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Mueller Speaks to Congress. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 24, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:06] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR FOR THE RUSSIA COLLUSION PROBE: And with that, Mr. Chairman -- I'm ready to answer questions.
AMANPOUR: Finally, Mueller speaks. The former special counsel spends hours under congressional questioning about Trump and the Russian campaign.
Jim Baker, the former FBI general counsel joins us to discuss whether there's more to investigate.
And we dissect Mueller's testimony with the "New Yorker's" Susan Glasser, and Mark Mazzetti, the "New York Times" Washington correspondent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Criminals are making more money around the world in cyber attacks every year than they are through selling narcotics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Former U.S. terror czar Richard Clarke tells us Hari Sreenivasan how to mount an online defense in this age of cyber warfare.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
After months of anticipation the former special counsel Robert Mueller has finally faced the nation's representatives on Capitol Hill. Although he
consistently said that his testimony would be no different than his nearly 450-page report, he was in fact, summoned to testify about that two-year
investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and what Trump knew when.
Through hours of grueling interrogation, Mueller gave away little new. At times he appeared to be having a little trouble following some of the long-
winded questions, but he made a clear effort to be methodical, concise, and deliberate with his answers.
Democrats spent the day pushing Mueller on obstruction. The Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler kicking off the proceedings by questioning
Mueller on the key issues of exoneration and obstruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: So the report did not include that he did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct?
MUELLER: That is correct.
NADLER: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the President?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, after Robert Mueller finished his testimony, President Trump told reporters it had been a great day for the Republican Party.
So let's dig in to what we've heard today and the consequences with Jim Baker, who is a former general counsel to the FBI, and he's currently the
director of national security and cyber security at the think tank R Street Institute. He's joining us from Washington.
Mr. Baker -- thank you for joining us.
JOHN BAKER, DIRECTOR, R STREET INSTITUTE: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: So you were general counsel at a very, very key time when all of this was unfolding and underway -- certainly in your latter years there.
So just let's start out by getting your review on whether anything massively different or important came in to sharp focus today.
BAKER: Well, if you've read the report -- for those of us who have actually read the report, I don't think there was much factually new that
came out today. So that's one thing.
I think that it was important for more of the American people and members of Congress who haven't read the report to hear more about it. They
actually at the end of the day, did not hear much of it from the mouth of Director Mueller, former special counsel Mueller. They heard it mainly
recited by members of Congress and then Director Mueller gave sort of short terse responses -- yes, no, that's in the report, I agree with that and so
So there's not much that was learned that was new there. But I think it was important for folks to hear from him, for example, you know, as one of
the people who was responsible for helping start the investigation, for director Mueller to say to everyone, no, this was not a witch hunt, no,
this was not a hoax was critically important.
He also said as you played, that this was not an exoneration which contradicts what President Trump has been saying. So there were things
that were important about it. And having, you know, the amount of attention that it gathered from all of the news media is good because the
more that the American people know about this, the more they can help the political process and help the country defend itself against what we expect
in 2020 from the Russians and others.
AMANPOUR: Well, what you expect -- I mean former FBI director, special counsel Mueller clearly said that they're at it right now and they will be
doing it and they're planning to do in 2020.
Are there any mechanisms in place to protect against that?
BAKER: Well, the American people are obviously much more attuned to what the Russians might be up to now than we were back in 2016. The government
is trying to -- elements of the government like the Department of Homeland Security are trying to defend the country.
[17:05:00] But we have an extremely complicated election structure here with something like, you know, 8,800 organizations in the United States
that are responsible for, you know, counting -- for collecting votes and counting them and so on. So that's pretty alarming.
Whether we have the defenses to protect our system against the Russians, I'm not confident in that.
And one thing that I worry about is that the President himself does not seem convinced that something bad happened and is likely to happen, so he's
not pushing the executive branch to do everything that he possibly can. And he's not coming to Congress for legislation. So that's a significant
So they're coming again. They will adapt. They'll come at us differently, and we need to be ready for it.
AMANPOUR: So let's go back to the President because clearly the President was watching it. We know that. He was getting, we're told, in a better
and better mood as the testimony unfolded throughout the day.
Having been fairly worried and we understand irritated and sort of irascible in the morning. He came out and he said, this has been a very
good day for us.
Now we hear, though, as we've just been talking, we heard Mueller himself said that the President has not been exonerated. He said the report --
that is not what the report said. He went on to say the President was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.
What does that mean then? You know, this is still going round and round in circles.
BAKER: Well, yes. I mean -- look, Director Mueller is a prosecutor. He's a person of integrity. He's diligent. He's a person of resolve. All of
But he's not a story-teller. He's not a showman. He's not a master -- he's not a politician. He's not a master of politics. So he was today in
my view operating at one level. Members of congress I think were operating at a different level, trying to get him to go more in that direction.
And the President, you know, is an expert. He's obviously incredibly astute at telling a story, creating a narrative in the way that he wants
to. And so you had just different things going on.
The question is at the end of the day what is going to be more persuasive to the American people. what are they going to try -- how are they going
to assess this. And that's critically important because that's what the House of Representatives is looking at.
What do the public do in reaction to this today? What was their assessment of it? And that I think will inform their views that those members of the
house -- Speaker Pelosi and so on -- about where we go next with this.
Are they going to start an impeachment inquiry? Are they going to bring more witnesses in -- witnesses who actually were part of the story like Don
McGahn, Corey Lewandowski, other people like that? So we'll have to see in terms of how they assess the political implications of what happened today.
AMANPOUR: And those two names that you brought up they feature very prominently in part two of the report about the investigation into alleged
obstruction of justice.
Let me just --
AMANPOUR: -- ask you TO go back just briefly. You talked about Robert Mueller being terse, being very concise and precise, not giving away too
much, not telling a story. Now you probably know that people have said, well, was he a little bit sort of maybe unfocused at times? Did he have a
hard time hearing?
But you know him. How would you grade his performance?
BAKER: So ok -- it wasn't the best performance I've ever seen Director Mueller give. I've known him in one capacity or another for almost 30
years now. He was my boss for a period of time.
And, you know, he's an incredibly sharp, dedicated, intelligent person with, you know, a backbone of steel. I think -- I don't know what exactly
was going on at the start. Frankly, he seemed a bit nervous.
I mean I've testified before Congress -- it's a nerve-wracking experience especially with all that media, all those cameras and so on. It's
impossible not to be a bit nervous when you first sit down.
And so -- and the way the questions were coming at him, the sort of rapid- fire questions in a crowded room where he's trying here -- I don't know. At least I'm attributing some of that, you know, to that.
But I admit. He did seem a little bit nervous at the start. He did not seem on the top of his game. I think for those who watched, you know, the
second hearing in the afternoon, I think his performance was much better and perhaps it was because that was focused mainly on Russia and the threat
from Russia and so on. And not, you know, people trying to mate political points regarding the conduct of the President which was the subject of the
conversation in the first part of the day.
AMANPOUR: Well, he was very clear and very impassioned when he talked about the political accusations and when he talked about the quality of the
team that he had chosen to conduct this painstaking investigation. I'm just going to play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: I've been in this business for almost 25 years. In those 25 years, I have not had occasion once to ask somebody about their political
affiliation. It's not done. What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job and do the job quickly and seriously and with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:10:04] AMANPOUR: I mean that was really crystal clear. He was on the top of his game and he just sounded like he's had enough with people poking
holes into, you know, his motivation and the motivations of others in the FBI throughout this whole process.
BAKER: Yes. I mean as someone who was myself involved in the start of this investigation, yes, the President and his supporters have been
attacking the investigation, the origin of the investigation -- I mean Director Mueller and his team in trying to do that.
I thought -- I agree with you. That was a good moment. Look. They were trying to attack -- they being the Republican members of the committee --
they were trying to attack the investigation, attack the credibility, the integrity of Director Mueller and some of his decision.
They went after it from a variety of different ways, things that he did, things that he didn't do. The staff and so on.
I didn't think it was particularly effective. I think it gave them, you know, they will replay some of those clips of themselves speaking. But it
didn't seem to resonate in any particular way. I don't think they struck, you know, a damaging -- significantly damaging blow.
AMANPOUR: So on the questioning by some of the Democrats including Representative Ted Lieu, the whole issue of why Mueller decided not to
indict or call for indictment or anything came up. Now, you remember after the report came out, the Attorney General spun it that it was because there
was nothing to indict him on.
And then today in answer to questions from Lieu, Mueller said the reason he didn't indict was because of that longstanding Office of Legal Counsel
opinion that a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime.
But then he corrected himself. So let's just see the before and after, so to speak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: I believe a reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of
obstruction of justice has been met. And I'd like to ask you, the reason again that you cannot indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating
that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?
MUELLER: That is correct.
I want to add one correction to my testimony this morning. I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu. He said and I
quote, "You didn't charge the President because of the OLC opinion. That is not the correct way to say it. As we're saying in the report and then I
said at the opening we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Jim Baker -- I mean this is still a pretty tortured issue that they all -- both sides and all camps are dealing with.
BAKER: Yes. And so that was a bit confusing and I think a lot of people were quite happy when he testified at first and seemed to be indicating
that the thing that stopped was the OLC opinion.
If you read the report, this whole discussion is pretty nuanced. But what I take away from the written report is that they were obviously aware of
the OLC opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president, that they felt bound by it, so they did not allow themselves to reach a determination.
I don't know -- I mean that seems to me to mean that the OLC opinion was significant with respect to not reaching a decision. That's what it says
in the written report in so many words. And so I find that a bit confusing.
But they also said look, the OLC opinion says that we can continue to investigate and we're going to do that to make sure that we preserve the
evidence while memories are fresh and to assess whether other people -- not the President -- but other people might have instructed -- obstructed the
Just one quick thing really. Remember, when you start an investigation, you're really asking a question. You're saying well, we have a basis to
believe that something maybe sort of like, there may be, you know, sort of rotten in Denmark here and so you start down that road.
But you don't know the answer at the outset. And so maybe the President obstructed, maybe he didn't. Other people might have too.
And so they had a legitimate basis to pursue the investigation even though they concluded it the way they did.
AMANPOUR: So with all these questions that keep coming at Mueller, you know, and will continue to do on these issues of why didn't you indict,
what about exoneration, what about, you know, obstruction -- all of that. You, I think, feel that he has done his job and that it's up to those very
people who are questioning him today, in other words, Congress, to do its job.
What do you think now? You're intimately familiar with all the ins and outs of the report and the seven hours of testimony. What do you think?
Is there -- is there anything there for Congress to pursue further?
BAKER: Well, look. I mean I think if you read that report, Volume 2, the one that pertains to obstruction, it certainly provides them with ample
basis to start an impeachment inquiry. They certainly have enough information there. And I think Director Mueller is saying, you know,
basically I'm done. I've said what I'm going to say. It's over to you. You make whatever decision you want.
[17:15:01] At the end of the day, impeachment is a political determination by political leaders in the House and then it goes over to the Senate for
trial, right? And so they have to make a calculation, and they're looking at what the public thinks, and you know, we'll have to see the opinion
polls say about the public's assessment from today.
But one of the things I worry about frankly is that the conduct that's articulated about obstruction by the President is so appalling that it
should be unacceptable to America even if it is not technically a crime of obstruction under the federal statute that may or may not apply to the
President in this particular way.
If Congress can't do something about it in this situation then that's a real crisis for us like what institution can really check the power of the
President then if Congress can't get its act together and do something under these circumstances?
AMANPOUR: Al right. Jim Baker -- thank you so much, indeed. Former general counsel with the FBI -- thank you very much indeed.
Well, now I'm joined by two veteran reporters who've been following today's events with an eagle eye. The "New Yorker's" Susan Glasser and the "New
York Times" Washington correspondent Mark Mazzetti. And they are joining me now from -- I guess Washington is where you both are. I can see the
Capitol behind you.
Ok. So just give me your opening sort of bid in terms of reviews for special counsel Mueller. Tell me, Susan, first -- how you think given all
the build up that he delivered today?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, Christiane -- I think it was really a painful hearing to watch at times. It's both painful
because of course, the substance of it is very challenging. You're talking about real sort of wrongdoing by the President but also a complicated and
uncertain question of what Congress should do about it on the one hand.
Also special counsel Mueller's performance was halting, it was tentative at times. He seemed to be a very reluctant witness to questions from both
Democrats and Republicans. Remember, it was Democrats themselves who called the hearing, who set this up and said that what they were hoping was
that Mueller would in effect bring his report to life. That was what Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
said on Sunday in advance of this hearing.
That did not happen by any standard. ?And I think, you know, Trump is now crowing about this as if it was a great vindication. Of course it was not
a vindication. The facts are still the facts. It's still quite a damning report.
But at this hearing as something to watch today, it's hard to imagine that it really any minds.
AMANPOUR: And Mark -- you've obviously been -- you know, part of the investigative team really digging into this whole thing for years now.
What will you be writing -- what will your take away be for the next round of headlines and copy?
MARK MAZZETTI, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean I agree with a lot of what Susan said. I mean the Democrats had a gamble here. They had this
pretty damning and authoritative report but they figured most Americans haven't read it and most members of Congress hadn't read it.
And so if they could get Mueller up to personalize this whole thing and is very well respected and authoritative figure, they could get people more
And Mueller said well, if you do it I'm not really going to say anything more than the report. So I'm warning you and they did it anyway. And what
-- lo and behold, he didn't really go beyond the report and he didn't even really feel comfortable reading dramatically his own prose, his own report.
He wanted the congressmen to do it.
So those sort of looking for sound bites and political points especially on the Democrat side were disappointed. You know, at the same time though, it
is certainly interesting after all this time to hear from Mueller, to hear him talk about his conclusions.
And remember, this is a person and team of lawyers who had been subjected to really withering criticism by the President and his allies. And so to
have Mueller come out and say this was no witch hunt. We were very systematic, we were very thorough. We were very careful. You know, in and
of itself, it's (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: I hear what you're saying, but I also thing that we're also sort of saying that he himself telegraphed that this was going to be a boring
hearing from his perspective. He was not there to be superman or some, you know, matinee idol. He was just going to repeat the words that were in his
So let me just ask you a couple of things. We've heard a little bit about the debate over exoneration. I want to ask you, Susan, whether you sort of
took -- one of the congresspeople started to ask Mueller whether there was even a process for exoneration within the American system at all. Whether
it's the judiciary, you know, the -- whether it's the, you know, Justice Department or whatever.
[17:20:05] Can -- is there such a thing as a path towards exoneration? And is that why President Trump wasn't exonerated according to Mueller. How
did you read that?
GLASSER: Well, you know, I'm glad you picked up on that, Christiane, right. You know, Republicans are in effect saying like where is the office
of exoneration. It's a dramatic change actually from when the Mueller was first released which, by the way was so long ago. It's more than a hundred
days ago that this report completed.
So it's been this sort of endless painstaking negotiation even to get us to this moment. President Trump first claimed a complete and total
exoneration. Today he says well, in fact he wasn't even allowed to exonerate me so that's why he didn't.
You know, I think Mueller was adamant on this fact of not going any farther but not going any less far than his report. His report said it found
evidence of collusion if you will. But not sufficient to charge and it's - - the report also said that there were not only evidence of obstruction but multiple incidents of obstruction involving the President and that it could
not exonerate him and would do so if it could.
So that's Mueller -- what he said in the report and he did repeat that again today.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you to follow up then Mark, because there was a whole section of conversation about whether this obstruction charge could
be followed after the end of the President's term in office.
Now if it's after reelection, that's many years from now and there was a whole discussion about a statute of limitations. How do you read that?
What do you think is on the cards there?
MAZZETTI: Well, and Mueller said affirmatively today that indeed, the President can be found or charged with obstruction after leaving office.
He was asked that early on.
And he said in his May appearance that, you know, one of the reasons they did this process even if they knew early on that they couldn't and they
wouldn't indict a sitting president it was important to gather information while memories were fresh, while documents were available to preserve
evidence. He didn't say for what. But he certainly clearly indicated that, you know, maybe there's a time in the future when this might be
And he -- as Susan said -- he certainly didn't shut the door on that prospect today.
AMANPOUR: Just to bring up -- I mean the congresspeople there did quote quite a few media organizations and Mark, one Congresswoman did in fact
sort of -- I don't know what her aim was but she asked Mueller how many times he quoted the "New York Times" versus "Fox News" in his report.
Let's just look at this back forth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R), ARIZONA: How many times have you said the "New York Times". I counted --
MUELLER: Again, I have no idea.
LESKO: I counted about 75 times.
How many times did you cite Fox News.
MUELLER: As with the over or two. I have no idea.
LESKO: About 25 times. I've got to say it looks like volume 2 is mostly regurgitated press stories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, your response?
MAZZETTI: Well, when she ticked off the number, the one thing you didn't cite was that she said that the "Washington Post" had been quote 60 times,
the "New York Times" 75. So there was a cheer in our newsroom for that.
But you know --
AMANPOUR: You've got it in here tonight -- Mark.
MAZZETTI: What's that? Exactly.
You know, it's -- you know, she's trying to make the point that basically the whole volume 2, this obstruction investigation was Mueller's team
sitting around reading the newspaper and basically interrogating witnesses based on these reports and then coming up with their conclusions with the
bigger point being, you know, again, this is a politically driven -- a politically driven exercise.
And the point on Fox News I think we need to add here is that there's a whole another narrative going out there that you saw reflected in the
Republican questioning today. It is not that the President himself committed crime or acted unethically or colluded. It is that the
investigation itself was corrupt and politically motivated.
And if you watch Fox News, that is a big talking point. It is something that's focused and Republican congresspeople to a man and woman were
emphasizing that. You know, why did the investigation start? Was it politically motivated? Who were these mysterious characters on the fringes
who seemed to be feeding politically motivated information into the system.
That's kind of where we are right now and have been throughout. It's a two totally different narrative on the left and the right about what happens
two and a half years ago.
[17:24:52] AMANPOUR: Well, you know what, I hear you on that and as I played the soundbite of Mueller to Jim Baker, the former FBI special
counsel, one of his most animated moments was when he defended the integrity, the ethics and the competency of the people who he chose for his
He said in all my 25 years in this organization, I have never asked people about their politics. I think he really did address that incredibly well.
Susan -- I was really interested in the questioning and the statements about WikiLeaks. At one point, one of the congresspeople, you know,
quoting WikiLeaks and I think Mueller himself agreed that it was a hostile foreign entity. And I just want to say and we'll talk about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: You would agree with Director Pompeo, that's what he was when he made that remark, that it's a hostile
intelligence service -- correct?
QUIGLEY: If we can put up slide 6 00 this just came out. "WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks." Donald Trump, October 10th 2016. "This WikiLeaks stuff
is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You've got to read it." Donald Trump, October 12th, 2016. "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure
trove." Donald Trump, October 31, 2016. "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks." Donald Trump, November 4th, 2016.
Would any of those quotes disturb you, Mr. Director.
MUELLER: I'm not sure and I would say --
QUIGLEY: How do you react?
MUELLER: It's problematic is an understatement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Susan -- and both of you really -- but Susan first. This really is quite dramatic. Because I mean WikiLeaks has got many, many but
obviously it played a very -- I mean it was the tool in this whole episode, this whole sorry adventure.
What do you think is going to be the -- I don't know -- the knock-on effect on WikiLeaks after this kind of negative publicity?
GLASSER: Well look, I mean just to get to the question of Trump and WikiLeaks, it's a very damning fact that the congressman and Mueller made
it clear problematic is an understatement for that kind of kind of relationship but yet, you know what, problematic is not grounds for
And I think, you know, the other thing that this hearing really showcased pretty starkly today is that political (INAUDIBLE) hasn't changed and since
in our system the only way to impose any accountability on the President is through Congress.
Essentially, you know, the President will take this as a free pass. And so, you know, will it act as a constraint looking in to the 2020 campaign?
I was also struck that the special counsel Mueller, he reserved really his strongest comment of the day for the Russians, for the Russian
intervention, for WikiLeaks and the idea of that 2020 intervention he said is already happening as we speak.
And yet that I think President Trump is making clear his own response to this is essentially I've been given a free pass. I've got away with
whatever it is that I got away with in 2016. And not only does he not appear to be taking the ongoing threat of Russian interference seriously,
but essentially he continues to falsely claim a vindication that was not actually on offer in the hearing today.
So my concern is that because congress for largely political reasons electoral mass reasons cannot take any action to hold him accountable that
he will see this as a free pass. And you know, none of the constraints that you're suggesting might occur as a result of this are going to occur.
AMANPOUR: Mark -- is WikiLeaks under investigation as we speak?
MAZZETTI: Well, we know that there's been charges against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and an active investigation into the effort some
years ago by WikiLeaks not only for Russia, but other activities.
And so that's one thing that -- you know, has been discussed, you know, potentially chilling effects on journalists in itself even though most news
organizations would consider themselves quite different from WikiLeaks.
But yes, the fact that you know, it's one thing that some in the Trump administration and Mueller agree on is that WikiLeaks is this hostile
intelligence service and that at least at one point in time was kind of a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Russian intelligence services.
So, you know, that's something that bears watching going forward because of this ongoing investigation. And I wanted to add on to what Susan said. I
mean the really -- the times when Mueller was most forceful today, and I would add in his speech in May, was talking about the Russian interference.
I mean this is kind of Mueller's version of screaming and pounding the table, which he doesn't do as we saw today.
[17:30:00] But he talked again and again about the dangers here, the fact that it's not being addressed, and he's really desperately trying to get
people to read what he wrote, so this doesn't happen again, But that's (ph) already too late, because he says it is happening again for the next
AMANPOUR: Yeah, I mean it was very clear that his biggest concern, and as you say his warning was for the security of the country and its incredibly
important institutions. I'm going to get to that in a moment and follow up on something Susan said about a free pass.
But first I just want to ask you about WikiLeaks, given what you've just said -- given what we know, given what Mueller said, "a hostile foreign
entity," a hostile in the service of a foreign intelligence operation.
Does it trouble you that American journalism advocates are actually defending Julian Assange against the -- you know, investigation and
accountability that he's being held under right now?
MAZZETTI: Well I think the question is --
GLASSER: You know, Christiane --
MAZZETTI: On what ground -- sorry, go ahead Susan.
AMANPOUR: Yeah, let's do Susan, and then --
GLASSER: Well I mean, look my guess is we all agree is that what is the debate that we're having over Assange and WikiLeaks right now, right? You
have the charges which are not related to the 2016 election interference on which he's being held and ultimately may face trial here in the United
States, he's being extradited from Great Briain.
I think it makes a lot of people deeply uncomfortable and I think that it should that WikiLeaks appears to have crossed beyond any known boundaries
of what you and I would call journalism and in to advocacy when it becomes an agent essentially of both the Russian government, but also the Trump
campaign, a partisan campaign inside the United States which is essentially what the allegations are that we're talking about which involve 2016.
And I'm really glad that we keep bringing this conversation, in fact back to that. It is breathtaking and we tend to lose sight of that. It is
breathtaking that the president of the United States said can you do anything Russia about those e-mails?
And then low and behold, they hacked the e-mails and they started releasing not only the e-mails of the Democratic National Committee and it's Chair,
but also of the head of the Clinton campaign in the middle of the 2016 election.
We can tend to lose sight of those facts, and frankly I thought the hearing today did a pretty job of reminding us of those facts. You know,
understandably I suppose, the Republicans acted as though Mueller was a hostile witness and spent their time trying to impeach his credibility,
trying to make him look silly and trying to call in to question the origins of the investigation.
Democrats in the morning were focused on the allegations of obstruction of justice against the president, and then in the afternoon focused in a more
general way on Russian interference. But frankly, I thought the central breathtaking nature of what occurred here got a bit lost in the shuffle.
AMANPOUR: I must say I was quite stuck that the Republicans who always present themselves as the protectors of patriotism, and security of the
nation were going after a man who spent his entire career protecting the security of the nation, including in combat. I found that really an odd
juxtaposition, to be frank.
But going to what you're just saying, breathtaking -- et cetera. I found breathtaking what President Trump said to ABC's George Stephanopoulos about
accepting information from foreign governments in the future. We're going to play this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time around -- if foreigners -- if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents
should they accept it or should they call the FBI?
TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen, I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called, from a
country -- Norway. We have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?
TRUMP: It's not an interference, they have information -- I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI. If I
thought there was something wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Mark Mazzetti, I mean nobody from the campaign I believe went to the FBI the first time around, how do you read that? I mean, after all
these years of this investigation and the propriety of getting information from a hostile foreign power -- Russia, and he still says that he might do
MAZZETTI: That's right. I mean it's sort of normalizing it and in fact he -- Mueller was asked directly about this today, about all of these contacts
with Russians, and the offers of help. And he's asked whether, you know is this the new normal in campaigns?
And he said, "I fear that it might be." And when you have the president basically saying well there's nothing really wrong with it -- you know, why
would anyone be dissuaded? And this is kind of a -- that clip you played is a kind of flashing green light for foreign powers to be doing the same -
- offering the same kind of dirt and politically damaging material to sabotage the American electoral process.
And this is -- again, amid all the partisanship and the question about the future of this president that has surrounded the Mueller investigation,
what has kind of gotten lost and really in many ways some of the most damning and authoritative conclusions of his report is exactly about the
extent of Russian interference, how successful it was and of course how little is being done now.
AMANPOUR: Susan we have less than a minute, so what do you think -- if you had to read the tea leaves and gauge the temperature, where does this put
the whole impeachment question for those Democrats who want to follow that process?
GLASSER: This hearing today did not add to the momentum behind impeachment. Many Democrats I think wish to move forward with it. You
will see some Democrats who say well (ph) listen, the evidence is irrefutable and since Mueller also made it clear that he's the one that
can't do anything about it, you may see more Democrats coming out in favor of at least opening an impeachment proceeding saying that Congress has no
choice to act because there's no one else to act.
But basically, I think the message here is that Democrats don't have the vote even in the House yet to open the impeachment proceedings and of
course the dynamic in the Senate has not changed at all -- that's controlled by Republicans, there are not the votes and it's very unlikely
that there would be the votes to convict President Trump in any impeachment trial.
So, so far when you hear President Trump proclaiming victory, as a purely tactical matter that's probably correct. It doesn't mean that he's
vindicated, it doesn't mean that he's exonerated -- but as a matter of politics it's hard to argue with that.
AMANPOUR: And as we know, just this week the president said that under the Constitution he has the right and the power to do whatever he wants as
president. So that is the sequel, we'll be following all of that.
Susan Glasser, Mark Mazzetti -- thank you so much indeed.
Now, as we know from the Mueller report, Russia absolutely did interfere in the 2016 election, and before Congress today Mueller said they're still at
it and that they will try to interfere in 2020. So how do we defend our democracies against cyber warriors?
Richard Clarke served as the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations,
alongside Robert Knake, he's penned "The Fifth Domain." It's an urgent warning, an inside look at the threats that lurk in dark online corners.
Speaking to our Hari Sreenivasan, Clarke gave his take on whether cyber peace is possible.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: So we know about land, sea, air, space -- what is this fifth domain?
RICHARD CLARKE, CO-AUTHOR, "THE FIFTH DOMAIN": So the Pentagon uses this phrase, "the fifth domain," to talk about cyber space. And talk about it
as an area of warfare.
Because (ph) when the Pentagon talks about domains -- land, air, sea, and space they're talking about places where they may have to fight. And what
they're saying is we are going to fight combat in that domain. We're going to destroy things in the other domains by fighting in cyber space.
SREENIVASAN: Yeah, so give us an example of -- what kind of threat level are we at, or what are the threats that the fifth domain poses to us in
real life because we know that when we're in a war (ph), a plane drops a bomb, a building disintegrates -- we kind of have an ability to visualize
CLARKE: Right. Well, so we have something called U.S. Cyber Command. It's a joint military organization -- the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines.
They have either leaked officially, or admitted that they attacked the Russian troll factory in St. Petersburg just before our Congressional
election in 2018, they destroyed computers there.
The president has announced that U.S. Cyber Command attacked air defense facilities in Iran a few weeks ago after the Iranians shot down one of our
drones. We also, apparently -- according to a White House leak, we are now in the Command and Control system of parts of the Russian power grid.
This comes months after the head of U.S. Intelligence Dan Coates said publically that the Russians were in the control plane of our power grid,
and the Chinese had access controls of our natural gas pipeline system.
So 10 years ago when Rob Knake and I wrote the book "Cyber War," we said this would happen but it was theoretical. Now, shots have been fired this
year, it's happening.
SREENIVASAN: So you know, when you talk about the fact that these ideas -- these countries have access to our power grid, our natural gas pipelines,
what can they do with it, or what could we do -- or anybody that has control of somebody else's infrastructure?
CLARKE: Well we already know what the Russians did when they got in to the Ukrainian power grid, they didn't shut it down. And post hoc analysis
showed that they could have blown up the transformers -- and blown up the generators.
We know that the U.S. cyber attack on centrifuges, nuclear enrichment devices, in Iran caused those devices to blow up.
So here's the breakthrough thought involved here. You can cause physical things, real things in the real world to damage themselves and to blow up
by giving them the wrong software. That's the bad news, that this is now actually happening. The good news we try to point out in the book is that
unlike 10 years ago, now there are American companies that are demonstrating that they can fight off cyber attacks. And that's new.
SREENIVASAN: You actually have this scenario that you lay out in the book, Israel and Iran getting into a fight. Play that out. What is the scenario
that could happen that goes from a cyber war to a real war?
CLARKE: In the book, we have a scenario where Iran attacks American infrastructure to prevent the United States from being able to resupply
Israel in a crisis. And unable to do anything, because of a cyber attack, the president decides, in our fictional scenario, "Well, to heck with this.
Let's fight a conventional war. Let's bomb Iran."
SREENIVASAN: And the U.S. Pentagon reserves that right.
CLARKE: The Pentagon's declaratory policy, written during the Obama administration, public policy is that if the United States, not just
military, but if the United States as a whole is hit by a cyber attack by a nation, and we consider the damage to be bad enough, and that's undefined,
the United States military reserves the right to respond to a cyber attack with a conventional response, meaning bombs and missiles.
SREENIVASAN: I mean in the idea of a nuclear war, we have this notion of mutually assured destruction, we have deterrents. What's keeping a full-
scale attack from happening?
CLARKE: I think any weapon, whether it's a cyber weapon or a nuclear weapon or a conventional weapon, nations don't use them simply because they
have them. They wait until they are in a situation where they were going to go to war anyway. And so, any time a nation like Iran or China or
Russia or North Korea decides to go to war in the future, they're going to use cyber attacks in the fifth domain, either just before or during their
SREENIVASAN: And the attack on companies; in the past couple of years, we've seen these malicious pieces of software run amok on corporate
networks and cost billions of dollars.
SREENIVASAN: I mean some of these companies are forthright enough to tell their shareholders, "Hey, guess what? That $180 million line item is
something pretty important and we want to explain it to you." Other companies aren't telling you.
CLARKE: And the companies that aren't telling us are violating the law. The Securities and Exchange Commission says if you're a U.S. publically-
traded company, and you have a cyber event, you're supposed to report it. Now the way they get around that is they have lawyers who say, "Oh, it's
not a material breach."
I think there're a bunch of lawyers in Washington who will never see a material breach, no matter how bad. But you say billions of dollars; we
had one attack on companies in the Ukraine by the Russian military, going after companies in the Ukraine, that got out of control, that was
collateral damage, and the insured loses around the world are estimated at $10 billion.
SREENIVASAN: And that's just one piece of software.
CLARKE: That's one software, one attack, collateral damage. It stopped shipping contains around the world. It stopped the production of cancer
drugs. It stopped the production of food substances. It wiped out, wiped out all the software on laptops, servers, printers, everything on the
SREENIVASAN: If shipping containers are stopped, it has huge ripple effects down the entire supply chain.
CLARKE: It did, for weeks. There was 70 ports around the world where containers didn't move because they didn't know what was in them. They
didn't know where they were supposed to go, and the actual cranes to move them had no software.
SREENIVASAN: Yes, it's not like the old clipboard. Here it is; here's the sheet. We're checking off the boxes. It's all virtual.
CLARKE: Increasingly, it's all robotic and semi-robotic. And so, if there's no software on the device -
CLARKE: The other thing we're seeing similar to this, instead of wiping out software, we're seeing encrypting software - this is called ransomware
- and it's been going on across the country, and really around the world, for the last couple of years.
This year, we've seen it hit big American municipal governments, Atlanta, Baltimore, where all the municipal functions stop, because the software has
been encrypted by bad guys who say, "Well, we'll give you the key to the encryption but you have to pay us." And places like Atlanta and Baltimore
are refusing to pay. Most companies, I think, quietly pay.
CLARKE: And that's money going to criminal groups, and it's a lot of money.
SREENIVASAN: Is this the modus operandi of what organized crime looks like today? I mean basically, why go get messy in the streets with a big gang
brawl when I can just release a piece of software and have people pay me ransom?
CLARKE: We don't know how money the criminals are making, but I've seen one estimate that criminals are making more money around the world in cyber
attacks every year than they are through selling narcotics.
SREENIVASAN: Wow. I mean is it - are we not having those conversations more openly? Is it because of an ego thing, that you don't want to admit
that your system was bad, and if I tell everybody in a local news, that, well, our city's been held hostage, and it's just cheaper to just give them
CLARKE: Well, some cities have done that, some little cities have done that. The large cities, they refuse to do it because they can't do it
CLARKE: - if you're a big municipal government. But another way, and this is going to sound a little cruel, another way, the cities that are being
hit are the weak members of the herd. They have poor cybersecurity. They don't invest in modernizing their IT. They don't invest in cyber
protection. That's why they're being picked off. One thing that ransomware tells you is who had bad security.
SREENIVASAN: So tell me, what does it take to have good security? What are the companies that are surviving this, are resilient through this?
What do they have in common?
CLARKE: They have three things in common. First of all, they have leadership at the CEO level and at the board level that understands this is
a reputational issue, this is a existential issue, potentially. So leadership, committed and understanding the issue. Secondly, flowing from
that, is a culture of security where they educate the workforce about why we have to worry about this and the reason to be aware of cybersecurity and
put up with some inconvenience, frankly.
CLARKE: But the third and probably most important thing that also flows from the governance model is money, money to buy the state-of-the-art
cybersecurity products. Basically, if you're spending 3 or 4 percent of your IT budget on security, you're going to be hacked, and you're going to
If you're spending double that or more in the 8 to 10 percent of your IT budget, then you can achieve security. You constantly have to update it.
You constantly have to change as the threat evolves, but you can achieve security if you spend enough money.
SREENIVASAN: So given that this is the kind of investment that a company needs to make, almost at the 10 percent level, is the United States
government anywhere close to making that kind of investment right now?
CLARKE: No, it's not. And the problem is the United State government, even though it's spending about $7 billion a year, asks every little
government agency to protect itself, asks every agency to stop the People's Liberation Army of China, the Russian GRU. They can't do it.
SREENIVASAN: So you mean the Department of Education, on a cabinet level, everyone's on their own?
CLARKE: Agriculture, interior, veterans, they all have to achieve a certain level of security. None of them do. Year after year, they fail
their tests, but year after year, we keep up with that model. Now states, the laboratories of Democracy, all right (ph), the states are doing
The states are saying, we're going to have IT department, and that will provide IT as a utility, and it will layer in security and security as a
utility to all departments and agencies. That's what we suggest in the book; we need to do it at the federal level, not for the Pentagon, not for
the big departments that are competent, but frankly, if you're selected to be the secretary of agriculture, probably that's not because of your IT
CLARKE: And you shouldn't really have to worry about that, just as small- and medium-sized companies shouldn't have to worry about it. They should
SREENIVASAN: Is there a sense of security and confidence going forward for the 2020 elections?
CLARKE: No. Everything the Russians did to manipulate our 2016 election, they can do again. Now we know that Facebook and Twitter and some of the
social media platforms have hired thousands of people to try to identify fake news, try to identify bots and trolls, but we don't (inaudible)
because there are no federal standards, there's no regulation.
What's interesting is some of the social media platforms are saying regulate us, because we don't want a situation where we're supposed to
guess what the government wants and we don't want to be criticized after the fact for not doing something if you didn't tell us in advance that
we're supposed to do it. So there should be, for the social media part, some minimum standards that we all agree on.
For the safety of the election machinery, the states and the counties, 4,000 counties, they're all running the election around the nation. Again,
there are no federal standards for security of their machinery. No standards, no third party auditing.
SREENIVASAN: Part of that is also our reluctance to give up any of that authority to the federal government versus the states. Right? The
counties say hey, look, these are our purview, the states say, we're supposed to run our election, not you from D.C.
CLARKE: And Ari, that's fine if they're electing the dog catcher. If they're electing the United States president or the United States Congress,
then it's a federal election, there ought to be federal standards. And if the federal government has higher security standards than the counties
have, the federal government should pay for it. And there are bills in the Congress to give money to the states to improve security. Right now
they're being held up by the senate majority leader, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is blocking aid to the states and the counties.
But you know, the states and the counties say, well, we didn't detect any Russian attacks last time. They don't have the equipment to detect them.
That's the key point here. When a -- when a major U.S. company is attacked by the Russians or the Chinese, they normally, in most cases, they do not
detect the attack. They're told later on by somebody that there was an attack. But most companies cannot detect the attack.
SREENIVASAN: And that's with sophisticated I.T. departments in-house.
CLARKE: Much more sophisticated than any state government or any county government has monitoring elections. So I love all he local people who
say, we're doing a good job, we haven't been attacked. But the truth of the matter is they wouldn't know if they were attacked.
SREENIVASAN: You have called 2016 kind of our Pearl Harbor in this cyber arena. I mean, if that was the Pearl Harbor and we did not react, what's
it going to take for us to care about it?
CLARKE: Well, I think if we cannot get a coordinated whole of government approach to stopping it again, we'll have the same outcome. The Russians
will choose candidates that they like, maybe the same ones they supposed last time, maybe someone differently. The Russian goal is not necessarily
to support one candidate or the other, the Russian goal is to divide us as a nation and keep us divided as a nation, keep us at each others' throats,
keep us inwardly focused and in chaos. And so far, they're achieving that.
SREENIVASAN: How do you get a bunch of nations to agree on any kind of the rules of the road, a Geneva Convention for the cyber world? How does that
CLARKE: We don't have a Geneva Convention, we have a Budapest Convention.
CLARKE: There is a Budapest Convention that identifies what's a cyber crime and what's the obligation of a nation to prevent cyber crime from
their country attacking another. So the Budapest Convention is limited, it doesn't have enforcement, doesn't have any teeth, but it's a beginning.
And what we ought to be doing is cyber arms control building on the Budapest Convention to get confidence building measures, risk reduction
measures, international norms agreed among nations, or at least agreed among a group of like-minded nations. America ought to be leading that
effort. But Donald Trump and his administration are note.
They reduced the rank of the people in the State Department doing this, fired some of them, they eliminated my old job of cyber czar, coordinating
all of this. This administration's not pushing cyber peace. It does appear to be pushing cyber war.
SREENIVASAN: Are you generally optimistic about where this is headed?
CLARKE: I think unlike when we wrote cyber war 10 years ago, we are optimistic. That had (ph) lots of studies and commissions look at how to
fix this problem, and we don't need another one. The way to fix the problem is known. It's a lot of different decisions that have to be make -
- made, the Congress has to be involved, the president has to be involved, we have to be willing to spend the money, we have to involve other nations,
but we could achieve cyber peace rather than cyber war.
SREENIVASAN: Richard Clarke, thanks so much for joining us.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
[17:55:00] AMANPOUR: Important warning, there. That is it for us for now. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.