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DOJ to Mueller: Testimony "Must Remain Within the Boundaries" of the Report Because Matters "Covered by Executive Privilege"; Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is Interviewed About the Upcoming Mueller Testimony and DOJ Saying to Mueller To Stay Within Bounds of Report. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired July 22, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

A day and a half from now, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will go before a pair of House Committees and be asked about the Russia investigation. We have breaking news on that tonight. A letter from the Justice Department which says it was sent at Mueller's request, reminding him not to go beyond the boundaries of this public report.

We've also learned from a spokesman that the former special counsel has not shown his old boss the opening statement he'll give on Wednesday. All of which only serves to add even more drama to the moment.

No testimony in recent memory has been so widely anticipated, even though tonight's breaking news, notwithstanding, the witness has already made it clear what he will and won't say.


ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: My testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings, and analysis, and the reasons for our decisions that we made.

We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I will not provide information beyond that which is already public, in any appearance before Congress.


COOPER: That was the outgoing special counsel a little less than two months ago, telling anyone who wants to know his thinking, with respect to the investigation to just read the report.

At the same time, though, the very fact that he gave that press conference at all, which came as a surprise, signal something else. As did his earlier letter complaining about how his report was being characterized by the Attorney General William Barr.

Both told observers that as little as he liked unnecessary public exposure, he liked people misrepresenting his work even less, which again, only adds to Wednesday's drama. The testimony before the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, which Democrats say is necessary, even if Mr. Mueller does nothing more than cite chapter and verse from his report.

Not everyone has read it, all they say, to which cynics about it, not even some committee members. Which means, potentially, that millions of viewers will be hearing some or all of this for the first time, including the bottom line of obstruction of justice from page two of volume two of the special counsel's report.

And I'm quoting now: If we had confidence, after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would still state.

And, they did not so state. We are on tonight for two hours, and we'll be devoting a lot of time to the report itself, to the testimony, and the significance of this moment. It is a big deal, clearly, even if the man in the White House, to try to suggest that it was old news and no big deal, certainly not to him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I'm not going to be watched it. I'm not going to be watching Mueller, because you can't take all those bites out of the apple. We had no collusion, no obstruction. We had no nothing. We had a total no collusion finding.

It said no collusion. The report was written, and the attorney general, based on the report, was easily able to find there was no obstruction. There was no nothing.


COOPER: Well, keeping them honest as you saw on that key sentence from the report, that is not the conclusion, nor does the report cleared the campaign on the question of collusion. In fact, it lays out many examples of the campaign, the president's son, Don Jr., and the president himself, welcoming Russian help or interference, some which has never been, I repeat, never been part of any presidential campaigns before.

In addition, to report says, and I'm quoting again, the investigation established had several individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign lied to the office and to Congress about their interactions with Russian affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.

This, of course, speaks to obstruction, and perhaps collusion as well, depending on what was being hidden behind false testimony.

So, none of what the president said about the report is true, and whether he has read it or not, he seems to be leaning on Attorney General Barr's initial characterization of the Mueller Report, as well as his decision not to bring indictments against the president. As you noted, the attorney general's actions and statements have made his impartiality clear, which doesn't seem to concern the president, who is focused on just one individual.


TRUMP: And, Robert Mueller, I know he is conflicted. There's a lot of conflicts that he has, including that his best friend is Comey, but he's got conflicts with me, too. He's got big conflicts with me.

As you know, he wanted the job of the FBI director, he didn't get it. And we had a business relationship where I said no. And I would say that he was not happy. And then, all of a sudden, he gets his position.

But you know what? He still ruled and I respect him for it, he still ruled, no collusion, no obstruction.


COOPER: So, again, that second part is untrue, as, by the way, is the first part, in order.

[20:05:03] Let's just take this in order.

For Mueller, his best friend is not James Comey. Robert Mueller did not seek the job of FBI director. There was no business relationship, nor falling out. And what he's talking about concerned Mr. Mueller requesting a refund from an unused balance of a membership for one of the president's country clubs.

Literally, every single assertion of fact from the president is not true. It's false.

It may be the single best reason to have to hearings on Wednesday, to hear something about this from the man in question, instead of only the man under suspicion.

Joining us now is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, who will be among those asking the questions, Democrat David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

First of all, this breaking news tonight that the Department of Justice has instructed Mueller to limit his testimony to what he wrote in his report. Does that affect what you and your colleagues hope to achieve on Wednesday?

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): No, look. I think we all understand that Mr. Mueller is likely to limit his testimony to the content of his report and his investigation. I do think it's sort of curious that the president's lawyers thought it was important to remind him of his commitment to do that, and make this sort of ridiculous claim that there is executive privilege attaching to everything else.

I mean, think about that -- the subject of investigation claiming executive privilege on the contents of that investigation. It's absurd. There is no basis for that. But I don't think that Mr. Mueller intended to go beyond the contents of this report, in any event. COOPER: So, I wanted to just -- first of all, what your strategy is

going to be on Wednesday? How do you plan to get the answers you want, or at least responses you want from the former special counsel?

CICILLINE: Well, I think what you'll see from the committee is a very strategic, very sober examination of Mr. Mueller, in which we will allow him to tell the story of what he found, the evidence he uncovered, the conclusions he made about the president, for example, directing his legal counsel, Don McGahn, to fire the special counsel, to fire Mr. Mueller. That he then directed Don McGahn to lie and said that he never told him to do that, and even directed him to create a false document, memorializing that lie for the future.

He also, we'll hear testimony from Mr. Mueller about Corey Lewandowski being summoned by the president to the White House and being told to go tell the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions, to tell the special counsel to limit his investigation to future presidential elections, not the election of 2016.

Those are just two examples of clear obstruction of justice, by the president of the United States. I think what you'll hear from Mr. Mueller is recounting of the evidence in the report, that supports the claims of serious misconduct by this president. So, I think it's going to be incredibly important from the American people to hear it from the special counsel himself, who prepared the report, and led the investigation.

COOPER: So, essentially, what you're saying is you're with other Democrats, sort of coordinating, to try to focus on very specific instances, and walking Mueller through it, because you believe those instances are the most informative in terms of what you believe what went on?

CICILLINE: Well, there are ten specific incidents of obstruction of justice allegations against the president. At least five of those -- all three elements of the offense are met. So, I think you will see a real emphasis on those five and particular, and then additional questions about the balance.

But this is about the special counsel, really for most Americans, the first time people here the contents of the Mueller Report. I mean, most of the American people have not read the report, I did in its entirety, but that's my job. It's not the job of the American people.

So, for most people, this will be the first time they will hear what's in that report, what was actually found in the investigation, by Mr. Mueller and his team. It's a damning report, with really disturbing evidence against the president. I think it's going to have a very powerful impact on the American people.

COOPER: You are limited on time, both in how long you can ask questions for, how long you can speak for, and also, just the length of time that Mueller is actually going to be sitting for questions. I've heard a number of people expressed concern that, you know, it is oftentimes members of Congress making opening statements, and sometimes that opening statement goes on for quite some time. Do you expect that to occur, given the time constraints overall that

you are working under?

CICILLINE: No, I don't think you will see that. I think you'll see most members go directly to the questions, to give Mr. Mueller the opportunity to really speak to the American people in the committee. This is not a hearing in which members of Congress should have any interest and highlighting themselves. It's really about giving Mr. Mueller an opportunity to give the American people this important information about what he found, I think you will see people go quickly to their questions and avoid lots of speeches.

I know you will see that on the Democratic side. We understand from our public and colleagues that, that they're going to try the same old, same old attack the FBI, attack the credibility of Mr. Mueller, bring up Peter Strzok, a bunch of red hearings to really distract from what will be a very damning testimony from the special counsel about the conduct of the president.

COOPER: Garrett Graff, who has written a book about Mueller and it's rare to watch almost every minute of public testimony or testaments that he has ever given, his top three bits of advice for lawmakers questioning are, one, the former special counsel is better at this than you are. This is in his words. Two, Mueller does not care about what you care about. And, three he doesn't play word games it is already done in your work.

Could Mueller -- I mean, does any of that ring true to you? Is that a concern?

CICILLINE: No, I think that's why Mr. Mueller will be an excellent witness. I think people recognize that he's a person of extraordinary integrity. He is very thoughtful and deliberative in his analysis, and really his responsibility on Wednesdays is to report to the American people what he found.

You know, he was a great patriot to take on this responsibility, this was an important investigation about the attack of our democracy by Russians and the president's efforts to cover it up. And his responsibility is to share the conclusions of this report with the American people. It's a proceeding which will be series, where I think people understand the gravity of this moment.

But I think what he will reveal is really damning evidence that this president engaged in specific acts that would constitute obstructive justice, where he any other person then the president of the United States, because of the OLC opinion saying a president can't be charged.

COOPER: Congressman, if you will just stay with us, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero, and Julian Epstein, who serves as chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee Democrats during the Clinton impeachment.

Carrie, Julian, I know you have some questions for the congressman -- Carrie. CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. Congressman, this is


Assuming that Bob Mueller does what all the indications are that he's given so far, that he's not going to answer the penultimate question of whether in his video, as a prosecutor, all of the facts that are documented in volume two constitute obstruction. And if he doesn't answer that question, that doesn't really change the minds of the other members of the House, as to whether or not there should be an impeachment inquiry.

What's that going to say about whether or not Congress is capable of holding a president accountable?

CICILLINE: Well, I think Mr. Mueller will certainly say what is in the very end of his report, the final paragraphs, that, in fact, the responsibility to hold a president accountable rest with Congress to vindicate the principle that no one is above the law. I think Mr. Mueller will reaffirm that on Wednesday.

I think we can certainly ask him whether or not the elements of obstruction of justice have been met, and, you're right, he will say he is bound by the OLC opinion, but it will be an important time to remind people of that 1,000 prosecutor signed a letter and all of them said that if an individual have committed the offense is described in the Mueller Report, they would charge that individual with multiple counts of obstruction of justice.

So, we know the answer to that question. But, I think will be very powerful to hear come from Mr. Mueller himself.

COOPER: Julian?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS: Well, Congressman Cicilline, in '98 when we were effectively defending President Clinton, it was a lot easier for us to play defense than it was for the Republicans to play offense, particularly when public opinion has shifted against impeachment, as it had done here. It seems to me the Republican playbook is fairly careful to stick with the bottom line conclusions of Mueller which is that there was no underlying criminal conspiracy, and that he will continue to remain noncommittal on the question of obstruction, as I think he probably has to.

It seems to me the game you have to play is to get him to commit to the idea that, I wasn't making a final judgment on some of these legal questions, I was deferring it to Congress, and then you kind of have to get into what are going to be some very graphic details. It's true, there wasn't evidence of conspiracy but that does not mean there was an evidence of collusion. There are dozens, and dozens of examples of the Trump campaign meeting, discussing, encouraging and benefiting from criminal Russian interference, and it seems like the job of the Democrats is to illustrate those.

Similarly, on obstruction there are a number of important questions you can ask that can illustrate without forcing Mueller to commit on the question of obstruction, that can illustrate that a lot of the activity was obstructionist.

How do you intend to do that? What are the issues you want to keep on?

CICILLINE: Well, I think, you know, we will look specifically the obstruction of justice offense is that -- there are five and with the special counsel found, and all three elements were satisfied. So, I think our focus will be on principally on those, although there are five other instances of obstruction of justice by the president the United States of America. I think you'll hear some questions about that in volume one, about the Trump campaign and the contacts with the Russians, welcoming help and, while not sufficient to establish a criminal conspiracy, certainly unusual to see an American presidential campaign regularly contacting WikiLeaks and the Russians and benefiting from their interference.

[20:15:08] I think reminding people that what is at stake here is the security of our democracy, and that this was an attack on American democracy. And then follow by the president's efforts to cover up and to impede the investigation of the Russian action.

So I think we will go very methodically through the elements of the offense, the conduct of the president, I think you will hear some questions about what did you find the president did here, what do you think the president say here? So, again, the Mueller Report comes to life.

But it's contents. The four corners of the documents are damning and disturbing and our substantial evidence of wrongdoing. Our only mission is to bring that report to light through what Robert Mueller. We do need to add anything. We just need the American people to understand what he found.

COOPER: Congressman Cicilline, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

Carrie and Julian, stay with us. We're going to continue the conversation after a short break.

Also later, Thomas Friedman from "The New York Times", and the president's remarks about him after the op-ed columnist called the president racist, as well as criticism Friedman direct at Democrats who want to win the White House next year, ahead.


COOPER: Trump tonight now, as well a special hour-long edition later about Robert Mueller's upcoming testimony, we heard tonight from one of lawmakers doing the questioning. I want to continue the conversation now with Carrie Cordero and Julian Epstein about what to expect in the testimony itself.

So, Carrie, Democrats and the congressman was just indicating, the strategy is to focus on areas, those five areas where they think the president obstructed justice and get Mueller to kind of go systematically through each one. Do you get the sense they are not going to be able to answer the biggest question which is whether or not Mueller would've charged the president with obstruction of justice if he was not anyone but the sitting president?

CORDERO: Yes, I think the congressman who was just on, I think he even conceded that point. All indications up until today where that Bob Mueller was not going to answer that question, although there were some sort of, you know, outlying hope that maybe he would, maybe he would go beyond what was written in the actual report.

I think that letter that came from DOJ tonight just puts the nail in the coffin, that he's not going to answer that question. So, then, the question becomes when can they elicit from him? And on that point, you know, with respect to all the facts are described particularly in volume two, obstruction, which was the judiciary committee is most concerned with.

And on that, the congressman sounded awfully optimistic to me, and I'm afraid that it is overly optimistic because Bob Mueller doesn't want to tell a story. He is a reluctant witness, he didn't want to do this hearing. He doesn't want to be there. He doesn't want to be there to give the whole narrative and tell the story and all he's going to need is props from the congressman and then he will just launch into it.

They're going to -- it is going to be really challenging for these members to elicit the information that they want as opposed to asking him a question and he just gives the most concise, possible limited answer that he can.

COOPER: Julian, I mean, do you -- you know, the congressman is said that he doesn't expect members of Congress to do the questioning on the Democratic side to be making long statements as often, most of them seem to want to do for whatever reason that may be, whether it's getting on the local news or it is making a statement and being seen, do you believe that they will be able to resist that urge and really just to get into questioning? Because the time is pretty short on this.

EPSTEIN: The time is pretty short, and this is a "be careful what you wish for" moment for the Democrats because they're going to have to very unsatisfying answers, first on the question of underlying criminal conspiracy and, second, on trying to get Mueller to commit on the obstruction issue which I just don't think he will commit on.

So I think they will have to limit the opening statements and get to -- there is a rich story you're about the extent to which the Trump campaign actually communicated and encouraged and benefited from illegal Russian intelligence interference here. There is a rich story to tell. There's also a rich I think to tell you, at least on some of elements of obstruction. The question is, you know, are they going to be able to persuade anyone?

When John Dean testified before the House Judiciary Committee or the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973, 80 million people watched. My guess is about 15 million people will be watching on Wednesday. Only 21 percent of the public right now support impeachment, and the Democratic Caucus is divided. So, the question is, will the Democrats be able to get into what I think is a rich bounty of material on collusion which was short on conspiracy, on obstruction even if Mueller won't commit on it, and kind of tell a story about really odious conduct on behalf by this administration? Is anybody listening? Can they change any minds?

My guess is probably not and we are kind of nearing the end of the impeachment question right now.


EPSTEIN: I don't think that's really viable anymore.

EPSTEIN: Interesting.

Julian Epstein, I appreciate it. Carrie Cordero as well.

Just days after Robert Mueller testifies, Democratic candidates for president return to the debate stage. His testimony could become one of the hot topics. But up next, author and columnist Thomas Friedman shows us why the 2020 field needs to focus and maybe a reset.

We'll be right back.


[20:28:29] COOPER: Next week, 20 of the top Democratic presidential candidates take the stage in Detroit for two nights of live debates here on CNN.

"New York Times" opinion columnist Thomas Friedman warns that after the first face-off last month, they could be teeing up an easy reelection for President Trump. In this latest piece, Friedman shares what he thinks will be a better strategy for Democrats, though it may force several contenders to change their message.

But president blasted Friedman for the column in which he labeled the president races. He suggested that Friedman had kissed up to him during a phone call before that article came out.

Thomas Friedman joins me now.

Tom, I don't want to give this the juvenile response from the president anymore actually that it's already gotten, but I do want to give you a chance just to respond what he had to say about you.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you know, the president tweeted about our private conversation we had and lobbed in some few insults. You know, basically, my response which I put out on Twitter, I was encouraged by a friend of his to speak to him after the downing of the American drone, because I thought it was why I said we not retaliate and, I thought he was wise not to retaliate, and this friend of his wanted to me to encourage him in that because he was evidently, you know, agonizing a little over that not retaliating.

And I did that, I began the conversation by saying that, you know, I disagree with you, Mr. President, on many things, but I think he did the right thing on this. We talked about four minutes. We also talked about China. We left it at that.

You know, I believed that, when you speak to the president, you should be respectful.

[20:30:00] I would encourage him to do that as well when he speaks about other people.

But, you know, the main point was that for me, Anderson, it's not about him or me, it's about America. And that's why on issues where I've agreed with the President on China for instance or on -- not retaliating on Iran, I have no problem saying that.

And where I disagree with him violently, invariantly on issues like labeling four American congresswomen basically as aliens who should go back to another country where three of them were born here, I will speak out as strongly as I can about that. And so that's to me what it's about.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You know it's interesting. I mean, just about the issue on the four congresswomen and all the things the President has said, it's one of those things that it's hard to know exactly how to kind of day after day focus -- you know, report on it because in some ways there is some strategy involved in his mind. Much of it is, you know, sort of temporary strategy or it's just something he says and then it seems to be working for him in his mind and then he continues with it.

But, I just -- from a reporting standpoint, it's an interesting conundrum how not to fall into the trap of just following every tweet that he says and yet at the same time not ignoring, you know, racist language or things which are clearly racist or just many of the things the President of the United States now routinely says.

FRIEDMAN: It is a real challenge. I think there's kind of a political response and there's a media response. You know, I've been in the Democrats -- my political response after all that he's denouncing this kind of bald face racism by the President of the United States, which is really vile and denouncing the people in that audience who were shouting, you know, send her back.

Once you do that, I think it's very important to use his energy and his leverage against him. What I would have done if I were the Democrats is I would have put up some impeachment resolution. I actually would have announced a telethon the next day to raise $100 million to register a million new Democrats in every swing state and every swing district in America and every hour I would have sent the President a thank you note that his energy, his vile energy we've turned into something positive. We've just registered a million new voters.

I think if you get into the kind of fight with him where he does his thing and then Democrats and critics in the media just say you're bad, that just doesn't work anymore. It's clear his supporters have made their peace with who he is. They know who he is. The Democratic -- I'm sorry, the Republican Party has completely rolled over for him.

And so, we're not going to -- there's no new information we can give anyone. I think the only thing you can do is build your leverage to change the one thing that will be totally differentiating, Anderson, and that's removing Donald Trump from the presidency, the way he came in by a popular, you know, mandate of the American people. That's all I'm focused on right now, and --

COOPER: You wrote a really interesting column that I wanted to talk to you about, because you have a lot of people coming up to you saying, you know, he's going to win again, isn't he? I certainly have a lot of people, you know, just saying that to me over, you know, really the last two years constantly. And you're arguing that the Democratic candidates are not really getting it right, that now is not the right time for a revolution.

FRIEDMAN: You know, I think we have to start with the fact of how did the Democrats win the House back in 2018. They won the House by winning congressional seats in districts that Donald Trump won, carried in the presidential election. And they did that by appealing to independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women who for different reasons had become totally alienated for Trump.

To win the presidency, you've got to hold those very same voters while also energizing the Democratic base, I get that. But when you listen to the Democratic debates and I think when I drill down at people and say why do you feel Trump is going to win, I keep bumping up against the Democratic debates when they heard people, you know, talking about decriminalizing people who enter the country illegally that act. And I personally think you should have to ring the doorbell when you come into our country.

COOPER: That was the position Julian Castro --



FRIEDMAN: Right. And instead, many people seem -- some people, they're seem to agree with that. I don't think giving away, you know, health care to illegal immigrants is an automatic thing. I think it's something really better be thinking about, especially when you consider the health care needs and demands of Americans like veterans, you know, for instance.

And I think taking away the private health care of 250 million Americans who are one way or another covered by that and replacing it for Medicare (INAUDIBLE), maybe a good ultimate goal. But that's something you really want to very gradually build up to.

[20:35:06] And I think that just shocked a lot of people. It shocked a lot of moderate Democrats and certainly it was probably a real shock to some of those independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women who you're going to need to win.

And my main point, Anderson, was this. You want a revolution, I'll give you a revolution. Four more years of Donald Trump, four more years of this kind of operant behavior, four years in which he could likely appoint two more Supreme Court justices under the age of 40, four more years of Republicans rolling over for him when he will be unconstrained by any need to be reelected, that will be a revolution.

In fact, I think he would leave our country, our norms, values and institutions in a tatter that I'm not sure would be recoverable for.

COOPER: Tom, stick around. There's a question Democratic voters are likely asking themselves about the vast field of challengers to President Trump. Do any of them know how to run against President Trump? We'll be right back with Tom Friedman in a moment.


COOPER: Back with Pulitzer Prize winning "New York Times" columnist, Thomas Friedman. He's also the author of the best selling book, "Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations."

Tom, when you look at the Democratic field, you have said that there's an opening for a unifier. How much of an opening is there? I mean, because we've seen and we're currently seeing there certainly remains an opening for a divider.

[20:40:09] FRIEDMAN: Yes. I, you know, just judging from the feedback this column got, you know. I think there's just a lot of people out there who really want someone to keep it I think basically simple. And to me the symbol is Democratic messages. I think national unity.

I think there are a lot of people around the country, Anderson, yearning for someone who is going to pull the country together. I think there's a lot of people who feel like we're like heading for civil war, kind of political civil war. So I think there's a huge yearning for that.

And I would say to focus on good jobs, real jobs, jobs that come with benefits where someone can actually sustain a middle class lifestyle, you know, a family of four with rising aspirations. I would keep it very simple around those two things. That doesn't mean if a Democrat wins they shouldn't pursue all these other agendas.

But I think if you really get yourself tied up in all these other things, there's a real danger that in this world with this guy Donald Trump who is very effective at smelling out people's weaknesses, going after it, I think you can get tied up in knots. I keep it very simple, national unity and good jobs.

COOPER: The President does have an extraordinary ability to kind of zero in on a weakness or a perceived weakness and just kind of start needling into it and opening it up deeper and deeper.

FRIEDMAN: Well, and I think the one way to get it his weakness is to say you're a chump. Wait a minute, you? You moved the embassy, the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and you got nothing for it? No. No, don't tell me that. You gave away one of the prime diplomatic assets which we could use to sweetened and leverage in Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and you gave it for free? What exactly have you gotten from North Korea --


FRIEDMAN: -- other than a seize fire? I mean, Trump the chump does fall off the tongue fairly easily and there is a lot of evidence for it.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, because the kind of candidate you're talking about with, you know, not focusing on revolution, a Green New Deal, Medicare, you know, taking away private health insurance, those -- I mean, if you look at Joe -- Vice President Biden on that debate stage the last time, he couldn't come up with the fact of argument to defend himself against Kamala Harris on his record.

I think there's a lot of people suddenly looking at that and saying, well, you know, let's see how he does I guess the next time. But, if he can't push back on Democrats to his left or to his right, how is he going to do anything with Donald Trump?

FRIEDMAN: You know I worry about that. The thing I fall back on, Anderson, is that those debates are so awkward. I mean, it's just so weird. You're up there with, you know, a dozen people or however many. You have four seconds. People are trying to butt in all the time. I know I wouldn't do very well there, you know. And I think I just want to give this more time.

I think it's -- my bet is you're going to see someone like Kamala Harris move to the middle now. I think some of the stuff that's been revealed in the last few weeks, how Democratic voters actually felt about that debate, there's a big opening in the middle. I think she'll try to differentiate herself, I suspect, from Sanders and Warren.

I find a lot of people liking how Buttigieg talks like -- I like the way he talks about his faith. I like the way he talks about abortion with sensitivity. I like the way he can call out evangelicals for supporting Trump, you know, which part of the Bible justifies this behavior? I think he's a very interesting character. I recognize he comes from a very small town.

But, you know, there's people in there I think that in time could really start to I think differentiate themselves. I want to just give it time. I don't want to write anybody off yet.

COOPER: Do you see any candidate right now who at this stage knows how to run against Donald Trump? I mean, he eliminated an incredible field of Republicans the last time around. He's willing to go to places that no one else is willing to go, I don't mean geographical locations. I mean, you know, places -- you know, racist places. He has no shame in that regard in terms of how low he might take the debate. Do you see any Democrat who actually really you think knows how to run against him? FRIEDMAN: I see two, Anderson, but neither is available. One is called Bill Clinton and the other is called Barack Obama. But right now I don't -- but I think it's really early. And when you're focused on Democrats against Democrats or a different against Democrats against him in a single race, and so I want to give that time.

[20:45:00] COOPER: But you would take lessons from how Bill Clinton got elected, how Barack Obama got elected?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. You know, Bill Clinton and Obama, again, both had that possibility to hold the base, appeal to the center and reach out to the other side and they also were both quick. They both had rapier wit. They both had a little twinkle in their eye. And they also knew when someone was speaking crazy stuff in a debate, just how to kind of raise their eyebrow and say like, "Where did you learn to talk that way?"

COOPER: Tom Friedman, always good to have you. Thanks, Tom.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, more on the breaking news involving Robert Mueller, plus detail of the tape Mueller's appeared dozens of times before Congress over the past two decades. We'll examine how he conducts himself and what we can learn about the upcoming testimony when the heat is on.


COOPER: Back to our breaking news. A letter from the Justice Department which says it was sent at Robert Mueller's request reminding him not to go beyond the boundaries of his public report when he testifies on Wednesday.

[20:50:08] Former special counsel is going to have to navigate claims of executive privilege versus those of congressional oversight. "360's" Randi Kaye spent hours shifting (ph) through video of his previous testimony for insight into exactly what kind of witness Democrats and Republicans can expect.


ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: The cyber threat has evolved significantly over the past decade.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Robert Mueller testifies, he's laser focused, never saying more than he has to, never claiming to know more than he does.

REP. RANDY FORBES (R-VA): Do you have any idea about the percentage of members of, let's say MS-13, because that's in the news lately, might be here illegally?

MUELLER: I do not. I'd have to get back to you. But it's a fairly subs -- well, I'd really have to get back to you on that. KAYE: Mueller has had to face questioning from congressional committees as far back as July 2001. At his FBI director nomination hearing, he showed a rare moment of light heartedness when asked about FBI managers being required to take polygraph tests.

MUELLER: I have already taken that polygraph.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): The only reason I asked that question is because I knew you had and I just think it's important for people to -- you know, how did you do?

MUELLER: I'm sitting here. That's all I can say.

HATCH: I'm sorry. We just have yet a good examiner, that's all.

KAYE (on camera): Muller's testified dozens of times over the years. It's all preserved and catalogued online by C-SPAN. We reviewed more than 10 hours of it. While he's most often precise and polite, he does not like to be pushed around. That was evident in 2013 when Mueller testified about the Boston Marathon bombings.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): Why did no one go to the mosque and say who are these guys? They may attend here. Why was that not done since such a thorough job was done?

KAYE (voice-over): Nor does he like to be interrupted.

MUELLER: Your facts are not altogether --

GOHMERT: Well, I point out specifically.

MUELLER: May I finish my --

GOHMERT: Point out specifically. So if you're going to call me a liar, you need to point out specifically where any facts are wrong.

MUELLER: We went to the mosque prior to Boston.

GOHMERT: Part of Boston.

MUELLER: Prior to Boston happening we were in that mosque talking to imam several months beforehand. It's part of our outreach efforts.

GOHMERT: Were you aware that those mosques were started by Al-Amoudi?

MUELLER: I've answered the question, sir.

KAYE: Even when things get heated, though, he never raises his voice. It's standard Mueller, calm and cool.

MUELLER: You're asking questions about details of the investigation. I'd be happy to take --

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): That is not a detail about the investigation. That took place prior to the investigation started. MUELLER: May I please finish? You're asking detailed questions about the investigation. I'd be happy to get back to you and answer those questions that I can.

KAYE: In 2007, Mueller was pressed about a conversation he'd had with former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the topic, a controversial wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency. Mueller as always stood his ground protecting private conversations.

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): I'm asking you to tell us what the conversation was. I don't think there's a privilege and I don't want a conversation. I want what's in your psyche? What's in your -- did you considered yourself? That's not a conversation. That's a state of mind.

MUELLER: Well, to the extent that I follow through on the state of mind, then it is a conversation. Again, I would resist getting into that conversation.

KAYE: Despite his rigidness, Mueller has also shown humility. Like during this 2013 exchange about surveillance and smartphones where he admitted he hadn't prepared properly for the questioning.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R-UT): It's terribly disappointing to come to this point and talk about something that is in the headlines of every newscast, I gave the questions in advance.

MUELLER: And they noted that I would be asked on that, I might add. So, it's my fault.

KAYE: Humility from a man now just hours away from what he hopes will be his last hearing on Capitol Hill.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: A lot of experience. Joining me now to discuss Robert Mueller's career and his previous relationship with Congress, someone who worked directly under him at the FBI, John Pistole, who served as deputy director.

John, do you expect the Mueller that we see on Wednesday will be any different than the Mueller we just saw in Randi's piece, very serious, very prepared witness generally who is not afraid to push back on lawmakers?

JOHN PISTOLE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: You know, I think that's right, Anderson. I think that the piece that Randi teed up will be an exam -- those are examples of what he will be testifying like where he'll be factual, he'll be responsive to the question, perhaps succinct in those responses and some may even find that to be terse in terms of short, to-the-point responses.

But I think he will try to also refer back to the written report as much as possible so he doesn't elaborate on that with his opinion or recommendations or things that beyond the scope of the report.

COOPER: Do you see him actually ending up kind of reading from the report itself?

PISTOLE: I could see him doing that if members ask him questions that are directly answered in the report. I could see him say, well, I've addressed that, the special counsel team has addressed that in the report.

[20:55:08] And if he is pressed too much, he may even say, for example, on page 67 you'll find a specific answer to that and then he may pull that out and read it, perhaps just to delay that or extend the timing of his answer, so limiting other questions and things like that. So, we'll see about that.

COOPER: I mean, it seems like -- I mean, the Democrats on the committee would be fine if he is just reading from the report. It seems like what they want is, you know, Robert Mueller on television even if it's him reading, they feel people will learn something that they didn't otherwise know because of them -- most people have not read the report.

PISTOLE: Well, that's right. I think I saw something on the weekend said that those surveyed, perhaps only 2 percent to 3 percent of people have actually read the entire report, which is understandable. I mean, it is somewhat dense in places. And if you don't have a legal background or investigative background, I can see how people could get bog down.

But I think the key would be if Democrats were focusing on what are the big takeaways from volume one and then from volume two, and then in totality what are the conclusions. And even if they had him read some of the conclusions that are in the report, that would probably be the first time many people, if not most people, have heard that specific language.

COOPER: John Pistole, I appreciate you being with us. John, thank you very much.

COOPER: You bet.

COOPER: Up next, we're going to devote our entire next hour to Mueller's upcoming testimony at Capitol Hill, what his special report said, what President Trump said about it, and the political implications of it all. A big day on Capitol Hill breaking down the key points made in the Mueller Report.