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Muller's Russia Probe has Ended; ISIS in Eastern Syria has been Defeated. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 23, 2019 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigation 675 days old is now over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in the 2016 presidential election process.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean it could be Russia but it could also be China.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the president's inner circle and those who ran his campaign were found to have violated the law, the president remained defiant.

TRUMP: I nothing did wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was fired because of the Russia investigation.

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP LAWYER: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in th ecampaign. I said the president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 almost create a game of political whack-a-mole.

TRUMP: For two years we've gone through this nonsense. There's no collusion with Russia. You know that better than anybody and there's no obstruction.

(END VIDEO)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Good morning to you, I'm Victor Blackwell.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: And I'm Christi Paul coming to you from D.C. this morning.

BLACKWELL: The report is done And now Attorney General William Barr says he could brief Congress on Robert Mueller's conclusions as soon as today or tomorrow.

PAUL: Yes and what that means is after nearly two years of investigations, charges against 37 people, 7 guilty pleas and 1 trial conviction, there will be no more indictments. No sit-down interviews with the president. President Trump is huddled, we know, with his team down in Mar-A-Lago this morning. Some of them already declaring victory. Democrats say before that happens though, the report needs to be released to the public. A source tells CNN House democrats do have a conference call scheduled for 3:00 this afternoon.

BLACKWELL: We've got a team ready now to break down everything that has happened and what could happen next. Michael Zeldin joins us here in D.C along with Daniel Lippman and Kara Scannell. Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill. Suzanne Malveaux is in West Palm Beach near the president's resourt. Let's start with CNN report Kara Scannell for the latest on what's happening on the report this weekend - how far we've come and what happens next.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well all eyes right now are on Bill Barr. He got the report late yesterday. He said he intends and he hopes to be able to brief Congress this weekend on the principle conclusions of that report. What we know so far is that it's a comprehensive report. We don't know how long it is. We don't know how in depth it is but it's comprehensive and Barr said he hoped to be in a position this weekend to brief Congress and he also said he would consult with Rod Rosenstein who oversaw the investigation and Robert Mueller to see what more information they could make public both to us Americans and to congress.

So, you know this is real crunch time for Bill Barr. He's had the report for about 12 hours at this point. He's gone through it. And he's consulting with people and the democrats have a call at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon for them. At this point, will Barr be ready by 3:00 to brief them. That remains to be seen. We know that Barr is now absorbing this report. He's going to be consulting with the two main people involved in the lifespan of this report for 22 months; Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein and we'll see what conclusions they make.

BLACKWELL: Seemingly surprising that Barr will be able to after receiving the report late Friday afternoon, will then be able to turn around so quickly these principal conclusions. I think when we were reading that letter on air, that was a surprise.

SCANNELL: Yes we did not expect that there would be a quick turn around here. I think people were talking as much as two weeks between the time that DOD received the report and Barr would be in a position to brief Congress. That was a real surprise there. What we don't know how the report is structured, if there's a briefing that quickly following it where he felt like he would have a sense of what the highlights were and also with the oversight that the DOJ had with the investigation.

In a way, Rod Rosenstein had a sense of where the investigation was going, because he was in regular contact with Mueller's team and Rosenstein said he was going to say-- it was just earlier this week that he said he would stay a little bit longer because he wanted to oversee this process. But it is a big surprise that they're ready to be able to possibly brief Congress today or tomorrow with these principal conclusions. PAUL: Kara, stick around, we want to go to President Trump being this

weekend in Mar-A-Lago. He does have his legal team surrounding him we know this morning and CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is there live for us from West Palm Beach. Suzanne, we have heard the president call this a witch hunt. He said there's no collusion time and time again. And yet, it's been 12 plus hours and we haven't heard anything from him yet.

BLACKWELL: Mighty quiet.

PAUL: Have you heard anything there?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Awfully quiet so far. I mean we're all the waiting at Mar-A-Lago for a statement, perhaps, or even his twitter account but I can set the scene for you here. This is not going to be a typical weekend. Normally, it would be the family with the first lady and the son Barron, we have seen them. But no, he has a full complement of his legal team. His lawyers are here, his strategist as well as two press secretaries, all of them really hunkered down and waiting to receive this report.

[06:05:00]

We did see him attend a big fund-raiser at the Mar-A-Lago estate yesterday - last night. Now, he didn't specifically talk about this, but what he did do is he introduced his friend, he said his real friend Senator Lindsey Graham. And he spoke. He went all in. He essentially lambasted one of the documents as part of the investigation as a pieces of garbage.

He mentioned Hillary Clinton and classified information. At that point in which members of the audience started chanting again "locker her up, lock her up." So you can see, they're really setting the tone for very defiant response here. But also they've got to be very strategic about it as well depending on whether or not there is anything that is quite damning out of the report.

We have heard this president time and time again being defiant. He was yesterday, as he has the last two years, trying to make it seem like an illegitimate enterprise. Let's just take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

TRUMP: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia who broke into the DNC. How many times do I have to answer this question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you just say yes or no on it?

TRUMP: Russia is a ruse.

This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.

The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

The Russia story is a total fabrication.

Russia did not help me. Okay? I call it the Russian hoax. They made up the whole Russia hoax. It's a democrat hoax.

It's a democrat hoax.

(END VIDEO)

MALVEAUX: So as we expect that of course he's going to continue to try to discredit this whole investigation and ultimately, the report if it's not favorable. His Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders tweeting saying, that they do not have the report in their hand. That they are simply waiting and that they'll let the process play out. Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Suzanne Malveaux for us there in West Palm Beach now. I've got the same thing you have. It's 6:00 a.m. here.

PAUL: An hour and half of sleep I think.

BLACKWELL: Yes. All right. Thank you so much, Suzanne.

PAUL: Thank you Suzanne.

BLACKWELL: All right, so let's bring in the panel now. We've got -- the questions we have to outline here and the answers we're expecting from Bill Barr. Let's bring in the panel. We've got with us, keeping Kara Scannell, CNN reporter, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin here with us as well. And Daniel Lippman, reporter and co-author of the "Politico Playbook." Welcome everyone.

Let me start with you Michael because I want first to temper expectations of the first chapter of disclosure from AG Barr. When he says principal conclusions as early as today or tomorrow, this is not going to be that narrative that people are expecting. What are you expecting that he'll be able to turn over to Congress?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So my expectation is to Kara's point earlier, that Rosenstein and Mueller have been working together for the past several weeks on a conclusion draft that could be released to the public. So, I don't think this is for the first time something that Rosenstein is seeing.

I think this has been a work in progress for a while. So that Barr is going to receive this, read it probably for the first time himself since he's so new to the investigation. But I think it could be pretty comprehensive in terms of what the final conclusions are. Whether there was collusion or receptivity for conclusion, whether there was obstruction or whether there was a receptivity for bad behavior. That sort of stuff, I think we could get that from Barr as early as this afternoon after he's digested it, talked to Rosenstein and talked to Mueller. I don't think this is the first time the Justice Department is seeing Mueller's report, that's my expectations and I bet there was executive summary in the report which may be what we're hearing today.

BLACKWELL: OK.

PAUL: Daniel, we have 18 attorneys general saying you've got to release the whole Mueller report. You've got Amy Klobuchar, you've got Kamala Harris, you've got Senator Blumenthal, all kinds of people coming out and saying we need to see this. The public deserves this, the public paid for this investigation, essentially. With that said, how likely is it that even if the public doesn't see it, that Congress will see the whole - will see the report in its entirety.

DANIEL LIPPMAN, CO-AUTHOR OF "THE POLITICO PLAYBOOK": I think that's pretty highly certain that that's going to happen. We had the wrote 420 to 0 in the U.S. House of Representatives which is a pretty definitive view of how they want the Justice Department to do this report because most of Americans -- this has consumed the country.

This is all we've been talking about the last couple of years. It's made it much harder for President Trump to do what he actually wanted on his agenda. So, if we don't actually get to see the report it would be such a letdown. And it would increase distrust in Washington...

PAUL: I was going to say there's still that scrutiny then.

LIPPMAN: ...around the country. Also, if both democrats and republicans accept the conclusions of the report, then it's going to increase, you know, trust in Washington, D.C. as an institution.

[06:10:00]

And also reassure Americans that there is no witch hunt that is going on anymore. This is something that Robert Mueller did a very professional job trying to find the truth and both sides accept the outcome.

BLACKWELL: And if it exonerates the president, then what happens in his narrative of 13 angry democrats and the witch hunt and hoax if he gets the ending that he expected? We'll see what the president says if that happens.

LIPPMAN: It makes it much harder for him -- how is he going to say the last two years of me saying it's a witch hunt, don't listen to me anymore. I think this was a great investigation.

ZELDIN: No, I think what he says is notwithstanding the fact that there were 13 angry democrats who investigated me, they found nothing.

BLACKWELL: They still couldn't find it yes. Let me ask you, Kara, more than the Mueller report being released, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, they want the underlying documents and findings. There are democrats who are now talking about seriously talking about subpoenaing Mueller to come and testify. This is just maybe the end of chapter one of this story. The democrats want much more.

SCANNELL: That's right. There is now some precedent that we've seen with Devin Nunes, when the republicans were in charge of the House; you know when this whole battle over the FISA warrants. They had obtained all of this information that DOJ has always fought and they've never wanted to give to the public and yet they were forced to - they were compelled to provide that information. So you could see now that the powers have shifted. The democrats want this information. They have some precedent that they can rely on. BLACKWELL: Also from the Clinton email investigation with the 302, the notes from the FBI agents, and investigation.

SCANNELL: Absolutely and I think that's a little bit of a wrinkle here because Rod Rosenstein is a firm believer in not revealing information about individuals who have not been charged...

BLACKWELL: OK.

SCANNELL: ...and that's going to be a key component of the Mueller report because that's what he's required to do. He's required to explain why he did not charge some people and why he chose to prosecute others. That's going to be the real rub there. Do you then create another situation where you have James Comey, you know, announcing that they were not charging Hillary Clinton, but then adding details to that.

Which I think is universally believed as outside the Department of Justice norms. Is this going to be a situation where they repeat that buy explaining why they didn't decide to charge the various people who are under the microscope. I think that's the real wrinkle for DOJ to try to find the right balance and negotiate with Congress of how do they do that?

ZELDIN: They could do that without naming individuals. They could say we have investigated the question of whether or not there was obstruction of justice. We investigated the question of whether there was coordination and as to that we found the following, without naming Jerome Corsi or Don, Jr., or anybody else and avoid that trap that you're properly referring to.

PAUL: So Daniel, regardless of what comes out of this, it seems like people are in their lane.

LIPPMAN: Yes.

PAUL: Democrats are either going to -- they're not going to accept this. We do know, that I think it was Nikki Haley. And I want to read this. Nikki Haley said this, "After this long investigation, both sides agree to let Mueller do his job and complete the investigation. Everyone has to acknowledge that Donald Trump did not interfere in the investigation. Now, the American public needs to accept the results and move on enough already."

Is this going to be enough already? People have chosen their lanes. I don't know that anybody sees all of those people are going to abandon their lanes regardless of where they are.

LIPPMAN: Democrats are not going to abandon their investigations and say just because Robert Mueller didn't find anything that was a crime by President Trump or his family, then we're not going to look into the Trump organization or the tax returns. These investigations are going to continue, you know, just as they had started.

And democrats are going to be more out for blood because if Mueller did not find anything that he could charge Trump with, then they are going to work even harder to, you know, get things, get documents, you know, drag up Jared Kushner to the Hill to make it harder for the Trump Administration to operate effectively and to increase democrats' chances in 2020.

PAUL: Alrighty. Kara Scannell, Daniel Lippman, Michael Zeldin, appreciate you being here. Thank you so much. We have - and they're going to stay with us. We have an awful lot left to talk about as well.

BLACKWELL: We have breaking news this morning. The final ISIS stronghold in Syria has been defeated. That's according to the U.S.- backed Syrian democratic forces. At the height of their power, ISIS controlled an area of Syria, roughly the size of Portugal. CNN's Ben Wedeman has been near the front line of this battle for weeks. No one knows the story like he does. He'll join us later this hour with a full report from Syria.

[06:15:00]

BLACKWELL: All right, House democrats are unified in their demand for the Mueller report to be made public, in fact, more than democrats, republicans in the House as well with that 420 to 0 vote. There will be a democratic call for the caucus at 3:00 this afternoon to discuss the Mueller report. We're live from Capitol Hill after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Nineteen minutes after the hour now. This afternoon at 3:00 Eastern, House democrats will have a conference call for the entire caucus.

PAUL: Yes, Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill this morning. Reaction was swift, Sunlen, from Capitol Hill, democratic lawmakers calling for this full release of the Mueller report, not Bill Barr's report. What are we going to see today?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is essentially, Christi, democrats on Capitol Hill gearing up for this long fight ahead. They are getting on, as Victor said, this conference call later today, 3:00 Eastern time, essentially to try to get organized.

[06:20:00]

A full House democratic caucus on that call to get a readout from the leaders and the chairmen of the committees here on Capitol Hill to get an expectation where this is all going and what they should expect over the next 24 to 48 hours and potentially to learn more information if they have it at that moment.

Already, we've seen democrats on Capitol Hill be very clear and they're going to be very aggressive and very public with their push for information here. They are demanding not only that the full report be released to Capitol Hill. Also, this is important, they really want that supporting underlying evidence to also be released. This is something they'll certainly be hearing a lot from democrats. This is the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the attorney general, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress. Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any sneak preview of Special Counsel Mueller's findings or evidence.

(END VIDEO)

SERFATY: And as you've been talking about this morning, Attorney General Bill Barr, in his letter to Congress, they made it clear that they could potentially receive some information this weekend and he said he may be giving Congress some of the principal conclusions of the investigation at some point this weekend and certainly lawmakers and staffers up here on the Hill are bracing for potentially learning new information. But very unclear, Victor and Christi, what form that takes and when that information actually hits the Hill.

BLACKWELL: All right, Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill for us. Thank you.

PAUL: Let's bring back Kara Scannell and Michael Zeldin and Daniel Lipmann with us now. Thank you all for sticking with us. I want you to listen to Kamala Harris. She made this report - this statement about the report being made public and there were a couple of things in her statement that stood out to me, let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D) CALIFORNIA: That report needs to be made public.

(Crowd cheers)

The American people have a right and a need to know. The underlying evidence that supports that report should be made public. The Attorney General Barr should be called to testify under oath before the United States Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely, absolutely.

HARRIS: And the White House should not be allowed to interfere in any way in interpreting or presenting the information to the American people.

(END VIDEO)

PAUL: OK, so Michael, let's talk about one of the first things she said there, she wants the underlying evidence to be publicized. There's classified information in here. There's information that came from grand juries. A lot of it can't be publicized. Is that right?

ZELDIN: Well, most particularly, the grand jury stuff. Classification is within the purview of the executive branch. They can classify and unclassify things if they want to make it public. We saw that as Kara said in the Devin Nunes stuff, where they declassified things and released it. The grand jury is a whole different matter; it's within the judiciary principally and there are very strict rules about - they call it 6E material, that's a grand jury secrecy rule and it's not as easily breached as Kamala Harris wants it to be. And she should know that as a former attorney general, you know. So, I think there are some problems with the release but they're surely going to push for it. And they may subpoena it. And there's some precedent in the Watergate case for the release of this stuff. But it's not simple.

BLACKWELL: Daniel, what is the play from republicans on releasing all of this? On two points, one it was just that unanimous vote in the House for release of the Mueller report. But also the context of the history of republicans and Clinton e-mail investigation getting those notes from the FBI agent, the 302s, getting all of that underlying information and those documents, can they easily fight the release or request for underlying documents and information in this one?

LIPPMAN: It would make it very hypocritical for them to argue against releasing a lot of this to the public or to Congress. Because as you mentioned, you know, they were the ones who laid the groundwork for this is how we're going to do these types of investigations, where we see everything. We're able to process through all of the investigative materials, previously before the investigation, you know FISA applications would never be public and they were really pushing for that to try to show conspiracy in terms of how those wire taps came about of the Trump campaign.

Remember, President Trump, he said that they were listening on everything going on in the campaign which was just not true.

[06:25:00]

And so that begged the question of let's look at those documents. And so republicans are going to have to face a very tricky line of not appearing that they want to cover anything up but also as Michael said, and as every American should want, we shouldn't have grand jury seek information that could compromise our sources from getting out in the public just because democrats want to make a political point.

PAUL: You know Kara we were talking earlier about Mueller who may be called to testify. We heard Kamala Harris say she thinks wants Attorney General Barr should testify before Congress as well. How likely you think that is going to happen?

SCANNELL: Well, I mean they can call Barr in. I think he would, as the Attoreny General he would have to go in particularly before the Judiciary Committee. They are the oversight body. So he would come in. What he says and what he reveals I think he would be towing that line - the grand jury line that Michael has explained. Because that is something that is part of DOJ policy and so we've seen it so many times where whether it's the AG or the FBI director or the CIA director, they come to Capitol Hill, and there are just certain areas and topics that they say they can't talk about. So, I think he would have to balance that desire for public

information and to satisfy that desire. He doesn't want to appear -- he keeps saying he's for transparency within the law. I think he wants to give the American people enough that they feel satisfied that they have a sense of what this investigation is about, but then have to walk that line that Michael has described about trying to protect the grand jury information that he legally can't divulge.

You know also I think underlying this whole issue here is that DOJ policy is you don't indict a sitting president. And so what is in this report and what does it say about Donald Trump's actions? And that's why democrats wanted so badly to become public because in their view, and they've said this, that this is about their responsibility of oversight and if there should be impeachment proceedings, were there high crimes that they need to investigate and that's why they're pushing and saying he can't be shielded because DOJ policy says you can't indict a sitting president if in fact there is a crime or a criminal activity that Mueller found but he can't charge.

BLACKWELL: Yes. There is this narrative of victory or defeat 12 hours in. And we don't have anything from the report.

PAUL: We don't know what's in it yet.

BLACKWELL: We don't know what's in it yet and not even those principal conclusions here.

PAUL: We should, though, in the next 24 to 48 hours based on what we're hearing from Bill Barr.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kara, Michael, Daniel. Stay with us. They're with us for the hour. We have a lot more to talk about.

PAUL: Yes, in fact, we're discussing the impact of the report on President Trump's 2020 campaign. Madison Gesiotto is on the Trump 2020 board. She's going to talk to us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Thirty-two minutes past the hour; so good to have you on this Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, good to be with you. We're coming to you live from Washington.

PAUL: So the Mueller report is complete.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: And the battle to make its details public, that seems to be in the starting stages here. Here's what we know at this hour, Attorney General Bill Barr is reviewing the report, and says he may be in a position to provide lawmakers with, quote, "principal conclusions either today or tomorrow." A CNN source says House democrats are having a conference call at 3:00 p.m. where they'll be briefed on the report by chairs of the relevant committees involved. BLACKWELL: The main question now is will the report allege any

wrongdoing by the president or exonerate him. Joining me now Trump 2020 board member Madison Gesiotto. Madison, welcome back to "New Day."

MADISON GESIOTTO, TRUMP CAMPAIGN 2020 BOARD MEMBER: Good morning. Good to be with you guys.

BLACKWELL: OK, so CNN is reporting the Trump team is upbeat, encouraged by what we know so far which is very little. No further indictments is certainly good news for the president's circle, but without details from this report, is this optimism, this excitement, this we won, that we heard from a person close to the president is it premature?

GESIOTTO: Well, I think no further indictments is not only good for the president of the United States, but I think it's good for the entire country. For two years, many people across the country were very concerned about Russian collusion. They were concerned about that, you know, there may be someone in the White House who is an agent of a foreign government.

If that was true that would be horrifying for our country. We now know that's not true. With no further indictments coming I think it's fair to say that the president is not an agent of the Russian government. There was no Russian collusion and this is very important and I think a win for everybody.

BLACKWELL: Well the guidance from the Department of Justice that even if they have a crime that they believe they could charge the president with, the guidance is they would not indict him. So the suggestion that the president has been totally clear, that is not - is that not premature, considering that Mueller would not have indicted him anyway?

GESIOTTO: Well, we'll wait to see what the report says. But like I said, with no further indictments coming, and of course another concern that the White House interfered with the investigation as we've seen in a letter from Attorney General Barr, Mueller was able to completely complete his report with no interference which I think is important to note here.

BLACKWELL: So I know you want the full Mueller report released, that's right?

GESIOTTO: Well I think that's great to see the report released without the things that can't be in there, like grand jury testimony, classified information. And also talk of detrimental information to people not accused of committing a crime being blocked out of that as well. We'll see what they ultimately do. We want to see. We want to see this report. People on both sides of the aisle said they want to see it. We saw the unanimous vote come out of Congress and so we'll see what they ultimately do.

We want to see. We want to see this report. People on both sides of the aisle said they want to see it. We saw the unanimous vote come out of Congress. We'll see what happens over the coming days.

BLACKWELL: Now Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, they want more than just the report as they released in that joint statement yesterday. They want the underlying documentation and the findings. There are democrats on the Hill who were seriously talking about subpoenaing Bob Mueller and that's even before we see these principal conclusions or the report. What do you think about that?

GESIOTTO: You know, we saw House investigations, Senate investigates, FBI investigations turn up with nothing. I think it's pretty frustrating to see that they want to continue to investigate, investigate, investigate, when they put their faith in Robert Mueller and they trusted him for what he ends up releasing with his report that they would trust what he has to say. Now it's seeming to seem like because it's not what they ultimately wanted, they aren't going to trust anymore. I mean we'll see what happens but that's a little bit concerning to me.

BLACKWELL: How is that different than what republicans did trying to get more information about the Clinton e-mail investigation requesting from the FBI, those handwritten notes, the 302s from the investigation and the interviews as part of that probe? You say it's frustrating to see democrats do this, but did republicans not write the playbook from what we're expecting to see from democrats over the next few weeks and months?

GESIOTTO: Well when I think when we look at the Clinton e-mail investigation, people on both sides of the aisle were really frustrated and thought that was mismanaged. It was mishandled and that it wasn't handled with integrity or the right way. You know we saw republicans and democrats complaining about that. I think the difference here is democrats put full faith, they said that they believed - like I said before, they believed in Mueller, they thought he was doing a great job. To change their minds because the result wasn't what they wanted, I think that's the difference here.

BLACKWELL: You expect, as I'm gathering from our conversation now, that this report will exonerate the president. But if that's true, what then is the explanation for the president for two years, or 675 days to be precise, having called the investigators angry democrats, all of this a witch hunt and a hoax. If it exonerates him, are all of those things still true?

GESIOTTO: Well I understand the president's feeling that this was a witch hunt. If we see the full report released and there's absolutely no evidence or basis for what they were investigating, I would be frustrated if I was the president if that they were doing this to me as well. I think people across this country that feel that this was a witch hunt. They are going to be happy it with the result, but that we wasted so much taxpayer money, tens of millions of dollars, thousands of hours, 675 days spent on an investigation that turned up nothing, and maybe was useless in the first place. I think that's what people across the country feel in regards to the witch hunt sentiment.

BLACKWELL: So you expect that it's useless that it was a waste of time, but the special prosecutor was put into place only after the president fired James Comey. Did his action not predicate this, start this?

GESIOTTO: I didn't say that necessarily it was useless or a waste of time but what I was answering was your question about the witch hunt sentiment and I think that's how many people do feel about the investigation. I think it's important, like we said before, we wait until this report comes out. Let's see - let's see what the report says. But again, the main takeaway here is that there was no Russian collusion or no indictments coming for that and that was what people were most concerned about.

BALCKWELL: All right, still waiting for the report, though, Madison Gesiotto, thanks very much.

GESIOTTO: Thanks Victor.

PAUL: And do stay with us because democrats say it's imperative that the attorney general make Robert Mueller's full report public. What are you going to get to see? We'll discuss that; stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:40:00]

PAUL: Forty-three minutes past the hour; so glad to have you with us here. The special counsel's Russia investigation may be over. The political showdown, another story.

BLACKWELL: So what happens next? Our experts are back with us, Kara, Michael and Daniel. First to you, Daniel. The democrats have invested so much in the Mueller report. We've heard from democrats who don't believe that they should move forward with impeachment. They say that we're waiting for the Mueller report. If this Mueller report doesn't deliver something, as you said earlier, that they can invest in, what next?

LIPPMAN: I think Speaker Pelosi probably had a sense of what may have been coming in the report, not she had inside knowledge, but just by tracking how this Mueller investigation has come about, you know, she said a couple weeks ago, we should not do impeachment. It's going to be a waste of time and it would drag the country into another nightmare where it kind of stopped -- the business of the country stops, as we try to impeach a sitting president for something we don't have, you know, actual evidence of, you know, that leads to impeachment from Mueller.

And so, I think democrats want to move ahead with their other investigations. And they hope that they have a good candidate in 2020 to dismount Trump. But they know that a failed impeachment effort and it would be much harder to get Senate republicans now to impeach him, if there's nothing, you know, conclusive from the Mueller report. That would make it much harder for them to win in 2020.

PAUL: At the end of the day, when we look ahead at what's coming next, we know that the Justice Department is still pursuing an investigation; there are people that they still want to talk to. We know there are grand jury investigations related to this, those are ongoing. How did the conclusion of the Mueller report, whatever it is, affect or dictate Michael, where the investigations go? Any effect or no?

ZELDIN: No, not really, unless there's overlapping jurisdiction.

[06:45:00]

Remember what Mueller did was different than what we saw from Ken Starr. Which is to say, when new matters came to his attention that required investigation, rather than keep them, he farmed them out to the U.S. attorney offices. Now, we have these satellite investigations going on in various U.S. attorney's offices. They will proceed. So, when they say, for example, Mueller will not indict anybody else. That's true, it doesn't mean that the Southern District of New York will not indict anyone else. Maine justice that took over some cases won't indict anyone else, so one has to understand Mueller is just like the heart of the matter and then there are all these spokes that come from it.

BLACKWELL: Kara, how resonate, as we look forward to what we'll hear from DOJ, how resonate is the handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation by James Comey and how they approach and what they say and do next in this investigation?

SCANNELL: I think it's sort of a guiding light here because they universally kind of knew that that was mishandled. Rod Rosenstein has said recently, that's not the way they want to do things. That the proper way to do things is to not tarnish anybody's reputation if they haven't been charged with any wrongdoing. I think that's going to be a strong principle that they follow, as they try to share information with the public but also not over share. And Michael raised a good scenario, maybe they do it by not using people's names and just making it anonymous. But to be able to tell the public about certain information. The issue, though, so much has come out in the public, that you can't talk about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and not know who was there.

BLACKWELL: Everyone knows who was in the room. Yes, we know the events. The players. Kara Scannell, Daniel Lippman, Michael Zeldin, thank you all.

PAUL: So Robert Mueller's Russia investation as we said, it seems to be over to some degree.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: President Trump and his associates, there could still be legal trouble ahead as we were just discussing. We're going to get a little more in depth to that in just a moment. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:00]

BLACKWELL: Well, the special counsel's Russia investigation may be over, but the president's legal troubles and the troubles for those around him, those are not over.

PAUL: Yes. Let's discuss the ongoing investigations, they're just surrounding the president with CNN reporter Erica Orden. Good to see you. Talk to us about how many related investigations are there right now?

ERICA ORDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are numerous related investigations. And they range from everything from multiple inquiries in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office which has been looking at potential campaign finance crimes that were related to the charges against Michael Cohen. And that is focused on the Trump organization. And there are also multiple inquiries in other offices including the New York attorney general's office. And the New York State Department of Financial Services. So there's a wide range of investigations, some of them have started recently; others stretch back a number of months.

BLACKWELL: Now, Roger Stone associate of the president, he's heading to trial in November. We learned that recently he lied about his efforts to secretly contact WikiLeaks in 2016. What are the implications here for the president?

ORDEN: Well, that's not entirely clear. I think one thing to look out for is, as you mentioned, Roger Stone is headed to trial. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. There's always the possibility for someone who is facing a trial of this nature that he could, at some point, decide to cooperate with federal prosecutors and disclose more information than he has, which seems to be none about any other of the other Trump associates or any of his interactions or dealings with the president himself. So, I think that's one thing to keep in mind as we head towards trial.

PAUL: All righty, Erica Ordon, appreciate you being here. Thank you.

ORDEN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well U.S.-backed forces say the last ISIS stronghold has fallen. Marking the end of the terror groups stronghold on the land there in Syria. We'll have a full report next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:55:00]

BLACKWELL: More breaking news this morning. U.S.-backed Syria democratic forces say the finalize ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen.

PAUL: CNN international correspondent Ben Wedeman is with us from eastern Syria. Ben, have you seen so much of this. What are you learning there this morning?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, Christi, we were up much of the night watching as there was intense U.S.-led coalition air strikes on a hillside which is essentially where the last holdouts from ISIS were left. They were, we were told, in tunnels, not only several hundred Jihadis, but with their families as well who they were essentially using as human shields.

Well, that hillside was mercilessly pounded throughout the night. Early in the morning, we started to hear lots of aircraft over our head but the bombing stopped. A few hours later, a spokesman for the U.S.- lead - U.S. backed Syrian democratic forces came out with a tweet saying that the battle was over, that ISIS as a territorial entity had been completely defeated.

We were able to go inside its last encampment where much of the fighting has been taking place, over the last few weeks. And what we saw was there were dead bodies. Our camerawoman Mary Rodgers saw a discarded suicide vest by the road. There are lots of wrecked cars and tents in tatters where people had dug trenches underneath to try to take cover from the bombardment. But the long and short of it is, after many false starts and premature announcements, the so-called Islamic state as a territorial entity is history. Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All right, Ben Wedeman, thank you so much.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorney General Bill Barr has now received the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The investigation, 675 days old, is now over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfere in the 2016 presidential election process.

TRUMP: I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China.