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Cook County Prosecutor Drops 16 Felony Counts Against The Actor Jussie Smollett; President Trump Now Calls Robert Mueller's Report Great; Rudy Giuliani Is Interviewed Regarding the President's Reaction To The Mueller Report. Aired: 5-6p ET
Aired March 26, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Happening now, Breaking News, charges dropped. In a shocking turnabout, a Cook County prosecutor drops 16 felony counts against the actor Jussie Smollett who had been charged with lying to police about an alleged hate crime attack. I'll talk to Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel who is calling it a white wash.
Great report. After months of tossing around phrases like witch hunt and hoax, President Trump now calls Robert Mueller's report great. But he falsely claims it exonerates him on the issue of obstruction. The President's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, he is here in "The Situation Room" live.
Repeal and repeal. As the Trump administration launches a move to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, are Republicans moving on from repeal and replace to just repeal. Why Democrats feel they have a new weapon in the 2020 race.
And missile message. After the failed Summit with Kim Jong-un and signs of renewed activity at North Korean missile sites, the U.S. carries out a test launch of missile interceptors. It is a message to North Korea?
I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: Breaking News. In a stunning move, a Cook County prosecutor drops the felony charges against the actor, Jussie Smollett who had been accused of staging a hate crime against themselves and filing a false police report.
Top police officials in Chicago, they are furious along with the mayor, Rahm Emanuel who calls it a white wash of justice. Also as the Justice Department says it will take weeks to release the Mueller report, President Trump seizes on his Attorney General's summary to declare victory while falsely claiming that the Special Counsel exonerated him of obstruction.
The President is using Mueller's findings to attack critics. But as the Trump administration goes on the offensive, it may have just given Democrats a 2020 battle cry with a new effort to get rid of Obamacare. I'll speak with Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, she
is coming up later; and with the President's personal attorney, there you see him, Rudy Giuliani he is standing by right now. Our correspondents and analysts, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with today's shocking developments in the Jussie Smollett case. CNN's Ryan Young is in Chicago. Ryan, so how is everyone explaining this extraordinary turn of events?
RYAN YOUNG, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Wolf, right now they are not -- this has been a head scratcher from the Police Department to the public to even the Mayor's Officer. People want to know how he ended up here. But don't forget, the judge has sealed this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR, CHICAGO: This is a white wash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.
YOUNG (voice over): Tonight, Chicago officials furious.
EDDIE JOHNSON, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Do I think justice was served? No. Where do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.
YOUNG (voice over): Police not notified of a dramatic reversal that prosecutors dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett after he was accused of staging a January 29th attack on himself to look like a hate crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: We found out about when you all did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG (voice over): Officials still charging that Smollett's claim leading police on a citywide manhunt was a hoax. The State sealing all of the evidence in the case, no longer accessible to the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: It shows to hide behind a secrecy and broker a deal. My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence and gather facts and present them to the State's Attorney. That's what we did. I stand behind the detective's investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG (voice over): Today, Smollett who has always maintained his innocence took a victory lap at the courthouse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSSIE SMOLLETT, AMERICAN ACTOR: I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I had been accused of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG (voice over): The State's Attorney's Office says that the facts of the case and Smollett's record were used to make the decision to drop charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MAGATS, COOK COUNTY ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Also keeping in mind resources and keeping in mind that the office's number one priority is to combat violent crime and the drivers of violence. The decision, I decided to offer this disposition in the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG (voice over): Smollett's lawyers earlier pointing fingers at Chicago Police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICIA BROWN HOLMES, ATTORNEY FOR JUSSIE SMOLLETT: We have nothing to say to the Police Department except to investigate charges and not try their cases in the press to bring charges and not to jump ahead and utilize the press to convict people before they are tried in a court of law.
JOHNSON: Quite frankly, it pissed everybody off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG (voice over): A nod to these strong words by Chicago's Superintendent last month announcing charges against Smollett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: And why this stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary, so he concocted a story about being attacked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG (voice over): Chicago's mayor livid over the outright absence of fault in the undetermined case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL: >> Not only is the $10,000.00, it doesn't come close financially, but all of the other repercussions of this decision it made to me, where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have because of a person's position one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else.
(END VIDEO TAPE) YOUNG (on camera): Wolf, when you think about this, this story got
international attention. Twelve detectives worked almost 24 hours a day to try to find the two men at the center of this, and I am told those two men had the text message exchanges between Jussie Smollett and themselves so they could have some of the evidence here that they may be able to share with the public. There's a lot of questions with this, but now that it's sealed, we may never know what police actually had -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story this is. Ryan Young in Chicago for us. Thanks very much. We're going to have more on this breaking news, that's coming up later here in "The Situation Room." I'll speak live with the Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, but there are other big stories we're following tonight, including President Trump. He is now going on the offensive in the wake of the Mueller report, at least the summary of it that was released that is administration is launching a new effort to take down Obamacare.
I'll speak with the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. There you see him once again, he is here live in "The Situation Room." Let's first go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the President is putting his spin on Mueller's findings.
JIM ACOSTA, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He certainly is, Wolf. President Trump continued his post-Mueller report victory lap. This time, he was on Capitol Hill. But the President is taking his win and twisting it claiming the Special Counsel found he did not engaged in any obstruction when that is not exactly the case. But the Trump administration appears to be diving head first into yet another controversy siding with an effort overturn Obamacare without a clear healthcare plan of its own.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ACOSTA (voice over): Soaking in the findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, President Trump marched up to Capitol Hill to declare victory, but he didn't stick to the facts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Mueller report was great. It could not have been better. It said no obstruction, no collusion. It could not have been better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But that's not true. While Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report did state that the Special Counsel found the Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government, the question of obstruction was left to the Justice Department and it was Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who decided not to prosecute. Democrats aren't taking the President's word for it and demanding to see the full report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES: We don't need an interpretation by an Attorney General who was appointed for a particular job to make sure the President is above the law, we need to see the report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice over): The President also accused unspecified forces of conspiring against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We cannot let it ever happen again. It went very high up and it started fairly low, but with instructions from the high up, this should never happen to a President again. We can't allow that to take place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice over): Mr. Trump has accused the Obama White House of wiretapping him without evidence. He has blamed the late Senator John McCain for the release of a dossier detailing the President's alleged misdeeds, but one of the President's top allies, Senator Lindsey Graham now says he urged McCain to give the dossier to the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE'S JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: John got the dossier, he called me up and said, "What do you think? You think I should turn it over to the FBI? I said yes, that was it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did the President respond to that?
GRAHAM: No --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice over): One area where there is some agreement, impeachment agrees to be off the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't think they are talking about impeachment.
PELOSI: Impeachment is not on the table until it is on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice over): But new battle lines are being drawn, specifically over Obamacare. After the Justice Department sided with the Federal Judge's ruling striking down the Affordable Care Act saying in a statement, that the District Court's comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion. The President jumped in to damage control mode.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Let me just tell you exactly what my message is. The Republican Party will soon be known as the Party of Healthcare, you watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice over): In the run up to the midterms, the President vowed to take care of people with preexisting conditions, one of Obamacare's key protections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will always fight for and always protect patients with preexisting conditions. We have to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice over): After running on protecting Obamacare during the midterms, Democrats are more than ready to resurrect the issue for the 2020 campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Trump position ties a two-year anchor around the neck of every Republican for the next two years.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ACOSTA (on camera): Now, at least one target of the Russia investigation is seizing on Mueller's findings in the hopes of a pardon. Former Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos confirmed to CNN that his attorney is seeking a pardon from the President. Papadopoulos told CNN if offered one, it would be an honor to accept. The President has sounded open to the idea of pardons, though he has told reporters he hasn't given that prospect a whole a lot of just yet -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House. Thanks very much. Joining us now, President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. Mayor, thanks very much for coming in.
RUDY GUILIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY, DONALD TRUMP: Nice to be here.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about the Attorney General's summary of the Mueller report. You have a copy over there.
GIULIANI: I've got it right here.
BLITZER: I have a copy over here. The President is now saying that the Mueller report in his word is great and that Robert Mueller, who spent nearly two years investigating all of this, acted honorably. Do you agree with the President? GIULIANI: Not that he acted honorably. I would have to disagree with
BLITZER: Tell us why you would disagree with ...
GIULIANI: Well, I -- you know --
BLITZER: ... with your boss, your client, the President of the United States.
GIULIANI: Loo, we've had -- you know, some people see it differently. Maybe I was in the trenches more. I have a mixed view of it. I think that it's almost a Jekyll and Hyde situation. I think he did some very fine things and I think they straightened out a lot of very difficult situations. That whole thing with Cohen lying about there was an agent that supposedly had a tape that showed that the President counseled Cohen to lie. They immediately rebutted that because it was completely untrue. I thought that was a noble thing to do, prosecutorial tradition.
I thought their treatment of Manafort was way over the top. I think it shouldn't be allowed. I think the Justice Department should look into taking somebody, put them in solitary confinement, basically telling them what you think they're lying about -- the person could also be telling the truth -- and then bringing them back 13 times and letting the guy basically know in his head that if he just says what you want, you're going to get out of solitary confinement.
BLITZER: Sounds to me like you're recommending that the President pardon him.
GIULIANI: No I'm not.
BLITZER: But you're saying he was treated unfairly.
GIULIANI: Well that's up to the President. I'm not recommending any pardons. I've got nothing to do with pardons and I've taken the same position on pardons from day one until now, which is no pardons are going to be considered at this time. This would be the wrong time to consider pardons. But that's not my job. That's the White House counsel's job and the President's job. The reality is that whether you think he should get a pardon or not, he was treated in almost a grossly horrible way. And it shouldn't be allowed.
Just because he is Manafort and people are angry at him. The guy, after all, is not a terrorist and he's not an organized criminal. I'm not sure they get treated that way. And then you also --
BLITZER: He eventually pleaded guilty in addition to being convicted in a court of law.
GIULIANI: Yes, but he never -- yes, but he never said what they wanted him to say. And that's why they -- he got that big, long sentence. They said --
BLITZER: He's about to go to jail for seven and a half years. GIULIANI: I'm not saying he's -- I'm not saying he's not -- he's
blameless. I'm telling you he was treated horribly. And he was treated in a way that's very, very dangerous because a prosecutor comes very close to suborning perjury when you do that. You put a certain amount of pressure on somebody -- I did this job, you know, for 19 years. There's a point at which you know I'm putting too much pressure on him and I may get what I want to hear, but it may not be true.
BLITZER: But if somebody was stealing millions and millions of dollars from American taxpayers, not filing tax returns the way you're supposed to file, when you were a prosecutor, wouldn't you -- wouldn't you go after that individual?
GIULIANI: I don't -- of course I would --
BLITZER: He has to reimburse the government for what? $11 million.
GIULIANI: Wolf, Wolf, of course I'd go after him, but in a proportionate way. I wouldn't raid his house. I would not put him in solitary confinement for eight months. That's totally crazy. Most terrorists aren't in solitary confinement. This is a Weissman inspired deal. Read the Sidney Powell --
BLITZER: So let me ask you this. Why do you think --
GIULIANI: May I finish the sentence?
BLITZER: Why do you think the President believes ...
BLITZER: ... that Mueller acted honorably?
GIULIANI: You got to let me finish the sentence.
GIULIANI: Sidney Powell wrote a book called -- I've forgotten the name of the book, but it's a book about the abuse of power. Two chapters are devoted to Andrew Weissman who was his chief henchman.
BLITZER: He was one of the prosecutors working with Mueller.
GIULIANI: Enron -- oh, he was handling the Manafort case. And he's the one that did the questioning. Thirteen times, back and forth, the guy was in solitary, they have contended that he knew that the President, then the candidate, had knowledge of the meeting with that Russian woman. He contended I don't have that knowledge.
BLITZER: At the Trump Tower in New York.
GIULIANI: Correct. Each time they would tell him, "You're lying, you're lying, you're lying," they'd send him back to solitary, bring him back again. Now they did the same thing with Jerome Corsi who refused to read their script. We happen to have those -- that material sent to us. It was kind of a big deal at the time that it happened. And Corsi was being told to lie. So there were things --
BLITZER: So you disagree, clearly, with the President on whether Mueller acted honorably because he made the point --
GIULIANI: But here is what I think. Here is what I think.
GIULIANI: Here's what I think.
BLITZER: Hold on one second, hold on, let me get to the next question then you can tell me what you think. Does the President accept the Attorney General's characterization? In his letter -- you have a copy over there, I have a copy -- that Russia did in fact interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
GIULIANI: I have no reason to believe he disagrees with it.
BLITZER: You've never discussed that with the President?
GIULIANI: The President is -- the President doesn't disagree that Russians interfered, what he disagrees with is that he had anything to do with it.
BLITZER: But the president -- listen to what the President said in Helsinki after he met with the -- you know, with the Russian leader, Putin.
GIULIANI: But that's kind of switching with the headline.
BLITZER: No, no, no, listen -- listen to this.
GIULIANI: The headline here -- the headline here is that after ...
BLITZER: Hold on a second. Hold on.
GIULIANI: ... after -- after two years of saying collusion, collusion, collusion, collusion, collusion, collusion on this network --
BLITZER: But hold on a second --
GIULIANI: He was found -- no collusion --
BLITZER: The whole purpose of Mueller's -- the whole purpose of Mueller's investigation --
GIULIANI: You agree he was exonerated on collusion, don't you?
BLITZER: Well of course he was and that's what -- that's what it says here.
GIULIANI: So wasn't the reporting --
BLITZER: They could not establish --
GIULIANI: Wasn't the reporting --
BLITZER: They could not establish conspiracy or links.
GIULIANI: That's the premise -- but that was the premise --
BLITZER: But hold on one second -- hold on one second.
GIULIANI: Wasn't the reporting quite unfair for the last two and a half years about collusion? Adam Schiff saying he had evidence of collusion?
BLITZER: Listen to what --
GIULIANI: Stop --
BLITZER: The whole purpose --
GIULIANI: Stop and please apologize for that.
BLITZER: The whole purpose of the Mueller investigation in the letter that the then acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote to Mueller on May 17, 2017 was to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. They investigated that, they confirmed that, that's in the Attorney General's summary of the Mueller report.
GIULIANI: But -- I've got no problem with that.
BLITZER: But the question is, and it has always intrigued me, why the President, maybe alone, refuses to still accept that. Listen to what he said in Helsinki. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coates came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So I mean that's clearly the whole objective of this report why the Russians interfered in the U.S. presidential election and the U.S. intelligence community, as you know, they concluded they had three goals, the Russians -- to denigrate Hillary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency, help Donald Trump's election chances and undermine public faith in U.S. democracy. Why won't the President accept what his own intelligence community tells him?
GIULIANI: Since he has now said that this is a very good report and I agree in the main that it is a very, very good summary, I have no reason to believe he doesn't accept those. He -- he read it, he didn't object to it. I mean I went over this letter in great detail with him and the only thing we have any issue with is the Special Counsel punting the decision on obstruction to the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and OLC.
BLITZER: And I --
GIULIANI: I think he should have made that decision one way or the other.
BLITZER: A lot of people agree with you on that, that ...
GIULIANI: But -- but --
BLITZER: ... he shouldn't have punted on that, he should have made a specific recommendation --
GIULIANI: I also -- I also -- remember, this -- it also does not exonerate him?
BLITZER: Well, I'm going to get to that --
GIULIANI: Prosecutors never say that in a letter. That's kind of a --
BLIZTER: I'm going to -- I'm going to -- I'm going to get to that in a moment.
GIULIANI: That's kind of a -- that's kind of close to an improper statement.
BLITZER: The -- the Attorney General in his letter, the four-page letter, he quotes Mueller as saying that the investigation -- I'm saying -- I'm quoting now from the letter -- did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government, which is obviously what you want to hear. So is there an innocent explanation, Mayor, why so many Trump associates were meeting with Russians during the campaign?
GIULIANI: It wasn't that many. They were meeting with other people --
BLITZER: They're -- 16. There, you see them on the screen.
GIULIANI: Well there probably 50 that were meeting with people from Great Britain or people from France or -- nobody ...
BLITZER: Well, Great Britain and France are allies of the ...
GIULIANI: ... nobody at the time --
BLITZER: ... United States, Russia is not.
GIULIANI: But at the time that was happening, nobody had any idea that this would be anything about collusion. Some of those meetings were -- didn't General Flynn like shake hands with a guy at the convention that walked past? They shook hands --
BLITZER: General Flynn who was the President's National Security adviser-- GIULIANI: I know, he had --
BLITZER: And he pleaded guilty to lying about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. George Papadopoulos also pleaded guilty to lying about his Russian contacts, he was a National Security aide to the President during the campaign. Paul Manafort, the man you've said was treated unfairly, he lied about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, who had ties to Russian intelligence. All these people lied about their Russian contacts. None of the 16 ever went to the FBI.
BLITZER: Hold on a second.
BLITZER: And reported the contacts they had ...
BLITZER: ... with the FBI -- with the Russians.
GIULIANI: You mean at the time that it happened.
BLITZER: Right. If --
GIULIANI: Well there wouldn't -- there wouldn't have been any reason to do it at the time -- there wouldn't -- there wouldn't --
BLITZER: If a hostile adversary is coming to you and saying we have information that can help you win the election ...
GIULIANI: Time out.
BLITZER: ... and hurt Hillary Clinton ...
GIULIANI: Time out.
BLITZER: ... isn't that something you should tell the FBI about?
GIULIANI: That is the information that General Flynn got. General Flynn's conversation, if you believe what has been written, was about -- was about sanctions, right? And he failed to disclose that and he misled the Vice President. It had nothing to do with -- it had nothing to do with dirty information on Hillary.
BLITZER: I asked --
GIULIANI: Wait a second.
GIULIANI: And it took place after the election. So whether he told the truth or didn't tell the truth has got nothing to do with collusion. So, I mean -- BLITZER: Let me tell you why I'm asking the question. Because in the
letter -- and you've read this ...
GIULIANI: And Manafort's conversation --
BLITZER: ... you've read this letter very carefully.
GIULIANI: It had nothing to do with collusion.
BLITZER: Let me read what the Attorney General Bill Barr writes in his letter. He says that the Mueller investigation did not establish collusion.
BLITZER: And then he says this, quote, "Despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign." So once again, multiple offers -- multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign. Does the President regret that his associates, after getting those offers, never reported those contacts to the FBI?
GIULIANI: I can't say whether he does or he doesn't --
BLITZER: Should they have reported --
GIULIANI: I think -- I think you have taken --
BLITZER: You're a former head of the southern -- the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
BLITZER: If officials, associates are meeting with a hostile power like Russia -- and you agree ...
BLITZER: ... it's a hostile power -- and they say we have information that is damaging to Hillary Clinton, there's information that will help Donald Trump become President, shouldn't they at least notify the FBI of that? And speak as a former U.S. Attorney who led the Southern District of New York.
GIULIANI: I would say -- I would say what you're doing is you're missing the forest for the trees. The Special Counsel did not find --
BLITZER: That wasn't --
GIULIANI: Please, let me read it.
BLITZER: All right.
GIULIANI: The Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts despite multiple offers from Russians -- did not --
BLITZER: I agree.
GIUILIANI: That's -- that's the headline --
BLITZER: The headline is they did not conspire or coordinate, you're absolutely right. But the question is what about all the multiple efforts by Russian officials to try to meet with these Trump associates?
GIULIANI: I guess if they anticipated what was going to happen or they had detailed knowledge of the law --
BLITZER: What would you have -- what you have done if a Russian -- if during the campaign -- and you were working --
GIULIANI: I happen to be a lawyer.
BLITZER: Well what would you have done ...
GIULIANI: And a prosecutor.
BLITZER: ... if a Russian came to you and said I've got information that will help Donald Trump ...
GIULIANI: I guarantee you --
BLITZER: ... I have information that's very damaging to Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: What would you have done?
GIULIANI: I would have -- I would have reported it because I would have known that that could be a potential violation of the law. Not necessarily a violation of law but a potential violation of law. It gets you into a whole very, very esoteric discussion of is that a campaign contribution or not? Can information be valued and seen as a campaign contribution? But out of an excess of caution, if somebody came to me -- if you came to me or somebody on the campaign came to me and said a Russian official offered dirty information on Hillary, I would have said let's report it.
Now, you don't strictly have to do it. There's nothing illegal about not reporting a crime. Number two, this is arguably a crime. There's a big debate among lawyers as to whether or not information from a foreigner is a contribution to the campaign. Some lawyers say yes, some lawyers say no. What's the value of it, does it have a monetary value?
BLITZER: In kind contributions.
GIULIANI: Is there a violation of the First Amendment if you make it -- if you make it a violation. Hell of a complex question.
GIULIANI: No strict duty to report. Now, I guarantee you that most of these people that heard this -- I don't know exactly who they are -- I have a pretty good idea because I think I know everything they have, they wouldn't have even known that it's a violation of the law. They wouldn't have known it. They would have had no idea that if a French person comes up to you and says I've got dirty information on Trump or I've got dirty information on Hillary, that that's some kind of a possible violation of law. I think, Wolf -- please, I really believe this is a very small point in light of the fact that for two and a half years he's been accused all over the ...
BLITZER: So let's get to that --
GIULIANI: ... including treason.
BLITZER: Let's get to the whole issue of obstruction which is what you were talking about.
GIULIANI: No, let's get to the issue of --
BLITZER: Obstruction --
GIULIANI: This began as a much exaggerated -- Donald Trump is almost a traitor, he's conspiring with the Russians. It isn't true. Not only --
BLITZER: That -- it didn't begin like that. It began because there was a suspicion that Russia was trying to interfere in the U.S. election.
GIULIANI: Or maybe somebody invented it, the Trump part. Maybe somebody invented ...
BLITZER: The first -- what they said the first contact with George Papadopoulos ...
GIULIANI: ... somewhere outside the United States.
BLITZER: ... told an Australian diplomat in London ...
BLIZTER: ... that Russians had information.
GIULIANI: Maybe it's going to turn out that that wasn't --
BLITZER: That's the way it started.
GIULIANI: That may not be correct.
BLITZER: You have better information?
GIULIANI: I do, but I'm not at liberty to disclose it right now.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about this other issue -- GIULIANI: But I do think the question of how it started is a very
BLITZER: Very important because the George Papadopoulos report to the U.S. government about -- to the Australians, actually was the Australian diplomat who notified ...
GIULIANI: And he -- and he immediately ...
BLIZTER: ... the U.S. government of this ...
GIULIANI: ... he immediately --
BLITZER: ... conversation.
GIULIANI: He immediately had an exculpatory conversation, which is ignored, saying I have no knowledge of any information. I have no knowledge of any hacking. That information is left out of the affidavit, which is a complete perjury. Four affidavits -- nobody ever tells the judge that Steele ...
BLITZER: All right.
GIULIANI: ... never went to Russia. He wrote an expert report on Russia, hadn't been there for nine years. Nobody told the judge that Steele got fired by the FBI.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about the President --
GIULIANI: Nobody told the judge that the Steele dossier, which they based the affidavit on, Hillary Clinton paid $1.1 million to have that written. Kind of puts a little doubt on the credibility of it.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the President. He says this report, based on the summary all of us have read from the Attorney General, is a complete and total exoneration. The letter from the Attorney General overall is, I agree with you, very good news for the President. But when the President characterized it as a complete exoneration -- this is what Bill Barr, the Attorney General quotes ...
BLITZER: ... Mueller as saying. "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Is the President frustrated by that one line that's quoted in this document?
GIULIANI: No. I think what the President is saying is that when you read this letter and you read the next two paragraphs of the letter right after that, this decision about -- is it -- is it a crime or isn't it a crime was punted to the Attorney General, to Rod Rosenstein and the Office of Legal Counsel. I understand although I don't have detailed knowledge of this, I've heard this news reports. They took two to three weeks to study it --
BLITZER: Three weeks ago. GIULIANI: That's about right. I know what they did, I worked in the
Justice Department for a lot of my life. They gave it to OLC.
BLIZTER: Office of Legal Counsel.
GIULIANI: Office of Legal the Counsel are the geniuses, along with the Solicitor General of the Justice Department. And they reviewed every case on obstruction of justice and came to this conclusion. That exonerates him. So I guess technically you'd have to say that Mueller and Barr exonerated him on collusion and the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and OLC exonerated him on obstruction. Not Mueller. Mueller punted. Mueller said, I can't say it's a crime but I can't exonerate him.
GILULIANI: Now this is about as good as a declination letter I've ever seen. I wrote many of these.
BLITZER: I assume the President is upset that Mueller did not completely exonerate him on this as he did on coordination ...
GIULIANI: Yes, he's not. He says he is an honorable guy.
BLITZER: ... or conspiracy.
GIULIANI: He said he's an honorable, so I guess he feels maybe the guy was confused and he punted it.
BLITZER: So there are some --
GIULIANI: I think -- I have a guess as to what happened. I think his staff was in debate over it. And it's a question of interpretation, not fact.
BLITZER: But you know Robert Mueller.
BLITZER: You've worked with him over the years ...
BLITZER: .... when he was the FBI Director --
GIULIANI: And aside from the criticism I gave you before, I have a good view of him and everybody makes mistakes.
BLITZER: So you think if his staff said to him, blah, blah, blah, he wouldn't make up his own mind?
GIULIANI: Well, he said -- he says -- I mean, I imagine the Attorney General of the Justice Department -- what the Special Counsel views as difficult issues of law and fact. So I have to take him at his word that that's what it is. BLITZER: Because some have suggested maybe he was punting to the
Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General for them to conclude because he was reporting to them, but others have suggested maybe he was punting to let Congress decide whether the President did anything wrong.
GIULIANI: Well, he is too good a lawyer to not realize that eventually this is the Attorney General's decision. The Attorney General could reverse him on all these things. So the person that actually charges in the Justice Department is the Attorney General. So he knew the Attorney General would have to have a position on it.
Also from the idea that he reported it three weeks early, I think he was - he knew that there would be an OLC review. I also think there's another possibility --
BLITZER: But you don't know for sure that Mueller wanted the Attorney General to make the final decision. You haven't spoken to Mueller or heard from him about that.
GIULIANI: I have not.
BLITZER: I'm hoping someday we'll all be able to hear from him on that ...
GIULIANI: But I do -- but I do think --
BLITZER: ... and a whole bunch of other issues.
GIULIANI: But I do think that if he was punting it to Congress, he would have reported three weeks early that he couldn't reach a decision.
BLITZER: Do you want this whole Mueller report to be released with the exclusion of some grand jury ...
BLITZER: ... testimony or national security secrets, classified information. You want it to be released. When?
GIULIANI: As soon as they can do it. Consistent with the law. If they want to release it, you know, this week, next week, the week after. Knowing how long it's reported to be, it would seem to me it's probably going to take a week or two.
BLITZER: If the President --
GIULIANI: And if they want to put out grand jury material, they can go to a judge and get a 6E order. Now they might not get it, but they could try to do that.
BLITZER: If the President had -- has nothing to hide, had nothing to hide ...
GIULIANI: Right. BLITZER: ... why weren't you willing to let him sit down for an
interview with the Special Counsel? He answered written questions, written questions were submitted, he answered those questions in writing, but he never agreed to sit down and talk about it.
GIULIANI: I don't want to get sued for malpractice. I'd be a hell of an awful lawyer if I walked him into a situation where I had every reason to believe they weren't in good faith wanting to question him. They were going to try to trap him into some kind of contradiction with a Cohen who's lying his whatchamacallit off and they don't seem to care about it. I reviewed the entire Flynn situation, and I'm not arguing that Flynn told the truth, he didn't tell the truth, but they trapped him. I mean, they weren't seeking information from Flynn, they had the information, they knew that the meeting took place. They had the memo of it, they had the pictures of it, everything.
They asked him, did you have any meetings. Well, let me finish because it's very important to how we made the decision. They asked a question, Flynn said, I don't remember a meeting like that. Now, if you're seeking information, you take the memo out of the drawer, you show it to him, you say look, you had a meeting with Kislyak, does that refresh your recollection about that meeting. If you're trying to trap him into perjury, you keep it in the desk and then when it comes time to charge, you put that next to his testimony and you say perjury.
Now, we also know that some of the FBI agents didn't think he lied about it. They thought they had a fairer recollection. And I don't know how that all switched into charging it.
BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: I take it in the Q&A, the written Q&A, you didn't want the President to answer any questions involving obstruction. Is that right?
GIULIANI: A couple of reasons for that. Number one, the privilege that he has, the executive privilege that he has is much stronger from the day he gets elected president. So just conveniently divided into the collusion, alleged collusion, all took place before he was president.
BLITZER: He was a private citizen.
GIULIANI: He was a private citizen. He could have had a -- we could have made a claim of privilege. Frankly, our chances of winning that, their chances of winning would be better than ours. On other hand, from the day he becomes president starts from the day he's inaugurated, the executive privilege becomes very strong. And that one becomes strong because of what Dowd and Ty Cobb did, by turning over 1.4 million documents, by not objecting to 50 witnesses. Remember, Bill Clinton objected to those witnesses and Ford in court with Starr made it harder for him to assert executive privilege. And remember, what happened to Bill Clinton, he got indicted for perjury because they sat him down for an interview.
BLITZER: A grand jury, yes.
GIULIANI: It is kind of on our mind.
So I'm a lawyer. I'm not a politician. I mean, I am a politician. But in this role, I'm a lawyer. My job is to protect my client. If he weren't the President of the United States, there would be no consideration at all. He would not -- most people under investigation do not go into a grand jury or testify under oath. Every prosecutor decisions I ever made, I didn't have the benefit.
BLITZER: Will you release, and you can release on your own, the Q and A that the President did in writing with Mueller?
GIULIANI: Let's see when they're released.
BLITZER: No. Look, will you release it assuming they don't want to release it for whatever reason? Do you a problem releasing that?
GIULIANI: I don't have. The answers are all truthful. Otherwise, you would have seen --
BLITZER: We'd love to have see what the independent -- what the Special Counsel asked and what the President said in writing. I assume you guys worked really hard to write the answers.
GIULIANI: No. He gave the answers and we worked really hard to make sure that his recollection was correct, that he looked at the documents, you have to look at which wouldn't have happened in a situation where they are trying to trap you into perjury.
BLITZER: So you can assure us that we will see the written Q and A?
GIULIANI: I can assure you that you're going to see it. I have no idea what's going to be --
BLITZER: But if it's up to you, you would release it?
GIULIANI: There's nothing in there I have any problem with.
BLITZER: Okay. Well, that's good to know.
GIULIANI: In fact, I think you know most of the answers that are in there.
BLITZER: So we wouldn't be surprised with any --
GIULIANI: I don't think there's any surprises there.
BLITZER: Was it long? How long? How many pages was it?
GIULIANI: The questions were about recollection now back then seven or eight pages of questions. They were -- I could describe them as law review questions that had a topic and then it had eight sub questions. And then our answers then go in sequence with those. So maybe our eventual answers at 15 to 20 pages, something like that.
BLITZER: You told my colleague, Chris Cuomo, you have a 97-page rebuttal ready to be released. GIULIANI: 87.
BLITZER: 87-page rebuttal. Can you give us a sense of what is in this report, this rebuttal?
GIULIANI: Yes. Let's talk about obstruction. So it goes on to -- it goes into why this could not be an obstruction on many different levels, one of the things the Attorney General picks up on. There was no underlying crime by exonerating him on collusion, it turns out they are not investigating --
BLITZER: Some people go to jail even though they didn't commit a crime.
GIULIANI: Well, you could.
BLITZER: But they lied about it.
GIULIANI: But the Attorney General says quite correctly, it's very hard to find intent when there's not an underlying crime. You can, but hard.
BLITZER: With Martha Stewart, she didn't engage in insider trading but she wound up in jail because she lied about it.
GIULIANI: Although there was a very close case of insider trading involving Martha Stewart, a question of fact as to who was telling the truth and or who wasn't telling the truth. In this case, there is no case of collusion. As they say, he was exonerated, not just, we can't prove it. But that's not the only thing.
Second, there is none of the things that you usually have with an obstruction case. Let's take the Flynn situation, which the President says, it didn't take place. But if you take Comey's testimony, Comey says, the President said to me, go easy on Flynn. That's not obstruction. I never heard of obstruction case. I think it began with pleas. You never start with pleas. You start with, I'm going to hit you over the head with a bat or I'm going to take your money away or I'm going to kidnap your kids. There's some threat involved in it, some kind of coercion.
And, finally, it couldn't be obstruction because assuming Comey is telling the truth, he didn't put in a memo on that for three months. So what happened? In May, he figured out he was obstructed. Back in February, I'm going to tell people now. I'm going to report it to the FBI? So I think we kind of killed that obstruction theory.
BLITZER: Were you surprised?
GIULIANI: I can do the same thing with Comey and I can do the same thing with the Tweets. It's -- I describe it as this a very, very official legal term. I describe it as cockamamie legal theory of obstruction.
BLITZER: Were you surprised that Mueller and his team didn't subpoena the President to seek an oral interview? [17:35:05]
BLITZER: You were bracing for that, right?
GIULIANI: Of course, we were. I mean, they could have and we would have a battle in court. I think -- as I told you, I think on the obstruction part after he was president, I think we had the better argument. I think we would have won that battle particularly because they had so much information. What you to show in order to get a president's testimony, this comes from the S.P. case, who was in the Clinton administration. He tried to resist the subpoena. He lost. But the court said, you have to show if you want to subpoena a president or cabinet [ph] that you can't get this information any other way. We were pretty confident that whatever questions they wanted asked, they already had the information, which is also why we suspected they were trying to trap him in the perjury because they didn't need his explanations.
Why did he fire Comey? The Lester Holt interview will tell you why he fired Comey. He gave all of the reasons. He's not just going to repeat it.
BLITZER: And he mentioned Russia on that interview?
GIULIANI: He did -- there's no question Russia had -- I don't know. Russia may have something to do with it, but there were eight other reasons. That's all he needs, eight other reasons, that he had very, very good reasons to fire him. Hillary would have fired the guy, I think.
BLITZER: Well, Hillary would have fired Comey for other reasons because of what he did to her on the eve of the election. But that's another story.
GIULIANI: Comey did not cover himself.
BLITZER: Do you know if --
GIULIANI: I hired Jim Comey. Jim, I don't know what happened to him. I mean, he did not cover himself with glory in this particular case. I mean, what he did to Hillary Clinton is wrong. You don't say I'm not going to indict and then say all the bad things about somebody. And you don't say, I'm not going to indict, and say, but I can't exonerate. Nobody is asking you to exonerate. He raised that issue of exoneration.
BLITZER: Was there --
GIULIANI: That's a cheap shot.
BLITZER: Donald Trump Jr. go indicted, no charges followed there. Was there ever a thought that Mueller was going to ask him to testify, or anyone else, Jared Kushner?
BLITZER: Anyone else in the family?
GIULIANI: There was never -- that never came up. So we never faced the situation. What did happen persistently, and you probably heard some of these, there were these rumors that he was going to be indicted, and they come out of nowhere. And then we checked and it turned out that you get one about three or four weeks. I always thought they were maliciously inspired to get the President angry. Because I can tell you, and you would assume this, the President handled the stuff against him really well. The President would get upset when it involved his family or involved some of the people who worked for him or some of the kids, like some of these people you see on television had to spend an enormous amount of money and they did nothing wrong. That's the thing that gets him really riled up, and it should.
BLITZER: Yes, because -- and that Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016 when they met with this Russian who supposedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump Jr. said, great, we'll take it. He was in that meeting, Manafort was in that meeting and Jared Kushner was in that meeting.
GIULIANI: And Jared was in half of that meeting.
BLITZER: Who was a half?
GIULIANI: Jared was about half that meeting.
BLITZER: And so were you surprised that they didn't call on Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner at least answer questions about that meeting?
GIULIANI: I'm not surprised because I think from the people on the other side of that meeting, it was quite clear, they never -- I don't think they ever discussed Hillary Clinton. So it got set up that way. But it really was a pretext to talk about adoptions and adoptions from Russia and the Magnitsky Act. And so everybody kind of walked out on it. And it was like half hour meeting or less and never touched on Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on Senator Lindsey Graham saying that it was his idea to for John McCain to ahead hand over that so- called Steele dossier, that Russia dossier, to the FBI. You heard him say it a little while ago. And the President, as you know, has been really railing against the late Senator John McCain blaming him for this whole thing. But Lindsey Graham, who was a very close friend of John McCain, says, you know what, I suggested to him, there's a lot of dirt in here. Maybe you should hand it over to the FBI.
GIULIANI: Sure. I wasn't there. I don't know. I have read some -- I haven't read all of it, but I've read a lot of what's in there. And I don't know if Lindsey saw it. He may have just been described to him.
I think Lindsey as a professional lawyer or law enforcement, if you read it, he would realize it's a piece of garbage. I mean, it's a silly document. It's not a well written intelligence document. It's obviously -- it looks like a big long National Enquirer article. It doesn't seem to come from an intelligence professional. And it's got crazy things in it, like the Russians made him an agent ten years ago and decided five years ago he could be president. Now, if they could figure out five years ago that Donald Trump will be president, we're in a lot of trouble. They're a lot smarter than I think they are.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a whole other story, of course. The SDNY, the Southern District --
GIULIANI: There's also another thing that they did with that that's really -- there's a specific allegation in there that Michael Cohen went to Prague to get information from the Russians. Now, all you to do, if you're Jim Comey, there's a date.
Just go call the State Department and find out what does his passport say. But they don't even take the time to do that. They are doing this extraordinary act of intruding into a man's privacy, a man who turns out to be innocent, they don't even bother to check the one fact they could check. I think that's disgraceful. It shows how cavalier they were about this.
BLITZER: You know to Southern District of New York, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District. You once were the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District. They are pretty aggressive, pretty autonomous, as you know. How worried are you that the Mueller investigation 22 months is over with now but their investigation from some perspective is only just beginning?
GIULIANI: It's not only just beginning. It's been going on before the summer. I'm not worried about it at all. Because I think that the theory of campaign finance is -- there's no violation of the law. The reality is when you make payments to settle personal claims, even if you're in a political campaign and even if helps your political campaign, that can't possibly be a campaign contribution. They are relying on a very, very faulty legal theory.
BLITZER: But they cited that to convict Michael Cohen as an in kind campaign contribution, the money that was given.
GIULIANI: That doesn't mean anything. What I'm trying to indict somebody on and then challenge it, the court will throw it out.
BLITZER: He pleaded guilty too.
GIULIANI: I would like you to consider the following. If that can be considered campaign contribution, then I can run for office now. I'm going to raise $5 million. I can settle every single case against me and I can use my donors money to do it and they put me in jail because it's stupid. And that's the theory they have and it's going to fall down.
BLITZER: You noticed in that document, in that charge against Michael Cohen, and the judge accepted it, the President of the United States is identified as, quote, individual
GIULIANI: Whether it is or isn't, it's not a crime. If it's a crime, then we've got 30 plus members of Congress who, over the last several years, have had claims of sexual paid off with taxpayers' money, and they didn't make him campaign contributions, we've got a real problem if that's the case.
BLITZER: Did the President do that?
BLITZER: Work with Michael Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels?
GIULIANI: No, I'm not saying he did. I'm telling you if they try to allege that as a crime, it is not a crime. And every commissioner of the FEC that I've seen right about it comes to that conclusion but he would have this weird situation that people would run for office to clean out all of the claims against him and use donors money to do that, it would be an absurd application of it. And you shouldn't be taking questionable applications of campaign finance and trying to make them into crimes. That's kind of the problem they had with obstruction of justice as well.
BLITZER: You know the Attorney General, your home, State of New York, the State Attorney General, he is investigating --
BLITZER: She is investigating all sorts of activities involving the President.
GIULIANI: Yes, she's very good. She ran on the platform that I'm going to investigate Donald Trump and I'm going to get him for something very credible.
BLITZER: So you're not worried about this?
GIULIANI: Well, she is looking at the foundation. That's the foundation in which he paid out 19 million and he raised only 18 million. He donated about 18 million of his own money. And there's not a single claim that anybody got -- nobody was paid. They're not like the Clinton Foundation, no big salaries, no trips paid for, no perks, not $150 million contribution from Russia, like the Clinton Foundation. I don't think there's a problem.
BLITZER: But are you worried about SDNY investigating the Trump organization?
GIULIANI: No, because I think the Trump organization is clean. It's a clean organization.
Here's what I really worry about as a citizen. This is like saying, I'm going to go back in this man's life, I'm going to go back and find something he did wrong so we can hurt him. So I don't know how long is that going go on. We don't do that to other presidents. We don't go -- they started with collusion. Wrong. Now, it's branched off into this and then we're like in the fourth degree of separation. At some, it's got to end because it really is harassment.
BLITZER: And, finally, you've been working with the President now, what, for two years, you worked in the campaign. What's next for you? Are you going to stick around and continue this? What's the next chapter?
GIULIANI: Well, I mean, I do a lot of other things. I run a security business and we do security consulting in the United States, all over the world. I love it.
BLITZER: But will you still be the President's lawyer?
GIULIANI: If he needs me. I mean, this still hasn't ended yet. I mean, we've got to get the report out. We've got to see what Congress is going to do. I heard a very -- I heard -- this morning, I heard on this network, a democratic strategist has said he doesn't think it's wise for the democrats to pursue impeachment. And maybe it's a good idea because it could still go back to issues. And he never thought impeachment was much of a campaign issue anyway.
BLITZER: I think it was Jim Clyburn who was the democratic whip in the House of Representatives. He said something along those lines, you've got to move on. This chapter is over with. Nancy Pelosi says, forget about impeachment for the time being as well.
GIULIANI: Well, she had the right standard politically, which is you've got have to have bipartisan support. If you don't have bipartisan support, it's going to look like a completely political witch-hunt.
GIULIANI: And I don't think you're going to get bipartisan support based on this, and I have a pretty good idea of the rest of what they have. And what you're going to find out with obstruction is, this is a matter of interpretation.
There's not some new fact, some new startling fact about it, about -- you know all the facts about obstruction. You can interpret them several different ways, which is why it was a difficult question.
BLITZER: And that's why we're looking forward to getting --
GIULIANI: A legal question --
BLITZER: We're getting -- looking forward to getting the full report.
GIULIANI: Yes, I --
BLITZER: So we can all read it.
GIULIANI: And I wish you would. And if anything is held back, I know somebody is going to say, oh, my god, that's -- you know. I would like the whole thing to be out so we could debate it.
BLITZER: I'm sure the President is grateful to you for your help. Thanks so much for coming in.
GIULIANI: No, I'm grateful that -- I'm grateful that -- however they got there, wrong or not wrong, I'm grateful that an innocent man was, you know, vindicated.
BLITZER: And you're always welcome to come back --
GIULIANI: Thank you.
BLITZER: -- into our situation room.
BLITZER: Have you been to the White House situation room?
BLITZER: So you know they have --
GIULIANI: I was in the Reagan administration.
BLITZER: Yes, of course.
GIULIANI: Remember, I go way back almost as old as you.
BLITZER: Maybe. One of these days. And, Mayor, thanks so much for coming out. Appreciate it.
GIULIANI: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more coming up right after this.
BLITZER: The breaking news, the Justice Department, today, said it will take weeks -- not months, weeks -- for the Attorney General Bill Barr to make a version of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report available.
As you know, I just spoke at length with the President's personal attorney, the former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani. We have a lot to discuss with our experts and our correspondents.
And, Susan, let me get your thoughts on what we just heard from the mayor.
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: It's really difficult to even sort of parse it all out. There were a tremendous amount of, frankly, false statements that he made once again repeated. Again, the Barr summary is not the Mueller report.
Apparently, the White House has not actually reviewed the Mueller report for themselves, and so they are making -- they are operating with the same set of information that we are. The Barr summary simply does not exonerate the President. It does not answer the very, very serious questions about his campaign's conduct.
I did think it was interesting that Mr. Giuliani admitted that had he -- that had a Russian individual reached out to him during the course of the campaign offering dirt on his opponent, that he would have been inclined to contact the FBI.
I actually think that goes to one of the core questions here, which is -- Robert Mueller has now answered the question about whether or not any criminal conduct occurred. That doesn't mean that unacceptable conduct didn't occur, right, sort of the concept of lawful but awful.
HENNESSEY: And so now we're going to have to decide if what the President did was acceptable or not.
[17:50:03] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he said he wants everything released. And he said you can even -- you know, implied you could release grand jury testimony if you get a judge to say OK.
What was interesting to me as somebody who has covered the story is his description of the written questions and how there were multiple pages -- seven, eight, or nine, whatever it was -- with subtext.
And when you asked him, you know, why didn't you have the President testify if he's telling the truth? He said it would be malpractice. And that is our, you know, understanding of what the lawyers were saying, which I would -- they would lay themselves down in front of a bus before they would let Donald Trump testify.
But I must say this is sort of the -- for me, in hearing Rudy Giuliani, it's the calmest I've ever heard him about this entire case because the relief is palpable for him. And I do believe the President has mischaracterized the exoneration or so-called exoneration on obstruction, which there was none, but you can see that the relief is there.
And that -- he says yet again, put everything out there. If he is saying put everything out there and the Congress is saying put everything out there and the President is saying put out there, why not?
BLITZER: What do you think, Shawn?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, look, I think the relief could be short-lived. The Mueller report, as we understand it, you know, to the degree that if found that there was no institutional level conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the President is clear. But as Susan pointed out, what we don't know is the extent to which
individuals on the Trump -- associated with the Trump campaign engaged in activities with Russian officials that may not have risen to the level of criminality but still -- was still completely inappropriate. So that's a question that must be answered.
And we still have this issue of obstruction of justice. We don't know if Barr's conclusion that the President never obstructed justice is based on his pre-existing notion that a president can't be guilty of obstructing justice or if it was based on a lack of evidence. And only the report's going to help us understand that.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Bianna, that the mayor, Rudy Giuliani, said he'd be fine releasing the written Q&A that the President engaged in with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. What -- I mean, he's going to wait obviously for the Attorney General to make that decision, but he wouldn't have a problem.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, he said he wants it all out there. What was also interesting was his characterization of Robert Mueller. Remember, the President, yesterday, was asked if he thought he was an honorable man and he said yes. Rudy Giuliani, off the bat, said that he disagreed with the President and said he wasn't honorable at least in how he handled this investigation.
And also, I thought it was striking that he said that Robert Mueller may have been confused when trying to decide on whether the President obstructed justice, and perhaps that's why, in his words, he punted. And then he really did go after the prosecution as well, some of the other prosecutors there, Andrew Weissmann, in particular, calling him Mueller's henchman.
And then the other thing that struck me was when you asked about a pardon for Manafort and when he said that, you know, again -- once again saying he was treated unfairly and that, yes, he may have committed a crime but he didn't, you know, do something so egregious to be treated the way he was.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Gloria, the whole issue of pardons. He said Manafort was really treated unfairly by the Special Counsel and Michael Flynn, the President's former national security adviser, was badly treated as well.
BORGER: Right. And so, but he said, you know, we haven't discussed pardons. We're not -- it's not my job. It is the counsel's job in the White House. And he's right about that.
But what was interesting to me is it's clearly -- it's clear that what sticks in the President's craw and Rudy Giuliani's craw, of course, is the line that says that, you know, we can't conclude the President committed a crime but it does not exonerate him.
It's clear to me that Rudy Giuliani believes that the second part of that was something that a Special Counsel should not say because if you can't prove it, you shouldn't say he's not exonerated. BLITZER: You heard, Susan, the mayor also say that when the Special
Counsel Robert Mueller couldn't make a final decision on the whole issue of obstruction, that he was handing it over to the Attorney General to make that decision.
HENNESSEY: So once again, we actually don't know that that's what Robert Mueller intended at all until we see that underlying report. Robert Mueller said this is not -- this does not exonerate him. That sounds like he is presenting the legal arguments on both sides.
HENNESSEY: And he is going to leave that for Congress to decide. I do think what we're seeing here is the White House strategy that, in the void of information, between the Barr summary and the Mueller report, to attempt to capitalize on the chaos and confusion, throw as much sand as the -- in the eyes as possible, and hoping of getting a narrative that will stick.
BORGER: You know, it is possible also -- and I think Giuliani suggested this -- that there was some disagreement among the lawyers working for Mueller and that they had a difficult time, clearly, reaching some kind of decision. And he did punt it. Now, whether he expected Barr to make that decision or not remains to be seen.
[17:55:07] BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on this coming up. We've got to take another quick break. There's other important news we're also following.
In a stunning twist, the prosecutor drops 16 felony counts against the actor Jussie Smollett who had been charged with lying to police about an alleged hate crime attack. I'll talk to Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He is standing by live. He's calling it a Whitewash.
I'll also discuss all the day's breaking news with Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris. She's here live in THE SITUATION ROOM.