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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Says No Collusion And Robert Mueller Agrees; Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D) Is Interviewed Regarding The Mueller Report. Aired: 9-10p ET
Aired March 24, 2019 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN: Well, the President says no collusion and Robert Mueller agrees. Topping the special hour of 360, that is the bottom line from Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Special Counsel's report, no conspiring with Russians during the 2016 election by the President and people around him.
A major vindication on that front and a decision by the Attorney General not to pursue obstruction of justice charges against the President.
Returning to the White House tonight, the President was understandably elated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to tell you that America is the greatest place on Earth, the greatest place on Earth. Thank you very much. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The President tonight, just a few hours before on the tarmac in Florida, he also had more to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's a shame that our country had to go through this, to be honest it's a shame that your President has had to go through this for -- before I even got elected it began and it began illegally and hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side. This was an illegal takedown that failed and hopefully, somebody is going to be looking at the other side --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: "An illegal takedown that failed," he said led by a man, Robert Mueller, he's repeatedly called conflicted yet the same Robert Mueller who just lifted a major burden from his Presidency. We will learn more of the implications of that in the hour ahead. We want to start with CNN's Laura Jarrett at the Justice Department.
If you can walk us through what is in this summary from the Attorney General. LAURA JARRETT, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Anderson, there are
two main takeaways from Attorney General Bill Barr's summary of the Special Counsel's report. The first one really, the writing was on the wall when it comes to the question of so-called collusion or coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government that and so far, at least we've seen nothing to suggest that that was going to happen in any of the indictments, and the Attorney General says it right here, Anderson.
"The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." But on the second question of obstruction of justice, that's really more of a gray area and on that issue, the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller punted to the Attorney General, he'd said there was evidence on both sides. He looked at the facts. He looked at the law and here's what the Attorney General writes on that.
"While this report does not conclude ..." meaning Mueller's report, " ... it does not conclude that the President committed a crime. It also does not exonerate him."
So while Mueller did not exonerate the President on the question of obstruction of justice, Anderson, Attorney General Bill Barr who went on to do just that.
COOPER: And I understand you have some new information about the discussions between Mueller and the Department of Justice about potentially subpoenaing the President for an interview. We know he did a written interview.
JARRETT: That's right. So we knew for the better part of a year, there were ongoing negotiations between the Trump campaign -- rather the Trump legal team and the Special Counsel's office, the Trump legal team was sort of dragging its feet, managing to put them off, but we're now learning at the same time as those negotiations were ongoing, there were also sensitive discussions going on between top Justice Department officials and the Special Counsel's office raising the specter of a subpoena and they decided ultimately that it was not warranted.
Mueller actually never made a formal request for that subpoena, but the fact that it was raised at all is significant and it also means that it allowed the Attorney General, the current Attorney General Bill Barr who wasn't around for those discussions, it allowed him to be able to say to Congress on Friday that Mueller had never been turned down for any major significant investigative step, Anderson.
COOPER: I mean, obviously Democrats have put a lot into the Mueller investigation, put a lot of eggs in the basket of collusion and they're already pushing back now over these findings.
JARRETT: Yes, they're certainly disappointed this evening especially on, I think, on the obstruction of justice issue, but the main issue here will be well, what exactly are they going to get to see? What's left here? As already, the Attorney General has sort of spelled out that they are looking for ways to try to present other findings potentially from Mueller's report.
But he also explains that there's potentially grand jury issues here and they can't disclose grand jury material without violating the law, so I'm told by a senior Justice Department official that there's a small team working on this trying to figure out what can be done, what can be disclosed working with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but already, Jerry Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee saying tonight, he wants to call Bill Barr up to Capitol Hill to testify about all of this, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Laura Jarrett, appreciate it. You heard a bit of the President's reaction a moment ago. Joining us now with the latest and what comes next in the White House, CNN's Abby Phillip.
So I imagine, the President certainly from all the reporting is pretty elated tonight.
ABBY PHILLIP, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, Anderson. He is feeling pretty good coming back to the White House after a long weekend in which he was waiting just like we were to find out what was going to be in that report. There was a little apprehension about what they might get out of it and by all accounts, he was thrilled by the result, the principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said the President wanted him to relay the message that he thinks that this is very good.
It's very good for him, for someone who's been talking about no collusion and no obstruction for two years that he and his aides believe that they can take what is in this letter from Bill Barr and say that there is in fact, no collusion and no obstruction.
As Laura pointed out, however, the obstruction issue is a little bit more complicated than that, but that is how the White House is going to frame it and the President as he was on Air Force One coming back to DC from Florida, was pouring over a Bill Barr's letter. This is all that they have at this point.
He still hasn't seen the full Mueller report. He still hasn't been briefed on what is in the full report, but this letter from Bill Barr, they were reading it line by line going through it, looking over this language about the Russian interference and potential collusion and the President was thrilled with what was in it and I think White House aides are feeling good not just about what this means for them right at this moment, but what position it puts them in as they go into a 2020 cycle.
One of the President's top aides, Kellyanne Conway said, this is like President Trump winning the 2016 election all over again. I think for President Trump, it feels like a do-over of that election night especially after two years of questions about how his election as President of the United States came to be.
COOPER: Also, the President has already alluding to an investigation into the other side, I'm not sure if he means the Russian investigation, if he is talking about Democrats or the Hillary Clinton or the Obama administration, but he's certainly not moving on from this right away.
PHILLIP: Yes, he is -- it's not really clear, Anderson, what he was referring to there, but there are some hints. I mean, in the past, President Trump has talked about the fact that he believes that Hillary Clinton should have been investigated more than in fact the collusion he says was on the Democratic side, not on the Republican side.
So there's that, but we're also hearing from some of the President's supporters on Capitol Hill and elsewhere that they believe that the Obama administration where the interference investigation began should be looked into for their actions during the campaign when it comes to authorizing some of the investigatory methods that that looked into President Trump's campaign.
Whether or not President Trump actually takes steps to do that, we don't know and so far, the Hogan Gidley, the Press Secretary at the White House is saying that's not under discussion right at this moment, but certainly it's something that many people believe is within President Trump's power and it would be something of a gift to his base that really wants him to go after both Clinton and the Obama administration for what they say is wrongdoing in the origins of this investigation, Anderson.
COOPER; All right. Abby Phillip. Thanks very much. As you might imagine, this is a night for legal firepower. Joining me is CNN's chief legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, and also former Whitewater independent counsel, Robert Ray.
Robert, let me just start with you, we haven't heard from you -- what are your thoughts on the conclusions?
ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: I don't think it's a surprise that given the fact on the obstruction piece and you know, aside from the whole exoneration stuff, the Attorney General found that there was insufficient evidence.
He is the chief law enforcement officer, at least as far as Federal law is concerned for the entire country. I don't think we should overlook the fact that that's an extremely important determination.
You can question it, you can debate it. There may be further inquiry in the House of Representatives, but that's a substantial determination --
COOPER: And Rod Rosenstein agreed with him.
RAY: Right, and I think that was also partly the cover of it, too, because Rod was there obviously from the very beginning. Indeed, he is the one who appointed the Special Counsel, so that's important because there's -- you know, it reflects continuity.
But with regard to the President, you know the President presents unique both legal and factual issues because he's the President and when you're trying to apply the obstruction statute, I guess my own take on this, which I haven't really heard yet, but I'll just say, a Special Counsel was appointed but with regard to that particular determination since it involves only the President, my overall sense is that I don't really think that the Special Counsel has the authority to make that call.
I do think that's the appropriate call to be made by the Attorney General of the United States. Now, you know what Bob Mueller presented in that report and the pros and cons and the factual issues and the legal, you know, problems, I think those are all important considerations.
RAY: But ultimately, it's a policy call by the Department of Justice about what to do involving a President insofar as allegations involving obstruction or concerns.
COOPER: Do you agree with that, Jeffrey?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: I think, I disagree with it 100%. The whole reason that Mueller was appointed is because the political appointees in the Department of Justice have a conflict. They owe their jobs to the President, so the idea that you would take that important decision away from the Special Counsel Mueller seems to me precisely wrong.
Now, ultimately --
COOPER: Wait, was it taken away from him or was it Bob Mueller saying I'm just going to give this out because --
RAY: And if we go back for the history lesson, of course, the reason that a Special Counsel was appointed by the Deputy Attorney General is because of the Attorney General at that time, not Bill Bar had recused himself and there was never a determination that the entire department had to recuse itself from this matter.
TOOBIN: But if ultimately, Barr wanted to overrule Mueller and say there shouldn't be a prosecution of the President; that would be fine. I mean -- unlike ...
RAY: It wouldn't be --
TOOBIN: Unlike an independent counsel like Robert Ray, like Kenneth Starr who was outside the chain of the command of the Justice Department, you know Robert Mueller was inside the chain of command, but he should have - he should be allowed to make a recommendation of "I don't know." I think it's peculiar. I find it bizarre.
RAY:I don't find that bizarre at all and I think it's desirable and in the country's interest that the Department speaks with one voice.
One of the recognitions that you have to concede here and you alluded to it is that this is not the same world as Independent Counsel land. The Special Counsel is a creature of regulations that emanate from the Attorney General of the United States. There are departmental regulations. You know, ultimately this is the Department of Justice speaking.
COOPER: But as you know, Democrats are saying in this particular issue, well, Attorney General Barr wrote kind of his position on this particular issue, it isn't what Democrats say was sort of an audition letter to become the Attorney General, so his position was well known.
RAY: I mean, I suppose that so and it's right to be -- you know, raised as an issue. I have no problem with that, but I think you know, overall the context is remember that this was going on for 22 months long before Bill Barr came on the scene or before he wrote this, right?
Rod Rosenstein has been supervising this thing from the outset. It's clear from the from the letter itself, the very terms of the letter that Bob Mueller was consulting with certain officials within the Department of Justice about things including as you've reported, whether or not a sitting President could be subpoenaed, whether it was appropriate to do so under these circumstances.
And also, I imagine close consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and Rod Rosenstein and others within the Department about, "Okay, you know, there's this interesting question that raises both profound legal and factual issues involving allegations involving obstruction of justice by the President."
COOPER: And one of those is whether -- and Jeff and I have discussed this and I'd like to hear your thoughts -- is whether, if there's no underlying crime? If there was no collusion and there was attempts by somebody to obstruct, if there's no actual underlying crime, can there be no collusion?
RAY: As a technical matter --
COOPER: No obstruction.
RAY: Right, look, nobody disagrees with the legal point, I'm sure you've pointed this out. As a technical legal matter, there's nothing that prevents obstruction charges from being brought.
RAY: Okay, but you know, can we talk practical problems here and not you being an armchair prosecutor? But you know, from somebody who has actually been in the position of having to decide what to do with the President of the United States, do you really think that a responsible prosecutor, whether it's Bill Barr or whether it's Bob Mueller or Robert Ray or whoever would be bringing obstruction charges against a President of the United States in a situation in which what the allegations involving obstruction with regard to a matter that doesn't constitute a crime?
I mean, I just -- you know --
TOOBIN: Wait, they impeached Bill Clinton for lying about something that wasn't a crime.
RAY: Well, that's a separate question about perjury, okay, before a grand jury and with regard to the question about whether or not false statements were made, I mean there's another level to this and that is -- I mean, I issued a report in which I found that President Clinton made knowingly false statements, but for other reasons, even though there was sufficient evidence in that case chose not to prosecute because there were alternatives to prosecution that I felt vindicated the public interest and that under those circumstances, it was not appropriate to charge Bill Clinton once he left office.
Which gets me back to my first point. It is a significant determination by the Attorney General today in addition to Bob Mueller's determination that there was no conclusion.
RAY: The Attorney General of the United States, the chief law enforcement officer in the country has made a finding that there's not sufficient evidence with regard to obstruction.
Now, you can disagree with that, you can choose if the Democrats want to go down Impeachment Road, but understand the obstacles that are there. I mean, are they seriously going to go down that road? And are they seriously going to go through an investigation again before the House Judiciary Committee? Where you call what? Issue subpoenas, have 500 witnesses appear? I mean, are we going to do -- are we going to re-litigate this?
COOPER: It does seem like -- that is where the Democrats -- essentially, Democrats are wanting to reinvestigate the Mueller investigation.
TOOBIN: Well, but they want to see the Mueller investigation. I mean, that is the point.
COOPER: They want to see the underlying documents here.
TOOBIN: That's the point. Well, but they want to see the report for starters. I mean, you know, we're having an interesting discussion here based on a four-page summary of whether there was impeachment or whether there was --
COOPER: I get wanting to see the report. I think American people want to see the report.
RAY: Yes, and I think that's a fair point. I mean, I don't disagree with that. That is a fair point.
COOPER: The underlying documents --
TOOBIN: That's a long shot. Now, you never heard the Republicans complaining about wanting to get the underlying documents when Hillary Clinton was being investigated. They got 302s, they got all sorts of stuff the Department of Justice doesn't give up. But I think everyone agrees and the House of Representatives voted
unanimously that the report on which that Barr's letter is based, that report should certainly be released.
RAY: Now, the Attorney General though to be clear has you know, raised already in this four-page letter things we've already talked about previously. But now, it's on paper. There are some 60 issues, right?
TOOBIN: That's grand jury secrecy.
RAY: Grand jury secrecy issues that can be overridden if they seek to go to a court to have a court order its release, but you know, that presents some concerns and questions the precedent for that actually comes from the Watergate era, which is Haldeman versus Sirica in the DC Circuit where essentially that same procedure was employed.
But you know, we're in a different world now and you know, there was at least some belief then that you could turn over something to Congress and it wouldn't immediately go out to the public. I think that's -- in today's world -- that's just not going to happen.
COOPER: I just want to reiterate something that Jeff and I talked about, I want to throw it at you because I'm already receiving some hate mail from people that hate the President about it. I understand people who hate the President are disappointed by the no collusion finding because they were hoping this, I guess, would bring down the President.
But just as an American, this is a good thing that our President whether you like him or not has not colluded --
RAY: No, look I --
COOPER: Isn't it -- I don't know, I get why Democrats are upset, but overall, big picture, everybody should pretty much be happy that the President did not collude.
RAY: Right and to tease out the President's comment, you know, that is why we are a great country. We are a great country because you can investigate a sitting President of the United States. You can do so with the space of time and resources over a 22-month investigation.
COOPER: You could do it with the President attacking the investigation.
RAY: You can do it with the President attacking the investigator, all right, and you can ultimately you know, live in a country that abides by the rule of law and hopefully also abides by and comes to respect conclusions that are designed to bring some finality to this.
Now, whether we have that or not here, I suppose, it remains to be seen. We do have open issues and Jeff is right to point out, you know, we have the open question of, okay we haven't seen the report yet and how much of that are we going to see, but you know, we have reached a pretty significant juncture today and that's why it's historic.
COOPER: Yes, good discussion. Thank you, Robert Ray and Jeff Toobin.
RAY: Thank you.
COOPER: Appreciate it. More perspective now on the legal and political front. CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash is with us, so is former Republican National Committee chief of Staff Mike Shields, along with CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, Robert Mueller biographer, Garrett Graff, and CNN political analyst, Carl Bernstein.
Dana, a huge win for the President. I mean, again, it can't be overstated.
DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: No, it can't. It absolutely can't. He has been saying as his regular mantra almost as much maybe more than "Make America Great Again" that there was no collusion and now, he has a two-year investigation to back it up. That is a huge thing.
And on the question of whether he tried to obstruct that investigation, you know, that we of course have the Attorney General saying that his interpretation of Mueller's findings was no, but they are also very clear not to exonerate and that's where the Democrats are left right now, in addition to the Democrats saying, "Wait a minute, we need to see the full report," which is legitimate, except for the fact that people I'm talking to understand full well that what the Attorney General did today was very much intended to and perhaps successfully so in the short term, shape the narrative and make it so that when that report comes out, it's old news.
COOPER: Right, I mean, David and again, you know, seeing the report on some however much the public is able to see is going to be essential for people's confidence in this investigation.
COOPER: Do you agree that there is a strong argument that tonight, again, whatever you think of, you know, the President and your politics that overall, learning that the President didn't collude is a good night for America?
DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Absolutely, I'm really glad you raised the point and it's not only did we learn that the President did not conspire or collude, but that the people around him did not.
So that gives you more confidence in the team and I think, had we learned that this President had conspired, it would have been a dark day for the -- when the tapes came out on Richard Nixon, it was a very dark day for the country and I think that would have been a dark day -- this would have been a dark day, too.
So I think, not only is this a good thing for the country, I think, it's very good for the Justice Department. You know, they've been beaten up by this President so much, there's been so much of an effort on the right to undermine the Justice Department and arguing that this was basically an effort to take him down.
The President said today; an illegal effort to take him down. All right, it was going to be done bipartisan angry Democrats. What has the Justice Department done? They've handled it by the book. The people who worked for Bob Mueller, whether they're Democrats or Republicans, came together in a very thorough investigation. Mueller himself walks away from this with everybody thinking at least he's telling it straight.
And I think, it underscored how important it is for the Justice Department to be independent of the White House and this Justice Department has achieved that in this case.
COOPER: Carl, I'm wondering what your perspective is on this. I know you thought there would be more indictments.
CARL BERNSTEIN, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I've been led to believe that that was a real possibility. I think the first thing is to recognize that the American system of justice has just delivered to President Trump the greatest gift of his presidency and that is indeed said that he did not conspire with a foreign power and in response, I think we need very carefully look what his first reaction was, which was to declare war on his enemies, not to welcome this in a magnanimous way and as an opportunity to perhaps bring us together, whatever he feels he might have been through.
And when you look at what the Democrats are doing or about to do on the Hill, the important thing is, we need to know every bit of what's in that report. There's a narrative here that should be, even a basis for reconciliation. We all need to know the facts. We don't know the facts.
We have a little four-page summary. It's essential for the finishing of a Democratic process here that we get every word of this report except what needs to be redacted for national security purposes and then try to see what has to be done next.
COOPER: But Mike, it does seem like the Democrats or some Democrats in the House are in danger -- and the Senate as well, frankly -- are in danger of you know continues -- now for after years of saying how great Mueller is, now they want the actual original documents that the Mueller investigation used to write their report.
I understand seeing the report, again, the original documents, yes they did to Hillary Clinton, but is -- do you think -- it seems very easy for the Democrats to go too far and to not at least acknowledge you know, happiness that the President didn't collude. They're walking around, you know, sad and crying tonight that's not -- you know, that says a lot about them.
MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, look it is a great moment for America that we learned this and by the way, that we also know that this investigation indicted, I think was 18 Russians, and so it's good that our justice system is helping fight a foreign enemy that is attacking us and so there's a couple of good things for America here.
But yes, you're right, I mean, the Democrats have overplayed their hand. They've created a monster in their base who were -- they were told over and over again that this is going to result in the President being impeached. They had a freshman member who said we're going to impeach the "mf'er." That is where their base is and now all of a sudden they've got dozens of investigations and they've lost all credibility.
And I really, Anderson, I think we're at an inflection point here for both the media and Democrats on Capitol Hill. It they want anyone to take them seriously moving forward, there has got to be some accountability. People who are predicting that the President would get impeached for Russian collusion -- Adam Schiff said, "I have evidence of collusion." He is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He has no credibility left to talk about this at all. He should be removed from that seat if they are going to have any credibility.
Media organizations should go back and talk to the people that shaded their coverage towards collusion, collusion and ask some really tough questions so that the public restarts to regain their trust and the coverage, and for the Democrats, if they're going to do these investigations, they're not going to have any credibility with the American people unless they start taking accountability for what just happened.
COOPER: Garrett, I mean, did it surprise you that Mueller left the issue of obstruction essentially up to the Attorney General?
GARRETT GRAFF, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: It didn't necessarily surprise me that he didn't bring charges, you know, Mueller always was operating under the scenario of the Justice Department guidance saying that the Justice Department can't indict the President, so it always seemed like Mueller was always going to be turning over a set of facts and a recommendation.
It does seem surprising that they didn't actually come to a final conclusion and I think that we should take note that Mueller's report as quoted by Bill Barr at least says that the report doesn't exonerate the President, that there's evidence on both sides and I think in some ways that might be as far as we see Bob Mueller go towards something like a Comey-esque statement as Comey did with Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2016.
For Mueller to go out of his way to say that the report doesn't exonerate the President actually, I think, it points to something very troubling potentially being in that final report, whenever we actually get to see it.
SHIELDS: Anderson, can I make a point on obstruction real quick.
COOPER: Yes, go ahead, Mike. SHIELDS: One of the points that Barr makes in his memo was that
there's sort of a pro and con that were laid out by Mueller on obstruction and that a lot of the pro side were public statements and so what I would read into that is, the President didn't interfere with the investigation, he has said that and there's nothing that we don't know that would lead you to believe that he was obstructing behind- the-scenes and there's some evidence of that.
So it looked like what Barr was saying was, we kind of know from his public statements and that leaves a gray area as to whether or not that would be a provable case for obstruction and that's contained in the memo he sent to the Hill.
COOPER: But Mike, you're right, it is an interesting point that you zero in on, you know, you're talking about the coverage of this and isn't a lot of the focus that this has gotten understandable given the President's own public comments, which have led even Mueller to, you know, to point them out as some of the reasons why obstruction was so much a topic that they were looking into because the statements by the President himself made it seem like he might be trying to obstruct justice.
SHIELDS: Look, the President is a pugilist and I don't think he helped himself by fighting back on this, but that's not the point. My point is that, since the 2016 election, I believe in a free media. The media is incredibly important in this country and they're losing the American people's faith. The ratings of trust in the media have been going down for 20 years. It predates the President coming in.
And we're at an inflection point here because a lot of Americans have been led to believe for whatever reason, and a lot of it is from media coverage and shading and editors shading their coverage in a way that made it look like collusion was real hold people accountable for that, come out and say, "We were wrong." Write some editorials. Hold some journalists accountable for mistakes they made. That would earn the American people's trust back.
If we keep just saying, "Well, what about the President?" All that's going do is build right back into this. He was just exonerated for collusion and the media needs to help themselves, I am begging the media to help themselves earn the trust back of the American people at this moment.
COOPER: Hey, Dana.
BASH: You know, I was just going to say that might be, you know, a point that you are obviously making and I'm certainly hearing from other Republicans today, but I'm also hearing from Republican sources who know and very much like the President that they understand that he very much contributed to the frenzy around this whole Russia situation with the things that he said and frankly the things that he didn't say.
Now, he was right and he was exonerated today according to this summary on the notion of whether there was a way to prove conspiracy between anybody in his team and Russia. We're going to give him that. But there's also very much, I talked to a Republican before coming on,
a hope and desire that because they think that politically speaking, not just legally, but politically speaking, the President has a second chance here maybe a reset button that he can hit if he can get out of his own way politically and say, "Okay, I can work on things that people in the suburbs and not in my base want." Infrastructure, prescription drug prices, other things -- show to the point earlier that it's not just about going after his enemies, but taking this chance that he has and running with it on policy.
COOPER: We've got to get a quick break in. We'll have more ahead more on Robert Mueller's work and the implications of it including the question of Presidential pardons; also, reaction from Democratic lawmakers and Presidential candidates. They've been tweeting. A member of the House Judiciary Committee joins us as well when we continue.
COOPER: More reaction tonight to the Mueller report, especially among many Democrats to the fact that we've only seen a four-page summary of it, which is really the theme tonight for the Democratic presidential hopefuls.
Senator Cory Booker tweeting, "The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately, not just the in-house summary from a Trump administration official. Senator Kamala Harris weighed in with this quote, "The Mueller report needs to be made public. The underlying investigative material should be handed over to Congress and Barr must testify. That is what transparency looks like. A short letter from Trump's handpicked Attorney General is not sufficient."
Bernie Sanders, perhaps remembering a time when tweets were shorter, put it bluntly, "I don't want a summary of the Mueller report. I want the whole damn report."
Back now with the team. Garrett, is there any reason to believe Robert Mueller wants to go through and explain his report to Congress? I mean, he's obviously not somebody who is craving the limelight.
GRAFF: No, and I think we can read into that. The fact that Mueller has never spoken publicly since becoming Special Counsel, but I do think it is noteworthy that we saw in this four-page summary not a single complete sentence out of Mueller's report that that presumably, this is a highly detailed highly nuanced report that he's turned over however long it may end up being and it's noteworthy to me that Attorney General Barr didn't feel that he could quote an entire sentence at any point in the four places where he was trying to list the principal conclusions for the public.
COOPER: David, I mean you don't -- excuse me, you no doubt support the idea of releasing the full report or I'm not addressing the underlying documents, but as much of the report as possible? GERGEN: Yes, there's almost universal agreement on both sides of the
aisle. You know, we had a vote in the House of Representatives. It was unanimous on both sides that the report ought to be released and very importantly, Donald Trump himself called for the report to be released.
GERGEN: In reading of the Barr letter, I thought actually, Barr was responding to it. It seems to be the Barr letter is pretty straightforward. I don't think that whether he has a complete sentence or a fragment of a sentence, I thought he quoted from the Mueller report where it was important he put the words in as on the question of exoneration. But listen, I think Barr handled this by the book because he knows there's a very good chance one way or the other, this report is going to come out and he does not want to be in a position where he tried to spin it within the first weekend and turned out to be caught at spinning. You know, that would just be very destructive for him and for his department.
So I think what we have is likely - very likely to be very, very consistent with the Mueller report itself.
COOPER: Carl, if you're Paul Manafort, if you're Roger Stone, the chance to have -- the chances of a pardon increase now?
BERNSTEIN: I would guess, yes. I think even the President may have been hinting that way in what he said and when he was leaving Mar-a- Lago today. We don't know. That's reading tea leaves, but I think we ought to talk a little bit about the elephant in the room and that is what happened -- what happened with the Russians? What happened with the Trump campaign? What happened with the individuals who had been investigated?
There's a narrative here. There is context. For two years, there has been the ability that is developed because of Mueller's investigation to finally have a body of knowledge while the rest of us have been walking around with little pieces of knowledge and information and maybe some disinformation.
But whatever the case, we now have the ability to get as full a story as we could ever get especially given the failure of the Congress of the United States to have a bipartisan investigation.
So the elephant in the room is this report because it will tell us what happened and we need to see it and we need to see it in full and we need to see it as rapidly as possible and I wish I were as optimistic as David is. Usually David and I agree on most of everything, but I can already hear and see a lot of backs getting up particularly on the Republican side about not releasing all of this material for one reason or another.
COOPER: Well, there is maybe grand jury testimony.
BERNSTEIN: No, grand jury testimony is one thing and there's a way to handle the 6E rule as well and you can redact some of it as well as national security information that discloses sources and methods. You can scrub it, but there is a way to have a full look and then we will learn the full story and maybe the American people could get some resolution and calm about this.
BASH: And there's another real important reason for us to see the details, maybe not the raw investigation, but the details in this report about what Russia tried to do. Even in the conclusion, it says that there was no conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign, but the Russians tried and we know that from past indictments.
And so one of the things that people in Congress are talking about tonight which is a good thing is, well, let's make it more clear maybe in statute that people who are a part of political campaigns should have limits on their interaction with foreign governments or maybe even more especially with foreign adversaries.
I mean, that's the whole notion of the Trump Tower meeting. They claim that they didn't understand that that's not the protocol, that's not what you do. Well, maybe that should be taken to another level.
COOPER: And David, I know you want to make a comment, but just on that point, you know, it would also give a sense of maybe some sort of explanation of why there were so many lies by people in the orbit about stuff maybe they didn't need to lie, apparently since there was no collusion, they actually didn't need to be lying about, so why were they lying and was it just sleazy behavior or lack of experience? You know, obviously it was a campaign unlike any other. It was people who hadn't been involved in campaigns.
GERGEN: Or does it go to the obstruction course?
COOPER: Yes, David?
GERGEN: Yes, all right, well or does it go to what their real motive of with a number of people talking to Russians was about money and trying to get money from them, one thing and another and not about trying to necessarily tilt the election.
I must say, I do agree in part with Carl on one major point. I think there are a lot of mysteries which have not been unraveled by the Mueller report and I'm not sure we're ever going to get the full answer on that.
We still to this day do not know why Donald Trump has this obsession with being so kind and respectful of Putin, it makes no sense. And trying to fill in the rest of the story is not necessarily an illegal part of the story, was there the chase after the Trump Tower --
GERGEN: Did that have something to do with what he's been doing on Russian policy? You know, or was there money laundering? There are a lot of serious questions that haven't been answered by the Mueller report. Ultimately, we need some answers.
COOPER: Yes, all right, thanks everybody for this. Coming up, as Robert Mueller leaves the stage, the politics of what comes next are going to accelerate. I'll talk with a Member of the House Judiciary Committee ahead.
COOPER: The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says he wants to hear from Attorney General William Barr in the near future. Democrat Jerry Nadler says the testimony will be in light of the quote "very concerning discrepancies and final decision-making in the Justice Department."
Joining me now, another Democratic member of that Committee, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Thanks so much for being with us. Do accept Mueller's finding that the President did not collude with Russia as the President's been saying for the last two years?
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Well, we just have to see the full report. I mean, obviously if that is the finding and it is backed up by lots of evidence, then we're going to accept it.
But we haven't seen anything. Basically a three-page letter so far and I think it's deeply concerning that you know, that we don't have the full report. I think the obstruction of justice charge is an extremely serious one and Mueller as you've been reporting did not exonerate the President. After 22 months, he did not exonerate the President.
JAYAPAL: And then we have the sitting Attorney General who already made his views clear last year, has somehow decided that what he's seen is enough to not prosecute and he's put that out before Congress has even seen the report. So I have to say, Anderson that were very, very troubled by all of that.
COOPER: Is seeing the report enough for you or are you also saying as many Democrats are that they want to see all the underlying documents because --
JAYAPAL: Of course.
COOPER: The thing that confuses me about that is that for years, many Democrats have been saying how much they had faith in Mueller, it does seem like if you want to see all the underlying documents, it shows a lack of faith in Mueller and his team.
JAYAPAL: No, not at all. I don't think that's true at all. I think the reason we want to see the underlying documents is because there are so many pieces that we are investigating. As you know, there have been 81 requests for information from Judiciary Chairman Nadler, so that we on the Judiciary Committee can investigate a whole series of things much broader than what Robert Mueller was given the charge for. I mean, we have jurisdiction over and responsibility for obstruction
of justice of course, but also abuse of power and public corruption. Those are the investigations we were prevented from having at all for the last two years under Republican control and now that we have the gavel, we are finally beginning those investigations.
The information that Mueller has collected is going to be key to those investigations. They're going to provide real information, but in addition, we have to look at how these conclusions were you, know -- how did he get to these conclusions? I think it's important for us not to just accept, you know, without really understanding ourselves and being able to say to the American people that we represent that we have looked at all the information. We understand how he got to these conclusions or not.
Remember, a big piece of this report does not exonerate the President, a sitting President on an extremely serious charge of obstruction of justice, so yes, we've got to make that determination for ourselves.
COOPER: Although, if there had been enough evidence for a criminal charge, isn't that something that Mueller would have weighed in on?
JAYAPAL: Well that's what's so confusing to me. I mean that's why I want to see the report because he was actually asked to do this because of conflict of interest. That's why there was a Special Counsel to start with, so that presumably meant that he was going to give us his determination as a prosecutor.
And instead, what he did is came back and said, "I'm laying out ..." according to this letter, both sides of why this could be an obstruction of justice charge, I'm assuming or why it may not be and that to me is very concerning because then we don't have his opinion on it. It goes to the Attorney General who has seized the moment with less than 48 hours after a 22-month investigation and said, "Oh, we don't think this rises to that level."
I say that's just not sufficient. We have got to look at it as Congress and you've got to look at the June 2018 memo that Barr wrote, unsolicited to the Trump administration where he claimed sweeping executive powers for the President.
In fact in that memo, as you know, Anderson he said that he didn't even think that Mueller should be able to demand answers from the President and in fact, Mueller did not interview the President. He only got written answers to a set of questions, so he still has not talked to the President and I think that means that if the ball is back and it should be back in our court in Congress and in the Judiciary Committee to actually look at all of this information and make our own determinations on this piece, but also continue our investigations on the other pieces.
COOPER: All right, Congresswoman Jayapal, I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Anderson. COOPER: More perspective now from a Republican very familiar with the
way Washington works. Joining me now is former Ohio Congressman and Governor John Kasich who's now a CNN senior political commentator. Governor, you said special Counsel's investigation must continue unfettered. What's your reaction now that it has been completed?
JOHN KASICH, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, they've got to release the report and Anderson, I'd like to you know, rephrase what you said earlier and that is thank goodness that we don't have the President and somehow implicated with a foreign power. That's a reason to celebrate.
COOPER: That's good news.
KASICH: That's very good news. Secondly, as I listen to the Congresswoman and they're going to have -- I don't know how many investigations.
Look, they have the right to do some investigations and I mean, I think it's right they're going to take a look at what has been concluded or not concluded around obstruction, but to go, you know we're going to have to do this all again and we've got you know, 81 requests for all this material, Anderson, I tell you, I feel like we're off to the races again when it comes to the issue of frankly not putting this on this Congresswoman, but we see a lot of hate in the country today.
KASICH: I made a list. People hate Hillary. They hate Obama. They hated Bush Jr. They hate Trump. They hate Pelosi. Now, I find out they hate McCain. Anderson, every headline can't be about first of all, we don't only want to defeat you, but we want to destroy you.
COOPER: We forgot media, by the way. You forgot media.
KASICH: Well, I didn't put them because they're not a person, but you're right, we hate the media. We boo the media. We don't believe the media and all this business of hatred. Do you understand -- I know you understand, this is taking us down a path. It's like the Hatfield and the McCoys. It's like a Civil War and everybody has to take revenge on somebody else and then the next group is going to take --
And Anderson, what about the things that hang over our children's heads? What about the debt bomb? What about healthcare? What about the issue of income inequality? These things can't be dealt with when we just hate one another and we've got to slowdown. That doesn't mean Congress doesn't have a legitimate role here, but they better be careful and they better be limited and I reminded Democrats about this, they did not do so well in the midterms because of the Trump investigation.
They did well in the midterms because they staked out a position on things like healthcare and ending the rhetoric that people in the suburbs did not like and revolted against, and so they better be very careful about what they do here, but to everybody watching, we've got to knock off the hate, just start thinking about somebody else being your brother. It's not just about tearing somebody else down. I'm sorry.
COOPER: Well, also, I mean, it did really strike me today when you know friends calling me, people calling me reading stuff on Twitter, it's just how everybody sees this result through their own political lens of they hate the President or they like the President and for those who hate the President, they're disappointed that he didn't collude and I just don't understand that. I think it's for the country. It's good for America that our President did not collude.
KASICH: Anderson, look, when people root for somebody else's destruction, we're taught as young children and we try to teach all the people around us, you shouldn't ever be gleeful about somebody else's trouble and so you know, when people -- and look, it goes on both sides. It's just not -- it's just not the Democrats and it's the Republicans. Look at what they say about Hillary. I'm told down in Palm Beach last night they were yelling again, "Lock her up."
I mean, when is this going to stop, Anderson? And get -- I'll tell you what it is going to take, it is going to take the public. I made a speech at American University, kids were -- the students -- not the kids, the students were saying, "When does the polarization end?" I said, "I'll tell you where it ends it ends, it ends with you."
And so all the people that are watching, take a breath, step back. We've got some good news today. It doesn't mean we're through all this. There's going to be a lot we're going to learn, a lot we're going to see, but we can't run a country where we are so divided. It will keep us from doing what we want to do, which is to make this country, you know, as strong as it possibly can be.
COOPER: Governor Kasich, great perspective. Thank you very much.
KASICH: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: New Attorney General William Barr now directly in the spotlight. As we mentioned, he may be called to testify before Congress about the Mueller report in the not-too-distant future. Just ahead, a look at the association between him and the Special Counsel.
COOPER: What happens next with the Mueller report is up to one man, Attorney General William Barr. He decided what to tell lawmakers in the four-page summary that he sent them this afternoon. Now, he alone will decide which parts of the Mueller report if any, will be released to the American people.
It's a big decision for the man who only took office five weeks ago. He is certainly no stranger to Washington or even to Robert Mueller. Randi Kaye tonight has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Do you affirm that the testimony you're about to give to this Committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I do.
RANDI KAYE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN (voice over): William Barr back in January at this confirmation hearing for attorney General. Fielding questions about his friendship with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: You say you've known Mueller a long time. Would you say you have a close relationship with Mr. Mueller?
BARR: I would say we are good friends.
GRAHAM: Would you say that you understand him to be a fair-minded person?
GRAHAM: Do you trust him to be fair to the President and the country as a whole?
Now, let me introduce Bob Mueller, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the criminal division of the Justice Department ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice over): It turns out Barr and Mueller have a history. They have been friends 30 years going back to their early days in the Justice Department. Barr was Mueller's boss during his first stint as Attorney General in the early 1990s under President George H.W. Bush.
At the time, Mueller was the head of the DOJ's criminal division.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service. And when he was named as Special Counsel, I said his selection was good news and that knowing him, I had confidence he would handle the matter properly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice over): The two men are so close, Mueller reportedly attended the wedding of two of Barr's daughters and their wives go to Bible Study together. In fact, during his confirmation, Barr split with the President on Mueller's probe being a witch hunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice over): Barr, now 68 graduated Columbia University. His wife is a librarian and they have three daughters. At the DOJ, Barr helped create program to reduce violent crime. He also led the Department's response to the savings and loan crisis and oversaw the investigation into the doomed flight, PanAm 103.
Barr left government and worked as a corporate lawyer for years before President Trump nominated him for Attorney General.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Bill Barr, one of the most respected --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice over): Like Trump, Barr is tough on immigration and supports executive power and the power of Presidential pardons. Before the official nomination, Trump asked Barr about his relationship with Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: He said, you know Bob Mueller. How well do you know Bob Mueller? And I told him how well I knew Bob Mueller and how the Barrs and Muellers were good friends and would be good friends when this is all over and so forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice over): Back in June before his nomination, Barr wrote this unsolicited memo to officials at the Justice Department. In it, he appears to criticize part of Mueller's probe, calling Mueller's obstruction of justice theory fatally misconceived. Barr denied being critical of Mueller, but it was enough to leave many to wonder about how he'd handle the final report. Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: That's it for us but the news continues. I want to turn it over to Don Lemon in "CNN Tonight."