tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN May 1, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
to save 30% on all the medications we carry. so go directly to petmeds.com now. good evening. what a day it has been here in washington, and it's certainly not over. we have breaking news. attorney general william barr is refusing to testify tomorrow before the house judiciary committee after what was a heated senate hearing today on his handling of the mueller report. it lasted nearly four hours, contentious at times, highlights of that in a moment. but first i want to go to cnn's pamela brown at the white house with breaking news about tomorrow's sudden reversal. so what happened, pamela? >> reporter: well, anderson, attorney general barr is taking this unusual step of declining an invitation to testify before the house judiciary committee tomorrow morning, raising tensions even more with house democrats. and this move follows a dispute over the proposed format for this hearing with democrats demanding that barr face questions from committees' lawyers, this was a decision
formalized by a vote today. now, a justice department spokeswoman released a statement saying the committees' demands are, quote, unprecedented and unnecessary. and on the other hand, the committee's chairman, jerry nadler, says the administration is trying to dictate the terms of the hearing on the committee's turf, and he's threatening to subpoena barr and hold him in contempt. but barr's rejection follows a defiant and unapologetic performance today on capitol hill where we saw him getting grilled by democrats over his handling of the mueller report, anderson. >> has there been reaction from the white house about the refusal of barr tomorrow and also what white house officials thought of his testimony today? >> reporter: well, i just spoke to a senior administration official here, who said the white house was leaving it up to bill barr to make this decision, and he's made it. and this official said the house conditions are what prompted him to decline that invite and said the house should be more reasonable. so clearly the white house doesn't have a big issue with
barr declining. but overall, officials here have been praising barr's performance today with president trump saying he was solid, that he did a great job in a recent radio interview. and the white house officials are criticizing democrats with one official telling me that the democrats didn't lay a glove on barr. and officials, anderson, here at the white house are even shrugging off barr saying that he didn't exonerate president trump. when i first heard that, i thought perhaps there might be a negative reaction here because we hear president trump say continually that this was total exoneration. but here at the white house, the view is that in lay terms, barr did exonerate him, but he made it clear today that he didn't view his role as a prosecutor from a legal perspective to put it that way. anderson? >> all right. pamela, thanks very much. more now on the hearing that did take place today. mr. barr had to do a lot of explaining before the republican-led senate judiciary committee. democrats zeroed in on the letter by mueller to barr that we learned about first last night, warning him he was not fully capturing the context, nature, and substance in his
four-page memo, barr's four-page memo released march 24th. three days later, mueller wrote that letter. then on april 9 and 10, barr was on capitol hill and was asked specifically if mueller was on board with his summary. barr made no mention of the letter or phone call he had with mueller about his concerns. that is not sitting well with democrats, who now accuse barr of misleading and even lying to congress. so with that as the backdrop, here are some of the key moments from barr's testimony today. >> 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, i answered a 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 mueller, not members of his team. >> mr. barr, i feel your answer
was purposely misleading, and i think others do too. >> when did you decide to make that letter available to us in congress? >> this morning. >> would you concede that you had an opportunity to make this letter public on april 4th when representative crist asked you a very related question? >> i don't know what you mean by related question. it seems to me to be a very different question. >> i can't even follow that down the road. i mean, boy. that's some masterful hair splitting. >> i want to ask you on those remaining investigations, the 12 to 14 investigations, whether you have had any communication with anyone in the white house. >> no. >> and will you give us an ironclad commitment that you will in no way --
>> by the way, i'm not sure, you know, the laundry list of investigations. but i certainly haven't talked the substance or been directed to do anything on any of the cases. >> well, let me give you an opportunity to clarify. >> yeah. >> 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 substantive discussion on the investigation. >> have you had any non-substantive discussion? >> it's possible that a name of a case was mentioned. i didn't exonerate. i said that we did not believe that there was sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction offense, which is the job of the justice department. and the job of the justice department is now over. i don't consider bob at this stage a career prosecutor. he's had a career as a prosecutor. >> well, he was the head of the fbi for 12 years. >> he's a career law enforcement
professional. >> right. >> i know of no other instance of -- >> but he was also a political appointee, and he was a political appointee with me at the department of justice. you know, the letter is a bit snitty, and i think it was probably written by one of his staff people. >> why not call for mueller to testify? >> because i'm not going to do anymore. enough already. it's over. if there's any dispute about a conversation, then he'll come. but i'm not going to retry the case. i'm not calling mccann. it is over. >> quite a day on capitol hill. earlier i spoke with one of the senators grilling the attorney general today, senator kamala harris, who is also a 2020 democratic presidential candidate. i mean watching this today, it was a tale of two committee hearings, and the republicans were focused on one thing. democrats obviously focused on another. at the end of it, you said he should resign. why? >> i just think that he has compromised his position in a way that it leaves the american
public believing that he is not bringing integrity to the role. >> you think he's lying? >> i think he's -- i think he's intentionally misleading. i think he's intentionally mischaracterizing the facts and his perspective and the evidence to the extent he's reviewed the evidence. >> i mean the idea he had previously said that he didn't know what mueller thought of his conclusions. we now know very clearly he had already received that letter in which mueller's quite clear about his conclusions. >> that's right. and he testified before the united states congress, both to my colleague and on the house side to crist, congressman crist, and basically he knew what the question was asking, which is was mueller content with what you did? and he suggested that mueller was content.
and i think that we have to recognize that when you go before -- you know, chris van hollen on the senate, when you go before charlie crist on the house side, and they are representing the american public and asking questions of the american attorney general of the united states, right, this is our attorney general. this is not the attorney general of the president. it is the people's attorney general. and the attorney general has a responsibility to do the work of justice, and that means to be unbiased, to be straightforward, to be honest, to be truthful, and we've not seen evidence of that kind of perspective from this attorney general, at least on this issue. >> one of the exchanges i want to play for our viewers because you were asking him if he had taken the time to look at the underlying evidence. >> right. >> that mueller presented before deciding no obstruction. >> right. >> let's take a look. >> did you personally review all of the underlying evidence? >> no. we took -- we accepted --
>> did mr. rosenstein? >> no. we accepted the statements in the report as a factual record. we did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate. we accepted it as accurate. it made our -- >> so you accepted the report as the evidence? >> yes. >> you did not question or look at the underlying evidence that supports the conclusions in the report? >> no. >> did mr. rosenstein review the evidence that underlines and supports the conclusions in the report to your knowledge? >> not to my knowledge. >> i mean that's surprising. >> anderson, i went on to ask, did anyone in your executive staff review the evidence? because let's just be very clear. it says it on the front page, on the cover of the report. it is a report -- it is not the evidence. it is a report that basically summarizes an investigation.
and any prosecutor worth her salt reviews the evidence before making a charging decision involving a matter of such magnitude as the matter before this attorney general, which is whether the president of the united states engaged in the obstruction of justice. how can you, as the attorney general, knowing the seriousness of the words you will speak on this matter, knowing the seriousness of the consequence of your action on this matter, not review the evidence or at least with those closest to you make sure they review the evidence before you put your name on a decision. >> there was another exchange i want to play because it's an important one for our viewers. has the president or anyone at the white house ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? yes or no, please, sir. >> the president or anybody else? >> it seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us. >> yeah, i'm trying to grapple with the word "suggest."
there have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open an investigation. >> perhaps they've suggested? >> i don't know. i wouldn't say suggest. >> hinted? >> i don't know. >> inferred? you don't know. okay. >> again, hard to believe -- i mean he's only been on the job for a while, so it's not as if there's a long number of possible times he's been in contact with the white -- i mean to say he hasn't been there for years for him to review through. you would think he would know this. >> well, i think there is an additional point, which is he is an intelligent person. he has evidenced his ability to understand and be a master frankly with the english language. he parses his words. he's very careful in the words he chooses to speak. so clearly he comprehends the
language at a very high level. and when then asked about something as serious as whether the president has asked him to investigate anyone, he, one, understands the language being spoken. he understands the nature of the question. and he should understand, given his history of connection with our justice system, understand the seriousness of a president of the united states asking his attorney general to investigate anyone. >> and -- >> but yet he stuttered. >> and at no point did he say no. >> correct. >> he just -- >> you are correct. >> again, it's -- bottom line is, i don't remember. i don't recall. >> you are correct. and on a subject such as that, one should not be equivocal. >> just a political question. you know, you're out on the campaign trail. you're running for the democratic nomination for president. >> yeah. >> a, are people asking you and talking to you about this? because there are plenty of democrats who are very concerned for all the candidates who are running and, you know, congress people who weren't running and just concerned this is going to suck up a lot of time and energy
by democrats and might play against democrats, that anytime you're not talking about, you know, improving the economy, anytime you're not talking about health care, anytime you're not talking about jobs, anytime you're not talking about criminal justice reform, whatever it is, is time, you know, that you're focused on this, and do voters actually care? >> i think voters do care, and i'll tell you why. i mean and certainly there's no question that the issues that keep them up at night are going to be and are, can they pay the bills by the end of the month, can they keep a job. can they retire with dignity, the health of themselves and their parents. those are the priorities. there is no question. but on this issue, i will say this. traveling the country as i have, there are a lot of people in our country who are feeling a great sense of distrust in their government, its institutions and leaders. and certainly we know russia tried to play on that in terms of their interference in the 2016 election. so what i would say, anderson,
is that one of the things that is very much at play and very present at this moment in time in our country is a concern about whether or not our democracy is intact, whether it can be trusted, whether the leaders in our democracy can be trusted. and this issue is symbolic and actually a litmus test on whether our democracy is intact, whether our institutions are functioning as they could. co-equal branches of government, people who have independent responsibilities. and on this case, it's about whether the attorney general is fulfilling his responsibility to the people of our country. >> senator harris, i appreciate your time. >> thank you. >> well, you just heard senator harris refer to senator chris van hollen's questioning of attorney general barr and barr's defense of his answer today. senator van hollen joins me next. i'll ask him if he was satisfied with what he heard. also, reaction from two house democrats on news the
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stopping drivers from: liking. selfie-ing. and whatever this is. available to the public... never. smartdogs are not the answer. but geico has a simple tip. turn on "do not disturb while driving" mode. brought to you by geico. again our breaking news, william barr will not be back on capitol hill tomorrow. he plans on skipping the hearing before the democratic-led house judiciary committee. the committee's chairman, congressman jerry nadler, made that announcement earlier tonight. the attorney general wasn't willing to face questions from committee staffers, attorneys, as congressman nadler requested. those would have been in addition to questions from the congresspeople themselves. again, one of the top concerns for democrats is the letter that special counsel mueller wrote to barr on march 27th expressing issues with the attorney general's summary that he had released three days earlier. that's the letter we just learned about last night. now, they're focused on an
exchange barr had last month with democratic senator chris van hollen of maryland, who i spoke with earlier tonight. that interview in a moment. but first here's the exchange. >> did bob mueller support your conclusion? >> i don't know whether bob mueller supported my conclusion. >> democrats pointed to that exchange several times today and demanded an explanation. here's how it played out. >> my question was why did you say you were not aware of concerns when weeks before your testimony, mr. mueller had expressed concerns to you? that's a fairly simple -- >> well, i answered a 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 mueller, not members of his team. and even though i did not know what was being referred to and
mueller had never told me that the expression of the findings was inaccurate, but i did then volunteer that i thought they were talking about the desire to have more information put out. but it wasn't my purpose to put out more information. >> mr. barr, i feel your answer was purposely misleading. >> the attorney general trying to explain himself there. earlier i spoke with senator chris van hollen whose earlier exchange took center stage today. senator van hollen, what is your reaction to what the attorney general said today, trying to square what he told you last month with mueller's letter because it seems a complete contradiction. >> yes, anderson. it seems to me that we see just a continuing pattern of deception from the attorney general. we know that he put out his four-page memo to spin his version of the mueller report, and then mueller sent him a
letter expressing deep concerns. then when i was asking the attorney general about the mueller report many weeks ago, he was dodging questions on the issue of obstruction of justice. so i asked him, well, does mueller support your conclusions? and what he told me at that time was he didn't know, but he had in his possession a letter from bob mueller clearly expressing concerns about the conclusions that barr reached. and so that was directly misleading both to me, the congress, and the american people. and this is an attorney general that i think has lost any, you know, basis for trust, and that's why i do believe he should resign. >> i mean even his explanation about the question you had asked him and his answer, i just -- i mean i'm not that smart, but i just couldn't follow. i don't know what he was saying. i mean i know he was using words, but they didn't seem to make much sense in any particular order. do you think the attorney
general of the united states flat-out lied? >> well, what i believe is that he flat-out deceived me and the congress. now, maybe that's a thin distinction there. here's what i mean. what he told me when i asked him the question was he didn't know whether mueller supported his conclusions. but instead of telling me what mueller had told him in the letter, he obviously gave his nonresponse. and so by omission, by refusing to disclose at that moment what mueller had already put to him in a letter, he obviously was deceiving myself and the congress. >> at one point the attorney general said that mueller's letter was, quote, a bit snitty, and suggested it was probably written by a staffer. is that remotely plausible in your view? not the snitty part, but the
idea that robert mueller would put his objections in writing is a pretty remarkable thing to begin with, and the idea that he would sign his name to something that he, himself, did not write or did not believe everything that was in there seems not plausible. >> not plausible and another indication of how this attorney general is sort of belittling this process, treating it as frivolous. to have that throwaway line that i think some staffer wrote it -- bob mueller is the consummate professional. and clearly what happened is that bob mueller saw that four-page memo from barr and said, hey, this is a mischaracterization of my conclusions. and, therefore, i'm going to go on record right now, making it clear that i have these concerns. and, you know, that's why it was so deceptive and misleading for barr to answer my question the way he did, because essentially what i was asking him was, hey,
does mueller have any concerns with your report? and his answer was he did not know. well, he did know. >> senator van hollen, i appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you. up next, one hearing and two very different lines of questioning from democrats and republicans. you'll hear some of that. and i'll put this question to the political team -- what did we actually learn today? saladse uniquely crafted. with peak season berries, creamy avocado. and a dressing fit for a goddess. come taste what a salad should be. and with panera catering, there's more to go around. panera. food as it should be. [ horn honking ] [ engine revving ] what's that, girl? [ engine revving ] flo needs help?! [ engine revving ] take me to her! ♪ coming, flo! why aren't we taking roads?! flo. [ horn honking ] -oh. you made it. do you have change for a dollar? -this was the emergency? [ engine revving ] yes, i was busy! -24-hour roadside assistance. from america's number-one motorcycle insurer.
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hearing was a rorschach test of sorts with a lot of views shaped by what side of the political divide you might occupy. a lot of it was directed by the questions lawmakers asked. as you've seen democrats dug into apparent contradictions between barr's testimony and the actual mueller report, while republicans trained their focus on origins of the investigation and at least some of the people behind it. >> there were two investigations here. one was the investigation of donald trump. there was another investigation of hillary clinton. >> this is a text message from peter strzok, a top counterintelligence investigator who we now know helped launched this counterspy investigation. >> page is the department of justice lawyer assigned to this case. >> we've heard a lot about the steele dossier. mr. steele, of course, is a former british intelligence officer hired to do opposition research by the hillary clinton campaign. >> -- investigation of hillary clinton. >> secretary clinton. >> involving hillary clinton. >> against hillary clinton. >> strzok. >> strzok.
>> the clinton email situation. >> the steele dossier was central to the now debunked collusion narrative. >> the steele dossier -- >> christopher steele's dossier -- >> the steele dossier. >> strzok and page. >> peter strzok and lisa page. >> strzok and page. >> maybe it was just coincidence they all happened to focus on that. i don't know. with me now, shan wu, elliot williams, cnn chief political correspondent dana bash, also "usa today" columnist kirsten powers, former republican senator rick santorum, and garrett graff, author of "the threat matrix: the fbi at war in the age of global terror." dana, it is so striking just the two obviously -- obviously we tightly edited that, but the two different focuses. i mean it was two different hearings. >> it really was. and, look, it's a shame, not to sound totally pollyanna here, but it's a shame. you had some of the senators -- and i can remember them because
there were so few of them -- who kind of broke the mold of what you were seeing from their side of the aisle. joni ernst, for example. she focused on something really important, which is what are the lessons we're going to learn from that whole first section of the mueller report, talking about the russian attacks on american democracy, and how is that going to be addressed at the department of justice and elsewhere in the intelligence community for the current election that we're in? didn't get much of an answer, but at least there was an attempt there. and so, look, what we saw here was the republicans resting on their politics. you saw the democrats doing the exact same thing. >> right. >> and probably if and when we actually see robert mueller, which obviously based on what lindsey graham, the chairman, said today is only going to happen on the house side where the democrats are in charge, we're not going to get at the core of what was robert mueller doing, what was he thinking, what did he find, and what are his conclusions beyond what he wrote in the --
>> kirsten, at the risk of being nihilistic, does any of this matter? did anything come out of today that actually matters? people are on sides and they interpret it through their -- own lens. >> well, in terms of whether it changes people's minds, probably not. i think substantively a lot of important things happened. i think the attorney general was clearly not telling the truth when he was talking about, you know, basically -- when he claims that bob mueller's only complaint was that the media wasn't covering the situation properly when, in fact, we have the letter and the complaint was very specific to the fact that the summary that he put out didn't accurately reflect what they found. and if the media was misreporting it, it was because of what he put out, right? so he just wasn't being straightforward about the fact that bob mueller, who at least until fairly recently, even republicans were saying was this very upstanding, totally trustworthy man, suddenly we aren't supposed to care about
what he said. >> senator santorum. >> well, that's not what bill barr said. what bill barr said was that -- and what the letter says is that, you're right, that the summary was not -- but what barr expounded was that it was insufficient, that they wanted more information out, and that's what was being asked for. >> what was insufficient? >> the letter that barr sent was insufficient. he wanted more information out, and 19 days later that information came out along with the rest of the report. >> no. let's just read what it says. the summary letter did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work -- >> and therefore he asked for, as barr said. >> this wasn't just -- >> he asked for different additional information to give that context. it wasn't that this was wrong. it was insufficient. there is a big difference -- >> no, senator. that's a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to legal -- >> that's not what the conversation between barr and mueller happened, which he
recounted to the committee. >> here's the thing. when a special counsel is memorializing his views in the form of a letter, not a conversation, not anything else, laying out his views that he knew the public would ultimately get to see and ultimately calling the attorney general of the united states's work incomplete and inaccurate, that's a fundamental thing. you and i are both lawyers -- >> we're both lawyers and we both know that bill barr didn't have to write anything, and bill barr didn't have to release the report. so bob mueller's job was over. i thought it was inappropriate, candidly, for bob mueller to write a letter to bill barr because bill barr has total discretion as to what -- and you know that is a fact. he has -- let me finish. he has total discretion as to whether to print a summary, to send out pieces of the report, or to send out the entire report. and for him to do that, to me, was grandstanding because he knew this letter would eventually -- >> okay. let him answer. >> this idea that somehow bill barr is doing us a favor by acting in the matter of transparency on a matter of fundamental importance --
>> it's not required by the law. >> lots of things aren't required by the law. but a matter of importance to the american people. it was very important that -- the whole point of mueller's mandate here was ensuring public faith in our investigative system. that's what he was trying to do. that was undermined by a number of the steps the attorney general took. >> okay. let me bring in garrett because if only we had an expert on robert mueller, and we have garrett graff. is it common for mueller to have written a letter like this? is this something, in all your studies on mueller, that he has done? >> it's not common at all in the culture of the justice department that you're sort of writing these memos at moments of grave concern, where you are really writing for history. and i can tell you bob mueller, in his entire career, i've read probably almost every single word bob mueller has ever spoken or published. and i can tell you he's written one letter like this in his entire history before, and it was a letter to the scottish minister of justice when scotland released the pan am 103
bomber from prison and sent him home to libya. and that was the case that bob mueller cares about more than any other case bob mueller has ever worked on in his life. and it was the angriest i've ever seen bob mueller in writing. and this letter is the only thing that comes close in tone. >> if i can just add one point. what we've seen a number of times over the last several weeks now as this has played out is a number of very, very serious attorneys deciding to memorialize their views in writing because, to some extent, they were in a few instances afraid of the actions the president would take. you saw don mcgahn do it. you saw james comey do it and now you've seen robert mueller. what lawyers do is they put things in writing when there's a potential for a problem, and this was all stuff that they knew would get out. >> so, shan, when you hear garrett say this about, you know, how this letter compares to all the letters bob mueller has ever written, and they're,
you know, i guess not a lot of letters like this, what does it tell new. >> it tells me it was an extraordinary step for him to take. holding aside his sort of personality, for someone in that position to memorialize that to the attorney general, that's a very serious step to take. and mueller has the gravitas and the reputation to be able to do that. and i think he made that choice very, very carefully, just as he made the very careful choice as to what those summaries said. i mean i think if there's one thing we perhaps can all agree upon today is that attorney general barr was doing a very good job defending the president. >> mm-hmm. >> i think that's what everybody's upset about. let's be honest. what we're talking about here is 19 taste between a summary and when the report came out, and what people are really upset about is they didn't get a chance to spin this story before bill barr did because routinely in this town, republicans don't spin anything. they get spun and they have to respond. >> i need to call you on that. >> republicans never spin anything? >> they are never the first one. >> senator -- >> it's always the media spinning and then we have to respond. it happens all the time.
>> i need to call tee on this. i first got to know you covering you as a united states senator in charge of the messaging of the republican caucus. >> yes. that's why i say with confidence this is what happens. >> i watched you do it. you know how to get the message out. >> i agree. >> so given the fact that you are very well versed in that, how can you say that that is not what the attorney general was trying to do with that gap? i mean it is just, on its face, it's impossible to see it any other way, that he put it out there the way he did, had the press conference, talking all about how aggrieved the president is instead of just being the attorney general of the united states, not the lawyer for the -- >> let me add one thing to that, dana. i think the thing that was disturbing to me today was that the performance we saw for four or five hours in front of the congress today was what you would expect rudy giuliani or jay sekulow, or someone who is a paid defense lawyer for the president to be doing. the attorney general has institutional and constitutional duties above and beyond being the president's own personal
defense attorney. >> i wish i had heard these comments on this panel about eric holder the numerous times he went up there and did exactly the same thing for barack obama over and over and over again, and it's a different standard. it's not a fair standard. >> i got to get a break in. we're going to continue this discussion. coming up, digging deeper into today's hearing. did the attorney general have his mind made up before seeing the mueller report? let's take a look. the matters.ar... introducing the all-new 2019 ford ranger, it's the right gear.
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they've been arguing all during the commercial break. here's another exchange from today. >> his work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general. at that point it was my baby, and i was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public, and i effectively overrode the regulations, used discretion to lean as far forward as i could to make that public. and it was my decision how and
when to make it public, not bob mueller's. >> attorney general defending how he handled the mueller report while democrats are trying to pick apart what he said and how he said it. back now with our legal and political team. shane shan wu, elliott williams. senator santorum, did barr mislead congress last time around when he said he didn't know what mueller was thinking about his summary? >> i'm sure you can play the clip. i think he did a very good job explaining the difference between what he thought, which was what charlie crist asked, which members of the staff who had concerns versus what bob mueller, and he had a conversation, look, this is all going to come down to bob mueller's either letter or testimony in the next few weeks about the conversation he had with bill barr about the letter. there was a conversation. there are notes of the conversation. i guarantee you bill barr walked into this hearing knowing full well he was going to be asked about that conversation, and he would be a fool, which i do not think he is, to have
misrepresented what -- >> but you would agree -- >> why would the conversation be different than the letter? doesn't make sense. >> but it was. >> why would they have a different conversation than the letter? but i mean the letter clearly lays out the problem, and we're supposed to -- >> barr answered that question. >> -- that they had a completely different conversation? >> barr answered that question. he answered the question by saying, i don't believe mueller wrote the letter. i think some staffer did. >> oh, give me a -- >> that's bad leadership to start -- >> i'm just telling you what -- >> garrett, how likely is it that a letter of this significance was written by some staff member, and mueller doesn't agree with every single word -- >> he doesn't know what it says. >> so this, i thought, was one of the absurd moments in the entire testimony today -- the idea that this letter was going to be thrown out by a junior staffer and an auto pen. bob mueller, i'm sure, was -- >> a snitty junior staffer. >> well, and then for him to be like, well, i have no sense of what the staff felt about my letter when he's then, at the same time, blaming the staff for writing the letter complaining about his summary.
this was obviously something robert mueller spent careful time considering. i'm sure that draft went through multiple drafts and that wording was very carefully chosen as, by the way, every word in the mueller report was. i mean this is something that he has very carefully framed and has very carefully argued if you take the time to read the 448-page report, which bill barr has evidently not bothered to do. >> what do you make of that exchange senator kamala harris had with the attorney general in which the attorney general says he hadn't looked at the underlying evidence, nor has rosenstein? >> it's an entirely fair point that sort of defies logic that there would be enough evidence to have supported a 440-page legal document, and you would have just relied on the factual analysis of another set of attorneys. now, yes, he tried to make the louie xiv argument that i am the
state, and it all reports up to me. but in a matter of days if he was going to make such a significant legal finding, it would have required months of analysis at a minimum. getting back to the point he committed to leaning as far forward, that could have just meant releasing the summaries that mueller had put together. those are the folks who are conducting all the analysis. >> that's what mueller said in his letter. >> shan, it does seem, i mean as senator santorum said, it seems to beg to hear from mueller. >> yeah. >> which is now something that lindsey graham says is certainly not going to happen in the senate. >> i do think they need to hear from mueller. it's interesting about the thing when he will become a private citizen versus a justice department employee. i think going back to something that the senator said, i think you would agree, wouldn't you, that when the attorney general got that question originally about did mueller talk to him about any disagreements, he very carefully parsed his response. he did not want to reveal that disagreement. that's why he interpreted it that way, right? you'd have to agree with that. >> i mean i can't speculate as
to what bill barr was thinking. they didn't -- at least from my recollection of the question, didn't mention mueller. it talked about the team, and i think, you know, look, in bill barr's mind, what he said was, i differentiated the two. now, you can say that's bologna, and it may be, but that's what he said, and i think he did so because of the conversation he had with mueller where mueller said, i just wanted more information. i didn't really have a problem with what you wrote. what you wrote was accurate. it just was incomplete. >> well, not inaccurate is different than accurate. >> seriously, though -- >> okay. we've got to get in a break anyway. coming up, we're going to get reaction from two members of congress that attorney barr will not testify tomorrow before the house judiciary committee. we'll be right back.
as we've been reporting, attorney general barr now says he won't testify as scheduled tomorrow before the house judiciary committee, this because the committee democrats want their staff attorneys to be able to ask questions as well as the actual members. barr won't agree to that. that's his official reasoning. jerry nadler tonight. >> he's trying to blackmail the committee into not following what we think is the most effective meetings of eliciting the information we need. the congress cannot permit the executive branch, we cannot permit the administration, to dictate to congress how we operate.
>> with me tonight congresswoman pramila joya paul, a member of that committee. bewelgs holg elg and congressman on theous over sight committee. do you buy barr's objection to having attorneys who were on the staff ask questions? >> no. >> that that's the reason he doesn't want to come? >> no, anderson. there's lots of precedent for having attorneys question. it was clear to us that barr did not want to come to a democratically controlled chamber where somebody wasn't controlling the gavel that he could rely on to stop difficult questions. >> today senator lindsey graham was in charge. >> correct. i think it's been clear all along and we just received the letter saying -- from barr saying, we're not going to give you the unredacted report, we're not going to give you the underlying documents that you've subpoenaed us for. and the reason is because we don't think you have a legitimate right to these documents. which i find really stunning.
and i think this letter from mueller to barr takes us into a whole new phase of this particular story. >> because it points to barr not telling the truth? >> it points to barr deliberately misleading the public through his initial four-page summary, which he said today was not a summary but we know it was a summary, and then again in the news conference where he said there's no evidence. the special counsel's report says there's no evidence of this and this. there's a number of places where there is clearly in the mueller report, it says substantial evidence that the president tried to interfere with and tried to not have mcgahn testify or tried to say things that weren't true. >> so congresswoman, what happens now? clearly the administration at every turn is going to fight any subpoena, is going to try to run out the clock as much as possible. what do you do?
>> well, i think congress is going to have to play the constitutional role of congress to provide oversight and accountability of any executive branch. to have the president defy across the board all outstanding subpoenas is unprecedented. it's never happened before. richard nixon didn't do that at the height of watergate. so that's laying down a gauntlet and we can't let him do that. subpoenas can be enforced in one of two ways. it can be enforced through the judicial system. you go to court and ask them to enforce the subpoena. if somebody defies further that order, they're now in contempt of court as well as congress, and can be fined or even jailed. it's a criminal offense. the other is what's called inherent contempt. we haven't used that since the 1930s. but between 1800 and 1930, for the tires 130 years of the republic, congress did use it.
and that is where we enforce our own subpoenas or directives, and in this case a subpoena can be issued and if it is defied, we can direct the sergeant at arms to arrest somebody, bring them to washington, and detain them. >> do you actually see that happening? that seems, well, unprecedented, certainly in our time. >> so is the defiance. so we cannot roll over and play dead when a president says, we're not going to cooperate with the legislative branch. >> you'd be willing to go through with that? >> what choice do we hive? if we do, the precedent we set for future presidents is chilling. >> so doesn't, though, the strategy that the white house is employing of delaying -- this brings this up basically -- it could be tied up in the courts for a very long period of time. >> that's right. >> lots of appeals. it brings it up into the election. does it hurt democrats who are running in congressional districts, presidential candidates who are trying to
speak about -- >> no. >> -- economic issues, health care, to have all this focus and energy consumed and suddenly the democratic party labeled as -- that they're in this fight, court fight? >> i don't think so. because i think what we're talking about is the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship. >> that stark? >> it's very stark. when you have a president that says, i am not going to comply with any. it's not looking at it case-by-case and saying, not this one, yes, this one. he's saying, i am not going to comply with anything that is requested of me or subpoenaed of me or my administration. on any level. and that means that there is no respect for the check and balance and the coequal branch of government, which is what we are. >> it as measure of how much silence on the republican side there is. if this was a democratic president. >> right. >> obviously democrats would not be making these things too -- >> one hesitates to remind
everybody that when eric holder was the attorney general, they held him in contempt, they passed that resolution before the house. so, i mean, it's a little hard to be sympathetic with crocodile tears. let me just say to your question, i believe it can work both ways. there is a political question. there's also a question of, what is our duty as members of congress with respect to upholding the constitution? >> congressman, congresswoman, appreciate it. special announcement when we come back in a moment. at panera, our salads are uniquely crafted.
before we go, next thursday, may 9th, 8:00 p.m., i'll be hosting a live town hall with former fbi director james comey here in washington, d.c. we'll talk about obviously today's hearing. he's also adding new material to his book "a higher loyalty" which is coming out in paperback. the focus will be on questions from the audience. look forward to it, tune in. that does it for us tonight. the news continues with chris cuomo and "cuomo prime time." i am chris cuomo. live from washington, d.c. and welcome to "prime time." attorney general bill barr did not back down an inch before the senate committee today and that made strengths and weaknesses of his case and cause very clear. democrat on the senate panel who did get to cross examine the attorney general today, he's going to tell us what comes next now. and what comes next in the house