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House Judiciary Chair Considering Contempt Citation For Barr; Barr Takes Digs At Mueller At Testy Senate Hearing; Highest Form Of Humanity In UNC Charlotte Hero's Sacrifice. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 1, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Programming note before we go. Next Thursday, May 9th, at 8:00 P.M., I'll be hosting a live Town Hall with former FBI Director James Comey here in Washington D.C.

We'll talk about obviously today's hearing. He's also adding some new material to his book, A Higher Loyalty, which is coming out in paperback. We'll discuss that as well. But the focus, as always, will be on questions from the audience.

Look forward to it. We hope you'll tune in.

That does it for us tonight. But the news continues with Chris Cuomo and CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, thanks Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo, live from Washington D.C., and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The Attorney General Bill Barr did not back down an inch before the Senate Committee today. And that made strengths and weaknesses of his case and his cause very clear.

A Democrat on the Senate panel who did get to cross-examine the Attorney General today, he's going to tell us what comes next now. And what comes next in the House now that Mr. Barr says he won't show tomorrow.

Also, big question from today, how can the Attorney General rationalize clearing the President on crimes that are driven by intent without knowing what the President's intent was? That's the big question for Cuomo's Court. We'll take it on.

Let's get after it.




CUOMO: So, the latest is that Chairman Nadler in the House says that the A.G. is trying to blackmail his Committee by not showing tomorrow, and he's threatening to hold Mr. Barr in contempt, unless the full un- redacted Mueller report is handed over.

Now, the question is, should they subpoena Mr. Barr? Why did they not? They had that available to them. Mr. Barr has no interest in changing perceptions about him given what he said today, especially when it comes to suggestions that he's just covering for the President.

We saw that when he made excuses, on Trump's behalf, parsing words over what the President may have meant when he talked to Don McGahn and others. Here's a sample.


WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The President never directed him--


BARR: --based on conflict.


CUOMO: Right. The problem is that that distinction is based on your intention, right? The words you use are a function of what you mean.

But as far as we know, the Attorney General doesn't know what the President meant because we are told he never spoke to him about this. And certainly, the President refused to be interviewed and never answered any written questions even through his attorneys about obstruction.

So, how does he know? How can he be so sure? Let's ask somebody who had to put those questions to the A.G. today, Senate Judiciary Committee Member, Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware.

Senator, thank you for joining us. I know it's been a long day.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): It's been a long day indeed, Chris. But it was, I thought, a very revealing hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

My concern all along about Attorney General Bill Barr has been that Donald Trump, our President, nominated him because he was looking for someone to be his loyal counsel, his advocate, rather than the people's Attorney General.

And I think, in the questioning, before our Committee today, we saw that that's exactly what President Trump has gotten, someone who has been shading things, characterizing things, shifting things in a way that favors the President's narrative, and in a way that has made it harder for the American people to really get the benefit of Robert Mueller's hard work as Special Counsel.

CUOMO: All right, so for the sake of argument, let's say you're right, or it doesn't matter, but it's a matter of opinion, what is it - what difference does it make going forward?

COONS: Well I asked a question today that I thought was directly related to our next election to 2020.

There was bipartisan agreement at the beginning of the hearing that given volume one of the Mueller report, which lays out chapter and verse how aggressively Russian intelligence officials, Russian intelligence officers from the GRU broke into, and hacked into the DNC's emails, Hillary Clinton's emails, shared those with WikiLeaks, tried to help Donald Trump, and then the Trump campaign failed, when offered this help, to notify the FBI.

I asked Attorney General Barr--

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: --going forward in 2020, should a campaign offer dirt on their opponent by a hostile power, accept it, or should they go to the FBI? And he hesitated. He hammed in hard. He said "That depends. I'm not sure. If it's a foreign intelligence officer, perhaps."

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: And I think he was shading that question--

CUOMO: And was that - why wasn't that an acceptable answer, Senator?

I - I heard that. And I heard it with great interest. And it was an inch - I want your take because my take was that he was trying to put the "Gotcha" on you for not being precise enough in the question.

Were we just talking about anybody from North Korea or we're talking about someone that you know is connected to the intelligence of a foreign/inimical power? How did you take it?

[21:05:00] COONS: I think he was trying to shape the question so that it did not implicate the actions of the Trump campaign team in the Trump Tower meeting with Russians, who were proffering information, who they didn't know for sure were from the intelligence service. That's what I thought he was doing.

CUOMO: Now, I want to play some sound of one of the answers that Mr. Barr gave today that kind of sheds light on where we are in terms of how to assess neutrality and any sense of impartiality going forward.


BARR: I received a letter--


BARR: --misrepresented his report.


CUOMO: Now, obviously, Mr. Barr would be nuts to just make things up that Mr. Mueller said knowing that while Senator Graham may block him from coming to your Committee, he's almost certainly going to appear before somebody of Congress. So, what he said there, two interesting things. One, it's about a phone call, not the letter. So, we don't know. We only have the actual text in the letter. Mr. Mueller does not mention the media in the letter.

But he does convey that because of what he calls Mr. Barr's summary, the public now has misimpressions and misinterpretations of what happened. Mr. Barr blamed the media for it. What's your take?

COONS: I think Robert Mueller's goal in that letter was to further press Bill Barr, the Attorney General to release the summaries, the 10 and 12 page summaries of the two volumes of his 400-page report.

CUOMO: Clearly.

COONS: That's because if the summary of the second volume had been released to the public 25 days earlier, than it ultimately was, it lays out a great deal of the troubling facts about obstruction of justice.

It makes it clear that there were 10 different instances, in which Senior White House officials or the President himself directed folks to try and fire Mueller, directed folks to lie, directed folks to create false documents.

That would have been clear so that the sort of triumphalist narrative that the President and his defenders took to the press with for three weeks that he was completely exonerated--

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: --couldn't have been sustained.

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: So, I think it's possible that what Robert Mueller was saying was "Well you weren't misleading. You weren't inaccurate in how you characterized my report. But you weren't fully forthcoming. And you're leaving the public with this mistaken impression for more than three weeks, so that it sets in the public's mind the idea that this report is far more exculpatory than it actually is."

CUOMO: All right, now in terms of going forward, if Mr. Mueller comes in and speaks, let's say, before the House, and says, "Yes, look, here was what I meant on obstruction. It was a close call. I couldn't make the call anyway because of the guidance, and it wouldn't be fair to the President, so we didn't make a call because, obviously, as I say in the report, Congress can do this. And the criminality is moot anyway, because you're not going to indict this President. So, yes, I wanted to leave it up to Congress."

COONS: Right.

CUOMO: What would that mean that's any different than what you could do right now? COONS: Well I think it would be important for the public to hear that Robert Mueller didn't exonerate the President that he conducted a wide-ranging and thorough investigation and uncovered ample evidence of obstruction of justice.

But given the constraints that you just referenced, he left it to Congress to decide what further actions to take with regard to the President.

Let me also remind you, Chris, there are at least 12 other ongoing investigations in other courts and other jurisdictions that were spun- off of the Mueller's Special Counsel investigation.

One of my core questions today was whether we can continue to have confidence that Bill Barr will supervise those ongoing investigations in his role as Attorney General in a way that really is impartial.

CUOMO: And it was very clear from the questioning of yours and Senator Harris to Mr. Barr today, he was very clear, "I am not recusing myself. I don't think I have to go to the Ethics Panel about it."

COONS: That's right.

CUOMO: And it's going to continue on. So, there's story to be told there as well.

I think the biggest thing that you guys got today in terms of any kind of concession from Barr is that he said, "I accept all the findings of Mr. Mueller in this report based on the underlying evidence," which he then admitted he hadn't seen all of it.

But if he believes that everything in that report is fair and accurate, then this President is going to have a lot to answer for when people understand exactly what's in there.

Senator, thank you. I'll talk to you going forward.

COONS: That's right.

CUOMO: All right, so--

COONS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: --Mr. Barr actually blamed the media and Mr. Mueller today for any confusion. He blamed Mueller for not reaching a conclusion on charging the President and took other shots at the Special Counsel as well.

[21:10:00] He also hinted to what we were just talking about, about further investigations. When asked about the White House, asking him to take on investigations, asking him to do things, he parsed. "What do you mean ask? What do you mean? Do we talk? What?"

What does that mean about what he may do on other matters coming up? We're going to take it up with a great team of investigators, next.








CUOMO: So, the A.G. and Bob Mueller have purportedly been friends for decades, but not here.


BARR: Bob Mueller is the--


BARR: --one of his staff people.


CUOMO: That's not very friendly. I want to bring in a great team of people who understand these issues, the implications in law, and in journalism, Phil Mudd, Susan Hennessey, Michael Isikoff. It's good to have you all three here.

Now, I want to talk about the big takeaways of what this means today and going forward. Mike, to your appreciation of now you see that Barr, buddy-buddies with Mueller, no more. This is about protecting the President--


CUOMO: --no matter who gets in the way. Here's evidence of it today. We had Senator Grassley on this point with the A.G. Take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Was it Special Counsel--


BARR: --and I thought it was.


CUOMO: Now, that was just a taste. In fact, it wasn't even that good one. I'm going to have them find something better because there was a lot of discussion about what Mueller should have done and what Mueller was supposed to be about. Your take?

ISIKOFF: Yes. I mean Barr was clearly throwing his old friend and colleague, Bob Mueller under the bus. I mean he - he criticized him on multiple levels.

[21:15:00] Right from the get-go, he said he met with Mueller on March 5th and talked to him about the upcoming report, and said, he told him, "Make sure you identify Grand Jury material, so we don't have to get into a protracted--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --review that's going to delay this." And he says Mueller essentially ignored him.

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: That he gave him a report without identifying.

CUOMO: There was so much more work to do. They were surprised.

ISIKOFF: And that that delayed the release for three or four weeks.

CUOMO: And that's the reason it was delayed.


CUOMO: He also said something else that plays to the Republicans. The Republicans today, they didn't want to talk about whether or not there was obstruction. They didn't want to talk about anything. They wanted to talk about spying, and they wanted to talk about how the real Russian collusion--


CUOMO: --is with the Clinton campaign paying for a dossier that was used with Russian agents, and that was money given to Russia, essentially, that's collusion. And Bob - Bill Barr, when asked about it, was like, "Well, yes, I guess he should have looked at that. I don't know. I'm going to have to look into that. Oh, yes, you know, the - the spying--


CUOMO: --yes, he probably should have looked into the roots."


CUOMO: Now, what does that mean? That really wasn't part of the purview for Mr. Mueller, was it?

ISIKOFF: No. But Barr has made pretty clear he buys into the Republican argument on this.

CUOMO: Sure. ISIKOFF: And there is an Inspector General report that's coming, you know, in the next few weeks that's going to have a big impact on how this plays out.

If the I.G. finds that there were problems in the way that the FBI used the Steele dossier and the FISA warrant, that's going to play right into the Republicans' hands, and it is going to change the debate on this somewhat because that would--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --give an imprimatur from an independent arbiter--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --to that argument. We don't know that's what he's going to find. But that's the ball game on that score.

CUOMO: Susan, one thing in the weeds that I want, because it's going to be relevant to people, and hopefully, I'll remind them then and play this sound again, they'll be like "Oh, that's why he said it."

Carter Page is going to be a big thing for the Republicans. They're going to say the way you got that FISA warrant was bogus.

Now, Mike Mukasey, former A.G. under President Bush, friend of the show, comes on and he says, "That Carter Page FISA application, probable cause of a crime, they never charged him, what does that tell you?"

That wasn't the standard for getting the FISA application on Carter Page. Was it? It was probable cause about his connection to a foreign agent. They didn't have to charge him with a crime to justify that the surveillance was worthwhile. Did they?


Any individual who's worked in the intelligence community in the Department of Justice who read the Mueller report would understand that it would have been appalling for the Federal - for the FBI to have seen the level of that - of - that level of evidence and not have at least look into it as a counterintelligence matter.

Now, a FISA warrant is an extraordinarily high standard. The government has to go be - before - before a Federal Court, a Federal Judge. Yes, it is secret. Yes, it is a little bit different from the ordinary process.

There is absolutely no indication that anything improper occurred, anything irregular happened. Of course, the Inspector General's report will come out.

CUOMO: Sure.

HENNESSEY: That's going to be important.

But if the FISA Court, if the FISC itself believed that there was any kind of issue, they would be looking into this, and there's just no indication whatsoever, either that there was a problem with the manner in which they obtained the FISA warrant or that there was - that there lacked proper predication here.

There is an abundance of proper predication. Any individual can see that from what Mueller has produced.

CUOMO: And, in fact, they were looking at Carter Page even before the campaign for the certain kinds of activities. Now, second legal point is how Mr. Barr rationalized his explanations on obstruction today. Here's a key piece of sound about that from the hearing.


BARR: The President could terminate--


BARR: --was being falsely accused.


CUOMO: Do we now know that he was being falsely accused? Or do we now know that there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt in Mueller's estimation that there was a conspiracy, a criminal conspiracy? Aren't those very different things? And how would he know anyway--


CUOMO: --what the President thought?

HENNESSEY: Exactly. So, certainly, we've seen a report that essentially said lots of collusion, no criminal conspiracy, which is something quite different.

CUOMO: Right.

HENNESSEY: But even on its face, this sort of legal argument, which really is the primary argument that Barr is making, to say that the President of the United States did not commit a crime, in the face of the overwhelming evidence that we actually see on that very point, is this notion that there's no underlying crime, right?

If you - if you - if you haven't committed the underlying crime, you - you can't therefore obstruct justice. That's just wrong. The underlying crime had occurred.

For example, Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI. That's a crime to which he pled guilty. The investigation that the President was obstructing was - was into that behavior. It was into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Certainly, Bob Mueller has - has laid out the - the overwhelming evidence of the - of the existence of that crime. And so, really, this argument that that - that Bill Barr is making again and again and again to basically say, "Well if there's no underlying crime there can't be obstruction," it's just wrong as a legal matter.

[21:20:00] It's just not supported by the facts. And I think it really does go to a really important point, which is this is the Attorney General reassuring the American people that the President of the United States did not commit a crime while in Office, and he is not remotely convincing on that point.

CUOMO: Except, at the end of the day, it's politics, Phil. And even though you were in the business of intelligence and intelligence analysis, you know, you got a keen eye for politics. How do you think this came out today?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL, FORMER FBI SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER: Well, you know, I did a lot of hearings. Let's take this from a different optic that is Barr's optic.

You're walking into a hostile hearing. Let me give you one Barr, if you will. It is not going to go well. He walks out of the hearing and a couple of things happened. And I'm going to tell you my bottom line, Barr one.

Item number one that happens, how much was President Trump discussed today, and how much was President Trump hammered by other side? Barr is taking all the heat. The President is taking no heat, after 2.5 years where the President's getting hammered.

So, if I'm walking out, and I'm the White House, I'm saying, "My Attorney General just took one for the team." That's a success.

Second and final success, if you're Barr, you're going to go in talking about the investigation. You're going to go in talking about issues that have been on the headlines every day. How many headlines today for middle-America?

If you're going into that hearing, I'm saying, I don't want to walk out with a success, I want to walk out ensured that I didn't drop a bomb that embarrassed the White House. So, it's not only the President's name. It's any bombshells.

If I'm him, I'm walking out saying "Not bad."

HENNESSEY: Look, and that would be successful if he was the President's Defense Attorney, if he was the President's private counsel. So, to the extent that he actually view that as his job, I agree, it probably was successful.

But problem is he's the Chief Law Enforcement Officer and the Attorney General of the United States. He works for us, not for Donald Trump.

ISIKOFF: What this - what this does tee up is Bob Mueller's testimony. I think that is going to have more of an impact than anything that happened today. And, look, I mean Mueller has not spoken. He doesn't like to speak at all.

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: He's not a loquacious guy. He doesn't do interviews. He doesn't like to give speeches. We're going to hear from him the first time. We probably should have heard from him before.

But this was his report. How does he - how does he present this? How did he analyze and how does he explain why he did not--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --make a call on the obstruction issue?

CUOMO: Well that's the key.

ISIKOFF: That is the big. And, you know, when you read that letter, and you listen to Barr's testimony, and at least part of the subtext here is Mueller was upset at the criticism he was getting after--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --Barr's letter for not making the call.

CUOMO: Understood.

ISIKOFF: And that's why he wrote the letter.

CUOMO: All right, so that's a perfect stopping point. Let's take a break.

When we come back, what is the way forward? What would need to happen to change this state of play, as it stands right now? Is this just about over? Or could there be another chapter? What would that take?

We'll take that on, next.








CUOMO: All right, so look, there is so much in this Mueller report. That's why we keep telling you to read it because now you're going to hear it being spun all the time.

For example, multiple accounts of the President calling for investigations of political rivals. But when the Attorney General today was asked if he has been asked by the White House to launch them, listen to this.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Has the President or anyone--


BARR: --with the word suggest.


CUOMO: Absolutely he's trying to grapple with it. And I'm about to explain why. But let me bring back Phil, Susan, and Michael, thank you for sticking around, and need you tonight, appreciate it.

So, Phil, the reason he's grappling with it is because he's not there as the A.G., because if he were as there just as the A.G., he'd say, "Yes, here's exactly what they said."

It is not wrong for the White House to suggest an investigation to somebody. It would be wrong for you to do automatically whatever they say, as Attorney General. Who disagrees?

HENNESSEY: I do disagree with that--

ISIKOFF: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: If the White House were to come to you and say, "Hey, we think you should look into something"--

HENNESSEY: Listen, so--

CUOMO: --that's not wrong for them to do.

HENNESSEY: --we have a - a basic principle of law enforcement independence.

CUOMO: Right.

HENNESSEY: So, yes, of course, the President overseas the--

CUOMO: Right.

HENNESSEY: --Department of Justice. But there is a reason why there is a process by which communications--

CUOMO: Sure.

HENNESSEY: --about specific cases only go through the White House Counsel's Office.

And it's because a justice system that is wielded against the President's political enemies or for political purposes or for anything other than the actual administration of justice that would be deeply corrosive to our system.

And so, we have - we have elaborate procedures designed to avoid exactly the perception of something like that--

CUOMO: The perception.

HENNESSEY: --because it is so damaging to the system.

CUOMO: But the idea, Mike, look, I don't need to tell you this.


CUOMO: You know that Presidents have said to their AGs before, that things deserve attention that people deserve attention.

ISIKOFF: On the policy matters--

CUOMO: How you process it is fine.

ISIKOFF: --yes. But when you get into particular criminal investigations, pretty much since Watergate, it's been a no-no for Presidents or White House officials to make particular suggestions to Attorneys Generals to investigate particular people.

And I thought that was, you know, one of the most important parts of today's testimony.

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: That Harris questioning because clearly Barr knew there was something--

CUOMO: That's right.

ISIKOFF: --when this came up.

CUOMO: And that's my point.

ISIKOFF: And, you know, look--

CUOMO: Is that if he was playing it straight, he would have just said, "Yes, they've talked to me about a few things--

ISIKOFF: Well, yes--

CUOMO: --but we do what we want to do here."


CUOMO: He didn't. He said, "Well, let me think." How do I stay clear of this situation, Phil? What do you mean by who? What do you mean by asked? That is a lawyer giving an answer to insulate exposure.

MUDD: Timeout. There's a penalty flag here.

CUOMO: Go ahead. MUDD: There's a difference, as you're suggesting, between saying, let's talk about a case--


MUDD: --and should you open an investigation. Let me take you back into my old world of counterterrorism and make this crystal clear.

We get intercepted communication that shows that there's extensive operational activity by al-Qaeda or ISIS, and you pick the city, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago. You go into the White House. You have a conversation, and this would include the President, maybe his Legal Counsel.

The conversation says "This is what's going on in New York. We're looking at these al-Qaeda people in New York. They might have some connections there."

For somebody to sit there and say, "Well we think you should open up an investigation on these other people in the intercepted communications," that's weird. That doesn't - that's odd.

I can see them saying we're interested in how this investigation proceeds. But for them to tell the legal people at Department of Justice and FBI, "Here's how you should proceed with an investigation," in my world, that's odd.

ISIKOFF: Phil, do you really think that Barr was thinking about a - a - a question about counterterrorism in that conversation (ph) with Harris.

MUDD: No. Oh, come on, Michael, no. What I'm--

ISIKOFF: That's clearly not what was meant by him (ph).

MUDD: No, obviously. But what I'm saying is that--


MUDD: --that there is a clear parallel.

For the White House, whether its counterintelligence, counterterrorism, criminal case to say "That's a very interesting case. We have recommendations on how you open up an investigation," what - what is that?

HENNESSEY: Look, the reason why Harris was asking the question is because there are multiple instances described in the Mueller report--

CUOMO: Right.

HENNESSEY: --which the President of the United States directs the Attorney General and other individuals to investigate Hillary Clinton. That is an abuse of his Office. There is no Constitutional or other theory by which you could - you could justify the making - the President making that kind of request. And so, Harris was asking, "We know that he made that request of Jeff Sessions and - and other individuals. Has he made that request of you?"

And Bill Barr should be in a position to be able to say absolutely not.

CUOMO: Nopes. And that's - that's my point. And then, when he was asked, I think it was by Lindsey Graham, I don't know. I lost count.

[21:30:00] But someone said to him in this kind of very semi-auto, you know, bullet point, "Do you agree with me about this? Do you agree with me?" And it was "Do you think there was spying?" "Yes." "Do you think that you need to look at it?" "Yes." "Do you think that the dossier is a problem?" "Yes." "Do you think we have to look at what Clinton did too?" "Yes."

And it was all the way down the line of checking every box of consideration for the President. So, where does that take us next, Mike?

ISIKOFF: Well look, you know, the - the - the discussion of the evidence in the Mueller report was kind of limited today. There was some time spent on that.

CUOMO: It's because he said he didn't look at all of it.

ISIKOFF: Yes. There was time - some time spent on the McGahn issue, and the fact that the President asked McGahn to write a memo that was false, and that he didn't actually try to order him to fire Mueller.

But, you know, there was so much else in that report. Consider the - the conversation the President has with Corey Lewandowski, in which he's telling him to go to--


ISIKOFF: --Jeff Sessions and have him curtail the investigation to - to avoid investigating what happened in the 2016 election, but to focus on future elections, aside from the question of how you investigate something that's going to happen in the future--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --the absurdity of that, that was clearly shows what the President's intent was, what he was trying to accomplish in all these conversations.

CUOMO: Not according to the A.G.


CUOMO: And they give him great shelter because Lewandowski didn't do it.

Now, of course, you also have the inchoate, the incomplete crime of obstruction, endeavoring to obstruct, which they could have said, "Yes, but you were trying to," even if the guy didn't do it. But Mr. Barr didn't want to touch any of that today.

My question is this. At the end of the day, there's exposure to Mr. Barr that he's been playing favorites instead of playing to the Constitution, and being about the book the way he says he is. Fine.

So, what? Where does that leave the Democrats going forward? What has to happen next to change the state of play from where we are right now?

HENNESSEY: I don't think it's just about the Democrats.

The reason why we have things like Special Counsels and independent investigations is because it's really important for the American people to believe that there are unbiased investigations that they can understand what has happened at the highest echelons of government, and that they can - they can believe and have faith in the findings. And so--

CUOMO: You got the report.

HENNESSEY: --essentially what - what Barr has done is in - what Mueller's letter accuses him of directly is - is inserting himself into the process such that he has stripped out the - the perception of--

CUOMO: Right. But you have the report.

HENNESSEY: --of bias and inserted politics.

CUOMO: You'll have Mueller. Then what? Where - where do you go with this?

MUDD: I think this is pretty simple. Nancy Pelosi already told us. We don't have substantial information allows us to go to where a lot of - some of the fringe Democrats want to go, impeachment.

ISIKOFF: Not so fringe at this point.

HENNESSEY: I don't think fringe.

MUDD: Well I think they're fringe. In my opinion--

ISIKOFF: Maybe do you (ph) have a growing--

MUDD: My opinion, they're fringe. But - but my point is, what she's saying is now we're going to proceed potentially with calling people like Don McGahn, like Robert Mueller. What's the - what's - what's the suggestion from her?

We need video that is somebody on TV to give us a bombshell where the American people say, "I didn't read 450 pages. But Don McGahn just told us the President asked me to lie."

CUOMO: So, you think they'd go through all of this again? ISIKOFF: And, by the way, one important piece--

MUDD: I think they--

CUOMO: And you think the people will tolerate that?

ISIKOFF: --one important piece of news. Other than Mueller, McGahn is clearly, you know, the most important witness we need to hear from. But Barr said today we haven't waived Executive--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --privilege on McGahn, meaning that they can--

CUOMO: Essentially. It's up to the President if McGahn testifies.

ISIKOFF: --they may make a move to block him--

CUOMO: Right. And, remember--

ISIKOFF: --from testifying.

CUOMO: --this was an A.G. today who keeps saying the President fully cooperated. I don't know of everything that was said today that--

ISIKOFF: He refused to be interviewed.

CUOMO: --makes the least sense to me.

He - he didn't give Mueller so clearly what Mueller needed, although I don't know why he wrote in that report, "You know, but we still had what we needed to," no, you didn't.

You couldn't even make a decision. The President obviously didn't testify. He didn't answer a single question about obstruction. He didn't an - answer any substantive questions about his Presidency.

HENNESSEY: I think this is why Congress, the - the responsible thing for Congress to do--

CUOMO: But they're not going to get him either.


HENNESSEY: --is to proceed on an impeachment inquiry. An impeachment inquiry is not the same thing as impeachment.

Impeachment inquiry is saying, "We still have questions. Not all of the - not - we do not have all of the answers yet. And so, we are going to do the duty in the Constitutional function of our branch to hold hearings and - and get answers for the American people."

CUOMO: I just think they've got a fatigue factor.

MUDD: Yes. CUOMO: But, look, these are all good points. We're going to see what you want at the end of the day. People will be looking at polls to see is there any energy for people to want more examination of this.

Susan Hennessey, Michael Isikoff, Phil Mudd, thank you very much. Phil will be coming back a little bit later, maybe.

Some more key moments that left the A.G. flummoxed today, all right? Questions he hedged on, now, those are going to be the ones that reveal gaps going forward.

So, let's bring in the Legal Eagles to take this on in Cuomo's Court, next.








CUOMO: Bill Barr, the Attorney General was clearly trying to clear the President today, especially on obstruction. That's not a criticism. It's a matter of fact. Here is how he talked about the President, for instance, asking Don McGahn to get rid of this Special Counsel.


BARR: The President never directed him--


BARR: --based on conflict.


CUOMO: Yes. And the distinction is based on intent. This will be all about the President's intent. The question is how does Mr. Barr know what was in the head of the President at that time?

Let's discuss this and more.




CUOMO: Cuomo's Court is in session, Jim Schultz, Asha Rangappa, thank you to both of you. First, let's take on what I just said.

Jimmy, the President did not testify. We know why. He did not answer any written questions about obstruction. We know why. How does Mr. Barr have complete confidence in what the intentions were and were not of the President?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Look, he has to go on the conclusions of Mueller, and clearly, that he - he did that here in terms of reading the facts that were in that report and taking them as true and he said he was taking them as true.

CUOMO: But Mueller did not define his intentions. And you know that.

SCHULTZ: And - and if - and if you're - and - and if he's - I understand.

But if you're looking at it on its face and you're looking at what - what was characterized in that report as a problem with conflicts of interest and a concern about conflicts of interest, first off, it's not Don McGahn's job at the time to look into conflicts of interest.

That would have been the Justice Department's job. And that's likely why Don McGahn didn't take it up in any way, shape or form, among other reasons. So, in terms of the conflict of interest, it was not his job to assess those conflicts of interest as White House Counsel nor would his job--


SCHULTZ: --to raise it to the Department of Justice. That's the job of--

CUOMO: All right.

SCHULTZ: --Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow and the President - President's private lawyers.

So, he - in that - in that sense, Don McGahn represents the White House in the context of it being the White House and the President as the President, not as a personal individual.

CUOMO: All right, fine. But, Asha, that is fine and true and well- reasoned, but off the point.

The point is did the President tell McGahn to do something to get rid of him. The A.G. says, "I don't think he meant it that way. He didn't use the word fire. And there are alternate meanings of what could have happened."

Where do you get the confidence in that?

[21:40:00] ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you left out another key component of that clip, which is after the President asked McGahn to get rid of the Special Counsel, he then asked McGahn to falsify the - a paper trail, so that it never showed that he made that request. So that itself there shows a corrupt intent. It shows that he's trying to conceal what he was, in fact, trying to do. And as far as how Barr can know, he cannot.

As you mentioned, there was no interview done of the President. There were no written answers given. So, he has only Mueller's evidence, which he admitted today, in his testimony that he himself has not reviewed.

What - if what he's doing is what legal scholars say is a de novo review of - of all of it, brand-new, then he has to go to the underlying evidence, and he basically admitted that he didn't do that. And from what I could tell, he's barely read the report.

CUOMO: And then, and - although he did say he accepts all the findings of Mr. Mueller, which I think is going to come back to haunt him. But he also gave us a little window into how he saw the process here in terms of what rules were OK and not OK.

Listen to this about the use of him and Mr. Rosenstein in this analysis.


BARR: I am informed that before--


BARR: --make charging decisions.


CUOMO: So, what's the point here?

The point here, Jimmy, is that Rosenstein might have been a witness in the matter that he then decided with Mr. Barr. If he's by-the-book Barr, why didn't he go and get ethics clearance on whether or not Rosenstein needed to be recused on that?

SCHULTZ: Look, Rosenstein was appointed Acting Attorney General as it related to overseeing this investigation. Certainly, he can make charging decisions relative to that, and ethics officials would raise it.

And certainly, no one's going to question the integrity, at least a lot of Democrats said Rod Rosenstein was the savior of the Mueller investigation.

Now they want to turn around with political stuntsmanship and attack Barr and make Rosenstein to foil, rather than just sticking to their guns, and saying, "Look, Rod Rosenstein is - is - is a stand-up guy, a good lawyer, well-respected--

CUOMO: Jimmy?

SCHULTZ: --and - and can make these judgments."

CUOMO: Jimmy--

SCHULTZ: Come on.

CUOMO: --that - that bothers you. But you just saw A.G. Barr--

RANGAPPA: That's--

CUOMO: --who says he's 30-year friends with Bob Mueller throw him under the bus and sit there and implicate Mueller in an alleged cover- up.

SCHULTZ: No. You saw two lawyers. Let me--

CUOMO: Come on, Jimmy!

SCHULTZ: --let me respond to that.

CUOMO: Yes, go ahead.

SCHULTZ: You saw two lawyers disagreeing--


SCHULTZ: --on points. We fight as lawyers all the time in court. We have disagreements internal to our offices all the time. That means we're not - that doesn't mean we're not friends at the end of the day--

CUOMO: He allowed Bob Mueller to be implicated by--

SCHULTZ: --when you walk out of that room.

CUOMO: --Republican senators as part of a cover-up--

SCHULTZ: But the fact that he disagrees--

CUOMO: --of Clinton's campaign--

SCHULTZ: --with the way--

CUOMO: --investigation. And we all heard it.

SCHULTZ: Look, the - the fact that he disagrees--

CUOMO: Asha, weigh in on this. I'm almost out of time.


CUOMO: Jimmy, let me let her get in.

SCHULTZ: Go ahead.


SCHULTZ: Yes, go ahead. Go ahead.

RANGAPPA: With the Rosen - with the - with the - with the Rosenstein issue, Barr was being completely disingenuous.

Let's remember that the whole reason that the Special Counsel was appointed was because there was at least an appearance of a conflict or possibly a conflict because of the involvement of Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein in the firing of James Comey. That's why you have this Independent Prosecutor.

Even if Rosenstein got ethics clearance to be able to supervise that investigation to then act as a judge in a case, which - in which he himself is a witness, is a completely different ethical issue--

SCHULTZ: What do you mean? He was - he's in the role of a prosecutor, Asha. You know better than that.

RANGAPPA: --and would require a separate ruling from the internal ethics--

SCHULTZ: He's not acting as a judge.

RANGAPPA: Yes, I know better than you, in this case--

SCHULTZ: He's acting in the - in the - in the role of a prosecutor.

RANGAPPA: --because--

SCHULTZ: No, you don't because you--

RANGAPPA: When - when you are making--

SCHULTZ: --you must not understand the separation of powers here--

RANGAPPA: That's why he hired a Special Counsel.

SCHULTZ: --and the jobs of the Executive branch versus the Judiciary. No. The Special Counsels in--

RANGAPPA: Jim, read the regulations.

SCHULTZ: --is essentially appointed to be a--

RANGAPPA: The Special Counsel steps into--

SCHULTZ: --is the Special Prosecutor, like Barr said--

RANGAPPA: Can I talk here?

SCHULTZ: --is like a U.S. Attorney. And who does the U.S. Attorneys report to the - who do the U.S. Attorneys report to? The Attorney General. In this case, it was Rod Rosenstein. He was supervising the investigation and had a right to make charging decisions.

CUOMO: All right, so, Jimmy, I got that point.

SCHULTZ: Period!

CUOMO: I got that point as to why you think it was OK for Rosenstein.

RANGAPPA: So, Chris, Chris, the regulations--

CUOMO: Asha, counter, and then I got to go.

RANGAPPA: Yes, the regulations gave the Special Counsel the prosecutorial and declination decision, precisely because the DAG and the A.G. were conflicted, so they cannot make that decision. And in this case--

SCHULTZ: No, no, no one ever said that the DAG was conflicted.

RANGAPPA: --Mueller chose not to because of the principles of--

SCHULTZ: Absolutely not. No one ever made a determination that the Deputy Attorney General was conflicted in this matter. If he was conflicted, he couldn't supervise it.

RANGAPPA: There is an - this is--

SCHULTZ: And the ethics officials would have opined us on this (ph).

RANGAPPA: Read the grounds for--

CUOMO: All right, hold on, Jimmy. Let her answer.

RANGAPPA: --creating a Special Counsel. Read the grounds for the appointment of a Special Counsel. When there may be an appearance of any kind of conflict that is when a Special Counsel is appointed.

[21:45:00] He cannot - that's - so that you can give those prosecutorial decisions to someone who is insulated from the people who may be unable for either appearance or actual conflicts from--

SCHULTZ: Then why is someone supervising the investigation, Asha?

RANGAPPA: --being able to do that. So that required a separate--

CUOMO: All right, so let's leave it there.

RANGAPPA: Because the supervisory mechanisms offered more oversight.

CUOMO: Right. We'll leave it there.

RANGAPPA: In terms of if he - if he--

SCHULTZ: So, the guy who's overseeing had had a conflict?

RANGAPPA: --made those decisions, Congress could look at it.

CUOMO: Right. That's exactly right.

SCHULTZ: Doesn't make sense to me.

CUOMO: The guy who was overseeing it saw a conflict once it started in. And then it was about "Well what do you do with that conflict?"

The question is did Mr. Barr consider it? Did he look at it because he's supposed to be by the book. And by his answer today in the hearing, it was like he didn't even know why they were asking him.

Asha, thank you very much, Jimmy, as always, appreciate the point and counterpoint.

Now, as promised, Phil Mudd is coming back because we want to know in a segment called GTK, Good To Know, after today, what was it good to hear about, and to understand for the path forward. We'll get that right back.








CUOMO: The Attorney General testified for five hours today. Now, there's a lot that can happen there. But Phil Mudd highlights three particular points in Good To Know.

Phil, your first point, Barr won. What does that mean?

MUDD: Oh, heck, you're looking at this saying, why didn't you answer this question that question, the other question. If you're going into that hearing, and you have a connection with the White House, you might walk out with a couple of thoughts.

Number one, did the President get embarrassed? The answer was "No. He didn't." Number two--

CUOMO: To have an A.G. who seems to be acting as his personal counsel--

MUDD: I'm not--

CUOMO: --giving him the benefit of every doubt?

MUDD: That's what Chris Cuomo thinks. If you may be an A.G. who said I was just appointed by this guy, who likes to trash people, think of every cabinet member who's been fired in the past year and a half, you walk out saying the President didn't get embarrassed here.

And, obviously, the President has tweeted saying I was pretty happy with this.

CUOMO: All right, fair point.

MUDD: The second question is you're looking at newspapers across America. How many headlines did Barr give them beyond saying what I told you in the letters I gave you is what I believe.


MUDD: I don't think he created headlines so you may not like it. But I think if you're Barr, you're going out saying "This wasn't going to be good, I walked out OK."

CUOMO: All right, your second point is it's good to know what happened to Russia.

MUDD: What happened to Russia? I - remember, this is a little boring. He's not only the Attorney General of Department of Justice. He oversees the FBI. The initial charge to Director Mueller - Special Counsel Mueller, look into Russian interference in the American election.

You would think the Oversight Committee might say, "Can you offer us some perspectives going into 2020 about what the American people, many of whom are watching, might think?"

They didn't even talk about that. I mean--

[21:50:00] CUOMO: Well there was some perfunctory talk. Ben Sasse went down the road a little bit about how do--

MUDD: Right, perfunctory!

CUOMO: --we help campaigns--

MUDD: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: --better. But it was not as deep as the other blame game.

MUDD: Not even close, yes.

CUOMO: All right, third point. Senator Graham, you believe, had a role of oversight that he punted on. How so?

MUDD: Oh, come on now, this is the Judiciary Committee looking at law. There is some legal issues here.

Let me - Senator Graham says not only are we done here but the most significant witness, Robert Mueller, we're not even going to bother to call him. That's oversight. He could have asked some basic questions of Mueller that are non-partisan.

CUOMO: Such?

MUDD: "Director Mueller, we're going into the 2020 election. You're a legal professional. Are there ways that we can help Silicon Valley, for example, with laws to stop Russians from interfering with American companies?" That's not Democrat. That's not Republican. Mueller saw a lot of information about Russian interference. Why didn't the Oversight Committees consider asking Mueller, "Should we change our laws?"

Let me give you another question. "You're one of the very few people, Director Mueller, who will ever be a Special Counsel. You've been doing this for a couple of years. Are there ways that we can clarify Special Counsel responsibilities in the future?" Non-partisan question.

Instead, Lindsey Graham says, not only are we not going to do oversight, we're not even going to call the most significant witness for the most significant judicial investigation on politics since Watergate.

I mean what the hell was that hot mess?

CUOMO: Hot mess.

MUDD: That was a hot mess.

CUOMO: Or what as Mike Roger would say as spicy disaster.

MUDD: That's a spicy--

CUOMO: Phil Mudd, thank you very much.

MUDD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Good To know.

MUDD: Good to see you.

CUOMO: All right, we're going to take a break. A lot of attention on Bill Barr, no question. Phil's right about - right about that. But there's somebody else who deserves our time tonight.

An amazing hero, an act of bravery, that is a message to us all, and it wasn't in Congress, next.








CUOMO: It was an amazing act of bravery today, someone who put duty to others before anything else. And it's worthy of mention, especially on a day where we saw too many Senators and an Attorney General doing little more than serving their own selfish interests. It's ironic than an example of how we should aspire to be, was largely missed today because many of us were fixated on people falling short in a Senate hearing.

There was another deadly school shooting yesterday at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Last day of class, gunman enters a packed class. The kids had nowhere to go.

That's when a special young man in that class, Riley Howell, just 21, looked like a blonde Tarzan, he saw that gunman, and he decided to run right at him, knocked him down, led to his capture.

The move, police say, saved so many lives. But the move also cost Riley his own life.


KERR PUTNEY, CHIEF OF CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT: You're either going to run, you're going to hide and shield, or you're going to take the fight to the assailant.

Having no place to run and hide, he did the last. But for his work, the assailant may not have been disarmed. Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives.


CUOMO: Sacrifice, literally, a holy act, and that's what this was, someone doing something that was bigger than themselves. We all wonder what we would do in a moment like that, and it's hard to imagine, but not for Riley's family.

They say this is who he was, a young man who looked out for his young siblings and cousins, who idolized first responders, and was torn between college and volunteering for the military.


MORGAN HOWELL MOYLAN, RILEY HOWELL'S AUNT: He has always wanted to serve. And it was a logical thing for him to go towards the shooter to take care of everybody else. And that is a hero. And that's the way he would have wanted to go.


CUOMO: It's his aunt on the phone there, her voice steady, calm in the midst of drama, just like her nephew, Riley. He's one of two who were taken. Four others were injured by yet another deranged person with dark intentions and access to weapon.

You know, after these shootings, we all wonder how to make them stop. We wonder if we know how. We're stuck in that position on this issue and a number of challenges that surround us. Riley should be a reminder of what true resolve looks like. You see a problem, you go right at it. His literal manifestation of what is merely a metaphor for the rest of us is proof that if something means enough to you, you can make it happen.

Riley had to know what was likely when he ran at a gunman who could see him coming too, and yet he did it. Whether or not he made a calculation or a spontaneous move, maybe he saw - thought about it at all, he decided to do something in the hope of stopping a problem.

And I'm not lionizing or exaggerating for effect. I can't think of a situation that would be harder than the one this kid faced. And I don't think I could do what he did. But he did it. And that is affirmation of what is possible from people.

Not everyone just takes care of themselves, all these cries about our collective decay, not everyone, not this kid.

So, on a day, when so many of us were lamenting how pointless our politics seem, all the division, and the emphasis on the negative, we see in a crisis that there is still potential for someone to do something that is the highest form of humanity, true sacrifice for others, no matter the cost.

I'm sorry for his family, their loss, and all of the affected families. But I also want to thank Riley Howell for reminding us that we can be so much better than we are, even against all odds, and in a moment of dire crisis that people can do amazing things for others.

I hope people always remember this young man this way. And I hope we all remember that we can make a difference as well.

Thank you for watching us tonight. There's a lot of continuing coverage. That means CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON starting right now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: You always wonder what you'd do in a situation like - like that. But you never, you know, you say, "Ah, I would fight back," but you never know.

I mean that young man - that young man is a personification of what a hero is. And he points out to us, as you said, what is important in this country, especially considering what's going on.

CUOMO: It always amazes me when people find the best of themselves.