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Puerto Rico Gov. Rossello Announces He Will Resign; Former Special Counsel Testifies Before Congress; Boris Johnson Takes Over As U.K. Prime Minister; Mueller Sticks to Script in Congressional Testimony; North Korea Fires Two Unidentified Projectiles;. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired July 25, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody! Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause. We'll start this hour again with breaking news out of Puerto Rico where the embattled governor Ricardo Rossello has announced he will resign effective a week from Friday.
The announcement comes after weeks of protests over government corruption. But the anger boiled over after the leak of homophobic, misogynistic, and profanity-laced chat messages between Rossello and his closest aides. CNN's Leila Santiago has been following this story for weeks. She joins us now on the line from San Juan.
So Leila, a very different scene at 1:00 in the morning there in San Juan compared to the previous night's.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. But we're still seeing people out on the street partying and quite frankly they're already starting to make plans for I would say, tomorrow but we are in what would be tomorrow in just a matter of hours in the morning when they will gather to party again.
This is a victory as they see it because for 12 days now they have been demanding the governor's resignation. We saw that most of those protests were peaceful even festive, but there were clashes. I mean police dispersed tear gas at multiple points in the late night and things actually became quite violent at times.
So for them, they have said that they were not going to back down until the governor resigned today via Facebook live. He did that -- or I shouldn't say today, I should say tonight just a little while ago. He on Facebook live said that he had spoken to his family, that he had listened to the people, and so he will be resigning Friday, August 2nd.
Now, that big question will be what now. Well, the order of succession, it would go to the Secretary of State but the Secretary of State was involved in those chats so that position is vacant now because he resigned. So the next in line will be the Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez.
Now, I got to tell you, I spoke to a few protesters today and asked that question what happens if she becomes governor, and every single one of them said these protests will not end. We do not want her as our leader because she's too close to the governor and they associate her with the same level of corruption.
So it will be interesting to see how long the celebration last, if Puerto Rico will be able to accept Vazquez or if they'll replace the Secretary of State in time before August 2nd, before the governor steps down officially.
But for the meantime, this is one big party. We're talking about fireworks, we're talking about drums, and music, and hugs, and laughter, and cheers, and yes, some tears. It has been a very, very long 12 days for the people of Puerto Rico who say this isn't just about the chat, this is about a long history of corruption that has led to all sorts of storm be it financial, natural disaster, and now political.
VAUSE: Leyla, thank you. It is one big party and the only person not invited it seems is, in fact, the governor. Leyla Santiago on the line there from San Juan. Also on the line from the Capitol is Federico de Jesus, former Deputy Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.
OK, so Federico, we spoke just a few days ago. Let's pick up where we left that conversation of, what we left the conversation off with Leyla. Does this decision by the governor to resign a week from Friday, does it mean an end to the unrest and why delay the resignation by a week in a day?
FEDERICO DE JESUS, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FEDERAL AFFAIRS ADMINISTRATION, PUERTO RICO: Well, first of all, this is a huge victory for the people of Puerto Rico. I do take issue, John, with all due respect on your assertion this was unrest, this is a Pacific Revolution normalcy in Puerto Rico wasn't here because of the tension in the street but people's daily life went on and at 5:00 every day they protest in front of the governor's mansion.
And obviously 700,000 or more people protested on Monday basically telling the world that we do not accept corruption, we do not accept the insult and disrespect to the (INAUDIBLE) of hurricane Maria and we want to build a new nation. I think that that's what we're telling everybody that watching.
[01:05:06] VAUSE: You make a good point. For the most part, you know, these were very peaceful protest. People are exercising their civil rights. There were times when police fired tear gas into the cowed in trying to disperse it late into the evening. But I'm just wondering, to that question, is this over now? Does this and here or whether the issues with Wanda Vazquez, the Secretary of Justice who is tapped to be at least the governor on a temporary basis?
DE JESUS: Well, look, I think it was very irresponsible for the governor to announce his resignation without appointing a new Secretary of State that could be confirmed by the legislature so the governor could resign under a peaceful transition.
With the Secretary of Justice, although she said today that she would be willing to step up to the plate, like Leyla said, protestors and (INAUDIBLE) and most politicians do not support her. The governor himself referred the Secretary of Justice to the Ethics Office for investigation. And so I was seeing signs yesterday on the street, people marking off the name Ricky after rumors that he was going to resign today, and the writing instead on top, Wanda which is her name, Wanda Vazquez.
So I think this is not over and I think the pressure will mount to appoint someone who has the credibility to stabilize Puerto Rico's finances and the credibility that the island right now have in Washington D.C.
VAUSE: Big picture here, Federico, this is a significant moment in the history Puerto Rico. We should not lose sight of this. This is a popular uprising forcing an elected governor to stand down before the end of his first term. It is never happened before.
DE JESUS: Yes, it's a historic moment in the 500-plus years of Puerto Rico's record of history, and more than 70 of constitutional government. This has never happened and Puerto Ricans are very proud of their achievements.
And let me issue a warning to Washington D.C. There's talk about a federal guard or a syndicate, a receiver to take over federal for the hurricane, there's talk about empowering the unelected fiscal control board which congress imposed on Puerto Rico in 2016.
A lot of people are chanting (INAUDIBLE) which means Ricky, go and take the board with you, the (INAUDIBLE) with you. So I don't think the people will accept empowering an unelected body. I think the out of Puerto Rico is they want to control their own future and politicians both here in the island and in Washington D.C. They will pay attention.
VAUSE: They're American citizens and they're expressing their right to protest. They did not have a right to vote though in the U.S. Elections but they have a right to vote on the island and they're expressing that civil liberty as well. People power, forcing the governor out. Federico de Jesus, thanks so much for being with us.
Those expecting smoking guns and blockbuster moments from Robert Mueller's testimony before Congress in Wednesday were probably disappointed. The former Special Counsel was in the hot seat for seven hours spending most of the time ducking, dodging, and weaving questions from the Democrats and Republicans alike.
Much of what he did confirm was already known. Yes, Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump and continues to interfere in the U.S. elections. He also confirmed he could not indict a sitting president because of the Justice Department policy. But a president could be indicted after leaving office.
And Mueller again insisted despite what Donald Trump, his Attorney General, and the conservative media might say over and over and over again his report does not exonerate the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice? Is that correct?
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: That is correct?
NADLER: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the president?
SCHIFF: And when Donald Trump called your investigation a witch hunt, that was also false was it not?
MUELLER: I'd like to think so, yes.
SCHIFF: Well, your investigation is not a witch hunt isn't it?
MUELLER: It is not a witch hunt.
SCHIFF: When the President said the Russian interference was a hoax, that was a false wasn't it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, for more now on Mueller's testimony, were joined by Andrew McCabe who was Deputy Director and then Acting Director of the FBI until he was fired by the Trump administration 26 hours before he was eligible for retirement.
He's also the author of The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. Andrew McCabe, thank you for being here.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: Thank you, John.
VAUSE: OK, so according to a number of reports, by the end of the day, West Wing aides was spiking the proverbial football euphoric of over what many they saw as a less than stellar performance by the former special counsel. Here is the President Donald Trump talking to reporters after Mueller had finished testifying. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a very good day today, the Republican Party, our country. There was no defense of what Robert Mueller was trying to defend in all fairness to Robert Mueller. Whether his performance was a bad one or a good one, I think everybody understands that. I think everybody understands what's going on.
There was no defense to this ridiculous hoax, this witch hunt that's been going on for a long time, pretty much from the time I came down on the escalator with our First Lady and it's a disgrace what happened. But I think today proved a lot to everybody.
[01:10:28] VAUSE: You know, Mueller specifically said the investigation was neither hoax nor witch-hunt, and this hearing highlighted how Donald Trump tried to interfere with the Russia investigation, how his campaign was eager to accept help from a foreign adversary. He could be indicted for obstruction of justice if he loses to the next election. If this was a good day for the president, it seems to baffle that must be pretty low.
MCCABE: Well, that's exactly right, John. It's baffling to hear a President of the United States, any President of the United States refer to a day in which his own behavior is detailed in cryptic criminal context.
So you've heard extended explanations of how the president's behavior substantially supported the elements of the offense of obstruction of justice. And then in the second half of the day, we were all horrified with the details of how our most serious adversary on the world stage, the government of Russia staged an attack on our democracy for the purpose of supporting the president's election bid. It was -- it was openly embraced by the president and his campaign staff.
And to hear those sorts f details referred to as a good day, it is just remarkable. I mean, President Trump has a history of making comments that have very, very little association to truth or fact and I'm afraid that's what we got from him again today.
VAUSE: You know, Robert Mueller was as expected a reluctant witness. Was he a compelling witness? Does his "just the facts" Friday approach resonate with the American public into his appearance on Capitol Hill breathe new life into his report? How did you see it?
MCCABE: Well, you know, Director Mueller has never been a dramatic witness or maybe a compelling witness in the way that most people would define that term. He has always been a factually accurate witness, a very careful witness, and that's something that I think we saw to the extreme today.
We knew going into today that Director Mueller was going to be very careful to contain his comments to those statements that he laid out in that 400-page report. And I think what you saw today was Director Mueller being very, very careful to not allow anyone to mischaracterize or misrepresent the exact phrasing and terminology that they used in the report.
So he was reluctant to even agree with anything that wasn't a direct quote from the report and I think again that was just his effort to be incredibly careful to play it right down the middle and to really avoid the appearance of trying to kind of give and assist to either side.
VAUSE: He was adamant before giving testimony, that he did want the report to speak for itself. But CNN's Ron Brownstein made the point that the report is long, it is dense, and in need of clarification. He tweeted, whatever the political impact in the Mueller hearings,
Mueller has displayed a crimped understanding of his civic obligations. He has accepted essentially no responsibility for helping public understand his report beyond the dense legalistic language in the document itself.
Should the former Special Counsel have done more? Could he have done more to tell Americans to understand all the complexity, all the legal nuance in a report which is more than 400 pages?
MCCABE: You know, that's I think what probably the Democrats hoped would come out of today. That people who were interested enough to tune into the hearing and maybe who hadn't read the report would at least come away from this -- from this hearing today with a better understanding of the actual facts and information that are contained in that dense and sometimes hard to read report.
I think if you paid attention and you listened to the questioning, you could -- you could walk away with exactly that impression. But if what you were expecting was a dramatic retelling of this incredibly serious report, you were never destined to get that out of this director of the FBI.
VAUSE: You know, you sort of mention the Democrats here. They had sort of built up Mueller. They portray him as this superhuman prosecutor he'd be the savior of the Republic. The reality is Robert Mueller is a man who will turn 75 in two weeks.
At times on Wednesday he stumbled, he seemed to struggle to recall some key facts, it's a very big report, a very large investigation. But David Axelrod the former strategist in the Obama White House, he tweeted this is delicate to say but Mueller who I deeply respect has not publicly testified before Congress in at least six years and he does not appear as sharp as he was then.
Glenn Kirschner, a former Federal Prosecutor who worked under mama tweeted that Bob Mueller is struggling, he said, it strikes me as a health issue. I mean, did anything about Muller's performance before Congress cause you any concerns that it raised any questions?
[01:15:08] MCCABE: Not those sorts of questions, John. I think what makes today's testimony different probably than the other 89 appearances he's had on the Hill is this is the first time -- excuse me -- this is the first time Director Mueller has ever testified shortly after having provided a 400-page statement to the -- to the same effect to the public.
So you know, he walked into today with a very specific -- I mean, he's a careful guy by nature, he always brings a certain reticence and reluctance to be up there. Today he adds to that with the self- imposed limitation of trying to stay within the exact bounds of that report. And I would add he was pretty forcefully directed by the Department of Justice not two days ago about all the different areas that he could not speak to and could not go beyond the report.
So I think what we saw today was Bob Mueller trying very hard to be as careful and cautious and restricted as he could possibly be under the circumstances. I think that at times led to a halting and sometimes hard to follow testimony but I interpret that as Director Mueller being as careful as he possibly could.
VAUSE: Yes. There's always certain occasions where he said I cannot answer that or I will not go there, that's because of the restraint in many instances put on him by the Department of Justice. But you're in the hearing, there was this one moment when Robert Mueller was asked why he never actually sat down and directly questioned the president. Here it is. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn't you subpoena the president?
MUELLER: We were almost towards the end of our investigation and we'd 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, this issue of basically trying to wrap up the report as quickly as possible, it seems that was a self-imposed timeline by the special prosecutor but should he have pushed harder for that one- on-one with Donald Trump and can the report be considered a full and accurate investigation if the president was never actually questioned in person?
MCCABE: Well, I think it's a full and accurate investigation. But I will say that the strategic decision by Director Mueller and his team to not pursue an investigation of the president by litigating that issue probably to the Supreme Court where ultimately would have ended up, it was a controversial issue, controversial decision that they will have to live with for quite some time.
I think it is entirely reasonable to question the wisdom of that decision. Director Mueller was very clear today to indicate that in balance, they thought that the extra time that would cost wasn't worth the potential gain in light of all the evidence they had amassed without that interview. But yes, I think many people could rightly stand aside and say the investigation would have been more complete had the president been forced to sit down and answer questions.
VAUSE: There was also a moment where the Special Counsel really became animated. He had this stark warning about the ongoing efforts by Russia to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILL HURD (D-TX): In your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election or did you find evidence to suggest they'll try to do this again?
MUELLER: Oh, it wasn't a single attempt. They're doing as we sit here and they expect to do it during the next campaign. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And you said Director Mueller is concerned. You write about it in your book. Beyond the United States, there are other targets like Ukraine, Britain during Brexit. They try to do in the most recent French election. Is this -- you know, would you consider this an all-out assault on liberal democracy? How would you describe it?
MCCABE: It absolutely is an all-out assault on liberal democracy, in a liberal world order. Simply sowing the seeds of mistrust in our own democratic processes, that loan is a massive win for the Russians.
The fact that many people in this country believe the findings in the report that the Russians not only did meddle in the election but did so to assist President Trump's election effort and of course he won the election, to have created the impression that they had that sort of influence on our process is again just an outstanding victory for the Russian intelligence services.
I am quite sure it's perceived that way internally and there's absolutely every reason to believe that they will try it again here and likely in other places around the world. I think Director Mueller clearly felt strongest about that part of their work. That's clear from the report. It's clear from his prior public statement, and I think he reiterated that again today.
[01:20:01] VAUSE: Which the president again called a witch-hunt and a hoax. Andrew McCabe, thank you. Good to see you.
MCCABE: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: Next up on CNN NEWSROOM. Britain has a new prime minister promising to put the great back into Great Britain. But is there anything more to Boris Johnson than a whole lot of happy talk and optimism?
VAUSE: Yes, Britain has a new prime minister and Britain has the same old problems. Boris Johnson has now formed a new government at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth. And with the Brexit clock ticking down to their deadline, Johnson at least sounded upbeat and confident in his first official remarks outside number 10.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Now and only now, at this extraordinary moment in our history, and after three years of unfounded self-doubt, it is time to change the record to recover our natural and historic role as an enterprising, awkward-looking, and truly global Britain generous in temper and engaged with the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May made her final appearance in the House as leader despite the turmoil which was a market of premiership and her farewell remarks notes of humility.
THERESA MAY, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: To serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the greatest honor. The heavy responsibilities are outweighed by the huge potential to serve your country. But you achieve nothing alone. And as I leave Downing Street, my final words are of sincere thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Journalist Josh Boswell joins us now from Victoria in Canada. So, Josh, good to see you. And you know, just like Bojo's here, Winston Churchill, he rose to power at a time of national crisis. Boris Johnson moves into number 10 with the looming self-inflicted disaster known as Brexit, and at this moment in history, Bojo has a clear vision and a clear plan. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I am standing before you today to tell you the British people that those critics are wrong. The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters, they are going to get it wrong again. The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts but we're going to restore trust in our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So that's it. Just like Disneyland, if you can dream it, you can do it. Just believe in Britain and Boris and magic away all of your problems.
JOSH BOSWELL, JOURNALIST: Yes. It's a very positive message, John.
BOSWELL: I wonder whether he's going to have the substance to back it up. Now, I think that's the image that he's trying to project with his new cabinet that he's appointed today and we've seen a really hard-line Brexit group assured in.
He's absolutely decimated Theresa Mae's old cabinet, removed half of them, and so he's wanting to project this image of you know, he's going to get Brexit done. Of course, this is a very bombastic man. This is somebody who is very good at speeches but maybe not so good at following up on the claims that he makes. And so we get to see whether he's actually going to deliver.
VAUSE: Well, you mentioned this you know cabinet purged that Boris Johnson was one of his first acts as Prime Minister. More than a dozen ministers have been sacked, pushed, or just simply jumped.
Almost all of them Remainers replaced by Brexit true believers, many rewarded for loyalty or as former Tory now Independent MP Nick Boyles put it the hard right has taken over the Conservative Party. The Thatcherites, the Libertarians, the No Deal Brexiters controller top to bottom. Liberal One Nation Conservatives have been ruthlessly culled. Only a few neutered captives are being kept on as window dressing.
You know, it's a cabinet which is being described as the most right- wing since the days of Margaret Thatcher. And it seems it's a case of damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead to October 31st, Brexit withdrawal deal be damned.
BOSWELL: Yes, that's right. And I think there's a real mix here. There's hard-line Brexiters and you know, obviously the right of the Tory Party there and the Conservatives that goes along with this you know, more conservative, more right-wing both economically and perhaps socially as well. But then also he's appointed people based on their loyalty.
And so you know, we've seen that's taking precedent over perhaps you know, being the hardest Brexiter. So you know, you've got it Liam Fox who was the International Trade Secretary and Penny Mordaunt who was the Defense Secretary. Both of them hardline Brexiters but they were ousted and that's because they supported Jeremy Hunt in the conservative leadership election.
So he's really valuing he the loyalty there. But in terms of you know how far right this is, you can look at Sajid Javid for example, takes a lot of his cues from Margaret Thatcher who was a very right-wing Prime Minister, and you know he's wanting to reduce taxes, and you know pursue a classic liberal economic agenda.
On the other hand, you do see some proposals from Sajid Javid as well that might go against that he's taken a leaf out of Labour's book, the opposition left-wing opposition's book by suggesting that we might have 100 billion pound infrastructure package taking advantage of low- interest rates on borrowing which would be a you know, boosting the UK's economy, trying to spread the wealth around the country.
But he's also suggesting Brext -- a no-deal Brexit emergency package that he might roll out in the case of a No Deal Brexit where you'd have reduced taxes for business and that's of course you know, economically liberal -- you know, right-wing idea.
VAUSE: Yes. Let's listen to Sajid Javid. He is a Boris believer, not so much a believer but more a (INAUDIBLE). Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAJID JAVID, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: The Prime Minister has already set out some of his key priorities that includes making sure that we leave the European Union on October the 31st, and that we take advantage of the huge economic opportunities that lie ahead.
So, that's what I'll be focusing on. There's lots of work to do. So if you allow me, I'm going to get on with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: What are these huge economic opportunities which lie ahead? What, selling boiled rocks for soup because the economy is in recession, the pounds plummeted, and housing values have collapsed? All of those things are predicted should there be a No Deal Brexit.
BOSWELL: Yes. It's looking pretty severe those predictions. And that's I think why he's you know, announced this plan previously before he was actually put into that position. It was when he was in the conservative leadership election he said you know, he would have this No Deal Brexit package to save the economy essentially.
But in fact, it's a bit of an admission that this is going to be very damaging to the economy if we do have a No Deal Brexit. Some of the other opportunities that have been touted have been, of course, a trade deal with the United States but that's looking like it's going to be very difficult to negotiate especially with the recent spat we've had diplomatically.
Ambassador to Washington having his e-mails leaked, which were very critical of Trump and then Trump blowing up over that and saying he didn't work with -- it's going to be hard.
JOHN VAUSE. CNN ANCHOR: You know, hard days ahead but Boris is there. Boris Johnson the new prime minister all very positive.
Josh -- thank you.
Next up on CNN NEWSROOM former special counsel Robert Mueller in the hot seat. Why didn't he decide to indict the President.
Stay close. We'll be back in just a moment.
VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
Protestors in San Juan, Puerto Rico are now cheering and celebrating as Governor Ricardo Rossello announced he will step down a week from Friday after more than a week of protests, in fact many weeks of protest over corruption in his administration.
Governor Rossello has been embroiled in a scandal over text messages between him and his inner circle which included homophobic and misogynistic language.
Theresa May is out, Boris Johnson is in as Britain's new prime minister. He immediately replaced much of May's cabinet with Brexit loyalists some might say and vowed to defy the doubters and the doomsters by taking the U.K. out of the European Union on October 31st deal or no deal.
Democrats heading (ph) for a bombshell or a peak at the inner workings of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation but neither on Wednesday as the former special counsel spent seven hours before Congress rehashing the take away from his 400-plus page report. Despite Donald Trump's insistence Mueller again said the report does not exonerate the President nor does it conclude he committed a crime.
Joining me now from Ls Angeles, CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and former assistant U.S. attorney David Katz.
Ok. So if this was meant to be the movie version of the Mueller report it seemed to be not so much all the President's men but maybe more like "The English Patient". And from the Trump cheering Fox News the headline, "Unmitigated Train Wreck". To the conservative "Wall Street Journal", "The Mueller Show Goes Bust".
"Mueller and Dems low-energy performance was an optics disaster," read one headline in the "Washington Post". Over at the liberal-leaning Vox.com "Former special counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony on Wednesday was a farce and a tragedy."
So Ron to you -- at the end of the day, were there any winters from this.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. And the biggest loser was the American public. All the people in the American public who have not been able to read a 440-page written in dense legalese) are studded with double negatives of the sort that even you know the one soundbite you could find from Jerry Nadler and the special counsel is a double negative which is kind of affirmative.
[01:35:05] I think Bob Mueller made -- obviously made a choice that he was going to be as minimally responsive as possible. And he was going to in essence accept no civic responsibility to help Americans understand what he concluded, what happened and why beyond what he put in his report.
He would not even really reaffirm his report. He would not even read from his report, only responding in these kind of grunts when Democrats did so.
I mean, he did the country a great service by, you know, plowing through this incredibly difficult investigation, but I think he -- there was a failure of imagination on his part, I think today to understand what his real role is in this entire play. And part of it is to help the country understand what happened. No one is better positioned to do so and yet he chose not to.
VAUSE: And to that point there was one answer from Mueller during his first appearance which sort of indicated that he believes the President had committed obstruction of justice. But then in the second hearing, he was forced to clarify. Here's both of those exchanges,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: I would like to ask you the reason again that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR AND SPECIAL COUNSEL: That is correct.
I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said, and I quote "You did not charge the President because of the OLC opinion." That is not the correct way to say it.
As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, David, and to expand on Ron's point could Robert Mueller here avoid all that confusion had just been more responsive in his answers as you know, Ron said he did not want to move beyond the simplest of statements or quotes from the report.
DAVID KATZ, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well Mueller is not about the optics. Mueller I think performed a very valuable service and I think that he made quite an impression today, because think where the inquiry would have been without Mueller having appeared.
Now, there is a groundwork. Mueller said some very important things. And he said it to the nation and there are some people who don't watch CNN who really don't know anything about the report.
They heard today it is not a hoax. It is not a witch hunt. There is very strong and compelling evidence of a conspiracy of Trump accepting help from the Russians and knowing for his events that he would do things in coordination with what the Russians were about to do to help his campaign because the Russians wanted him to lose and wanted Hillary to be defeated.
And as for the obstruction of justice, there is a roadmap of four different counts of obstruction of justice where every single element was met. Everybody knows that if you meet every element of four crimes, you get charged. The only reason President Trump was not charged is because of this OLC opinion.
And so Mueller performed a very valuable service by putting in front of the Congress what the Congress has to do. People maybe wanted Mueller to be the nation's savior and he is not. Congress is going to have to be the savior, the Democrats have the majority, they have the right to bring impeachment articles.
I think they are going to bring them, and if I can say one last thing because I worked with Adam Schiff in the government under the Department of Justice, under the Reagan administration, Schiff would be doing this if a Democrat had received this help from Russia just like Mueller would be doing this if a Democrat had become president receiving the same kind of shameful assistance and obstructing justice the same way President Trump is very persuasively accused of doing in the Mueller report.
VAUSE: Ron -- just very quickly, did the Democrats build this up too much? This was -- just another moment when, you know, a day of reckoning had finally arrived for Donald Trump and it wasn't? BROWNSTEIN: Sure, it was very clear. Mueller had made clear he was
not going to cooperate. And I don't really agree. I think it was much more than optics. I think all the things you, said he didn't say. He did not say that Congress needed to be the one to deal with this
He did not say that the President had met the conditions, even though he kind of walked through them. In fact, he disputed that conclusion and you know, he had the opportunity today without going beyond the boundaries of the report, to simply tell the story to the American people what the Russians did, what the Trump campaign did in response and what the Trump presidency has done in response to his investigation.
I don't see how that was a violation of his studied non partisanship, to provide a common set of facts to the American people instead of allowing each side to kind of have their own portrayal of this.
In fact, you can argue that that would be a non partisan civic service but I think his vision of his role was simply to print, and it is part of a general pattern which many of our institutions are struggling to deal with the magnitude of the departure from traditional norms that this presidency represents.
]01:40:05] I just think it was a failure of imagination on his part not to provide more guidance to the country about what he thought happened and what he thought congress if anything can do about it.
VAUSE: Almost 200 times though, listen to this, Mueller deflected or declined to answer a question. Here's a sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: I direct you to the report.
I'm relying on the report.
I send you back to the report.
I can't beyond what is in the report.
I am not going to get in that.
I can't get into any discussions on that.
I can't get into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, David, was that because of the restrictions placed on Mueller by the Department of Justice and those last-minute guidelines. Or was that because he was just reluctant to say anything more?
KATZ: Well two things, number one Mueller was a Department of Justice employee. He was not an independent counsel the way Starr was. And so he felt very much bound by these rules. And because he is a particularly rule-bound guy, that is obviously one
of the reasons why a Republican, Rosenstein, in a Republican administration, picked this Republican, Mueller, to investigate the Republican president.
So they knew a lot about Mueller's character and how Mueller would act. They knew that he was not the kind of person who would duel it out with Barr. Yes, Barr got the better of him because Barr is a street fighter and I do not think it is bad that Mueller is not a street fighter.
Mueller has the personality he has, that is why he was chosen. But in his own way Mueller left a lot of things. He said there's 14 different investigations the FBI has underway of the Russian influence and what Russia has done to us.
One of the reasons I think he said that is to make it very difficult for Barr to disapprove those FBI investigations going forward or to try to squash the indictments that could be coming down because of that misconduct.
So I think there was a lot of things that Mueller brought up, I think that they're going to continue the investigation, the next people are going to be the obstruction of justice people themselves like Don McGahn is going to be called to the stand. Now there is a dramatic high-optics witness.
They're probably going to call Cory Lewandowski to the stand. He was not a government official of any sort and they will call other people -- John, that will demonstrate what is going on. They have to win some of those cases in court --
KATZ: -- but I think today leads toward an impeachment inquiry the Democrats have shown that they can legislate and help the country protect health care, increase domestic spending and they can also impeach and I think they are going to go forward with impeachment inquiries in the fall, but they have to go through the courts and they HAD to have this day.
They had to get Mueller on the record to say what was in the Mueller report. They can't wait around for people to read the highlights of a 448-page report.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) We're getting really short on time. I want to get to Robert Mueller and the moment when he was confused, struggling to recall key details. Have a look at this,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it accurate to say your investigation found no evidence that members of the Trump campaign were involved in the theft or publication of the Clinton campaign related emails?
MUELLER: I don't know. I don't know. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On July 22nd, through WikiLeaks, thousands of these emails that were stolen by the Russian government appeared, correct? That is on page six of the report.
This is the WikiLeaks posting of those emails.
MUELLER: I cannot find it quickly, but please continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The filmmaker and activist Michael Moore tweeted this, "A frail old man, unable to remember things stumbling, refusing to answer basic questions. I said that in 2017 and Mueller confirmed it today. All you pundits and moderates and lame Dems who told the public to put their faith in the esteemed Robert Mueller, just shut up from now on."
You know, Ron -- did this all eventually just sort of played into the hands of Donald Trump?
BROWNSTEIN: Look, the substance, as we have been talking about did not play into the hands of Donald Trump. The things that Mueller said today about the conduct of the President were extremely damaging. But played into his hands, I believe, was Mueller's refusal, conscious refusal to knit this together in a way that would help Americans understand what happened and thus make their own judgment about what to do next.
It is possible that Americans may conclude that even if they believe the offenses of the President justify impeachment in the outset (ph), it's still not worth it in the practical, given how far we are into his presidency and the unlikelihood of the Senate, you know, moving forward, whatever the house does but the fact is that I think Mueller himself in this position today where he often seemed unsure, kind of tentative and so forth, because, precisely because, he did not set forward at the beginning a clear version of events which would have been everyone then responding to his narrative instead of his trying to be picked apart page by page of this voluminous report.
VAUSE: Just very quickly -- Ron. Last question to you because what we learned is that, you know, Mueller made the point that Trump could be indicted once he leaves office.
[01:45:04] Does that mean that Donald Trump as he runs for reelection in 2020 is now the candidate who has the most to lose? He is facing possible indictment if he lost office and then a possible jail term.
KATZ: He absolutely has a huge amount to lose. I'm sorry.
KATZ: He absolutely has a huge amount but he has a huge amount to lose anyway. His son might very well be indicted by a succeeding administration so might Kushner. So there's a lot that Trump wants to win but the Democrats want to win really bad too. That's what elections are about and they are going to fight this one out, you know, battle royal. Get ready for 2020.
VAUSE: Ok Ron -- just finish your -- just jump in Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: John -- that is a very unusual situation where the President precisely could face indictment, not only on the obstruction charges but also potentially the campaign finance violations with the cover-up payments to the women in the National Enquirer.
Yes, I mean it is one more log on a big fire, that has some people predicting, we may have 160 million people vote in 2020, the highest turnout since 1908 before women had the right to vote. It would not be surprising, given everything that's at stake if we see that kind of engagement.
VAUSE: Ok. There is a lot in all of this obviously. It's great having you both with us. Ron and David -- thank you so much. We appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
KATZ: Pleasure being here.
VAUSE: Well, still to come South Korea's military says the North Koreans have fired two identified projectiles, a new type of short- range missiles. It's the first weapons launched in more than two months. We'll have more of the details when we come back.
VAUSE: Military officials in Seoul have told CNN that the North Koreans have fired what appears to be a new type of short range missile. Two launches took place 23 minutes apart in the early morning hours of Thursday.
The South Koreans say the missiles reached an altitude of 50 kilometers. One traveled 430 kilometers, the other 690 kilometers.
The launches are the first since the U.S. president and the North Korean leader agreed to revive stalled nuclear talks during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarized Zone last month.
CNN's Steven Jiang joins us now from Beijing with more details. What else do we know about these missiles. Is there anything which would actually explain the timing? Why now?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John -- as you say, South Korean and U.S. officials are still analyzing data from this morning's launches. And you mentioned some of the data including the distance these projectiles travel and the height of reach before landing in the waters between North Korea and Japan.
[01:50:06] And you know, they would also be looking at things such as whether or not these launches deployed the ballistic technology which would be a violation of U.N. sanctions against the North Korean regime. But the timing of course, is another thing that will be closely analyzed and because as mentioned it would be the first launch of short-range missiles since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Trump met at the DMZ last month.
But you know, the North Koreans have been voicing their frustrations lately in recent weeks because of the lack of tangible progress out of these talks. Trump and Kim agreed to a resumed working level talks on the nuclear issue but so far we have not seen anything.
And that is why some analysts say it is not entirely surprising that we have probably not seen the end of it if this lack of progress continues -- John.
VAUSE: Steven -- we appreciate it. Steven Jiang, live for us in Beijing.
For more on this, joining us here in Atlanta, CNN's Will Ripley who has traveled to North Korea -- what 19 times?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sir.
VAUSE: More than any other correspondent on an American network. You've got a second home there, I think.
RIPLEY: Somebody else is in it right now, who moved in for a while.
VAUSE: That's a good thing. Ok.
Explain the statement that we're hearing from the South Koreans. A new type 0f short range missile. What does that usually indicate.
RIPLEY: This is what they said back in May when North Korea launched two short range missiles that travel a similar distance to the missiles that were launched from Wanson (ph) in the early morning hours on the Korean Peninsula.
And look, this is a threat to South Korea. These are missiles that they believe can carry a nuclear a warhead which puts, you know, within striking range tens of millions of people in Seoul, not to mention 28,000 U.S. troops and yet President Trump has said that this kind of a weapon doesn't really concern him.
VAUSE: Because it can't reached the United States.
RILEY: Not --
VAUSE: -- which obviously is a concerning statement for the South Koreans and the Japanese. We're hearing from some nuclear -- well some arms control experts. Jeffrey Lewis is one. He tweeted out a short time ago. "Still connecting the dots, "he looked at the (INAUDIBLE) the 50 kilometers is sort of the distance. And he said that basically says to him this was a KN-23 type of missile. There is the other tweet.
Which others have said is capable of a weapon size pay load and, you know, can reach U.S. troops within -- in the region. But it's actually a new missile? Is that something which has been tested before or what do we know about that?
RILEY: I am not as much of a missile expert as Jeffrey Lewis but we've seen all of these missiles, a lot of them on display whether they're markups or whatnot at a North Korean military parade.
So what does South Korea actually mean by saying this is a new kind of missile? Its it previously untested? Is it a modification of a missile that we've seen before? That would be better left to the experts who analyze the weapons and stuff.
VAUSE: And then what they say though if, you know, if it is some kind of new development, this is a country which is under huge economic sanctions and yet they still have this ability, this capability of developing new weapons?
RIPLEY: What else are they going to do. They have all the sanctions in place, they're desperate to regain their leverage. But also aware that if they launch an ICBM or a satellite or conduct a nuclear test, which I believe they still have the capability to do any of those things.
But if they do that, it could completely eliminate their possibility of getting sanctions relief in the short term. And that is still what Kim Jong-un wants.
VAUSE: So this is strategic provocation in a way.
VAUSE: This is going far enough to get attention --
VAUSE: -- not so far as to anger the United States?
RIPLEY: Exactly. Because President Trump has signaled that this kind of a launch is ok. I mean it was just a couple of days ago Kim Jong- un is standing next to this massive submarine that they say is a new kind of submarine, the U.S. says it's probably a refurbished sub.
But either say, North Korean submarines are designed to carry submarine-launched ballistic missile that do pose a significant strategic threat to the mainland United States and elsewhere.
VAUSE: You know, we (INAUDIBLE) a satellite, why now, the timing and there's a whole lot of reasons. It's almost endless whatever you come up with. There's the military drills --
RIPLEY: Right. VAUSE: South Korea --
REIPLEY: Next month.
VAUSE: Yes. And there's also what maybe because of the Mueller testimony today? Maybe Kim was helping out his friend Donald?
RIPLEY: I'm skeptical of --
RIPLEY; I don't know if the North Koreans are (INAUDIBLE) with the United States for a defection from the Mueller testimony. But they were supposed to start working level talks like a couple of weeks ago and it hasn't happened yet.
That is a troubling sign there's been little to no engagement between the U.S. and North Korea that according to my sources which means that even though President Trump stepped across the military demarcation line into North Korean soil, that photo op has resulted in again no actual progress in getting North Korea to get rid of their weapons.
And in fact, they're signaling this is a sneak preview of what will happen if we don't get what we want.
VAUSE: What we really have here is the North Koreans essentially telling the United States that we're on a downward spiral right now. Unless there is something done to revive those talks and having this photo op, you know, gamed the United States president to step foot across that, you know, (INAUDIBLE) a speed bump type thing in the DMZ. That just doesn't cut it.
RIPLEY: And if I'm a North Korean strategist I know full well that now the next year is a critical time especially as it gets closer and closer to the election. And trust me, they have an ICBM launch in their back pocket. And a satellite launch in their back pocket if they want to. And they know that that could really potentially do political damage to the President.
[01:54:55] VAUSE: They know how much Trump has riding on this. It's pretty much his only foreign policy success?
RIPLEY: Right. And what is the success in terms of results? I mean the North Koreans certainly aren't happy with the situation as of now. And the United States hasn't got what it wants either.
VAUSE: Ok. Will -- thanks. Good to see you.
Hospitals in France bracing for patients suffering from heatstroke. When we come back, Europe is wilting in a searing heatwave.
VAUSE: The scorching temperatures just keep rising across Europe as the continent and the U.K. bake in the second heat wave of the summer. Records have tumbled in Belgium, Germany and France. Thursday expected to be even hotter.
In the coming, hours a Paris-record temperature set back in in 1947 is expected to topple the French capital under an alert until this heat wave eases.
And our weather center says Europe and certainly the U.K. will see cooler temperatures. Cooler temperatures may be by late Friday, early Sunday. Maybe if you're lucky.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.
Stay with us. The news continues next, yes with a guy who was just here -- Will Ripley.
Stay with us.
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