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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  April 18, 2019 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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. this is cnn breaking news. all right. welcome back. top of the hours. i'm poppy harlow. we are live in new york. it's 2:00 a.m. here. if you're up, we're glad you're with us. we're up because it takes a long time to go through 448 pages. that is the extent of the mueller report. we can say this after reviewing the redacted version of the mueller report, it found no conspiracy between the trump campaign and russian interference in the 2016 election, but at the same time, no exoneration when it came to
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president trump and the question of obstruction of justice. this report paints a vivid picture of white house aides willfully and repeatedly ignoring or dodging some of the president's orders. in the interest of saving him from himself and to save themselves from possible legal action. if you listen to attorney general bill barr's press conference this morning, you heard him give the president almost a complete pass on any wrongdoing. and repeated the off-used phrase from the president, "no collusion." here he was. >> put another way, the special counsel found no collusion by any americans in i.r.a.'s illegal activities. in other words, there was no evidence of the trump campaign collusion with the russian government hacking. so that's the bottom line. after nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that
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the russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election. but did not find that the trump campaign or other americans colluded in those efforts. >> now, barr also made the case that he didn't have to release the whole report. listen. >> i'm here to discuss my response to that report and my decision, entirely discretionary, to make it public. since these reports are not supposed to be made public. >> the other one. the president echoed similar thoughts this afternoon. he tweeted, "i had the right to end the whole witch hunt if i wanted. i could have fired everyone, including mueller, if i wanted. i chose not to. i had the right to use executive privilege. i didn't." some legal experts disagree with those claims from barr and the president, but the president left washington, he headed to mar-a-lago where he'll spend the easter holiday week, but not before he rejoiced with an
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adoring crowd at the airport and chanted, quote, game over, folks. it's not over. what are we not seeing? let's talk about that and more with our crime and justice correspondent shimon prokupecz. so 36 pages, grand jury information and other four topic areas that are redacted here. what's the biggest question that stands out to you that we can't see? >> well, certainly the grand jury material is going to be important, and i think that's something that members of congress are going to want to see eventually, and, you know, they may get their way and may wind up seeing it. the other thing is the redactions as it relates to the other ongoing investigations. these are investigations that mueller and his team refer to other u.s. attorneys. there's 14, according to the report. we only know of two. one of those is most significantly is the michael cohen investigation that is being conducted by the southern district of new york. other than that, there is one
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investigation out of d.c. that we know of and then the rest is really a mystery. we really don't know what these other investigations are. >> explain to our viewers on the obstruction front, how much more clear is it to you now why bob mueller did not come to a conclusion on the obstruction of justice charge when we know he looked at ten different sort of series of events? >> it's hard to say, right? because even -- there's a lot of gray area there, and depending on -- different lawyers will have different ideas about whether or not they could have pursued obstruction of charges here. it's still very puzzling why the mueller team decided, you know what, we're just going to let the attorney general make this decision in the end. it does sometimes work that way at the department of justice. but certainly when you go through every instance of potential obstruction, and the way mueller laid it out and the evidence that they gathered and the way they describe what
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witnesses told them and how witnesses felt about what the president was asking them to do, there was enough there. >> did you read this as him laying out a roadmap for congress? >> you know, potentially, because he does talk about congress in the report. so it could very well be that he knew where this was going and what he needed to do to leave what kind of impression he needed to leave with the public and also with members of congress. because no doubt he knew that this report would be public eventually. >> okay. stay with me. let's bring in our other experts. cnn presidential historian, tim naftali. max boot is here. senior fellow on the council of the foreign relations. also joining us from boston tonight, michael zeldin, former special prosecutor and former assistant to who else, robert mueller at the justice department. good evening, everyone. michael zeldin, let me ask you, this is a burning question i have for you because you're a guy who worked for mueller. why is he so quiet?
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>> well, he's quiet now because he's letting barr do the talking for him. it's a bit of a mystery to me, honestly, why it is that mueller allowed barr to usurp his responsibilities. it is his investigation. it is his report. if there was to be a press conference, it should have been from mueller himself, but mueller doesn't see it that way. he sees himself by the special counsel regulations as beholden to barr, so he has issued his confidential report to barr, and now it's in barr's court. >> well, remember, comey -- hold on. but a lot of people just ripped into james comey because he held that press conference and didn't even tell loretta lynch that he was going to do it. >> and he should have been fired for that. so it was improper behavior and mueller's not about to become the next jim comey. and the problem here, poppy, really, is that the regulations that were put into place after
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the independent counsel's statute expired handcuffed mueller from being able to be public and handcuffed mueller from being able to give to congress -- >> can i -- >> -- the report that he has. >> let me ask you this. because it was so clear so quickly this morning after we started reading the report that what bill barr said in his press conference was not fully transparent, especially when it pertains to the questions that were asked of him about the obstruction method, right, here and also what was said in the report, what mueller did/said about congress. so knowing that, that it wasn't, you know, barr wasn't -- it certainly wasn't clear to me that he was channelling exactly what mueller found in this report in that presser, i think we saw that. i just wonder if you think as a guy who worked for bob mueller he's going to want to come out and accept this invitation from congress to testify to set the record straight. >> well, i don't know whether he view it is as the need to set the record straight. we'll see whether he ascribes to
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the interpretation of barr, but i think he will testify and he will have to answer the question of why did he ultimately not decide whether to bring charges or not bring charges, but, rather, punt it over to whomever, congress or bar, itr,s not clear who he was punting it to. but i think mueller will be forthright in his testimony. that's in his nature. he's been decisionmaker. why he didn't decide in this case is really the largest mystery of this whole investigation. >> tim naftali, with your historian hat on, what will be remembered from this report 20 years from now? >> well, i think what one of the things that will be remembered is the absolute -- absolutely appalling narrative of corruption and deception that mueller lays out in the second volume. i remember when i was studying
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watergate, one of the things that struck me was a story that the president, president nixon's lawyer told me, they were looking for a particular -- the president said he made after meeting with john dean. they couldn't find it. the president turned to his lawyers and said, you know what? i'll create one. don't worry about it. i'll just create one. we'll say we found it. the mueller team found at least four instances where the president created a false or attempted to create a false record. there was a conniving sense that the president understood he was creating something false. that to me is a sign of corruption. it's in the report. i think what's going to happen is that people are going to ask themselves, with the american people knowing this about president trump, we don't know what's going to happen in 2020 -- >> right. >> -- do the american people care? >> that's what i was going to ask you. will that be what's remembered if he wins in 2020? >> well, if he wins in 2020, that's sending a signal, i fear,
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to future presidents that this kind of conduct is countenanced by the american people. >> i mean, we have this polling that i keep referencing tonight because it just came out yesterday from monmouth university, max, that shows a majority of the american people want congress to move on, 54% want congress to move on, 39% want congress to still investigate. yes, this was before the full barr -- full mueller report, the redacted version, but after the barr summary. what does that tell you? >> well, i mean, it's an understandable impulse because i think there is kind of a sense in the country, oh, we don't like this squabbling in washington. let's just deal with the people's business. and i get that. but on the other hand, there is a serious issue here is, how are we going to hold the president of the united states accountable for conduct that is definitely unethical and almost certainly illegal. >> well, you know, people say that's what elections do. >> well, it is what elections do, but, you know, i think there has to be some question of, you know, what kind of signal does it send if conceivably donald
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trump actually could get re-elected after doing this. that's not out of the question. in the immediate term, i mean, there is all this shocking misconduct, and ten instances that mueller found where donald trump arguably committed obstruction of justice. if you actually read the details -- i. >> i have them all right here. >> if you actually read it, you see this is not debatable. the evidence is there. mueller marshals the evidence. and why trump's defenses don't stand up. >> do you think that's the only reason he didn't take the next step for recommending a charge on that was because of the olc guidelines? >> that was my read. my read is that if donald trump or the attorney general of the united states, rather than the president of the united states, he would have already been indicted. >> you also, max, in your "washington post" opinion column, you say the report does not absolve the trump campaign of collusion. >> right. >> that's, i mean, that's -- >> barr was being highly deceptive there because, in
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fact, he said no collusion repeatedly. when you actually read the report, mueller specifically says we did not consider the issue of collusion. >> right. it's conspiracy. >> in terms of collusion, the mueller report finds numerous contacts between the trump campaign and the russians. it finds that donald trump knew in advance about the release of wikileaks documents, and it shows that there was a -- there was, in fact, a nexus of interest between the russians and the trump campaign. the russians wanted to elect trump. >> right. >> and the trump campaign was eager to accept their help. >> shimon, how misleading -- sorry, i have something in my ear. i think they're going to fix that in the control room. how misleading was it and significant was it that bill barr in the press conference, the attorney general, this morning said that the white house was fully cooperative? there you go. they're working on it. was fully cooperative when the president wouldn't sit for an in-person interview. is that fully cooperative? >> and not only that, look, that
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is something that barr could have addressed at the press conference instead of giving this defense of the president. >> right. >> which is ultimately what he did. he could have said more about how the president didn't answer questions, right? we know 30 times they say, oh, i don't recall -- >> in the written answers. >> in the written answers, and he could have went into that. if you're going to sit there and say the white house cooperated, everyone cooperated, the president did everything we asked them to do. >> they did give documents and did tell aides to cooperate, but it's not full cooperation, right, if the president doesn't sit. >> right. there was a lot of concern that if the president sat with them he would be exposed criminally. >> tim, to you. here's the thing. i had congressman al green, democrat of texas on, who is adamant about impeachment. he says it is the duty of congress to bring forth articles of impeachment. if they don't, he says democrats will be waving, you know, the white flag of surrender. he is sort of on an island where steny hoyer and nancy pelosi are
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running away from the "i" word, if you will. talk to people about the difference between the nixon administration, watergate at that time and when you had that critical question from howard baker, what did you know and when did you know it, mr. president? how different is that from republicans in congress right now? >> well, there are a lot of things that are different. the first thing that is different. >> i mean in terms of the appetite of the republican party. >> the question of evidence. you had tapes. you had a tape that the spuecia prosecutor and the judge overseeing the grand jury heard they both concluded that the president committed obstruction of justice, the president was a criminal. you had no such piece of evidence -- >> right, here. >> that would have such a shocking effect. by the way, people i'm talking about, one was a republican and the other was a southern democrat, who tended to be more pro-nixon. what happens by the summer of '74 is southern democrats and republicans come to the conclusion that there is a pattern of corrupt behavior, and
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if they didn't penalize richard nixon that would set a terrible precedent for the future. they felt they had a constitutional duty to remove him from office, but it took many, many months and they had to really sift through a lot of evidence. and at that point they concluded this. the american people stuck by nixon until he released the transcripts of the tapes. the ones that were -- that had expletive, deleted. a lot of people thought this man is immoral. elected republicans waited until the summer and it was the cumulative effect of all of this data that changed their minds. >> max -- thank you for the history lesson. it's important. max, is this -- is the mueller report and, again, it's still redacted. it's the barr version, if you will, of the mueller report, that the public is seeing today. it is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for the trump presidency? >> well, that's a great question. i think the real issue is this really going to change anything?
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and i think it shows horrible behavior by the president, unethical behavior, lying, obstruction of justice, but there is kind of a sense in which most americans already know this about the president, for about 40% of the country it doesn't really matter. i mean, remember that donald trump said he could shoot somebody on fifth avenue -- >> just going to say it. took the words out of my mouth. fifth avenue and nobody would care. >> that's one of more accurate things he said. it's true, about 40% of the country doesn't matter what he's done and will stick by him no matter what. what tim was talking about with watergate, the big difference is we don't have as many republicans in congress who are centrists, people like howard baker who would look at the evidence and draw their own determination. >> you don't have the same, to your point, tim, about the evidence at that level. >> right. yes, i think there was not the smoking gun tape, but there is also not as many moderate republicans. two, remember, in 1974 democrats were in control of both houses, and today the democrats could
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certainly pass an impeachment motion through the house -- >> sure. >> but there is no chance they're going to get 67 votes in the senate. >> thank you all very much. we have a lot more to discuss. shimon, going to let you go to bed because you've been up for 22 straight hours. i'm sure they'll have you back on the air at 6:00 a.m. we appreciate it. we're back in a moment. up. up. down. down. ah ah! that's one. up. that's two. down. down. get down, get down.
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otezla. show more of you. ready to treat differently with a pill? it comes to the investigation into this president? do you really believe attorney general barr read a nearly 400-page report in one day? and that his 4-page summary is the whole truth? i'm tom steyer, and i'm organizing an effort to to release the full mueller report now and let the american people decide. if you think we have a right to read the report for ourselves, you can call the attorney general at this number. our tax dollars paid for the report. don't let him cover up the truth.
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did you eat all of your treats? a bunch. ♪ help! i need somebody ♪ help! not just anybody ♪ help! you know i need someone all right. welcome back. i'm poppy harlow live in new york. this is our special coverage of the mueller report. the special counsel's redacted report did not clear the president of obstruction of justice. it left a door open for congress to keep investigating him on that front, if it so chooses. and it is choosing to do so. house democratic leaders set to subpoena the full report. also, not happy with the attorney general's interpretation of it.
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bill barr is certain to face sharp questions when he appears before the house and senate judiciary committees on may 1st and on the 2nd of may, the daniel and fallout from the report still coming into focus. there is no doubt about its verdict that russia interfered heavily in the 2016 presidential election, in the words of mueller and his team, in a sweeping and systemic fashion. among the report's revelations, claims that russia tried to hack hillary clinton's campaign in 2016, just hours after then candidate trump publicly called on those emails to get released. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails. that are missing. >> russia was listening. the mueller report did not establish a criminal conspiracy of any sort between the president, his campaign, his associates and the russian government. but it did lay out extensive russian meddling in the election. the official kremlin line
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tonight is that russia doesn't care about the mueller report. a kremlin spokesman tells cnn the subject was of no real interest. so let's go to moscow. our senior international correspondent matthew chance is there with the latest. not a surprising answer from the kremlin. >> reporter: no, and they've been trying to play down much in the same way that the white house has the significance of this release saying that, look, it demonstrates no wrongdoing that was done by the kremlin, that there was no collusion, of course, but they've been unable to say the report underlines their central denial, which is they didn't meddle in the election. in fact, to the contrary. this is a report, the significance of which, this mueller report, it sets out in black and white the ways in which russia attempted to meddle in the 2016 u.s. presidential election through, you know, a campaign disinformation campaign to sow discord in the united states. through its troll factory,
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internet research agency as it was called in the russian city of st. petersburg and the hacking of the democratic party and the release of those emails to damage the candidacy of the democratic candidate at the time against president trump, of course, hillary clinton. now, what was interesting, i think, is that, you know, by accepting this mueller report, you know, trump would also have to accept this idea that the russians meddled in the election, something he's been very ambiguous about in the past. he said, look, you know, maybe it was the chinese, maybe it was some random 400-pound guy sitting on his bed. he now has to accept, i think, poppy, that it was indeed the russians that may have played a hand, played a role in his election. >> yeah, that did. i think that's a really important point, matthew, because for everything that the president must have loved about bill barr's press conference on thursday morning when he repeated no collusion, no collusion, bill barr also laid out, you know, the extent to which russia meddled in the 2016 election.
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so there is the attorney general siding with the intelligence community on that one and not the president, who stood there, as you know, in helsinki just a few months ago and said essential, you know, why would russia do that, right, matthew? >> yeah, that's right. i was at matt meeting in helsinki. i was watching president trump standing next to vladimir putin actually saying that and seeing the shock amongst the press corps and everyone else that he would go against necessary intelligence -- >> let's just listen to that. >> while standing next to the russian leader. >> let's remind people of that moment. here it is. >> okay. >> all i can do is ask the question. my people came to me, dan coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's russia. i have president putin. he just said it's not russia. i will say this, i don't see any reason why it would be. >> right, matthew, there it was so clear. >> absolutely incredible. i mean, the other issue, this no
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collusion issue, i mean, what the report actually says and underlines is, you know, that the level didn't reach a criminal point. you know, there was no criminal conspiracy between members of the trump campaign or administration and the russians. but it lays out, again, in black and white the extent to which the trump team, if i can call it that, you know, had meetings with russians on multiple levels. i'm thinking of carter page. george papadopoulos, the foreign policy advisers, donald trump jr. in the trump tower meeting. it may have not reached the level of criminality, that's clear, but, i mean, morally, ethically, there are questions about whether those meetings, you know, should have gone ahead, and, you know, they probably shouldn't have, frankly, but, you know, there you are. >> it's an important point. we appreciate the reporting there. it is friday morning now in moscow. matthew chance, thanks so much. quick break. we're back on the other side.
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to save 30% on all the medications we carry. so go directly to now. all right. welcome back to our special live coverage, continuing coverage of the mueller report. if you're with us, maybe you've just finished reading all 448
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pages. it is extensive and significant. my experts are back with me. michael zeldin, tim naftali and max boot, appreciate having you all. michael zeldin, to you, you know, we just had this live report from my colleague matthew chance in moscow who explained the official kremlin line is we don't care about the mueller report. it's not significant to us at all. yet, it laid out the sweeping nature of the extensive nature and long effort, you know, back to 2014 of the russian interference in the 2016 election. and yet still the president has yet to definitively say what bill barr said this morning, which is that it was russia, no question about it. >> yeah, and it's a mystery. honestly, it would be quite easy for the president to say that at this point. but he refuses to, and it's hard to define for you why he would do that. it is interesting to me that to max's point while there is no
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evidence of criminal conspiracy or criminal coordination per mueller's definition, which is a tassett agreement or an express agreement between the parties, it is clear that there were overtures and acceptance of overtures from the russians and by the trump campaign. and so that's not collusion in a criminal sense, but is a receptivity to overtures that should have been reported to law enforcement. >> well, and part of -- max, i mean, part of one of the many things that struck me reading through the report all day today is that the trump campaign expected that it would benefit from russia's illegal actions. >> right, exactly. >> not coordinated with to get it, but did expect this would help us. by the way, remember all these people around the president, then the candidate, didn't run to the fbi and say, hey, this is happening and we as a republic should be concerned. >> right, exactly. instead of saying, hey, this is a threat to our democracy undermining our elections, the response from the trump campaign
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was we love it and let's have more of it. let's see how we can take advantage of this russian interference. so if this was not illegal behavior, it was certainly unpatriotic, it was unethical. this is not how we expect a president to behave. if i could add one point, poppy, one of the things that we still don't know, even after 448 pages, is what was the exact nature of the relationship between donald trump and the russians? remember, there was a counterintelligence component to this investigation which has not been revealed to date, so we still don't know about whether donald trump had past business dealings with the russians, whether that has impacted the way he looks upon the russians. >> that's an interesting point. >> this weird affection for vladimir putin. that has not been explained. >> it's an interesting point because, tim naftali, you'll remember in that now famous "new york times" interview maggie haberman did with her colleagues where the president called any investigation of his finances a red line, right, for mueller. and mueller didn't cross that
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red line here. he did not do, you know, what the southern district looked into michael cohen, et cetera, but mueller did not go there on the finances, and that goes back to max's point just about business dealings, et cetera. why do you think that is? >> well, because i think the mueller team laid out for us their philosophy of dealing with the president. they did not apply certain prosecutorial approaches to the president. he was not a target of the investigation. >> because they knew or took from the olc memo you can't indict a sitting president. >> so you couldn't really -- if he couldn't defend himself in the court of law, you can't charge him. so perhaps there were areas they didn't go into. now, what they did talk about is the moscow tower, and i think it's extraordinarily important for people to keep in mind that while the president is sending these signals to russia, he is still interested in making a billion dollars in moscow. and that means that his
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interests are not those -- >> except -- >> national security. >> for anyone who missed rudy giuliani's interview, extensive interview with chris tonight, chris did a brilliant job on trying to get him to stick to the facts. giuliani says there was no business in moscow. all there is is this signed letter of intent by the president. that's not doing business in moscow, et cetera. i'm stating that for the record that's their defense. >> what we can say is so cool now, we can say for the record and we can quote interviews done by the mueller team that proved that donald trump was interested in going to moscow, and it's not just michael cohen who says so, there were others and they looked at trump. >> it's not illegal. >> no, but the timing is highly suspicious. >> so, look, and congress is going to keep going at this thing. we'll see. max, all in all, the kremlin's line is we don't care about the mueller report. was the mueller report -- is the mueller report a victory for vladimir putin, a defeat, a nothing burger for him? >> it's hard to say at this
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point, frankly, a lot of it depends on what happens. mueller outlined a very extensive russian scheme to penetrate the american electoral process -- >> that's what i mean, is that he laid out how successful russia was at that, and, by the way, russia got what it wanted, and that is donald trump as president. >> of course. >> is it a victory having it out there to the world? >> yeah, i mean, certainly if there are not more consequences for russia, and if there are not more consequences for trump you have to say, yes, in some sense it is a victory. it's a victory in another sense in that we have still not plugged the vulnerabilities that mueller identified. this is one of the major problems that we have here is that donald trump refuses to recognize the russian attack, and therefore he refuses to marshal a government-wide response to it and to prevent such attacks in the future. so we remain very vulnerable going into the 2020 election. >> is that really the case -- it's true, obviously, that he's not acknowledging it was russia definitively, but if you have the attorney general acknowledging it, like we did
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this morning, if you have the ic community acknowledging it, are we still more vulnerable because the president isn't acknowledging it? >> i think we are. what you see is the president's subordinates have tried to take on this vulnerability on their own, but you need a whole of government approach which is catalyzed from the oval office. that is completely lacking. donald trump never said to vladimir putin and other countries around the world, if you do this, it is unacceptable. what the message he is sending is i accept it because it helped me. >> he didn't say those words, but i take your point. before we get a quick break in here, michael zeldin, to you. should we hear from robert mueller, should he testify, what do you think the american people should expect from him? >> honesty. transparency. and a clear explanation for his decision not to decide the obstruction case. because i think that is the elephant in the room in his report. but i think congress has another duty to fulfill here, which is
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-- tim spoke about the nixon case, and one of the things that i think distinguished nixon from this case was that there were public hearings where witnesses came forward and spoke to what richard nixon had asked them to do. here, all of the congress did was to take this testimony behind closed doors. for congress to serve the american interests well here, i think what they would do is call hope hicks and josh raffo and corey lewandowski and have them say in public what they said to mueller in private so we can understand what actually happened here and the level of sort of behavior that the president exhibited throughout the course of this two-year investigation. >> thank you, one and all. we have a lot more to get to, obviously, in this report. don't go anywhere. our special live coverage continues after this. some things are out of
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all right. welcome back to our special live coverage of the mueller report. some 16 hours ago the redacted mueller report, the barr version, was released to the public. our pamela brown was on the air
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pouring through it when it broke and she breaks down the more than 400 pages for us. here you go. >> reporter: the more than 400-page mueller report shows just how much the president feared the special counsel investigation when he first learned about it. "the president slumped back in his chair and said, oh, my god, this is terrible. this is the end of emplmy presidency. i'm f'd." and tonight we're learning whiep. the special counsel's report saying, "a thorough fbi investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the president personally that the president could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns." the report kanscontains a potentially damning list of the ways the president tried to influence the election. largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or
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requests. then fbi director james comey to end the investigation into former national security adviser michael cohen and ordering white house counsel don mcgahn to get deputy attorney general rod rosenstein to fire robert mueller. the report says, "mcgahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential saturday night massacre." >> i've been totally exonerated. >> reporter: the special counsel's conclusion ultimately contradicts the president's claim that he is totally exonerated on the issue of obstruction. mueller writing, "the president's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. if be had confidence after a throw investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgement." mueller telling congress it can rule on whether the president
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own stru obstructed justice, concluding, quote, the chairman of the house judiciary committee now requesting mueller testify before congress. >> the responsibility now falls to congress to hold the president accountable for his actions. >> reporter: the report did conclude the trump campaign did not conspire with the russians to hack the 2016 presidential election. but mueller says trump's team knew, "it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through russian efforts." mueller found the president's written answers on the question of collusion between russia and the campaign, "inadequate." the president stated on more than 30 occasions that he does not remember or recall or have an independent recollection of information called for by the questions. other answers were incomplete or imprecise. but he ultimately decided not to subpoena the president, writing it would result in a substantial delay and adding, "we had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events."
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the special counsel also revealed that the president and his then personal attorney michael cohen had also heard the rumor that russians had compromising tapes of trump. cohen received a text message from a russian businessman that said, "stop flow of tapes from russia, but not sure there is anything else. just so you know." the businessman said he later had been told the tapes were fake. before the report was released, attorney general barr defended the president's actions. >> there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks. >> reporter: echoing president trump's refrain. >> the special counsel found no collusion, there was no evidence of the trump campaign collusion, no underlying collusion with russia. >> pamela brown, thank you for that reporting.
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meantime, the mueller report lays out in stark detail russia's extensive efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. let me read you another part of the report, and i quote, "one of the interactions between the trump campaign and russian-affiliated individuals, the june 9th, 2016 meeting between high-ranking campaign officials and russians promising derogatory information on hillary clinton implicates an additional body of law. campaign finance statutes, schemes involving the solicitation or receipt of assistance from foreign sources raise difficult statutory and constitutional questions, as explained below, the office evaluated these questions in connection with the june 9 meeting. the office ultimately concluded that even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that campaign officials or individuals connected to the campaign willfully violated the law." back with me, max boot, tim
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naftali, michael zeldin. michael zeldin, to you. cnn's reporting on top of what you just heard from the special counsel report is that others knew of don jr.'s efforts to get dirt on hillary clinton. we know about it because of the emails, right, that were released, but our reporting now is that rick gates, of course, who is, you know, former associate of the president, has been charged in all this, he all -- deputy campaign chairman. he also says that people like don -- in addition to don jr. that eric trump, paul manafort, hope hicks, ivanka trump and jared kushner were in that meeting in trump tower in june of 2016. how significant is that? >> well, it doesn't, you know, it doesn't appear that mueller is going to do anything with it. there are a lot of cases that have been referred to other u.s. attorney's offices where it is redacted in the report, so we don't know whether or not don jr. has been referred to another u.s. attorney's office for consideration of this.
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>> right. >> we know that don jr. was not interviewed by mueller -- >> just to be clear here -- just to be clear here, what the reporting was that they were in a meeting that don jr. was bragging about this, right, getting dirt on hillary clinton. >> right. that's right. there's no lack of clarity that don jr. was trying to obtain information from the russians at that june 9th meeting and was coordinating with wikileaks to obtain information from them that would be disparaging of hillary clinton and helpful to the trump campaign. and don jr. was not interviewed by mueller. so either mueller made a mistake in not doing that, in relying on the congressional testimony, or don jr. is a target of an investigation referred to by another u.s. attorney's office. >> there are 14 of those, but we have no evidence and no reason to believe that don jr. is a target. we don't know anything to that effect at this point. just to be very, very clear
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here, tim and max, this is -- before -- days before that famous trump tower -- now famous, infamous trump tower meeting that don jr., you know, ended up the statement, misled and said it was about adoptions. again, we know from the emails it days before that we know he mentioned a meeting about pursuing dirt on hillary clinton and cnn's reporting lays out that these people were in the meeting. is that relevant in does that matter? >> of course it's relevant. this is the trump campaign being very eager for foreign disruption in our campaign. and it's not clear that donald trump jr. knew that he was doing was illegal so in some sense his cluelessness is a defense for him in this particular case, but stepping back from it, i mean, the broader picture is shocking
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that contrary to donald trump's denial of russian interference, they knew that the russians were interfering. they knew the russians were trying to help them. they were colluding on this. they were encouraging the russians instead of blowing the whistle on them. that is not a president that is defending the country first. that is a president putting himself first, not america first. >> this lays out -- let me read you this, the president told hicks, meaning hope hicks, that trump jr. took a brief meeting and that it was about russian adoption, and the report lays out the back and forth between the president, hope hicks, don jr. about, well, don jr. wanted her to put in primarily about adoption. >> the president edited the statement. it's another instance where the president wanted to create a
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false record. why do you edit a statement and introduce falsehoods if you don't think you're covering up something important? what's striking really about the june meeting is not so much the information about it happening, because we knew that, it's that mueller is able to document the role the president played in trying to deny the american people the truth about that meeting. in fact, the president assumed that the emails, his sons emails would never leak about the meeting so he could lie about what happened, never assuming that the truth would come out. that shows somebody who is covering up. >> but it's not illegal, again, to lie or mislead the american people or the media. i'm just asking you in the context politically as we head into 2020 and into an election. do the american people care? >> we need a higher standard for our president beyond you can't prove beyond a legal doubt that he is a criminal. although, mueller is saying, we
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can't prove he is not a criminal. we have good reason to believe in fact he has broken the law. in the particular case of collusion with russia, i don't think it's acceptable to say, hey, we didn't break the law. the president has an affirmative duty to the country as a commander in chief, as a president to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed. donald trump has broken those obligations. he has lied to the country and he has shown no regard for the nation's welfare. >> let's not forget which country we're talking about, we're talking about russia, a country that annexed crimea and that the u.s. government, the obama administration, the u.s. government viewed as a threat to our national security. they're not playing footsie with any government, they're playing footsie with the russian government. >> bob mueller -- >> and bob barr. i worked with bob barr and
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mueller. >> i'm so glad you're up with us at 2:53 in the morning given that expertise on all of this. my question to you was do you believe that mueller could have done more? could he have gone further here? do you believe he had a sufficient basis to go further on the obstruction issue? >> yes, i believe he did, and i don't understand the last statement in his report which said essentially if i had more information or if i had more time, i might have been able to make a more definitive conclusion. there was nothing that was preventing him from going forward with his investigation and the notion that he didn't subpoena the president because he felt it was going to take time, the nixon case went, and you can confirm this with tim, from the time of the contest and the subpoena to the tapes to the supreme court resolution of it was just a few months' time. it was not a lot of time. and there's a lot that could have been done here. for example, you said -- you asked the question about trump
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writing the air force one denial. mark coralo quit the administration saying he thought it was obstruction of justice, that he was witnessing obstruction of justice. so i think there's a lot more that mueller should have and could have explained to us and for some reason he decided to stop what he did -- >> why is it? you worked for the man. you worked for him. >> i don't know. you know, all of the time that i worked for him one thing that he was very good at was making decisions. not always ones that i agreed with, but he was good at making decisions. he is a marine. he makes decisions. and i just don't for the life of me understand why he didn't in this case. >> i'm sure he will be asked should he choose to accept the invitation to testify before congress. we know we will hear multiple times from the attorney general bill barr, he is set to head to the hill on the 1st and the 2nd
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to testify. this story is far from over. thank you all for being with me. i so appreciate your time. thank you for staying up so late with me. thank you for joining me. "early start" is next.
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no obstruction charges but no exoneration either. the mueller report lists at least ten times president trump tried to obstruct the russia investigation. saved from himself. mueller's report tells how the president's obstruction efforts failed because his own aides refused to carry out his orders. friends with benefits. mueller's report says the trump campaign did not conspire with russians but they knew the interference could help. good morning, welcome to your early, early start. i'm christine romans. >> i'm bis