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Mueller Investigations into Russian Interference is Over; Democrats Want Full Transparency to the Public; Robert Mueller Submits Russia Report. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired March 22, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Here's our breaking news. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finished his investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. And tonight, he submitted a confidential report to the attorney general, William Barr, who is reviewing it.
Barr is expected to provide Congress with the report's principal conclusions possibly as soon as this weekend and those conclusions are expected to be made public.
Congressional Democrats wasting no time and demanding that the entire report be released to the public. And they're already threatening to subpoena the document and possibly Mueller himself if it's not handed over to Congress.
Also, tonight, a senior Justice Department official making clear to CNN that there are no more indictments coming from the special counsel.
President Trump, meanwhile, is at Mar-a-Lago tonight at his estate, Mar-a-Lago estate down in Florida along with many of his top aides also making an appearance at a Republican fundraiser.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders saying that the White House has not seen or been briefed on Mueller's report that as the White House lawyers pressing to review the principal conclusions that Attorney General William Barr plans to give to Congress.
So, here we go, another round, lots to talk about tonight, big news. I want to bring in Shimon Prokupecz, Matthew Rosenberg, Juliette Kayyem, and Renato Mariotti.
This part is over and now comes the second face of this. Shimon, house Dems are having conference call tomorrow at 3 p.m. What do you know about that?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So, this is just coming in to CNN now from our congressional correspondent Manu Raju. So, the Dems are meeting, they are going to have a conference call tomorrow at 3 o'clock and what he's told is this is going to be about the Mueller report. They are going to have a conference call, they are going to probably
discuss the next steps. I suspect they are going to be briefed on maybe what's in the Mueller report. We do expect that Barr is going to brief members of Congress tomorrow or at least advise them of some of the information.
So, we do expect a busy day tomorrow, and certainly the idea that the Dems are going to have this conference call it could mean that they are going to be getting some information that they want to share with their members.
LEMON: OK. Let's go through this. I have a lot to cover, guys. If you can give brief answers, I would really appreciate it. So, as I said, this is the beginning of the next phase. Right? The investigation may be over, a lot of unanswered questions. So, let's break it down.
Is it possible -- this is for Shimon -- that the report reveals attempts at collusion or conspiracy with the Russians that don't rise to criminal conduct but could still be considered impeachable?
PROKUPECZ: Look, I do think there could be derogatory information in this, there could be behavior that's peculiar from the president from people around the president but I think anything that would have been impeachable or anything that would have been criminal I think would have come out already in some other fashion through indictments or through other means through the court system that Mueller was using.
So, I don't think that we're going to see anything tomorrow at least that's going to say a-ha, here is the collusion, here is everything that Mueller has been looking at and this is why the president should be impeached?
LEMON: OK. Juliette, this is for you. So many points of contact between team Russia and team Trump and the Russians like that June 2016 Trump tower meeting. Are we going to find out the facts behind that meeting?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We may. I mean, just to repeat whatever he says, the content of what these findings are we don't know. The only news today is that part of the investigation is closed and others are going on. No more indictments.
That means Mueller decided not to, you know, go to the hill, the constitutional hill and go after Trump or even possibly his family members and there was nothing that Mueller wanted to do that the Department of Justice did not allow him to do.
I think that was a key point in Barr's findings. So, you know, no one should claim defeat, no one should claim victory. This is the end of one piece and it goes to the -- it goes to the SDNY and the political arena.
KAYYEM: And of course, the big question, which is Russia. LEMON: OK. So, Renato, for you. How about the president crafting the
misleading initial statement to the press about the meeting? They said it was a preliminary -- primarily, I should say, that it was about adoptions, remember? Is that going to be part of the report?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do, without a doubt. I mean, Mueller has asked for documents regarding that. We know that he talked to witnesses about those issues. So that is something that I would be very surprised is not covered by the report.
I have to say that to me, if I'm looking what is going to be the most interesting part of the report is going to be his report on the obstruction piece of this that's something that was clearly within Mueller's per view.
[23:04:59] We know that he subpoenaed documents, we know he talked to witnesses about it. And I'll tell you the public evidence seems pretty overwhelming. So, I'm very interested to see what he has to say about it because no one has been indicted in relation to the conduct. It will be interesting to see what he concludes one way or the other on that.
LEMON: OK. Matthew, let me bring you in. Paul Manafort, Manafort's attorneys let it slip in a memo that Manafort shared campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate with ties to Russian intelligence. This raises all sorts of questions. Will we have answers to that?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, I don't know if we've got answers to anything, you know, beyond what's been charged. Who knows what's in there, who knows what's going to be public and whether even, you know, a prosecutor or an investigator should be kind of detailing things they chose not to charge?
But like the Manafort case is a great example of something that probably isn't a federal crime but I think politically, it's reasonable to question these are the people you want running your country? You know, that's a question America have to ask. They are going to get a chance to answer that again in another year and a half.
But I do think also you're starting to see it on the left, too, the resistance kind of Twitter is out of hand. People are like, my God, the Mueller thing. It's just the beginning of something new.
I mean, this investigation is over. There are going to be congressional investigations, there's stuff in the southern district looking at more closely Trump finances, campaign finance issues. But the idea that we're going to see some kind of Russia, kind of conspiracy collusion charge just doesn't seem --
LEMON: No, that's not going to happen. And when I say the next phase, I mean, the next phase for us, this is what we're talking about now, will it be released? What's in the report? Will Congress subpoena for information? That is the next phase for at least when it comes to journalists, and
that's what people really want to know.
LEMON: Obviously, the Democrats are saying we want it all out there. So, they will fight for it even if it takes a subpoena. They want Robert Mueller to even testify.
But let me get back to the questions I think it's important. People have been asking lots of questions. Renato, the president never sat down for an interview with Mueller. But he did submit written questions.
And sources are telling CNN that the president claimed that Roger Stone didn't tell him about WikiLeaks and he was never informed of the 2016 Trump tower meeting. We don't know if Mueller believes the president told the truth on those answers or not, do we?
MARIOTTI: No, we really don't. You know, given the DOJ's policy regarding indictment of a president, I think that the lack of an indictment here doesn't really mean anything and the devil is in the details in that report.
I will say I find it very unusual that Mueller concluded his investigation without interviewing the president or at least trying to seek that interview. So, one thing that would also be interesting is to find out what steps Mueller took to try to get a sit-down interview with Trump and why he ultimately decided that he was not going to pursue a subpoena or try to compel his testimony and --
LEMON: Maybe he had enough information that didn't indicate the president did anything wrong? Therefore, didn't need to do it.
MARIOTTI: You know, I got to say it's possible but based on publicly available information, hard for me to believe on obstruction issues that he wouldn't want to speak to the president to find out his intent, his thoughts on it. On that issue it's very hard for me to understand it.
LEMON: OK. So then, Matthew, there was also the reporting that Jared Kushner spoke to then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about setting up a back channel between the Trump transition team and Russia.
And remember, it was Kushner who according to the Washington Post wanted to use Russian diplomatic facilities and equipment so that they wouldn't be monitored. Are we going to learn about what was going on with that?
ROSENBERG: You know, that's again, like, are we going to learn from this report? I don't know. I think we already know a lot about that and, you know, is it unseemly? Yes. I think a lot would say that's pretty unseemly. Is it illegal? Probably not. It doesn't look like it was. Nobody is being charged in connection with it. LEMON: Yes.
ROSENBERG: And you know, that's I think time and again that you come back to with the Mueller investigation. This is about criminal charges. Building a criminal conspiracy case is difficult and complicated but there all political collections that one should ask and Americans will be getting a chance to ask and answer them again.
LEMON: Shimon, unanswered questions about two Trump associates still cooperating with investigators, and I'm talking about Rick Gates and Michael Flynn. Do we know what's next for them?
PROKUPECZ: No, they are still pretty busy, Mike Flynn not as much, Rick Gates very busy. A grand cooperator here for the Department of Justice and it's really as a result of the Mueller investigation that he's decided to cooperate and he's helping what we know is in several investigations.
And just to get back to the point that Matt was making, you know, here is the thing. There are a lot of other investigations that are still ongoing, certainly the issue of the sharing of the campaign data with that Russian intelligence official, I don't think that's going away any time soon.
[23:09:54] It's still a very critical question to the special counsel team which means really the FBI and the Department of Justice they have said that it goes to the heart of their investigation. That very much I think is still going to go on.
I also think very much as we see with these cooperators like Rick Gates that their help in understanding with the Russians --
LEMON: Wait, wait, wait. That part is not over because of the counter intelligence investigation?
PROKUPECZ: There is. Yes, there is counter intelligence investigation that the FBI is going to keep on doing in terms of what the Russians were doing. It doesn't go away. That's why I also think a lot of the parts of this report were either taken out or will not be made public is because the FBI is continuing to work intelligence --
PROKUPECZ: -- continuing to work on information as it relates to what Russia was doing and what they are continuing to do.
LEMON: Yes. Juliette, I know you want to get in on this. Go ahead. What did you want to say?
KAYYEM: No, I just -- I think it is quite possible that Mueller did what he was sort of ordered to do, which was essentially bring the indictments that you can bring and those that you can under DOJ guidelines you won't. And that the decision about whether Trump or not is ultimately and has ultimately always been a political question. And we don't know what these findings are if they are going to galvanize a political response or if that political response comes through an election. But this idea that, you know, this report was going to be a smoking gun and everyone would be walked out of the White House and, you know, handcuffs. It was always just a delusion about what it is in fact Mueller was going to do.
And the most important thing just picking up on what everyone has said is the president could be acting in a way where he is compromised willingly or unwittingly by the Russians that doesn't rise to the level of criminal conduct that is a political question.
Does that bother us enough politically to start proceedings or to vote him out? So, you know, kudos to Mueller. He finished his report. Let's not forget that was not written in stone and then you know, it continues.
LEMON: I'll take we don't know, Alex, for 1,000. That seems to be the answer of the night. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it.
The Mueller's investigation is done but there are still a lot more unanswered questions. We're going to talk about that next.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Here is our breaking news. Special Counsel Robert Mueller turning in his report to the attorney general. Mueller has reached the end of his investigation but there are still many more questions than answers. So, will the report clear it up and will the American people get to see it?
Let's discuss now. David Axelrod is here, Garrett Graff as well. Garrett is the author of "The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the War on Global Terror."
Gentlemen, it's good to have both of you on.
David, Mueller investigation it's over, it's done, it's complete. I want to dive into more unanswered questions, if you will. But first, speak to the significance of what today means for the Trump White House going forward.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, something big happened today, Don. We just don't know exactly what. We can infer certain things. Yes, the probe is over. It ended without anyone named Trump or Kushner being indicted.
You can -- that suggests certain things as to the presence of a broader conspiracy or at least charges related to that. And the White House will call that vindication of political victory for them and try and they'll hoist Mueller whose integrity that denigrated for two years as now the gold standard of investigations.
But we don't know what the report actually says. We do know there are 12 other investigations that have spun off of this. Thirty-four people have been charged as a result of this and the Congress is going to dig deeply into certain areas that Mueller felt were not appropriate to him given the charge and mandate that he had as the special counsel.
So, there are many more pages to be turned here but this clearly was the end of a big chapter.
LEMON: OK. So, we're trying to find out how much we're going to learn from the attorney general and I just want to go back. I want to play what the then-FBI director James Comey said about the Clinton e-mail investigation. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER UNITED STATES FBI DIRECTOR: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive highly classified information.
For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the top-secret special access program at the time they were sent and received. Those chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e- mails about those matters and receiving e-mails about those same matters.
There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So even though, David, even though Secretary Clinton was not indicted, he still went public with all the bad things he thought she did. Do you think the DOJ will avoid doing something similar with President Trump?
AXELROD: Well, I think they are going to be very careful but here is the point. What Bob Mueller did discover and what we now know because he acted on it was that there was a broad-based plot on the part of the Russians to infiltrate our election and it involved not just hacking the DNC and conspiring to have those e-mails released but something much more insidious in terms of trying to influence voters.
And so, there was a real -- there was a really insidious matter that is now public and the question is what did the Trump organization or the Trump campaign have to do with it and why all these contacts with Russians during the course of the campaign?
[23:20:07] Why did the chairman of the campaign give for example his polling data to a Russian security apparatus? These questions have to be answered.
And then the issue with Hillary Clinton was she handled her e-mails in a careless way that exposed them to exploitation but this is about a major plot by a hostile foreign nation to infiltrate our elections and potentially some participation on the part of some people to aid and abet it. We need to know what the answers are about that. So, I can't imagine the set of circumstances under which at the end of
the day that Mueller report isn't largely known. No matter what the attorney general decides --
AXELROD: - in the short term, I don't think the Congress will sit for it, I don't think the public will sit for it.
LEMON: Interesting. Garrett, thank you for --
GRAFF: Don, if I can jump in on that.
LEMON: Yes, go on. Go on.
GRAFF: Yes. So, David raises a really interesting point here, which is Mueller has never actually told us about this polling data hand off to Konstantin Kilimnik. Remember, we only know this because Paul Manafort's lawyers can't redact properly.
Yet, this is obviously something that Mueller has raised in court filings that Mueller considers serious and yet has never come out publicly in a way that Mueller has been willing to make it part of the narrative that he's told us here before.
So, I think one of the things that we should be looking for in this report is presumably Mueller explaining why that polling data matters. I mean, David sort of made the point that there was this big Russian criminal conspiracy that Mueller helped uncover that aided the election of Donald Trump.
But let's not also forget there was a second criminal conspiracy that aided the president's election that the president himself has been named unindicted co-conspirators individual number one, that being the Michael Cohen campaign finance violations that spun out of this Mueller investigation.
So, Mueller, you know, we're sort of sitting here saying, this is, you know, this might be great news for Donald Trump's presidency. Bob Mueller in two years has pulled together information that there were two separate criminal conspiracies that helped elect Donald Trump President of the United States.
I mean, Douglas Brinkley last hour was talking about an asterisk presidency, this is what we're talking about when we talk about an asterisk presidency, a president who won only with the help of criminal conspiracies.
LEMON: So, there are still many unanswered questions, Garrett. CNN has previously reported that federal investigations were examining whether there was a computer server connection between the Trump organization and Alpha Bank, remember that? That's a Russian bank.
CNN has also reported that Mueller wanted to know about Trump's campaign ties with the NRA. Will we get answers? Is a report going to answer that?
GRAFF: Yes. And we know that Bob Mueller has devoted incredibly intense resources to these Middle Eastern foreign influence questions. You know, the George Nader was cooperating that sort of a would-be Middle Eastern power broker who was cooperating with the investigation.
We know that Mueller has spent a lot of time, brought in a lot of witnesses to look into this part of the probe and none of which we have seen publicly and then there is a lot of sort of odd loose threads.
I mean, remember, in November and December we saw Jerome Corsi actually come up to the point where he had a plea agreement that he was negotiating with Robert Mueller's team, clear evidence that they believe that he committed a federal crime and that that plea deal blew up and we didn't see any indictment coming out of that.
GRAFF: I mean, there is a lot of sort of weird leftover stuff right now and we don't know how much of this is going to sort of make sense to us after reading the report and how much of it is just going to be left dangling.
LEMON: Well, we may know more as early as this weekend. That's what we're being told. So, I'll let you guys go to get rest because you'll probably be in here tomorrow on Sunday. Thank you, both. I appreciate it.
Robert Mueller has completed his investigation after 675 days and we may learn about his principal conclusions this weekend. But we already know, we know a lot. We're going to take a look at who, what and where, the who, what and where of the Mueller investigation. That's next.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: After 675 days Special Counsel Robert Mueller has turned in his long-anticipated report on Russian election interference, possible Trump campaign collusion with Moscow and obstruction of justice.
It's now in the hands of the Attorney General William Barr who could report in its principal conclusions as early as this weekend.
CNN's Jason Carroll takes a look back at how we got here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two years we've gone through this nonsense. There is no collusion with Russia. You know that better than anybody and there is no obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even before Robert Mueller's appointment it was clear what Donald Trump thought of the Russia investigation and those responsible for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: January, 2017.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This becomes more famous than me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Classified documents are presented to President-elect Donald Trump at Trump tower by then-FBI Director James Comey. The documents include allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising information about Trump. From that explosive beginning came an early setback for the new administration as questions are raised about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and contacts he had with a Russian official during the 2016 presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I didn't have communications with the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: It turns out Sessions had communicated with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:30:02] SESSIONS: It's good to be with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: March 2017, Sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation.
CARROLL: May 9th, 2017, a startling development.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bombshell at the White House --
CARROLL: Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the man charged with overseeing the investigation. What's more, Trump told NBC News he was considering the Russian investigation when he was deciding whether to fire Comey.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.
CARROLL: May 17th, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces the appointment of Robert Mueller as the special counsel. And with each passing month, the investigation moves closer to Trump associates.
October 2017, Paul Manafort and his business partner and former Trump deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, are indicted on charges of conspiracy and money laundering. Gates later pleaded guilty to two counts and became a cooperating witness in the investigation. Manafort was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a total of seven and a half years in prison. Trouble for Trump reached his innermost circle.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America.
CARROLL: December 2017, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI regarding his conversations with Kislyak. Flynn also agrees to cooperate with the Mueller probe.
TRUMP: Well, I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He has led a very strong life, and I feel very badly.
CARROLL: February 2018, Mueller indicts 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for interfering with the election through social media. April 2018, things took a dramatic turn.
Acting on a referral from Mueller to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, FBI agents raided the home, hotel room, and office of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight criminal counts, including campaign finance violation.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And acted loyal to a man when I should not have.
CARROLL: November 7th, the day after the midterm elections, after months of publicly attacking him, Trump fires Jeff Sessions. Sessions's chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who had been critical of the Mueller probe, took his place.
MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER ACTING UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have usually been the only one that says there is no evidence of obstruction of justice or collusion.
CARROLL: As the Trump investigation appeared to be winding down earlier this year, long-time trump associate Roger Stone is indicted.
In January, the FBI raided Stone's Florida home. The special counsel alleges Stone coordinated with senior Trump campaign officials and sought stolen e-mails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump's opponent. Stone still awaits his fate on the charges he faces and has proclaimed his innocence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Justice Department is telling us that Attorney General Bill Barr has now received the report from special counsel Robert Mueller.
CARROLL: It will be up to Trump's new attorney general, William Barr, to decide how much of the report will be made public.
Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: All right, Jason, thank you very much. After everything that's happened over the past two years, now that Mueller has finished his investigation, what will happen next?
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Mueller's investigation is done and we may learn about some of his principal conclusions this weekend. Let's discuss. Laura Coates is here, Harry Litman. Good evening. Harry, it's dress-down Friday, I see.
HARRY LITMAN, COLUMNIST AT WASHINGTON POST, PROFESSOR AT UCSD, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hi, Don.
LITMAN: Yeah, in Florida. Spring training.
LEMON: It is good to have you both on. Laura, Jason just laid it all out in his story for us. After almost two years of investigating, Mueller is done. Now what?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think people are really celebrating if you're in the Trump administration, but I think that the celebration may be premature because what needs to happen now is the actual information. Sure the report is done, but now what is actually in it? And that is going to be the crux here.
They're really battling between these two things, really the idea of the Catch-22, you cannot indict a sitting president, but should you, according to DOJ policy, be able to lay out information that may be negative or disparaging towards somebody?
If it in fact can't lead to an indictment, that is going to be the crux of the issue here. And so we are waiting to see -- frankly, I am waiting to see what exactly Barr turns over to Congress, whether he looked at the DOJ guidelines that talk about the disclosure of information as a floor or a ceiling of transparency. Until we know that, we don't have much more to go on.
LEMON: OK. So, Harry, listen, I'm reading -- I just want to read a portion from your new piece in the Washington Post, OK? You say, "A critical point is the department's policy against indicting a sitting president, which Barr indicated as his confirmation hearings he would retain. It would be outrageous if the president were able to exploit this policy as both sword and shield. The department cannot decline to bring charges against him because of the policy but then at the same time decline to describe his conduct or the ground that he wasn't charged."
All right, so, do you think we're going to hear the details into the president's conduct?
LITMAN: Yeah, my best guess is yes, there is going to be an overwhelming demand for it.
[23:40:01] I don't know if the department will fight hard on it or not. My sense is they have already kind of game this out. This is not the first time Barr saw the report and they have a pretty good sense of what they will pass on.
As Laura says, it's a flat out Catch-22. We know a big part of what Mueller investigated had to do with the president's conduct. That's certainly been included to Barr and the general policy that you don't talk about people who weren't indicted, I think, gives ground here, not just because of the logic of the Catch-22, but because of the overwhelming public interest.
I think the Congress will fight to its last breath for that piece.
LEMON: Can I ask you, what happens, what if Mueller determined that the president would be indicted if he was any other citizen?
LITMAN: Is that for me?
LEMON: Yeah, it's for you.
LITMAN: That I think will be the strongest sort of summary point in favor of impeachability, right? That means he's concluded he's committed crimes that are serious enough that they have led to impeachment or resignation in the past. So, that will be the final test of the Senate Republicans kind of indifference and torpor that they have maintained all this time.
If we have Mueller saying that crimes were committed, we just can't charge them. That becomes a political issue at least for now. There is also of course the possibility he loses in 2020 and he is indicted immediately thereafter. That's a separate point. I think it becomes front and center, the impeachment question.
LEMON: Yeah, that's a lot. We don't know. And once the information comes out if it is released, we will know. Laura, so, no more indictments are coming from the special counsel, but I don't know. With ongoing investigations at the Southern District of New York or SDNY as they say and elsewhere, still -- does that still mean legal jeopardy for President Trump and other people at the center of this?
COATES: Absolutely. You hit the nail on the head when you actually said the statement, no more indictments coming from the special counsel. We've seen over the course of this investigation that some of the indictments that have loomed around people who were in the inner circle of the president of the United States, namely perhaps his personal attorney and fixer, although he has since disclaimed him, those did not arise specifically out of Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
Because like everybody else who was falling along through the tweets about the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the attorney -- and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the witch hunt that it was proclaimed to be, I think that everyone knew that Robert Mueller required or needed to for at least the self-preservation of the actual investigation to farm out and to put it on auto pilot.
So it very well could be that there are other investigations that are pending that don't arise from Mueller but are still in the works. And we know that in New York State, at least, there already been a number of investigations into the Trump Organization, the Trump business associations, et cetera.
So, I don't think that people are totally in the clear in terms of having legal jeopardy. But I want to be very clear here, Don, we would never hear the world "collusion" come out of Robert Mueller's report. It is not going to be in the ultimate one either because it's anti- trust sort of term.
The idea that would come out of this one would be anyone who associated with the campaign, who may have been susceptible to or may have been in line with people who were trying to influence the election. That could still be there and that's what is spending.
And finally, the declination portion of it is so important. Why did they decide not to pursue anything else? As Harry talked about, it could be because of that DOJ policy about the president. It could be for national security interest. It could be part of the counterintelligence probe. We have a lot to look forward to reading.
LEMON: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it. One way or another, the Mueller investigation will be a turning point in the Trump presidency but what will it mean for this president?
[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Democrats demanding that Robert Mueller's report be released, but will the American people ever get to see it? Joining me now is Ryan Lizza, Scott Jennings, and Rick Wilson. Rick is the author of "Everything Trump Touches Dies." Good evening, everyone.
Ryan, you first, it seems to me that we are really at a tricky point here. This has been so political.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.
LEMON: Do you think there is anything short of full disclosure that will not further divide the American public on this?
LIZZA: No. I think one way or the other, everything that Mueller did needs to have full transparency. You know, my -- the conventional wisdom tonight seems to be that this report will in some way not prove the worst suspicions about Trump and Russia, right?
And you know, I've been thinking about this. I think if it is true that the president of the United States did not -- is cleared of the most horrifying crime one could imagine, an act of treason, if it is true that Mueller comes to the conclusion that President Trump did not actively participate in an enemy's attempt to influence our election in 2016, the worst possible outcome that some of us feared and that he only passably benefitted from that interference, I think everyone should breathe a sigh of relief, right?
If Mueller's conclusion is, you know what, the president didn't commit treason, you know, I've looked into that thoroughly, it didn't happen, that's a good outcome for the country, I would say.
[23:49:57] Now, the problem for the president of course is in the course of that exhaustive investigations, a lot of other issues have cropped up, and Mueller who only was concentrating on the core Russia issue farmed it out to other U.S. attorneys and those aren't going away.
LEMON: Yeah. Also, I just thought about this, also in the report, the extent to which Russia went to interfere with the election beyond the president's involvement and all of that. Rick, what's your reaction to hearing there are no indictments -- no more indictments? Do we need an explanation why, you think?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, I think one of the things that happened here is that Bob Mueller has farmed out to SDNY and D.C. and other venues some of the cases that spun off of this, some of the obstruction type things. We don't know what other parts of Mueller's investigation has fed into the ongoing counterintelligence investigation that is still going on inside FBI.
We don't know what are the things that will be revealed eventually to Congress will end up leading to new investigations. So we really don't know. Washington's great gain for weeks and weeks has been when will we see the report? Today's great game is, you know, what's in the report? Everyone is speculating still at this moment Barr knows what's in the report. We don't yet.
So I think this whole race to declare the president as exonerated, he never even heard of any place called Russia, that no one around him has ever done anything wrong, and the fact that seven of his key advisers have been indicted in this thing and 20 some other people have been indicted, Mueller is laying out a path work to show us how Russia played in the 2016 election, I don't think that this sort of premature victory lap is one that they are going to live to be proud of.
LEMON: OK. Listen, Scott, first, I want to note that you have repeatedly said that the Mueller report should be made public. You said that all along. Do you still believe that and are you surprised that the president is staying so quiet so far at least?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do believe that although I do think that if there are sources and methods that the FBI and the investigators use to do these things that we need to protect so that other folks can't see how we do our work, I think that's appropriate. But yeah, I think the content of this, all of the conclusions, all of the information, I think it all ought to come out.
The American people deserve it. We've been at this for two years. We've spent a lot of money. We've heard a lot of speculations. There are a lot of people that think they know what happened, but only Bob Mueller knows and only he can answer questions about it.
So, I actually think, Don, the report should be made public and potentially he should answer questions in front of Congress because there may be people that have questions about the way everything was handled. I think that would give the American people a lot of confidence. I am not here to gloat or to fret about any of this. I am here to celebrate a properly and normally functioning government tonight.
We had a two-year deal. There were virtually no leaks. This report was not interfered with. Bob Mueller was never fired. He submitted it according to all the rules and regulations. And now we are going to see what's in it. This all happened exactly the way it should have happened.
LEMON: Supposed to happen.
JENNINGS: That's a point tonight that I think we should all be happy about.
LEMON: I agree with that. Usually in Washington, everything leaks. Pretty much nothing leaks from this investigation in large part to Robert Mueller. Ryan, do you think the Mueller investigation, regardless of what the findings, do you think it is going to leave a mark on the Trump presidency?
LIZZA: I think so, but look, just surely politically, you know, the president set a metric for this report. Did he commit treason essentially, right? Did he collude with Russians in an illegal conspiracy to hack and steal e-mails and to, you know, implement a sophisticated, you know, media campaign against -- in our election, 2016? That's the bar he set. Did he enter into a conspiracy with Putin, essentially, right?
And, you know, the no collusion repetition, I think that that politically had the effect of setting that as the only question a lot of people on the right care about. I think that's an important question. I don't think that's the only one.
I think once the dust clears from what Mueller says about collusion and if it is closer to what Trump has said or closer to what some Democrats have argued, there are still a lot of threads that are being investigated in New York. It is not just the Southern district of New York, it is the attorney general, the tax and finance, division of New York State.
[23:55:00] Those are serious investigations. If you listen to Michael Cohen's testimony before Congress, what was he saying? He was saying, I don't buy the Russia collusion stuff, but I think this guy was a criminal in 10 other ways. If that proves to be true, that's bad.
LEMON: I understand what you're saying. At least in this particular investigation, this part is over.
LIZZA: This part is over.
LEMON: I am talking about the other parts as they go along. As far as this --
LIZZA: We don't know if the conclusion is important.
LEMON: No more indictments. There are people who are close to this president including family members who are probably breathing a big sigh of relief as well as any one of us would. I got to ask you, Rick, what do you expect to hear from your fellow Republicans or Republicans in Congress? Are they smart enough to wait and find out more?
WILSON: One of the funny traps they're going to find themselves in now is for -- to two years now, they have been screaming that Bob Mueller was part of this deep state cover up and this dirty cop and this coup against the president.
Now, if they think that he has been somehow exonerated by this stage of the reporting and the stage of the various investigations, they are going to run out and say Bob Mueller is great all along, he's an amazing American. It is one of the ironies of Trumpism.
LEMON: That's not what happened before. He was terrible. He was terrible, terrible before.
WILSON: He suddenly saw the light.
LEMON: I got to give Scott the last word. He has spoken the least. Scott, quickly please.
JENNINGS: Yeah, look, I thought Bob Mueller was the right choice for this all along. I think he's a great American. I'm glad that he did his job. I want to know apart from the Trump's stuff we are all talking about what went on with the Russians. Clearly, they ran some kind of an operation to interfere with our democracy.
LEMON: I agree.
JENNINGS: I've never been convinced that it had anything to do with Trump but the parts that didn't -- the technical parts, you know, the social media stuff, all of that operations, I hope Mueller gives a real window into that so that we can secure our democracy in the future.
LEMON: I agree with you.
LIZZA: Good point because it is still happening.
LEMON: I alluded to that earlier. So, thank you. Thank you all. Have a great weekend. I appreciate it.
LIZZA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: I want to remind you that next week, I will be hosting a town hall with Democratic presidential candidate and senator, Cory Booker. That's Wednesday night right here on CNN at 10:00 p.m. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.