Return to Transcripts main page


Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Interviewed Regarding Subpoena for Mueller Report; Influence of Mueller Report on 2020; Mueller Report on Russian Election Interference. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 19, 2019 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Moments ago, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler issued a subpoena to see the full un- redacted Mueller report. Nadler also calling for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to publicly testify before Congress.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The Democrats in Congress are currently gaming out their next moves, but for several that does not include pursuing impeachment.

Congressman Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, says impeachment s, quote, not worthwhile at the point.

BLITZER: Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

What specifically do you want to see that you're not seeing, at least now yet, as a result of this subpoena?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, we want to see everything. You know, in the cases of prior independent special counsels, the entire report with all of the underlying evidentiary materials have been turned out. Remember those scenes of Kenneth Starr turning over the report the day after it came out and bringing a truckload of boxes over to Congress. That's exactly what we want here. We need to see it ourselves.

You know, there was one part in the report that jumped out at me where in volume one Mueller writes that there were two cases where Trump campaign officials met directly with agents of the Russian government. One we know about, it was the Trump Tower meeting. The other was completely blacked out and redacted. That's an example of the kind of thing that we want to see.

And the Mueller report underscores the importance of this because Mueller totally kicks the ball over to Congress and says it's up to Congress to decide whether there was obstruction of justice, whether there were high crimes and misdemeanors. That's our constitutional role. We can't run away from it.

TAPPER: So, Speaker Pelosi, speaking several weeks ago, said that Donald Trump is not worth it when it comes to impeachment. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a fellow Marylander like you, said yesterday that, you know, the American people will get their say in a year and a half when the 2020 election.


TAPPER: But there are a lot of grassroots Democrats who want you and others in Congress, Democrats, to pursue impeachment. Impeachment is often regarded politically -- forget the checks and balances for a second -- politically as a loser. Do you think your party should pursue impeachment even if it means it damages your party?

RASKIN: The first thing we've got to point out is, what Speaker Pelosi said was that we should not pursue impeachment unless there's overwhelming evidence of a high crime and misdemeanor and there's some bipartisan support. We need to see that the Republicans actually have an open mind about the situation rather than acting like members of a religious cult.

And so far no Republicans seem to be saying, yes, there's serious stuff in there. I see that the president is tweeting out today that all of this is, you know, nonsense again. He's calling it the Russia hoax, when Special Counsel Mueller, whose authority he otherwise bows down to now because he found that there was no criminal conspiracy, but Mueller said that there was a sweeping and systematic campaign by Russia to sabotage our election in 2016. And now they're denying it.

But, you know, look, impeachment is part of the Constitution. We shouldn't be afraid of any part of the Constitution, just like the 25th Amendment is part of the Constitution and we shouldn't be afraid of that.

[09:35:07] And I've said from the beginning, it should not be a fetish for anybody on our side. And I don't think it is. But it doesn't be a taboo, either. We need to follow the evidence where it takes us. And from my perspective, the factual gathering is just beginning right now. Remember, for two years the Republicans in the Judiciary and the Oversight Committee did no investigation. They said, let's wait for the special counsel report. Then they did everything in their power to undermine the special counsel and now they're saying it's all over. They're not even reading the special counsel report.

TAPPER: This report is very clear, there is not evidence, prosecutable evidence, that people on the Trump team conspired with Russia to influence the election, period.

RASKIN: And I wholeheartedly accept that. Do you accept or do others accept the question is that there is overwhelming evidence that the president tried to obstruct justice? I mean 10 different episodes where the president interfered to try to thwart the investigation.

So, you know, and the thing about the collusion is, you know, they said there was no collusion, no collusion. There certainly was no criminal conspiracy according to the special counsel, and I accept that. But, actually, there was clearly a convergence of interest by the Russians who were working to disrupt and sabotage our election and the Trump campaign because the Russian counterintelligence active measure campaign was meant to get Donald Trump elected.

BLITZER: Yes, I was going to say, impeachment in the House is a statement that the House majority would make, even if the chances of the Senate convicting -- you need a two-thirds majority in the Senate -- are remote if -- even if that. But is the House of Representatives, from your perspective, at least prepared to make that kind of statement about the president?

RASKIN: Well, here's the thing. You know, the -- impeachment is a mixed question of law and politics. If it was a question of law only, it would have been reposed in the Article Three branch, it would have been for the courts, but it's been given to Congress, which means we've got to look at not just did the president commit obstruction of justice or violate the emoluments clause or engage in other abuse of power, we have to look at that in the context of everything else we're trying to do.

We just reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. The Republicans are trying to stop us on that. We passed legislation to close the gun show loophole, and the internet loophole, the Republicans are trying to stop us on that. We're trying to lower prescription drug prices. So we're fighting for an agenda for American on a positive policy front and at the same time we're trying to defend against the most lawless administration of our lifetime. So that's the challenge for us to try to figure out how to be on offense and defense at the same time.

BLITZER: Congressman Raskin, thanks so much for coming in.

RASKIN: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: From Washington to Wisconsin, will voters in a state key to President Trump's 2016 victory remember or care about the Mueller report of 2020 -- or in 2020? We're about to go there. That's next.


[09:42:06] BLITZER: Five hundred and sixty-four days until the 2020 election. Will this Mueller report be history for voters?

TAPPER: Miguel Marquez is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wisconsin's a state that was key to President Trump's victory in 2016.

Miguel, what are you hearing from voters?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, lots of people are talking about it here in the badger state, but few, if any, think the findings will make much of a difference to anyone.


STEVE SCAFFIDI, HOST, WTMJ RADIO: Good morning, Wisconsin. Forty-eight degrees at Radio City.

MARQUEZ (voice over): Release of the redacted Mueller report in Milwaukee, talk of the town.

SCAFFIDI: Obviously the big story today, the Mueller report, the redacted version is coming out hopefully as we speak.


SCAFFIDI: We got it.

MARQUEZ: On conservative talk radio host Steve Scaffidi says he's talked to (ph) Mueller four to five times a week for the past 22 months. Now that it's out there --

SCAFFIDI: For a lot of people on my side of the aisle, I think we're looking at this as, yes, there could have been some reason to investigate this, but it -- I think it has been hyper politicized to the point where it just went on too long.

MARQUEZ: And from caller after caller after caller, the president isn't perfect, but the investigation has gone too far for too long.

SCAFFIDI: Eddie from Franken (ph).

Real quick, I've only got about a minute, Eddie. What say you?

CALLER: I say it's a total fishing expedition. They had a prejudgment about Trump ahead of time. They just -- you know, they don't like his character, which a lot of people don't. But, I mean, they just don't agree with his policy.

MARQUEZ: In the Milwaukee suburbs, Port Washington, in conservative Ozaukee County, where in 2016 voters supported then candidate Trump by nearly 19 points over Hillary Clinton, some Republican voters here say --

LINDA WELLS, REPUBLICAN VOTER: We're sick of hearing about it. I think Washington, they want to focus on it, those people want to, but for us, my friends, we're sick of hearing about the Mueller.

MARQUEZ: Democrats want more details, but concede regardless of what's in the report, it's likely to make little difference in how voters view the president.

SUSAN NIEDERFRANK, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: I think I've been reading about it for a long, long time and it seems like I'm not sure anything is going to change.

MARQUEZ: Closer to downtown, in blue Wauwatosa (ph), where voters backed Clinton over Trump by 22 points, some independent voters here say the entire report must now be released.

PAM MASILOTTI, INDEPENDENT VOTER: The full report needs to be fully disclosed to everybody so that we can read it and see what -- what is actually --

MARQUEZ (on camera): No redactions? No redactions in the report? The full report? Everything?

MASILOTTI: The full report, absolutely. We have a right to see the full report. MARQUEZ (voice over): Some Republicans also welcoming full

publication, confident there is nothing there.

JOHN ALBERTI, REPUBLICAN VOTER: If this was going to have any kind of major impact on anything, they would have already brought indictment or charges or recommended further prosecution. So I don't think it's really going to be the big -- big reveal like everyone thinks.


[09:45:07] MARQUEZ: I spoke to independents, to Democrats, to Republicans, Republicans that don't even like the president, the one thing across the board that they all seem to agree on, that if we're still talking Mueller in 2020 and the findings in the report, that will only improve the president's chances of being re-elected. Back to you guys.

BLITZER: All right, Miguel, thanks very much.

Robert Mueller's report confirms Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Russia's response this morning, what interference? That's next. And what could it mean for 2020?


[09:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back.

The Kremlin is rejecting the Mueller report's outline of Russian interference in the 2016 election. A spokesperson for the Kremlin says Mueller didn't put forward any new information or evidence to support the allegations.

BLITZER: Mueller's report, though, not only confirmed Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. He wrote that they did it in a, quote, sweeping and systematic fashion.

Joining us now to discuss this, our CNN terrorism analyst, Phil Mudd.

Phil, the president responded in a tweet this morning, in response to the Mueller report. First of all he called it the crazy Mueller report. But then he said, anything the Russians did concern the 2016 election was done while Obama was president. He was told about it, did nothing. Most importantly, the vote was not affected.

PHIL MUDD, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, I think if you look back at the 2016 election -- by the way, of course, he's been president for two and a half years. My first question would be, has he ever, that is President Trump, chaired a meeting to say, what are we doing now? The guess is the answer is no.

But if you look back at 2016, I think you've got two issues that come up. The first is, I think history will show that maybe the administration, probably the administration should have been more aggressive early on in acknowledging this is a problem the American people --

TAPPER: The Obama administration.

MUDD: It's sticky. Yes. I think also -- the flip side of that, of course, is, can you imagine a conversation led by the president of the United States in let's say August, September of '16 saying, look how the Russians are trying to favor the Republican candidate? I mean he -- Obama couldn't win either way. If he decided to publicize more and talk about the intelligence, I think he would have been arguably portrayed as someone who wanted to undermine the campaign of Trump.

TAPPER: So Mueller said very clearly that there was not prosecutable evidence of criminal conspiracy between members of the Trump team and the Russians.

MUDD: Yes.

TAPPER: But there are detailed in this report are a lot of conversations, outreach by the Russians, clearly determined to interfere. What's your read, what's your response to the general impression you get about how the Trump team behaved, even if their behavior was definitively, at least according to Mueller, based on what he knows, not criminal?

MUDD: Boy, I tell -- I'm kind of surprised at the conversation over the past day. We seem, in this country, to be saying, if it's not illegal, it's OK. If it's unethical, that doesn't reach a bar that we should have a conversation about it.

I was surprised, there's been a lot of conversation obviously about the obstruction half of the report, at the detail, the willingness of Trump campaign members to entertain the idea that a foreign adversary could steal and then provide money -- pardon me, provide information to a campaign and then members of the campaign seemingly saying that's OK. It may not be illegal, but I can't believe 330 million Americans think that's a great way to run an election.

The last thing I'd say is, and a couple members of Congress have said this already, I think there's an open question about whether we learn from this and say, it is illegal even to entertain a foreign adversary or anybody from overseas, including British, French, Canadian, I don't care, with the idea they will provide you opposition information about a candidate to interfere in an election. I --

TAPPER: So the law should be stricter?

MUDD: I think it should be stricter, yes.

BLITZER: The report says that about five hours after the president, then candidate, said, Russia, if you're listening, get the Hillary Clinton e-mail -- the 30,000 missing Hillary Clinton e-mail -- the report says, it's very detailed, that about five hours after he said that for the first time, the Russians began to follow through and try to get some of those e-mails.

MUDD: Boy, if you look at the success of this from the spy business world, in the spy business this is called -- well know, it's called covert action, that is, we want to have a deniable operation, the Kremlin just did this today, denied it again, a deniable operation, partly through WikiLeaks, to do two things, influence the campaign. Mueller clearly shows that covert action succeeded.

It also sews some sort of discord within America. When you look at retweets, including by members of the campaign, about rallies that were pretty problematic during the campaign, the covert action was incredibly successful. So when I look at what the report says about the Russians responding in five hours and the Russians being aggressive, I look at this and say, from a covert action perspective, I would have done the same thing. Incredible success. And now Mueller says nobody broke the law. So if I'm Putin, I'm saying, well, let's do it again.

TAPPER: Lessons for the public, lessons for the media, lessons for politicians in here?

MUDD: I'll give you a couple lessons.

Number one, we need a public program from the White House to explain to the American people how to be careful going into 2020. This is not just a spy game. This is about public diplomacy. I don't think we're going to see that.

The next lesson I'd offer you, which I have not seen yet from Capitol Hill, we have American companies that are over -- under threat from spies overseas. That is people like FaceBook and Twitter. They have an adversarial relationship with Congress because Congress keeps accusing them of not doing enough. How about we say, maybe we should do more to protect American companies with the support of the U.S. government, instead of putting them on a pedestal every time that there's a problem and hitting them with a baseball bat. We need to help them more instead of isolating them, I think, and the Congress has not been helpful.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

MUDD: Thank you.

[09:55:00] TAPPER: This morning, Sarah Sanders digs in after the Mueller report calls her out for lying. What the White House press secretary is saying today. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Good morning. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper. I'm also in Washington.

It may take years for Americans to process everything we've read in the past 24 hours in this voluminous Mueller report, but this morning the powerful House Judiciary Committee is focused on what we have not read. It has taken less than a day for the panel's Democratic chairman to make good on his vow to subpoena the full and unfiltered, un- redacted report, exactly as the special counsel wrote it. The version made public yesterday by Attorney General Bill Barr contains more than 900 redactions.

[09:59:56] BLITZER: For his part, President Trump seems to have read or heard quite enough. A day after seeming to celebrate not being charged with any crimes, this morning the president is blasting what he calls the crazy Mueller report.