The latest developments in the Mueller report
The. Molar report, looms at home as the president, looks abroad, I'm Robert, Kosta welcome. To Washington week. The. Special, councils report into, Russian election interference, could, be completed, in weeks according. To multiple reports, but. The Justice Department. Isn't, confirming anything. But. What will be released to the public, that'll be totally up to the new, Attorney General he's a tremendous man and it's mr. Trump's former attorney prepares, to testify before Congress. A sweeping. Story raises, questions, about the president's con dar plus, President, Trump looks to cut a deal with North, Korean leader Kim jong-un, and seeks. A win prime minister obby of japan, gave. Me the most beautiful copy. Of a letter he, said I have nominated you. Respectfully. On behalf of Japan I, am. Asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize we. Cover it all next. This, is Washington, week. Once. Again from, Washington, moderator, Robert, Costa. Good. Evening, the Justice, Department is, a powerful. But, tight-lipped, institution. That has been especially true with, the Russia investigation. But on Friday a senior, DOJ official. Spoke out they, said Special Counsel Robert, Muller would, not be submitting his report, to the department, next week, ., that, statement capped off a frenzied. Week in washington, following. Several reports, that Muller could be wrapping up regardless. Of the timing the Muller report, still hovers, over, the Trump presidency in, Congress. President, Trump was asked on Friday if he has spoken with Attorney General William Barr about, the probe I, have. Done. At. Some point I guess I'll be talking about it but you know the nice part there, was no collusion, there. Was no obstruction there was no anything so that's the nice part there, was no phone calls no nothing we. Have the, one. Duration know why I want the race because I was a better candidate, than she was and had nothing to do with Russia joining. Me tonight mark Mazzetti, Washington, investigative. Correspondent for, The New York Times, Amnon, Avaz national. Correspondent for, the PBS Newshour Molly, ball national, political correspondent for.
Time Magazine and, Philip, Rucker White, House bureau chief for The Washington Post mark, you've been following this with the New York Times all week, the, timing, of the Muller report, the DOJ, push back on Friday, and all the speculation. Where, does it stand what, do we know about when it actually will come out or head to the Department of Justice, so. As usually we don't know exactly and, you. Know any prediction, about when, and exactly the Muller report will end would. Be foolish but it does for the first time feel that were in an end game here that Muller. Will, deliver, reports sometime, in the coming weeks and a lot of people have reported that and he's. Wrapping up his work and what, gives you that that feeling though based, on your reporting there is, multiple. Sources that we had that that. And others, have reported as well that. He. Is preparing, to turn, it over the just Department is preparing for him to the Justice Department regularly, checks in with a Special Counsel investigation every, two weeks or so and. They, have the sense that this is indeed. Coming to end but but when, in fact it does and again we don't it won't be next week may, not be the week after but, we do think this is not going to be another, six months it's probably going to be shorter, than that maybe possibly, even a month so so, it does you. Know there. Could be also even more shoes to drop but it. Is something, that we, are, certainly. Waiting, for and, you. Know we think that it's going to be there's gonna still be more revelations, I'm a part of the reason for all the speculation, and the reporting, CNN, The Washington Post the New York Times and others is that, you have a new Attorney General in William Bar and you also have the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, preparing. To exit, sometime around March there's a new culture, a new staff, at DOJ that's, right and I think you know look at the mark, Whitacre earlier giving us a hint that saying we're getting close to it and you know the big joke going around now that the more we say it's, close to ending at some point we're eventually going to be right so, yeah. Look we know the scope of the people that they've talked to all, signs point towards something being wrapped up but what, we don't know and this is the key part is what, happens, when it is done because it being done does not mean that we actually know what's in it we know the DOJ guidelines, dictate, it goes directly to, this new Attorney General the big question is what is he going to do with it now he hinted at what he might do right he said he's not leaning, towards releasing it in full he said that in a Senate confirmation hearing and we, also know that he agreed with his predecessors, decision, to recuse himself that was Jeff Sessions saying I want nothing to do with this I'm gonna step away from this that's not a great sign for the president, so the, new Attorney General holds a lot of power it's kind of a baptism, by fire in, this first week and we, know the president's been complimenting, him he knows he holds that power well let's stay with that because when Robert, Muller completes this report he will submit it to the Attorney General and fill in your story, about Barre who once served as Attorney General under President George HW Bush, you wrote quote, Barr is laboring, to maintain, his reputation, as a relatively, independent, and principled leader while simultaneously. Reacting. To pressure from his boss who, demands loyalty from. His pointees, what a test for, bar what can you tell us about how he's going to handle this moment well Bob he's kept a very low-profile bar has in this first week on the job he's, had some public praise from president Trump but the president also has been taking aim, at other, people who've led the Justice Department, Andrew, McCabe the former acting FBI director, Jim Comey the former FBI director rod Rosen Stein he's been all over Twitter talking about the Department of Justice and it's created, an awkward position. For Bill Bar because he's trying to lead this. Agency to establish some independence, from the White House without getting. Crosswise, with the president and the big test is gonna be when Muller presents, that report, what does he decide to do how. Much information does he share with Congress, and therefore with the public and he's going to be under a lot of pressure from a lot of different directions Molly, when you think about the Attorney, General Bill Barr do you see a seasoned. Man, of institutions. Or do you see the man who wrote that 19, page memo unsolicited. To, the Attorney General the Deputy Attorney General. Talking. About protecting, executive, power who is the real bill, Barr, well it's obviously, both he, is both of those people but, looking back on his confirmation, hearings you know he, was confirmed, 5445, almost a party-line vote with.
Many Democrats voicing dissatisfaction. Particularly. With what they felt was a lack of transparency. Particularly. His refusal, to commit to releasing, that report publicly but, behind the scenes you heard even a lot of Democrats feeling, like he'd done a very good job of reassuring. People of his. Independence. Impartiality, as. Phil said presenting. A very, strong impression of someone who, had who had nothing to lose he kept saying that you know he, really, had he wasn't trying to get anywhere else in his career and therefore, that would give him the freedom to stand, up to the president if need be and we know that he, talked about this in his confirmation hearings he actually is quite close personally. To. Robert Muller they, are friends, and he, has, utmost respect, for him and he he used the word inconceivable. About, the possibility, that he would ever see cause to, get rid of Muller so I think even some of those Democrats who voted against, him, felt. Like he was about the best they were going to get from, an by, President, Trump and, people, will be very surprised, if he then you. Know pivots. To somehow. Helping. The president with the witch-hunt narrative for example when. You think about the, bar the bar decision. It's in the malla report, part of the frenzy this week wasn't just about the timing, of the report, it was also about what's going to be in the report and mark and his colleagues at at times published, an in-depth account of, what they call the president's quote sustained, and secretive, assault, and the machinery of federal law enforcement and his war with, investigations, they steam spelled out example, after example of, how the president, has tried to undermine and discredit not, just the Muller probe but the investigation, by the Southern District in New York into hush money payments in, 2016. Was striking about your article and why it kicked off this a lot of this discussion as we go about the Mulla report is it underscored, the obstruction. Side of this, whole situation. Not just the collusion and the Russian and interference, but the obstruction, and that could be a real specter for this White House. Absolutely. We know that Muller is investigating. Trump. For possible, obstruction, of justice and, what. We set out to do was kind, of bring things together in a way because. This is so common for us now we are, used to the president railing against the FBI the Justice, Department against. Robert Muller and his investigators, and so. Much so that we're no longer shocked by it and so we, thought that bringing these instances. Together to show this sort of two-year war on the, law enforcement, machinery would. Show, the what. Kind of Muller might be looking at in such a case and I. Mean this goes back to two bar and this is one of the challenging, challenge. Is he has not, only does he have to work for Trump but, it's. Now embedded, in a lot of the American, culture this idea that the. Deep state is out to get the president the FBI is bad the DOJ, is bad and this is extraordinary especially for a Republican, president and, yet. Barr is considered, a you. Know he's a respected prosecutor he's, got to buck. Up the troops at the FBI in the DOJ, and to. Sort of show that you know they are not out to get the president and.
So. When, we wrote this story we, wanted to just remind people. This is not normal, a president. Talking about, federal, investigations. Into, him and. Doing. It so commonly, and so aggressively, it's something we've never seen before in American history where, is the president's, legal team getting ready for all this this firestorm, on the horizon, well, the, president's, personal legal team as well as the lawyers and and political, operatives, inside the White House are preparing. For the mower report and they have a series of strategies laid, out based on different contingencies. Of what, the report could find ranging, from sort. Of not reporting much of anything about the President to actually laying out sort of a bill of goods that House Democrats, could then begin impeachment. Proceedings, on they're. Going to have an aggressive response there's, some dispute about how much detail they'll, get into in their response but they're prepared for it and they've been prepared for it to happen even next. Week while the president's, overseas, although we now know from, the Justice Department that it's not going to happen but there, are other clouds on the horizon you, got the president's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort who was convicted of eight felonies, and pleaded guilty to two more he, may not be able to escape prison, time even with a presidential, pardon prosecutors. In New York have prepared a criminal, case against. The 69, year-old on a range of tax and other charges the Manhattan district attorney is reportedly, ready to, file the charges if President Trump exercises. His power to pardon his, former aide so maybe the president's legal team they're trying to get ready for the malla report but all these other clouds, are there including Paul Manafort even. If he's pardoned he could face charges in Manhattan that's absolutely right and all of that is increasing, tension, on the president, the closer we get to a potential, end to this report, look even, if it stopped right now I think it's worth looking back at what the Muller investigation, has been able to yield so far you've got guilty pleas from some of the most closest. And longtime associates. To the president dating back to the early days of his campaign, Manafort among them is deputy chairman, his personal, attorney criminal, charges against, Roger, stone as well that's, an incredible, amount of smoke we don't yet know where, the fire is but. All of these things mean that there's more pressure, on the president right now and it's. Kind of remarkable the investigations, gotten as far as it has as Mark mentioned the, sustained, public, pressure by, the president, undermining, the results before they have even come out, those are going to have an effect on how I think AG. Bar decides to eventually, release whatever he does in whatever form does it mark, no I was gonna say and in, addition, to Muller right these other investigations, if you talk to people who are the legal team or the close to the president the, thing that they seem even more concerned about is the Southern District of New York investigation. The one Michael Coe has been wrapped up in and one where, the, president is effectively, an unindicted co-conspirator. Where you. Know Cohen said that he directed hush money payments before, the election this is real legal, jeopardy for the president maybe not while he's in office but perhaps while he's what he's out but Molly is it political. Jeopardy. Michael Cohen will head to the Capitol, Hill next week Wednesday while the president's abroad to, testify the DOJ, has said Cohen can't talk, about the, Russian investigation, or the Trump Tower Moscow project but he can talk about the president's, conduct. Do, voters, care. Do Republican, voters care could they turn we know Maryland, governor Larry Hogan's, thinking about a primary, challenge, can, we see the Republicans, twist, and turn in the wind well. The Democrats use, this as their main issue in 2020, well, a lot depends on what's in that report the, the Democrats, in Congress have taken a very firm stance, that they are not going to go. Forward with. Impeachment. In particular, but a lot of, they're. Waiting on on the Moller report, in, mostly. Because they think that's safer political, ground for. The American people to trust that something is coming out that isn't a political document that is relatively, unbiased, even, if you, know the president has tried to turn bob muller a republican, into, a political actor, who's somehow engaged in a conspiracy against, him he.
Is Not viewed that way i think by most by most people and certainly most people, in washington or in Congress but. You know the president's, legal strategy, has largely been a political, strategy, to to, Phil's point this is the groundwork they've already been laying and the, time story talked a lot about this as well the and, we've written about this also the pivot that was made in the president's, legal defense to turn from a cooperative, stance to, this aggressive, public relations strategy and the and you know Rudy Giuliani has said this out loud explicitly. Shockingly, enough that this is all about, making, impeachment, impossible, this is all about, putting, pressure from the Republican base on, Republican, members of the Senate so that they don't feel like they could vote to convict. The president in an impeachment proceeding, that it and that is the beginning and the end of it so if the president starts to lose those, Senate Republicans, we've seen them starting to rebel on other matters we've seen them starting to rebel on foreign policy we've, seen them starting to rebel when it came to the shutdown if he, if, they feel that they are free enough from the pressure from the president's base that they can take action against him then he's in real trouble and Congress will have to make the decision, on impeachment mark, so, much of it's going to depend on what's in this report you could, see William bar decide to, classify, material, and not release a lot of that to Congress, you could see the, Department. Of Justice decide not to include a lot of bad facts they found during the investigation, because ultimately does it they decided if. They decide this to not indict President. Trump or to not indict someone close to him right, I mean the actual, parameters. Of what. Muller can do are somewhat, narrow and. So, that's why no one is expecting, a hundreds. And hundreds of page report like the Starr report right or the 9/11, Commission or something like that that tells the full story however. You. Know there is, an. Expectation it's going to be more fulsome than, what. Barr sends, to Congress now I am, entirely. Certain, that the entire. Muller report, will come out in, some capacity, it. Is too, important to dr. must know that too and I believe that he does and I believe that they're probably writing. A report with the knowledge that it will they're probably being I'm this is speculation but careful. About the classification they're not putting highly classified information, in because they expected a leak I believe, it will somewhere, and, so this, document, there's the stakes are too high for. Everyone. To speculate, what did Bob Muller actually, find out the, obstruction, question politically, how, do you see it is this something that Republicans are going to turn away from the president on or do they rally, behind him it's gonna be sort of a come-to-jesus moment, for a lot of Senate Republicans and, this may be where the rubber meets the road for them and we know that is one.
Of The central questions right one of the things that struck me about the many interviews, that Andrew McCabe has been giving this week is the revelation that they did launch an individual. Counterintelligence, investigation. Into the president and he noted actually yesterday in his interview with Judy Woodruff when she drilled down of a part of his book where he said we reached a point in our investigation into. Russian interference in the election where we said okay, we've been looking at the campaign since summer of 2016, it's time for us to look at earnest, into. The candidate, and that is the man himself and if you go back to that time of cooperation. Between the Muller team and the president's lawyers there were those leaked documents, of questions that they wanted responses, from from, President Trump and those for the central issues what, did you know about Russian, interference when, did you know it and what if anything did you do to obstruct, the investigation. Into those things so at the very least we will expect answers or, what mother believes to be true in the report feel, final thing on the mother report, we. See the president, during these pool sessions, where the reporters come into the Oval Office and he'll, say a few words and that, gives us a glimpse under how President, Trump is handling, this this, political, moment this legal moment but based on your reporting and talking to top officials, what's it actually like right, now inside of the West Wing you. Know the president, is much more concerned about it than the, people around him in the White House and. You can see it in the tweets that he fires off in the comments, that he makes to reporters, all the time it's been this cloud that, has hovered over his presidency, for two years now and, he's. Anxious about it he's. Unsettled, by it and you, know the advisors are concerned too but at the end of the day this is about the president it's about the campaign and, as. Much as they can prepare for things and create a strategy it all depends on what he's going to end up doing and does he does, he blow a gasket when the report comes out we'll have to see but. There's nothing they can do to prepare for that as. Washington. And the president wait for that molar report, president. Trump will be traveling to Vietnam, for his second, summit with North Korean leader Kim jong-un, the first summit in Singapore last June produced an aspirational. Statement but. No concrete, commitment since then north, Korea has dismantled. An aging missile testing, site and stopped, nuclear tests the, United States suspended. Its joint military exercises. With South Korea, but, has not lifted sanctions. Sanctions. Are on in full as, you know I haven't taken sanctions, off I'd. Love to be able to but in order to do that we have to do something that's meaningful and the others side but. Chairman Kim and I have a very good relationship I wouldn't be surprised to see something, work. Out. Molly. Are we looking at a major deal, here something to end the Korean War to denuclearize. Or it's going to probably be a small ball, situation, if, there's a big deal being prepared behind the scenes it's not something that we've heard about so, far and we. What we've seen with these types of.
Negotiations. Summits that the president has done is that he doesn't do it the traditional way where you have a lot of your diplomats meet with their diplomats and do lay all the groundwork behind the scenes so you just have this nice thing to, release, with a bow on it when, you get there it's very much about the two men themselves being. In that room together and having, that great relationship now, the questions, that have been raised to be mostly about who, is that great relationship actually good for right is the United States giving, more than it's getting is it, is it chairman Kim who's really benefitting the most from, this arrangement the Koreans, have given some things up but I think there's a lot of pressure on this summit to produce real. Results not. Just a friendly handshake and I. Don't, think we're going to know whether. That's possible, whether whether the president can drive a hard bargain, until, the summit happens Amna the president, seems to have this position he's, told it to reporters, that he wants to not see further tests, on the, nuclear side from North Korea but his intelligence, officials have testified that they kind of accept that North Korea is not going to get rid of its weapons that Kim jong-un needs those weapons to keep hold on power, in his country a key tension. Point in these talks, forever. Has been how. Do we define denuclearization, and, we haven't reached consensus, on that the u.s. and North Korea are not on the same page about that yet when. When you look back to what happened in June of last year as Molly, mentioned a lot of symbolism not a lot of substance so the bar is higher this, time around they've got to come away with something. President, Trump has continued, to say that that good relationship means the threat has receded and we know that it has not his own intelligence, chiefs have told him it has not this is still a country that has anywhere from 20 to 60 nuclear. Weapons they still have two potential for their ICBM, their intercontinental. Ballistic missiles, to potentially, reach the continental United, States at some point so the threat is very much there what's. Happened in the time though when we're building this one-on-one relationship, between two, leaders is you've, given Kim leverage, a lot of people are saying there's not a lot of incentive for him to want to give anything up right now he's at the center of gravity and meanwhile you have other regional, players saying well, if there's a one-on-one relationship there. Maybe I can start mine too, he said three or four meetings with the Chinese president. With the South Korean president over the last year Russia's, restarted, gas pipeline, talks on the peninsula there's. Folks in there trying to gain influence and none of that is good for the United States so, you're gonna be heading to Vietnam I think it takes a few days for you to get there oh you're connecting, flights I saw Phil piling, up all his travel plans not an easy trip to, Vietnam you were in Singapore as well for the first summit and one of the details I always remember from your reporting then is this video the.
US Produced China almost like trying, to sell, chairman. Kim propaganda, a propaganda. Video about, capitalism, and about making North Korea a destination, for tourism is, that part of the pitch we're going to hear again very. Much so in my reporting this week leading up to the trip advisors. In the White House say Trump is fixated, on selling, North Korea as an, economic, hot spot as sort, of a potential, tourist magnet, in, that part of the world and making the case to chairman, Kim personally, from. Someone who's been a successful. Real estate developer, in New York you're. Sitting on a gold mine here if you open up North Korea to the west, you could have hotels you could have golf courses on the cliff you could you could draw in people from Beijing. From Seoul from Tokyo these bustling, economies. And and, make that pitch to, Kim and Kim seems you, know Trump thinks Kim would be receptive to that because he's sort of dazzled, by aspects. Of American, culture by our movies by our basketball, by the riches, of the US and. So that's the core here for Trump and, as. The president's abroad the, investigations. Are still there we've seen presidents, in the past mark, from, Richard Nixon on turn. Their eye abroad, as they face challenges here at home could. This be an out for president, Trump foreign policy, in this part of his first term well it certainly is something that he seems, committed to and the sort of Trump the dealmaker, seems, to want to make. A splash in this summit, right and that, could be problematic, from the perspective. Of State, Department officials intelligence, officials if he tries to sort of broker, peace deal that could hurt the denuclearization. But. The investigation. Is not going away it's not going away and, this show is not going away don't worry about it thanks everybody we have to leave it there our conversation, continues, on the Washington week extra and I meant it when I say we're not going away because starting, tonight we, will now stream the extra live on our web site YouTube, and Facebook starting. Real soon 8:30 p.m. Eastern every, week join, us I'm, Robert Kosta have a great weekend. You.