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STATE OF THE UNION
Terror in Sri Lanka; Interview With Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani; Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Discusses Legal Aspects of Mueller Report; Interview With Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH); Rudy Giuliani, "Nothing Wrong" With Getting Information From Russians; Senator Elizabeth Warren Calls For Impeachment Proceedings Against President Trump; Senator Lindsey Graham On Obstruction In 1999, Judge People On Their Conduct. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired April 21, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Easter massacre. Hundreds of people injured and killed in a series of horrific bombings across Sri Lanka, the violent blasts targeting hotels popular with foreigners and Christian worshipers celebrating Easter morning in church.
And revealing report. The Mueller report is finally public, but, in Washington, even that will not be the final word.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The facts are damning.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: It's over, folks.
TAPPER: Now the president is questioning the credibility of Mueller's findings. Is he saying his own top aides lied? The president's attorney Mayor Rudy Giuliani is here.
Plus, the I-word. As Democratic leaders push for more information...
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): We still want the Mueller report in its entirety, and we will want other evidence, too.
TAPPER: ... some already see a road map to impeachment.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's my responsibility to speak out.
TAPPER: How will other presidential contenders respond? 2020 candidate Congressman Tim Ryan in moments.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is praying for Sri Lanka.
We have a lot of politics to get to this morning, including an interview with President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani, but I want to begin with the horrific breaking news out of Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern coast of India.
There are at least 200 people who have been killed, 450 more injured this morning, after eight coordinated bombings across the country on this Easter Sunday. The explosions occurred at churches,as worshipers attended Easter mass. There were also bombings at three hotels popular with foreign tourists.
And there are close to 30 foreigners among the dead, according to Sri Lankan officials, who said there have been arrests made this morning regarding the bombings.
President Trump responded to the attacks this morning in a tweet, offering his condolences about the terrorist attacks and saying, "We stand ready to help."
I want to go now to CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, who joins me with more.
And, Nic, what's the very latest?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Jake, it's still not clear who was behind the bombing. Very clear this was coordinated, that it was well-planned, that these people were intending to send a very clear message on this, one of the most holy days in the Christian calendar, Easter, that they were attacking Christians, not just people in hotels who might have been foreigners, but very clearly intent on attacking Christians.
And it comes at a terrible week for the church, who had the burning down of -- or the partial burning down at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. You have that arson attack on St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York just two weeks ago. And a church burned down in Louisiana.
You have the ongoing scandal within the Catholic Church about abuse. That continues to rumble on. And here in Northern Ireland, just ahead of the Easter Republican parades commemorating the Irish overthrowing British rule in Ireland, police raids here in this city of Derry led to riots, youths throwing petrol bombs at police vehicles.
And a group called the New IRA that the police are branding a new type of terrorist, a new brand, a new breed of terrorist, stepped out, fired shots, and killed a local aspiring journalist.
This is a tough time for Christians and a tough time this week for the church -- Jake.
TAPPER: Is there any -- is there any information. I know the death toll in Sri Lanka keeps -- keeps rising. Is there any information? I know no identification of who might be required, but is there any information about the seven individuals who we're told have been arrested?
ROBERTSON: So far, not.
What we do know is, during one of the raids for arrests, that the police, the special forces team were -- seemed to be targeted by a suicide bombing or a bomb that was left attached to a trip wire or something as they went into one of the premises that they were searching.
So, clearly, this group knew that the police were going to come after and the police had a pretty clear idea where they were. But precisely from the government who these people are, this is not a typical type of attack by the Tamil separatists, who ended their 25-year civil war with the government there 10 years ago.
This is not the type of attack they would perpetrate. They were more of a secular-type organization. It has the hallmarks of ISIS. ISIS was already crowing about in its propaganda, as it always does. But there's no indication confirmed yet that this would be -- that this is ISIS.
Obviously, concerns high, and we know the Sri Lankan government a few years ago warned about possible growth of small, very small ISIS cells in their country.
TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
And CNN and CNN International will continue to stay on top of the story as information develops.
Let's turn now back to the long-awaited release of the Robert Mueller report.
President Trump is claiming total exoneration after the partially redacted document was released to Congress and the public, but maybe he didn't read the whole report?
The special counsel says there is insufficient evidence anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign engaged in criminal conspiracy with the Russians, but it also details what even some Republican critics are assailing as a culture of lies at the White House and unethical actions on the Trump campaign.
On the subject of possible obstruction of justice by the president, Mueller did not come to a conclusion. He seemed to leave it up to Congress to decide.
TAPPER: And joining me now, President Trump's personal attorney, the former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani.
Mr. Mayor, first of all, happy Easter.
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Happy Easter to you.
TAPPER: Thank you so much for being here.
You said on Thursday that the rebuttal to the Mueller report is -- quote -- "ready to go" and you expect to release it after the weekend.
Your colleague Jay Sekulow said he doesn't expect that you will need to put out a rebuttal at all.
Clear this up for us. Are you going to release a rebuttal?
GIULIANI: Well, we were ready -- we were ready to go if we thought that a lot of the issues were left open, too open. Right now, they seem to be OK. But we're ready to put it out when we have to.
TAPPER: But you're not necessarily going to put it out?
GIULIANI: I think the odds are it'll get out at some point.
For example, you have testimony coming up. I know that the attorney general's going to testify. I know that Mueller is going to testify. I assume people like McGahn will testify. I'm not sure.
But there will be a point at which we will put it out. And then I think...
TAPPER: But not tomorrow?
GIULIANI: Not tomorrow, not the next day. Then we will see. We will see what happens.
TAPPER: I want to start off also by saying, you know, congratulations. The Mueller report concluded that there is insufficient evidence that the president or anybody on his team conspired criminally with the Russians. That's -- that's good news.
But I guess I'm confused as to the president and you both embracing that part of the Mueller report, and then calling, in the president's words, B.S. the rest of -- the rest of the report.
TAPPER: And I'm -- he didn't actually say B.S. He used the actual word.
GIULIANI: Well, B.S. not quite a legal term, but it's a term that most people understand.
But how can you criticize and embrace at the same time?
GIULIANI: Well, here's the difference, because, first of all, overview, this is a prosecutor's document, 400 pages, a prosecutor's view, and then a prosecutor which I think people would grant had a lot of people that were somewhat biased against the president.
TAPPER: I don't know that everybody would grant that, but, OK, that's your opinion.
GIULIANI: Well, I mean, if you -- well, if you have somebody there who's a key prosecutor who was chief counsel to the Clinton Foundation, my goodness, I mean, that isn't much of a stretch.
But, in any event, a lot of things are left out. A lot of things are false. I shouldn't say a lot of things. Some things are false. A lot of things are questionable.
TAPPER: What's false?
GIULIANI: Well, a lot of what Cohen -- they recite what Cohen said as if it's the truth. Cohen is incapable of telling the truth.
TAPPER: But what specifically is in the report...
GIULIANI: ... tell you what specifically in the report, that Cohen that -- that we dangled a pardon in front of Cohen.
We did not dangle a pardon in front of Cohen. And his lawyer, his lawyer is willing to testify that we didn't. They didn't bother -- they didn't bother to include that in the report, which is clear refutation of what he said, nor do they list all the things that go to Cohen's credibility that would cast a doubt on everything he's saying.
It was not a fair report. It wasn't like the normal prosecutor. When you find that a person didn't commit the crime, you then go look at the hypothesis of, how did it come about, how did it start? No examination of, how could the FBI has started an investigation of a presidential candidate based on those 10 words that were said to Papadopoulos?
Don't indicate any involvement by the candidate. Normally, what the FBI would do is warn the candidate, like they did with Feinstein when she had a communist spy on her staff. No -- no delving into that.
It's clear that they tried very, very hard to create a case that the president was involved in Russian whatever. Couldn't do it. They tried 100 different ways. They put Manafort in jail. They put him in solitary confinement.
GIULIANI: They questioned him 13 times. He wouldn't give them the information 13 times. They tried to crack people.
There's no question they prosecuted Flynn, not because Flynn did anything wrong. They created what Flynn did wrong.
TAPPER: So -- but this was an investigation...
GIULIANI: And then they prosecuted him to crack him.
TAPPER: This is an investigation into Russian election interference, right, Russian attempted interference in the election.
GIULIANI: I have no...
TAPPER: And there are Russians that have been indicted.
GIULIANI: I have no problem with investigating Russian interference in an election.
TAPPER: But there are Russians who were indicted.
GIULIANI: But that's not the reason this was a big story.
This was a big story because they said that the man who got elected president of the United States was conspiring with the Russians in that interference, which is close to treason. Man, that's what made it a national, international story.
You know, Russians have been interfering...
TAPPER: There are people on the campaign who were talking to Russians, right?
GIULIANI: Russians -- yes. And there were people on Hillary's campaign that were talking to Ukrainians.
I mean, the reality is, you think this is the first time the Russians have interfered in an American election?
TAPPER: No, it's definitely not.
But let me ask you a question, because Mitt Romney put out a statement saying that he was -- quote -- "appalled" that, among other things, "fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia, including information that had been illegally obtained, that none of them acted to inform American law enforcement."
Again, it's -- again, it's good news that there is insufficient evidence, but what about the willingness...
GIULIANI: Man -- man, if I could tell you the things he wanted to do.
TAPPER: That Rudy Giuliani -- that Mitt Romney wanted to do?
GIULIANI: No, that that guy wanted to do. Come on.
TAPPER: What do you mean the things that Mitt Romney...
GIULIANI: Stop the bull. Stop the bull.
Stop this pious act that you weren't digging up, trying to dig up dirt on people, putting dirt out on people.
TAPPER: Who, Mitt Romney?
GIULIANI: When he was running for president. He -- I ran against him.
GIULIANI: So did John McCain run against him.
TAPPER: But he wasn't accepting information from foreign...
GIULIANI: I don't know if he was accepting information from foreign -- who says that the president accepted information from foreigners?
You mean people on his campaign might have done it? First of all...
TAPPER: But the Trump Tower meeting, I think, is what he was referring to, the willingness to sit down with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. That is what Mitt Romney seems to be talking about.
GIULIANI: What a hypocrite. What a hypocrite.
TAPPER: But why is that hypocritical?
GIULIANI: Any candidate -- any candidate in the whole world in America would take information, negative...
TAPPER: From a foreign source, from a hostile foreign source?
GIULIANI: Who says it's even illegal? Who says it's even illegal? And then does the information turn out to be false, by the way?
The information that was gleaned and disseminated, every newspaper printed it. Why did "The Washington Post" print the information that came from a foreign source, when they knew it was hacked? Aren't they just as wrong for doing that as the campaign wanting to use it? The information...
TAPPER: But why do think Mitt Romney is a hypocrite if he is saying...
GIULIANI: Because Mitt Romney did things very similar to that.
TAPPER: Taking information from Russians?
GIULIANI: No, no. There's nothing -- there's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.
TAPPER: There's nothing wrong with taking information...
GIULIANI: It depends on where it came from. It depends on where it came from. You're assuming that the giving of information is a campaign
contribution. Read the report carefully.
GIULIANI: The report says, we can't conclude that, because the law is pretty much against that.
Do you think -- people get information from this person, that person, this person.
TAPPER: So you would -- you would have accepted information from Russians against a client -- against a candidate if you were running in the presidential election?
GIULIANI: I probably -- I probably wouldn't. I wasn't asked. I would advised, just out of excess of caution, don't do it.
I will give you another thing, though.
TAPPER: But you're saying -- but you're saying there is nothing wrong with doing that. You -- I mean, that...
GIULIANI: There's no -- there's no crime.
TAPPER: I'm not talking about crime. I'm talking about ethics...
GIULIANI: We're going to get into morality?
GIULIANI: That isn't what prosecutors look at, morality.
TAPPER: No, but that's what Mitt Romney -- but that's what Mitt Romney is referring to.
GIULIANI: But this didn't become an international scandal because of immorality. It became an international scandal because the president was accused of violating the law, falsely, and now nobody wants to try to figure out who did it, because that's the real wrongdoing here.
And the reality is...
TAPPER: But you don't think this is immoral or unethical to take...
GIULIANI: Well, suppose I do.
GIULIANI: I'm going to prosecute people for immoral... (CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: I'm not talking about the prosecution part of this.
GIULIANI: I'm going to go look at every -- I'd like to take a good look at Romney's campaign and see if there were any immoral or unethical things done by the people working for him that he didn't know about.
If there weren't, then it was the only campaign in history, because he's maybe is holier than the holiest one. There's no campaign in history that hasn't done that.
TAPPER: But do you think -- you think that there shouldn't be a high standard for the president of the United States, that he not...
GIULIANI: You are mixing up two things.
TAPPER: Ethics and law is what I'm...
GIULIANI: Number one.
GIULIANI: Number one. Number two, you're mixing up what happened at this level of campaign and what the candidate knows about.
TAPPER: Well, I mean, this level was the campaign chairman, the president's son and the president's son-in-law.
GIULIANI: But it wasn't the president. It was not the president.
TAPPER: But that's not a low level. That's a high level, a campaign chairman and his son and son-in-law.
GIULIANI: But the -- well, OK, people other than the candidate.
GIULIANI: People other than the candidate.
The question is, did Donald Trump -- let's call that collude -- colluded with the Russians? The answer is, he didn't collude with them, he didn't conspire with them, he didn't coordinate with them.
And all of that that was run against him -- wait now..
GIULIANI: All of that that was run against him, two FBI investigations, has found out to be false. And now that it's over...
TAPPER: Well, insufficient evidence.
GIULIANI: And now...
TAPPER: Insufficient evidence.
GIULIANI: Well, no, not on collusion.
TAPPER: Right, they said they could not find criminal -- they could not find sufficient evidence of criminal conspiracy.
GIULIANI: They couldn't find a single piece evidence for anything, hacking, dissemination.
TAPPER: There's an entire volume of evidence.
TAPPER: It just doesn't rise to criminality.
GIULIANI: There is an entire volume of stuff, of stuff, not of evidence.
TAPPER: Well, you can call it stuff, but Mitt Romney obviously find it offensive...
TAPPER: ... that fellow citizens working on a campaign welcomed help from Russia.
GIULIANI: But you're quoting Mitt Romney like he's an unbiased source. This man has a whole history of awful things said about Donald Trump, including he's morally unfit to be president, before he ever knew anything about...
TAPPER: But you -- you just said you wouldn't accept help from the Russians if you were a candidate.
GIULIANI: I don't know if I would or I wouldn't.
I -- the legal advice I would give is, out of an excess of caution, don't do it. But maybe that's informed somewhat by what is going on right now and what we have learned since then.
The reality is, you're picking on a minor point, when the major point is, he was pursued for years for a false charge, two FBI investigations, one with four affidavits for electronic surveillance that turn out to be fraudulent. That's a big crime.
TAPPER: Yes. GIULIANI: ... it turns out he didn't do it. Isn't anybody in the
media interested in, how did this happen? Is this just an accident?
TAPPER: Well, the investigation into the president, how did it happen?
GIULIANI: Yes. Yes. You tell me how.
TAPPER: We know.
GIULIANI: No, you don't know.
TAPPER: The volume that is out...
GIULIANI: You never investigated.
TAPPER: ... is the detail of how and why it's -- but let me -- I want to...
GIULIANI: No, no, no, they didn't.
TAPPER: It started with George Papadopoulos and somebody approaching him.
GIULIANI: You would never -- you never would have started an investigation of a major party candidate, of the candidate, based on the...
TAPPER: But the...
GIULIANI: Based on one...
TAPPER: But the DNC was hacked. And John Podesta was spear-phished, and all these e-mails were illegally...
GIULIANI: But those two things are disconnected.
TAPPER: They're not disconnected.
GIULIANI: Trump had nothing to do with that. No. It said...
TAPPER: They're not disconnected. They were -- that's what they were investigating, Russian election...
GIULIANI: Yes, you're fighting it. You're fighting it so hard.
TAPPER: No, I'm just pointing out the facts in the report.
GIULIANI: But there's a prejudice, I got to tell you. It's just assumed that anything about him, we're going to magnify it, and anything about the other side, we don't look at.
The whole situation with Papadopoulos, to a trained investigator, is extremely, unbelievably suspicious. The man is given one little piece of information. The Russians...
TAPPER: The Russians have Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
GIULIANI: ... by a Maltese counterintelligence guy.
TAPPER: OK, by Mifsud, yes.
And then he repeats it a month later to an Australian guy with a very shady background, big contributor to Hillary Clinton, even though he's an Australian.
TAPPER: He isn't a contributor to Hillary Clinton. He's an Australian. You can't contribute....
GIULIANI: No, no, he's a -- I think he's a citizen now. Not illegal. He raised money for him, helped to get money -- oh, for the foundation. I'm sorry.
TAPPER: To the Clinton Foundation.
GIULIANI: To the foundation.
TAPPER: Can I ask you a question about Don McGahn?
GIULIANI: But wait. Wait. No, I want to finish the thought. It's a really important thought.
GIULIANI: That man is told the same information that Mifsud gave him. And all it says is, the Russians have...
TAPPER: The Russians have information, these e-mails from Hillary Clinton.
GIULIANI: That does not justify...
TAPPER: But it was true. And it was an attack on the United States.
GIULIANI: But it doesn't justify an investigation of Donald Trump as candidate for president of the United States.
There is right now as much evidence that Obama may have known about the Steele dossier and affidavits as Trump might have known about that, in fact, more, because there's a text between Strzok and Page.
TAPPER: I don't know any....
GIULIANI: Oh, yes, you do.
TAPPER: Barack Obama -- that President Obama knew?
GIULIANI: They said the Obama administration is on top of this.
TAPPER: I want to go...
GIULIANI: I didn't say he knew.
GIULIANI: I said there's evidence that would suggest. You should follow it up and find out.
TAPPER: OK. I will -- I will...
GIULIANI: You shouldn't investigate him.
TAPPER: I want to ask you because you have been talking about Don...
GIULIANI: If we did that, this place would go crazy.
TAPPER: I want to -- I want to talk about Don McGahn, because the question of obstruction of justice is one -- is the second volume of this report.
TAPPER: In -- one of the examples of potential -- it doesn't reach a conclusion of -- kicks it to Congress -- obstruction of justice has to do with President Trump directing White House counsel at the time Don McGahn to have Rod Rosenstein fire the special counsel.
You said that account from McGahn was -- quote -- "inaccurate."
Now, McGahn's attorney responded, saying -- quote -- "It's a mystery why Rudy Giuliani feels the need to relitigate incidents that the attorney general and deputy attorney general have concluded were not obstruction, but they are accurately described in the report."
So, McGahn is standing by his account...
TAPPER: ... as Mueller -- the account that President Trump told him, get rid of Bob Mueller. (CROSSTALK)
GIULIANI: I would ask his lawyer, I would ask his -- have you read, page 117, 118 of the report?
I would ask, which of three versions is McGahn standing by? There are three versions he gives of that account. Version number one, which was put in "The New York Times," which may be...
TAPPER: No, let's just stick to what is in the Mueller report.
TAPPER: No. It's all in the report.
GIULIANI: I will get out 117, if you want.
They do recite it, but then they select the version most harmful to the president. Version number one...
TAPPER: But which part do you dispute? Which one do you...
GIULIANI: Well, I have to explain it.
The first version that he -- that he says is, the president told me to fire him because he was upset about conflict of interest, and I told him I resign, version number one.
GIULIANI: He then corrects it and says, oh, mistake, he never told -- he never -- he never -- he never said fire, and I never told him I would resign.
TAPPER: He said, get rid of him.
GIULIANI: No, no, there's an intermediate step.
TAPPER: He can't be special counsel.
GIULIANI: He said, he has conflicts and he shouldn't be special counsel.
TAPPER: He shouldn't be special counsel.
Well, what does that convey to you? What does that suggest to you?
GIULIANI: Oh, it's far different than fire. Fire is nice and clear. Fire is, get rid of him.
TAPPER: He shouldn't be special counsel.
GIULIANI: He shouldn't be special counsel means, it's wrong that he's special counsel. It doesn't say any specific action.
Well, then he changes it again and says, well, I thought that meant get rid of him.
TAPPER: That's what he thought it meant.
GIULIANI: Well, OK, but that isn't -- that isn't what he said.
TAPPER: So you're not denying that he said he shouldn't be special counsel; you're denying that he meant fire him?
GIULIANI: The point I was making is, he has three different versions.
Now, you tell me, as a trial lawyer, what would I do with that in front of a jury?
GIULIANI: Guy's got three different versions of something as important as this?
You know what you do? You say, I can't rely on him.
TAPPER: He said, "Mueller has to go," I think is the exact quote, "Mueller has to go."
GIULIANI: No, no. One version of it is -- one version of it is, he has conflicts and he shouldn't be special counsel. Quote. Those were in quotes, right in the report, middle of the page, page 117.
Very sloppy. And then, as a prosecutor, you can't select the version that's the most harmful. You got to go with the version that's the most helpful in order to determine if there ever...
TAPPER: So, are you suggesting that McGahn is lying?
GIULIANI: No. I'm telling you, he's confused.
TAPPER: So, he's confused.
GIULIANI: He gave three different versions.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you a question. McGahn...
GIULIANI: But the special counsel comes to the conclusion he is definitively telling the truth. And his lawyer is saying that -- his lawyer should tell us which of those three versions is true. And how does he know which one is true now, when he couldn't figure it out then?
TAPPER: Here's what we have.
McGahn, who is well-regarded in Washington, D.C., saying that he thought President Trump was telling him to fire the special counsel. [09:20:08]
GIULIANI: But what he thinks is not...
TAPPER: But that's what he thought. He took contemporaneous notes.
TAPPER: He told his attorney at the time. And he testified...
GIULIANI: Would you like to know what the president thought?
TAPPER: And he testified under oath.
President Trump is denying it. He refused to testify under oath. And he does have a history of lying.
Why should people...
GIULIANI: Well, that's your -- that's your -- that's your...
TAPPER: Was Barack Obama born in the United States? I mean, like, there's a long history of President Trump saying things that aren't true.
GIULIANI: Was -- was -- OK. Let's not go into...
GIULIANI: ... a man's total -- did Barack Obama lie about, you can keep your doctor and you can keep your insurance? Did he lie when...
TAPPER: We're not talking about Barack Obama. We're talking about President Trump's credibility...
GIULIANI: OK. But...
TAPPER: President Trump's credibility vs. Don McGahn's.
GIULIANI: So, we're going to start taking disputed arguments about politics, and we're going to use it in a criminal case? That's -- that's -- then that's really crazy.
TAPPER: If he had told him fire -- fire him, would it have been obstruction of justice?
GIULIANI: No. It would not have been. But he didn't.
TAPPER: But he didn't -- but he didn't do it?
GIULIANI: The version -- the second version is about as close to the truth as you're going to get, I think. But the reality is that there are independent witnesses they didn't
bother to interview who would say, at that time, the president was not taking the position that Mueller should be fired.
In fact, Mueller was reassured that he wouldn't be fired.
GIULIANI: Those witnesses were not interviewed.
Second, there are witnesses that dispute that McGahn's version is correct -- or a witness that disputes whether that's correct, not false. We don't have to jump to the conclusion false.
How about when a guy...
TAPPER: McGahn is standing by it. And he told people...
GIULIANI: Which one is he standing by?
TAPPER: He's standing by the version in the report.
GIULIANI: No, he isn't. I didn't hear that from this lawyer.
TAPPER: He said he -- he said the report -- they're accurately described in the report.
GIULIANI: There are three versions. Which one? The first one, the fire version, the second one, or the third one? There are three.
We don't know which one McGahn is sticking by. And I don't really care which one McGahn is sticking by, because it's so hopelessly confused. It's unfair to use that.
TAPPER: McGahn thought that the president was telling him to fire special counsel Mueller.
GIULIANI: Well, he's wrong.
TAPPER: That's what he -- that is the bottom line.
GIULIANI: He's wrong. And here's the way...
TAPPER: And he's -- but why should...
GIULIANI: Here's the way...
TAPPER: My question is, why should -- if McGahn has a history of telling the truth -- he was under oath. He took contemporaneous notes, and he told somebody contemporaneously.
GIULIANI: I didn't say... TAPPER: Why should anybody believe the president's version?
GIULIANI: Maybe they're too defensive.
I didn't say McGahn was lying. I just, in great detail, explained to you testimony...
TAPPER: You think he's confused, you say.
GIULIANI: ... that is hopefully confused.
It cannot be relied on. If I were a prosecutor evaluating that, I got three different statements from one guy, I got a clear statement from the other guy, and the guy was never fired, I would come to the conclusion that either this version is correct, because it's clear, or...
TAPPER: McGahn said he refused to fire him.
GIULIANI: Or how about I can't -- well, I know he said that.
GIULIANI: But if, in fact, he wasn't told to fire him, that's like a tree falling in the forest.
TAPPER: No, he said that he was -- he took that as an order to fire him. And he refused to do it. He would have resigned.
GIULIANI: But he took as a -- it wasn't an order to fire him.
TAPPER: Let me ask you, because we're running out of time.
There are 12 other investigations that have been kicked to other prosecutors. And we don't know what they are. There 14 total, but we know what two of them are.
TAPPER: One is Cohen. And one is Greg Craig, Obama's former chief White House counsel. Then there are 12 others we don't know.
And the Mueller report also makes a point that presidents can be prosecuted once they leave office.
GIULIANI: Boy, they -- those -- those angry Democrats would love to see that.
TAPPER: Well, my question for you is, are you concerned, as President Trump's lawyer...
GIULIANI: No, I'm not concerned.
TAPPER: ... about further legal jeopardy?
GIULIANI: They took their best shot. That report is a one-sided document, which you're treating as gospel.
TAPPER: I'm treating it as a prosecutorial document, as you -- as you noted.
GIULIANI: Well, any prosecutorial document is a one-sided document, even if the prosecutor is fair.
And when you have got one who isn't, who's got a bias against...
TAPPER: You don't think Robert Mueller is fair?
GIULIANI: I don't think his people were fair.
GIULIANI: I don't think that report is fair.
TAPPER: But he signed his name to it, whatever you think is fair.
GIULIANI: But he should never have signed his name to a document that says on page two that he has to be convinced that the president didn't do it.
When did a prosecutor ever have to be convinced he didn't do it? That is taking the burden of proof in America, flipping it around, only on Donald Trump.
TAPPER: So, we...
GIULIANI: He has to be able to prove that the person did it.
You read that first two paragraphs, and you understand anything about the law or the ethics of a prosecutor, that's a horrendous statement. It says, he can't be -- even the statement that...
TAPPER: So we shouldn't take this as exoneration of the president because the document is not credible?
GIULIANI: We shouldn't take it as exoneration of the president...
TAPPER: You're saying that this document is not credible.
GIULIANI: No. No. You're -- how about looking at it this way?
People who were unfair to him, people who wrote an unfair report, people who came close to torturing people to get information and break them...
TAPPER: Came close to torturing people?
GIULIANI: Yes. How about -- how about having...
TAPPER: Wait. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.
GIULIANI: How about having Manafort...
TAPPER: Came close to torturing people?
GIULIANI: Yes, how about having Manafort in solitary confinement and questioning him 13 times?
Maybe torture is too much.
TAPPER: You were a prosecutor. Did you put people in solitary confinement?
GIULIANI: To question them? Absolutely not. I put them in solitary confinement -- I put one in solitary confinement because he threatened to kill, Carmine Persico, who just died a while ago.
Did I put him in solitary confinement and bring him back 13 times to question him, telling they're lying, telling them that they really knew that the president was involved in the collusion, when they didn't? No, I never did that. And I would fire anybody who did it.
And Andrew Weissmann never should have been working for him, because Andrew Weissmann is a hit man dead, demonstrated...
TAPPER: Andrew Weissmann a hit man?
GIULIANI: A hit man in terms of the way in which he operates as a...
TAPPER: He's an aggressive prosecutor.
GIULIANI: Yes, read Sidney Powell's book about how he prosecuted the people from Arthur Andersen. The case went out 9-0 the Supreme Court, no crime committed, Arthur Andersen destroyed.
Look at Merrill Lynch people, kept in jail for seven months, found innocent, and he wouldn't let them out on bail pending appeal in a white-collar case.
Look at the situations in which he withheld exculpatory evidence. This guy shouldn't have been working.
GIULIANI: And I will amend hit man, if anybody is too sensitive to that.
TAPPER: Well, I'm not sensitive about it. I just mean...
GIULIANI: What I mean is unethical -- unethical prosecutor.
But you guys didn't care that he put together a staff of Hillary- loving, Trump-hating people, led by an investigator who, luckily, we have his texts, wanted to prevent Donald Trump from being president and wanted to remove him afterwards.
TAPPER: Robert Mueller, very well-regarded, Republican, former head of the FBI.
GIULIANI: Maybe he wasn't paying attention.
TAPPER: When he was appointed, Republicans, including President Trump supporters...
GIULIANI: Me too.
TAPPER: ... like Newt Gingrich and yourself, praised him.
GIULIANI: And when he -- you got it.
TAPPER: Then he put forward a report that ultimately cleared President Trump of conspiracy.
GIULIANI: And that takes every cheap shot imaginable, because he couldn't prove it.
TAPPER: You call them cheap shots. Other people call it evidence,.
GIULIANI: But you don't -- you don't just spew out all this stuff, and not criticize it.
Why don't we hear in there how often Cohen perjured himself under oath, as a way of evaluating the truthfulness of what Cohen is saying today?
TAPPER: Unfortunately, I have to cut you off because we're out of time.
GIULIANI: If you think that's a one -- if you think that's a fair document, when it's using a standard of proof that you have to absolutely prove your innocence, then we're living in a different country other than America.
TAPPER: I think of...
GIULIANI: And if Bob -- maybe Bob didn't read that carefully.
But that infects the entire document.
GIULIANI: I mean, when people have to prove their innocence, we're in a different country. And that's the standard.
And, by the way...
TAPPER: Yes. GIULIANI: ... the president is innocent. He is definitely innocent
GIULIANI: And why aren't people now equally interested in, how about all the connections that the Hillary campaign had with Ukraine? And did that have something to do with the genesis of the information on him and Manafort?
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, that's all the time we have. Thank you so much for being here. Happy Easter.
GIULIANI: The Ukraine is investigating the Clinton campaign...
TAPPER: Happy -- Happy Easter to you and your family..
GIULIANI: ... for being involved with Ukraine.
GIULIANI: And that hasn't been covered by a single American newspaper, except...
TAPPER: Russia attacked the United States. The report makes that clear.
You agree with that and...
GIULIANI: And the president of the United States is -- and the president of the United States...
GIULIANI: ... was falsely accused of being involved in a crime tantamount to treason. That's a disgrace. And somebody has now have to have -- has to have an equal enthusiasm about finding the truth of that.
Otherwise, you are prejudiced.
Mr. Mayor, thank you so much. Happy Easter.
GIULIANI: Thank you.
TAPPER: Thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
TAPPER: Why did the special counsel reach a conclusion on conspiracy, but not on obstruction?
A former Justice Department insider will weigh in next. Plus, one prominent 2020 presidential candidate is calling for impeachment. We will ask a different presidential hopeful if he agrees.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back. Happy Easter. Happy Passover.
We're at STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
President Trump is claiming total exoneration from the Mueller report, even though, on possible obstruction of justice, the special counsel did not, notably, draw a conclusion.
Why is that?
Joining me now, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. We should point out that Preet Bharara was fired by President Trump. But he is the author of a new book, "Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law."
Preet, I want to get your reaction to -- well, there was a whole lot in that Giuliani interview.
TAPPER: Let's start with when I asked him to respond to Senator Mitt Romney criticizing the president's team for being willing to accept help from Russians during the campaign, including the stolen documents.
And, again, we should underline insufficient evidence of any criminal conspiracy by Mueller was found by about the Trump campaign.
Anyway, when asked about that, Mayor Giuliani said -- quote -- "There's nothing wrong" with taking information from the Russians.
What's your reaction?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the reaction to the overall interview was, you're a very patient man.
There was a lot of characterization assassination. There was a lot of flailing about. There was accusing people of being hit men, of torture, all sorts of outrageous things that were said, in the context, by the way, of talking about a very nuanced, sober report being unfair.
On the question of whether or not it's OK to take information from the Russians, I appreciate that Rudy Giuliani's role in this is to defend the president, I guess at all costs, no matter what argument he can put forth, whether it makes sense or not, that he should pause and think about what he's saying, not just as an advocate for a president who he claims was exonerated in a report that he's nonetheless attacking vociferously.
The idea that it is OK -- separate and apart from it being a criminal offense -- that we should be telling future candidates in the run-up to an election in 2020 that, if an adversary, a foreign adversary, is offering information against a political opponent, that it's OK and right and proper and American and patriotic, it seems he's saying, to take that information, that's OK, that's an extraordinary statement.
And I would hope he would retract it.
TAPPER: Rudy's main argument in the interview seemed to be that the Mueller report wasn't fair. What did you think of that?
BHARARA: I mean, if you look at the Mueller report overall, there a couple of things that he seems to have issue with.
One is that this information is in the report at all. Obviously, it's a particular point of view. The reason we know about it and the reason it's public is because the attorney general, Bill Barr, put it out. Some people would like it all out, but it was Bill Barr who made the decision to put out the full amount of it, minus some reactions for classified information and other things.
Second, it seems to me -- and I think we should we should get clarity from Bob Mueller. So, I think there's some legitimate confusion about what Mueller's intent was in not making an ultimate decision about whether or not a crime was stated with respect to obstruction.
But, from my read of it -- and it's just my read -- and some people agree with me -- that Bob Mueller clearly found that there was enough information and evidence to bring an obstruction case, were the president you or me or anyone other than someone sitting in the Oval Office, because there's this Office of Legal Counsel interpretation of the Constitution, and that he bent -- and he, Mueller, bent over backwards not to state that obstruction was committed, and yet, on the other hand, preserve evidence for some future prosecutor or perhaps Congress to make the determination.
So, in some ways, I think the Mueller report, in its totality, was quite fair to the president. On this issue of whether or not Michael Cohen has credibility problems, and was that set forth in chapter -- chapter and verse in the Mueller report, first of all, it was alluded to.
And, second, the whole world knows that the Bob Mueller and his team found Michael Cohen to have lied to Congress. There's an actual indictment, there's a guilty plea on Michael Cohen, and his credibility is there and assessed by the special counsel for all to see.
And then other particulars as well, there are places where the Mueller report says, you know, there's some information on the one side , some information on the other, and it's hard to say which carries the day and is favorable to the president, and other places where it's not.
So, overall, it's a very nuanced, fair document in its totality.
TAPPER: So, the other person -- I guess he didn't go after Don McGahn, the former White House counsel under Trump, as a liar, the way he did against Michael Cohen.
But he did say that he did think Don McGahn's account -- that Don McGahn was mistaken or confused, and that his account of President Trump telling him, at least in McGahn's view, to fire Bob Mueller, that that was unreliable.
What did you think of that?
BHARARA: I mean, this is the White House counsel. This is the person that the president of the United States chose to have as the chief lawyer advising him in the White House and all sorts of other personnel in the White House, who, by the way, told all these things to Bob Mueller that Rudy Giuliani and other people complain about, did all of that because the president and his other lawyer, Ty Cobb, said, go cooperate and tell the truth.
As the Mueller report points out, Don McGahn had no reason to exaggerate, no reason to embellish, no reason to lie. And if you take -- if you look at the section that relates to Don McGahn hearing from President Trump, get rid of Bob Mueller, he should -- he should be gone, he shouldn't be there, it's a very tortured analysis of English that Rudy Giuliani engaged in, in saying, well, it didn't mean fire, it didn't mean get rid of him.
Don McGahn is not a stupid man. Don McGahn was the White House counsel, understood exactly what the president wanted. And that's further corroborated by the fact that Donald Trump did 80 other things that suggested he wanted Bob Mueller gone, suggested that he wanted Jeff Sessions to unrecuse, suggested that he wanted Jeff Sessions to change the focus of the investigation, even telling someone who's outside of the White House, Corey Lewandowski, to write a memo that he dictated -- if you read the report -- to Jeff Sessions, saying, change the focus of the investigation and get it off me.
The evidence is overabundant that Donald Trump wanted Bob Mueller gone, and that he told McGahn to take care of it.
TAPPER: And, Preet, lastly, this is a question about whether President Trump will be in legal jeopardy after his presidency is over, whether that's in 2021 or 2025.
Rudy Giuliani suggested he's not worried at all, they got their shot, and they missed.
What do you think? Is there exposure for President Trump, legal exposure? And Mueller alluded to the fact that presidents are not immune from prosecution after their presidency is over. BHARARA: Yes, look, I mean, the Mueller view, it seems to me, if you
look at the document, is that they absolutely believe there is a potential viable prosecution once Donald Trump leaves office.
I mean, he says in great particularity that, although you cannot prosecute a sitting president under the OLC interpretation, we are nonetheless preserving evidence, while memories are fresh and documents are available, because a president, once he leaves office, can be charged with crimes committed while in office.
I don't think it could be more clear. Whether or not a prosecutor will seek to do it and whether or not there will be viable defenses, I don't know. But the position of the Mueller team, to me, is clearly the case they think there's future legal jeopardy.
TAPPER: All right, Preet Bharara, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
BHARARA: Thank you.
TAPPER: Now I want to get a response from a Democratic member of Congress who just announced he's running to replace President Trump in 2020, just back from a campaign trip to Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.
Congressman Ryan, always good to see.
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning.
TAPPER: This report is clear that there's insufficient evidence to charge anybody on the Trump team with criminal conspiracy with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
Isn't that good news for the country? And isn't President Trump right, to an extent, that, on that matter, he's been somewhat vindicated?
RYAN: Well, if you look at the intent -- the intensity of the Russians coming after us, I don't think anybody should be happy with anything right now. It's pretty scary how vigorous they are in trying to attack our democracy.
And the president -- there was a lot in there -- and I read it very carefully -- of communications within the Trump Organization that they could not get to, whether they were using specific apps like Signal or other things. You couldn't really understand exactly what a lot of the conversations were.
So, I think we should be very, very concerned. I think we need to make sure our guard continues to be up. But, most importantly, Russia is trying to divide us, Jake, on every cultural issue we have.
And the American people need to recognize we need to start respecting each other, listening to each other, and be very, very careful about how weak we are, when the president's trying to throw gasoline on a lot of these cultural rifts in the country. TAPPER: Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney, just said on this show that there's nothing inherently necessarily wrong with taking help from the Russians.
What did you think of that?
RYAN: Well, first, deep sympathy to you, Jake, for having to spend your Easter morning wrestling around with Rudy Giuliani this morning.
But that -- that's just ridiculous. I think that shows that how toxic the politics are today, this win-at-all-costs attitude that the president has and his administration has.
That's disgusting, to think that any major official, let alone someone so closely tied to the Trump administration, would think that that's a good idea.
TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to your fellow 2020 candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren and her reaction to the Mueller report's conclusions about obstruction of justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: It's my responsibility to speak out.
I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States. And the Constitution makes clear that the accountability for the president is -- lies through Congress. And that's the impeachment process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you agree that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against the president?
RYAN: Let me just say, Jake, that, after reading that document, in my estimation, I think it's pretty clear that the president obstructed on several different occasions, including when he was told by a White House counsel not to talk to Sessions about this at all.
And just, I think, days later, he pulled Sessions aside and tried to get him to unrecuse himself. And the memo coming from the White House legal counsel was like, don't talk to Sessions, possible obstruction issues. And then he went ahead and did it anyway.
So, this is -- this is very, very, very serious. I believe that the first step is to have Jerry Nadler continue to open up this investigation to better understand this.
We are just getting this document. Let the Judiciary Committee look at this. There is a process in place here. I trust Jerry Nadler. He's one of the smartest guys in the United States Congress. I think that's the natural next step. And let's see where that leads.
TAPPER: So you do not support impeachment as of right now, but you want the process to begin? Is that -- the investigation process to be begin? RYAN: That's correct.
TAPPER: Is that correct?
RYAN: That's correct, not -- not -- yes, let the process play itself out.
Let -- and let's educate the American people too, Jake. This is a very nuanced document. Let the American people really see what's going on here. It paints a terrible picture of the president's interactions, his -- the blatant lying that happens and directing people to lie to the public, to lie to lawyers, to lie to the Congress.
I mean, it's very detailed. And the American people, through this process, will get up to speed with how this administration has been behaving.
TAPPER: Does that mean that you think those who are pushing for impeachment right now, your colleagues, are making a mistake?
For instance, there's an impeachment resolution being introduced by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. It's gaining steam among many Democrats, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar. They have all signed on since the Mueller report was made public.
Are they rushing to judgment?
RYAN: You can -- as I said, you can read this document and really see that I personally think that there's a lot of obstruction here.
So I understand their move to try to impeach. I would just rather us take this next step, educate the American people, really get these details out, let the Judiciary Committee do its work. We got -- this is getting back to regular order and letting the country start from functioning normally through these processes that we have established.
And then we will go from there. But everyone's welcome to do what they want. And I feel the sentiment.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you, sir -- and I hope you will come back on a different weekend, when we're not just all responding to the Mueller report, so we can talk more about your hopes as a candidate.
But you are running, and part of the reason you're running is because you represent a blue-collar area of Ohio. The economy's doing pretty well right now. How do you make a pitch to those voters that they should go with you or they more broadly should go with a Democrat, given the fact that unemployment is so low?
RYAN: Yes, well, unemployment is low and the stock market's high, but 40 to 50 percent of American families today can't withstand a $400 or $500 emergency.
And we have got to get out of this idea that we just want the American people to survive, somebody working two or three jobs, working hard all day, and not being able to have economic security, retirement security, good public schools that help their kids function in society today.
We're running a campaign, Jake, that is going to talk about America thriving, about middle-class families thriving, about communities thriving again.
If people believe in this movement, they should go to DriveTo65.com and join this campaign.
But I'm telling you, we have real solutions to solve these problems. My district is in Northeast Ohio. I'm a kid from steel country. And I know what the problems are. I understand what people are going through every single day.
When I was in Iowa -- people in rural America are in a recession right now. They're going through the same challenges that we have in old steel country, old coal country, old auto country.
We have got to come together. The president's trying to divide us. He wants to pit white workers against black workers, black workers against brown workers. We -- rural against urban.
We have got to come together. And I'm asking people to come join this campaign. We're going to get this economy up and running. We're going to educate our kids. And we're going to win the future.
TAPPER: All right.
RYAN: DriveTo65.com, Jake, if people want to join this -- join this movement.
TAPPER: Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, thanks so much for joining us. Happy Easter.
RYAN: Thank you.
TAPPER: We will have you back to talk about a wider breadth of issues. Appreciate your time this morning.
RYAN: I look forward to that. Thank you.
TAPPER: Judiciary chairman Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Jerry Nadler are digging in on their positions now. But where did they stand back in the '90s? Hint, the opposite, kind of. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: There's nothing -- there's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.
TAPPER: There's nothing wrong with taking information.
GIULIANI: Depends on where it came from. It depends on where it came from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: A surprising Easter revelation from Rudy Giuliani about whether not it's wrong to take information from Russians. Our panel is with us.
Former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. Thanks so much for being here. Happy Easter everybody.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Happy Easter.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Happy Easter, Jake.
BARBARA COMSTOCK (R), FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSWOMAN: And great reporting by CNN this week no Notre Dame. Thank you.
TAPPER: Notre Dame -- yes. Very moving and very sad. But they will rebuild.
Is there anything wrong with taking information from Russians?
COMSTOCK: I worked on two Bush campaigns, two Romney campaigns and that's not something that we're doing. I'm not sure why Rudy was picking on Mitt Romney or Don McGahn when in fact the report is fairly positive, as you pointed out.
COMSTOCK: And you also have a situation where there are people like John Brennan and people who over blew this -- the conspiracy case or collusion or whatever word you want to use today. And all of the -- he wasn't taking yes for an answer on the things that they were yes. I was a little confused by that.
GRANHOLM: It's a huge in kind contribution. It's a massive illegal in kind contribution to accept information or help and benefit from any other entity but especially a foreign entity. I can't believe Rudy Giuliani of all people doesn't acknowledge that.
TAPPER: What did you make of that? I don't think that you would advise anybody take help from the Russians.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Inadvisable certainly and --
GRANHOLM: And illegal.
JENNINGS: -- born out -- born out I think in some cases of the people we read about in the report inexperience, lack of ethics perhaps for some. And you shouldn't do it. I mean, you just shouldn't do it. At the end of the day, I'm really glad and all Americans should be glad the report found no coordination and no collusion. Which was the -- this has been then the animating question of the Trump presidency. It's always talked about for two years and now they can actually move on, perhaps and have a presidency without the cloud that has been hanging over their head. They shouldn't -- they shouldn't relitigate this for the next two years.
Let it go and try to have a normal presidency now.
GRANHOLM: Just a correction. The report did not find no collusion. The report found that there was not enough evidence to present a crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt. And Robert Mueller said that explicitly just because they couldn't raise -- the investigation did not conclude that there was conspiracy doesn't mean that there was no evidence --
TAPPER: Insufficient evidence to present a case for criminal conspiracy. What did you make of Rudy Giuliani saying there's nothing wrong with taking help from the Russians?
SANDERS: Jake, there's something wrong with taking help from the Russians, folks from Saudi Arabia. Whoever wants to offer their help today on the presidential campaign, there's something wrong with that. But I actually have been shocked throughout this entire process to find that apparently it's not illegal.
I would have thought it would be illegal to try and solicit information, to take help and information from a foreign entity in your campaign but apparently it is not. And so if it is not illegal, I think there's some things Congress can do.
I know folks are talking about impeachment. But there's one thing that can happen. Across the board we think folks should not be able to take help from any foreign entity let's make that illegal. Senator Romney was very -- had very strong words about this --
COMSTOCK: And he was the person who reminded us in 2012 that it was a great threat.
SANDERS: And he did say it.
SANDERS: Some folks mocked him. I was in college.
COMSTOCK: And Obama mocked him too. Let's not forget that.
SANDERS: Some people mocked him. But I think he --
TAPPER: And he was born correct. Absolutely. SANDERS: He should -- let's introduce some legislation in the Senate and let's get a companion piece of legislation in the House and make this illegal.
TAPPER: So on the question of obstruction of justice, we heard from Senator Elizabeth Warren this weekend that she believes that the House should begin impeachment proceedings. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: This is not something I want to do. That's not the point. It's a point of principle and every member of the House and every member of the Senate should be called onto vote.
Do you believe that that constituted an impeachable offense?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now Congressman Tim Ryan was just on and he's not there yet. He wants the investigation -- he wants Jerry Nadler and the House Judiciary Committee to begin hearings. You also heard him say pretty honestly, I thought, we need to educate the American people.
In other words, this needs to be campaign to explain to the American people, if I'm reading him correctly, why the president should be impeached although he wasn't there yet.
Do you think this is the right course of action for your party?
GRANHOLM: I totally trust the political instincts of Nancy Pelosi. I read the Mueller report though as a former federal prosecutor and former attorney general, and to me that obstruction volume is so overwhelming that there are 10 episodes of obstruction with very specific acts. If I were a prosecutor, I would charge, of course, not the president because you can't charge the president according to DOJ rules but after he's out, I certainly would. Which means that that is a crime or misdemeanor that the Congress should take up.
In my opinion, I get that you're not going to get it in the Senate. I get that. But if you don't stand for what is unlawful against what is unlawful then you may end up being complicit down the road. So maybe they're not going to do it right away but I do think that it -- that the House should take a stand that this is not acceptable behavior for the president of the United States.
JENNINGS: I think they're going to impeach him. I mean, if you listen to Nadler, if you listen to Cortez, if you listen to the people who I think --
TAPPER: Nadler said today, we should point out, that if the charges of obstruction are proven, it is impeachable.
JENNINGS: I mean, if you listen to the people who have the ability to make this happen and you listen to the people in the Democratic Party who represent the animating heart of the party right now --
TAPPER: Ocasio-Cortez --
JENNINGS: Ocasio-Cortez, that's where they are. I think they're going to do it. Frankly the longer they wait to do it the closer we get into 2020. I think it gets harder for them.
I think if they were going to do it politically my advice would be to do it now. Because if you do it in the middle -- in the middle of a presidential campaign, it would look even worse I think for the Democrats. It's clear to me they're going to do it.
SANDERS: I mean, look it looks as though from -- it looks as though from that the president attempted to obstruct justice. And the only reason justice wasn't actually obstructed is because there were people around him that basically like, no, Jake, we're not going to do that.
So I think this idea that because an election is coming up, Congress or no one can act because they don't want to seem or look nefarious. There's something to be said about oversight. Speaker Pelosi and Democrats on the Hill believe that this is part of their oversight, believe that this is part of putting the check on the president.
I do think they need to make that case to the American people then they just need to do it. I don't think folks should be ham strung by an election. Because there's always an election somewhere, sometime. Congress has to do its job in all sense of the word. And if this was built into the constitution and folks feel as though it is a lever that needs to be pulled, pull the lever.
TAPPER: Congresswoman I've known you for, I think, for 20 years or something like that. Let's go back to 1999. Here is Lindsey Graham. Now the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here was his standard at the time when it was about impeaching Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He doesn't have to say go lie for me to be a crime. You don't have to say let's obstruct justice for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now obviously I think he feels a little differently today. And we should also point out Jerry Nadler, now the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a Democrat said in 1998 talking about Ken Starr's report, who headed the investigation to then President Bill Clinton. Take a listen to what he had to say back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: It's grand jury material. It represents statements which may or may not be true by various witnesses. Salacious material. All kinds of material that it would be unfair to release. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: He's now much more pro-active in terms of wanting the entire Mueller report --
COMSTOCK: Nancy Pelosi had a similar statement back then too. Interestingly Donald Trump didn't think there should be an impeachment if you remember then because he was a New York Democrat at that time.
TAPPER: That's right. I mean, I think the American people look at this through that lens. They think, oh, this is -- none of this is based in what is right or wrong. It's all based in partisanship.
COMSTOCK: That's why I think the system worked here. And I want to give a lot of credit to the Justice Department.
I want to read a quote from Rod Rosenstein, I think it was last fall when he said when we look back in the long run on -- I'm sorry -- the Justice Department -- the president will deserve credit for the folks that he appointed to run the department. And I think he does deserve credit for having Jeff Sessions there who pushed back on doing anything improper. I called for him to recuse himself, he did.
I think there should be a special counsel. I thought Rod Rosenstein was right on that and I think he did right by the rule of law. Again, Don McGahn also did that.
So you have a system here --
TAPPER: You like the guardrails. Yes, you like the guardrails.
COMSTOCK: And the Justice Department -- I think Bill Barr fits in the same. You have Chris Wray at the FBI. These are all people who are institutionalists who revere the rule of law. But now this is all in a political realm.
You're right the roles are reversed. And the Democrats are going to have to decide do they think this helps them politically or not. And I think that's how they're going to judge it.
But I think we have been spared from Tulsi Gabbard to Steny Hoyer to Republicana have said, we should celebrate that Mueller found that there wasn't any conspiracy.
TAPPER: All right. That's all the time we have. Happy Easter to everyone. Thank you so much.
Fareed Zakaria picks up our coverage of the breaking news out of Sri Lanka right now.