MUELLER FACT VS. MUELLER FICTION

March 26, 2019 at 4:30 am

It’s “The Day After.” Tonight, an examination of what we do and do not know about the Mueller report, the future of the investigation, and how New York’s Southern District Court could play a major role in any upcoming investigations of the president and the Trump family.

Aired on March 25, 2019. 

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> COMPLETE EXONERATION.
NO COLLUSION.
NO OBSTRUCTION.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.
PRESIDENT TRUMP IS CALLING IT A
COMPLETE AND TOTAL EXONERATION,
BUT IS HE RIGHT?
ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR
BRIEFED CONGRESS ON THE
LONG-AWAITED MUELLER REPORT ON
SUNDAY, WRITING THAT THE SPECIAL
COUNSEL DID NOT FIND THAT THE
TRUMP CAMPAIGN OR ANYONE
ASSOCIATED WITH IT CONSPIRED
WITH RUSSIA IN ITS EFFORTS TO
INFLUENCE THE 2016 ELECTION.
BUT IT'S A DIFFERENT STORY WHEN
IT COMES TO OBSTRUCTION.
ACCORDING TO BARR'S SUMMARY,
MUELLER DID NOT CONCLUDE THAT
THE PRESIDENT COMMITTED A CRIME,
BUT HE DID NOT EXONERATE THE
PRESIDENT EITHER.
INSTEAD, MUELLER PUNTED THE
FINAL DECISION TO BARR, A
TRUMP-APPOINTED OFFICIAL WHO
ALONG WITH DEPUTY AG ROD
ROSENSTEIN DECIDED THERE WAS NOT
SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE
PRESIDENT COMMITTED A CRIME.
IT'S NOT SITTING WELL WITH
DEMOCRATS, INCLUDING HOUSE
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
JERRY NADLER.
THE NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN TWEETED
THAT, QUOTE, IN LIGHT OF THE
VERY CONCERNING DISCREPANCIES
AND FINAL DECISION MAKING AT THE
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, WE WILL BE
CALLING ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR TO
TESTIFY BEFORE THE HOUSE
JUDICIARY IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
THE BACK AND FORTH COMES AS THE
PRESIDENT CONTINUES TO FACE BOTH
FEDERAL AND STATE INVESTIGATIONS
RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK, A
REMINDER THAT THIS IS FAR FROM
OVER.
FOR MORE ON THIS STORY, WE ARE
NOW JOINED BY CNN LEGAL ANALYST
AND COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL LECTURE
IN-LAW, JENNIFER RODGERS, AND
ELLIS SYNDICATE.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.
OVER THE WEEKEND THE PRESIDENT
SAID THE SUMMARY OF THE REPORT
WAS A COMPLETE AND TOTAL
EXONERATION OF HIM.
WAS IT?
>> NO, NO, OF COURSE IT WASN'T.
IF YOU BELIEVE THAT BARR
ACCURATELY SUMMARIZED THE
MUELLER REPORT, THEN IT DID SAY
THERE WILL BE NO CRIMINAL
CHARGES ON THE RUSSIA COLLUSION
ANGLE.
I DO THINK THE PRESIDENT HAS
GOOD CAUSE TO BE HAPPY ABOUT
THAT.
NO ONE WILL BE CRIMINALLY
CHARGED FOR THAT.
THAT'S IMPORTANT.
BUT IT DID NOT EXONERATE HIM ON
THE OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.
IN FACT, THE WORDS THAT MUELLER
USED, ACCORDING TO BARR, WAS
THAT HE WAS NOT EXONERATING THE
PRESIDENT ON THE OBSTRUCTION OF
JUSTICE.
SO IT CERTAINLY GOES WAY TOO FAR
FOR THE PRESIDENT TO SAY HE HAS
BEEN COMPLETELY EXONERATED,
ALTHOUGH NO CRIMINAL CHARGES
WILL BE FILED, WHICH IS
IMPORTANT.
>> ELLIS, YOUR TAKE ON THE
PRESIDENT'S WORDS?
>> I'M STILL WAITING TO SEE THE
MUELLER REPORT.
WE KNOW WHAT THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL, WHAT HIS VIEW OF THE
IMPORTANT POINTS OF IT ARE.
BUT THERE ARE SOME REASONS TO BE
DOUBTFUL ABOUT SOME OF THAT
ANALYSIS.
SO IS THIS A 20-PAGE REPORT OR A
2,000 PAGE REPORT?
WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE DOES IT
HAVE ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S
BEHAVIOR AND THOSE OF FOLKS
AROUND HIM?
BOY, WE'VE GOT OUR WORK CUT OUT
FOR US THE NEXT FEW MONTHS, I
THINK.
>> WERE YOU SURPRISED, JENNIFER,
AT HOW DEFINITIVE THE REPORT
SEEMS TO BE?
AGAIN, IF THE SUMMARY REFLECTS
THE REPORT ON THE LACK OF
COLLUSION BETWEEN THE TRUMP
CAMPAIGN AND THE RUSSIANS?
>> WELL, THE ISSUE IS I'M NOT
SURE HOW CONCLUSIVE THE REPORT
IS.
WHAT THE REPORT WILL DO, I
THINK, AND WE'LL HAVE TO WAIT TO
SEE IT, BUT IT WILL LAY OUT ALL
THE EVIDENCE ON BOTH SIDES.
IT WILL SAY HERE'S WHAT WE
FOUND.
WE TALKED TO ALL THESE
WITNESSES.
WE SUBPOENAED ALL THESE
DOCUMENTS.
AND HERE IS WHAT WE LEARNED.
FROM THAT, IT APPEARS THAT
MUELLER DID CONCLUDE THERE WAS
NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO BRING A
CRIMINAL CHARGE.
BUT REMEMBER, THAT DOESN'T MEAN
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE IMPLICATING
THE PRESIDENT OR ANYONE ELSE IN
INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR.
AND THE BAR FOR CRIMINAL
PROSECUTION IS VERY HIGH.
THEY WOULD HAVE HAD TO FIND THAT
THEY COULD PROVE THESE CASES
BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.
SO THAT'S VERY HIGH.
MUCH HIGHER THAN THE STANDARD,
FOR EXAMPLE, FOR CONGRESS TO
INVESTIGATE AND POTENTIALLY TAKE
ACTION.
SO, YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT ALL THE
WAY THERE.
BUT IT DOESN'T SURPRISE ME THAT
MUELLER IS DEFINITIVE IN THE
SENSE OF SAYING NO CRIMINAL
CHARGES CAN BE BROUGHT HERE.
>> AND WHY DID HE PUNT ON THE
ISSUE OF OBSTRUCTION?
ISN'T THAT HIS JOB, TO MAKE THE
CALLS?
>> THIS IS THE BIGGEST MYSTERY
TO ME THAT I REALLY DON'T
UNDERSTAND.
IT WAS MUELLER'S JOB TO
INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE
ANYTHING THAT COULD BE
PROSECUTED.
AND THE REASON THAT HE WAS
APPOINTED IN THE FIRST PLACE IS
HE IS INDEPENDENT OF THE
PRESIDENT.
THE SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATIONS
ACTUALLY HAVE AS A REQUIREMENT
FOR PUTTING A SPECIAL COUNSEL IN
THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE A CONFLICT
OF INTEREST FOR THE DEPARTMENT
OF JUSTICE TO INVESTIGATE THE
MATTER.
SO HE IS THE INDEPENDENT PERSON
WHO REALLY SHOULD BE MAKING THIS
DECISION, AND NO ONE KNOWS THESE
FACTS BETTER THAN ROBERT
MUELLER.
SO FOR THOSE TWO REASONS, HE
REALLY OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN THE
ONE TO SAY HERE ARE THE FACTS.
HERE IS MY ASSESSMENT OF THE
LAW.
AND HERE IS DID THE PRESIDENT
OBSTRUCT JUSTICE OR NOT.
SO I REALLY DON'T UNDERSTAND HIS
DECISION NOT TO DO THAT DUTY.
>> ELLIS, DO YOU THINK THAT THE
ISSUE OF OBSTRUCTION, THE FACT
THAT HE WAS NOT EXONERATED BY
MUELLER, IS THAT A SUFFICIENT
PEG FOR THE CONGRESSIONAL
DEMOCRATS TO HANG AN IMPEACHMENT
ON THE PRESIDENT?
>> WELL, I HATE TO JUMP RIGHT TO
THE POLITICS, RAFAEL, BUT LET'S
JUMP RIGHT TO THE POLITICS,
BECAUSE IN THE END, THAT'S WHAT
REALLY MATTERS.
IF WE CONCEDE THAT IT'S
UNLIKELY, MAYBE EVEN LEGALLY
IMPOSSIBLE TO INDICT THE
PRESIDENT WHILE HE IS IN OFFICE,
REALLY, IT'S A POLITICAL
QUESTION.
AND I THINK YOU GOT TO SAY A
COUPLE OF THINGS ABOUT THAT.
ONE IS IT IS A BIG VICTORY FOR
THE PRESIDENT.
IT DID ALLOW HIM AND HIS
SUPPORTERS TO CLAIM TOTAL
EXONERATION, EVEN IF WE KNOW
THAT'S NOT QUITE WHAT MUELLER
SAID.
BUT AS THIS PLAYS OUT IN
CONGRESS, WHICH IS WHERE IT WILL
GO NEXT AND INTO PUBLIC
DISCUSSIONS LIKE THIS ONE, THE
ANSWERS ARE MUCH MORE
COMPLICATED THAN THAT.
WHAT'S THE EVIDENCE THERE?
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED ABOUT HIS
BEHAVIOR AND THOSE OF OTHERS
AROUND HIM?
AND THOSE THINGS WILL DETERMINE
HOW IT IS THIS BALANCES IN THE
END.
>> JENNIFER, ASIDE FROM THE
ISSUE OF OBSTRUCTION, IT SEEMS
LIKE THE BIGGEST FIGHT THE
CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS ARE
GOING TO TAKE TO THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL IS THE ISSUE OF FULL
DISCLOSURE OF THE REPORT.
TO WHAT DEGREE WOULD THE
ATTORNEY GENERAL BE JUSTIFIED TO
KEEP THINGS AWAY FROM CONGRESS
AND THE PUBLIC?
AND TO WHAT DEGREE IS HE OBLIGED
TO PRESENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE?
>> WELL, HE IS NOT REALLY
OBLIGED TO GIVE ANYTHING OVER.
PURSUANT TO THE SPECIAL COUNSEL
REGS, HE DOESN'T HAVE TO MAKE
ANYTHING PUBLIC.
BILL BARR HAS PLEDGED TO DO SO
AS MUCH AS HE CAN.
ONE IS GRAND JURY MATERIALS.
THE LAW SAYS YOU CAN'T JUST HAND
OVER GRAND JURY MATERIALS.
THEY ARE SECRET UNLESS A JUDGE
SAYS OTHERWISE.
SO THAT'S ONE CATEGORY.
CLASSIFIED INFORMATION IS
ANOTHER CATEGORY, RIGHT.
YOU CAN'T DISCLOSE THAT WITHOUT
IT BEING UNCLASSIFIED, AND THERE
ARE PROBABLY PRETTY GOOD REASONS
TO KEEP SOME OF THE INFORMATION
ABOUT SOURCES AND METHODS
CLASSIFIED HERE.
AND THEN THERE IS THIS NOTION OF
THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
POLICIES, WHICH ARE TO NOT
DISCLOSE DEROGATORY INFORMATION
ABOUT SOMEONE WHO IS NOT
CHARGED.
>> IN OTHER WORDS, NOT DO COMEY
LIKE HE DID ON CLINTON.
>> AND THAT'S GOING TO BE A BIG
QUESTION HERE, BECAUSE A LOT OF
PEOPLE THINK IT'S UNFAIR FOR DOJ
TO SAY, ON THE OTHER HAND, WE'RE
NOT GOING TO CHARGE HIM BECAUSE
OF OUR OWN POLICY.
ON THE OTHER HAND, WE'RE NOT
GOING TO RELEASE DEROGATORY
INFORMATION.
AND A FOURTH BUCKET WOULD BE
EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE INFORMATION.
>> BUT DESPITE ALL THAT, YOU'RE
ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ON THE LAW AND
THE POLICIES.
THIS INFORMATION WANTS TO BE
FREE, AND THERE IS HUGE PRESSURE
TO GET IT OUT THERE.
THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE
LOOKING FOR IT.
IT'S COMING OUT.
IT'S COMING OUT.
>> WHEN DEVIN NUNES WAS CHAIR OF
THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE IN
CONGRESS, HE RELEASED THE NUNES
MEMO, IT WAS THE DEMOCRATS THAT
SAY YOU CAN'T.
IT'S TOO RISKY TO DO THAT.
THEY CAN'T GO BACK.
>> IT'S COMING.
SERIOUSLY.
IT IS COMING.
THERE ARE SOME REALLY AGGRESSIVE
AND SMART REPORTERS WHO ARE
LOOKING FOR IT.
THERE ARE A LOT OF POLITICIANS
THAT HAVE POLITICAL ADVANTAGE
FOR GETTING IT OUT THERE.
YOU WILL NOT KEEP THIS SECRET
FOREVER.
>> SO THE DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS
AND THE DEMOCRATS IN GENERAL
SEEM TO BE NOT TOO HAPPY ABOUT
THE FACT THAT MUELLER SEEMS NOT
TO HAVE FOUND ANY REASON TO
CHARGE TRUMP AND HIS PEOPLE FROM
COLLUDING WITH THE RUSSIANS.
BUT I SAW A PERSON IN THE STREET
INTERVIEW WHERE A WOMAN SAID
LOOK, I AM NO FAN OF PRESIDENT
TRUMP, BUT I AND ALL AMERICANS
SHOULD BE GLAD THAT THEY DIDN'T
FIND COLLUSION.
IS SHE RIGHT?
>> WELL, I GUESS THAT'S RIGHT.
AND LET ME GIVE YOU ANOTHER
REASON THAT EVEN THE POLITICALLY
AMBITIOUS DEMS OUGHT TO BE HAPPY
ABOUT IT.
WE KNOW FROM THE PUBLIC REACTION
TO THIS CASE
BEGINNING, IT IS NOT SOMETHING
THAT HAS ANIMATED MANY VOTERS.
YOU COME UP WITH A LIST OF 20
THINGS PEOPLE CARE ABOUT, AND
IT'S DOWN AT 18 OR 19.
IF THIS HAS THE EFFECT OF
FREEING DEMOCRATS WHETHER
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES OR IN
CONGRESS TO FOCUS ON STUFF THAT
MOST AMERICANS CARE ABOUT, THIS
DESPITE THE FEELING TODAY OF A
LITTLE BIT OF DEFLATION, IT
REALLY MIGHT BE A POLITICAL
ADVANTAGE.
>> YOU KNOW, JENNIFER, CHRIS
MATTHEWS SAID THAT MUELLER LET
TRUMP OFF THE HOOK BY NOT
INSISTING THAT HE BE INTERVIEWED
BY THE MUELLER INVESTIGATORS.
IS CHRIS MATTHEWS RIGHT?
>> YOU KNOW, IT'S HARD TO SAY.
THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THEY
WERE RIGHT TO ASK FOR THE
INTERVIEW OF TRUMP.
THEY EVENTUALLY DID GET SOME
WRITTEN QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
BUT YOU TYPICALLY DON'T
INTERVIEW THE TARGET OF YOUR
INVESTIGATION.
>> REALLY?
>> ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU START TO
TALK ABOUT AN OBSTRUCTION CASE
WHERE TRUMP WAS UNQUESTIONABLY
THE TARGET OF THAT CRIMINAL
INVESTIGATION, COMMON PRACTICES,
YOU DON'T ACTUALLY INTERVIEW
THAT PERSON BECAUSE THAT PERSON
IS GOING TO TAKE THE FIFTH,
WHICH THEY SHOULD DO BECAUSE
THEY'RE THE TARGET.
THIS WHOLE THING ABOUT THE
INTERVIEW, I THINK IT WAS REALLY
MORE A POLITICAL ISSUE ALMOST IF
YOU WILL THAN A LEGAL ISSUE
BECAUSE IT LOOKED BAD.
IS HE GOING TO TAKE THE FIFTH?
THAT LOOKS BAD.
BUT LEGALLY, IT'S REALLY
COMMODITY COMMENTED TO GET THAT
INTERVIEW, AT LEAST ON THE
OBSTRUCTION SIDE.
IT'S DIFFERENT ON THE SO-CALLED
COLLUSION SIDE, BUT THEY DID GET
AT LEAST THE WRITTEN QUESTIONS
FOR THAT.
>> CONGRESSMAN NADLER, THE HEAD
OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE IN
CONGRESS, HE IS GOING TO
CONTINUE TO PURSUE THIS, BECAUSE
MUELLER'S INVESTIGATION WAS
NARROW IN SCOPE.
SO HE IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO
INVESTIGATE RUSSIA.
WE KNOW THAT THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S
OFFICE IN MANHATTAN IS GOING TO
BE INVESTIGATING OTHER THINGS.
AT WHAT POINT DO THESE
INVESTIGATIONS BEGIN TO LOOK TO
AMERICANS LIKE THE POST IS BEING
MOVED.
WHEN DOES IT BEGIN TO LOOK LIKE
KEN STARR'S INQUISITION OF
CLINTON?
>> IT WILL DEPEND ON WHAT FACTS
COME FORWARD.
I THINK IT'S HIGHLY LIKELY THERE
ARE SOME VERY RICH VEINS TO
EXPLORE IN THE BEHAVIOR OF
DONALD TRUMP, HIS COMPANY, HIS
FAMILY MEMBERS AND THOSE AROUND
HIM.
IF SIX MONTHS FROM NOW NOTHING
VERY TITILLATING HAS COME OUT,
NOTHING VERY DAMAGING HAS COME
OUT, THEN MAYBE IT WILL SEEM
LIKE THAT.
BUT I DON'T THINK WE'RE THERE
YET.
>> YOU USED TO WORK AT THE U.S.
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IN MANHATTAN.
WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING AT?
>> WELL, THEY'RE LOOKING AT A
FEW THINGS, RIGHT?
THEY HAVE THE MICHAEL COHEN
MATTER, WHICH ENCOMPASSES THE
CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATION, THE
HUSH MONEY PAYOUTS TO KAREN
McDOUGAL AND STORMY DANIELS,
WHICH THEY HAVE ALREADY FOUND
IMPLICATES THE PRESIDENT
CRIMINALLY.
SO THAT'S A VERY INTERESTING
THING WHERE THEY'RE GOING TO GO
WITH THAT.
AND WE KNOW THAT THEY'RE NOT
DONE WITH THAT YET BECAUSE EVEN
WHEN THEY RELEASED THE MICHAEL
COHEN SEARCH WARRANT MATERIALS A
WEEK AND A HALF OR SO AGO, THEY
REDACTED EVERYTHING OUT ABOUT
THAT CASE.
SO THEY'RE NOT DONE WITH THAT.
THEY HAVE AN INVESTIGATION INTO
THE INAUGURAL COMMITTEE AND
WHETHER FOREIGN SOURCES OF MONEY
WENT IN THERE AND ALSO QUESTIONS
ABOUT HOW THAT MONEY WAS SPENT.
AND THEN I THINK THEY'RE LOOKING
AT THINGS RELATED TO THE TRUMP
ORGANIZATION.
THERE WAS THE COHEN TESTIMONY
ABOUT POTENTIAL INSURANCE FRAUD.
AND TO ME, IF THERE MUST BE
OTHER CORPORATE AREAS OF INQUIRY
THERE, TAX FRAUD, BANK FRAUD,
ACCOUNTING FRAUD AND THOSE SORTS
OF THINGS.
SO I THINK THEY'RE TAKING A HARD
LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE THINGS, AND
WE'LL HAVE TO SEE WHAT THEY
FIND.
>> TRUMP SHOULD BE WORRIED?
>> I THINK HE IS WORRIED.
I MEAN, THIS WAS A VERY GOOD DAY
FOR HIM, DON'T GET ME WRONG.
THE COLLUSION THING WAS BY FAR
THE WORST THING THAT HE WAS
POTENTIALLY ALLEGED TO HAVE
DONE, I THINK.
BUT THESE OTHER THINGS ARE
SERIOUS, AND THEY COULD RESULT
IN LEGAL LIABILITY.
>> QUICKLY, ELLIS, A QUESTION
ABOUT THE MEDIA.
OVER THE WEEKEND, ROLLING STONES
MATT TAIBBI WROTE IT'S OFFICIAL,
RUSSIAN GIVE HIS GENERATION WMD,
SUBTITLED THE IRAQ WAR,
FACE-PLANT DAMAGE TO THE
REPUTATION OF THE PRESS.
RUSSIAGATE JUST DESTROYED IT.
WHERE WE IN THE PRESS TOO
INVESTED IN BELIEVING THE
COLLUSION STORY?
>> I DON'T THINK SO.
MATT PROBABLY SHOULD TAKE A COLD
SHOWER ON THIS.
LET'S SEE HOW IT LOOKS IN A
COUPLE OF WEEKS.
THE UNDERLYING QUESTION HERE,
WHATEVER THE LEVEL OF CRIMINAL
PROOF, AND THAT'S A VERY HIGH
STANDARD, AS WE ALL KNOW, BUT
LISTEN, THIS IS THE MOST SERIOUS
STUFF IMAGINABLE.
WHAT ROLE DO THE RUSSIANS PLAY
IN INFLUENCING THE ELECTION?
WHAT ROLE DID THE PRESIDENT AND
THOSE AROUND HIM PLAY IN
ENCOURAGING OR AT LEAST FAILING
TO REPORT THAT.
THOSE ARE REALLY, REALLY BIG
QUESTIONS.
MAN, WE'VE GOT TO GET TO THE
BILL OF THEM.
AND WE MAY STILL NEED TO GET TO
IT WHEN THE STANDARDS ARE A
LITTLE DIFFERENT.
>> ALL RIGHT.
WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO END IT
THERE.
JENNIFER, ELLIS, THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR JOINING US TO TALK
ABOUT THIS.
GOOD SEEING YOU GUYS.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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