A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, March 24, 2019 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Robert Mueller wraps his report.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN REPORTER: Breaking news, the investigation is now over.
NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR: This is monumental.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The intensity of anticipation now goes into hyperdrive.
STEPHANOPOULOS: His final report, now in the hands of Attorney General William Barr. Congress has been notified.
Barr decides how much we’ll see.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let it come out, let people see it. That’s up to the attorney general, we have a very good attorney general.
REP. JERROLD NADLER, D-NEW YORK: The Mueller report must be made public.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIFORNIA: We’re going to insist upon it.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINNESOTA: This isn’t just about politics, it’s about our democracy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The attorney general’s summary of Mueller’s conclusions could be sent to Congress as early as today. President Trump and his team celebrating the news of no new indictments, but does Mueller’s underlying report include damning evidence of obstruction of justice? Will it be shared with Congress? All the fallout this morning with our political team. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, and the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, Congressman Jim Jordan, will break down the politics, smoke out the spin, to facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s This Week. Here now, Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to This Week. Twenty-two months, $25 million, 37 indictments including six close associates of President Trump. That’s just some of what we know about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The best news for President Trump, Mueller wrapped up his work without issuing any new indictments. That made for a happy Friday night in Mar-a-Lago. What isn’t known yet, how did Mueller reach that decision? What else did he discover about contacts between the Trump team and Russia during the 2016 campaign?
Does he believe that President Trump obstructed justice by interfering with the investigation? Some answers may be coming as soon as today. Attorney General William Barr has the entire Mueller Report. He’s been reviewing it since Friday afternoon and he’s going to decide how much of Mueller’s report Congress and all of us get to see. And investigations started by Mueller have been farmed out to at least four other U.S. Attorneys. So the last shoe has not dropped and the next phase of this battle, full of traps and challenges for both President Trump and the Democrats who want to push him out of the White House.
We’re going to analyze all the fallout this morning. We start with our correspondents on the frontlines of this case; Jon Karl at the White House, Mary Bruce on Capitol Hill, Pierre Thomas at the Justice Department. And Pierre, what’s been happening there since Barr got the report Friday afternoon?
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: George, Barr has been studying Mueller’s confidential report and providing a summary – working on providing a summary of his key findings. He was in the office all day yesterday, joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel and who has been overseeing the investigation every step of the way.
Sources say he’ll be back in sometime this morning to continue that work. And the hope is that he’ll finish the summary on key findings and then release it to Congress and the press later today. That’s the hope, at least, but no guarantee just yet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Pierre, is there any idea yet – do we have any good sense of how long the Mueller report is and how long Barr’s summary is going to be?
THOMAS: George, right now it’s a state secret. I’ve never seen anything like it. A source yesterday told me that it was, quote, "quite comprehensive" but refused to give the exact number of pages. I think Barr’s competing with his old friend Mueller to see who can keep the best secrets, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mueller was pretty good at that so far. He’s also promised to consult with Robert Mueller about what more can be released to Congress later.
THOMAS: We’re waiting on the summary, George, which should answer the question, was there collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign? And did the president obstruct justice? And after that, as you said, Barr, Rosenstein, and Mueller will continue to go through the report to see what, if anything, can be released to Congress and to the press. But right now, that’s where the fight is going to be because Congress is going to want every word, every syllable, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Barr understandably has not commented on the investigation since becoming Attorney General but you know, before he took office, he was quite skeptical of the obstruction of justice charges.
THOMAS: He – he absolutely was skeptical of prosecutors overreaching, given his belief that the president has authority as chief executive to fire people in his administration. He made clear he was narrowly talking about the firing of James Comey based on what was known publicly. He later clarified in his confirmation hearing that any decision had to be guided by the evidence and he acknowledged he did not have all the facts when he wrote the opinion in the case, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Pierre, I know you’re going to be on standby all day. Let’s go to the White House. Jon Karl is there. Been – President Trump uncharacteristically quiet, especially on social media over the weekend, until about 8 o’clock this morning. "Good morning, have a great day" from the president. A sunny tweet from President Trump. What’s been going on behind the scenes?
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well George, prepared for the worst, the president’s top aides traveled with him to Mar-a-Lago. Now, the president appears relaxed. One top aide said he is in a great mood. There is a clear sense of relief that there are no more indictments, George. For all of the speculation after 22 months of investigation, not a single member of the Trump family was charged with everything.
But while there is that sense of relief, it is a cautious sense of relief. The president’s legal team is keenly aware that there still may be damaging information in the Mueller report, damaging information particularly on the question of obstruction of justice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We know you informed – or at least their team was informed of no indictments some time ago. What more do they know about the report if anything?
KARL: Well as of this morning, I am told the president and his legal team still have not been briefed on the Mueller report. In fact, the president appears to be uncertain of how Bill Barr will handle the next steps.
But what they are preparing for, George, is a big fight over how much of the full report is released to the public, and not just the report, Mueller compiled more than a million pages of documents over the course of his investigation and hundreds of hours of interviews with some of the president’s top advisors.
Congress is going to want all of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well Congress wants all of it, you asked the president about that just a couple days ago, he said it wanted it all out as well. Is that really true?
KARL: They will – they will fight to make sure much of that never sees the light of day.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And they do believe – or they want everyone to believe that the Mueller report is the final word.
KARL: Absolutely, and what they are going to say is you had 22 months of investigation into the question of Russian interference, the idea that Congress would reopen that and litigate that again when Mueller had virtually unlimited resources, virtually unlimited time to investigate, they will say that is ridiculous.
But George, make no mistake, this is not the end. There are investigations that go far beyond Russia, there are continuing criminal investigations particularly at the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and of course Democrats in Congress are just getting started.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s take that to Mary Bruce, who covers Congress for us, our senior congressional correspondent. Thank you, John. And of course as we just heard from John, Mary, Democrats in Congress say we’re a separate branch of government, we have different constitutional duties.
MARY BRUCE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Yeah, George, and Democrats here are rallying the troops. Speaker Pelosi having a conference call with her members yesterday, making the argument that Americans deserve the full truth here.
They are ramping up the pressure to get not just the full report, but also that underlying evidence. And on that call I’m told Pelosi told her members that she’ll reject any classified briefing on the report, arguing that that would simply shield the public from the full findings.
George, Democrats are making very clear they are going to want every detail, every single scrap of paper, every single note and document about this investigation. And George, they are willing to use their subpoena power in order to get it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, Republicans voted for that too, the vote in the House to release this report is 420 to nothing. What else is the GOP doing now to prepare?
BRUCE: Well right now they are in a wait and see mode, until they see Barr’s initial conclusions. But they are of course relieved and welcoming the news of no new indictments.
But as you mentioned, they have been calling for transparency, they also want the full report to be made public. But right now politically at least George, they’re holding their fire for now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mary, a number of Democratic House chairmen on that call yesterday as well making it very clear that all of their investigations are going to continue.
BRUCE: Yes, George, Democrats are not going to wait to see Mueller’s report to continue their work here. They are ramping up scores of their own investigations into the Trump administration, looking into everything from abuses of power to conflicts of interest to the president’s finances.
So the Trump administration and this president are going to continue to be under an intense microscope here on the hill for quite some time, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK Mary Bruce, thanks very much. I’m here with our Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams. Let’s walk through the regulations here you’ve seen. You’ve got some anonymity, but this all should be released.
And according to the regulations, it’s basically all up to the attorney general.
DAN ABRAMS, CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: That’s right. So there’s certain information which he must explain, that would have been if the special counsel had been fired, or if there had been a disagreement where they had overruled the special counsel.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And apparently there were none of those.
ABRAMS: And apparently there were none. So those were the musts, now we’re in the mays. The mays, it’s up to the attorney general. He’s allowed to decide what is in the public interest and what is not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there are several reasons he could cite for leaving – for holding onto the report, not revealing certain information.
ABRAMS: Right, the strongest arguments, the first bucket is classified information, grand jury information, ongoing investigations. Those are the easiest ones to say you know what, we can’t release information about that.
The harder ones are then executive privilege, where the president is saying I had private conversations with people and that shouldn’t be released, and the typical Justice Department policy which is we don’t talk about people who were not indicted.
Now – and that’s where James Comey –
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Rod Rosenstein – and that’s what James Comey –
ABRAMS: That’s what James Comey got in trouble for.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Rod Rosenstein has said that should be department policy.
ABRAMS: Right, the problem with that is it’s a specific provision in the special counsel law which says that he may make it public, which makes this different than a typical federal investigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things that could make it easier to let out at least some of the information, apparently Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not go to grand jury on the obstruction questions, those were just interviews.
ABRAMS: Right, so then you rule out that as a possible explanation. Right, so you can’t say, well there’s grand jury information here. Now we’re back to that – that bottom line question is can they release information about things that were not indicted.
And it’s specifically Mueller is required by the special counsel regulations to explain decisions that they made not to indict, what are called declinations. The question is will Barr make then make that material public.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And of course, you know, the president has the power to declassify anything he wants, to order the attorney general to release everything.
ABRAMS: Absolutely. And the real fight of course is going to be with Congress subpoenaing. It's pretty clear it’s going to get to a point where Congress is going to say, we want to see the whole thing, they're going to subpoena it and then you have a real legal fight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You and I were talking about this before we went on the air. With former solicitor General Neal Katyal has said that Congress is definitely going to win that fight. Are you sure?
ABRAMS: I'm not as sure. I think it’s going to be a tough fight. I mean because look, there's an argument to be made that the statute was written in a particular way and if -- if the -- if they had wanted all information to be made public, they could have said it in the statute. It doesn't say that. It leaves the discretion to the attorney general. I think that it’s going to be a long and protracted, legally interesting fight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dan Abrams, thanks very much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in now the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Chairman Schiff, thank you for joining us this morning.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the biggest news from Robert Mueller so far is that there are no new indictments for that underlying -- any cooperating with and conspiracy with the Russians to interfere in our elections. And we’re already seeing Rudy Giuliani come out with a tweet about that yesterday, citing you. He said your previous statement saying there is significant evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign. I trust he, Adam Schiff, is relieved there is no collusion and I hope he will apologize for his mistake. We all make them. The real virtue is to admit it. It would help us heal. You going to apologize?
SCHIFF: I think Mr. Giuliani would be wise to wait until the report is made public before making any pronouncements about vindication. And likewise, people should wait to determine just how incriminating it is. We know the special counsel was not permitted to indict a sitting president and we ought to see what evidence he produced, both on the issue of conspiracy as well as on the issue obstruction of justice. So Mr. Giuliani would be wise to do something he has rarely done and that is wait until we see the facts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have said, though, in the past there was significant evidence of collusion. How do you square that with Robert Mueller's decision not to indict anyone?
SCHIFF: And there is significant evidence of collusion and we’ve set that out time and time again from the secret meetings in Trump Tower to the conversations between Flynn, and the Russian ambassador to the providing of polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence and Stone’s conversation with WikiLeaks and the GRU through Guccifer 2.0 --
STEPHANOPOULOS: None of it prosecuted.
SCHIFF: No, that's true. And as I pointed out on your show many times, there's a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy and as I’ve said before, George, I leave that decision to Bob Mueller and I have full confidence in him. And I think frankly the country owes Bob Mueller a debt of gratitude for conducting the investigation as professionally as he has. So I -- I have trust his prosecutorial judgment but that doesn't mean, of course, that there isn’t compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What you're seeing some of the president's allies already say is this is vindication for the president.
SCHIFF: Well they’ve been saying with each indictment that it's a vindication that now, about six people close to the president have been indicted. That hardly looks like vindication to me. But again, let’s see what the report has to say. If they’re so confident that the report is going to exonerate them, they should fight to make that report and the underlying evidence public and available to Congress. But I suspect that we’ll find those words of transparency to prove hollow, that in fact they will fight to make sure that Congress doesn't get this underlying evidence.
But we are going to take it as far as necessary to make sure that we do. We have an independent obligation to share the facts with the American people. We in the intelligence committee have a particular obligation to determine whether there is evidence whether that the president may be compromised in any way, where that is criminal or not and of course there are indications he was pursuing money in Russia through Trump Tower and other potential real estate that could be deeply compromising.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you’re going to take it as far as necessary. That means subpoena first, then sue?
SCHIFF: It means make the request, if the question request denied, subpoena. If the subpoenas are denied, we will haul people before the Congress. And yes, we will prosecute in court as necessary to get this information. And you know, I’ll say this, I think that Neal Katyal’s prognostication is quite correct, we will win that litigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why are you so sure?
SCHIFF: -- the Justice Department will be -- well, because how do you make the case as the Justice Department that after providing 880,000 pages of discovery to a Republican Congress and answered to subpoenas that somehow you're precluded from providing that information to Congress in the Trump investigation. When likewise in the Clinton investigation, there were no indictments for Rod Rosenstein or others to say, it's our policy not the share information with those not indicted, they should explain that to Bruce Ohr or Andy McCabe or Peter Strzok or Lisa Page or countless others -- Hillary Clinton, for whom they provided hundreds of thousands of pages of information to Congress, much of it made public.
So, I would hate to defend that double standard in court, and if they try they'll not only lose, but they will damage any reputation for impartiality, so I think they need to be transparent, and I hope they recognize that.
SCHIFF: I don't know. That's a difficult charge to prove. When we released the transcript, people can make their own judgment about how truthful or forthcoming they were.
But as I said at the time, I wanted the special couple to be able to review the transcripts, not just for the purpose of determining whether people lied to us, as indeed, people did, but also what evidence they show on the central issues that he was investigating.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is no public evidence that Robert Mueller even interviewed Don Jr. We now he didn't interview the president. Mistake?
SCHIFF: Yes. I think -- and I have said this all along, it was a mistake to rely on written responses by the president, that is generally more what the lawyer has to say than what the individual has to say. I can certainly understand why the lawyers like Giuliani were fighting this, because the president is someone who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth for long periods of time.
But nonetheless, if you really do want the truth, you need to put people under oath. And that should have been done, but the special counsel may have made the decision that, as he could not indict a sitting president on the obstruction issue, as it would draw out his investigation, that that didn't make sense.
And one other point in terms of the timing of this report, George, which I think is significant, and that is this report has come out so far in advance of the election that the contents can be made public, that the public can have that access to information without violating any policy about disclosure prior to an election. And that’s very important.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned that the criminal investigation was only one part of Robert Mueller's job. He also took over the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference, as well.
I was a little puzzled that the Speaker is ruling out any classified briefing about that counterintelligence investigation. Isn't that the normal course of business for your committee and the so-called Gang of Eight?
SCHIFF: There may be a time down the road with respect to specific classified information that goes to a source or method where they would want to brief us on that. But I think what the Speaker is saying, and I completely agree is, do not think you can bury this report. Do not think you can bury the evidence in secret by briefing eight people in Congress and say we have discharged our responsibility. That's not going to cut it.
So it is essential that the report be made completely public, and the reservations that you have mentioned, the legal issues. One thing is abundantly clear about the special counsel regulations, and that is the attorney general has the discretion to make it completely public. And if he's going to live up to his words that he will do so consistent with law and policy, that means making it all public.
So, I think the Speaker is quite right. There are key counterintelligence concerns that we have as the committee, the intelligence committee, and remember this began as a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal one, and in our committee it remains a counterintelligence investigation. We need to be able to see any evidence that this president or people around him maybe compromised by a foreign power. And we, of course, seen all kinds of disturbing indications that this president has a relationship with Putin that is very difficult to justify or explain.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned -- you told the San Francisco chronicle on Friday if there is no bombshell, there is no impeachment. Does no in up indictments qualify as no bombshell?
SCHIFF: Not necessarily, because again, George, as you pointed out, they can't indict the president. That's their policy. And therefore there could be overwhelming evidence on the obstruction issue. And I don't know that that's the case, but if this were overwhelming evidence of criminality on the president's part, then the Congress would need to consider that remedy if indictment is foreclosed.
So, it's really too early to make those judgments. We need to see the report. And then I think we'll all have a factual basis to discuss, what does this mean for the American people? What risks are we running with this president? What steps does Congress need to take to protect the country, but in the absence of those facts, those judgments are impossible to make?
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, some of your Republican colleagues are saying that by continuing this investigation after Mueller is done, you're moving the goalposts.
SCHIFF: The investigation is a criminal investigation. Congress's responsibility is very different, and that is, it's our responsibility to tell the American people these are the facts. This is what your president has done, this is what his key campaign and appointees have done, these are the issues that we need to take action on, this is potential compromise. There is evidence, for example, quite in the public realm, that the president sought to make money from the Russians, sought the Kremlin's help to make money during the presidential campaign while denying business ties with the Russians. That is obviously deeply compromising. And if it’s this president's view that he still wants to build that tower when he is out of office, that may further compromise his policy towards Putin, towards Russia and other things. It's our duty to expose that and take corrective action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chairman Schiff, thanks for your time this morning.
SCHIFF: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the view from the Democrats. Up next, one of the president's strongest House defenders, Congressman Jim Jordan responds live.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there is President Trump down in Florida yesterday, about to head to the golf course. A couple of thumbs up, mostly quiet though this weekend. But we are joined now by one of his top defenders in the House, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, Jim Jordan.
Congressman thank you for joining us this morning.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO, RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: You bet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Chairman Schiff right there, he says the fact that there are no new indictments is not necessarily vindication for the president. You agree?
JORDAN: Well we’ve got to read the report, but what I do know is to date not one bit of evidence to show any type of coordination, collusion, conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election.
And that was the charge, George, when this thing started almost two years ago. The Democrats were all saying that the president of the United States worked with a hostile foreign country to steal the election, and again, there has not been one bit of evidence to suggest that any of that happened.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well there’s been a fair amount of evidence that 14 – 14 associated of Trump had over 100 contacts with the Russians, even though you’re quite right, there is no charge of conspiracy.
Does any of the information that’s been revealed about those contacts or about the fact that so many in the Trump world lied about those contacts concern you?
JORDAN: Well I mean look, the central charge of the special counsel was to see if there was conspiracy, coordination or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to impact the election.
As I’ve said, that was the focus of the – of the entire special counsel investigation. We’ve not seen any of that. And again, remember, this is Bob Mueller, this was the guy the Democrats and the – everyone in town said this is the guy we need for the job.
He is the best person we can pick. He is – he is right next to Jesus, he can almost walk on water, this is the guy and – and he will have the definitive statement on that fundamental question.
We’ll see the report, but all indications are that there’s not going to be any finding of any collusion whatsoever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the other concern that – one of the other concerns that Chairman Schiff raised right there, the fact that President Trump might be compromised because he was pursuing that Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign, not telling the truth about it, may still be pursuing it today.
JORDAN: Come on, George, I mean look, here’s what’s happened. They – they don’t think this Mueller report’s going to be the bombshell they all anticipated it was going to be. So now they’re launching all kind of other charges, all kinds of other investigations.
They bring in Michael Cohen a few weeks ago, this was their first big hearing, their first star witness, their first announced witness of the 116th Congress, a guy who’s going to prison in six weeks for lying to Congress.
They bring him in and what does he do? He lies again. We think at least seven times under oath in front of the Congress again. So that didn’t – that didn’t work for him, now what’s Chairman Nadler do?
Eighty-one different letters to 60 some different individuals starting a whole new fishing expedition. This is how they operate. So if it’s not the bombshell they wanted, they bring in Cohen, that doesn’t work, that hearing is a flop.
Then they go with Chairman Nadler and 81 different letters sent out there. This is how the Democrats are going to operate. We just got to be used to it and understand that that’s where they’re going to go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you stand by your vote that the country should see – Congress should see the entire Mueller report?
JORDAN: The attorney general was clear in his letter, it was a short letter Friday, but there was a lot of important things he said in there. He said he’s going to consult with Rod Rosenstein, he’s going to consult with the Special Counsel Bob Mueller, and he’s going to release as much as he possibly can consistent with the law.
I think the Democrats should be – that should be what we all want, an attorney general who operates according to the law. So I’m – I’m for erring on the side of transparency, Bill Barr said that –
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you voted to have the whole thing released, you didn’t have those qualifications in the vote.
JORDAN: Yes we did, consistent with the law, that’s what we want. And – and I think the Democrats would want the same thing too. But I’ll tell you this, George, if he’s going to release all the information, then I want all of it released. I want those 302s, I want the conversations between Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele, the guy who wrote the dossier, Glenn Simpson, the guy the Clinton campaign hired to put the dossier together.
I want all those conversations that Bruce Ohr had with Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele. Those recorded – those notes from the FBI, I want all that made public. I want the FISA application to be made public, when they used – they used that dossier, took it to a secret court, didn’t tell the court the Clinton campaign paid for that document, didn’t tell the court a foreigner who had – was – who was desperate to stop Trump from being elected president wrote the document, I want that information released too.
So if they’re going to release everything, let’s release it all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well let’s just be clear on that then, so you agree with the Democrats all the underlying documents should be released top to bottom, the Mueller report should be released.
We’ve just gone through the special counsel regulations, there’s nothing in the law that precludes the attorney general from releasing all of that.
JORDAN: I’m saying the attorney general should follow the statute and that’s what he’s indicated he’s going to do in consultation with Rod Rosenstein and Bob Mueller. I think the Democrats should be happy with that.
They said Bob Mueller was the guy that they wanted to do this investigation. Bill Barr is going to consult with him and decide what he can release. But if they do release everything, then by golly, release it all. Show us that FISA application, show us the 302s, show us the information they gave the Gang of Eight.
The Gang of Eight – Adam Schiff was a part of that. The Gang of Eight, when they talked to them, way back when about this dossier and about what took place at the FISA Court and about the start of this counterintelligence investigation. Show us all that information too. The American people deserve – we’ve asked for that information to be made public a long time ago because that goes to what these top people, this cabal at the top of the FBI, what they did when they launched this thing clear back in the summer and fall of 2016 before the election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president could order all this released on his own, all of it declassified on his own. Will you urge him to do that?
JORDAN: I've urged him to do – to release the stuff I just described. I sure have. The stuff that Jim Comey, Andy McCabe, Jim Baker, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, all the stuff that they had started with the dossier and all the stuff that they started initially with this investigation prior to the election, I’ve urged him to do that …
STEPHANOPOULOS: So will you urge him – will you urge him to order the release of the Mueller report as well?
JORDAN: Again, that’s the attorney general’s call and he’s going to do that consistent with the law. All I’m saying is, if the Democrats – if the Democrats are going to call for all that to be released, then they should call for everything to be released.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m asking you a different question now. The president has this authority. Are you asking the president to order the release of the Mueller Report?
JORDAN: That’s the president’s call. He said he wants it to be made public, he said that the other day when he was out walking – I think out to – in front of the press. I think last Wednesday he said that. So that’s the White House’s call.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the hearing with Michael Cohen a couple weeks back. As we know from the southern district of New York, they concluded that President Trump was Individual One, who directed Michael Cohen to make those hush money payments to influence the election, essentially directed a felony. Does that concern you?
JORDAN: Look, like I said, Michael Cohen came in front of our committee and he lied, we think, at least seven times. That’s why Congressman Meadows and I sent a criminal referral letter to the Justice Department. We know he lied about his – when he said he didn’t want a job in the White House, we know that was a lie. Every media outlet in the country had reported that he did …
STEPHANOPOULOS: But this was the conclusion of the Southern District prosecutors. They’re the ones who said that Individual One, President Trump, directed Michael Cohen to do this.
JORDAN: Well, I mean – and they’re – they have their investigation that they’re doing in the southern district of New York. What I choose to focus on is the fundamental charge of the special counsel was to look at collusion. We have not seen any of that. What I also know is, Michael Cohen cannot be trusted and he proved that when we was – when he came back in front of the committee and several times lied under oath.
I think the real question here is, will Chairman Cummings join us in demanding that Michael Cohen be charged for perjury by the Justice Department? I think he – he should do that. He was very clear at the start of the hearing. He said, "Mr. Cohen, if you don’t tell the truth, I’m going to hold you accountable." And we’ve seen nothing from Chairman Cummings to do any of that – any kind of holding him accountable at all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So just to be clear, the president’s involvement in those hush money payments doesn’t concern you?
JORDAN: The president has had an amazing two years. He was in – he was in Ohio last Wednesday and what I saw was people lining the street as he rode from the airport to the tank plant where we build the best tanks in the world. I saw people cheering him because they understand that this president’s committed to fighting for the American people and getting accomplished the things he told the American people he was going to do. It was an amazing reception he received from all kinds of folks here in the fourth district of Ohio just last Wednesday.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Jordan, thanks for your time this morning.
JORDAN: You bet, thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable’s up next, we’ll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Round table’s here and ready to go and all week long you can get the latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the ABC News App. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER JENNINGS, ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Good evening. I'm Peter Jennings. There has not been a day like it and it could only happen in the so-called information age. In front of television sets everywhere today, the world has been watching the president seemingly bare his soul about a sexual affair that has tormented the country for all these months. And on television, but mostly on the internet, the world has had access to the most intimate details of the president and Ms. Lewinsky's behavior. And today, the independent counsel's report laid out almost a dozen reasons why he, Mr. Starr thinks Congress should consider impeaching the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: More than 20 years ago Ken Starr's report laid the groundwork for impeachment of President Clinton. Expecting a very different report this time around from Robert Mueller. Let's talk about it now with our chief political analyst Matthew Dowd, Republican strategist Sara Fagen, also political director in the George W. Bush White House, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, author of the new book, "Let Me Finish" and former DNC chair, former ABC contributor but now Fox News contributor Donna Brazile joining us as well. And Matt, let me begin with you. The last 22 months this White House has been under the cloud of the Mueller investigation, about 22 months left in this term and what we learn now from Robert Mueller, depending on how much we learn, could shape the next 22 months.
MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: Yes, well, as Winston Churchill famously said, it's not the end, it’s not the beginning of the end, it may be the end of the beginning -- or the end of the beginning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think you got it right.
DOWD: Yes. To me, the fascinating thing about this is obviously we don't know what's in the report, speculating exactly what it all means is hard to do in the midst of this. We don't know why he did what he did in all of that. But I think the interesting thing about this to me is it never was going to be what so many people thought it was going to be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On either side?
DOWD: On either side. That's what fascinating about this, is that the president thought, Bob Mueller's after him, he's after him, he’s going to get him, he's going to get him, he’s going to get his kids. He's called it a witch hunt, even Jim Jordan was bashed, Bob Mueller, bashed the investigation and all that. And then people on the left and many Democrats were like, he's going to get him, he's going to get him, it’s going to be a civil war, he’s going to get him. That was never Bob Mueller's charge. Bob Mueller’s charge was to find the evidence, take -- follow it where it goes, and then prosecute people that would need to be prosecuted if the evidence was there, which he has done, as you have laid out in a number of different ways, and then turn the report in.
That's exactly what he's done. And now we enter the political phase of this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you know, that first piece of good news, though, Sara, for the president, no indictments on that underlying charge of joining the conspiracy. The problem there is we also don't know how or why he reached that conclusion either.
SARA FAGEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We don't know that yet but you're right, there's no new indictment coming, which means there's no collusion. And when you consider the charges that were made -- which there were a significant number of people charged --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Actually, what it technically means, there was no conspiracy, no engaging in conspiracy. Collusion is not really a legal term.
FAGEN: Fair enough. But of the people who were convicted of crimes, they -- none of them were convicted for conspiracy or collusion or anything related to Russia interfering with the U.S. What -- what I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Mueller, though, for is -- is exposing what the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike, need to know, which is what other governments are trying to do in our elections. And what's lost in all of this conversation is that. That's an important service to the country and Republicans and Democrats alike should get that out and make sure that never happens again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes. Two dozen -- two dozens indictments of Russians for interfering --
FAGEN: Correct, yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- in our election. Donna Brazile.
DONNA BRAZILE, CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well now come the hard part. I mean, the evaluation -- I mean, the investigation is over, the evaluation will start. It's not about collusion or no collusion, vengeance or vindication, George, it's about the integrity of our elections. And I hope what Mr. Mueller -- who I agree, I applaud Mr. Mueller and his team for the hard work and for enduring what many of us have seen as a vicious partisan attack for just doing his job. We need to see the report, we need to evaluate the findings, we need to understand more about what happened and then I think as Americans we can come up with our own opinions about how we move forward.
I -- I never -- as someone who saw it, personally felt it, understood it, when everyone else thought we were just crazy and telling lies, we need to understand exact why so many people in the Trump orbit lied about their contacts with the Russians --
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s one --
BRAZILE: -- because we need to get to the bottom of everything.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That -- that -- that is one of the big questions. The other question is, Chris, how much we’re going to see of what Mueller wrote. You know -- you know Robert Mueller fairly well. The other question is how would he lay out these arguments in a report?
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think the way he's conducted himself over the last 22 months gives you a really good indication of how he’s going to lay it out, which is going to be carefully and like a traditional prosecutor.
He is not going to pull a Jim Comey here. He's not going to go out...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he already hasn't done that. You haven't seen a press conference.
CHRISTIE: Well, that's it, but I mean now the report is the ultimate thing...
DOWD: Or a Ken Starr.
CHRISTIE: Or a Ken Starr, for sure. I mean, I think either one of those. And I think that, you know, I think it is, as Donna said, a tribute to Bob Mueller. I've been saying all along, as you know on this show, that he's a professional. And he cares about the justice system and prosecution that he's going to bring are going to be ones that he believed he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, nothing more.
But here's the second part, and I think -- glad Matt brought up Ken Starr, remember what this special counsel statute is in response to, it's in response to the Ken Starr report. Congress said they didn't like what Starr did in laying out all that detail against people that were never going to be charged with a crime, and they made all of this absolutely dependent now upon the discretion of the attorney general. The attorney general...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It doesn't prohibit anything from...
CHRISTIE: No, but it gives him discretion, George. And that's really important. And Bill Barr made that clear in his confirmation hearings.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's one of the questions I wanted to follow up with you. You are a former prosecutor. There are a lot of different reasons a prosecutor may choose not to prosecute something -- you may not want to use classified evidence, you might have compelling evidence but it might not be good enough to prosecute. Not prosecuting is not the same as exoneration.
CHRISTIE: Well, let me tell you something, George, if you're any of the people who were being rumored to be indicted, you're going to take it as exoneration, because you're presumed innocent in this country. And absent any charges being brought and proven, you are innocent.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Of a crime, but not necessarily of improper behavior.
CHRISTIE: Well, that's a whole different -- that's a political standard. Now, that's different.
But I think that -- I also think it would be wrong for him to explain, as to people who are not being charged, why he didn't charge them. Your job, he's part of the Justice Department, remember. He was appointed by the deputy attorney general. He works under Justice Department rules. And those rules, except for Jim Comey, apply this way. If you charge, you can say whatever you are willing to to an indictment and have a grand jury sign off on, if you don't charge, keep quiet. You're not supposed to talk about people you're unwilling to charge.
And that's, to me, was my principal objection to what Jim Comey did to Hillary Clinton. He killed Hillary Clinton over the summer of 2016 without being willing to charge her. That's wrong. That's not what the Justice Department does.
FAGEN: Well, when you consider the fact that there were a number of Trump associates involved in the meetings with the Russians.
FAGEN: That's a fact. You know, all of these folks, though -- anybody close to Republican politics, any operative would tell you that most of these individuals, if not all of them, they would never survive in a Christie campaign, they would never have been hired or any other Republican campaign. And this is where I think...
DOWD: That's an indictment of the president.
FAGEN: This is a challenge for the president that he has had to deal with. Some of this has been brought on by the hiring around that campaign.
Now, you can say it was late. And he got in. He's not experienced.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I take that point, but I mean the president was the one who, from the very beginning, said none of this happened. There were no contacts with Russians, I don't have any business with Russians when he's pursuing the Trump Tower with Moscow.
FAGEN: But that was a business relationship.
Now you consider all these, I call them sort of rate B players, all trying to be the man or the woman, trying to have the meeting, trying to have the intel. And that's the big challenge here. And a lot of times having worked in government, having lived through these investigations, what you realize is that the left hand and the right hand really...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So they may have been trying to collude, but they...
FAGEN: Well, they weren't in the position to even collude, because they're not high enough in the organization to actually have power.
DOWD: I think Sarah is right in that part of it, but it should lead you to a natural conclusion is, is what is the president doing hiring all these people?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Paul Manafort was the chair of the campaign.
DOWD: That every single person knew was this way.
And the second thing, let me just say this as the second thing, if Bob Mueller had not released all of the indictments, all of the convictions, all of that over the last 20 months, if on Friday, he had presented the American public with a report that said, oh, by the way, I'm going to indicting the campaign's personal lawyer, I'm indicting the national security adviser, I'm indicting the chairman of the campaign, I'm indicting the national -- the person that advises on foreign policy, if he had done that, we would have an entirely different conversation.
BRAZILE: There was a pattern of secretive contacts with Russian intelligence people, WikiLeaks, and they lied about it. That -- these were high-ranking officials.
I have been a campaign manager. I've been a chair of the party. I know campaign chairs, they report to the president of the campaign of the candidate. This just is a pattern of secretive.
CHRISTIE: This is an old story, right, this is an old story. Sara's right, I think, about the way that a lot of these people were wannabes – some of them, not Manafort, but a lot of them were wannabes, in terms of the 14. But here’s the older story, the president has made horrendous personnel choices. This is not just in the campaign, but this has been at the White House as well.
And I’ve talked about this over and over again that – and this is a product of two things, one the president at times acts on impulse, and we’ve seen that, and he does that at times with hiring.
But the bigger problem is that there was no one screening these people who had the experience and the ability to be able to do it in a good way to present to the president. And so, you know, garbage in, garbage out.
You present an executive with three bad choices, bound to make one.
FAGEN: The fact remains – the fact remains that the Justice Department never overruled the special counsel and –
STEPHANOPOULOS: He wasn’t fired.
FAGEN: He wasn’t fired and not one person was indicted on a crime related to Russian interference.
DOWD: That’s what point I was just going to make which is I think really important, which is there’s some really good news here. And the good news here is law and order in the country has held, Bob Mueller has done his job as far as we can tell and we’ll see more objectively and in quiet and in secret, the constitutional standards of holding a government responsible and what they do is there.
And I think Bob Mueller – and this is the good part about it I think is Bob Mueller was never going to let Congress or the American public off the hook. He’s never – and the Congress has the responsibility just because the president wasn’t held criminally liable as far as we know, just because his family wasn’t held criminally liable does not mean that Congress has a standard that they hold the president.
Richard Nixon, most of the Richard Nixon impeachment things were not criminal – were not criminal problems. There were a problem related to the Constitution and how we function as a republic.
And I think that’s the good news, that Congress has a responsibility and the voters have a responsibility.
CHRISTIE: I think one thing is important to say is that there were some people who were really pilloried during this process and it turns out that they stood up, whether it was Rod Rosenstein or Matt Whitaker who was pilloried pretty badly in the media and now we have no evidence that Matt Whitaker did anything inappropriate, in fact we have evidence to the contrary, that when Matt was approached by the president, that Matt stood up and said no.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re talking about the southern district, when he was –
CHRISTIE: I’m talking about the southern district and the un-recusal of Geoff Berman. I mean – so I’m a Justice Department guy, that’s where I got my start in this business, and I just want to tell you it’s a proud day today for the Department of Justice because they stood up, they stood up for the rule of law, Bob Mueller as a member of the Department of Justice’s Special Counsel, Rob Rosenstein, Matt Whitaker and Bill Barr all did the right thing.
DOWD: Do you think the president realizes that, because the greatest pillory-er of all of those people was the president.
CHRISTIE: I think that when he looks back on it, he’s going to realize that those ones who were telling him to slow down, keep quiet and let the justice system work were right. And I think he’ll realize that in retrospect, he certainly didn’t realize it at the time.
BRAZILE: Well during this process –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well you may have – you may have been right, but did the president, you know, by saying witch hunt about a couple hundred times saying no collusion a couple –
BRAZILE: One hundred eighty three times.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he change the standard – did he lower the standard by which he would be judged?
BRAZILE: Of course he did and he tried to sully the process every step along the way. George, in 589 days, we’re, as Americans, will go back to the polls. We know that the Russian tried to interfere in 2016, we know that they attempted again in 2018.
DOWD: And they were encouraged.
BRAZILE: And they were –
DOWD: Were encouraged to do it.
BRAZILE: Thank you, and we know that much of what they hacked and stole and used and the fact that we did have a campaign chairman perhaps – I’m not pointing at you Sarah of couse I’m just – you know, it’s church time, so I’m just trying to get in my (inaudible) moment, keep my hands going.
CHRISTIE: Keep those hands moving, baby.
BRAZILE: But yes, it might take me all the way to (inaudible).
CHRISTIE: Keep your hands moving, it means absolutely nothing, you can run for president.
BRAZILE: Well as long as I don’t pat you somewhere, it’s OK.
CHRISTIE: It’s all right.
BRAZILE: So – but the fact is is that we have to strengthen our pillars of Democracy, this president has not done enough to strengthen and prevent future foreign hacking if not from the Russians and others too (ph).
The reason why I want to see this report is not because I’m into the salacious gossip, I read the Ken Starr’s – I want to see it. I don’t want to see it redacted because justice redacted is justice denied and we need to see everything in it so that we can protect –
CHRISTIE: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Justice redacted against Hillary Clinton in the summer of ’16 would have been justice fulfilled because she didn’t commit a crime according to the Justice Department, yet Jim Comey went out on national television and kicked her around.
And it affected the election, Donna, and listen I was working for the other guy. But the point is, that happens to her that day, could happen to you the next day. And sometimes justice redacted is justice fulfilled.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s quite a (inaudible) the president is being protected by what hurt Hillary Clinton.
CHRISTIE: Exactly right, there’s always been (inaudible) to that, George, and I think the other thing that I – is a challenge for Republicans and Democrats in the aftermath of this is are they going to focus on what Donna talked about, about protecting our election in 2020, or are they just going to continue to beat each other senseless over the allegations against the president and against Democrats?
They’ve got to focus on what Bob Mueller really found in this report, which was the biggest number of indictments he did was against those Russians who were trying to infiltrate the election.
What are we going to do to stop that in 2020?
DOWD: And there are a whole lot of trees out there that are maybe saplings that are growing from this investigation. Bob Mueller’s investigation may be over but there’s a ton of other investigations going on that may bear fruit in all of this, we – we don’t know.
FAGEN: Well, there, though, I think you get to a point you said earlier about the politics is just starting around this. And I think the politics on overreach is going to help the president. I think many Americans and many of those who sit in the middle, who maybe like his policies but don’t care for him personally, look at this and say, they’re investigating his business, they’re investigating his kids, they’re investigating the inaugural, they’re investigating everything he’s touched in his life. And – and – and maybe …
BRAZILE: He didn’t release his taxes.
FAGEN: … And maybe there’s something through the Cohen stuff that deserves to be looked at. But it’s so widespread that it’s hard to almost take it credible that every aspect of this person’s life, when he’s never been committed of a crime, now needs to be investigated because Democrats don’t like the fact that he was elected …
DOWD: He wasn’t investigated for the first two years at all so I think there’s a little catchup to do.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
DOWD: And I think that most – the majority of Americans, they may support him or not but they don’t believe …
They don’t believe he (inaudible).
BRAZILE: We have more than …
DOWD: And that needs to be found out.
BRAZILE: I believe we have more to fear from secrecy than from sunshine …
DOWD: I agree with that. I agree with that.
BRAZILE: More to fear from the secrecy because what we have learned has come as a result of the investigation and the indictments. We have more to fear from secrecy – justice redacted is not going to give us what – the comfort level we all need as Americans to figure out …
CHRISTIE: It depends …
BRAZILE: This was a playbook, Governor, a playbook that was used to undermine the candidacy to try to destroy one of America’s major political parties …
CHRISTIE: But Donna, the – listen …
BRAZILE: We have more to fear from redacted.
CHRISTINE: Donna, listen – Donna, it depends on what is in there and what the impact will be on individual Americans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And maybe we will find out later today. We are out of time right now, we’ll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. We’re going to be back on the air with a live special report if and when the Attorney General releases his report to the Congress later today. I’ll see you tomorrow on GMA.