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Barr Refuses To Appear Before House Committee Tomorrow; House Judiciary Chair Considering Citing Barr With Contempt; Barr Refuses To Appear Before House Committee Tomorrow After Facing Five Hours Of Tough Questions In Senate Today; Barr Refuses To Appear Before House Committee Tomorrow; Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) Is Interviewed About Attorney General Bill Barr's Appearance On The Next Hearing And Complaints About The Hearing; Barr Refuses To Appear Before House Judiciary Tomorrow; Nadler: "He's Trying To Blackmail" Committee Over Ground Rules; Barr Calls Mueller's Letter Criticizing His Memo "Snitty"; Trump Praises Barr's Testimony; Presidential Candidate Julian Castro is Interviewed About Barr's Testimony; Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) is Interviewed About House Judiciary Chair Considering Citing Barr with Contempt. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 1, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: ... careful over there, Nick. We'll stay very close touch with you. And to our viewers, thanks very much watching. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFROM starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next breaking news Attorney General Bill Barr refusing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. The announcement coming after five hours of grilling by senators today. Democrats now threatening to subpoena him and hold him in contempt. Plus, Barr goes to war with Mueller, it's personal. Calling Mueller's letter snitty and repeatedly contradicting the Special Counsel's written explicit findings. And the President won't let it go. Why is he so obsessed already with Joe Biden? Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, a no-show. Attorney General Bill Barr refusing tonight to testify before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning. It comes after a five-hour grilling by the Senate Judiciary Committee. During that hearing, Barr ripping into a damning letter from Robert Mueller himself, a letter in which Mueller criticized Barr for his summary of the Mueller report's findings.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The letters a bit snitty and I think it was probably written by one of his staff people ...


BURNETT: A bit snitty. It was a two-page letter and obviously it was a really important letter, so Mueller signed it himself. Whoever may have written parts of it or not clearly was OK with every word, staffer didn't sign it, Special Counsel himself signed it.

It's clear Barr-Mueller are at odds over some of the most basic black and white findings from Mueller's report. Take cooperation and Mueller's findings that the President repeatedly tried to thwart the investigation.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Do you think it's fully cooperating to instruct the former aide to tell the Attorney General to unrecuse himself ...


BURNETT: OK, that sounds really strange. He fully cooperated. It is strange. It's the exact opposite of what Mueller determined. Mueller, for example, writes about a meeting that the President had with Corey Lewandowski about a message the President wanted Corey Lewandowski to deliver to Jeff Sessions. Let me read it to you. This is from the Mueller report.

"The message said that Sessions should publicly announce that, notwithstanding his refusal from the Russia investigation, the investigation was 'very unfair' to the President, the President had done nothing wrong, and Sessions planned to meet with the Special Counsel and 'let him move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections.'"

Well, of course, that's not fully cooperating. It sure doesn't sound like Mueller thought that's what was happening and that was not the only time that Barr's testimony didn't add up today. Barr was also pressed about this exchange from April 9th.


REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): 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 24 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.


BURNETT: The pause may have been much more significant than the answer, "No, I don't." I'm going to talk to Congressman Crist who asked that question in a moment because, of course, the reason the pause matters so much is because Barr did know that the Special Counsel's team felt Barr's memo did not adequately portray Mueller's findings, he'd already received a letter from Mueller which said Barr's memo, quote, did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of the Special Counsel's work and conclusions.

Today, Barr was asked about what he said to Congressman Crist. Given that we now know Barr had already seen Mueller's letter when Crist questioned him, Barr did what? I mean what's the word here to use, mislead? Lied? Listen for yourself.


BARR: When I talked to this Special Counsel about the letter, my understanding was his concern was not the accuracy ...


[19:04:44] BURNETT: His understanding was Mueller was not concerned about the accuracy of Barr's letter. Again, Mueller's letter says Barr summary, quote, did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of the Special Counsel's work and conclusions. Maybe Barr's trouble with the truth today is part of why he's refusing to appear tomorrow and take questions from Congress and the big dispute, congressional lawyers.

We're following these breaking developments at the Justice Department in Capitol Hill tonight. I want to begin with Evan Perez. Evan, what is the Attorney General's reasoning here?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reasoning that the Attorney General has given Jerry Nadler and the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee is that he doesn't want to answer questions from staff attorneys. That is the breakdown here. He says he's willing to appear to answer questions from members of Congress, but he says the answering questions from staff attorneys is a no-go, Erin, according to this statement that's been issued by the Justice Department.

Now, if you remember they've been having this negotiation back-and- forth and it seemed to be like everything was going to happen tomorrow and then all of a sudden we have this breakdown. So according to the Justice Department, the Attorney General is still willing to negotiate a new date. They're willing to sit down and answer questions, perhaps, even have members of Congress come in and look at the less redacted version of the Mueller report. But what he will not do is sit down and answer questions from staff attorneys from both Republicans and Democrats.

And you can see at the end of today's hearing, Erin, that the Attorney General was losing patience with some of the questions.


PEREZ: So perhaps he was seeing essentially tomorrow was going to be a continuation of that.

BURNETT: Right. I mean it certainly seems like that. He's trying to stand on this, not having the lawyers involved even though of course there have been many times in the past, but he waits till he's done today and it's unpleasant to say he's not showing up but it certainly smells funny. All right. Evan, thank you very much.

I want to go to Sunlen who's on Capitol Hill. So now that the Attorney General is saying, "I'm going to defy you." What is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House, Jerry Nadler, going to do about it, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he says he's as of now still not ruling out the possibility to potentially subpoena Bill Barr to get him in front of the Committee eventually to answer questions. And the chairman was clearly agitated a short time ago, Erin, when he appeared up here on Capitol Hill talking to reporters.

He says he thinks Bill Barr is trying to blackmail the Committee. He says he believes he's just terrified to take questions from staff lawyers. Of course, as Evan described really the crux of the holdup over the dispute over the format and the conditions of his testimony. But Nadler at the same time is making it very clear here, his first priority is going to be pushing to get the full unredacted report and the underlying evidence the Department of Justice tonight also told the committee that they will not comply with their subpoena to get the full report and the underlying evidence.

And Nadler saying he's going to try to work with them over the next few days potentially try to get a deal, but if there is not a deal, he is going to move to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress over this. Of course, the committee will go on as planned tomorrow and Barr was saying, excuse me, Nadler saying is of course there essentially is still a seat for Barr, but no expectation, of course, that he's going to show up.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you. And I want to go out front now to Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist. So you just saw him, right, questioning Barr back in April, a question that has become so crucial and was crucial today and I want to get to that in a moment. Congressman, let me start by asking you about the breaking news, the Attorney General now says he will not appear before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow.

He had all sorts of complaints about it, but he didn't say he wasn't going to show up until he was done, the five-hour grilling today. What's your reaction?

CRIST: Well, it's not terribly surprising but it's terribly disappointing. Obviously, he is not comfortable responding to these questions. It puts him in a difficult position and that's very telling in and of itself. I think the fact that he doesn't want to come tomorrow is that he doesn't want to have to be accountable. And for the fact that the Attorney General of the United States of America is afraid to be accountable before the United States Congress exercising its appropriate oversight role is stunning to me.

I don't understand it. I'm really kind of embarrassed for him for it and it's a disservice to the American people most importantly.

BURNETT: So Barr had threatened, he said, "I won't go if they include questions from committee lawyers," even though, of course, that has happened many times. It's not an unusual thing necessarily to do. CRIST: Right.

BURNETT: What do you think the committee should do about Barr's defiance? I mean right now it's sort of threatening content, maybe a subpoena, what should they do?

CRIST: Well, it would seem to me a subpoena would be the obvious route to take in this circumstance and I'm sure that the Chairman is reviewing that possibility and will come to the appropriate conclusion. But when people refuse to be held accountable before a congressional committee to answer questions about his involvement, and review, and summarization of the Mueller report interpretation, you could go on and on.

It's just very discouraging that this new Attorney General doesn't take a separate branch of government seriously enough as the founding fathers set up to have three equal branches of government.


CRIST: So that you could have that kind of accountability and he's ignoring accountability here.

[19:10:14] BURNETT: So I want to ask about your question, because it became front and center today. You asked him about reports, members of the Special Counsel's team were frustrated that the Barr letter didn't accurately portray the report's findings. Then we get the letter from Mueller, turns out that Barr had already seen it when he told you he knew nothing about those concerns and it said exactly what you asked him.

Then you hear him today twisting around about this. Did he lie to you?

CRIST: Yes. I mean I don't know what other conclusion you can come to. I mean I very simply asked him the fact that news accounts had indicated that members of Mueller's team were not satisfied with this summarization that the Attorney General had presented and did he have any idea why, essentially. And he said no he didn't, but he had already received a letter from the Special Counsel, from Bob Mueller himself and kind of today it seemed like he was trying to parse the answer away and say that I was asking him about members of Mueller's team.

Well, Mueller is the quarterback of the team for crying out loud. I mean I thought it was silly to respond to it that way. It was untruthful. It was lying and it was just disingenuous.

BURNETT: So is it perjury in the legal sense?

CRIST: Well, it seems to be it would be. Look, I was Attorney General of Florida, the third largest state in the country and I understand that when you come before a body and you're sworn under oath, your obligation is to be truthful to be transparent, to be forthcoming. He was anything but those three things when he responded to my question. And by the way also to the question of Senator Van Hollen of Maryland who asked him the same sort of thing, the very next day on April 10th after I had talked to him April 9th.

So he doubled down on it and he seemed to be parsing his answers today and now we have the conclusion that he's not going to show up tomorrow. I mean it's really sad.

BURNETT: So I want to play another moment in the hearing that's been getting a lot of attention today, congressman. This is between Senator Mazie Hirono, Attorney General Barr and the Chairman of the Committee Lindsey Graham. I'll play it for you.


SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): You lied to Congress. You told Representative Charlie Crist that you didn't know ...


BURNETT: What's your reaction to that? I mean you yourself said the Attorney General lied. She said it in the hearing. Was it slander or was it appropriate?

CRIST: I think it was appropriate. I mean I asked the man a simple question. He responded to it in the negative and yet he already - now we know as of about 24 hours ago as a matter of fact that he had already received the letter from Bob Barr, from the Special Counsel, and yet he acted as if he had no idea what the concerns of the Special Counsel were. That's a falsehood. That's a mischaracterization of the truth. That's a lie.

Whatever you want to call it, it all leads to the same road and it was being disingenuous with the American people. And so the Senator was right in what she had to say and it's just unbelievable where we are right now in this moment and not surprising that the Attorney General doesn't want to come before the House tomorrow.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Congressman. Thank you.

CRIST: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, Attorney General Bill Barr stumbling when asked whether the White House has suggested that he investigate anyone.



BARR: I don't know ...


[19:14:42] BURNETT: Plus, a growing number of Democrats now calling for Barr's resignation or his impeachment. 2020 contender Julian Castro was among the first. He's my guest. And President Trump now weighing in on Barr's testimony. What the president is saying tonight?


[19:18:40] BURNETT: Breaking news, Attorney General Bill Barr will be a no-show at tomorrow's House Judiciary Committee hearing. The Chairman of the Committee just weighing in.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): He is trying to blackmail the committee. I can understand given how dishonest he has been since March 24th at the latest, I can understand why he is afraid of facing more effective examination.


BURNETT: Out front now Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for breaking the Watergate scandal, Carl Bernstein, former Federal Prosecutor, Laura Coates and David Priess of the Lawfare Institute, former CIA officer who briefed then FBI Director Robert Mueller for more than a year. The author of How to Get Rid of a President: History's Guide to Removing a Chief Executive.

So Carl let me start with you, the latest news we have after the five hours-ish of grilling today. He's not going to show up tomorrow, why? What do you think Barr is afraid of?

CARL BERNSTEIN, WON PULITZER PRIZE FOR BREAKING THE WATERGATE SCANDAL: I think he doesn't want to really answer questions truthfully, and fully and in great detail, especially after today and how disingenuous he was throughout today's proceedings. I also think that perhaps the Democrats are making a big mistake and that they could do better perhaps by being a little more imaginative. They could have the counsel go from member to member to member and put the questions in front of each member.

[19:20:07] BURNETT: Ah, the lawyers. Let's have the lawyers asking it.

BERNSTEIN: And have one member yield to another. I think they could be much more clever about how they handle this recalcitrance and they shouldn't appear so inflexible. The point is to get him in there and see what he has to say.

BURNETT: Interesting point.

BERNSTEIN: And I think they can pull that off if they tried.

BURNETT: So Laura, this gets the point about Attorney General Barr. Was he sincere ever about wanting to testify tomorrow or is this perhaps just a convenient excuse? He didn't formally say, "I'm not showing up," until he ends today's hearing which was, obviously, pretty unpleasant.

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, if he's doing it just for the reasons of form over substance, Erin, then I think it probably all was a ruse. An idea of trying to say, "Well, look, I was open-minded until the very, very end." I'm certain that he made his decision earlier in the day. In fact, even CNN reported very early on before noon, I believe, that the house had already voted to actually allow their staff counsel to make and ask the question.

So he knew very early the possibility did not accurately tell anyone so after - why? He didn't want further to have questions about why he had promised transparency and instead as an overall theme over his administration has been opaque to say the least.

BURNETT: So David during today's hearing, there was just - one thing that kept standing out to me was that all of a sudden you have that these two men who are supposed to know each other professionally, personally, such a long and respectful relationship and yet Barr made it personal and he went after Mueller repeatedly. Here's just a couple of times.


BARR: The letter is a bit snitty and I think it was probably written by one of his staff ...


BURNETT: It sounds almost petulant and it is certainly personal, David. What do you think went through Mueller's head when he heard that?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I have a feeling Mueller probably, if he was even watching, responded to this the same way he's probably responded to things like presidential tweets in the last two years and other comments on the investigation where if he was watching he probably nodded, smirked and then went back to whatever he was doing. Because frankly his work speaks for itself. We have - it's still redacted in parts, but we have over 400 pages of the investigation's results.


PRIESS: Everybody can compare that to what the Attorney General said today and realize the Attorney General either didn't know what he was talking about, which is unlikely based on everyone's experience with him. He's a smart man or he was being disingenuous. Robert Mueller doesn't have to defend the work of the report, because the report is there for everyone to see now.

BURNETT: So Carl what was your reaction? I mean when I heard the Attorney General of the United States referred to the Special Counsel who has conducted himself with grace, and class and professionalism a snitty. I sort of stopped for a second.

BERNSTEIN: Well, it's more than that and I hope that Americans really pay attention to that moment. It may be the most revealing moment of these hearings, because what we saw there was the Attorney General's contempt and diminution for Mueller's investigation. He diminished him personally and professionally. He said he wasn't a real prosecutor. He was just an FBI guy is the way he couched it.

BURNETT: Right, that's right.

BERNSTEIN: He went in and diminished his legal reasoning which in fact the legal reasoning that is up for a real examination is the Attorney General. Mueller in great detail tells how he has relied on previous attorney generals and the so called OLC, the Office of Legal Counsel.

BURNETT: Office of Legal Counsel.

BERNSTEIN: And how they have prevented an indictment of the president, so therefore the obstruction case had to be handled just as it was. But to see this personalized and to paint Bob Mueller after two years of investigation as being some sort of assistant junior accountant which really is what it sounded like and to play into the same personification of Mueller and his investigation that the President has, it was disgraceful.

BURNETT: There was contempt in terms of his tone.

BERNSTEIN: It's also contempt for the rule of law.

BURNETT: I'm not using the word (inaudible) I'm using.

BERNSTEIN: That's the real thing, because he indeed went to the question of his lack of legal reasoning.

BURNETT: So Laura, on this issue, Bill Barr once again claimed today that the Justice Department rules and precedent which Carl was referring to, those precedents that are out there about not indict a sitting president. Barr said that did not impact Mueller's decision to avoid making a decision on obstruction of justice. Let me play exactly how he put it.


BARR: We asked him a lot about the reasoning behind this and the basis for this ...


[19:25:15] BURNETT: So he says, Laura, that that's not at all what Mueller did. As we just said, OLC is the Office of Legal Counsel which has said a sitting president can't be indicted. So Barr says that rule had no impact on Mueller, OK, which is kind of crazy because if you read page one of Mueller's report on obstruction, he - page one, I mean, I'm not even saying 443 section 2.4, no, page one of section on obstruction, Mueller writes in part, quote, given the framework of the Special Counsel's regulations, this office accepted OLC's legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction. Isn't that a direct contradiction of what Barr says?

COATES: Of course, it is. It's one of a long litany of things where he has misled the public to believe that either Robert Mueller was inept or incapable of rendering a decision as according to his mandate when in reality he actually used the word prudential today, which conveyed the fact that it was the big elephant in the room, Erin.

The very reason why Mueller could not clap an indictment because his hands were tied by this particular OLC opinion to allude in some way that in a conversation that he had between Mueller and his team and William Barr that he was not at all contemplating that is absolutely false. And, of course, it also tells you the reason, Erin, why Mueller chose to memorialize his conversation with Barr in that letter as well as telling the American people, "Excuse me, what you have said has been misleading in the substance of what I have actually said case in point page one."

BURNETT: I mean page one, David, then there's this, Barr repeatedly said he was caught off guard that Mueller did not make a decision on obstruction which is sort of crazy because everybody knew about this precedent and people expected him to make a decision, but Barr says he was shocked. Here he is.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): As to obstruction of justice, were you surprised he was going to let you decide ...


BURNETT: I mean, David, how do you make sense of that? It just doesn't sound like he's telling the truth.

PRIESS: Yes. Two thoughts, one is that was Mueller's charge, when he got the investigation, he knew the OLC guidelines, he knew what he was doing and he accomplished that mission. He had a very narrow channel to navigate between under investigating this and doing too little to give Congress and the American people information they needed via the Attorney General or overextending his mandate and then going ahead and talking about whether the President committed obstruction of justice in those terms and then being accused of being a political actor in this, which he definitively is not.

But I got to tell you, when it comes to Bill Barr versus Bob Mueller, which this has become, we don't need to hear from Bill Barr anymore. We need to hear from Mueller because Bill Barr has proven himself an unreliable narrator of what this is all about.

BURNETT: And when it comes to the narrator, obviously, we've been watching the Chairman of the Committee, Lindsey Graham, and how he handle - we've seen a couple of those exchanges today. You feel strongly about the Senator.

BERNSTEIN: Well, I feel strongly about him. Two things, one, why don't we get the full unredacted report, because today we heard Mr. Barr talk about, "Well, we only redacted 10 percent in one area, 2 percent in another." You could have one sentence in there that would turn the whole ballgame upside down and with this Attorney General and his disingenuousness, it's a pretty good bet there maybe that one sentence in there and that's what one reason we need to see it all and that's one more reason why Lindsey Graham who himself has done a flip- flop on Donald Trump in the past year that has left most reporters who have been around astonished.

Now, I have had at least five reporters who have come up to me and reported what Lindsey Graham had said to them in the first year of the Trump presidency, about how Donald Trump indeed was under the thrall of the Russians and how he couldn't be entrusted with foreign policy and also his ineptitude.

Somewhere along the line maybe just after John McCain died or around the time that John McCain got sick and Lindsey Graham could no longer pair himself and follow McCain down the hallway, which he did an awful lot of, that's not to say that Lindsey Graham hasn't done some good work in the Senate. His view changed and from being a real critic of Trump to now being his golfing partner.

PRIESS: And, Erin, one quick thought on Lindsey Graham ...

BURNETT: Yes, quickly.

PRIESS: ... and that quote you just played, Lindsey Graham said, "Did you know Mueller was going to leave this up to you?" Mueller did not leave it up to the Attorney General. He stated in the report that he was compiling all this information so that Congress could decide or a future prosecutor could decide when the President is out of office. He was not giving it to the Attorney General to make a judgment.

[19:30:00] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. An important point. Thank you all.

And next, was Bill Barr's testimony today aimed at just one person? Well, the president has responded.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard that the attorney general was really, really solid and did a great job today.


BURNETT: Plus, the president can't stop talking about Biden.


TRUMP: He's not as smart as Bernie. And he's -- he's not as quick.



BURNETT: Breaking news: Attorney General Bill Barr refusing to show up tomorrow for a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee. The announcement coming just hours after he faced tough questions from senators today. The president, meantime, keeping a close eye on Barr's testimony.

Just doing an interview moments ago.


TRUMP: I heard that the attorney general was really, really solid and did a great job today.


BURNETT: Abby Phillip is OUTFRONT at the White House.

Abby, Barr's decision to not go in front of Congress tomorrow obviously right in line with the White House strategy when it comes to cooperating with congressional investigations.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly in keeping with a pattern of some type of disdain for what's happening on Capitol Hill as it relates to some of these oversight hearings that have been going on across the federal agencies and it's also in keeping with the pattern of the Trump administration pushing congressional Democrats into litigation, forcing them to go towards subpoenas and other means, of forcing people to testify and forcing information out of the government.

But I think Barr has given President Trump a lot to be happy about in his testimony today. You know, the president as someone who has a lot of skepticism towards attorney generals, I think Bill Barr has really proven that he's willing to stand firm on this narrative that he has put out there since the very beginning that there was no collusion, that there was no obstruction, and I think President Trump and his aides believe that Democrats did not gain any ground in this hearing and they certainly won't tomorrow because Bill Barr just simply won't be there.

The White House right now pretty happy with how all of this turned out.

BURNETT: I am sure exceedingly happy about that. Thank you, Abby.

And OUTFRONT now, Democratic candidate for president, Julian Castro. He was the former secretary of the Department of Homeland and Urban Development -- Housing and Urban Development under President Obama.

All right. Thank you very much, Secretary Castro. I appreciate your time.

Look, you were the first 2020 candidate to call for Attorney General Barr to step down or face impeachment. Now, chairman of the House committee, Jerrold Nadler, is threatening to subpoena Barr, hold him in contempt. Is that enough?

[19:35:02] JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I do -- I hope they hold him in contempt if he indeed refuses to testify tomorrow like he had agreed to, but I don't believe that's enough. I believe he should either resign or he should be impeached. BURNETT: And, obviously, he's not going to resign. So, do you think

they should begin those proceedings essentially now if he does not show up tomorrow?

CASTRO: I do. It's clear that he has repeatedly tried to mislead the American people, that he misled Congress the last time he testified before today and if you watched the hearing today, it's clear that it seems like he's still not -- he is still not coming forward with the full truth, and I have to believe that that's one of the reasons that he doesn't want to come back tomorrow, even though he agreed to.

BURNETT: Yes. Certainly, it was a grueling and long and quite contentious at times set of questions today.

Where does this go, though, Secretary? I mean, Nancy Pelosi has been very much trying to slow down calls for President Trump's impeachment, but does this change the game, right? We've got the letter from Mueller saying Barr's letter didn't accurately reflect Mueller's conclusion in the report. Does this go higher than Bill Barr, conversation of impeachment?

CASTRO: As you know, Erin, I said very early on that I believed that Congress should begin an impeachment inquiry against the president and I said that because in his report, Mueller basically put this into congress's lap. He cited ten different instances in which it appears that the president obstructed justice or at least tried to obstruct justice. And, you know, they're talking about subpoenaing Bob Mueller, which is fine, and doing additional inquiry. But, ultimately, at the end of the day, I think what they're going to find is they're going to get back to the ten instances that Bob Mueller cited in his report.

And the question is, are we going to hold this president accountable to the rule of law? Is he above the law? If the answer is no, and that I believe and I believe the American people think the answer is no, then the proper way to handle that is with impeachment proceedings.

It's also true that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We have an election coming up in November of 2020. I'm one of 20 candidates now that are out there talking to the American people about a positive, strong vision for the future.

We're talking about jobs, we're talking about health care. We're talking about education. We're talking about all the things that families care about and giving a strong alternative vision of the road we should go down.

And so, that does not -- you know, the fact that we would go forward with an impeachment inquiry does not preclude us talking to the American people about what we need to do in the future so that they can prosper.

BURNETT: So, you're talking about how the attorney general handled himself today. Several Democrats who are among those in your group of 20 running for president were actually in the room questioning Barr today. Here they are.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are the president's actions detailed in the report consistent with his oath of office and the requirement in the Constitution that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, the evidence in the report is conflicting.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a document that shows over 200 attempts -- connections between a presidential campaign and a foreign adversary. Sharing information that would be illegal if you did it with a super PAC, we know that.

BARR: What information was shared?

BOOKER: Polling data was shared, sir. It's in the report.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's clear he has not looked at the evidence.

It's clear you have not looked at the evidence and we can move on.


BURNETT: How did they do?

CASTRO: I think they did very well. You know, several of them did -- I've got to give props to, of course, Senator Harris as a former prosecutor and attorney general. She had a particularly effective line of questioning today and it was telling that the attorney general basically admitted that neither he nor Rod Rosenstein had reviewed the underlying evidence before deciding obstruction of justice was not warranted in this case against the president.

That was very telling. It was one of the moments during the hearing where the attorney general seemed off balance, shaken.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, Secretary Castro.

CASTRO: Good to be with you.

BURNETT: And next, House Democrats threatening to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt tonight. The vice chair of the Judiciary Committee is OUTFRONT, next.

Plus, the president on a Biden tirade.

[19:40:01] And Biden loving it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand the president has been tweeting a lot about me this morning and for a while. I wonder why in the hell he's doing that?



[19:41:51] BURNETT: Breaking news: Attorney General Bill Barr refusing to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning. The chairman, Jerry Nadler, announcing the Department of Justice won't comply with a subpoena to release the full unredacted Mueller report which had a deadline of today.

Nadler says he may hold the attorney general in contempt if the unredacted report isn't provided in the next couple of days.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, who's the vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Good to have you back, Congresswoman.

Attorney general says not going to testify. You say what?

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): Well, our biggest focus right now is to make sure that we get the Mueller report. We need the report. We need the underlying evidence so that Congress can do its job.

BURNETT: And when you say unredacted, you want in your possession unredacted, including 6E, grand jury?


BURNETT: And you think you're going to get that without starting impeachment proceedings?

SCANLON: I think there are a number of avenues to get there without impeachment proceedings, but the issue here is we're seeing increasing evidence of stonewalling by this administration. I mean, the bombshell news last night that Mueller had prepared summaries that were ready to be released and not only didn't Attorney General Barr release those summaries, but when he did, they were also redacted.

BURNETT: So, will you hold a hearing tomorrow with an empty chair?

SCANLON: We will be gaveling in tomorrow morning, yes. I mean, Attorney General Barr still has the opportunity to show up. We're hearing he's too afraid.

BURNETT: So here's the thing. He has said and he had expressed this. Obviously, he didn't cancel until after his testimony today, his questions, but he had indicated that he had an issue with you all allowing lawyers to be part of the questioning.

Carl Bernstein was on and he said you all -- the goal should be to get him in there and you could have done it if you had lawyers, for example, hand you questions, cede your time. There would have been a creative way to get the lawyer's questions out there but have you all doing the questioning.

Do you think you tried hard enough?

SCANLON: Oh, we've been back and forth for day after day here trying to find grounds on which we could agree. But there's two key points here. The first is that the White House does not get to dictate how Congress does its business. That's number one.

Number two is, any trial lawyer worth their salt knows you don't have 16, 23 different people asking questions. There's no way there to play out a narrative. There's no way to tell the story.

BURNETT: That's true.

SCANLON: If there's one thing we know, is that the Mueller report is not tweetable. We need to be able to tell the American people that story. And having it come in five minute segments when you have a witness today proved he's very good at running out the clock and not answering questions or only answering them with legalese.

So, we wanted the ability to have someone who could back clean up, someone who could tell the story, ask the questions that didn't get answered in the short five-minute segments.

BURNETT: Well, I have to say, I agree with you on that. No matter how well you do, that is one of the greatest frustrations of those hearings, right?


BURNETT: Everyone has to make their own point, they don't follow up. That's fair point.

Special counsel Mueller has agreed to testify in front of your committee. That's what Chairman Nadler announced today.

[19:45:00] When is that going to happen?

SCANLON: I think we've just started talking with him but the schedule date is May 15th. We've been talking about that date for a while.

BURNETT: All right. See if he appears on that day. Thank you.

SCANLON: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump going after Joe Biden again and again today. Why can't he stop talking about him?

Plus, Jeanne on the explosive start to Barr's hearing.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot. Sorry to the kids out there. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BURNETT: Tonight, Biden getting under Trump's skin. The president taking yet another swipe at Biden in an interview.


TRUMP: He's not as smart as Bernie and he's -- he's not as quick but he's got different views a little bit, I guess. But, you know, they're all pretty heavy leaning left, including him.


BURNETT: That came after the president sent 58 retweets letting them scroll by. It's a whole lot of time spending retweeting, all before 6:30 a.m. Eastern Time, from people who claim to be firefighters or family of firefighters.

The reason the tweets praise him and slam the International Association of Firefighters because it endorsed Biden.

Now, the tweet storm has Biden asking what kind of president is putting so much emphasis on him specifically.


BIDEN: I understand the president has been tweeting about me a lot this morning and for a while. I wonder why the hell he's doing that? Yo, yo, whoa, whoa, anyway. So I'm going to be the object of his attention for a while, folks.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for Trump 2020, and Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Marc, what is up with the obsession? It's good for Biden. Why is Trump, you know -- obsessed right now, 58 retweets this morning.

MARC LOTTER, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, TRUMP 2020: I don't think it's obsessed, I think it's correcting the record because a lot of people think just because the national union endorses you, the rank and file follows suit. And that's not true anymore. We saw it in 2016, we're seeing it again.

People who work for labor unions think a lot differently than their leaders, and while they always support Democrats, the rank and file people are supporting the president because he creates jobs, he supports all of the things that they stand for.

[19:50:00] BURNETT: OK. So you went straight to the specifics of the firefighters. I get it, if I were you, Marc, I would, too. But that's not all the president said today, right? He said Biden wasn't smart like Bernie, he's not quick like Bernie, and over the past few days, he said this many things about Biden which have nothing to do with the union issue.


REPORTER: How do you beat Biden? How do you do it?

TRUMP: I would say easily.

I don't know what the hell happened to Biden. I don't know. It just doesn't look like the same Biden. I said, is that really Joe Biden? He doesn't look the same to me.

When you look at Joe, I've known Joe over the years. He's not the brightest light bulb in the group.

There was outrage by firefighters when a union -- you know, one of the bigger unions --


TRUMP: -- endorsed Sleepy Joe.


BURNETT: OK. At the end, he hit unions, Angela, but, I mean, this is all deeply personal. And he keeps say he's not smart, not the brightest light bulb. He looks old is what he's saying here.

What do you make of it?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I make of it, Erin, he's going to do exactly what he did in 2016 because it was effective. He tore down every single one of the other Republican opponents of his in the primary, and he's doing the exact same thing now.

He attacked people on the Democratic side who weren't even running against him. This is a typical play by Donald Trump, and what is so interesting to me is the just blatant hypocrisy. Melania Trump has an initiative called Be Best. Forget the grammatical challenges there. But social media is a part of this, and he regularly attacks people on social media.

And, mind you, was tweeting people who said they were relatives or firefighters themselves. But some of them were bot accounts, Erin. That's another part of the problem.

At what point does the leader of the free world have an obligation to stop pushing out disinformation?

BURNETT: Marc, I am curious, you know, look, it's Donald Trump at this point. We all sort of know what we're dealing with when it comes to certain things. But why does he keep saying Joe Biden's dumb?

LOTTER: Well, I think probably when you go back and look at some of his policies that don't lien line up with what currently the Democratic socialist movement stands for. Let's remember he voted for NAFTA. His administration brought TPP, which also the labor unions hated.

So, I mean, there's so many reasons why --


BURNETT: You're talking policy. You're doing a smart policy guy like yourself would do. That's not what Trump is doing. Trump is saying he's not a bright light bulb, and he's not smart.

LOTTER: The president has a way of connecting with a broad swath of American people. He speaks his mind and in this case he's reminding people who are being taken for granted by the Democratic Party that they just immediately support their proposals, and in this case they don't.

BURNETT: OK. I would hope the American people are better than that. I simply say. I mean who wants to raise their kids to talk like that?

LOTTER: Well, let's remember too, the Democrats spent two years calling him a Russian operative and a traitor to our nation. So this is not a one-sided fight.

BURNETT: OK. So, Angela, let me play for you the obsession here is beyond the president, right? The other day you had another infrastructure day. By the way, Chuck and Nancy, as the president calls them, go to the White House. They say they have this great meeting, right? They're not talking about impeachment. They're talking about working with him on a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan, something everybody should agree on.

RYE: Right.

BURNETT: Kellyanne Conway gets asked about it. She gets asked, how are you going to pay for it? I mean nothing could be better than that for the American people, for this White House.

Here is Kellyanne when she's asked that question.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Middle class is booming now despite what Joe Biden says. He also just sounds like someone who wasn't vice president for eight years, but him aside, his nonsense aside. While on the subject of Biden, since he's hovering over everything now, I'm just curious if he's dumped Obama, Biden care, is he against infrastructure? He's been in government for nearly 50 years. Why are the roads and bridges crumbling?


BURNETT: Angela?

RYE: I'm sorry. I couldn't even follow that. Like I don't understand what happened, but I would just give Kellyanne, who used to be a regular on CNN, a brief introduction to how policy works.

There was an obstructionist agenda when President Obama was in office, and infrastructure was certainly a part of an overall jobs plan and package that they wanted to push and couldn't get through. As we all recall, Mitch McConnell saying that he wanted to ensure that Barack Obama was a one-term president. It's really tough when you don't have allies, so it's unfortunate that Kellyanne Conway didn't use that moment to tout the ability of a bipartisan plan to move forward.

BURNETT: Marc, strategically what's your goal? You think you can beat Biden down before he even gets traction?

LOTTER: Well, I don't think it's about beating anybody certainly down. I think it's about correcting the record and making sure that as people are going around saying that they support blue collar or they are the Mr. Manufacturing, that the facts come out, that under Obama/Biden, 200,000 manufacturing jobs were lost, and under President Trump in just three years, 450,000 manufacturing jobs have been added.

BURNETT: You know what?


[19:55:04] LOTTER: So breaking through empty rhetoric with record.

BURNETT: I'll leave it there. That, unfortunately, is not what the president of the United States did. He said he's not smart like Bernie and he's not a bright light bulb. You gave policy.

Thanks to both.

And next, Jeanne Moos on the congressional hearing that was certainly not PG.


GRAHAM: Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot. Sorry to the kids out there.



[19:58:14] MOOS: Here's Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not what you usually hear at a hearing.


MOOS: Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham dropped the F-bomb while quoting an FBI agent's text to his then-girlfriend. Graham was trying to demonstrate the agent's bias.

GRAHAM: Sorry to the kids out there.

MOOS: Sorry to the networks covering the hearing live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 90 minutes ago, I had a little bit of language slip by us, and for that we apologize to our viewers down the line. We can thank Senator Lindsey Graham for his candid response there.

MOOS: But the people most thankful for the F-bomb were Trump critics. Nice of Lindsey Graham to have created Trump is a bleeping idiot memes for years to come.

GRAHAM: Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot. Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot.

MOOS: Cue the remixes.


MOOS: My new ring tone is Lindsey Graham saying Trump is a bleeping idiot, though definitely not safe for work. I just accidentally played this in the office, and everyone around me laughed. Get yourself some of that joy.

(on camera): But you know who said the very same thing about candidate Donald Trump, and he wasn't quoting anyone, in his very own words.

GRAHAM: Well, I think Donald Trump's a pretty much an idiot on policy, and he's a complete idiot when it comes to Mideast policy.

MOOS: And guess who then-candidate Trump called an idiot?

TRUMP: And then I watch this idiot Lindsey Graham on television today, and he calls me a jackass. He's a jackass.

GRAHAM: He's becoming a jackass.

MOOS (voice-over): But that was almost four years ago. Idiots and jackasses are now golfing partners and allies.

Senator Graham's effort to defend President Trump.


MOOS: Didn't seem to raise an eyebrow, even if it's not the kind of swearing you expect at a hearing.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

GRAHAM: Idiot.


MOOS: You see that when she went.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.