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U.S. Attorney William Barr Is Expected To Relay The Principal Conclusions Of The Mueller Investigation To Capitol Hill; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Is Scheduled To Meet With President Trump Tomorrow; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Heads To Trump Tower Right There In New York To Launch Her Presidential Bid; Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 24, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:31] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Sunday in the nation's capital. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
So what are the main findings in Mueller's Russia report? After 22 month investigation, it looks like Congress just might find out today. We know U.S. attorney general William Barr is back at the U.S. justice department right now. And deputy attorney general rod Rosenstein arrived just minutes behind him.
Once again, a source tells CNN Barr is expected to release the top conclusions to Congress today, but will it be enough to satisfy lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are calling for complete transparency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think the report needs to be made public. It needs to be released to the Congress and it needs to be released to the American people. This has consumed two years of the American people's time and we need to have full transparency. I will say I'm concerned that it may have become a fishing expedition. We'll see when we see the report.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (R-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: This report is going to have to be made public, and of equal importance, the underlying evidence is going to have to be shared with Congress because that evidence not only goes to the issue of criminality but also goes to the issue of compromise. And remember, this began as a counter-intelligence investigation into whether people surrounding the President or the President himself were compromised by a foreign power. And there is still a lot of reason to be concerned about this President's relationship with Russia and Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And President Trump, well, he is spending the day golfing again at his club in West Palm Beach, Florida and as he awaits for the briefing on the report, he looks up very relax when you him on the golf course there. He is finishing up his weekend at Mar-a-Lago. CNN has a team of reporters and analysts standing by who have covered
the story for nearly two years now.
Let's go first to CNN's Sara Murray.
So the U.S. attorney Bill Barr and the deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, together at the justice department. How are they working out these conclusions?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: So, they are at work still poring over this. But there was a chance they would have the top lines to Congress yesterday. It didn't happen. But you know, the word we are getting is that it is expected to happen today.
And you know, this isn't just sort of copying and pasting what Bob Mueller thought with the top conclusions and then sending it on. That's why it is taking a little bit of time. They are trying to determine what they want to make public.
And you know, they know that there are these big outstanding questions. People want to know why the special counsel decided he did not want to push for an interview with the President of the United States. He only got answers to written questions, you know.
We want to know, the DOJ guidelines say you can't indict a sitting President, but did they find any evidence that President Trump was at all engage in collusion or obstruction of justice? Those are some big questions.
We don't know that these top line findings are going to answer them. But I think, you know, what you can be sure of is that Rod Rosenstein, Bill Barr, Robert Mueller, these are not people who are living in a vacuum. They have been watching this (INAUDIBLE) from lawmakers and also from voters who have seen this drive on for two years saying, you know, we want to know more rather than less. There are lawmakers who want to see the entire report and all the underlying findings but you could see top lines that are pretty substantive, you know. They might try to give lawmakers a little bit more on the front end and then say, OK, then come back to us with your questions after that rather than, you know, maybe a single-page document that says, here are five bullet points.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Would they weighing the sentiment that has been expressed by many lawmakers unanimously, you know, all House congressional members, as well as voters that they want to see and hear it all?
MURRAY: I think they have to weigh that. And I think when we saw Bill Barr go through his confirmation process, he was saying, you know, he wants to be as transparent as the justice department guidelines allow him to be. It remains unclear --.
MURRAY: Yes, unclear what that means. But he knew when he was going through this confirmation process that this report was going to fall into his lap. And ultimately, it would be up to him to figure out what to do this and what to divulge.
And you know, the other thing is the special counsel is grappling with in writing this report, and you know, the other thing Bill Barr realizes and I'm sure Rod Rosenstein, too, is they probably know that the bulk of this report in some way in some fashion will eventually be made public. It may take a very long legal or political fight to get there, but I'm sure they had that in mind in this process as well.
WHITFIELD: All right. Keep us posted as you learn more, Sara. Thank you so much.
All right. Now, let's check in with CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.
So, lawmakers are waiting, you know, for the details of this report. Feinstein's office said yesterday they are expecting that this could be likely in written form, maybe even in email. What more are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. Members are not in the capitol today but their staff or the key committees are in the House and Senate judiciary committee. They are the ones who are first going to get a copy of this summary of Robert Mueller's conclusions.
But already Democrats are launching a preemptive attack of sorts against that move, saying that's certainly not going to be enough for them. They anticipate a fight to really play out in the weeks and days ahead if they don't get what they want. And what they are saying is the full report in all of the underlying evidence supporting Bob Mueller's conclusions, why he prosecuted some individuals, why he didn't prosecute other individuals, what was the reasoning behind not subpoenaing the President for a sit-down interview, how the President responded to those questions that he was asked in written form.
They want all those answers, and they are warning they could subpoena for the full Mueller report and for the underlying evidence if it's not given to Congress and if it's not made public. That's what Jerry Nadler, the House judiciary chairman, made the case earlier today on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." And his counterpart on the Republican side said, hold on, justice department, maybe you should think first before providing all this information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:06:05] REP. JERRY NADLER (D), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, we will try to negotiate. We will try everything else first, but if we have to, yes, we will certainly issue subpoenas to get that information.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And you are going to be willing to take that all the way up to the Supreme Court if you have to?
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It's not the department of justice's job to give chairman Nadler or any committee in the House and - or the Senate for that matter. You know, what they want to do to go off on a purely partisan investigation to lead toward impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, in the last Congress, the Republican House-led Judiciary Committee did get many documents, hundreds of thousands of documents, emails and the like, as part of their investigation into what they believed was FBI wrongdoing and how it carried out the Clinton email investigation. But democrats say that President should apply here in the Russia investigation and they believe that Mueller report will be a road map of sorts on how they pursue their investigations over the coming two years. So the Democrats say their investigations are only just beginning even as Robert Mueller's investigation has come to an end -Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Manu Raju, keep us posted. Thank you so much.
And while Washington braces for the contents of the Russia report, the President has been surprisingly quiet on social media as he has spent the last two days golfing in his club in Florida.
And this morning, he sent his first tweets of the weekend. No, the words witch hunt, hoax, not in there, instead he tweeted, good morning, have a great day. How optimistic.
CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez joining us now from West Palm Beach near Mar-a-Lago.
OK. Sounds like he is in a really good mood. So the White House, you know, they have not been briefed, right, they have not been briefed on this Mueller report, but sources say the President is happy with this investigation, that it's over now, at least.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. According to a senior administration official, the President -- neither the President nor anyone in the White House has been briefed on the contents of the Mueller report at this point. They don't have a copy of it, either. From what we understand, sources close to the President and aides of Mar-a-Lago say that he is in a good mood.
For the second time this weekend, he was spotted heading to the Trump national golf course here in West Palm Beach. Yesterday, he spent the day golfing with Kid Rock. So it appears that the president is optimistic about this. Those sources do indicate that he voiced some uncertainty about what attorney general William Barr may do with the final findings from Robert Mueller. Still, though, as I said before, the President has shown no sign of any anxiety or any doubt about what may come from this synopsis from Bill Barr.
We heard from sources at Mar-a-Lago that the President was being briefed by two of his attorneys, Pat Cippolone and Emmett Flood, who traveled down to the President's estate here in Mar-a-Lago this weekend. And he appeared to be in a spirited mood, at least publicly. The White House has been restrained in their response so far.
Privately, though, we have heard some sources express a sense of vindication and joy. One senior White House source telling CNN that the fat lady has sung and we won, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much. Appreciate that from West Palm Beach.
All right. Let's talk more about all this. With me right now CNN crime investigative reporter Shimon Prokupecz and CNN reporter Kara Scannell. Good to see both of you.
All right. So again, we don't know how much of the report, you know, will be revealed to Congress. We know lawmakers want to see all of it.
And Kara, we also, you know, have heard that the White House has not seen this report. We are being assured of that. But we know the White House just might want to exert executive privilege. How would it go about doing that?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right. I mean, Pamela Brown has reported that the White House does expect to have a look at this report to be able to exert executive privilege. And there are two ways you can do that about national security or the private deliberations.
Now, the concern that lawmakers have and the House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler said earlier on "STATE OF THE UNION" that, you know, they can't do it if they are trying to hide some kind of wrongdoing. So there is a lot of tension there.
And there is a historical precedent, Republican and Democratic Presidents have exerted executive privilege over the years. The justice department generally believes in that principle and has defended it. But this is where we could end up teeing itself up to a legal battle if the application of executive privilege by the White House is very broad.
[14:10:36] WHITFIELD: Right. What would be the other reason why they would want to exert executive privilege if not to prevent information that is incriminating, you know, to the White House and to the President?
SCANNELL: Right. I mean, they could have national security concerns if there is some information there that they feel letting Congress know about, letting the public know about would be damaging. Or you know, certain private deliberations and policy considerations which, you know, almost the same as attorney-client privilege. The President has that same ability to say, you know, these were private conversations that we had and that falls under the umbrella of executive privilege.
WHITFIELD: But Shimon, that would seem to be the duty of the AG.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: I think he is very much aware. He is sitting in a room right now with the deputy attorney general. They are sitting in a room with other lawyers. They are pouring over these aides, people who were involved in this investigation, so they know.
I think I am fairly optimistic and I have been fairly optimistic since I have seen this letter that the attorney general sent to members of Congress saying that he is going to -- promising them that perhaps maybe this weekend he would have the primary - the principal conclusions, as he said. So I think we should all be optimistic until we see otherwise that we are going to see a lot more here than we expect. We saw a lot more in that letter.
So they know what they are dealing with. They know what they can put out. And I think we are going to get as much as they can possibly put out without hurting national security, without hurting future investigations that are very much still ongoing in other jurisdictions.
And that, I think, is going to be the key. And I'm sure they're very sensitive to executive privilege. And perhaps maybe, you know, they are going to try, as much as they can, satisfy the public and satisfy members of Congress.
WHITFIELD: So besides getting to the bottom of things, transparency has also been at the root as to why even have this kind of Mueller investigation, this Mueller report.
The AG, he is only been at the job for a month or two. There is a lot, you know, riding on his legacy and how he carries out this job, but he was asked about this transparency during confirmation hearings and this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel's work. My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Kara, as much as I can consistent with the law. Sara Murray back with us, too. You know, how married is he to those words?
SCANNELL: Well, I think he will follow the department of justice guidelines hearing. There is a policy in the department of justice that if you -- someone has not been indicted with a crime or accused of a crime, they don't reveal the details of that. And of course, we all remember that from the Hillary Clinton investigation with James Comey.
And so Rod Rosenstein, the deputy turned general, has been very clear he does not want to repeat that episode. He has insistent that's a policy he believes has lots of merit. So I think Barr is talking about walking that line of not revealing damaging information about people, you know, respecting the executive privilege where they think it applies. But I do think there is a lot of pressure both from the American public and from bipartisan members of Congress that the American people should see this report. It is two years of investigation.
MURRAY: Yes. You can still reveal a lot of facts without being James Comey and going out there and saying someone acted recklessly or without editorializing. And we have certainly seen the special counsel and their team do that in the way they put out their indictments. They just chock them full of detail and full of information far beyond, you know, what you would need in a typical indictment to be able to tell your story and to be able to do what you need to do.
And so, you know, they are working off of Bob Mueller's essential top lines and say are crafting what they are going to put out publicly and he is obviously very thorough in the work that we have seen so far. And I think we could expect something, you know, similarly thorough when we see these from the attorney general.
PROKUPECZ: The question here I guess is, and what everyone is really talking about and what is on everyone's mind is how does he address the investigation into the President, the collusion investigation and the obstruction investigation? If there is no "there" there --
WHITFIELD: Meaning that he, Bob Mueller in his report.
PROKUPECZ: Bob Mueller -- let's say he clears the President says, which ever fashion they can do this in. There is a way for the department of justice to tell the American people, tell the public, we have done this investigation, we find nothing wrong here. We find that this and basically, you know, we are done with our investigation.
They have done press conferences where they have cleared people, where they have ended investigations and not brought charges. That is how I think we are going to see this proceed. They are going to do as much as they can in explaining perhaps the central question to everyone on the collusion and the obstruction.
[14:15:07] WHITFIELD: Right. There may be justification as to why there are no more reported indictments coming from this report, but that doesn't end or stop or perhaps even interrupt the what, dozen or so other investigations that have been spawned by this probe.
SCANNELL: That's right. I mean, those prosecutors are operating independently of Robert Mueller. They are pursuing their investigations just like they would if Robert Mueller didn't exist. And so, I do think we can expect to see those continue. And you know, we know that he has spun off several investigations but I don't think we have the whole - we don't really know the whole breadth of that.
WHITFIELD: Will there be an explanation, perhaps, in the report as to why information that was gathered in this probe might have been handed off to state districts?
PROKUPECZ: It probably would be.
MURRAY: I think that's a great question because people I think would be very interested to know.
PROKUPECZ: Correct. But I don't think it is something they can make public. Again, if it is ongoing investigation --.
WHITFIELD: That might be in the classified category.
WHITFIELD: But members of Congress want to be privy to that information, even classified information.
PROKUPECZ: So there is probably a way to do that. I don't think they could do it openly to everyone, maybe to the committee heads, but understand that there is a longstanding procedure and policy at the department of justice that they don't talk about ongoing investigations.
So everything that's ongoing, such as what's going on in the southern district of New York, there may be cases here in Washington, D.C., those are things that they are going to be reluctant to talk about with members of Congress.
WHITFIELD: So, how might the department of justice be bracing itself for these subpoenas? Members of Congress are already threatening subpoenaing Bob Mueller or perhaps even the report. So then what, if anything, can the justice department do right now to either put up Barriers to that or acquiesce?
MURRAY: So, I mean, I think they can be, you know, as transparent as possible in this sort of initial statement, these initial top lines. You know, this will at least make Congress feel like, you know, we are not trying to hide things from you. We are not trying to keep things from you. The more transparent I think they are at the outset, the more comfortable members of Congress will have.
They are trying to play it straight and they are trying to, you know, actually give them reasons why they prosecuted or declined to prosecute. But beyond that, I do think it is just going to be a prolonged legal fight. The White House is going to try to exert executive privilege to keep out things that are damaging to the President. And the department of justice is going to have to grapple with the fact that it made a lot of information available when it came to Hillary Clinton's email investigation.
A lot of people went up to Hill and testified. They made 302s available. They made FISA information. They made things available that they, you know, they fought it but ultimately they handed a lot of the stuff over to the Hill. And so, if this goes before a judge and the judge says, why should we not, you know, why should you not hand it over this time? You have done it before. That's something that DOJ has to think about.
PROKUPECZ: Unless they are very happy with what we hope to see this afternoon, this report. Unless they feel that the attorney general has cleared the President. Maybe we see a different tone from the White House altogether. Let's see how far this goes and how far William Barr is willing to go in explaining the President's involvement in all of this. Because that is really what everyone cares about, right.
PROKUPECZ: So it is going to be all about that. How far does the attorney general go?
WHITFIELD: All right. Everyone on the edge of their seat in Washington and beyond. Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.
PROKUPECZ: We'll be here.
WHITFIELD: I know you will. And we will be bringing you right back over here to this desk. Thanks so much.
All right, still ahead. Much more on our continuing coverage of the Mueller report and the impending political battle between the White House and Congress. More right after this.
[14:22:34] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.
We continue the cover of our breaking news right now that we are really waiting at any moment for to break. At any moment, the U.S. attorney William Barr is expected to relay the principal conclusions of the Mueller investigation to Capitol Hill.
This morning we watched Barr leaving his house to resume his review of the probe's findings. He spent some nine hours at the U.S. justice department yesterday analyzing the Mueller report. And he is expected to release his conclusions to Congress today.
All right. With me now, former U.S. attorney Greg Brower, who is also a former FBI assistant director for the office of congressional affairs, former general counsel to the federal election commission Larry Noble who is also a CNN contributor, CNN political correspondent Sara Murray and CNN legal analyst Shan Wu.
All right, good to see all of you. Welcome to the big table here.
So, you know, Shan, you first. What do you suppose is happening right now with the deliberations or the shaping of the kind of message that should be going out today from Barr and Rosenstein meeting at the justice department?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think once they have digested it, they had to figure out what are the items they want to put out there. And then I think a lot of time would be spent parsing through it to eliminate classified information, grand jury 6E material. And so, I think they have to spend a lot of time making sure that is a clean document going out.
WHITFIELD: So Larry, clean document. However, you know, the House unanimously voted to be completely transparent, let this report be shared with U.S. Congress, with the American people. So how do you square the two?
LARRY NOBLE, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, FEC: Well, his first obligation now is to give a summary, basically a top-level summary of the report. That can be anything from I decided there were no indictments to issue to some worst explanation from. From there we have to see where they go? What do they do?
Congress wants a full report. Understandably, I think everybody accepted there will be national security deletions on it. I think there maybe be some fight about it but we will have to see. One of the things he said was he believed in full disclosure within the law.
WHITFIELD: Within the law.
NOBLE: Within the law.
WHITFIELD: And what does that mean?
NOBLE: Well, that's a good question. He can now say that well, in the law, I will give the top conclusions. I will give some analysis, but that's it. I'm not going to give you the evidence. Or he could say that he is going to turn everything over. We will see.
[14:25:03] WHITFIELD: So Sara, you know, Bob Mueller already had his own, you know, recommended or, you know, top conclusions. This attorney general is either going to shape his own or perhaps reshape what he is, you know, reading, you know, from Mueller. I mean, what's our expectation?
MURRAY: I mean, I don't think that Bill Barr is starting from scratch. I think that, you know, we have seen Bob Mueller be very comprehensive in the work that he has done so far. And what they are probably trying to do is he is sitting with Rod Rosenstein who is, you know, overseeing this probe essentially from the beginning. And I think they are trying is to make sure that they are revealing something that really does show the scope of the investigation, that they can hand something over to lawmakers that makes Congress at least feel like they are at least being forthcoming in some of the decisions they made, whether it is people they decided to prosecute, whether it's a decision not to pursue an interview with President Trump. And then they are going to move on from there.
I mean, the last guidance we got was that members of Congress expected some kind of written summary of these top line findings. But maybe they will get a written summary as well as some kind of word from Bill Barr that says, and I'm happy to brief you guys, you know, in person again in the future. These people are not operating in a vacuum. They know that lawmakers are going to have more questions. And I have to imagine that they are beginning to figure out how they are going to deal with those questions going forward.
WHITFIELD: You know, and Greg, attorney general Barr, he has done this before, you know, as attorney general under President H. W. Bush. He has overseen three other, you know, special counsel investigations. But a lot has happened between then and now, lessons learned. What might he be trying to avoid so as not to be scrutinized unnecessarily? GREG BROWER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, of course, he is now,
despite his past experience, he has never confronted anything quite like this.
BROWER: This is unprecedented.
WHITFIELD: This is unprecedented.
BROWER: Uncharted waters. And we have to remember that there really is no statute or regulation that provides precise guidelines for how the attorney general will handle this.
I think what we will see is, of course, everything in Washington is political. And everything that is political is subject to negotiation. And so, I think the department will do its best to provide as much transparency as it thinks is reasonable in this case.
That likely won't be good enough for Congress which will continue to push to get everything. And at the end of the day, it's going to come down to a negotiation between DOJ with the White House likely weighing in in some way, especially with respect to executive privilege issues and Congress. And at the end of the day, I think that more or less we are going to see as complete transparency as possible.
WHITFIELD: So, Larry, why would executive privilege, you know, that the White House be able to weigh in when it's the White House, the President, who is subject of the investigation. When we talk about negotiations, why isn't the negotiation just between the D.A. and Congress?
NOBLE: Well, it is a good question. There is executive privilege. The President does have the right to ask that they withhold anything that goes to basic decision making of the President, basic advice he gets. But it's not absolute.
The Supreme Court has already said that there is really a public interest standard there also. And if it involves a crime and it involves public interest, then executive privilege can be overwritten. So he can declare it. And also there is a tendency I think by the President or anybody in the executive branch to over declare executive privilege. To claim anything that they are involve in this executive privilege.
But, so first you narrow that down to the real executive privilege issues and then you decide whether or not it is in the public interest - well, the public interest is so demanding that it has to be released. So it's not the end of the question where he says, I'm declaring executive privilege.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Sara, so many are on pins and needles. Everyone wants to know what's in the report, what will happen to it, et cetera. But this isn't the end. This is really the beginning perhaps of other investigations that have come from this probe. MURRAY: Yes. I mean, it is a beginning, first of all, of the
political legal fight that you were just talking about in terms of privilege and what to make public. But, you know, it is the beginning of - or, you know, early stages of a number of these other investigation that essentially then offshoot the Mueller investigation.
WHITFIELD: They making it to a different gear.
MURRAY: Yes. I mean, well look. We have already seen the President's personal attorney go into a courtroom, implicate Donald Trump in a campaign finance charge that Michael Cohen then pleaded guilty to and prosecutors said we believe you that you did this at the President's instruction. We know there are investigations into the transition, into the inauguration. They have been asking questions about the Trump organization.
This was the President's chief concern when the special counsel was (INAUDIBLE) would spread into a number of different directions. And his biggest concern was that it would somehow touched his touch his family and family business. And you can't rule out that the offshoot of this could do exactly that in the southern district of New York. And so, the White House may feel very good about this today, but this is the kind of thing that could sort of linger in the backdrop for years.
WHITFIELD: So, Shan, if this report explains why a prosecution or an indictment didn't happen, might it explain or justify why information may have been handed off to a state district so that it could pursue prosecution?
WU: I don't think he, Mueller, would feel he needed to explain the handoff. He might simply say the handoff was made. I mean, my theory on why you would hand that off is you may have a very strong false statements case, but you may feel it's not really substantively tied to a conspiracy with Russia charge. And then you would say that's appropriate to hand off. It's a crime but it's not close enough for us to spend the time for another two years to do it.
[14:30:16] WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it. You will be back at this table momentarily as soon as more information comes in. Thank you so much.
Up next, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House tomorrow. What timing. And America's pro-Israel lobby APEC is rolling out the red carpet, how will the visit affect the long-time leader's election back home?
More right after this.
[14:35:12] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C. where we continue to wait on the release of the U.S. attorney general William Barr's summary conclusions from the Bob Mueller report. We will bring those developments when they happen. Meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to
meet with President Trump tomorrow, just two weeks before tightly contested general elections in Israel. Netanyahu received a boost last week when President Trump said publicly that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.
Netanyahu is also set to address the pro-Israel APEC conference on Tuesday. Several Democratic Presidential contenders stirred controversy when they announced that they won't be attending the conference this year.
Senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski is with me now.
So Michelle, you know, why is that decision by the Democratic contenders so controversial?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, just look at the atmosphere here. I mean, this AIPAC conference, which is a very normal occurrence here in D.C., it's big, almost 25,000 people will attend. It's a very powerful lobby. But the mood has been contentious throughout. And this conference now is going to highlight divisions in more ways than one.
First of all, you have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the U.S. just before his election. And remember, President Obama would not meet with him when he came to the U.S. because it was too close to his election. This time he will be going to the White House. He will meet with President Trump. President Trump has thrown him a number of bones, you might call them large gifts. The Golan Heights announcement last week was just the latest one.
But his opposition, Netanyahu's opponent waging a tough battle in Israel is also going to be speaking at this conference. So you are going to see the stark difference in views there. And those views affect Jewish people here in the states, too. And then you are going to see the divisions highlighted, of course, between Democrats and Republicans here at home.
You are right. Most, if not all, of the Democratic contenders for 2020 not going. The only possibility, really, is Bill de Blasio. He will be speaking here. But, you know, the language that we have heard, too, on the issue of U.S. policy towards Israel has been so divisive. Younger Democrats not going to this. They are saying the right wing views of Netanyahu do not represent them, do not represent most American Jews. And you heard Beto O'Rourke today on the campaign trail saying that President Trump's language that he uses is something you would only hear during Nazi Germany. And then you have heard President Trump say that American Democrats are anti-Jewish and anti- Israel. That was pushed back against in a hard way by Democrats.
Buttigieg, for example, he was interviewed by CNN. And he pushed back on that language. He said that, you know, just -- not agreeing with Netanyahu's views or the President's. Doesn't make a person anti- Israel or anti-Jewish. But then when he was asked but why he is not going to AIPAC this year, he said he didn't think he was invited. He actually indicated that maybe he would go. And in fact, a number of Democrats are speaking here. There are at least ten of them on the schedule. But you can see how divisive the rhetoric has become on both sides, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Michelle Kosinski, thank you so much for that.
All right. So as we wait for the release of the U.S. attorney general William Barr's summary conclusions from the Mueller report, it seems like everyone has an opinion on the Russia investigation.
Up next, we will hit the streets to see what people are thinking in the hours before the Mueller report could finally be revealed.
[14:43:05] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
As we wait for major findings of the Mueller report to be made public by the U.S. attorney general William Barr, there is plenty of speculation swirling around the 22-month investigation. So what do Americans think about the long-awaited end to the Mueller probe?
Let's bring in CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval.
So Polo, you have been talking to people in New York, at least. What are they saying?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. You know, it's always important to just pause for quick minute, take a breath and actually take a quick sampling and to listen in on what people on the streets are actually talking about, particularly as we wait.
So yes, as you mentioned, we hit the streets, talked to some folks from New York, you know. There is from out of state who were state visiting New York. And we found out that they are simply waiting with bated breath right now, waiting to find out what those conclusions will actually show. And really, a mixed of opinions. Some believe that this will finally put this issue to rest of so-called potential collusion in the election. And then others say that, really, they could still have more questions.
GILLIAN WEATHERFORD, NYU STUDENT FROM LASE VEGAS: I had hoped to learn whether or not there was collusion. Obviously that's a really big deal. I want to know whether or not the President has been lying to the American people or concealing very important information that we need to know. Overall it's just been a really big build buildup and we are ready for the reveal.
ERIC HERAS, NEW YORK REAL ESTATE BROKER: I can't see how this one report is gong to put it to bed. I think there is so much smoke as, you know, between obstruction of justice and collusion. I think that one word, collusion, is the buzz word that one side is trying to bang the drum and say, there is none of that, so you know, we didn't do anything wrong. But there's just too many things going on. And I'm afraid the sitting President has struggles that were going to catch up to him from long before he became President.
JOHN RUSCIANO, FINANCIAL ADVISER VISITING FROM MINNEAPOLIS: I don't think there's anything to report yet until we know what we don't know. We don't know what's in it, right? Does anybody yet? I mean, really? A couple guys, probably.
[14:45:05] SANDOVAL: So off that point, when will we know what we don't know, as that gentleman just said here.
Something that we did find interesting, Fred, and what I heard over and over again is that everyone seemed to agree, based on the people we talked to, that this investigation has certainly led to, of course, much debate. But also deeper -- a deeper divide perhaps amongst some of those who support the President or still have their concerns about the commander-in-chief.
And then, finally, something that they all had in common. Most of them were really confident about the special counsel's ability to investigate this in a clear and objective way.
WHITFIELD: Did anyone express their thoughts about this no reported indictments from this Mueller report even though we don't know the content of the report in its entirety yet?
SANDOVAL: Yes. As the gentleman said, we still don't know what we don't know. However, there are some clues there that we can certainly walk away from. And one of them is that key fact, that we, at this point we have no indictments that have come out of what we know so far. So that certainly made some people feel a little more comfortable or at least prepared that we may not see anything extremely earth shattering when it comes to potential charges. However, they are still waiting and watching for those initial conclusions, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
SANDOVAL: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand heads to Trump tower right there in New York to launch her Presidential bid in a very big way with her first rally. Her strong words for her supporters and for the President right after this.
And Washington, and really you could say, the rest of the country, too, is on pins and needles as the top conclusions from the Mueller report are expected to be delivered to U.S. Congress from the nation's capital today. We are standing by for more after this.
[14:51:21] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.
This afternoon New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand delivered the first major speech of her Presidential campaign. And she did it from the doorstep of one of President Trump's hotels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We deserve a President who inspires us to stand for something greater than ourselves! Look up at that tower! A shrine to greed, division and vanity! Now look around you. The greater strength by far is ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Senator Gillibrand is one of the 14 candidates who have officially entered the 2020 Democratic field.
CNN national correspondent Athena Jones was there.
So Athena, Gillibrand wasting no time to really taking aim at the President, like right out of the gate.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. This speech was about two things. It was Senator Gillibrand introducing herself to voters. A lot of folks still don't know who she is. And also taking on the President showing that she is not going to be afraid to take on the President. You may remember that last week in her announcement video, the theme was braver wins. And so today, she had speakers of all strives introducing her, folks who are DREAMERs, who are fighting for immigrant rights, folks who are fighting against sexual violence. She also had her friend Connie Griffin who was an actress that she met introducing her.
But the reason that she held this rally outside the Trump international hotel and tower which is right off camera here, is to bring the fight directly to President Trump's doorstep. And listen to what she said about him early in the speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILLIBRAND: President Trump is tearing apart the moral fabric of this country. He demonizes the vulnerable as he punches down. He puts his name on bold on every building. He does this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not! Our President is a coward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So there you heard Senator Gillibrand calling President Trump a coward. She also mentioned the news of the moment, which is the Mueller report, saying that it must be made public. And she even made a joke about former President Richard Nixon saying, it isn't often that I agree with Richard Nixon but I agree that he was right to say the American people have a right to know whether or not their President is a crook.
And as I mentioned, Fredricka, the senator also touched on other parts of the argument for her candidacy, something we have heard her, the point she has brought up at all her stops on the campaign trail in the latest weeks and months, is that she beat the odds by winning in reliably red district upstate when she first ran for office back in 2006. This was a district where Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 2-1. So she brought that again as one of the wave to show that she can appeal to voters across the aisle.
She and her team have also been touting the fact that she has the most anti-Trump voting record of anyone who is running. So we heard her touch on all those things, but also told the audience here what she is for, not just what she is against, which is President Trump and what she says is his encouragement division. But also things like Medicare for all, something that she has been backing since 2006. Paid family leave, $15 minimum wage and other sort of Democratic standards that she is going to be pushing for during her candidacy -Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Athena, it looked like a fairly decent turnout there in New York, but what's next for her?
[14:55:03] JONES: Well, it was a pretty good crowd, a few hundred people. Nothing like the multiple thousands we have seen at some of the other launches, like we saw with Senator Kamala Harris. And that is the real point here, Fred. There is a crowded field already, and Senator Gillibrand has so far struggled to catch on with voters to leave an impression. She is hovering around zero percent or one percent in polls. And so she is trying to get her name and her ideas in front of more people. We'll see her hitting New Hampshire and Iowa again next month -Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones, thank you so much in New York.
Still ahead, more on our breaking news coverage. The U.S. justice department report from Robert Mueller's investigation is expected to deliver to Congress at any moment. We will have full team coverage from every angle.
Stay with us.
[15:00:01] WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me in the nation's capital. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
At any moment now U.S. attorney general William Barr is expected to release the --.