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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Is Interviewed About A Resolution She Introduced On Impeachment; One Report With Different Interpretations; Special Counsel Robert Mueller Breaks His Silence; Robert Mueller Leaving The Investigation Up To Congress. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 29, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: This was positively clear. Russia interfered. They are going to do it again. And seeing how effectively their efforts put us at each other's throats, they have every incentive to go bigger than ever.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Are you more interested in the welfare of the country? Are you more interested in truth or facts, or are you more interested in protecting the president?

I think that's a question not only for the people of this president, the people around him, but also the people supporting him, and that includes viewers and voters of this president and supporters of this president.

Which do you care about the most? Protecting someone who has clearly misled you when it comes to what's in this report, protecting them at all costs, or protecting the country and our election process? I think that's a good question to ask people who are watching us tonight.

CUOMO: I do. I think it's a good question, and I think if you wanted to be helpful, you can say, by the way, you can have both. Fight over whatever he did and he didn't do and what it means and he doesn't mean, but keep your eye on this.

The idea that the Russian thing was hollow, that there was really nothing to this look in the fur, that's just not true. And look, people have to examine the God forbid scenario, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: If they are better at it next time and they mess with a state, if we have like Florida, you know those allegations that were going on about their machines.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: If we have proof that they got in there and we don't know how and we don't know to what extent, think about the chaos in the current situation. In the Senate, Klobuchar and one of her Republican colleagues they

want to put forward a bill saying, hey, we're going to do paper backup in the states just in case, God forbid, so that if Don Lemon like, the secretary of state says they got in there, and I don't know about my vote, I didn't vote for him. You have paper backups.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Even that can't get through.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, you say you can have both. But if you're going to have both, you have to be armed with knowledge and the facts. You can't be -- I saw some of the -- quite frankly, some of the people who were contorting themselves to make excuses for what Justin Amash was saying, what Robert Mueller was saying, and I just wonder like, are they brainwashed? Did they -- it's obvious that they did not read the report.

And in just moments from now, I want everyone to listen, because I'm going to give them, Chris, I'm just going to lay it up as if I was a college professor. I don't mean to be condescending, but I think people need to hear it plainly and distinctly.

CUOMO: Good, do it.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Because look what's happening. This guy, Mr. Mueller, Bob Mueller, is as Republican as you get.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: OK. This is a rock rib Republican. And they're coming at him now. And saying, we think he is partisan. You just heard Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, friend of the president hey, I didn't think he was partisan guys, but now after today. First of all, the guy is inherently partisan. He is a lifelong Republican. And that's why so many were so happy that he got the appointment.

LEMON: But basically, he said, Chris, read what's in the report.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's all he said.

LEMON: They were happy with the report. They said, I said this in the report.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: So, read it, the report, and he said, we know he thinks the results of the report were misinterpreted.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: But so there you go. I got to get to it because I really want people to pay attention.

Thank you, Chris. Always good to see you, my brother as we say. I'll see you. I'll see you tomorrow.

CUOMO: See you tomorrow.

LEMON: So, please, everyone, go with me if you will. This is professor Lemon. CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

I will be your guide this evening to the facts, for the facts. I want to do what you could call a bit of Mueller 101 tonight. Talk about what the special counsel said, what he didn't say, and what it all means in very plain English, OK? So, as we should always do, let's begin at the beginning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that the sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, there you have it, class. Right out of the gate, Mueller is refuting one of the president's favorite talking points, OK? His claim that the investigation was a witch hunt. This -- this was not a witch hunt. It was an absolutely legal investigation of what Russia did to interfere in our election.

Are you listening to me? Six separate federal courts, six separate federal courts upheld Mueller's appointment, his authority and his prosecutorial decisions. Six separate federal courts.

[22:05:02] Yet the attorney general who is the top law enforcement official in the federal government said this less than two weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The president calls this a witch hunt, he calls it a hoax. Would you agree with that?

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, as I've said, if he were the president, I think he would view it as a witch hunt and a hoax, because at the time he was saying he was innocent, and that he was being falsely accused, and that's if you're falsely accused, you would think that something was a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, the attorney general is perfectly willing to throw around accusations like witch hunt. Even though he has got to know that that is not true.

I want you to listen, though, to what Mueller said today about Russia's election attack and whether there was coordination between Moscow and anybody associated with the Trump campaign. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to interfere the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign's response to this activity as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was really important. Did you hear it? Insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. So, Mueller did not exonerate the president of collusion. You've heard him say no collusion over and over? But that's just not true.

The fact is, Mueller concluded there wasn't enough evidence to charge anybody with conspiracy, not that there was no evidence, there wasn't enough. He didn't say the president was exonerated.

Again, he didn't say there was no evidence. He said that there was insufficient evidence. He said there wasn't enough evidence for a charge, which, for a man like Mueller, who as you saw today, he chooses his words very carefully. So, what is he saying there? It sounds like he's saying there was some evidence but not enough. Contrast what Mueller said today with what the Attorney General Barr said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: There was no evidence of the Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government's hacking.

MUELLER: There was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Danny, rerack that, please. I want you to play it again, OK? You got it. Let me know when you have it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: There was no evidence of the Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government's hacking.

MUELLER: There was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Thank you, Danny. Did you hear that with your own ears? Are you going to believe your own ears or what someone tells you? OK. So, the president himself admitted today, tweeting there was insufficient evidence, which is a long way away from 100 percent exonerated. So was this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to hear that one again as well, please.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Just if we had confidence that the president had not committed a crime, we would have said so. If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

There's no two ways of reading that. If that sounds familiar, then you get a gold star. You know why? Because it is right there in Mueller's report. It's page 2 of the second volume, and it says, quote, "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would have said so."

Did you read the report? Did you -- I've been saying every single night pretty much since this report came out, did you read the report? This is the perfect example of why we should read the report. And it's something the attorney general, the president and his defenders cannot spin.

They probably don't want you to read the report because then you would have read that.

[22:09:54] The special counsel flat out saying he and his investigators did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice, saying if they had confidence, the president of the United States did not commit a crime, they would have said so. They didn't say that. They didn't. And Mueller made sure that he said that out loud today.

Again, I want you to contrast what Barr said with what Mueller said. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: The deputy attorney general and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense.

MUELLER: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: And there's more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. The introduction to the volume 2 of our report explains that decision.

It explains that under longstanding department policy, a present president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited.

A special counsel's office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Did you fall for the OK-dokey initially? Drink a bunch of Kool-Aid? Mueller is absolutely clear there that the reason he could not charge the president with obstruction, couldn't even consider charging him, was because the DOJ guidelines tied his hands.

The guidelines that state a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime while in office, yet the attorney general, who knew exactly what Mueller had said in his report, danced around it in his congressional testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: In your press conference, you said that you asked the special counsel whether he would have made a charging decision or recommend charges on obstruction, but for the Office of Legal Counsel's opinion on charging sitting presidents and that the special counsel made clear that was not the case.

So, Mr. Barr, is that an accurate description of your conversation with the special counsel?

BARR: Yes, he reiterated several times in a group meeting that he was not saying that but for the OLC opinion, he would have found obstruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What Mueller was saying was that he couldn't even consider charging the president specifically because of the regulations against charging a sitting president. So why investigate at all? Mueller hinted today at the reason.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: First the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A process other than the criminal justice system. There's only another process. Come on, you all, think. Critical thinking. It sounds like the special counsel is calling for Congress to pick up where he left off. That process has a name. It begins with the letter I. Impeachment. Mueller may not have said the I word, but you can believe Nancy Pelosi is hearing it from all sides.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Nothing is off the table, but we do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case that even the Republican Senate which at the time seems to be an objective jury and will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, so there is so much confusion out there, so much spinning, let me tell you. Here's where we are tonight.

After two years of silence, Robert Mueller has finally spoken to the American people. He says he did not exonerate the president. He implies the rest is up to Congress. And we all know what that means.

[22:15:07] And he says he doesn't want to say any more about this. He doesn't want to testify to Congress about his report. With all due respect, though, to the special counsel and the hard work of his office, I'm not sure that that will ultimately be his call to make. You know why?

Because I just want to show you the perfect example of why he should, OK? This maybe you. I know a lot of people watch this, the top of the show, to hear my take and then they go on social media or they yell at their buddies and friends, maybe even people who maybe at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This is why it's important for him to speak and testify. OK? Again, this could be you. Listen to this voter at a town hall for Congressman Justin Amash just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHY GARNAAT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn't heard that before, and I mainly listen to the conservative news, and I haven't heard anything negative about that report, and President Trump had been exonerated. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Hadn't heard, mainly listens to conservative news. What does that say you -- say to you about Trump TV and all of those, the echo chamber out there, all the people who are carrying water for this president?

Listen, I don't mean to demean anything or say anything negative about that voter because she's doing what many people do. They listen to news that just reaffirms their own beliefs. She had no idea.

Maybe that's why it was important for the attorney general and the president to get that narrative out there before they even released the report, which a lot of people said, no, fully exonerated. The president, no collusion.

That voter, who cares enough about what is going on in this country, to go to a town hall had no idea that the president has not been exonerated. Think about that. That is because the spin is drowning out the facts.

Again, it is why Attorney General Barr did what he did. It's why the president does what he does. It's why the president's state-run television network airs and amplifies it all without question. And it shows you why it is so important for Robert Mueller to speak out again, to testify, to tell us the facts out loud.

The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is between a rock and a hard place right now, trying to stall members of her party who are calling for impeachment.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee joins me next.

[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Robert Mueller finally speaking out today, correcting the record weeks after his redacted report was released, saying he didn't exonerate the president of obstruction of justice, hinting that he will leave the rest up to Congress.

Now with more Democrats joining the call for impeachment, Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker is under even more pressure. A Democratic House member telling CNN members are, quote, "growing more restless." But my next guest may have a way out of this impasse.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee joins me. She sits on the House judiciary committee.

Congresswoman, good to have you on. Thank you. It's a very important news night here. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller closed up shop today. Do you feel like Mueller was calling on the House to pick up the baton?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: I think he clearly was. I think Mr. Mueller's voice today was the rocket that pierced the skies. The sound was resounding, was loud and was continuing, and actually, Don, I really do think that this was a beginning of a wake-up call for America.

I couldn't move around my district without hearing people comment on what they had heard from Mr. Mueller and asked the question about what we were going to do next. I think this is a crucial time to do two things.

One, to emphasize that the behavior of the advocates that the president had done nothing including the administration were absolutely invalidated today. The attorney general was invalidated today, and those of us who engage in investigation in the appropriate manner in the oversight responsibility that Congress has, the article 1 body, we were invalidated.

And so, we've now got to move to next steps and we now have to be very reflective on how you continue to expose and educate the facts to the American people.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about next steps, but let's go to something that you said, I think, that's really important. You said this is a wake-up call for the American people, you believe today was.

For a lot of people, Congresswoman, it was the first time that they had heard Mueller's voice. For some it was the first time that they've really heard the clear-cut conclusions of his report. Will it be the last time the American people hear from Robert Mueller?

LEE: Absolutely not. I think it's crucial that Mr. Mueller comes before the judiciary committee, the House Judiciary Committee, and frankly I believe Mr. Mueller is a man of integrity. No one likes to be questioned, no one likes an inquisition, but he is a man of duty.

And ongoing discussions have not ceased with respect to the chairman of the judiciary committee and Mr. Mueller and his representatives. He now is an individual who is no longer employed, though there is certainly some argument about executive privilege, but we're finding that is getting weaker and weaker, and Mr. Mueller can make the determination himself as to how he will come to the committee.

That is something striking about a voice of a person who has not chosen to make his voice the story. Mr. Mueller has worked quietly and diligently for two years. He's not engaged in any open discussion but serious investigation.

[22:30:03] And I believe that his voice before the judiciary committee seated at that table with members objectively and effectively questioning him, and it will be the question to the Republicans as whether or not they want to make a buffoonery of this or whether or not they want to do the bidding of the American people which is question Mr. Mueller fairly and have him answer the questions in the mode in which he wants to do so. When h does that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Will you subpoena him if you have to?

LEE: When he does that -- pardon me? LEMON: Will you subpoena him if you have to?

LEE: We like to leave that discussion, Don, not to be the discussion. We'd like to say that we're in discussions with him and that we hope that we will see him in front of the committee soon. We know we have the power to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Congresswoman, respectively -- before we run out of time, I just want to talk to you about this resolution because I think it's a very important thing what you did, OK?

Because you recently introduced a resolution of investigation as an interim step toward impeachment. You mentioned next steps earlier, and I said I was going to get to them, and I want to make sure I do. How would that work, and would it satisfy the increasing calls for impeachment?

LEE: Well, it's the eighth row of page 396. And thank you very much. Let me talk very quickly.

I have voted for impeachment before in other issues before the House, so I'm not afraid of it. But I know it and I understand the consternation between the leadership and others.

And so, this is eight row of page 396. It is the resolution of investigation. It instructs the House Judiciary Committee and obviously we are investigating, to investigate to determine if there is misconduct by the President of the United States.

If that misconduct is found, we then exercise our article 1, section 2, clause 5 powers. It gives a bifurcated bite at the apple. It is a step in the direction of holding the president accountable.

It gives the House the power to vote, and to have a vote on the question of an investigation, a much more strengthened investigation, and then the instruction to the House Judiciary Committee specifically to determine if there is misconduct on the part of the president.

Obviously, Mr. Mueller gave nine issues of obstruction, but it would give us the opportunity to be as open to the American people as possible. We would hope then that Mr. McGahn and others who have chosen to not regard our invite in the way that it should, even though there are processes that we're going to use, would be before our committee.

So, I believe it is an appropriate method, it is an appropriate for discussion by all members, it does not negate other investigations and other committees, and certainly it does not negate the cry that we've been hearing.

But what it does do is give the American people time to catch up. The impeachment is a political process. They have to catch up. This is -- we are their servants. We act at their behest. We also have character and responsibility and the integrity of the rule of law. So, the combinations need to come together. I think that they can come

together and we can do what is right on behalf of the American people. That is our only task, to do what's right on behalf of the American people, and as you have said earlier, to cease the attack on the elections coming up in 2020.

LEMON: Yes. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

LEE: Thank you for having me. Reverend Barber says hello.

LEMON: Thank you very much. And tell him I said hello back. I appreciate you.

LEE: I will.

LEMON: We rarely hear from Robert Mueller, so what made him speak up today? I'm going to ask someone who knows him really well. His former deputy at the FBI joins me next.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Robert Mueller breaking his silence today on his last day as Special Counsel, setting the record straight on his investigation, saying that he didn't exonerate the president on obstruction, and hinting that he'll leave the rest up to Congress. I want to bring in now a man who knows Mueller well, and that is John Pistole, who served as a deputy to Mueller during his tenure as the FBI director.

John, I appreciate you so much joining us. You were Mueller's deputy director for nearly six years. So I need you to be the Mueller translator for us. If he had concerns, which we know that he did about how this work was being represented, why wait until today to speak out, nearly two months after he finished the report?

JOHN PISTOLE, FORMER TSA ADMINISTRATOR: You know, I think there is a lot of moving parts, obviously, from his appointment in May of 17 over the last two years in terms of preparing a comprehensive, thorough report based on that investigation to say, yes, was there collusion, was there obstruction, and was there -- were there attempts by anybody outside of the Russia efforts, anybody in the U.S. government or coming into the government that tried to influence the campaign?

So all those moving parts came to a head today, as we saw, where Bob Mueller summarized his findings in a way that said, look, here's the report. Read it for yourself, as you've been encouraging viewers to do since it was provided to the attorney general and to the public then. And to say it's up to you to make your own determination. Don't rely on what people like me or you or anybody else says.

Read the report and see what findings you come up with, what conclusions. And then he obviously, in my mind, teed it up for Congress and the courts to move forward with it. And how that's done is obviously now up to Congress.

LEMON: John, I just want you to listen to this from Mueller today, and then we'll talk. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Was he telling Congress impeachment is the only way forward?

PISTOLE: Well, I sure think he was teeing that up as the most viable option. And I would take what he said a little bit differently, that there may have been evidence. He found insufficient evidence to indict the president. But clearly, at least my reading and understanding of what he said, is that there was some evidence.

[22:35:02] The question was because of the DOJ policy as opposed to the Constitution, but as opposed to the DOJ policy of not indicting a sitting president. Then the normal process would be if there was sufficient evidence to proceed with something outside of a criminal prosecution. Then the Constitution calls for the invocation of potential impeachment proceedings, as you've articulated.

LEMON: Yeah.

PISTOLE: So I think that's what he was saying today in -- about as direct and plain terms other than saying, Congress, I have done my work. It's up to you now to seek impeachment.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Right, right. So listen, I have got to ask you. I know that you support him. But does Mueller have an obligation to speak publicly, to testify even only about the substance of his report?

PISTOLE: Well, so he obviously did that today. And what I would go back to is what was his agreement with Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who asked him to serve after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Listen. I think it makes a difference when you actually see someone sitting there and answering questions, even if he answers questions with the information that he has today. Do you think it's important that he testify and that America sees it and hears it?

PISTOLE: Well, yeah. I think there is a huge appetite, obviously, for that. And I think eventually he may do that. It's -- I think it comes down to what the ground rules that he and the House would agree on, and whether that's in a closed session, which would not be obviously open, or would it be in an open session where he is avoiding that as -- in my mind because they say, look, I have got a 448-page report here.

Let the facts speak for themselves. Because my take on the facts are not as important as what the facts say. And so as he mentioned today in his press conference, let the facts speak for themselves because they are the most powerful evidence. Now, the conclusion from that evidence is a different matter. And so the lens that people look through at that evidence through obviously frames how the outcome that they will come up with.

So I can see where there would be great interest. There is great interest in him testifying. My concern would be that it would become a political circus, and the report itself would not become the focus of attention, but it would be his take on it. And that's what he avoids in my experience with working with him.

LEMON: Thank you, sir.

PISTOLE: He doesn't want to be the center of the story. He wants to be let the report speak for itself.

LEMON: Yeah. And he has said as much. But we shall see in the future if he does it if they ask him, if, you know, if there's a subpoena or what have you. And we'll definitely have you back. John Pistole, thank you so much. If you want to learn more from John, you can look for his op-ed. It's in USA Today. It's tomorrow morning, OK? So check that out. All right, thanks to John Pistole again. We'll be right back.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So after two years of silence, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally spoke out today. He made it clear that he did not exonerate the president, and implied that Congress has some work to do. So now what? Let's discuss with Frank Bruni and Asha Rangappa and CNN's Jim Sciutto, the author of The Shadow War, available everywhere. Thank you, everyone, for joining us this evening.

I mean what a news day. You know, we have them quite often, but this one was particularly momentous, shall we say. So Jim, we're going to start with you. Mueller said that he had confidence that the president did not commit a crime. He would have said so. How important was it to hear Mueller say that himself?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen. It was in the report. But the fact is that most Americans did not read the whole report. And you have a sitting attorney general and a president of the United States who misled on the findings of that report, including on that crucial issue there as to what kept the Special Counsel from indicting the president for obstruction of justice.

Bill Barr made a public case that, well, it was a whole host of things that deemphasized the role of Justice Department policy. Bob Mueller comes out and says, well, in fact, as I said in the report, but now you're hearing it straight from my mouth. It was really the policy that drove the decision, not the evidence. And that's important. We have not heard from him in two years since the start of this investigation.

We were waiting to hear from him. The American public had a right, I think, frankly, to hear from him. And he chose those words. And trust me. It was not only one time that he made that point clear. He said it three or four different ways, and I think that's impactful.

LEMON: Asha, Barr told reporters the day the Mueller report was release. He said that Mueller couldn't reach a conclusion on obstruction. That's not what Mueller said today.

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No. And I think this is why Mueller spoke today. It was his way of saying that the attorney general sits on a throne of lies. He said it in a much nicer way. But basically, he directly contradicted exactly what Jim just said, that he made this decision based on the OLC memo, that if he could exonerate the president, he wouldn't.

And he also said this was no hoax. Russia did, in fact, attack the United States. This is no coup that we had a question that we had to investigate, that any domestic, you know, national security agency would need to investigate. And he basically dispelled all of these myths that have been put out there.

LEMON: A witch hunt and on and on. Frank, I want you to watch what happened today. This is when a reporter asked Barr about this. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:44:54] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Attorney General Barr, Robert Mueller said today that President Trump was not exonerated of obstruction of justice. Why did you exonerate him?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He wouldn't answer, but we know the answer.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's because he doesn't have a good answer.

RANGAPPA: He just walked away.

BRUNI: Yeah. I mean I don't know if he was still acquainted with his integrity when he went into this job. But he's not acquainted with it anymore. I mean he has just been shameful in his spinning of everything in Donald Trump's favor. And, you know, one of the reasons, as Asha said, that Mueller came out today and said what he did is he had to correct the record as pertains to what the attorney general has said.

The attorney general has lied about this and spun it from the moment this report came out. And, you know, that's becoming ever clearer to more and more people. And that's why you saw his back as he walked out the door, because he doesn't have a lot to say for himself. Because what he's done is pretty much indefensible.

LEMON: He misled, as you said, he misled the American people.

SCIUTTO: And keep in mind. This is not the first time that Bob Mueller has made that clear. He wrote not one, but two letters, where he called out the attorney general and told him in no uncertain terms on March 27th, one of the letters, he put it on the air multiple times today, that your summary did not reflect, and I forget the exact wording, but did not reflect the meaning and conclusions of the report.

So this is the third time the Special Counsel has gone on the record, saying, Mr. Barr, your conclusions do not fit my conclusions.

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: Something else that's really important about hearing from Mueller today, which was -- we haven't heard his voice in two years. And we have been told that he is ultimately the architect, the captain of a witch hunt that he is some partisan hothead out to get the president. It was impossible to look at that man today, to listen to his subdued voice and to have that image of him.

And so I think there was a lot of power in simply seeing the subject of all of this spin and lies as someone who is not some partisan hothead.

LEMON: We have got a lot to talk about. Talking about how important is it to hear from Robert Mueller, if it is to hear from them beyond, because, you know, Congress wants him to come in and testify. Also what the president is saying in all of this. We'll talk about that, next.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK, back now with Frank, Asha, and Jim. So listen, the president's attorney is responding, Jay Sekulow. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nothing of substance in Bob's statements that was not already contained in the report.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It is true that Mueller didn't offer anything outside of the report. But I mean, Jim, this is after Barr spun the report on the president, withheld the report for weeks. It was important to hear from Mueller.

SCIUTTO: Bob Mueller made it very clear today he does not want to speak in public. In fact, he said in so many words this is my -- I intend this to be my public statement, that my public statement is the report itself. He apparently felt the need to come out to correct the record to some degree, because his report, you know, over two years of work, thousands of, you know, documents, depositions, etcetera, was spun by the attorney general and the president in a way that was misleading.

So he does -- he goes in public reluctantly because he felt the need to, and that was to correct the record.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Speaking about misleading, I just want to play this. This is from a woman who was at the (Inaudible) town hall last night. And it's not about the woman, but it's about people misleading her because she cared enough to go to a town hall to listen. (Inaudible) She didn't know that there was anything negative in the report about the president. Watch this and we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn't heard that before, and I mainly listen to conservative news. And I hadn't heard anything negative about that report, and President Trump had been exonerated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But again, I think that's -- she's not alone. There are a lot of Americans who are that way. We can't say it's their fault. I guess somewhat. But again, I don't want to demean her but it's just -- it's shocking to me.

BRUNI: Yeah, I mean she's the fruit of the modern information economy, which is so splintered (Inaudible). I mean the key thing she said there is I mainly listen to conservative news. And if you only listen to a given kind of news, liberal, conservative, whatever, you're not getting the full story. You're not getting the same facts that other people are getting.

It's hard to even say what the facts are anymore. And you're sort making decisions that come (Inaudible) conclusions because you're living in essentially an alternate reality. And she seemed sort of pained by it a little bit, you know? Like she didn't realize wow, my universe has been the (Inaudible) but that is the universe. That's the information universe of some of the Americans today.

LEMON: I wonder if things would've looked different, Asha, if before Barr, you know, did his -- spun his narrative. If Robert Mueller had come out and said what he said, then would it be different today.

RANGAPPA: Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

RANGAPPA: It would've been absolutely different. If the day that this has been presented to the attorney general, Robert Mueller had able to give the statement that he gave today, I think that we would have had a completely different trajectory. And I think it shows how the way that we selectively present information can actually shape different realities that people live in. And here's the deal, Don. If we don't have a shared reality that is based on an established set

of facts, which is what the Mueller report is about. Justin Amash has been tweeting about in very eloquent threads, we cannot sustain a democracy. And this is basically what Russian disinformation -- the idea is about is to create so many different alternative realities that people don't know what is true anymore and they just give up.

LEMON: And this is exactly the thing that you write about in your book, Jim Sciutto. The book is called "The Shadow War." And if you want to find out about these things and beyond, make sure you pick up a copy. It is a fascinating book. I've been watching your interviews and reading as much of it as I can with all of this madness.

[22:55:04] SCIUTTO: Well, you've got to finish it, Don.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Read the report. Read "The Shadow War" as well. Yeah. Thank you, guys so much. I really appreciate it. A senior White House official is telling CNN that impeachment would backfire for the Democrats, but is that really true or is it just team Trump playing defense?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.