Return to Transcripts main page

CUOMO PRIME TIME

Washington Post: Mueller Could Not Come To Conclusion On Obstruction Because Hard To Determine Trump's Intent; House Chairs Demand Barr Cancel News Conference On Mueller; McAuliffe Says He Will Not Join 2020 Presidential Race. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 17, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] REP. JAMES ENOS CLYBURN (D-SC): So, if we are going to do that, we have to do our jobs irrespective of what the other body may do once they get their chance to look at it.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Congressman Clyburn, I appreciate your time, thank you.

CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.

COOPER: The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME on this Mueller Report Eve.

We're finally going to get to read this report for ourselves tomorrow, not all of it, but maybe enough to start making some conclusions of our own, before Attorney General no-holds Barr comes out to summarize it again, and do exactly what the President put him there to do, protect him and spin.

He's already given Team Trump a big heads-up so they can prepare their rebuttal. We have the reporter who helped break that story tonight, and some other breaking news just in on what we're going to see, and what we're not going to see.

Is Barr the President's new fixer? The answer to that seems to be yes.

Democrats are furious. But what can they do. We have a key lawmaker here on what they plan to do to push back.

And we have a potential 2020 contender. He's going to announce which way he's going to go on our watch, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in or out, let's find out, and let's get after them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: All right, this news just came out. It's being reported by The Washington Post, all right?

We know that the Attorney General plans to hold a press conference at 9:30 A.M. Eastern tomorrow to talk about the report. And that's very problematic. But let's just get to what the breaking news is, OK?

They say that this report is going to be lightly redacted, all right? That is a new report from the Washington Post. What will that mean? I don't know.

Look, the good spin on it is if there's only what needs to be out of there for national security reasons, and that Congress gets to see even that, so that they can make judgments.

Remember, they're the ones that you elected to make these kinds of determinations, not the Attorney General. They should be making the determinations about what you get to know about and not, not the Attorney General. That will be fine.

But if lightly redacted is just spin, and it turns out there's a lot of stuff in there that makes this story unclear from Mueller's perspective, then lightly redacted is still too heavy an exclusion for satisfaction.

Secondly, the Washington Post also just reported in the last few minutes that the reason the Mueller team couldn't reach a conclusion on whether the President obstructed justice is because it was hard to determine the President's intent.

Now, of course it was. Remember this key fact. The President's team refused to have him answer any questions about conduct during his Presidency. So, he wouldn't answer any questions about obstruction.

How could they figure out his intent if they never got to interview the subject of that analysis? All right, what will we get? A blow-by- blow of the President's alleged conduct, the tweets, private threats, other episodes.

What does that mean? I don't know. That's what they're calling it. In any event, the President's going to be ready. He knows this is coming because unlike you, unlike your chosen Representative, and your free media, his team got an advance look reportedly.

Remember, when our A.G. would not answer what he told the White House in front of Congress, remember that? "I won't talk about it. I don't want to talk about it." You know why? He didn't want to lie and say he hadn't talked to them. That's why. So he skirted it. And now we have reporting that sheds light on what that was all about.

This is important new information. It just hit on our watch. Let's discuss it with - discuss it with some people really deep in this story.

Mark Mazzetti, he helped break the news for The New York Times about what we're expecting to see and what's going to happen here and why, he and Garrett Graff, who knows so much about Mr. Mueller and his process. Here's one thing that Garrett Graff knows and now we all do, Mueller's not going to be at that press conference tomorrow. That is a significant exclusion.

But Mazzetti, let's dovetail. We just learned from the Washington Post with what you're reporting was. What did you learn?

MARK MAZZETTI, WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well what we reported today was that there had been numerous discussions between Justice Department officials and White House lawyers in recent weeks about the substance of the report.

We've never said that there was a full briefing. And we don't still know exactly what of the Mueller findings have been briefed to the White House. But there was - there was clearly a discussion.

And this discussion has helped the President's lawyers begin their rebuttal process--

CUOMO: Sure.

MAZZETTI: --or - or shape the rebuttal process that we expect the rebuttal to come out sometime after the Mueller report comes out tomorrow. So, this has been an important thing.

And, as you pointed out, it was something that last week when Barr testified to Congress, he pointedly didn't talk about.

[21:05:00] He didn't give an answer about the discussions when some time earlier, the Justice Department had said the White House hasn't been briefed on this. So - so that was a kind of a tell that - that something had changed.

CUOMO: Right. Look, we expect the White House to do what it does most often, which is to shade away from what is actually true. But you saw it in what Mr. Barr wouldn't talk about.

And Garrett, look, it leads us to what is now a pretty sure conclusion, all right? He errs on the side of protecting the President.

He could have said, "Yes, I gave him some information. It's not really material. I thought it was more of a courtesy, and I did that, because he's the one who's under direct examination." But he didn't.

He uses the rules and the technicalities and the posture to his advantage, which has played to the President's advantage every step of the way so far, including not having Mr. Mueller at the press conference tomorrow.

Why wouldn't the man who wrote it be there to talk about it?

GARRETT GRAFF, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR, FORMER POLITICO MAGAZINE EDITOR: I would actually bet that Mueller would not want to be there himself that he is someone who from the start of this investigation has preferred to let his work for - speak for himself. Remember, Rod Rosenstein has been the one who has given the press conferences at every turn during the major indictments. What I do think is just highly weird and suspicious in this instance is the fact that they're not simultaneously releasing the report.

That is the way that and that is the - the marker that Rod Rosenstein has set down in previous press conferences in this investigation. The indictments are posted. The indictments are filed at the same time--

CUOMO: So you have something to read and ask questions based off of.

GRAFF: --that the press conference is happening.

CUOMO: Right.

GRAFF: Exactly. And that this is it's just--

CUOMO: So, they're having this press conference tomorrow--

GRAFF: --sort of so weird.

CUOMO: --it'll be the second time, fellas, and for all of you watching, wherever you are watching this, that this A.G. has decided to tell us what to think about this report without giving us the report itself.

That's what he did with the summary letter. Nowhere does it say in the regulations he has to do it this way. And they keep saying "Well, it says Mazzetti, in the regs, it doesn't say he has to give it to the public."

Doesn't say he can't either. It's up to him and what he chooses to do and not do. And now, tomorrow morning, he's going to have a second bite at the apple to tell people what to think, and even Congress won't have it until 11:00, so there's no one to push back.

MAZZETTI: Right. And it - it was surprising for us that this is - this is how it actually came down where there's going to be a press conference in advance of - of - of getting the report.

I mean, stepping back for a second, I think we should - this idea of the regs, what's in the regs or not, to a degree, maybe a lot of that should just be thrown out at this point, right?

I mean Mueller only really had to produce a--

CUOMO: Confidential report to the A.G.

MAZZETTI: --a confidential report about why they were declining further prosecutions. They felt it was important and necessary to produce a lengthy report, appears, so that's kind of beyond what the regulations are.

And - and Barr, to his credit, you know, certainly didn't have to put this out. But it appears, based on reporting that that most of it will come out. So, we'll have to wait and see. But the way this has come down in the last few weeks since the time

that Mueller produced the report, Barr produced his letter, and remember, there's been the - the Congressional testimony about spying, there has been these discussion between the White House and the Justice Department, it has been unusual, and it has certainly raised questions about Barr's behavior.

Remember, this was the person who was going to kind of restore order to the Justice Department--

CUOMO: Says who?

MAZZETTI: --after, you know, Jeff Sessions and Matt Whitaker.

CUOMO: Yes, says who?

MAZZETTI: That was a - that was the expectation among a lot of people that this was an--

CUOMO: Yes, for - why?

MAZZETTI: Well it was this idea that this was an establishment person, an establishment lawyer who respected the Justice Department, as opposed to the people who came before him.

Maybe that was a naive expectation among a lot of people. But that was this view--

CUOMO: Maybe.

MAZZETTI: --that - that - that Barr was an institutionalist. And--

CUOMO: Right.

MAZZETTI: --and then - and so, well I guess we'll just have to see what happens tomorrow.

CUOMO: I'll tell you, it looks to me, Garrett, what's your take on this that the Raskins, Sekulow, and Rudy save this President's bacon by getting the Mueller team to not ask any questions about his time during the Presidency, including the obstruction questions.

Because we both know, even doctored answers might have given them enough to pull the trigger because they were clearly divided. They were so close on it that they couldn't do what they were supposed to do, which is, say, "Nah, I can't make a case."

That's all the prosecutor's supposed to say. He's not going to say - he's not supposed to say, "I couldn't exonerate." It's not his job. It's not his job to find you innocent. It's his job to figure out whether he can make a case beyond a reasonable doubt.

And if it's a 50-50 call, you say no, not here. Why?

GRAFF: Yes. And that's exactly the - the President's legal strategy actually turns out to have probably been the smart one to sort of, if you obstruct the investigation enough along the way into obstruction that it makes it very difficult for them to prove obstruction.

[21:10:00] And that - that is what we have seen the - the President in the end is that these charges really hinge on this question of corrupt intent, you know, the President acting--

CUOMO: Right.

GRAFF: --within his legal Article II authority as President of the United States to do things like fire FBI Director Jim--

CUOMO: Whatever he wants to do.

GRAFF: --Jim Comey.

CUOMO: Right.

GRAFF: But if he did that with the intent to obstruct justice--

CUOMO: Yes.

GRAFF: --then that's still an illegal act.

CUOMO: Right. But they could never get at that intent. That's why--

GRAFF: And if you never get to ask the chance--

CUOMO: Right.

When we knew that he wasn't going to go in front of them, that's when I started here on the show every night saying, I know people are telling you that this is going to potentially end the Presidency, I know they're telling you that this could be crimes, I don't see how, because they can't get access to the person they'd have to analyze to make that case.

And, you know, look, that's the way it turned out. But now, it's not about just the product of what comes out. It's the process. The word from the Washington Post, Mark, is "Lightly redacted."

Now, what does that have to mean to be satisfying, at least for the Democrats tomorrow?

MAZZETTI: Oh, you know, I - I don't - I don't know. It's - it's not the percentage certainly. It's - it's which parts are actually--

CUOMO: Right.

MAZZETTI: --you know, lightly redacted. It could be 2 percent redacted.

But the - the critical - the critical, you know, conclusion could get redacted. I mean I don't know what will satisfy them or the Republicans or - or - or whatever. I mean, certainly, as a - as a journalist, I want as little redaction as possible.

CUOMO: Of course. MAZZETTI: I want as much as the case as possible. I, you know, we are expecting that there would be more of this obstruction side of the report to be out public, more of the potential Russia side of it to be redacted because of classification issues, Grand Jury issues.

CUOMO: Right.

MAZZETTI: But I do hope that, you know, there are answers on this Russia side about what got them to the conclusion, about what we know is that there was no criminal conspiracy, what underlie - what was the underlying evidence, are there another - more instances of contacts?

I mean that's what I'm, you know, particularly interested to know.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, look, I think in terms of what people see, the American men and women who read this, a lot of it's going to be filtered through a political prism.

If you believe that as long as there's no felony, whatever happened was fine, you're going to be satisfied with what comes out tomorrow. And if you're somebody who believes that that's not the bar for a responsible Presidential conduct, then there's going to be something there for you as well.

It's for the rest of us, those who are really trying to piece together the record that the amount of disclosure matters, and how it comes out matter, and that already has shaded my particular perspective on this.

They didn't need to do this this way. If they had nothing to hide and the President wanted everything to come out, it wouldn't be unfolding like this.

Mark Mazzetti, good for you and The Times for filling us in on what was going to happen and what happened with the White House. It's a really important piece of information.

MAZZETTI: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Garrett Graff, thank you so much for helping us process this new information from the Post about "Lightly redacted," and what it was from Mueller's team that had him in such a fit of frustration, perfect guest, thank you.

Now, you just saw the presser from Congressman Nadler, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. This is going to get ugly early.

This news that just came on our watch that it might be lightly redacted, that could help, because if the redactions are such that Congress can get all of it, and then make their own determinations, then it should be OK in terms of the amount of disclosure.

Remember though, this process is what I'm going after, not the product. We don't know what it's going to be. But it never had to be like this. The President said he wanted it all out. Now that seems like another lie on the pile. Let's bring in a key House Intelligence member. What does he think of

this news about light redactions? What matters and doesn't? And what are they ready to do on the Democratic side of the ball if it's un- sufficient, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Democratic Congressman Jim Himes sits on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Himes, always a pleasure, thank you for being here.

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Good to be here, Chris.

CUOMO: So, help us understand the context of the moment that we're living right now. The Washington Post says "Light redactions." Let's deal with that first. What does that mean to you?

HIMES: That - that would be a good thing. I was afraid that we were going to spend the next two months arguing over redactions, not even knowing why they were redacted.

You know, there - there need to be some react - redactions in there, of course, to protect national security, classified information, sources and methods, and all that stuff.

There's an easy answer to that though because people on the Intelligence Committee, on Judiciary can look and validate if those redactions are, in fact, for national security purposes.

CUOMO: And you're the ones who're supposed to do it, the Committees.

HIMES: Right.

CUOMO: Not the A.G. You're supposed to be the filter between the American people and that information.

HIMES: Yes. That - that's exactly right.

And, in fact, you know, at this point, since the DOJ - under no circumstances, it's the DOJ rule, since the DOJ will not indict a sitting President, all that really matters from the standpoint of Constitutional order is how Congress reacts to the fact pattern in this report, which is why "lightly redacted" is good because we need to know what that fact pattern is. Now, there's a whole other conversation here about whether there is anything conceivable in this report that would cause Congress to act to - to demand accountability of this President. That's a whole other political question.

CUOMO: Well the impeachment question, Nancy Pelosi has sidestepped that for a long time since during the midterms, and we understand why. He's at over 90 percent in the party. That's a popularity contest. It's about votes, impeachment.

As President Ford said, a high crime or misdemeanor is what you guys say it is.

HIMES: That - that's exactly right. And that's why all of this, you know, very technical, very legal question about was this obstruction, was it not, it doesn't matter.

All that matters if the DOJ won't indict a sitting President, which they will not, under current procedures, all that matters is whether Congress decides in the House and in the Senate that it's an impeachable offense.

And, again, I hate to say this about my country, but we are in a place, in particular, where the Republican Party, I don't think there is anything that this President could do that would cause the Republicans to turn on him.

So, the fine points about whether this was obstruction or not, I think are really sort of beside the point.

CUOMO: Unless this President were to switch parties, and then maybe - maybe then.

But let me ask you this, the other big piece of information that just came out on our watch. Why could Mueller and his team not come to a conclusion? Why did they put out this very unusual presentation of the disposition of the case?

Not that we're going to make a case, or we're not, you know, the decision to prosecute or declination, to decline to do it, but this unusual language of don't know whether to make a case, but can't exonerate, not the job of a prosecutor.

Now we hear from the Washington Post reporting, if it is to be believed, that they couldn't because they couldn't assess the intent of the President.

How could they? They never had access to him. He wouldn't even answer written questions that were lawyered about his time in office, including any obstruction. How could they make the case?

HIMES: That's a good question. And I think two things to say about that.

Number one, we will ask Bob Mueller that question because we will, of course, at some point have him in front of the Congress to ask him precisely that question. And I'll - I'll - I'll be as interested in the answer as - as anybody else.

But maybe, again, maybe this is partly about - about what we were just talking about, which is how precise do you need to be around a criminal standard of obstruction, if you know that there is never a chance of an indictment.

So - so, I - I don't know. But we will ask Bob Mueller that question, and it'll be interesting to get his response. Why - why did he choose not to push it? Because, remember, Bill Clinton testified. Judges--

CUOMO: They hit him with a subpoena and then he testified before they fought out the subpoena.

HIMES: And - and Bob Mueller apparently never felt like he wanted to elevate it. And you can bet that the President's lawyers would have fought that subpoena. It would have been an ugly court fight. But Bob Mueller chose not to engage that.

Look, I - unlike the Attorney General who's been a just a - an unbelievable disappointment to me, a guy that I thought had some stature, I still put an awful lot of face - faith in Bob Mueller, so let's - let's hope and let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he had good reason for doing what he did.

CUOMO: I think you need him sooner than later, right? I'm surprised they're not trotting him out for the press conference tomorrow morning to give it some legitimacy. I mean Barr has to know, the A.G. has to know, he's gotten beaten up in this process.

[21:20:00] HIMES: Well my guess is, look, tomorrow I think is - is an ugly day for the President and for the White House. 400 pages, the White House has already claimed total unconditional exoneration and victory.

You know, that - if that were true, one page would suffice. There's going to be 399 other pages that are going to have some pretty grim stuff for the White House.

My guess is, and - and - and look, this - this pre-press conference where nobody has the information, where he gets to spin things the way he spun things in that four-page memo, I'll tell you what really offended me, and I think he lost all credibility with the Department of Justice when he said this, much less with people like me.

When he called the Department of Justice surveillance, in as much as it occurred of the - of the - of the campaign, spying, that's accusing the DOJ of a crime. In that moment, he lost all credibility.

And so, to be on a stage with Bob Mueller who might say something that contradicts your spin, that's a tough place, I think, for this Attorney General to be.

CUOMO: And a man who says he's all about going by the book, and following the regs, where is it in the regs--

HIMES: Exactly. CUOMO: --that you give a conclusion to in an ongoing investigation. They never want to talk to us about ongoing investigations.

HIMES: Yes.

CUOMO: But there he said, "Yes, I think there was spying. I have no proof. The investigation is just starting." I mean it's totally not by the book. But now, here's the last question for you, and I think it's probably the biggest one.

Let's say what is lightly redacted, is wholly insufficient to you, and to the consensus of other Democrats in the key positions, what can you do? How do you win in this situation?

Because you've got a delicate balance of oversight versus overreach, where you keep pushing and pushing, and every time something comes out that's not completely damning, optically there's a loss in that in political perception for your side, what do you do here?

HIMES: Yes. I think it puts a burden on Congress' shoulders because if the redactions are what I hope the redactions are, which are there - there to protect our Intelligence sources and methods, that's one thing. We will respect that.

But if they are clearly there, and if somebody like me on the Intelligence Committee sees it, and they are clearly there to prevent embarrassment of this President, we're going to be in quite a fix. And - and, look, we're a co-equal branch of government.

I - I can only speak for myself. But if I look at a redaction and I see that there is absolutely nothing at stake with respect to national security, and that is there to dupe the American people, you know, you'll see - you'll - other Members of Congress will feel the way that I do, which is we have an obligation to share the truth with the American people.

CUOMO: Time is of the essence because we know why this was released. Spring break is starting. Pass - Pass- Passover is about to happen. This is Holy Week. They're doing this on purpose.

And the longer it can go, the more this will fade from people's immediacy. That's why I think it's an urgent matter.

HIMES: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: Congressman, thank you so much for the candor, as always. We all look forward to what happens tomorrow.

HIMES: Should be.

CUOMO: Hopefully, it's as much of a non-story as possible, in terms of what's made, disclosed to the American people.

HIMES: That - that would be a great thing. It would be terrific to be able to move on to something else.

CUOMO: Get some clarity and closure would be nice. Congressman--

HIMES: Great.

CUOMO: --thank you very much.

HIMES: Thank you, Chris.

All right, so breaking news, just now on our watch on the Barr news conference tomorrow, there is a new demand from House Democrats. We have the details and our Great Debate, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: More breaking news on our watch.

The Chairs of five House Committees are calling on the Attorney General to cancel his press conference tomorrow because no one in the public or Congress will have seen the redacted Mueller report yet.

That means he would get now a second bite at the apple of shaping people's perception without giving them the real information. The press conference is, right now, scheduled for 9:30 A.M. Eastern. Congress is slated to get the redacted report in the 11:00 A.M. hour.

Look, my analysis tonight is not about the nature of the product, what's going to come out. Lightly redacted, great. Let's see what they put out. Hopefully, it's enough to allow us to satisfy our curiosity.

But this process, that's what takes us tonight in the Great Debate, Van Jones and Scott Jennings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: THE GREAT DEBATE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Nadler, Schiff, Cummings, Waters, Engel, all want the presser canceled. Van Jones, right move?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely, because it's otherwise it's just a total farce.

You know, I don't understand why they think this is a good idea. The only thing that fair news coverage is going to say when Barr comes out and starts doing at a press conference what he refused to do at a hearing.

At the hearing he said, "Listen, I'm not going to talk about this until we put the report out." Now, he's going to do exactly the opposite of what he said he was going to do. While he was under oath, he said "I'm not going to do this."

Now he's going to do it. And what can anybody ask him about the report that no one's seen? I mean if this were a script for like a Hollywood movie say well nobody would do this, it's just dumb.

All you're going to do is create hours and hours of people - reporters justifiably saying, "We can't ask you an intelligent question about a document you haven't given us - given us. Will you give us the document, Sir?"

It's - it's a stunt. It's weird. It's bizarre. It's wrong. And I think part of the thing that bothers me about the whole situation it used to be that people had some pretense.

They may have some deal on this side. They may already have their thumb on the scales but they try to pretend that they're neutral. There's no pretense. This is just an--

CUOMO: Yes.

JONES: --absolute outright kind of a, you know, stunt to support a - a narrative before there's any facts.

CUOMO: Scott, I mean it reminds me of the President yesterday tweeting, "We" when he was talking about Fox News. You know, you've - you've been on here.

Pretty much everybody from the Right I've had on has said, "Let it all come out. Keep the process lean. You know if there's nothing to hide, just let the people process it. Let's see what Congress wants to do with it. Let's move on."

Now this process, why do it this way?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, look, I don't know what he's going to say.

I - I don't think people should be freaking out tonight until we found out what he has to say, and what questions people have for him, so I don't know why we would freak out before we actually hear the words that come out of someone's mouth.

Regarding these Congressmen, Chris, that you were saying are demanding that a person who works for the U.S. taxpayers not communicate with the - with the American public, I don't understand that.

They're worried about a guy shaping a narrative literally an hour and a half before we're all going to get to read the report-- CUOMO: Yes.

JENNINGS: --when those very people have been out shaping the narrative on this for the last two years. Can we build a time machine and go back and cancel the last two years of narrative-shaping, if that's what we're worried about today?

JONES: Well - well--

JENNINGS: I think nobody should really be - be out of control--

JONES: Hold - hold on--

JENNINGS: --tonight until we actually read this document.

CUOMO: All right, I think - I think freaking out and out of control--

JENNINGS: 24 hours from now, we won't care about the process.

JONES: Can I say something?

CUOMO: --I think that that is a gratuitous way of describing what we're doing. The process doesn't make sense when it's supposed to be about putting out the report. This is now the second time he's taking the opportunity to not tell us anything except what he wants us to know.

Van, your rebuttal?

JONES: Well I mean here's the thing. There are politicians who are out there being political. That's kind of their job. That's not who we're talking about. We're talking about the Head of the Department of Justice.

He has a completely different standard to meet than random pundits, random politicians, and other people who are going to be squawking no matter what. This is the top guy. He's the top cop for the country.

[21:30:00] Listen, if you have there - if crime were committed in your neighborhood by somebody you think might be in a gang, you're not sure, and the cop shows up, and within three or four minutes, the cop is, you know, throwing up gang signs and act like he's a part of what's going on, you get very worried, because you want the cop, you want the DOJ to be separate from the White House, separate from the Democrats, separate from the Republican, and stand above the process and be unimpeachable.

That's not what we're seeing. And that's why people are freaking out.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, Scott, I mean I think that's the point you're going with this.

JENNINGS: Let - let me - let me says this. Let me - let me - let me - let me--

CUOMO: Go ahead. JENNINGS: Yes. Look - look, I - I think that, to make this better, they need to put Mueller out there at some point. I don't know if it's tomorrow. But Mueller needs to speak.

JONES: I agree.

JENNINGS: And we need to hear from him about--

CUOMO: Should be at the presser.

JENNINGS: --how he views the process and how - he could be. I don't know why he wouldn't be. I heard Garrett Graff earlier on the show say that maybe it wouldn't be appropriate. But here's what I would say. I did not agree--

CUOMO: No, no, no. He said that he wouldn't want to do it. He'd like - he'd like his work to speak for him. But they're not putting the work out.

JENNINGS: Yes. I - I - I did not agree for - for two years with Donald Trump savaging the character and the intentions of Robert Mueller. I thought it was wrong. I think Mueller's an honorable person, and he was trying to shape it. I didn't agree with that.

At the same time, tonight, I don't agree with Democrats savaging Barr before we hear what he has to say either. They're doing the exact same thing they hated about Trump when he was doing it--

CUOMO: No way.

JENNINGS: --to Mueller.

CUOMO: No way.

JENNINGS: So, I - I think 24--

JONES: Let me ask you--

JENNINGS: --24 hours from now--

CUOMO: No way.

JENNINGS: --we're all going to have read this. And this process won't really matter that much.

CUOMO: No. And it's 400 pages. You're not going to have read the whole thing.

JONES: Let me--

CUOMO: I mean this is going to take time. But Van, is this the same thing that the President did to the process?

JONES: No. I don't think so.

And honestly, it just seems to me that the reason that you want to come out, we've already heard from Barr many times, he was under oath. He said he wasn't going to talk about the report till it comes out.

So, I think people are confused, at best confused, why would you come out and talk about a document and shape perspective - perspective on a document - document that nobody has been able to see?

What has changed in a week? Nothing's changed in a week except that now we're going to, you know, do this new round to spin.

To your point, why aren't you calling for him to wait, to just pump the brakes? To your point, if we're all going to be talking about this in 24 hours, to pump the brakes, let us see the document, and then ask you questions about the document.

I don't think the Democrats, and frankly, just normal people are - are too far wrong here to say, "I want to have a press conference about a document you haven't read" is just weird. Why not let us see the document and then we can ask you questions?

CUOMO: I mean, look, Scott, you would have the same problems if you flipped the script on this. The President says, "I want it all out." That's - that was initial intention, right?

All right, so then you get a summary that clearly is not at all out, and the prosecutors come out and say that wasn't a fair reckoning, OK.

Then he hides it for weeks when there was no reason to do that. He could have had it ready to go and redacted on day one. He's not the one who's supposed to be figuring out the redactions anyway. But he doesn't.

Then, he has this process where he's going to redact certain things, he's going to put it out, but there's a press conference. Then they decide to put it out right before Passover on Holy Week when spring break starts.

I mean, come on, Scott, how would you feel if this was something that you wanted to know?

JENNINGS: Well regarding the timing of it, Barr, under oath, promised the Congress that he would have this out by mid-April. It is mid- April, and he is meeting that obligation. So, I think it's fine for him to--

CUOMO: He could have done it two weeks before this.

JENNINGS: --do this on the timeline.

CUOMO: He didn't process this report. He didn't do any of the work on it, zero, it's not his job.

JENNINGS: Well they couldn't - but they couldn't produce the report until, I guess, Mueller and the officials at DOJ went through it to make the redactions they feel like they need to redact.

CUOMO: You don't think that could have been going on all along?

JENNINGS: So the timing it is--

CUOMO: You don't think that could have been part of what the Mueller team did when it handed it over to him? Come on!

JENNINGS: I don't know. I'm not in the room. I - I have no idea.

CUOMO: Of course, it could have. It could have been done.

JENNINGS: But that's a great question for Mueller. And that's why - and that's why he should appear to answer those questions.

Here's what I think. Tomorrow morning, if he goes out there, I agree with you on this point, if he goes out there, and starts to say, "I'm going to read a few passages and I'm going to try to characterize," that wouldn't be fair. I agree with you.

But if he goes out and takes process questions, fine, and sends it on up to the Hill, I think that's perfectly fine. Can we not pass judgment though on his intention and character until--

CUOMO: I'm talking about the process.

JENNINGS: --he actually makes the mistake.

CUOMO: The A.G. gets full deference for his position and the expectation of the product. But the process has been stinky. That's why I'm talking about it.

I hope that all fears are allayed and that whatever is redacted tomorrow is insignificant, and people can get what they deserve, which is clarity and that the President then, and only then, will get the closure that he wants.

Scott, Van, thank you for the case. We will see tomorrow.

A Democrat who is one of the best fundraisers in the business, by the way, has been toying with the idea of running for President. Sure hasn't been toying it all. This is an agonizing decision.

But he's ready to make it, and he's here next, and he is sporting those UVA colors with no shame, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Democrat former Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe has been considering a Presidential run. Tonight, he has a decision. Governor, always a pleasure.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Chris, honored to be with you. Before we get going, can I just say one thing?

CUOMO: What?

MCAULIFFE: This is the first time I've been on national television since the University of Virginia won the NCAA Basketball Championship.

CUOMO: Congratulations, a great run.

MCAULIFFE: Well, who won (ph)? It was a great one. What a great tournament!

CUOMO: Great run! It's great to see the little guy win. They'd never done it before.

MCAULIFFE: Yes, first time ever.

CUOMO: Epic fashion. It was great to call (ph).

MCAULIFFE: Epic what - games out there in Minneapolis, unbelievable. I went out for the Championship. You just never see anything like it.

CUOMO: And it says something--

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

CUOMO: --about a former Governor who is considering running for President would want to talk about the NCAA tournament before their own decision. Give it to us, Gov, and then we'll get into the state of play. Where are you on this?

MCAULIFFE: Sure. So, I've thought long and hard. I've spent all last year traveling the country, went over 20 states since Thanksgiving.

I've been reaching out folks all over the country, dying to run for President, think I could real - really make a difference. I know I could beat Bush like a - Trump like a rented mule.

But we've got issues in Virginia, and I'm concerned about Virginia. And since February, we've had a lot of problems there. We have the opportunity, Chris, to pick up our House and Senate, so to pick up both Chambers with the governorship would be the first time in 26 years.

As Governor, as you know, I had a record number of vetoes, a 120. There are bills that I pushed that just couldn't get through the Republican legislature, background checks. Virginia joined in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, something I did through Executive Order.

CUOMO: So, you're just saying you don't want to run for President, you're going to run for governor?

MCAULIFFE: What do you do - why are you in politics? To help people. Where can you have the biggest impact on people? And the leadership of Virginia has been reaching out to me the last 2.5 months.

I spent until 4:00 in the morning on Saturday morning with the State Party Chair all night talking. I invested a lot in that state. And I love that state. We've got to win the House and Senate because we can change it. We can take it to the next level.

[21:40:00] So, I've listened to the Virginians, and I'm going to help Virginians for the next six months. I could spend eight months traveling on the country running for President, or six months really making a difference.

Where can you help people the most and change people's lives? As you know, it happens at the state level. And I don't want anyone in Virginia feel that I abandoned them.

I would love to have run for President. I think being a Southern Governor who had record amount of jobs and investment in education and the most felon right enfranchisement, Lenny (ph) governor in American history, it's all, but you know what?

Getting in with a field of 20 today, and trying to get your message to breakthrough, where tomorrow, I can make a real difference to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

CUOMO: How are you going to do that?

MCAULIFFE: So--

CUOMO: Are you going to run?

MCAULIFFE: Beginning tomorrow, my focus is going to be to win the House and Senate in Virginia. I--

CUOMO: But in what capacity? You're going to run for governor? Or you're going to run for one of those positions?

MCAULIFFE: Well that's - that's two years away. So, I'm going to get in. I've told the State Party. I've told the Senate leader, Dick Saslaw, and I've told Eileen Filler-Corn, they have the House.

I had one of the leaders of the Black Caucus on the phone with me over the weekend, "We need you back here, Terry," so I'm going home.

CUOMO: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: I'm going to do the right thing.

CUOMO: But they're all saying, "Terry, what do you want? What - what do you?"

MCAULIFFE: I'll get in--

CUOMO: "You want to be Governor again? You're going to run for the House? You're going to run for the Senate?"

MCAULIFFE: No, no, I'm going to coordinate these campaigns in the House and Senate.

CUOMO: So, you're going to be a coordinator. You don't want to - you don't want to run for office.

MCAULIFFE: I'm going to go in. I'm going to work the next six months every single day to make sure Virginia, we win the House and the Senate.

And then, next year, we'll work like a dog to make sure that we are Blue. We were the only Southern state that went for Hillary in 2016, very proud of that. We need to do it again in '20.

We got to make sure we re-elect our great Senator, Mark Warner. We got to keep, you know, Jennifer Wexton, and Abigail Spanberger, and Elaine Luria, our three great new women Members of Congress.

So, I'm going back. I started the mission of Virginia. It was a Red state when I started. When I left, it was a Blue state. But it's about helping people.

CUOMO: All right.

MCAULIFFE: And that's what I love to do. And you can do it at the state level.

We are really the incubators of democracy. I would love to have done it as President. You know, I'm still a young man, you'll see what happens. But this is a real opportunity. I started it. I need to finish it.

CUOMO: Who's your best bet for 2020 in your party?

MCAULIFFE: Well, listen, I do think we got a great group, got a lot of great candidates running.

CUOMO: Who beats Trump?

MCAULIFFE: Oh, I think most of them beat Trump. Listen, I--

CUOMO: Most of them beat Trump?

MCAULIFFE: Yes. I love Joe Biden. I'll be very honest.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama came to Virginia to campaign for me. Joe Biden and Barack Obama, when they were in the White House, and I was governor, they did everything I asked to better Virginia.

But, listen, we're going to have a good healthy process, and that's a good thing, the more the merrier.

CUOMO: You think any of the people in the race right now can beat the President of the United States?

MCAULIFFE: I will tell you, first of all, Donald Trump is not going to be easy to beat, and no Democrat should think.

CUOMO: That's what I'm saying.

MCAULIFFE: Sure. But, listen, there were 92 million people who did not vote, Chris, in the 2016 election. They're going to come out. But look at the things that he has done and the folks that he has alienated.

We need to go through this party process. But I would say this. And I want to thank all the supporters. I mean, literally, I had so many people across the country who really fired up.

It would have been a fun campaign. You know that. I love campaigning. I love fighting. I would love to have been on that debate stage with Donald Trump.

But, you know, we've got to move forward, and we've got to bring our party together, so we'll have this primary process. We'll all come together, but it's actually about helping people, and that's what matters.

What he has done on healthcare to this country, premiums are up, co- pays are up, deductibles are up, people are worried about healthcare. They're worried about how expensive it is.

They're worried how complex it is. And that's what the Democratic Party should focus on, dealing with the cost issues.

Prescription drugs, we got to deal with that issue, the cost of prescription drugs. I mean pharmaceutical industry spent $30 billion last year advertising drugs. And guess what? They got to deduct that from their taxes.

That's just not right. You look what happened with Purdue Pharma's and - and what happened with the opioid crisis.

CUOMO: Now, listen, I mean we all are aware of what's going on. You would think that the best place to do it is at the Presidential level because you have the most power and the most influence.

You're choosing it to by - do by the state, but you're going to help the party figure out, you know, what its goal has to be in 2020, which is to beat the President, and it's always the--

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

CUOMO: --party's goal.

MCAULIFFE: I want - I want to be back with you after this November election, one I should say the first time in 26 years.

CUOMO: Done.

MCAULIFFE: And then we can move forward.

I can promise you, right off the bat next January, background checks in Virginia, they need to be done, things that we can do to help the environment we can do that. And then we come back in 2020 and then we'll have the Governor's race in 2021.

CUOMO: No chance that you make a decision later on to run and jump in, if the field doesn't do as well as you think they're going to do?

MCAULIFFE: Well, listen, I've committed to helping - I've had them all calling me. I don't know if it's been a concerted effort. They all got together. But, you know, it pulled at my heartstrings.

I love that state. I worked like a dog, loved every moment of it. You know, I went on 35 trade missions, brought 20 billion of new capital. Virginia was a different state when I went in. If you remember, we - the TRAP Laws that--

CUOMO: Sure.

MCAULIFFE: --shut down the women's clinics, and all that awful stuff, that's all gone.

But where Virginia is a national leader we can take it to be a global leader, don't tell your brother, make it the best state in the United States of America.

[21:45:00] CUOMO: Figure now - lucky for you, he doesn't watch the show.

MCAULIFFE: That's what I get on to bet, hope in people.

CUOMO: Governor--

MCAULIFFE: And don't forget, the folks that we elect, Chris, this year, they will be around in 2021 when they redraw all the maps.

CUOMO: Right.

MCAULIFFE: And in fairness, this election will determine the next 10 years in Virginia, and that's why I'm staying home, and doing what I need to do to help the Virginians.

CUOMO: Governor, I appreciate you making the case on our show.

MCAULIFFE: All right, Chris, thank you.

CUOMO: Congrats--

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

CUOMO: --to the University of Virginia. There it is. Shows it again.

MCAULIFFE: Yes, yes. Yelled it pretty good (ph) where they lost LSU but they got a good run.

CUOMO: Yes. Listen, I don't have a blue shirt on though for a reason.

MCAULIFFE: Yes, well it's why.

CUOMO: Be well, Governor. MCAULIFFE: Thanks you, Chris.

CUOMO: There's only one number one, and it's you guys right now.

All right, we hear tonight that some White House aides, past and present, are nervously anticipating what could be coming out tomorrow in the Mueller report. Why? What are they really worried about? What's the exposure?

We'll tell you, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Interesting headline, paranoia hanging over the White House tonight. Soon, we may learn who and how many of President Trump's aides cooperated with Mueller and whether any of it will be damaging to him.

The New York Times reports some of Trump's aides fear his backlash more than the findings themselves.

Let's bring in D. Lemon. You buy this?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Yes, of course. We reported on it last night.

I absolutely do buy it because until - until now, maybe people who left the White House have spoken out. But a lot of it has been sources, right? "Sources said this. Sources said this."

This is an official record for people who were testifying under the consequence of perjury, right, with the fear of perjury.

So, they will - they were, probably in these interviews that they gave, they will talk about or talked about the inner workings of the Administration, and they will have described some of the turmoil and chaos inside this White House, and they're afraid of direct retribution.

And they should be because the President will know who they are. Probably does now already.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: Yes. I mean assuming they don't fall into this category of peripheral third parties who don't need to be outed, but we're told it's going to be light redactions. But here's why I don't buy it.

LEMON: What does that mean though?

CUOMO: I know. I - I hear you on it. I don't know what it means. But it's a - it's a good indication. Could just be spin, we'll know tomorrow. But I don't buy it, and here's why I don't buy it.

They were pushed to cooperate, OK? They were all but made to cooperate. The idea that they don't know what these people said, I think it's giving a false expectation of anxiety.

I'm not saying The Times got it wrong. I'm just saying that people are saying this as spin, and that they're not worried about that.

They're not worried about anything because they've been told what to expect that's coming out tomorrow. And they already know what the big hits are going to be. This process has been a sham from the beginning.

LEMON: Well, listen, it's good reporting that came out. And if they are indeed worried, as they say the President, quote, yesterday was that the President is, you know, going bonkers, OK.

CUOMO: I don't buy it.

LEMON: But they were concerned about - they would be upset and retaliate against people for telling the truth, that is a very interesting--

CUOMO: Yes. I buy that.

LEMON: --prospect from the--

CUOMO: I just don't think it's going to be a surprise to him, that's all.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But we'll know. We'll know soon enough.

LEMON: So, listen.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Transparency, hypocrisy, there's a big lesson in hypocrisy that's going to be on my broadcast, OK?

And the people who are carrying the water for this Administration, a particular network that we are going to drill in on, and you do not want to miss this, you don't want to miss it.

And one more question, Chris.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Do you have any questions about what was in my broadcast tonight? What - what aired on my broadcast tonight? CUOMO: It hasn't happened yet.

LEMON: OK. Well that's what reporters will be dealing with tomorrow at 9:30.

CUOMO: Oh, oh that's good.

LEMON: When they get with Barr.

CUOMO: It was well done, Don, well done.

LEMON: Yes. Well they go with Barr, they'll say, well how are we going to ask anything? We didn't see the report.

CUOMO: Yes, no, I got you. That's good. It's good.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: You didn't have to embarrass me like that. But it was a good point. I'll see you in a second. Look, he liked it. He winked. Get rid of him.

LEMON: I'll see you.

CUOMO: All right, this process deserves criticism. Period!

I reserve judgment on the product. We all should. We have to see what they release of the report. But you need to see where we are and why we're there because it's going to be a prediction of where we are headed.

A closing argument of caution, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CLOSING ARGUMENT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: First word of caution. Tomorrow is not about simply getting a verdict. There's not going to be an immediate headline. And if there is, beware of it. It's long even with the redactions no matter how light they are, so beware of immediate assessments.

The key is look for how Mueller argued and why, especially on obstruction. We know going into this, his team saw so much potential proof they were torn about whether to make a case. So, why did they not feel the easy ability to say yes or no? You will see that if it's not redacted, I hope. The problem is we shouldn't have to hope. Barr is not doing us a favor. He's supposed to be doing his job.

We keep hearing, "The regulations don't say, for instance, that he has to show the public." Well they don't say that he can't show the public either. Every step so far has been this A.G. making a choice to do right by the President and wrong by you.

Like what? Four-page letter, instead of showing you 400 right away. He didn't have to do that. It was shaping the narrative. Such a theater of the absurd that the one thing he allowed was that Mueller said he couldn't exonerate.

Very odd language! And then, what does the President start shouting? "I was exonerated."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion with the Russians. There was no obstruction and none whatsoever. And it was a complete and total exoneration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: It wasn't. What's proof? Point number two, well then what happens? Nothing. The report is gone for like a month. Why? Well they have to work through the redactions.

They could have had Mueller do that. He was the one working with the agencies. It could have been delivered with all of the things that everybody was worried about that didn't have to be left to the A.G.

Then, number three. The A.G. refuses to answer to Congress about giving a head start to the White House. Do you know why? Because he didn't want to lie. That's why. He knew they were giving him a look. And now, the reporting confirms the same.

No. Mr. Barr is not Mr. By-The-Book. He is no-holds Barr. He does what he can to help the President he serves, and that's what we're seeing, so expect it to continue.

Another example, parroting this President's poppycock about being spied on. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.

I think there was the - spying did occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Even using that word, anyone in the Justice business, let alone an Attorney General, knows spying is a dirty word to Intel folks.

And Mr. By-The-Book, are you supposed to give a conclusion on an ongoing investigation? Never heard them do that before. He did it there. Why, if it's not in the regs?

Even the redactions, light, as reported tonight, what does that mean?

It's all about what they don't put in there and what choices are made by Mr. Barr, when they really should be made by your Members of Congress, frankly. They should see all of it and let them figure it out. They're your elected representatives, not him.

The point is he doesn't have to do any of this this way. He's choosing to, just like he did it as Attorney General for President Bush during Iraqgate, just as he did it for Legal Counsel - as Legal Counsel before that.

And Congress can likely fight in court and win, if they want. But you know what that will be? A delay.

And this is all about the delight of the dilatory, going slow on purpose, because the longer this takes, the less impact it makes. Barr knows this. He knows this President wants it this way, Mr. I-Want-It- All-out, where's the President on that now? This has been anything but that.

Mr. Barr having a press conference unless he bows to the Democrats and stops having it, it's planned for 9:30 tomorrow. Before anyone has seen the report, how do you ask good questions when you don't know what he's talking about? That's what he's banking on.

Big hint, Mr. Mueller isn't going to be there, should tell you a lot. You do a presser about a report you didn't write, and the guy who did write it isn't even there, and you don't even provide it to folks whom you're there to have questions asked of you. Congress won't even get it to 11:00 A.M. So, what does that mean? They

won't even be able to push back. But you know who's ready. White House Counsel reportedly got a heads-up. Where's that in the regs?

And when is this being released? Right before the Holy Days. Jews and Christians are going to be distracted right when spring break starts for so many in this country. It is all as ugly as it is obvious. If you have nothing to hide why do it this way.

Thank you very much for watching us tonight. CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON starts right now.