Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Release of Redacted Mueller Report is Imminent; Attorney General Bill Barr Set to Release Redacted Mueller Report. Aired 9- 9:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's when the respected former FBI director Robert Mueller was given his marching orders to investigate, quote, "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation," closed quote.

It's going to be a very unusual day in many ways. We know the report is being released this morning, how much of the report we do not know. There will be redactions, maybe a few, maybe a lot.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That will be very, very important to discover. The decision was left in the hands of the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, the man President Trump says is doing a fine job. It's the attorney general's choice what Congress and what the American public will see.

But in a puzzling twist we will actually hear from the attorney general before -- yes, before he releases the actual report. Coming up in under 30 minutes the attorney general will talk about and take questions about the report. No one outside his inner bubble has actually seen. At his side will be the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who gave Robert Mueller his initial mandate.

TAPPER: And Robert Mueller will not be there for any of the press conference. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi of the House and Chuck Schumer of the Senate are calling on Mueller to testify publicly before Congress as soon as possible so the public can hear his conclusions and possibly a rebuttal of what we're about to hear from Attorney General Bill Barr.

Don't forget, this investigation has led already to 199 criminal counts, 37 people and entities being charged, seven guilty pleas. And don't forget these six associates of President Trump were indicted, all as part of this investigation.

We're going to bring you live coverage of Attorney General Barr's news conference which is set to begin moments from now. Democrats are accusing the attorney general of trying to spin ahead of time the Mueller report in the president's favor in advance of its release.

I want to bring in justice correspondent Jessica Schneider.

And Jessica, give us a preview of what we expect to hear from the attorney general this morning.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, as members of Congress and the American public actually wait to get their hands on this redacted report and see all 400 pages of this report, we know that the attorney general will be briefing us in just a few minutes and we've learned from his spokesperson here at the Department of Justice that the attorney general will be addressing three main points.

So first off, AG bill Barr will be talking about executive privilege and whether or not the president and his attorneys at the White House exerted executive privilege over any part of this 400-page report. That will be the first topic. Secondly, the attorney general will be talking here about the interactions that the Justice Department officials have had with the White House, the attorneys there and the officials in the administration.

Of course, it was just last week where the attorney general was on Capitol Hill testifying before Congress, refusing to answer whether or not he's had any interactions with the White House, whether any officials at the Justice Department have talked with the White House attorneys, attorneys for the president himself.

We do know that the attorney general did address this in his letter in late March saying that there had not been any communications with the White House, but of course we know that about four weeks have passed since then and with the "New York Times" reporting that Justice Department officials have, in fact, been briefing the White House officials over the past few days, letting them know the conclusions that the special counsel came to, so of course White House officials and the lawyers can really prep their rebuttal report.

So we're going to hear directly from the attorney general about these interactions with the White House, how many there were and what they entailed. Then of course the third thing we'll hear from the attorney general is information about these redactions because he has told us before that there are four broad categories of redactions here. They will all be color coded in this report, corresponding to these four different categories that will be blacked out.

First of all, any information related to the grand jury, that will be blacked out, that's mandated by law. Any information on classified information, that will be blacked out as well. And then also any information pertaining to ongoing investigations, because, of course, we know that there are several investigations both here in D.C., Virginia, as well as the Southern District of New York that have stemmed from this special counsel probe. That will be blacked out as well.

And then finally the fourth category that will be redacted is any information that could be derogatory to any third parties. So the attorney general in just minutes will get to the podium, he will address these three main points here and we're told that this morning the attorney general is quite calm about this. He has faced a lot of criticism from Democrats on the Hill about holding this press conference well before its release to Congress. [09:05:02] As for the timeline here, the attorney general speaking at

about 9:30 this morning. We know that this report will go to the Hill. We know it will be in disc form and that should be sometime in the 11:00 hour. After that, we're not exactly sure on the timing, but at some point after it goes to members of Congress it will be released to the public. That will be via the special counsel's Web site.

So all of this transpiring in just the next few minutes, but our first point at 9:30 this morning, Wolf and Jake, the attorney general taking to that podium to express these three main points of executive privilege, whether it was exerted by the White House, also interactions with the White House by Justice Department officials, and then the redactions that could make up perhaps a large portion of this 400-page report -- Wolf and Jake.

BLITZER: We're waiting for that news conference to start supposedly in 24 minutes, Jessica. We'll get back to you.

According to the "New York Times" the Justice Department and the White House have spoken several times, numerous times, we're told, in recent days about the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings ahead of today's official release.

CNN's White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is joining us right now.

Kaitlan, so what are you hearing from sources over at the White House right now and what is the Justice Department already revealed to them?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there is definitely a sense of anticipating here at the White House because even though there have been those conversations between Justice Department lawyers and White House lawyers about the main conclusions in Mueller's findings, a lot of people in the West Wing still do not feel that they have a sense of what's going to be released in this report when it comes out around the 11:00 hour.

And their fear is that some of their colleagues who sat down with the special counsel or their former colleagues may have revealed some pretty damning information about President Trump's behavior. And that's a fear we reported on this week that even those people who sat down with the special counsel are worried about what they told Mueller and his team coming out and having their name attached to it.

Now we know the president is going to be paying very close attention to the attorney general's press conference this morning because he's already been tweeting about it several times along with repeating what he has said essentially for the last 23 months, that he believes this is harassment, he calls it a hoax. You see in there tweeting all of that just from this morning, Wolf and Jake.

So the president is going to be watching this closely. The TVs in the West Wing are tuned to this press conference. They are waiting for it to happen and as soon as that report comes out I'm told that essentially what White House aides are planning on doing is splitting up this report so they can read it as quickly as possible and basically they're going to be learning a lot of this as soon as we are outside of the president's legal team.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much.

Democratic lawmakers as we mentioned say that they are furious ahead of Attorney General Barr's news conference.

Let's go right to CNN's senior congressional correspondent who's Capitol Hill.

And Manu, this outrage they say stems from how the administration, the Trump administration has chosen to roll out this report, how the attorney general has decided to do this. Some committee chairmen calling upon the attorney general to cancel the press conference this morning.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The five Democratic committee chairmen in the House asked for that to be canceled this morning. Of course, that's not what's going to happen. It will take place in a matter of moments. But the reason why they're up in arms, one reason is that the report will actually be hand-delivered by disc to the door right behind me about an hour and a half or so after the press conference is concluded and the chairman of this committee, the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, made very clear that he does plan to subpoena for the full report. It could happen as soon as this week, and the underlying evidence.

And just this morning the two top Democrats in Congress, the minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made clear that they want Robert Mueller to testify publicly. Now they said this in a statement. Attorney General Barr's regrettably partisan handling of the Mueller report including his slanted March 24th summary letter, his irresponsible testimony before Congress last week, and his indefensible plan to spin the report in a press conference later this morning hours before he allows the public or Congress to see it have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality.

Now Bill Barr is still expected to appear before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on the first two days of May and the chairman of that committee, the House committee, Jerry Nadler, last night at a press conference also made clear his disdain for this process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): It now appears the attorney general intends to once again put his own spin on the investigative work completed by the special counsel and his team. The fact that the attorney general is not releasing even the redacted report to Congress until after his press conference will again result in the report being presented through his own words rather than through the words of Special Counsel Mueller.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANU: Now Republicans are pushing back, they're saying Democrats are overreaching, reacting with outrage that they shouldn't be reacting to because they say the attorney general has done the right thing, provided the public with at least some sense of what the top line findings were, consulted with the special counsel's team over the redactions, worked with the deputy attorney general.

[09:10:11] You should expect to hear that from Bill Barr today defending the process and from Republicans defending the process, but nevertheless not satisfying Democrats who have subpoena power here in the House and they plan to use it -- Wolf and Jake.

BLITZER: All right, Manu, thank you. We're going to get back to you. The reaction from Capitol Hill I'm sure will be intense.

And one part of it, Jake, will be how much of this nearly 400-page report will, in fact, be redacted.

TAPPER: Now we don't know about that. Let's bring in some of our panelists.

Dana Bash, Democrats on Capitol Hill talking about how Bill Barr is trying to spin the report, but according to our reporting and according to what the Justice Department is telling reporters, he's there to talk about executive privilege, what has been invoked and what has not, the interactions between the Justice Department and the White House, and the redaction process.

It doesn't sound like from the description we're getting that he intends to talk about the contents of the Mueller report.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't sound that way. It sounds like at least they're telling us ahead of time that his focus will be on process. Important process, but process. But make no mistake about it, he's going to get asked about content, even the process is important to the content. Executive privilege, things like the conversations that the DOJ has had with the White House and how he describes that and whether or not there is any question of it being inappropriate.

I mean, right now knowing what we know, it doesn't seem very appropriate to have really any conversation beyond executive privilege if they did give more than that to the White House. But if you kind of take a step back and look big picture at this, this is the moment we've been waiting for, for almost two years, and we're going to be watching and listening to the to'ing and fro'ing about whether he's spinning it or not, but finally after all of this time, after our hundreds of hours of reporting on what exactly happened with Russia, what exactly happened with the Trump campaign team, and more importantly what exactly did the Mueller team feel and see and learn from the president's own aides about his attempts to obstruct justice.

We are hopefully, even if some of it is redacted, going to get a real sense finally from the Mueller team.

BLITZER: And I suspect, Gloria, we're going to learn a lot even in this redacted 400-page document. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And I think the thing

we're all looking for is this question about why Mueller decided on obstruction that he couldn't make the traditional prosecutorial judgment. Was it because he couldn't determine intent because he wasn't allowed to, you know, sit down with the president? Was it because there wasn't any underlying crime and therefore he would have a harder time proving intent? Was it because the witnesses themselves were all damaged in one way or another?

And also, as Barr wrote about in his four-page letter, was it because lots of the president's actions took place in public view? So we're going to find out just why -- and on both sides of the argument because I do expect Mueller to kind of lay out the facts, that's who he is, and he will say this is why it was so difficult and let you know what essentially the arguments were and why they decided to not make any decision.

TAPPER: And then of course, John King, the other larger question is, separate from the obstruction discussion, the conspiracy discussion and the fact that at least according to the Barr's quoting of Mueller, there is not sufficient evidence of conspiracy between the Trump team and the Russian government and yet there is a lot of smoke, right? There's this Trump Tower meeting, there is Manafort sharing polling data with somebody with connections allegedly to Russian military intelligence, and on and on.

And hopefully there will not be so many redactions that we're not able to understand why it is there was so much smoke, so many lies told about these things and yet no fire ultimately.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the actual interference itself, which often gets lost in the political conversation. A foreign state actor that is not a friend of the United States was meddling in a presidential election trying to put its thumb on the scale in favor of one candidate. Forget the names of the candidates for a minute. That in and of itself. What did Robert Mueller find about that. How deep is it?

TAPPER: Yes.

KING: How deep are the roots? Meaning, is it still there today? That's important. To the conspiracy question, is he going to say these were a bunch of people who thought Donald Trump was going to lose and were trying to create business interest for themselves or friendships for themselves? And they were all idiot knuckleheads who had meetings they should not have had that are outside the norm? That they should have reported to the FBI? Or they should have stepped back and said no way?

We don't know. That's the great part of today. By the end of today we will actually be able to talk about what Robert Mueller found, what he investigated, what he couldn't prove, what he suspected, not about how Bill Barr is handling the release and the spinning of it.

[09:15:00]

But the preview this morning, the power play, it's a power play by the attorney general.

Imagine being a reporter, you don't know what question to ask, whether to buy the executive privilege, did -- was something redacted? You don't know.

So Bill Barr is having a power play, is it a political play? That's the debate that's going to happen in Washington as that plays out. Is he trying to help the president spin this? And my only -- my big question is will anybody have an open mind? Will Democrats have an open mind to say, you know what? We've said all these horrible things about the president, the top cop, Bob Mueller; the man with impeccable integrity said it's not there, OK.

Will Republicans have an open mind to say, wow, this is actually pretty damning, we should work together to look further into how this happened. Will the American people have an open mind, the president, whatever you think of him has done a very good job conditioning his people --

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes --

KING: To not believe a word of what's going to happen in the next 100 hours.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, SITUATION ROOM: Including his tweets this morning. You know, Jeffrey, was it appropriate for the Justice Department to have these briefings for White House counsel's -- counsel in numerous briefings in recent days?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think it was, actually. I mean, the Justice Department is part of the executive branch and executive privilege is relevant to this -- to this report, and the only way that can be determined is through the lawyers for the president. Now, should they have disclosed that they were having these conversations?

Yes, they should have, and they engaged in unnecessary secrecy which bred suspicion. But if I can just respond to one thing John said. You know, not only do I think we should focus on the report itself rather than the reactions to it, but I think the hotter the take, the faster the response, the less attention we should pay to it.

Because this is a 400-page report, no one who has a press conference at 11:30 is going to have read it. So I mean, I just think we should be aware that the facts matter and the report matters more than whatever the partisans say about it --

KING: To that point, just quickly, this is from the Attorney General's letter on March 24th, forget the spin on it, "2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 230 orders for communications records, 50 orders authorizing pen registers, meaning to track people's e-mails and text messages, 13 requests of foreign governments for evidence, approximately 500 witnesses."

This is going to take a little time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still a lot. So fight against the DNA of 2019 politics and the Twitter --

KING: Well --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Phenomenon.

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, THE LEAD: And there's also something else going on here which is the legal decision about not to go further with anyone else, not to charge anyone else from Mueller has apparently been made. And what we're going to find out today has to do with a lot of behavior that is unethical perhaps, immoral perhaps, shady perhaps, depending on your point of view and depending what's in the report, but not necessarily illegal.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So what the Justice Department has said is that the special counsel has not made any more charging decisions and we're not going to see -- there is not some sealed indictment that the special counsel's office launched.

But they did refer a lot of matters to U.S. attorneys offices and there are ongoing investigations going on in several different U.S. attorneys offices. So one thing that I'm going to be looking for in the actual report is how much information is redacted that looks like it pertains to ongoing investigations. And I think that will give us a sense of how much unfinished business there was that the special counsel spun off to other prosecutors.

TAPPER: But just to clarify, nothing related to conspiracy with Russia has been farmed out to any other --

CORDERO: As far as we know, right. That those would be -- those would be second order prosecutions related to other matters.

TAPPER: Campaign finance crime --

CORDERO: That there's not something --

TAPPER: In the Southern District of New York.

CORDERO: It doesn't look that -- everything that -- all the indications are that, there is no indictment that the special counsel has brought, will brought -- they're done as far as someone being involved in the conspiracy of the Russian interference in the election.

BLITZER: Because, Laura, in the March 24th letter to Congress, the Attorney General specifically said "the report does not recommend any further indictments nor did the special counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public."

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's true. And of course, at this point, given the track record of the way this has rolled out, I am more inclined to have the trust, but verify in the actual report what the nuances may have been and what the reasoning for not having additional indictments were based on.

Was it about that fourth category of information they intend to redact, which is prejudicial information to third party peripheral beings? Well, how are they defining that term? Who are they saying is actually a third party? Because why I'm most interested in the way in which they're going to describe the interactions between the White House and Bill Barr's team because executive privilege is one thing, certainly, he has the -- you know, the mark on that.

But the idea of has he consulted about redacting information that may hit close to home or may be not a prejudicial third party or on the periphery in some way, that's what I'm inclined to do.

[09:20:00] And this whole idea, the credibility crisis we've heard that term before, this is largely a (INAUDIBLE) wound on behalf of Bill Barr because had he taken the route of asked permission as opposed to it's easier to apologize than ask permission later on which is the way he seems to be doing at the press conference, perhaps he wouldn't have that very cloud that's over him and ultimately on the Department of Justice.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes --

TAPPER: Yes, and Jim Sciutto, one argument I've heard made from people who -- Democrats really largely is that imagine if today, the day we're getting the Mueller report was the day we found out that six associates of President Trump were charged, convicted or sentenced, including his former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, his former deputy campaign Chairman Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former adviser Roger Stone and former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen.

If that was -- if that dropped down at the same moment that the Mueller report was released, then the impression, the narrative that has been formed of nothing to see here, folks, we've been cleared, we've been exonerated which is what you hear from the White House would probably be challenging to put forward.

SCIUTTO: That's the challenge with digesting the drip of this investigation, right? Is that each revelation, many of them important is digested, people form their opinions and kind of move on, and make those judgments before they see the whole network, the whole web of clues and how they tie together, and frankly if they tie together, right?

Because we may see this report today and the whole web of contacts with Russia may look just not nice, but not necessarily nefarious, right? And that's possible. That's the trouble with the way this has been farmed out. But I think -- I think that all of us and folks at home, too, should just remember there are genuine open questions.

We don't know the answer to and won't until we read this whole report. One, an inclusive of the conversation of cooperation with Russia. Are there other meetings that have not yet been revealed? Are there other communications? And about those communications and meetings, we already know about, is there information about those that we will learn today? For instance, Michael Flynn was talking to the Russian ambassador during the transition, the topic of Russian sanctions came up. Was he directed to have those conversations with the Russian ambassador to indicate that the new sheriff in town, the president-elect was going to deal with them differently than President Obama?

Did the president know about them? Does Mueller know? He may answer that question, he may not, but that's a key question. When you look at the various questions about Roger Stone communications with WikiLeaks, et cetera, was the president ever informed?

It's been a constant open question. We don't have evidence, people have speculated about it, today we may learn Mueller looked into that, there's nothing there. All we'll learn that there was a conversation that's been documented. Those are open questions. Then on the obstruction case, clearly Mueller found evidence of obstruction because he couldn't exonerate the president.

He said so much, and even Barr had to quote him as saying that much. So what is that evidence beyond what we already know in terms of what's been revealed. These are all open questions, and we all -- I think the country has to sort of take a breath and step back, absorb it and then make their own judgment.

And at the end of the day, from the beginning, this has always been a political judgment more than a legal judgment, has it not? Because it involves a president and folks are going to have to decide if this is behavior they can accept from their president or they cannot.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And can I just point out on this question of conspiracy and collusion in one of Barr -- in Barr's initial letter, there was a footnote and he quoted from Mueller about how Mueller was defining conspiracy, and it was a very high bar.

I think that Mueller set because it said it have to in order to establish coordination, you'd have to have an agreement, tacit or expressed between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That's a pretty high bar.

Between the campaign, it would have to be a concerted coordinated effort. All we know about so far is a bunch of meetings that people had. Like, you know, the Trump Tower meeting in Don Jr.'s office and that kind of thing. So I'm interested in seeing whether even in the absence of indictments, which we did not have, whether there is some sense that the campaign itself was misbehaving in any way and, you know, and did things that it should not have done and whether he makes that judgment or leaves it. We don't know.

BLITZER: Barr in his March 24th letter quotes the special counsel as saying, "while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." And that's a significant --

TAPPER: On the obstruction charge --

BORGER: That's an --

BLITZER: On the obstruction of justice --

BORGER: Right --

BLITZER: Issue. Five hundred witnesses were interviewed over the course of the 22-month Mueller probe, that includes the former White House lawyer Don McGahn, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, more than two dozen current and former Trump administration officials gave interviews to Mueller and his team during this investigation. What's their concern now?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it just depends on what they told Robert Mueller's team. Remember, key White House officials, current and former members in the White House spoke to Robert Mueller's team, former White House counsel Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller, just to name a few.

[09:25:00] And they were key witnesses in the obstruction of justice probe. My colleague Laura Jarrett is reporting that is the section of the report released later today that is lightly redacted and their names are expected to be revealed. Remember, they spoke to Robert Mueller's team under penalty of lying to the FBI which lends more credence to what they told Mueller's investigators.

And so, that is going to be key. That's really what we're focused on. At the time, the strategy in the White House was to let Robert Mueller speak to basically whoever he wanted to besides the president in order to try to prevent an interview with the president.

Well, that may have worked, but as one source says that I spoke with, one of the witnesses who spoke to Robert Mueller's team, that may not be good for these former and current White House aides who may have provided embarrassing information about the president.

And I am told that some of them, especially those who have left the White House, are concerned that perhaps they could draw the president's ire once this report is released, particularly those who rely on access and influence to the White House as part of their business model.

They're concerned that they're going to be on the outs in the Trump world. One person I spoke with said at the time it was indicative of the live now, deal with it later-type of scenario and the later has come with this report being released later today.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thanks so much. Michael Cohen; the president's former fixer who is headed to jail next month is also tweeting this morning as we wait for the report. He writes, quote, "soon, I will be ready to address the American people again, tell it all and tell it myself", unquote. I'm not sure what exactly he's talking about there. John King, he has been a thorn in the side of the president, Michael Cohen, but they have made the case, the White House, that Michael Cohen is not a reliable narrator.

KING: He is -- he is kind of a textbook example of how the president has attacked anybody who has brought up information incriminating to the president, damaging to the president, unfavorable to the president. Whether it's Robert Mueller, who now is surrounded by angry Democrats if you believe the president, and he has -- he's conflicted and it wasn't a legal investigation.

If it's Michael Cohen, he is a liar -- in Michael Cohen's case, the president has some leg to stand on in the case that Michael Cohen is an admitted liar. He is saying that he told a lot of lies on behalf of Donald Trump, and now he's telling the truth.

What does Michael Cohen mean by that? Though we know there's talks of a book in the works, we know there's talks of interviews before he goes to prison and the like. Michael Cohen is going to continue to tell his story, and again, we're in this environment where, A, we'll let the facts in the Mueller report hopefully trust the documentation of the professionals to sort out the differences between the key players --

BASH: Let me get this straight. Are you suggesting that people around this have an agenda?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Everybody around this has an agenda. And look, we can -- the attacks that the president -- we're going to have a lot of outside the norms, meeting at the Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on your political opponent is outside the norms.

TOOBIN: Yes --

KING: Is it outside the law? Let's see what Robert Mueller says. There's a whole lot of outside the norms. A president of the United States who attacks everybody is outside the norms. And so that's what he has done from day one of this, Robert Mueller, everybody around him, his previous Attorney General, his current deputy Attorney General who is going to stand there with Bill Barr in this room.

That part to me that Rod Rosenstein who appointed Robert Mueller, who empowered him the entire time is going to be standing right there, too. If it's at all damaging to the president, he attacks you repeatedly, consistently over and over again to what end? To get the 35 percent of the Americans who are in his camp to not believe anything they hear.

BASH: That was being --

SCIUTTO: Do you know what else is outside the norms? With all the other steps in this investigation, the report came out, then there was a press conference with the indictments of Russian military intelligence for interference in this election with all those indictments, reporters read the report, Congress, members of Congress read the report and then justice officials came out to answer questions about it.

With the indictments regarding the Russian troll farm, the IRA, report and then press conference. Barr has flipped that. He is again, first of all, he released a summary as you know, and now he's going to basically defend his handling of this before anybody has the ability to look at the information to then ask him questions.

CORDERO: Can we just hope --

SCIUTTO: That's turning something on its head.

CORDERO: It should, can we just -- go ahead. So just a quick response to that. So I actually have a little different take which is that if I was giving advice to Attorney General Barr, I would tell him to do exactly this, which is only to talk about the process and not to take the questions on the actual content of the report. And that's because what --

BORGER: Oh, we disagree with that.

CORDERO: Is like -- I know, everybody here would disagree with that.

BORGER: We only agree --

CORDERO: We actually have the content --

COATES: Right --

CORDERO: From his perspective --

TOOBIN: Right --

CORDERO: There is absolutely nothing to be gained by opening up an entire press conference, comparing his letter to the actual report and getting into the weeds. He's going to have an opportunity to do that, and that's going to be when he's called to testify before Congress.

And so today, what he should stick to from his own perspective and the Justice Department is the actual process, and what I'm most interested in that, though, is the fact that executive privilege was not something that he put in his March 24th letter.

And so, if there has been -- so that's something that I'm going to be listening for, if there's been a change between when he issued the March 24th letter and what's transpired in the --

(CROSSTALK)

[09:30:00]