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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  May 1, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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to congress. >> it was my baby. and i was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public. >> reporter: attorney general bill barr, defiant while under fire for his handling of robert mueller's report. hours after new revelations that the special counsel expressed concerns about how barr summarized the findings of the sweeping probe. >> i asked him, you know, specifically, what his concern was. and he said that his concern focused on his explanation of why he did not reach a conclusion on obstruction. and he wanted more put out on that issue. >> reporter: barr said he spoke to the special counsel about the concerns. >> i asked him, you know, specifically, what his concern was. and he said that his concern focused on his explanation of why he did not reach a conclusion on obstruction. and he wanted more put out on that issue.
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>> reporter: barr contended that mueller was concerned about media portrayal of the findings. >> i asked him if he was suggesting that the march 24th letter was inaccurate. and he said, no, but that the press reporting had been inaccurate. >> reporter: but mueller expressed graver concerns in a letter to barr, writing, the attorney general's letter did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions. democrats contended the revelations contradicted barr's previous sworn testimony. >> why did you say you were not aware of concerns when weeks before your testimony, mr. mueller had expressed concerns to you? i mean, that's a fairly simple -- >> well win answered the question. and the question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. i don't know what that refers to at all. i talked directly to bob
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mueller, not members of his team. >> i feel your answer was purposefully misleading. and i think dorrothers do, too. >> that's some masterful hair splitting. >> reporter: democrats carefully questioned barr on why he chose not to question trump on obstruction of justice, despite ten incidents cited in the report detailing trump's efforts to undercut the probe, including asking don mcgahn to remove mueller as special counsel. but barr explained why he didn't think that counted an obstruction. >> there's a distinction between saying to someone, go fire him, go fire mueller, and saying, have him removed based on conflict. they have different results. >> reporter: but in his report, mueller wrote that in seeking to fire the special counsel, the president sought to exclude his and his campaign's conduct from the investigation's scope. barr split from mueller a few times, including saying he did not understand why mueller did not make a decision on
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obstruction. >> were you surprised he was going to let you decide? >> yes, i was surprised. >> reporter: republicans, meanwhile, didn't focus as much on the mueller report. instead, criticizing the justice department's handling of the clinton email probe. and pointing to texts from former fbi agent, peter strzok. >> we know that the person in charge of investigating hated trump's guts. >> reporter: and questioning why the russia probe even began. >> it's open, blatant prejudice, and try to use that to try to overturn a democratic election. and to my mind, that's the real crisis here. >> reporter: mueller's investigation spawned 14 other probes. something that barr may have discussed with the white house. >> have you had any conversations with anyone in the white house about those ongoing investigations that were spawned or spun off by -- >> i don't recall having any
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substantiative discussion on the investigation. >> will you recuse yourself from those investigations? >> no. >> while this may be over for the senate judiciary committee chairman, not over yet for the house judiciary, which is moving forward with a hearing tomorrow. where they want bill barr to come testify. barr is still saying that he may not appear, because the democrats want to allow for an additional hour of questioning by staff attorneys. also, jake, that same question, the house judiciary committee has a subpoena for the full unredacted mueller report to be turned over by today. that subpoena demand unmet. >> thanks, manu. joining me also from capitol hill, senator chris van hollen, democrat of maryland. his exchange with attorney general barr last month took center stage today. i want to play a clip from your exchange with attorney general barr. it came two weeks after barr had received this letter from mueller, outlining mueller's concerns about his four-page summary. take a listen. >> did bob mueller support your conclusion? >> i don't know whether bob
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mueller supported my conclusion. >> so knowing now what the truth is, do you think the attorney general was misleading, do you think he committed perjury, or do you think that his hair splitting was acceptable? >> well, jake, his hair splitting is not acceptable. he deliberately misled congress in that response to me, because he knew at the time i asked that question that bob mueller had sent him this letter and that bob mueller had expressed concerns about the conclusions that the attorney general had reached. so when i asked him, in that question, does the -- does bob mueller agree with you? does he support your conclusions, he knew when he answered my question about the mueller concerns, but refused to disclose them. so that is deceptive. we were -- you know, my view is that this attorney general has
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lost any remaining trust he may have had with the american people. and the american people need to be able to trust the attorney general to be the people's lawyer and not the president's spokesperson. so, so he does need to resign. >> he does need to resign. you're calling for him to resign. one thing i want to ask you, to play devil's advocate for a second, so he would say, clearly he wasn't as transparent as he could have been. he didn't explain what bob mueller had just said to himhouh you asked him, but he might say, the attorney general, you were asking me about whether or not the -- bob mueller agrees with my conclusions. bob mueller didn't contact me about my conclusions. bob mueller contacted me about my memo and how i was describing his report and those are two different things. again, i get it's not as transparent as it could have been, but would that not be an argument he could make? >> i don't think that begins to cut mustard. i'm just reading from the
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mueller letter where he speaks about the barr memo. and he says it does not fully capture the substance of mueller's conclusions. what are the conclusions that mueller reached. they were on two counts. one was the so-called collusion issue. the other was obstruction of justice. those were the conclusions that were laid out in the memo and those were the conclusions that barr was talking about. and so, when barr told me, in response to a direct question, that he did not know whether mueller had concerns with his conclusions, it flatly contradicts the letter that mueller sent him. >> so, your democratic colleagues and 2020 presidential candidates, former hud secretary, julian castro, senator elizabeth warren, they took it further. you said that barr should step down. they've even said, i believe it's those two, have said that he should be impeached. he should face potential impeachment. do you agree with that? >> look, jake, i think that the house has a very, very full plate right now. they've got all sorts of
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important investigations ongoing to try to hold this administration accountable. you have a president who refuses to provide documents so they've got to decide how to prioritize the time that they have in the house of representatives. he should do the right thing and resign. his testimony today indicates he's not going to -- now thinking about doing that. i thought the way that he belittled the mueller letter was very revealing. >> when he said he thought it was a little snitty and a staff member probably wrote it. >> yeah, he called it "snitty." and this was obviously an effort by mueller to document mueller's concerns. i think we all know that bob mueller has been a professional, he doesn't do things lightly. he doesn't contract out his work. and so for the attorney general to call his letter "snitty" just
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reveals the fact that the attorney general really never gave the mueller report its full due and decided to go on a spin mission. that was what that four-page memo was all about. and mueller called him on it. and now you've got the attorney general misleading congress and the public on both counts. both in the four-page memo and mueller's letter. >> so the attorney general today defended his release of the four-page letter, his four-page memo. he compared it to offering a verdict in a trial, just the bottom line, basically, not guilty of this, not guilty of that. and figured that since he was going to release almost the entire mueller report, the rest of the information would come out eventually. what did you make of that description? >> i thought he did a lousy job justifying why he, the attorney general, decided to exonerate the president on the obstruction of justice counts. it's not that he didn't have
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some kind of authority to do it, although i think mueller clearly wanted congress to make those determinations, but my goodness, if you're going to spend just 48 hours reviewing the mueller report, you should at least have an explanation for why you don't think that these actions by the president constitute criminal obstruction of justice. i mean, when the president says to don mcgahn, fire bob mueller -- >> well, he didn't say fire, but he said, "get rid of him." >> and when he refuses to do it, the president says to mcgahn, don't tell anybody that i told you to fire mueller. i mean, these are serious issues which the attorney general just has glossed over in a very sort of, you know, as if these are frivolous things, just like he called bob mueller's letter snitty. it suggests a level of unseriousness with respect to the facts from the attorney general. and that's what's unacceptable. >> lastly, senator, you said
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that you think that the house is too busy, has too much on its hands, on its plate to begin impeachment proceedings against the attorney general. do you think the house should begin impeachment proceedings against president trump? >> well, i said that the house has its plate full and they have to decide how to prioritize, how to move forward on these different issues. so i would leave that decision on the attorney general to themi think that the house has charted the right approach, which is, let's call bob mueller before the committee, let's get the unfiltered story from bob mueller about all the different things that are going on and that were discussed at this hearing. let's bring some of the other witnesses before us. because the american people really haven't heard this story, right. not everyone has a chance to read a 400-page report. and i think the public deserves to have that unfiltered testimony from bob mueller and others so they can reach conclusions on this issue. >> maryland democratic senator,
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chris van hollen, thank you, sir. always good to have you on. >> thank you, jake. more on the growing call from democrats running for president for bill barr to resign following his testimony today. stay with us. fidelity is redefining value for investors. introducing zero account fees for brokerage accounts. and zero minimums to open an account. we have fidelity mutual funds with zero minimum investment. and now only fidelity offers four zero expense ratio index funds directly to investors. because when you invest with fidelity, all those zeros really add up. ♪ so maybe i'll win ♪ saved by zero do you battery want a charge? yeah battery charging. ♪
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♪ "i'm okay." ♪ ♪ >> tech: you think this chip is well sooner or later... every chip will crack. >> mom: hi. >> tech: so bring it to safelite. we can repair it the same day... guaranteed. plus with most insurance, it's no cost to you. >> mom: really? >> singers: ♪ safelite repair, ♪ safelite replace. and we're back with our politics lead. bill barr under oath on capitol hill and facing some really
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tough questions. here's one from senator mazie hirono, democrat of hawaii. >> you put the power and authority of the office of the attorney general and the department of justice behind a public relations effort to help donald trump protect himself. finally, you lied to congress. being attorney general of the united states is a sacred trust. you have betrayed that trust. america deserves better. you should resign. >> let's talk about this all with my experts and jen psaki, lindsey graham, the chairman of the committee said that senator hirono was slandering attorney general barr. do you think she went too far? >> no. i think she did a simple statement of facts. it was very clear. i think what she did was actually a good model for democrats. she called out barr for what he is. she compared him actually even to kellyanne conway, as kind of a spokesperson and defender of donald trump. she's become a hero of the left wing of the party for a reason,
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because she is clear, concise, and straight forward. i think lindsey graham kind of hurt his own reputation today, so i don't think hirono is particularly worried about what he has to say. >> take a listen, amanda, to something that senator dick durbin said to attorney general barr today. >> but i find general barr, that some of the things that you've engaged in really leave me wondering what you believe your role as attorney general is when it comes to something like this. >> what is the role of the attorney general? are they supposed to protect the president or are they there for the united states of america? is it both? is it complicated? what do you think? >> ideally, he should be a referee that can call balls and strikes and say, this is what is lawful, this is what is not, and still represent somewhat of the administration's view. but i think in this hearing today, he was much more of a player on the field. >> for president trump? >> oh, yeah, absolutely. but barr's not going to be the story that lasts. he is emblematic of a lot of the lies that are told. i wouldn't have gone as far as
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mazie hirono. i want to hear from mueller exactly how that conversation went. but the long-term story is, here, are the attempts at obstruction of justice. and the questioning that senator harris did, where she was basically just asking him, did you look at the evidence? and he couldn't say "yes." when senator leahy said, tell me more about members of the trump campaign being receptive to offers of help from the russians, and he acted like he didn't know what that meant. to me, that was pretty shameful. >> and there was actually a lot of praise on the other side of the aisle from senators cruz and lee for attorney general barr. take a listen to them. >> i want to thank you for your civility and for your exposure amidst what has been a needlessly and unfairly hostile environment. your professionalism has been remarkable. >> if you're hiding something, i'll tell you right now, general barr, you're doing a very lousy job of hiding it! because the thing that they're suggesting you hid, you released! >> now, in that last clip, with
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senator cruz, he's referring to the four weeks in which despite what mueller wanted him to do and release the executive summaries, barr did not release them. and the the argument is that he let this narrative out there that president trump has been exonerated. >> right. that initial press conference where he kind of spun and that four-page memo where he sort of spun that was in the report that no one had seen. and you heard people talking about it like it was the report. it was not the report. and that narrative got out there and then, you know, not everyone has the chance to read this. and now among some people, that narrative is what's sticking. and you know, that's exactly what that mueller letter said. said that, you know, what you put out there confuses people. i know that barr tried to blame it on the press, can be blamed for a lot of stuff, but we were not mentioned in that letter. and so that is what democrats were talking about, when they were talking about what he was hiding, you heard several that didn't go out and just call him
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a liar. you had several democrats referencing a question that was asked by charlie crist, who is a congressman from florida, regarding whether mueller's team was unhappy with what barr did. and he said, i wasn't aware of that. well, now we know, he actually -- that was in early april. now we know he had a letter in late march that stated exactly that. and then a call with mueller the day after. >> and not only that, but barr said just at the end of the hearing, whence it was "snitty," that he thought a staffer wrote it. so if he thought a staffer wrote it, he knew it was not just mueller that was upset, that it was one of mueller's staffers. you know, president trump has long complained that he doesn't have in his view a loyal attorney general, he didn't have -- he wanted an eric holder, the way holder defended obama. he wanted a bobby kennedy, the way kennedy defended jfk. this is in trump's mind, not mine. does he have what he wants? does he have the attorney general he wants now? >> i think it's important to note that whatever bill barr is
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saying out there, it's not because he has this relationship going back with the president. they did not know each other well before this. i think more of what it has to do is what we saw in that memo that barr wrote before he was ever attorney general or ever came close to being it, he cares about presidential powers and the powers of the executive branch. so it doesn't matter if it's a donald trump or whatever republican or whoever's president, i think bill barr would have made this same argument. and i think it's tougher because of what the president did so when barr's having to make arguments like, the president wasn't actually trying to fire the special counsel for saying he should be removed for a conflict of interest, a conflict of interest that the president's white house counsel said did not exist and other advisers called ridiculous and petty. so i think what's striking that came out of today as you saw barr navigate that hearing was his clear disdain at times for how the mueller report was shaped. and that's what's interesting. because they actually do have a personal relationship -- >> 30 years. >> going back. and that was alluded to when barr said he got that second letter from mueller, saying he wanted some of these summaries come out. and he said he finally called him and said, bob, why didn't
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you just pick up the phone and call me? it's striking to see the difference and what the length of distance that is growing between these two men, who have been pretty close. >> and just in case you were wondering what former fbi director james comey thought about all of this -- >> i was wondering. >> he wrote an op-ed in "the new york times" called, how trump coopts leaders like bill barr. it takes character like former secretary of defense mattis to avoid the damage, because mr. trump's your soul in small bites. >> that's quite a visual. >> i think the point he's making, which is interesting and we've seen repeated with some people who have been in the administration, is that people sort of get this stockholm syndrome, where they want to please the one master, their one audience. and we don't know what's going on in attorney general barr's head, as kaitlan said, and you know, as was interesting to hear, they don't have a relationship, so why was he defending him with such an extent that, you know, he kind
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of -- trump came out of this a bit unscathed. barr, much more scathed. >> interesting. everyone, stick around. coming up next, the former u.s. attorney who was fired by president trump joining me live to react to barr's testimony. stay with us. this time, it's his turn. you have 4.3 minutes to yourself. this calls for a taste of cheesecake. philadelphia cheesecake cups. rich, creamy cheesecake with real strawberries. find them with the refrigerated desserts. it's the idea that if our mothers were diagnosed with cancer, how would we want them to be treated? that's exactly how we care for you. with answers and actions. to hear your concerns, quiet your fears, lift your spirits. that's the mother standard of care.
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congressional democrats argued that attorney general william barr has been acting essentially as the president's personal defense attorney and not as the attorney general, as he repeatedly defending finding
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no obstruction and no conspiracy related to president trump and those around him. i want to bring in preet bharara. he was fired by president trump as the southern district of new york. preet, barr and mueller are supposed to be friends that go back three decades. what does it say to you that mueller put these concerns about the four-page barr memo in writing, making this record that he expressed his concerns more than once? >> i think it's significant. we know that bob mueller doesn't talk much, at least not in the last couple of years. and i don't think he puts a lot of things on paper, either. and lots of focuses who are familiar with how the bureau works and are floor with bob mueller personally, it's a pretty significant thing. you're not only doing it to convey a point stridently to someone who your concern is not going to do what you think is the best thing to do with respect to releasing these summaries, but you're putting it in writing in a way that is pos.
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and both of those letters where it was easy to have a set of summaries. and there's no reason that i've heard all day, aside from the hair splitting and the semantics and everything else, as to why bill barr would not just put out the summaries themselves that the team who worked on the entire report prepared. >> and after mueller wrote that letter, but before we found out about it, bill barr went before congress and testified. take a listen to some -- an excerpt from that testimony before the house. congressman charlie crist, a democrat of florida, had a question for him. let's play that sound. >> reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your march 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately,
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necessarily, portray the report's findings. do you know what they're referencing with that? >> no, i don't. >> is that perjury? >> i'm not going to sit here on cable television and accuse the attorney general of perjury, but it's clearly not being straight. it's clearly not being transparent. and it's odd, also, because you know, he must have thought, maybe, it's not going to come out, that this letter was sent. and essentially, that report and the language used by representative crist mirrors and tracks almost exactly the language that bob mueller used in the letter that was already in the hands of bill barr when he said "i don't know what you're talking about." so, i don't really get it. i don't know that it's an important enough thing in the scheme of other things that he said and other things that he's disputing. but it's really not a good look. and it's a very odd way for an attorney general to, i think, respond to a question. that an ordinary person, not a parsing lawyer, who's trying to get out of trouble, but an ordinary, normal, thoughtful person would not have answered
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it that way. >> no, he would have said, well, actually, i had a conversation with bob mueller and he said, blah, blah, blah, and i got these letters. let me ask you, looking forward, democrats are questioning barr's credibility as the attorney general, obviously, many calling for him to step down. i think congressman -- i'm sorry, former hud secretary julian castro has even gone so far as to call for his impeachment. there are these 12 criminal cases that mueller handed off to other offices that we don't know what they are. there are 14 total, but we know what two of them are. there are 12 others. take a listen to this exchange between barr and democratic senator richard blumenthal of connecticut. >> you can't recall whether you have discussed those cases with anyone in the white house, including the president of the united states? >> my recollection is i have not discussed those -- >> but you don't recall for sure? >> i j -- >> let me move on -- >> i can say very surely, i did not discuss the substance of any --
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>> will you recruiuse yourself m those investigations? >> no. >> what did you make of that exchange and do you think he should recuse himself? >> i don't know. he's not going to. he didn't recuse himself from the mueller investigation as a whole, even though he wrote a memo unsolicited that pre-judged the whole obstruction issue. i think that's something that congress needs to pay very close attention to. and i think it's of a piece with other exchanges he had, including one with senator kamala harris where he said, i struggle with the word "suggest," on the question of whether the president or anyone else in the white house suggest that he launch an investigation into some of donald trump's adversaries. with respect to that, i have legitimate concerns. it's odd that he was, when he was couching himself in these, you know, sort of wiggle words and saying, not about the substance. you know, i wish that there had been more time for senator blumenthal and others to follow up on those questions and say, if it wasn't of substance, what was it? what kind of conversation could it possibly have been? why would a name come up? and maybe ask for some pledges
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going forward. but i think it's something to watch very, very carefully. >> and lastly, the attorney general at one point seemed to put himself in president trump's shoes and say president trump has been falsely accused. how did we get here. he was called treasonous. he was called a russian spy. none of this was true. what did you make of that? it was unusual given how many times throughout the testimony he refused to judge lies that the president has told and action that the president has made, but here he was putting himself in president trump's shoes. >> yeah, it doesn't, again, like we've been saying, it doesn't present a balanced picture of somebody that's going by the facts and acting as the attorney general for everyone, as opposed to the personal lawyer and, you know, in some ways, a spin doctor for the president. with respect to those particular words, it's actually interesting. i wonder what he would say about the fact that the president himself is using very loosely words like treason and coup and spying, which, you know, on another occasion today, the attorney general said it's a perfectly good english word.
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it has no pejorative content at all. so there's a lot of weirdness about the words that are being used, the fighting over the words, whether it's the word firing or cooperation, whether it's the word "suggest" or whether it's the word "summary," all seeming to be done in service of a president who he's trying to, you know, spin the facts about in a way that we haven't seen in a very, very long time. >> former u.s. attorney preet bharara, thank you so much for your time. we appreciate it. what's going to happen next? will the public ever get to hear directly from bob mueller? stay with us. about 50% of people with severe asthma have too many cells called eosinophils in their lungs. eosinophils are a key cause of severe asthma. fasenra is designed to target and remove these cells. fasenra is an add-on injection for people 12 and up with asthma driven by eosinophils. fasenra is not a rescue medicine or for other eosinophilic conditions. fasenra is proven to help prevent severe asthma attacks, improve breathing, and can lower oral steroid use.
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did anyone, either you or anyone on your staff, memorialize your conversation with robert mueller?
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>> yes. >> who did that? >> there were notes taken of the call. >> may we have those notes? >> no. >> why not? >> why should you have them? >> that was attorney general bill barr and senator richard blumenthal, democrat of connecticut, in the final combative exchange of barr's hearing. barr refusing to hand over notes to congress on what could be a key phone call between him and special counsel robert mueller. i want to bring in cnn justice reporter, laura jarrett. now, barr is supposed to have another hearing tomorrow on the house side. is that hearing going to happen? >> really unclear at this point, jake. barr has made it crystal clear, he does not want to testify, especially if staff members are going to be asking him questions, staff counsel. he said he's not going to do it, if that happens. he also doesn't want to talk about the unredacted version of the report behind closed doors. he says he's happy to answer members' questions, but not under that format. so he may not come at all. we may see an empty chair. but the real question after the last 24 hours and all of this
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reporting on the rift between mueller and barr is whether mueller is going to testify. and if that happens, how exactly will he explain his concerns? we've now seen it in the letter, we've heard about the call, but he clearly has a story to tell, jake. >> laura jarrett, thank you so much, let's chew this over with my experts here. there's no way this ends without mueller testifying. we already have -- there's so many questions that remain unanswered. >> and right now, what we understand is that mueller wants to testify and his doj isn't setting a date. now, he doesn't have to be at the justice department forever. he could leave. >> he's still employed by the justice department. >> so he has to go by what they say and that's who congress is working with to get him in there. but, yes, he's -- i mean, i can't imagine that he's not going to testify in front of congress. doing that will put an end to all of this? no. this is going to go on in perpetui perpetuity. but i think it will answer a lot of questions that lawmakers and the american public have out
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there. >> and in addition to whether or not mueller will testify, which i can't imagine the trump white house wants him to do, is the question of whether or not they're going to try to invoke executive privilege to keep don mcgahn, the former white house counsel from testifying. >> and that did not get cleared up when they asked about that, when bill barr said, we have not waived executive privilege on that. >> that's a discussion we've been having with a lot of white house people and doj people lately about whether or not they would try to block that. because we reported when they first issued a subpoena for them, they were going to try to prevent him from testifying. the question now is whether or not that's going to happen based on what you heard today. i think mueller is making pretty clear on this written record that he's made with in letter that he has a problem with how this was perceived in the public for the first three weeks, that barr continued to cite the media coverage of it today, even though that's not in the letter. but i think one key thing that's missing from that today is that there was another letter that mueller wrote to bill barr. in his letter that they released today from the justice department after it was reported
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on, he says, in my first letter to you. so there was one letter from mueller to barr, a second letter, and then the call from barr to mueller. there are a lot of questions about what all was said in that, but what's clear is mueller has an issue. if mcgahn did get up there, there would be more questions answered about whether or not there was that conflict of interest that mcgahn said he did not believe was a conflict of interest. >> it's such a cliche, jen, but in washington, d.c., it's never the alleged crime, it's the cover-up. and here we have president trump, all of this attention, really, is on whether or not he tried to obstruct justice and not the conspiracy with russia, which they did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute on. and i guess one of the questions is, if you look in the mueller report and you read the stuff about don mcgahn, that is really deep and complex stuff. because not only does the president tell him, essentially, get ridr,e then tries to get mcgahn to lie about that, lie in mcgahn's view. and then he tries to get him to
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write a memo, stating for the record, having nothing to do with the "new york times" or "the washington post," stating like, he never asked him to fire mueller. and eventually, you know, with president trump attacking mcgahn so often, mcgahn might feel the need to come forward and say, no, this is what happened. >> no question. i mean, he was taking clear notes and his assistant was taking clear notes, when he knew that there was an investigation underway. anyone who's a lawyer, don mcgahn, obviously, mueller, they know where this is going. when there's a written record of something, that is information that can be, you know -- can go to the public. and they did that knowing that, i think. i think what's pivotal here is for democrats to not get distracted by barr. yes, it's a call for him to resi resign. he doesn't care what he thinks, that's good politics. call for him to be impeached if you're a presidential candidate. but this is about president trump. the pivotal people are mueller and don mcgahn for the democrats to press on. and that what i think the house needs to be really focused on. >> i agree. i've been thinking about, how
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will these events that are playing out now in congress play out on the campaign trail? and bill barr's idea that president trump has been falsely accused sticks in my mind. because it sort of plays into the idea that they are above reproach. donald trump is above the law. and when you see this pattern of the administration defying subpoenas, saying, we're not going to talk to you, and that these people are never held accountable for these actions, that's something that can stick in the craw of voters. and if democrats choose to use these events and make the 2020 election an accountability exercise, that could be powerful. >> what did you think of lindsey graham as a fellow republican, whoo did you think of lindsey graham saying, i'm not going to call mueller, i'm not going to call don mcgahn? >> there used to be a time when republicans cared about the rule of law. lindsey graham was one of those people. and that time has passed. >> is that how the white house would see it? what do you think their response would be? obviously, they're happy lindsey graham is not going to call bob
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mueller. >> and they're actually downplaying the news that broke yesterday. they were exasperated by it, because they thought, finally, the mueller investigation had been put behind them. but now today with these reports, it had not. but it actually downplayed mueller appearing today, because they said, it's not going t t of this investigation. so they feel like it's fine. they think democrats are going to actually hurt themselves in thefocusing on it way too much. >> we'll see. the president fired off 58 re-tweets about something today not even counting his mueller frustration. what is he so focused on? that's next.
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back with breaking news. the white house firing back at senate democrats today, making it clear they stand behind attorney general barr. just moments ago, press secretary sarah sanders tweeting, attorney general bill barr served president george h.w. bush honorably as attorney general and has done the same for president trump. democrats only disgrace and humiliate themselves with their baseless attacks on such a fine public servant, unquote. the white house saying it's time to move on, but did president trump get that memo? cnn's abby phillip now reports from the white house. >> i think people should start showing him some respect. >> reporter: the white house today rushing to defend attorney general bill barr, who was coming under fire for his decision to release a four-page summary that special counsel robert mueller said did not adequately represent the investigation's findings. >> to impugn the integrity, reputation, character, and competence of bill barr, and coming from certain people who are doing that is really rich. >> reporter: some of those people, senate democrats, now calling for mueller to clarify his concerns by testifying
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before congress. >> i think we should hear from special counsel mueller. >> we must hear from director mueller. >> should he be allowed to testify before this -- >> i've already said publicly, i have no objection to him. >> reporter: but the white house seemingly disagrees, claiming the case is closed. >> we heard it all. what else do you want to hear? >> reporter: aides tell cnn that regardless of barr's summary, trump was likely to latch on to the positive elements of the report anyway. but even with rose-colored view of mueller's findings, trump today is still on the attack. criticizing the russia investigation and re-tweeting criticism nearly 60 times of a firefighter union's decision to endorse former vice president joe biden. as trump sweats biden in private and on social media, his aides insist he's not worried. >> i don't think we're worried about joe biden, i don't think we're worried about different union endorsements, a little bit bemused. certainly not frustrated. >> reporter: and white house aides have been watching the hearing all day today and they seem to be pretty happy with
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what bill barr said under oath, testifying before congress. he did give credence to a lot of things president trump has been talking about. investigating the basis for the fisa warrant, investigating the steele dossier. and president trump gave a radio interview to the "boston herald" not long ago, and he had this to say about barr's testimony. he said, i heard that the attorney general was really, really solid and did a great job today, jake. >> i heard. all right, abby phillip, thank you so much. let's talk more about it. one of the things, amanda, that i found a little distressing in the hearing was the fact that the attorney general did not say, clearly and unequivocally, if somebody who was from a foreign government offers you information on a rival, on a campaign, you should go to the fbi. he later, when asked about it said, well, yes, if it's a foreign intelligence agent. but you don't always know. i don't think don jr. had any idea who that lawyer was with
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the russian government. and it seems like this is almost like a theme. you have rudy giuliani telling me a couple sundays ago, there's nothing wrong with taking information from the russians. you had jared kushner downplaying what the russians did in the election interference, it was just a couple facebook ads. does this concern you at all? >> yeah, because i have no reason to believe that if these offers were made again in 2020 that the trump campaign would turn them down. why would they? they've suffered no consequence. and we know from the report that there was attempted collusion and many attempts at obstruction. and so if there is no consequence, why wouldn't day do that again? why wouldn't they welcome a barrage of rnussian trolls to help them win the election in 2020. that was a factor. i'm not saying it was the factor that won trump the election. but i think michael cohen stuffing the hush payments and depriving the public from having that information probably had more effect, but certainly, part of trump's momentum that allowed him to win the republican primary was in part driven by
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social media. that we know was a product of a foreign influence. >> jen psaki, how much are democrats saying to themselves, democrats working on campaigns, we should just play by the same rules trump does. >> i think they're having that thought in their minds. look, i think what senator hirono did today was interesting because she didn't pretend like this was all on the level. and i think that's a lesson for democrats. whether you argued she went too far or not, i think democrats need to stop pretending that trump and the people speaking on behalf of his administration are speaking the truth and being honest and start calling them out on that. we saw some of the members a little more aggressive today. i thought today was a very good day for senator harris. she was very strong and firm and clear. probably her best performance at one of these hearings. so i think they're going to be a little more aggressive. i don't think they're going to cross the line of accepting influence from foreign powers, because they don't morally believe in that and democrats will hold them accountable and i certainly hope they don't, but i think they'll be more aggressive
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in calling people out. >> i think it's a lot like, when we saw in the republican field, where republicans were trying to be like trump and it completely failed, i think that will happen to democrats if they decide to try to play the game that trump does. there's a -- i mean, he's the only one who can do it. and there's -- day don't believe nit, and i don't think they'll get away with it, like he has. >> but also, i think campaigns in the future will look back at what the trump administration has gone through. and that this investigation has completely loomed over his presidency the entire time, which the white house has feared, and they'll be more cautious going forward. but also, you have to look at what kind of campaign people are running, campaigns people are running. because the trump campaign in the last election was not the smoothest-running machine. and the first people who will tell you that are the people who worked on it. >> just real quick, there has not been a single reform for what happened on social media yet. and so i don't know why we are pretending like it won't happen again. >> all right. we'll be right back with more on our breaking news about barr's testimony. stay with us. xperience with usaa has been excellent. they really appreciate the military family and it really shows.
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that's our coverage. you can follow me on facebook or at twitter @jaketapper. you can tweed the sho show @theleadcnn. we actually read them. our coverage on cnn with the inimitable wolf blitzer continues right now. thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news. barr sinks in a contentious hearing. the attorney general william barr strongly defends his handling of the mueller report and his controversial summary of the findings. democrats accuse him of misleading and lying. and tonight, a growing number of them are calling for bar to resign. under the bus. throughout the hearing, barr appears to disparage his longtime friend robert mueller, even insinuating that the special counsel didn't do his job and calling mueller's letter critical of barr, and i'm quoting now, a bit snitty. will mueller will called to testify to lawmakers as well? eats your