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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
State Media: Kim Jong Un Directs First Weapons Test Since Trump's Failed Summit with North Korean Leader; Rep. Steve Cohen (D- TN) is Interviewed About the Release of the Redacted Mueller Report. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired April 17, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, SITUATION ROOM: Thanks very much. And don't forget CNN's special coverage of the release of the Mueller report begins tomorrow morning, 6:00 am Eastern. You can join Jake Tapper and me at 9:00 am Eastern. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR, OUTFRONT: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the Attorney General to address the nation tomorrow morning hours before he releases the redacted Mueller report according to a top Dem. As The New York Times reports tonight, the White House and Justice Department have been talking about the report's conclusions for days. Plus, paranoia reportedly taking hold at the White House, why? What are they so afraid of? And more breaking news, Kim Jong-un tests a tactical guided weapon, the first test since his failed summit with Trump. Let's go out front.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, Attorney General Bill Barr won't release the Mueller report until hours after he holds a press conference about the Mueller report. This news just breaking from the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jerry Nadler says Barr told him the redacted report will not be handed over until around 11:00 am tomorrow morning or noon.
So in that range, according to Nadler, that's what he says Barr told him, the press conference though will be held hours before that at 9:30 in the morning. So what in the world is Barr going to take questions about? As Chairman Adler bluntly put it, quote, this is wrong.
Another important detail about tomorrow's press conference, we are told Robert Mueller and his team will not be there, that is according to Mueller spokesperson. Now, this comes as The New York Times reports Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the Mueller report and the conclusions made by the Mueller team. Those conversations they reportedly happened in just recent days,
hoping the White House craft its response to this redacted report. All of this raising questions about the closeness of the White House and the Attorney General Bill Barr. In fact it was President Trump not the Attorney General who first announced the press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'll see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow, Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a press conference. Maybe I'll do one after that, we'll see, but he's done - he's been a fantastic Attorney General. He's grabbed it by the horn."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, one thing is clear. The Attorney General has done exactly what the President wanted him to do thus far. Remember, this is the same man who told CNN back in 1992 the last time Bill Barr served as Attorney General he said the Attorney General is, quote, subordinate to the president and carries out the president's policies, and that is what he's doing now.
Tonight, we are learning the tension and anxiety are high in the White House as The New York Times adds that paranoia has taken hold of Trump's team. We begin our breaking coverage this hour with Evan Peres. And Evan, so much braking here, but basically you got a redacted report coming out after a press conference about a redacted report.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
BURNETT: The Attorney General is really trying to get ahead of things.
PEREZ: Yes, he really is and he's going to be setting the narrative, Erin, for a report that, by the way, he has repeatedly told us he does not want to summarize. He wants us to see the report, but now we're going to see a press conference about the report before we actually get a chance to spend some time to read the 400 pages.
Look, this press conference we expected he's going to get a lot of questions. He's going to provide an overview. He's going to explain a little bit of his thinking about what was guiding his decisions on the redactions in particular. Again, we won't have the benefit of seeing the document before he does this and takes questions from us.
And we also expect that he's going to be able to explain a little bit of exactly what was going on in the process at the Justice Department. We know for instance from his letter that there were no disagreements with Mueller per se, so there was no fight over whether or not to subpoena the President. Those are big questions.
Obviously, we're going to be able to ask the Attorney General before we get a chance to see the report, but I think you point to the exact problem here, the Attorney General today had - we knew that there were some discussions about a press conference and then the President just goes out and announces this decision which was, obviously, something that the Justice Department wanted to control. This is an important day for the Justice Department to show some independence from the White House and instead the President stepped all over it.
So we expect that the Attorney General and Rod Rosenstein who will be there will be able to take some questions. Though, Erin, as you said the fact that we won't be able to have the benefit of reading the report before we ask those questions will certainly temper what we can ask.
BURNETT: Yes, it certainly will and, of course, the president obviously taking away any perception at least of independence there by announcing that first. OK. Evan, thank you.
[19:04:49] BURNETT: I want to go now to Philip Allen Lacovara; former Counsel to the Watergate Special Prosecutors, April Ryan; White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks also our Political Analyst, and John Dean; former Nixon White House Counsel and CNN Contributor.
So John, let's just get to this basic conundrum here. The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is saying Bill Barr's team has said, "Guys, guess what, 11:00 am or 12:00 tomorrow that's when you're going to get the report." Obviously, the press conference is a couple hours before that, 9:30 am. What's going on here?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, it's obviously a conspicuous effort, again, to try to frame the report, to try to shape the news and influence it. And, Erin, it's really a reminiscent of Watergate days when Nixon decided to put out some tapes in anticipation that he was going to be asked for more of them and what they did is they went out and briefed the press beforehand as to what they were going to read which was not in fact what they would read and tried to shape that there was nothing there. And in the long run, the crowd or the American public saw it for what it was and they were outraged.
BURNETT: So April, what do you think is going on here. I mean, they all know that when they do this and the President announces before his Attorney General even has a chance to that they're putting a press conference out about the 400-page report before they even release the redacted version of the report. They all know that we're all going to say, "This doesn't add up." Yet, they still think this is going to work in the broader field of public opinion. I mean, is that why they're doing this, this press conference before the report?
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Erin, they're trying to cushion the blow as much as they can. There's a lot of contradictions already there and with these redactions you already have people like former Attorney General Eric Holder who I talked to yesterday with the report who says they need to just release everything, because it will ultimately be released. And, Erin, the thing of it is, if people indeed don't get information
from this highly redacted document that they want, there's going to be more of a clamoring for information. That press conference, Justice is not going to do it and neither were the press conference that the President may or may not have tomorrow.
So they're trying to cushion the blow because there are already contradictions. We already heard the President say, "Oh, I'm totally vindicated." Well, apparently he's not because there are still, at least on an obstruction of justice, there was no conclusion on it.
So we're going to find out a little bit more and then what the White House comes out with, what they want to say their rebuttal that leaves something to be desired as well. It's going to be point by point, topic by topic. Tomorrow is going to be a big day.
BURNETT: All right, so Philip, The New York Times is reporting Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about Mueller's conclusions. Is that acceptable? Does that bother you at all?
PHILIP ALLEN LACOVARA, FORMER COUNSEL TO WATER GATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it bothers me a lot because it's the latest unseemly development in the relationship between Attorney General Barr and the President. I'd also note that one of the major areas of redaction that we can expect to see or to not see tomorrow will be the redaction of Grand Jury information.
The rule that requires Grand Jury secrecy applies to the Justice Department and prohibits the Justice Department from releasing Grand Jury information to anybody else in the government other than in the Justice Department and that includes the White House. So if the Attorney General is disclosing this confidential information to the White House lawyers, I think it's not only unseemly but actually improper and it will undermine his justification tomorrow for saying that a lot of what Mueller has written is being blacked out or whatever his color code is, red, green, blue or yellow.
BURNETT: Right. And I want to ask you about those redactions, because that's very important. But first, John, to this point about who's seeing what and what the point is. Since the Barr's summary, which is a four-page, they say it's not a summary, but whatever it is, blank of principle conclusions.
So you have a four-page summary of a 300 to 400-page report that Barr put out. He decided himself the President didn't obstruct justice. He made it clear Mueller didn't make that decision. Barr did himself.
Barr then went in front of Congress and said he believed there was spying on the Trump campaign. That's the President's word. It's an inaccurate and highly partisan word used to describe what could have happened. How can anyone take what Bill Barr says tomorrow as anything but covering for the President?
DEAN: Well, it'd be very difficult to do so. His credibility in Washington has certainly slipped. Maybe he still has some credibility with Trump's base who want to hear what he has to say, but it's sad. He has actually done this before as well in protection of another president, so this isn't a totally new pattern for Barr.
When we did a little digging as has come out in the last few months, we saw he has done exactly the same thing both in pardons and investigations that he nipped in the bud, things that were headed towards the White House.
[19:09:47] BURNETT: Yes, Ryan Goodman's excellent analysis of a prior summary he did about FBI detentions. April, neither Mueller nor anyone from his team is going to be at the press conference, OK, but I do want to note they did work on the redactions and that's important to put that out there. They were a part of that decision-making as far as we know at this point.
But what does it say that Mueller did not sign the summary? That Mueller will not be at the press conference. He is not in any way putting his imprimatur on this.
RYAN: He doesn't want to be political with this. He doesn't want to make it political when it is political and it could go down that political route going to the Hill. He wants to keep his credibility. He doesn't want to look like he's in with this administration as Bob Barr, excuse me, Bill Barr has taint on him from what is going on right now and the questions that loom about how close he is to the President and what is this and what is that.
Mueller is trying to stay away and trying to keep the sanctity of this investigation intact. It's going to be hard, but there are going to be questions of him after this is over. I'm quite sure because we're going to be left with questions. They never seem to always answer the questions the way we think they should, yes or no or give us the detail. Mueller is staying away from that because he knows he has foreshadowing of things to come.
BURNETT: So Philip, let me ask you about the redactions, because as you've pointed out, the only way to get Grand Jury testimony, you have said, is to initiate formal impeachment proceedings and then you can force Congress to get all of the Grand Jury testimony behind this, but it's not just Grand Jury testimony that will be redacted, it will be classified information sources and methods and all this color coding.
So we know there's going to be two versions now, a less redacted version of the report will go to a limited number of Congress, limited members of Congress, that's what Congress demanded but eventually is the word. So in other words, tomorrow we're all getting this one version and eventually there'll be another one. What do you make of that eventually?
LACOVARA: Well, I don't know how much will be released to Congress eventually. Certainly I think it's understood that the intelligence committees will get the portion of the redacted report that reinstates the intelligence information that was stripped out, but it's unlikely that they will also see the Grand Jury information and the other FBI information that I think is even more sensitive for purposes of assessing the President's behavior and the behavior of his family, because the Attorney General has said he's going to remove information that might affect the reputation of what he calls peripheral third parties as well as Grand Jury material.
And I'd like to know for example whether he considers Donald Jr. a peripheral third party whose reputation needs to be protected when he was obviously central to one of the meetings with Russian intelligence representatives in Trump Tower.
BURNETT: Right. And these are all questions I know will be asked to Bill Barr tomorrow before we even see the report. We'll see whether he'll answer it or say, "Well, I'm not going to comment until the report comes out," and then, "I'm not going to comment at all," and we can all see how this could easily spin into nothing. Thank you all very much.
And next, just hours before Barr's version of the Mueller report drops, The New York Times reporting a sense of paranoia is taking hold of Trump top aides, why? What are they worried about? Plus, President Trump tonight giving a nod to his Attorney General's claims that the Trump campaign was spied on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're talking about pervasive, horrible things that were happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This is just one of several reasons the President is very happy with his Attorney General this evening. Also, breaking this hour, North Korea reporting it has tested a new tactical guided weapon. It's a huge development. The test ordered by Kim Jong-un. The first test since the President's last summit.
[19:17:26] BURNETT: Breaking news, a sense of paranoia gripping some inside the White House tonight. According to The New York Times, the President and his aides are bracing for the release of the Mueller report. Obviously, we are now hours away from that. Aides fear the President's backlash once he learns who told the Special Counsel what.
Let me remind people like the General Counsel at the time Don McGahn spent 30 hours with Mueller's team. OK. So officials are telling CNN tonight there are serious second thoughts about having spoken to Mueller now that the boss may know exactly who spilled their guts.
Kaitlan Collins is out front live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, what are your sources telling you from inside the White House tonight?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, some of those second thoughts are coming from people who did sit down with the Special Counsel and now they're looking at it like this, they don't know what's going to be in that report tomorrow, but they do not know if their information is going to be protected either and their fear is that what they said is going to be laid bare for the public to see with their name attached to it.
And if they had fought this and not sat down with the Special Counsel voluntarily after they were requested, then they might have been subpoenaed, they could have gone before the Grand Jury. And then what they said to them would be subject to secrecy rules that Grand Jury information often is.
So that's why they're wondering why were we encouraged by the White House to sit down with the Special Counsel in the first place. And now tomorrow the President could potentially know everyone when this report is laid bare who it is that talked to the Special Counsel what all they said.
And as we've been reporting, White House aides' current informer are worried about the details that are going to be in that report, because some of the people who spoke to the Special Counsel including Don McGahn were central to the main aspects of this investigation there for big parts of what it was that Robert Mueller was investigating, especially when it comes to obstruction of justice.
COLLINS: And now the President is going to be able to see exactly what they said during that 30 hours, because they do not think President knows the level of detail that they gave them before.
BURNETT: I bet he certainly doesn't. All right, thank you very much, Kaitlan. Let's go now to Joe Lockhart, he was President Clinton's White House Press Secretary when Independent Counsel Ken Starr's report was released and Jamil Jaffer; former White House Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush and former DOJ Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General. OK, thanks to both of you. So Joe, you were there, you were inside the White House on the eve of a report.
JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes.
BURNETT: This was the Starr report. So what the heck is going on in there tonight?
LOCKHART: Well, it's a very different situation. We didn't know what was going to be in the Starr report. We were taking our best guess. We now know from The New York Times that the White House knows what's coming in the report.
BURNETT: Well, the lawyers have been briefed.
BURNETT: But we don't believe they've seen the report.
BURNETT: But briefed on the content.
[19:20:00] LOCKHART: But they've been briefed. But we went about our strategy of getting prepared preparing the rebuttal and going forward. I find there's something very perverse though about what Kaitlan was just talking about. This idea that people are living in fear.
They're living in fear of the fact that they told the truth. That they were asked questions under oath, you can go to jail as we found out for lying to the FBI and they said, "Here's what happened." And in this perverse world of Donald Trump where the truth is what he wants it to be that people now fear being in trouble --
BURNETT: They fear his wrath.
LOCKHART: They fear his wrath for saying what happened.
BURNETT: So, I mean, Jamil, it sounds like you got a lot of people who cooperated who are starting to regret it, because they're afraid. They're afraid. If nothing is going to happen to the President, then something might happen to them and a former official tells CNN the lessons learned here is don't cooperate because it would have been better if you didn't and you had to go to a Grand Jury if they really wanted to force it, so then you'd have some protection, because if you were at a Grand Jury you're not going to be in the report, you're going to be redacted.
Whereas we might be able to read people who cooperated. We might be able to read their names and the President would know who said what about him. What do you think?
JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, Erin, look I mean I agree with Joe that it's kind of crazy. We're seeing a Special Counsel report about the President and his campaign coming out and instead of being worried about what that report says, they're worried about the President's reaction to it. And I think that Joe is right to say it's an odd scenario that we're in, given the current administration and the nature of the President's sort of how he deals with his current and former aides.
Now, with that being said, I'm not sure about this whole Grand Jury thing gets you out but because I think at the end of the day there's going to be a lot of pressure on Attorney General Barr to go to a federal judge and ask to have the Grand Jury material released, because members of Congress are going to want it. You're right that they're not going to be able to get it without starting a judicial proceeding unless the AG asked them to be released.
So I think we're to see public pressure start to bear down on the Attorney General and on the White House to request release by a federal judge.
BURNETT: And I guess that's a really interesting point that the Attorney General could request that. Obviously, he's not going to want to do that but he might be forced to do that.
LOCKHART: He may, yes.
BURNETT: And he may be forced to do that. Actually, I would say ironically and maybe you won't agree with my take on this, but the more redactions there are tomorrow, the more he's going to be compelled to act for them to change. LOCKHART: Yes. No, this has gotten into a very twisted and perverse
situation where Congress feels like they have the right to see an unredacted version. And it may be that the only way they can do that is to have an ongoing judicial procedure which is impeachment.
BURNETT: And impeachment proceeding. Right.
LOCKHART: So that the Attorney General is prompting an impeachment proceeding so the Congress and the public can see. It's Alice in Wonderland through the looking-glass world, but this is what the administration - and it really is - I think most of us tomorrow are going to focus not on who the President's mad at but what actually happened. And if the report redacts what actually happened, then I think you're going to see a very strong reaction from Congress.
BURNETT: So Jamil, what do you make about this press conference coming at least an hour and a half before the redacted report itself?
JAFFER: Well, look, I mean Attorney General Barr obviously release what he saw as the key conclusions in the report. Look, by all accounts, Attorney General Barr is a credible person. I know there's been a lot of criticism of him recently, but you have to remember that it's not just the Attorney General Barr, but it's also his Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who's been with him on what they assessed in terms of obstruction of justice.
And Rod Rosenstein is going to be there onstage with him too. So a lot of people are saying, "Well, AG Barr is in the tank for the President." First of all, I don't think that's a real credit to Attorney General Barr who's been around a long time and Rod Rosenstein is right there. And so I don't think that's a credible argument to be made, although a lot of you are making it in the hours leading up to this press conference.
LOCKHART: Well, I'll make the argument. I don't think he's been serving as the Attorney General of the citizens of the United States. I think he's been serving as the President's lawyer. And I'll remind you on Rod Rosenstein, if you believe the reporting, he's been trying to balance the competing forces. And if you believe Andrew McCabe he was very aggressive in the discussion about maybe the President needs to be removed from office.
BURNETT: The 25th Amendment.
LOCKHART: The 25th Amendment and I'll wear a wire and all of that. So I think he's been trying to hold this thing together and he's made some curious decisions in the last couple of weeks. But I think it all comes down to we're going to eventually see this report, so it just makes no sense that they're going to make it that hard. Because again if the President was exonerated, you'd want the report out so that you know that that's not true.
BURNETT: Right. I could see that. I can also see the longer you stall, the more people get bored, they move on and then even if there's something in it, the people will carry more --
LOCKHART: Remember when election day is, it's 2020 and the longer it stalls, the more of a problem that is politically I think for the President.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both so very much and next --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a press conference. Maybe I'll do one after that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:25:01] BURNETT: So the President announced Bill Barr's press conference about the Mueller report and then said, "Oh, maybe I'll do one myself." I guess the translation is once I see how people interpret the whole situation tomorrow morning. Plus, breaking news, Kim Jong-un ordering his first weapons test since his failed summit with President Trump.
Remember President Trump making a huge deal about that there have been no tests and he was right, but now this has happened. It's a huge slap in the face. Is Trump being dared to act?
[19:29:22] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump giving his Attorney General Bill Barr a pat on the back just hours before Barr releases a redacted version of the Mueller report. The President going out on the airwaves, attacking the FBI and the Obama administration, saying it's hard to believe that President Obama was unaware of what Trump calls spying on the Trump campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I guess you have to put yourself in that category and I can put myself in that category. I mean we're talking about pervasive, horrible things that were happening. And it would certainly be hard to believe that he didn't know what was going on but we're going to leave that for another day."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:30:00] BURNETT: So the person who's giving him the ammunition, the confidence frankly to keep bringing this up and go out there is none other than Bill Barr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think spying on political campaign is a big deal. I think there is -- spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, as we have said, you know, authorized surveillance, FISA warrants. That's not spying.
OUTFRONT now, former Democratic congressman from Illinois, Luis Gutierrez, and former Republican senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum.
So, Congressman Gutierrez, you know, look, what I want to get at is the relationship between the president and his attorney general. The attorney general did not announce he was holding a press conference, not until the president did, right? The president announcing in a radio interview and then said, oh, maybe I'll hold one after the attorney general is down with his.
Is there any independence here?
LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't believe there is. Let's remember that the now Attorney General Barr published a 20-page opinion basically saying it's asinine, and these are his words, and that Mueller and his team of attorneys which he criticized for hiring a bunch of Democrats, something echoing President Trump, looked like a group of people out to overthrow the president of the United States.
Then he sent the 20-page memorandum saying the president couldn't be investigated for firing Comey and obstruction of justice.
BURNETT: Obstruction of justice.
GUTIERREZ: Even broader obstruction ever justice. He said he couldn't be investigated for that. He sent that 20-page unsolicited memorandum and opinion to Rosenstein.
But let's remember, he admits -- Mr. Barr admits, the attorney general admits that he discussed that memorandum with Trump's lawyers and with people in the Trump administration at the White House. So, there is no independence. He was already in lockstep with President Trump and that's why he was chosen.
BURNETT: Senator Santorum, any independence?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, to suggest that Bill Barr who is -- has a great reputation in this town was attorney general before. No one questioned his independence when he was a attorney general in a prior administration. And, you know, the proof will be in the pudding tomorrow. Will Bill Barr -- first off was his synopsis correct? Did it actually accurately represent what Bob Mueller said? So, you'll have that determination.
The second determination will be, you know, how much is redacted? I agree, I think there should be as little redaction as possible. I hope there aren't a lot of things withheld from the public. But I suspect if it is, he has very good legal reason to do so.
COOPER: So, Senator Santorum, you know, here is the thing about it. We try to understand what to -- you know, when you look at these redacted versions and he said he is giving detailed footnotes, but as you say, let's see. But the questions out there are there because of the fact that Barr echoes the president on to an eerie extent. Here he is on just a few issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My administration is finalizing a plan to end a rampant abuse of our asylum system.
BARR: People are abusing the asylum system.
TRUMP: I'm going to be signing a national emergency. And it's been signed many times before.
BARR: Your declaration of an emergency on the southern border was clearly authorized under the law, and consistent with past precedent.
TRUMP: They spied on me. They spied on our campaign.
BARR: I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. I think there is a -- spying did occur. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Senator, that's -- there is no coincident, Bill Barr is choosing to use the words of the president.
SANTORUM: I happen to believe those -- in every one of the instances, I would agree that that's -- knows are legitimate characterizations of what's going on.
You say surveillance isn't spying. Well, I disagree. I mean if someone is surveilling me, they're spying on me. So, you can -- to me, that's a semantic difference.
BURNETT: Right, if they're doing it with a court order and through a legal system. That's completely different.
SANTORUM: But spying is not illegal. Spying -- I mean, you're saying spying is a pejorative term.
BURNETT: I'm saying it's used in a pejorative manner, to imply something extrajudicial and I don't think there is question about why that word is being used.
SANTORUM: Because it's accurate. I mean, look, Erin, the idea, this is something I can't get over that is not really -- people on both sides of the aisle aren't concerned about this that a presidential candidate's campaign of -- people attached to his campaign are being surveilled and that the person running for president -- I ran for president.
If someone deep in my campaign, someone was being surveilled, I would be pretty ticked off that no one told me there was something going on. I mean, the idea of the presumption --
BURNETT: I don't want to go through this all again but they were told -- they were worried about Russian infiltration of the campaign.
[19:35:04] They were told that.
SANTORUM: Well, fine, then you come to me.
BURNETT: There are FISA warrants to surveil Carter Page, right, whom they believe could be -- I mean, anyway, I'm not trying to relitigate the whole thing.
SANTORUM: Why didn't they go to candidate Trump? This guy is running for president and something may be going on. You know with somebody attached to his campaign. I'd like to know that, as opposed to someone assuming --
BURNETT: Maybe trying to understand what he knew because his son is having meeting with the campaign chairman and admitted Russian informant. So, they're like, wait, what if we told him, because we don't know what he knows or what his role? I can see both sides.
SANTORUM: It's a horrible presumption on the part of the FBI.
SANTORUM: That has to be investigated in my view.
BURNETT: OK. Congressman Gutierrez, Bill Barr was interviewed by Larry King in 1992. That's when he was attorney general last time, right? And he said this about the role of the attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: The attorney general has an obligation to uphold the law, and enforce the law with respect to all persons. No one is above the law. The attorney general however also has a policy position. And to that extent, if he's pursuing the policies of the administration, he is subordinate to the president and carries outs the president's policies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: No one is above the law, Congressman, or subordinate?
GUTIERREZ: Unless -- unless you're the president of the United States.
Here's why I make a couple of points. Number one, please note, Senator Santorum did not refute any of the statement that I began the began the program with, in the 20 page memorandum, and all the of the issues that I raised about the lack of independence of Mr. Barr.
What he does do is go back to the talking points of the Republicans that everybody think Barr is a great guy and nobody ever questioned him. Well, I too am surprised that someone was a policy adviser in the Reagan administration, attorney general as you just noted, for Bush, the father, overturns a decision made about George Bush the son in 2005 echoing what the president of the United States wants to do.
So there has been a metamorphosis. There has been a change. And we see it so much among the Republican rank and file. The truth is that Donald Trump is the Republican Party, and even Mr. Barr whose father was a college professor, Columbia College professor, and raising the best of schools in the United States has abdicated his responsibility to uphold the Constitution and make sure that this president too is held by the Constitution of the United States.
SANTORUM: Yes, Luis, I think you are confusing the role that Bill Barr laid out which is the role of policy working on policy which is -- the amnesty -- the -- the amnesty applications and the decision he just made, that's a policy decision on how to enforce the law. It's not the lawyer for the United States. It's someone who is implementing policy as part of the Department of Justice.
So, that's a very different situation than playing the role of a lawyer and not being the president's guy.
GUTIERREZ: I'm not confused. I'm not confused.
BURNETT: I'm going to hit pause there. I think we can all agree that this report --
GUTIERREZ: But the president of the United --
BURNETT: -- is about the rule of law, and whether he is above it and it's not about policy.
GUTIERREZ: But the president of the United States has said we have to stop these -- this wave and in catch and release. Every time I think about catch and release I think about hunters and animals. That's the way they look at people seeking asylum.
SANTORUM: That's, that's --
BURNETT: I will hit pause there because this is an important conversation but a separate one. Thank you both.
And next, breaking news, North Korea firing its first weapons since Kim Jong-un's failed summit with President Trump. Kim Jong-un doing this now on this eve. Is he sending a message to President Trump who, of course, has repeatedly been saying this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have no testing. No missiles going up. No rockets going up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So, now, that's not true. Kim Jong-un picked tonight for a reason. And President Trump weighing in on who has the best chances in the
Democratic field. And he is talking about Mayor Pete Buttigieg for the first time.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Could be the mayor from Indiana. I think I'd like running against him too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:42:54] BURNETT: Breaking news: North Korea says they've tested what they are calling a new, quote, tactical guided weapon. State media reports Kim Jong-un directed the test. It is the first test since the president walked out summit talks he held with Kim Jong-un in February.
Just last week, the president even tweeted, I agree with Kim Jong-un of North Korea that our personal relationship remains very good. Perhaps the term excellent would be more accurate.
Well, maybe he doesn't feel that way tonight.
Will Ripley is OUTFRONT. Will obviously knows more about this than anyone.
So, the president says things are excellent. And Kim fires a test missile. What can you tell us?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, things are not excellent for the North Koreans. They have a lot of sanctions. They're hurting their economy and they are desperate to get the attention of the United States.
But they don't want to push to the point that they derail all the diplomatic progress they made so far. So, what do they do? They don't launch a missile, they don't launch a satellite, at least not yet. But they conduct this what they are calling a tactical weapons test.
Now, they did this back in November of 2018 when negotiations with the U.S. were at a standstill. And at that time, it was a multiple rocket launcher or piece of artillery, the kind of weapon that doesn't pose to the mainland U.S.
RIPLEY: But it does pose a threat to South Korea and the 28,000 troops stationed there. So, this is really a ploy to get President Trump's attention, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. So, the president has been bragging about his relationship with Kim on and on whenever he can, and as recently as Monday, he said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un. He just said the other day he looks forward to more talks. Talk is OK. Talk is OK. Right now, it's moving along just perfectly. And we have good relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Will, how much control does Kim have over timing of something like this when you call about -- the word tactical guided weapon? I mean, what I'm getting at is we have known for a few days that the Mueller report is coming tomorrow. We know that there is all the eyes -- is this something that Kim could be timing to go with that?
RIPLEY: A hundred percent. The North Koreans are watching everything that happens in the United States.
[19:45:01] And they are trying to time their actions deliberately really to pressure the Trump administration to come back to the table and give them what they want, which is economic relief. And so, they do a weapons test like this on the eve of a major development that they are watching and monitoring in the United States. And to remember, it was yesterday, Kim oversaw an air force combat readiness drill.
This is all a hint, a signal if you will of what could come if the North Koreans feel that President Trump doesn't give them closer to what they need more quickly which is sanctions relief.
BURNETT: All right. Of course, obviously, if they sense more weakness from him.
Thank you very much, Will.
And next, President Trump taking notice of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana ready?
And what if Fox News covered Trump the way Fox News covered Obama?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: The president seems almost obsessed with cable TV or am I wrong?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news, Attorney General Bill Barr will release his redacted version of Mueller's report tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. or thereabouts, 11:00 or noon. And that will be after he holds a press conference which is going to be at 9:30 in the morning.
So, press conference about a redacted report before we see the redacted report. Well, that has some people angry, a lot of them, the Democrats, including the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, who's about to hold a press conference about this very issue.
Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee joins me now on the phone, also a member of that House Judiciary Committee.
Congressman, good to have you with me.
All right. So, you all know there is going to be this press conference, which I know there were plenty of issues with to begin with. And then you find out you're not getting the report -- the redacted report until a couple hours after the press conference. Why do you think this is happening?
[19:50:03] REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN) (via telephone): This whole appointment of Barr and his report have been placed by Donald Trump to protect himself from the truth, the truth that the American people paid for, that Bob Mueller and his team have come up with and ferreted out with two years worth of investigations.
They don't want to see the truth come to light, and Barr took the job to be the hit man, the Roy Cohn, to cover it up. He's been doing it and tomorrow he's setting the stage. He set the stage with a four- page summary saying no obstruction and no conspiracy, without letting Bob Mueller talk.
Then he took three weeks, which is absolutely unnecessary to let that get into the public's mind, for the president, then knowing that the report was going to be worse than he would like, to attack the report and attack Bob Mueller. Then, tomorrow, he's going to have the opportunity to once again try to set the narrative by putting out his version of what's in there and to downplay anything that's negative toward the president.
The president will have opportunities to make comments and then they'll give the report to the public and the public's representatives. This is the opposite of a Saturday night live massacre when then knowable public officials stood up to a corrupt president to support and protect the law of justice. Today, we have men who are standing for the president to obstruct justice. It is just the opposite of a Saturday night live massacre.
BURNETT: Were you surprised when the president of the United States was the one that announced Bill Barr would be holding a press conference? We didn't hear it from Bill Barr, at least until after the president said it was happening.
COHEN: Edgar Bergen is acting as president, and Edgar Bergen is doing what he does best. He manipulates the puppets well.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congressman Cohen.
John Avlon is with me now, our senior political analyst.
OK, here we are. A lot of words thrown in there.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Strong words.
BURNETT: Corruption, obstruction. They are livid. Cover-up. I mean, word after word after word. And it is -- obviously, we've got the chairman of the Judiciary Committee about to speak in a press conference himself in just a few moments to say how he feels this is wrong.
AVLON: It was stunning to hear Steve Cohen say -- he said it was a reverse Saturday Night Massacre. Basically instead of members of the Justice Department standing up to Richard Nixon's improper requests, he feels that Bill Barr is in the bag for the president.
Remember, the attorney general is not the president's lawyer. He represents the American people and the Justice Department. There's a degree of independence there. And Barr has an excellent reputation over decades.
And I think what we're hearing from Steve Cohen is that he is absolutely putting that at risk by making it look like he's the guy willing to do Donald Trump's dirty work, with especially the timing we're seeing tomorrow morning.
BURNETT: Yes. So here's the question, and I know we don't know what we don't know.
BURNETT: But is it possible given what we do know, there's going to be a press conference, Mueller won't be there but Rod Rosenstein will be, and the president knew about it before anybody else did and the press conference is before the report.
Given all those facts, is it possible that the report could vindicate Bill Barr in that the redactions are footnoted? We know exactly what they are. They don't seem to be excessive. It seems that he really did do the best he could to put everything out there.
Is that even possible at this point?
AVLON: It is possible and we should hope that's the case. I think Barr recognizes that he needs to be judged as a man of his word to retain any credibility, although he keeps eroding it. He has said there will be redactions, it will be color coded.
Will it be 50 percent of the report or will it be, you know, 10 percent of the report? That will be one of the key questions. Are we going to get clear insight? What we're seeing is there going to be additional information given to members of Congress in a different report specifically related to Roger Stone.
But this is an enormous amount of credibility for not only Bill Barr himself, but the Justice Department on the line at a critical time in our nation's history, especially when he indicated to Congress last week that he seems to be buying into the president's investigate the investigators narrative.
BURNETT: Yes, that's the whole spying discussion.
AVLON: Correct, and the president's legal team is preparing their rebuttal document before they have seen the document, unless they have been getting it from the White House as "The New York Times" reported tonight.
BURNETT: And we know they have been, they have been being briefed. Obviously, we don't know, and there's been no reporting that they have seen it but they have been briefed on the conclusions.
BURNETT: The other thing, of course, is that Bill Barr is betting on grand jury testimony obviously is protected unless there's impeachment proceedings or he himself requests it which would be a whole saga in and of itself.
AVLON: Ken Starr did, he's not going to.
BURNETT: But he knows and we don't how much of this redaction is grand jury and it is the easiest thing to hide behind.
AVLON: Yes, and that will confirm people's worst suspicions about whether Barr is trying to act as the president's lawyer as opposed to the person in charge of the impartiality of justice in the United States, at a critical period when unfortunately the president of the United States seems to be continually trying to erode the rule of law.
BURNETT: All right.
[19:55:00] John Avlon, thank you very much.
As we await that report now, hours away and moments away from Jerry Nadler speaking live as his press conference.
Next, Jeanne Moos on what if Fox News gave President Trump the same treatment it gave President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. President, you need to stop acting like a schoolyard bully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, what if Fox gave Trump the same treatment it gave Obama? Enjoy.
HANNITY: Wave to the fake news media. JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Trump and Fox News go
together like love and marriage and on-stage hug for Sean Hannity, Judge Jeanine Pirro gives the president a little bow.
TRUMP: They have done an incredible job for us.
Laura, I love your show, I watch it all the time.
MOOS: But, lately, the marriage has shown a few teeny tiny cracks.
"What's with Fox News?" tweeted President Trump, triggered by the enthusiastic reception Bernie Sanders got at that recent Fox News town hall.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Should we give huge tax breaks to billionaires?
MOOS: So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on Fox News, president Trump tweeted, adding and now we, we he said, have Donna Brazile?
DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS HOST: Our brand new Fox News contributor, Donna Brazile.
MOOS: Sort of makes a diehard Fox fan long for the days when the network took aim at President Obama.
HANNITY: What is wrong with this president? How dumb is he?
MOOS: But what if Fox News covered Trump the way they covered Obama?
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: He's kind of a celebrity president. He's kind of like Ryan Seacrest.
MOOS: Bashing Obama for the things Trump does.
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS HOST: When he's not doing executive actions, he's out on the golf course.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: It's like golf, Mr. President. You play a lot of that.
O'REILLY: The president seems obsessed with cable TV, or am I wrong.
MOOS: It's a super cut described as darkly hilarious, compiled over a couple of months by producer Michael Lester for the left-leaning video news outlet, "Now This".
MICHAEL LESTER, PRODUCER, NOWTHIS: I just had so many instances of hypocrisy that I had to just narrow it down and start to put them into one video.
MOOS: Network personalities berating Obama from 2009 to 2015.
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. President, everyone is laughing at us. You're like a schoolyard bully. No one is afraid of you. Putin sure as hell isn't.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS HOST: Maybe it's time you stop look at a TV tuned to Fox and look at a marathon, I don't know, (INAUDIBLE).
MOOS: The height of hypocrisy, or maybe Fox News was just ahead of its time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a president who can never admit he's wrong.
MOOS: Who wears it better?
Jeanne Moos, CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's so insecure and vain at the same time.
MOOS: New York.
BURNETT: Who wins the prize?
All right, Anderson starts now.