Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Robert Mueller to Make a Lengthy and Substantive Public Statement This Morning; Congress on Break and Bill Barr Traveling in Alaska; William Barr and White House Received Advance Notice of Today's Statement. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 29, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He himself clarifies exactly whose statement this is, whether it's from him and the counsel's team, period, or whether it had to be cleared.

I would -- I can just tell you from a White House perspective, you would be really anxious to get your hands on that and have a clearance process before he goes public. You would be really anxious. That's just in the nature of the beast of the White House. You know, they try to be protective of the president.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes. I'm sure they would beg, borrow and steal to have a look at --

GERGEN: Yes ,absolutely. Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: -- maybe (ph) we'll know shortly if they --

GERGEN: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- did. If they did.

Shimon Prokupecz, you've been covering this investigation, like, me, since the beginning here. We don't know what the statement -- and how far it's going to be. Laura Jarrett, of course, reporting it's going to be substantial. So we should expect a substantial statement, now, in the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. How significant a moment is this for the investigation?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It's a significant moment for the investigation. Really, a significant moment for this country. Here we are, we're going to finally hear from this man who's been at the center of this investigation, who we have not heard from, has never spoken.

All of a sudden now, today, we get word that he's going to speak. And given all the build-up -- you know, we've been waiting to see if we're going to hear from him in Congress. It's clear he does not want to do that.

This allows him to control the situation. This lengthy statement, he's going to do it his way, he's going to say what he needs to say. A couple of key things, I think, that people need to look for here is

whether or not he is united with the Department of Justice, with specifically the attorney general's findings and what the attorney general has said in terms of this investigation, or is there some kind of divided frontier where he's going to offer his own take on how things went here, and really speak to what he feels in terms of this investigation.

And the other thing is, I think what we're going to see is going to really make this probably about Russia, right? In the end, that's what this investigation was about. How much does he go into that versus the whole obstruction thing, which we've all been focused on. The obstruction part of this investigation.

The other thing I think that's important to note is that this is being done on a day when the attorney general is not in the building, right? He's traveling. I think that's really interesting, the fact that this is happening when the attorney general is not there. He's going to have the podium, Robert Mueller, on his own, sitting there, standing there perhaps. And he's going to speak.

Look, a lot has been said about Robert Mueller for the past two years, about where he stands. You know, there have been some assumptions made about his well-being, about things going on in his life.

You know, of course people have been wanting to hear him speak for so long, and now we're going to have this moment. And also, we're going to get a lot of detail, I think, if this is going to be as lengthy as folks have told us it's going to be.

So you know, I suspect he's going to go into a lot of the thinking behind his decisions. And really ultimately, in the end, try to defend what they did here and what they didn't do, which is just as important -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Lengthy? How long are you being guided that this statement's going to be?

PROKUPECZ: We know it's going to be several minutes. I think Laura Jarrett has said it, probably, best in terms of that it's going to be pretty detailed. So depending on where he goes and how much he -- detail he goes into, I think it's going to be pretty lengthy --

SCIUTTO: Right.

PROKUPECZ: -- based on what she has heard.

SCIUTTO: Right. And just repeating our colleague Laura Jarrett's reporting there, that is that the special counsel's statement, again, at that podium there -- you're seeing live pictures, where it will take place in 27 minutes -- that that statement will be substantial. The Department of Justice says it will relate to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

We still have a number of colleagues with us who have covered this investigation for some time. Shan, you have the advantage of having -- I don't want to say "participated in," but you've certainly been a party to this investigation because you've represented one of the most significant witnesses, and that is Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman for the Trump campaign in 2016.

A substantial statement expected from the special counsel here, a special counsel who has disagreed -- differed publicly with the attorney general on his characterization of the special counsel's findings. If it is indeed a detailed statement, what should we be looking for as he takes that podium there?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the details will be, I think, to expand upon what they really found on the Russian side of the investigation.

And I want to echo both David Gergen and Shimon's comments. You know, looking at the hierarchy, the way the department usually works, there's a big difference between independent counsel -- like when I was counsel to Janet Reno, we had a lot of independent counsels. But we also had some special counsels working on specially designated cases.

A special counsel like Mueller is very much subject to the hierarchy. And you would certainly expect that his statement would have been really vetted through the attorney general.

Now, to Shimon's point on the schedule, I found that was a very intriguing thought, actually. The A.G.'s schedule is very well known. I mean, everything has to be planned around when the A.G.'s in town, when they're not in town.

[10:35:00] For something as significant as this to have been planned when the A.G. is out of town, it suggests either Barr is very comfortable with what's going to be said, or Mueller, being quite an old hand and this team being quite experienced, deliberately chose a day when the A.G. cannot be in town. So I find that a very intriguing possibility in terms of what the details we may hear about.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's a good point, Shan -- and you've been around Washington a while -- that things like that -- listen, could just be an accident of timing here, but significant to have the boss out of town when that happens. So you would say it's unlikely that those two things are not connected?

WU: I'd say it's a little bit unlikely. Those sorts of schedules of -- are pretty carefully coordinated. And, you know, the sort of tableaus we've seen, with everyone standing on the podium, is how the department likes to project its unity.

So to have this statement, possibly Mueller's last statement, be just the image of him by himself delivering it -- Rosenstein's not there anymore, Barr's not there -- that's a very different image than what the department normally likes to put on.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Shan Wu.

I'm joined now by Jennifer Rodgers, former federal prosecutor here with me in New York, has been around cases like this for some time.

Jennifer, tell us what questions -- well, he won't take questions. But he will be making a statement. What information do you want the special counsel to address, and do the American people need to hear the special counsel address when he goes to that podium 24 minutes from now?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think they do. Because there's been so much misinformation about what the Mueller report said. So I'm less interested in a -- you know, "I said this and then Barr said this and then I wrote a letter that said this," you know, kind of that back-and-forth.

I really want him to summarize in very simple terms why he made the decisions he made and what the report says. Just in, you know, very, very concise statements. Because that's what the American people really don't understand even though we've had the report for a month or so now.

SCIUTTO: The trouble, of course, is since he is not taking questions, he can't be cross-examined. He can make a statement, characterize it any way he wants to.

But you would want a reporter or a lawmaker in the room to say, "But wait a second, in your March 27th letter to the attorney general, you said his summary did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of your findings. Why is that? Did you have disagreements? How did you settle those differences behind closed doors?"

I mean, that -- the trouble is, there are public differences here that if he doesn't address in this statement, we'll have to wait, I suppose, until he goes to the Hill.

RODGERS: I think that's right. But at the end of the day, what the public really needs to know is what his investigation found. So we can save all that back-and-forth and "Was the attorney general misleading the public?" I don't think Mueller's going to want to get into all of that now.

I think he thinks his job is to tell everyone what he and his team found, you know, spending 22 months investigating all of these things, what they concluded. Because that's what's been lost in all of the back-and-forth and all of the misleading comments from the attorney general and the president's supporters.

So I think, you know, that's really what we need from him. I hope that's what we get from him. And maybe he'll surprise us and also give us some information about why what he said is not what the attorney general reported. But I suspect not. You know, I suspect he'll keep it to the four corners of the report and that's the most important thing.

SCIUTTO: Jennifer Rodgers, great to have you here.

Dana Bash back with us in Washington.

A little more than 20 minutes away. Dana, what are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just thought it was noteworthy -- I was listening to you talk with Shan and Laura Jarrett about the fact that Bill Barr is not in that building. He is not in the Justice Department, he's traveling in Alaska today.

And, you know, it's noteworthy that Bill Barr isn't the only one gone from Washington. Congress is as well. I mean, this is a Memorial Day week and members of Congress are not here.

And this is a man, Robert Mueller, who has been in intense negotiations -- not with Republicans who run the Senate, because Lindsey Graham would be in charge of that and he says he doesn't need to hear from Robert Mueller -- but House Democrats who are desperate to try to find a way for him to testify in public.

And as Evan was talking about, there has been some stiff resistance, not from the Justice Department necessarily or the president, which has been quite public, but from Robert Mueller because he has been so reluctant to jump into the political circus that is always Congress. And the fact that he's doing this when Congress isn't here, I think is noteworthy.

Now, it's 2019. There are cameras everywhere. People can, you know, use their iPhones to, you know, make a video and make a comment. But it's not the same as having Manu or Phil or any of our colleagues chase after you in the hallways.

SCIUTTO: No question. The significance of the special counsel speaking now after only one -- but one -- Republican lawmaker has said it's not just Democrats who believe the president has committed impeachable behavior here, because there is of course a school of thought that Robert Mueller's intention was if he's not making a recommendation to indict, that his view is it well and truly is up to Congress. And that, "Here, Congress, is what you should consider."

How different is it now that you have a Republican very publicly voicing that opinion?

BASH: You know, he very publicly. And -- and he said, during his town hall -- you're talking about Justin Amash -- that people have said his colleagues, his GOP colleagues, have said that -- not all of them, but some have said that to him privately as well.

You know, the fact is, Jim, that impeachment is an inherently political decision. And there is no question -- I mean it wasn't even subtle, the way Robert Mueller spelled out what he thought. Yes, he didn't make -- he didn't make a decision, he didn't say explicitly that the president of the United States obstructed justice. But he did pretty explicitly say it is up to Congress to make that decision.

And so I think it's still a stretch to call the notion of wanting to start impeachment inquiry "bipartisan." It is one Republican. But we'll see if that changes. But I'm not so sure that Justin Amash is going to push people who are very reluctant, for political reasons on the GOP side, to say much more publicly unless something changes significantly with what we learn.

SCIUTTO: Dana Bash, thanks for -- the Watergate proceedings took about 2.5 years from break-in to the president's eventual resignation. Sometimes these things play out over time. Of course it's not a direct or identical parallel to Watergate here. But in that situation, Republicans were reluctant to join until later as well. You never know.

Gloria Borger, you've been covering this, like me, since the beginning here. A substantial statement now expected from the special counsel in his first public comment since the completion of this investigation -- in fact, since the start of the investigation -- happening in fewer than 20 minutes here.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

SCIUTTO: So substantial statement. How significant is this moment, to hear his first public comments?

BORGER: I think it's as -- I think Shimon said earlier, I think it's a substantial moment for the country. I think everybody wants to hear from Bob Mueller, Democrats and Republicans. What we've heard from him is his 438-page document and the letter that he sent to the attorney general, which was stunning to us, saying that he (ph) misrepresented his conclusions in his report.

I think what -- the question, the obvious question that everyone wants to know if he will answer today -- and we don't know whether he will or won't -- is, "Would you have indicted the president of the United States if there were not an Office of Legal Counsel opinion that said you cannot do that? And how did that play into your thinking and into your team's thinking?"

And I hope he elaborates a little bit on that. It's clear that he is a reluctant witness. He doesn't want to go before Congress. It seems like he doesn't even want to go before Congress behind closed doors. We will -- we will find that out.

And so I'm hoping that in this statement, which Laura Jarrett says is substantial, that it is substantial and it does answer a question like that.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. And another question, too. You know, whether he makes a statement on his decision to indict, does he -- does he address and say, in effect, that his boss, Bill Barr, the attorney general, did not properly characterize the findings of the report, as he said, Gloria? You know as well as me, that letter, "You did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions."

BORGER: Right.

SCIUTTO: That would be a very simple thing for him to address here. And different, I imagine, to hear that coming out of his mouth as opposed to in written form in a letter to the attorney general. BORGER: Yes. He's done that, as you read from his letter. The

question is whether he goes beyond that, and whether he says, like, "This is now up to the Congress," or gives the Democrats any encouragement. We just don't know the answer.

SCIUTTO: Gloria Borger, great to have you there. We know you're going to be there to digest these comments as they come.

We have some news in to CNN just now. And that is that the House Judiciary chair -- that, of course, Jerry Nadler, Democrat from New York -- was told in advance about the Mueller statement. This, a committee spokesman tells CNN.

The committee has been in talks with Mueller -- as we've been reporting here, and those talks continue -- about Robert Mueller testifying on the Hill, that the fundamental disagreement there has been, is the special counsel willing to make a public statement there, as he's about to do here in 15 minutes' time?

But also, as he's about to refuse to do here, not answering questions in public. The special counsel prefers those questions on the Hill to be made in private. That is not a position that the chairman of the House Judiciary or other Democrats -- and in fact some Republicans -- support.

[10:45:11] Shimon Prokupecz, you cover the Justice Department here. Fifteen minutes from now, we're going to hear from the special counsel. Now, "a substantial statement." What does that mean?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. Probably pretty detailed. He's probably going to go into a lot of what we want to hear about, certainly in terms of the investigation. I don't think he's going to get political.

But the big thing is going to be whether or not there is a united front here, whether or not we're going to see Robert Mueller and ultimately the Department of Justice under the current attorney general, Bill Barr, whether or not there's a united front here in what has been said about this investigation and how the attorney general feels about this entire investigation.

And also, does he support, you know, the FBI's work. That has come under scrutiny, obviously, even in some ways by the attorney general, by the intelligence community. They're gathering, you know, so to speak, the investigation of the investigation that we have heard so much about.

How does Mueller -- how does he talk about that? does he talk about it? Does he go into detail and voice his support for how this investigation was conducted? He probably will. Obviously, he wouldn't have been conducting this investigation.

But, you know, what he says, the optics of this are tremendous. Tremendous for this country. They're tremendous for the Department of Justice, for all the work that has gone into this entire investigation that he has been overseeing, all the scrutiny that he's been under by the president, by members of Congress, by others in terms of this investigation.

All will hopefully be addressed in this statement that he's ultimately going --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: -- to give. This is -- perhaps, you know, this is his goodbye here, after being part of this for two years -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: And you raise a good point. Will he defend the investigators? You have the president of the United States accusing people who participated in this investigation early on, of treason. He's used the word "treason." You heard a Republican lawmaker, Liz Cheney, say the same on Sunday programs. Will Robert Mueller come to their defense here?

Jennifer Rodgers is with me here in New York, longtime federal prosecutor.

Tell us about, from a legal standpoint, the significance of an investigator here who likes, like many investigators do, to do their work behind the scenes, outside of the public eye. But let's be frank, this is a very public investigation of public importance. Tell us about how he walks that line.

RODGERS: Well, Mueller's been even more reticent than many public servants are, to speak publicly outside of the four corners of whatever document or indictment it is that he's working on. So I think for him, it is a big deal.

And, you know, contrary to what many of the president's supporters say about him, he is a Republican. He's a lifetime Republican. So it must be challenging for him to try to speak against Bill Barr and against the president and other people. At least that's how the president and his supporters see it.

But I think first and foremost, he's a person who wants to uphold the rule of law. So that's going to take precedence over this loyalty that I'm sure he feels that he has to the Republican Party. At the end of the day, you know, he's got to do what's right in terms of the law. So I think that, you know, that's what he'll do here.

SCIUTTO: We have some new reporting on this statement coming in. This, also from our colleague Laura Jarrett. She says that "Bill Barr was not only" -- the attorney general -- "not only given a heads up that this statement was coming, but that the attorney general was briefed on the contents of the statement." So he knows, in effect, in general at least, what the special counsel, Robert Mueller's planning to say.

"However, when asked if Barr requested that Mueller make this statement," our colleague Laura Jarrett is told unequivocally, "No." So at least based on that reporting, that this is the special counsel that chose to make this statement, to give a heads-up to his boss, effectively, the attorney general, as well as briefing him on the contents. But that it was the special counsel's decision -- special counsel's decision to come out and make this public statement at that podium.

I'm going to turn you now over to my colleagues, Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer, as CNN continues this special coverage of this truly momentous moment for the country and the Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN "Breaking News."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington, along with Jake Tapper.

Just minutes from now, a critical turn in the Russia investigation. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, will make a statement on-camera over at the Justice Department.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: If you're wracking your brain, trying to remember what Robert Mueller's voice sounds like, you might not actually have ever heard it. This will be Mueller's first public comment since the start and the completion of his investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election.

And Mueller's remarks come amid the political debate over the findings of his report, and specifically whether President Trump obstructed justice. Also, whether Attorney General William Barr mischaracterized the findings of the Mueller report.

[[10:50:08] BLITZER: The 22-month investigation loomed very large over the last two years of the Trump presidency. A senior administration official tells CNN the White House will wait until after Mueller's statement to issue remarks of its own.

Our team of CNN reporters, our correspondents, our analysts, all are here. Let's go to CNN's Laura Jarrett. She's over at the Justice Department.

What are you hearing, Laura?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, after nearly two years of complete and utter silence from the special counsel, he is breaking that silence, finally, today at the Justice Department. We're expecting to see him very shortly, up on the podium. I'm told that he's going to make a substantial statement, but we still are waiting for details on exactly what he will say.

We know that he's been going in to work every day. We've been asking the Justice Department what exactly he's been up to, now that the investigation has been closed for nearly two months. They haven't commented.

But he will now have his chance to speak about whatever he wants. He's not taking any questions from reporters. But, again, I am told his statement will be substantial.

Just to give you a little bit of behind-the-scenes color on how this all came together, my colleague Jeremy Diamond is told that the White House was given a heads-up yesterday, that Mueller would be making a statement.

And I'm told by a source familiar, that the attorney general, Bill Barr, was also given a heads-up that Mueller would be making this statement. And not only a heads-up, but actually informed about the contents, briefed on exactly what he would say. And so even though the attorney general is actually traveling in Alaska right now and will not be here for it, he knows exactly what is about to come out of the special counsel's mouth.

And I was asking that source whether Barr actually requested that Mueller do this, after so much speculation about the report and all of the fallout over Barr's memo. I asked if Barr requested that Mueller do this. And the source said unequivocally, "No," to that. So we wait to see exactly what he will say in just a short time from now.

Back to you guys.

TAPPER: Very interesting that Barr is actually out of the country. Let's bring in CNN's --

BLITZER: He's in Alaska right now.

TAPPER: In -- oh, I'm sorry --

BLITZER: Yes.

TAPPER: -- I apologize. He was out of the country. Now he's in Alaska.

Let's bring in CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House.

And, Abby, the White House has had any number of interpretations of the Mueller report. They have said it exonerated the president, which it does not do. They have attacked Robert Mueller. They have attacked his team. Any idea of what they might say or if they even know what Mueller is going to say?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it really is going to depend on what exactly Mueller has to say in this statement. The White House will not say at this moment if they know of the content of what Mueller will say at the top of the hour.

But they were given a heads-up, as Laura just said, last night, that this statement was coming. And this morning, there has been a flurry of activity here in the White House. Several senior staff meetings convened. It's not clear exactly what those were about, but you can imagine that they might be trying to coordinate what their response might be.

And as you pointed out, Jake, the president has been saying this report was a complete exoneration of him. But at the same time, he has not let up on his attacks on the investigation itself. In fact, he has cheered this effort to investigate the investigators.

So this is clearly a White House who is still on the defense about the content of the Mueller report, even as they claim that it exonerates President Trump. And the White House says they're going to wait until Mueller completes his statement before responding. What's not clear is, are they going to issue a paper statement, is the president going to respond himself, either in person or via Twitter?

But I think you can bet that he is not going to just let what Robert Mueller has to say, stand. This is a president who is still deeply skeptical of this investigation from start to finish. He still calls this investigation an "illegal witch hunt." So I don't think you're going to see the White House really cheering anything that Robert Mueller has to say based on their actions and their words over the last several months since the report was completed.

BLITZER: And we'll stand by to get reaction from the White House as soon as Mueller finishes his statement.

Evan Perez, you cover the Justice Department for us as well. What are you hearing?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I think a lot of people are taking note of the fact that the attorney general is out of town. But I should note that his immediate boss -- Robert Mueller's immediate boss, who is the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen -- he is in the office. He's actually still here in Washington.

You know, just based on having covered Robert Mueller for a number of years, I don't expect, perhaps, that there will be that much daylight between him and the bosses. It's simply because, you know, that's not his style.

Again, we could be surprised here and he could stand up and go out with a big bang. But, you know, I think one of the things that he wants to do is, let people hear from him. He still does not want to testify in public in Congress.

I think he's always been reluctant to do that because he believes that when you're testifying, you invariably become part of like this political football, you know? And I think he wants to resist that, especially for an investigation this important.

[10:55:07] So I think one of the things he's trying to do is show the public, "Here I am. If (ph) you're going to hear from me in private, then members of Congress can do that and ask me questions." But in public, I don't expect that you're going to hear a lot of daylight from him -- or see a lot of daylight from him -- between him and his bosses.

BASH: Yes. And people I'm talking to on Capitol Hill are leaning into the fact -- though I should be clear that neither key Republicans who control the Senate, nor Democrats in the House -- Nancy Pelosi included -- got a heads-up. Not about the content, not even about the content but just about the fact that he is giving this statement.

Having said that, my impressing -- and talking to sources -- is that, like what Evan was saying, he wants to close this out. He's closing out his office. There have been questions about when he's finally going to leave. And so this is partly swan song. But we can't forget the fact that Laura Jarrett is reporting, also,

that it's going to be substantial and substantive. So yes, he's saying goodbye. But also clearly wants to make a very heavily -- a statement with a lot of heavy content.

TAPPER: And, Shan Wu, let me bring you in. Because one of the things that we don't know, obviously, is -- there are any number of topics that he could be discussing.

Whether or not he -- why he doesn't want to testify publicly, for example. Claims made in a book about whether or not the Mueller office was pursuing charges against President Trump, claims that the Mueller office has denied wholeheartedly. James Comey wrote an op-ed yesterday. I mean, there are any number of things that he could be addressing.

WU: Right. I think he'll probably be expanding on what he thought might have been not fully represented in the attorney general's letters. But I think look to Mueller for a very, as Evan was saying, a very carefully worded expansion.

He's not going to be coming out to be criticizing Barr. But I think he feels a strong obligation to make sure that the American people have as full a picture and as accurate a picture, he can give. So I think we will get some details, but I don't think we're going to see some kind of strong disagreement between the two men.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you haven't spoken for two years. I mean, he was asked one question outside a church, gave a one- or two-word answer. He gave a -- very beginning, gave a commencement address that was previously scheduled before he was named special counsel. When you haven't spoken for two years in this town of constant tweets and constant controversy, your words have added import.

But to the point of what he will say, just the backdrop tells you he's a company man. He's doing this while he's still a Justice Department employee. He didn't wait until he leaves. He's not doing it in his Office of Special Counsel. He's coming into the headquarters to do it. That tells you he's a company man.

But to the point of what is he going to say, we've all been going through this now for quite some time. This is the letter from the attorney general to Congress, and this is an (ph) attorney general -- from the special counsel to the attorney general, saying, "What's this?" You know, that this does not fairly characterize this, the Mueller report.

And so can he come out after two years -- he has to come out after two years. He has to understand this. He's a former FBI director, he's a former prosecutor, he's viewed as Mr. Integrity in Washington. He has to address these things. Because is he going to bring -- try to bring some clarity to this? Or just (ph) after two years, he'll (ph) only add to the confusion? That's a pretty big bar.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's fascinating timing because, you know, Robert Mueller did not want to come out and speak publicly when he finished his investigation. He did not want to be the one who shared the conclusions of what he found. He left all of this up to the attorney general.

And he's coming out and he's speaking publicly at a time when members of Congress want him to testify, when many members of Congress want him to testify publicly.

So I think, you know, in some ways, maybe he will accomplish what, you know, Evan says could be a goal here. Which is to say, "Here I am. I'm speaking to you in public. I'm addressing, you know, you guys, the nation. But I want to testify in private."

But in other ways, he may just irk members of Congress who are saying, "OK. You're going out there. You're speaking in front of the cameras to give this statement. Now we want you in front of the cameras and in front of our committee."

BLITZER: You know, I'll be interested, Jake, to hear if he strongly defends his team of investigators and prosecutors in the face of all of the hate that the president of the United States leveled against them, 18 angry Democrats, a coup, and all of that kind of stuff.

TAPPER: Yes. The evidence-free conspiracy theories that, James Comey in his op-ed pointed out, noted that only fringe media is really paying much attention to.

So the other thing that I think is going to be very interesting to see is whether or not he addresses what President Trump has said the report does. Which is, no collusion -- and the report actually takes great pains to say, "We're not addressing the issue of collusion per se, we're addressing conspiracy" -- and no obstruction which, again, the report does not exonerate the president on, but the president's been saying that for all this time.

Do you think that he might want to establish what his report actually does? Or is that too political for him?

MURRAY: I mean, if I were Robert Mueller, I would want to establish what my report actually does. I would perhaps want to address the question of whether, you know, he didn't come to a finding on obstruction because he meant to leave that up to Congress.

[11:00:03] I mean, that said, he is doing this at the Justice Department. I think if he does decide to draw those sort of.