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tv   Reps. Schiff Meadows on Mueller Report  CSPAN  May 1, 2019 5:19am-7:00am EDT

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wednesday at 10:00 a.m. eastern william barr will testify before the senate judiciary on the mueller of work. on thursday at 9:00 a.m. easter he will testify before the house judiciary committee libelants he spent three. and the c-span radio app. house intelligence committee chair adam schiff and freedom caucus chair mark meadows discuss how democrats and republicans will proceed now that the mueller report has been released. the washington post included reporters talking about their college of the mueller -- coverage of the mueller investigation. >> i and the executive editor of the washington post. 2016 one of our
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staff was the first to report that the russian government actors had penetrated the computer network of the democratic national committee. in the lead up to the convention the committee would learn on the hacks of chairman john podesta's email and a similar infiltration of the democratic national campaign committee. the resulting mass of exposure of israel and chat traffic would conversation up the sensitive of internal communications. and the role of the press reporting on what had been diebold. in the nearly three years since -- profoundly disturbing russian intrusion into the 2016 residential election. computer hacking and additional appearance through social media were designed to benefit the trump campaign.
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explored the links and communications between trump campaign manager did and the russians. all those subjects were incorporated into an investigation headed by robert mueller. on may 17l counsel 2017 almost exactly two years ago. the president sought to it of struck the investigation itself. the post has covered this with vigor and rigor. proud of the reporting by our national security staff and technology were orders. the release of the mueller report even with redaction's has validated the strength of that reporting. very sober and serious professionals.
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worth mentioning is the reporters and their editors here presuppose never what the special counsel's office would conclude with regard to criminal conspiracies to coordinate with russia. what it would include with regards to obstruction. our job is to bring relative fax to life. -- to light. the mueller report confirmed our reporting was factual and relevant. federal law enforcement decided what can be prosecuted as a criminal offense. publicely the american -- what constitutes an appropriate standard of elected officials. end the special counsel investigation documented extensive russian interference in the 2016 election and widespread deceit on the part of certain advisors to the president about russian contacts and other matters. numerous individuals have been charged with notable
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convictions. the release of the report charge the national debate about what it means and what should be done. testeport is a rorschach on that front. and seeead the report something entirely different from each other. the public can now read the mueller work for itself. people pay come to their own conclusions. in anticipation of the release we were delighted to partner with a group to publish it in book form. the book contains relevant material. you can acquire the book here today. we only wish we could have filled in the redaction's. maybe there will be a second edition someday. right now we are pleased to host
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what should be a provocative and stimulating discussion about the mueller report and the meaning of this extraordinary moment in american politics and american history. [applause] congressional democrats not ruling out the possibility of impeaching donald trump. >> the mueller document gives as a roadmap to go forward. it basically says as a congress it is up to you to take this report in regards to obstruction. >> whether these acts are criminal or not, whether the obstruction of justice was criminal or not or whether these contacts were sufficiently -- they are unquestionably dishonest, unethical, immoral and unpatriotic. >> i believe impeachment is one of the most divisive pats we can go down in our country.
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path -- we are not there yet. >> via bob costa, national political reporter at the washington post. happy to welcome chairman adam schiff of the house intelligence committee. in the aftermath of the mueller report one of the first things you did was to write an op-ed for the washington post are you you talked about a need to learn more about the president's finances. your efforts to subpoena records from deutsche bank and others was stymied by the president and his family. they filed a lawsuit to stop your efforts and inquiries. how are you going to fight back at that effort? >> the reason we are concerned about the financial issues is
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this investigation began as a counterintelligence investigation not a criminal probe. the criminal probe grew out of it. it was out of a concern by the fbi and in our committee which was also focused on aboutrintelligence issues whether individuals around the president or the candidate himself were acting as agents of a foreign power. either wittingly or unwittingly. while of the ways russia exercises its financ interests. biggest dangers is moscow trump tower where unbeknownst to the american something thes is president was deceiving the country about, the president and his company were seeking to build a tower in moscow, the most lucrative deal of his life, and seeking kremlin helped to make it happen. you can see how dietrich --
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deeply compromising that would be. money and follow the determine if there is some other form of compromise. we don't know what the results of the counterintelligence investigation are. we are seeking that from the justice department and intelligence community. is the probe still ongoing? end?t come to an we are doing our due diligence. host: you think the banks will cooperate with your committee? guest: the banks have been cooperating. they need a friendly subpoena to be able to provide the records. they are concerned about the litigation the trump organization has brought. was fullyent transparent in the sense that he said he is going to fight every effort at oversight of his administration. i think we need to recognize what is happening here, the
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present made an effort to nullify congress's most important power, the power of the purse. trying to go around the congress and build a wall congress refused to fund. now he is going after congress ourry to undermine one of other most important powers and responsibilities, the responsibilities of oversight. to my colleagues that may support them in this effort he careful what you wish for. it will mean subsequent republican majorities and republicans in the senate will be unable to do their constitutional job in the future. here is a lot riding beyond our ability to do the current investigation. whether our system of checks and balances over time holds >> you said the banks have been cooperating so far. have you learned anything so far about the president's finances?
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mr. schiff: they have been cooperating in the sense that as we gear it up for our majority and as we first got our committee assembled, we couldn't take action. until the committee was assembled. we began the process of dialogue with some of the financial institutions to help identify our requests in ways they could easily meet those requests. they are cooperative in that way. to protect themselves, they wanted to make sure they had a subpoena. but in terms of providing the actual documents and materials, they are going to provide those pursuant to the subpoena and we will have to work our way through the litigation. i will say this and not just the financial records from the banks
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but with respect to each and every other part of our oversight. we are going to have to use whatever means we can to enforce our oversight responsibility. >> if the banks get cold feet, could you compel them to testify -- compel them to provide documents if they somehow pull back? mr. schiff: the subpoena is a mechanism. presumably this will now be litigated, and we will get a court order requiring them to produce materials. likewise in the case of taxes, there is a statutory mandate, the statute is quite clear that the president shall or the i.r.s. commissioner shall provide the returns. it is not discretionary or peer inside the mind of chairman neal and what his intent is. we will have to prosecute these matters in court but we will have to determine what other mechanisms we have. one of the other mechanisms is we will fence funding saying you shall not use funding for this purpose until you satisfy these requests and congress will have to figure out how we can use our financial power and other powers to make sure we get answers.
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>> is there anything specific you can do to pressure secretary mnuchin to release the tax returns to congress? >> there are other mechanisms but code enforcement will be necessary. that's a case where i'm confident we will win. and i think the white house this -- >> you think the public will be able to see the president's tax returns? mr. schiff: chairman neal will see the returns and follow the appropriate process to determine who else is entitled to see the returns or whether they need to be shared with other committees and what the legal process for that would be. i don't want to speak for him, but i'm sure he will follow the
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applicable rules and laws. >> you raised some serious questions about possible foreign powers having leverage over presidential candidates based on what happened in 2016. moving forward, even though robert mueller made a certain conclusion about conspiracy, should there be more regulation, maybe a new law that is passed to have regulation of interactions between foreign powers and presidential candidates? should the lines be more clear in the future? and what could congress do to regulate that? mr. schiff: that is a great question and we are looking at several different iterations of that question. after watergate we put in reforms to protect the country going forward. those have been eviscerated. one of those norms is that the president does not interfere in specific cases at the justice department let alone a case against the president.
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those have been obliterated. and there are many other protections put in place post-watergate that have been nullified. we are looking now what will need to be done to protect against a recurrence of this. i don't expect that these are going to pass the congress while donald trump is in the office and the g.o.p. will not stand up to him. >> could house democrats take some action on for example, foreign power a contact your campaign, what should the federal lobby in terms of disclosing that to the f.b.i.? mr. schiff: we are looking at those issues right now in terms of what safeguards we need to put in place, what things we thought were norms that turns out you could violate with impunity. that may need to be a statutory requirement. it's very difficult to legislate certain ethical behaviors, as much as it would be desirable to do so if we could.
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i don't know what the regulations would look like, for example, that would prevent someone from pursuing a business opportunity in a foreign hostile power -- >> you could make it illegal. if you are a presidential candidate, do you believe it should be legal to have a business dealing with a foreign power or a foreign company? mr. schiff: this is the question we are going to have to analyze, is this something that you can prohibit by criminal law, and what would that look like? or, is this a situation where -- in the past, we would fully expect that presidential candidates would be truthful with their interactions with a foreign power. >> we don't have that expectation as reporters. [laughter] mr. schiff: we don't have that expectation as americans. >> is speaker pelosi going to look at issues of campaign law, going ahead? mr. schiff: we need to put into law certain protections that we
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thought were so obvious and so well established as norms that we didn't need to make law. so we are looking at those very issues right now. some of those implicate the emoluments clause. the enforceability of the emoluments clause. looking frankly, and this may be one of the most important issues, how do we accelerate the use of our process? when you have a president who is stonewalling, opposing all oversight, how do you accelerate so you can get a decision quickly? do we need to bring back inherent contempt, do we need to bring back powers the congress once exercised that we didn't think were necessary but that now, you know, we see with this president, a president who i think is unmoored by ethical considerations, or, you know, or respect for a system of checks and balances. >> you mentioned something at the top. there are a lot of moving parts in the mueller story. there's the mueller
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investigation and then you mentioned this counterintelligence investigation at the f.b.i. about foreign interference in the u.s. elections. how are you going to declassify documents, get documents from that f.b.i. countertense -- counterintelligence investigation into your hands on capitol hill? because at the moment, that information is not in the mueller report and it's not being readily made available to you. so how do you plan to actually pursue that information? i know you want it, how can you get it? mr. schiff: we have already begun pursuing it and interestingly enough, given my relationship with mr. nunes, we -- [laughter] mr. schiff: did i say that diplomatically? we are doing so on a bipartisan basis. this may be the one bipartisan request of the oversight committees right now, which is mr. nunes and i have both demanded the full and unredacted report, the underlying evidence. we've demanded the cournlt -- the counterintelligence findings.
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and we are going to try to bring in bob mueller and others, do as much of this in the open as we can, we will probably have to bifurcate our hearings, and have some in open session. mueller canmr. fully explain to the country what happened to the investigation. what he can discuss publicly about the results of that. and then we can go into closed session for any information that would involve sources and methods. now, the intelligence community and justice department have demonstrated in the last congress their willingness to share hundreds of thousands of pages of discovery to a republican congress about a democratic candidate for president. they're unwilling as yet to share 400 pages with a democratic congress about a republican president. but we are going to press forward and they also showed a willingness in the last session of congress to declassify information, when the public interest was sufficient and when it could be done so in a way that didn't compromise sources
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and methods. so the fact that something is classified does not mean that it cannot be declassified. it would have to be done in such a way, though, that it can protect the intelligence community equities. >> when are you going it read the unredacted version of the mueller report? mr. schiff well, here's the : thing. and this is why i think the justice department's position is so untenable. they're taking the position that you cannot indict a sitting president. but we are not going to show you fully the evidence in congress would you need to determine whether an impeachment is warranted unless you begin one impeachment without knowing. that cannot be the position of the department of justice. right now they want to show certain redacted portions to certain members, myself included. well, you know, that may be fine as far as my understanding of the situation. but in terms of the broader congressional responsibility, how am i supposed to advise my colleagues on issues like impeachment if they're not able to see the evidence?
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so i think that's completely untenable. and the fact that the attorney general would represent at his confirmation that he would be as transparent as law and policy would allow and yet come before congress and say i'm not going to do that, i could go to court, i could join you and ask for the grand jury material to be made available to you, but i don't want to do that. to me that is a betrayal of what he promised to do. but, of course, coupled with the misrepresentations he's made about the contents of the report, we now have great insights into mr. barr that we didn't have before, and i have to say, i think he's doing a singular disservice to the country on the most important investigation that we've had in a generation. >> you've had an opportunity to read this report in depth and also reflect on your own interviews as chairman of the intelligence committee. looking back at some of the witnesses that have come through, starting with erik prince, you suggested in the past that he may have lied to
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your committee. after reading the report, reflecting, do you believe that erik prince lied to your committee? mr. schiff: i do believe that there is very strong evidence that he willingly misled the committee and made false statements to the committee and later today will be making a criminal referral to the justice department. >> you're going to make a criminal referral? mr. schiff: we are. i think the evidence is so weighty that the justice department needs to consider this. his testimony, which i can discuss because it is public record now, was that his meeting in the seychelles with this russian banker was purely by chance. he just happened to be there and his hosts suggested, he just happened to go to the seychelles for about a day, and have a chance meeting with this russian banker.
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[laughter] mr. schiff: well, we know from the mueller report now that that was not a chance meeting. that he had preparatory materials about him before he left. that he had discussions about it with mr. bannon before he left. we know there were communications after he returned. he was also asked whether he was attempting to establish a back channel for the trump transition or campaign, which he also denied. and it's clear from the mueller report that that was false and misleading. so in very material ways, i think the evidence strongly suggests that he willingly misled our committee and the justice department needs to consider whether it can make a prosecuteable case. one of the issues i'm sure the justice department is going to have to determine is some of that information was provided in a proffer session. and whether that precludes the justice department from using that information will depend on the -- >> you still can't lie to congress regardless of the type of session.
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mr. schiff: well. you can't lie to congress, you're absolutely right. but if the evidence that his testimony was false was given to the justice department by prince under the condition it not be used against him, then being able to prove the case may be problematic. but that's something the justice department will need to carefully scrutinize and of coarse, the other problem is that somehow mysteriously, magically, the communications between mr. prince and mr. bannon have apparently fled their devices. [laughter] >> do you think he has been candid with your committee? mr. schiff: when we have the opportunity to release his transcripts, you will see that mr. bannon refused to answer almost all of our questions. and when we pressed to hold him in contempt, the g.o.p. members of our committee would not go forward. they did not want to cross him to that degree. so there were whole periods in
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time in which mr. bannon refused to answer questions and when we asked whether he was asserting some privilege, he merely said that he was not answering the questions because the white house asked him not to. >> could you bring bannon back? mr. schiff: we could. we could. and we may. what we're doing right now is we are combing through the mueller report to determine what areas did mueller exhaustively examine? such that there's no need to re-invent the wheel. what areas did he not examine? what areas would the public benefit from the public airing of the testimony? we're looking through those issues right now. >> we've talked about erik prince, significant, you're making a criminal referral about him to the justice department. two other names. jared kushner, donald trump jr. do you believe they were truthful to your committee? mr. schiff: i don't want to comment on any others. we have reached the point of rightness with erik prince's testimony that we feel it appropriate to refer it. but i don't want to comment as to others.
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>> the post has done a lot of reporting on deputy attorney general rod rosenstein and the way he's handled the mueller report. the release of the mueller report. do you want to summon him to testify? mr. schiff: we do. and i think he has a deeply mixed record in all of this. i think that his tenure as at justice will be reflected historically with a very deeply mixed review. what is most significant to me is that he wrote the memo that was used as a pretext for the firing of james comey and then allowed himself to be used by bill barr as part of the cover for air gating to himself, that is mr. barr, the decision that the obstruction of justice case could not be made. rod rosenstein was a witness. he was a participant. in what led to the firing of james comey. and he should not have had any role in adjudicating whether the obstruction case rose to the level of a prosecuteable crime.
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so that is a huge problem -- >> why do you think did he that? mr. schiff: honestly, i think that you can explain many courses of his conduct, including, i think, setting a very dangerous precedent at the justice department of referring matters for investigation that involve the president's political enemies. because the president wanted him to. and i think that was justified at the time and i discussed it as this was going on. i think this was justified and these are not his words, but this is my impression, that this was a way of relievinging pressure. well, it may have relieved pressure or it may have not. but what it did do was set a dangerous precedent that the top acting officer at the justice department can be made to investigate the president's enemies.
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>> you have many questions for the dag. what about mr. mueller? you've invited him to come before your committee. when do you summon him? when do you compel him perhaps to actually put his hand in the air and tell the american people his story in front of your committee, perhaps to the public? mr. schiff: we have given the justice department a deadline for the materials that we want to obtain. and we've also asked for his testimony, mr. rosenstein's, mr. wray's and others from the counterintelligence section. they have been meeting with us to discuss the matter, the timing, the scope. and so i don't want to give a hard and fast deadline in terms of mr. mueller's testimony. but we do want him to come in soon and we are working to procure that.
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>> do you think the department of justice will fight you on that? mr. schiff: i certainly hope not. now, a normal department of justice would not. a normal attorney general would not. this attorney general views himself as the president's personal lawyer. i think he made that quite clear when he applied for the job and i think he's made it abundantly clear since then. so there's no telling what this attorney general will do. but i will say this. the department and the intelligence community know they are on particularly weak ground legally when it comes to our committee. because there is a statutory requirement to keep our committee fully and currently informed of any significant counterintelligence activity. no, they have not been doing that. they suspended doing that on the most important counterintelligence investigation, once bob mueller was appointed. and they will have a lot of explaining to do why they think that appointment somehow vitiated their statutory obligation. but they know they have a statutory requirement and they are currently in breach of that. so i think they understand they're in a weak legal position. we hope to secure their cooperation.
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if not, we'll use whatever compulsion is necessary. >> you've raised some major issues and questions about president trump for the last 20 minutes. is speaker pelosi in any way holding you back from pursuing impeachment proceedings? mr. schiff: she's not holding any back in any way. -- she is not holding me back in any way? . we certainly confer about what's the best way forward and in terms of the oversight, we want to make sure that we put our strongest case forward in the courts and get the right judgments. so we are certainly conferring not only with the speaker, but among my colleagues that are doing the oversight work to make sure that we're on the strongest legal footing. >> what's the timeline for impeachment, if any? mr. schiff: look, i think that we are all mindful of what it would mean to the country to go through an impeachment. that is not a decision to be lightly made.
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i started out, i think, very skeptical of the utility of an impeachment if it was all certain that it would fail in the senate. right now, the republican leadership in the congress so devoted to the person of the president that there are no john mccains left, there is no howard baker. there is no one who will go to the president to stand up to his unethical conduct. and that puts real limits on the viability of an impeachment. i think what is intentioned right now is that the idea if he's not impeached in the house, what does that say about whether these acts of obstruction of justice and these acts of sort of willful receipt of foreign help during a campaign, what does it say about whether that rises to the level of compatibility or incompatibility with office, but by the same token, if we prosecute an impeachment and he's acquitted in the senate, what does that verdict say? >> what if you put those two issues from the mueller report aside, obstruction and
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conspiracy questions -- abuse of power questions. the president not complying with congress. could that battle ever rise to being an impeachable offense in your eyes? the president's refusal to comply? mr. schiff: i will tell you that if there is anything that's going to get me there, it's the fact that the president contravenes the constitutional requirement of oversight, compliance with oversight. if he is willing to flout the law in that way also, he is going to make an even more powerful case for an impeachment proceeding. strategic thinker, i would say that that is his design. but he isn't. i think this is just trump doing what he does and did as a private litigant which is sue everyone, threaten to sue everyone, and take a maximum
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-- maximalist approach on everything he does. nonetheless, i think he is timeinly creating a moment momentum by his obstruction of our investigation. first, he obstructed bob mueller and now he's obstructing congress. and those acts of obstruction in the past with other presidents have been considered grounds for impeachment. >> final question, we're out of time. 2020. how vulnerable is the u.s. election system to russian interference? mr. schiff: it's still all too vulnerable and i think for the main reason that there is no whole of government approach led by the president of the united states to combat this problem. i have been saying now for about a year and a half that one of the threshold issues is that if any of the members of the cabinet raise this, the president considers it a threat to his legislatesy.
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we have now seen that fear validated by reports that that's exactly the message that was given to the former secretary of homeland security. there are good efforts being made at the agency level, but it doesn't have the support of the president. not in the way that it needs to. the president should be sitting down with the cabinet and saying, secretary of state, are you confering to your russian counterpart that if they meddle again, the sanctions now are nothing compared to what they will see? and director of c.i.a., what you are you seeing about russian plans and intentions in the next election? department of homeland security, what kind of cooperation are you getting from the states? are the secretaries of state taking advantage of the diagnostics that you have available? secretary of defense, you have -- have you mapped out what a proportionate response will be if they hack and dump again, if they continue the social media campaign? all of that should be going on at the highest level.
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it is not being president-led. although some of that work is going on. i continue to think that our voting machines are too vulnerable and i'll leave you with this last deep concern i have. in 2016, while we were watching this on the intel committee in realtime, my profound concern as the russians were dumping these stolen documents, is they were going to start dumping forgeries among the real. for the most part we didn't see that. but there's no reason the russians would hold back from that threshold in the future and now, with the advent of new technologies like deep fakes, the russians can inject into our political blood stream false video and false audio that is almost indistinguishable from real. and in a highly polarized electorate like we have today, if you release a video of a candidate saying something racist, or misogynist, or criminal, there would be no way to disprove its veracity in
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time. even if you could disprove it, psychologists will tell you that the damage is done when you see it. because even if your brain is persuaded that what you saw is a forgery, you never lose completely the negative impression of the person you have formed. this is what the future could look like if we're not prepared. if we haven't established an adequate deterrent. the message the russians got in helsinki, i think when putin went back to the kremlin to confer with his said, thisstaff week, the u.s. president will not confront a. he will not confront you. as can get involved as much you like it in next presidential election and as long as it is not on his side, he will not confront you. he may even welcome it. that is the message i think the russians got in helsinki. and i don't think there's been an adequate pushback to that message since helsinki and so i remain deeply concerned that the russians will try to cast doubt, cast americans to question
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-- cause americans to question whether they can rely on the results of their own election. and the bigger danger than voting machines, which of themselves are vulnerable, is it's easier to influence how people vote than the votes once they're cast. and using these new disruptive technologies is a grave risk. >> chairman adam schiff. thank you very much for being with us today. schiff thank you very much. [applause] >> come back soon. mr. schiff: thank you. ♪ president trump: they came up with no collusion and they also came up with no obstruction. ♪ >> there was no collusion and there certainly was no criminal conspiracy with any russians. the big lie that you let lie for two years, it's over, folks. >> you're not going to find a darn thing that shows that
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president trump or anybody else on his campaign had any kind of connection with whatever the russians were doing. president trump: no collusion, no obstruction. [applause] ♪ host: good morning, again. bob costa, political reporter here with "the washington post"" i am joined now by congressman mark meadows. co-founder, leader of the house freedom caucus. from north carolina. one of president trump's closest allies and confidants. someone who is very close to president trump ever since the campaign. thanks for being here today. mr. meadows: great to be here. good to be with all of you. bob: i started off with chairman schiff talking about the president's refusal to comply with certain requests, to block the deutsche bank records from going to capitol hill. you spent years battling president obama, making sure the obama administration was complying with capitol hill requests.
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why should president trump not comply? mr. meadows: i think as long as there's a legitimate legislative reason for those requests, they'll find a great bipartisan support. i can tell you that when we had the child separation issue, as you well know, i was one of the few republicans that was willing to sign on with elijah cummings to get documents from this administration, willing to be tenacious in that. but we don't have to look too far back in history to realize when we allow the power of the federal government to be an investigative tool that has nothing to do with legislative priorities, -- coolidge, andrew mellon, roosevelt -- it gives yearly different picture when you start to weaponize, in that case the i.r.s., but we need to make sure that we don't do that and as we look at this particular event, if it has legitimate legislative concerns, one of the areas where adam
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schiff and i will agree, i'm all for making sure that we can get as many redakotases removed as redaction as many removed as possible. . have been very strong in that with this particular d.o.j., as you well know. in fact, the mueller report is less redacted than some of the other documents i've been looking for for the last two years. so maybe adam will join me in asking for those to be unredact ed as well. bob: you used the term weaponize. why isn't it a legitimate question to try to seek more information about the president's finances? mr. meadows: those are about events that happened prior to him being the president of the united states. bob: isn't it of public interest? mr. meadows: the public made a decision on november, 2016, that apparently that didn't matter. i mean, there was a mandate at that particular point, if we're talking about the tax returns for the president, they made a
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decision in november. and to suggest that now we have to go back and look at some of those personal tax returns and that it's congress' job to do that, to go back, that's more opposition research than legislative priorities. bob: based on the mueller -- mr. meadows: i can tell you don't agree. go ahead. bob: it's not that i don't agree. as a reporter you want to ask further questions. don't you believe there are further requests about the president's finances, his interests abroad, what he's working on? mr. meadows: that we haven't found in the last three years of a counterintelligence investigation that started under obama? or that we didn't find in the last two years under bob mueller? i mean, how long do we investigate these things, bob, and do we continue to go down?
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i can tell you, with all due respect to adam, with his committee and his staff, does he really think that he's going to find something that $30 million with bob mueller didn't find? bob: robert muellerer, the special counsel had, a very narrow mandate. so congress -- mr. meadows: you're saying the scope? bob: we know that mueller was supposed to investigate russian interference. congress wants to go beyond that. mr. meadows: anything that related out of that. obviously some of the referrals he made had nothing to do with russia interference. so he looked well beyond that in terms of the scope. when we look at the scope of this particular investigation, to suggest -- we know that the d.o.j. was looking at oligarchs and organized crime. they had that ongoing. so we know that they're investigating that. so any suggestion that this president hasn't been investigated doesn't correlate with the facts. bob: so you want to move on from the investigation? mr. meadows: what i want to do is have a full, transparent investigation. and moving on, and moving on is part of that.
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but the genesis of how this got started -- how did it get started? i mean, for all of them, mine, how did it get started? -- i mean, how did it get started? bob: you want to investigate the origin of the investigation? mr. meadows: if we weaponize, if we've weaponized, i certainly do want it investigated. where does that lead? improper, in my opinion, surveillance. bob: let's pause there. improper surveillance. that's your term. the attorney general, william barr, said spy. used the term spying. where is the evidence for spying? it's normal for the department of justice to use surveillance to investigate foreign powers. where does this charge term of spying come from? mr. meadows: so, at what point do we start to look -- let's look at the fisa application. you can say, well, we've
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investigated carter page, we surveiled him. and somebody can look at that. but we also know that there was other surveillance that was going on. and the question is -- bob: what do you mean by that? mr. meadows: was it properly predicated? how do we know that general flynn lied? how would you know? bob: he admitted to lying. [laughter] [applause] mr. meadows: but prior to that, how would you know? i mean, how did the f.b.i. know? how did the f.b.i. know? so let's -- what was the source? they actually had his conversation with a russian. how would they get that conversation with the russians? bob: as chairman schiff said, we have not seen the full f.b.i. counterintelligence -- mr. meadows: we don't have to go there. the mueller report says that. it says the reason why general flynn, why they knew, that they knew what he said, how did they know? that's a legitimate question that we needed to ask.
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bob: do you ever step back and wonder about the erosion of trust in american institutions, especially the justice department? you have been probably the fiercest critic of the d.o.j. in the last two years. do you worry for the country that the country is losing faith in institutions like that? mr. meadows: i do. i think we have to restore it. i think part of this in restoring it is a critical component of what we have to do. is make sure that we get to the bottom of it. and that we hold people accountable. and i'm certainly -- bob: the f.b.i. does have an inspector general investigation. mr. meadows: right. and inspector general horowitz has been and is continuing to do his review of what went on, where it was proper or not. bob: will you accept whatever the i.g. concludes? mr. meadows: sure. listen, i accepted the last i.g.'s report. michael horowitz, in my mind, calls balls and strikes.
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the i.g. comes under our committee and so as we look at that, i think the key component of that is not only what he finds. but i think a.g. barr is going a little bit further than that to make sure that areas outside of what the i.g. is looking at, that they're looked at as well. because the i.g. can only look at d.o.j., f.b.i. bob: was it a mistake for the attorney general to use that phrase, "buying," before the i.g. has completed its report? mr. meadows: no. i don't think so at all. obviously he was asked the question, you know, we can sit here and look at it. but members of congress, in that case it was the senate asking questions. and a.g. barr responded to that in the best way -- bob: doesn't that risk politicizing the entire department?
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mr. meadows: you'd rather him give false testimony? bob: no. that's not what i want. it's a phrase like that leads many people to think he's -- thus president trump's interest or prospective mr. meadows: so . mr. meadows: so you have proof there was not spying? bob: i don't have proof about anything. all i know is there's an f.b.i. counterintelligence investigation, and there was surveillance clearly of foreign powers. mr. meadows: not just foreign powers. obviously we were surveilling people that were u.s. citizens as well. i mean, you would agree with that. it may have been predicated on a legitimate request, but i think -- bob: you're raising questions about the way the department of justice operates. if they see an interference in an election, what are they supposed to do? based on all reporting, they pursued interests -- mr. meadows: they should give defensive briefings. indeed that's what they should do. so if you have someone that is
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coming in and saying, listen, there's some bad guys over here on your campaign, or there's some people that your campaign is talking to, there should be defensive briefings that says, by the way, these are bad guys. i mean, we did that with somebody that came to my office -- bob: there are a lot of assumptions on the republican side about the d.o.j.'s intentions. here's an example. for years, you have had serious questions about deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. you drafted articles of impeachment. attorney general sessions, called on him to resign. now deputy attorney general rosenstein is resigning with a positive letter from president trump and leaving on good terms with president trump. and it was just a few months ago you worried the dag was a character in this whole situation that wasn't -- mr. meadows: i still have concerns. bob: about rosenstein? mr. meadows: yeah. certainly i have concerns. adam schiff has concerned. i have concerns.
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bob: what are your concerns about rosenstein? mr. meadows: one of the concerns is we have credible evidence that he wanted to tape the president of the united states, wear a wire. we have that from other individuals who wanted to do that. i think he needs to answer those questions. so i still have those concerns that are there. bob: he dwe inside doing that -- he denied doing that. mr. meadows: i agree. that's which we need to hear from hit james baker and others that we've interviewed disagree with rod and believe that he was serious about those comments. bob: the president has continued to use phrases in recent days like coup. an overthrow of the government was attempted with the f.b.i. in this investigation. why does he use that kind of language? you know him better than anyone. mr. meadows: i don't know that i know him better than anyone. bob: in congress perhaps. mr. meadows: obviously i know him from my work in congress and
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my discussions with him. i think what we see is from the time of firing of james comey to the selection of bob mueller as the special prosecutor, those nine days or so in there, there were a number of things going on within the d.o.j. and f.b.i., some of which have been reported on, some of which have not. and when you look at the motivations and some of the questions, on what the motivations were, i mean, if you are looking at invoking the 25th amendment and recording the president of the united states secretly in the oval office, i don't normally think that those would be normal suggestions that would come from the deputy attorney general. bob: so that language, coup, doesn't make you uneasy -- mr. meadows: sure. anything that undermines our
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democracy we need to, as the beacon of hope and democracy, make sure that -- bob: there's a difference between congressional oversight and tough questions from congress and then saying there's a coup. a coup d'etat. mr. meadows: we think of a coup in military terms. and certainly this was not a military coup. at the same time, when you have people within the administration trying to undermine a particular president, it's of great concern. it should be. it should be to all of us. bob: what's the future for the department of justice after these years of attacks? mr. meadows: i think the future is really bright in many ways. i believe that it is a small group of people within the f.b.i. and d.o.j. that were involved in inappropriate behavior. at least protocols were broken that need to be established.
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i know i've talked to a.g. bar r and told him that one of the things i want to make sure happens is that legislatively in a bipartisan way, if there's protocols that we need to put in place, to make sure that any inappropriate behavior doesn't happen again, i all in. am and yet at the same time to paint a broad brush, that it was the entire f.b.i. and d.o.j., that's inherently wrong and not accurate. i think you can get it down to a group of seven to 10 people that broke protocol and some in my opinion, broke the law. bob: when you look at the mueller report and read the second volume about possible obstruction of justice. there's a lot of instances where the president complaining about then attorney general jeff sessions, complaining about rod rosenstein. you are a fierce critic of these people inside of d.o.j. during the whole mueller investigation. did you ever personally worry that you as a member of congress
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could be under investigation for obstruction reasons? mr. meadows: no. i mean, if anything, even today i continue to go that i want more of the information declassified for the american people to review. and maybe there will be a second mueller report that gets the unredacted side of things. i'm not for listing the grand jury information. i think that that undermines that process. and i can tell you -- bob: do you think republicans will protest any democratic effort to get grand jury information? mr. meadows: i think they will. i know the democrats were having that same argument with many of us when we were looking at the genesis of this. saying that grand jury information is not something that a republican member should be allowed to see.
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we accepted that early on before the mueller report came out. and so even some of my democrat colleagues would see the prudence of not allowing grand jury material to be publicized. bob: why doesn't congress have the right to see that grand jury information? why would republicans in defense of the institution, of congress, join with democrats to try to get that information? mr. meadows: when you look at grand juries, it's the whole reason why we have grand juries. is so that you can go in and actually share information that may in some lights be very negative towards other individuals. that we don't have the benefit of a cross examination. it's one person's story. this mueller report when we look at this, we look at this report, this is one group of individuals writing a report without the cross examination, without the c ability to look at things very questionably.
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so it just provides just one narrative. i think we've got to be concerned about that. bob: do you have a sense of who those people are? inside the grand jury report? mr. meadows: i don't. other than what's been reported by "the washington post" and others. bob: inside the house of representatives, how is leader mccarthy from california handling your continued attacks on the department of justice? has he asked to you pull back? is the leadership ever saying, congressman meadows, enough's enough? mr. meadows: i think have have been times in past where i've been asked, jim jordan and i have been asked to pull back. i wouldn't say that that's the case now. you played a clip early on that had speaker ryan talking about why he believed there was no collusion. one of the interesting facts is on the classified side of things. i've made sure that i have not looked at anything classified. and what happens is we've been
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able to put a lot of pieces of the puzzle together with nonclassified documents, text messages, emails, and all of that that would come together. and so pushing where you at least have a number of questions that need to be asked, that's been supported by kevin mccarthy. continues to be supported. and as we look at that, i think it would be very healthy for america to make sure that not only the end result of where we are with this mueller report, but how it started, actually is known to everybody. and as a journalist, i'm sure would you want to know that. bob: chairman schiff made some news here by making a criminal referral for erik prince. people in the minority can make criminal referrals, can they not? mr. meadows: they can. bob: as you look at this mueller report, chairman schiff looked at it. he made his own conclusion, he made a criminal referral on erik prince to the department of justice. as you digest the report, do you have any interest as a member of
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congress to make any criminal referrals yourself? mr. meadows: we certainly only want to make criminal referrals based on the evidence. i can tell you that there are two or three individuals that we believe could have potentially given false testimony to congress. and we have been looking at that, reviewing not only the mueller report, but comparing those to crns scribed interviews ma may have happened in congress. that's really where normally people get crossed up. you have a testimony that's given to congress, either sworn testimony or testimony that's to be honest, and you find that other documents would suggest that that's not truthful. we believe there's is a couple of individuals right now though -- bob: you said two to three? mr. meadows: yeah. bob: can you give us a little -- mr. meadows: i --
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bob: are they people, following your career and statements, are these people related to fusion g.p.s. or the dossier? mr. meadows: certainly. bob: who are they? mr. meadows: there's two of them. [laughter] there's two of them. if i shared it today, i'd be undermining a different reporter. so i better not do that. bob: you can do that. [laughter] mr. meadows: yeah, i know you'd love me to do that. i wouldn't do it to you and i won't do it to them. bob: let's pause there. you're saying house republicans, you and others, are going to make your own criminal referrals to the department of justice, you expect to make at least two to three about people who you believe lied to congress? mr. meadows: here's typically what happens. it is a memorandum, a criminal referral. it lays out the case why you believe that. i can tell you we did that early on with a couple of different individuals, with rod rosenstein. those actually did get referred and are being investigated. additionally, and yet at the same time i don't want to impugn someone's character without evidence. i will say that for the most
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part it's their words, comparing their words in another context. . and when you look at that, i do have great concerns on the role that not just fusion g.p.s. but those associated with it played early on. and how was that usde or not -- used or not use, as it relates to this investigation. bob: has the president been personally encouraging to you to make these criminal referrals? mr. meadows: no. i don't knows that -- that it would be -- bob: you have spoken to him about it? mr. meadows: i have not spoken to him about it from a criminal referral standpoint. obviously, my conversations with him, i don't generally talk about. but for you, bob, and this audience, i'll be glad -- bob: well, let's get into it. [laughter]
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mr. meadows: i knew you'd want to go there so i'll be glad to do that. i think probably one of the biggest surprises that a number of people would be surprised to hear about is i think that the president truly on a lot of this is in favor of less redactions, not more. bob: he's stopping congress on every request. mr. meadows: reductions and request are two different things. which one do you want to talk about? reductions or requests? bob: you're trying to make the case that he is for more disclosure of the mueller report. he's not open book about all of these issues if he's putting his hand up and stopped stopping congress at every turn. mr. meadows: you can make that argument but i don't know it's a valid argument. we're reading in the mueller report that there are some things, if he didn't want them to be out there, all he had to do was claim executive privilege .
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executive privilege would have stopped reince priebus from actually sharing anything it. stoppedld have probably don mcgann from sharing anything. have very easily and legitimately exercised that right as previous presidents have done. bob: he could have asert ed executive privilege and present -- he told "the post" last week he's leaning toward exerting executive privilege across the board with all these congressional -- mr. meadows: i think really what it comes to, and listen, i've been on both sides of this issue from a standpoint of subpoenas and requesting additional information. the way that many of the subpoenas are being used right now candidly are for the vast majority of those are unprecedented. i'll give you a prime example. we had secretary roskam in and testify, thousands of documents being delivered to our committee as it relates to the zhen
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question on the census. -- citizenship question on the census. and yet subpoena gets issued , a very quickly, even as documents were being delivered to congress. you have to understand, many of these subpoenas are 2020 subpoenas. they have nothing to do with a legitimate legislative ability. bob: that's your perspective. you can have your perspective. mr. meadows: it's an accurate one. but go ahead. bob: the white house, you would acknowledge, is saying no thanks to almost all of these requests. the friendly subpoenas. mr. meadows: we have mr. cline coming in, he's coming in on a security clearance. he's coming in. but that's another prime example. willing to come in voluntarily. bob: that was a fight the freedom caucus urged the white house -- mr. meadows: we did, he did. but let's make sure we tell, as paul harvey would say, the rest of the story. the rest of the story is that he
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was willing to come in voluntarily. then he got a subpoena which says that you've got to do this and this and this. when he was already willing to come in voluntarily. typically, in both democrat and republican majorities in the house, if someone has been willing to come in voluntarily, they come in voluntarily. if you do not get what you want, then you go the subpoena route. to immediately jump when someone, as he was, was willing to come in, voluntarily, with chairman cummings, and then get a subpoena, why would you do that? bob: it's congress' right to do so. mr. meadows: it is not their practice. it is their right. but it is not their practice. and candidly, when you start handing out subpoenas, like candy, to everything, it undermines the process. bob: you know the president so well, does he still believe that russian interference in 2016 was a hoax?
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mr. meadows: i think he believes that russian interference did not affect the outcome of the election. and it didn't. i mean, listen. bob: does he accept the mueller report? mr. meadows: do you accept the fact that $1 billion was spent and $300,000 in facebook ads is going to change the outcome of the election? come on. bob: the mueller report details -- excuse me. mr. meadows: if that's the case, then what we need to do is make sure that democrat and political operatives do only what the russians did to make sure that they can win an election. i mean, it's ludicrous to have that assumption. bob: do you accept what robert mueller detailed in the first volume of his report? that there was sweeping interference? it wasn't just a few facebook ads as jared kushner said, it was across the board on so many different fronts? do you accept that or not? mr. meadows: i accept a couple of things. bob: you don't accept the whole report? mr. meadows: no.
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well, i've read it through twice. so if you want to get page and volume, i'll be glad to go on what i accept and don't accept. but here's what i will say. when you have a throorp comes out, did the russians interfere? yes. did they try to interfere? yes. is this the first time? no. are they the only ones that are trying to interfere in no. -- that are trying to interfere? no. when we look at that, do we have to take it serious industry in yes. i'm one of the few members of congress that actually reached out to democrat colleagues immediately saying, all right, here's two bills that we have to put forth to make sure that not only russians don't interfere, -- the ukrainians, the turks, the chinese. no one interferes with our election process. we need to do that. you can check the record, you can see that not only have i been up front about that, but i've been very, very aggressive. even co-sponsoring and working on legislation in the house
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that's a campaign onto some of our -- companion to some of our presidential candidates on the democrats. bob: if impeachment did get to the floor in the house of representatives, how many republicans would support it? mr. meadows: today, zero. \[talking simultaneously] the minute i say that i'll have one or two republicans who say, don't speak for me. so i'm not speaking for all republicans. i would be very surprised to find many republicans willing to support impeachment. primarily because the collusion narrative was not proven out. bob: what about the obstruction aspect? mr. meadows: again, you were ask being obstruction. let me tell you the witnesses that i would pull in, if i were going to case, to defend the president of the united states. i would pull in james comey, who said that the president didn't interfere with his investigation. i would pull in dan coates who said the president didn't interfere with the investigation. i would pull in mr. rogers and
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say -- who all, in the mueller report, all of this is in the mueller report, who said that he did not interfere or impede the investigation. i'd pull in rod rosenstein who said he didn't impede the investigation. bob: would you support pulling in don mcgann to tell his story? mr. meadows: it's there. it's for everybody to read. it is for everybody to read. it's for everybody to read. bob: don't the american people deserve to hear him in his own words in public testify? mr. meadows: i think you had quotes in there from him. bob: we're here live on camera and tv it. tells a different kind of story than what's in the newspaper. mr. meadows: are you saying the newspaper isn't a valid source -- bob:, no it's a very valid source. [laughter] : but don't we need to hear from don mcgann and don't members of congress, don't they
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have a right to ask further questions than robert mueller did? mr. meadows: we don't know what all robert mueller asked. bob: you said you're willing to pull all these people in for testimony. meadows: i said if i was going to -- well. for two reasons. one is, based on my personal conversations with the president of the united states, i can assure you that if he wanted to fire robert mueller, he would have fired robert mueller. he's pretty good -- we want to hear from them again, not from you. [laughter] [applause] mr. meadows: he's pretty good. wouldn't you agree the president is pretty good at firing people? bob: he doesn't like to fire people directly. as we know. the mcgann question is so key on obstruction. right? mr. meadows: no, it's not. what did he obstruct? you tell me. bob: i want to mare more from dan mcgann about the president's [talking simultaneously] -- [talking simultaneously] mr. meadows: what's the crime? bob: obstruction of justice. i'm not saying it's a crime. i'm saying we want to hear more. mr. meadows: of what crime? bob: i don't understand the republican resistance from hearing from done mc -- don mcgann.
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here's the question. if we're going to do that, why would we not look at the crime? what is the crime that was committed? bob: it's for congress to investigate. mr. meadows: investigate what? bob: to investigate the president's intent in these interactions with don mcgann. mr. meadows: intent not -- you mean in terms of intent on obstructing, on what crime? one of the crime, guys? audience answers -- obstruction] what is the crime that was committed? bob: it's for congress to investigate. mr. meadows: investigate what? bob: to investigate the president's intent in these interactions with don mcgann. mr. meadows: if the president did interfere with the investigation. in the report. in bob mueller's words.
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bob: i'd like to see this back and forth with testimony on capitol hill. final question, i want to ask a political question. senator tillis, is he going to face a prime err in 2020? -- if primary in 2020? he's had some clashes with president trump. mr. meadows: i can tell you that there is zero chance that i'm going primary. bob: could you support a primary challenge? mr. meadows: it's not up to me. the supporters up to the people of north carolina. -- the support is to the people of north carolina. do i think he will have a primary? i do. i think it's up to the people of north carolina whether it's serious or not. but i do think he will have a legitimate primary opponent. whether that actually happens, you know, certainly we would have to know soon. but i can tell you with 100% confidence it is not me. bob: are you recruiting anyone to run against -- mr. meadows:, no i'm not. bob: even informally? mr. meadows: no. don't try to make news in that way. [laughter] no, i am not. he's obviously our sitting
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senator and i fully expect that -- bob: do you fully support him? mr. meadows: i fully expect he will be our senator after 2020. bob: you think he's going to win re-election but you're not endorsing him? mr. meadows: i don't know that a congressional endorsement -- he's not asked me for one. i doubt that i would give a congressional endorsement to any senator, that it would matter. bob: mark meadows, congressman from north carolina. thank you very much for joining us. mr. meadows: thank you. thank you. appreciate it. bob: please stay. we're going to have a great panel here on russia. thank you very much. [video clip] >> after nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrant, and witness interviews -- >> nearly two years of waiting. the public is finally seeing the mueller report. >> two years digging through the evidence, issuing more than 2,800 subpoenas. executing nearly 500 search warrants, interviewing approximately 500 witnesses. >> the special counsel closely watched inquiry into russian interference during the 2016 election is over.
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president trump: i thought after two years we'd be finished with it. ♪ >> good morning. great to be with you. my name's matea gold. i am the national political investigations editor here at the post, and i have this -- i had the privilege of leading our coverage of the mueller investigation along with national security editor, either peter finn. i'm delighted to be joined this morning by four reporters who make up the tremendous team of journalists who have been covering this story from the very beginning. devlin barrett who writes about national security and law enforcement. ellen nakashima, and a political investigations reporter. before we begin, i'd like to let the audience here and everyone watching online noik tweet your best you can tweet your
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questions using #postlive and i'll try to get to some of them later on. so it's appropriate that we're gathered here in this kind of forum and conversation because those of us here onstage along with a much larger team of post journalists have been part of a running conversation in the news room for the last two years and even longer. and together we've been trying to figure out really the contours and scope of the mueller probe, as well as the extent and the nature of the ties between russia and the trump campaign. every other day we would meet at about 11:00 inside what we jokingly refer to as our skiff, our secure facility. which was essentially a conference room with no windows that marty baron set aside for those of us covering this story.
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i wish i could share with you some of those conversations from that room. but i'll tell you they've been eye-popping to say the least. hopefully this discussion here today will give you a sense of the deep sourcing and the incredible authority these reporters have brought to this story. it's been such a privilege to be an editor on this longrunning storyline. and i think it's also worth noting that we should take a moment and appreciate how much the public and hopefully all of you as "post" subscribers have already learned or even learned before the mueller report's release about russia's interference in the 2016 campaign, about the ties between the campaign and russia, and about the president's actions in office, thanks to rigorous independent reporting that we do here at the post and that other news outlets have been doing as well. so i want to start our conversation with ellen because you were there at the very beginning at a key moment. let's start in june, 2016. it was about a month before donald trump would become the g.o.p. presidential nominee. and you broke the story that the d.n.c. would be hacked. and here was the lead of that story. russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the democratic national
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committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on g.o.p. presidential candidate donald trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach. take us back to that moment and what you made of it at the time. and did you have any inkling it was part of a broader campaign? >> no. in fact, it's really interesting to think back 2 1/2 years and at that time we didn't know, russian interference, that wasn't in the lexicon. today it's sort of an send notion. but mrs. bachmann: 2 1/2 years, and i was covering -- but going back 2 1/2 years, and i was covering cybersecurity. i'll tell you about i came upon the story. one of my long time sources called me up one day and said, i have a story i think you will be interested in. it's right up your alley. cyber and national security.
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i can talk to you in a couple of days, if you'll be available. i said, well, sure. but tell me a little bit more about it. how big a deal? he said, oh, it's going to be a big deal. it's a national story. so i pressed him and said, that big a deal, the got to have something to do with either politics, sex or corruption. and he said, well -- maybe one of those. and a couple days later i went to his office, a lawyer who covers national security, just a few blocks from "the post" and in his conference room he had amy, the executive director of the democratic national committee, sean hennry, he's president of crowd strike, a major cybersecurity forensics firm, and someone who is the co-founder of crowd strike and also a major cyber expert. they proceeded to walk me through an incredible tale of how they discovered that russian government spies, hackers, had penetrated the computer networks of the d.n.c.
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and in fact there were two competing russian spy agencies that both hacked the d.n.c. and had gotten hold of the entire trove, for instance, of this one spy agency did, of the trump opposition research and so back at that point in time, in june, this was a huge story, another breakin at the d.n.c. only this time, it was through cyber means. but we thought it was traditional espionage, that the russians were after information about the next potential president of the united states, be it hillary clinton or bernie sanders. then about a month later on july 22, wikileaks dumps 22,000
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d.n.c. emails out into the internet. instantly, i realized that this was no longer just traditional esther nash caruthers olson thing had moved into a different sphere with information warfare. and we started to get a better sense there is something else going on here. the russians were not content just to steal information, they were trying in this case to throw some spanners in the works at the democratic national committee convention, interfere in the democratic caucus and in the following months, we would come to be more evidence of russia's interference in the election to include up to vladimir putin himself. this is just to say at time, that was screws the first sort of tip of the iceberg that would be several years' worth of digging into widespread and what robert mueller called system
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attic interference. -- systematic campaign interference in the 2016 election. >> meanwhile, you were chasing trump's ties to russia. you published a story under the headline inside trump's financial ties of russia and his unusual flattery of vladimir putin. walk us through some of the early reporting. what did you make of what you were finding at the time? >> in the spring of 2016, we started talking about things two interesting things involving trump. one was trump himself. at that time, he had already began this weird back-and-forth publicly with vladimir putin and praising him as a strong leader and putin calling trump a colorful personality. you have to think back to the
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context of the republican primary campaign that was incredible and unusual. in 2012, romney said that russia was our greatest geo political foe and that was much more in line with what other leading figures like bush and ted cruz. were saying on the campaign trail. so to have a candidate who was open to russia was very us, so we started looking a bit at the financial history and we started learning about this long history of donald trump's attempts to build a trump tower in moscow dating back to the late 1980's. we found a court deposition where he had to do but, he had promised how one day the trump organization would be in moscow. we sent our correspondent at the them, to talk to the folks who we later came to learn set up the infamous trump tower meeting. he spoke to them in april, 2016,
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months before the meeting happened. had this long conversation with nobu, the japanese restaurants they owned, all about their love of donald trump and why trump would be good for russia and sending him notes on super tuesday. congressional tory notes. so we started looking into that and started looking into the people he was surrounding himself with, paul manafort, carter page, michael flynn, all these figures who we later came to learn so much more about were all in that original story that you mentioned. thefunny thing is that story was basically in the can. we were doing some final edits when we heard that ellen was going to be breaking about the russian government hackers penetrating the d.n.c. at the time, it was weird. we didn't know what to think of
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that. how amazing, we are doing this story about trump and how the russians hacked the d.n.c. and took us a long time to understand how those two things might connect or not connect. only until the report just came out. >> let's talk about the investigation. we know now that it began in july of 2016, very quietly and wasn't until months after trump's inauguration. that comey publicly confirms it. by early may, he is fired. by june we were reporting the president is under investigation for obstruction of justice. walk us through those months and really, what we have now learned about what was behind the scenes and the role our own coverage ended up laying in the investigation? >> the investigation was kept under wraps for a long time during the campaign and after the campaign.
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the source reporting, it became clear there was an investigation of some trump campaign officials and associates. in march, director f.b.i. comey says, yes, in fact, we are investigating some muscle its of the trump campaign. -- some associates of the trump campaign. saying that publicly. everyone had understood that to be the case. but it did mark a real turning point that it was publicly acknowledged and comey said it to congress and you see the relationship deteriorate between him and the president dramatically after that. part of the reason why is trump kept demanding that trump himself is not under investigation. that was important to the president and comey would not do that. comey gets fired. and then in june, we write a story that yes, in fact, the president is under investigation for obstruction. that was a big step. that took a lot of reporting to get us to that step.
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but what was interesting about that moment was after that happened, and the mueller report lays this out in a way that was frankly a little eye-opening to me, how much trump's behavior changed after that story. what the report describes is the were some behavior that had caused the investigation to be opened escalates rapidly once trump knows that he is under investigation. it is a little weird to wonder, so, ok, if you are told that you are under investigation for obstruction, would you run out and do three or four potential obstructive acts. that is the way the president reacted. the mueller report really divides the obstruction report into two sections, one is of events that happened before that story and the events that happened after the story. they make the argument that the
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concerned behavior gets worse after the story. and pretty odd human behavior moment. >> matt, can you talk about the challenges of covering special counsel investigation as a beat. to say this was a lockdown shop is an understatement ap real rarity in this town. but we were despite that able to break some stories about early aspects of the investigation. can you talk about that? >> so mueller's team as everyone knows by now doesn't look or , doesn'ton't leak talk, that is true. and that makes covering the investigation very, very difficult. covering any investigation is very, very difficult. the justice department, the f.b.i., they germly don't want -- they generally don't want to talk about the work they're doing and certainly not work that the grand jury is doing or
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sensitive work. so it was tough. but we managed to make some inroads that i can't talk about to people who know about this. and in the early days, when there is a mad scramble to figure out what exactly is mueller looking at? when mueller is appointed, we have a four-bullet-point letter saying they are investigating coordination. we are saying what are those and what comes under the umbrellas of coordination? at that point we have different strands. we know that paul manafort is of interest to the team and michael flynn is of significant interest to the team because of his apparently lying to the vice president. we have all these strands. but what is mueller most focused on. in some of those early days and this will give everyone, devlin gets a tip the investigation
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reaching into the white house and into top levels of the white house for the first time. we knew they were investigating russian interference but we didn't know of any current hooks to the house. devin gets a tip on that. i went out to some sources and we were able to confirm and looking at jared kushner with a meeting he had with a russian. they had given conflicting public accounts, whether it was about diplomacy, whether it was business -- robert mueller's report really lays out how there was just this blend, not just with questioner, but with other people, that there was a great blend of finances and other things.
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but the president himself was under investigation for obstructing the investigation. if you are going to report that, you really have to nail it down. we do the kushner story. we don't identify kushner. you have to really nail it down. there is a lot of drama with his people, with "the post. " it was a whole big thing. then, it is because of that that we are able to get the break that the president is under obstruction. one story reads to one story and another story, and more people are willing to talk. but even from that point it has been a challenge, because they just don't talk and don't tell you you are wrong, if you are off days, or this is slightly wrong, they just don't talk. for the most part, we have stayed on the straight and narrow because we have good sources. but that was a success moment. >> that was one of the first stories that "the post" did in allowing this whole investigation.
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the f.b.i. and mueller was interested in that laid the -- in what made the groundwork looks attial obstruction by the president. for trying to get rid of the flynn investigation. that way we got into it was, this is now doing the transition in general are your 2017. our colleagues, david ignatius, a prominent national security columnist, he wrote a column that mentioned at the bottom that michael flynn, who incominge point of the national security adviser had several conversations with the russian foreign ambassador, sergey kislyak, on december 29 when the outgoing obama administration had expelled 35
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russian officials and imposed sanctions on russia in response to their interference in the 2016 election. thehe question was, was question of sanctions arise in that call? did flynn make say anything about sanctions or possible apply lifting them to kislyak. and right after that report surfaced, sean spicer who is the campaign spokesman and said it was a phone call and set up a -- would later become the presidential rest secretary, told reporters that it was just a phone call, he set up a presidential phone call between putin and trump. and the issue of sanctions never arose. and the vice president went on tv and said, yes, flynn personally assured me the issue
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of sanctions never arose. after that, me and a couple of other colleagues started to get wind from our sources that, in fact, there is something not right about all of that reporting. and we were very interested in connections between russian officials and the trump campaign. so we were starting to run that -- adamn we got actually got a breakthrough, he went to coffee with a source and had a list of typed 10 questions , and a copy of the logan act which was a 1799 law which has never been prosecuted but that criminalizes any unauthorized person negotiating with the foreign government that is in a dispute with the united states. he had been told by a source that this was key. the source he had coffee with said, this is really the key to understanding this and you
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should know that the statement by mike pence that the subject of expulsions and diplomats up with sergey kislyak is just flat-out untrue. that was the break-through moment that adam understood that the rush yap he was being monitored by u.s. intelligence. he is a russian diplomats and intelligence agency keeps tabs on what foreign diplomats are saying. and they picked up a phone call between kislyak and flynn. we figured they spoke about sanctions on the call and we started trying to confirm that. we were able to eventually get to the point where we did. another colleague took it to in, the white house at the point now the national security outrightand he denied it.
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we were prepared to write a story about it and include his , and when we heard he was flat-out denying it, we decided to hold off to really locked on our sources. reporting. over our we counted nine current and former officials who gave us confirmation that indeed, the subject of sanctions had a reason, and we decided to run the story. we went back to the white house, told the national security council spokesman that we were going with the story. and he said, actually, flynn wants to withdraw his or niall and now say that perhaps hu jintao recall whether the subject ever came up. he cannot recall whether the subjects ever came up. [laughter] and in december 2017, lynn plead f.b.i..o lying to the
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i guess he is still awaiting sentencing? >> yes. >> you spent time looking at the connections between the russians and the trump campaign. what did we learn in the report that was revelatory? >> so the mueller report went deep on some of the episodes that we already knew about, the trump tower meeting, for instance, got a good description of everything that led up to and we learned some additional moments of contact that we didn't know. interesting, when you go back to the election, maybe two days after the election, there was a story that didn't get attention at the time where russian government official given interviewed in russia and said that members of the trump entourage had been in contact with the russian government during the campaign. the try to walk that back rather quickly. , thehile, hope hicks communications director at the time, came out and said -- absolutely not.
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nothing like that happened. there were no contacts between russians and of campaign at any point in time. as soon as she said that, the chase was on to -- she says there were none, were there any? what we learned through a long span of reporting and punctuated by the report is there were tons. really tons of contacts. he what you get this picture of is the mueller team concluded that none of those could be proven to show a criminal ,onspiracy between the campaign and the particular efforts they identified as russian government efforts to interfere in the election. but you get this picture of a campaign that was interested and intrigue by russian help, and in some cases, welcoming it. even in cases where they declined it, or through happenstance did not connect, were not disturbed i it. while these hacks were
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happening publicly, information being spilled on the internet, nobody went to the f.b.i. to say, we have been getting these inquiries from russia and maybe that is something the f.b.i. should be taking a look at. >> the critical investigation has been sharply polarized to say the least. one powerful example is the response to the story we did in spring of 2017. a month earlier, the f.b.i. had obtained surveillance warrants on carter page. how did that inform that political debate? one ellen and i did with adam. it was a world one because it took a long time to figure out. but once we got it out there, the public reaction at first was -- oh my god, they were surveilling a former trump campaign official, this must be a very serious investigation. a lot of times i think when the public hears about the
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investigations they think, all there must be something terrible. but the immediate counter reaction to that politically was, this just shows how terrible the f.b.i. is and how they are spying on a campaign. politically, both sides loved that story in a way that was a little disconcerting because both sides took only the part of it -- they took meaning from it only was confirmed what the already viewed of the situation. fisa surveillance warrant has become this weird divergence point in the political debate because each side both sinks improves their >> we are running out of time. point. matt, i will give the last question on this. fast forward to april 18, mueller's report is released after 22 months. we had a huge team assembled. talk a little about how we covered it that day, and he also produced a book, that you can
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get on your way out, book. "that night." >> yeah, the report came out a.m. 1:00 we had a lot of things to do, one was to read the report two , is right story. three, put the finishing touches introduction and annotation material we did for the book, which is really like republishing the report. initially, me and devlin are kind of sitting next to each other and reading big copies of the report. i started with collusion volume one. he got the more exciting one, obstruction. [laughter] in today's environment, people want the news right now. so it is not like -- we knew we didn't have time to spend six hours, call go through the report, sit down together and talk about, i think this is the need -- we were reading
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executive summaries are looking for big questions that we hoped the report would answer. we had bill barr's topline weclusions about point but didn't know for example, where did they not subpoena the president? that was a big question we had. we know the robert mueller did not come to a conclusion on obstruction, but why? does he explained that in the report? we were looking for specific questions to answer so we can send out news alerts. this is what it says on obstruction, this is why they did not subpoena the president. then i got back to the office and me and -- i had been at justice because barr had a press conference earlier that day. we had book-related stuff. i thought i had four hours to file my book stuff. when in fact, we only had four lawyeredget it edited, , and everything.
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which makes sense, because the e-book came out apartment 3:00 -- kim out at about 3:00 that morning. so we put the finishing touches on the introduction. scene, but can you a lot in advance. you can see throughout the report how much mueller cites reporting and amazing how reporters, even if they were a step behind mueller and has a -- even though they were a step behind, they kind of figured out what he knew. we put the finishing touches on and contributed to the story. but several stories. we all had an assignment up here. >> it was incredibly to be in the news room. i thank the panel so much. thank you for sharing your time. thank you for the audience, you can purchase the mueller report outside. [applause] and for a full recap of this morning's program, follow us at please join us as the morning for a new series about the 160th
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congress where the special guest will be house republican leader kevin mccarthy. thank you so much for coming. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy, visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ] >> here's a look at our live wednesday. the house with at 10:00 a.m. eastern for general speeches with legislative business at noon. members will begin work on a bill that requires the president to develop a plan to combat climate change as outlined in the paris climate agreement. on c-span two the senate is back at 10:00 a.m. to consider nominations for judicial alabama. in texas and on c-span3, attorney general barr appears in front of two scheduled hearings on the mueller report, starting with the senate judiciary committee, live at 10:00 a.m. eastern. >> coming up next on washington journal, a preview of today's senate judiciaryri


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