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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Mueller Investigation Ends; Barr to Present Summary; Cyclone Devastates Mozambique. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 23, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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 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.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Good Saturday morning to you. The headline after nearly two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is done.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Yes, Attorney General William Barr says, he could brief Congress on the report quote, "principle conclusion as early as today or tomorrow," which means after charges against 37 people and entities, 7 guilty pleas, 1 trial conviction, there will be no more indictments, no sit-down interview with the president. President Trump meanwhile this morning huddled with his team at Mar-A- Lago. Some of them are already declaring victory. Democrats say, not so fast. (BEGIN VIDEO)
REP. MADELEINE DEAN, (D) PENNSYLVANIA, MEMBER OF HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: 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: Also declaring victory today, U.S.-backed Syrian democratic forces after they say the final ISIS stronghold in Syria has now fallen. The fight against the ISIS ideology, that, of course, continues. We have a live report from Syria.
PAUL: First, we got a team ready to break down what could happen next. We have with us, on Capitol Hill, CNN Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty, CNN reporter Kara Scannell, CNN National Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is in West Palm Beach near the president's resort.
BLACKWELL: Also joining us to discuss current diversion. CNN Political Analyst and Congressional Reporter at the Washington Post, Shan Wu, CNN Legal analyst and former federal prosecutor and Josh Campbell, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI Supervisory Agent. Josh worked for the FBI directors Robert Mueller and James Comey.
So let's start with CNN reporter Kara Scannell for the latest, get us up to speed and give us just a peek at where we're going next.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So just around 5:00 p.m. on Friday, William Barr received the report from Robert Mueller. Now all the attention will shift to Capitol Hill. He notified the House and Senate Judiciary Committees that he would be able to brief them as soon as today or tomorrow on those principal conclusions.
That's much faster than people expected. Now the report is in but we don't know what it says and the questions remain, what will it say about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and what does it say about the big question of did the president obstruct justice. Now there are no criminal charges.
We learned from a senior Justice Department official that there will be no more indictments but there is still a lot that is not known and this is where the battle is now going to shift to Capitol Hill and we are expecting there to be a lot of negotiations and discussion because we've heard that there's a lot of bipartisan calls for transparency here and that is where the question is going to remain.
PAUL: And questions about whether Mueller will be called to testify to Congress and AG Barr as well?
SCANNELL: That's right. I think we can see the Congress exercise their oversight responsibilities and want to call in either Mueller or Barr or both of them and really dig into the contours of this report and what their conclusions are. We are also seeing an expectation that there will be a desire for more information, a lot of democrats are saying they want to see not only the report, but the underlying materials, the investigative materials behind it. So they want to draw their own conclusions and exercise that oversight authority that they have over the executive branch.
BLACKWELL: We'll see if that desire graduates to a demand or a subpoena. Kara Scannell, thank you so much for that.
PAUL: So President Trump is spending the weekend at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida. He has aides there, several members of his legal team surrounding him as well. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live in West Palm Beach.
The president has had an awful lot to say over the last couple of years when it comes to this investigation, and yet, we have heard nothing from him this morning. Are you hearing anything from where you are right now?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Awfully quiet. We are waiting to see his twitter account, but we are all eyes, of course, on Mar-A-Lago as well. This is an unusual weekend. Usually he is just here with his first lady, Melania and their son Barron. They are here bit also with him, a full entourage, a compliment of his legal team as well as strategic team and two press secretaries all here at Mar-A-Lago.
Essentially, he has not yet said anything after, you know, the announcement of the report. They do not have the report as of yet. Certainly, there is a strategy and they have been working and gaming this out for weeks prior in terms of how he would come out; so far no response.
We did see yesterday, however, a big republican fundraiser; a lot of headliners there. The president stopped by. He did not say anything about the report but he did introduce his friend, Senator Lindsey Graham, who went all in, referring to one of the main documents integral to this investigation as a piece of garbage. He also mentioned Hillary Clinton as well as classified information.
That got the crowd, some in the audience chanting that familiar, "lock her up, lock her up" phrase. We did see the president yesterday when he left the White House very defiant about this investigation as he has been for the last two years. Just take a listen.
TRUMP: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that 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, OK?
I call at this time Russian hoax.
I call it the Russian hoax. They made up the whole Russia hoax. That was a democrat hoax.
It's a democrat hoax.
MALVEAUX: Despite the fact that he continued to say this is an illegitimate enterprise, this investigation. He did praise his attorney general on that as someone that he's going to be having to be working with. At least White House lawyers working with to see what gets in this report or perhaps what is taken out of a report before it goes to Congress and the public. Sarah Sanders, his press secretary tweeting this out - the state of plays saying the net steps are up to Attorney General Barr. We look forward to the process taking its course.
The White House has not received or been briefed on the special counsel's report. The president also saying yesterday daring democrats if you will that they will not move forward with impeachment hearings, saying that would cost them politically. This gives you a pretty good sense of where the president and the White House is going - and how they're positioning themselves as a victory here.
BLACKWELL: All right, Suzanne Malveaux for us there in West Palm Beach. Suzanne, keep watching Twitter for us. Let us know if you get alert. Thanks, so much.
PAUL: So three o'clock this afternoon, House democrats are having a conference call for their entire caucus.
BLACKWELL: OK Sunlen Surfaty is on Capitol Hill this morning. Sunlen, reaction was - it came in pretty quickly from Capitol Hill with democratic lawmakers calling immediately for the full report to be released from Mueller, also those underlying documents. Now you know that there's a call happening today. Tell us about that.
SUNLEN SURFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Victor. This is essentially democrats on Capitol Hill getting ready, not only preparing themselves to potentially learn this weekend some new information from the attorney general, but certainly gearing up for a long and likely tense battle ahead.
Now they will be convening a conference call at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. The entire House democratic conference will hop on that call or certainly members will be hearing from their leadership, from chairmen from the important committees. Getting an expectation of what they know, what's coming ahead in the next 24 - 48 hours for them. And certainly we have already seen democrats on Capitol Hill be very aggressive and very public in leaning into this idea that they want - and they're going to battle for the information here. They want the entire Mueller report to made public to - excuse me - to be made available to not only them but the public and they're pushing for them to see all the details as Kara mentioned those underlying details in the Muller investigation and this is something we expect to hear a lot from democrats in the next days and weeks and this certainly came from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last night.
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.
SURFATY: An attorney, according to attorney general, Bill Barr in his letter he supplied Congress last night, he says he expects he could be giving Congress some of the principle conclusions of the investigation potentially as early as this weekend. We do not have a timing update, and certainly Christi and Victor, lawmakers and staffers are seemingly very unclear on what form that would come in and when exactly that will come in, notably, many members are still at home in their home districts as this was over recess week but certainly everyone waited on baited breath for more information on Capitol Hill.
BLACKWELL: All right. we'll what it to see what comes out of this call. Sunlen Serfaty for us there on Capitol Hill, thank you. We will examine a lot of what we have learned and what' going to happen next with our guests in just a moment.
But first, there is the breaking news out of Syria this morning, where U.S.-backed forces say the ISIS caliphate has been defeated. That's the territory, but what about the ideology? That lives on. Our Ben Wedeman is live near the front lines in Syria. We'll talk with him next.
BLACKWELL: More breaking news this morning, the ISIS caliphate is crumbling. The last ISIS strong hold in Syria has fallen. That's according to U.S.-backed Syrian democratic forces. You will remember at the height of their power, ISIS controlled, look at this map, the area the size of Portugal across Syria. The final battle took place, it was over the last sever weeks centered near banks of the Euphrates river. CNN's Ben Wedeman has been near the front line of this battle for those weeks. No one knows this story like Ben. He'll join us later this hour for a full report from Syria. PAUL: I want to get back to breaking news regarding the Mueller
report. Kara Scannell with us, Karoun Demirjian, Shan Wu and Josh Campbell all with us and so grateful to have you here, thank you. Karoun, I wanted to start with you. I'm wondering if with all of the calls for Mueller or for the attorney general to release the full report from Mueller, is there any way that this report can be seen as fully legitimate if he does not do so?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think that you will actually see the democrats be quiet and take that sort of a gesture sitting down. I think there are going to be political fights regardless of how much of the report gets out because democrats want to see the underlying documents as well. They have six probes going on in the House right now plus the Senate Intelligence Committee is looking into these matters.
So I think it's pretty clear that unless Barr puts everything out that he has seen, at least in terms of the printed report that Mueller gave him, they will not be satisfied. There will continue to be political questions around this and no, they won't see it as a legitimate report. It doesn't mean that if the full report comes out, that's the end of the story. We will still see all kinds of political fistfights on The Hill as they look for - because - mostly because the Justice Department Policy is not to indict a sitting president so if there are not - is not information regarding Trump, they may say, "Oh, you kept it out because he's wasn't indicted." That's why they want to see what goes on behind this. But as a starting point in order to maintain trust between Capitol Hill and DOJ, yes, they need this full report to come out.
BLACKWELL: Hey Josh, let me come to you. There is a step before we get to this full report getting to Congress and that is the White House expecting that they'll get an opportunity to assert executive privilege over certain elements of this report. Is it your understanding, knowing Bob Mueller the way you do, having worked for him, or do you expect he wrote this report with that consideration in mind?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think that's certainly a possibility and by the way, I think it's appropriate for the White House to have some type of view or insight into this. I don't think they should be able to change or edit anything. We can be certain if Bob Mueller comes to testify or those on the team were suspended to testify, if there is one word in that report that is changed and inconsistent with what they came up with, then we're going to know about that.
What I suspect is that you're going to see, and again we have to have a dose of humility here, we don't know what's in the report, but knowing the intense public interest that's surrounding this investigation, I think we can expect some type of narrative from the team explaining what it is that they found and what did they not find. Again, this isn't your typical prosecution. This isn't your typical investigation, this isn't a typical anything.
This is obviously something that's captivated the nation and I think the investigative team has understood the burden that's on them so I think we're going to have at least some type of narrative again explaining what it is that they found.
PAUL: Shan, one of the things we do know is that the attorney general says there were no requests from Mueller to the Justice Department that were denied. Questions whether Mueller was going to subpoena the president, that was something that a lot of people were concerned about that apparently, no, it didn't happen. So if he was never told no, does that signal to you that Mueller actually got all the answers that he wanted?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No it just means he wasn't denied the opportunity to inquire on certain evidence. I think one of the really interesting fights that's going to be looming if, for example, Congress subpoenas Mueller, they're going to want to ask him, what was your thinking? Why didn't have you the president come in and be interviewed?
DOJ is going to fight tooth and nail to stop that inquiry. I think we see in that letter Rosenthal wrote to Grassley in the summer, he draws the line in the sand. He says Mueller is like any other DOJ prosecutor, subject to the AG, subject to the deputy. We don't like Congress messing around in our investigations. They're not going to want that kind of inquiry. If you want to put out what we actually did, that's in the narrative. We'll tell you who we interviewed, what documents we have. But that kind of thinking, the strategy the decisions that really go the heart of did he get his answers, did he have the opportunity to dig down deep? They're going to fight very hard about that.
BLACKWELL: No Kara, Shan says if Robert Mueller is suspended, democrats are so resistant to any distilled version of the Mueller report. Have we now passed the point of if they will subpoena him to when they will subpoena him? Regardless of what Bill Barr releases, are we expecting that democrats want Bob Mueller there to testify, anyway?
SCANNELL: I think so. I mean I really can't imagine a scenario where a two-year long investigation. We've had the House kind of say we've been waiting for this report. We're going to make our decisions after this report and if they're not satisfied by the report and you know we still don't know what it actually says. We have this one page note to the Hill.
You know, I think they will want to hear from the man that conducted the investigation. But they will run into these issues that Shan is just explaining of Mueller is known for being a very by-the-book guy. He's not probably going to fly off the seat of his pants when answering questions. So there may be a lot of frustration from his testimony when he goes to Capitol Hill.
PAUL: You know, we had a gal on a couple of hours ago, I think at this point I can't really tell. But she says no further indictments equates to this president is not an agent of the Russian government. Is that true Shan? WU: No first of all, if you parse that one pager we got, it says no
further indictments from this special counsel, which leaves open other indictments from the U.S. attorney in D.C., U.S. attorney in the Southern District. But certainly just because there are no more indictments from the special counsel doesn't really answer the question of what kind of involvement the president had with Russia.
That really is going to be a question for the congressional investigations. They have a really different motive and perspective than criminal investigations. They want full transparency in congress, very far-ranging criminal investigations, very narrow, very focused and they're meant to be opaque except when you get to court.
DEMIRJIAN: Also, they don't have to get to court at the end of the day. They're speaking to public opinion and political whims as well. In order to add anything that they could really sell than more than just a talking point in 2020, the word "impeachment" that none of the democratic leaders want to utter yet. They are going to have to find something that's pretty provable, pretty undisputable but they're looking at obstruction of justice, at potential corruptions, about just mishandling of your public office. That's much broader and much squishier than what a prosecutor has to prove in order to get a conviction in court.
BLACKWELL: Josh, back out to you. What do you glean from the speed at which Barr says that he will get these principle conclusions to Congress and then the follow-up there, I'm giving both to you at the same time, what's then the wait for the Barr report? Are you expecting days, weeks, months until that full narrative comes out after it goes through the process?
CAMPBELL: Well a lot will depend on what is in the report itself. I don't think Bob Barr is going to want to sit on this for any longer than he has to. There is simply no reason. He's actually indicated in his confirmation hearing that he is open to a certain amount of transparency. He understands this obviously information that the public wants to know and to the extent that he can release that consistent with the law, consistent with the regulations, I think he's going to do so and again, we don't know how long or how thorough this will have to be depending on what is actually in the report.
Is there sensitive information that they need to redact? I get a lot of unanswered questions there. I will say to the point that we just mentioned a second ago as far as how different sides are going to spend this, I think as we sit here right now, this is not a time to be popping champagne corks if you're in the White House nor is it time to picketing the Justice Department if you think that the president is skating free here.
We simply don't know what the report says and the reason why I say that it's important not for the White House to celebrate right now is because although if you are in Trump orbit, you are breathing a sigh of relief because you're not going to be indicted at least by Robert Mueller. But the one question that we have that we don't have answered yet is will this report say that the president was involved in some type of criminal activity but Mueller and DOJ refuse to prosecute because of the nature of his position.
That does not mean, if that's what it ends up saying -- that doesn't mean the president is incident. It means that procedurally the president cannot be indicted but that doesn't mean that he didn't commit a crime so there's still a lot of potential political hurdles out there for the White House.
BLACKWELL: Yes certainly, we're hearing from the people around the president, we won without a single word from the report, not even any of the conclusion. All right, with us, Karoun Demirjian, Shan Wu, Kara Scannell, Josh Campbell, thank you all.
PAUL: U.S. - backed forces say ISIS has lost it's last stronghold in Syria. Look at these pictures coming in this morning. The Caliphate has crumbled but what about the ideology. That is still alive and well in some pockets. We're going to have a full report for your next.
PAUL: (Voice over) You hear that, they're playing the "National Anthem." The Syrian Democratic Forces celebrating a victory over ISIS. The U.S. - backed forces say they finalized a stronghold in Syria has fallen.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman joins us from Eastern Syria. Ben, what do we know about the last moments of this final fight?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we saw the last moments, Victor and Christi, of this final strong hold of ISIS. We watched as overnight there were intense airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition on the mountainside where we were told by the SDF spokesmen that there were still hundreds of Jihadis and their families holed up in tunnels and in trenches. Those air strikes went on well into the night. but in the morning, we still heard the planes overhead, but the bombing had stopped, just a few hours later, we got a page from a spokesman for the SDF saying that the battle was over, that ISIS as a territorial entity had been 100 percent defeated.
In fact, we got that message as we were going into the final encampment where we saw there was still some gunfire ongoing on the edges of that camp inside the camp itself, we saw dead Jhidis as well as our camera woman, Mary Rogers, found an unexploded explosive vest by the side of the road. What we also saw were dozens and dozens of cars that has been destroyed during the airstrikes as well as the tatters of the tents where people had been living in that last encampment they'd dug trenches inside the tents to protect themselves from the bombardment. But in the end, we don't know what happened to those last 100 or so of Jhidis and their families. We'd seen in recent weeks many of them, 1,000s of fighters as well as 10,000 of ISIS family members surrendering. We don't know if that last group of holdouts surrendered or were killed in the air strikes. The long and short of it however is that the battle is over and ISIS, as a pseudo state is now part of history. Victor, Christi.
PAUL: Ben Wedemen, thank you so much for bringing us the latest there. We appreciate it as always.
A decisive win there over ISIS if Syria. Then you got the no new indictments after the Mueller report. Some people might say, yeah, the Trump camp could be very happy with the headlines this morning. CNN National Security Analyst, Samantha Vinograd with us now. Sam, so good to see you. Let's start with ISIS. Is this a real win for the president?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Christi, this is a historic day, but if the president was focused on pursuing a counter terrorism strategy rather than a political one, he'd be handling this very differently. Let's be clear, this is not a victory just for the United States. The territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria is the result of a coalition's efforts. There were 79 partners that were responsible for where we got today and the president has not mentioned any of that in his tweets. And having been a part of counterterrorism discussions at the White House, there are unfortunately a series of steps that the White House has already said that they're not taking, which seems to guarantee that this victory is going to be short lived.
We are going to use this victory as a predicate for withdrawing our forces from Syria. Typically, we leave a residual force to help train local forces to prevent terrorists from coming back. And second, we have already announced that we are not giving any stabilization funding to Syria, which typically is a critical component of ensuring the territory that it is captured from terrorists remains stabilized and safe.
BLACKWELL: Samantha, let's talk about the Mueller report. We spend a lot of time talking about specific names and brush strokes. Let's back away and look at the whole portrait here. Russia's attempt to undermine the U.S. democracy. How are our national security analysts, like yourself, seeing this report?
VINOGRAD: Well, while we all try to digest and comprehend a report that we haven't read yet, let's all be clear on one point. Russia is still attacking our country. We learned through the series of indictments against varying Russian nationals that were a part of the Mueller investigation, some information, on how Russia conducted their attack in 2016.
But what a responsible White House would be doing right now is trying to think about how to prevent that from happening again in 2020. We know from the intelligence community that Russia, Iran and China tried to interfere in our 2018 elections and as we look ahead to 2020, there are some basic steps that aren't being taken by several candidates, including protecting their e-mails and protecting their social media accounts that almost guarantees that countries like Russia can try to manipulate candidates, manipulate their campaigns and interfere in our next election cycle. PAUL: I want to ask you about North Korea before we let you go here,
President Trump prompted some confusion yesterday apparently ordering the withdrawal of new sanctions on North Korea. He did this via a tweet. How important are those sanctions to the U.S. in terms of strategy?
VINOGRAD: Well, aside from the major process foul that unfortunately the entire world saw, we have to think about the practical implications of putting sanctions on ice. Sanctions need maintenance. Kim Jong-un like other bad actors is very creative. He figures out ways to evade sanctions, and what the sanctions designations that we saw last week and essentially the ones that would be coming next week do is find ways to punish those third parties - those subsidiaries that Kim Jong-un uses to get around sanctions. So by failing to implement the next round of sanctions and to designate the subsidiaries what we are really doing is letting Kim Jong-un continue to get elicit revenue, which we know he has been using for his missile program and his nuclear weapons program.
BLACKWELL: And when asked why the president withdrew those sanctions, Sarah Sanders says because the president likes Kim Jong-un. So that's the explanation. Samantha Vinograd, thanks so much for being with us.
VINOGRAD: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right, up next, the special counsel's Russia investigation is over, but the president's legal troubles, they are not. We will look at the other investigations still ongoing.
BLACKWELL: So the special counsel's Russia investigation is complete. More legal troubles ahead, though, for the president and maybe those around his - his circle.
PAUL: Yes, ongoing investigations surrounding President Trump is the topic right now. CNN reporter, Erica Orden. Erica, talk to us about how many related investigations there are right now and how long are they expected to continue?
ERICA ORDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well there are multiple investigations. Several of them are out of the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York. But there are other investigations other than the New York Attorney General Office, the New York State Department of financial Services and an array of other agencies and prosecutor's offices.
And they - some of them are new, have been started in the last couple of weeks but others have been going on for several months. So it's not exactly clear when any of them will -will wrap up or result in charges. It's sort of an array of different options there.
BLACKWELL: So we know that Trump Associates, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen have cooperated with several investigations. Do we have a clear picture? I think we are learning more about Michael Cohen, but the others, how helpful they have been in these probes?
ORDEN: Well, prosecutors have indicated through fillings that all of those men have been helpful to a degree. It seems as though, based on -- again based on court filings that and -- and some other reporting that it is actually Rick Gates who has proven probably the most helpful to not only the special counsel's investigation, but other ongoing investigations, including the probe into the Trump Inaugural Committee, which is being run out of the Southern District of New York.
PAUL: All righty, Erica Orden, thank you so much for the update.
ORDEN: Thank you.
PAUL: So the legal battle to release the entire Mueller report, that is what's just beginning.
BLACKWELL: We'll speak with a representative of the organization behind the first lawsuit demanding that the public gets to see the entire Mueller report. That's when we come back.
BLACKWELL: Well, the first lawsuit has been filed seeking the public release of the Mueller report's findings.
PAUL: Yes, the senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center also known as Epic is Alan Butler, he is with us now via phone. Alan, thank you for getting up this morning to talk to us. I know your company is suing the Justice Department. What specifically is it you want to see happen?
ALAN BUTLER, EPIC SENIOR COUNSEL: Well EPIC has filed the first lawsuit against the Justice Department seeking the public release of the Mueller report.
PAUL: What specifically do you want to see in the Mueller report? What are you searching for?
BUTLER: Well, we believe the public simply has a right to know what is in to the report. What conclusions counsel has reached? What facts have been determined and what recommendations have been made. We already know that members of Congress have called on this report to be released and there are efforts under way for this report to be made available to Congress or at least summaries of the report, but we believe the public has a right to know what's in the entire report and that it should be publicly released.
BLACKWELL: So there was about a month ago, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, said at an event, and this is a quote. "There are a lot of reasons not to be transparent about what we do in government." He wasn't specifically about this but what's your reaction to that statement considering the suit you filed? BUTLER: Well we file these types of cases all the time and we very
frequently are able to obtain records that the government agencies are holding and the law protects the public's right to know, and so really there are some circumstances where some information can't be released but most of the time, most records that are held by government agencies can be obtained by the public, by public interest groups like EPIC.
PAUL: All righty Alan Butler, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
BUTLER: Thank you.
So, I know you are probably sitting at home thinking what are the next steps? Where are we going with this? I want to bring our expert back here for a minute.
BLACKWELL: Because what we know is there will be more lawsuits, right, this is just the first one?
PAUL: And there are other investigations already in the works as well that are already in process. So ...
BLACKWELL: We've got Karoun, Shan and Kara are back with us. Shan, let me start with you that these lawsuits - we've got the EPIC lawsuit will be successful or will they be necessary considering what we're seeing from Congress already and the bipartisan demand for the release of the report.
WU: I think we will see a faster result with the Congressional demands and they will fast track their lawsuits when they go to court to fight over the privilege issues. I think that's going to be a little bit easier in terms of the standing issues then for the private lawsuits. Obviously the big question is going to be executive privilege assertions and some people have been saying that that's an interesting argument because they may have already waived that meaning witnesses have already spoken, documents have already been produced. Although I would suspect that the good lawyers would have made some sort of preservation like we're letting you talk to this person but we're still reserving the right to assert the privilege later. So that's really going to be front and center coming up.
PAUL: I want to listen and I just want to make sure that we have the sound here of Kamela Harris yesterday, her reaction the fact that the report is finished and where she thinks it needs to go from here, specifically what she wants to hear. She says the report needs to be made public. The American people have a right and a need to know. The underlying evidence that supports that report should be made public - that's her first thing. Secondly, she said, "Attorney General Barr should be called to testify before U.S. Congress," and third, "The White House shouldn't be allowed to interfere in any way in interpreting or presenting the information to the American people."
Karoun, what of those three things do you think is most probable? DEMIRJIAN: Oh my goodness, well I think that the first question is what is Barr going to do about the timing in which he puts this out publically and delivers it to Congress. Will he give the White House a chance to look at it before - to make any of those claims of executive privilege before he makes his ultimate decision or not if the president is potentially implicated and what is in that report.
And these are all questions that we don't know anything about. I think that if there is any delay or if Congress sees this second or it's publicly put out after Trump gets a chance to look at it, there will be Hell to pay from the democrats because they were going to have the argument then that maybe he could have tampered with it or tried to influence things down the chain even if he himself or his lawyers didn't make those direct changes.
I think that you have seen unanimity from the democrats around the other points - around all those points frankly that Harris is speaking of. But this is an indicator of how much this is going to be an issue that's going to grip us for the next 18 months.
Harris is running for president. She is speaking about this publically right now. Every other democrat that is in a position of influence or authority or hopes for the future is going to be taking about this and any sort of gap in the chain of custody I guess of this report, not to use overly-technical terms, is going to be a potentially exploitable issue for suspicion.
And I think that is sometimes going to be real, sometimes it's going to be political and depending how long Barr takes and how much he puts out is going to set the tone for what we do for the next more than a year going forward.
BLACKWELL: Democrats have already set that place at the table. When we heard from Chuck Schumer saying that the White House should not get any sneak peek at this report before it comes from Congress but we know from Pamela Brown's reporting is that the White House expects that they will get this to be able to have the opportunity to assert executive privilege.
SCANNELL: Right. It's DOJ practice to give the White House the chance to exert executive privilege over issues. I mean there is -- this has been something that has been discussed multiple times. It's been an issue before Congress before. You know, is this the moment where it trumps everything else, where you know because of the nature of this report? There is, I also have heard multiple versions of it from lawyers that I have talked to involved in the investigation, where they believe that executive privilege was waived when their clients went in and spoke to Mueller's team.
So I think you can see a real fight here but I also think the DOJ is sticking by its book here. They're wanting to do everything so there is not controversy beyond what would normally be around this type of thing. I expect the White House will have a chance to exert executive privilege, the DOJ will stick with their normal practices here.
BLACKWELL: OK, Karoun, Shan, Kara, thank you very much. PAUL: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: A quick break. We'll be right back.
BLACKWELL: Our coverage of the Mueller report continues in a moment but first, here are other major headlines this morning. ISIS is crumbling. The final ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen. Now that's according to the U.S.-backed Syrian democratic forces. At the height of their power, ISIS controlled an area of Syria and Iraq roughly the size of Portugal. The final battle happened over the last several weeks centered near the banks of the Euphrates River.
PAUL: A man who survived the cyclone in Mozambique says it broke everything, that there's nothing is left there. We know 417 people died after the cyclone just devastated a huge chunk of that country. An eyewitness says as many as 400 bodies are just lining the banks of a road and flood waters have formed an inland ocean that's visible from space. Now the Red Cross says the destruction left by that cyclone is worse than they imagined and humanitarian needs are only going to deepen in the coming weeks. So the government estimates nearly a million people have been affected by that storm.
BLACKWELL: And earlier this morning a police officer was shot and killed in Chicago. Police say two men walked up to two off-duty officers as they were walking back to their vehicle. They say there was no confrontation, there were no words exchanged, no carjacking, no robbery, just two officers and the two others in the car and then two men walked up and shot the officer and another person. One person is being questioned. They do not know what may have been the motive here.
PAUL: Up next, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is in the hands of the attorney general now.
BLACKWELL: President Trump is with his team at Mar-A-Lago, his legal team there where some of them have now declared victory.
PAUL: Yes and a source tells CNN House democrats have a conference call scheduled for 3:00 - it's happening this afternoon. Our breaking news continues now with Smerconish.