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Attorney General William Barr Reviewing Mueller Report; Gillibrand Officially Launches Presidential Campaign. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 24, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:09] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

So what is in? The Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report. After a 22-month investigation today could be the day that we find out. We know Attorney General Bill Barr is back at the U.S. Justice Department right now and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrived just minutes behind him once again.

An official says Barr's goal is to release the top conclusions to Congress today. But will it be enough to satisfy lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are calling for complete transparency?


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think the report needs to be made public. It needs to be released to the Congress and it needs to be released to the American people. This has consumed two years of the American people's time. And we need to have full transparency. I will say, I'm concerned that it may have become a fishing expedition. We'll see when we see the report.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This report is going to have to be made public. And of equal importance the underlying evidence is going to have to be shared with Congress because that evidence not only goes to the issue of criminality, but also goes to the issue of compromise. And remember, this began as a counterintelligence investigation into whether people surrounding the president or the president himself were compromised by a foreign power. And there's still a lot to be concerned about this president's relationship with Russia and Putin.


WHITFIELD: President Trump is spending the day golfing again at this club in West Palm Beach, Florida, and as he awaits for a briefing on the report he appears to be very relaxed and he's finishing up his weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

A different scene unfolding outside his property in New York, however. At any moment 2020 presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand is taking her fight for the White House to the president's doorstep. She will give her first major campaign speech outside the Trump International Hotel. We'll bring that to you live as it happens. But first, we start with the anticipation surrounding the imminent

release of the Mueller report principal conclusions. CNN has a team of reporters and analysts standing by who have covered this story for nearly two years now.

Let's first go to CNN's Sara Murray.

So Attorney General Bill Barr working through the weekend. He's back at the Justice Department. Still Rod Rosenstein is there. What's different today than yesterday?


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I feel like we had this same conversation yesterday where we are waiting.


MURRAY: And we are still waiting. You know, obviously they had more work to do yesterday. They didn't feel comfortable releasing the conclusions. We are still hopeful that these will come out today. Congress is still hopeful that they will still the top line conclusions today. As for Bob Mueller he apparently went to church this morning with his wife just steps from the White House so he's having a more leisurely Sunday morning outside of the office. I'm sure he's happy to not be cooped up in an office building for the first time in a long time.

And look, you know, we talked about this a little bit yesterday, this is going to be just the beginning of the battle. They're going to release the top line conclusions which could be, you know, more fulsome than we're expecting. But it certainly is not going to go as far as lawmakers on either of the aisle -- other side of the aisle want to see.

I mean, there was a bipartisan vote where they said they wanted to see the full Mueller report and it's not what we are going to be getting this weekend. But, you know, we could maybe see a few pages of conclusions as soon as today.

WHITFIELD: What do we think either Rod Rosenstein and, you know, Attorney General Barr are discussing in terms of hearing what members of Congress are saying? But the majority do want to see the full report. Might they be discussing, you know, how do we supply, you know, a conclusion that will make more people happy?

MURRAY: Well, you know, I think it's possible they may err on the side of putting more meat on the bones of these top line conclusions in this initial report. You know, I think that they have been following the political climate in Washington well enough to know that they're probably going to see lawmakers clamoring for more no matter what they put out but --

WHITFIELD: And voters are saying the same thing.

MURRAY: And voters are saying the same thing. But, you know, it's one thing to release a one-page document that says here's one line about, you know, everything that we are -- you know, our major conclusions of whether we decided to prosecute. It's another thing to say, OK, here are a number of pages and here's a little bit more meat on the bones of these various top line conclusions and you can take it from here and you can sort of direct us on based on this, what you more information on. So, you know, we'll see. They are not immune to this political climate. They are hearing all this from lawmakers than we are.

WHITFIELD: For the rest of us hurry up and wait.

Sara Murray, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk more about this. Let's check in with CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

So lawmakers are waiting on the details of the report. Many of those lawmakers want all of it. Democrats threatening to subpoena if everything they want is not turned over to Congress. So what more can you tell us about that?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Democrats certainly amping up their demands and making it very clear that whatever is turned over today, as soon as today certainly will not be enough to satisfy their demands.

[13:05:09] They're preparing for potential subpoenas, potential court fights. And not only they're saying they want to see the full report, they're demanding all of the evidence that led Robert Mueller to make his decisions. And that will inform their own investigations over the next several months.

Now earlier today you heard sort of the battle lines being drawn. Democrats in particular making their demands very clear and Republicans saying, well, look, the Justice Department has a lot of discretion and could have hold back some information to avoid giving Democrats more fodder.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, we'll try to negotiate and we'll try everything else first, but if we have to, yes, we will certainly issue subpoenas to get that information.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And you're going to be willing to take that all the way up to the Supreme Court if you have to?

NADLER: Absolutely.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It's not the Department of Justice's job to give Chairman Nadler and the House Judiciary or any committee on the House and -- or the Senate for that matter. You know, what they want to do to go off on a purely partisan investigation that might lead toward impeachment.


RAJU: Now Democrats are saying that the precedent that was set in the last Congress certainly should inform what the Justice Department does going forward. What happened in the last Congress was that Republican-led House Judiciary Committee got a number -- hundreds of thousands of pages of e-mails and other documents related to the Clinton investigation because the Republicans were investigating why the FBI did not go forward with the prosecution of Hillary Clinton, whether there's any wrongdoing.

Democrats are saying that the precedent -- that precedent means that they should get every piece of information central to this probe. And they're demanding that the Trump administration preserve all records that could be turned over to Capitol Hill. Also, they're saying that classified briefings will not be sufficient. That's something that Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, made clear to her members in a private conference call yesterday.

So already we're seeing the battle lines being drawn, this fight just beginning after they turned over this information today. Certainly not the end of this fight here on Capitol Hill -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Manu Raju, thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

All right. Let's talk further on all of this. With me right now is CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN political correspondent Sara Murray, Evan Perez, CNN senior justice correspondent, and Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst.

Good to see all of you at the table. All right. So, Gloria, you first. The president has been very relaxed this weekend.


WHITFIELD: And at the same time for two years he's been calling this whole process a witch hunt.

BORGER: Yes. And --

WHITFIELD: So why is he so, you know, confident?

BORGER: Illegal, unconstitutional.

WHITFIELD: Right. A hoax. All of that.

BORGER: Everything else. A hoax. Everything else.


BORGER: I think he's getting some good advice and I think he's taking it. And they don't know what's in the report. Obviously Republicans were buoyed by the fact that no new indictments were involved. But I do think that the meat has yet to be released.

WHITFIELD: Right. BORGER: And what we don't know is what Mueller was thinking. We

don't know the whys of all of this. Did Mueller decide not to prosecute because there wasn't sufficient evidence or because you can't prosecute a sitting president? We just -- we don't know the answers. And I think --

WHITFIELD: Yes. Why not a face-to-face interview?

BORGER: Well --

WHITFIELD: Deposition.

BORGER: I think the president's lawyers should feel proud of themselves for --

WHITFIELD: Why not all that?

BORGER: For that. But I do think that, you know, the questions about whether the Trump campaign crossed lines it should not have remain to be seen. So he's got to sit back. He can't take a victory lap. And you know, we could be in a political situation here, by the way, where the president claims vindication and Democrats say no, no, no. Just look at what's in these conclusions. So you could have two different sets of conclusions even after we see what Barr releases.

WHITFIELD: And so there remains all those other investigations that are being led by Capitol Hill.

BORGER: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: So, meantime, Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler says, you know, regardless of what is in the Mueller report Congress is going to continue to investigate the president and will issue subpoenas to get the full report. And some GOP lawmakers say the Democrats are really in danger of abusing their power. So listen.


COLLINS: If Mr. Nadler is saying that our committee is supposed to be a paint brush that just simply tries to taint the presidency and paint the presidency without an innuendo, then I would disagree with that. That's an abuse of power. That's not something the committee ought to be doing. And I think we also have to respect what the Department of Justice and Mr. Mueller has been doing. If we do that, then the American people can see we're all respecting the rule of law.


WHITFIELD: All right. So, Sara, does it appear as though that, you know, members -- some members of the GOP are starting to change their tune a little bit here?


MURRAY: You know, I think it's going to be really interesting to watch members of both parties take what the special counsel gives them, what Bill Barr gives them, and then decide what to do next because the Republicans, you know, who may say oh, we can trust Bob Mueller's conclusions are the same ones who wanted to see everything that had to do with Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation and wanted this fulsome explanation and wanted to try people up to Capitol Hill and wanted to see the underlying documents about a person that they decided not to prosecute.

[13:10:14] They may suddenly feel different when it's the president of their own party.



MURRAY: And that's a situation and Democrats may find themselves in the opposite position where they felt what was being done to Hillary Clinton was so deeply unfair. And yet, you know, they trust Bob Mueller. They think he was a good guy. They think he did great work. But they still want him to show all of his work and show all of his evidence just so they can decide what to do. So I think we're going to see plenty of political back flips.

WHITFIELD: And we know a lot of lawmakers, we know a lot of members of the American public say we are owed some information. It's been 22 months.

You know, Shan, even the attorney general during confirmation hearings was promising some level of transparency as much as he was able to afford. Listen to what he said way back when.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel's work. My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law.


WHITFIELD: So what does that mean apply to today, as much as I can, you know, with respect to the law, Shan?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't mean to be cynical. But I think he's parsing his words very carefully. Consistent with the law, there's no requirement whether he has to turn over. So consistent with the law and Justice policy, he might say very, very little. And with regard to the opening salvo being him now, it's actually kind of interesting we're talking about moving the goal post. It used to be we're all waiting for the Mueller report to drop and then the legal battles to start. Now we're really waiting for the Barr summation of the report to drop for the legal battles to start. And there will be a lot of legal battles particularly about executive privilege.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and so, Evan, all this time we've been hearing from the president, you know, it's a hoax, you know, sham, it's terrible they're going after me. But if this report is somewhat favorable to him, meaning there are no indictments that we know of and who knows what else, but if the president decides this is favorable so how can he now turn around and say, I love this Mueller report, this was everything I wanted?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Have you seen Donald Trump operate?


PEREZ: I mean, that transition is not going to be hard at all for him. But to Shan's point, I think, look, one of the things that -- behind the scenes that Bill Barr has been wrestling with in the few weeks that he's been attorney general this time is this very question of how much of this he can release and out of fairness to the president, look, everything indicates -- the fact that this administration closed on Friday without additional new indictments, without anything sealed and all of the sort of things people on the left wanted to see, I think points to probably a very good -- some good news for the president.

And if Barr wants to be fair to the president, he will provide more information, explain exactly what happened here.


PEREZ: Because the more that is kept behind under wrap I think it raises more questions. Right? And so out of fairness to everybody I think he is under a lot of pressure to do this. And --

WHITFIELD: Yes. Except you remind us that he has done this before. Barr under George H.W. Bush. So this is a -- you know, another time around. He does know that he has a lot of, you know, latitude.

PEREZ: He does have a lot of latitude --

WHITFIELD: Much discretion in which what to release.

PEREZ: Right.

WHITFIELD: What's different here, however, also, you know, the president is the subject of this investigation so --

PEREZ: It is, right.

WHITFIELD: So why would he --

PEREZ: It makes it a little bit complicated.

WHITFIELD: Yes, why would he have input on what's released.

PEREZ: Right. Exactly. No.


PEREZ: But I think one of the things that it is different from the time -- last time Bill Barr was attorney general is the idea that I think there's a feeling certainly around Bill Barr that eventually this will come out. There will be fulsome view of all of this because probably a judge may end up deciding this. So I think Bill Barr is under pressure thinking that, you know, if this is going to come out, I might as well -- whatever my report says I need to make sure that it matches that because the criticism will be so extreme that he might have tried to hide things.

BORGER: You know, and we don't know how long this report is. We do know that Bob Mueller is a stickler. And we do know he's a digger and we do know that if I had to guess I would say it would belong longer rather than shorter. And I think that it was probably written so that he assumed a lot of it was going to be released and given to the American public because you can't keep anything secret anymore.

And maybe it's already been pre-scrubbed. And so maybe what Barr is deciding is how voluminous it. Should it be more voluminous? Should be less voluminous? He knows what the major questions are that the American public wants to know. The American public wants to know whether the president was involved in any collusion or obstruction even if you're not prosecuting. I mean, that's what --


BORGER: That's what they want to know about the president's behavior.

WHITFIELD: Aren't the American people owed that kind of explanation.

BORGER: Well --

WHITFIELD: Especially after all of this tax money has been spent?

BORGER: Well --

WHITFIELD: Twenty-two months. I mean, 765 days?

[13:15:02] BORGER: That's what Democrats and Republicans are saying. There was a unanimous vote in the House saying release it all.


BORGER: And Mueller has to be paying attention to that. He wasn't -- you know, he just -- he's not new to Washington.

PEREZ: One complicating factor in this is that, you know, this began -- I think you heard from Adam Schiff there, this began as a counterintelligence investigation. And as far as we know there's a lot of this that will remain, you know, just because this investigation --

WHITFIELD: Classified information.

PEREZ: Is over, there's a lot of information that the FBI is still pursuing especially with regard to the Russians. What were they up to? Who are these people? What were they trying to do? Some of it may not have risen to a criminal level and enough for us to be able to know it, but for the FBI they spend sometimes 10 years looking at things like this. And so some of that will still be under wraps. And I think that's going to be frustrating for all of us because we want those answers.


PEREZ: And I think we may not get them.

WHITFIELD: So then, Shan, how much of that information could either compromise or compliment those more than what, dozen other investigations that are all offshoots of this Mueller probe?

WU: The ones that are live I don't think they're going to let it compromise so that's going to be kind of sidled out. To Gloria's point, I think it's really important we keep reminding folks of the difference between a criminal investigation and congressional investigations. By nature the criminal investigations are opaque. They're focused on just do we charge or not, and we want everything else kept secret.

And it's just the opposite with Congress. We want to let in a lot of sunshine. And hence that's why it's going to be such a battle royale between these two modus. Because Mueller, I think Gloria is right he is conscious of that. But he would not have undertaken it with the idea of I'm writing this public report. He undertook it as I've got a mission to investigate. If I charge, I charge. And so the whole question of what comes out, the underlying information, executive privilege being asserted over what the president may have been saying in the White House, that's classic deliberative process which normally you'd oh, no brainer, it's privileged. But there's obstruction.

BORGER: So does he say -- does he say, in your opinion, this is why I'm not charging? In other words, you know, you can't charge the president. We know it's DOJ policy, et cetera, et cetera. So does he say I'm not charging because it's DOJ policy or I'm not charging because --

WHITFIELD: It's not there.

BORGER: I wasn't going -- yes, I didn't have the goods. Yes.

WU: Right. I don't think he's going to draw that conclusion. I think he's going to lay out what the evidence is and the conclusion not charging. I don't think he's going to say because we thought this wasn't -- he didn't really mean it when he said I want to get rid of Comey, for example. I don't think he's going to get into that. I think it's just going to be the witnesses, the documents and then the conclusion we're not charging.

WHITFIELD: Was the idea that this report is simply a recommendation, I'm doing this investigation, then it's up to Congress to decide what to do with it?

WU: Well, I think he's really reading it as I have a duty to tell the AG what we did. Here's what we did. And part of that duty is if they interfered with us and we're saying they didn't. Past that, I think he thinks mission accomplished. MURRAY: And I think when people think -- talk about recommendations,

you're immediately back in sort of FBI James Comey land. And nobody likes the way that that went down where, you know, James Comey is out there saying we're not going to prosecute, although we think she acted very recklessly and here are all the things she did wrong. I mean, that's the sort of territory that Mueller could get in if he did make a recommendation.

WHITFIELD: If there is that editorializing of the recommendation.

MURRAY: Right. Exactly.

WHITFIELD: As opposed to sticking with the facts recommendation. You're right.

All right. Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it. Shan, Gloria, Sara -- all of you actually are going to stick around. So, you know, here we go.

There's so much more straight ahead. Coming up a rather quiet President Trump is back on the links today arriving this morning at Trump International Golf Club. The White House has not received a briefing as far as we know on the Mueller report. So will the president get to see it before Congress does? We'll talk about that next.

And you're looking at some live pictures right now out of New York. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand set to give her first major speech since announcing her 2020 campaign for presidency. We'll take you there live next.


[13:23:04] WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C. Want to take you straight to New York where Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is delivering her first major speech since announcing her 2020 candidacy exactly one week ago. And guess what, she's giving her speech right outside the Trump International Hotel in New York.

Let's listen in.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our Constitution was always intended to grow and adapt as we formed a more perfect union. Establish justice and ensured peace, security and all the blessings of liberty. Even our national anthem ends in a question. "Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?" That open-ended question is what defines us, not just who we are or were, but who we will be.


GILLIBRAND: It challenges us to choose to take the next step, to fight that next fight, to answer that fundamental question. Will brave win?


GILLIBRAND: And the truth is brave hasn't always won. And brave isn't winning right now. Brave doesn't spread hate or bully the vulnerable. Brave doesn't put greed and self-interest over millions of lives. Brave doesn't cower behind lies and walls.


GILLIBRAND: Brave doesn't pit people against one another. That is what fear does.

[13:25:04] This president has tried to reduce America to its smallest self by attacking the values and institutions of our democracy and turning our most cherished principles inside out. Rooting for bigotry and discrimination and violence. Closing our doors to immigrants and refugees. Taking from the many to line the pockets of the few.

President Trump is tearing apart the moral fabric of this country.


GILLIBRAND: He demonizes the vulnerable and he punches down. He puts his name in bold on every building. He does this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not.


GILLIBRAND: Our president is a coward.


GILLIBRAND: And that is not what we deserve. That is not what you deserve. We deserve a president who is brave, a president who will walk through fire to do what is right. We deserve a president who inspires us to stand for something greater than ourselves.

Look up at that tower. A shrine to greed, division and vanity. Now look around you, the greater strength by far is ours.


GILLIBRAND: We are here to reject the politics of fear and hate, to listen to what Lincoln called our better angels of our nature. Because the ideals of this country, opportunity, equality, justice, are worth fighting for.


GILLIBRAND: We are here to embrace our shared humanity and rise above our differences. We don't build walls that are emblems of racism and fear. We build bridges, communities --


GILLIBRAND: And hope. Because our unity of purpose lifts us higher than any tower. (CHEERS)

GILLIBRAND: We are here today because we know that when we join together and fight for our values, brave wins.


GILLIBRAND: Americans proved this with their own bravery every single day. You've already heard from some of them today. But there are countless more examples all around us. The high school students who responded to unimaginable tragedy by organizing, marching and inspiring millions to end the epidemic of gun violence. That is brave.

The Dreamers who defiantly tell their stories and stand up for the right to call this country home. That is brave. The sexual assault survivors who raise their voices against the powerful that tell them to stay silent. That is brave.


GILLIBRAND: The millions of Americans who are speaking out against this administration's cruelty towards women, Muslims, LGBTQ community members and children at our border. That is brave.


GILLIBRAND: And of course the formerly well-behaved women who organized, ran for office, voted in record numbers and won in 2018. That too is brave.


GILLIBRAND: Day in and day out Americans are making a choice, a choice to resist the backward pull of this administration and pushing us toward a better future. And it's brave choices like yours that have inspired me to take on the fight that others won't. It's because of you that I've chosen to be brave, too.

[13:30:23] Because the people of this country deserve a president worthy of your bravery, a president who not only sets an example, but follows yours. Your bravery inspires me every day, and that is why I'm running for president of the United States. Thank you.

By coming here today, we are sending a powerful message. We will not let anything or anyone divide us. We will not cede control of our country to corruption, greed and the powerful interests. We will keep showing up, and we will keep fighting back.

The fight ahead may seem daunting, but there is hope when we look down at our feet and see whose shoulders we stand on. We all have heroes that inspire us in this struggle.

My grandmother Polly Noonan was one of mine. She would have been proud, standing here today with all of you. She was larger than life. She was a firebrand and a Democratic organizer who cursed like a sailor. She spent her life fighting for women to have a seat at the table. She never let anyone tell her that she couldn't. She never let anyone tell her that she didn't belong. And she instilled that in me.

But more than anything else, my grandmother taught me that being brave doesn't just mean standing up for yourself. It means standing up for other people who need you and raising your voice on behalf of others who aren't being heard. It's that core principle from my grandmother that has driven my life in public service.

Over the years I've learned that bravery means standing up to the powerful, summoning the courage to confront them head on. That's what I did when I first ran for Congress in a red, red, red district in upstate New York that nobody thought that I could win, except perhaps for my mother, and that tells you a lot about her. People told me, "It has more cows than Democrats. You can't possibly win." But I took those odds, and I won.

And the next election, I won again, and that time by a 24-point margin. Why? Because I never forgot who I served. That's why I stood up to the greed and voted against the bank bailout that would leave taxpayers holding the bag, even though I was told it would end my career. It's why I stood up to corruption by making insider training illegal for members of Congress. No one in our government should be lining their pockets as a public servant.

It's why I stood up for callousness by demanding the 9/11 heroes be given the respect, compensation and healthcare they deserved. And it's why I stood up to indifference and lies in the Pentagon, in Congress and in colleges on behalf of survivors of sexual assault and harassment.

And it's why I stood up to the bigotry and demanded the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell," a policy that has a corrosive and harmful impact that undermines not just our character, but our national security. And it's why I am proud to have stood up to Donald Trump more than anyone else in the U.S. Senate.

[13:35:18] I will go to toe to toe with anyone to do the right thing. Whether it's powerful institutions, the president or even my own party.

But I am not running for president because of who I'm fighting against. I'm running for president because of who I'm fighting for. I am fighting for an America where power truly belongs in the hands of the people, where our leaders care about everyone in this country and lead not from weakness of ego, but from strength of character. Where compassion and integrity define our government, not self-interest and corruption. Where we just don't care about the profits we make today, but the future we're leaving to our grandchildren.

I know we can be that America, but it means starting at the root of our problems. Greed. Right now, the special interests are displacing the voices of the people of this country. Find me any so-called unsolvable problem, and I will point to the greed and corruption in the way. Polluter profits take precedence over drinking water. Opioid

manufacturers get a pass instead of indictments they deserve, while our neighbors are sold more addictive drugs, on purpose. The NRA stops popular commonsense gun control while stray bullets kill our children in our communities. Dark, unaccountable money is at the heart of this outrageous inaction.

We need to crack open government, flip the switch, let light flood in. That's exactly what I did when I came to Washington and challenged Congress by making my meetings, finances and taxes public. I wanted my constituents to know I was working for them, not the powerful.

I will keep leading on transparency within my own office and my campaigns. That's why I'm not taking corporate PAC money in this campaign. No federal lobbyist money and no individual super PACs.

As president, I will fight for publicly-funded elections. It would change -- it would change the way Washington works overnight. Imagine, just for a minute -- imagine your voice just as loud as the Koch brothers. What a concept. By leveling the playing field, our democracy will thrive. And we will protect against the dysfunction that's poisoning Washington right now.

As your president, I will be answerable to you and you alone. I will be elevating the concerns that you would raise at a town hall or at your kitchen table. I will govern based on the principle that our democracy only works when elected leaders hear directly from you. Only then can we finally start making progress on the problems we face.

Our goals are ambitious, but the truth is they're not controversial. Americans across party lines support these commonsense ideas.

It's time for this country to make quality affordable health care a right and not a privilege. We must pass Medicare for all. I have fought for this since my very first House race in 2006. We have a plan to get from our current system to single payer, and I know, because I helped to write it. We will create competition, get costs down, eliminate the greed.

[13:40:18] On education it's time to guarantee universal pre-K, affordable daycare and high-quality education for every kid; for every kid in America, no matter what block they grow up on. We must make higher education affordable and accessible for everyone and reduce the crush of student debt. The federal government should not be making money off the backs of our students. In my administration, we would refinance all federal student debt to the lowest available rate.

And here's a big idea. Let's improve and expand the G.I. Bill to make college free for anyone who agrees to do national public service. That way our young people can pursue their dreams debt-free while helping others.

To grow the middle class, we need to start rewarding work again. We must make full employment a national priority by investing in free job training through apprenticeships, not-for-profits, community colleges and state schools. We will work with employers to connect under- employed and unemployed workers with the training, skills and jobs that are available in their communities, in the fields of their interests.

With workers' rights under attack more than ever, we need to protect the right to collectively bargain and form unions. We need to fight right-to-work and support card-check. And let's do right by our workers and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour nationwide.

We have to transform the infrastructure of work by finally making national paid leave a reality. It is outrageous that we're the only industrialized country in the world without it. You should never have to risk your job and income to take care of a new baby, a sick family member or your own medical needs. I refuse to accept the false choice between your paycheck and your family.

I have led this fight in Congress since 2013, when it was not part of our national conversation.


GILLIBRAND: You're welcome. And hear me when I say this: paid leave, equal pay and affordable daycare are not just women's issues. These -- these are economic issues, ones that will determine whether or not our country succeeds.

At the same time, we need to dismantle the institutional racism that pervades our society and holds back millions of families. It's in our health care, education, economic and criminal justice systems. It's in the growing crisis of black women's maternal mortality. It's in the sentencing disparities that keep black men in prison for years when white-collar criminals go home on bail. It's in the wealth gap between communities of color and white communities that only widens from generation to generation.

These challenges call for solutions, both targeted and broad. Like higher standards for maternity care, a national commitment to full employment, postal banking, ending cash bail, and legalizing marijuana.

[13:45:00] We need to restore our moral leadership in the world. We must secure our borders effectively and fight terrorism relentlessly. But let's be very clear. Racism and fear is not a national security strategy. Building a wall, ripping apart families, banning Muslims, and turning our backs on refugees and asylum seekers isn't just wrong. It makes us less safe.

We need to repair our relationships with our allies and stop fawning over our adversaries. We need to leverage our diplomatic tools to make Americans more prosperous and more secure. And always treat military force as a last resort. We must bring an end to these endless wars. America's commander in chief is not a dictator. And the decision to deploy our troops can never be made lightly or unilaterally without Congress.

And we need to protect the integrity of our elections by holding accountable any threats to our democracy from abroad or right here at home.

The stakes of this just got higher on Friday. The Mueller report must be made public. All of it. Nobody in this country, not even the president, is above the law or immune from accountability. It is not often that I agree with Richard Nixon. But he was right to say that the American people have a right to know whether their president is a crook.

And finally, we need to treat global climate change like the existential threat that it is. We need to pass the Green New Deal. Let's make this our generation's moon shot. Addressing a global challenge of this urgency will take massive effort and transformational vision, which is exactly why we should do it. Let's invest in our crumbling infrastructure, create sustainable green jobs, and protect clean air and clean water as a human universal right.

And I'd like to go further than others who support this plan. I'd also put a price on carbon. To put -- I would put a price on carbon to use market forces to steer companies away from fossil fuels towards clean and renewable energy. We can't afford not to do this. We don't have time to waste.

John F. Kennedy said he wanted to put a man on the moon in the next ten years, not because it's easy, but because it's hard. I believe we should look at global climate change exactly the same way. We should aspire to net zero carbon emissions in the next ten years, not because it's easy, but because it's hard. And it is a challenge that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one that we will win.

None of these big fights and equally big goals will be easy. Nothing worth fighting for ever has been. But I have never backed down from a fight, and I'm not about to start now.

[13:50:04] My faith tells me to care for the least among us. Feed and clothe the poor, help the stranger, the sick and the incarcerated. I believe we are all called to be the light of the world, to defeat the darkness, and to treat others the way we want to be treated.

I am running for president to fix what's been broken, to repair our moral fabric, and to rebuild the common bonds between us as Americans.

This fight is so much bigger than any one election. It's about making a choice and deciding who we are and who we are going to be. After all, America is and always will be the home of the brave. No matter how difficult the course before us, no matter how dark the hour. The lessons of our history is that justice, fairness and truth are possible, but only if we are willing to put everything we have on the line to achieve it.

So each one of us has a choice today. Will we defend this democracy?




GILLIBRAND: Will we speak for what we believe in?




GILLIBRAND: Will we reject the hate and fear and greed and corruption?




GILLIBRAND: Will we fight with every fiber of our being, because everything we care about is at stake?




GILLIBRAND: Will we be brave?




GILLIBRAND: You've already answered that question just by being here today. And if you are with me, if you are ready to fight and take on this fight with me, join my campaign. Go to and contribute to help power this movement forward!

I believe in my bones that we can do this. I know that years from now, we will look back on this moment. We will look back on this moment in history, and we will be able to say that we did something about it! We stood up, locked arms and proved to America and the world that, when people come together to drive out the darkness, hope rises, fear loses, and brave wins! Thank you and God bless you all! And God bless America!

FREDERICK WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, one week into her candidacy for presidency, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand there, taking aim at the president without even mentioning his name, but this is her first big rally since -- since going into the race for 2020.

She is right outside at this rally outside the Trump International Hotel, joined by her family there right now. I'm quoting in part, she said, accusing the president, "taking from many to line the pockets of a few. He is not strong. Our president is a coward." Before, then focusing on policy promises. Health care for all, Medicare for all.

I want to bring in our CNN national correspondent Athena Jones, who is there. Athena, what about the crowd? What about her message?


Well, this speech today was about two things. It was about introducing -- the senator introducing herself to voters here in New York and around the country. She's been working hard to try to boost her name recognition.

As you just mentioned, she talked about many of the things she stands for, many of the things she's long been fighting for, like Medicare for all. Reminding the crowd that she was for that way back in 2006 when she first ran for office.

She talked about national paid leave. She talked about equal pay, about the Green New Deal, about a $15 minimum wage.

The folks who introduced her, one of them was her friend from Dartmouth College, Connie Britton, who talked about what Gillibrand would bring to the presidency.

She also had gun -- anti-gun violence activists, DREAMers, folks who work to combat sexual assault. So she's showing people what she's going to be standing for.

[13:55:04] But another big part of the speech was going directly after President Trump. She mentioned him by name. She said he has been tearing at the moral fabric of this country. The reason she had this speech right outside Trump International Hotel and Tower was to bring the fight, in many ways, directly to his doorstep. No, it's not where he lives, but it's one of his properties. She called this tower here a shrine to greed. And she talked about the president as a divisive figure.

So she's showing this crowd she's not going to be afraid to bring the fight directly to Trump and to criticize him and, hopefully, get a little bit of attention in doing so.

Gillibrand has been struggling so far in the polls, with her support in the low single digit, 1 percent, zero percent in many recent polls. So she has a ways to go -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones, thank you so much, in New York.

All right. Here in Washington, so many on pins and needles as the top conclusions from Robert Mueller, that report, are expected to be delivered to Congress at any moment now. We are standing by. More after this.