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Special Counsel Mueller Completes Russia Investigation; House Democrat Call for Full Release of Mueller Report; Rep. Madeleine Dean (D) Pennsylvania is Interviewed About Robert Mueller's Report; U.S. Backed Forces Declare Victory Over ISIS In Syria; Jury Finds Former East Pittsburgh Officer Not Guilty In Shooting Death Of Unarmed Teenager Antwon Rose. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 23, 2019 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:00] 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 interfered in our 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 in the president's inner circle and those who ran his campaign were found who have violated the law. The president remained defiant.

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

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: I was fired of the Russia investigation.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in campaign. 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 try to really 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.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: 7:00 here in Washington, D.C. I'm Christi Paul. So glad to have you with us.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

PAUL: So, after nearly two years of an investigation, the Mueller report, it is done this morning.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Attorney General William Barr says he could brief Congress on the report's principal conclusions as early as today, maybe tomorrow. And that means that after charges against 37 people, seven guilty pleas, one trial conviction, there will be no more indictments and no sit-down interview with the president.

PAUL: President Trump is huddled with his team down at Mar-a-Lago where some of them are declaring victory. Also declaring victory today, U.S.-backed Syrian democratic forces, as you heard, after they say, the final ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen. The fight against the ISIS ideology, though, continues. We'll have another live report for you from Syria.

First, back to the Mueller probe, we've got a team ready to break down what is expected to happen next. Joining us here in D.C., on Capitol Hill, we have CNN Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty, CNN Reporter Kara Scannell, CNN National Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is in West Palm Beach near the president's resort. And joining our discussions: Laura Barron Lopez, National Political Reporter for Politico; Page Pate, Federal and Constitutional Attorney; and Philip Mudd, CNN Counterterrorism Analyst and former FBI Senior Intelligence Officer -- Adviser, I should say. So, we want to start with CNN Reporter Kara Scannell.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Christi. So, the 675 days, 22 months and 37 individuals and entities charged to Mueller -- this investigation has come to a conclusion. Now, all eyes will turn to Attorney General William Barr. He has the report, he notified Congress that he'd received it around 5:00 p.m. on Friday. He said that he expects to be able to deliver to them the principal conclusions as soon as today or tomorrow. Barr also said that he would consult with Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller, the two key players, over the course of this investigation, about what additional information he might be able to make public.

There's a sense of relief around some of the individuals who had been encompassed in this investigation, because we've learned from a senior justice department official that there will be no additional indictments. Now, both sides are claiming victory in this investigation -- with the investigation concluding. The White House says, though, they have not yet seen the report, and the House Democrats will meet this afternoon to have a conference among themselves to discuss what their next steps will be. Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you so much. House Democrats will hold a conference call as Kara said, and we'll learn what that teaches or what the Democrats get out of that, and what they possibly can make public.

PAUL: So, Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill this morning. Sunlen, what are you hearing about this meeting that's going to take place in the next steps for the Democrats? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, an

important moment, Christi, in the next step of all this, the House Democrats are convened in a conference call with their entire conference, and many lawmakers are away in their districts on recess right now. So, they'll be hopping on the call at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time today, certainly to get an update from leaders, from chairman of the committees, their readout of what, of what they know could they have new information at that time, we just don't know.

And certainly, where this is all headed over the next 24 to 48 hours. And we're already seeing Republicans -- excuse me, Democrats, being very forceful in their pushback here. Very aggressive. Very public, in saying that they want the full Mueller report to be available to members of Congress. And additionally, they want additional underlying evidence to be made available, not something that we will certainly hear a lot from, from Democrats over the next few days. Here's Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATOR MINORITY LEADER: Now, that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the attorney general, it's 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.


[07:05:18] SERFATY: And according to the letter that Bill Barr, A.G. Barr sent to Congress yesterday, he says, at some point this weekend, he potentially would be in a position to brief some members of Congress, or give them some of the, in his words, "principal conclusions of the investigation." Of course, no exact specifics there, Victor and Christi. I think staff and lawmakers are certainly asking the question, what form and when that will come. But certainly, there could be developments up here on Capitol Hill over the course of this weekend.

BLACKWELL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty there on Capitol Hill. Thank you so much. Joining me now: Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, Member of the House Financial Services and Judiciary Committees. Congresswoman, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So, first, let's start here with the request that we heard from Leader Schumer there and Speaker Pelosi through their statement that they released yesterday. The request for the underlying documentation and all of the findings there. A source tells Evan Perez that 80 percent of what was gathered as part of this investigation was during grand jury testimony, that cannot be released; another 15 percent, classified. So, how much do you expect will be given with the Mueller report, if you get the Mueller report? DEAN: We expect -- I expect and the American people expect that the

entire report will be made available transparently to us. If there is a sensitive classified information, we can understand how that might not be available to us. But really, the entire report and the underlying evidence must be made available to the American public.

BLACKWELL: So, we heard from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about, I guess, a month ago or so -- he said, there are a lot of reasons, and this is a quote: "There are a lot of reasons not to be transparent about what we do in government." He wasn't talking specifically about this, but he understands his position in the national conversation right now. And Attorney General Bill Barr wrote in his letter that he'll be working with Mueller and Rosenstein to determine what to release. Does that characterization from Rosenstein give you pause that you'll get all that you want?

DEAN: It gives me pause. But hopefully, he was not talking specifically about the release of these documents and this report. I think we have to remember something, we have to have great appreciation for Special Counsel Mueller and his team. For the last 22 months, of most professional work, observing and showing respect for the rule of law. And we have to, in the Congress and the American public, make sure that process is completed and transparently shown to the American public. We have a right to know what this president and his campaign and his advisers did in terms of the 2016 election and what involvement Russia had. We have a right to know.

BLACKWELL: Those around the president told CNN that phrases like we won, or the fat lady has sung, we don't have the details or even those principal conclusions yet. Do you expect that's a little premature?

DEAN: Oh, it's devastatingly disappointing. Imagine what this country has been through in the last two years with an utter disregard for our institutions by this administration. An utter disregard for the rule of law. A demonization of folks, people, anybody who is the other. A disregard, a brazen disregard for the emolument's clause. The firing of Comey -- which is where this all began. There are no winners here but the American public and the rule of law will win out when we get the full report.

BLACKWELL: What are you expecting today on this call, in this weekend, from the first chapter of disclosure from the attorney general?

DEAN: We will be on the call. We've been in touch with our committee all through the night -- you know, through the evening last night. And we have a conference call, as you said with the entire committee and team today. So, we'll see -- I thought with the letter from Barr, it was interesting to say that he might be in a position this weekend to provide some broad strokes, I guess, of conclusions of the report.

I don't think Barr would say that if he didn't actually think he would be doing that because the letter was very specific and very brief. I think that will be an important first step. But certainly, that will not be enough. We don't want just broad contours of what Mueller and his team found. We need the full report. So, I think this is, you know, an important first step. I don't think anybody should jump to any conclusion about what is in the report. Or any kind of celebratory notion that this is the end of something. This is just the beginning.

BLACKWELL: Would you like to see, or should the House Judiciary Committee subpoena Bob Mueller to testify?

[07:10:08] DEAN: I'm certain that is going to be up to the chairman of our committee, Jerry Nadler. He has been just masterful, in terms of being a professional in what we have to do, in terms of oversight; it is our constitutional obligation. If we have a problem getting the contents of this report, I'm sure that will be within the considerations. The chairman has said, if necessary, we will use subpoena power.

BLACKWELL: But is that something you want to see?

DEAN: What I want to see is: number one, the report. We draw conclusions from that and see if we actually do need to speak to Mr. Mueller. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Mueller, and I really want to contrast his behavior, and the professionalism of his department, with what we have suffered in this country under the absolute indecency of this administration. It does give me great hope, when you see an investigation like this completed so professionally. So, I would enjoy the chance to speak to Mr. Mueller. But number one, we have to see the report.

BLACKWELL: All right, Congresswoman Dean, thanks so much.

DEAN: Thank you.

PAUL: So, all of Washington is playing that waiting game this morning as we wait to see what is substantially in the Mueller report, whether that will be made public. And will that, depending on what it is, really change anybody's minds, based on where they sit with this? We're going to talk to experts about that.

BLACKWELL: Plus, U.S.-backed forces say ISIS had lost its last stronghold in Syria. The caliphate has crumbled, but what about the ideology? We'll have a full report, next.


[07:15:46] BLACKWELL: More now of the breaking news. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is now in the hands of Attorney General William Barr. Back with us: Laura Barron Lopez, Page Pate and Phil Mudd. Welcome to all of you. And I want to start here with you, Phil, and set the table of expectations of what this first round of these principal conclusions you're expecting they will be. So, this is not expected to be a long narrative from the attorney general, right?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: No, I think that's true. There's a couple of questions, I think, in the midst of this sea of data and information that you might want to circle around. I can think of three of four. Number one, a characterization, and this is something we know a lot about now, due to what Robert Mueller has done -- a characterization of what the Russians were doing and the information around the indictments that Mueller handed out almost a year and a half ago.

The second would be: what we know, the most critical question about the other side of that Russia story. For example, what does the Department of Justice and the Mueller team know about Roger Stone's contacts with WikiLeaks? I think there's a third major question; all of the information we've gotten about people like Rick Gates, about Michael Cohen, about Paul Manafort, about dirty money swirling around the election.

And the final question, I think, is really interesting, the question of how many people lied in whether the special counsel could really get a clear picture of what happened because of the number of people; Manafort would be critical here who didn't offer the truth about what happened during those crucial months in mid-2016.

PAUL: So, Page, there are a lot of questions about what can be released from this report? 80 percent of it, specifically, grand jury testimony, which cannot be released. Help us understand what evidence the public might actually see here.

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Christi, I think it's clear that the attorney general will release some sort of summary and outline of basically what Mueller concluded at the conclusion at the end of his investigation. I also think that the full report can probably be issued. I would be very surprised to see Mueller quoting from grand jury testimony in this report, because the report is simply a summary of what this investigation uncovered during the time that they've been working on this.

So, grand jury secrecy only applies to testimony before a grand jury. Just because a document may have something to do with that investigation does not mean it's protected from disclosure. So, I see a very good legal argument that Congress can make, if they want to, to get the full report, but perhaps not the underlying documentation.

BLACKWELL: So, Laura, a DOJ official describes this report as comprehensive. How is that likely shaping the expectation for members of Congress and how they're comparing whatever they receive from Attorney General Barr, to how it's being described as comprehensive?

LAURA BARRON LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Right. Well, what we know is that Democrats want the report. They want it to be made fully public. But they also want the underlying evidence. And so, that's a question whether or not they're going to be able to see all of that underlying evidence, given the fact that even though this report is in, and even though we know that Mueller himself and his office is not going to be issuing any more indictments, there is still Roger Stone's prosecution, his trial on November -- in November, eight months from now and Mueller's team is a part of that.

And so, there's underlying evidence there that may not -- that Democrats may not be able to get ahold of as quickly as they would like. So, there's a lot of things that are unclear about the time line, given that there are so many elements of the Mueller investigation that are out there, that he's referred to other -- to other prosecutors.

PAUL: So, Phil, I heard one analyst saying that what he thinks would be interesting is some of the most pivotal material obtained by Mueller would be the intelligence value, are you waiting to hear from that as well -- about that as well?

MUDD: No, I think that's -- look, the fundamental question we have -- we've had and I think we've lost sight of this because we're so focused on what happened around the president's inner circle which is perfectly appropriate, but the fundamental intelligence question goes back as we head into the round for the 2020 election: how much do we understand by intelligence means about the technical penetration of American social media, for example, by Russian intelligence.

[07:20:17] That information should not be revealed because clearly, people like the CIA and the National Security Agency are still watching Russian entities get into places like Facebook and Twitter. So, from an intelligence perspective, it's fine for the legal people to look at the Mueller team. But the conversations in Congress around how we protect the American electorate going into the next election seems to me that they've been lost, and that's a really -- that is maybe the biggest intelligence question that the U.S. government faces today.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Page, we head on in last hour, a member of the Trump 2020 advisory board who said that, you know, if this ends without evidence of collusion, then there will be some people who question if this was all a waste of time. We have to examine that we've learned a lot through this investigation, and the number of charges, and the number of people who have pled guilty or pleaded guilty, jury conviction. Just go over what we've learned and how fruitful this investigation has been up to this point.

PATE: Well, Victor, as you point out, Robert Mueller has done an incredible job of staying focused on his mandate, that he was given as special counsel to investigate any influence that Russia had in the 2016 election. He has indicted a number of people, I believe 37 is the number, including Russians who were actively involved in trying to influence the 2016 election. He has done his job. And I think he's been very deliberate and very focused.

Now, hopefully, we will see in this report exactly why he made the decisions that he did to prosecute some people and not to prosecute others. So, the idea that, you know, it's been a waste of time, I don't think anybody can legitimately say that, given the work product that they've produced. And it's not just indictments, right? I mean, we know from court filings that there has been communication between Russians and between individuals who were associated with the Trump campaign, during the time of the election.

Now, just because that may not rise to the level of indictment, and prosecutors can only indict if they find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt. They're not going to indict otherwise. So, to say that there are no further indictments means that the investigation was a waste of time? I think is a stretch. And the American people, I don't think, will accept that.

PAUL: Kamala Harris says that it needs to -- this the report, needs to be released publicly. Senator Blumenthal has said, not the Mueller report. They need to see the Mueller report. They don't need to see Barr's report is his point. And I'm just wondering, you know, how important is it, Laura, for the sake of this transparency, for the public to see the entire report. And this is why I say that people are driving in their lane, are they going to take whatever they want out of this report, based on whatever the -- whatever Mueller's conclusion is? Is it going to change anybody's mind at the end of the day? Or are people solidly in their lane?

LOPEZ: Well, I think we're already seeing -- without the report, even being fully released and us even knowing what's in it. You know, Republicans and Democrats are trying to take out of it, its conclusion, what they can. And part of the reason that Democrats want it out there is, you know, they have been saying for so long, that has been one of their major talking points that they want this publicly released. They want to have transparency. So, we're going to see this transparency battle play out until we fully know what elements of what is in the report as we mentioned earlier --

PAUL: But what if that transparency doesn't give Democrat what they're hoping for, I guess is my question? Does it change any minds, this report, at the end of the day?

LOPEZ: I think it's really difficult to say right now whether or not this report is going to change any minds. And again, as I referenced earlier, the fact that there are still trials that are going to take place months from now means that when those take place, maybe something that comes out of that trial; evidence that may -- that Democrats may not be privy to until these prosecutions are played out, then elements of those trials could have an impact on public sentiment. We're not going to know for months.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Phil, I want you to listen to the president. This was on Fox Business yesterday, a full interview with Maria Bartiromo yesterday. Listen what the president said.


TRUMP: I have a deputy, appointed man to write report on me, to make a determination of my presidency. People will not stand for it.


BLACKWELL: How did you hear that, people will not stand for it? I mean, this is an investigator that was chosen after he fired the FBI director. What did you get from that coming from the president?

[07:25:10] MUDD: I don't understand this. The question that Mueller faced was not to make a determination about the presidency, it's to do what the Department of Justice does every day against gangs, against drug cartels, against white-collar criminals; it's to look at allegations that the federal law was violated, to determine the facts beyond a reasonable doubt, and to determine with the Department of Justice whether charges should be filed.

If you look, for example, at Paul Manafort, in the charges against him, that wasn't about -- a judgment about the American president. That's about whether Paul Manafort lied and whether he accepted dirty money. So, I mean, I look at the president who's responsible for the operations of the U.S. government, I'm saying the executive branch should be looking at allegations of wrongdoing, whether it's with a gang or at the White House and following the facts; it's not about determining whether the president should be there or shouldn't be there.

PAUL: All right. Laura Barron Lopez, Page Pate, and Phil mud, thank you all so much. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: More breaking news now, U.S.-backed forces say the final ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen. CNN's Ben Wedeman has been following the story from the front line for weeks now. We'll go live to him in just a moment.


[07:30:39] PAUL: So, moments ago, that was the Syrian Democratic Forces celebrating a victory over ISIS, as they play the U.S. national anthem there. The U.S.-backed forces say the final stronghold in Syria has indeed fallen.

BLACKWELL: CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman, joins us from eastern Syria. Ben, give us the latest. What do you seeing and hearing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi and Victor. What we saw this morning was a lot of aircraft overhead. But after a night of heavy air strikes, the aircraft stop striking. And just a few hours later, we heard from a spokesman from the Syrian Democratic Forces that the battle of Baghouz had come to an end. That ISIS -- the so-called caliphate was 100 percent defeated.

Now, we went into that encampment which was the last stronghold of ISIS in Syria. And what we saw was massive destruction. Hundreds of cars that had been hit in air strikes. Several dead bodies and our camerawoman Mary Rodgers even found a discarded explosive -- suicide vest by the side of the road.

But what we saw was for the Syrian Democratic Forces who were backed by the United States and Western Europe. A real jubilant mood of celebration, given that day of been fighting against ISIS for now over. For years, there was a time not many of years ago that it looked like ISIS would have taken over all of this part of Syria.

At its height, ISIS stretched from the outskirts of Baghdad to Aleppo in western Syria. But what we saw today was the death of the s0- called, caliphate. A caliphate that had reeked terror across not only parts of this region, but it been behind terrorist attacks in Western Europe, Turkey, and elsewhere.

So, certainly, it's a significant day, but the joy is tempered by the realization that ISIS has just gone back to its roots. It has become, once again, a terrorist insurgency that is carrying out attacks in this part of Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. Victor, Christi?

BLACKWELL: Yes, the caliphate is gone, but the ideology is not. Ben Wedeman, for us there in eastern Syria. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Ben, thank you. You know, right now, Attorney General Bill Barr, he has the Mueller report in front of him. He is reviewing it, and says, he may hand over the "principal conclusions" to lawmakers, either today or tomorrow.

Now, a CNN source says, House Democrats are expected to have a conference call at 3:00 today. That's when chairs of the relevant committees are going to brief them on the report.

BLACKWELL: Here is the bottom line and the major question. Will the report show that President Trump colluded with the Russians or not? Now, President Trump is spending the weekend at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he's joined by his legal team. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live in West Palm Beach.

Suzanne, Saturday at 7:00 a.m. Eastern is often rush hour for tweets from the president, but he's might quiet this morning.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is might quiet. We're all keeping a close eye on his Twitter feed, of course. And also here at Mar-a-Lago, what is going to be developing.

So far, he has nothing public on his schedule, but the press pool has called for the 7:00 hour, which simply means that they'll be gathering. We don't know if it means he'll be playing golf, or there'll be something more significant. So, we'll just have to wait and see.

But it is an unusual weekend here. This is not normal, this is beyond his -- the first family here, he has his legal team, he has his strategy team here too, press secretaries. So, they're going to be huddling, trying to figure out what kind of response, when they get this final report will be appropriate.

To give you a little sense of it, a hint, perhaps, we saw him at Mar- a-Lago, the estate, he came in, walking a fund-raiser that he appeared, a Republican fund-raiser. He did not speak of the Mueller report but rather introduced his friend, Senator Lindsey Graham, who went all in, essentially, saying that a document within the report that was really integral was a piece of garbage.

He mentioned Hillary Clinton, as well as, classified information to which some in the crowd, the audience started chanting the "lock her up, lock her up" familiar theme.

And then, it was earlier in the day before he had actually departed from the White House, he said what he has said many times which is really a very defiant stance saying this is an illegitimate investigation. I want you to take a listen to what he's been really forcefully saying with the last couple of years. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[07:35:23] TRUMP: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. How many times I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse.


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

TRUMP: This Russia, or 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. OK? I call it the Russian hoax. They made up the whole Russia hoax. That was a Democrat hoax. It's a Democrat hoax.


MALVEAUX: Interestingly enough, the president not only reiterating it that this investigation a hoax, what he sees as a -- as a witch hunt. He did, however, praise his Attorney General Bill Barr and saying that he believed that he was a credible figure that he would do the right thing. As you know, he's going to be have to work with his attorney general to see what gets in and what does not get in ultimately is sent to Congress and to the public.

We heard from his press secretary Sanders, tweeting here, saying, "The next steps are for -- or up to Attorney General Barr. We look forward to the process of taking its course. The White House has not received, or been briefed on the special report."

So, that is the next phase of all of this. The president also saying too, daring the Democrats, saying, he does not believe they will bring impeachment hearings forward. And if they do so, that it will cost them politically.

PAUL: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, good to see you this morning. Thank you so much for the update. We'll be right back.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.


[07:41:10] PAUL: Well, Robert Mueller's investigation. It is over this morning. Other related investigations into the president and his associates though, those are just ramping up.

BLACKWELL: Yes, joining us now to discuss, his former director of the Office of Government Ethics and CNN contributor Walter Shaub. National political reporter for POLITICO, Laura Barron-Lopez. And former CIA counterterrorism official and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd.

Walter, you're new of the conversation. Let me start here with you and your tweet. You tweeted out, let's put up on the screen if we have it. "Whatever the report says, Mueller was looking for crimes and, even more narrowly, only crimes that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Congressional investigations will and must look more broadly into what happened. Not probably criminal is too low, a standard for democracy." So, expound on this.

WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Well, first of all, autocorrect got the better of me there that was supposed to be not provably criminal instead of probably --



SHAUB: But, I -- here is what I think. I think Mueller plays a very specific role as a former prosecutor or current prosecutor now. He's looking for crimes, there was also a national security component to his investigation. But he's in a specific lane, and he stayed in that lane. Congress has a much broader responsibility for oversight.

Now, I think everybody should plan in advance to accept the findings of the Mueller investigation. I don't think Congress should investigate the Mueller investigation by reinvestigating his work.


BLACKWELL: It sounds like what like -- it sounds like that's what they want to do.

PAUL: Yes.

SHAUB: I think what they should do is pick up where he left off. They have a much broader scope of things look into, not the least of which is the firing of the Attorney General and the head of the FBI for allowing an investigation.

Now, there may have been valid arguments as Rod Rosenstein made for why Comey needed to be fired. But President Trump went on national T.V. and admitted he fired him for a very different reason.


SHAUB: And I think those are things that Congress could legitimately look into. I think there are many other issues that have gone unaddressed in two years of Congress not fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to conduct oversight of the government. But I think the Mueller investigation itself and the specific findings that makes should be accepted.

I also think that they should be released to Congress in full so that Congress can understand what was found and what wasn't.


SHAUB: Because there may have been areas he just decided not to dig deep into because he felt they weren't within his purview.

PAUL: So, Phil, if those areas that perhaps they find he did not dig deep enough, should those be part of another investigation? In your opinion.

MUDD: I mean, I think they already are. If you look -- if you look at what happened to the Stormy Daniels' piece of this to some of the information related to money and Michael Cohen, obviously, director Mueller looked at that and said, "That's beyond the purview of my investigation."

I look at this and say people are too quick to look at the comments yesterday from the Attorney General and from Robert Mueller saying no, no further indictments out of the Mueller team.

If you look at the Southern District investigations, and the fact the Department of Justice could spin-off investigations to other offices, I'd say the likelihood of additional indictments outside the Mueller team is easily greater than 5050.

So, yes, some of this stuff should be looked at because it breaks the law even if it's outside the remit of Robert Mueller. This is going to go on for a while.

BLACKWELL: And Laura, I want to pick up on something that Walter said that members of Congress should commit to accepting the findings of the investigation. We saw -- I mean, some acrobatics after the Comey announcement that Hillary Clinton would not be charged and then, the announcement that they were going to reopen the investigation. Democrats and Republicans flipping back and forth from. He is an upstanding investigator to -- he has no credibility.

I mean, how much of that informs what we could see -- again, we don't know what's in the report about how Democrats and Republicans have been speaking about Robert Mueller and his investigation for the last 675 days.

[07:45:16] LOPEZ: Well, right. I mean, going back to something Walter said, Democrats can continue their own investigations and they may not necessarily have much to do or intersect with what Mueller has looked into.

And we're talking about going after Trump's personal or business tax filings, and what they find there, and whether there's been violations there. So, those are -- that's an example of something that Democrats can do in which we expect that they will do when it comes to the Mueller report.

Again, I just think it's important to state that this is a small part of a much bigger picture. And there are so many ongoing cases in other jurisdictions that Mueller has handed off. And so, Democrats are going to point to that and say that we need to find out what comes out of those cases down the road.

There's Rick Gates and Michael Flynn that are cooperating witnesses of Mueller. And so, whether or not they actually end up saying something different down the road or end up providing more information as these cases play out that could lead to more indictments.

PAUL Walter, President Trump, you know, we mentioned that he fired Comey, he denied Trump Tower meeting happened until he couldn't deny it any longer. There's been a long list of things that have been said that have been proven not to be true. Do you get the sense that this administration or that the president aggravated this investigation? That perhaps it's panned out, it got worse for him based on his own actions. And are we at risk of that happening again with the investigations that are still ongoing?

SHAUB: I think, at this point so, since we haven't seen the report, we don't know how much of that, what looked like obstruction was investigated. And so, if it was, he definitely did trigger that through his actions. Even if he didn't, I think he raised the stakes and heighten the tension.

I mean, Mueller completed his investigation and that's a victory because the president seemed to throw every obstacle he thought he could without drawing fire from even Republicans in the Senate for having -- you know, tried to directly fire Mueller or anything like that.

And I think that we can expect more of the same with the ongoing investigations. We've already seen the White House and the Trump campaign sort of tried to weaponized the lack of his indictment as a result of the Mueller investigation by saying, cease and now he's cleared and he's all done.

He's not cleared of anything so far. We haven't read the report, and the report didn't investigate absolutely everything that he's done. I think America moved on a little too quickly from the New York Times blockbusters allegations about potential tax fraud. And things like that, that any other president would have faced hearings for having a thing like that uncovered.


SHAUB: So, I think there is much work to be done. I think the work has to be done in a respectful careful way that doesn't undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation. I think the Mueller investigation was led by the individual -- probably, the most credibility in America right now. And we should respect those findings.

BLACKWELL: And Phil, in the letter that the A.G. Barr sent to Congress, he wrote that there were no instances where proposed action by a special counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted that it was declined or refused. Now, that doesn't mean that there weren't disagreements, right? But does it mean that those fears that the acting A.G. Whitaker, that the fears that he was chosen to block part of the investigation or to stifle it. Were those unwarranted?

MUDD: Well, I think it's worth talking about those when Whittaker took the job. But the prospect that Robert Mueller whom I worked under for 4-1/2 years at the FBI would somehow change the investigation, changed the work of 22 months because somebody looked at him in the face in a meeting and said, I don't like what you're going to find. I would put that at about the same chance, I quarterback an NFL team next season. I mean, that's not how Robert Mueller operates. And furthermore, even if you didn't trust Robert Mueller, the documentation behind him and the many dozens of investigators analysts behind him, you simply couldn't sustain a process where Mueller said, "I, individually, I'm going to change your report because I was pressured by the leadership of Department of Justice."

I know people are conspiracy theorists out there. There is no way that happened. Just don't buy it.

BLACKWELL: Oh, Phil, I put you as more of a kicker than a quarterback. But maybe you'll make the team. Maybe you'll make the team. All right, Phil Mudd, Laura Barron-Lopez, and Walter Shaub. Thank you all.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

[07:49:59] PAUL: Thank you. So, President Trump, he spoke some confusion among aides after ordering new sanctions aimed at North Korea be withdrawn. And, of course, he did that publicly, we'll talk about that.

And protests, breaking out in Pittsburgh after a former police officer is found not guilty in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.


PAUL: 54 minutes past the hour. So glad to have you with us on a Saturday morning. Our Robert Mueller report continues in a moment, our coverage. But there are some other major stories that are making headlines this morning. I want to make sure you aware of them.

BLACKWELL: I will start with ISIS and the caliphate crumbling. The final ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen. That's according to the U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Now, at the height of their power, ISIS controlled an area of Syria roughly the size of Portugal. And the final battle happened over the last several weeks, centered near the banks of the Euphrates River.

[07:55:08] PAUL: And a man who survived a cyclone in Mozambique, says it broke everything and there's nothing left there. Take a look for yourselves. We know, at least, 417 people died after this cyclone just devastated a big chunk of that country, and eyewitness said as many as 400 bodies are lining the banks of a road, and floodwaters have formed an inland ocean that's visible from space.

The Red Cross says the destruction left by the cyclone is worse than they imagined, and the humanitarian needs, they're only going to deepen in the coming weeks. The government estimates nearly a million people have been affected by that storm.

BLACKWELL: Former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, was found not guilty of all charges for shooting unarmed teenager Antwon Rose. Protestors were on the streets after the verdict was read last night. Rose was 17 years old when he was shot three times after running from a traffic stop last year. An attorney for the Rose family told reporters, the verdict was very disappointing for the family.

All right, up next. Special counsel Robert Mueller's report now in the hands of the Attorney General.

PAUL: President Trump is hunkered down this morning with his team at Mar-a-Lago, where some of them are declaring victory.

BLACKWELL: Also, a source tells CNN, House Democrats have a conference call scheduled for 3:00 this afternoon, Eastern Time our breaking news coverage continues after the break.