Return to Transcripts main page


Judiciary Committee Trying to Set Mueller Testimony for This Month; Elizabeth Warren Revives Feud with Joe Biden; Interview with Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired May 2, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, taking on Barr. Nancy Pelosi accusing the Attorney General of committing a crime. Does that mean prison time? Plus, breaking news, President Trump says he won't let Don McGahn testify before Congress at the center of the Mueller report. What is Trump afraid of? And Stephen Moore said he was all- in. About an hour later, the President announced on Twitter, Moore as his Fed pick was out. What happened? Let's go out front.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, war with Barr Democrats firing on all fronts. The House Judiciary Committee going ahead with its hearing without the witness on empty chair instead of the Attorney General of the United States, William Barr. This is how Speaker Nancy Pelosi is accusing Barr, the nation's top law enforcement official of breaking the law.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What is deadly serious about it is the Attorney General of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That's a crime.


BURNETT: A crime. Look, that's a serious accusation to level against anyone and this isn't just anyone, it's the sitting Attorney General of the United States. If Barr committed perjury, that can mean prison and the President's Justice Department is fighting back now releasing a statement that reads, "The baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible, and false."

Now Congressman Charlie Crist is the entire reason for this. The reason that Pelosi is accusing Barr of a crime. Here's what Crist told me yesterday.


BURNETT: Did he lie to you?

REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Yes. I mean I don't know what other conclusion you can come to. It was untruthful, it was lying and it was disingenuous.

BURNETT: So is it perjury? I mean is it perjury in the legal sense?

CRIST: Well, it seems it would be.


BURNETT: So perjury, I mean, OK, what did Barr possibly lie about? So for that, we go back to Crist. He is the one who questioned Barr in Barr's hearing on April 9th.


CRIST: Reports have emerged recently, General, that members of the Special Counsel's team are frustrated at some level ...


BURNETT: No, I don't. The problem is it sure seems Barr did know that the Special Counsel's team felt Barr's memo did not adequately portray Muller's findings because Barr had already received a letter from Mueller, which said that Barr's memo, quote, did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of the Special Counsel's work and conclusions.

So under oath yesterday, again, Barr was asked, "How could you say that when you already have the letter to Congressman Crist?" And here's how Barr answered under oath yesterday.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: And when I talked to the Special Counsel about the letter ...


BURNETT: So he says his understanding was Mueller was not concerned about the accuracy of Barr's letter. Again, Muller's letter says that Barr's summary, quote, did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of the Special Counsel's work and conclusions. So when Barr says he didn't think that there was any issue of accuracy in the findings Mueller says it didn't capture the conclusions. Clearly, the letter not fully accurate.

Pamela Brown is out front live outside the White House tonight. Pamela, how involved was the White House in Barr's decision today to not show up, that empty chair that we just saw?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was quite a spectacle, Erin. A senior administration official telling me the White House left this decision to not testify today up to Bill Barr saying he didn't show up because of what he viewed as unreasonable conditions that the House was demanding. And White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders even clinging today that House Democrats are capable of questioning Barr and that's why they wanted staff lawyers to do it. But it's clear that Barr has the full backing of the White House,

Erin, particularly in the wake of his performance on Capitol Hill yesterday. One statement he made critical of the Special Counsel by saying the Justice Department is not in the business of exoneration was echoed in a letter sent to Barr by a top White House lawyer Emmet Flood just after the Mueller report released last month. We just obtained it today.

[19:05:03] And flood slammed the Special Counsel claiming they were playing politics and went outside their latest prosecutors by not making a prosecutorial decision on obstruction. Now, as you know the Special Counsel wrote one factor and not making that decision but still laying it out. The evidence was a DOJ memo saying you can indict a sitting president but that doesn't exclude an indictment after holding office.

But Flood's letter also lays the groundwork and this ongoing battle with House Democrats making it clear that just because the President didn't assert privilege in the Mueller report doesn't mean he won't in the future. And Barr raised eyebrows, Erin, during his hearing yesterday when he said, "We," in regards to not waiving executive privilege for White House aides testimony."

Now, even though the White House and DOJ were consult on such a matter, it drew scrutiny because of the perception by some that Barr was acting as the President's protector, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Pamela. And out front now, Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass who sits on the Judiciary Committee. So getting down the spectacle of today, the heart of the matter now, Congresswoman, do you agree with the House Speaker that the Attorney General Bill Barr committed a crime?

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I don't know how you can interpret it any other way. Yes, I do. I mean he said that he had not received any contact and he absolutely had. That letter was dated several days before. So I do agree with the Speaker.

BURNETT: So Pelosi was asked about how Barr should be punished for committing the crime, as she said, and I wanted to play that exchange for you, Congresswoman Bass.

BASS: Sure.

BURNETT: Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he go to jail for it?

PELOSI: There's a process involved here and as I said, I'll say it again, and how many questions you may have, the committee will act upon how we will proceed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And just in case you didn't hear because I know the reporter

question was a little softer, but the reporter said should he go to jail for this and she did not answer the question. But she's saying he committed a crime, the crime is perjury, obviously, jail prison is part of that.

BASS: Well, I think what she is also referring to when she said that there is a process, so you know we in the Judiciary Committee have asked the Attorney General to give us the unredacted report with all of the underlying evidence and we wanted him to come and testify before us today. So part of the process will be to see whether or not he will comply with that and if he doesn't, we might have to go down the road of charging a contempt of Congress, so there is a process that would take place.

So I think she is referring to that. The question as to what happens in the Senate might be a different issue. But the process that we will follow in the house will be we've subpoenaed him, we've asked him to give us all of the information. If he doesn't, we will consider the contempt of Congress.

BURNETT: OK. But in terms of - if he did perjure himself, right, I mean I'm just saying not whether he did or didn't, but if you're going to come out and say that he did, it would seem consistent to say, "Well, then, OK prison time would be part of that as it would be for any other American who committed perjury.

BASS: Well, exactly. And I mean one of the things that we are seeing and unfortunately we have seen from day one with this administration is a sense of contempt for the rule of law. And so as we go through this process, not just with Barr but with other members of the administration when subpoenas are issued, are they going to ignore it, if it goes through court and they have fines, are they going to follow them.

So it's going to be interesting to see. It's not just this situation, but I think it's going to be multiple. Now, the President is out saying that he's not going to allow McGahn to testify when he no longer works for the Department of Justice. And so we will see how far this goes, but there is an actual step-by-step process that we will follow.

BURNETT: So White House spokesman, Sarah Sanders, today weighed in on the issue here but you all said you wanted him to testify. He agreed.

BASS: Yes.

BURNETT: And then you said you wanted lawyers to be a part of it, which, look, could give you the chance to drill down at a specific issue in depth as opposed to switching person to person. But he said, look, you asked me to come in front of your committee, not in front of lawyers that was the deal so that was the deal. So White House spokesman Sarah Sanders weighed in on all of it today, the big empty chair. Here's what she said.


aren't capable of actually asking the Attorney General questions themselves and need to staff that out, it seems like a pretty pathetic moment for the chairman of that committee.


BASS: Well, I mean truthfully I don't even think that's worth the response. But let me just tell you that we have other people come before our committee. We did last year when the Republicans were in control and there were attorneys on both sides.

And so what the Chairman had proposed was 30 minutes on either side. They could bring attorneys if they wanted to and so can we. So there's a lot of precedent for this and it allows consistent questioning where you're not subject to the five-minute rule and you know to really engage with somebody like the Attorney General more time as needed yes.

[19:10:17] BURNETT: Yes. Thank you very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time.

BASS: Thanks for having me on.

BURNETT: And next breaking news, the President saying just moments ago, he will not allow Don McGahn, the former White House Counsel to testify before Congress. McGahn was key to the Mueller report. Remember he spent more than 30 hours talking to Mueller this is a major development this hour. Plus, Barr and Mueller have a long personal history.


BARR: The Barrs and Muellers were good friends and would be good friends when this is all over and so forth.


BURNETT: And the fight for 2020. It's not just Trump taking on Joe Biden.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And Joe Biden is on the side of the credit card companies.



[19:14:34] BURNETT: News President Trump says he will not let former White House Counsel Don McGahn comply with a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its obstruction of justice investigation.


already for 30 hours.


TRUMP: And it's really - so I don't think I can let him and then tell everybody else can't.

HERRIDGE: So is it done?

TRUMP: I would say it's done.


TRUMP: We've been through this, nobody has ever done what I've done. I've given total transparency. It's never happened before like this.

HORRIDGE: So Congress should be ...

TRUMP: They shouldn't be looking anymore. This is all. It's done.


[19:15:11] BURNETT: But McGahn is a key person with direct knowledge about Trump's efforts to undermine the Mueller probe. Remember, he did sit down with Mueller's team for interviews that lasted more than 30 hours and he testified that he personally rejected Trump's pressure to fire Mueller. Can I just make that clear? He testified that he personally rejected the President of the United States trying to pressure him to fire Robert Mueller.

Out front now former Special Counsel for the Defense Department under President Obama Ryan Goodman. He studied Bill Barr's record at length. Also the former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem under Obama and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick.

So Harry, let me start with you. Don McGahn, he's central, the President knows it, right?


BURNETT: Thirty hours of testimony, but also from what we see in this report he is everywhere in this report. So blocking him is a major thing.

SANDICK: Absolutely. If Congress is going to do a meaningful investigation to take a look at what is in the Mueller report and then try to bring it to life through hearings through oversight to consider whether legislation has to be passed to consider whether impeachment or censure is an appropriate sanction in light of the findings in the Mueller report, they need to hear it from the witnesses themselves. They weren't allowed to sit in on those interviews and it's totally reasonable that they would think they should have the opportunity to call him.

BURNETT: All right. So just to make the point about McGahn, he was involved with so many things in central. So Ryan, in the Mueller report McGahn is directly quoted, I mean many times, but two of them specifically on when McGahn says Trump told him to fire Mueller. On the first call, McGahn says Trump said, quote, you got to do this, you got a call Rod, i.e. Rosenstein. And on the second call, McGahn testifies Trump says, quote, call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can't be the Special Counsel, Mueller has to go. Call me back when you do this. McGahn is kind of an important guy.

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL: Super important, I think, if you look at all of the episodes of potential obstruction he's key. And there's another one as well where the President supposedly instructs McGahn to create a false record to actually say, "I never ordered you to do that and I want you to put that into the file," which is a serious problem. So I think we want to hear from him again obviously.

BURNETT: So do you think they'll win on this?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Oh, I don't know. I mean they've already waived any privilege that McGahn would have in their argument, at least it sounds like their legal argument is - well, there's a difference between an investigation having to go before Congress in terms of the waiver.

But I think we will hear from McGahn somehow, but this is consistent with everything that happens - has happened since we learn that Mueller sent the documents, sent the volumes over to Barr which is you're just going to delay every little thing. I mean it's exhausting, of course, but you're just going to delay everything. So now they said, "Oh, McGahn, he can't testify."

I think the most telling thing from yesterday is Barr says I want to personally disapprove of Mueller testifying. Well, like you're the Attorney General what does that mean, you don't have personal opinions. I mean does that from ...

BURNETT: Right. Right. This isn't a forum for your personal opinion. You're the sitting attorney general.

KAYYEM: Right, exactly. Does that mean that professionally you might actually have - not having to testify? So it's going to be like this for years.

BURNETT: So let me play the exchange yesterday. This is between Dick Durbin and Bill Barr about McGahn. Here it is.



SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Can you think of an objection of why Don McGahn shouldn't come and testify before ... (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Juliette just pointed this out. I mean obviously they've been bragging left and right about how they didn't exert any executive privilege on the entire report. That would seem, I mean, I'm not a lawyer, I'm just going out as a layperson, a little ridiculous that then say the people who are cited in the report you're going to claim it on.

SANDICK: Yes. I mean usually in the law of privilege, if you disclose something to one person, then you can't assert the privilege later on because you sought a benefit. The reason why they allowed McGahn to speak to Mueller was they were hoping that the end - that this would look good that as Trump been saying now, we were transparent. OK.

But now that you've allowed that, in general, the law of waiver says you've waived it and you can't pull it back and say, "We're going to let him testify in some places but not in other places."

BURNETT: So the other issue, Ryan, we've been talking about is perjury whether Bill Barr committed perjury when he said he didn't know about any issues with his letter when he already received a letter from Mueller indicating just that. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris is saying that Barr dodged another one of her questions to avoid committing perjury and I wanted to play the exchange to get your reaction.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested ...


[19:20:32] BURNETT: What do you say?

GOODMAN: So it looks fairly bad for him. Why the long pause, it's the easiest question to be able to answer. He seems to be pausing because he doesn't want to give her the truthful answer or he's trying to see if she'll reword the question in a different way and then he can work with that ambiguity. This also seems to be a pattern of his. He does this with other questions as well that he doesn't want to answer.

BURNETT: Which I'm going to play in a moment but Juliette first the point here that Ryan is making that there is the pause and then sort of hoping she'll rephrase it. Well, she's very experienced, she doesn't rephrase it.

KAYYEM: Right.

BURNETT: "Yes or no, you either were or we're not directed." And then all of a sudden there's this sort of - I don't know whether we're going to - synonyms that are not really synonyms. KAYYEM: Right. And I have a perfect memory for like what Comey did

two years ago, but I can't remember whether in the last 30 or 60 days that I've been Attorney General whether Trump asked me to do an investigation. This is - I mean, the dramatic pause as you were describing is a way for him to protect himself not just from perjury but from making Trump mad because he does it again later on in that same conversation when one of the senators asked, "You would it be wrong for you to get for a candidate to get foreign intelligence from or to get information from a foreign country?"

And there's this dramatic pause because either he is worried that the Trump campaign is doing it or he knows that they're doing it presently and he doesn't want a purge himself.

BURNETT: I mean it's pretty incredible here, because you have - when you talk about suggested, when she used the word suggested, I think that was very smart because we all know from what others have said about Trump and anybody who's known Trump over the years even reporters like myself know he speaks about himself at the third-person and he always is suggesting things like, "That guy over there is a really bad guy."

And then - but not asking you, Harry, do you think that kind of saying it. So is the Attorney General playing around with words? There's a lot of ways the President could be telling his Attorney General to do something that isn't directly, "I want you to investigate, Ryan."

SANDICK: Right, will no one rid me of this terrible problem that we have, saying something like that.

BURNETT: I mean there's a lot of ways to praise things, yes.

SANDICK: And so no he's not telling him and so you can see Barr, you can see the wheels turning and I have to say in light of some of the other things we've seen with the Attorney General, it does make me think is he trying to think of an answer that is literally true but perhaps misleading to the listener than in other words he could say no to something but leave a door open for some larger truth.

BURNETT: All right so on this point, it didn't just happen with Kamala Harris that was a particularly painful pause, but there were many moments like that of pausing or trying to redirect and let me just play a few.


HARRIS: Attorney General Barr, has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested ...

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): You, in fact, exonerated him in your press conference ...

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): You said the president fully cooperated with the investigation. but his attorney ...

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Is that just buying time? Is that legitimate? What's your


GOODMAN: I think he's buying time and he also is trying to figure out a way to wiggle around it, so that if the Senator goes off-script and reformulates the question just some other way that's his opening. So I think it's a move and he plays a time and again, he did it in April as well with members of the House and the Senate. It seems like a signature move on his part.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And then the big question, of course, is why, what would be the motive? It's not like Bill Barr has known for Trump for a long time. We're going to talk about that, what the motive could be for all this. And Mueller's turn, the Special Counsel could be testifying very soon. Will he get the last word.

And Stephen Moore is out, no longer the President's pick for the Federal Reserve and it was the Republicans who turned on him.


[19:28:03] BURNETT: Tonight, Mueller's turn. The Special Council could be testifying before Congress as early as May 15th. There's no shortage of questions, of course, for Mueller. The whole country wants to hear from him, the whole world wants to hear from him.

The Attorney General Bill Barr has now taken jabs at him for his handling of the investigation. Jessica Schneider is out front.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER: The Special Counsel seeming to shield his face from the intensifying media glare Thursday morning as he arrive to work. The scrutiny stepped up after the Attorney General belittled Mueller's complaints about the way Barr characterized the Special Counsel's report to Congress at the end of March.


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


SCHNEIDER: The jab went unanswered by Mueller's team who declined to comment. The relationship between Barr and Mueller appears to be fraying. It was just earlier this year that Bill Barr touted their friendship at his confirmation hearing.


BARR: The Barrs and Muellers were good friends and would be good friends when this is all over and so forth.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHNEIDER: In fact the two go back decades. They've known each other

since at least the 1980s when they both worked at the Justice Department. Barr was Deputy Attorney General, Mueller was in charge of the department's criminal division.


BARR: I have known Bob Mueller for 30 years. We work closely together throughout my previous tenure at the Department of Justice. We've been friends since and I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service.


SCHNEIDER: Their relationship extended beyond the office. Their wives went to bible study together. The Barrs and Mullers have attended each other's children's weddings. But Barr's close friendship with the man probing the President reportedly caught Trump off guard. Sources say the President complained to aides that he was unaware just how close the Special Counsel and his Attorney General pick were.

In January, Bill Barr even rebuffed the President's favorite phrase to defend Mueller's nearly two-year investigation.


BARR: I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch-hunt.


[19:29:58] SCHNEIDER: But lately, Barr's tone has seemed to shift.


SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): Do you believe that the investigation that Director Mueller undertook was a witch-hunt or illegal as been asserted by the President?

BARR: It really depends on where you're sitting.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barr criticized Mueller yesterday for not coming to a complete conclusion on obstruction.

BARR: The other thing that was confusing to me is that the investigation carried on for a while. So, my question is or was why were those investigated if you weren't going to reach a decision on them?

SCHNEIDER: Their differences in legal and public relation strategy now on full display. Mueller wrote two letters to the attorney general in late March, telling Barr his four-page letter to Congress did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of the office's work and conclusions.

BARR: I said, Bob, what's with the letter? You know, why don't you just pick up the phone and call me if there's an issue?


SCHNEIDER: Robert Mueller has remained notoriously silent. We have not heard him utter a word in the two years he's been special counsel, and his press team rarely commented on stories swirling in the media.

But House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is promising to put Mueller on the hot seat. Nadler says the Justice Department is not objecting to Mueller's appearance that Nadler is now eyeing for May 15th, but crucially, there has been no confirmation from Mueller himself -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And that is crucial. Thank you.

And now, David Priess, chief operating officer of the Lawfare Institute. He's also a former CIA intelligence officer who spent a lot of time with then FBI Director Bob Mueller, briefing him daily.

David Rivkin also with us. He's known Attorney General Bill Barr for more than 30 years and work in the Department of Justice under President George H.W. Bush.

All right. You all know the players here more than anyone.

David Priess, let me start with you because we're still awaiting confirmation from Mueller, you know, on this date last night, Mary Gay Scanlon was on the show. She was definitive it was May 15th. Now, there's questions, will it or won't it? So, what's Mueller going to do if he does appear?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: We have lots of evidence from the past that will suggest what Mueller will do. And that is he'll answer the questions truthfully, he'll answer any questions as forthright as he can and he's not going to play games because we have literally hundreds of hours of testimony that Robert Mueller has given before congressional committees.

And you're not going to find scandal. You're going not going to find diatribes. You're not going to find political gamesmanship in those hearings. Bob Mueller plays it straight, and that's what I suspect he will do in these hearings as well.

BURNETT: So, David Rivkin, you know Bill Barr well, right? And he made a point of saying he knows Mueller well. As we point out, their wives know each other well. They're friendly.

Why do you think he got so personal yesterday when it came to talking about Mueller? You know, there were several moments but I think that moment when he used the word snitty showed some emotion. It showed what he thought and it was a sort of nasty thing to say about somebody.


BURNETT: Go ahead. DAVID RIVKIN, HAD KNOWN BARR FOR 30 YEARS: Erin, let me make a

falling prediction.


RIVKIN: When special counselor Mueller testifies, I agree he testifies truthfully and fully.


RIVKIN: They're not going to find any daylight between what he is going to say and what the attorney general has said. That's the important thing.

As to the snitty remark, look, it is -- there can be some nuanced differences between Mr. Mueller and Mr. Barr. Mr. Barr, of course, is the attorney general, Mueller is an inferior officer, about how do you summarize in four pages a nearly 500-page report.

A couple of points, however. At the time the summarization taking place, Bill Barr, we know that, from reporting and his testimony, gave Mr. Mueller an opportunity to read the letter. Mr. Mueller declined that.

BURNETT: That's true. Mr. Mueller had ordered him four versions written by his own time which Barr refused to use.

RIVKIN: No, this is the report of the attorney general. It's the job of attorney general to decide what summary to provide. The executive summaries that Mr. Mueller put forward are going to all be released.

You've got to understand something. This is what infuriates me. The whole notion about some kind of lying and obfuscation. Morality aside, law inside, what sense does it make for Mr. Barr to release a misleading summary knowing full he's going to release a full done report with a tiny redaction in a matter of weeks?


BURNETT: It's a fair point, can I get your point, David Priess --

RIVKIN: Why are we obsessing about this?

BURNETT: OK, because you have a point except for he took weeks to do it.

RIVKIN: He took weeks, ordinarily it would have taken months.

BURNETT: Three percent of the American public have read it. Maybe you would put it out because you knew no one would ever read it and if you put out a nuanced and somewhat misleading summary --

RIVKIN: You sell American public short. You sell American public short.

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: Yes, you sure would but how can't you say that's not exactly what he did?

RIVKIN: Well, that's absurd, with respect, supposition.

Let me also tell you one other thing. It is highly unusual, and they have those debates in the executive branch which I have an opportunity to be engaged. You have those debates passionately in private.

It is highly unusual and indeed in my opinion worse than snitty to send two letters to your boss in a space of several days, several days after the summary was released, versus picking up a phone as Attorney General Barr said and talking about it.


BURNETT: David Priess, answer David Rivkin as to why. Why Mueller would do that? A man that he's known for many years.

PRIESS: Right, let's break that down.

BURNETT: He chooses to put into a letter again that Barr's summary, which we're all using that word, but Barr says it isn't a summary, did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusion. It's not a minor agreement.

So, David Priess, why would he put that in a letter as opposed to doing what David Rivkin is suggesting?

PRIESS: Because he's doing what your other guest is suggesting, because he did not go public. Bob Mueller did not call a press conference. He did not invite reporters in to tell them what he thought of the attorney general's non-summary of his report. He put it in a letter to his boss privately. That is exactly what you do.

I was a manager in federal government. If one of my subordinates thought that I was doing something that was improper with their work, would I want them to ignore it? No. A good manager would want that person, a person of duty and responsibility to come forward and say, boss, here's how I think you're misrepresenting this, here's what I think you're doing wrong, and I would want that person to do so in private.

That is exactly what Bob Mueller did by giving the attorney general a chance to revisit his summary when he prepared when he said, I don't think this accurately characterizes the nature of what we did. Sir, here's a chance to revisit this before you do something like that again.


BURNETT: David Rivkin, why would Barr put out a report the way he did?

RIVKIN: The reason he's smiling is because no serious person can believe that the purpose of those two letters, I frankly hope it's not Mr. Mueller, but his staff is responsible -- the purpose of those two letters was not to leak them on the eve of Mr. Barr's testimony. Come on, let's be real.


PRIESS: He didn't write those letters, he signed something --


RIVKIN: I'm trying to be charitable to him, quite frankly. I believe he was pressured into doing it by your staff.

I sat in many debates at the highest level of the government where people yelled at each other because they disagreed. Whenever you try to give a sense of, what, a 400-plus-page report says in four pages, reasonable people can disagree about it --

BURNETT: He shouldn't have done it. I'm sorry, it comes back to a certain point that he just shouldn't have done it. You don't put something out that may not be accurate when you know no one is going to be able to read the real thing. I cannot get my arms around that.

RIVKIN: For sure, if he waited for weeks to release the full report, with proper redactions, you and others in the media would be screaming for his head. He did his best.

BURNETT: Let us do it and we would have had the whole report instead of having it color the public's perception.

RIVKIN: He did his best to release a short summary as he understood the report and then very quickly, faster in ever in our history, he released the whole darn report with minimal redaction. What more can a reasonable person do? Let's get the partisanship off the table for God's sake and stop pointing fingers at people.

PRIESS: Let me give you one thought, Erin, because I got to know Bob Mueller pretty well by briefing him every morning on his daily intelligence in the era after 9/11. If you think this is a man who is going to be bullied by his subordinates into signing a letter that he didn't agree with, you don't know Bob Mueller.

RIVKIN: Then I'm sorry.

BURNETT: Are you really saying, David Rivkin, that you think Bob Mueller was pressured? That's out there.

RIVKIN: We are psycho analyzing things. I thought they were pressuring him. Let's see who is right.

Why don't you call us back after he testifies? The bottom line is I believe it was a wrong -- it was not unlawful. I'm not accusing him of illegality, unlike people do with General Barr, but it was improper for him to send those two letters worded as they were versus picking up the phone. Look, he was given a choice to read the letter. He said no.


BURNETT: Wouldn't you write a letter because you want it memorialized exactly like the president of the United States told Don McGahn, he wanted, right? You write a letter because you want it to be part of the record. You want it on paper. You don't want somebody's memory of a telephone conversation.

RIVKIN: Do you not want first to read the darn draft letter and then have a dialogue versus saying, no, and then waiting several days to see which way it gets spun in the media.

BURNETT: So, that point, David Priess, can you answer why you think Bob Mueller refused to read Barr's summary in advance?

RIVKIN: And waited several days before coming --

PRIESS: We can't get into the mind -- I think it's fair to say, we can't get into the mind of either Bob Barr or Bob Mueller into their heart. We don't know what their intentions were. What we have the actual evidence, the text of the letter which is far from snitty. That is not the adjective I would use to describe that letter nor would I would use to describe Bob Mueller.

I would describe it as a good-faith effort to say, hey, boss, you're putting something out there publicly which has not characterized the full context that we have given you. And I'm making you aware of that fact because that's my duty. That's my responsibility. That's the honorable thing to do.

It's exactly the thing we should expect government officers to do when their boss is getting something that isn't quite right.

[19:40:05] That's good government.

RIVKIN: Let me just make one final point.

BURNETT: I'll give you the final word.

RIVKIN: Especially on government regulations and the constitutional principle. Once Mr. Mueller finished his work, the buck passed to the attorney general. It was Attorney General Barr's job to summarize the report. Mr. Mueller in good faith, I'm not questioning that, may disagree with it. Doesn't mean somebody was unethical.

Let's stop this silliness, OK? I can bet you 100 people would summarize in four pages a 500-page report, I'm going to disagree with each other about whether it will capture all of the essence of it.

BURNETT: And you know what? I completely agree with you, which is why you shouldn't try to summarize something in four pages --

RIVKIN: Or he should have waited several weeks and be slammed by everybody including you --

BURNETT: Yes, absolutely. You hold your head high. You put it out. These guys are tough. Thank you.

And next, Steve Moore this morning confident the nomination to the Federal Reserve would be safe.


STEPHEN MOORE, ECONOMIST: This is going to be probably a three-month process. I'm not too concerned about this.


BURNETT: Well, except when then Trump tweeted.

Plus, the fight for 2020 and the long running feud between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. Are we about to see those two go at it again?


BURNETT: New tonight, another Trump pick out. Stephen Moore out for consideration on the Federal Reserve amid Republican outrage over some of his sexist comments.

Out just after he told reporters, quote: My biggest ally is the president. He's full speed ahead. I'm all in.

Well, his biggest all in ally tweeted an hour later, quote: Moore has, quote, decided to withdraw. It's unclear who decided obviously but, you know, Moore submitted the letter withdrawing.

OUTFRONT now, member of President Trump's 2020 Reelect Advisory Council, Rob Astorino, and national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", Joan Walsh. They are back, take two on this topic.

OK. Rob, it couldn't be more clear that Moore was not going to drop out. In fact, his biggest ally is the president, he's full speed ahead, I'm all in. How in the world could he say that and an hour later the president tweets out he's going out. How did he go out?

ROB ASTORINO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I think it was the humane thing to do because Moore was going to go through the meat grinder and he was not going to survive.

[19:45:02] However, White House --

BURNETT: They shouldn't have let him make those comments, right?


ASTORINO: Second step is to nominate and not backwards. They've stumbled on some unforced errors that they really should never have. Now, Dr. Jackson, who was, you know, the White House doctor, I think that was fine. I think he was falsely accused. Actually, they never went through the process.

But some of the picks that the president makes which are outside the box, I have no problem with him going outside the box, however, please --

BURNETT: Do it right.

ASTORINO: Google first.

BURNETT: There is a process. You have to have respect for a process in this system in trying to be you and breaking the rules, norms, they break norms they shouldn't break.

ASTORINO: Well, there's a reason why they're norms.


ASTORINOI: I think what the White House should do and whoever is the most -- the biggest confidante for the president in the Senate, whether that's Graham, whomever, they have to have a relationship where they say, hey, look, this is what I'm thinking of. Do you have any problem with it?

So far, we haven't --

JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because people would have said, yes, I see a problem.


BURNETT: How does it mow that Steve Moore goes out and says this --

WALSH: That's why I take issue with Rob saying it was a humane way to do it. I don't think that's particularly humane because you're embarrassing yourself in the morning.

BURNETT: Well, they embarrass themselves overall because they're not in the same page and certainly, it's very embarrassing to him.

WALSH: Yes, and then you find out, I don't know if that's how he found out, but then the next thing, he makes this statement, I'm all in. And the next thing you know, I mean said on Tuesday, watch Twitter, that's what we're going to learn about it.

ASTORINO: I was shocked on Tuesday. I thought with Joan kept pushing for the nomination supporting Steve Moore.


BURNETT: Here's the thing about this because this was -- there was reporting, right? There was Google searches on things Moore had said, right, to the point that this was completely unavoidable. However, this did not get killed as the press was talking about it. This got killed because Republicans said no way.

Here's a few.


SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): I'm not supportive and I think there are many of my colleagues that are not supportive either.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Comments like that sure don't make me happy.

REPORTER: Do you have any concerns?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Well, certainly there are some comments that he has made in the past that he's apologized for.


BURNETT: He didn't have the votes and it was Republicans.

ASTORINO: When Joni Ernst said it, I said, OK, because it wasn't Murkowski, it wasn't Collins, that usually give the White House problems. It was pretty hard core Republicans that have always have their back and they had some real reservations.

WALSH: And she's also up for reelection.


WALSH: She doesn't want to see ads tying her --

BURNETT: She's been bluntly honest about this personal history. The country has changed. The reason that we're here is what Steve Moore said. And again, as I pointed out, I've known him for a long time, I've never heard him speak this way, but here wer are, and this witness record is here.

The president today says in his statement, Joan, I've asked Steve to work with me towards economic future in our country. OK? In other words, I'm not going to nominate for something I need approval for, but I'm still going to work with the guy.


BURNETT: This is a guy Congress said we don't want you to work with because of this.


MOORE: The male needs to be the bread winner of the family and one of the reasons you've seen the decline of the family, not just in the black community but also it's happening in the white community as well is because women are more economically self-sufficient.

Can I say something politically incorrect?


MOORE: Republican woman are so much more beautiful than Democratic women.

Much more important than that, Republican woman are so much smarter than Democratic women. I and most Americans love a woman who stands by her man. That's what a wife should do and stand by her husband.



BURNETT: OK. But is the president basically saying I'm sorry, Steve Moore, I'm cool with all of that. He's saying he's going to work with him.

ASTORINO: No, no, no, he's not going forward with the official nomination, however, you still have ideas that I can use. You are still helpful and an expert on things that I could use your expertise on.

WALSH: You might find them on the campaign.

ASTORINO: That's true.

WALSH: He doesn't need to be confirmed.

BURNETT: Rob Porter.

ASTORINO: There would be nobody left to talk to in Washington if every little thing somebody has done in the past were crossed off.

WALSH: These are not little things.

BURNETT: You have a point that this is a consistency --


WALSH: One or two things.

BURNETT: Why you should have someone over 25 years?

ASTORINO: I'm saying, can the president quietly talk to Steven Moore about some economic issues? Yes, why wouldn't he? Why shouldn't he?

BURNETT: All right. OK. Thank you both.

And next, the fight for 2020, they've been at each other's throats for years.


ELIZABETH WARREN, THEN-LAW PROFESSOR: Senator, if you're not going to fix that problem, you can't take away the last shred of protection for these families.



[19:50:00] BURNETT: Oh and now, they're back. Plus, there was no grilling on Capitol Hill but something was certainly fried.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, the fight for 2020. The Republican Party is all against Joe Biden. A pro-Trump super PAC launching its second ad hitting Biden today as the president continues his Twitter war against the former vice president.

An RNC spokesperson writing an op-ed for Fox News. Quote: Biden is no working class warrior.

But the Republicans aren't the only ones taking on Biden, because, you know, why not have a crowd running after the ball.



M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two presidential candidates poised to clash on the campaign trail over a decades old feud. 2005, Joe Biden, a member of the Senate judiciary committee pushing a law to make it harder for Americans to file for bankruptcy. On the other side, law professor Elizabeth Warren, fighting back from the witness chair.

WARREN: They have squeezed enough out of these families in interest and fees and payments that never pay do you know the principle.

BIDEN: Maybe you should talk about usury rates there, maybe that's what we should talk about, not bankruptcy.

WARREN: Senator, I'll be the first. Invite me.

BIDEN: I know you will. But let's call a spade a spade.

LEE: It was hardly Warren's first time going after Biden. She had called him out in numerous op-eds and essays like this article in "The Harvard Women's Law Journal" in 2002, writing: Biden supports legislation that will fall hardest on women, and calling him a zealous advocate on behalf of one of his biggest contributors, the financial services industry.

Now some two decades later, Biden and Warren are facing off again. And their feud appears far from over.

In an unusual move, Warren openly criticizing Biden last week on the same day he launched his campaign.

WARREN: At a time when the biggest financial institutions in this country were trying to put the squeeze on millions of hardworking families, Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.

LEE: The ideological differences are sharp. Warren, a leader of the progressive movement, with a campaign built around tackling corruption and taking on the rich and the powerful.

WARREN: We're going to fight for working people. We're going to build a grassroots movement.

LEE: Biden casting himself as the experienced statesman, comfortably embracing bipartisanship, the candidate with the moral clarity to take on Trump.

BIDEN: He will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.

LEE: Come the summer, the two could face off again on a debate stage where Warren may be more pointed than she was at this CNN town hall.

WARREN: I got in that fight, and I fought it for ten years. And by the end of that fight, I fully understood that every single Republican stood there for the banks and half of the Democrats did.

LEE: And Biden may be less willing to offer up any compliments, as he did in this moment in 2005.

WARREN: Senator, if you're not going to fix that problem, you can't take away the last shred of protection for these families.

[19:55:05] BIDEN: I got it. OK. You're very good, professor.


LEE: Warren is back in Iowa tomorrow for a two-day swing. Very interesting that both Warren and Bernie Sanders have been taking these early jabs at Joe Biden on policy issues. We'll see if Warren continues that over the weekend when she is back out on the trail -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, M.J. It's going to be fascinating to watch. All these personal interactions.

All right. Next, Bill Barr's congressional hearing was for the birds, the fried kind.


BURNETT: Tonight, an empty chair and chicken two ways. Here is Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorney General William Barr was supposed to be on the menu for a grilling in the House Judiciary Committee. Instead they settled for chicken, a ceramic chicken and a bucket of KFC. It was only 9:00 in the morning when Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen chowed down on chicken purchased the night before.

A better breakfast choice would have been --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kentucky Fried Chicken and waffles are back.

MOOS: But the Tennessee Democrat was making a show of the no-show attorney general, placing the statue atop the chicken bucket and proclaiming.

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): He's here.

Chicken Barr should have shown up today and answered questions.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Ordinarily at this point, I would introduce the witness.

MOOS: Instead there was split screen shots of his empty seat. The hearing was gaveled to a close despite Republican protests.


MOOS: The mic was cut off.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): The procedures --

MOOS: And Congressman Cohen transported the chicken to the witness table and placed it in front of the Honorable William P. Barr's placard as photographers rushed in to capture the 1950s vintage statue made by a staffer's uncle.

Cohen even tweeted this image of a feathered attorney general.

(on camera): Wait a minute, is that a chicken impersonator I hear squawking outside the committee room, interrupting Chairman Nadler live on at least three networks.

NADLER: The administration --

MOOS: But not everyone was amused. Leave the childish name-calling to Trump, please. Don't stoop to his level.

The congressman kept his statue handy for interviews.

COHEN: The message is that Bill Barr is a chicken.

MOOS: #chickenbarr inspired jokes. Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he was afraid to testify. But Representative Cohen treated his chicken tender.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: You're watching Jerrold Nadler there. It actually was pretty funny.

OK. Thank you for joining us.

Anderson starts right now with "AC360."