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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) New York; Interview With Rep. Mark Meadows (R) North Carolina; Interview With Former Whitewater Independent Counsel Robert Ray; Discussion of Implications of Mueller Report. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 24, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Case closed -- 675 days later, Robert Mueller's work is done. What will his report say about President Trump, and what did it find about potential conspiracy with Russia?

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler joins us in moments.

Plus, principal conclusions. The Justice Department plans to share the report's key findings with Congress, while Democrats look ahead, demanding transparency.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: It's imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public.

BASH: Will Attorney General Barr agree?

And political fallout. Could the Mueller report flip the script? Republicans suggest the findings could clear the president, while Democrats say there are many more questions to be answered.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have a president who, in my opinion, sought to collude with the Russian government.

BASH: Is this just the beginning of the beginning? Republican Congressman Mark Meadows joins us in moments.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Hello I'm Dana Bash in for Jake Tapper here in Washington where the state of our union is on the edge of our seats.

At any moment the Justice Department may relay the principal conclusions of the Mueller investigation to Capitol Hill. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are at the Justice Department right now. This as you see there is Barr leaving his home a few hours ago and he spent some nine hours at the office on Saturday reviewing the Mueller report. As the special counsel's probe ends, a political fight is just beginning. The president, law makers on both sides of the aisle woke up this morning prepared to respond to the report which comes after a 22-month investigation notable for its discretion.

We do know Robert Mueller is recommending no further indictments according to a senior Justice Department official. That revelation has some Republicans already declaring a win for the president after almost two years of the Russia cloud hanging over his administration. Now for their part Democrats are demanding the full report be released and pushing ahead on their own investigation into the president and his associates.

I want to go to straight to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning, sir.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Good morning.

BASH: First, on our reporting that there will be no further indictments in the Mueller probe, that means, in the end, no member of the Trump campaign was charged with conspiring with the Russian government to influence the election.

Do you accept that no member of the Trump team engaged in that kind of criminal conspiracy with Russia?

NADLER: Well, I don't know.

First of all, we don't know what indictments are forthcoming from other investigations that have been spun out by the special prosecutor to the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Virginia.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Right, but his main mission was about Russia.

NADLER: Yes.

BASH: Do you think he would -- do you think he, Mueller, would send that to other parts of the Justice Department?

NADLER: I don't know. That's one of the things we will have to see when we read the report.

And that's one of the reasons that I think it's so crucial that the entire report and the evidence underlying it be released to the public. Transparency is key here.

I mean, obviously, we know there -- we know there was some collusion. We know that the president's son and campaign manager were involved in a meeting with the Russians to receive stolen -- what they thought was to receive stolen information -- information stolen from the Russians by the Democratic National Committee, as part of the Russian government attempt to help Trump in the election.

That's the way the e-mail inviting them to the meeting put it.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But none of what you just said has risen to the level of a criminal indictment by the special counsel.

NADLER: No, it hasn't, as far as we know.

But we know there was collusion. Why there's been no indictments, we don't know.

But let me say further, we know a number of things. We know what I just said. We know that the president pressured the FBI to go easy, to stop investigating Flynn and various other people. We know that he fired the FBI director, as he put it to the -- to NBC, to take care of the Russian thing, in order to stop the investigation of various people associated with him.

We know that he concocted the lie about the purpose of that Russian meeting. We know that he -- that a lot of his top associates have been indicted and convicted, and we know that he has engaged in a relentless two-year attack against the FBI, various law enforcement agencies.

(CROSSTALK)

[12:05:10]

BASH: So, on that note, Mr. Chairman, what you are describing is evidence to back up what you said before, that you believe the president has obstructed justice. You still believe that?

NADLER: Well, there have been obstructions of justice.

Whether they are -- clearly. Whether they are criminal obstruction is another question. But we have -- the special prosecutor is limited in scope. His job was limited in scope and limited to crimes.

What Congress has to do is look at a broader picture. We are in charge -- we have the responsibility of protecting the rule of law, of looking at obstructions of justice, at looking at abuses of power, at corruption, in order to protect the rule of law, so that our democratic institutions are not greatly damaged by this president. And that's what we intend to do.

BASH: So, on that very note -- right.

And on that very note, if Robert Mueller comes out in his report and suggests very strongly or states flat out that he agrees with you that the president obstructed justice, or that the president may have committed some crime that DOJ guidelines don't allow to be indicted, will you begin impeachment proceedings?

NADLER: It's way too early to speculate about that. Remember, the -- it is true that the Justice Department thinks that they cannot indict a sitting president, no matter what the evidence, as a matter of law. And that's what makes it even more important that all the evidence be given to Congress and the American people, because, while the normal rule is -- and it's a good rule -- that if you aren't indicting someone because you don't have enough evidence, you don't then smear their name by saying they did these terrible things.

If you're not indicting someone because you can't as a matter of law, then you can't hold the president accountable. The only institution that can is Congress, and you should not then hide the evidence, because that converts it into a cover-up.

BASH: Right.

NADLER: Congress needs that evidence, and the American people need that evidence and information to make judgments.

BASH: Well, let me ask you about that, because I'm glad you brought that up. The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has made clear that he wants to -- quote -- "prevent the disclosure of information that would unfairly tarnish people who are not charged with crimes."

But we just heard you saying that people should see the entire report, that evidence underlying it. Democrats were pretty upset in 2016 when then-FBI Director James Comey publicly accused Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing, but then said, well, she shouldn't be indicted.

So, why shouldn't allegations that don't reach an indictment threshold -- I'm talking not about the president, but on everybody else -- stay confidential?

NADLER: Well, because we need to know what was going on here.

And it's not just the question of indictments. It's a question of protecting the rule of law and of obstruction of justice and abuses of power and protecting our government and our whole system.

And it's been subjected to an unprecedented attack. Law enforcement agencies have been subjected to an unprecedented smear campaign by the president against the FBI, the special prosecutor, other law enforcement agencies. We have to know the facts, so that we can protect our institutions. We need to know.

BASH: You have to know the facts, but do you want the American public to know as well?

NADLER: American public -- yes., the American public has to know the facts, so they can make judgments.

BASH: And you are not worried about the underlying notion of the protocol of not getting -- putting out evidence on people that are not indicted is to protect reputations and so forth? That was the concern again about Hillary Clinton. You don't think the same should be applied for Trump officials? (CROSSTALK)

NADLER: Well, we're not talking about indictments. We're talking about what -- about the American people finding out what went on and what has gone on. It's a very different question. We have to know.

BASH: OK.

I want to ask you about Robert Mueller's report overall and the whole notion that you and other Democrats, including the House speaker, have talked about with transparency. If the Justice Department is not going to hand it over to you fully and say that it can be fully put out to the American public, are you absolutely sure that you will issue a subpoena?

NADLER: 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.

BASH: And you're going to be willing to take that all the way up to the Supreme Court, if you have to?

NADLER: Absolutely.

And, by the way, the -- the -- we are already hearing that the president may want to claim executive privilege on some of this. And -- but the fact is, he has no right to claim executive privilege on any evidence of wrongdoing. Executive privilege cannot shield evidence of wrongdoing.

And that was made very clear by the 9-0 decision of the Supreme Court in the Nixon case, where they ordered the tapes revealed, even though those tapes were personal conversations with the president and some of his advisers. Executive privilege cannot be used to shield wrongdoing.

BASH: How long are you going to give the Justice Department to turn it over?

[12:10:00]

NADLER: I can't give you a specific answer to that. We will talk to them, and we will see.

BASH: But, I mean, days, weeks, months? Can you give the general notion of where you're going?

NADLER: It won't -- it won't -- it won't be months.

BASH: It won't be months. Okay.

So you were likely to see the main conclusions of the Mueller report as soon as today. Will you accept them at face value?

NADLER: Well, we're likely to see what Barr characterizes as the main conclusions of the Mueller report.

And we will accept them, but subject to seeing all the underlying data. We have to make judgments, the American people have to make judgments as to how founded those conclusions are or Barr's summary of the conclusions are.

And that's one reason we have to see the entire report and the evidence underlying it.

BASH: Are you suggesting that Barr might mislead about what those Mueller conclusions are?

NADLER: No, there are judge -- no, I have no reason to say that.

But I am suggesting that people make judgments, and those judgments could be right or wrong, in other words, in making a judgment as to how to characterize an observation.

BASH: And what about when you get to the point where you actually do see the whole report from Robert Mueller? Will you trust those results? Do you have full faith and confidence in the way the Mueller investigation went?

NADLER: I assume -- I have a great deal of confidence in Mueller and the people who work with him. I think they have done a -- they are very good people.

So I my expectation is that, yes, I would trust that, but, like any other product of human hands, we have to look at the underlying evidence and make our own judgments as to their judgments.

BASH: So, on that note, let's say he doesn't find that the president obstructed justice. Will you stop your investigation in the House on that issue?

NADLER: Well, he can -- he cannot find that the president did or did not obstruct justice, because his mandate is to look for crimes, and the policy of the Justice Department is that you cannot look for any criminal acts by the president. So he cannot make that judgment.

He can give evidence one way or the other. And that evidence is useful.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Yes, exactly, because you don't --

NADLER: But he can't reach that conclusion.

And the other point is, our mandate, as a Congress, and as the committee, for that matter, is much broader. The special prosecutor is looking only at crimes. We have to look at protecting the rule of law, at obstruction of justice, at abuses of power on a much broader level than simply crimes.

BASH: Chairman Jerry Nadler, thank you so much. You're going to have a very busy morning, probably, and afternoon ahead. And feel free to come back as soon as you get those conclusions. We're here.

NADLER: Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

While President Trump waits to hear those results of the Mueller report, he's spending his second day in a row at his golf club. I'll talk to one of the president's biggest supporters and confidant next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:16:43]

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Attorney General William Barr is at the Justice Department. He headed back to the office after spending many hours, nine to be exact there on Saturday pouring over the Mueller report. Barr hopes to send the top line conclusions to Congress as soon as today.

And as we wait, I want to go to one of the president's closest allies on Capitol Hill Republican representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina. He is the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

Thank you so much, sir, for joining me this morning. The president has been --

REP. MARK MEADOWS, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: Great to be with you, Dana.

BASH: The president has been uncharacteristically quiet on matters of substance since the Mueller report was submitted. You're close with him. What is he saying about it so far?

MEADOWS: Well, I think everybody is waiting to see what the final report is today when Attorney General Barr comes out.

I do want to compliment the attorney general. When he got the report, within minutes literally he notified Congress, not just on one aspect, but on another aspect key to this whole thing, is the fact that President Trump did put his hand and pressure them to look the other way and that there was no really involvement with regards to DOJ impeding the Mueller investigation. So, I think both of those things were key. But I think everybody is waiting to see what the facts are today.

BASH: Congressman, the president and allies like yourself have been relentlessly attacking the Mueller probe now for two years trying to erode its credibility. How do you come back from that if the Mueller report is indeed something that clears the president or at least comes close to that?

MEADOWS: Well, I don't think the Mueller report should have been really something we're discussing today. I don't think there should have been a special prosecutor. I've been consistent with that since day one. We know that there was bias at the Department of Justice early on. In fact they were talking about a special prosecutor before James Comey was fired. And yet here we are today some 22 months later talking about something after spending tens of millions of dollars on a narrative that Democrats put forth.

They said that this president colluded with the Russians. In fact some even went as far as to say he was an agent of Russia which is just ludicrous. And yet here we are today trying to make sense of an investigation that happened 22 months into it. We need to go after the bad guys which is Russia and not the president of the United States.

BASH: But will you -- will you concede that it would be inconsistent when this report comes out for Republicans to talk about it vindicating the president any way shape or form if they called it a witch hunt and called it not necessary and all the things you just said?

MEADOWS: I don't know how it could be inconsistent. We said there was no collusion. In fact, I've come on your show before to say that there's not any collusion. And yet Sunday after Sunday Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and others said, oh, there's evidence, there's collusion. And yet what we find is an independent investigator has said that there's going to be no indictments.

You can't have it both ways. I've been consistent saying the president didn't collude and now it appears that the facts will support that assumption.

BASH: We should remind our viewers that we don't know what's in this report yet.

[12:20:04]

And that's very important.

MEADOWS: Well, we do know that there's no indictments coming, Dana.

BASH: That's true.

MEADOWS: I mean, because we do know that. And so if there was collusion either Bob Mueller decided not to actually prosecute somebody with evidence being there which I find hard to believe that that would happen.

BASH: Well, that's true -- listen, that's true for Don Jr. That's true for Jared Kushner. DOJ guidelines as you know very well say that you shouldn't and can't indict a sitting president. So the indictment doesn't necessarily mean that we're not going to see intense criticism in the Mueller report, which bring me to my next question which is, you voted --

MEADOWS: Sure.

BASH: -- on a resolution to release the Mueller report this past week, or two weeks ago. So given that, would you support a subpoena, if necessary, to get the attorney general to completely release and be transparent with the Mueller report?

MEADOWS: Well, I don't know that we're going to need a subpoena. Because Attorney General Barr has indicated he's going to do as much as he possibly can within the confines of the law to not only inform Congress, but inform the American people. So everybody talking about a subpoena, I find that really rich when we're talking about transparency.

And some of the very people that are talking about a subpoena, Dana, are the ones who didn't want anyone to know that Fusion GPS was actually hired to dig up dirt on the president. They didn't want the Nunes memo released.

I was one of the few that said release the Republican memo and release the Democratic memo.

BASH: Yes --

MEADOWS: And so when -- listen, transparency is good for everybody. I believe that we need to protect the innocent here. But to the extent that we cannot sacrifice national security interest and release as much information as possible, I certainly support that.

BASH: You support it. And you're close with the administration. Are you confident that they will actually do that?

MEADOWS: Yes, I'm confident that Attorney General Barr is really going to look at releasing as much as he possibly can within the confines. Rod Rosenstein who you know I'm not a big fan of said it many, many months ago is typically prosecutors do not release information that would be harmful to the innocent.

There was an old Jack Webb "Dragnet," the names have been changed to protect the innocent. We need to make sure that we protect the innocent here, but at the same time be transparent and make sure that the American people know the truth. And when they know the truth, they will see this president did not collude with the Russians on -- to affect the election in 2016.

BASH: Congressman, you talked about Congress and the Democratic led House and their investigations. Put that aside for a second.

My last question for you is this, the president's own Justice Department separate from Mueller also is continuing to investigate lots of aspects of Trump world, whether it's the inauguration, his charitable foundations, businesses, do you think those investigations are legitimate?

MEADOWS: I think a lot of those are not legitimate. I think what we've done is we've thrown as much at the wall as we possibly can to make it as difficult on this administration and try to distract. Certainly if there's wrong doing, no one is above the law, including the president of the United States. But what we see is a pattern of harassment. When Jerry Nadler puts out and said we want to investigate 81 different things, if we had done that to the previous administration they would be crying foul everywhere. And yet we see that this is just a large dragnet trying to find something to investigate. You need to look at the crime and investigate the crime, not go out and use the power of the government to drudge up some kind of wrong doing.

BASH: Congressman Mark Meadows, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I appreciate it.

MEADOWS: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: No more indictments in the Mueller probe. People around the president are applauding that. But what does it really mean? We're going to go behind the scenes with the former independent counsel. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:28:24]

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has filed his report. He went to church this morning at St. John's Episcopal, just across the street from the White House. President Trump and the first lady actually attended the same church just last week.

What should we make of that? And, more importantly, what should we make of this big report?

And, as we wait for it, I want to talk to a former independent counsel himself, Robert Ray, who investigated President Clinton.

Thank you so much for joining me this afternoon.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. OFFICE OF THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Thanks.

BASH: CNN is reporting that special counsel Mueller is not recommending any additional indictments. Do you...

RAY: Apparently -- apparently, God is watching.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: There you go.

Do you think that the president and his top aides, his family members should be breathing a sigh of relief with that news?

RAY: I'm sure they are relieved.

I think, though, they have been noticeably silent, perhaps, to some, surprisingly so, because the reality is, they don't know what's in the report either. So, I think, you know, there's still more to play out here. And I

think today may be the beginning of that, which is to say, we may get some sense of what the finding -- the principal findings and conclusions are. And then, obviously, as your interview of the House chairman, Mr. Nadler, indicated, there's going to be, I guess, some degree of more to be played out relative to how much of the report is released.

BASH: Well, given the fact that you are one of the few people in the world who's actually been an independent counsel -- back then, that's what it was called -- what are you going to be looking for when you, I guess, ultimately see the report, but, in the short term, see these conclusions?

RAY: Well, it's not just that I was one of the few that was an independent counsel, but also faced the question about whether or not to prosecute a president or a former president of the United States, and that...

BASH: And I should say that you were a Whitewater special -- independent counsel.

Go ahead.

RAY: Right.

And so that's -- that's -- people need to understand, that's a significant undertaking and a significant responsibility. I think the country has waited now with bated breath for the results and findings and conclusions of a 22-month investigation.

I think that the most important thing to understand -- and you got into it a bit with Chairman Nadler -- is, did Bob Mueller decide not to proceed with regard to both collusion and obstruction of justice relative to the president because he couldn't do so under department -- existing Department of Justice policy, or, rather -- and I think this is what's likely -- what we're likely going to find out -- did he not do so because there were was not sufficient evidence to proceed?

BASH: Well, on that note, I actually want to play for you and for our viewers what the chairman, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, told me about how he thinks the Mueller team approached dealing with the president.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: He cannot find that the president did or did not obstruct justice, because his mandate is to look for crimes, and the policy of the Justice Department is that you cannot look for any criminal acts by the president. So he cannot make that judgment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Do you agree with that?

I mean, we all know the DOJ guidelines about not indicting a sitting president. But do you agree that Robert Mueller can't even make a conclusion that the president obstructed justice?

RAY: I don't agree, and I don't think that's right.

Remember, the mandate was the 2016 presidential election, what I think we have now all euphemistically called -- called Russia collusion, but also, and ancillary to that mandate, Bob Mueller had the authority to proceed with regard to obstruction of justice, false statements, and perjury.

And we, in fact, saw him take action and institute proceedings, meaning charges by way of indictment, in exactly those areas. Now, that's why I said before, with regard to the president of the United States, that obviously presents a unique situation.

But the question to be answered -- and I think we may have some -- some light shed on that as soon as today -- is, did he decide not to proceed against the president because there was insufficient evidence to do so, or, instead, because of, of the department's policy?

And my guess is that there are findings and conclusions in that report that address that very question.

BASH: So, just to be clear, if you were the special counsel, and you found evidence that you felt showed that the president of the United States obstructed justice, you would put that in your report?

RAY: Of course. And I did in connection with the Lewinsky investigation...

BASH: Good point, of course, yes.

RAY: ... and for various reasons indicated also that it was not appropriate, under existing Department of Justice policy, which I was not bound by, but I was obviously under the statute required to consult and consider it, that the better course was to address the question once the president left office.

BASH: Well, one last question.

The Democrats in Congress are also saying they want to see all the underlying evidence that went on to support either the conclusions or even to support things that they did not conclude or did not see. Do you agree with that?

RAY: I don't.

I mean, that's why we have investigations. We don't have investigations run by presidential candidates or people who are not prosecutors. We have an investigation conducted by someone who served ably in various positions in the Department of Justice to complete and conclude a full and fair investigation. And we should -- the country should come to accept what his

determination has been now, as the result of that full and fair and complete investigation.

Now, look, I understand completely that House Democrats are in a position, if they choose, they have the power to attempt to second- guess that. But I -- I don't think that's going to last long with public sentiment and the American people.

And so I do say -- I will say this. To the extent that Bill Barr can be as transparent as he's indicated he intends to be and share as much of that report with the public, I do think that that takes the wind out of the sails of any further argument that House Democrats must see all of the underlying evidence.

I think the water's edge should be the report itself.

BASH: OK.

RAY: With regard to the rest of it, that's raw investigative data.

I suspect that the Department of Justice will resist any attempt to turn that over, including fighting subpoenas, if the -- if the House Judiciary Committee goes so far as to actually subpoena that -- that information.

BASH: Robert Ray, former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, thank you so much for your insight. Appreciate it.

RAY: Thank you.

BASH: And up next, Democrats have pinned a lot of hopes on the Mueller report. Will they be disappointed or energized by the findings?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP BEGINS)

BASH: You're likely to see the main conclusions of the Mueller Report as soon as today. Will you accept them at face value?

REP. JERRY NADLER, (D-NY): We'll accept them, but subject to seeing all the underlying data. We have to make judgments, the American people have to make judgments, as to how founded those conclusions are.

(VIDEO CLIP ENDS)

BASH: That was House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler telling me he'll accept the conclusions, as you heard, but there is a string attached. Actually, a few of them. He also wants to see the underlying information. Governor Granholm. Do you agree?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Congress has a job to do, a responsibility, which is to make sure that this was done well, they've got to investigate, there's a whole lot of strands out there, we have no idea what this report is actually going to say. They have a responsibility. Aside from highly sensitive material that might compromise national security, Leanne Torske (ph) turned over grand jury material under Nixon.

So I just think there is an importance here for both Republicans, Democrats, the president, the country, for there to be full and complete transparency.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yeah, totally agree, the American people need to see the report. However, what I find interesting about Nadler's comments is that for the last two years, Robert Mueller has been deified in this town and we're supposed to trust what he's doing. Now that it's coming out, I'm starting to sense a little bit "Well, we need to go back and check all of his work" and so on and so forth.

I think there's two things. One, they don't want to accept it if they don't get what they want, which is the end of the Trump presidency. And number two, I think there is going to be a rush to try to drag people through the mud who cooperated with this. They were not put in a real courtroom - they were not put in a real courtroom but they're going to try to drag people through the mud in the court of public opinion. I think we have to guard against that.

If a witness cooperated, they ought not be treated terribly on the back end.

GRANHOLM: I disagree with that ...

KAREN FINNEY, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think you need to share that information - that comment with the president because it is the president and his administration that have been dragging anybody who cooperated through the mud. People who were - one day, they were my best buddy and the next day, I don't even know who that guy was. I mean, so - and, you know, to your other point, look, we know that there are a number of ongoing investigations. And Ken Starr turned over 18 boxes of evidence and information.

Point being, there was a precedent of turning over all the underlying information, certainly Congress can declassify or make some determinations so that we protect sources and methods. They're absolutely capable of doing it, they do it all the time, so there's really no reason for them not to ...

BASH: And just to sort of put this in the - in the real world, what we're talking about is finding out, what happened in that Trump Tower meeting? What happened with all of the other things that we've been talking about and learning about in real-time and that have real import, all these - the two years.

BILL KRISTOL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, no, I'm looking forward to seeing the conclusions. Hopefully a little later today. But the actual report. Because there will be, I take it, a long, long narrative of what happened in all these different occasions. And obviously, Robert Mueller knows more than I think the media's been able to suss out or gather (ph) about. For example, so Donald Trump Jr. gets the e-mail saying "Hey, the Russian - " what'd he say exactly? "On behalf of the Russian government, would like to come help you guys" or something.

And he and Manafort and Kushner take the meeting and what happened at that meeting, and do we know now whether Trump did or didn't know about it? Did it lead to sharing information at Wikileaks before everyone else had it and so forth? So, I think people are underestimating both ways, actually, what the whole narrative will end up dominating. People can spin all they want, they can pre-spin today, they'll be spinning tomorrow.

(LAUGHTER)

But at the end of the day, there'll be this big document and it will get digested over weeks and months. And whatever it is, it is.

BASH: Boy, you're taking all the fun out of it.

(LAUGHTER)

That was teasing, that was teasing. I'm teasing, I'm teasing.

KRISTOL: I would never do that.

GRANHOLM: There's so many unanswered questions. Like what happened at the Republican National Convention? Why did the - why did the platform get changed to be pro-Ukrainian? What happened in the Seychelles meeting with Betsy Devos' brother? What - what - there's so many instances of connections with Republicans that need to be explained. Was he, in fact - was Donald Trump exactly, as the Russians would say, a "useful idiot?" Was he just using - that's what they call them, right?

Or obviously, if there's not an indictment or at least indictment of co-conspirators on conspiracy, maybe he was just used and it was welcomed. It's just - too many questions.

BASH: And the key is, that we're all making without saying it, we don't know what's in the report yet ...

GRANHOLM: We don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: However, however, the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, sent out a tweet this weekend saying the following; "Adam Schiff said there is significant evidence of collusion involved in the Trump campaign. I trust he is relieved there is no collusion and I hope he will apologize for his mistake. We all make them. The real virtue is to admit it. It will help us heal." Well, we don't really know ...

FINNEY: We don't know.

BASH: That there - that there will be no mention of or conclusion of collusion - say that five times fast - in the Mueller Report. JENNINGS: It's too early for a victory lap because this report could

be great, it could be damaging, it could be somewhere in between. So it's too early for a victory lap. I will say, I agree with Rudy, Schiff is out on a limb here. He has said numerous times, direct evidence, evidence in plain sight. You know, he has made it very clear that he has had in his possession direct evidence of collusion. If this report were to somehow contradict that, he's definitely out on a limb.

Look, I agree with you, by the way, Governor. There are a lot of unanswered questions that we need the answers to. Some of those extend back to the previous administration. How is it that they, on their watch, allowed a hostile foreign power to interfere in our democracy? We haven't had a full accounting of that. But we need one. And maybe the Mueller Report will give us a roadmap on how Obama failed and how we can prevent it in ...

GRANHOLM: Right, we got an election coming up so we got to make sure and that's what the counterintelligence investigation is all about.

BASH: So we do have an election coming up and there are a lot of Democrats vying for the chance to run against Donald Trump. And the question now, as everybody waits for this report, is, how are they going to play it? Well, one of the Democratic contenders, Beto O'Rourke, got pretty far out there over the weekend. Let's listen.

(VIDEO CLIP BEGINS)

BETO O'ROURKE, DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY CANDIDATE: But I'll tell you what I see from my perspective. You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power, to undermine and influence our elections.

(VIDEO CLIP ENDS)

BASH: (Inaudible) is that the best argument?

FINNEY: (Inaudible) You know, look, I would likely advise candidates - unless you're asked directly a question about it, stay focused on your message because that, at the end of the day, is what people will vote on. That being said, yes, this may have started under the Obama administration, but we know from our current national security apparatus that the Russians - this very moment - are continuing to do the kinds of tactics that they did in 2016. And so far, we know of nothing that President Trump and his administration is doing to protect us and have confidence going into 2020.

I would argue that is all the more reason to make sure that the report itself is transparent and that the underlying information is made available so that people can come out and say "And here's what we're doing to make sure it does not happen again."

KRISTOL: And on the - on the Democratic field, I mean, far be it from me to give them advice, but it seems to be the big advantage of running for president is you can say "You know what, the Democrats in the House, we hope maybe responsible Republicans in the Senate, will do their duty with oversight. That's for them. I'm going to - running for president and let me tell you what I want to do beginning on January 20th, 2021." They have a pretty easy way, it seems to me, if they want to, to avoid being in every news cycle here on the report for the next few days or weeks.

BASH: But do they want to avoid it ...

GRANHOLM: (Inaudible) issue on the part of the citizens of the United States, whether you're Republican or Democrat, are the economy and healthcare. There's plenty of material there in terms of the Trump administration's cutting of Medicaid and Medicare, the Trump administration's failed tax cut that gave money to the wealthiest. That - there's so much material there that they don't need to go into it.

However, I would say that there is also plenty - in Beto O'Rourke's defense, there is plenty in plain sight to allow someone to say "I personally believe that there was collusion." All of those - I mean, not just the indictments but ...

BASH: Wouldn't it be ironic, Scott, if it was Donald Trump and the Republicans talking more about Russia going into 2020 than the Democrats?

JENNINGS: Well, I - I don't know if it's ironic but I think it would be appropriate and proper. I don't think we should let the previous administration off the hook at all for what happened on Russia. They were soft on Russia, they mocked Mitt Romney ...

GRANHOLM: Nice try, pivoting. C'mon, man (ph) ...

(LAUGHTER)

JENNINGS: Listen, they mocked Mitt Romney, they were soft on Russia ...

GRANHOLM: Never heard ...

JENNINGS: ... They interfered in our election. And ...

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: Everybody wants to - everybody wants to pile on Trump over this. This soft on Russia started in 2012 - remember, "I'll have more flexibility after the elections ..."

GRANHOLM: Oh my gosh (ph), hold on - Putin - Putin and Obama were ...

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: And we are - and we are absolutely - no one wants to talk about it but it's there and if I was Trump, I would absolutely (inaudible).

KRISTOL: I agree and that's why Republicans should nominate Romney this time.

(LAUGHTER)

Because he was right. He was right about Russia ...

BASH: He fell over it (ph).

KRISTOL: In contrast to both President Obama and President Trump, Mitt Romney was right.

FINNEY: Well, no oligarchs got rich on Obama's watch the way they are on Trump's watch ...

JENNINGS: They didn't have oligarchs - rich oligarchs in Russia during ...

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: They didn't get rich off of the way ...

GRANHOLM: Nor did Obama be (ph) destroying his meeting notes with - with Putin either, by the way.

BASH: All right. Well, it will be interesting to see if the Trump administration, after this is done, does try to actually figure out what happened with regard to Russian interference ...

GRANHOLM: Yes.

JENNINGS: Yes.

BASH: ... And how to prevent it.

FINNEY: And do something.

BASH: In the next election ...

JENNINGS: Absolutely.

BASH: And so something - wouldn't that be great? OK, well, was this the longest special counsel investigation in U.S. history? The answer might surprise you. The Mueller probe, by the numbers, is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASH: After 675 days of Robert Mueller being on the job, the long- awaited Russia investigation is over. And while we're waiting on the conclusions, we do have some numbers that tell some of the story. Like the number of times President Trump has tweeted calling the Mueller probe a, quote, "witch hunt." That's more than 170. Even though the 22-month investigation brought criminal charges against 34 people and three entities, how close did these charges come to the Trump orbit?

Of those 34 people charged, six were Trump associates. And the probe sentenced five people to prison, including former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen, as well as Trump Campaign Advisor George Papadopoulos.

And if you're wondering how long it took Robert Mueller compared to other special counsels, the investigation into Bill Clinton sought two special prosecutors and lasted 1,693 days. And Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox's investigation of President Nixon lasted 155 days although he was fired before it saw completion.

And tonight, our CNN series "TRICKY DICK" explores the Nixon presidency. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't give a God damn what the story is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard M. Nixon has lied repeatedly.

NIXON: No reporter from "The Washington Post" is to ever be in the White House again. Do you understand?

The tougher it gets, the cooler I get. I have what it takes.

CROWD: Impeach Nixon now! Impeach Nixon now!

NIXON: And I want to say this to the television audience, because people have got to know whether or not their president's a crook.

Well, I'm not a crook.

This crap about Watergate --

Let others wallow in Watergate. We're going to do our job.

I'm going to kick their ass.

Nobody's going to package me. Nobody's going to make me put on an act for television. I'm not going to engage in any gimmicks or any stunts or wear any silly hats.

If people looking at me say, that's a new Nixon, then all that I can say is, well, maybe you didn't know the old Nixon.

ANNOUNCER: "TRICKY DICK" a CNN original series. Tonight at 9:00.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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