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Mueller: Trump Not Exonerated and This "Is Not A Witch Hunt"; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is Interviewed About Mueller's Testimony; CNN: Robust Impeachment Talk Among Dems After Mueller Hearings. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired July 24, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Our special coverage continues with Erin Burnett OUTFRONT.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, President Trump triumphant taking impromptu questions on his way to a fundraiser to declare victory after Robert Mueller's historic testimony.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a very big day for our country. This was a very big day for the Republican Party. And you could say it was a great day for me but I don't even like to say that. It's great. This was a devastating day for the Democrats.


BURNETT: Mueller appearing for 7 hours in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and he made several things extremely clear. To the millions of Americans watching, Robert Mueller said this.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Director Mueller, the President has repeatedly claimed that your report found ...


BURNETT: That exchange was chilling. President Trump once he leaves office could go to prison for, quote, a lot of years. They continue to discuss if convicted of some of the crimes laid out in the report after leaving office. Now, tonight, we again listen to the President of the United States dismissing the Russia investigation in his two most used tropes. But also tonight for the first time, we hear Robert Mueller respond to those tropes and say, "The president lies."


TRUMP: There was no defense to this ridiculous this hoax, this witch- hunt that's been going on for a long time. REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): And when Donald Trump called your

investigation a witch hunt ...


BURNETT: Those moments were Mueller at his best. Short, concise, not going beyond a sentence, declarative and those moments did not require Mueller going beyond his written report. But there were a few moments he did that matter. Like when he was presented with Trump's tweet celebrating WikiLeaks, a hostile intelligence force backed by Russia, helping him.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): If we could put up slide six. This just came out. WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks. Donald Trump, October 10, 2016 ...


BURNETT: Problematic is an understatement. He said it was wrong. But then there was another side to Mueller, a witness who time and time again seem to not be a star, tripping over himself on key findings which is exactly what Republicans were hoping for.


[19:05:02] REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): In the colloquial context, public context, collusion and conspiracy are essentially synonymous terms ...


BURNETT: OK, that was not a great moment for Mueller and it was questioning like that, but as the President praising his fellow Republicans' performance.


TRUMP: I very much appreciate those incredible warriors that you watched today on television. Republicans that defended something and defended something very powerful.


BURNETT: Abby Phillip is out front live outside the white house tonight. And Abby, the President at least acting as if he is triumphant.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. The President started the day irritated by the prospect that Robert Mueller would be making a comeback in his life appearing before the Congress to testify. But he ended it elated, thinking that this testimony was actually better for him than it was for Democrats. The President criticized Mueller saying that he did a terrible job in the testimony and also as special counsel, he did a victory lap over what he said was what testimony that did not reveal anything new about the investigation.

The President dismissed Mueller's talk of the report not exonerating President Trump by saying that Muller had no role in exonerating the President. That's actually a shift for President Trump who has spent months and months talking about how the report has completely and totally exonerated him. But it highlights the way in which the President and his allies view this testimony and they viewed it this way early on as not living up to the expectations.

One White House aide telling me that the Russia investigation was so over, but as President Trump answered questions today, one question seems to stick in his craw, he was asked about the prospect that he might be potentially indicted if he left office because of that OLC opinion saying that the justice department can indict a sitting President. He lashed out at those reporters and seemed to be confused about that part of Mueller's testimony.

But this afternoon, the White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham reacted to all of this saying Mueller wasn't just explaining that generally speaking a president can be charged after leaving office, not addressing this case. She said Mueller and DOJ have made it clear that no more indictments are coming from this investigation. So a direct response there from Stephanie Grisham, the White House Press Secretary to something that seemed to particularly irritate President Trump this afternoon when he was speaking to reporters, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Abby, thank you very much and certainly would on many levels, they went through that if convicted with some of the charges that could come from what this report lays out, he could be going to prison for many years, if convicted after serving his time in the White House.

Out front now Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings, a member of both the House Judiciary and intelligence committee. So she questioned Mueller twice today and it had some pretty strong exchanges in both cases. Congresswoman, I appreciate your time. So President Trump came out, you heard him on the White House lawn on his way to this fundraiser. He says it was a devastating day for you, Democrats. He says you have nothing and now he says - I'm sorry, you had nothing, Congresswoman, and now you have less than nothing. Your response to the President?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, I almost feel that is probably a waste of time to respond to what the President said. Look, what Special Counsel Mueller did today was to confirm a lot of things that if you have the time and the opportunity to read the report, you'll know is that Russia interfere with our election in a sweeping and systematic way that the President tried his best to interfere with the investigation into Russia's interference.

That several people around the President have been indicted or pled guilty to lying during the investigation that the President tried to fire the Special Counsel, directed the White House attorney to do so. Thank God, the White House attorney refused to do that and that the report did not exonerate the President. And, it really saddens me, Erin, to hear the President talk about the democrats being unhappy or disappointed.

[19:09:59] I can tell you right now, my colleagues and I are definitely not disappointed. And isn't it interesting that the President wouldn't comment today about Russia interfering with the election. You would think he would mention that as opposed to Democrats being disappointed, but --

BURNETT: And to your point, Bob Mueller said that they were doing that as he spoke. They were trying to interfere. Look, we just played some extensive portions of what happened today. There were moments when Robert Mueller was very strong and there were moments where he seemed to perhaps not be as familiar with the report as many expected and the President seized upon that, talking about Mueller's performance. Here he has moments ago.


TRUMP: I don't think there's anybody that would say he did well. This was one of the worst performances in the history of our country.


BURNETT: Do you think Mueller did a good job today?

DEMINGS: I think Special Counsel Mueller did exactly what we needed him to do. Look, we're talking about a man who has spent a lifetime in public service. We're talking about a two-year long investigation over 448 pages of that investigation and asking him to start at the beginning today, I believe that we ended up to exactly where we hoped we would. And that was Special Counsel Mueller confirming the most critical parts of the report and adding that in many of the President's written responses, he was not always truthful.

BURNETT: All right. So that was a very important moment in your questioning, Congresswoman. And let me start with something that you got him to say that frankly was shocking and to your point was not in the report. Let me play that exchange.


DEMINGS: Could you say, Director Mueller, that the President was credible?


BURNETT: So right there Mueller is saying, if you take his answer at face value, that there were times the President was not being truthful in his written answers which is a stunning thing to say. It got the President extremely angry. In fact, it was the moment of his exchanges this afternoon and let me play what he said when asked about your exchange with Mr. Mueller.


TRUMP: He didn't say that at all. You are untruthful when you ask ... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He specifically said very untruthful.

TRUMP: ... you are untruthful. When you asked that question, you are untruthful and do you know who else is untruthful, do you know who else is untruthful? His aides.


BURNETT: I don't know if you had seen that yet, Congresswoman Demings, but pointing his finger and pointing at a reporter, "No, you're on truthful for even asking that." Look, clearly your exchange with Mueller threw the President. Mueller did not say the President wasn't truthful in the report, so you got him to say something that was not in the report. Were you surprised he did it?

DEMINGS: What we do know is that Special Counsel's Office tried for over a year to get the President to sit down and do an in-person interview which the President refuse. So the President chose to do written answers, which he had a lot of time with him and his legal team to decide what to say and still could not always find the truth in his written responses. I believe Director Mueller was extremely clear that there were times in the President's written answers that he was not truthful and really, Erin, that comes as no surprise to anybody.

BURNETT: Well, and I think we should point out, I mean, my count was 35 times I believe in those written answers he said I don't recall and I don't remember, and at the least it would seem that some of those times, that is probably not the case. I want to play another big moment that you had with Mueller during the Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Demings. Here you are.


DEMINGS: Did other witnesses lied to you?


BURNETT: Congresswoman, the big question is did Trump direct those campaign and administration officials to outright lie in the words of Robert Mueller. What does his answer tell you?

DEMINGS: All his answer - no, let's start here, Erin. Remember this investigation started as a counterintelligence investigation about Russia interfering with our election. Now, you would think members of the campaign and members of the administration would want to cooperate fully with that investigation, yet according to Director Mueller there were several members who lied during the investigation.

[19:15:00] And so that tells me as we indicated during the hearing that the investigation into Russian interference and obstruction was impeded by people around the President who have no relationship or not a continuous relationship with the truth.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Demings, thank you very much. I appreciate you coming on the show. DEMINGS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And now former Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department, Robert Litt, our Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez, David Priess who brief then FBI Director Mueller daily as a CIA intelligence officer, former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram and David Gergen who advise four presidents.

OK. Thanks very much to all of you, so let's start here. Evan, as I try to lay out on the intro, there were some really strong moments and then there were some moments that weren't.


BURNETT: And were less so and I'm going to get to that, but first just the Mueller strategy, there were 206 times that you counted that Mueller did not answer questions and just to give people a sense of what that felt like, here he is.




BURNETT: Democrats say they knew they were going to get this, but did they really know they were going to get that?

PEREZ: I don't think they were quite aware of how much of this that we're going to get and I think if you want to witness like Bob Mueller to come and have the gravitas that he has and to bring all of that, I think you also hope that within the four corners of the work that Bob Mueller has produced, this 450 page report, that there is room for you to say some stuff, for you to be able to explain to the public and frankly as a responsibility.

I mean he's got 30 million of the American public's money, two years of time and I think he does have a responsibility to explain a little bit more about exactly what happened here. He did seem in the afternoon session to go into more depth, I think with regard to the to the Russian interference. I think that's probably closer to his heart. That's where he feels the strongest, I think, and more comfort in talking about it.

But it's not like he didn't make it abundantly clear that he didn't want to do this and I think that's what you got. You got somebody who, obviously, he said that he wasn't exonerating your President. There was a few moments like that, but there was a lot of those answers.

BURNETT: Right. And in the afternoons when we got, for example, without Val Demings when he said, "Yes, he's a bit untruthful in the written responses," which did go beyond the report and surprise many. But David Priess, as I said, there were multiple instances where it wasn't just that he didn't want to answer the questions, he seemed to struggle just to be frank. Here are two of them.


REP. ROBERT WENSTRUP (R-OH): Is it accurate to say your investigation found no evidence that members of the Trump campaign ...


DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, BRIEFED THEN FBI DIRECTOR MUELLER DAILY: I have to look at that in two ways, Erin. One way is that this is not the Bob Mueller I remember. Now, that was years ago and he hasn't been out there doing a lot of Q&A with Congress. Recently, we saw him ...

BURNETT: It's been six years.

PRIESS: ... most recently several weeks ago giving a prepared statement at the Department of Justice, reading from a prepared statement is different than being in front of the committee answering questions, trying to have immediate recall of things that you've worked on. I did not expect to see that side of Bob Mueller today. That's a different man than I used to brief.

However, this was the Bob Mueller that we expected to see in terms of what he did with the substance. He promised us he was going to stay within the report as much as possible. He said, "I don't want to testify, read the report. Everything is in the report. If I testify, it will be the report. This my testimony." And he generally stuck to that. So while his delivery was halting and while he had some problems, sometimes getting the right word to characterize what he said.

BURNETT: Assuming to have the facility with the actual ...


BURNETT: ... the written words to be honest of what was on what page and what it concluded.

PRIESS: Right. And that prevented him at times from doing what I expect he would have done back when he was FBI Director where he would give a 'no, but this'. Sometimes that pause led the member who was on a very tight time schedule to jump right in with the next question and it made him look even more hesitant to answer than perhaps he was.

BURNETT: And you were surprised that he didn't push back more.

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: At the beginning, particularly at the beginning of the Judiciary Committee hearing, I thought he was incredibly deferential and there were a couple of moments where, and to be fair to him, there were times where someone went on a sort of long ...

BURNETT: 1915 [00:04:45].

MILGRAM: ... exactly. And then the time ended and he wasn't given the opportunity to sort of push back. But I thought after the first break in the judiciary hearing, that changed a little and he started to defend his investigation and his team.

BURNETT: Robert, the thing is there were times where he stayed within the corners of the report as you're pointing out, but then there were times, example with Val Demings, where he went outside it. It was a little unpredictable.

[19:20:07] ROBERT LITT, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I think he thought he was always staying within the four corners of the report. I think that interchange with Val Demings is a little peculiar. It's a little hard to understand exactly what he's saying when he just gives that one word answer, generally. But I think that David is absolutely right. You have to distinguish between the words and the style.

I thought it was interesting that President Trump criticized Mueller's performance, because his performance was not good. But the substance of what he said I thought was devastating to the President.

BURNETT: And David, so let's talk about the Republican response. The President obviously is jumping on this, but Republicans were seizing also on the sometimes halting performance or seeming lack of familiarity with the report itself. Here's Congressman Mark Meadows who, of course, is a major ally of President Trump. Here's how he put it.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Sadly, I think a lot of Members of Congress had a better understanding of what was in the report that he did.


BURNETT: Did Mueller help Republicans today? It was a big moment. A lot of people who hadn't read the report, they're going to see Mueller.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: I think the Republicans or conservatives are crying out now that this was a disaster for the Democrats. It wasn't just Mueller's hesitancy but in fact the substance he wasn't there. And they came prepared to fight. I had not expected that. I mean, they were much more coordinated. They presented things, frankly, we haven't talked about much on CNN, aspects of this that are on the right, but we haven't visited him, because we don't put much stock in a lot of what they're arguing.

But nonetheless, I did not think it was a disaster. For all of the shortcomings, I thought the Democrats did a solid job, especially the members working with Mueller in effect telling the stories about obstruction. The story was a much more credible come to life kind of story that they had now about the questions going right straight to the heart of all of this was there. Did he interfere - the President interfere with the investigation trying to fire and going through him again to get that. That was a well told story. BURNETT: And you know what on that, Anne, let me just play an

exchange, because this was a case where it was very basic questioning, just without quoting this is what the report says. Here are two examples actually talking about this issue with Don McGahn and falsifying documents.


REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): Your investigation found that President Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire you ...


BURNETT: Those are two damning things and he was very declarative.

MILGRAM: Incredibly damning and I think what you see is when Bob Mueller was asked a specific factual question, he generally gave an answer and he generally was able to sort of work through it. There was a lot of word salad, in my view, in some of the questions today. And even I who've read the report multiple times and follow this, I had to think through what was happening.

And what I think you see with Bob Mueller is that he's going to respond on facts, but he didn't want to agree to other people's conclusions, whether it was the Republicans or the Democrats.

BURNETT: Like I hear your facts but I'm not sure I agree where you're trying to take that.

MILGRAM: Yes. He didn't want to be made into sort of partisan for either side and so on the factual questions, I think you saw the kind of damning things from the report that we just saw there.

BURNETT: So, Evan, there was a moment in the morning with Congressman Ted Lieu, OK?

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: And when I heard it, I said he just ...

PEREZ: Big moment.

BURNETT: ... big moment or big mistake, and I wasn't sure and then we all start talking about it. OK. The bottom line was he told Congressman Lieu that he didn't indict President Trump because of the OLC opinion, right?

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: So he didn't indict him because of that. So let me just play the exchange and then when he was forced to walk it back. Here it is.


REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): I like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of ...


BURNETT: Evan, Lieu's question at first was extremely clear.

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: His answer was shocking. It appeared to be a bombshell. It wasn't a minor answer.

PEREZ: No. No, and as you said, it was a very clear question and I can tell you right after that answer and certainly when they took a break, there were a lot of phone calls being made between the Special Counsel's team between Mueller's team and the Justice Department saying, "What the hell just happened?" And the decision was made that he needed to clean it up. He needed to come back and fix it because the Justice Department's certainly on March 5th, there was this briefing, Mueller's team and Bill Barr who had just taken office.

[19:25:06] And during that meeting, Jim Quarles, one of the deputies there said specifically that it wasn't a but for, at least three times during that meeting.

BURNETT: Right, it was but for no decision, right?

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: IT wasn't a but for no charge.

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: And there's a big differences ...

PEREZ: It is a huge difference.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, Robert, were you surprised that he didn't seem to understand that question?

LITT: It's an easy question to parse in retrospect. I can understand looking at this now as I could understand at the time, how Mueller interpreted that question. And I think he actually went back later in the morning in response to questioning by another congressman and said it correctly. But he didn't make a decision to indict because of the OLC opinion. That's absolutely clear.

I don't think he intended to say anything different than that in response to Congressman Lieu's question. I think it --

BURNETT: No, it just seem as someone who's so precise at something so core, I think, it surprised a lot of people.

LITT: Yes.

BURNETT: All right. Stay with me, everyone. OUTFRONT next, Robert Mueller on the defensive. He answers why he did not subpoena President Trump. Plus, a chilling warning about Russian interference in American elections.


MUELLER: It wasn't a single attempt. They're doing it as we sit here ...



[19:30:03] BURNETT: Breaking tonight, President Trump saying he has no regrets about refusing to sit down for an interview under oath with Robert Mueller.


[19:30:02] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking tonight, President Trump saying he has no regrets about refusing to sit down for an interview under oath with Robert Mueller.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did the right thing. I saw what he did to people, how he ruined people's lives because they didn't remember a date or something very minor.


BURNETT: And Mueller had to explain today why he did not force the issue of an in-person, under oath interview.


REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Why didn't you subpoena the president?

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: Quite obviously, one of the things we anticipated wanting to accomplish is getting -- having the interview of the president. We negotiated from -- with him for a little over a year.

But finally when we were almost towards the end of our investigation and we had had little success in pushing to get the interview of the president, we decided that we did not want to exercise the subpoena powers because of the necessity of expediting the end of the investigation.

MALONEY: You did go with written questions after nine months, sir, right? And the president responded to those. And you have some hard language for what you thought of those responses. What did you think of the president's written responses, Mr. Mueller?

MUELLER: It was certainly not as useful as the interview would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And, of course, we recall that he then told Congresswoman Demings that he agreed with her generally, that they were untruthful in those answers. So, at least not always being truthful.

So back with me in the panel.

So, David Priess, let me start with you. Why didn't Mueller pursue that further when he wanted one, felt it would have been vital, made that clear to the president that it would have been vital. He said that again and again. President wouldn't do it. He did not pursue that subpoena.

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: This is one of the areas he explained well in the hearing and paralleled what was in the report.


PRIESS: When he talked about the balance here. Here, he talked a little bit more about it. And said we had to balance the added value of an in person interview against the fact that this would delay the investigation at a minimum months, possibly years with court battles and all of this. What additional information would we need?

Now, what was unsaid there is the fact that he felt he had damning enough evidence about what the president did and why he did it that he didn't really need this. But he didn't say it in that way in the report, which leaves it to people in Congress to interpret, was this really an impeachment referral or not and Bob Mueller wasn't talking about that.

BURNETT: And Bill Barr gets in making the declaration that he is not going to muddy the waters. But David Gergen, this is a crucial point. Congressman Maloney made said is it possible you didn't pursue the interview because you felt you had enough damning evidence and you did not need this interview to prove that.

GERGEN: He may have felt that and it was a mistake. He needed -- Democrats -- if you are going after Trump, if you believe in your heart that he lied through this, he is culpable, then you have to play the hard ball game. And the Republicans are playing harder ball than the Democrats.

The Democrats are more respectful of procedures and rules and that sort of thing and the Republican come in boom. They're playing for power and they have used this tactic, delay, delay, delay. And it's not only stretched it out where they could justify not asking the president to come in, but frankly today's hearing would have been much more impactful two or three months ago.

The long stretch of time between when people forget the details, when they're hazy, when they move on intellectually, I thought the Democrats from that point they had a steeper hill to climb today than they would have if they had done this earlier.

BURNETT: I mean, Evan, there is the sort of oh, wow when you read the written responses which of course we hadn't seen for so long, right?


BURNETT: You know, you read all those, I don't recall, I don't remember. And it does seem to be a joke. And yet it appears that he, you know -- I don't know the right word but he got away with giving an interview like that which wasn't in full and wasn't even all the question.

PEREZ: Right. I mean, it turns out, if you are president, you can get away with a lot. And that's the answer we get from Mueller refusing to go the route of forcing to try to do -- to subpoena the president. One of the other sort of left unsaid things here is the generally the Justice Department has a rule if you are the target of a investigation, the prosecutors don't force to you sit down for an interview, right? There is this -- there is the gentle rule there. So, maybe that played into this.

But Mueller clearly was not going to say something like that in his testimony. And you do have to wonder, as far as the Democrats were concerned, you know they were hoping he was going to be a star witness today. And if you watch what he said today to David's point, I think if they had done this a couple months ago, I think maybe you would have felt differently. But it does feel it wasn't the star impeachment witness they were looking for because of answers like this, right? This sort of doesn't really give you a satisfaction that you know more about what happened.

BURNETT: It didn't put it in black and white.

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: There were moments, but overall, it didn't.

[19:35:00] I mean, Robert, there were moments where, you know, he was passionate and confident, OK? There weren't a lot where he -- you felt fire. I'm not saying you should have but there weren't a lot on one topic there was. He was defending his team against Trump's saying that there a bunch of angry Democrats on a witch hunt, donating all this money to Democrats.

Here's that moment.


MUELLER: Can I speak for a second to the hiring practices?


MUELLER: We strove to hire those individuals that could do the job.


MUELLER: I have been in this business for almost 25 years. And in those 25 years, I have not had occasion once to ask somebody about their political affiliation. It is not done. What I care about is the capability of the individuals that do the job and do the job quickly and seriously and with integrity.


BURNETT: That was the fire in the belly moment.

ROBERT LITT, FORME GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Right. I think it's stunning that people would suggest that Mueller had some sort of obligation to import political balance into the investigation and inquire into the political beliefs and activities of -- of his subordinates. In fact, I think that would have been a violence of the Hatch Act if he had done that. The idea that these were a bunch of Democrats working for a person appointed by Republican president and by all accounts is probably a Republican himself.

BURNETT: He is a Republican, Robert Mueller.

LITT: That this somehow affected their inquiry, there is absolutely no evidence of that whatsoever. It's just smear and dust. It's thrown up there against these people.

BURNETT: The fire in the belly you saw there. What if you had seen that on other topics, some passion?

PRIESS: I felt the nuances in the report were so important that if he were to get emotional, trying to bring out more by his style he thinks it would have cheapened the impact of the report. But, in fact, what the Democrats certainly were hoping for a few of those, him speaking passionately about the issues not of Russian interference but about the president's obstruction of justice and the things the president did to attempt to block the investigation.

BURNETT: So, Anne, a lot of this was about -- Democrats can say it wasn't but it was. This was their case to the American people who did not read the report to hear about the report from Robert Mueller and decide whether impeachment is going to happen or not. Nancy Pelosi made it clear it's not a matter of principle, it's a matter of politics, and political, whether it makes sense, OK? On the front there were several key exchanges. One of them was this one.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): On questioning this morning you were asked, could that -- could a president be indicted after their service, correct?


QUIGLEY: And your answer was that they could.

MUELLER: They could.

QUIGLEY: The follow up question that should be concerning is, what if a president serves beyond the statute of limitations?

MUELLER: I don't know the answer to that one. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I mean, Anne, that was a huge moment. If he was re-elected, he would serve beyond the statute of limitations on some potential charges. It's not an insignificant question.

ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, that's completely true. And the office -- the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel regulations doesn't address this question of what happens is the statute routes. The statute runs on the obstruction if the president --

BURNETT: Doesn't hit pause while you are in office --

MILGRAM: Exactly, and it's really important point. And Congress has talked about taking it up as legislative act. They haven't. It was an important point that I think is worth making.

BURNETT: Does it move the needle where Democrats say we move ahead on impeachment, even though we can't get it through the Senate because of this issue?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think even though the Democrats did a solid job today presenting their case, I think the likelihood of impeachment went down sharply today, because the issue is not just what goes on in the caucus and what goes on in the Judiciary Committee. It's what goes on in the general public.

Nancy Pelosi and others like her are waiting to see if the public rallies. I don't think this would galvanize the public. We know that the number of people who believe in impeachment according to the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll has gone down 6 percent. It's only 21 percent of the country wants impeachment proceeding.

Do you think this flipped 20, 30 percent of the country? I don't think so.

BURNETT: And on the impeachment proceeding, Evan, your star witness, you just saw the star witness today?

PEREZ: Right. And to go back to the sort of the ornery almost -- the fire in the belly type of Mueller that we saw just glimpses of today, you know, as a reporter, I've been on the receiving end of Mueller getting angry at a question. But you didn't see any of that today. I expected more of that today. And I expected perhaps a little bit more forceful defense of the investigation what the importance of it was.

You heard a little bit of it from him but you didn't hear enough of that I think to flip that, I think, for the public. I think if you read the report, you see that this is a damning report as far as what the Trump campaign did, the way they reacted to offers of help from a foreign hostile power. We didn't see enough of that I think today during this hearing.

[19:40:00] PRIESS: Let me challenge one thing you said Erin which was this was the star witness. In fact not, the star witness is Don McGahn getting there and actually describing what the president asked him to do, the star witness.

BURNETT: Falsifying documents.

PRIESS: Right, it might be Dan Coats. It might be others in the White House. The prosecutor who did the investigation is not the star witness. In fact, Bob Mueller was essentially saying here, I'm kun, over to you do your job, Congress. Don't subcontract the investigation to the special counsel. Do your job.

BURNETT: And, of course, this White House has made it clear they will do everything they can to make sure a Don McGahn never appears in front of dress.

GERGEN: Delay, delay.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.

And next Robert Mueller expressing fears over campaigns being offered help from Russia.


MUELLER: I hope this is not the new normal. But I fear it is.


BURNETT: But I fear it is. Congressman Eric Swalwell who questioned Mueller is OUTFRONT.

Plus, what are Democratic leaders telling their caucus now tonight after that about the possibility of impeachment.


[19:45:26] BURNETT: Breaking tonight, Robert Mueller with a clear warning. And this maybe the most important thing he said today. The Russians are attacking now. He told lawmakers that the United States may be at point where candidates, thanks to what just happened, actually embrace support having foreign influence in American elections.


MUELLER: I hope this is not the new normal. But I fear it is.

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): Did you find evidence to suggest they will try to do this again?

MUELLER: It wasn't a single attempt. They are doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, sits on both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committee. So, you, Congressman, questioned Mueller twice today. OK. One of

those responses to you, I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is. And then to your colleague, Congressman Hurd, they are doing it as with we sit her. What was your reaction to that?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): It is pretty hair-raising, Erin. And whether you are a Republican defending the president or a Democrat wanting the president held accountable, we should be worried that in future elections, whether it's Russia, other countries who have similar capabilities, that this could create a mess of our democracy.

I don't know how many elections we can weather something like that. That's why I've tried to be part of investigations but also have written legislation along the way to put responsibility on candidates to tell the FBI if they are approached in the which the Trump campaign has. That legislation will get a vote very soon. It's called duty to report.

That's why I wrote bipartisan legislation to have an independent commission make recommendations on what we can do just as we did after September 11th. I would like to see more Republicans join that because let's put aside what happened in the last election and just recognize future elections are at stake.

BURNETT: So Mueller's long-time deputy Aaron Zebley was sworn in alongside today in your hearing. And, look, as we all know, Congressman, there were multiple times when Mueller did not seem as familiar with the report as Zebley did, right? He tried to refer questions to Zebley. He looked to him for help -- times like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volume 2, page 1, your report boldly states we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. Is that correct?

MUELLER: I'm trying to find that citation, Congressman.


BURNETT: So you see, you see his hand and pen. Obviously, you were there, you saw that, OK? Zebley was the deputy special counsel had day to day oversight of the investigation. Mueller wanted him be sworn in and perhaps today we now know why, right? He is the one who knew this most intimately at the detail level.

Did you all make a mistake by not asking Zebley questions directly?

SWALWELL: No, I don't think so. Again, Bob Mueller led the investigation. The American people deserve to hear from him today. But this was act one. Act two will be all of the witnesses who were invoked today.

I think Americans watching this at home who heard Bob Mueller's voice the first time in their life want to hear about Corey Lewandowski and the orders President Trump gave him to tell Sessions to limit the investigation.

They probably want to hear more about the polling data. I mean, again, a presidential campaign in the United States sharing polling data with the Russians. They want to learn more about that. So, now, we've got to bring those witnesses in.

BURNETT: So, do you think there is an act two? I ask this because now you had the person in charge. And there was so much import put on this testimony. And we know the White House is going to fight someone like Corey Lewandowski as much as they can.

But certainly, Don McGahn, who is crucial, right? Don McGahn told to do something that would be obstruction of justice by the president. The president instructing him to falsify documents. This is according to what Mueller said Don McGahn said.

Don McGahn is crucial here. But the White House is never letting you guys talk to him, right?

SWALWELL: Yes, that's right, Erin. That's why I laid out today how obstructive acts are a consciousness of guilt. I asked the director, I said when people lie, when they tamper with witnesses, when they obstruct investigations, can you use that to show a guilty conscientious. And we are seeing obstruction in real time as the president is not allowing these witnesses to come forward.

And if you go back to the Nixon impeachment inquiry, obstruction of Congress was one of the articles of impeachment. I believe that will be part of our impeachment inquiry when we get there is that he is in real time obstructing Congress.

BURNETT: Have you heard from any colleagues who did not support impeachment prior to today who actually have moved in the direction of impeachment since Mueller spoke today?

[19:50:02] SWALWELL: Yes, Lori Trahan from Massachusetts called for impeachment while the hearing was going on. And my prediction is that you're going to see more people not fewer people. I don't think anyone is saying, you know what, I think Donald Trump should get a Nobel Peace Prize, take me off the call for impeachment. No, it's getting to get worse for the president as more and more witnesses come in. It's not going to get better.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you, Congressman, President Trump weighed in on Mueller's performance, as you know, right? He's celebrating it, saying it was great for him. He also said this.


TRUMP: The Democrats had nothing, and now they have less than nothing and I think they're going to lose the 2020 election very big, including congressional seats because of the path they chose.


BURNETT: Congressman, I asked this question to you because you were running for president until recently. You know what it's like on the trail. You know the American public at this point have not been as a whole receptive to impeachment proceedings.

What impact will today's hearing have?

SWALWELL: Yes, I was laughing, Erin, because I don't know what less than nothing is as the president described it.

But, you know, I did see on the trail that yes, Americans care about health care. Americans care about student loan debt and gun violence but a number of people told me, you know what? I hate when Washington says that people outside Washington don't care about what the Russians did, and that's Republicans and Democrats because it's about the ballot box and that whether you're a Republican or Democrat on election night, the result belongs to us because we went and voted. And so, I think as long as we make this about the future and not, you know, dwell too much on the past, the American people will be with us.

BURNETT: Congressman Swalwell, thank you.

SWALWELL: Yes, thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, House Democrats meeting behind closed doors with Speaker Pelosi. What we're learning about what is being described as robust impeachment discussions.


[19:55:18] BURNETT: Breaking news, standing firm. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not budging from her position against impeachment after Robert Mueller's testimony.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): My position has always been whatever decision we made in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts. It's about the Congress, the Constitution and the courts, and we are fighting the president in the courts.


BURNETT: All right. That was Speaker Pelosi and following Mueller's testimony as you heard Congressman Swalwell, say one House Democrat has moved over in support of an impeachment inquiry. That's just one. Those numbers could change. It brings the total number to 93.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.

Sunlen, look, today's testimony mattered a lot on this issue. What else did the speaker have to say after Mueller spoke?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRFESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Speaker Pelosi, Erin, was very clear on her press conference with the committee chairs. She essentially is saying, look, we are going to stay the course. We are going to remain on the path that we have been on, of course, that path being the very deliberate, very go take it slow strategy of going plot by plot through these courses of actions.

And you almost heard her there, you know, argue why she is staying on this course. She said, you know, look, if we were to get there an impeachment, again, we need to go in with the strongest possible hand possible and that means she said right now essentially focusing on the next step, the court battles ahead that starts over the next 48 hours, restarts, I should say tomorrow or Friday.

She said that the judiciary committee will go to court to seek the grand jury material from the Mueller report as well as enforce the subpoena against Don McGahn.

Now, moments before, she did meet with her entire Democratic Caucus and at least one member I spoke to especially on the impeachment thing that's equally as important to what she did not say. One member I spoke to said she indicated some openness on impeachment but certainly remains officially unmoved in her position -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much.

I want to go to our chief political correspondent Dana Bash, OUTFRONT now.

So, Dana, let's start with some new reporting I know you have on this meeting, right? What's going on inside that room?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I have along with Manu. So, Sunlen just described what happened at the press conference before she got to that press conference, the speaker had an impromptu meeting with her caucus after the end of the series of hearings today. Manu and I were told there was a robust discussion about impeachment with member after member pressing the leadership, what next? What are we going to do now?

And what was interesting according to our sources is that although the speaker said we're not there yet, she and the judiciary chairman welcomed questions and talked in a more detailed way about the potential process going forward. One example, Jerry Nadler indicated that a possibility would be after the court proceedings and when and if they get to this point, all six committees investigating could come up with articles of impeachment, a source cautions to Manu that was just an idea. It's not actually being done now.

But another interesting thing, Erin, that I was told is that Nadler was asked by a member whether or not the whole house has to vote on starting the impeachment injury and he said no. He said he has the authority to do that. Why is that interesting? Because there are a lot of members in the Democratic Caucus who are, you know, not so eager to take a vote even to start an impeachment inquiry, particularly the moderates that helped make the House majority and they could get around that. They could potentially start impeachment proceedings, according to Nadler in this meeting without having members take a vote.

So, these are the discussions that went on in a very sort of frenetic way as soon as these hearings were over today, Erin? BURNETT: And, Dana, you know, one thing I wanted to ask you. The

speaker said evening thought this was the big moment. And let's be honest, this was the big moment. If this was a clear and definitive set of answer, we would be having a different conversation.

But her public answer was, I've got have a few more things to look at before we decide. Was that a punt or are there few more specific things?

BASH: Well, I think the answer is yes to both of those questions. It was a punt because it wasn't as clear cut as maybe they would have liked. They didn't really expect it to be really clear cut but maybe not as murky as it was.

But they do have plans to continue to pursue grand jury proceedings as Sunlen was talking about, pushing to get Don McGahn the key witness to come before Congress and they don't have the answers to that yet. They want to check that box before they decide to go forward.

BURNETT: All right. Dana Bash, thank you very much.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us for our breaking news coverage on this historic testimony day.

Our coverage continues here on CNN with Anderson.