tv Americas Newsroom With Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith FOX News May 1, 2019 6:00am-9:00am PDT
attorney general will sit down in the hot seat and answering questions all day long. >> five minutes for each senator. >> head to the "after the show show". >> have a great day. >> bill: thank you, guys, good morning. fox news alert now. all options on the table as the second day of rebellion unfolds in venezuela. the opposition leader juan guaido calling for a second day of protests against the regime of nicolas maduro after clashers turned violent in caracas yesterday. [gunfire] >> bill: we watched it together here on "america's newsroom." what is the scene like today? we'll learn more in a moment. the role that havana and moscow could be playing in this volatile nation. more on that inside our program today. first back here at home the a.g. bill barr will face off with senate judiciary committee
members on the mueller report an hour from now. it will be a long day, an interesting day. we'll see what we learn together as we say good morning live in new york city. i'm bill hemmer. happy anniversary to you and your husband. >> sandra: thank you very much, bill. i'm sandra smith. we're awaiting bill barr's arrival for an action-packed few hours inside the hearing room. both sides digging in their heels as the politics on the mueller report will be on display today. >> bill: a lot of drama kicked off late last night when a report was leaked to two different newspapers claiming mueller wrote to the a.g. in march saying his summary didn't -- >> no doubt he will take heat for it. democrats are signaling that what they intend to do. the fact is there was nothing inaccurate or misleading about it. so what do they have left to complain about? well, perhaps they didn't like the way it was characterized by the media.
but they own the media for the most part and they should take it up with the media, not the attorney general. >> sandra: big day coming up. live fox team coverage for you, bret baier and chris wallace are standing by but we begin with catherine herridge. she is live outside the hearing room on capitol hill where all the action is about to begin. good morning. >> good morning. let me walk you through the timeline as we know it. march 24th the attorney general william barr sent a four-page letter with the bottom line conclusions from the mueller report there wasn't evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the trump campaign and russian officials. on the obstruction question it was decided by the attorney general and deputy attorney general after robert mueller couldn't reach a decision. what we understand is within a few days robert mueller wrote to the attorney general expressing frustration with the four-page letter that in his view lacked context and led to a mischaracterization of the substance and the nature of the obstruction investigation.
short time ago the attorney general left his home in suburban washington and we expect him to arrive on capitol hill shortly. we've also received a statement from the justice department about the subsequent phone call between the two men. it reads in part in a cordial and professional conversation the special counsel emphasized that nothing in the attorney general's march 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading but he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the special counsel's obstruction analysis. two things to remember here which may have been lost to folks at home who are not following it as closely. the attorney general testified when he was on the hill recently that he gave a special counsel an opportunity to review that four-page letter that was sent to congress and mueller declined to do so. also at the end of the day it was the special counsel within his authority to make the decision on obstruction but he could not make that decision. it was left to the attorney general and his deputy rod rosenstein, sandra. >> sandra: what's the latest we're hearing from the house
this morning about tomorrow, catherine? >> well, it's a really busy morning here on capitol hill because as we have the testimony from the attorney general, almost simultaneously we'll have a committee vote at the house judiciary committee and what the democratic chairman wants to do is add additional time to allow time for questions from staff attorneys. a no-go for the justice department. they feel strongly that a senate confirmed cabinet level secretary should take questions from lawmakers and not staffers. the chairman and the ranking member of house judiciary late yesterday. >> we have to get to the bottom of the issues and why we've called them in. it is not up to the attorney general to tell the committee how to conduct its business. >> they're willing to have the failed impeachment hearing. they don't want to go to impeachment hearing, they just want people to think they are. >> the bottom line for the justice department is that they feel that any kind of
questioning from staff attorneys is really off limits and that they will take a very firm stand if that is what the democratic leadership on the house committee demands at some point this morning. >> sandra: we await that committee vote on tomorrow's hearing. catherine herridge, thank you. >> bill: let's get to ken starr, former independent counsel in waco, texas, good morning to you. i just want to point out a statement that came out from the d.o.j. late last night. the key line. in a cordial and professional conversation the special counsel emphasized that nothing in the a.g.'s march letter was inaccurate or misleading. so how do you size this up in what appears to be for the moment a story of he said and he said? >> it doesn't -- i know a lot is being made out of it but it looks to me as if at the end of the day there is very little. this is a 440 plus page report. as you paw through the report it is so detailed. so there is nuance there, right?
it is not surprising that the author of the report would think you didn't get it exactly right. the key is did you get something wrong? were you misleading or inaccurate? is something you said false? there bill barr gets a 100% grade, an a plus. >> bill: bob mueller will testify sometime in the month of may. do you believe today it moves the meter much on any of this, or is it a question of waiting to hear what mueller has to say when he returns? >> well, i think this is very important today because we need confidence in the honest administration of justice. and so we need to hear from bill barr and we will. and i think at the end of the day there is really going to be a sense of you know, he is an honest guy. he is giving it the best he can. these are judgment calls and so forth.
but you are quite right, the real show will begin with bob mueller later this month. but the more i reflect on this, i think there will be much more of a coming together naturally between bill barr and bob mueller. they respect one another and they're both very honest people. >> bill: interesting. last question, need a quick answer. should bill barr take questions from lawyers that represent house judiciary committee members tomorrow, yes or no? >> no. if they don't want to, they shouldn't. >> bill: fair enough. ken starr, thank you. please stand by in waco. we'll be back with you throughout the day. bret baier from special report and chris wallace anchor of "fox news sunday". what is your expectation today? >> i think bill barr will get roasted by the democrats and republicans will have to do some rehabilitation to try to restore him. i disagree respectfully with ken starr.
i think this is much adieu about something not much ado about nothing. on march 24 barr sends his letter to congress with his not summary but bottom line conclusions from the mueller report. on march 28th barr receives a letter from mueller basically saying i don't think you accurately characterized this. they have a phone call. in the phone call bob mueller says to him why don't you release our summaries and our conclusions which would not be affected by grand jury testimony and barr decides not to do that. then on april 9th barr is up testifying before congress and he is specifically asked by charlie crist, a congressman from florida. there is a report in the paper that the mueller team is upset with the way you characterized this? do you have any idea what that's about? and barr says no, i don't. obviously he does. he has received the mueller
letter and had the conversation with mueller so he has a darn good idea what mueller and his team are upset about but he sugar coats it. then on april 18th barr holds a news conference several hours before the report is released and i just want to quote some of it. he says on the issue of obstruction. that's what this is all about, not about collusion. barr says the president was both frustrated and angered by a sincere belief the investigation was undermining his presidency propelled by political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks. a lot of people thought this was going well beyond a summary of what mueller was saying and it was barr arguing in effect on behalf of the president. so look, i think this is going to be fascinating because barr is a tough guy, he has been attorney general. his second term. very competent, very smart, very tough. i'm sure he will give as good as he gets from the democrats but they will be angry at him
for the way they feel he has misled the country on the essential contents of the report. >> bill: finish your point, go ahead. >> i was going to say they'll be angry about it and he will have to defend himself. i suspect that republicans are going to have to do some rehabilitation to try to establish his good faith in all of this. >> bill: i looked at the clip you mentioned from charlie crist. we watched it earlier today and i'll bring bet in on this. the inference that chris is driving on. the other side will say barr said nothing was inaccurate or misleading which is what the statement said last night from his very office, bret. >> good morning. with all due respect to chris i agree with his timeline except for the effect of the phone call. there was more to the phone call. it takes you 13 paragraphs in the "washington post" to get to the paragraph where the phone
call is described. when barr pressed mueller on the call, mueller said he did not think it was inaccurate but felt media coverage was misinterpreting the investigation. in their call barr also takes issue calling it a summary. he provided an account of its top conclusions and mueller conceded on the call were not inaccurate. that gets lost in all of the hub bub about this letter. yes, do i agree that barr is going to get grilled? 100%. are there many questions about obstruction of justice and why mueller doesn't get to a conclusion in the 10 instances? yes. but from the phone call description, he concedes that it is not inaccurate. >> can i pick up on that? this is a fair and balanced conversation among colleagues. the description bret raised is the summary by the justice
department. they are putting the best spin on what happened in that conversation. we haven't heard -- i would make one final point on this and be quick. that is, bill, if you think it's a coincidence that all this was linked to the "washington post" and "the new york times" in the hours before this hearing was held, i got swamp land to sell you in arizona. this was clearly an effort by the mueller campaign to put bill barr on the spotlight. >> i agree with that. >> bill: plenty to discuss today. chris wallace, bret baier, ken starr and others. what bill barr will say at the end of the statement. the exercise of responding and reacting to the report is a matter for the american people and the political process. with regard to the department of justice, barr has concluded the mueller matter is done as long as he is the attorney general. >> sandra: that conversation didn't set up what is expected to be fireworks in that hearing room moments from now i don't
know what would. another big story we're watching. chaos in venezuela as the opposition leader there juan guaido calls for even more protests today. the trump administration saying all options are on the table. congressman michael mccaul just met with secretary of state mike pompeo and he will tell us what he learned next. r. now i take metamucil every day. it naturally traps and removes the waste that weighs me down. so i feel... lighter. try metamucil and begin to feel what lighter feels like.. introducing new metamucil premium blend, sweetened with stevia and made with all-natural flavors and colors. it's a delicious way to get your daily dose of fiber. try it today.
and here to listen and help you through it all is bank of america. with the expertise and know-how you need to reach that blissful state of done-ness. so let's get after it. ♪ everything is all right what would you like the power to do?® ♪ all right >> i heard in an interview earlier you said nicolas maduro was on his way out or planning to leave by plane to havana, cuba. how close did he get? >> he was ready to go. he had made a decision that we've been urging him to make for quite some time and then he was diverted from that action by the russians. we hope he will reconsider and get back on that plane. >> bill: we don't think he is on that plane at the moment. mike pompeo confirmed that nicolas maduro was planning to fly to cuba until moscow persuaded him otherwise to stay
back in venezuela. juan guaido calling for more protests today. we don't know if it will be answered. congressman michael mccaul is with me. thank you for coming back. you were with mike pompeo before coming on our program. what did you hear from him on the status of that government? >> we had a private one-hour meeting just 30 minutes ago. talked about the situation down there. i think the momentum is shifting towards the legitimate president of venezuela guaido. we had the top three intelligence officials and the head of the supreme court basically take lopez, who is the opposition leader out of custody. so the idea that maduro is going to a tarmac to fly out of venezuela to havana is extremely significant. >> bill: is there a chance that
that plane leaves today? did mike pompeo answer that question? >> i don't think so because the russians persuaded him to stay in venezuela. we haven't seen the russians in the western hemisphere this strongly since the cuban missile crisis with military assets. they would love nothing more than to poke us in the eye -- i have allergies today in d.c., excuse me. they would love nothing more in focusing and keeping maduro in power. we have the cuban security forces and the russians propping up maduro, fighting the forces of democracy and free and fair elections. >> bill: heard from the president. here is the tweet. if cuban troops and militia don't immediately cease operations embargo with highest level sanctions will be placed
on the island of cuba. hopefully all cuban soldiers will peacefully return to their island. if that action is willing to go forward on cuba are we willing to take action on moscow as well, sir? >> i think that would escalate things. military option is on the table. it is the last option we want to exercise. we want to put more sanctions, more pressure. the president also talked about an embargo on venezuela. we have to do all these things first. we do have battle plans in place if necessary. but i think it's important to -- >> bill: we have battle plans in place for what? >> contingency plans in the event that's necessary. all options are on the table. however, i would argue that it is the columbians and brazilians and argentineans and lima group that need to lead this effort.
the people of venezuela are standing up against this socialist dictator. this is what a socialist dictator does to his country. he has destroyed the most successful country in latin america. so we have to make sure we do everything we can to support the people of venezuela, but bill, it won't be easy at the end of the day. >> bill: thank you for your time. mike mccaul. we blame the pollen every day. we feel for you. thank you for coming on. we'll see what the day brings us in venezuela. thank you. >> sandra: we're awaiting bill barr's arrival on capitol hill as we get ready for the long-anticipated showdown over the mueller report. the host of the ingraham angle, laura ingraham will join us live next to weigh in. >> think about this, though, the media that mueller is complaining about are the people who are now using mueller's complaint to try to further distort what's going on.
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the attorney general's appearance by the senate judiciary committee. happening any moment now. laura ingraham joins us now over the phone. we see images of william barr leaving his home this morning en route to capitol hill. this is all set to begin shortly. i'm sure you have a lot to say on this. it is setting up to be quite a morning. what do you expect? >> sandra, the meltdown on the other cable channels last night as we were broadcasting the ingraham angle was something really for the ages. we have in special counsel mueller someone who has worked in law enforcement at the highest levels for decades. we have someone in bill barr who has worked at the highest levels of the legal profession both as a ceo and former attorney general and so forth for decades, okay? both men have enormous experience in dealing with really complex matters.
but the idea that bill barr set about to fundamentally distort and misrepresent a 448 page report that he knew would be almost in its entirety released except for redactions that were agreed upon. the idea he would set about to do that to what, ruin his entire career and be roundly ridiculed is preposterous. so for this frothy frenzy on the other cables last night and in the pages of the amazon post, i say this. focus on the two lines that make this such a relatively non-story. when barr pressed him whether he thought barr's letter was inaccurate, mueller said he did not. but felt that the media coverage of the letter was
misinterpreting the investigation according to officials. now, i know chris wallace at the top of your hour was indicating that i guess that he kind of agrees with these other cable networks that this was an attempt by the d.o.j. to spin what the conversation was between barr and mueller? i don't know if chris wallace has information that i don't have. but that he is saying that barr is perpetuating a lie about this conversation between him and mueller? i think if mueller thought that this investigation was being distorted in its synopsis by barr, bob mueller is a big boy. he could have come out and issued a very public statement. he did not do that. one of the other members of the merry band of investigators decided to leak this letter right before barr comes up to testify. now, isn't that curious?
so as somebody who happens to have known bill barr for decades and myself worked at pretty high levels in the legal profession, i find the reporting on this and much of the commentary on this to be harmful and frankly very disturbing. and i'm watching this in realtime and this is not spin by the way. this is analysis of the current situation as it stands. >> sandra: we'll hear more from bret baier and chris wallace in a bit. before william barr begins a short time from now. we have everybody on deck. what is being decided now, there will be a vote in the house, a committee vote, on whether or not the house judiciary will be allowed to have staff ask questions of william barr at their hearing tomorrow. should that be allowed? >> i don't think it really matters. if there was some conversation about that. i frankly think a lot of the congressmen themselves don't do
a very good job of questioning. i mean we've seen this over the years where there is this big build-up in these hearings and then you have people who are not used to cross examining people or getting information flailing about for the cameras trying to get relevant information and questions asked and instead they end up grandstanding. what the american people have to understand this really isn't about the quest for the truth okay? this is about the 2020 election, scoring political points, and trying somehow to tar the reputation of a man who has served with dignity and the utmost ethical understanding of the american legal system for decades. this is what washington, d.c. i lived here way too long. this is what washington, d.c. has become, a smear machine of good people. if you're connected to donald trump in any way, they not only want to smear you, they want to make sure you never work again.
that's how bad it is. so people out there claiming that barr is spinning or misrepresenting, we have to take a breath here and look at this situation in its entirety where a president was targeted early on erroneously by a fake dossier funded by hillary to begin this entire investigation. people lose sight of how disturbing that initial fact is and we end up today with all the histrionics surrounding is hearing. >> sandra: we appreciate your time this morning, laura to set up what is going to be quite a heated moment on capitol hill. thank you. >> bill: just to the last point. we expect lindsey graham, the chairman of the committee, to bring up that very point. we're on stand by now 30 minutes away from what will be a showdown on the hill. our coverage continues as we await the arrival of bill barr. andy mccarthy and martha
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♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ >> bill: venezuela and opposition leader juan guaido, calling for a second day of protests in the largest march in his country's history against nicolas maduro who has proven to be stubborn at a minimum. steve harrigan is on the ground in caracas, venezuela. what's the scene like there, steve? >> right now on the streets of caracas it is pretty quiet. i've been driving for a past hour and a half or so. no sign of the military on the streets. no sign of military vehicles like we saw yesterday. no roadblocks, no checkpoints, very quiet. a lot of people stunned by what happened yesterday. they are confused about what could happen today. a lot of people, a lot of stores closed and people staying inside. that could change over the next few hours. juan guaido, the opposition leader, is calling for a major demonstration. he wants more than just
demonstrations. yesterday for the first time he called for a military uprising against this government to drive out nicolas maduro. he has clearly upped the stakes. we saw that on the streets yesterday. more than 70 people taken to hospital, a lot of gunshot wounds. a lot of police were firing into the air. people also injured by some military vehicles as well. some of the basic facts of what happened yesterday are still in dispute. u.s. secretary of state pompeo said that maduro was ready to fly out. he was ready to get on the plane and go to cuba. that is something that is being disputed by the cubans, by the russians, and by the government here, by the maduro government. maduro is saying there is no way he was prepared to leave. so a lot of denials on that. where do we stand right now? two men still calling themselves president. one calling for a military uprising. but he is not in jail. he is still on the loose. the other, nicolas maduro, is still inside the presidential palace. so we have a stand-off.
a big demo today and the real possibility of more violence ahead. bill, back to you. >> bill: good to have you on the ground. caracas, venezuela, with the latest today. thank you, steve. >> sandra: back to our top story. we're just moments away from attorney general william barr. he will be facing off with the senate judiciary committee. lawmakers want to ask him questions about his handling of the mueller report. here is what the a.g.'s opening statement had to say, a portion of it. i did not believe it was in the public interest to release additional portions of the report in piecemeal fashion leading to public debate over incomplete information. andy mccarthy and martha maccallum join us. set up what we're about to see this morning. >> i've been listening to everybody on your show this morning going through the basics of what we've seen and the chronology of these letters that passed back and forth
between robert mueller and between the attorney general william barr and members of congress as they were notified along the way in this process. and i think the headline here this morning is that it is absolutely no coincidence that this letter from robert mueller expressing some of his concerns about william barr's summary dropped the night before this testimony. obviously today's testimony would be expected to be the less contentious of the two. the house will be more contentious if it gets underway. the bottom line here is that these two men had a discussion. it is very likely that robert mueller's team, not unlike the team that worked on the hillary clinton case with jim comey, that some of them were disgruntled and unhappy with the bottom line takeaway that was presented in the report and that they wanted their feelings to be known that they felt there were issues with regard to obstruction even though in the end they were unable to
reach any determination about that. what we're seeing is a lot of the back room mass nations of this and perhaps robert mueller's defensiveness of his team and they felt their feelings were represented and findings were represented fully. the bottom line conclusions do not change and the exchange that i know we'll look at again with charlie, chris and bill barr in the last round of all of this where he was asked did you get any pushback, was robert mueller okay with your presentation of his report? he said as far as i know. i think it's likely that the attorney general will say that's because the findings were absolutely not in dispute. we both agreed upon that. >> sandra: andy mccarthy, your expectations. >> what you're saying is a pitch battle between two different ways of presenting things. barr is a prosecutor in the traditional justice department old school. i always thought bob mueller was as well. prosecutors are supposed to make one decision, either there
is enough evidence to charge or there is not. ordinarily if there is not enough evidence to charge you don't hear anything. because mueller took a different approach, mueller's idea was even if he didn't find collusion, there had to be a lot of mood music around everything that he returned. for example, you get the roger stone indictment, which has some tiny process charges at the very end but first you have to go through 20 pages of huffing and puffing about almost collusion. the george papadopoulos charge goes the same way. it should have taken about a half a paragraph to charge what was charged. instead mueller went on for 14 pages for nearly collusion, almost collusion. in a normal case a judge would not allow that to go on. that kind of stuff would get stricken out of the charges as surplus because it isn't relevant to the thing that has been charged by the prosecutor. what mueller wants is to get the narrative out and to see --
so the public can see how hard they tried to find collusion and they looked under every rock for that. barr is saying in what is the traditional way of looking at things for prosecutors is was there enough evidence to charge or wasn't there? and when he says that there appeared to be agreement as far as he could detect, what he means is the only thing that's of any relevance, which is the bottom line for the prosecutor, was there enough evidence to charge or wasn't there, and there wasn't. >> sandra: do you expect any gotcha moments in that room today? >> combating questioning back and forth. some of the guys will come in loaded for bear. barr is a very sharp and savvy guy and he knows, as one of your guests earlier said, to give as well as he gets. i'm sure he will be fine. but it will be combative. >> sandra: here is a portion of a.g. barr's letter -- sorry,
the opening statement to the senate judiciary committee. you're about to hear his words himself. in that he says it would not have been appropriate for me simply to release volume two, the obstruction portion of the report, without making a prosecutorial judgment, andy. i want to get your response to that. the timing will be questioned. >> the only thing the public ever gets in a case is the prosecutorial judgment. you don't get all the to and fro. you don't get a bunch of information that doesn't quite cut it as criminal information when an investigation gets close without charges, you don't get to find out what all the evidence is in a normal case. you get the bottom line. he is quite right about that. >> sandra: we await the a.g. on capitol hill. >> bill: moments away our coverage we'll take you live to the hill. here is how it will work at 10:00 a.m. eastern time lindsey graham will make an opening statement followed by the ranking democrat senator dianne
feinstein. after that bill barr will read his statement which is about four pages. lay out more reasoning as to why and how he interpreted the mueller report. that will follow senators on each side a period of seven minutes each back and forth until we conclude sometime early to mid afternoon. shannon bream, bret baier, chris wallace, ken starr, andy and martha are back with sandra and me in a moment. 9:42 on the hill. come back as our coverage continues next. run with us.
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>> tech: at safelite autoglass, we every chip will crack.. this daughter was home visiting when mom saw a chip in her windshield. >> mom: honey is that a chip? >> tech: they wanted it fixed fast so they brought it to us. >> bill: still awaiting bill barr's appearance. see live on the hill. we saw jerry nadler. this is a voluntary appearance. a few weeks ago bill barr told
the senate and house he would be there today, may 1 and tomorrow in the house may 2. tomorrow's appearance before the chairman of that committee you see on camera now is in doubt. we'll explain that in a moment. drop in on this real quick. >> we're marking up the affidavit before we do that we'll amend committee rules to permit the counsel to question witnesses after the members do. this is not unprecedented. there is precedent for it. we think it is particularly important that that we have the ability to have follow up questions beyond the five-minute rule. that's what we are going to do. [inaudible question] >> no, no.
i'll take a charitable view and it's a question of setting a date and -- [inaudible]. no, no. [inaudible question] >> do you think the attorney general should step down -- [inaudible] >> i think there are great difficulties with attorney general at this point beside the fact he clearly misled the american people he seems to have testified non-truthfully to the senate and the house. [inaudible question] >> the more important question is the fact we issued a subpoena for the unredacted report and the underlying evidence. that is due today. if he doesn't supply that today we'll take steps to enforce the subpoena. that's it. thank you. >> bill: here is what's going the house side. the democrats want bill barr
there tomorrow to take questions from lawmakers and sit for questions from attorneys that work on behalf of the democrats on the house judiciary committee. that is the line that the administration says it will not cross. the attorney general says he will not take those questions. we'll see later in the day whether or not he continues that position. if so, does the subpoena follow that? in the meantime on the senate side we're 12 minutes away from what is certain to be must-see television. shannon bream joins us and we continue with bret, chris, and back to ken starr in texas as well. your perspective is unique, ken. you believe what bob mueller's report has done is taken us back to -- i want to use your words here -- the bad old days of the independent counsel. that was you. what do you mean? >> what i mean is the statute that has gone away and replaced by the regulation which bob mueller has been appointed call
for the elaborate reporting. the regulations that janet reno and the clinton administration put in effect in 1999 and which haven't changed said no more of that. we want a confidential report from the special counsel, bob mueller, to the attorney general. then the attorney general provides a notification and an explanation. i think that's what bill barr has done. so what we've seen, though, is we live in the age of transparency. we want everything to be reported. and here is a 400 plus page report that i just don't think was contemplated by the regulations as the clinton administration was putting those in effect. we've returned to the bad old days. >> bill: we're doing some mind reading here. how much do you believe bob mueller was trying to satisfy those who work around him? >> you are influenced by that. it is a factor. bob mueller is a stand-up guy,
marine, but the wording of his letter was fully capture -- how do you fully capture 446 pages and so forth? i don't know. so it may have been a solution, let's try to satisfy the baying hounds but i think bob mueller and why i think his testimony will be all that more important later this month. >> bill: thank you. want to bring in shannon bream our colleague in washington, d.c. you can create a tv moment that can drive the story. nancy pelosi was asked that about a week ago. she suggested let's have the hearings and see where they lead. not dropping the i word standing for impeachment. we could get a moment like that today or it could be a big nothing burger. what is your feeling? >> i suspect because we have some of the 2020 democratic contenders who will be among the questioners today you'll see at least an aim for some of those moments. there will be contentious back and forth.
something to remember about this senate hearing is there will be things that are beneficial to those supporting barr as well. the chair is lindsey graham. an ally of the president and republican. he along with barr have talked about looking at the genesis of this entire investigation. when barr was on the hill earlier he was interested in looking into potential spying or surveillance on the trump team. that will come up again. we have the inspector general michael horowitz's report and u.s. attorney john huber, the former a.g. jeff sessions appointed to look into whether the obama administration abused any of the warrants in the fisa process. the points that democrats will try to score with regard to the mueller letter that surfaced last night you'll hear more about the things republicans want to hear about, about the potential of spying. >> bill: i want to read the
line from the statement from the department of justice and take our viewers back two or three weeks when bill barr was appearing. the d.o.j. says the special counsel emphasized that nothing in the a.g.'s march 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. keep that in mind as you watch this clip that will get a lot of attention today. >> reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your march 24th letter. that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. do you know what they're referencing with that? >> no, i don't. i think -- i suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view i was not interested in putting out
summaries. >> bill: 15 minutes ago that was a point of contention. bill barr is in the room now. we'll take our viewers there. in the meantime, chris, i'll go back to you. how do you determine what bill barr meant when he was there three weeks ago when you contrast that question and answer with the statement that came out last night about inaccurate and misleading information? >> well, again, the question was specifically do you know whether or not they're upset and he said no, i don't. obviously he did. you can talk about the merits of whether or not what they were upset about and what robert mueller had written him a letter about and what they had conversation about was legitimate or not. but the fact was that when bill barr, because the letter was march 28th. the phone call was a day or two later. the conversation with charlie
crist that you just played was april . when crist asked do you know why they're upset? he knew why and he said he didn't. he surmised on the information he had. at the very least he was disingenuous there. one other thing -- let me say i hope that the hearing is as interesting and contentious as the analysis has been in this hour lead-up to it. i suspect it will be. as shannon points out, this is the judiciary committee and tends to have some of the most ideological members of the senate and house and you'll be hearing specifically questions from amy klobuchar and kamala harris and cory booker, the i am spartacus moments and lindsey graham and others who are great supporters of bill barr and it will be contentious.
>> a couple things to point out. one, yes, it will be contentious, nancy pelosi folks obtained talking points for the democrats. new talking points. you remember that nancy pelosi has not been talking about impeachment that much saying maybe it is not a good idea. maybe president trump isn't worth it. these talking points say president trump is taking extraordinary and unprecedented measures to conceal information about himself and cover up his administration's dangerous and secretive activities from the public. it's part of a massive, unprecedented and growing pattern of obstruction. they're stepping up the rhetoric on the democrat side. you'll hear a lot of that from the questions on this committee. a couple of things to point out about the timeline here. remember that attorney general barr offered for robert mueller, the special counsel, to read the four-page letter that he was sending up on the top line conclusions to have mueller read it before it was sent out. mueller decided not to do that. and chose not to do that.
then after it is sent out, sends this letter to barr saying it is mischaracterizing the narrative. then according to the justice department, they have this phone call and the attorney general asks and presses mueller is there anything inaccurate? according to them, mueller says no. now, obviously this leak last night was strategically designed for all the people who think and have written about robert mueller not playing washington games, this comes right before barr's testimony. there are a lot of democrats who say barr should resign. he should be impeached. he should step down. they want to make this a john mitchell moment. but i think there will be a lot of pushback from the attorney general on different points. >> sandra: the room is starting to fill up. 21 members of the senate judiciary committee are filling the room. awaiting the attorney general william barr. we will hear him answer questions before republicans and democrats for the first time since the mueller report
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ask your doctor about neulasta® onpro. pay no more than $5 per dose with copay card. >> bill: 9:57 in new york city. washington, d.c. waiting for the senate judiciary committee hearing to begin and welcome bill barr in the room. before the questioning begins i want to bring on andy mccarthy. charlie crist was asking bill barr a question whether or not it was characterized accurately. you heard and parsed the language. >> he was asked whether they were upset about the finding. and barr had good reason to think they weren't upset about the findings. if there is anything that we have learned in the last four weeks with respect to all this exchange of correspondence, it is that mueller didn't have a problem or didn't claim that barr's articulation of the findings was inaccurate. he wanted other parts of the
report to be released so that the context and the mood music and the narrative of the report could be placed in context. but i think it's important if people are going to contend that barr gave incorrect or false testimony, i think that you have to look at exactly what he was asked. he wasn't asked whether mueller's team was upset in some way or about some thing. he was specifically asked whether they were upset about the findings. and that was the context in which i think his answer was. >> bill: you heard jerry nadler 15 minutes ago. his committee will go tomorrow. we'll see what barr's decision is on that. he just said a moment ago that bill barr misled the american people. we're left to parse the language. >> if people will keep saying he misled and committed perjury and gave false testimony and they don't show the actual words in the question that was asked naturally the big lie will get out there.
if it gets repeated enough times enough people will believe it. it's not what happened. >> bill: barr will begin a statement that reads four pages. we concluded the evidence developed during the special counsel investigation is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. he will break it down yet again as we await to see him come in the room. >> sandra: this is a republican-led committee chaired by lindsey graham who you see in the upper right-hand corner of your screens and he will focus on bias in the f.b.i. in the early days of this investigation. we talk a lot about where the democrats will be focused. certainly republicans may be focused there. >> as chris mentioned earlier this is a high-profile committee. you have the presidential candidates as well as lindsey graham who arguably had his biggest moment in the bret kavanaugh hearing and his biggest moment for trump supporters and the president himself in that hearing
standing up for what he believed is right. he will go down the road of the investigation at the beginning of this whole investigation. he has his own follow-up along those lines after michael horowitz, the inspector general puts out a report likely at the end of this month or beginning of june. so that's a whole different side of this. we're getting inundated by this letter that has surfaced the night before barr's testimony. >> sandra: catherine herridge is standing by. what are you seeing and hearing there? >> they're taking the positions inside the hearing room. i want to take a moment to emphasize some of the key points from the prepared testimony from the attorney general william barr. this morning he will tell senators that at no point did he ever overrule the special counsel robert mueller and his findings in the russia investigation. that included whether there was a conspiracy and evidence to support a conspiracy between russian officials and the trump campaign. the attorney general will also
say that there was no effort to interfere in the course of the investigation. that robert mueller was free to conclude the investigation at a time and place of his choosing. that the special counsel faced bin ari choice. he had the power and authority to make a decision on obstruction but he made as a non-traditional decision and that was left to the attorney general and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. the final point i want to emphasize, in the prepared testimony the attorney general says he used the framework that was laid out by the special counsel and then measured against it the evidence that was developed by the special counsel and on that basis he felt there was insufficient evidence to bring a charge of obstruction of justice. so that's some of the highlights of the prepared testimony and the questioning we expect the attorney general to have an opportunity to clarify on his previous testimony that line of questioning, andy mccarthy was just referring to senators
crist and van hollen about his awareness of frustration among the special counsel investigators and robert mueller with his letters to congress about their bottom line findings. >> sandra: thank you. >> bill: before we go inside i want to bring in martha maccallum for commentary. >> sandra: thanks, bill. quickly on the crist exchange. he dosage -- bill barr did acknowledge they did have some frustration potentially that they weren't getting more than just that four-page summary. he dosage there was a back and forth that they had requested more information but he didn't want to put it out piecemeal. he wanted to put out the whole report in its entirety and the report was almost completely unredacted. 8% of it was redacted so everyone has now seen the absolute entirety of this report. there is nothing held back. so if members of this investigation were concerned about the way it was interpreted the american people have had a chance to read every single word and page.
>> bill: i'm drawn to page two of the opening statement from bill barr. he will say part of his responsibility was to determine whether or not the conduct review constituted a crime that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. then he will say the special counsel was, meaning bob mueller, a federal prosecutor in the department of justice charged with making prosecution or deck lynnation decisions meaning he worked for us, not the other way around. >> this other thing this is what judge starr was talking about before. the independent counsel statute is gone. the special counsel is in the justice department chain of command and supposed to act like a prosecutor, not tell a big story about what might be impeachable. >> sandra: i was going to read a piece you published on fox news.com in which you write special counsel mueller's complaint that targeted attorney general's ba*rs letter
is not about the key findings but the narrative. if you could expand on that as we await moments from now william barr. >> narrowly what matters is if there is enough evidence to charge or if there is not. most of what mueller did in this investigation was a long narrative about the investigation, about things that came up in the investigation, about unsavory information that they developed, but when you flip to the last page all you get are process crimes. in other words, what they prosecuted were the crimes that were created by the investigation but what their charge was was to examine what the rationale for the investigation was and there was no crime. >> sandra: expect this to run 2 1/2 hours. the chairman begins. >> try to cool the room down. we'll see if we can do that. but the attorney general will be testifying here in a bit about the mueller report.
i want to thank him for coming to the committee and giving us an explanation as to the actions he took and why he took them regarding the mueller report. and here is the good news, here is the mueller report. you can read it for yourself. it's about 400 something pages. can't say i've read it all but i've read most of it. there is an unredacted version over in the classified section of the senate, a room where you can go look at the unredacted version and i did that and i found it not to change anything in terms of an outcome. but a bit about the mueller report. who is mueller? for those who may not know, i don't know where you've been, but you may not know, bob mueller has a reputation in this town and throughout the country as being an outstanding
lawyer and a man of the law who was the f.b.i. director, deputy attorney general, he was in charge of the criminal division at the department of justice, he was a united states marine, and he has served his country in a variety of circumstances long and well. for those who took time to read the report, i think it was well written, very thorough, and let me tell you what went into this report. there were 19 lawyers employed, approximately 40 f.b.i. agents, intel analysts, forensic accountants and other staff. 2800 subpoenas issued, 500 witnesses interviewed, 500 search warrants executed, more than 230 orders for
communication records so records could be obtained. 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, over $25 million spent over two years. we may not agree on much, but i hope we can agree that he had ample resources, took a lot of time and talked to a lot of people. and you can read for yourself what he found. the attorney general will tell us a bit about what his opinion of the report is. in terms of interacting with the white house, the white house turned over to mr. mueller 1.4 million documents and records. never asserted executive privilege one time. over 20 white house staffers, including eight from the white house counsel's office, were
interviewed voluntarily. don mcgahn, chief counsel for the white house, was interviewed for over 30 hours. everybody that they wanted to talk to from the trump campaign on the ground they were able to talk to. the president submitted himself to written interrogatories. so to the american people, mr. mueller was the right guy to do this job. i always believed that attorney general sessions was conflicted out because he was part of the campaign. he was the right guy with ample resources and the cooperation he needed to find out what happened was given in my view. but there were two campaigns in 2016. and we'll talk about the second one in a minute. so what have we learned from this report? after all this time and all
this money, mr. mueller and his team concluded there was no collusion. i didn't know, like many of you here, on the republican side we all agreed that mr. mueller should be allowed to do his job without interference. i joined with some colleagues on the other side to introduce legislation to protect the special counsel that he could only be removed for cause. he was never removed. he was allowed to do his job. so no collusion, no coordination, no conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russian government regarding the 2016 election. as to obstruction of justice, mr. mueller left it to mr. barr to decide after two years and all this time, he said mr. barr, you decide. mr. barr did. there are a bunch of lawyers on
this committee and i will tell you the following. you have to have specific intent to obstruct justice. if there is no underlying crime, pretty hard to figure out what intent might be if there was never a crime to begin with. the president never did anything to stop mueller from doing his job. so i guess the theory goes now okay, he didn't collude with the russians and he didn't specifically do anything to stop mueller, but attempted obstruction of justice of a crime that never occurred i guess is sort of the new standard around here. we'll see if that makes any sense. to me it doesn't. now, there is another campaign. the clinton campaign. what have we learned from this report? the russians interfered in our election. so can some bipartisanship come out of this? i hope so. i intend to work with my
colleagues on the other side to introduce the deter act and to interdues legislation to defend the voting system. senator durbin and i have legislation that would deny anyone admittance to the united states if they were involved in interfering in an american election. working with the white house to make sure if you hack into a state election system even though it's not tied to the internet that's a crime. i would like to do more to harden our infrastructure because the russians did it. it wasn't some 400 pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere, it was the russians. and they're still doing it. and it could be the chinese, it could be somebody next. so my takeaway from this report is that we've got a lot of work to do to defend democracy against the russians and other bad actors and i promise the committee we'll get on with
that work hopefully in a bipartisan fashion. the other campaign. the other campaign was investigated not by mr. mueller, but by people within the department of justice. the accusation against secretary clinton was that she set a private server up somewhere in her house and classified information was on it. to avoid the disclosure requirements and transparency requirements required of being secretary of state. so that was investigated. what do we know? we know that the person in charge of investigating hated trump's guts. i don't know how mr. mueller felt about trump but i don't think anybody on our side believes he had a personal
animosity for the president and he couldn't do thinks job. this is what strzok said. he is in charge of the clinton email investigation. oh, trump is a business mall. i hope the charade will end and people will dump him. february 12, 2016. page is the department of justice lawyer assigned to this case. march 3, 2016, god, trump is a loath some human being. strzok, oh my god, trump is an idiot. page, he is awful. strzok, god, hillary should win 100 million to nothing. compare those two people to mueller. march 16th, 2016. i cannot believe trump is likely to be an actual serious candidate for president. july 21st, 2016, trump is a disaster. have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be. august 8, 2016, three days
before strzok was made deputy acting in charge of the counter intelligence division of the f.b.i. he is never going to become president, right? page to strzok, no, no, he won't, we'll stop him. these are the people investigating the clinton email situation and start the counter intelligence investigation of the trump campaign. compare them to mueller. august 15th, 2016. strzok, i want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in andy's office that there is no way he gets elected but i'm afraid we can't take that risk. it's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40. august 26, 2016, just went to the southern virginia wal-mart.
i could smell the trump support. october 19, 2016, trump is a [bleep] idiot. unable to provide an answer. sorry to the kids out there. these are the people that made a decision that clinton didn't do anything wrong and that counter intelligence investigation of the trump campaign was warranted. we'll in a bipartisan way, i hope, deal with russia. but when the mueller report is put to bed, and it soon will be, this committee will look long and hard into all this how started. we'll look at the fisa warrant process. did russia provide christopher steele the information about trump that turned out to be garbage that was used to get a warrant on an american citizen? and if so, how did the system
fail? was there a real effort between papadopoulos and anybody in russia to use the clinton emails stole by the russians or was that thought planted in his mind? i don't know, but we're gonna look. and i can tell you this, if you change the names you all would want to look, too. everything i just said just substitute clinton for trump, see what all these people with cameras would be saying out here about this. as to cooperation in the clinton investigation, i told you what the trump people did. tell you a little bit about what the clinton people did. there was a protective order for the server issued by the house and there was a request by the state department to preserve all the information on
the server. paul cambetti, after having the protective order, used a software program called bleach bit to wipe the email server clean. has anybody heard of paul cambetti? no. under a protective order from the house to preserve the information under request from the state department to preserve the information on the server, he used a bleach bit program to wipe it clean. what happened to him? nothing. 18 devices possessed by secretary clinton she used to do business as secretary. how many of them were turned over to the f.b.i.? none. two of them couldn't be turned over because judith kasper took a hammer and destroyed two of them.
what happened to her? nothing. so the bottom line is we're about to hear from mr. barr the results of a two-year investigation into the trump campaign, all things russia, the actions the president took before and after the campaign, $25 million, 40 f.b.i. agents. i appreciate very much what mr. mueller did for the country. i have read most of the report. for me it is over. senator feinstein. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and welcome attorney general. on march 24th, you sent a
letter to chairman graham and the ranking member of this committee providing your summary of the principle conclusions set out in special counsel mueller's report. this letter was widely reported as a win for the president and was characterized as confirming there was no conclusion. following this letter the white house put out a statement declaring the special counsel, and i quote, the special counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction, end quote. and that the report, quote, was a total and complete exoneration, end quote, of the president. however, last night the "washington post" reported that special counsel mueller sent you a letter in late march where he said your letter to congress failed to, quote, fully capture the context, nature, and substance of his
office's work and conclusions, end quote. and that he spoke with you about the concern that the letter threatened to undermine the public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. that's in quotes as well. then on april 18th, you held a press conference where you announced repeatedly that the mueller report found no collusion and no evidence of a crime. an hour later, a redacted copy of the mueller report was provided to the public and the congress. and we saw why mueller was concerned. contrary to the declarations of the total and complete exoneration, the special counsel's report contained substantial evidence of misconduct. first, special counsel mueller's report confirms that the russian government implemented a social media campaign to mislead million s
of americans and russian intelligence services hacked into the dnc and the dccc computers, stole emails and memos and systematically released them to impact the presidential election. your march letter stated that there was no evidence that the trump campaign, quote, conspired or coordinated with russia, end quote. however, the report outlined substantial evidence that the trump campaign welcomed, encouraged, and expected to benefit electorally from russia's interference in the election and how time and time again the trump campaign took steps to gain advantage from russia's unlawful interference. for example, president trump's campaign manager, paul
manafort, passed internal campaign polling data, messaging, and strategy updates to constantine kalimnic, a russian national with tries to russian intelligence and how manafort briefed the russian in early 2016 on and i quote, the state of the trump campaign and manafort's plan to win the election, end quote. including the campaign's focus on the battleground states of michigan, wisconsin, pennsylvania, and minnesota. next the mueller report documents the trump campaign's communications regarding secretary clinton's and the dnc's stolen emails. specifically the report states, and i quote, within approximately five hours of president trump calling on
russia to find secretary clinton's emails, russian intelligence agency gru officers, quote, targeted for the first time clinton's personal office, end quote. the mueller report also reveals that president trump repeatedly asked individuals affiliated with his campaign, including michael flynn, quote, to find the deleted clinton emails, end quote. these efforts included suggestions to contact foreign intelligence services, russian hackers, and individuals on the dark web. the report confirms that trump knew of wikileaks releases of the stolen emails and received status about -- updates about upcoming releases. while his campaign promoted coverage of the leaks. donald trump junior
communicated directly with wikileaks and at its request publicly tweeted a link to emails stolen from clinton's campaign manager. second, in your march letter to congress, you concluded, and i quote, that the evidence is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense, end quote. however, special counsel mueller methodically outlines 10 episodes. some continuing multiple actions by the president to mislead the american people and interfere with the investigations into russian interference and obstruction. in one example, the president repeatedly called the white house counsel, don mcgahn at home, and directed him to fire mueller. saying, quote, mueller has to go. call me back when you do it.
then later the president repeatedly ordered mcgahn to release a press statement and write a letter saying the president did not order mueller fired. the mueller report also outlines efforts by president trump to influence witness testimony and deter cooperation with law enforcement. for example, the president's team communicated to witnesses that pardons would be available if they, quote, stayed on message, end quote, and remained, quote, on the team, end quote. in one case, the president sent messages through his personal lawyers to paul manafort that he would be taken care of and just, quote, sit tight, end quote. the president then publicly affirmed this communication by
stating that manafort, was, quote, a brave man, quote, for refusing the break. similarly the mueller report stated the president used inducements in the form of positive messages in an effort to get michael cohen not to cooperate. and then turned to attacks and intimidation to deter the provision of information or undermine cohen's credibility. finally, while the march letter to congress and the april press conference left the impression there were no remaining questions to examine, this report notes several limitations mueller faced while gathering the facts that congress needed to examine. more than once the report documents that legal conclusions were not drawn because witnesses refused to
answer questions or failed to recall the events. in addition, numerous witnesses, including but not limited to jerad kushner, sarah sanders, rudolph giuliani, steve bannon and john kelly all stated they could not recall events. the president said more than 30 times that he could not recall or remember enough to be able to answer written questions from the special counsel. the special counsel also recounted that, quote, some associated with the trump campaign deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that featured encryption or do not provide for long-term retention of data, end quote. based on these gaps, the
mueller report concluded, and i quote again, the office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would have shed additional light on or cast a new light on events described in the report, end quote. and contrary to the conclusion that the special counsel's report did not find evidence of communication or coordination between the trump campaign and russia, the mueller report explicitly states, and i quote, a statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts, volume 2, page 2. let me conclude with this. congress has both the constitutional duty and the authority to investigate the serious findings contained in the mueller report. i strongly believe that this
committee needs to hear directly from special counsel mueller about his views on the report in his march letter. i also believe senators should have the opportunity to ask him about these subjects in questions directly. i have requested this to our chairman to authorize a hearing with special counsel mueller, and i hope that will happen soon. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. before we receive your testimony, mr. barr, we have the letter that mr. mueller sent to you on march 27th, 2019. i'll put that in the record now. the floor is yours. sorry, we have to swear you in, sorry. >> do you solemnly swear the testimony you're about to give the committee is the truth, and nothing but the truth so help
you god? >> yes. >> sorry about that. >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member feinstein, members of the committee. during my confirmation process, there were two concerns that dominated, as i think you will all agree. the first was whether i would in any way impede or curtail special counsel mueller's investigation and the second whether i would make public his final report. as you state, bob mueller was allowed to complete his work as he saw fit, and as to the report, even though the applicable regulations require that the report is to be made to the a.g. and is to remain confidential and not be made public, i told this committee that i intended to exercise whatever discretion i had to make as much of the report available to the public and to
congressional leaders as i could consistent with the law. this has been done. i arrived at the department on february 14th. and shortly thereafter i asked it to be communicated to bob mueller's team that in preparing the report, we requested that they make it so we could readily identified 6e material so we could quickly process the report. >> could you tell the public what 6e is? >> that's grand jury material that can't be made public. it is prohibited by statute. i wanted that identified so we could redact that material and prepare the report for public release as quickly as we could. when i arrived at the department, i found and was eventually briefed in on the investigation, i found that the deputy attorney general and his principle associate deputy
callahan were in regular discussions with the counsel's office, had been, and they communicated this request and had discussions about both the timing of the report and the nature of the report. on march 5th, i met with bob at the suggestion of the deputy and the principle associate deputy, bob mueller, i met with bob mueller, to get a read-out on what his conclusions would be. on march 25th, -- and at that meeting i reiterated to special counsel mueller that in order to have the shortest possible time before i was in a position to release the report, i asked that they identify 6e material. when i received the report on
march 22nd and we were hoping to have that easily identified, the 6e material, unfortunately it did not come in that form. and it quickly became apparent it would take three or four weeks to identify that material and other material that had to be redacted. so there was necessarily going to be a gap between the receipt of the report and getting the full report out publicly. the deputy and i identified four categories of information that we believe required redaction. i think you all know of them but they were the grand jury material, the 6e material, information that the intelligence community advised would reveal sensitive sources and methods, information that if revealed at this stage would impinge on the investigation or prosecution of related cases, and information that would unfairly affect the privacy and reputational interests of
peripheral third parties. we went about redacting this material in concert with the special counsel's office. we needed their assistance to identify the 6e material in particular. the redactions were all carried out by d.o.j. lawyers with special counsel lawyers in consultation with intelligence community. the report contained a substantial amount of material over which the president could have asserted executive privilege but the president made the decision not to assert executive privilege and to make public as much of the report as we could subject to the redactions that we thought were required. now as you see, the report has been lightly redacted. the public version has been estimated to have only 10% redactions. almost -- the vast bulk of those redactions relate to are
in volume one, which is the volume that deals with collusion. and it relates to existing, ongoing cases. volume two has only about 2% redactions for the public version. 98% of volume two dealing with obstruction is available to the public. we have made a version of the report available to congressional leaders that only contains redactions of grand jury material. for this version overall redactions are less than 2% for the whole report and for volume 2 dealing with obstruction they're less than 1/10th of 1%. given the limited nature of redactions i believe the publicly-released report will allow every american to understands the results of the special counsel's work. by now everyone is familiar with the special counsel's bottom line conclusions about
russian attempts to interfere in the election. in volume one is special counsel found that the russians engaged in two distinct schemes. first the internet research agency, a russian entity with close ties to the russian government conducted a disinformation and social media operation to sow discord among americans. second, the gru, russian military intelligence, hacked into computers and stole emails from individuals affiliated with the democratic party and hillary clinton's campaign. the special counsel investigated whether anyone affiliated with president trump's campaign conspired or coordinated with these criminal schemes. they concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to establish that there had been any conspiracy or coordination with the russian government or the ira. as you know, volume 2 of his
report dealt with obstruction. the special counsel considered whether certain actions of the president could amount to obstruction. he decided not to reach a conclusion. instead, the report recounts 10 episodes and discusses potential legal theories for connecting the president's actions to elements of obstruction offenses. now, we first heard that the special counsel's decision not to decide the obstruction issue at the march 5th meeting when he came over to the department and we were frankly surprised that they were not going to reach a decision on obstruction. and we asked them a lot about the reasoning behind this and the basis for this. special counsel mueller stated three times to us in that meeting in response to our questioning that he emphatically was not saying that but for the olc opinion he would have found obstruction. he said that in the future, the
facts of the case against the president might be such that a special counsel would recommend abandoning the olc opinion but this is not such a case. we did not understand exactly why the special counsel was not reaching a decision. and when we pressed him on it he said that his team was still formulating the explanation. once we heard that the special counsel was not reaching a conclusion on obstruction, the deputy and i discussed and agreed that the department had to reach a decision. we had the responsibility to assess the evidence as set forth in the report and to make the judgment. i say this because special counsel was appointed to carry out the investigative and prosecutorial functions of the department and to do it as part of the department of justice. the powers he was using including the power of using a grand jury and using come pull
sorry process exists for that purpose, to determine whether or not there has been criminal conduct. it's a binary decision. is there enough evidence to show a crime? and do we believe a crime has been committed? we don't conduct criminal investigations just to collect information and put it out to the public. we do so to make a decision. and here we thought there was an additional reason, which is this was a very public investigation. and we had made clear that the results of the investigation were going to be made public and the deputy and i felt that the evidence developed by the special counsel was not sufficient to establish that the president committed a crime, and therefore it would be irresponsible and unfair for the department to release a report without stating the department's conclusions. and thus leave it hanging as to whether the department considered there had been criminal conduct. so the deputy attorney general and i conducted a careful review of the report with our
staffs and legal advisors. and while we disagreed with some of the legal theories and felt that many of the episodes discussed in the report would not constitute obstruction as a matter of law, we didn't rest our decision on that. we took each of the 10 episodes and we assessed them against the analytical framework set forth by the special counsel and we concluded the evidence developed during the special counsel's investigation was not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. let me just talk a little bit about this march 24th letter and bob mueller's letter i think on the -- which i received on the 28th. when the report came in on the 22nd and we saw it was going to take a great deal of time to get it out to the public, i made the determination that we had to put out some information
about the bottom line. the body poll -- poll tick was in a high stage of agitation and the bottom line of mueller's investigation was particularly to collusion. former government officials were confidently predicting that the president and members of his family were going to be indicted. people were suggesting if it took any time to turn around the report and get it out it would mean the president was in legal jeopardy. so i didn't feel that it was in the public interest to allow this to go on for several weeks without saying anything. so i decided to simply state what the bottom line conclusions were, which is what the department normally does, make a binary determination. is there a crime or isn't there a crime? we prepared the letter for that purpose to state the bottom
line conclusions. we used the language from the report to state those bottom line conclusions. it was like after announcing after an extended trial what the verdict of the trial is pending release of the full transcript. that's what we were trying to do. notify the people as to the bottom line conclusion. we were not trying to summarize the 410-page report. so we released that -- i offered bob mueller the opportunity to review that letter before it went out and he declined. on thursday morning, i received -- it probably was received at the department wednesday night or evening, but on thursday morning i received a letter from bob, the letter that has just been put into the record. and i called bob and said you
know, what is the issue here? are you -- i asked him if he was suggesting that the march 24th letter was inaccurate and he said no, but that the press reporting had been inaccurate. and that the press was reading too much into it and i asked him specifically what his concern was. and he said that his concern focused on his explanation of why he did not reach a conclusion on obstruction. and he wanted more put out on that issue. he wanted -- he argued for putting out summaries of each volume, the executive summaries that had been written by his office, and if not that, then other material that focused on the issue of why he didn't reach the obstruction question. but he was very clear with me that he was not suggesting that
we had misrepresented his report. i told bob that i was not interested in putting out summaries and i wasn't going to put out the report piecemeal. i wanted to get the whole report out and i thought summaries by very definition regardless of who prepared them would be under inclusive and we would have a series of different debates and public discord over each bit of information that went out. and i wanted to get everything out at once and we should start working on that. so the following day i put out a letter explaining the process we were following and stressing that the march 24th letter was not a summary of the report but a statement of the principle conclusions. and that people would be able to see bob mueller's entire
thinking when the report was made public. so in my statement there, mr. chairman, i'll to the actual re itself, was there ever an occasion where you wanted to -- something was redacted from the report that mr. mueller objected to? >> i wouldn't say objected to. my understanding is the categories were defined by me and the deputy. i don't think that -- i have no -- i don't believe -- >> you worked with him to redact the report. >> right. those categories were executed by d.o.j. lawyers working with his lawyers. i think there were maybe a few judgment calls, very few, as to whether or not something as a prudential matter should be treated as a reputational
interest. there may have been some occasions of that. >> as i understand it you did not want to hurt somebody's reputation unless it really affected the outcome, is that correct? >> right. >> was there any disagreement about 6e material? >> not that i'm aware of. >> any disagreement of classified information? >> not that i'm aware of. >> so the conclusions in your four-page summary you think accurately reflect his bottom line on collusion, is that correct? >> yes. >> and you can read it for yourself if you got any doubt. as to obstruction of justice, were you surprised he was going to let you decide? >> yes, i was surprised. i think the very -- the function he was carrying out, the prosecute and investigative function is performed for the purpose of making -- >> how many people did he actually indict? it was a lot.
>> yeah. >> he actually has the ability to indict if he wants to. he has used that power during the investigation, is that correct? >> that's correct. and the other thing that was confusing to me is that the investigation carried on for a while as additional episodes were looked into. episodes involving the president and so my question was why were those investigated if at the end of the day you weren't going to reach a decision on them? >> so did you consult deputy attorney general rosenstein about the obstruction matter? >> constantly, yeah. >> so was he in agreement with your decision not to proceed forward? >> yes. the agreement -- >> not to proceed forward with obstruction. >> right. >> so very quickly give us your reasoning why you think it would be inappropriate to proceed forward on obstruction of justice in this case?
>> well, generally speaking, an obstruction case typically has two aspects to it. one, there is usually an underlying criminality. >> let's stop right there. was there an underlying crime here? >> no. >> usually there is. >> usually. it is not necessary but the typical -- the case is there is an underlying crime and then the person implicated or people implicated are concerned about that illegal event being discovered and take an illegal act to obstruct that investigation. such as destroying documents. >> people were worried that he fired comey to stop the russia investigation. that's one of the concerns people had. let me tell you a little bit about comey. i do not have confidence in him, comey, any longer.
that was chuck schumer november 2, 2016. i think he, comey, should take a hard look at what he has done and i think it would not be a bad thing for the american people if he did step down. bernie sanders, january 15th, 2017, the president ought to fire comey immediately. and he ought to initiate an investigation. that is congressman nadler november 14th, 2016. did you have a problem with the way comey handled the clinton email investigation? >> yes, i said so at the time. >> okay. so given the fact that a lot of people think comey should be fired, did you find that to be a persuasive act of obstructing justice? >> no. i think even the report at the end of the day came to the conclusion, if you read the
analysis, that a reason that loomed large there for his termination was his refusal to tell the public what he was privately telling the president, which was that the president was not under investigation. >> as to where we go forward as to how we go forward, would you recommend that this committee and every other committee of congress do our best to harden our infrastructure against future russia attacks? >> absolutely, yes. >> do you think russia is still up to it? >> yes. >> do you think other countries might get involved in our elections in 2020. >> yes. >> you support an effort to harden our elector y'all infrastructure. is that one of the takeaways of the mueller report? >> yes. >> do you share my concerns about the fisa warrant process? >> yes. >> do you share my concerns about the counter intelligence investigation how and why it was opened? >> yes. >> you share my concerns that
the lack of professionalism in the clinton email investigation is something we should all look at? >> yes. >> okay. do you expect to change your mind about the bottom line conclusions of the mueller report? >> no. >> do you know bob mueller? >> yes. >> do you trust him? >> yes. >> how long have you known him? >> 30 years roughly. >> do you think he had the time he needed? >> yes. >> you think he had the money he needed? >> yes. >> do you think he had the resources he needed? >> yes. >> do you think he did a thorough job? >> yes, i think he feels he did a thorough job and had adequate evidence to make the calls. >> do you think the president's campaign in 2016 was thoroughly looked at in terms of whether or not they colluded with the russians? >> yes. >> and the answer is no, according to bob mueller, >> that's right. >> he couldn't decide about obstruction, you did, is that correct? >> that's right. >> you feel good about your
decision? >> absolutely. >> thank you very much. >> chairman, mr. attorney general, the special counsel's report describes how the president directed white house counsel don mcgahn to fire special counsel mueller and later told mcgahn to write a letter, quote, for our records, end quote, stating that the president had not ordered him to fire mueller. the report also recounts how the president made repeated efforts to get mcgahn to change his story. knowing that mcgahn believed the president's version of events was false, the special counsel found, and i quote, substantial evidence, end quote, that the president tried to change mcgahn's account in order to prevent further scrutiny of the president towards the investigation. special counsel also found that
mcgahn is a credible witness to no motive to lie for exaggerate given the position he held in the white house. here is the question. does existing law prohibit efforts to get a witness to lie to say something the witness believes is false? >> yes. lie to the government, yes. >> what law is is that? >> obstruction statute. >> the obstruction statute. you don't have it before you >> i'm not sure which one they were referring to here. it was probably 1512c2. >> so these things in effect constitute obstruction. >> you are talking in general terms. you are not talking -- >> i'm talking about specifically, yes, you are correct in a sense that substantial -- the special counsel in his report found
substantial evidence that the president tried to change mcgahn's account in order to prevent -- this is a quote -- further scrutiny of the president throughout tin vest gaition and the special counsel also found mcgahn is a credible witness. what i'm asking you then is that a credible charge? under the obstruction statute? >> we felt that that episode, the government would not be able to establish obstruction. the -- if you go back and if you look at the episode where the president gave mcgahn an instruction, mcgahn's version of that is quite clear and each time he gave it, which is that the instruction said go to
rosenstein, raise the issue of conflict of interest, and mueller has to go because of this conflict of interest. so there is no question that whatever instruction was given mcgahn had to do with conflict -- mueller's conflict of interest. now, the president later said that what he meant was that the conflict of interest should be raised with rosenstein but the decision should be left with rosenstein. on the other end of the spectrum, it appears that mcgahn felt it was more directive and the president was essentially saying push rosenstein to invoke a conflict of interest to push mueller out. wherever it fell on that spectrum of interest, "the new york times" story was very different. "the new york times" story said flat out the president directed
the firing of mueller. he told mcgahn fire mueller. now, there is something very different between firing a special counsel outright, which suggests ending the investigation, and having a special counsel removed for conflict, which suggests that you are going to have another special counsel. so the fact is that even under mcgahn's -- and then as the report says and recognizes, there is evidence the president truly felt that the times article was inaccurate and he wanted mcgahn to correct it. so we believe that it would be impossible for the government to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the president understood that he was instructing mcgahn to say something false. because it wasn't necessarily false. moreover, mcgahn had weeks before already given testimony to the special counsel and the
president was aware of that. and as the report indicates, it could also have been the case that what -- that he was primarily concerned about press reports and making it clear that he never outright directed the firing of mueller. so in terms of the request to ask mcgahn to memorialize that fact, not think in this case that the government could show corrupt intent beyond a reasonable doubt. >> just to finish this. but you still have a situation where a president essentially tries to change the lawyers' account in order to prevent further criticism of himself. >> that's not a crime.
>> so you can in this situation instruct someone to lie? >> no, well, to be obstruction of justice the lie has to be tied to impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding. mcgahn had already given his evidence and i think it would be plausible that the purpose of mcgahn memorializing what the president was asking was to make the record that the president never directed him to fire. and there is a distinction between saying to someone go fire him, go fire mueller, and saying have him removed based on conflict. different results. >> what would that conflict be? >> well, the difference between them is if you remove someone for a conflict of interest, then there would be another -- presumably another person appointed. >> but wouldn't you have to have in this kind of situation
an identifiable conflict that made sense or else doesn't it just become a fabrication? >> well, now we'll shift from the issue of writing the memo or somehow putting out a release later on and the issue of the actual direction to mcgahn. the question on the direction to mcgahn has a number of different levels to it. and first as a matter of law i think the department's position would be that the president can direct the termination or the replacement of a special counsel. and as a matter of law, the obstruction statute does not reach that conduct. putting that aside, the next question would be even if it reached the conduct, could you here establish corrupt intent beyond a reasonable doubt?
what makes this case very interesting is that when you take away the fact that there was no underlying criminal conduct, and you take away the fact that there was no inherently malign obstructive act. the president was carrying out his constitutional duties, the question is what is the impact of taking away the underlying crime? and it is not -- the report suggests one impact we have to find some other reason why the president would obstruct the investigation. but there is another impact which is if the president is being falsely accused, which the evidence now suggests that the accusations against him were false, and he knew they were false, and he felt that this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents and was hampering his
ability to govern, that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel. so that's another reason that we would say that the government would have difficulty proving this beyond a reasonable doubt. >> senator johnson and i wrote you about text messages between peter strzok and lisa page that appear to show the f.b.i. may have tried to use counter intelligence briefings for the trump transition team as intelligence gathering operations. i hope you will commit to answering the letter in writing but also providing committees the requested briefing. that's my question. >> yes, senator. >> have you already tasked any staff to look into whether spying by the f.b.i. and other
agencies on the trump campaign was properly predicated and can congress expect a formal report on your findings? >> yes, i do have people in the department helping me review the activities over the summer of 2016. >> i suppose it depends on what conclusions you come to. is there any reason why congress wouldn't be briefed on your conclusions? >> it's a little early for me commit completely but i envision some kind of reporting at the end of this. >> the clinton campaign and the democrat national committee hired fusion gps to do opposition research against candidate trump. fusion gps then hired christopher steele, former british intelligence officer, to compile what we all know is
this steele dossier. that reportedly used russian government sources for information. the steele dossier was central to the now debunked collusion narrative. here is the irony. the mueller report spent millions investigating and found no collusion between trump campaign and russia. but the democrats paid for a document created by a foreign national with reported foreign government sources. not trump, but the democrats. that's the definition of collusion. despite the central status of the steele dossier to the collusion narrative, the mueller report failed to analyze whether the dossier was filled with disinformation to mislead u.s. intelligence agencies and the f.b.i.
my question, mueller spent over two years, $30 million investigating russian interference in the election. in order for a full accounting of russian interference attempts, shouldn't the special counsel have considered on whether the steele dossier was part of a russian disinformation and interference campaign? >> i don't -- special counsel mueller has put out his report and i have not yet had anyone go through the full scope of his investigation to determine whether he did address or look at all into those issues. one of the things i'm doing in my review is try to assembly all the existing information out there about it. not only from hill investigations and the oig but also to see what the special counsel looked into. so i really couldn't say what he actually looked into.
>> but you think -- in other words, if you had looked at all that information right now, you are telling me you could have said yes or no to my question. >> if i had looked at it. >> and you are going to attempt to find some of this information if it's available. >> yes. >> similarly, shouldn't the special counsel have looked into the origins of the f.b.i.'s investigation into alleged collusion between the trump campaign and russia? >> the origins of that narrative? >> yes. >> i don't know if he viewed his charter that broadly. and i don't know whether he did or not. that's something that i am reviewing and again will look at whatever the special counsel has developed on that. >> yeah. in volume two of the report the special counsel declined to make a prosecutorial decision. instead the special counsel laid out 200 or so pages
relating to a potential obstruction analysis and then dumped that on your desk. in your press conference you said that you asked the special counsel whether he would have made a charging decision or recommended charges on obstruction but for the office of legal counsel's opinion on charging sitting president and the special counsel made clear that was not the case. so mr. barr, is that an accurate description of your conversation with the special counsel? >> yes. he reiterated several times in a group meeting that he was not saying that but for the olc opinion he could have found obstruction. >> if the special counsel found facts sufficient to constitute obstruction of justice, would he have stated that finding? >> if he had found that, then i think he would state it, yes. >> was it special counsel
mueller's responsibility to make a charging recommendation? >> i think the deputy attorney general and i thought it was. but not just charging, but to determine whether or not conduct was criminal. the president would be charged -- could not be charged as long as he was in office. >> do you agree with the reasons that he offered for not making a decision in volume two of his report? and why or why not? >> i'm not really sure of his reasoning. i really could not recapitulate his analysis, which is one of the reasons in my march 24th letter i stated the fact he didn't reach a conclusion and didn't try to put words in his mouth. i think that if he felt that he
shouldn't go down the path of making a traditional prosecuteive decision he shouldn't have investigated. that was the time to pull up. >> okay. there have been a number of leaks coming out of the justice department and f.b.i. during high profile investigations. the inspector general found that during the department's investigation of hillary clinton for mishandling highly classified information there was a culture of unauthorized media contacts. during the russian investigation the leaks continued. leaks undermine the ability of investigators to investigate. further leaks to the papers while congress's questions to the department go unanswered is unacceptable. why -- what are you doing to investigate unauthorized media contacts by the department and f.b.i. officials during the russian investigation?
>> we have multiple criminal leak investigations underway. >> thank you. >> senator lee. >> thank you, attorney general. somewhat troubled by your testimony here and in the other body. you appeared before the house appropriations on april 9th and you were asked about media report that special counsel's team is frustrated that your march 24th letter didn't adequately portray the report's findings. congressman crist asked if you knew what those members of the special counsel's team were concerned about. you testified in response no, i don't. you then said you merely suspected they would have preferred more information was released with the letter. now we know, contrary to what
you said april 9th, that on march 27th robert mueller wrote to you expressing very specific concerns that your march 24th letter, you were testifying on april 9th. that your march 24th letter failed to capture the to quote mr. mueller, the context, natures and substance of his report. and what really struck me, mr. mueller wrote that your letter threatened to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel to insure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigation. why did you testify on april 9th that you didn't know the concerns being expressed by mueller's team when in fact you heard those concerns directly from mr. mueller two weeks before? >> well, as i said, i talked directly to bob mueller about
his letter to me and specifically asked him what exactly are your concerns. are you saying that the march 24th letter was misleading or inaccurate or what? he indicated that it was not. he was not saying that and that what he was concerned about -- >> that's not my question. >> i'm getting to the question which is the question from crist was reports have emerged recently, press reports, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your march 24th letter in that they don't adequately or accurately portray the report's findings. i don't know what members he is talking about. and i certainly am not aware of any challenge to the accuracy of the findings. >> mr. barr, you seem to have
learned the filibuster rules even better than senators do. 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. >> i answered the question. 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 and i
think others do, too. let me ask you another one. you said the president has fully cooperated with the investigation. but his attorney had told a defendant he would be taken care of if he didn't cooperate with the investigation. is there a conflict in that? >> i'm sorry, could you repeat that? >> taken care of if they did not cooperate. you said that the president was fully cooperating. is there a conflict there? yes or no. >> no. >> you think it's fully cooperating to instruct a former aide to tell the attorney general to recuse himself, shut down the investigation and declare the president did nothing wrong? >> i don't think -- well,
obviously since i didn't find it was obstruction i felt that the evidence could not support an obstruction. >> i'm not asking you as obstruction. is that fully cooperating? >> he he fully cooperateed. >> to tell an aide to recuse himself and shut down the investigation and declare the president did nothing wrong that's fully cooperating? >> where is that on the report. volume 2, page 5, on june the president dictated a message for lewandowski to deliver to sessions that he should -- recusal from the russia investigation, investigation period the president has done nothing wrong. >> right. >> is that cooperating? >> firstly, asking sessions to unrecuse himself we do not think is obstruction. >> and declare the president did nothing wrong. i ask you if that is
cooperating. >> i don't know if that declares the president did nothing wrong. the president in terms of collusion did nothing wrong. >> it's obstructing. is that fully cooperating to say that? >> well, i don't see any conflict between that and fully cooperating with the investigation. >> the president, of course, declared many times publicly in tweets and at campaign rallies that he would testify. he never did testify, correct? >> as far as i know. >> i think you know whether he testified or not. >> as far as i know he didn't testify. >> and mr. mueller found the written answers to be inadequate, is that correct? >> i think he wanted additional but he never sought it. >> and the president -- >> he never pushed it.
>> the president never testified. does the fact that mr. mueller found the trump campaign was receptive to some of the offers of assistance from russia or the fact that the trump campaign never reported any of this to the f.b.i., does that trouble you? >> what would they report to the f.b.i.? >> that they were receptive to offers of assistance from russia. >> what do you mean by receptive? >> i think the report says obviously -- obviously they were expecting to benefit from whatever the russians. >> volume 1 report says in some of the investigations that multiple links between trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the russian government. those links included russian assistance in the campaign in some instances the campaign was receptive to the offer whereas others they were not. that didn't bother you at all.
>> i have to understand exactly what that refers to. what communications that referred to. >> you have the report. i just gave you the page from the report. i know my time is up and i'm making the chairman nervous. >> very well done. senator cornyn. >> general barr, the chairman has pointed out that after the hillary clinton email investigation, there were a number -- and mr. comey's press conference july 5th roughly 2016 there were a number of prominent democratic members of the senate who said that comey should be -- should resign. or be fired. i believe you said that you've concluded as a matter of law that the president is the head of the executive branch of government has the right to fire executive branch employees. is that correct? >> that's right. >> in this case, the president was relying at least in part on
a recommendation by the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein arising out of rod rosenstein's critique of mr. comey's conduct in holding that press conference releasing derogatory information about secretary clinton, but then announcing that no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against her, is that right? >> that's right. >> you started your career, i believe, in the intelligence community and then moved on, of course, to the department of justice. and thank you for agreeing to serve again as attorney general and help restore the department's reputation as an impartial arbiter of the law and not as a political arm of any administration. i think that's very, very important that you and director wray continue your efforts in that regard and i'm grateful to you for that. but i do believe that we need
to ask the question why didn't the obama administration do more as early as 2014 in investigating russian efforts to prepare to undermine and sow dissension in the 2016 election? mr. mueller's report does document that the russian government, through the intelligence -- through their intelligence agencies and internet research, ira i think it's called, began as early as 2014, began their efforts to do so. and we know they met with some success. is it any surprise to you, based on your experience, that the russians would try to do everything they can to sow dissension in american political life including in our elections? >> no, not at all. i think the internet creates a
lot more opportunities to have that kind of covert effect on american body politics. so it is getting more and more dangerous. but the russians have been at this for a long time in various different ways. the point you made about bob mueller's efforts on ira, it's one of the things that struck me about the report. i think it's very impressive work that they did in moving quickly to get into the ira and also the gru folks. and i was thinking to myself, if that had been done in -- starting in the beginning of 2016, we would have been a lot further along. >> for example, we've heard a lot about the steele dossier. mr. steele, of course, was a former british intelligence officer hired by -- to do opposition research by the
hillary clinton campaign on her political adversaries, including president trump, or candidate trump at that time. how do we know that the steele dossier is not itself evidence of russian disinformation campaign knowing what we know now that basically the allegations made were second hand, hearsay or unverified? can we state with confidence the steele dossier was not part of the russian disinformation campaign? >> i can't state that with confidence and it's one of the areas that i'm reviewing. i'm concerned about it and i don't think it's entirely speculative. >> we know that from published reports that the head of the cia, mr. brennan, went to president obama and brought his concerns about initial indications of russian involvement in the campaign as
early as late july of 2016. and instead of doing more during the obama administration to look into that and disrupt and deter russian activities that threatened the validity and integrity of our campaign in 2016, it appears to me that the obama administration justice department and f.b.i. decided to place their bets on hillary clinton and focus their efforts on investigating the trump campaign. but as you have pointed out, thanks to the special counsel we now have confidence that no americans colluded with the russians in their effort to undermine the american people. we now need to know, and i'm glad to hear what you are telling us about your inquiries and your research and your investigation. we now need to know what steps the obama f.b.i., department of
justice, and intelligence community, what steps they took to undermine the political process and put a thumb on the scale in favor of one political candidate over the other. and that would be before and after the 2016 election. what is a defensive briefing in a counter intelligence investigation? >> you could have different kinds of defensive briefings. if you learn that somebody is being targeted by a hostile intelligence service, then one form of defensive briefing is to go and to alert that person to the risks. >> i think attorney general lynch has said it is routine in counter intelligence investigations. would you agree with her? >> yes. >> do you know whether a defensive briefing was ever given to the trump campaign by the f.b.i. based on their counter intelligence investigation? did they ever tell the
president before he was january of 2017 what the russians were trying to do and advise him to tell people affiliated with his campaign to be on their guard and be vigilant about russian efforts to undermine public confidence in the election? >> my understanding is that didn't happen. >> that would be -- that failure to provide a defensive briefing to the trump campaign, that would be an extraordinary or notable failure, would you agree? >> i think under these circumstances it's one of the things that i can't fathom why it did not happen. if you are concerned about interference in the election and you have substantial people involved in the campaign that were former u.s. attorneys, you had three former u.s. attorneys there in the campaign, i don't understand why the bureau would not have gone and given a defensive briefing.
>> thank you. >> bill: senator durbin. >> i've been listening carefully to my republican colleagues and they'll coordinate the lock her up defense. this is not supposed to be about the mueller investigation, the russian involvement election, the trump campaign and so forth. it's about hillary clinton's emails. we get down to the bottom line. hillary clinton's emails and questions have have to be asked about benghazi and travel gate, whitewater, a lot of material we should be going through today. it's unresponsive to the reality about what the american people want to know. they paid $25 million for the report. i respect mr. mueller and believe he came up with a sound report. i don't agree with all of it. but i find, general barr, some of the things that you've engaged in really leave me wondering what you believe your role as attorney general is when it comes to something like
this. listen to what -- since it's put in the record let me read it. listen to what you received in a letter on march 27th from bob mueller. the summary letter the department sent to congress released to the public march 24th did not fully capture the context, nature and substances off offices work and conclusions. there is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. this threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel. to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. i can't imagine you received that letter on march 24th and could not answer congressman crist directly when he asked you whether there were concerns about representations being made on these findings by the people working for bob mueller. you said no, i don't know. after receiving this letter. what am i missing? >> as i explained to senator
leahy, i talked directly to bob. bob told me he did not have objections to the accuracy of the -- >> attorneys continue put things in writings unless they're serious about them. a rule in politics, a good politician doesn't write a letter and doesn't throw one away. if he puts it in writing of his concerns of your representations in march 24th you couldn't recall that when congressman crist asked you that question a few days later? >> no, i'm saying this -- the march 24th letter stated that bob mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction. and it had language in there about not exonerating the president. my view of events was that there was a lot of criticism of the special counsel for the ensuing few days and on thursday i got this letter.
and when i talked to the special counsel about the letter, my understanding was his concern was not the accuracy of the statement of the findings in my letter. but that he wanted more out there to provide additional context to explain his reasoning on why he didn't reach a decision on obstruction. >> i'll just say this, mr. barr. if you received a letter from bob mueller a few days after your march 24th letter it was clear he had genuine concerns about you had said and done to that point. >> his concerns was he wanted more out. i would an -- say this. after a months' long trial, if i wanted to go out and get out to the public what the verdict was pending preparation of the full transcript that i'm out there saying here is the verdict and the prosecutor comes up and taps me on the
shoulder and says well, the verdict doesn't fully capture all my work. how about that great cross examination i did or how about that third day of trial where i did that. this doesn't capture everything. my answer to that is i'm not trying to capture everything. i'm trying to state the verdict. sgrao >> you used the word saoum riseed your letter. >> the principle conclusions. >> let me move to another topic if i can for a minute. the office of legal counsel's decision as to whether or not you can prosecute a sitting president. you have pretty strong feelings of that and reflected in your volunteered memo to the trump defense team. your 19-page memo. >> did i discuss that? >> you discussed whether or not a president should cooperate with an investigation. you said at one point in summarizing the findings of mueller that the white house fully cooperated. we know for the fact and you've stated already the president never submitted himself to what was characterized as a vital
interview, an actual sit-down interview underoath and his questions that were answered some 30 times his memory failed him. so to say the white house fully cooperated i think is a generous conclusion. on this office of legal counsel, i would refer you to this volume 2 of the mueller report and on page 1 he talks about the whole issue of whether or not he was in any way restricted and what he could conclude because of the outstanding office of legal counsel opinion on the liability of a sitting president, you dismissed that in your opening statement and said we asked him two or three times and that had nothing to do with it. how do you explain on first page of volume 2 had a lot to do with it and the reason he couldn't reach a binary conclusion of obstruction of justice. >> no, it was one of the back drop factors that he cited as
influenceensing. it's different than saying but for the olc opinion i would indict. >> i will stand by what he has written and ask others to read it as well. the last point is about don mcgahn. if you read the sections pages 113-120 on don mcgahn's experience, the president wanted him to state publicly that "the new york times" article was untrue. that he had not asked mcgahn to fire the special counsel. mcgahn refused and there is some speculation whether he risked being dismissed or even resigning over this issue. and for you to suggest that this was some sort of a dance with rod rosenstein i think the president's intent was clear. he wanted this to end. he told lester holt going back to the issue that was raised by the chairman earlier here, the reason to get rid of comey because of the russia investigation. over and over again this president was very explicit and
certainly is very expository in style. so i don't -- let me ask you this conclusion, my time is up. do you have any objections, can you think of an objection of why don mcgahn shouldn't come testify before this committee about his experience? >> yes, i think that he is a close advisor to the president >> never exerted executive privilege. >> we haven't waived executive privilege. >> you're saying -- what about bob mueller, should he be allowed to testify? >> i've said publicly i have no objection to him. >> dan, should he be allowed to testify? >> that's a call for the president to make. >> he is a citizen. >> i assume he would be testifying about privileged matters. >> i hope we could get to the bottom of this with actual testimony and witnesses when we take a look at hillary clinton's emails. >> we might do that. senator lee.
>> classic dissent in morrison versus olson justice scaley yeah remarked nothing is so ability effective -- that they are but in all probability crooks. and nothing so effectively gives an appearance of validity to such charges as a justice department investigation. that observation has, i think, been born out time and time again over the past two years. time and time again the president's political adversaries have exploited the mueller probe, its mere existence to spread baseless innuendo in an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the 2016 election and the effectiveness of this administration. for example, on january 25th, 2019, speaker nancy pelosi
asked what does putin have on the president politically, personally or financially? mr. attorney general, is there any evidence to suggest that vladimir putin, quote, unquote, has something on president trump? >> none that i'm aware of. >> on february 20th, 2019, former f.b.i. deputy director andrew mccabe said on national television to the entire nation that he thinks it's possible that donald trump is a russian agent. mr. attorney general, is there any evidence that you are aware of suggests remotely that president trump is a russian agent? >> none that i'm aware of. >> eric swalwell has claimed donald trump acts on russia's behalf. attorney general barr, stl anything you're aware of to back that up by way of evidence? that the president acts on russia's behalf. >> none that i'm aware of. >> we've heard over and over
again on national tv, committee hearings, house and senate floor and media we've heard about the president's alleged collusion with russia. but what we have heard is as baseless as any conspiracy theory that we've seen in politics, any that i can think of. the only difference here is purveyors of this conspiracy were in many cases prominent members of the opposition party. that's concerning. now, from the beginning there were some indications that the russia investigation was perhaps not always conducted with the absolute impartiality that the american people should expect and have come to hope and find in existence within the department of justice. especially given that the track record of excellence that the u.s. department of justice has shown. according to the mueller report itself, the investigation into
the trump campaign began on july 31st, 2016 after a foreign government contacted the f.b.i. about comments made by george papadopoulos. is that accurate or were there other precipitating events that helped lead to this? >> that is the account that has been given in the past as to how it got going. >> you previously said it's possible that the federal bureau of investigation improperly spied on the trump campaign. i assume that's a reference to to the fisa warrant for carter page. is that what you have in mind or are there other circumstances you have in mind there? >> one of the things i want to -- many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant and a fisa warrant.
i would like to find out whether that is, in fact, true. it strikes me as a fairly anemic effort if that was the counter intelligence effort to stop the threat as it is being represented. >> was carter page under surveillance working for the trump campaign? >> i don't know. >> was any other trump campaign official under surveillance during that period to your knowledge? >> these are the things i need to look at. as i've said before, the extent there was any overreach i believe it was a few people in the upper echelons of the bureau and perhaps the department. but those people are no longer there and i'm working closely with chris wray who i think has done a suburb job at the bureau and we're working together on
trying to reconstruct exactly what went down. one thing people should know is that the bureau itself has been a little bit handicapped in looking back because of the pending mueller investigation and the oig investigation. >> as we note the fisa warrant for carter page was based largely on the so-called steele dossier and in particular on two specific facts about page's trip to moscow to deliver a speech in july 2016. first according to the warrant page had a secret meeting with igor session, the president of rosniv. does the mueller report that page met with session? >> met with who? >> with mr. egor. >> i don't remember that. i want to stay away from getting too deeply into the fisa issue. it is currently under
investigation by the oig. >> understood. second and more importantly the with igor in order to discuss what is referred to as -- against hillary clinton. does the mueller report confirm that page met with this man? >> i don't think so. >> does it confirm that page discussed things with hillary clinton on anyone? >> not that i recall. >> since the evidentiary support for the warrant has been discussed by the mueller report which is the gold standard we're talking about. i would encourage you to look into why the f.b.i. relied on this false information and i hope you'll share the results. the public has a right to know what happened here. the u.s. department of justice and the federal bureau of investigation have a long history and a laong history of
success that has been based on respect. they deserve to understand that there is not so much power that has been concentrated in that one agency that the outcome of an investigation can depend on the whims of who might be assigned to it. they have a right not to believe that a particular investigation might be strzok and page. might not be tarmac, might not be included by an improper consideration politically or otherwise. thank you, mr. attorney general. >> we want to let our viewers know 90 minutes we had language slip by us. we apologize to our viewers down the line. we can thank lindsey graham for his candid response. what is happening with the judiciary committee. they've just taken a vote and approved the permission for staffers designated by the ranking member and jerry nadler
to allow staffers, otherwise deemed as lawyers, to question bill barr during a hearing that begins tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. this is something that bill barr is strongly opposed to. we'll see whether or not he fights it or whether or not he shows up tomorrow or if he is issued a subpoena for the testimony tomorrow. may 1st today on the senate side. may 2nd was on the schedule for the house side and we'll see if it goes forward. i apologize for the interruption. bill barr. >> have you read it? >> when did you first learn of the "new york times" and "washington post" stories that would make the existence of this letter public, the ones that came out last night? >> i think it could have been yesterday but i'm not sure. >> when they contacted you to ask for comment? >> they didn't comment me. >> contacted doj?
>> i can't remember how it came up. someone mentioned it. >> at some point you knew the mueller letter would become public and that was probably yesterday. >> i think so. >> 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. seems to me it would be a very different question. >> i can't even follow that down the road. boy. that's the masterful hair splitting. the letter references enclosed documents and enclosed materials, right? are those the same things as what you called the executive summaries that mueller provided
you? >> with this letter? >> yes. >> it's all the same document. when you talk about the executive summaries that mueller provided you, they are the documents that were the enclosed documents with that letter which we have not been provided. >> i think they were. >> the -- >> you have been provided them. they're in the report. the summary is in the report. >> it's the language of the report in the report? there is nothing else he provided you? >> i think that's what he provided. >> okay. if there is anything else, will you provide it to us if it's different in any form? it is odd to be given a letter without the attachments to it when the attachments came with the letter. >> they were redacted versions of the executive summaries embedded in the report. >> can we get that just to be sure? >> sure. >> great, thank you. you agree none of that material was grand jury 6e or presented a risk to intelligence sources
and methods or would interfere or compromise ongoing -- >> there were redactions made in the executive summaries. i wasn't interested in putting out summaries, period. frankly -- >> another hair splitting exercise. bob mueller who is fairly credible described your letter as a summary. you can say it wasn't a summary, mueller said it was a summary. >> i wasn't interested if summarizing the whole report. i was stating the bottom line conclusions of the report. and i --- >> it's to describe the report. >> it's a 400 page report and you have four pages i don't know -- >> i state in the letter that i'm stating the principle conclusions. let me also say that bob mueller is the equivalent of a u.s. attorney. he was exercising the powers of
the attorney general subject to the supervision of the attorney general. he is part of the department of justice. 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. >> with respect to the olc opinion that informed bob mueller's decision as he describes in the report, do you agree that that is merely an executive opinion and that under our constitution the decision has tao*s what the law is made by the judicial branch of the united states government? >> i'm sorry, >> with respect to the olc opinion that informed mueller's decision not to make a recommendation on obstruction
as he said in his report, do you concede that that is an executive opinion and under our constitutional system the law gets decided by the judicial branch of government. >> it could be wrong, could it not? >> i guess hypothetically it could be wrong. >> there are many respected legal commentators and professors and lawyers who disagree with it, correct? >> it's hard to find lawyers that agree on anything. >> so the interesting thing to me it goes on to say that because of the olc opinion, we have to give the president an extra benefit of the doubt because he is denied his day in court where he could exonerate himself. that seems like fallacy to me
because if you are the president of the united states, you can either waive or redly override the olc opinion and said i'm read' to go to trial. i'm going to exonerate myself. >> how is this relevant to my decisions? i assumed there was no olc opinion. >> well, we have a report in front of us that says that this influenced the outcome. and in particular it says it influenced the outcome because it deprived the president of his ability to have his day in court. my point to you is that the president could easily have his day in court by simply waiving or overriding this olc opinion that has no judicial basis, correct? >> well, i don't think that there was anything to have a day in court on. i think that the government did not have a prosecutable case. >> but part -- mueller
obviously didn't agree because he left that up to you. >> well -- >> he said he could neither confirm nor deny there was a prosecutable case here. he left that to you. and when he did, he said and you apparently have agreed that this olc opinion bears on it and it would be unfair to the president to put him through the burden of being indicted and not -- >> i don't want to characterize bob mueller's thought process. >> it's in his report. >> i'm not sure what he means by that in the report. >> with respect to the word -- can i have a minute? i just want to nail down. you used the word spying about authorized d.o.j. investigative activities. >> are you talking about my testimony before the house appropriations? >> yes. in the entirety of your previous career in the department of justice including as attorney general, have you ever referred to authorized
department investigative activities officially or publicly as spying? i'm not asking for private conversations. >> i'm not going to abjure the use of the word spying. my first job is c.i.a. and i don't think the word spying has a pejorative connotation, whether or not it's authorized and adequately predicated spying. spying is a good english word that doesn't have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating really all forms of covert intelligence collection. i'm not going to back off the word spying except i will say i'm not suggesting any pejorative and i use it frequently. >> was it off the cuff in the meeting that day? >> it was off the cuff to tell you the truth. and when the senator -- the --
the person from hawaii, when he challenged me and said you want to change your language i was actually thinking like what is the issue? i don't consider it a pejorative. but frankly, we went back and looked at press usage and up until all the full outrage a couple of weeks ago it's used in the press to refer to authorized activities. spy court. >> it is not commonly used by the department. my time is up. >> commonly used by me. >> thank you very much. we'll come back at 10 to 1:00 thank you. >> bill: one hour break on senate judiciary committee. a fascinating hearing. bill barr making the case why he didn't pursue obstruction charges. even if the president wanted to
fire mueller -- republicans kept up bringing up the attorney -- hillary clinton server and there will be more questions as we continue in one hour from now. stay tuned to the fox news channel for continuing coverage of the bill barr hearing day one today. another hearing on the house side tomorrow possibly. stand by for information on that. with sandra smith and our team in washington i'm bill hemmer in new york. our coverage continues on cable. >> sandra: bring in former independent counsel and fnc contributor sol wisenberg is standing by. you've been listening to every word of this. what has struck you so far.
>> strikes me bill barr is the honey badger. dick durbin, honey badger don't care. pat leahy, honey badger don't give a [bleep]. he handled himself very well with one exception. he does very well in these contexts. he is sharter than just about anybody in the room. one area where i think he did not perform very well and that's the issue of was it cooperative? i forget who asked it. i think it was leahy. was it being cooperative for the president to indirectly ask jeff sessions to inrecuse himself and announce the president hadn't done anything wrong. thals not really cooperation. i think he could have been more direct but otherwise he did very well. >> sandra: there was a lot of questions about the leak of this letter from robert mueller in march going to william barr expressing concern over the
characterization of that report. william barr took that head on and said i called up bob, a man who he described he has known for 30 years and said was there something inaccurate about the way that we represented that report? and he said he was very clear on that phone call and said that he was not representing that report. did he make that clear to everyone? >> well, i think you ought to be able if you are a member of congress to ask a question like that. the question that barr was asked in the house was are you aware that people on mueller's staff have any problem with your findings? and he took that literally and he answered that correctly and i think he made that point today. then he volunteered, because he knew about the letter, he volunteered there may be some people who believe we should have provided more context. so learn how to ask a question
if you are going to later come and try to hit somebody for it. i want to make it clear, i'm not being cynical here. i think that attorney general barr did well not only as a question of performance but substantively. again with that one -- >> sandra: were you surprised that he said it took him by surprise that robert mueller did not come to a decision on obstruction? >> i was not surprised the attorney general was surprised. it was bob mueller's job. why bob mueller did not bite the bullet and come to that decision remains a bit of a mystery. we have a very elaborate explanation. but he was charged with making that decision. so what we have is this incredibly elaborate analysis in book two with respect to obstructive acts.
i don't think it serves the country well. didn't serve the justice department well. but that's now history. all we're doing now is looking back on the process as to how the decision was made. the decision has been made, there was no crime of obstruction. now if the house of representatives wants to go forward with this that's their business. one of the things that i think is very important in terms of what bill barr has been doing under these very difficult circumstances, under these regulations, all he was required to do was to notify congress and to provide an explanation. bob mueller's job was to provide the attorney general with a confidential report. toward the end of these hearings or this session bill barr made a very telling comment. he said i overrode the regulations. now, that should seep into thoughtful people. he essentially said i have restored what i'm calling the bad old days of the independent
counsel law and here is a 440 some odd page report with the modest redactions, 10%, 2%, book one and two i'll make it available to the american people. that's the old system. during the clinton years the attorney general decided we don't want any more of this and let's have a much more restrained approach to reporting. >> bill: stand by in waco, texas. sol wisenberg in north carolina. our team of reporters, legal analysts and anchors standing by in new york and washington, d.c. get a quick break here. the coverage continues after the break here. then the hearing comes back at 12:50 eastern time. we aren't done with bill barr yet perhaps not by a long shot. three democrats on this committee who want to be the democratic nominee for president. all three have yet to start their questioning. they'll get their turn when the
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>> quickly, give us your reasoning why you think it would be inappropriate to proceed forward on obstruction of justice in this case. >> well, generally speaking, an obstruction case typically has two aspects to it. one, there is usually an underlying criminality. >> let's stop right there. with their underlying crime here? >> no. >> bill: one of the main headlines you've heard so far. we've come up on the noon eastern time hour, live in new york city along with sandra smith. on bill hemmer, good afternoon to you. happy anniversary. space thank you very much. >> bill: the thing we picked up his letter that broke late last night. it was delivered at the end of mar