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Attorney General Spends Hours Reviewing Mueller Report As House Democrats Hold Emergency Conference Call; Trump Golfing, Lying Low As Sources Say He Is Taking A Wait And See Approach To Release Of Mueller Report; Attorney General Barr Spends Hours Reviewing Mueller Report; Sources Say Trump Taking Wait And See Approach To Its Release; Democrats Tell Trump Administration To Preserve Documents Related To The Mueller Investigation; Attorney General Spends Hours Reviewing Mueller Report As House Democrats Hold Emergency Conference Call; Rep. Val Demings (D) Florida Is Interviewed About Her Expectation On Robert Mueller's Report; House Democrats Hold Emergency Conference Call, Demand Full Transparency On Final Mueller Report; Russia Awaiting Conclusions Of Mueller's Report. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 23, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANA CABRERA, ANCHOR, CNN: Tom Foreman, thank you. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with me. Special coverage continues right now in the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. I'll see you back here in a couple of hours.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Happening Now breaking news, Mueller's conclusions. Tonight, all eyes in Washington are in the Justice Department awaiting the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election. We're going to have new details on when Congress and the American public will learn whether the investigation found collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin's government.

Barr crawl, Attorney General Bill Barr has spent his entire Saturday over at the Justice Department working behind closed doors to review the confidential investigative report. After saying he may deliver Mueller's principal conclusions to Congress as early as this weekend, is he any closer to beating that deadline?

Holed up, as the Attorney General spent his day inside reading, President Trump was out on the Links, golfing and meeting with friends at his Florida resort. The President hasn't spoken out today and sources say his lawyers are advising him to lie low until they have a better idea of Mueller's conclusions. Will he follow their advice or will he start tweeting tonight?

And demanding access, House Democrats hold on an emergency conference call to plot strategy and renew their demands for full transparency. They're promising their own investigations will keep going no matter what the Special Counsel concluded.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.

We're following breaking news, the Attorney General William Barr and his top aides remain behind closed doors over at the Justice Department tonight, some eight hours after arriving. Sources say they're reviewing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report. So far the Attorney General has held off on sending any information over to Congress despite his earlier indication he might share the print simple conclusions of Mueller's report as soon as this weekend.

House Democrats held an emergency conference call earlier this afternoon to discuss the situation. Meantime, President Trump is over at his home in Florida surrounded by his lawyers who sources say may be encouraging him to lie low until they learn more about what Mueller found. After two years of awaiting the end of this Russia investigation, Washington is now on edge standing by to learn what Mueller knows.

This hour, I'll talk with Florida Democratic Representative Val Demings, a member of the Judiciary and the Intelligence Committees and our correspondence and analyst are standing by for this special edition of the Situation Room.

First, let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, what's the latest?

PAMELA BROWN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Wolf, the President is uncharacteristically quiet in the wake of the report being delivered to the Attorney General, this after the President for nearly two years went after the investigation as a witch-hunt. Sources tell me that the President is happy the probe is over, but also there is cautious optimism because no one knows exactly what's in the report except just a few people.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN(off-camera): As the President spent the day on a Florida golf course, the Attorney General spent the day reading a report that could define Donald Trump's presidency. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were both in the office today reviewing Mueller's findings. Barr telling lawmakers he could release the principal conclusions of the report to them as soon as this weekend.

Tonight, as the wait for information continues, Justice Department officials say one thing is clear, there will be no more indictments related to the Russia probe. The White House seizing on that as a victory. President Trump attending a Republican fundraiser Friday seated next to Senator Lindsey Graham who went on the attack against the other candidate in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton saying, "We're going to make sure both campaigns are looked at." prompting chants of lock her up from other attendees.

The President came to Florida flanked with his legal team, bringing along White House lawyer Emmet Flood who's responsible for the response to the Russia investigation. And just hours before the announcement that Mueller was finished --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion.

There was no obstruction. Everybody knows it. It's all a big hoax. I call it the witch-hunt. It's all a big hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN(off-camera): President Trump continued his attacks on the investigation, telling Fox Business Americans will not accept a negative review.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Always interesting to me because a deputy that didn't get any votes appoints a man that didn't get any votes, he's going to write a report on me. People will not stand for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN(off-camera): Even though the President did call for the release of the report this week --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let it come out. Let people see it. That's up to the Attorney General.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:05:03]

BROWN(off-camera): Barr has previously refused to commit to providing Congress with a full report and said that DOJ rules prevent him from sharing damaging information about individuals not charged with crimes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I can say right now is my goal and intent is to get as much information out as I can consistent with the regulation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN(off-camera): But Democrats are demanding the report be made public in its entirety and have threatened a subpoena to get it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCH SCHUMER, MINORITY LEADER: The American people have a right to the truth, the watchword is transparency. In conclusion, the President himself has called without qualification for the report to be made public. There is no reason on God's green earth why Attorney General Barr should do any less.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN(off-camera): White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders saying

late Friday that the Attorney General is in control of what happens next, tweeting, "The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr and we look forward to the process taking its course. The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel's report.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And the latest update from the White House is that, that is still the case. The White House has not been briefed on the content of the report. The question will be will the Attorney General share whatever he's going to share with Congress with the White House beforehand. That is something Democrats have been very vocal about. They do not want that to happen, so really it's up to Barr if he does so and we'll just have to wait and see really that is what's happening right now, Wolf, a wait-and-see approach.

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly is. Let me also bring in Evan Perez, our Senior Justice Correspondent. What does it say yesterday Barr notified Congress he would try to release the principal conclusions of the report as early as this weekend. Well, today is Saturday, not happening today, can we assume it's happening tomorrow? What does all of this suggest?

EVAN PEREZ, SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Right. I mean, I think all signs point that it still could be this weekend, possibly tomorrow, Wolf. And look, one of the things that we were told going into this was that the more detail in the Mueller report, whatever is in Mueller's report the more detail there is in it, the more difficult the job was for Bill Barr in distilling and essentially preparing his own report, the Barr report which is what exactly is what's going to be sent up to members of Congress.

So it may be that there's a lot more information in here that needs to be distilled, needs to be summarized for members of Congress and diversion that eventually will be seen by the public. Obviously, Wolf, that's not the final answer here because Members of Congress, especially the Democrats and frankly Republicans want to see more. They want to see everything.

BLITZER: Yes.

PEREZ: And so the question is does Barr produce something that's going to provide a lot of the answers as to whether or not there was any evidence of this conspiracy or collusion, the question that everybody has had on their mind, is there anything in Barr's report that's going to answer the question about whether or not the President obstructed justice and whether or not that they came close to bringing charges against anyone else in this case.

We know that they didn't bring any more charges, but certainly whether there's any additional evidence that just didn't reach that level. Those are the answers we're looking for.

BLITZER: So Pamela, the President can breathe a little bit easier that there's not going to be an additional indictments by Robert Mueller. His investigation is now over with. There could be other indictments from the U.S. Attorney in New York or the U.S. Attorney here in D.C. or in Eastern Virginia or other places and certainly the congressional investigations will intensify but the President certainly has to worry about all of the detail that could be in the Mueller report on the extent of Russia's efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election with the goal of helping Donald Trump become the President of the United States.

BROWN: And I think that's why you're seeing sort of this muted response from the President right now, Wolf. Because no one in the White House seems to know what is in the report and that is the concern that perhaps there could be conduct in the report about the Russians, about the President that could be unseemly, and that could make the President look bad.

As one official I spoke to today said there's plenty of time to spike the football, so before we celebrate, let's wait and see, so that's really what you're seeing. The expectation as Evan noted is that tomorrow Barr very well could turn over the conclusions, the principal conclusions as early as tomorrow and so that is why they want to wait.

At the same time, Bob Mueller did lay out in his indictments a lot of the story and the Russians trying to use social media, manipulate social media, try to use the election to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. That has already been laid out in large part. I think the concern from the White House is what it says about the President in terms of obstruction of justice and possibly collusion, but it is certainly a good sign that there weren't any charges having to do with collusion and no more indictments, Wolf.

BLITZER: What other investigations that are still ongoing outside of the Mueller investigation, Evan, potentially could be a deep concern to the President?

PEREZ: Right. I think that's actually one of the things that has worried people around the President.

[18:10:03]

Certainly, in the Southern District of New York, the Manhattan prosecutors, federal prosecutors in Manhattan who have been digging into the campaign finance violation, Wolf. Some sort of left over from the Michael Cohen case. That case is still ongoing. People close to the President believe that that investigation in New York is going to continue. There's an investigation into the inauguration committee. Again, that's going to continue.

There's also things that could impact or affect the President's own company. So again there's a lot here that is still hanging over the President. Certainly, this is a big relief that this is - they'd put behind him certainly once we see the results of this. But there's also parts of investigation that are going to live on. Just today for instance the prosecutors, federal prosecutors accuse essentially Paul Manafort of using another shell company of trying to perhaps take a billion dollars. Paul Manafort is supposed to surrender about $11 million to the

federal government. In a filing today, prosecutors essentially accused him of trying to use another shell company to try to take at least a million dollars of that. So some of this stuff is still going to be going on even after Mueller is gone.

BLITZER: Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who's been sentenced about seven and a half years in prison. Everybody stick around. There's more news we're following. Democrats from the House of Representatives held an emergency conference call earlier this afternoon to discuss the release of the Mueller report. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is joining us from Capitol Hill right now.

Manu, House Democrat they're now demanding that investigators preserve materials related to the Mueller probe, what else are you learning?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, that's right. House Democratic Chairman sent a letter on Friday to various agencies, including the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI and even the State Department to preserve records related to the Mueller investigation. Now, this is all part of their effort to try to get the Trump administration, the Justice Department to turn over the underlying evidence in addition to the public to the report of the Mueller report, make that public, make that available to Capitol Hill. That is a pressure point going forward and it's something they have been demanding all day long.

And in talking points that were circulated earlier today, the Democratic members of the House caucus, the Democratic leadership made very clear that they would stop in nothing, they would try to subpoena if necessary to get that information. They said, "This," they said, "if necessary, Democrats would be prepared to use its subpoena authority to obtain the full report and underlying evidence as well as to obtain briefing and testimony from the Special Counsel, the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and other necessary officials."

Now, Wolf, in an emergency conference call this afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear that they are on a fact-finding mission at the moment, waiting to hear what the facts are, but they would not be satisfied with anything short of what they believe is full transparency, a number of Democratic House Chairman made that case very clearly, believing that the President is on their side, believing that public opinion is on their side to get the full report.

And Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her colleagues earlier making the case that conclusions that are summarized by Bill Barr would not be sufficient to her caucus. She said, "The Attorney General's offer to provide the committees with a summary of the report's conclusion is insufficient. Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise."

So the question now is what will Bill Barr do, will he provide the information tomorrow, but even if he does provide the summary of the conclusions, that's not going to be enough for Democrats, so we'll see what the next steps are. But Democrats are preparing for a fight that could last some time there, Wolf.

BLITZER: There could be a lot of fights about to begin. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. Thank you. Joining us now, Florida Democratic Representative Val Demings. She's a Member of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. What are you expecting from Robert Mueller's report?

VAL DEMINGS, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, DEMOCRAT: Well, thank you so much, Wolf. It's great to be here and look a lot has happened in the last 24 hours. We are glad to see this report come to a conclusion after 22 months. But now all of the focus has shifted from Mueller onto Attorney General Barr.

During his confirmation hearing he said that he would be as transparent as possible within the law, so we're going to put that to the test. We voted as you know 420 to zero to have the Mueller report be made public and so we believe that Congress, we have a right to know but certainly the American people have a right to know and we're going to hold the Attorney General to what he said in those confirmation hearings. We want to see the report in its entirety.

BLITZER: You just off in conference call with other Democrats. Is there a strategy for getting as much information from the Justice Department as possible?

[18:15:00]

DEMINGS: Yes, we had a great call today led by Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries. We heard from each of the committee chairs with jurisdiction, just kind of going back over what is transpired in the last 24 hours and we're now - it's a wait-and-see game. The Attorney General said that he will send a summary to Congress.

We're waiting to see if that happens. We thought it would happen today. There's still tomorrow. We've already talked about mustering back up again on Monday evening when we all get back to Capitol Hill. But we are developing a strategy to move forward. You know that we want to see not only the report in its entirety, but all supporting documentation or evidence. We want to see the decisions the Special Counsel made, but also the formula that he utilized to decide who he would prosecute or decline to prosecute. And so it's a wait-and-see game, but we're in it for the long haul.

BLITZER: If the Mueller report effectively vindicates the President, do Democrats run the risk, Congresswoman, of pursuing the President too aggressively?

DEMINGS: Well, let me say this, Wolf, remember that our responsibility as members of Congress really extend well beyond the Mueller report which was very narrowly defined. We also, if you remember this whole investigation, really started as a counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigation to see if the President of the United States had been compromised by a foreign power. If he was subject to blackmail, if he was somehow vulnerable to a foreign power.

So the scope of our investigation and the Committee's jurisdiction really extends beyond of the Special Counsel. We're anxious to see where the Special Counsel investigation led, but really the conclusion of the Special Counsel's investigation is really just a tool that would be utilized by Congress to really provide the oversight that the American people expect us to.

BLITZER: Members of both parties have expressed their desire to see this report. You correctly point out the vote was 420 to zero to get the report to see the entire Mueller report. Do you expect support from Republicans if you decide that you have no choice but to pursue subpoenas?

DEMINGS: Well, let me say this, none of us know yet exactly what is in the Mueller report and so we have to wait and see. I will say this, if I was the President - there's been a lot of talk about no additional indictments, if I were the President I would not relax too soon. We know that there are several other jurisdiction including the New York, and the District of Columbia, and Virginia who are also involved in investigation, so we need to wait and see.

We don't know what clear and convincing evidence is there. We don't know what the conclusions are. I would hope that my Republican colleagues would put any political agendas to the side and really uphold the will of the American people. They voted for full transparency in order to have full transparency, I believe we need to see all of the documentation and evidence. So if we have to subpoena, I would certainly hope that our Republican colleagues would support us in that effort.

BLITZER: In several court filings earlier, prosecutors involved with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation, they've already laid out a whole pattern of contacts, various contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia but they have declined to charge anyone with collusion or conspiracy work directly with the Russians. Nobody has been charged with a criminal count on the issue of collusion or conspiracy, why not?

DEMINGS: Well, what I can say is let us remember that this is an investigation that the President said it's a witch-hunt, it's a fraud. For a witch hunt and a fraud, it's yielded 37 defendants, a circle of people around the President who have either pleaded guilty, been indicted or on their way to prison. And so, Wolf, I am going to hold off and see exactly what the Special Counsel report yields to us and as I said the scope of our investigation in the House of Representatives is much larger and let's just kind of wait and see where this thing takes us.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see what the principal conclusions are that could come fairly soon. This weekend supposedly we'll see soon enough. Representative Demings, thanks so much for joining us.

DEMINGS: Thank you. BLITZER: Up next, will the Attorney General Bill Barr be able to

reveal the principal conclusions of the Mueller report before the weekend is over? And we'll also dig deeper into the mood over at the White House and down in Florida where the President has been waiting to find out what Mueller has.

[18:20:007]

New breaking news, the Attorney General Bill Barr has been over at the Justice Department here in Washington for hours reviewing the final report from the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. President Trump meanwhile is at his resort in Florida where sources say he's taking a wait-and-see approach to the release of the Mueller report. Let's bring in our experts and our correspondents. And Evan, what does it tell you that the principal conclusions weren't released today?

PEREZ: Well, Wolf, I think one of the things that Bill Barr wanted to do was make sure whatever he distills matches essentially what Mueller wants the public to see, I think. I think what one of the things he wants to do is to make sure that this - he only has one chance to do this and members of Congress are going to want to see everything.

So I think he's trying to answer as many questions as possible. You saw it yesterday in his letter to Members of Congress, he promised some transparency, but obviously whatever he produces, Wolf, is not going to be the final answer. The Members of Congress want to see more.

BLITZER: The President was out playing golf today, but he's been thunderously silent in reacting to the Mueller reports release.

BROWN: Yes, that's a good way to put it, thunderously silent, because let's not forget this is a President who called it a witch hunt for nearly two years and now all of a sudden the report is delivered and he's silent.

[18:25:08]

I think he want to send a message today on the golf course. In fact we have a picture of him with Kid Rock, the rock star on the golf course there that Kid Rock had tweeted out. I am told that, yes, the President is happy that the investigation is over. There is a sense of optimism, but also a little bit of anxiety of not knowing what exactly is in this report as one source close to the President told me, let's get the plane on the runway and see what we got.

Let's not celebrate too soon so certainly a wait-and-see approach, but also there's not a sense of paranoia right now among the President and those around him. There's no war room set up, I'm told. They're basically letting this play out and see what's next.

BLITZER: What are the most consequential outstanding questions the Mueller report needs to answer?

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all why were there declinations, what did they decide not to do as maybe as important what they decided to do. Precisely because you have a catch-22 scenario here. If the President of the United States is in fact implicated in a crime in the underlying report, there is a DOJ reg that says you cannot actually indict a sitting President.

So at that token, are you going to be able to provide information that'd be once disparaging to the President of the United States and not be able to indict them, because of course we don't want the Comey effect to take place again after what happened a couple of summers ago with Hillary Clinton. So there's that catch-22 set up there. If that's the basis for no more indictments and that's not a vindication of the President whatsoever.

Also, what we're looking to find out is why were there so many redactions of late involving Manafort, involving Michael Flynn, involving Rick Gates' continued involvement, involving Roger Stone, involving a whole host of people, Michael Cohen included, why there redactions if there was nothing going to come out of it? To me that says that Mueller may have put this entire investigation as he should have on autopilot and to farm things out, to ensure the longevity and the integrity of the investigation.

We know from the tweets about sessions over the past two years before he was not longer the AG that there was a need to try to have this farmed out, because they may have been replaced or removed. I want to know about that.

BLITZER: Gloria, what are learning about it?

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: You may know. Yes.

BLITZER: What are you learning about the Democrat's strategy now going forward?

BORGER: Principal conclusions are not going to be enough. They're demanding complete and full transparency. The President is a subject of this investigation. They don't believe the White House should be able to interfere in any way shape or form. They believe the American public is on their side and if you look at the polling, you see somewhere around 80 percent of Americans want this made public and they believe that there is precedent for this and that is open to a wide discussion. And they've also said that they're very willing to use their subpoena power if they need to.

So the Democrats are kind of holding back a little bit because they have not seen what these principal conclusions are yet. They thought they were going to see it today, maybe tomorrow. Once they get that, Wolf, I doubt they're going to be satisfied at all.

BLITZER: S.E. Cupp is with us as well. S.E., are Democrats at risk potentially of overreaching and hurting themselves by perhaps going too aggressively?

S.E. CUPP, HOST, S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED: Well, I would say first be careful what you wish for. I think there's a sort of risk of an overzealous desire to see the dirt or the gossip for lack of better word about everyone discussed in the Mueller Report. And if it turns out to sort of put the President in a fairly good light, they might not be that happy with it.

But I think what Democrats need to remember is for Trump supporters for two years they have smeared this investigation as a hoax and a witch-hunt. I don't think that's true. I think it was important that it was investigated and by all accounts was investigated as quickly as Robert Mueller could have done it and thoroughly. I'm not worried about those people.

But Democrats should worry about the folks who have been nominally paying attention to this, not like us people who have lives. And they might walk away from this two-year investigation that has not ended up in indictments of the President or his family, thinking it was kind of a way of resources. Again, I don't think that's true, but I think if enough people have that sentiment and share that public opinion, I think that's an advantage to Trump and Democrats who are both running for President in 2020 and running for re-election in 2020 should probably keep that in the back of their minds.

BORGER: But we also know that the President cannot be indicted, we know that that's what Bob Mueller believes and I think what the Democrats want to get at, "OK, you're not going to indict the President, but what was his behavior? How did he act?" And if he acted in a way where if he were Evan Perez that he might be indicted, people want to know that and the Democrats they could overreach but you have to see what's in the report.

[18:30:02]

BROWN: And I can tell you, the White House as one official told me knows the order of battle here. For months they were expecting that Bill Barr would release this statement and then the Democrats would threaten to subpoena and they had been doing the research looking at precedent just like the Democrats have gearing up for a potential subpoena fight over the report. And the White House expects potentially a federal judge making the final decision on this matter.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Laura, we know the President answered written questions, answered them in writing, but he never appeared orally before the Mueller prosecutors had answered any questions.

COATES: That's a huge win and a victory for the litigators who were behind that, because they were able to essentially muzzle the President of the United States and give only a vetted answer that was filtered, that had been looked over by so many attorneys. It was discussed in the court of public opinion on media and he avoided that. As did his son by the way who was also involved in that famous meeting at the Trump Tower.

So you have this idea of the zealous advocacy of trying to keep him quiet was actually a good thing in the end. Having said that, that catch-22 is still very important because it could very well be that they weren't going to engage in an exercise in futility. If I cannot ultimately indict you, I'm not going to spend all of the resources devoted to doing that. I can still however if some of these things happen by the way while he's the President of the United States and under Cohen's testimony he paid some things in campaign finance while my clock, the limitations, actually goes continuing throughout his actual campaign right now through 2020 et cetera and his presidency.

So there may be a clock that's there. We know there are still indictment that are haven't been filed. We know that there is a company who's still fighting right now about trying to disclose their identity and also are paying a steep fine at this point. I think this is neither a vilification of the President or a vindication. That's why he's quiet and he still should be.

BLITZER: Let's see what the results are. Everybody stick around. There's a lot more we need to discuss and we'll do it right after this.

[18:35:00]

We're back with our correspondents and our experts. And Evan, do we expect Robert Mueller to speak out publicly because if he does you know we'll take that line?

PEREZ: Yes. I don't think he'll do so willingly, Wolf. I think he is going to be have to be dragged to do that. Bob Mueller is not the one, he's the unComey, he doesn't want to do press conferences, he never wanted to do these Hill testimonies. But obviously I think Democrats and probably some Republicans would like to hear from him and I think you can expect that there's going to be a little bit of a fight to try to get him in front of a committee to do exactly that.

Now, look, just to step back a little bit, I think we want to remind people of what this was about. This is about Russian interference in the 2016 election and we're talking about a Trump campaign that knowingly encouraged getting help from the Russians. They had the Trump Tower meeting in 2016. They hired a campaign chairman who w-as up to his eyeballs in contacts with the Russians. There are 16, in total, people in the Trump sphere.

BLITZER: We have a graphic that will show our viewers all of the individuals associated with the campaign who wound up having some contacts with Russians.

PEREZ: Right. Right. So there was a lot of things that were suspicious here that caused the FBI to launch this investigation, a counterintelligence investigation that ended up transforming into the Mueller investigation. So again we've learned a lot from this investigation. It was 675 days. It was by many measures a very fruitful investigation and people should not forget that just because maybe they didn't produce the thing that a lot of people wanted which was somebody in handcuffs over collusion.

BLITZER: You can see what they did over the course of the past two years.

PEREZ: Right. Exactly.

BLITZER: S.E., how is all this going to hover over the upcoming 2020 presidential election?

CUPP: Well, I think it should be a reminder to Democrats that they have to make a choice. Democrats running for President have to make a choice, do they want America to heal or do they want America to pay. And they're getting pulled on both sides, they talk about unifying the country, but there's also a lot of anger, and for people who are not going to get what they wanted out of the Mueller report that anger is going to need to go somewhere.

So it will be up to the candidates to decide what they do with that, do they meet Donald Trump's anger and fear and resentment and bitterness or do they rise above it and try to move on with messages about economic prosperity and other issues that I think people care about. I think it's a sobering reminder to Democrats to come to the table with more than just Trump anger.

BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria?

BORGER: Well, Nancy Pelosi has already said that for all intents and purposes, impeachments off the table. I think there are lots of Democrats who want to see the underlying evidence here and see whether that should in fact be the case. So this may be an argument the Democrats have among themselves --

PEREZ: There's no measure of getting even because I think Democrats are still angry over the fact that the Republicans essentially made the last couple of years about Hillary Clinton even though she didn't win the election. They were still interested in her emails. As a matter of fact, last night in Mar-A-Lago apparently they were still chanting, "Lock her up."

BORGER: Right.

PEREZ: So I think there's a little bit of getting even.

BROWN: And there used to be example of all these documents being turned over by DOJ to the hill on the Hillary Clinton investigation, so they're trying to say, "Well, you should do the same on this." But it's interesting I talked to a Democratic lawmaker last night and I asked that question,

"What if this report does exonerate the President, do you move on?"

And this person basically said, "Well, on the Mueller related stuff, but then there's corruption, there's obstruction." Clearly, the Democrats are going to continue to focus on the President. In some way, Republicans would say that just shows we're moving the goalpost.

[18:40:01]

BORGER: But there's also the Southern District of New York, there's all kinds of pending cases. They understand that is going on in a different arena that Bob Mueller has dropped a whole bunch of breadcrumbs everywhere.

BROWN: Manafort handing over the polling data. BORGER: Yes. And you had 16 people from the Trump campaign as you

saw before dealing with Russians that is something that is not normally done. So the Democrats believe it's their responsibility, they have Republicans who have voted unanimously whether they were feeling genuinely about that or not remains to be seen, but they voted, "Let's release everything."

And Mueller, back to your point, who would rather do a mic drop on all of this and just kind of walk out of the room is not going to be able to --

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: This is why Trump was so effective in his campaign in the media to talk about this being a witch-hunt about himself. The mandate that Mueller have was about the campaign and a lot of his collusion-based evidence, it was have been about the campaign but he effectively changed the conversation to whether or not he's vindicated if it's about him. Mueller's probe was never explicitly about Donald Trump.

BLITZER: It was about the Trump campaign and the suppose conspiracy or coordination and collusion ...

COATES: And whatever he found on the way.

BLITZER: ... whatever word you want to use with the Russians and the campaign. Everybody stick around. There's a lot more news we're following. We're about to get an update from Moscow where the Russians also are waiting to find out what Robert Mueller says about their attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

[18:45:00]

Breaking news, the Attorney General William Barr spends the day behind closed doors over at the Justice Department reviewing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. The investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election here in the United States also is being closely watched in Moscow. Our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow for us. What are you hearing over there and what's the reaction, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, it's interesting, Wolf, because it really seems that the Russians are also waiting for those principal conclusions to come out to then see how they're going to react. And we really have been working the phones at any other sort of means of communication that we have. We've gotten in touch with the Kremlin, asked them for a comment, they didn't even bother to answer.

We then got in touch also with the Foreign Ministry and the spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry came up with sort of a strange answer. She said that she'd already commented on the Mueller investigation many times and that she wouldn't comment on what she called another fragment. Obviously, a bit strange considering that the full report is now out. So you can really see the message control on the part of the Russians not only is the government officials that aren't saying anything, but all other commentators seem to be laying low.

Of course we do know from the past the Russians that the simple answer they've given is they say that they were not involved which is a bit strange considering that of the 37 people and entities who have been charged as a result of the Mueller investigation, 29 were Russian. You have the GRU, Russia's military intelligence services, members of that Intelligence Service and then of course also Yevgeny Prigozhin and Concur Solution which is of course behind that troll factory that apparently was behind the influence campaign on the part of the Russian government, all things that they continue to deny.

But you can really feel how they're at this point laying low waiting for those principal conclusions to come out and really another thing of message control that we're seeing here from the Russians that we have so many times in the past, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point, Fred Pleitgen in Moscow for us. Fred, thanks very much and stay with us. We're awaiting word on when the Attorney General will brief Congress on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report. We'll also take a closer look at the most important unanswered questions, will we start to get answers tomorrow?

[18:50:00]

Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has wrapped up, we're awaiting answers to the most important questions in the Russia probe. CNN's Tom Foreman looks at the biggest questions that remain unanswered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN(off-camera): What did Donald Trump know and when did he know it? Those are the top questions that could be answered by the Mueller probe. U.S. intelligence agencies have long said Russians hacked computers, spread fake news stories, and more trying to help Trump win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in your 2016 presidential election process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Trump has steadily questioned that assessment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, it could be Russia but it could also be China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And he's insisted even if it happened, he was not involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There was no collusion at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: But the investigation has put other key questions into play. Did Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials have more contact with Russians than previously known? Did Don Jr. tell his father about that meeting at Trump Tower as former Trump attorney Michael Cohen thinks he overheard?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I remember Mr. Trump saying, "OK, good. Let me know."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And was there more to that meeting than an unfulfilled promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: It went nowhere and it was apparent that that wasn't what the meeting was about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The Mueller report could shed light on whether any Trump associates played a part in the theft or released of damaging Democratic emails. On how or if the alleged relationship between the Russians, WikiLeaks, Roger Stone and the White House came to be, whether the Russians had compromising information on Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It's possible but I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And most importantly, the report could tell if Trump was involved or tried to hide anything, obstructing justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction.

FOREMAN: Other big questions, why didn't Mueller interview Trump, and who else was involved and what else? In indictments, Mueller has hinted at improprieties without naming names, for example, who might have helped Michael Flynn decide what to tell Russians about new sanctions from the Obama team during the transition?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And lastly, what comes next? Democrats have been treading gingerly around the question of impeachment while awaiting the completion of the Mueller probe. They've also pressed for a full release of the results, which could supercharge congressional investigations. Mueller has referred some cases to other parts of the Justice Department for further scrutiny, are there more?

[18:55:03]

And don't forget, even if Trump rolls out pardons for some of his old cronies, top targets of Mueller, those would have no impact on state investigations which could follow if the Mueller report points the way. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And stay with us, we're standing by for a word on when the Attorney General will brief Congress on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report. House Democrats held an emergency conference call earlier this afternoon. They're demanding that the Trump administration preserve documents related to the Mueller investigation.

[19:00:00]

Happening Now breaking news, what Muller found? The President, Congress and the nation they're all waiting to learn the bottom line on the Special Counsel's report.