Return to Transcripts main page


Mueller Report on Trump Associates, Russia and WikiLeaks; Mueller Report on Obstruction; Mueller Considered Trump's Answers Inadequate. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 18, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Has your opinion solidified one way or another?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so, I have a different view as to substances and as to process. So, in terms of what is actually in the report, I think he has fulfilled in large part his commitment to releasing a lot of the report. There is a significant amount of redacted material in here. What I'm most surprised by of the retracted material is how much of it pertains to ongoing investigative matters. So there are entire paragraphs and entire pages of this report that look like ongoing investigations. So I'm still very curious about, what are those 12 other investigations that so much of this had to be redacted.

What I was disappointed in the attorney general about was his press conference this morning where I thought he should have just stuck to his decisions about the report and the process that he went through to release the report.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: He went far beyond that.

CORDERO: And instead, he had an opportunity, as I said earlier this morning, he had an opportunity to rise above the politics of it and I think he failed in that. And I was disappointed by his gratuitous statements against the media, by his gratuitous statements about the president and how this affect him, what Laura calls the Oprah moment. And so -- and so I think it's a mixed assessment of the attorney general today.

COOPER: I mean went out -- I mean he repeated no collusion. I mean he parroted the president's words repeatedly as he has done before.


TAPPER: Something like five -- five or six times.


TAPPER: And it doesn't take into account really, first of all, the case of -- for obstruction that Mueller lays out in -- in quite some detail with a -- with a clear intent that now this is for Congress to decide, since I can't do anything about it because you can't indict a sitting president. And then also just the idea of all the contacts that the campaign had with Russia and with WikiLeaks and with individuals related to it. And, again, no criminal conspiracy and good news that the president and his team are not guilty of any of that, but the idea that any of this was the right thing to do.

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: As opposed to --

COOPER: Right, ethical, moral --


COOPER: Not sleazy, I mean, you know, or incredibly sleazy.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, there -- there -- there are -- there are examples of -- in here, and, again, this is not a crime, Russian bots putting out false information on Twitter about Hillary Clinton. Just lying about Hillary Clinton on Twitter. And it mentions any number of members of the Trump family and members of the Trump campaign who re- tweeted it, who re-tweeted these lies.

Now, did they know that they were from Russia? Almost certainly they did not. But they still were putting out false information eagerly. And this is now -- these are now the people who --

COOPER: Well, I mean, you can look at the president's behavior. You know, even if you don't believe it's -- it's, you know, meets the legal definition of obstruction of justice, you know, pressuring your White House counsel to lie about something, pressuring, you know, McFarland to write -- to put out a statement that, you know, she says is not true does not reflect well.

TAPPER: And even more, this to me was new. This is a section in the conspiracy volume, volume one, which talks about, beyond President Trump asking, Russia, if you're listening, find me those 30,000 missing e-mails, Trump asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find the deleted Clinton e-mails.

COOPER: Right. Michael Flynn in particular.

TAPPER: Michael Flynn recalled Trump made the request repeat, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the e-mails.

Again, they don't get them.

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: They are not able to find them. But that doesn't mean that they weren't trying to find them and that the president of the United States wasn't ordering them to go get them.

COOPER: Yes, John King, I'm wondering what you make of the -- the -- the reality of the White House as portrayed in these documents. I mean I'm stunned at how many people the president would say, you know, do this, and then they leave the room and they're like, there's no way I'm doing that, you know, and I -- Cory Lewandowski even, who --


COOPER: You know, goodness knows is certainly an acolyte of the president, you know, is tasked with sending a message to Jeff Sessions about, you know, you should -- you should un-recuse yourself, and he delays for a month and then the president asks again and then he says, oh, that it's going to happen soon, and then he goes to Rick Dearborn (ph) and is like, I -- I guess, you know, somehow tries to pawn it off on him and --

TAPPER: Can I just say, it's worse than that. He -- un-recuse -- tell him to un-recuse himself -- tell him -- and then fire Mueller.

COOPER: Right. Yes.

TAPPER: Then fire Mueller for having conflicts of interest.

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: And then say, we're now not going to be looking at what happened to 2016, we're just going to be look at the future.

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: So it's a whole re-examination and redirection for the Mueller (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Right. Including, at one point, when he, the president, has a resignation letter from Sessions and it describes how Reince Priebus, then the chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, the chief strategist, are desperate to get the letter back and to get the president to write on it, not accepted, because otherwise they think the president has this what Steve Bannon called a choke hold over the Justice Department, that he -- that Sessions knows he's resigned and that the president has the letter and at any moment the president can drop it.

[13:05:08] There's another example in here where Chris Ruddy, who's a friend of the president's from Florida, who has "Newsmax," the conservative website, he -- they talk about that the president's about to fire the special counsel. And Ruddy says, can I say that in the public interview. And Priebus says, yes. And so then he says it, which generates a story, which then gets Sarah Sanders to get a statement from the president saying, while he has the right to do it, he's not considering doing it.

So how the staff calculated ways to keep the president from hitting the third rail is in here repeatedly. Now, we're having the conversation in the context of obstruction of justice. Perhaps this is a bizarre defense of the president when it comes to obstructing justice because think about the last two weeks on immigration. We've had the same reporting about Kirstjen Nielsen, the then Homeland Security secretary saying no. You had a story about him saying he would pardon a guy, you know, or take -- you know, whether it's a joke or not, the things he says to officials asking them to ignore court orders, ignore the law, ignore regulations or do what he wants them to do. We see it everywhere, not just here, we see it in other policies as well. So in an odd way maybe that's a defense of the president, but it's a -- it's a president who is constantly being pushed back onto the tracks, if you will, by his staff.

CORDERO: And I'd put it another way, though, I don't see it as a defense of the president. I mean I know, you know, you're saying that that's a positive --

KING: No, I'm using it -- yes, I'm not using it in a legal sense.

CORDERO: But -- but it's really the significant problem with this presidency. I mean what the report does is it adds on to these other events that we now about in all sorts of other areas of law, whether it's national security or it's immigration or its border or it's other types of enforcement activities and legal issues and his directives that he gives that are either potentially illegal or they are an abuse of his authority and people across his government in the White House and in cabinet agencies have to stop them. And yet what is that saying about the (INAUDIBLE) this presidency?

TAPPER: Let's bring Kaitlan Collins in, our White House correspondent.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and that's why the White House was so worried about this report coming out because they knew it was going to outline the damning things that have happened behind the scenes that may have been reported but not in such great detail. They weren't worried there were going to be any bombshells that incriminated the president or that the main conclusions were going to change, but they know how the president operates behind the scenes. A lot of them will talk about it at length, especially off the record. That is why they were worried about this because not only is it coming out what actually happened, which sometimes the president denies things that he knows he did, but also it's got their names attached to it --

TAPPER: Right.

COLLINS: Who said what, who disclosed what, and that is what they're worried about that's (INAUDIBLE) Trump.

COOPER: They're not worried about the news reporting because they will just come out and lie and say something is not true.


COOPER: But it's -- if it's in the Mueller report, it's actually their own testimony.

COLLINS: And you said it to federal investigators.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. But now -- but now Barr has lied.

KING: Because from an organization -- COATES: Barr lied today, though. That's -- I mean he actually said, Barr said, after all the discussions we're having right now, he actually said, at the same time the president took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.

COOPER: Right.

COATES: So after all the discussions about the unfettered access, the full cooperation, not a single act was taken by the president of the United States to do anything, and yet there were 12 categories of information about obstruction of justice and yet there were discussions behind the scenes (ph).

COLLINS: And also he tried to fire him.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Mueller says this. Mueller says explicitly in this report that indeed the president publically and privately tried to get witnesses to not cooperate with them. I mean and he lays out examples of that. And -- go ahead.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And -- well, I -- and the -- the issue of exoneration here is -- is so important and there is a -- there's a sentence here that is all but an explicit invitation to Congress to impeach the president.

TAPPER: Right.

TOOBIN: And I don't -- I don't -- I -- I'm sorry, I'm trying to do several people. If other people have read this sentence. But I just think this sentence is enormously important.

TAPPER: Read it again. Read it again.

TOOBIN: The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction law to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.

That is, I don't think there's any other way to read that --

TAPPER: Right.

TOOBIN: Is saying I, Robert Mueller, cannot enforce the obstruction of justice laws against the president because I am not empowered to do so under Department of Justice policy.

But this is an invitation to Congress to stay, you can do it use the impeachment power.

Now, I don't know if they will. I don't know if they should. But the idea that this is some sort of exoneration seems very highly contradictory to this (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And, again, the attorney general of the United States said this morning that Robert Mueller was not leaving these questions to question.

BROWN: Right.

KING: Right.

COOPER: Also --

KING: You just read a sentence from --


KING: A guy named Robert Mueller leaving these questions to Congress.

COOPER: The -- the notion, again, where you mentioned, Laura, what -- what Barr said this morning, in a sentence right here, third -- the president's intent, the many -- many of the president's acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement and cooperation with many of the president's acts -- excuse me many of the president's acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestion of possible future pardons took place in full public view.

[13:10:17] COATES: So I guess the attorney general presumed that we were not a literate nation who could then go back and read the 400 pages and actually identify, even in a control F function to go through the document and actually see that what he has presented has been misleading. Not only the first bite at the apple, but the second one on camera.

Which really leads me to say that not only is he talking about the missed opportunity about rising above politics, there is an issue for the Department of Justice now. The president, for the last 22 months, has been undermining the integrity and credibility of the FBI, the intelligence community and the Department of Justice. They have pushed back and said no, no, we actually are credible and have maintained our integrity. Now the very head of the -- of the Department of Justice has now said, oh, no, I didn't want you to actually read. Just trust me of what I say. Now, when you verify the documents, it doesn't hold up.

COOPER: Yes. We --

TAPPER: Can I just say one thing about that --

BROWN: Yes, I think --

Because I think one of the points that -- that Barr would make, and this isn't a defense of Barr, but Barr is -- the thing that you're saying that he lied about, that he's misleading about, which was, the president didn't stop anything that would have prevented Mueller from finishing his report, right? That's what he said. And he know that the report --

COATES: Well, the investigation, that's the important part.

TAPPER: In the investigation. OK. We know that this report details instance after instance of the president trying to stop the investigation.

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: Trying to undermine the investigation, trying to convince witnesses not to corporate, et cetera. So, obviously, the spirit of what Barr said is false.

KING: Right.

TAPPER: But, technically, technically, the investigation finished, and there is a conclusion, and there is a Mueller report. It is overly lawyerly language. It is misleading language. It is the kind of language you want in a defense attorney, not necessarily in an attorney general for the United States Department of Justice. But that is what he did today. I think that almost makes it worse because he knows what he did and how misleading (INAUDIBLE).


CORDERO: And he did it before the report was out, which is semantics.

BROWN: And, well, I don't agree that it -- I don't agree that it such suppress him on --

COOPER: And, Pam, you also -- there's stuff in here about the president's response.

BROWN: Right. Exactly. As we're sort of comparing how Barr has handled this, he said today during the press conference that the White House, quote, fully cooperated, as we're talking about. But in this report, the special counsel said it found Trump's written answers to the teammate, quote, inadequate. And here's what it -- it goes on to say. It says the special counsel agreed to receive written responses from Trump but it, quote, viewed the written answers to be inadequate. We noted among her things that the president stated on more than 30 occasions that he, quote, does not recall or, quote, remember, or have an independent recollection of information called for by the questions. Other answers were incomplete or imprecise, the report says.

So basically this is sort of a scathing criticism of --

COOPER: (INAUDIBLE). Just think about that for a moment. In written answers, the president of the United States is saying he doesn't recall.

TOOBIN: I mean over and over again.

BROWN: Over -- yes, more than 30 occasions of --

COOPER: You have -- you have plenty of times -- right. But you have plenty of times to like check your, you know, file-o-fact. I mean you can -- it's not like he's answering in real time. These are lawyered up, prepared things and -- TAPPER: That's with any lawyer, any lawyer.

COOPER: Right, I know, but it's so ludicrous.

TOOBIN: The spirit of it. There's a -- there's a tweet for everything. This is not just an ordinary president. This is a president who has said he has one of the great memories

COOPER: Yes, well, of course.

TOOBIN: Of all time.


TOOBIN: So the notion -- and I -- I've been reading -- I was reading through the answers and when you see them one after another, virtually every answer begins, I have no independent recollection.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: Now, this is an example of good lawyering by Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow, who are not exposing him to criminal prosecution --

COOPER: It's not all that advanced lawyering. I mean I'm not -- I don't have a law degree. I could have told him to say that too.

TOOBIN: All right, I'm trying to say something nice, Anderson. OK, you know, it's like -- but it is true that, you know, the -- to see the answers in succession is -- even by lawyer standard -- kind of hilarious because they all begin the same way.

TAPPER: Let's bring in Laura Jarrett, our justice department correspondent, Laura, just to talk about these two things because very clearly earlier today Attorney General Barr said things that do not seem to pass the smell test. One, he said that the -- the -- Robert Mueller did not kick the question of obstruction of justice to Congress and I don't know any other way to read this than to say, he's kicking it to Congress.

And, two, he said that the White House cooperated in every possible way and did not impede the investigation. And, again, you know, we have the special counsel saying that the written answers from the White House were inadequate, that he said he didn't recall things or remember things more than 30 occasions, that the White House, the president, tried to convince witnesses not to cooperate, et cetera.

[13:15:07] Doesn't that strike you as -- as surprising coming from a man like William Barr who did have a reputation before taking this current job for being an establishment type character who wouldn't risk his reputation to protect someone like President Trump?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: But he also has a reputation of a very broad view of executive power. And I think what we saw earlier today, and even what we saw several weeks ago with his four-page letter, is an attempt to have a political narrative here that is crystal clear and presents the most charitable view for the president. He went out of his way today to say on every possible occasion, look, the president was facing an unprecedented situation. Of course he was angry. Of course he was lashing out. Of course he was saying all kinds of things to his officials and his administration.

But what's pretty clear here is that Robert Mueller is very troubled by it. He obviously doesn't decide to exercise traditional prosecutorial judgment, but he's really wrestling with all of these different acts, so much so that he lays out for Congress sort of chapter and verse a road map for obstruction of justice.

I mean Congress can take this 400 pages right now and do everything it wants. It doesn't need a referral from Barr. That was a political decision. That was a political lens that the attorney general chose to make at the beginning of this day. And the fact that he did it before that we -- before we saw the report, I don't think helped the president on this because the report now speaks for itself. And the report itself is so detailed and so damning on so many different issues, I think it's going to be hard for Barr to now explain when he has to go to Capitol Hill on a couple -- in a couple weeks, on May 1st he's scheduled to go up there and defend the report and he's going to have to answer all of these questions. And I don't know how he walks that back.

COOPER: Though we should point out, Pam Brown's just reading now, the president's attorneys, it's the president's attorneys, they have released now the entire written statement that the president made to Mueller. I don't know that this is something that the Department of Justice gave them a heads up about in advance so that they would have this prepared in order to release it, but apparently now they have just release it.

BROWN: This is --- right. And I want to be able to actually read this before commenting on it too much --

COOPER: Right. Yes.

BROWN: But basically the lawyers are now releasing the questionnaire that the president answered that we were just talking about on air, sort of what they want to do clearly is to rebut that what the special counsel is saying that it was inadequate, the responses were inadequate, and give more context to the more than 30 occasions where the president says do not recall.

But one part that I am seeing in this, that is relevant, is about the Don Junior meeting at Trump Tower and whether the president had any recollection or any heads up about this meeting happening with the offer of Russian dirt. And the answer to that was, the president says, I do not recall being aware during the campaign of communications between Donald Trump Junior, Paul Manafort or Jared Kushner, or any member or representative of the Agalaro (ph) family, Robert Goldstone (ph), Natalia Vestalniskya (ph), whose name I was not familiar with, or anyone I understood to be a Russian official. So there the president saying that he has no recollection of knowing about the meeting in advance. But, of course, we're still looking through this.

COLLINS: But, of course -- COOPER: Not saying he didn't know in advance. Just saying he has no recollection.

BROWN: No recollection.

COLLINS: And this goes back and shows us another lie that the White House told, whether it was knowing or not, when they said that the president didn't dictate the misleading statement about that meeting. And, of course, we later learned from his attorneys in a statement to the special counsel that they -- he did dictate it, something Sarah Sanders never explained, even though reporters asked repeatedly, why did you say he certainly didn't dictate it if he did dictate it. And then from this report we're learning that Donald Trump Junior actually was worried about the statement his dad wanted to put out because he wanted the word primarily to be in there to imply that the meeting could have been about other things, other than adoptions. And Hope Hicks wrote back that the president was worried about including the word primarily. And, of course, ultimately, that word was included, but it shows how they went back and forth and how the president wanted to put out as little as possible about that meeting in a statement.

TAPPER: And it's -- it's an interesting part of the report because Mueller goes into detail, quite some detail, about the fact that President Trump led the charge to lie about this Trump Tower meeting. But ultimately Mueller concludes, and I think we -- we all said this at the time, it's not a crime to lie to the public.

COOPER: Right.

COLLINS: Exactly.

TAPPER: It's not a crime to lie to reporters.

COOPER: Right. Which is lucky for this White House, frankly, because they do it all the time.

TAPPER: If it were a crime to lie to the American people, this would be quite a damning document.


TAPPER: Let's go to Jim Acosta at the White House right now who has some added information about the White House and their response to all of this.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, Jake, they're pretty quiet and we do expect to hear from the president when he leaves this afternoon for his Easter vacation. He is expected to stop and talk to reporters. We're making efforts, everybody's making efforts at this point to make sure that we get that covered.

[13:20:12] But just to jump off of what you were just saying a few moments ago, I mean, I think the -- these responses that Pam just talked about are very, very important because when I -- when I've talked to legal sources inside the president's legal team, what they've said to me is that one of the key decisions that was made, that really, I think, shielded the president from a lot of problems here in this Mueller report was this insistence that he only provide these written responses. I've talked to a couple of sources inside the president's legal team who said, you know -- and we've heard this publically, to some extent, that there was just no way they were ever going to let the president go in there and sit down with Mueller's team and get peppered with questions for hours and hours leading to, you know, just about any possibilities that you can imagine. One of those possibilities being that he might not tell the truth about something that he knows about. And so that is why I think that these written responses really went a long way in shielding the president from having any kind of problem here in terms of collusion or obstruction of justice.

One thing we should also point out is that there was this huge mystery over the last couple of weeks as to, you know, what was going on, were there consultations and conversations going on between the Justice Department and White House lawyers and so on. Jay Sekulow, who is a member of the president's outside legal team, just told me that -- and he told Pam Brown some of this as well, that they went over Tuesday afternoon to review the Mueller report and that, according to Jay Sekulow, there were -- there was no indication, is the way he put it, no interaction between the president's legal team and Justice Department attorneys over there at the Justice Department, that the outside legal team did this review inside the skiff (ph), that secure, compartmentalized area of various government buildings here in Washington where classified information, sensitive information can be reviewed, and that that's what happened Tuesday afternoon. But according to Sekulow, they did not have interactions with the Justice Department at that time.

Now, I asked the question, after that review of the Mueller report, did you then go to the president and talk about this? And Jay Sekulow said, we're not going to get into conversations that we have with the president. But it's -- it seems abundantly clear, if you look yesterday, Jake and Anderson, the way the president was responding to all of this. You know, he was saying in that interview on WMAL here in Washington, you know, he was making it sound as though he was feeling pretty good about all of this, that the attorney general was going to come out and say some strong things and that he had taken things by the horns. That was, I think, a very clear indication of the president at this point felt pretty good about how all of this was unfolding.

One other thing ultimately that should be pointed out, guys, and that is, no matter how the public reads this Mueller report, as Jeffrey Toobin and others have been saying, there -- it's just undoubtedly the case that the public is just going to have a very partisan reaction to all of this. And when I talked to people inside the Trump campaign, Trump advisers, earlier this morning, they -- they just feel like this is a complete victory. I talked to one Trump adviser who said this is a $40 million bill of health for -- clean bill of health for the president because they feel, you know, in the public's mind, folks will be just so divide over this that you're not really going to pull Trump supporters and Republicans into the category of saying, OK, it's time to impeach the president. They just are very comfortable inside Trump world, inside the White House, inside the Trump campaign that that's just not going to come to pass after all of this.


TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you so much.

It's clearly not a clean bill of health.


TAPPER: But, once again, we should underline, the Mueller report, two years and countless hours has concluded that there was no criminal conspiracy between members of the Trump team and the Russians --

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: And the Russian government.

COOPER: Right.

TAPPER: Which ultimately does clear them one the most important part of this and is good news.

COOPER: It's great news for the country that our -- the president of the United States and the people around him were not actually colluding with an adversary.

TAPPER: But for anyone to read these two volumes and say this is a clean bill of health is --

COOPER: Yes. Or that it -- that this -- that the president is completely exonerated and that, you know, exonerated on obstruction of justice, no obstruction --

TAPPER: That's not true.

COOPER: That you can't say.

TAPPER: That's not true.

And also we're learning, after Trump publically asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails at the July 2016 press conference, then private citizen Donald Trump, privately and repeatedly, quote, asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find those deleted Hillary Clinton e-mails.

Evan Perez is back with us.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you'll remember that the -- that candidate Trump and certainly people in the campaign were very obsessed with this idea that there were 30,000 Hillary Clinton e-mails and they were -- they were trying -- they believed that if they could find those, that would sink her campaign. And that's what the special counsel is referring to here in this -- there's a July 2016 event in which candidate Trump publically calls on Russia to find those e-mails, those deleted e-mails. I believe we have a clip of that. Let's play that.

[13:25:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (July 27, 2016): Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.


PEREZ: And right after the candidate does this, Mike Flynn and other people in the campaign decide to try to actually try to do this, and the Russians, the Russians also react to the candidate Trump making these comments publically. We have a part of the report that I'll quote. It says, within approximately five hours of Trump's statement, GRU officers, this is the Russian intelligence services, GRU offices targeted for the first time Clinton's personal office. After candidate Trump's remarks, Unit 26165 created and sent malicious links targeting 15 e-mail accounts at -- and then it -- the rest of this is redacted. This is a reference to the fact that the Russians essentially appeared to be, at least according to the special counsel report, at least the timing here is unmistakable that they were reacting to the fact that candidate Trump was egg on the Russians to try to help find these e- mails, that they really believed were going to be damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

And then beyond what the Russians were doing, Michael Flynn himself was reaching out to multiple individuals, according to the report today. Michael Flynn, in fact, reached out to someone named Peter Smith. He's a GOP operative that apparently was then -- spent several weeks trying to do exactly this, this try to talk to people he believed were Russian hackers that could find these e-mails, these missing thousands of Hillary Clinton e-mail. In the end, according to the special counsel, Peter Smith did not actually talk to anybody who was a Russian hacker. He thought he was. But he actually didn't make contact with anybody. And, in the end, also, Peter Smith killed himself in 2017 in the middle of this investigation. Again, one of the mysteries of what was going on here during the Mueller investigation.

But it goes to show you guys how some of the comments that the candidate, Trump, made, and, obviously, you go -- going beyond what he said as president, which we now look at as obstruction, right? There were public comments. There were also public comments he was making when he was a candidate that had an impact in what was going on behind the scenes with the Russians, with people inside his campaign.

Back to you.

COOPER: Evan, thanks very much.


TOOBIN: Can we just -- can we just say that if you put in a novel that a campaign -- a candidate for president of the United States said, Russia, if you're listening, go look for the e-mails, and then Russian intelligence, within the next five hours, went and started looking for the e-mails, I mean people would say, oh, come on. I mean that -- like, stuff like that doesn't happen in the real world. But that story that -- that Evan just told, and, you know, recount in the report is so extraordinary. I mean I think it just -- we need to keep our ability to be astonished.


And one of the things that's interesting about it is, that is, theoretically, and collusion, again, collusion is not a legal term, but that is collusion in plain sight. That is the president of the United States, whether he was joking or not, asking Russia to do something. Russia attempting to do it, to help him, trying to hack into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server, but, according to the definition of conspiracy, as Mueller lays out, there has to be an agreement.

TOOBIN: Right.

TAPPER: And there was not --

TOOBIN: Even the --

TAPPER: There was not an agreement.

TOOBIN: Right.

COOPER: And even though Mueller says that the campaign knew or believed -- had the belief that release of e-mails would benefit the campaign. So they -- I mean they knew that they had a moment to want them to be release.

I do want to go to Pam Brown because we -- obviously, this is a 400 page report. We've been going through it and finding, you know, things pop up as you're going through this. You found something else.

BROWN: Yes, that Robert Mueller's team investigated one of the more salacious claims in the dossier about whether -- the dossier, I should say, whether there was a compromising tape of President Trump in Moscow from 2013 during the Miss Universe Pageant and whether the president knew about its rumored existence during the campaign. And according to the report, in October of 2016, prior to the election, Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer and fixer, received a text message from a Russian businessman who texted to him, quote, stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there's anything else, just so you know, dot, dot, dot.

The special counsel interviewed this Russian businessman and he told the special counsel that these tapes referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with real estate that helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant.

[13:29:55] Cohen, according to this report, told the special counsel that after he received this text message from the Russian businessman, he told Trump about it. So candidate Trump at that time about this.