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Boris Johnson to Become New British Prime Minister Tomorrow; Robert Mueller Will Testify Tomorrow; Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) Interviewed on Democrats' Preparations for Upcoming Testimony of Robert Mueller before Congress. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 23, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The former Special Counsel has been warned in a letter to remain in the boundaries of his written report. Democrats want to ask questions like, would Donald Trump be charged criminally if he were not the president? If Mueller follows the Justice Department's guidance, he likely would not be able to answer that.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But there's a little bit of a wild card. CNN has learned that Mueller has prepared an opening statement which will not be reviewed by the Justice Department. So will Mueller's testimony change the minds of Americans about his investigation and the president?

We're also following breaking news in the U.K. this morning. Boris Johnson was named leader of the Conservative party, effectively making him Britain's new prime minister tomorrow, which is the breaking news. We will have a live report from London in just a matter of moments.

CAMEROTA: OK, but we do begin with Mueller's testimony tomorrow, so joining us now is the man who is leading the charge. It is Congressman Jerry Nadler. He's the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee where Robert Mueller begins his testimony tomorrow morning. Congressman, thanks so much for being here with us.


CAMEROTA: Let's talk about this new directive from the Department of Justice that Robert Mueller got last night in the form of a letter warning him, basically, to stay within the confines of his report. How big of an impediment is that for you and your committee?

NADLER: Well, I don't think it's much of an impediment simply because Bob Mueller had indicated repeatedly he was going to do exactly that. I think it's incredibly arrogant of the department to try to instruct him as to what to say. It's a part of the ongoing cover-up by the administration to keep information away from the American people. But I think that it's not going to have a real impact.

CAMEROTA: You don't think they have any authority to instruct him in that way. Must he comply with that letter? NADLER: No, he doesn't have to comply with that letter. He doesn't

work for them. And that letter asks things that are beyond the power of the agency to ask even if he still worked for them.

CAMEROTA: Have you all been operating under the assumption that Robert Mueller will go beyond his report, that he will be able to say things that are not in there?

NADLER: No, we've been operating under the assumption that he'll do essentially what he said, he'll stay more or less within the bounds of the report. But it's important that the American people hear directly from Mueller what the report found. They found that the Russians interfered in the election very systematically to help Trump, that the Trump campaign welcomed that assistance, that the president repeatedly obstructed justice and repeatedly tried to hamper the investigation, and repeatedly instructed people to lie to the investigators and to the American people. Anyone else who had done what the report finds that he has done would face criminal prosecution.

CAMEROTA: Are you going to ask that very question of Robert Mueller? Would anyone else have faced criminal prosecution?

NADLER: I don't think we'll ask it in that form because I don't think he'd answer it in that form, but the report makes it fairly clear. But again, remember the report found 37 indicted -- Mueller's investigation resulted in the indictment of 37 people including the president's campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, national security advisor. It found -- it details 10 instances, 10 instances where the president obstructed justice, and repeatedly where the president tells people to lie to investigators. And anyone who did that, anyone other than the president who did that would face serious consequences.

CAMEROTA: It's been reported you all have been having mock hearings preparing for tomorrow. Can you just tell us a little bit what that looks like, who is playing Robert Mueller?

NADLER: We haven't had mock hearings yet. We're having one today.

CAMEROTA: Oh, you're having one today.

NADLER: Having one today.

CAMEROTA: So what's the plan for those?

NADLER: The plan is very simple. We want to tell the story to the American people. The attorney general and the president have repeatedly lied about the investigation's findings. They've repeatedly said the investigation found no collusion and no obstruction, and that it totally exonerated the president. Each of those three statements is simply not true. The investigation certainly found, as I said, 10 instances of obstruction by the president, that the president repeatedly lied to the American people, that they welcomed the assistance of the Russians, they knew about it. And we want to get these facts out so the American people know what we're dealing with, and hear it from Mueller himself, rather than the lies that are coming from the president and the attorney general, who has been functioning as the president's personal lawyer, not as the attorney general of the United States.

CAMEROTA: Who is going to be playing Robert Mueller in the mock hearing that you're having?

NADLER: I'm not going to get into that, or if anybody is playing him.

CAMEROTA: Here's what Neal Katyal, the former acting U.S. Solicitor General, has suggested that the three questions that must be asked, and that basically would answer everything. Here they are. Did your report find no collusion? That seems like a really important question to ask. What if Robert Mueller says I refer you to my report?

[08:05:06] NADLER: He may very well. We will be referring to specific pages and specific sections in the report and asking him to comment on them.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I mean -- OK, so let me think about that. You're going to refer to specific pages and ask him to comment on that. How's that going to sound? What's the question you're going to ask him?

NADLER: Well, paragraph two and page whatever says the following, is that correct? Did you find that? Does this describe obstruction of justice?

CAMEROTA: That's a good one. Because then if he says yes, it does, then where does that lead you?

NADLER: Well, as I said, our goal is to break the lies of the president and attorney general in saying that the report found no collusion, found that there was no collusion, that there was no obstruction, and exonerated the president. It did not exonerate the president. The report is chock-full of very damning information against the president. Again, as I said, it found 10 instances of the president obstructing justice. It found instances of the president instructing people to lie to investigators and to lie to the American people. And the American people need to hear this from Mueller.

And then after that, we need to get some of the witnesses cited by Mueller before the committee. Now, the administration has done what no administration has ever done before. They've stonewalled all subpoenas. They've said no one will testify. We will break that and we will hear from people like Don McGahn, et cetera, and they will testify. And the American people will know what the report found, will know the facts, and then can make judgments, instead of -- remember, people have not read the 448-page report, but they have heard for five months of the lies of the president and the attorney general of no collusion, no obstruction, and total exoneration. The report did not exonerate the president, and there's plenty of obstruction detailed in the report.

CAMEROTA: Are you frustrated by Robert Mueller's take on all of this?

NADLER: No, I think Robert Mueller has been an excellent public servant and has done a very honest report. I think there is a catch- 22 in the interpretation of the law, and that is that normally you say that a prosecutor shouldn't comment on someone who's not being indicted -- on the conduct of someone's who's not being indicted. And that makes sense. If someone is not being indicted, you don't say but he was terrible anyway.

But if someone is not being indicted because the interpretation by the Department of Justice is a president cannot be indicted no matter what the evidence, which is their interpretation, then I think it's just wrong to say you're not going to present the American people the facts about what he did so the American people can make a judgment, and so that Congress can use its, or choose whether to use its remedies.

CAMEROTA: You're talking about the president of the United States. Do you think there's a possible scenario by which Robert Mueller says I cannot speak about President Trump because he was not indicted? Is that possible he will not be able to speak at all about --

NADLER: No. He can say about President Trump what the report says, what the report finds, which, as I said, is very damning.

CAMEROTA: There were at least 10 instances of what legal experts believe are obstruction of justice that the report laid out.


CAMEROTA: And yet Robert Mueller didn't go any further than just saying, here Congress, here you go.

NADLER: That's right.

CAMEROTA: What do you think he wanted you to do with that?

NADLER: Well, I think that he took the position that -- and he's part of the Justice Department so he had to take the position because the Justice Department says as a matter of law that a president cannot be indicted, and therefore he says in the report indicting the president was never an option no matter how much evidence there is. He presents evidence.

He then gives it -- he also says and I'm not sure I agree with him that since you can't indict the president you can't say that he would have been indicted but for this, because that would be unfair to the president because he can't defend himself in a trial which won't occur. I think that that's unrealistic, that in effect he's saying to Congress we can't indict the president. You have to make your judgments, you have to remedies, censure, impeachment, whatever. You have to make your judgments, and to do that we need all the facts, including all the evidence and the conclusions about the alleged crimes.

[08:10:10] CAMEROTA: By the way, there's a person who agrees with you, and that's Attorney General Bill Barr. On May 30th he agreed that Robert Mueller should have gone further. Here's a moment from his interview that he gave just to remind people of what Bill Barr said back then. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I personally felt he could have reached a decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In your view he could have reached a conclusion?

BARR: He could have reached a conclusion. The opinion says you cannot indict a president while he's in office, but he could have reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity. But he had his reasons for not doing it.


NADLER: Well, he states what his reasons for not doing it are, because it would be unfair to the president who couldn't defend himself in a trial that wouldn't occur. Now, Barr reaches the conclusion that he left it to Barr. No. I think it's very clear he left it to Congress and we have to exercise our powers.

And again remember the key point of these hearings now is to break the lies that we've heard from the attorney general and the president, and to show to the American people what the report found about the president's obstructions of justice, about the Russians interfering with the election, about the president's obstruction of justice, about the 37 indictments, and about the president repeatedly telling people to lie to investigators and to the American people. People have to know that.

CAMEROTA: Nancy Pelosi just sent this memo out to Democratic House members this morning. It was literally hot off the press when it got to me because we got a copy of it, and it's basically how she thinks Democrats should talk about this after the fact, just what you're saying, remind people of the sort of top line findings of this. Did you help craft this memo?

CAMEROTA: No, I haven't seen it.

NADLER: Well, here it is if you want to take a look. But the point is, I think, it's not going to be over tomorrow for all of you.

NADLER: Oh, no, it is certainly not going to be over.

CAMEROTA: Then what?

NADLER: Well, we're going to court in the next few days, as I said before, to try to force people like Don McGahn and Hope Hicks and various other people who are fact witnesses who testified to the Mueller committee to come before the committee and testify in open hearings as to what they saw so that the conclusions of the Mueller investigation can be laid open, not only the conclusions but that people can see the testimony of these people and form judgments. The American people can see this.

CAMEROTA: And what do you think would ever get Nancy Pelosi into the category of impeachment? Eight-eight Democrats, House Democrats have come forward in saying they would like to pursue an impeachment beyond an inquiry, to begin the process of impeachment. And so what could happen tomorrow?

NADLER: Well, 88 Democrats have said we should have an impeachment inquiry.

CAMEROTA: OK, impeachment inquiry. But Nancy Pelosi hasn't gone that far. So what would ever get her into that category?

NADLER: I can't speak for Nancy Pelosi and to what would get her into that. I can only speak for what I said about impeachments. And in order to impeach a president I think there are really three tests. One, do you conclude that there is real proof the president has committed impeachable offenses? Number two --

CAMEROTA: But you've already answered that yourself. You say yes.

NADLER: I say there's substantial evidence, but yes. Number two, are these impeachable offenses serious offenses? And number three, is there enough evidence public so that impeaching the president would not tear the country apart? And I think it's very important that the people understand the evidence that there is so that they and therefore the committee and the Congress can make that judgment.

CAMEROTA: So that's what you think is going to change tomorrow, the public evidence component of this?

NADLER: Well, it's going to be influenced tomorrow. I hope it changes because what people are reacting to now is, as I said, the lies for five months. What they heard from the president, from the attorney general, from FOX News, from other places repeatedly over and over again that the report found, that the Mueller investigation found that there was no collusion, that there was no obstruction of justice, and that it totally exonerated the president. Those are three false statements. It did not exonerate the president. It found plenty of obstruction. And there's a lot of evidence of not criminal conspiracy but of cooperating -- of welcoming the assistance of the Russians.

CAMEROTA: We have to go, but very quickly, why did it take five months? It's been three months since the redacted version of the Mueller report came out. Why did it take so long to have this hearing?

NADLER: It took so long because, frankly, we're having difficulty -- the administration is doing something that is unprecedented in American history, and that is refusing and instructing all people to refuse subpoenas from Congress. And it has taken -- and it took us, and even Mueller was not going to -- we had to negotiate the terms of his talking to us and that's why it's limited to three hours.

[08:15:16] Even in prior to this, if the committee issued a subpoena, people came. They might claim a privilege and not answer specific questions, a Fifth Amendment, executive privilege, but they came and they testified.

The president has said out loud we're going to refuse all subpoenas and they have refused all subpoenas, not only about this but about the separations of families at the border, the decision on the census, about everything. They have systematically tried to stymie Congress' duty to oversee the administration and hold it accountable. And this is why it's taking time.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman Jerry Nadler, thank you. NEW DAY will be in D.C. tomorrow for all the coverage of these hearings. We'll be watching with rapt attention obviously. Thanks so much for all the information here.

NADLER: You are quite welcome.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.



We are following breaking news this morning. Moments ago, Boris Johnson was named the leader of Britain's conservative party. Johnson will now replace Theresa May who resigns as prime minister tomorrow.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live at 10 Downing Street in London with more on Johnson's colorful speech this morning -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, David. I think, you know, many people might have expected Boris Johnson to quote Winston Churchill or some Greek author who he is apparently in great awe of. He didn't. He spoke to his party, he spoke to his base of support and he laid out the challenge ahead, the same challenge he said he had getting elected party leader and that deliver on Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the opposition who's by the way already challenging Boris Johnson for a leadership challenge, again, a general election he's challenging him for.

But Boris Johnson using the humor we have known him for, the gesture if you will taking that deliver, unite, defeat. And this is what he had to say about it.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: I know somewhere it was already pointed out deliver, unite and defeat was not the perfect acronym for an election campaign since it spells dud. But they forget the final E, my friend, E for energize, and I say to dud-ers, dude, we're going to energize the country. We're going to get Brexit done on October 31st, we're going to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a new spirit of can-do.


ROBERTSON: And this is the optimism that Boris Johnson wants to bring to the position. But already, the pressure is piling onto find new cabinet members to replace those resigning because they don't like his Brexit policies. The Iranian foreign minister also tweeted, essentially doubling down on the rising tensions with Iran. The European Union leaders have already tweeted saying don't think you can get a different Brexit deal to the one Theresa May had. His political allies in Northern Ireland essentially have tweeted saying don't forget about us and the union of the United Kingdom.

So, the pressure is on him already. He's not even through the door. That will happen tomorrow when he officially becomes prime minister -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Nic Robertson, thank you very much for standing by and reporting on this historic moment we've been watching all morning. Thank you very much.

Not many people know the pressure of testifying before Congress with the presidency at stake, but our next guest does. Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean is going to join us so stick around.


[08:22:56] GREGORY: As we've been saying all morning, Robert Mueller will testify tomorrow before two House committees about his investigation into President Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Our next guest is the star witness in the Watergate hearings -- was, of course. Here's former Nixon White House counsel John Dean back in 1973.


JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: These, of course, are my conclusions but I believe they are well-founded in fact. This committee, however, is not interested in my conclusions rather interested in the facts as I know them. Rather than my characterizing the climate and attitudes, I shall have requested, present the facts which themselves evidence some of the precursors of the Watergate incident.


GREGORY: John Dean then, John Dean now. He's now a CNN contributor and he joins us to talk about this next important moment on Capitol Hill after this investigation.

DEAN: Indeed it is.

GREGORY: Good morning.

So, hearing Alisyn talked to Chairman Nadler what the expectation is, what in the best case for Democrats who want to make the case that they think has been covered up, in Chairman Nadler's words? What happens over the next couple of days?

DEAN: Well, the most difficult thing for Nadler has been the lack of cooperation. They're getting fought on everything, the subpoena, every witness they have to struggle. So he'd had to assemble this piece by piece.

The big breakthrough is getting Mueller to come up there and at least talk about the parameters of the report he's given. As most Americans, probably most member of Congress have not read that report.

CAMEROTA: But you think that letter last night from the Department of Justice to Robert Mueller telling him the parameters is significant?

DEAN: I do. Mueller sent the letter to the Justice Department. The letter came back.

CAMEROTA: He asked them, he said what are the parameters and he said that on July 10th?

DEAN: On July 10th.

CAMEROTA: And then it just came back.

DEAN: The 22nd, the night before the hearing, in fact late yesterday afternoon.

[08:25:04] CAMEROTA: And what does that tell you?

DEAN: It tells me -- first of all, the person who signed the letter was an associate deputy attorney general. Now what's that mean? That's pretty low level. That's the title I had at the Justice Department before I went to the White House.

I was maybe 14th, 15th, 16th in line way down. A fairly junior person signs that letter and just outlines the regulations.

The other thing I just don't understand why Mueller asked for a subpoena. He said I'll come but please send me a subpoena. Well, I got into the regs and saw what that does is if he is subpoenaed, that gives him -- he is under the same regulations as a regular employee of the Department of Justice even though he's left, this brings those regulations back, confine his testimony. And it's just all too orchestrated for me.

CAMEROTA: Connect those dots. Orchestrated to what end?

DEAN: Orchestrated in the fact this forces him to comply with the regulations that as a private citizen he would not have had necessarily to comply with. This gives him an argument when he testifies on Wednesday that, I'm subject to the regulations. Boom. And they're very restrictive.

CAMEROTA: So, I mean, you're sort of suggesting like who's side is he on?

DEAN: I'm not saying it is anything nefarious. It is certainly evidence he doesn't want to volunteer anything, which I'm disappointed in. I thought -- I think he did a terrific job on volume one with the Russian interference. It's a terrific job.

The obstruction of justice, not so aggressive. GREGORY: Well, maybe he doesn't want to be the one to move the needle. I mean, maybe that's part of a public opinion.

Jerry Nadler said just a moment ago and I thought it was interesting. What is the major element for moving forward on impeachment? He listed several points. This was the final one. Listen to this.


NADLER: Is there enough evidence, public, so that impeaching the president would not tear the country apart? And I think it's very important that the people understand the evidence there is so that they and therefore the committee and the Congress can make that judgment.


GREGORY: Such a high bar, John. If you look at the polling that we've discussed this morning -- yes, 76 percent of Democrats would like to see impeachment, 90 plus percent of Republicans are against it, 60 percent plus of independents are against it.

How does Mueller testifying in a limited fashion, as we know he will, change that dynamic?

DEAN: I don't think he does change the dynamic. I think he begins the process of informing and educating the people because this report is a fairly damning report in the obstruction section, and not totally wonderful in the relationships with Russia and the campaign. While there's no conspiracy, there certainly is collusion in that report by any definition of that word.

So I think what he does, he starts the education. And as Nadler says you really do need public support to impeach. Nixon, when he was impeached, it wasn't until after the committee had completed all of its proceedings that the so-called smoking gun page came out and the last 11 Republicans finally said, OK, we get it, that's obstruction.

GREGORY: But even on the collusion front it's incredibly powerful what Russia tried to do. And even if you want to make the argument that the Trump campaign was open for business --

DEAN: Yes.

GREGORY: -- there's not an underlying crime that Mueller found. I mean, the parallel to Watergate really breaks down. There was an effort that say well-documented by the president of the United States to subvert the Constitution and obstructed it on top of it. You don't have that here.

DEAN: Well, if you take the current Barr interpretation of the obstruction laws, even Nixon didn't obstruct justice. The so-called smoking gun under his parameters would not be obstruction of justice.

So, he set a different bar and a different standard and I'm not sure -- well, first of all the criminal law has no application in this area. While Republicans have always said it must be a crime before it's impeachable, Democrats have never said that because the Constitution doesn't say that.

Indeed, if this must be a constitutional offense, and there are lots of areas there that we're on the edge of.


CAMEROTA: Well, as we said you are one of the only people who knows what Robert Mueller is feeling today in these hours, so we're going to have you back tomorrow.

NEW DAY is going to move down to Washington, D.C. to cover all this, and we're going to have you walk us through it tomorrow. So, great to have you.

DEAN: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: John Dean, thanks so much for being here.

All right. Now to this, former V.P. Joe Biden just came out with a new --