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Mueller Did Not Find Trump Or His Campaign Conspired With Russia, Also Did Not Exonerate Him On Obstruction; On Obstruction, Mueller Report 'Does Not Conclude Trump Committed A Crime, It Also Does Not Exonerate Him'; Why Did Mueller Not Come To A Conclusion On Obstruction? And Why Did He Leave That To Rosenstein And Barr; The Fact Is, Russia Did Attack Our Democracy So Why Does Trump Defer To Putin?. Aired: 10-11p ET
Aired March 24, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN: That's it for us, but the news continues. I want to turn it over to Don Lemon in CNN Tonight.
DON LEMON, ANCHOR, CNN: This is a special edition of CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Here's our breaking news. The Attorney General William Barr publically release his four-page letter summarizing the principal conclusions of Robert Mueller's report and the news here is huge. Mueller did not find that Donald Trump's campaign or his associates conspired with Russia, but he also did not exonerate the President of obstruction, so there's a whole lot to dig into, dig into the Attorney General's letter here.
So let's take a look at exactly what he writes about collusion, OK, and here's a quote he says, "The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As report states: 'The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government and its election interference activities."
That is clearly good news for the President. But when it comes to obstruction things are very different. The Attorney General writes this, he says, "The Special Counsel did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as 'difficult issues' of law and fact concerning whether the President's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
So what does that mean, because that is a very, very important conclusion. Mueller's report 'does not exonerate the President of obstruction'. Mueller left any determination on obstruction to William Barr and Rod Rosenstein. And Barr goes on to say this in his letter, he says, "The Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction of justice offense."
So Mueller specifically says his report does not exonerate the President of obstruction of justice. Rosenstein and Barr conclude there's not enough evidence to prove the President committed obstruction, which is a long way from exoneration but the President falsely claims he's been totally exonerated even though that's the opposite of what Mueller said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, President OF THE UNITED STATES: It was just announced there was no collusion with the Russia, the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction and none whatsoever and it was a complete and total exoneration.
It's a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it's a shame that your President has had to go through this for - before I even got elected, it began, and it began illegally and hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side. This was an illegal take down that fail and hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side, so it's complete exoneration. No collusion. No obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. Hold that illegal part, but the exoneration part, the complete exoneration, this is his hand-picked Attorney General, "The Special Counsel states that while this report does not conclude the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. Now, to the illegal part that he's talking about, the President's accusations that the Mueller investigation, his words, an illegal takedown. That's not true either.
Mueller's appointment, authorities and actions were upheld by seven federal court decisions. The rulings made by judges appointed by both political parties even one appointed by the President himself. There was nothing illegal about Mueller's investigation. But arriving back at the White House tonight, the President was in a really good mood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just want to tell you that America is the greatest place on earth. The greatest place on earth. Thank you very much. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Now, that I think all of us can agree with. So let's bear in mind what we got today is a summary of Robert Mueller's findings.
It is not the entire report. And what we have learned - quite frankly it raises a lot of new questions as we move forward. One of the biggest questions tonight why did Robert Mueller not come to a conclusion on obstruction himself? Why did he leave that to Rosenstein and Barr?
Because we should remember it was William Barr in an unsolicited memo that brought him to the attention of the White House. It was him who called Mueller's theory about obstruction "fatally misconceived" and who said, "The obstruction claim is entirely dependent on first finding collusion." So what Barr was saying there seems to be if there was no collusion, there was no obstruction. We'll dig deeper into all of this with our legal experts in just a moment.
So I want to turn now to questions about collusion. So make no mistake, this is a good thing that Mueller found no collusion with Russia by Trump or his campaign, that is a very good thing for the country. But the fact remains, Russians did interfere in our election. They spread this information on social media and they waged hacking campaign that included stealing emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign, and from Democratic Party organizations.
The Special Counsel determine that and the Attorney General acknowledge that in his letter. So why is the President repeatedly deferred to Vladimir Putin who's an enemy, who waged an attack on our democracy? Why did he publicly take Putin's word over that of his own intelligence chiefs?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Our intelligence community warns, Putin is still attacking our democracy. Why is the President kept his own aides in the dark about his communications with Putin, even taking away his interpreter's notes? And when will we learn more details about what the Attorney General in his letter today describes as 'multiple offers from Russian affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign'?
We might be able to get a lot closer to answering some of these questions if we could see Mueller's entire report. DOJ official tell CNN the process of determining what else can be released and scrubbing it of Grand Jury material. That process has begun, but there's no firm timeline for releasing more of the report.
Democrats say that they'll settle for nothing less than the full report. The House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says his committee will call the Attorney General to testify and he says this ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERROLD NADLER, CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It is imperative that the Attorney General release the full report and the underlying evidence. The entire unfiltered report as well as the evidence underlying that report must be made available to Congress and to the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The biggest unanswered question tonight may be, will we ever get to see the full report? Abby Phillip is at the White House for us this evening. Abby, good evening to you. I appreciate you coming in late on a Sunday. So listen, Mueller found no collusion or - which was coordination and conspiracy is really what his letter says. We all know how many times the President said that accord and according to this letter, the report says he is right but did not exonerate the President of obstruction. A second point, the President and his allies are taking a victory lap and they're feeling good.
ABBY PHILLIP, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, Don. The President is having a really great day today according to our sources that he's thrilled by these results, because they believe that they can take what's in this letter from Attorney General Bill Barr and make these blanket statements about both collusion and obstruction.
On the cool collusion point, you're right that the President is correct that the report was pretty clear. There was no collusion that was found between the Russians and the President's campaign. But on the obstruction point, it was basically a lack of evidence. It was written in the Mueller report that this was not an exoneration, but when faced with that question, Hogan Gidley, the Principal Deputy Press Secretary here at the White House, He said this, he said essentially prosecutors are not in the business of proving that someone didn't do something.
They can't be expected, according to Gidley, to exonerate the President and so they're taking the lack of evidence as essentially an exoneration for President Trump that he's not going to be charged with this, that they don't believe there's sufficient evidence to be charged with this, and we heard the President's lawyers saying that this idea that there was no collusion, no underlying crime is really critically important, and I think that's what we're going to hear from President Trump and his allies.
And beyond that I think they feel like this is a just an easy thing, no collusion, no obstruction. Yes, the President has been saying it for two years but this time they can say that they can
make a case that that's actually true and they can take that case to the American people going into 2020.
LEMON: And it's good messaging for them. One must admit that. Abby, the Special Counsel have - let's look at all of the people who are involved in this, 19 lawyers that helped 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, other professional staff obtain more than 230 orders for communication records. Nearly 500 search warrants, interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, more than 2,800 subpoenas, despite an exhaustive investigation, the President continues to attack it. It seems very thorough to me.
PHILLIP: It does and you have to think about just a couple of days ago the President was talking about 13 angry Democrats who are part of Mueller's investigatory team. He was saying Robert Mueller is so conflicted. He was basically saying it is not possible for this investigation to be fair to me and yet today that same investigation, in his words, totally exonerated him.
But you didn't even hear anything about that from President Trump today. It was interesting that President Trump didn't talk about Russian interference in the election in which we know happen, which is part of the Mueller report as well and he also didn't thank Robert Mueller for his work for essentially exonerating him on these accusations that have been hovering over him for two years.
What this has been is proof that there is a process in place at the Justice Department that it was working and that it worked fairly. And I think President Trump would even say now that he knows the result that it was fair, but leading up to this moment, the President was saying that everybody involved in this investigation was conflicted.
And even now, Don, President Trump is hinting that the next step could be turning the tables on the other side, what he calls the other side, which may be a reference to Hillary Clinton. It may be a reference to people within the Justice Department, who were there at the onset of this investigation during the Obama presidency who he believed improperly surveilled or investigated his campaign.
So in fact the President could be trying to turn the tables on this whole situation. We'll see where that goes, but he certainly hinted at that in his comments to reporters when he was leaving Florida this afternoon.
LEMON: And even investigate Robert Mueller. Listen, it's hard to pray someone that you have criticized so heavily over the last couple of years and thank them as well, even though it seems like he helped you out. You can't do it. It'd be tough to do even for this President. Thank you, Abby. I appreciate that.
I'm going to turn it now to Democratic Congressman David Cicilline, serves on the House Judiciary Committee. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE, D-R.I. HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: My pleasure.
LEMON: Give me the biggest question you have about the Attorney General's Letter and the Special Counsel's report?
CICILLINE: Well, I mean, the biggest question I have is when are we going to see the full report? I think it's very curious that the Special Counsel spent 22 months in a very exhaustive investigation that you just described and laid out the evidence with respect to obstruction of justice but didn't make a conclusion about whether the President in fact had committed a crime, but he went to the pains of saying, "But this report does not exonerate him."
After that lengthy collection of evidence and the lengthy recitation of the facts, the Attorney General, Mr. Barr in 48 hours says, "Oh, no, we can do that work for you. There is no obstruction of justice." I think a real effort to try to shape the narrative. We should remember Mr. Barr essentially audition for the job of Attorney General by writing a memo unsolicited that basically argued the President could not be charged with obstruction of justice because he's in charge of the Justice Department.
CICILLINE: That caught the attention of the President. He made him the Attorney General and now it looks like he's delivered on that legal theory.
LEMON: Well, let me ask you this and there's a lot of ground to cover if we can do these questions quickly, I would really appreciate it. I just want to ask you. So if Robert Mueller had been more emphatic and come to some sort of conclusion about obstruction of justice, would you have been happier then because then it would seem that the Democrats would have no recourse in any of this?
CICILLINE: Well, no. I mean, we would be happier because we want the person who has the independence from the President. That's the purpose of having a Special Counsel make that determination based on the law and the evidence rather than the political appointee of the President.
That's the whole idea, is the Special Counsel is protected, his independence is protected. That's why we charge him with making these difficult decisions so that he won't have to answer to the President of the United States like the Attorney General does who appoints him. So yes that was Mr. Mueller's responsibility, frankly.
LEMON: OK. So do you feel similar to Comey and Clinton when Comey said, "Well, she didn't break any crimes, but they were records.
And now Mueller there was no collusion, but this doesn't exonerate him for obstruction of justice.
CICILLINE: Right. So we don't know exactly. This is why it's so critical, we see the report in its entirety and the support evidence, because we need to understand what the evidence was that caused Mr. Mueller to not make a judgment, why did he not make a judgment, but what's the actual evidence.
I think we need to have Mr. Mueller come before the committee frankly and walk the committee and the American people through his report, explain the context, explain the judgments he's made, the decisions he's made, then I think we need to have Mr. Barr before the committee so he can explain the judgments he made within 48 hours to try to clear the President and shape the narrative here based on some quotations from the Special Counsel's report.
This is why we don't need the Barr report. We need the Mueller report. The American people should see it and so should Congress.
LEMON: OK, so you mentioned Mr. Mueller, you mentioned Mr. Barr, what about Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General? Should he have been involved in the decision to clear the President of obstruction of justice given his original involvement drafting the memo about Comey?
CICILLINE: Yes. I mean I think it raises real questions as to why he was part of that deliberation. Was he in fact or did Mr. Barr simply reference him to spread some of the responsibility? I think that's why we have lots of questions of Mr. Barr about that decision and how it was made, who contributed to that decision.
But all of this has to be done once we have the report, because that may raise additional questions, which is why - this is important to remember, this report belongs to the American people. It was generated as a result of an investigation about an attack on our democracy by a foreign adversary. Everyone in this country has a stake and understanding what happened here, what the facts are, and certainly members of Congress who have additional oversight responsibilities also have the right to see this and we're going to keep fighting until we get it in the public domain.
LEMON: Well, taxpayers did pay for it, but listen, I mean, quite honestly if there are sources in that, I mean, do you want the entire report unredacted because you don't want that (inaudible) up there.
CICILLINE: No, of course. Look - no, of course, sources --
LEMON: Let me finish this point, and if there are people out there who have been implicated but did not break any crimes, why would you want their names out there so that their reputations would be impugned by this?
CICILLINE: Look, I think you can scrub those kinds of things to protect third parties and obviously to protect sources and methods and classified information. But the balance of the report can be released to the public, can be released to Congress. We have to be able to have confidence that this investigation has been completed properly, that we've taken corrective action when appropriate, and that the American people will know the truth.
This democracy belongs to all of us. We all have a stake in protecting it. We all have a stake in understanding what happened in the American presidential election and the President's effort to obstruct justice and we have a responsibility to make sure the American people know the results of this 22-month investigation.
LEMON: Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate your time.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
LEMON: All right, let's bring in some of the folks who are here often, Jim Sciutto, Laura Coates, John Dean, and also Olivia Nuzzi. I appreciate all of you joining us. Jim, I'm going to start with you. Special Counsel did not find the President's campaign conspired with Russia. To put it simply, as Trump short hands it, no collusion.
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And it's a significant moment for the country, because this is the question that has consumed a large part of our justice system, a large part of our politics for more than two years now, was the President involved. And the Special Counsel and keep in mind that this is a part of the report where we have the Special Counsel's language here not Barr's interpretation of it the Special Counsel's language is definitive.
You quoted it earlier in the broadcast, no evidence that - not only Trump or members of his campaign colluded with Russia. That's despite what we already knew has come out, accepting a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 with an offer from Russians for dirt on Hillary Clinton or even more recent revelations about the President's campaign chairman sharing polling data with Russians. But the Special Counsel with all those resources, the 40 FBI agents, the hundreds of interviews, determining that there is nothing further behind that which has been a fundamental question here, were these just smoke signals at the top and there was a deeper case behind it.
We now know that the Special Counsel with all of those resources determined that no there was nothing below the tip of the iceberg as it was on that central question. And we should say definitively that that is good for this president. It removes a cloud over this President and it's good for the country that the process was allowed to proceed to reach that conclusion.
LEMON: Laura, can I ask you a legal question? I mean, I don't know if it's the parsing of words Jim said found no evidence. The Special Counsel investigation this is according to Barr did not find the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence presidential election. Report states investigators did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government. Didn't find no evidence or did it just not meet a legal bar?
LAURA COATES, CNN COMMENTATOR: Didn't meet the legal bar. Now, that's a distinction to make and, of course, if you had the full report we'd actually know why it didn't do so or definitively if there was zero evidence whatsoever.
Now, we know in the public eye of course we did see that there was at least some attempt to benefit from what was a knowing influential campaign by the Russians at least with respect to the Trump Tower meeting. We know that took place. We know there was even a call to action for other entities like WikiLeaks who tried to be involved in the email hacking.
We know there was something in an attempt to be a beneficiary. However, one thing is really important here while Barr may, through this summary, may have provided or removed a cloud from the President on that specific issue, there is still a very heavy cloud over the President right now and over the obstruction aspect of it. Because remember, the President of the United States is the head of the executive branch. Meaning it's his job and his branch to actually enforce the laws and all this time we've made comparisons about whether the President is above the law, if this is a law-and-order President.
Well, this decision was made according to Barr without respect he says in the letter to that constitutional decision about whether a sitting President should be indicted. And so the question is if there is still not an exoneration, what evidence was there to support perhaps that there was somebody who's a head of the branch who is doing this. This in fact is why I take issue with the report.
Mueller, if you needed more time to reach that conclusion, then you should have taken it. If you needed to have - if you were stonewalled through the process, reveal that. But you cannot just say, "Yes, you commit a crime? Maybe. You decide." That's not how this is supposed to work.
LEMON: John Dean, I want you to weigh in here. Give me your take away from this report. What do you think?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I first of all think that what happened with Barr, he put a little lipstick on something that might have been fairly ugly. We haven't really seen the underlying report, but I have some suspicions, the reason that he boiled this down the way he did is because it's not very attractive, Don, while he didn't find - his words are very different than Barr's I suspect.
so I think he had a heads up on this. I think one of the reasons he backed off on the obstruction issue is there was a fundamental disagreement with the department as to whether a sitting President was capable of obstructing justice if you read Barr's memo of June 2018 he said in essence a President unless he is named in a statute is not subject to that statute.
Well, the President isn't named in any of the obstruction statutes, so if you push that out, you can see how he reached conclusion he did and I think that Mueller was of a very different school of thinking, so he just withdrew and those issues will be sorted out as this report slowly hopefully surfaces.
LEMON: But in the meantime, if it is sorted out and the narrative the - Barr has already set the narrative for Republicans and for the President. So if it does come out that ...
DEAN: He's framed it, yes.
LEMON: ... he's framed it, so it's going to be tough for Democrats and for others who are investigating in the Congress to change that narrative even if it's something different than what Barr says in this letter, Olivia. I mean, and you're taking note that the President looked triumphant today, he certainly did.
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yes. Well, I don't know, I think of this almost in terms of journalism. People don't remember who was first, they remember who got it wrong and they remember who got it right. And I think that maybe this will be a bit like that if it turns out that there is a significant disparity and we do see the report.
It will be a bit like that, but everyone is right, the narrative has been set by this document and the President is taking his victory lap. And I highly doubt even if it does come out, if we do get the report, if there is a big disparity, I don't think the President will ever give an inch on that. I think he will stick to the script that has been set in motion today and so the rest of his allies in the White House and surrounding the White House.
But I do think that even if it comes out that the report is very different, I think that the rest of us will be able to assess it in a reasonable smart way and most people will not be manipulated by spin.
LEMON: So Jim, let's talk about CNN's reporting the Special Counsel deliberated with the DOJ about issuing a subpoena to interview the President. Ultimately, Mueller decided not to do it. Was there ever a formal question about doing it in a form of request?
SCIUTTO: At least to debate not a formal request and CNN's reporting - that that decision was made not just on precedent, because as you and I have discussed many times before, it is Justice Department guidelines that a sitting President cannot be indicted but also on the merits of the case. That the Special Counsel in conjunction with the Justice Department determined not only that the past practice precludes an indictment of the President, but also that the substance of the case does not indicate that we should pursue that as well.
And that's key, because it means that they took a look not only at precedent but they looked at the substance of the charges. They looked at the evidence and the Special Counsel. And, again, in conjunction with the Justice Department we don't know how those deliberations were decided there's not enough here to force him to sit down.
And to be clear, we know that the President's lawyers view the fact that the Special Counsel did not subpoenaed him for sit down as one of their biggest victories in defending the President, in this case not forcing him to face live questions on this as for instance Bill Clinton did.
LEMON: So let me ask you, Laura, and if you could say it - I need it simple, I'm not a legal person here. The standard for proving obstruction of justice is beyond a reasonable doubt. Is that a factor in the decision of not to pursue that charge?
COATES: Well, it's a combination. As a prosecutor, you're going to look at what evidence you have, is there enough to charge the person with a crime and the thought is you charge the person with the crime if you can actually prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. It's not an example of trying to throw spaghetti at the wall. That sounds good enough. Let's charge them and see if the jury may or may not do.
You actually want to have the foundational evidence the support whatever claim you're making and if you don't have that, you don't go forward because you lose credibility. Remember, it's the United States in these cases, not the individual prosecution. So what one prosecutor does to undermine their credibility of a particular action actually transfers to all members of the Justice Department. That's why it's the U.S. versus someone.
So it is a very interesting question to raise. The problem however is the reason - it may almost be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you do not endeavor to try to get information, well, you will not have the information. Therefore, you could never actually reach that standard to say whether you have it or not. With respect to the President answering questions, one of the big questions looming for a lot of people here is why was there no pursuit to actually get information, why was there not an attempt to do more than a written response just like a take home exam.
So that's a question, one that Mueller will have to answer maybe through Barr, but it's a question that's looming, was it a self- fulfilling prophesy? You never tried to get the information, therefore, of course, you don't have it.
LEMON: Yes. John, the fact that Trump's legal team prevented a sit down interview made it so that he didn't have to answer written questions on obstruction, does that show how seriously they took the threat of obstruction - this obstruction case more than the case of conspiracy and coordination?
DEAN: It's hard to tell without the full report. What I was struck in reading the obstruction section because I was - had Barr's earlier memo in my mind is the standard that he has for that. And I realized as I was reading this, the letter today, that if Richard Nixon had had William Barr as his Attorney General, he would have never had to resign. He could have stayed in office, because the smoking gun tape that resulted and forced him out of office would not have been considered obstruction of justice.
So I'm very troubled by the obstruction section and I don't think it's going to go away. I suspect the Congress is going to dwell on it. I think they're going to focus and dig out some of this information and I think they're going to do it long before the 2020 vote is taken.
LEMON: Olivia, you heard the President today described this investigation. He said it was an illegal takedown, it wasn't. He also says people were badly hurt. Given his view on Mueller's investigation, do you think we're going to start to see presidential pardons?
NUZZI: I think it's certainly possible. I think he's shown previously with his pardons of people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio that he can be unpredictable, he's surprised us before with pardon news and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he were to start ruling out pardons related to this investigation, no. And I also just think that he's never going to stop talking about it. He's so happy today, a weight has been lifted, Hogan Gidley, the Deputy Press Secretary told the White House travelling pool that he was watching TV and making phone calls on Air Force One on the way back to D.C. tonight.
But I don't think that he's ever going to give up talking about this. I think it'll be like Hillary Clinton. Something that he brings up even if he were to win reelection years and years from now. I think we'll constantly be living with this. LEMON: Jim, let's talk about this because I've said, I don't know if
you're on, but I'm sure - and I know John Dean and Laura know this, I've said that all along that they were going to be many disappointed Democrats around the country because they thought the President is going to be let out of the White House in handcuffs and that was not going to happen, and it wasn't going to completely exonerate the President, which it didn't. So not to pat myself on the back, but I think that if we could be divided any further, meaning America, this report does that because on one hand it says, you did this and on the other hand it says, "OK," but he's not completely clear. So then what is the take away?
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, you're right. The division is so great today that no matter what the conclusion was, a block of the country would feel the President was treated unfairly or fairly and a block of the country would feel that, well, this is proof enough for me, if it's not proof enough for the other side.
It presents a real dilemma for Democrats, you could say going forward, because they have to decide whether they can pursue this line of investigation given the conclusion of the Special Counsel. Again, even though he's left open the obstruction of justice and part of this is narrative management because the initial headline as drawn by William Barr, the President's Attorney General has painted it in a certain way at least on the obstruction question.
But Democrats do have a challenge going forward, how aggressively do they pursue this one but also the other investigations before they lose a part of the country that says, "OK, we've been down this path for two years, what are the conclusions? What do we know for real?" And you've heard it, we've talked to folks on air, we've talked to folks in bars and restaurants around the country who have lost some patience with this and Democrats have to make a calculation politically, really, for what the appetite is leading up to the next in cycle.
LEMON: They've lost patients with people who think that the President has done nothing right and the President is completely guilty of all of this. And then on the other side, they've also lost patience with people who completely excuse everything the President does and have become apologist for the President. So, again, I don't know if it solves anything, I think it may have been better even if it would have broken Democrats' heart for Mueller to say there is no evidence of obstruction and there's no evidence of collusion or coordination or whatever and then emphatically it would be dumb.
SCIUTTO: It's a good point because it gets to expectations, because you're right that there's a portion of the country that wanted Mueller to give him an answer that they want. They wanted Mueller to clear it all up and say, he's not fit to be President, he should be impeached, and really that was a false expectation from the beginning.
LEMON: Yes. So Laura I want to get your thoughts on this and also how the American people feel if this President, speaking of the divide in this country, if this President issued a pardon to Paul Manafort or Roger Stone?
COATES: Well, if he does that, first of all, you wouldn't be as totally shocked because remember both of those individuals are in the crosshairs really of an investigation, why, because of the Mueller investigation. Remember his mandate included the notion of the campaign and collusion, but also whatever he may come across in the process of it. And the President has been very clear that he has felt that the witch-hunt and that led to actually - particularly Paul Manafort was unjustifiable, so you could foresee him doing it.
The problem however with him pardoning Paul Manafort under that premise is that Paul Manafort's conduct largely dealt with as far as the guilty pleas and the conviction with things that were outside of his time with the campaign. But the President would actually not have to feel like he could get a vengeance for Manafort and knock it apart because those are things that he was doing wrong outside of the purview of the President of the United States.
So he could look at it both ways and still be a winner without actually - a winner is the loose term here, but still be a winner and not actually pursue a pardon.
LEMON: Do you think John that we'll ever learn why so many people in the President's orbit consistently lied and then some of them going to jail for it?
DEAN: I don't know if we'll ever - it's a mystery, Don, and it's one of the unsolved mysteries so far. With the full report we might have a better understanding of why they lied and I think that if there were pardons that came out for two people, that he'd have to pardon everybody as was done in Iran-Contra where anybody who still had jeopardy and that was Barr's recommendation incidentally when H.W. Bush was President and it got rid of that scandal and the threat it made for the President as well.
But I don't know if we'll ever know why these people lied. They obviously made very fatal errors and they were very costly for them.
LEMON: Olivia, last word, do you think we'll ever know?
NUZZI: Well, I think we sort of do have an answer already, like the fish rots from the head down is the saying. I think that leadership sets a tone and we see how much the President lies every day, so it's no surprise even if we don't learn what was prompting people to lie in specific instances, I think it's no surprise that many of the people around the President lie nearly as much as he does.
LEMON: Long week ahead, get some rest. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Robert Mueller did not find that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia, but next we're going to dig into what the Attorney General's letter does and does not tell us about the counterintelligence piece of the investigation.
So Robert Mueller's investigation is over. The Special Counsel has concluded that neither the President nor his associates conspired with Russia. But one thing the Special Counsel's investigation has made clear, Russia did interfere in the 2016 election. Joining me now to discuss Steve Hall and Josh Campbell. Gentlemen, good evening to you.
Josh, I want to start with you because - what is the letter that we got today from the AG, from AG Barr what does it tell us about the counterintelligence aspect of the investigation?
JOSH CAMPBELL, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: Hi, Don. Well, there are a couple of aspect here. The first one, the headline being obviously if you're the President, you're breathing a sigh of relief especially on the issue of collusion. And it's not just good for the President, it's also good for the country I would argue, because we have an independent council, a crack team of investigators that have been going through this investigation to determine that there was no collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. There's that aspect. There's the issue of obstruction, which I think is still unsettled, that's a whole other issue, but as it relates to the President collusion that's obviously a good thing.
With that said, there are still unanswered questions and we haven't seen this report in its entirety, but there are a couple of questions that we still need to answer. One of which being why the President continues to exhibit this behavior as it relates to Russia, the continued capitulation, the failure to criticize Vladimir Putin even when his interests are clearly at odds with our own.
And then, lastly, so you go back and look at this investigation, the President has tried time and again to interfere with the investigation to throw sand into the gears of the Justice Department in a counterintelligence investigation that was geared towards protecting this country from National Security threat. So although it's good news for the President, good news for the country in the collusion angle, there's still a lot of unanswered questions on the counterintelligence --
LEMON: And we'll continue on to try to figure out how to get answers to them, to try to get some answers. So, Steve, the Attorney General's letter it lays out how the report finds two different Russian efforts to interfere in our election and here's how it reads.
It says, "The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election."
And then the letter also says that the Special Counsel found this - and said it found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.
So what can we learn from those findings when you look at them from a counterintelligence perspective?
STEVE HALL, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Don, I think one thing that we can sort of reflect on as we begin the process of pulling this apart and taking a look at it or what means what is - I think before the break, your guests were talking about how divisive this can be for the country.
But we do have to remember that one thing does sort of unite us or at least very much should which is exactly what you were referring to, the fact that everybody agrees with the possible exception of Donald Trump who apparently still has some doubts in this regard that Russia attacked us in 2016 and they did it again in 2018 and they're probably going to do it again in 2020 and into the future, this hybrid war that they've developed.
Part of which is trying to influence operations and all of the things that you were just reading. I think if you ask yourself and this is a fascinating question for me, what does Vladimir Putin thinking as he sits back in his Dacha this evening, what are the Russians thinking as they're reading through this as we are right now.
And I think one thing that the Russian intelligence services are thinking is, "Now we have a much better idea as to where the channel markers are, where the lanes in the road are." And they're actually, I think, the Russians are probably a bit surprised at how broad they can go and next time that they go against us in a hybrid warfare type of fashion at the very least in 2020, they'll know that they can probably push a little bit further than they thought that they could.
They can get a little closer to that edge because what they've learned is due to our system of justice, due to our open society, and how things work here, they actually have a lot more room to work with and still people aren't going to be thrown into jail or at least the most important people aren't going to be accused of the worst things and I think that's a very important lesson learned for Vladimir Putin.
LEMON: OK. Listen, I wanted to ask about Roger Stone and what does that mean for people like Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, but since we're on this subject of Vladimir Putin, I just want to play this, OK, Josh this is - let's go back to last summer, this is Helsinki and the moment between President Trump and President Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?
TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So Josh you said there are a lot of questions which is - one
of them is we don't know why we have no idea why the President acts this way when it comes to Vladimir Putin.
CAMPBELL: That's right and if you go back and look at what an investigation does in the Department of Justice and the FBI, it doesn't prove people innocent. They gather information to determine whether there's a crime, whether there's something they can prove. Now, we can all look with our own eyes and listen with our own ears at this behavior and understand how troubling it is from a National Security perspective as, again, you have the President continually siding with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community. He can't criticize them for the life of them.
And again those of us who - you don't you have to be a National Security expert for it to raise your eyebrows and wonder why this behavior is there, why the President continues to do that. And by the way if you go back and look again at the origins of this investigation, it started as a counter intelligence case aimed at securing the United States and protecting us from a foreign threat yet you never hear the President talk about that. It's always internalized. It's always about him. I didn't do anything wrong. You never hear him talking about what is at stake here as it relates to the country.
And by the way this all started from day one. You go back from - after the President was elected, there at Trump Tower we had all the intelligence heads going to his office, briefing him on the intelligence community assessment and how Russia interfered in the election. The first question out of the gate from the Trump team as was reported by people that were there was, "Does this change our legitimacy? Were there any votes changed? How does it relate to us?"
Again, it's so troubling because all of us who were sitting or watching this behavior that understand that Russia not only did what they did but they're going to do it again, we have to have confidence that it's going to be addressed and right now at least speaking for myself I don't feel that confidence.
LEMON: Did this letter today, Steve, give us any clues as to why the President is so obsequious when it comes to Vladimir Putin, believing him over his own intelligence experts?
HALL: Yes. I don't know that the letter did, Don, but Josh raised a great point, if you ask yourself why is that, the answer I think is because there's a difference between collusion, cooperating and trying to work with the Russians which the report apparently says did not happen and blackmail. And I don't think that there's - certainly, no doubt in my mind as a former counterintelligence officer that the amount of times that Donald Trump visited Russia ...
... the business activity that he undertook with Russians, whether it was in South Florida, whether it was in New York or whether it was Trump Tower, they were collecting on him and they were looking for compromising information on him. If they did indeed get information either financial or business related, that they could use to leverage him, then it really doesn't matter whether Donald Trump wants to cooperate or was interested in collusion, it's simply a matter of Vladimir Putin or his guys picking up the phone and saying, "Look, Donald, you got to do this because remember about this thing that we have." So the collusion is different.
LEMON: Can they still have compromised him, the Kremlin or Russians?
HALL: Sure, yes. No, they would ...
HALL: ... I'm sorry.
LEMON: Yes, I just want to make sure because maybe that would explain his behavior, but there's no collusion, but the Russians could still have compromised.
HALL: Sure, yes, I mean ...
LEMON: Go ahead, Steve.
HALL: Yes, go ahead, Josh, I think they do have and could maintain that information. They're just holding onto it for future use or for past use if they needed to. I'm sorry. Go ahead, Josh.
LEMON: Josh, go ahead but I want to --
CAMPBELL: No. No, I'm just going to add --
LEMON: Just quickly, I want you to answer that if you can do it quickly and I want to ask because I mentioned it, I want to mention Russia and what Russia tried to do. There's been a lot of talk about WikiLeaks and Roger stone as well, so answer the Russian part and then the second part for me.
CAMPBELL: Yes. No, I think if you look at their totality I mean we have to separate what the Mueller investigation, what the guardrails were in place on that case. They were looking at very narrowly at collusion between the campaign and Russia, but if you look at what the House Democrats have already talked about doing - really opening the aperture looking at business dealings, looking at tax returns, I think a lot of that without those guardrails in place will perhaps get to some of those questions, what is it that the Russians have.
LEMON: OK. And then Stone and WikiLeaks, not part of this?
CAMPBELL: Yes. We'll have to wait and see. I mean, again, there is a question, I was just talking with someone about this before we came on about - did they maybe look at it very narrowly as though maybe Roger Stone wasn't employed by the campaign so he doesn't fit under the umbrella of a campaign employee. I think, again, there's that connection there. We know his long history with Donald Trump, but again until we actually get to see that report for ourselves which I think we should by the way, we should be able to dig into that, these questions will remain and you'll have a large segment of the country that still wants to know what's in it.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it. The battle is heating up between Democrats and the Attorney General tonight. Will the full Mueller report ever be released?
So the Mueller investigation did not find that Donald Trump or his campaign - President Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia and the President is doing a victory lap. Now the battle is heating up over the release of the full report Van Jones is here, Alice Stewart as well. Good evening to both of you. So on Friday before Barr's summary on the Mueller report, our very own Van Jones warned that we shouldn't expect Mueller to be Harry Potter for the report and to be a magic wand that will fix everything.
And I think that you know Barr's summary is out, a lot of folks on the left that certainly didn't happen, so what's your reaction? And we said this - didn't we say this on Friday?
VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I've been trying to tell I've been trying to tell folks for a long that there's no Santa Claus, there's no Harry Potter with a magic wand and I can't tell you how many people over the years have come up to me, serious people, with their hearts broken saying, "But when Bob Mueller comes, man, he's going to get Trump and Trump is going to be out there. Van, how many more days do you think Trump has left?" I said, "Maybe eight years if we don't start working on real issues and not just talking about Robert Mueller all of the time."
And so now I think there is an honest level of sadness and disappointment and disorientation among progressives and Democrats and I think it goes deeper than just what's in the report. I think some of us actually feel the way we were raised was maybe wrong, that our parents told us, "Work hard, be honest, be good people." If you're a bad person, you won't have a good life.
And I think some people look at some of the stuff that President Trump does and they say, "Well, that guy - you think I'll get in trouble? If I do that at my job, I get in trouble." And I think that people are just really struggling to come into terms. It is good that the President was not up to no good with the Russians, but it's still confusing to people why does he kiss up to Putin so much? Why does he want to meet with him by himself?
People are confused. Well, if it's not that then what is it? I think people also are just heartbroken that it seems like he's going to continue to say and do stuff that we can't do and there's no conferences.
LEMON: But even in the broader aspect, Van, of why does this President tell so many lies, why would he lie to the American people about paying off a porn star or a playboy?
JONES: I just think all of that stuff goes into a kind of --
LEMON: I think that fits into the narrative of what we're saying.
JONES: Yes. I think some of my Republican friends think that Democrats are just purely partisan, just hate this President and just want to do bad stuff to him. There are some people who feel that way. But there's a bigger group with people that are just confused, why this President do these things when it comes to Russia, why is he so mean and how come there's consequence.
I think we got to get people a chance to be sad about that and to grieve about that, but then Democrats have to get back to work on real issues, because this whole thing has taken up too much time.
LEMON: Go ahead, Alison. Go on, Alison - Alice, I'm sorry.
ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I think Van hits the nail on the head, Democrats are so hell-bent on being anti-Trump that they're becoming anti-American on this. And look, at the end of the day after this investigation, look, when we - you have the head of this probe and head of this investigation telling us that our - the client here, there was no collusion and no obstruction, then he's exonerated. Why can't the Democrats just acknowledge that fact because hundreds of millions of dollars --
LEMON: But Alice hold on one second, you said - I don't think Van said that that was unAmerican, did you say that they're unAmerican?
JONES: No. I don't know where that come from.
JONES: Let me just say one thing, if Democrats are being anti- American, they'd be out there in the streets protesting and rioting saying, "Hey, this is unfair." People are accepting the process or accepting the outcomes, but we're still confused about why does Trump --
LEMON: I'm sorry, Alice, go on.
STEWART: But I think unfortunately they're not, that's why we have Jerry Nadler out there today saying that he wants to bring Barr before his House Judiciary panel because of what he calls the 'underhandedness of the way this review was done and the way the investigation was conducted'. They're not going to take this lying down. And unfortunately seeing the response by Democrats and those on the left today, it was a flashback to the election day of 2016. You could almost hear the phone call canceling the fireworks at the Javits Center today.
And unfortunately if the Democrats are going to continue to pursue this line of questioning the integrity of Mueller who went from hero to zero in the span of 24 hours and instead of focusing on 2020 and what the Democratic voters want, then it's going to be a not a good outcome for them in 2020. And not to mention the fact the independents who are straddling the fence on this if the Democrats continue to go down, obstructing the process moving forward is not going to --
LEMON: Hold on, Van, I know you want to get in, but it doesn't exonerate him and in fact the report says it does not exonerate him and you see why Democrats - because Democrats would think that most people who are not partisan and even if you are it says it does not exonerate him. Yes. On the question of coordination, it exonerates him, but it doesn't exonerate him fully.
JONES: Can I say something? Maybe we're watching different stuff. I've been happy to see Democrats - I haven't heard people say anything negative about Mueller. I think the one good thing has come out of this is that even though Trump was tough on Mueller, Democrats and I think most of the people in the country gave him a fair shot and are accepting the results.
I think that Democrats have a right to ask more questions as were in the Barr report. We've never seen the Mueller report. We've seen the Barr report. And in the Barr report he says, "Listen, he's not exonerated on this one point," but listen I don't see it as darkly as you do, Alice, I don't see Democrats out there trashing Mueller. I haven't seen any of that and I do think that people have a right to ask more questions.
I agree with you that if Democrats only hop up and down this pogo stick as I've been saying for two years they're loser politically. Legally, I don't know enough about it. Media certainly been interesting but from a political point of view hopping up and down this Mueller pogo stick has been a big distraction.
There were mistakes the Democrats have made. They underestimated Trump when he was running and then they overestimated him once he got in the office.
LEMON: And they overestimated --
JONES: And overestimated Mueller and the only time the Democrats have done a good job, Alice, I think you'll agree with me is that during the midterms they actually worked hard and the ones who won focused on real issues.
JONES: And so that's a big message.
STEWART: Absolutely. No, you're completely right on that point. The word impeachment didn't come up during the midterm election. I think that was a big part in their success and also being able to really reach out to a very array of candidates was also very important. But moving forward, if the dialogue and language we heard out of Democrats today is the way they're going to move forward, I think we can all agree that's not a winning formula.
JONES: I don't know what Democrats you listen to, but anyway, listen, if Democrats - listen, it is grieve, it's OK, be sad, it's OK, because I do think that people were hoping that maybe some something would happen and Trump would realize he needs to conduct himself differently. It didn't happen this time, but the opportunity now to focus on real issues is ahead of us. I hope we'll take advantage of it.
LEMON: For me to sit here for all this, it feels like --
STEWART: I think all Americans can take some pleasure in knowing that the President of the United States has found that there was no coordination with Russians.
STEWART: I think that is a victory but moving forward we need to make sure this doesn't happen again.
LEMON: I would like everybody, Democrats and Republicans, to be consistent on everything. If you're going to - if you don't want Democrats to investigate this, Republicans shouldn't have gone so far with Benghazi when investigation after investigation, millions and millions of dollars, nothing from there. And then, with Hillary Clinton on, and on, and on, and on and on.
So everyone, Republicans and Democrats, should be consistent. If you're a Republican, then you should speak out of what happened there. If you're a Democrat, then you need to speak out for what happened in other situations, so be consistent. We'll be right back.