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Trump Golfs at Mar-a-Lago as Team Celebrates End of Mueller Probe and No Additional Indictments to Come; How People Will Look at the Mueller Report Time Line in the Future. Trump Quiet So Far as Mueller Prove Being Wrapped Up; How Did Roger Stone Associates Get Away with Defying the Special Counsel; A.G. Barr Receives Mueller's Report so What Happens Now. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 23, 2019 - 17:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: It's in the hands right now of the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr. He promises to reveal to Congress what he concludes from it. Possibly this weekend but so far nothing yet.

We do know this. Democrats who were banking hard on the report nailing President Trump on cut and dried collusion, apparently did not get their wish. And prominent Republicans, including the president, are doing something slightly out of character today. They're not saying anything.

The president is playing golf in Florida, leaving his Twitter feed alone. The official word from his communications' office. Whatever we said yesterday still stands and that wasn't much.

We've got every new detail covered with CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez, Senior White House Correspondent Pamela Brown, and our Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

So, Evan, we're told nothing out of William Barr's office today, maybe tomorrow. And that he wants to get his principle conclusions to Capitol Hill this weekend. Why is that so important, that his findings get out there as soon as possible, even on a Sunday?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think, Ana, he wants to make sure that now that the report is in his hands, that he gets it as quickly as possible to members of Congress. He knows that there's so many questions.

Obviously, everybody wants to know what's exactly in this report. And I think he knows the longer -- the longer it takes to get there, the more questions, the more pressure that comes from the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, from Capitol Hill, especially the Democrats who want to see everything.

And so, I think, look, the other issue here is that the longer this is in the hands of -- even though it's a very limited number of people inside the Justice Department actually know what's in this report, you know, you also -- there's a chance that some pieces of it could end up leaking. And, you know, I think Bill Barr wants to make sure that he's the one that tells the story here. And, look, this is going to be Bill Barr's report, essentially. This is going to be something that's going to be distilled from what Robert Mueller found in his investigation of 22 months. And you can bet that no matter what he says, Democrats are not going to be satisfied because they want to see everything.

CABRERA: That's right. Pamela, you have sources close to the president. He's not saying anything. He looks casual enough on the golf course today, as we showed in the video. He's not bunkered down in a war room. What are you hearing about his frame of mind right now?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, the president is uncharacteristically quiet. Look, this is someone who tweeted more than 170 times that the Mueller probe was a witch hunt. And ever since that report was delivered from Mueller to the attorney general, he's basically had this muted response. And I'm told by people close to the president, that, basically, there is this wait and see approach. Yes, he is happy that the investigation is over.

But, as this one source put it, there's plenty of time to spike the football. And while he's in Florida, surrounded by White House lawyers, there is a sense of caution of, let's wait and see. Let's wait and see what is in this report. Because the bottom line is, they don't know what's in the report. At last check, the White House has not been informed about what's in it and what the attorney general will pass onto Congress as soon as tomorrow.

And so, I think what they're trying to do is wait. But, as one person told me, look, there is not this sense of paranoia. There is not a war room set up like there was in the Clinton White House before the Ken Starr report. It's sort of a relaxed feeling right now. Certainly, there's a feeling of vindication but also some anxiousness because they don't know what's in it.

CABRERA: Shimon, once we do hear something from William Barr's office, once we get those principle conclusions, because we assume as soon as Congress gets them, the public will also learn what they have to say, that could come tomorrow, what then?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's certainly the expectation, Ana, is that once Congress gets it, the public will know. We will know and we will be able to report.

I'm highly optimistic in all this. I think we're going to see a lot more than we expect. We've already seen a lot more information than we certainly expected in this letter that Bill Barr delivered to members of Congress. And, like Evan said, we're going to see a distilled version of the Mueller report.

The key thing here is, what is the principle conclusions that have been reached? And how far does the attorney general go into it? How much does he explain about the principle conclusions? Those are his words in his letter that he said he's going to deliver to members of Congress. And that's going to be the key here. Does this vindicate the president? Do they use those kinds of words, where they use this investigation? But they found no collusion that involved the president. That's going to be key in all of this.

CABRERA: We do know no new indictments are coming, now that the report has been completed. At least not from Mueller's office. Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz, Evan Perez, thank you, all.

As attorney general, William Barr continues to review this report. House Democrats held an emergency conference call this afternoon on the Mueller developments. And Congressman John Garamendi told me just after that call that the public must have access to the full report.



REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, the next move is demand transparency. Demand that all of the information be forthcoming. It is the American public that is demanding transparency. It's not just the Democrats in Congress or the committee chairman. It's the American public. And we will do the best we can to make all of the information available.

Would subpoenas be necessary? We would hope not. We would hope that the Justice Department would make all of the information available.


CABRERA: CNN's Manu Raju joins us on Capitol Hill. Manu, what have you learned about what was said on that conference call today?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democrats made very clear that they are going to push incredibly hard to get what they're calling full transparency. Which means not just the full report publicly released, but, also, all of the evidence that underlies the conclusions reached by Robert Mueller about who to prosecute. Who not to prosecute. And make very clear, in talking points that were circulated to their members, that they would stop at nothing. Essentially, issue subpoenas if they had to, to demand this information be publicly released, and to get the possibility to question the key people here, including Robert Mueller, about their decisions.

Now, this is what was said in their talking points that were just released, sent to the members. Is that, if necessary, Democrats will be prepared to use its subpoena authority to obtain the full report and underlying evidence, as well as to obtain briefing and testimony from the special counsel, the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, and other necessary officials.

Now, I'm told on this call, Nancy Pelosi kicked things off. She talked about how they're in a fact-finding mission right now. Then, she took this -- she sent it over to the various House Committee chairman who laid out why they believe it's necessary to get the full report. They talked about how they plan to pursue this going-forward.

And they said that the public opinion is on their side and precedent is on their side as well, including because the decision by the Justice Department to release underlying evidence to the House last year. But the Clinton investigation, --


RAJU: -- they say that's one example of why they should do that again here. Now, the question is, what will they do next? And when will the principle conclusions be sent to the Hill? Jerry Nadler, I'm told the Judiciary chairman on the call, said he did not know exactly when. It would be up to -- up to Bill Barr. But it could be tomorrow. It could be Monday.

But still a lot of expectations that could be here tomorrow that we'll learn. So, at least a summary of the conclusions which Democrats say will not be enough for them -- Ana.

CABRERA: Right. If it's not enough, then what recourse do they have?

RAJU: They could try to issue subpoenas and see what happens. The question will be how much would the White House be willing to fight that? They do want to have briefings in public, potentially even with Robert Mueller. They want to be able to testify -- to hear their testimony. They want to be able to show the American public exactly what he found over the course of his 675-day investigation.

But the Democrats are laying the ground to user their subpoena power to go all out for this information. But, again, perhaps, all this will be moved. Perhaps Bill Barr will give them what they want.

But, at the moment, Democrats are very anxious, uncertain, and don't think that Barr's going to come anywhere near and meet their full demands -- Ana.

CABRERA: We'll see. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Thank you.

Joining us now, CNN's Political Commentators S.E. Cupp and Van Jones. Van, I'll start with you. Because as we wait for the -- these principle conclusions, we do know, no new indictments --


CABRERA: -- from Mueller's team. Is that, alone, a win for the president?

JONES: Yes. I mean, there's no way around it. Listen, Democrats and progressives like myself have spent about two years saying, man, you wait until this Mueller report comes out. Man, it's going to be something. This dude's in trouble. He's going to be in prison. He's going to be in Guantanamo. This dude is finished.

CABRERA: Guantanamo.

JONES: I mean -- I mean, that was the big drum beat. And so, then, when it comes out, and it doesn't meet that sort of expectation, there is a sense that the expectations were set so high by progressives, and even though we don't know everything that's in there, it doesn't look like -- it's going to be very hard to say the president is going to go down when nobody around him close by, apparently, is being indicted on the question of collusion. And so, that's where we are now. I think, you know, you've got to say it. The president probably is feeling better than Democrats had hoped today.

CABRERA: And he isn't saying anything, though. We don't really know what he's thinking. He didn't put it on Twitter. However, a Trump campaign adviser did tell CNN this. It's a great day for America. We won. S.E., we know there are more investigations out there still involving Trump's orbit. Is it premature to celebrate?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no. I mean, to Van's point, the expectations were high. I think, for two years, Trump supporters and Trump, himself, dismissed this and smeared it as a witch hunt and a hoax. And opponents, sort of, salivated over it, like it was a Zach Gruder film, thinking it was going to lead to a second shooter somewhere down the road.

[17:10:03] It's neither. I think it was important that this was investigated and there are other investigations. I'm not really concerned about Trump opponents and Trump supporters and where they shake out because they're baked in. My concern is, the people who have been nominally following this, I worry that they're going to think that this was a colossal waste of time and resources.


CUPP: It's easy to see that as the case. Again, I don't think that's the right reading of it. But I think a lot of people are going to walk away with that feeling. And that is something that is hugely advantageous to Donald Trump, both for 2020 and for Republicans who are supporting him.

CABRERA: Let's talk a little bit more about 2020, because I've talked to a number of Democrats and Republicans. But the Democrats who have said, let's wait for that report, and then we'll see whether impeachment is the way to go. Nancy Pelosi has, essentially, said, no impeachment. Let's wait for the 2020 election.

Van, what do you think the 2020 candidates should do with this? Should they just stay clear talking about the Mueller report?

JONES: Well, and the problem is that, you know, in the primary, you have two very different sets of Democrats you've got to appeal to. You've got to appeal to the -- to the activist base that's fired up anti-Trump. They're resistant. And they're going to want to hear those candidates saying, hey, look, we're not going to let Trump get away with this. We want more investigations. And then, you have the actual party, regular people, who -- as you see people going out there, nobody is asking about Bob Mueller. Nobody's asking about Russia. They're asking about jobs. They're asking about infrastructure. They're asking about medical care and health care. And so, how the can -- each candidate's going to have figure out where they -- where they put their meter. Some of them are going to say, I want to be defined as the anti-Trump candidate. They're going to beat this drum to death. But I think others are going to go a different way. And because we have so many candidates, there's room for a variety of approaches this time.

CABRERA: S.E., for those Republicans who have had an arm's length from the president, maybe just kept a little bit of reservation about whether to go all in. Do you see this, now, bringing everyone closer to President Trump from the Republican Party?

CUPP: I think so. Again, we'll see what it says. You know, I would -- I would urge caution on both sides.

JONES: Yes. We don't know what's in there yet.

CUPP: Yes, but -- and even when we find out. I would -- I would urge -- everyone take a breath. I saw Senator Blumenthal, a Democrat, on T.V. last night, saying he still thinks members of the Trump family are going to be indicted. I guess because he wants them to be.

CABRERA: Well, it could come from the Southern District of New York's investigation.

CUPP: Of course it could. But why speculate and tip your hand that this is where you hope it will go? I saw Joy Reid, a host on MSNBC, today, already saying, we don't know what's in the -- what's in -- what Bill Barr will say, already accusing Bill Barr of a cover-up. I just don't think that's necessary.

And I don't think it's a good idea for either side to, sort of, wipe their hands and say it's over. It's not over. And it's probably not going to be as good or as bad as either side is suggesting it will be.

JONES: I think the reason that progressives are still worked up is because we don't understand why Trump acts so weird when it comes to Russia. We don't understand why he acts so weird when it comes to Putin. He does all this weird stuff. And then, people are caught lying. But then, apparently, there's nothing that they're lying about. There's no reason.

So, I think there is no coherent explanation, yet, for Trump's singular obsession with Putin. Meeting with him privately. Throwing out his own advisers and doing all this bizarre stuff. And we know that Trump did court and welcome Russia's support publicly. Whether he colluded privately, you know, that was the issue.

CUPP: I agree and I think that's totally fair.

JONES: So, all that -- so, all that stuff is why, I think, we're still in therapy about the whole thing.

CUPP: But therapy is OK. Therapy is OK. Conspiracy theories only cement chunks (ph) narrative that this is a witch hunt and it's not.

CABRERA: But, real quick, S.E., for -- let me ask you, S.E., because you've been very critical of President Trump.

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: If this report does exonerate him, are you going to become a Trump supporter?

CUPP: Of course not. No, of course not. My criticism of Trump has something to do with the way he's handled allegations of Russian collusion. But so much bigger than that. For those of us who are critical of the president, has to do with his tone, his policies, the way he treats democracy and Democratic institutions, the way he lies. I mean, none of that will change for me. But I also call balls and strikes, and I think it's important to do that.


CUPP: And if it turns out there's been no collusion, we need to say that. And stop willing the ball forward to a place it's just not going to go. I think that only helps him.

CABRERA: Quick, final though.

JONES: Well, I also think, in the same lines with that. You know, the reason that we were so upset with the Clinton investigation was it was -- the report was too big. It was just salacious, and it was terrible and there was all this big --

[17:15:07] CABRERA: And you're talking about the Bill Clinton.

CUPP: Ken Starr investigation.

JONES: Yes. I'm sorry. Yes, I'm sorry. Yes, the Ken Starr investigation of Bill Clinton that was just too salacious and too much stuff. And so, Congress changed the rules to make these things more narrow. Now, we're saying, we don't want it to be narrow. We want everything.

CUPP: All the things.

JONES: Well, hold on a second, guys. We keep going back and forth, based on the political outcome we want. I want a full report, but I don't want innocent people hurt. I don't want people who testified and who did a good job and came forward to wind up, for no reason at all, in bad shape.

So, as we say we want the full report, let's remember, we don't want to go so far the other direction we're going to be flippy, getting floppy. There are principles. There are institutions we should stick with and defend. And, sometimes, that gets lost in all this back and forth.

CABRERA: All right. Van Jones, S.E. Cupp, good to have both of you with us. As always, thank you.

Inside Trump's evening for the agents. What was the present doing the moment he learned Mueller finished his report? New details on that next.

And breaking news. A race against the clock right now to get some 1,300 people stranded at sea on a cruise ship off that ship. The danger making the risky rescues. We'll discuss live in the CNN Newsroom.


[17:20:10] CABRERA: We continue to follow our breaking news that, after a two-year wait, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Trump's election is complete. The confidential report was delivered to Attorney General William Barr last night showing the results of Mueller's investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice.

Everyone on edge now, waiting to see what's in that final report. The Democratic candidates running for president in 2020 are paying extra special attention. Senator Cory Booker is in South Carolina right now. These are live pictures of Cory Booker. And that's where we find our CNN Political Reporter Rebecca Buck -- Rebecca.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, good afternoon, Ana. As we await the Mueller report or details from the report, the principal conclusion that Attorney General Bill Barr is set to deliver to Congress, candidates for the presidential nomination in 2020 are already beginning to weigh in on what might be in the report and some of the key things that they will be looking for.

Now, there is a consensus still being among Democrats running for president, that they want this report to be public. That lines up with our CNN polling on the subject. We asked, do voters want this report to be made public? And 87 percent, in our most recent polling, said they do. So, that's a relatively easy question for these candidates.

But what comes after that? Well, Kamala Harris is saying, she wants Attorney General Bill Barr to testify before Congress about the investigation and the findings. Her colleague on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Cory Booker, was in South Carolina today. And on the campaign trail, we asked him what he'll be looking for in the report. Take a listen.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm going to be looking to see if the president was involved in illegal activity. If he was involved in obstructing justice. If he was involved in -- or at least there were people close to him who were involved in, really, colluding with the Russians. And so, I think there's going to be a lot of things that are in this that are going to be very helpful. Not just to Congressional investigations, but, remember, there's other investigations going on, like in the Southern District of New York, around criminal activity.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BUCK: And while Booker will not draw any conclusions yet about the collusion question, some other candidates are leaning in. Beto O'Rourke on the campaign trail today, saying he believes Russia and the president did collude. However, he's not sure how deliberate that might have been or whether the president was handed about it, as he said. We'll wait and see if other candidates begin to lean in more to that question. But, of course, we're awaiting those details from Bill Barr, and we'll see what happens when those details come -- Ana.

CABRERA: Rebecca Buck, thank you. And, remember, next Wednesday, CNN will host a presidential town hall with 2020 candidate, Senator Cory Booker. Don Lemon moderates live from Orangeburg, South Carolina. That's Wednesday night at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN.

Now, a glimpse of the history captured in today's Mueller headlines. In newspapers all across the country, the front pages blared this news. From the Colorado Rockies to Hawaii's beaches, the big story is that Mueller delivered his report. The (INAUDIBLE) in "The Charlotte Observer" highlighting in their historic headlines that Mueller brought no new charges. The Albany, New York "Times Union" and the Akron, Ohio "Beacon Journal's" headline focused on the questions that remain unanswered. From small towns to big, these are just a few of today's front pages in the history-making headlines. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: The president is back at Mar-a-Lago for the evening, after spending the day golfing at one of his clubs. And in a rare moment of presidential silence, there is still no word from President Trump on the news that Mueller's investigation has concluded with zero new indictments.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is in West Palm Beach where the president is spending the weekend. Boris, give us the play by play of what we know happened when the president learned Mueller's report was complete.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. According to sources at Mar-a-Largo, the president's estate here in Palm Beach, Florida, he was, actually, on a call with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, discussing Brexit and trade and other issues, when the news broke that Robert Mueller had finished his report and was handing it over to the attorney general. At that point, Emmet Flood, one of the president's attorneys, got a call, notifying him of the news.

And, according to sources, both at the White House and guests at Mar- a-Lago, the president was in a spirited mood when he was being briefed on these developments throughout the night, coming from the Department of Justice. According to sources there, the president appeared to be in a good mood all night, as he took part in the Lincoln Day dinner, a fund-raising event held by supporters at Mar-a-Lago.

The president gave a short speech, at one point, only about three minutes long. He talked about the first lady's approval ratings. He made jokes about Senator Lindsey Graham, who was a guest of honor, and gave the speech. But he didn't talk about the Mueller report.

Lindsey Graham, though, apparently, according to sources, talked about the FBI launching a probe to investigate the dossier that President Trump -- the Steele dossier President Trump so frequently mentions when he talks about the Russia investigation. That led the crowd into chants of lock her up, lock her up. The president, apparently, did not partake in them. He seems to just sit back and, sort of, absorb the moment.

[17:30:00] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- the Steele dosser that President Trump so frequently mentions when he talks about the Russia investigation. That led to chants of "Lock her up, lock her up." The president did not partake in the chants. He seemed to sit back and absorbed the moment.

Today, the president golfed at his golf club here in Palm Beach before heading back to Mar-a-Lago. What we're hearing from sources, he's happy to see the investigation come to a conclusion, and now he's taking a wait-and-see approach before he weighs in on what Attorney General Barr releases from the Mueller report -- Ana?

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Patience, patience for all of us.

Boris Sanchez, thank you.

Let's put this in a historic frame. I know, right? Let's talk about how people are going to look back at this moment on the American time line.

With us, Mark Updegrove. He's a presidential historian, the author of "The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush."

Mark, today, it's all about President Trump and his administration. Let's talk about how big a watershed moment this is. Will the administration be referred to as before Mueller and after Mueller?

MARK UPDEGROVE, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: Maybe. It depends what's in that report. We don't know what's in there. What we do know is there are no further indictments coming out of the Mueller report. I think that's a pretty significant win for the president. What we don't know again is what the content of the report is and whether it's potentially embarrassing to the president. Whether it will lead to other investigations. There's a lot left to be seen here, Ana.

CABRERA: If history is our guide, let's look back at a couple of other special counsels. Ken Starr's 1998 report ran more than 400 pages that included potential legal grounds for impeachment of President Bill Clinton, including obstruction of justice. There's the Watergate report, 55 pages. Set forth the special counsel's factual findings without any specific legal recommendations. That being said, how worried should the president be right now as we all await the conclusion? UPDEGROVE: I think he should be concerned. And you're seeing

restraint uncharacteristically from the president right now. He's wondering what's in that report. What Watergate shows and the lesson from Richard Nixon is he needs to be transparent, he needs to let the system take course, he needs to see this to fruition in the right way. And transparency is key for President Trump from this point on. That was President Nixon's undoing and lead to his resignation. It probably would have led to his impeachment and to his expulsion from the presidency.

CABRERA: I wonder how you compare how President Trump has handled the special counsel probe versus how Nixon handled Watergate?

UPDEGROVE: I want to dig into that more. I wonder how you compare how President Trump has handled the special counsel probe versus how Nixon handled Watergate.

UPDEGROVE: Somewhat similarly, Ana, because he at every turn, he called it a witch hunt, discredited the special investigators. He has gotten in the way of the process. He hasn't been transparent. He hasn't been forthcoming. Again, these are lessons from Nixon. Donald Trump should heed the lessons of history. I don't think he's a student of history, he's not much of a reader, but if Nixon gives any example, that's it.

CABRERA: If Trumps team invoked executive privilege to prevent portions of the report from being released, that could end up in the courts, right? Nixon went down the road with the tapes. Do you think Nixon's case will be the guide with the courts?

UPDEGROVE: It could potentially go to the courts. As you said, Nixon's did. And the court supported the release of the tapes, which proved to be Nixon's undoing. The tapes revealed that Nixon was involved in the coverup, directly involved in the coverup of the Watergate burglary. It was a different court then. Right now, we have a court that's increasingly conservative. There are two Trump appointees. They've been increasingly political in recent years. So we don't know what will happen if it does reach the court. There's so many variables here. That makes it interesting for a historian like me as see how it all plays out.

CABRERA: It'll be interesting for all of us.

Thank you, Mark Updegrove, for being with us.

UPDEGROVE: Thank you, Ana.

[17:34:19] CABRERA: After being caught up in a sex sting, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, is now sounding off. Why the billionaire is saying sorry.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has turned in his final report, leaving a lot of mystery about what his Trump/Russia investigation has uncovered. President Trump is golfing this weekend in Mar-a-Lago. Mueller's decision not to issue any new indictments does not mean the president didn't commit any crimes. It only means Mueller may have followed the longstanding protocol that prohibits the Justice Department from indicting a sitting president. Five people have been sentenced to prison, seven people have pleaded guilty, 37 people and entities charged and 199 criminal counts

[17:40:09] I want to bring in two former federal prosecutors, Shan Wu and Renato Mariotti.

Thank you both for being with us.

Shan, how much of the Mueller report do you expect we'll see?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think, ultimately, we'll see a lot of it. But I think in the short term it's going to come out very painstakingly with a lot of legal fights every step of the way. I'm not hopeful we're going to see a big chunk of it any time soon.

CABRERA: How do you think we'll see a lot of it eventually?

WU: Ultimately, there may be leaking that's going to go on. I think the sheer will power of so many people trying to get at it, eventually more will come out. I think that's going to take quite some time. There have to be quite a few legal battles fought over it.

CABRERA: Renato, some Democrats are saying they want to hear from Barr and Mueller themselves. They'll subpoena Mueller if they have to. Will that fly at the DOJ?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think the DOJ is going to like that. But that's the fact that elections matter. You have the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives. They can subpoena folks. I suspect they're going to do so. There's a number of different avenues they peruse to get at this information. Shan mentioned the legal analysis, that's one track of this. But obviously, on the political side, there's a whole other track. And there's a lot of bipartisan pressure to see that report.

CABRERA: Shan, the special counsel says they have no more indictments. Is this anything but good news for the president?

WU: Well, I think it is good news for the president that the special counsel has no more indictments. But there may be additional bad news. To me, that only means that Mueller's people were not going to go any more indictments. It does not preclude the possibility of other handoff jurisdictions, like the Southern District of New York or even my old home office, the Washington, D.C., U.S. attorney's office handing down further indictments.

CABRERA: What do you think about that, Renato?

MARIOTTI: Yes, I think that's right. I think if I represented Jared Kushner or Donald Trump Jr, I would be feeling better about the fact that, on the core issues that Mueller was investigating, they wouldn't receive an indictment. But as Shan mentioned, the Southern District is still out there. The other issue is, what does the report say about Trump himself? We don't know that at this point. As you mentioned earlier, Ana, that is not answered by the fact that an indictment or not indictment.

CABRERA: Renato, Trump was never interviewed by Mueller's team. How significant is that?

MARIOTTI: It is. I will tell you, to me, if I was in a room with Bob Mueller, it would be one of the first questions I would ask him. I don't understand why Trump wasn't interviewed or Donald Trump Jr. As to Trump, I suspect that the -- unless Trump's attorney said he was going to take the Fifth, I think what must have happened, is Mueller decided it wasn't worth the trouble. It was going to be a multi-month if not a multi-year struggle with the White House to get the president to sit for an interview.

CABRERA: Shan, Don Jr., Jared Kushner, as Renato just mentioned, they were not interviewed even about the Trump Tower meeting, which seemed central to the question of potential of collusion. Why wouldn't Mueller have interviewed them?

WU: It's a little bit of a mystery. Usually, you save people who are really the targets for last -- you may not interview. Just indict them. That's one possibility. As maybe they are looking like that. The other possibility is that the evidence that Mueller did see essentially exonerated him. They found that the substance of the Trump Tower meeting did not really go to their core mission, that's why they did not need to be attributed. It's hard to read those tea leaves at the moment. I agree, I would love to ask more on that question. I think Congress wants to ask them that question as well. There's going to be a big fight over whether you can answer that question.

CABRERA: Because there are so many questions we don't have answers to just yet.

One thing, I'm trying to stick within this realm of what we do know. And we know there's no new indictments coming from Mueller's team. He wanted to talk to a couple of men who were linked to Roger Stone. But both Andrew Miller and Jerome Corsi fought back, and Corsi turning down a Mueller plea deal. And now Corsi says he feels vindicated.

Renato, how did these two men get away with just defying the special counsel?

MARIOTTI: That's another great question, Ana. I will say that there's a couple possibilities here. Either Shan's old office in the District of Columbia is going to be pursuing charges down the road or, potentially, Mueller decided that either there was a change in circumstances or, after the investigation proceeded, decided, for example, that Mr. Corsi was not worth the resources to prosecute. I have to say, typically, a prosecutor would not threaten to prosecute anyone unless they were sure they were going to do so. I really don't know and can't answer why that is not happening.

[17:45:07] CABRERA: Shan, you want to take a crack at that?

WU: I would -- I agree with him but I would say, if I was representing Mr. Corsi, I would not be breathing any easier at the moment. I agree, I don't think you present the draft of the indictment and say take it or not and then just decide to back off. That's not the kind of style that Mueller's people have.

CABRERA: Thank you both. Shan Wu, Renato Mariotti, good to have you both with us.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

WU: Good to see you.

CABRERA: Breaking news, a cruise ship stranded at sea off the Norwegian coast. One by one now, hundreds of passengers are being airlifted to safety. We'll have much more on the terrifying rescue just ahead.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:50:09] CABRERA: Welcome back. A tedious rescue is likely to go on throughout the night off the coast of Norway where this passengers ship lost power in rough weather earlier today. You can see the video right now taken from inside the "Viking Sky" as it starts to tilt back and forth. It's 1,300 passengers and crew members are being rescued by helicopter. At last check, 115 people were evacuated. The rescue efforts taking place in cold and rainy conditions and choppy seas. You can see water coming on board the ship flooding the deck in some places. Officials say at least a handful of people have suffered minor injuries. Norwegian Emergency Services say the crew sent a mayday distress signal reporting engine problems. Crew members are trying to restore power and get the ship back into port.

New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, is apologizing today. It's the first time we've heard from Kraft since he was charged with soliciting prostitution at a Florida spa last month. He said, in part, "I truly am sorry. I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard." Kraft also he wants to use his platform now to make a difference. According to a source, Kraft will not accept a plea deal, however, for the charges he's facing. His lawyers are currently fighting to block release of reported video evidence of this incident.

A celebration today in what was very recently an ISIS stronghold. Coalition forces held a formal ceremony now marking the complete defeat of ISIS in eastern Syria. A White House statement saying the president -- was saying today, "I am pleased to announce that, together with our partners in our global collision to defeat ISIS, including the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces, the United States has liberated all ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq, 100 percent of the caliphate." French President Emmanuel Macron saying a major danger has been eliminated, but he warns the threat continues.

Now to some feel-good news. Our 2018 "CNN Heroes" keep making the world a better place. We check in with some of them as they reach even more people in need.


LUKE MICKELSON, FOUNDER, SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE: Just since January 1st, we've built and delivered 1,100 bunk beds. We trained 14 new chapters. We're averaging about 15 every other month. We partnered up with FEMA and the Red Cross. And now are offering beds to families that have been affected by disasters across the country.

ABISOYE AJAYI-AKINFOLARIN, FOUNDER, PEARLS AFRICA YOUTH FOUNDATION: So many people have been knocking on our doors. Normally, we look for partners, now partners are looking for us. Before "CNN Heroes," we trained 300 girls in four years, but with the platform we've been given, we're going to do 5,000 in one year.

AMANDA BOXTEL, FOUNDER, BRIDGING BIONICS: We're ordinary people, but with big, big hearts just wanting to make a difference.


CABRERA: For a full update on what the 2018 top-10 heroes are up to and to nominate someone you think shooter our next "CNN Hero," go to

We'll be right back.


[17:57:37] CABRERA: Not today. The Justice Department won't be sending the principal conclusion of the Mueller report to congressional leaders yet. Maybe tomorrow.

So while we wait, Attorney General Bill Barr is going over his findings, and CNN's Tom Foreman explains what's going on, as we continue to wait.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: By the simple act of completing his investigation, Robert Mueller has unleashed a torrent of speculation and anxiety in Washington, D.C., because now he has provided a confidential report from that investigation to the Attorney General William Barr.

What happens now? First of all, Barr is reading the report. That's what he's doing at this time. And he's also then going to inform the House and Senate Judiciary Committees that the report is finished and explain to them any instances where he might have overruled Mueller. He said, you can't subpoena this person, you can't charge this person, you can't do this, if there are any such instances. By law, he has to let them know about that. And then it gets a little bit murkier. Over in Congress, Democrats

are saying that the president is the subject of this probe, his campaign, therefore, you cannot let him step in and head off this information. You need to give us the entire report and you have to let the public see the entire report. That's what they want over there.

The White House, on the other hand, though, is saying, no, the protocol is the White House gets to review it. White House lawyers get to see what's inside the report and maybe exert executive privilege over some things, which is the president's right, his legal right to say certain things should not be released to public view.

How this will be sorted out between these bodies, probably a lot of politicians and a lot of lawyers arguing. In the end, though, in all likelihood, there would be some version of the report shared by the attorney general with Congress and with the public. We don't really know the details of that.

So you see, it's clear right now. It gets a whole lot murkier. And we have no idea how long this process might take. We do know what preceded it, though, 22 months of investigation, charges against 37 defendants, seven guilty pleas, one conviction at trial. Though notably, for the White House, none of these directly about the idea of colluding with the Russians, which is, of course, the thing the president is most defensive about.


[18:00:02] CABRERA: Tom Foreman.

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for being with me.

Special coverage continues right now in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer.