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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Accuses His Critics of "Evil" & "Treasonous Things"; Battleground Voters Choose Sides As Mueller's Probe Ends; Michael Avenatti About to Be Released on Bond After Being Charged with Trying to Extort More than $20M. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired March 25, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: We'll stay in close touch. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next, the breaking news, the White House has still not received the full Mueller report but that is not stopping the President, he's declared victory. Plus, is the President about to pardon his former advisors that Mueller convicted, his lawyer just answering that question. And Michael Avenatti charged with trying to extort millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars. Prosecutors say it's all caught on tape, let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight the breaking news, a White House official telling CNN tonight that the West Wing has still not seen the Mueller report, but President Trump does not need the full report to declare victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love this country as much as I can love anything. My family, my country, my god but what they did it was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing. We can never let this happen to another President again. I can tell you that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And with that, all of the talk of witch hunts and hoaxes, and witch hunts and hoaxes, and witch hunts and hoaxes is over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you think Robert Mueller acted honorably?
TRUMP: Yes, he did. Yes, He did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, that is certainly a change of heart because clearly the President expected something else from Mueller. In fact his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, bluntly said that Attorney General Barr's memo was 'better than I expected'. Barr, of course, says Mueller found no collusion with Russia and while Mueller didn't reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice, Barr's cleared the President on the issue of obstruction.
But without the full report, of course, there are still many questions tonight. For instance, why President Trump and so many people in his orbit lied about their contacts with Russia? Why was former campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly sharing polling data with a Russian with ties to Putin's intelligence agencies? Why did the Trump campaign got the GOP's anti-Russian stance on Ukraine? What are President Trump's financial ties to Moscow and how important was that tower in Russia?
The full Mueller report may answer some but not all of these questions. President Trump though is, of course, changing his tune. Hiding behind his Attorney General but saying today he is fine with the full report being released to the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: ... to the Attorney General but it wouldn't bother me at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It wouldn't bother him at all and it would at the least explain the many actions of Robert Mueller. Don't forget, he criminally charged 37 people and entities, 29 of them Russians, six of them Trump associates, 199 criminal counts. This is unprecedented. Paul Manafort alone will spend the next seven and a half years in prison. He was the chairman of a presidential campaign. This will go down in history which is why there is more we need to know and releasing the report will be a big step to understanding how Mueller came to his conclusions.
But whether we see Mueller's full report or not, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says there are still other crucial questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SCHIFF, CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Our investigation is always focused on counterintelligence issues that is, is the President or anyone around him compromised in some way. That work has to go on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's a crucial question to imagine that we don't know the answer to. Shimon Prokupecz is OutFront live in Washington. Shimon, obviously we have this four-page summary and then you have this report that we all hope we will get see. But what Chairman Schiff there is saying is the question of whether the President or anyone around him was compromised by Russia is a question that we still are working on. Was that even part of Mueller's investigation answering that question?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER, CNN: Yes, of course, it was and it continues to be something that the FBI and I think counterintelligence investigators will always look for. But I think it's very clear from what we saw in the Bill Barr report is that they found no evidence that the Russians and people with Trump and Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.
The idea that there may be some kind of, let's say, someone may be compromised or the Russians may have somehow been able to breach the Trump campaign, it's certainly something that everyone wants to know more about because you have so many people when they were asked questions about their involvement with Russians, so many people on the campaign, they had lied about it.
So that had always investigators suspicious of that activity, so that is an ongoing process in terms of what were the Russians up to certainly. But it's very clear from the report that we've seen so far, parts of that we've seen so far, that really the FBI did not find that there was anything criminal that was going on. Now, counterintelligence is very, very different as you know, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, it is, obviously. And what kinds of conclusions you could reach from a counterintelligence perspective may or may not reach a criminal standard ...
PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right.
BURNETT: ... when you're talking about things like assets and foreign governments. When do you think, Shimon, that we might get the final report?
PROKUPECZ: Right. So the Members of Congress are saying they want it by April 2nd. That's probably a little too soon. It's not going to happen. I think what we saw from the Department of Justice this weekend, they were trying to move quickly and they did and I think that should keep everyone optimistic. We know they're going to continue to work on this report.
This report what people should understand is kind of in two parts, you have the obstruction part and then you have the Russia collusion part. The Russia collusion part is going to be a little more difficult, because that's where you're going to have all the classified and perhaps the Grand Jury information.
PROKUPECZ: On the obstruction stuff, it's going to be more about interviews and the work that the FBI was conducting, maybe we'll see a lot of what the President was tweeting in that part of their report. So that could be easier and that could be something that the Department of Justice could do quicker, so we could see it come in part. So we could see the obstruction part first and then at some point we would see the Russia collusion.
But obviously I think what everyone really wants to see is the obstruction part of the report and we may get that sometime in April, could be sooner.
BURNETT: And, of course, we find today McConnell basically blocking the vote from Congress to release the whole thing. The President says he's for it. Is that real? Is he really for it? At this point, obviously, he would say, "I've been exonerated, why not put it all out there?" But is that really what he wants?
PROKUPECZ: I mean, it's hard to say, because the President also said, "Yes, sure, I'm willing to sit down with Robert Mueller and his team," and he never did. The President's lawyers protected him from that. He usually always says, "OK, I want to do this." But then we hear weeks later, days later he doesn't do it.
So I think he's feeling good about it as he should and so that's why he's saying, "Yes, let's put it out." But I don't think they know exactly everything that's in there right now.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Shimon. I appreciate it. I want to go now to the Democratic Congressman Denny Heck who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. Of course, Chairman Schiff says they're still looking into a lot more things and there's a lot more going on there. So Congressman, let me start with you though, you and I spoke back in December, there was a whole lot of activity on that day from Mueller's team and on that night you told me, "It was the beginning of the end, the walls are closing in on President Trump." Do you feel differently now?
DENNY HECK, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No, I don't. I think it's hard to look at the accumulation of the number of people in and around him that are closest to them that are going to jail and conclude anything other than the amount of corruption that associates with this President is beyond any modern historic President. Erin, let us remember that in addition to the 39 criminal indictments and the seven guilty pleas or prison sentences, we also still have count them for District Regional U.S. attorney's offices engaged in investigations. We still have a state regulator and I don't know how many local prosecutors are pursuing violations of state laws, so I don't think this is the end of the story at all.
BURNETT: So when you say though that you stand by the walls closing in, I mean, has your committee found anything that Mueller didn't? I mean Mueller obviously found no collusion with Russia. I mean that's the bottom line. It's very hard to beat around that headline.
HECK: Yes. It's a headline and it's just that, Erin, just a headline. Look, I have said all along to you on air and I'll repeat tonight, I'm completely prepared to accept the conclusions of Bob Mueller. But I want to read Bob Mueller's conclusions, what we got was a four-page distillation by a political appointee of the President and you'll pardon me if I don't take his word directly for it, besides which I think the American public deserves to see this work product, Director Mueller deserves to be congratulated and thanked for his service.
And let us remember that for the last two years, the administration has been engaged in a non-stop hour-by-hour attempt to discredit the reputation of Bob Mueller. I haven't heard much of that in the last 48 hours though have we, Erin?
BURNETT: No, obviously that's been a complete about-face. But when you say a distillation of the report by a political appointee, are you saying you don't trust the Attorney General.
HECK: No, not at all. Remember that as it relates to this point in particular, I'm not making that point generally but remember Attorney General Barr on an unsolicited basis submitted a 19-page single-spaced memo to the Department of Justice last summer about why it is that they shouldn't pursue an obstruction of justice investigation. So it's no surprise that within 48 hours of getting Director Mueller's report which contemplated or envisioned the interviewing of 500 plus people in tens of thousands of pages of document he almost instantaneously stuck with his recommendation of last summer.
So, yes, pardon me, I want to read the report in its entirety and I think the American public deserves to be able to do that.
BURNETT: If his interpretation of it, his four-page summary is accurate, then what are you going to do? I mean the House Speaker today, Nancy Pelosi, said she stands by comments from January that President Trump may be compromised by Russia. You just heard your Chairman Schiff saying the same thing, but Shimon Prokupecz was saying, "Look, that was part of the mandate of Bob Mueller." We don't know over what timeframe he would have looked at that, but he says that's part of the mandate. So do you think there's something there on compromise or are you guys just grasping at straws?
HECK: So it's good that you asked that question, because it enables us to remind people that collusion per se which has been hiding in plain sight isn't a crime per se, it doesn't rise to the same level of criminal conspiracy and beyond a reasonable doubt standard. But the fact of the matter is that there is collusion hiding in plain sight and there has been all along. And there remains, of course, as well the question, Erin, is why is it that all of these people have lied on behalf of the President for the last couple of years? Why are so many people in and around him going to jail? Why did they feel compelled to lie about all of this?
And I think the only way that we can truly get the answer to that question is if we are able to read the Mueller report in its entirety.
BURNETT: So I want to ask you about Congressman Schiff. Obviously, we played him a moment ago, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He obviously is saying there's evidence of collusion, which again the summary says there is not. Because of comments like that, the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy today has called for Schiff to step down from the House Intelligence Committee. Look, what's your point of view? Can he stay? I mean this is your Committee, should Schiff remain?
HECK: Erin, I have been privileged to be able to have public service as a part of my life intermittently throughout my entire adult life. I was first elected to public office 43 years ago to the State House of Representatives in Washington. As a consequence, I've served with literally hundreds and hundreds of elected officials and I will just tell you flat-out that Adam Schiff possesses as much integrity, and intelligence and professionalism as any single individual with whom I've ever served, Barr none.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Heck. I appreciate your time.
HECK: You're welcome.
BURNETT: And next, CNN learning Bob Mueller decided weeks ago that he would not be able to reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice. One lawyer says that decision is a borderline dereliction of duty. She's next. Plus, President Trump wants revenge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things. I would say treasonous things against our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And key swing voters react to Mueller's investigation. Will it help Trump in 2020?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, because the guy didn't do anything wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
New tonight, Special Counsel Robert Mueller decided three weeks ago that he would not make the decision on whether or not President Trump obstructed justice. So the source is telling CNN that Mueller's team gave the Attorney General Bill Barr and the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein a heads up during a meeting. So three weeks ago they said, "You know what, we're not going to be the ones to make this decision."
Now, that conclusion was quote unexpected by Bill Barr. We don't know what that means at this point, do you think it would go one way or the other way or what, but now we're left with this issue, no procedure, not moving forward with obstruction because of the Attorney General Bill Barr's decision. OutFront now former Federal Prosecutor Laura Coates, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick, and White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan.
Laura, you say Mueller not reaching a decision on obstruction of justice choosing to say I'm just not going to be the one to make that call, could be a dereliction of duty, why? LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It is because it sounds like
he said it's a punt. "I can't make the decision. You decide." Well, the exact charge that included under Mueller's mandate was for him to make difficult decisions for 22 months of work to be able to come to a conclusion, to hand it over to Barr who is a political appointee, who already has made his viewpoints well-known that he already came in with preconceived notions on that particular issue although Rosenstein is a part of it. It's as if he is saying, "Did he commit a crime?" "Maybe."
Well, that's the actual question we wanted you to answer for us. So not to answer it to me is a punt that only could mean perhaps that he was trying to punt not in the direction of Bill Barr but in the direction of Congress, perhaps.
BURNETT: Right. And Bill Barr, of course, making that decision. Right now, Harry, that's all we've got. In his letter on the obstruction point, Barr writes, "The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'" That's the most negative thing in that entire letter and Barr and Rosenstein make the decision, "We're not going to go ahead with obstruction of justice." What happens now?
HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, I think what happens now is if you're a Member of Congress, you want to find out what analysis and what facts stood behind that conclusion by Mueller which is excerpted here. To be sure if Barr since he was going to recommend no charges on obstruction felt compelled to include that sentence from Mueller's report in his short letter summary --
BURNETT: It means there was something there.
SANDICK: There must be something there and what I would like to know is if you imagine there being pros and cons to the charge, Barr told us what he thought were the cons and some of those cons to my mind don't really make much sense. But what were the pros in favor of that? Why did Mueller think it was counterbalanced in some way with reasons to charge and reasons not to charge? And we don't know those reasons to charge, only the release of the report will answer it.
BURNETT: And April, when it comes to this as Laura said what was Bob Mueller supposed to do, his remit? The former Independent Counsel Ken Starr, obviously, not coming at this from the political point of view which would lead to this point. Has this to say about Mueller failing to reach a decision on obstruction? Here's Ken Starr.
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KEN STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL INVESTIGATING PRESIDENT CLINTON: We got a final line from Bill Barr but not from Bob Mueller. Bob Mueller punted. I don't think that was wise on his part. I don't think it was courageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [19:20:03]
BURNETT: Starr remember laid out 11 possible areas for the impeachment of Bill Clinton including obstruction of justice and put it out there.
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes.
BURNETT: We got nothing.
RYAN: I'm glad to hear Ken Starr say that because I was around, I was in that White House when he deposed Bill Clinton, that second term of Bill Clinton's presidency. Ken Starr started looking at a land deal that went wrong and it went from a land deal that went wrong into a blue stained dress, OK. A boss versus an intern having an affair who just happened to be the President and a White House intern.
What Ken Starr did, he had on the table the original mandate trying to find out about this land deal, if there was any violation with this issue that the Clintons had committed. But when you have something like this and Ken Starr did this and this is what was missing in this Mueller report issue, this investigation.
Well, I've said it before, it's equated to a police officer going into a home, hearing that there's some kind of drug activity. But along the way when he goes into that home, he sees the wife being beaten or the children being abused. He can't just look for the drugs and leave that alone.
Ken Starr took everything, when he started hearing everything, he put everything on the table. Mueller, the original mandate --
BURNETT: It didn't appear.
RYAN: Right. The original mandate was collusion and then he's leaving it to the Southern District as well as to the House to possibly investigate it.
BURNETT: So you've got obstruction and then of course you have collusion. And Laura on this collusion issue, the headline is that Bob Mueller found no evidence of collusion. So the Lawfare Blog today wrote something that I thought was really important. I wanted to read it and get your and Harry's interpretation.
They write, "Barr's summary would also be broadly consistent with many other possible reports. It would be consistent with, for example, a report that finds lots of evidence of collusion that for one reason or another fall short of criminal conduct. It would be consistent with the report that describes conduct that falls short of the criminal standard by the barest of technicalities. There's a huge range of conduct and findings that would be consistent with this top-line summary."
That summary being no collusion. Your take, Laura. COATES: Well, no one has ever been satisfied by the statement,
"Nothing to see here, folks." There's a reason we're all looking at it in particular direction, so you can't just give a summation that says there's nothing here. Now, it's a great actual summation for the democracy in America. It's great for the President of the United States. It's great for the American electorate not to have had collusion.
But there is deserving of the American people, an explanation to support that conclusion. Particularly, because it's very clear if you read it, it connects with the obstruction of justice charge, if there is a clear determination with respect to collusion, there was no waffling, there was not a punting, compare that to obstruction. Well, what was so sure for people for collusion that wasn't for protection.
If I were the President of the United States frankly here, Erin, I would not be satisfied because it puts me in the very same position that James Comey put Hillary Clinton in which was extremely reckless and careless but no criminal conduct. There's something here. I can't exonerate you, but there's not a crime being committed. No collusion I can tell for sure, obstruction, maybe. It's a problem.
BURNETT: Harry, what do you make of this collusion that they - you could conclude no collusion and yet have essentially collusion that falls short of the criminal standard by the barest of technicalities. Would you agree?
SANDICK: Yes, absolutely. It's very insightful. I mean, in any criminal investigation when it begins, there are some reason for it to begin. There are some smoke, there are some evidence and then you can see evidence building. You can imagine a spectrum from just bare evidence all the way up to - but just short of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
And if you're a prosecutor, you're trained not to bring those charges unless you really feel proof beyond a reasonable doubt exists. And so when people now sometimes say, "Well, this means there was no evidence of collusion." I would have to disagree with that respectfully.
RYAN: He's talking about the President.
SANDICK: I would say - well, or anyone.
RYAN: Yes. Yes.
SANDICK: I would say that it's really somewhere on that spectrum and until the report is released ...
BURNETT: We just don't know.
SANDICK: ... we just don't know where on the spectrum for all of the reasons Lawfare says. What if there was a conspiracy between someone in the Trump administration and someone who had uncertain connections to Russia? What Barr said would be literally true, but also somewhat misleading in terms of our understanding of what happened.
BURNETT: Well, it certainly would because then you would have intent.
BURNETT: All right, so look these are the questions and, of course, April the President is now asked about pardons, so if he says, "OK, these headlines are great for me. I'm exonerated." In his words, "Are you going to pardon people?" His response today, "I haven't thought about it." Now, of course, that's not true. But tonight Rudy Giuliani tells the Washington Post that the President is not considering pardons. Will Trump pardon Manafort?
RYAN: That remains to be seen. This President does a lot of things in a knee-jerk reaction how the public sentiment comes out and also what's at stake for him. It's always about the Trump brand and it's also sometimes about thumbing his nose like, "OK, I can do this because you did that to me."
Unfortunately, it's very kind of high school, maybe than grade school or playground-ish. But quite honestly, this White House has looked at it. If it's not the President today, there are people who have looked at it to show him the pitfalls or the positives of doing this, so we just have to see how this plays out. As of this moment it may not happen, but who's to say next week, next year either.
BURNETT: Right, whether it's a wait-and-see sort of a thing. All right, thank you all very much. So many more questions. Next though team Trump trying to seize victory and turn the tables now calling for an investigation into the investigators and it appears Hillary Clinton. But is that really the way to go? Plus, Michael Avenatti, remember that guy the man who tried to take down Trump who was out there all the time galavanting around? Tonight, facing federal charges for trying to extort tens of millions of dollars, that story coming up.
Tonight, treasonous and evil things. President Trump seizing victory and going after his enemies. Those are his words. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things. I would say treasonous things against our country. Thos people will certainly be looked at. I've been looking at them for a long time and I'm saying why haven't they been looked at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Treasonous and evil, Kaitlan Collins is OutFront at the White House. Kaitlan, the President not wasting any time taking this and going on the attack.
KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: No, Erin, and the Trump you saw there was a very different Trump than the Trump we saw yesterday after he found about the findings in Mueller's investigation where he was declaring victory and today the president trying to weaponize these findings. For the better part of two years, the president has been on defense when it comes to the Russia investigation and now we're seeing him go on offense, saying people should be looked at, possibly investigated themselves and saying they are guilty of treasonous or evil things there.
Now, not everyone close to the president thinks it's a good idea for him to take an aggressive approach here. Several people I talked to today say the president should take this -- take the high road, essentially, take his win here and even Republican leadership has advised they should just move on from the Russia investigation. But then other people close to the president say that he feels vindicated by this and is not ready to put this behind him and you can expect for the president to not only use it during his first term but also leading up to the re-election in 2020.
Now, I talk about some people who don't think it's a good idea for the president to take an aggressive approach here. But people like David Bossie, the president's deputy campaign manager in 2016, said he believes that he agrees with the president here about the aggressive approach and that the investigators here should be investigated.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan.
OUTFRONT now, Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation" and Rick Santorum, former Republican presidential candidate and senator from Pennsylvania.
Joan, people the president wants investigated who have done evil and treasonous things.
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Evil and treasonous. This is really kind of deranged language and behavior, Erin. For one thing, if he's going to claim that this investigation exonerated him, at the same time claiming there was evil and treasonous intent behind it, I'm not sure he can have it both ways.
Second of all, we shouldn't be surprised, because they are still chanting lock her up and we know who her is, at his rallies. This is the way he behaves. This is what he thinks his base wants.
But he should just enjoy. He had a great weekend. He's had a good day. He should take his victory lap and be happy with what we know so far, because I think the next couple weeks are going to be tougher for the president, as a matter of fact. As we learn more about this report.
BURNETT: And, of course, we don't know the timing. They're setting a deadline. House Democrats saying April 2nd. Obviously, unclear as to what would -- have the -- to meet that deadline.
But, Rick, what do you make? He's taken the fall, going immediately on offense, talking about the investigators who have exonerated him as doing evil and treasonous things. It is very hard to say you're exonerated and then say they're evil and treasonous.
RICK SANTORUM (R), 2015 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's not who he is call evil and treasonous. He's not calling Robert Mueller evil and treasonous. What he's calling, the people who started this investigation, the people at the FBI. The folks who were, you know, conducting an investigation on a presidential campaign, now based on what we found to be basically no evidence whatsoever. That needs to be investigated.
WALSH: We don't know that. We don't know that.
SANTORUM: Just don't -- please don't bankrupt m interrupt me, Joan. Let me just finish my point.
SANTORUM: And so, I don't think that's where the president is headed. I don't think he's going to have at Mueller team. He's going to have at people who started this team.
And I think it's legitimate, and here's why. Because as you just heard Joan say and you just said, Erin, the Democrats haven't given up, they're not going to take their loss and go home. They're going to continue to pound away at this, to try to find something, somewhere, in some footnote somewhere, to continue to go after this president.
And for the president to sit by and say, hey, I won and we're going to move on I think would be a big mistake.
BURNETT: Joan, to this point, obviously, there's a lot more information we don't have. But there were a lot of Democrats who were very quick before they knew anything to go all the way, you know, for the end zone. Here's a few of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: I believe that we have everything that it needs to basically impeach him.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: We're going to go in there and impeach the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D), MINNESOTA: We know that this president, this administration -- every day has gone a little bit closer to being impeached, and we won't be having these conversations on whether to do it, but it's going to be when and how.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: Yes, some people have gone out there. But, you know, we also have to acknowledge that there -- Mueller did bring 37 indictments on more than 100 counts.
BURNETT: A lot of things that happened. No question about it.
WALSH: A lot of things that happened. There were at least 16 contacts between the Trump campaign --
WALSH: -- and Russian folks. We still don't know the nature of the conversations of the quid pro quos, if any.
WALSH: So, yes, some people may have gone out a little beyond what the evidence says. But most people are standing with the American public and saying, we want to see the report, for one thing. That's a very popular opinion. Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff, they're talking about investigation, not impeachment.
We in the media cannot keep conflating investigation and impeachment.
[19:35:01] It is their duty to investigate. Impeachment is a separate issue all together.
SANTORUM: The reality is, they had $25 million, 500 interviews. I mean, two years of investigating, whether there was any collusion.
And, Joan, you just sort of throw out, well, there were 16 contacts. People kind of -- people run into and talk to and contact people who are from Russia. The Hillary Clinton campaign, I guarantee you, had contacts with some people who may have been aligned with Russia. That doesn't make -- that doesn't make a criminal or investigative or an impeachable offense.
The reality --
WALSH: But they're not more like fly by night context. But go ahead.
SANTORUM: Yes, the reality is, professional investigators, all of them Mueller hired. Democrats looking to get Donald Trump, they all came back and said there is nothing here and yet we hear again from Joan and other Democrats, we're not satisfied yet. We still believe there's something that needs to be investigated.
I just think the American public is going to turn this off. I think it's a big danger for the Democrats. There is part of me rooting for the Democrats to continue to do so, except for the fact it's really bad for the country.
BURNETT: So, Joan, you know, on this issue, obviously, the Lawfare blog can say there are all sorts of levels, right?
BURNETT: OK, that you could have, basically short of a criminal legal conspiracy. WALSH: Right.
BURNETT: And conclude no collusion. But you also could have no collusion at all.
WALSH: You could have no collusion.
BURNETT: So, do Democrats run the risk of saying give us the report, give us the report, and it comes out and guess what? Bill Barr's summary is accurate. No collusion, no anything. Just a bunch of stupid people who wanted to get whatever information they could from whoever they can get it from.
What if that happens? Then what?
WALSH: If that is true, which I don't expect. But if that is true, that's a win for the country. Then we know everything. I don't understand why people -- the president is saying, sure, show the whole report.
But Mitch McConnell is saying, no. We don't want to release the report. This is fascinating.
If it exonerates the president, just like Rick says, Rick and everybody else should be calling for the release of the whole report. You know, with the exclusion of sources and methods --
BURNETT: So, rick, let me give you the final word here, since Joan had the first. Mitch McConnell blocked it tonight. Was that a mistake? Don't we all have the right to see all of this, except for any sources and methods?
SANTORUM: I think that Bill Barr was very clear in his letter he's going to release everything he can, based -- with the exception of things in grand jury testimony that's protected, and other things, sources and methods.
So, look, I think this is a big talk about nothing. Let's wait and see what Bill Barr does. I think he's going to be very transparent to the extent that the law allows him to do. And then we can talk about it from there.
BURNETT: All right.
WALSH: I hope so.
BURNETT: Thank you both.
And next, what do swing state voters want now that the Mueller investigation is over?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats really just need to work -- roll up their sleeves and get to work on the issues that are important to the issues that are important to the state. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Stormy Daniels' former attorney Michael Avenatti tonight about to be released on bond, charged with extorting tens of millions of dollars. He could be speaking at any moment. We are live outside that courthouse.
[19:41:39] BURNETT: Tonight, Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Cory Booker, expressing doubt about Attorney General Barr's letter about the Mueller report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a lot of suspicion about Barr, who has already spoken to these issues before he even saw the report. So, again, I worry about that filter. And secondly, I think Barr has characterized something in a piece of paper that almost seemed to be handing the president talking points and did a job that we should be able to do as Congress by looking at this report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, the thing is, for many Trump voters who were worried, they were legitimately worried about what Mueller might find. They now have the answers they need.
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heartland, conclusions of the Mueller report so far favor the president and his catch phrases are winning.
BRIAN PANNEBECKER, MICHIGAN VOTER: I make of it exactly what Donald Trump said it was. It was fake news. It was a witch hunt. It was a hoax all along.
As a matter of fact, I think they need to investigate the people that funded the fake dossier, because they're the real criminals in this.
MARQUEZ: Ford auto worker, Brian Pannebecker is a huge Trump fan. He helped elect the presidents in this vote-rich county and says the report's filings gives the president a lift.
PANNEBECKER: If the Democrats were smart, they would start working with President Trump instead of trying to overturn the results of the election.
MARQUEZ (on camera): And in your mind, if they do, they're only going to make him stronger in places like Macomb.
PANNEBECKER: Absolutely, because guy didn't do anything wrong. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Michigan and Macomb County are critical to the
president's re-election. In 2016, he won the state by just 10,704 votes. Macomb County and suburban Detroit voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. It flipped for Trump big time. He won the county by more than 48,000 votes.
Even Democrats here say the report's findings won't help them win back Macomb County and the state.
HENRY YANEZ, STERLING HEIGHTS CITY COUNCIL: It was surprising that more wasn't revealed in this report.
MARQUEZ: Yanez, who has run for and held several political offices says his fellow Democrats need to investigate less and focus on policy.
YANEZ: I think Democrats really just need to work -- roll up their sleeves and get to work on issues important to the citizens of my city and my state.
MARQUEZ: There is hope for Democrats here. The midterms saw them rebound slightly. The county narrowly back, winning Democratic candidates in the Senate and governor's races.
JOHN SKANTZE, MICHIGAN VOTER: I was excited.
MARQUEZ: John Skantze, who retired from management in the auto industry, considers himself a moderate Republican. He voted for the president, but could be persuaded to support Joe Biden in 2020.
(on camera): Do you think that Mueller report and the summary helps the president?
SKANTZE: I think it helped him a lot. I think it helped him a lot. And it got rid of a big stigma with his following.
BURNETT: And that was Miguel Marquez reporting on the ground in Michigan.
OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Michael Avenatti about to be released on bond, arrested, charged with trying to extort tens of millions of dollars.
Plus, Beto O'Rourke wants you to know what he stands for. But it seems he does a lot more standing on.
[19:48:51] BURNETT: Breaking news: Michael Avenatti who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal quest against President Trump is about to be released on $300,000 bail. Prosecutors say Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million. They also charged him with wire and bank fraud.
He didn't seem to have any clue this was happening. It seemed he was having a press conference today. He was walking down the street and, boom, they took him in. He's about to appear outside the court house in just a few moments, we believe.
M.J. Lee is OUTFRONT.
I mean, M.J., it's pretty stunning. It doesn't seem like he has any clue this was happening. What are you learning about this huge extortion scheme of huge proportions?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Definitely a stunning development for Michael Avenatti. As you said, he was arrested today in Manhattan by FBI agents.
This 11-page criminal complaint basically goes into the details of how Michael Avenatti tried to extort the company, Nike, for millions of dollars. It says that last week is when it all began. Michael Avenatti met with a number of lawyers that worked for Nike and he essentially told, look, I have a client who has damaging information about your company. And unless you agree to pay me and my client millions of dollars, I'm going to hold a press conference and go public with this information which should be damaging to your company.
[19:50:05] Now, unfortunately for Avenatti, the lawyers that work for Nike immediately contacted SDNY, the Southern District of New York. And so, law enforcement officials recorded and monitored subsequent conversations that Avenatti had with these lawyers working for Nike. Now, in the criminal complaint are a number of quotes attributed to Avenatti that frankly sound very thuggish.
And I just wanted to read one of those quote. Avenatti says: I'm not F-ing around with this and I'm not continuing to play games. You guys know enough now to know you've got a serious problem and it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing.
Now, it was interesting. The SDNY also said that Michael Avenatti was targeting Nike last week ahead of their earnings call and also ahead of the start of the NCAA tournament because his intention was to inflict maximum damage on the company, Erin.
BURNETT: Prosecutors also say Avenatti has an unindicted co- conspirator?
LEE: That's right. It was interesting, this complaint there are references to this unnamed co-conspirator, a California attorney known for his representation of celebrity and public figure clients. Well, my colleague Kara Scannell is reporting today that that lawyer is Mark Geragos.
This is a celebrity lawyer, you might know him for recently representing Jussie Smollett. He was participating in these conversations that Avenatti was having with the Nike lawyers. Interestingly enough, as a part of the condition for Avenatti's release that's happening tonight, he is not able to speak with Mark Geragos, again, this witness.
Finally, I will quickly note that he was a CNN contributor. As of today, he no longer is -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, M.J. I mean, it's pretty stunning, right? Michael Avenatti, talk about a falling star.
OUTFRONT now, former federal prosecutor Jack Weiss.
All right. Jack, Avenatti could face up to 50 years in prison and that's just on bank and wire fraud, OK? And there's other things here on the table. How likely is it that Avenatti goes to prison?
JACK WEISS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it's a stunning case. And it's nuts. I've read the charging documents in New York and Los Angeles.
In New York, there is a lot of bad stuff in that charging document. M.J. put some of the language there. There's a lot of other stuff he says that he shouldn't say ever, ever in life, and certainly not in a business meeting. He is asking for exorbitant sums, $10 million, $20 million.
And the person who is recorded asking him the questions is a sophisticated lawyer who knew exactly how to ask the questions to establish the factual predicate for these charges. But on the other hand, there may be a claim that he can make that he was representing a client, that his client had an underlying claim. It just has to be barely plausible against Nike.
And you will see that raised as a defense. We don't know much about that claim from these charging documents.
BURNETT: All right. So let me ask you about this. Stormy Daniels responded on Twitter. Obviously, that's how we know Michael Avenatti, right? He became famous because of president Trump and Stormy Daniels.
Her response today: I'm saddened but not shocked by news reports that Avenatti has been criminally charged today. I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael's services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly, and there will be more announcements to come.
What do you read into that, Jack?
WEISS: Yes. In Los Angeles there have been reports over the last several months of alleging abhorrent conduct on behalf of Mr. Avenatti. A prominent former federal prosecutor has told the world on his Twitter feed about this crazy phone call Avenatti made to him, just threatening him out of the blue. We had that allegation a few months back of a battery case against him.
So, altogether, does it look like someone whose life is not entirely in control? Possibly.
BURNETT: All right. Jack Weiss, thank you very much. As we await, of course, Michael Avenatti coming out here in New York momentarily.
OUTFRONT next, Jeanne on where Beto stands, literally.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:57:54] BURNETT: Tonight, something Beto O'Rourke will take a stand on.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's a candidate known for climbing onto counters do to kick it up a notch?
That's Beto O'Rourke climbing on top of a minivan, his campaign's, to address a crowd that couldn't fit into the coffee shop he was headed for. And after he slid down, he went inside the shop and climbed on that counter. Even up there he was sometimes blocked from view.
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I promise to personally clean your counter before I leave, OK?
MOOS: He gave it a quick wipe afterwards. He always asks permission beforehand.
O'ROURKE: Are you OK with me getting up here?
MOOS: He's done it so often there's a Twitter account called Beto on Counters. That includes him standing on chairs.
Even at 6'4", he can get lost in a crowd, since the counter hopping. Besides --
O'ROURKE: How's everybody doing?
MOOS: It could serve as a subtle dig at rivals in their 70s. Can you imagine Trump, Biden or Bernie doing this?
One onlooker tapered Beto's leg to alert him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, step forward.
MOOS: To get off a glass plate, sometimes he vanishes.
O'ROURKE: Thank you for asking the question.
MOOS: He likes to crouch on the counter as well, which seems to defeat the purpose except when he wants to answer someone's question eye to eye.
Someone tweeted, oh, God, is he pulling a Tom Cruise again? Remember leaping Tom on Oprah's couch?
OPRAH WINFREY, TV TALK SHOW HOST: Have you ever felt this way before?
MOOS: Beto has made the leap to Internet meme, photoshopped on a McDonald's counter, on top of a podium while debating President Trump. Even portrayed as President O'Rourke, addressing the nation from the Oval Office.
You'd think counter climbing was an Olympic event judging by the cheers, for Beto's counter attack.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
O'ROURKE: Thank you for allowing me to stand on your counter.
MOOS: -- New York.
BURNETT: It's slippery on top of the car roof.
All right. Thanks for joining us. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT any time, just go to CNN Go.
Anderson starts now.