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Mueller Report "Does Not Exonerate Trump And Is Unable To Conclude That No Obstruction Took Place; Mueller Report: Then-White House Counsel McGahn Refused President Trump's Order To Fire Special Counsel; Rep. Al Green Ratchets Up Calls For Impeachment; Mueller On Obstruction: "Unable To Conclude That No Criminal Conduct Occurred; Mueller: Probe 'Uncovered Evidence Of Numerous Links"; Sarah Sanders Admitted To Mueller Her Public Comments About FBI Weren't Based in Fact; The Mueller Report. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired April 19, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: But at the same time no exoneration when it comes to President Trump and the question of obstruction of justice. Mueller found White House aides willfully and repeatedly ignoring or dodging some of the President's orders in the interest of saving him from himself and saving themselves from possible legal action.
During Attorney General Bill Barr's press conference on Thursday morning, he handed the President almost complete vindication and repeated the President's frequently used phrase no collusion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: Put another way the Special Counsel found no collusion by any Americans in IRAs illegal activities. In other words, there was no evidence of the Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government's hacking.
So that's the bottom line. After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government-sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Later in the day the president left Washington behind. He headed to Mar-a-Lago where he will spend the holiday weekend, but not before he rejoiced with an adoring crowd at the airport declaring game over folks. Except that it's not.
House Democrats are not dropping their investigations and the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is already preparing a subpoena for the full unredacted report. Let's zero in on those attempts by the president that were outlined by Mueller's team in the obstruction part of the probe. Shimon Prokupecz is with me now. So this was the outstanding question that so many people had, why
Mueller did not make a determination on obstruction. And he laid out, I have them here ten areas that they looked at whether it was a firing of the FBI director, Michael Flynn, etcetera. So for the American people who have not read, for those who have not read all 440 pages, what is the most glaring question that remains on the obstruction front?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Look, I think there is overwhelming questions that need to be asked certainly and follow- ups that need to need to be had here. You know, the conduct with the White House Council Don McGahn and the alarm bells that were going off within his head when the president was asking him to do things.
You could see that there was a lot of concern in the interviews that he gave to the Special Counsel team, spent some 30 hours with them going over every possible detail, every question about the obstruction issue really. He was central to this.
HARLOW: Well, the big problem with McGahn in his 30 hours of testimony right, is the call from the president at his home I believe --
HARLOW: To call the -- what was it, it was the acting Attorney General to fire Mueller.
PROKUPECZ: Right. They wanted Mueller fired. That was the big thing. And the thing is McGahn basically obviously didn't do it and said he was not you know, to himself he said, I was not going to do this because he knew what could happen if he was to do that.
And it's -- you know, people like Don McGahn who this despite what the president wanted to do and then they were really treated poorly by the president in the end, they tried to protect the president, and they tried to protect really the White House and protect the country because they thought what could possibly happen if they were to follow through on what the president wanted.
HARLOW: You know, one of the claims that stood out from the Attorney General today in the press conference was his claim that the White House in his words fully cooperated with this investigation. Yes, the house handed over lots of documents. Yes, the White House allowed aides to talk to Mueller's team, but the President never sat down for an interview. So in what world is that focal operation?
PROKUPECZ: Right. And that is the thing. Because he never sat down with the interview and then even the entry that he gave, the take-home test these questions that he answered at home with his lawyers, as you pointed out, no follow-ups. He was evasive right. He didn't answer all the questions. He didn't give them a full accounting of everything. There were parts he said he didn't remember.
HARLOW: 30 times. PROKUPECZ: 30 times. And so how is that -- you're right. You can
argue, how is that full cooperation? But why is the Attorney General standing there saying that when he knows there's questions that need to be asked that you know, maybe we didn't get the full cooperation. You know, and the special counsel team I think in the end realized that they were up against a fight. If they were to go ahead and subpoena the president, they felt that it would take too long. It would draw out the process even more.
And in the end, I think what happened is they weren't going to get the answers they were seeking from him because there's no lawyer that would have allowed. They've said that they weren't going to let him in the end talk to Mueller if he subpoena him because they were concerned that the president would be exposed.
HARLOW: Shimon, thank you very much. I know you've been up literally all day reading this. Well, a long day. We appreciate it. Great reporting. All right, so a Congressman from Texas is ratcheting up his calls to impeach the President even as senior Democratic House leadership is moving away from it, almost running away from impeachment at this point. Let's bring in Congressman Al Green.
He tweeted today "with an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats cannot blame Republicans for the president's impeachable behavior. We have evidence, we have the majority, we should impeach." And the Congressman joins me now. I appreciate you staying up late to join us. Thank you very much. Make the case, sir.
REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): Well, thank you very much for having me, Miss Harlow.
HARLOW: Of course.
GREEN: Thank you for giving me the opportunity. It is my opinion that Mr. Mueller has done his job. He has allowed us to outsource the investigation to him. Generally speaking and frankly speaking, according to the framers of the Constitution this is something that the Judiciary Committee should have done.
But he's done his job and he has now asked that we consider what he has given us. He's given us ten points to consider and that means that we should take up the question of impeachment. I am not afraid to say impeachment. I think impeachment is appropriate. I think that a reckless, ruthless president should be deterred by impeachment. If we don't take --
HARLOW: What is --
GREEN: If we don't -- if I may just finish this point.
HARLOW: Sure. Sure, sir.
GREEN: If we don't take up impeachment, what we will do is wave the flag of surrender. We will say to a reckless, ruthless president do what you may. We're not going to take up the calls of impeachment. It is -- it is to deter a president as well as to start the process of removal from office. And if this president understands that we won't impeach him, watch and see what he will do.
HARLOW: Here's the thing, right. You don't want it to be an empty threat, and you know the math, right? Yes, you only need a simple majority in the House and you've got that in terms of the Dems. You don't have Democratic leadership on board. Nancy Pelosi hasn't signaled she's on board. Steny Hoyer, the number to Dem today said you just -- were just not there yet, and you certainly don't have two- thirds of the Senate. So are you worried it could just be an empty threat?
GREEN: It's not an empty threat when you follow through. The people of this county --
HARLOW: But knowing the math -- I'm just -- I'm just saying, OK, knowing the numbers aren't there for you.
GREEN: But the people of this country went to the polls --
HARLOW: The Republicans aren't there, that It's not bipartisan --
GREEN: And they gave us an overwhelming majority.
HARLOW: That it's not bipartisan. But you know that for an impeachment proceeding to be successful, articles of impeachment are you to be successful in a removal from office and a jury -- and a you know, vote in the Senate, you need to have the Republicans that agree with you. Are you there?
GREEN: Not true. Absolutely, totally, and completely not true.
HARLOW: How is it not true that --
GREEN: The people in this country --
HARLOW: Hold on. It's a fact that --
GREEN: Allow me to explain.
HARLOW: -- you need two-thirds of the Senate.
GREEN: Allow me to explain as you have done with my other colleague from Texas. We have an overwhelming majority. The people of this country went to the polls and they gave us this majority for a reason. It was because they wanted us to rebuke Trump. They wanted Trump out of office. With this overwhelming majority, we have the power, Democrats, alone to impeach.
The framers of the Constitution didn't intend for impeachment to be a walk in the park. It's not going to be pleasant and there's no requirement that Republicans have to come on board before we can impeach. As a matter of fact if we wait on Republicans to do it, if we put it in their hands, we are not likely to ever impeach this president, and possibly any other. HARLOW: So Congressman, fair enough, I hear your point. You don't
need Republicans on board to bring the articles of impeachment. You're absolutely right. What you do need is to be successful in a removal from office, you need enough in the Senate to vote for that. Take a listen to Congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intel Committee who's been extraordinarily critical of this president. Here he was earlier today with my colleague Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The audits would have to be quite overwhelming and demonstrable and such that it would generate bipartisan support for the idea that it renders the President unfit for office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: His point, you need bipartisan support. What do you say?
GREEN: I say that he has an opinion. I say that this is what makes Democrats the party with the ability to accept diversity of opinions. He's entitled to his opinion, I have an opinion that I'd like to share. We send it to the Senate and let the Senate have the opportunity to produce a trial. Let witnesses come forward. Let us let -- us find out what the Senate will do.
There may be Senators who will realize that impeachment is pretty important to their constituents once the evidence is revealed. We often as a matter of fact, just lately, we sent a bill over to the Senate knowing that the Senate would not pass it. But I was in the room when I heard people talk in great eloquent terms about how we must do our duty and send it to the Senate and let the Senate do what they may but we must do our duty.
It is our duty under the Constitution to perform the articles of impeachment which is similar to an indictment, not a finding of guilt, and pass it on to the Senate. And again, if we don't we're waving the white flag of surrender and we are saying to a reckless, ruthless, bigoted president that you may continue to do what you may at the border separating babies from their mothers. You may continue because we won't impeach you. That's what so many have said, I have heard them.
HARLOW: So Congressman, I hear your argument. I also see the numbers. We've got you know, poll that came out from Monmouth University yesterday and it shows 54 percent of American people when asked about this say Congress should move on, 39 percent say Congress should continue to investigate.
Even a former prosecutor again, Adam Schiff again, making the case that it's not responsible at this point to do that. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: I do feel that much as I did when I was a prosecutor that you don't bring a case if you don't believe you're going to be successful with it just to try the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Does he have a point, don't bring a case if you know you can't be successful with it, that the numbers aren't there?
GREEN: Two points. The first is we have a duty to go forward and to try our best to bring this to justice in the Senate. It acts as a deterrent. But the second point is this I would challenge any democrat or republican to a debate on this point. We keep putting people against me who are not here to respond and for me to respond.
I think it's time for us to have a debate and I will challenge any Democrat, Republican, or Constitutional scholar who would like to take all the challenge of whether we impeach and whether the law allows us to impeach whether a crime has been committed or not. The president doesn't have to commit a crime. We should put principle above politics. We should put people above party.
We are Democrats. It's time for us to act like Democrats. We have been given a mandate. We have an overwhelming majority. If we don't impeach we wave the white flag of surrender.
HARLOW: Congressman, I think that's an interesting proposal and I would be happy to have you on our show Monday morning along with Congressman Schiff to do just that. I welcome you both on to debate it here on CNN. It's an important conversation to have, and thank you for your time tonight, sir.
GREEN: Well, I thank you too. But if I may, don't limit it to Mr. Schiff. Any person on the planet. This is a righteous cause.
HARLOW: Well, we only have --
GREEN: And sometimes it's better to stand alone than not stand at all.
HARLOW: We only have so many of those little boxes you can put on the screen, you know. So maybe we'll have to limit it to eight of you coming on at a time. I say that in jest. But look it's an important conversation --
GREEN: Well, that would be -- that would be seven to my one. I think that I would have an edge if you only have seven against me.
HARLOW: Congressman, I appreciate your time. And just on another note, for people that miss your question at that -- at that House Financial Services Committee hearing a few weeks ago to all of the top bank CEOs about whether a woman or a minority will succeed them. It was a really important question, I thank you for asking it, sir. And thank you for being here with us tonight.
GREEN: Well, I thank you for acknowledging it. Thank you so much Miss Harlow.
HARLOW: Have a good evening. GREEN: You as well, my dear.
HARLOW: Congressman Al Green of Texas. Obviously, we have a lot more ahead on this 448-page report. We'll be back with our experts after this.
[01:17:37] HARLOW: All right, welcome back. The special counsel's report is out of 448 pages. And if you have not read the entire thing, that's right, we're here for you. Robert Mueller found no evidence that the president's campaign conspired with the Russians interfere in the 2016 election. And also declined to conclude that a criminal charge of obstruction against the president is warranted.
He put in his report multiple occasions though when the President did try to intervene in the investigation. Outlining 10 different areas they looked at on the obstruction front. Let me read you part of this report.
"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would state so. We would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, were unable to reach that judgment.
The evidence we obtained about the president's actions and intent present difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
Joining me now, Josh Campbell, our law enforcement analyst, and former FBI supervisory special agent. Brian Stelter, our chief media correspondent. Areva Martin, our legal analyst, and the civil rights attorney. And Jennifer Rogers, our legal analyst, and a former federal prosecutor. Good morning, good evening to all of you. It's 1:18 in the morning here on the East Coast.
And Josh Campbell, let me begin with you. Given what you did before you worked here, role in the Justice Department and the FBI. Barr's framing of all of this. What should the American people walk away with? Confidence in the attorney general?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: But -- well, I think the American people should know that they've been taking for a ride here. And I'll say I was one of the first person and people on this air whenever this letter came out from Barr. We've discovered this 14- page.
HARLOW: March 24th.
CAMPBELL: Essentially, a job and -- or even before that this job interview, right? When that came out that he had submitted a letter criticizing the Mueller investigation. We learned about that. HARLOW: When he was a private citizen.
CAMPBELL: Correct. Yes, exactly. And people looked at that with great suspicion. Like, OK, what was he trying to do? Audition for a job? Why would he come out as a private citizen go through all this work? And I was actually one of the ones defending him saying, "Humpy brakes, let's lower roll here. We don't know what his motivation was."
I've since evolved on that because I now see a pattern. You have that. You see him framing this document in his four-page memo, saying that there was no collusion and that he determined that there was no obstruction.
What he did is the -- essentially, a liable mission in my judgment. And that is: you say a couple things, you leave a couple of important things out. The part that he left out that was so important is what Robert Mueller's actually said in this report. And that is President Trump, according to investigators had this pattern of attacking investigators, trying to control the investigation, trying to get witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.
All that is very troubling. None of that was in the original framing of this. Which in my mind, when I say, we were taken for a ride, that's because four weeks ago, this was baked in, and now we're having to refute it based on the fact.
[01:20:36] HARLOW: So, Areva Martin, to you, legal expert on this. Mueller also outlined in here why he did not come to a conclusion on obstruction of justice? And he also made it very clear, by the way, that Congress has the ability and the right to take the ball and go from here if it so chooses. Right?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Poppy.
HARLOW: I guess, I'm just wondering if Mueller comes to testify, right? We'll see. What's the most important question you'd ask him on the obstruction front?
MARTIN: I think one of the most important things we want to hear from Bob Mueller is: why didn't he reach a conclusion with respect to obstruction given all the evidence that he lays out in this 400 plus page report? We heard Barr make the statement this morning that it had nothing to do with this office of legal counsel, you know, policy about not being able to indict a sitting president.
HARLOW: But it did.
MARTIN: You're absolutely correct. That was a misstatement. That was a false statement by Attorney General Barr. And it's pretty clear from the report that, that was a huge consideration for -- you know, special counsel Mueller. And that but for that OLC -- you know, policy.
I think there would have been a different determination. And I think, Bob Mueller, you know, he laid out this roadmap for Congress to look at the issue of obstruction. And he also talked about what can happen to President Trump when he leaves office. So, he didn't say, Congress, this is only for you to take a look at, for you to consider impeachment. He also said the kinds of conduct that Trump was engaged in, also can be something that's the subject of a prosecution once he is out of office.
And I think that was very telling as we talk about things that were left out of Barr's -- you know, brief press conference this morning. That was a very critical point that he did not punctuate when he --
MARTIN: You know, made the statements about the president being exonerated.
HARLOW: Jennifer, to you, in Barr's remarks this morning on this front. He said, "Although, the deputy attorney general and I disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories, and felt the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction." How significant is that the Barr notes here that he and Rod Rosenstein disagreed with some of Mueller's legal theories on the obstruction front?
JENNIFER ROGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's clear that they did because that, of course, was the point of his whole audition letter. As Josh put it that he doesn't believe that legally, the president can be charged with obstruction for exercising his Article two powers.
And Mueller does a very good job in the back end of the report. And I think this is a part of the report that most people will glaze over. But a very careful point-by-point refutation of those legal arguments that were raised in this case, actually, by the president's personal counsel but are essentially the same arguments that Barr had raised.
So, you know, I think what Barr is saying there is, OK, yes, we disagree on the law. But really, what we were doing is saying that on the facts we don't think there's enough evidence to justify it. And he's doing that because, you know, you say reasonable lawyers can disagree on the legal arguments. And I think Mueller has a better of those here. But he wants the people to believe that there isn't enough evidence here. So, that's why he's pushing that narrative.
And when you read the Mueller report, I have to say you have to come to the opposite conclusion on that right.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's the thing, I think, well, the Trump world is doing. And unfortunately, the attorney generals is part of this, is promoting this big lie. There's lots of little lies that are revealed in this report. There's a lot of little lies you've become used to over the past 2-1/2 years. But there's a bigger lie being promoted. The president's promoted this witch-hunt lie. Now he's promoting the no obstruction lie. And he has a lot of people helping him do that. Media allies, and allies inside his government. Promoting what is essentially a big lie that he's telling over and over again. I think that's the new playing field in the weeks and months to come. Are people going to believe his big lie or not.
HARLOW: It's not a crime to lie to the press and the American people.
STELTER: Right. That's true. Sure.
HARLOW: No one should do it and the president certainly shouldn't do it, and his press secretary. His White House press secretary certainly shouldn't do it. Explain to the American people why it is so key what we learned from the Mueller report about what Sarah Sanders admitted to Bob Mueller and his team prosecutors when she had said, "Look the rank-and-file" -- essentially, I'm paraphrasing here at the FBI, "aren't happy with James Comey."
STELTER: Yes. Yes, they wanted Comey out. She said she heard from countless members of the FBI calling her up, saying, "We want Comey out." Now, obviously, that was a lie then. And she admitted it was a lie, under oath, speaking with Mueller's team. But this is one of many, many misleading statements has come out of the White House. But it's a revealing example because she's admitting to it. She's fessing up to it in the Mueller report. It's an example of how little credibility this White House has.
And as we go forward, I think talking about these issues, the recognition that the president and his aides cannot be trusted. And these are just 10 of the examples on screen. Here are the examples on screen. Speaks of this larger problem going forward.
[01:25:16] CAMPBELL: Can I add just a perspective here. I was inside the FBI at the time. I remember watching that press conference with my colleagues.
CAMPBELL: As she stood there and said that the FBI didn't have confidence in the former director, my former boss. But there was another component to that. She stood at the -- at the White House podium. And said that she had personally been in contact with FBI agents, right.
STELTER: Yes, they were cowl her, right.
CAMPBELL: And it was actually a reporter that got so incredulous, he actually -- essentially, gave a one-word response. He said, "Really?" Like giving her the opportunity to back out of that. And she said, "No, there were text messages, there were e-mails, on, and on, and on.
So, this wasn't a slip of the tongue as she calls it. This she was really tripling down. The last point which gets to Brian's point about the big lie is that Sarah Sanders, even after admitting to Mueller it was a lie was on Fox News tonight and said that she misspoke. But essentially, the bigger -- larger claim was true.
So, she's circling back to it. It's insane.
STELTER: I reach out to her, Josh, for tonight. I asked her questions about this. She declined to comment.
HARLOW: Maybe she'll come on your show this weekend.
STELTER: I would love that.
HARLOW: All right. Gentlemen, stand by. Jennifer, Areva, stand by. We have a lot to discuss. We'll be right back
[01:30:13] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back to our special live coverage of the Mueller report. I'm Poppy Harlow, live in New York.
The Special Counsel provided President Trump with questions to answer, but according to the Mueller report, Mueller was not satisfied with the President's responses calling them inadequate and saying that, on more than 30 occasions the President said he does not recall or remember or have any independent recollection of information called for by the questions.
The report also says and I quote, "The written responses, we informed Counsel, demonstrate the inadequacy of the written format as we have had no opportunity to ask follow-up questions that would ensure complete answers and potentially refresh your client's recollection or clarity to the extent or nature of his lack of recollection."
Ideally, Robert Mueller viewed a face-to-face interview with the President to be quote, "vital to the investigation". He even considered issuing a subpoena but decided not to because he was concerned about the delay that would add to the probe.
Our experts are back with me now.
Josh Campbell to you -- I hear Mueller's argument on ok, we don't not want this to drag out even longer. But it already took two years. So what do you make of the calculation made that it was not worth waiting for pushing for trying to subpoena the President? Is this an assumption that he would've pled the Fifth?
JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I think there are a couple of factors at play here, one of which being this possible delay as we mentioned, right. This thing could have been litigated. it could've gone up to the Supreme Court, it could have gone on and on and on. So that's one aspect.
Another being, the report actually says that Mueller, they've determined that they had a lot of answers to questions, at least efficient enough that they didn't feel that they needed to press the issue. So I think those two things taken together were important.
HARLOW: Is that right -- Shimon?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes.
HARLOW: Because they have at least 30 non answers.
PROKUPECZ: Well, on that. But then they felt that in terms of on the obstruction side of the investigation, they felt they had gathered enough evidence to sort of formulate at least in their own minds about what was going on here.
The other thing I do think to draw out this whole, this entire process over a subpoena, politically may have been really bad for the Special Counsel. And it's the only way --
HARLOW: -- consideration.
PROKUPECZ: Well look -- yes, you're right. But I think why drag -- look I do think time and the longer this drags on, I think Mueller realized it was not going to be good for anyone.
I think the Department of Justice realized it wasn't going to be good for anyone.
PROKUPECZ: And the longer -- when we were doing a lot of the reporting on this, it was sort of the sense that we were getting that the longer this drags on, it was not good for the country. It was not good for anybody.
HARLOW: Got it.
PROKUPECZ: And the other thing is, I think the President's lawyers, you know, made some very strong arguments to the Special Counsel.
HARLOW: So to our lawyers on that, Areva Martin -- how effective do you think, even if you don't like their politics or agree with them, how effective legally were Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow for the President? And their actions?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, on this particular issue, Poppy -- I think they were very effective. And I disagree with the decision that Mueller made with respect to getting Trump to, you know, participate in an interview.
First of all, we heard Trump say on numerous occasions that he would be happy to sit down with a Special Counsel and answer any questions that would be posed to him. So he had this whole dog and pony show that he did. And really tricked the American people and told us frankly what we can call a straight out lie about his willingness to participate because now we learned, not only did he not participate in a sit-down interview, he gave these really nonresponsive answers to the written questions.
And we should state, those were only questions as they related to the Russian collusion part of Mueller's investigation. He refused to answer any questions as it related to obstruction of justice.
And I think when we look at what this president is doing, yes, it may have taken time, yes, it may have been a battle, may have been fought all the way to the Supreme Court. But it's setting a really bad precedent but for this president to be able to not participate in an interview.
And now, if we don't have impeachment, hearings that take place in the Congress, this does send the message that this president is somehow above the law. And no one should be above the law, even the President of the United States.
HARLOW: Jennifer -- question for you on the Special Counsel statute versus the independent counsel statute. You hear Democrats in Congress now, you know, screaming. They want the full unredacted report and they want the underlying evidence because -- many of them point back to Ken Starr.
And they say in the Clinton investigation, you literally had, you know, a station wagon filled up with boxes of documents of underlying evidence driven over to Capitol Hill. And remember those footnotes and all the details? Salacious some of them were in the Starr report?
[01:35:01] The thing is, it is Congress that let the independent statute lapse in 1999 here.
JENNIFER: Yes, and Ken Starr also willingly went to court to get the 6-E grand jury --
HARLOW: -- which Barr is not doing.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: -- material released as well. So yes, I mean look, I think it swung maybe too far in the other direction. I think it swung maybe too far in the other direction, folks felt after the Ken Starr incident or series of incidents that it was too intrusive, too invasive, he had too much independence.
And so this new statute was meant to curtail that independence and put it within the ambit of the Department of Justice, so that ultimately the Attorney General would control the release of information.
Now, of course, the Dems are thinking that that is not enough independence. So, you know, the problem with any of these statutes, it is really hard to see how --
RODGERS: -- they're is going to play out until you are actually in them. So I suspect we will have a new independent-slash- you know, Special Counsel regulation, whatever it's going to be called that will probably move us a little towards back where we were with Ken Starr.
RODGERS: It's just really hard to get these things right in advance. That's really the problem I think.
HARLOW: I suppose it depends, you know, what party you're in in the moment that it is happening. Shimon.
PROKUPECZ: I also think we're in a new era now. And that we're going to -- you know, the Department of Justice now, because of the -- what went on during the Clinton investigation, the release of all that information are now, it's going to now be basically the case where they are going to have to release information.
Because Bill Barr, going into this, was very hesitant in wanting to release any information.
HARLOW: Right. And now --
PROKUPECZ: Now --
HARLOW: -- more and more.
PROKUPECZ: -- it's sort of -- and I think he said this today, you know. We are in a new phase now of where information that previously would be kept secret or will not be released by the government, by the Department of Justice is going to have to now be released.
CAMPBELL: And it is their own doing, I would say. I mean this was a dark day, maybe a dark month or dark year for the Department of Justice. Again, going back to what we talked about earlier with Bill Barr and this idea of transparency.
It comes down to, does the Americans people, do they have confidence that what goes on behind those walls is done independently and fairly? And he cast a shadow now today by essentially coming up, parroting the President's language, using the term "spying" before.
Again, you know, I think we are in a new era. And Shimon is exactly right. It's going to require transparency because the American public are simply not going to believe, at least if they continue to operate as they did today, that they are operating fairly.
PROKUPECZ: We're not done. I mean there are all sort of, as you know, the 302s, the FBI interviews -- all of that is probably going to come out at some point.
PROKUPECZ: You know, they reference it in the document and the report, in the footnotes. It is a 302 from Reince Priebus or -- that stuff potentially is going to come out. And we're going to be able to see it even -- we're going to get even more information.
HARLOW: We'll be watching it. That means you can't take a vacation for a very long time.
PROKUPECZ: No. No, thank you.
HARLOW: Everyone -- thank you very much.
Stay with us.
Much more of our special coverage of the Mueller report right after this.
[01:37:49] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARLOW: All right. Welcome back to our special coverage of the Mueller report.
There are a lot of important facts in the Mueller report. But it's also notable, that at many of what would be bombshells to the average Americans weren't so much because the President had tweeted about them, or said them publicly or the news media had reported on them and broken the story.
So here you see the President, after the Mueller report is released, leaving Washington heading to West Palm Beach where he's greeted with many people. They are cheering him on. He hasn't really spoken to the cameras much in the wake of the Mueller report. But he has tweeted a lot.
Also, we know for example, the Mueller report laying out his pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the time to unrecuse himself. But the President also told us -- the report rather also told the President sought to end the Russia investigation by firing FBI director James Comey even though the President had said so himself in a TV interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. My experts back with me. Let me begin with you with Brian Stelter on this. I mean notable is it to you that a lot of this stuff that would just be stunning to people is significant still but maybe not so stunning because either the President talked about it, tweeted about it, or the news media -- CNN and many other outlets broke the story.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And that's one of the important pieces of the 400-plus page Mueller report. It affirms two years of reporting from the "New York Times", CNN and the "Post" and other outlets.
Obviously, news outlets make mistakes just like everybody else. But the thrust of the reporting for the past two years has been affirmed by Mueller's team. That said, because we live in this age of information overload, information excess, I think people do have a hard time following the plot.
I personally am a professional paid to do this and I have a hard time keeping up with all of the developments. But that's also why this report is so important.
Right now an Amazon, two versions of the Mueller report are in the top ten. Bestselling books, they aren't going to be on for a couple of weeks, they got to go to the printing press today.
But that indicates to me that ,any Americans do want to read the full report and dive --
HARLOW: What do you mean two versions -- you mean the volumes?
STELTER: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) is coming out with one, the "Washington Post" is coming out with one. Different publishers -
STELTER: -- they're all coming out with the same book, yes.
HARLOW: By the way you can download them and print for free.
STELTER: You can download it for free. You can print it out they way Josh has right here. But it indicates to me that a lot of people do want to consume this and understand it. And in the bigger picture sense because look we do live in this age of information overload where we get push alerts at us at all times.
And the President in some ways benefits from that. It's hard to avoid being confused by all these headlines. But the report actually does that. Being able to read it in detail helps with that.
[01:45:02] HARLOW: Areva Martin -- you know, there is a lot that the President actually made very clear by what he chose to say in interviews like that with Lester Bolt and chose to tweet. I mean he doesn't think there is anything wrong with doing it. But it is interesting that it was such a light into a lot of this even before we read the Mueller report.
MARTIN: You know, we talked a lot Poppy about obstruction in plain view. And we saw the President engage in conduct that we wee now in this report that Mueller considered as part of the obstruction case that he laid out in this lengthy report.
So Trump's own tweets, his conversations, things he said in media interviews, are all a part of what we're seeing in this report. That even though he may have thought they were, you know, casual comments or innocuous comments, they were a part of his using his bully pulpit, using his position as president, using the power of the presidency to intimidate witnesses, to as we saw with his White House counsel to pressure him to make false statements, to force people in his orbit to tell lies.
All of this conduct just unheard of and thought of for the president of the United States. And now to see it laid out so very clearly, so very, you know, well-documented in this report just confirms what most of us in this business have been talking about for years. It's that this president has a total disregard for the law. He is lawless.
And this report now confirms his complete disregard for the rule of law. And his willingness to encourage others to disregard the law as well.
HARLOW: But Jennifer, then why I think most people who are watching right now would be asking did Mueller not draw that conclusion, right? I mean he didn't see it so clearly. Of course, he had the guidelines that you can't indict a sitting president, right. But there was more there?
RODGERS: I actually think that a careful reading of the report -- which I do hope that everyone who's interested in this will do, demonstrates that while Mueller decided not to reach a formal legal conclusion because of OLC (ph) memo that in fact, when you read what he said about obstruction of justice, the ten episodes of obstruction that they considered. He, for each one of those laid out the three legal elements of the crime of obstruction of justice and put the evidence supporting that under each of these elements.
And for conservative speaking, six out of the ten that he address there was obstruction on all three elements. So really even though he said he wasn't reaching a formal conclusion and he doesn't, the report tells us that there is evidence establishing obstruction of justice on most of the episodes that the Mueller team considered. So, you know, I think it's stronger than people are saying.
HARLOW: But, but -- Josh Campbell, because of the OLC, you know, letter and guidelines here the only remedy for that if that is the case that Jennifer lays out is political.
CAMPBELL: It is political. And what we're seeing is passing of the baton from the law enforcement to political leadership. Law enforcement has conducted this investigation, they completed it, they complied a report, they hand that over, they go through the attorney general and then the Congress.
And now I believe it's up to Congress to make that determination. What's interesting is that what's laid out in here although, Robert Mueller does not come to the conclusion that President is going to be prosecuted perhaps because of the nature of his position. That doesn't mean that that it doesn't reach a threshold to Congress.
You can still have obstructive behavior that Congress finds concerning that doesn't meet a threshold of prosecution under, you know, federal statute. And so that's that part that we're in. You had a Congressman here earlier obviously talking about what is down the road for them, the Democrats in the House for example have, you know, a lot conversation they needed to have with themselves.
And that's, you know, out of my line (ph) with the politics but that is a remedy if they're going to take this report and do something with it. Law enforcement is off the table. Now the political remedy is the only thing left.
STELTER: And playbook, the political playbook almost 24 hours at this point. A key question -- I think it's the question and we answer this Friday morning. Did any GOP senator change his or her mind as a result of this report?
L1: That is the key question because that's when it turned in Watergate -- when you are Howard Baker.
STELTER: Would any of them both do that.
HARLOW: Right. Ok.
Stelter: So far, there's no indication of that.
HARLOW: Thank you all very much it's almost 2:00 in the morning here on the East Coast. the President is in Mar-a-Lago. That's where we're heading next.
Stay with us.
[01:49:19] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARLOW: Welcome back to our special coverage of the Mueller report.
George Conway, the attorney and the husband of White House senior counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway is calling for the President to be impeached. He wrote a "Washington Post" op-ed after the Mueller report came out.
Let me read you part of it. "What the Mueller report disturbingly shows was crystal clarity that today there is a cancer in the presidency, President Donald J. Trump. Congress now bears the solemn constitutional duty to exercise -- to rather, excise that cancer without delay.
Our White House reporter Sarah Westwood is in West Palm Beach at Mar- a-Lago. I mean it's just remarkable. That's his opinion. He is married Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the President.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right -- Poppy.
And George Conway definitely had a very different reaction to the redacted Mueller report than did his wife, Kellyanne Conway the council to the President. Earlier today, she was taking a victory lap, claiming that this report provided the President with total exoneration while her husband George Conway was claiming that some of Mueller's findings could be grounds for impeachment.
He wrote in part, the facts of Mueller's report condemned Trump even more than the report's refusal to clear him of a crime. George Conway is a lawyer who at one point wanted a job in the Trump administration, but has since emerged as one of his fiercest critics.
And George Conway was primarily focused on the obstruction part of the equation, on evidence that Trump tried to limit the scope, that he did things that could have been perceived as attempts to influence witnesses.
And George Conway made the argument in that op-ed that the ultimate question should not be whether the President committed a crime. He argues that the President should be held to a higher standard than whether or not he is a criminal. Now Mueller did not decide one way or the other whether the President committed an obstruction of justice offence.
[01:55:00] But White House aides like Kellyanne Conway have been really focused on amplifying the other half of the Mueller report, the one in which investigators wrote that they found no evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Just quickly before you go, Sarah. I am fascinated by why the President did not take this victory lap on camera, really. I mean other than a few words at that Wounded Warriors event, he didn't take the opportunity of walking across the south lawn after the report came out to talk to reporters. Why do you think that is?
WESTWOOD: That's right. It is interesting that the President chose now to exercise caution when, throughout this investigation, he's had no problem attacking Special Counsel Robert Mueller, attacking the Justice Department, questioning the basis of the investigation.
But today, as he was leaving the White House, he had an opportunity to talk to reporters. He did not take it. He spoke briefly at a planned White House event earlier today about the report, but Poppy -- he is remaining uncharacteristically silent.
And tomorrow, on his public schedule, he has no events. He will be spending the day at Mar-a-Lago. So we may not see him tomorrow either -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Ok. Sarah Westwood -- I appreciate you reporting there from West Palm Beach. Thank you so much.
Stay with us, our special coverage continues right after this.
[01:56:14] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)