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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
White House Officials Fear President Trump's Anger As Their Testimony May Be Exposed in the Mueller Report; Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) is Interviewed About the Upcoming Release of the Mueller Report. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired April 16, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
For someone who says he's not worried about what's in the Mueller report, the president has a lot of staffers and former staffers worried being named in it and potentially facing his wrath.
As CNN chief national correspondent John King was first to report, tension is high among those who cooperate with the Mueller probe. And as we're just now learning, White House officials are fearing the president's anger.
Keeping them honest, the question is, why? Now, we have new reporting on that tonight from the White House.
Now, remember, the president repeated repeatedly claims the report completely exonerates him. This afternoon and this morning, he tweeted the same four-word message: no collusion, no obstruction. The second time in all caps.
It is the bumper sticker version of a long running theme.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have not read the Mueller report. I haven't seen the Mueller report. As far as I'm concerned, I don't care about the Mueller report. I have been totally exonerated.
No collusion, no obstruction. And I'm off to dealing with China. I'm off to dealing with North Korea. I'm off to dealing with Venezuela and all the problems in this world. I'm not worried about something that never, ever should have taken place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Total exoneration, he says. Whether that's true or not, we don't really know. We could know more on Thursday when the redacted report arrives, depending, of course, on the degree of redaction, whether it honestly represents the full document and we'll get into that tonight as well because a recently uncovered episode from 1989 involving Attorney General Barr does raise new questions about what we may see on Thursday. But if, in fact, the report says, what the president claims it says,
despite having never seen it, then why the concern? Why is he lashing out on the investigation on camera and online, and why is a Republican source tell CNN or people who cooperated the investigation are worried that, and I'm quoting now, he's going to go bonkers, consider that former White House counsel Don McGahn give 30 hours to the Mueller team. He obviously was privy to many of the decisions that might have factored into the decision or lack of one on obstruction of justice.
The president, as you know, has his own way of describing what used to be called telling the truth about potentially criminal activity on law enforcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's called flipping and it almost ought to be legal. I know about flipping. For 30, 40 years, I have been watching flippers. Everything is wonderful, then they get ten years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he said that about Michael Cohen. He's praised his former campaign chairman, now a convicted felon, for in his words refusing to break. So, it's not unreasonable to believe, the president might, as this Republican source worries, go bonkers about what some of his people might have said to Mueller.
Now, maybe it's nothing incriminating. Maybe just embarrassing. Former insiders have certainly dished up plenty of that in their memoirs, but only under pressure to sell books, not under penalty of perjury. So, what is it? A president angry about dirty laundry or dirty deeds or neither?
A serene President Trump, gracious and exoneration and happy with everyone for doing their civic duty and fulfilling their obligations to the public they serve by telling the whole truth. Given the tweets and the sound bytes and how he reacts in general, in advance of damaging news, it's hard to imagine it won't be some sort of reaction to what's been one of the most significant stories of his presidency so far.
Our Kaitlan Collins has new reporting on all of this tonight. She joins us now from the White House that is waiting for some sort of an impact.
What are you learning, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know that President Trump is eager for the report to come out on Thursday, because he thinks it's going to back up his claims that he's been exonerated. The people around the president are not so eager to see this report because essentially, even though they have not read it and people made that clear, they don't know what's going to be in the report. They think at best, it's going to paint a pretty unflattering portrayal of what's been going on inside the White House during this investigation.
COOPER: Is there any expectation among White House aides a to what will or won't be specifically in the report?
COLLINS: Yes. Here's the thing, they do know think it's going to contain any bombshells. They feel like they know where he came down on collusion and on obstruction. But what they're worried about are the details here, because the people inside the White House, people that used to be inside the White House, and the president's allies all know that so many of them have sat down with the special counsel for dozens of hours.
Some of them, and they're going to be able to back this up what the claims are with statements from them, with dates, with e-mails, with all of these documents to support what's in this report.
So they're worried the details will be the damaging aspect here. Not that there's going to be any bombshells that they're worried is going to really paint an unflattering portrayal.
COOPER: Of course, what we don't know is the level of detail that's in the original Mueller report and might survive any redactions in terms of what people around the president have actually said -- how much of what they said would actually be in any kind of a finished report.
[20:05:00] COLLINS: No, they don't know that. They don't know what exactly is going to be redacted. The White House has maintained publicly that they and President Trump still have not read this, still don't know what the redactions are going to be, but they don't think that this testimony that several White House officials, former White House officials, current White House officials, and now as the president have told the special counsel, things that could relate to the president's temper or the way he operates inside the West Wing, things that may not be a big deal or could not be criminal or anything like that. But it could be embarrassing for the president.
And they know how he is and how he reacts to coverage. So, while he is not expected to read this report page-by-page, he's going to be watching how it plays out in the media, and allies fear that he is going to act accordingly and to perhaps take it out on them and grow anger at them, based on what they told the special counsel, because you got to keep in mind, some of them sat down with Robert Mueller and his team for over 12 hours.
COOPER: So, he's not -- you're saying you heard he is not expected to read them. I mean, obviously, it's 400 pages. He's, according to reporting, not a big reader. If you would think maybe this would be something that would interest him closely. No?
COLLINS: Yes, but people close to the president have known he's not a big reader. So, they're not expecting him to do through this line-by- line, instead his legal team will do it and they will brief the president on it.
But one thing we have learned from our reporting as we were putting out this piece is that most White House officials say they want to read this report, because they're curious about what's in it, but, Anderson, they said they might wait until they leave the White House to actually read it.
COOPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.
Let's get perspective now from two former White House insiders, who know what it's like to have a special counsel in their lives. Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, and Clinton senior adviser Paul Begala. Also with us, former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, who also knows what it's like. He testified to the Mueller team.
Paul, obviously, we have no idea what the people around the president said to Mueller, whether there is anything that should be of concern to the president. Should the people who spoke Mueller be concerned around the president?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a world turned upside- down. They seem to be concerned about telling the truth.
We know that Paul Manafort lied and he's convicted of it. We know that Michael Cohen lied. He was convicted of it.
We know that Rick Gates lied. We know that Michael Cohen lied. We know that George Papadopoulos lied. They were all convicted of it.
But I think the rest ought to be given the benefit of the doubt, because had they lied, Mueller would have caught them, right? So, they seem to be worried about the fact that they told the truth.
This is Holy Week. You know, Christ, you should know the truth. The truth shall set you free. Apparently, this president, the truth should scare the pants off them. It's real quite topsy-turvy.
COOPER: I mean, Paul, you worked for a president who was known to have flashes of anger, certainly. I mean, just because someone tells the truth to the special counsel, it doesn't mean that the boss is going to like it.
BEGALA: Well, in fact in that case, everyone who testified told the truth because we know that, because even Ken Starr didn't charge one person, not one person around Bill Clinton was lying about that investigation or that affair.
In fact, after the report came out, you know what happened? Bill Clinton apologized to me. I'm sure he did to Joe. He apologized to others because he had, in fact, lied about having that affair. That's how the truth works.
You know, this president has to apologize to this team for having put them in this awful, awful spot instead of the team worrying that they'll be trouble for having told the truth.
COOPER: Joe? I mean, it was, what, 20 years ago, you were in Clinton's White House, everyone was bracing for the release of the Starr report. Is what we're seeing here, you know, according to this reporting, some anxiety, some concern, similar to what you experienced while waiting?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's similar in some respects. Paul will remember, because Paul and I were on the same side of this fight. We were fighting with the lawyers because they didn't want to put out a rebuttal the day of the report, and they made a valid point, which was, we don't want to be fighting charges that we haven't been charged with.
But I think at the end of the day, they realized that we needed to have something that looked at all the exculpatory evidence that hadn't been leaked from the grand jury testimony.
These guys are in a tough spot, though. I liken this to President Bush 43 "mission accomplished". They've set the bar so high at total exoneration on both obstruction and collusion, and I think what we are going to see is a lot of black redactions, but in between, we're going to see lots of clues where there was improper contact with the Russians and lots of things that we already know about obstruction and maybe a few more.
I think Don McGahn feels like the wild card here. Thirty hours, never debrief by the White House counsel, the new White House counsel. That's what I think they're worried about.
COOPER: Michael, you were interviewed by the special counsel's team. I know you described it, you and I talked about this. You described it certainly as a less than pleasant experience.
First of all, are you concerned about anything you may have said or should folks in the White House be concerned about may or may have ended up in Mueller report of what they said?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: First of all, I want to congratulate Joe Lockhart for winning a couple of news cycle there, saying he is going to read the Mueller report sitting on a lawn chair at the end of Ken Starr's driveway.
[20:10:00] I thought that was incredible.
But at the same time, you know, all those folks who testified before the Mueller team, you know, a lot of them actually are concerned I believe that they may have said something inadvertently as well. I mean, as you guys know, who went through that investigation, that's entirely possible. I think they're concerned about the ire of the president and his supporters.
Of course, but I mean, more important, not more importantly, also importantly, I think they will become, you know, very famous people in America very quickly. They've all kept their heads down, both former and present White House staffers. And now, suddenly, they're going to be right in the middle of the stage. That's going to be real uncomfortable.
A lot of weird things are going to start happening, like, for example, they're going to start getting death threats. I've gotten 59 of them. I had two people criminally charged in the last ten days. So, this is going to happen to those folks. They're going to be right
in the middle of a jackpot they were trying to avoid for a long time. In the end, I think this is about impeachment or at least taken, there will be no collusion coming out of this report. There will be enough of a path, kind of leaving the bread crumbs towards obstruction-based impeachment. I think it's about impeachment, or at least marching toward it, and certainly, a dozen hearings on the matter of obstruction.
So those folks can count on a lot of legal fees. They will be in front of Congress several times.
COOPER: Paul, I saw you nodding your head, I wonder if it's fair that people -- you know, their testimony to Mueller, that it might end up in this report. I mean, did they have any -- should they have any expectation of privacy?
BEGALA: No, because this is a life that we've chosen. But Michael makes a good point. I do feel for those folks. We're on the different side of the political aisle, but there are going to be people -- I fear, and I think Michael's fears are well-founded, whose lives will be upended by this.
And again, what a world we live in. You know who didn't testify to Mueller? Donald Trump. Why? Because according to his lawyer, according to Bob Woodward's reporting, a legendary investigative reporter, John Dowd, the president's lawyer, told Woodward, if he testifies, he will be wearing an orange jump suit because Dowd said he is a bleeping liar. That's what the president's lawyer said about the president.
Michael didn't have that option. He's not above the law. But this president is going to perhaps slip the noose because he avoided testifying when every other normal American had to.
COOPER: Joe, I mean, there may be some fine embarrassing details about the president in the report. But to Michael's point about impeachment, I mean, Nancy Pelosi has already said, that's not a road she's interested in going down. That is not something that would pass the Senate at all. And so, therefore, what point is it?
LOCKHART: Well, I don't know that -- I don't think she wants to do impeachment. But we may get to the report this is so redacted and we depend so much on what the attorney general has interpreted or have already I think established or many of us established that that's suspect, that the only way to get this grand jury testimony, the really underlying the meat of the case is to go to court.
And if Congress goes to court, they have to have an ongoing legal concern and impeachment maybe the way to do it. So, that actually could bring the specter of impeachment --
COOPER: Is that wise for Democrats?
LOCKHART: It's politically risky for Democrats. But at the end of the day, Democrats are going to have to decide, are we going to let them bury this report or we're going to take the necessary steps to expose the report? We'll have to see.
COOPER: Paul, just from a political stand point. What do you make of Joe's scenario there?
BEGALA: Legally, they may have to do it. But I'm with Joe. I don't support impeachment. Crazy me, I'm going to wait until we reach the report until I draw any conclusions.
But right now, I don't support impeachment. If, politically, you're a Democrat like me and you want to discredit and destroy Trumpism, not just Donald Trump the man, but what he stands for, the way to do it is in the election. Democrats are going to about kicking his rear end in the election rather than I think trying to remove him through impeachment.
Now, that may change if it brings impeachable conduct to the Congress. And Joe is right. It may be that if Mr. Barr, the attorney general, picked by Mr. Trump whitewashes this so much, they may have had no option but to use that as a lever to get the facts before Congress.
COOPER: Michael, just for one note, I'm sorry for the threats you have been receiving. That's awful for you and your family (ph).
CAPUTO: I appreciate it. But, you know, on Thursday --
CAPUTO: Thanks a lot.
On Thursday, the script is going to flip from collusion to obstruction. I think we all know that.
CAPUTO: Michael Caputo, we appreciate you being with us. Paul Begala, Joe Lockhart, Joe Lockhart, as well, thank you very much.
Up next, what a Democratic lawmaker has to say about reporting and the report he and his colleagues are about to get.
And later, saving grace, what Paris firefighters manage to recover, it's just extraordinary, what they have managed to preserve from the Notre Dame fire. Remarkable outpouring of support for the rebuilding effort. France's president has given a time line for the rebuilding. We'll have all the late details and more tonight on 360.
[20:19:10] COOPER: Tonight's headline, White House officials fear the president's anger ahead of the Mueller report. We're talking about possible roots for that anger. He's been venting lately on Twitter, which certainly fits a pattern.
The question is, what happens Thursday when the redacted report arrives? And fear and loathing aside, how will the report be received by Democrats who control the House and are demanding to see more?
Congressman Ro Khanna is a Democrat who sits on the House Oversight Committee. I spoke to him shortly before time.
COOPER: Congressman, the fact that the president has been railing on Mueller in recent days, could he have been given a head up on the content of the report or do you think he's just covering his bases?
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, I think he's concerned. The White House did not calculate their White House counsel cooperated with Mueller and spent over 30 hours testifying to Mueller.
[20:20:00] And I think he's concerned about the obstruction of justice issues and what the White House counsel may have told Mueller.
COOPER: In terms of White House aides, though, reportedly worried that the report might have made the president angry at them, should they have had some expectation of privacy, or should everyone who talked to Mueller have assumed that what they say would one day become public?
KHANNA: I think in an investigation like this, if you work for the president, especially as a White House counsel, you should assume that this is going to become public, especially when Mueller's report was going to go to Congress. And what's surprising to me is that the president nor anyone on his team actually talked to the White House counsel or some of the aides to see what they told Mueller.
And this is why they're concerned because they're worried about what may have been shared.
COOPER: You know, the four categories that Barr has said he will use in terms of what to redact. And one of them is about third parties and it's not clear exactly what he means by that, he said it doesn't apply to the president.
Do you think it possibly applies to members of the president's staff?
KHANNA: Well, it shouldn't. And Barr has not been transparent in this process. I mean, ordinarily, an attorney general that sit down with Jerry Nadler and one of the Republicans in Congress and come to an agreement about what should be redacted and what shouldn't be redacted, and he hasn't followed any of that.
And so, what we now need to do is see the report, see what the redactions are, see if they are fair and then push to see more if he has not been transparent.
COOPER: How long -- I mean, if there are a lot of redactions that Democrats feel are improbably, how long a battle? I mean, that could very easily become a legal battle that could drag on for in the past in somewhat similar circumstances, has dragged down for years?
KHANNA: It could. I don't think that's good for the country. I don't think that's good for the president. I mean, even if they're embarrassing details in the report, the president should be for getting it all out there and moving on. I mean, let's get the facts out there so we can focus on issues that people care about.
And the other thing is that Barr could at least show the report to Nadler, the chair of the Judiciary Committee and to the speaker and the minority leader. I don't need to see it. Not every member of Congress needs to see. I think we should be able to. But at the very least in private, share the report with the key committee chairs and the key leadership.
COOPER: Why is this so important? You can look at this and say Speaker Pelosi has passed and the Senate. The attorney general and special counsel, they'd already ruled out criminal proceedings. So, regardless of what the report says, what's going to come of it?
KHANNA: Well, it's important because the American people should know whether there was misconduct. Whether the president or any of its subordinates violated the law or engaged in behavior that is inappropriate. I mean, that has an implication for our democracy and making sure that never happens again, maybe we need to strengthen the laws and rules to prohibit it.
It's important to understand that we haven't seen a single sentence of the Mueller report and Bill Barr has characterized this as exonerating, but Bob Mueller never has, in fact, numbers of Mueller's team have leaked information saying that the report, particularly on obstruction of justice, could be much more damaging than Barr is saying. And so, the public should just know what they paid for, which is what did Mueller find?
COOPER: Congressman Khanna, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
KHANNA: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, up next, more on what it's like inside a White House under fire. Perspective from two men who have worked for five presidents between them. How they think the president's team is preparing.
[20:27:16] COOPER: Fear among White House staffers, the president lashing out, people have made tough choices, perhaps some who have no choice at all, just days away from facing the consequences of cooperating with Robert Mueller.
Now, in the old civics book version, there will be no consequences for cooperating with investigators and telling the truth. In today's modern day, there might be a different story. No one is expecting a Presidential Medal of Freedom for what they did, at least not from this president.
Perspective now from two David -- David Axelrod, senior adviser for President Obama. On the left, David Gergen, senior adviser for Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton on the right. David Axelrod, if you were in President Trump's inner circle tonight and you had gone in front of Mueller and told the truth, would you be worried?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think so, because we know that this isn't a president that's going to give him a big pat on the back for being opened and sharing the intimate details for their discussions with the president and so on. He is going to react if he feels that someone dimed him out. Here we already know that, you know, he exalts Manafort for not cooperating and condemns Cohen for cooperating. So they understand what the dynamic of that is.
I think the other thing that I would be afraid of if I were inside the White House is you may have a plan to deal with this, how you're going to react, what requires a reaction, w what doesn't, do you put a report out or not? And the whole thing can get blown up in a matter of seconds if he picks up his phone and starts tweeting, and that is a very real possibility here.
COOPER: David Gergen, I mean, just in terms of temperament, you worked for a number of presidents. You worked for President Nixon when he felt under siege. President Trump has been clear by the special counsel and the attorney general.
Obviously, there persists this question about whether he's going to, in the words of one Republican source who spoke to CNN as I mentioned, quote, go bonkers?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as I can tell you, in the Nixon administration as a staff assistance and I knew a report were coming from the Watergate special counsel's office about who was doing what inside the White House, what were being said, what the president said, I would very worried. There is temptation inside a place like that when the tensions are so high for people to blow occasionally, and, you know, we had a president in Nixon who was drinking heavily at the time.
Al Haig who was the chief of staff effectively was running the country during much of that time. So there were many aspects of that you simply would not want out. The fact that James Schlesinger goes in defense secretary told the military, the brass, if you get an order from the president to hit the nuclear button, don't do it. Call me. You cannot do anything unless you clear it with me personally or with Henry Kissinger.
You know, those were the kind of steps being taken. So, yes, you'd be worried.
[20:30:00] In this case, Anderson, if I may add, I would be terribly worried about what was said inside the White House and what was done by the President with regard to the obstruction.
We know from what Barr said, himself, which wasn't all that transparent, but we know that Mueller found evidence that could add up to obstruction but decided there was more evidence the other way, so it was a close call. He decided not to make that close call.
That means there is evidence likely to be in this report of our President that on one hand may have been obstructing. We don't know if there's corrupt intend. But they're bound to be something there that was really giving Mueller pause and why he said the President is not exonerated under question of obstruction.
COOPER: David Axelrod, I mean, you know, you heard in the previous segment, Paul Begala, and Joe Lockhart, and Michael Caputo talking about Democrats and moving toward impeachment even just to keep some sort of a legal case going if in fact there are a lot of redactions and they want to pursue that, they need to have a legal case.
I'm wondering what you make of that idea. Because, I mean, Nancy Pelosi and, you know, Congressman Nadler have said that they're not thinking about impeachment and there is some political danger for the Democrats in that.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I know. This is -- it's really complex because, yes, they want a full airing of what happened. I don't think they want the hot potato of impeachment thrown back into the middle of the debate. That decision has been made. But there may be elements of this report that are so compelling or so disturbing that the movement for impeachment, you know, picks up steam again.
I don't know, I heard Joe say that he thought that they may need to do this for reasons of pursuing the case. There have to be other grounds like, for example, national security grounds to pursue this report because there are obvious implications for national security that may not be apparent or the full testimony may not be apparent in this report.
So, you know, I think this is -- you know, if they're nervous in the White House, there also may be some nerves in Congress or at least among the leadership of Congress as well, because this has been put to bed and I don't know that they -- the leadership necessarily wants impeachment to come back.
COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod, David Gergen, thank you very much.
Up next, the President by Attorney General William Barr that is now raising questions about how he might redact parts of the Mueller report, it's fascinating. We'll take a look at it ahead.
[20:36:24] COOPER: That four-page summary of the nearly two-year long Mueller investigation issued by Attorney General Barr isn't the first time he's done something like that at the Justice Department.
It turns out that 30 years ago when he served in a different role in the department, he also issued a summary on a controversial issue that came under attack. And that lead into questions about how he might redact the Mueller report. Randi Kaye tonight has details.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): October 1989, a much younger William Barr caught up in a legal battle with Congress. At the time, Barr was head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the first Bush White House. He had authored a controversial memo that said the FBI could forcibly seize people in foreign countries without consent of that country's government.
PETER ARNETT, CNN REPORTER: Some officials are calling the new FBI directive the President's snatch authority. One prime target might be Panama's general, Noriega.
KAYE: News of the controversial memo surprised even President George H.W. Bush.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm abashed to say I don't know what it is. You know, I have to get back to with the answer to your question.
KAYE: As with the Mueller report today, Barr was asked decades ago to provide his full legal opinion to Congress. Instead, Barr offered this 13-page summary of his principal conclusions. Barr reasoned that as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for the Justice Department, he provided legal advice throughout the administration on a confidential basis.
Still, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee at the time wrote this letter to Barr's boss, the attorney general requesting the full memo. "It is my understanding that the opinion is unclassified and that it does not discuss ongoing investigations or litigation. Therefore, can I see no damage that would result from disclosure." Barr refused, wanting Congress to trust his summary, so Barr was called to testify.
As NYU Law Professor Ryan Goodman first noted on justsecurity.org, Barr argue that opinions from his office had been treated in the past as confidential. But the House Judiciary chair quickly pointed out, "DOJ had published other opinions up until 1985." The outrage over the memo continued. Secretary of State James Baker tried to play it down.
JAMES BAKER, SECRETARY OF STATE: This procedure will not be used absent a full inner agency discussion of all aspects of it.
KAYE: Finally, in 1993, long after Congress first subpoena the full report, it was made public. Barr was long gone from his position at the DOJ. The Clinton administration published Barr's full 29-page opinion allowing the public to see it for the first time.
(on camera) It turns out Barr omitted key principle conclusions in his summary to Congress. In it, Barr failed to disclose that his full 1989 opinion concluded that the President has the power to authorize actions that violate the U.N. charter, also that the attorney general as well as the President have executive power to authorize overseas abductions. SEN. PAUL SIMON (D-IL): It ought to be a very rare thing. We can't just be an international Rambo wandering around doing whatever we want regardless of international law.
KAYE (voice-over): Another key omission, Barr failed to tell lawmakers that in his full opinion from 1989, he concluded that the President can override customary international law. He had told Congress that the full document is strictly a legal analysis of the FBI's authority as a matter of domestic law. Details from another time, now under the microscope.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
[20:40:07] COOPER: Joining me now, someone who criticized what Barr did back then, Yale Law School Professor Harold Koh. Also with us, CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero and Jeffrey Toobin.
Professor Koh, given your knowledge of Barr's 1989 memo, I wonder what went through your mind when you saw the Trump principle conclusions in his letter summarizing Mueller's report?
HAROLD KOH, PROFESSOR, YALE LAW SCHOOL: Well, you know, Anderson, athletes and dancers have signature moves and so do lawyers. And Bill Barr is sort of a four-step process. First, refuse and deny, delay. Second, summarize. Third, slant. And four, omit.
So, he was there asked by congressional committee for the opinion. He refused and delayed. Second, when asked to give something, he summarized. Third, when he offered the conclusions, he slanted it toward his client. And then when the opinion was released three years later, it turned out he omitted some of the most unfavorable conclusions to his client.
So you had that sort of familiar feeling when you're watching someone do something you've seen before. And the question obviously is something omitted and something slanted and we'll find that out on Thursday, I guess.
COOPER: Carrie, I mean, it's fascinating here what the professor is saying. Do you think this raises legitimate questions about the credibility of his Mueller report summary, first of all?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it does raise questions about whether or not this is a pattern of behavior that he's engaged in. I'm going to hold judgment until I see what he actually releases in the report on Thursday.
I think also the accusations that he had withheld some information also are actually as relevant, if not just as relevant as allegations that he had mistakenly portrayed the law, so some of the arguments about his 1989 memo are that he actually got the law wrong. And so what I'm looking for on Thursday is whether or not the facts that are revealed in the report show that he got the law on obstruction wrong.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Think about one thing Harold said, three years. It took three years to get the underlying document. And given the way the legal system works, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes three years or potentially never that the House of Representatives gets access to the full unredacted Mueller report and that would mean we'll never know for sure whether he redacted --
COOPER: Why would it take that -- or why does it take that long?
TOOBIN: Because the legal system works slowly. I mean, Harold can answer why it took three years in that circumstance. But you know that the White House is going to fight and the Justice Department is going to fight District Court, Circuit Court, court -- Supreme Court potentially.
And you know, it could be more than one round. There could be other agencies that want to redact things. So, you know, what makes us even more frustrating potentially is we won't know what he actually redacted.
COOPER: Professor Koh, why did it take three years in the past?
KOH: Well, the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department, which is the general Counsel's Office, it's where I used to work. They used to publish their opinions. In fact, they published them all through the mid-'80s under Republican administrations when Ted Olson was the head.
Starting around the time that Barr became the head, they started to declare them confidential or increasingly they started to call them drafts so that never became final. And then when someone tried to get them, they would say that they were legally privileged.
You know, the comment was made that we have to withhold judgment. I've known Bill Barr for 39 years. You know, he's a lawyer of considerable repute. But, you know, you have to look for the 13 chime of the clock and we've now had three.
First, his, you know, unsolicited letter about obstruction, second, a statement about spying, and then third, this kind of signature move. And so it makes one worried as to the possibility that he tilted this one also.
COOPER: Professor Koh, does it make sense to you, I mean, as somebody who redacted documents, should it take three weeks to go through the 400-some pages of the Mueller report to redact?
KOH: No. So, first of all, depending on how many people you put on it, you can get it done in a couple of days. Secondly, and the thing that I think hasn't been mentioned enough and Jeff should comment since he was on a similar special prosecutors force, you know, Mueller's team was a team.
It was people who were extremely experienced with handling these kinds of materials. They knew the pressure that there was under for public release and they would have done, I assume, everything to make it release ready.
[20:45:06] And I think what the leaks that we heard about the summaries fit into that, if there were sources, and methods, information on intelligence, that would have been, you know, put down into a footnote that could be easily redacted. They've tried to keep the narrative clean.
And, you know, a lot of what you do when you're preparing the public release of report that has classified material is do exactly that kind of redaction. So, three weeks makes it more and more suspicious.
Finally, it is very rare that at additional levels of review that someone says, somebody else redacted this, now I'm going to unveil it. People just add more redactions until it starts to look like a piece of Swiss cheese. So, three weeks --
TOOBIN: I'm sorry, there's another point about the timing, though. It's one thing to delay three weeks, it's another thing to come out of the box immediately after two days and, you know, give a clean bill of health to the President of the United States.
You know, it would be one thing if he delayed the whole thing. But he actually embraced a very favorable interpretation to the President and then made everybody wait for three weeks acting as -- letting the impression set in that there was essentially nothing to see here.
COOPER: Carrie --
CORDERO: Well, the release --
COOPER: Go ahead, Carrie.
CORDERO: The release of the letter, though, it did in some ways boxed the attorney general in, because the report is going to come out. Now, we can -- we'll see whether or not it is as transparent as the attorney general says it's going to be or if like Harold says, it's going to be a document that looks more like Swiss cheese. But we're going to know one way or another whether he is redacting so much information as to hide what is in the actual report.
COOPER: Interesting. Well, we'll be seeing it. Professor Koh, appreciate it. Jeff Toobin, Carrie Cordero, thanks very much.
COOPER: All right, let's check in with Chris to see what he is working on. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, the intrigue, Anderson, the intrigue. I can't take it anymore. We have Mike Isikoff on tonight. Mike Isikoff, a famous reporter reported on this situation with our now AG Barr back in the '80s when this was going on. And the context --
COOPER: It kind of dating him, by the way.
CUOMO: Huh? COOPER: It's like not far back.
CUOMO: Please, look at the head of hair on Isikoff. He's got nothing to worry about. The man is ageless. But he was there then. He understands the context then and now -- and remember where our starting point is. Congress has this type of clearance for classified information.
You know, the idea that starting with some redactions are OK for Congress is really not necessarily a reasonable argument. So, what should be expected color coded or not and what you can expect from AG Barr and the argument of the night is going to be he showed you who he is. He showed you what he is about. Don't be surprised.
We also have the cardinal on tonight, Dolan is here to talk to people what he believes comes next after Notre Dame.
COOPER: All right. Chris, thanks very much. We look forward it. That's in about 13 minutes from now.
Coming up next, new information about what happened in the first moments when the fire started at Notre Dame Cathedral and what we've learned about the priceless relics saved and the hero priest who helped get them out.
[20:52:30] COOPER: There's new details tonight in the investigations to the fire at Notre Dame. According to the Paris prosecutor, the first fire alarm went off at 6:20 p.m. local time on Monday, but the fire was not discovered in the roof of the cathedral until a second alarm went off 23 minutes later. Investigators are treating the fire as an accident. Also tonight, a vigil in Paris in honor of the sacred site that has watched over the city for more than eight centuries.
As the world has mourned, French President Emmanuel Macron says he wants Notre Dame rebuilt in five years. So far, French business leaders have pledged to donate more than $700 million to the effort, which expert say may take closer to 10 to 15 years to actually complete or at least make a lot of head way in.
A priest who helped victims of the 2015 Bataclan massacre and served in Afghanistan is being held justifiably as a hero again. Father Jean-Marc Fournier is the chaplain of the Paris fire brigade.
He tell CNN that he went back into the burning cathedral with firefighters and policemen to help salvage some of the relics and artifacts, including the crown of thorns that believer say was worn by Jesus.
Tom Foreman tonight shows us what other relics were saved.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, if you stood in Notre Dame and looked up you would see stone arches. If you looked down from above, you would see a vast lead roof. So what was burning with such intensity here? To find that out, you have to look between those two structures where the investigators say they believe the fire started and that is in this huge wooden roof, this attic space between those two structures.
This was made of 13,000 trees of forest that would have covered about 39 football fields. And once these ancient timbers started burning, there was just nothing they could do to stop that. What they could do, though, was try to rescue what was below.
Look at some of the extraordinary artifacts which they were trying to get out. Some of which were not yet sure the future of right now. For example, there's this reliquary which believer say holds part of the original cross, one of the nails from the crucifixion. There are many sculptures and paintings that, you know, some dating back to the 16th century that are still not sure about their future right now. We're not sure what happened with some of those.
And of course, we know the roof is gone and the spire up above. But, the most holy relic of this cathedral, the crown of thorns which again believers think was part of what happened with Jesus at the crucifixion, that was indeed rescued.
[20:55:00] We also one know that the organ, one of the most famous musical instruments in the world with 8,000 pipes dating back to Medieval Times, that survived. We know the main bell which rang out at the end of World War II and so many other events, that survived. We know that the three big rose windows which helped draw 13 million viewers a year or visitors a year, those survived.
And of course, we know the two main towers up front which have the famous gargoyles on them, they also are intact. So the real remarkable story here is not merely that there was such a terrific fire, but that as they rebuild, there's so much to rebuild upon. Anderson?
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. Another bit of good news, according to the French ambassador of the United States, the copper rooster that sat atop the spire of the cathedral has been recovered intact. There's the image of it.
Dan Weiss is the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he joins us now. Dan, thanks so much for being with us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. When you hear the France's president saying he wants this done in five years, that seems ambitious, certainly.
DAN WEISS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: Yes.
COOPER: There's apartments in New York that have taken longer than five years to renovate.
WEISS: I think it is unrealistically ambitious, but it speaks to an aspiration that I think very powerful. To do this sort of work the way it needs to be done so that the building stands for another 800 years, it's going to take longer. But the fact that the world has stepped up as it has is remarkable and I think that's the most important part of that. COOPER: I mean, it's sad that it took the firemen -- there was renovation work going on. Clearly it needed renovation work. But certainly that the outpouring of this, I mean, it has really touched people, even people who are not catholic who've not -- never been there. I was surprised yesterday just by reaction from people even on the street coming up to me and elsewhere.
WEISS: Yes. It is a monument for everyone. And anyone who visits the cathedral knows. It is people from all over the world to come. They come to celebrate this great monument for its beauty, its historical significance and just its place in the middle of Paris. It's an icon of the city. And I think that's what people are reacting to. It's right in the middle of the city. It is part of the heart and soul of that city, and so people feel something very powerful (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: It's also very much a living building. I mean, it's not just a -- it's not a museum, it's a community church and, you know, there are masses there and the history of it -- I was talking to someone earlier today who talked about kind of -- it's a many layers to this building.
WEISS: There really is. It's a great religious monument. It is the cathedral of Paris, but you can walk through as a visitor to the cathedral and there's a mass going on. And people are walking around the parameter looking at things, celebrating the building. It is so much more than just one thing and that's part of what makes it so compelling for people. Everyone has a story about their relationship with this church.
COOPER: Just to find, though, the craftsmen who -- I mean, there aren't craftsmen -- enough craftsmen who have the skill that -- I mean, I'm sure they used hundreds of craftsmen back when, you know, over the years as this was built and it's been built and rebuilt in many different ways as have other churches.
WEISS: Yes. The original campaign took more than 100 years, so craftsmen would spent a whole lifetime working on this building and never see it come to completion. Many of those skills are fundamentally lost. We can rebuild it. We can rebuild it beautifully. It will look like it did, but it won't have the same level of craft or kind of building technique that was done in the 13th century when it was built.
COOPER: It's also always interesting in restoration work and you faces (INAUDIBLE) at the time is where do you restore it to. Is it to the way people remember it? Is it to how it was originally? Things back to the -- I think it was the restoration of the Sistine Chapel, the ceiling. And suddenly the colors were very garish and some people thought they've gone too far.
WEISS: Even in the 13th century, the building was 60 years old and they decided to renovate it. So if you look inside the church, you can see they made a decision to change the way the whole building would be constructed because it is a living monument. I think what they're going to do is restore it to the building we knew of last year, bring it back to what it looked like before the fire, which is what people most remember.
COOPER: And certainly there's, you know, technology now in building materials that exist even if, you know, there's questions about should it have a wood roof. There's obviously wood that can be used that's more resistant to fire than in the past.
WEISS: Right. I don't know what material they'll ultimately choose. The odds are it won't be the same kind of wood. It would be more fire resistant if they use wood at all. They're going to study that very carefully and they're going to use this opportunity to restore it to how it looked before, but it's going to be a stronger healthier building than it was.
COOPER: It also has really -- I mean, you know, France has been going through a very tough time. There have been demonstrations in the streets rioting. This has really brought people together. I don't know how long it last, but it is an extraordinary thing to witness.
WEISS: And it isn't just Paris, the whole world has come together. I think actually there's two stories, there's the loss of the building where the fire damage to the building, and then the way the world has stepped up to support this and I think that has ultimately very heartening for Paris and for all who love this sort of cultural monument.
WEISS: I think that story would be a good one in the long-term.
COOPER: Yes. Dan Weiss, appreciate it. Thank you so much.
WEISS: Thank you.
COOPER: That's it for us. I want to hand it over to Chris. "Cuomo Prime Time" starts now. Chris?
CUOMO: All right, thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time."