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CNN TONIGHT

Attorney General William Barr Grilled By Lawmakers Over His March Memo; Rep. David Cicilline (D) Rhode Island Is Interviewed About The Steps To Compel A.G. Bill Barr To Attend The Hearing; Attorney General Barr Refusing To Testify Before House Judiciary Committee Tomorrow; Robert Mueller Sent Two Memos To Attorney General Barr Regarding His Summary Report. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 1, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: But you never, you know, I would fight back. But you'll 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 and especially considering what's going on.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It always amazes me when people find the best of themselves in the worst of a situation. And you know, it's natural for us to think about what we would do.

But to me, it's enough to know there are people out there, young kids, who have in them greatness in a moment that calls for it. That's what that was. It's horrible that he took his life but he saved so many others.

LEMON: I'm glad you did that. I got home last night, I was in L.A. and I talked to my better half and he said, did you -- what about the school shooting? I said, you know, we had too much breaking news we didn't get to it.

And that's what happens when -- that's what's happening a lot with all the chaos and everything that's going on in Washington, it's not that we don't report on those stories, maybe they go on digital, maybe they get on a little bit later but we're missing some of that, a very important story, but a lot of important stories by just this craziness that's happening.

CUOMO: This is unlike anything else that you and I have ever lived through before.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Look. It crowds things out, true, sometimes it's obsessive, true, but it matters. What we saw today there's a constipation in our democracy, there is a loss of direction about looking anywhere but at your own little pack. I mean, it was so obvious today.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And it's really sad. I do not know the way forward. LEMON: I don't. Listen, I know it's frustrating for the Democrats and

people can say, OK, that they were being political. They were. I mean, it's Washington. Welcome to politics, right?

But it's just the folks that I hear on the Republican side who were usually for the rule of law, on congressional oversight, subpoenas, they were mad at Eric Holder, right, remember that they -- Eric Holder got in trouble for defying a subpoena. And now they are doing the same thing. You wonder, well, what gives? If it can -- ever can be corrected, I don't know if it can.

CUOMO: On the same day you have an A.G. say look, this was like a verdict.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: Where we just kind of giving you the quick conclusions of things but you know, we're not a judge and jury on this.

LEMON: A lot of I don't recall.

CUOMO: Well, what is it? Yes, a lot of that. Look, here's the problem for us is even if it's clear that Mr. Barr's doing what he can to do the best by this president, now what?

LEMON: Of course, it's clear.

CUOMO: Even if you have Mr. Mueller come in and he says yes, I actually meant that I couldn't make a decision on this, but you can as a Congress.

LEMON: yes. Now what?

CUOMO: Now what?

LEMON: Now what? We'll see. Nice job. Thank you, sir.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Here's our breaking news tonight, the Attorney General William Barr is refusing to testify before the House tomorrow. And here's what the Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has not ruled out issuing a subpoena saying today that Barr is, quote, "trying to blackmail the committee."

So, will there be a hearing with an empty chair? We'll find out in just a few hours. You know, that comes after Barr's defiant combative performance in the Senate just today.

Republicans in the Senate stepping right up to help him. Beginning with the committee chairman, Lindsey Graham saying this in the first minutes of the hearing about the crucial question of whether the President of the United States tried to obstruct justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Attempted obstruction of justice of a crime never occurred, I guess is sort of the new standard around here, we'll see if that makes any sense. To me, it doesn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Senator Graham has sure changed his tune since he said this, this is back in 1999, of course that was during the president -- President Bill Clinton's impeachment. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: So very quickly, give us your reasoning why you think it would be inappropriate to proceed forward on obstruction of justice in this case.

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, generally speaking an obstruction case typically has two aspects to it. One, there's usually an underlying criminality --

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: Let's stop right there.

BARR: Yes.

GRAHAM: Was there an underlying crime here?

BARR: No.

GRAHAM: You don't have to say let's obstruct justice for it to be a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And as it if that wasn't clear enough evidence of the complete capitulation of Republicans like Lindsey Graham he told us today that in spite of all the contradictions between what Mueller said and what Barr said, he said he won't call Mueller to testify, to tell us the truth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not call for Mueller to testify?

GRAHAM: Because I'm not going to do anymore -- enough already, it's over. If there's any dispute about a conversation, then he'll come. But I'm not going to retry the case. I'm not calling McGahn. It is over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:04:59] LEMON: So many unanswered questions. Yet, for Senator Lindsey Graham it's over. And I want you to listen to Senator Richard Blumenthal taking the A.G. to task for misleading, dissembling, whatever you want to call it, about that letter he got from Robert Mueller, objecting to how Barr characterized his findings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: You've been very adroit and agile in responses to your questions here, but I think history will judge you harshly and maybe a bit unfairly because you seem to have been the designated fall guy for this report.

And I think that conclusion is inescapable in light of the four-page summary and then the press conference you did on the day it was released, knowing that you had in hand a letter from the special counsel saying that he felt that you mischaracterized his report.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Make no mistake, Robert Mueller deliberately created a record by putting his concerns in writing in that letter. Actually, he did it twice, first in a letter on March 25th. That was the day after Barr's letter summarizing what he called Mueller's principal conclusions, and when he apparently didn't get the response he hoped for, he wrote a second letter on March 27th saying this, and I quote.

"The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions."

And you can understand why Mueller felt the need to put his objections in writing. Given the way his words have been twisted. Given the way the attorney general tried to big foot Mueller today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: Bob Mueller is the equivalent of a U.S. attorney. He was exercising the powers of the attorney general subject to the supervision of the attorney general. He's part of the Department of Justice. His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general.

At that point it was my baby. And I was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public and I effectively overruled the regulations, used discretion to lean as far forward as I could to make that public. And it was my decision how and when to make it public. Not Bob Mueller's.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, let's travel back in time a bit, shall we? To April 9th and this exchange between Barr and Congressman Charlie Crist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D), FLORIDA: Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. Do you know what they're referencing with that?

BARR: No, I don't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes, he did. Of course, he did. He had Mueller's letter for nearly two weeks when he answered that question. We know that now and he was clearly expecting to be asked about that. So, he had an explanation prepared to try to convince you that what he said before, that it wasn't a lie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: I don't know what members he's talking about. And I don't -- and I certainly I'm not aware of any challenge to the accuracy of the findings.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Mr. Barr, you seem to have learned to filibuster rules even better than senators do. My question was, why did you say you were not aware of concerns when weeks before your testimony Mr. Mueller had expressed concerns to you? That's a fairly simple thing.

BARR: Well, I answered the question, and the question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. I don't know what that refers to at all. I talked directly to Bob Mueller, not members of his team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Robert Mueller is not a member of his own team? That would have been my response. Are you saying that Robert Mueller is not a member of his own team? So, did he convince you?

This is what happens to people who make the choice to do anything, to sell their souls, just to be part of this administration. This is from a "New York Times" op-ed written by - it's written today, it was by James Comey whose abrupt firing by the president was the event that started the whole Mueller investigation and here's a quote.

[22:09:59] It says "Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites. It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence. In meetings with him his assertions about what everyone thinks and what is obviously true, wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on January 27th, 2017 because he's the president and he rarely stop talking. As a result, Mr. Trump pulls all those present into a silent circle of assent."

And then there's this chilling quote. "Of course, to stay, you must be seen as on his team so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values, and then you are lost. He has eaten your soul. He eats your soul one bite at a time."

And we have all seen it happen time after time. Time and time again. To Republicans like Lindsey Graham. To officials like William Barr. To countless staffers from Sean Spicer to Sarah Sanders who we learn had to admit to the special counsel that she lied to the American public. I want you to listen right now. This is Kamala Harris forcing the

attorney general to admit he didn't even bother to review the evidence before he decided not to charge the president with obstruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As the attorney general of the United States you run the United States Department of Justice. If in any U.S. attorney's office around the country the head of that office, when being asked to make a critical decision about, in this case, the person who holds the highest office in the land, and whether or not that person committed a crime, would you accept them recommending a charging decision to you, if they had not reviewed the evidence?

BARR: Well, that's a question for Bob Mueller. He is the U.S. Attorney. He's the one who presents the report.

HARRIS: But it was you who made the charging decision, sir.

BARR: What --

HARRIS: You made the decision not to charge the president.

BARR: No. In the pro's memo and in the declination memo --

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: You said it was your baby, what did you mean by that?

BARR: It was my baby to let to decide whether or not to disclose it to the public.

HARRIS: And whose decision was it --

(CROSSTALK)

BARR: And we --

HARRIS: -- who had the power to make the decision about whether or not the evidence was sufficient to make a determination of whether there had been an obstruction of justice?

BARR: Prosecution memos go up to the supervisor, in this case it was -- you know the attorney general and the deputy attorney general who decide on the final decision. And that is based on the memo as presented by the U.S. attorney's office.

HARRIS: I think you've made it clear that you've not looked at the evidence. We can move on.

(CROSSTALK)

BARR: I've said a lot of --

(CROSSTALK) HARRIS: I think you've made it clear, sir, that you've not looked at the evidence and we can move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was Senator Kamala Harris, another Senator, Mazie Hirono, minced no words saying Barr was just another member of the administration who sacrificed his reputation for this president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Now, the American people know that you are no different from Rudy Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway or any of the other people who sacrificed their once decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office.

You know the difference but you've chosen to be the president's lawyer and side with him over the interest of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, here's what happens, OK? Barr conducts himself with a low- key demeanor, mostly. But watch here as the mask slips.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: You know, the letter's a bit snotty, and I think it was written by one of his staff people.

BLUMENTHAL: Did you make a memorandum of your conversation?

BARR: Huh?

BLUMENTHAL: Did you make --

(CROSSTALK)

BARR: No, I didn't make a -- what?

BLUMENTHAL: Did anyone, either you or anyone on your staff memorialize your conversation with Robert Mueller?

BARR: Yes.

BLUMENTHAL: Who did that?

BARR: There were notes taken of the call.

BLUMENTHAL: May we have those notes?

BARR: No.

BLUMENTHAL: Why not?

BARR: Why should you have them?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Why should you have them? That was the attorney general of the United States, so much for transparency. Why should you have them?

But after everything that we have heard and seen today there is no denying this fact, OK, we're all being gas lighted. It's gas lighting, that's all it is. There was a time when I never would have thought that I'd say that you can't believe the attorney general. Let's face it, there was a time where I never thought I'd say the president of the United States was lying or the president of the United States was this or that, so much.

[22:15:01] And we can't even believe the president of the United States. You can't believe what you're hearing from the institutions meant to serve us, we, the people. Maybe you're feeling that too. You probably are.

You're being misled, no one cares, the Republicans on that committee don't care, that the attorney general of the United States misled the public, set a narrative, did exactly what the special counsel didn't want him to do, release his own summary instead of the summary letters written by the special counsel himself.

And then when confronted twice about it still refused to do it, doesn't matter that you got the information out. What he did was set a false narrative about the information because most Americans will not read 448 pages. They will believe sound bites.

But if you read the 448 pages, which members -- which today some of the members of the Senate admitted that they didn't even read it. Barr said he didn't even read the underlying evidence. So, you can only come to one conclusion. The fact is they are lying to us.

You may want to call it misstating the facts. I can't do that. I'm a journalist. I'll tell you exactly what it is. You can call it misremembering, whatever you want, it's a lie. We know the attorney general did not tell us the truth today. We heard it with our own ears.

The fact is, they are lying to all of us, to all of you, and they're doing it again and again and again. Are you OK with that? They're shamelessly doing it. The question is, what are we, what are you going to do about it? Because it is not too late, yet. It's not too late yet, emphasis on yet.

The attorney general is refusing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow. He says I'm just not going to do it. They have oversight. He's not going to do it. So, what are they going to do about it? That is a question for Congressman Dave Cicilline, a member of that committee. He's right here in studio live with me next.

[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The Attorney General, William Barr, refusing to testify tomorrow morning before the House Judiciary Committee, he is objecting to the committee's decision to allow staff lawyers to question him, but Chairman Jerry Nadler says Barr is terrified of the questions he may be asked.

I want to bring in now Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a Democrat who is a member of the House -- of the House -- that committee, in the House Judiciary Committee. Thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: My pleasure.

LEMON: Do you think he's afraid to come in as Jerry Nadler said, he's afraid of the questions he's going to be asked?

CICILLINE: Well, it's pretty clear the attorney general objected to a process that we intend to follow tomorrow that the House rules permit, that the committee voted in favor of today to allow after members to question the witness, to allow the Republicans and the Democrats to have staff counsel do an additional hour of questioning.

And it's really because it's hard to do five-minute questions, you can't do follow-up. And so, to be sure that we get at the evidence that we need to collect in this hearing it's a sensible thing, we've done it before.

But apparently, Mr. Mueller refused to come because he did not want to subject himself to questioning by the staff attorneys. You have to wonder, what is he afraid of, what's he trying to hide?

LEMON: Well, that's my question, if you've done everything by the book and you are the top law enforcement person in the country, what would you be afraid of? Why would you be afraid of some lawyer if you're telling the truth?

CICILLINE: Right. That's right. I think the chairman of our committee is right, I think Mr. Barr is very afraid to come before the committee, he was willing to go in front of the committee controlled by the Republicans in the Senate but not willing to come before the Democrats.

LEMON: Maybe he's afraid of moments in questions like this from Senator Kamala Harris today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone, yes or no, please, sir.

BARR: The president or anybody else.

HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that, and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yes, but I'm trying to grapple with the word suggest. I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open an investigation.

HARRIS: Perhaps they've suggested? BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest.

HARRIS: Hinted?

BARR: I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, she's a prosecutor. But my question is, and she got, you know, some of the best answers. Have you -- what if members of your committee asked the lawyers for pointed questions or good questions, because there was a lot of speechifying today, but the questions really did produce some good answers.

CICILLINE: I don't think there's any question we have terrific members of the committee that would ask good questions that would produce important answers but we also have staff counsel and the ability to follow-up rather than doing it in five-minute increments to have a longer opportunity.

You know, he's a witness that sort of avoids stuff and being able to follow up with a pointed question is important. But look, the reality is, no witness, not the attorney general of the United States, not any other witness, has the right to dictate to Congress how we're going to conduct our work.

These rules, our rules provide for this, we approved it today in the hearing and the reality is, I think Mr. Barr's afraid to come before a committee because we have a lot of questions of why he's behaved more like the president's P.R. firm rather than the lawyer for the people of this country sworn to uphold the Constitution.

He issued a four-page summary which mischaracterized the findings in the report in an attempt to set the narrative and then he had this absurd press conference before the report was even released, mischaracterized the report, misstated what was contained in it, again in an effort to really set the stage and then he has refused to provide the committee with the full unredacted report.

So, this is a pattern of a person who believes he's working to protect the president rather than the American people.

LEMON: OK. All that said, and you heard Chris and I talking and we both agree, like, so now what? I mean, if he defies -- if he doesn't show up, maybe do a subpoena, whatever, I mean, that happened to Eric Holder. Eric Holder --

(CROSSTALK)

CICILLINE: So, if he doesn't show up, I mean, my hope is that the attorney general will sleep on this tonight and recognize that he owes the American people answers to a lot of difficult questions.

[22:25:02] LEMON: So, then what do you do if he doesn't show up?

CICILLINE: If he doesn't show up then we will issue a subpoena to compel his attendance, we will also ask the chairman of the committee to issue a notice for a contempt citation because he did not comply with the subpoena that was due today to produce the unredacted --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK, so then after that, what would happen?

(CROSSTALK)

CICILLINE: Then there will be litigation and a court will determine whether he is in contempt of Congress and compel the production of the report.

LEMON: OK. And then after that, if there's nothing?

CICILLINE: Well, the court has the ability to imprison him and fine him, if he doesn't comply.

LEMON: So, you would want to jail the attorney general?

CICILLINE: Look, we have -- look, our oversight responsibility is dependent on our ability to collect evidence, to compel sworn testimony under oath from witnesses. If the executive branch is allowed to just stop that process, it will eliminate congressional oversight.

So, we have to be very clear that we will have the ability to bring before our committee any witness necessary to get to the facts to demonstrate that no one is above the law. That includes the attorney general and we are going to do it.

LEMON: Well, that would be interesting to see that the top law enforcement agency --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I can remind you Mr. -- as President Nixon's attorney general went to prison, so we should be reminded this is serious business but Congress has the responsibility to get this information, Mr. Barr cannot prevent us from doing so and we will litigate this and we will ensure that the American people know the truth and we demonstrate no one including the president of the United States is above the law.

LEMON: David Cicilline, always a pleasure.

CICILLINE: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

The Attorney General William Barr giving his side of the story today while obfuscating and evading at every turn. Whatever happened to the man who bragged about being transparent?

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Attorney General Barr not showing up at tomorrow's House Judiciary Committee hearing. He is objecting to be in question by the committee staff lawyers that comes after his defiant testimony before the Senate just today, repeatedly clashing with the Democrats.

Let's discuss now, Dana Bash is here, Laura Coates, and Jack Quinn, good evening to all of you. It's good to be in the same room.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to Washington.

LEMON: Let me ask you. For a man who says he is all about transparency, Dana, why wouldn't he show up tomorrow? There's been a lot of obfuscating and now he is saying, I'm not going to do it.

BASH: Look, I mean, there is a -- at least on its face, a fight over the process, over how he will be questioned. The Democrats don't want to have the members, interview or interrogate him, ask him questions, they want to have a staff member do it, so that it's not just --

LEMON: Staff lawyers.

BASH: -- a staff lawyers.

LEMON: Right.

BASH: So they argue on the Democratic side so that it's not -- so that it's consistent and they have a longer, more running room in order to ask questions and they can do follow-up, follow-up, follow- up. And the Attorney General is saying, no, if you want me to come, the elected officials who have the oversight, they're the ones who are going to talk to me. So this is a process fight, but it's a political fight.

LEMON: Right.

BASH: Because he doesn't want to show up there. And the Democrats gave him an out. Whether or not there was precedent or not, there is precedent, they gave him a big out and he picked the fight, because it's good for him, it's a fight that the president certainly wants him to fight and the Republican base and same goes for the Democrats, but I think that the thing to look for, Don, is maybe less about him, because the Democrats have the gavel in the house, it's more about when are they going to get Mueller over there?

LEMON: And there's the question. Let's stick to Barr now. I want to get more about this. I'm just wonder -- I'm just wondering if the staff attorneys can sit behind him and say -- or if they can wear ear pieces like we do when we scream -- no, do something else.

That never works. That never happens. That never happens. Let's talk about Barr's testimony today, he seemed awfully evasive. This is some of the key moments, watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Polling data was shared, sir, it's in the report, I can cite you the page.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: With who?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, let me give you an opportunity to clarify. Have you had any conversations with anyone in the White House about those ongoing investigations that were spawned or spun off by --

BARR: I don't recall having any substantive discussion on the investigation. I'm not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people. I mean, the business of determining whether a crime has been committed.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Would you concede that you had an opportunity to make this letter public on April 4th when Representative Crist asked you a very related question?

BARR: I don't know what you mean by related question. It seems to me it would be a very different question.

WHITEHOUSE: I can't even follow that down the road. That -- I mean, boy, that is a masterful hair splitting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Was he being truthful?

LAURA COATES, CNN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ANALYST: No, he is being deceptive and he was doing it intentionally. And really, he seems to be in the business of delayed tactics that are used to try to create and cultivate a narrative that gives people, and on the one hand the assumption that most people are not going to comb through this 400- plus document to figure out all the truths and to hear and rely on what he said in a four-page summation, what he said in a conference, a press conference the day he released it.

He wants to really get out in front of it and even mislead as we saw that Mueller wrote in a letter to him that he has not actually talked about the substantive basis of the arguments. Instead he relied on the talking points of Donald Trump which were essentially that Mueller was either inept to investigate the investigators or he was incapable of actually accomplishing the one job he had, Don, which was actually to reach a conclusion.

As you have him actually being a master of the art of manipulation, which -- I know he talk about lawyers and why they hate us and we split hairs, et cetera, but we're talking about the Attorney General of the United States, you are supposed to require and expect more from the person who was literally supposed to be the ones who are putting the blindfold on lady justice and arguing on behalf of the United States of America even when it doesn't make them look good until a public servant. Today you had him serving at the pleasure of the president and serving to please the president once again.

LEMON: Interesting. You heard Chairman Nadler today saying he wants to see Mueller on the 15th. Will that happen, will he see him? Will we see him? JACK QUINN, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think so. It really is going to be up

to Bob Mueller. At that point he is -- you know, he is not an employee of the Department of Justice, and so he is free to go testify. The question is, will he feel that he is duty bound not to do so without the authorization of the Attorney General? We'll have to see about that. I do think, by the way, that Barr -- you know, I can't say he committed perjury today, but this was a really terrible day.

[22:35:07] I mean, he looked just awful. I can't count the number of clients to whom I've said when you're explaining, you're losing. And he was explaining all day. And it's going to continue. And, you know, that is why he doesn't want to go back. That's why he doesn't want to put himself in that room with skilled lawyers who are going to be able to ask tough questions. This is a guy who confessed today to not even having read the underlying report before coming to the most important conclusion he could come to.

LEMON: Absolutely. And also misconstruing what the letter said and the tone of the letter and mentioning the media and on and on. We're going to discuss that and fact check this letter coming up, but I think Mueller is still an employee of the Department of Justice for now, but he might be leaving soon.

QUINN: Yes, I think he'll be leaving soon and when he is not he will not be under the same limitations.

BASH: Jack, do you think that because -- that by writing the letter, by memorializing the fact that he didn't -- was not happy with Barr's letter initially that with his public statement that that is an indication maybe he does want to speak out.

LEMON: Hold your thought. We'll answer it after the break.

BASH: That is a tease.

QUINN: I have a thought.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back now with Dana, Laura and Jack. So, Dana, was asking you before the break whether or not this letter, him wanting to memorialize it and did he want to do that by putting it, and also is it an indication that he wants to speak out, right?

QUINN: Yes, I would say definitely. I mean, how many times have we seen footage of Bob Mueller walking down the hall ignoring questions? You know, he has been just a model of confidentiality and probity. This is not like him. And you have to wonder why now, did he -- I think he was really irked. And I think that is probably an understatement, because he must believe, I can't say what he believes.

He must believe that Barr misrepresented. I mean, Mueller's language, I mean, yes, Mueller's language was very respectful, but he made very clear that he thinks that the four-page summary that the Attorney General put out was misleading and that it undermined this two-year- long investigation. So, I think he's probably pretty upset.

LEMON: Yes, well he says so -- he says so in the letter and I've got to -- we learned today, just the first line of the letter, was that I previously sent you a letter dated March 25th, 2019 that includes the introduction and an executive summary for each volume of the special counsel's report marked with redactions, which is what he intended him to release. We learned that he wrote a -- this is a second letter that he wrote him.

QUINN: Forty eight hours later.

LEMON: Not just the first one.

BASH: That is right. And the answer that Barr gave today in one of the clips that you played earlier in the show is basically, you don't get to say that. You're my subordinate. And technically he is right, but to say that he is, like, just like any other U.S. Attorney is a bit disingenuous considering the fact that he was tasked with investigating a very big thing and it was a two-year special investigation, there's no independent counsel law so it is different.

He does, you know, answer to the Attorney General, but he is not just like any other U.S. Attorney. He is a very decent in his own category.

QUINN: He said that at the same time that he acknowledged that he hadn't read the underlying evidence.

LEMON: Right. So before he made a decision on that. But it's interesting because we heard Barr blame the media, saying, well, it's the media who is getting it wrong. We know that wasn't actually true. It was -- and the media reaction was never mentioned in this letter --

BASH: Right.

LEMON: -- but what Mueller was trying to get across is that the media was reporting and people were interpreting things perhaps in the wrong way because he put out a letter that misrepresented what he was saying and he wanted more context.

COATES: I mean, naturally it was almost like a chicken versus the egg, which came first. Well, what came first was his irritation perhaps because Barr refused to put out the full contextual arguments that laid out why Mueller and his team failed to actually reach a conclusion. And that is extraordinarily important, given the fact that there was some mechanism already in place by which the American people, and he talks about the public in that letter, could have actually understood the reasoning, substantively as to why they did not reach a conclusion.

And guess what they had? They had not one, but two summaries that had already been provided, that are already been scrubbed of the material that should have been redacted, and Barr came out today, started out his hearing, and his opening statement, talking about, well part of the delay was I had hoped that Mueller provide for me the full report in a format where I could simply pass it along, but it took all of this time, because all of this 6-e material was there. I mean, low and behold the summary did not contain the material that needs to be redact. They were almost given to public and in its entirety, because of no redactions been in that play.

LEMON: Five times Mueller essentially asked Barr to release these summaries, right?

COATES: Release to the public.

LEMON: To the public. He says if we look at Mueller's second letter to Barr he says, he mentioned the summaries at their March 5th meeting, the second time was early afternoon on March 24th, before Barr released the letter to Congress. The third time was the following morning in Mueller's first letter to Barr, the fourth time was Mueller's second letter, and then today Barr testified that Mueller told him on the phone call that it was important to release the summaries. Five times.

COATES: Letter, letter, letter, letter. What do I see there? The fact that somebody did not trust -- they did not memorialize the conversation.

BASH: Completing the bread crumbs.

LEMON: Yes. The summary letter the department sent to Congress and released late to the public late in the in the afternoon on March 24th did not fully capture the content, nature and substance of the office's work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department in the morning of the 25th, there is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigations. Basically saying because you did not summarize it correctly the public is confused.

[22:45:10] QUINN: I think Mueller is saying I think you misled the American people and I think you did a disservice by trying to control the narrative here for as long as you did. And that caused great harm to the -- and undermined the investigation. And Bob Mueller did something that Bill Barr never thought he'd do. He bit back.

LEMON: Yes. It's --

QUINN: And that bite is going to hurt for a long time, because I think that Bill Barr has lost all credibility with everyone except the core Republican Trump base, which is a diminishing part of the American election.

LEMON: I think everyone should be concerned about the Attorney General of the United States misleading the American people, especially if you're a supporter of this president. Think about what happens after this administration, if it is a Democratic president who comes in to office and a Democratic Attorney General, think about the precedent that this sets. Thank you all.

COATES: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: I appreciate your time. QUINN: Thank you.

LEMON: Washington in complete disarray over the Mueller report, lies tossed out and threats made at every turn, but this country's institution is being damaged beyond repair. I'm going to ask the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, he is next.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Attorney General Barr in his testimony today denied misleading Congress on the Mueller report, despite a letter from the special counsel himself saying otherwise. Joining me now the former director of National Intelligence, Mr. James Clapper. Thank you, Director. I appreciate you joining us.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: I got to ask you, just get your reaction to what you thought about today's hearing and whether you thought the Attorney General was truthful. Did he tell the truth?

CLAPPER: I thought, I'll be charitable, I thought he was a master at hair splitting and being disingenuous. If not blatantly dishonest. Great disappointment to me, because I had high hopes for him. After his confirmation hearing and knowing that he'd already served once as the Attorney General and I thought he would rise above politics and do the right thing, and speak truth to power.

But I and others, (inaudible), for example have spoken often about our concern about the assault on truth and those endeavors in this country that depend on truth, like journalism, law enforcement, intelligence, academics, science. And now we appear to have a case where the Attorney General is participating in that assault on truth. Very disappointing.

LEMON: Is the only credible person left here is the special counsel Robert Mueller?

CLAPPER: Well, in this situation, it appears that's the case. I think -- first of all, I think Bob's writing those two memos was a big decision for him to make and he did it, I'm sure very thoughtfully. I think he wanted to make a record of it and get it out that he didn't think that the way the investigation report had been characterized was accurate. I think that really bothered him.

LEMON: For him to do that it means he want it to be memorialized.

CLAPPER: I think so. And I think the only way ahead now realistically is for him to testify directly.

LEMON: We have talked about Barr using that word, spying. Remember he used that word spying in his testimony before. And you said to you it was stunning and scary, right? That's what you said to me, today he said there was nothing wrong with it. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: You know my first job was in CIA and I don't think the word spying has any prerogative connotation at all.

(CROSSTALK)

To me, the question is always whether or not it's authorized and adequately predicated spying. I think spying is a good English word that in fact doesn't have synonyms, because it is the broadest word incorporating really all forms of covert intelligence collections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, do you believe there's explanation that it wasn't meant to be a prerogative, I mean, why not just say surveillance or something?

CLAPPER: Well, it is prerogative and I think he understands that from his own time in CIA and that is not a term of art that's used within the intelligence community and it was used in the same context, I believe, as the president used it. And so for those of us in the business, it is prerogative.

LEMON: And when he talks about spying in the campaign, what the way it was started, how they got the FISA warrant for this -- the person wasn't even part of the campaign.

CLAPPER: Right.

LEMON: So, I mean, --

CLAPPER: Well, the bigger issue here, Don, with respect to that is his business of spying on the campaign (inaudible), is what occasion the concern in the first place was what the Russians were doing who have a connection with one way or directly rendered actually with the Russian government or whatsoever.

LEMON: Which was confirmed in the first 100 pages of the Mueller report.

CLAPPER: Exactly. And we've lost sight of that. And the threat that the Russians continue to post to this country and their efforts to undermine us. And we're kind of losing the bubble on that which is to me, very disturbing.

LEMON: I want you to listen to this moment from Barr's testimony. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did you have a problem on the way Comey handled the Clinton email investigation?

BARR: Yes, I said so at the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Is Comey -- he is saying that, he said so at the time except

Barr actually wrote an op-ed for the "Washington Post" at the time, defending Comey for saying that the FBIs has to reopen the investigation in to Hillary Clinton and here's what the op-ed -- it says, James Comey did the right thing. That was the title of it. That Barr wrote that he didn't agree with every move Comey made, but the FBI Director had no choice, but to make his announcement. What is with the about face?

[22:55:17] CLAPPER: Well, that's -- it's somewhat of a rhetorical question. I guess where he stands depends on where he sit. I think it's kind of -- I mean this is another example of slanting the truth or changing your perspective base on the position you occupy and the guy you work for.

LEMON: I want -- this is the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton reacting to Barr's testimony. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: And that -- that is the road to tyranny. That is what authoritarians believe and those who service them argue and as a young lawyer on the Watergate investigation back in 1974, that would have been unthinkable. But for either a Democrat or Republican to argue that.

And the Saturday night massacre occurred because the Attorney General and other high-ranking officials in the Justice Department would not do what President Nixon wanted them to do, which was basically stop investigating me. So when you hear something like that -- and I know Pat Leahy well. He is a former prosecutor. Obviously now a veteran Senator. When I look at his face as he was asking that question, you could just see the incredulity like where does this end?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: In the investigation, road to tyranny. Is she right?

CLAPPER: I think she has a point. I mean, I think that is a genuine concern. You know, this trend in general towards authoritarianism in this country is very concerning.

LEMON: Thank you, Director, as always.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Take your time. Thank you so much and your service for this country. Thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)