought criminal charges against 34 people, three companies, including half a dozen members of team Trump. That's Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Roger Stone.
We know that five people have been sentenced to prison, including Manafort, Cohen, and Papadopoulos. Plus, Richard Pinedo and Alex van der Zwaan. And we know that at least 16 Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign or transition.
We'll see what else we learn in the coming days. Fasten your seat belt. It's going to be a bumpy night and a bumpy few days.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is one of the Democrats calling for the public release of the report. And she joins me now. Good evening to you. I should mention that she is a candidate for president on the Democratic side. Good to see you. Thank you so much for coming in tonight.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA: Thanks, Don. It's great to be on.
LEMON: How much of the report are you expecting to see and how soon, Senator?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, we hope soon, and we hope the whole report. And it's not just what I see, Don, or what the leaders of the judiciary committee see. I think the public has to see it. As you point out, the 420 members of the House of Representatives
voted that it should be public. You've got 90 percent of the public in public opinion polls saying that they want to see it. And the first sign we have is that he did release that brief letter so that you could read it on the air and people know what it says.
But what really matters to our democracy as we approach 2020, does he follow the rules from the special counsel that say that it is in the public interest -- whatever is in the public interest should be released to the public.
And as we know, the broad scope of the investigation really covered any kind of investigation between Russia and Donald Trump's campaign. Thirty-four people, as you point out, have been indicted, and people need to know.
So, I think that's what the main purpose here. It's not necessarily are we going to be briefed. Sure, we'd like to be briefed. But it's what the public is going to see.
LEMON: Do you have confidence in Attorney General Barr?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I was very concerned and did not support him because of the fact that he espoused such a wide view of executive power, basically saying that a president should be able to oversee an investigation of himself.
And as you know, during that hearing, he didn't really 100 percent commit to making this whole report public or the underlying documents. And time will tell. I hope I'm wrong. I hope he will reveal the entire report so the public has a chance to see what's in it because Donald Trump has done whatever he can to try to really almost create a game of political whack a mole, every day, trying to distract in one way or another from this report, and the time has finally come.
LEMON: Should Congress issue a subpoena for the full report if it's not made public?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, and I think that will most likely be the House of Representatives that will be doing that. That's what Congressman Schiff has been talking about, and they have the power to do that.
And there's also other ongoing investigation from the Eastern District of New York to the Southern District, to the New York Attorney General's Office. And those are separate from this investigation.
LEMON: So, the DOJ believes -- you know what they've been saying -- believes that a sitting president cannot be indicted. If the report reveals criminal conduct or an impeachable offense, should Democrats begin impeachment proceedings, because you know Nancy Pelosi is saying don't do it. It's not worth it.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, that's going to be on the House, and that's going to depend on what's in the report. Those of us in the Senate have tried very hard not to enter that lair because we are the jury. So, whatever the House decides to do on this or any other matter, we're the ones that have to decide it.
[22:09:55] LEMON: Do you -- I asked you, you know, if subpoenas should be issued if the full report is not released. Do you think that the attorney general -- Attorney General Barr or Mueller should testify on Capitol Hill?
KLOBUCHAR: I would hope so. I think we need to find out anything that helps the public understand what went on here because no matter what you think of Donald Trump, we've got another election coming up, and you want to know exactly what happened because we know that they basically hacked into the Hillary Clinton campaign.
We know that that information was known by the Trump operatives before the election. We know that they tried to get into 21 states' election equipment. All of that has been not just admitted by the Obama people, but by the Trump intelligence people.
And so, given all that, we want to know the details of this so we can prevent it from happening again and pass my bill to get back up paper ballots in every state and make sure that we've got audits of our elections and that we do a better job monitoring what goes on social media.
Those are all things apart from whatever happens to these 34 indictments or other investigations that are going on. But they are equally important to the future of our democracy.
LEMON: Again, I know that you're very busy. You're in Manchester. You're running, and we thank you for coming on tonight to respond to this report.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. I'm actually at St. Anselm where's where we had our town hall meeting.
KLOBUCHAR: I'm back there again. I'm talking to you. I've never left. No, I have.
LEMON: Well, they like you there. They must want you.
KLOBUCHAR: There you go. No, it's a great -- it's a place. Thank you.
LEMON: Have a good weekend. Thank you. I want to bring in Boris Sanchez now. Boris Sanchez is down in Florida with the president. Boris, good evening to you.
The president is at Mar-a-Lago tonight along with senior staffers, and you can see him here at the White House we showed the picture earlier. We'll put it up again -- with his lawyer, White House lawyer Emmet Flood. How is team Trump reacting to this news?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Don. Yes, Emmet Flood at least one of two White House attorneys that are here at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend. They were obviously prepared for the release of the Mueller report, and they're likely going to be preparing for what may come from Attorney General Barr when he sort of, condenses what Mueller's report contains.
So far publicly there's been some restraint from the White House. As often as we've heard President Trump say that this investigation is a witch hunt and that this is fake news, he hasn't actually tweeted or said anything about it.
Sarah Sanders put out a statement saying that she looks forward to seeing how the process plays out moving forward and that the next steps are in the hands of the attorney general.
Privately, though, White House officials feel vindicated. There's a sense of joy coming from them. One source, as you noted earlier, telling CNN, quote, "the fat lady has sung," suggesting that because none of the president's associates have been charged with collusion or conspiracy, that this is, in their words, absolutely embarrassing for Democrats and the press as well.
Again, to put it in context, this is an anonymous White House source telling CNN that this is embarrassing for the press. We should point out the president did speak at a dinner tonight at Mar-a-Lago. The Lincoln Day dinner. It's with supporters. It's sort of a fund-raiser.
He did talk about the first lady's approval ratings and others in the crowd, including Senator Lindsey Graham of the judiciary committee. He did not make any mention, though, of the Mueller report, Don.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Boris Sanchez. I appreciate your reporting.
There are a lot of unanswered questions tonight, including was there collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow? We're going to dig into that. Dana Bash is here, Pamela Brown, John Dean, next.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, the Attorney General, William Barr, says that he may have a summary of Mueller's principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.
Let's discuss now. Dana Bash is here, Pamela Brown, and John Dean as well. Good evening. Why, guys, it's always on a Friday?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Pam and I were just discussing that.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why?
LEMON: I was looking forward to a quiet weekend.
BROWN: Yes. Not happening.
LEMON: Looks like we're going to be here all weekend. Good evening. Thank you, guys for coming in. Pam, was there collusion? Did the president try to obstruct justice? These are major questions that we're hoping to finally get some answers to.
BROWN: That's right. We don't have the answers right now. All we know is that the Mueller investigation is over. The report has been delivered. And my colleague, Laura Jarrett, is reporting that there are no more indictments to come.
But now the next phase of this is learning what these principal conclusions are. We know Robert Mueller's mandate was the Russia's interference in the 2016 election and whether there were any coordination or links between members of the Trump campaign and Russians.
So, he sort of laid out some bread crumbs and told stories through his court filings, but he's never answered that fundamental question of whether there was collusion.
BROWN: So hopefully, presumably according to the attorney general, we could find out over the weekend the answer to that, or did Robert Mueller say in his report that he can't answer it, that he doesn't have enough information? I mean, we don't know what the answer is going to be, but that's the key.
And also, whether there was obstruction of justice, whether Robert Mueller believed that there was. As we know, you can't indict a sitting president according to DOJ policy. So, was there conduct that was unindictable or conduct that was concerning that could be of interest to Congress? We hope to find out soon. Don?
LEMON: OK. Well, let's talk a little bit more about the stats that Pamela laid out, Dana, OK? She talked about people who had been charged and on and on. He's charged 34 people, three companies. That includes the president's campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, his fixer among others. So, what has already come out is already unprecedented and there's so much more that we don't know.
BASH: There's so much we don't know. Look, for the most part, the people you just put up on the screen, they got caught up in this investigation and, in the case of Michael Cohen, also when it comes to the Southern District of New York, in some cases they have been convicted. In other cases, they have just been indicted for lying.
They've been caught up in not telling the truth as this investigation has been going forward, and other things as well. But with regard to the questions about what is going on, the fundamental collusion question, as Pamela said, we don't have any tea leaves at all from those particular indictments about the idea of collusion.
[22:19:59] Even Roger Stone, the question is about whether or not he was in contact with WikiLeaks and whether he was coordinating with WikiLeaks, which effectively means coordinating with Russia, and whether he was telling that to the president. That isn't what he was indicted for.
BASH: So those are all, you know, TBD answers, and we don't know if we're going to get all the details. What we do know, the latest set of bread crumbs is from this, you know, one-page statement that the Justice Department put out today saying that the report is comprehensive. And so, from that, we can hope that we're going to get at least some of the answers.
BASH: To those on the whole issue of collusion, never mind what Pamela mentioned, which is obstruction of justice.
LEMON: All right. So, John Dean, let's bring, because you've been in you know similar circumstances and you know them very well. So, I just want to read this. This is one line in Barr's letter to Congress. I want to get your take on it.
He says, "I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the special counsel regulations and the department's longstanding practices and policies."
First question, John. It sounds like he's saying, I'm going to make this decision alone. Is that what he's saying -- I'm not going to make this decision alone.
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly. It appears he's going to do it in consultation with two people who would be good to consult about this. And one of the questions I hope he answers is, is the president either wittingly or unwittingly somehow an asset or an agent of Russia? Because a lot of his behavior is unexplainable by any norms of American presidents.
I think he's going to try to release what he can. He's an establishmentarian, but I don't think he wants to mess up his reputation on this case. So, I'm hopeful he'll put out more than less.
LEMON: Yes. But considering the people who have been indicted, the people who have not been interviewed, there are some who feel the report is anticlimactic. They expected exactly what happened to come out, John. Is that fair?
DEAN: Well, I can understand their feeling, but we're still playing a guessing game at this point because we don't know. While it's been called a comprehensive report, we have no idea what the contents are, even what the volume of it is. And whether --
LEMON: Do you think that we will get -- do you think we'll get a report, something from Barr as early as this weekend?
DEAN: I think we might get some bullet points, but not much more. And I think he'll -- and I hope he goes slowly to a degree and carefully explains what should be explained. I don't expect they'll put out any of the declination reports, in other words, those they declined to prosecute for whatever reason. But I think there's a lot of material there that he can explain, and hopefully Mueller and Rosenstein will encourage him to do so.
LEMON: One more question for you. We know that the DOJ says a sitting president can't be indicted. Pamela mentioned that.
So, will we learn a great detail about the president's role in all of this, and what happens -- what happens if there was an attempt to obstruct justice from Trump or that he obstructed justice? What happens?
DEAN: It could very well be we'll learn enough to start a proceeding to impeach this president. This well could be a precursor of an impeachment proceeding. We have no idea at this point.
DEAN: There's so much unexplained behavior that hopefully will be addressed by this report.
LEMON: Dana, go on.
BASH: I was just going to say one of the things that John Dean just mentioned about, you know, a question that he wants answered is a pretty explosive statement to make, but is a legitimate one, whether or not the President of the United States is a Russian asset at all.
If Rod Rosenstein and Bill Barr go with the Justice Department guidelines, which is you don't besmirch somebody's reputation if they're not going to be indicted, the question is does that pertain to a, an un-indictable president of the United States?
BROWN: And -- and --
BASH: I don't know if we know the answer to that.
BROWN: And, you know, Bill Barr did not -- he wasn't asked, and he didn't discuss what he would do with any potential impeachable information about the president. What is he going to do with that? Yes, DOJ policy is you don't provide information publicly about un- indicted individuals. But this is certainly a different situation.
BROWN: There's also, of course, a scenario that this report exonerates President Trump. I mean, we really don't know what's going to happen next. Of course, the White House is watching all of this closely. The president is down at Mar-a-Lago with his White House attorneys, and they're going to put up a fight, Don. I'm told they're going to put up a fight in case there is a subpoena for the report, which we're told by Democrats, Nadler in particular, that there will be.
[22:25:02] They're going to do whatever they can to keep it under wraps because there is concern that there could be derogatory information or information that could put the president in a bad light. They don't know for sure, but that is a concern.
LEMON: Well I'm glad you said that because, listen, they're saying there are no more indictments for people who are close to the president, like his own son and his own son-in-law. That's good news there. But we don't know.
The report could be -- you know what it could say about the president, what it could say about people around him, their practices, and on and on, if it is released.
So, I think it's a little premature for them to be celebrating right now. But that part about no more indictments, I think that's the part that is very positive for them. Do you guys disagree with that?
BASH: No. No, it is.
BASH: It is, but -- and they're going for anything that they can. I mean if you're Don Junior, you're definitely saying, ha, ha I told you. Same with Jared Kushner. And there are others who we have -- you know, their characters in this drama we have been following very closely over the past two years who have not been indicted as part of the Mueller investigation.
BASH: Maybe they've been cooperating. We don't know.
BASH: We don't know some of the answers to those questions. But, you know, we still might not ever know the answers even if everything --
LEMON: Those questions, yes.
BASH: -- even if everything in the report is released because of what Pamela and John talked about, the fact that there are people who are just going to be protected.
LEMON: And they are going to say, they said that they're going to fight a subpoena. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
LEMON: The attorney general says Congress may get Mueller's principal conclusions as early as this weekend. Those conclusions expected to be made public.
I'm going to ask Congressman Ted Lieu how much of the full report he thinks the public will see and when.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: All right. Breaking news. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finished his investigation and turned it -- turned in his report. In a letter to lawmakers, Attorney General William Barr says that he is reviewing the report and suggested he will provide principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.
Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Led lieu, and he serves on the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much. You expect to see the full Mueller report or any or all of the information that was used to craft the report?
REP. TED LIEU, (D-CA) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you, Don for your question. Let me first say that Americans should be proud of this day. Despite numerous attempts by Donald Trump to stop this investigation, Robert Mueller and his team were able to complete it.
The fact that Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein kept their jobs, I think, shows the vitality and strength of our institutions and our democracy. And now it's time for the American people and Congress to get the full report. I look forward to getting the summary from Bill Barr, but that is not sufficient. We need to get the entire report.
LEMON: Will you be calling on Mueller to testify in front of the judiciary committee?
LIEU: I hope we don't have to resort to doing that. I expect to get the entire report, and there's two reasons for this. First, the American taxpayers paid for it. They have a right to see what the contents of the report are. And, second, the Department of Justice has taken the position that they will not indict a sitting president.
So, if there's information in here that shows that they would have indicted Donald Trump, then Congress is really the only institution now that could hold him accountable. So we need to get the full information. Now, the report could also completely exonerate Donald Trump. We don't actually know what's in this report, and we need to see all of it.
LEMON: Yes. Interesting you say that because a senior DOJ official tells CNN that there are no more indictments coming from the special counsel's office. If there are no indictments of conspiracy -- or indications there of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, does that mean, as the president says, no collusion?
LIEU: So, we do know that Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos attempted to collude with Russia. Whether or not Donald Trump knew that, I have no idea, and it's certainly possible he did not. We also know special counsel has referred criminal matters to other jurisdictions, Washington, D.C. as well as the Southern District of New York. So, for example, if there's any campaign finance violations that may be coming out of another office, but we have to see the entire report to know exactly what Mueller did. LEMON: Interesting. So Mueller's investigation sought to identify
crimes which could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. So how does that threshold different with the ongoing congressional investigations?
LIEU: That is a great point, a great question. So special counsel Mueller is a prosecutor. I'm a former prosecutor. And the burden is pretty high. We have to have evidence that can convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, and that is when you would indict someone. And primarily Mueller was interested in matters related to Russia.
Congressional Oversight Committees, judiciary, Intel, financial services and foreign affairs and others, we're interested in knowing did Donald Trump, his family, or his associates commit any crime? Second, did they engage in any ethical misconduct whether or not it rose to the level of a crime? And, third, how to explain all this to the American people. So these investigations are going to be continue. They will be informed by the special counsel's report, which is why we need to see all of it.
LEMON: Well, how are you going -- OK, so, the whole ethical part is different, because, you know, they're saying they won't release anybody's name who is not charged with a crime or is not indicted.
LEMON: Or information on those people or that person. So how will you ever figure that out?
LIEU: So internal Department of Justice guidelines don't apply to Congress. And my view is under the separation of powers, because this is a matter of intense national interest, the American people and Congress absolutely have a right to the entire report. If there's classified portions, then Congress can see it, and the rest can be redacted before releasing it to the people, but there is no reason that the American people and Congress can't see the entire report.
LEMON: OK. Let talked -- you talked a little bit about the mandate, you said, you know, of what he was charged with, matters relating to Russia. He was mandated to investigate coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. We also know that the special counsel was investigating possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mueller never interviewed the president in person. Do you believe there can be a complete investigation without that?
LIEU: I wish Donald Trump had the courage to testify before the prosecutors for Robert Mueller's team, but there was no legal requirement for him to do that. There are numerous investigations all the time where the target of the investigation chooses not to testify or choose to go to an interview. And that's perfectly within their right to do so, and they'll still do the investigation and still either indict or not indict with or without that information.
[22:35:06] LEMON: Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you very much. Appreciate your time.
LIEU: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Robert Mueller finished with his report, but there are other investigations still ongoing. The former Director of National Intelligence is James Clapper. He is here to tell us what we should expect from those investigations.
LEMON: Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is officially over as of tonight. His confidential report now in the hands of the Attorney General William Barr. A lot to talk about. James Clapper is the former Director of national intelligence. So good to have you here this evening, sir. Thank you so much.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: There will be no new criminal indictments, but talk to me about the counterintelligence aspect here. What do you expect we will learn about that?
[22:40:02] CLAPPER: Well, like everyone else, you know, I'm torturing the tea leaves here to try to figure out -- divine what exactly will or won't be in Bob Mueller's report, but a couple points I'd like to make before I get to the essence of your important question. First, I think Bob Mueller is truly a national hero and it is to be commented for what he did and the manner in which he did it. Despite all the constant assaults, he kept his mouth shut and ran a very tight operation.
Secondly, to echo a point that Congressman Lieu made in your last segment, I think it says a lot about the strength and the resilience of our institutions. You know, he kept his job. He was allowed, despite the efforts of the president to undermine it, until the end as did Rod Rosenstein.
Third, I harbored what turned out to be a naive hope that when this all started, that this would somehow remove the cloud over this country and over the presidency, and I don't think the Mueller report's going to do that. And one of the thing -- the clouds -- part of the cloud, if you will, to use a metaphor, that is still hanging over this whole evolution for me, it's something I've been concerned about from the outset, going back to when we presented our intelligence community assessment to then candidate or President-Elect Trump on the 6th of January, 2017, is the Russian dimension.
And I doubt that the Mueller report is going to explain the strange and disturbing deferential behavior of the president towards Vladimir Putin, his refusal to call out the Russians for their meddling in the election to the extent, as I assert in my book, that I think the Russians actually turned the election for Trump.
So these are issues, serious ones, particularly that impact our national security is the president, I would -- you know, my concern is he in somehow an unwitting asset of the Russians. And that is yet to be determined, and that is one thing, I think, that will linger after the Mueller report, and that needs to be run to ground.
LEMON: So that you said you thought -- you had hoped the Mueller report would remove the cloud, and you don't think it will. That one thing about the strange relationship or the -- is that the only reason you --
CLAPPER: No. I mean among other things. Now, I'm thinking back to the indictments that Mueller issued, that -- and particularly those portions where we're trying to read between the lines of the redactions. Well, will there be clarity about those redactions, because they implied -- I don't know, you know?
But there's a series of questions that may or may not be answered by the Mueller report. And just one example, who was the senior campaign official who directed Roger Stone to engage with WikiLeaks, for example? That is kind of a, you know, hanging chad there that among others that, you know, I hope are resolved here, but we won't know that.
LEMON: You don't think Mueller knows the importance of the public getting answers to those questions?
CLAPPER: Oh, I'm sure he does. There's no doubt in my mind, knowing him as I do, that he clearly understands the huge public policy implications of this, and I'm sure he recognizes the need for maximum transparency for the public, not just the Congress, but the public.
LEMON: And the public also paid for it with taxpayer money.
LEMON: Thank you, Director. I appreciate your time.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. The president never sat down with Mueller despite saying many times that he'd like to. Did that save him? Legendary journalist, Dan Rather joins me to discuss next.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Robert Mueller wrapped his investigation without a face to face interview with President Trump, and that may have helped him. Joining me now to discuss that, Douglas Brinkley, the author of the upcoming book "American moon shot," and next to him here in the studio with me, the legendary journalist Mr. Dan Rather. Good evening to both of you. Thank you for coming in.
DAN RATHER, HOST AXS TV'S THE BIG INTERVIEW: Good evening.
LEMON: Another big story on a Friday. It seems like it happens that way. The president, Mr. Rather, he initially said that he would sit down with Robert Mueller. That position ultimately changed. Watch this, and then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you still like to testify to
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, sir?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Sure. I would like to. I would like to.
I would love to speak, because we've done nothing wrong. I would love to speak. I would love to go. Nothing I want to do more. I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me. In fact, against my lawyers, because most lawyers say, never speak on anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you more likely to sit an interview now?
TRUMP: My lawyers are working on that. I've always wanted to do an interview, because, look, there's been no collusion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that your final position, that there's going to be no sit-down interview and nothing written or in person on obstruction?
TRUMP: I would say probably. Probably. I mean I can change my mind, but probably.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Did the president and his lawyers' decision not to speak one- on-one with Robert Mueller -- did that potentially save the president in this investigation?
RATHER: I think it may have. It certainly didn't hurt him. I think it helps him a great deal that he never had to face, as Bill Clinton did, for example, direct questions, much less have them videotaped or on film. And so you have to give the president and his legal team a lot of credit.
That they maneuvered around, kept the attack on Mueller and however it happened and why it happened, they came out a winner on that count, but I would say, Don, that I think, you know, we're all impatient, and particularly we're impatient right now, but there's still so much we don't know, and the Mueller report as of this moment stands in a Churchillian phrase, it's a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and it may be a while before we see it.
LEMON: Right. Even though they're saying that some cursory information or at least summary could come out as early as this weekend. I got to stick to this line of questioning, Douglas. The president's penchant for lying, the possibility that he could perjure himself -- was that the single most important decision you think that Trump's team made?
[22:50:05] DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Convincing him to try to zip it on talking about Mueller, you know, but they played it, Don, both ways. On one hand, he would, you know, not talk to Mueller in a serious way, not get all that tape like you said with Bill Clinton. On another hand, he trashed Mueller as being Hillary Clinton's close
friend and Comey's friend. So, he set himself up for whatever this result was going to be to have an offense coming out of it. And I think what we're dealing with this weekend is Trump being offensive. The leaks are coming out on Mar-a-Lago that they are partying and whooping it up.
Well, they want to make that the narrative story. The truth is we haven't seen this yet. We don't know what we are going to be getting this weekend, how much is redacted. You are going to have a Congress perhaps subpoenaing the entire report, as you've had lawmakers on saying we want to read it all, keep the people buff this report. Let's read this report.
So, there are many acts yet to go, but I kind of expected this night was coming, because of Nancy Pelosi when a few weeks ago she was dialing back impeachment.
BRINKLEY: She didn't want the Democrats to leap off on the Mueller report as the main thing that the parties is about for 2020 and that was the smoke signal that this may indeed be a good night for Trump land.
LEMON: Yes. There were lots of signals, because I've been saying, its kind a -- I mean, at least for sitting here, covering it every night. Its kind an anti climatic. Especially if you talked to attorneys, legal professionals, the people they were interviewing, their line of questioning, how they are going about it and then also the per view of what the special counsel could investigate, but then that leads to why was he handing -- why did he hand off all these other investigations to different entities worth that the president cannot shut down?
RATHER: Well, I think this is a case of Mueller, his intention is to give a road map, a road map to Congress and a road map to other jurisdictions under scoring that I say President Trump's legal jeopardy is still wide and vast, but having said that, I'm not surprised to hear these reports that they are celebrating at Mar-a- Lago, because the president, is now going -- whether he is justified or not, he is going to claim vindication and victory and if he plays to form, he relentlessly denying on the attack and saying our version of I told you so. I told you so witch hunt.
Now, as time rolls through, we may see that none of that is true, but right now, its advantage Trump and a lot of people don't want to hear that, but there is no wonder they are celebrating.
LEMON: You are the presidential historian, Douglas. The investigation, the results are going to be discussed for generations. How significant do you think this day will be in American history?
BRINKLEY: I don't know this day is yet because it's really -- we don't have the information on the Mueller report, but the report is gigantic. It has been a Dana Scully's sword hanging over Donald Trump --
LEMON: That is what you said for a while. You said this is a Trump -- sword hanging over Trump's head.
BRINKLEY: Yes, and he is been under -- it's like an asterisks president until this report came out. Is he legit? If he can escape collusion and be able to be justified and saying the no collusion charge, it gives him fresh life, but what history will show us politically speaking, the Democrats effectively used the investigation as a weapon to win Congress.
They -- this report -- this idea being constantly under investigation in the name of Bob Mueller and look at Saturday Night Live with Robert De Niro, you know, this has been pressure on Donald Trump. I don't know how he is been able to sleep. He had to worry about Don Jr., had to worry about Jared Kushner and how close this is getting to him. So, if it turns out that looks like it's a good night for Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, meaning Trump's principle people are OK, he'll find ways to get around Cohen and Manafort and others.
LEMON: But I don't know how much stock we can take in the president was not indicted, because according to the Justice Department guidelines, a sitting president cannot be indicted and until everyone sees the report, then we don't know.
BRINKLEY: And there are bread crumbs in the report. There are people are going to be able to follow all sorts of trails if they get the full report. It got to get released.
LEMON: Again, listen, maybe there is nothing there, but we don't know yet, because we haven't seen it and we know what the guidance is from the Justice Department. So, you covered Watergate, Mr. Rather. Do you follow this investigation, give us the 30,000 foot view. Now what?
RATHER: Now what? The emphasis shifts mainly to the Congress. Yes, Southern District of New York and other federal jurisdictions we are following up, primarily now it's on Congress. This will be like Watergate. Remember, that Leon Jaworski who was brought in special prosecutor wouldn't let the grand jury indict President Nixon. The grand jury wanted to do that.
[22:55:00] He settled for naming as an unindicted co-conspirator, but he laid out a path for Congress saying these are things, if you want to look into it, these are things you want to look into and I think people tend to forget it wasn't until Congress had been at it quite a little while that public opinion began to swing against Richard Nixon. It took longer than most people talking about it now imagined.
BRINKLEY: I just think we have to keep site of how many indictments there have been. This has been raining on Donald Trump and so this is the most scandaled plague administration in American history or at least it's comparable to Nixon and Hardy.
LEMON: That is up on the screen. BRINKLEY: Yes. I mean, so, this is an ongoing story, but it's a calm
in the waters for Donald Trump that he is not taken out of the game this week.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen.
RATHER: Thank you, Don, always good to see you.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
LEMON: Congratulations on the new book.
BRINKLEY: Thank you very much.
LEMON: Robert Mueller's investigation is done, but there are still so many unanswered questions. We are going to take a look at the biggest ones next and there are a lot of them.