Transcript for Chris Christie says the Mueller report could still pose challenges for Trump
This is an ABC news special. Good morning we are coming on the air right now because he attorney general the United States William Barnes got a hold a press coverage there was in fact no collusion. Question did the president obstruct justice the evidence is not sufficient to establish that the president committed and obstruction of justice 11 o'clock PM eastern time that William Barnes said that the moral or would be sent to congress report posted are. The report has been caused public if we're going to be reading. The special counsel's report we have producers scattered around our second more newsroom here in our Washington bureau almost 500 pages long torn 48 pages too big sections yeah. I'll. Yeah yeah. The president became aware that his own conduct was being investigated president. And seeing something you think ahead additional here up on Michael Coen and efforts to prevent disclosure of emails that unite 2016 ED trump tower meeting they clearly wanted to establish whether that involve a violation of the law undercover. The former White House counsel Wii has been multiple hours away the special counsel how the president first reacted when he was told the that there was a special counsel investigation oh my god this is terrible this is they ended up my presidency. Welcome to a special edition of the investigation on Chris Forrester senior executive producer here at ABC news and I'm joined by the to leave reporters on the trump investigation. Johnson Tucci and map mosque what did today in the Muller investigation. I think coral gonna collapse but that's been a long day of Reading. Going through their report. Come in Matt and I cut this report and half I had team obstruction mad you eighteen collusion my team did more notes than Matt. Not comparing it isn't just at inequality was there for us but it was a funny you do for both of us on this report. The bottom line before we bring Chris Christie in here. Matt collusion what it would what do you see police here I mean I have to take from the perspective of having first. Heard about it at questions about Donald Trump and Russia. Almost four years ago now in mid 2015. Was when this first emerged and at that time. And subsequently you'll remember Donald Trump told George Stephanopoulos that he had no dealings with Russia whatsoever. It's hard tea. See that from the slate today. Can John what do you think for the president. With the church and. Just as I mean I think this is. Fake news was I think so much of what we've reported as a team over the last 22 months. Com are things that were in this report scenarios that were happening. Inside the White House the president's interactions. With his team with his lawyers com and with many of the key players. So many things that we have been reporting out the president that would angrily tweet about. In reactions we see it right here in Bob Mueller is over 400 page report in black and wind. All true. All right well why don't we bring Chris Christie and here now he is. Not only at trump two advise former trump advisories and ABC news consultant overall governor. Is this a good day or a bad day for president trump. Yes it's a good date the president because whenever you're investigated for crimes and you're not charged it's a good day because the alternative. Is so awful. Now you're still many challenges that this reports gonna present. To the president going forward from congress. And from the other fourteen investigations. Third or not a US attorney's offices or the country but. There were more too big circuit happen great group the end of the Muller investigations. It could be either a gesture of charges against the president and other people around him. Or it could not have chargers the idea that the charge would opt barbecue compared the present. You know it you know they're in on the obstruction section it seems like his staff. Saved him from himself. And this could have been a lot worse it people like Don McGann and even Couri Landau ski. Had followed through on the president's wishes but is that really that unusual. Your governor I'm sure your stuff told you not to do things right. Well yeah you listen I figured that. The amount lines that it was stolen is is probably be a usual part but I think Eddie chief executive what are people around them. Who are different opinions and will push brackets that secure doing something wrong so that's not our mutual Arctic the only thing that it's. A little unusual for might resource first quick reading the report is the number five's that we thought. Well any governor is askew and induced EU for the report as much as we have what actually stood out TU on your first take away. Russia were so many surgery for support seek their. Did. I think you're somebody who has had her name on the ballot who care to back. The honesty integrity validity of our elections. They beat the depth and breath of the Russian efforts. QB would really chilling. I speculate. I found little Boyer a former prosecutor. Can pick lined up. We really kind of tortured he failed to weigh in the B Kinnear the obstruction report. That Mueller talked about why he decided. Naught. To make any deter predict the upon. What an interesting bit of legal gymnastics. End and where we Arctic. I obviously haven't spoken to the president ego frequently during bill last number year. New all of its frustration and anger about what was going on you're actually wrote in the report actually about right I am an Arctic. You know part of it. But but the BTL that Mueller gives gave me an even greater parents about how tortured the president really was replied. Our what was going on. And and one other thing here governor we have been tracking for so long as who winning to meet with the special counsel. I have to be honest with you and all our reporting we did not know UN and that's it's for an interview with Robert Mueller didn't cool what was that experience like. Well first off riverboat told you guys that of a former prosecutor sort try to keep the secret are seated wanted to. And I wanted to make sure that. You respect the process. Are you get involved with the project while the other side many pollard's that you're too Terry what are you with it babe would protect Cooper some people. But for me because I had their experience of being involved so many interviews. Or my ship here's US attorney who was pretty standard fare guys it was a windowless conference room in a nondescript office building in Washington DC. Bob there were three agents of our work all of three prosecutors. We've got a court conference table to reach out. And they asked questions that I have to earn somewhere retreat to a three hours and broken but you know. It not the act where my experience. Why just gonna ask you because what we've spoken to people will gone in for interviews over the course of the 22 months. And one of the things they've said to us that they were surprised. By the depth of knowledge of the special counsel's team but I guess you. For you being the only former federal prosecutor and gone and there was draining that they asked you date you were surprised that they were on to. Know how well. Now reluctant. Kids that coach Mike spirits US attorney when you're gonna bring the witness fit. You want to beat the most prepared people in the room. Because picture nod your doctor the opportunity get the most the year view that you could. So I know peace it was our practice in my office that. Here before it anybody in premiere here we made sure we do absolutely everything we could possibly belt. And the interview was the last thing you would do. Bob so I would date was not surprised Brady saying that day. New org they ask you about the outlook wow look at that figure that out. Be pretty familiar with the way investigations are conducted I was not surprised. Can I ask you governor I'm curious now that you've seen the whole report. They've they went pretty exhaustively through contacts between Russians and and people affiliated with the Russian government. And members of the trump campaign world. Did you expect that that weighs. The degree to which there is contact between the Russians and the charm campaign was there more was that are less what what was your assessment of it. It was more what it was that as I suspected at a pretty low level you're with the exception of the trump tower meeting. Aunt and Paul man for himself. ER photos are pretty low level people that I'd never. You know Noor Iraq it. During the time that the armed helping with the campaign so. You know I'll I blew over two part again I said. Directorship before it was the pour at depths of the Russian app sorts. That what kind of chilling today. Ed you know I never thought that that campaign itself. Was operating Levy in an organized. Conspiratorial way with abortion coverage starting to report makes it pretty clear that not only what the campaign wouldn't order detentions were not to go toward. I mean this sounds like a loaded question I guess but I mean and in a sincere way. Was this a hoax I mean the president has continued to maintain this is a hoax what do you think was this legit. It wasn't a hoax or leave it was not a hoax of the U that the fact is that here is plenty of information here which necessitates. It a counterintelligence. Investigation. Bob it's what Russia was doing now you know I know the president what he knew quite since. Specter was never any you know type of collusion. Between his campaign and conspiracy and treated care paying the Russian government their turned out to be true. But the fact is that the only way to really proof that out. Bob what did to conduct the investigation and I report straight to part of a member charged look at. When it is over your your computer the report he's going to be a better Q2 U. On this collusion this year got a catcher Rick and I think the report at the benefits the president the air Russian literature Portugal who port. But that you know the one thing I said to the gang here before we started I said this is this report is also a vindication to the press. And that a lot of the stories that we did that the president repeatedly. Refer to as fake news. Actually turned out to be true and he. Was repeatedly lying over and over and over again about the obstruction part. Isn't that a problem for the present as a leader. Going for well. First off if it's it's a positive thing for the press into at a time when the depressions are under increasing attack. Ed bureau are always thought it was long for the president to call the press the enemy of the people. I had that you guys though I certainly had march a ballot bowl which would. New York Philadelphia pressed court recovered meat. In future seat but I never saw him as the enemy of people at school dull sword most important figures the first part which it bit you know. Many many many of the press story that we're dog. Turn out to be balloting they've. By Bob Butler investigators. Who had subpoena authority Greg jury ability and so you you would figure gets a bottom to get it accurately. And I'm always sets the precedent that the harsh harsh rhetoric. Regarding the media if something six serve him well served the country well. How to what about the line though what about the line going forward I mean he did lie repeatedly and as a leader. When you have these kind of examples army was the criticism I did twenty years ago with Bill Clinton. You know you lie you lose credibility with the people I mean this these are documented lies. Well this should we are always try to make your mark practice. Eight exclusively when I loose. In public life and certainly in part reflects as well but you're special obligation your public likes to tell the church. You want the truth hurts so there are certainly examples in this report that should be embarrassing compression. Bought. We also though. That there are various Scott. Ways that people of political life been so far as members of the press. Spin things in certain ways as well. Other character to mix of both of those carpet samples in here but any time anybody says something. But they know to be unsure as hypocrisy Herschel it's about to open the people out. I could be mistaken that I don't remember the president. Ever addressing the fact that the Russians he engaged in such a comprehensive effort to. Really wage an assault on the American electoral process if you are advising him on this what what would you have him say about that. I would every shift focus to that quite frankly. To bring gives intelligence leader in. You helped bring in cheap fast forward Chris Ray. Bring into the that I had and and say listen. We gobble road maps what the Russians did. What are we doing. Triple prayer for the Tory Tory election I walked right you do or read this beat two to protect the integrity of that election. And will work with congress to make sure that if you need additional funding but she'll get it in order to protect the integrity of our election. I have often thought that that would be really. Toward taught who have. Are saying preempted the Ed smart's referred to do politically. Well on that note I think that's a forward way of thanking them and thank you for joining us don't. Are below which you guide to big day. Coming up we're gonna talk to teach all our legal analyst who's gonna break down the legal issues with the Muller reports. Welcome back I'm Chris plus stone joined here by mount mosque in John since you choose the investigative unit. And now we're joined by Kate Shaw ABC news contributor and professor of law at produce a law school. Welcome Kate we just spoke to Chris Christie and he I asked him whether or not this was a good day or bad day for the president. And he actually said. It's a good day for the president because anytime you have a prosecutor that can prosecute you it's a good day do you agree with out. And other trustees are pretty low bar actually. So if you're the president not being indicted. When your Department of Justice has a back burn rule that says you can't be indicted. Doesn't seem like a major factor to me now I mean what matters what seems to me to matter more. Is the contents of the report and I don't think the contents of the report. Paint a particularly good picture of the president except for the fact that isn't underlying I mean the whole investigation was set up. About whether or not there was a conspiracy. To collude I know that's not the actual law. But he is vindicated on that is in the I'm not all I think absolutely I mean I will say that the special counsel describes the mandate with perspective you know. Collusion conspiracy cooperation right pats or however when you can you wanted to spread that an essential piece of the investigation. And as. Requiring something more than that both sides were kind of monitoring and responding to each other's actions right so so I do think that you see in that section of the report. I am yes I mean there's lots of contacts there there is lot of sort of action taken in the in parallel in some way is but not enough to satisfy the high bar of showing a criminal conspiracy so I think it's right that there is a bottom line. Vindication. In the sense of you know no criminal charges beyond obviously those at the office has argue brought. And no underlying being charge double conspiracy. With Russia to change the outcome of an American election. I'm but there's a lot of conduct. That I think doesn't look good on the part of the campaign even a knapsack other port and that's the one that I think is most clearly a big win for the president do you think. Kid a different prosecutor. Maybe a more aggressive prosecutor. Could look at the set of facts that are laid out in the report and have found criminal activity. There's 400 pages there S contacts with the Russians and and and that pretty good outline of potential obstructive behavior. What would a Pat Fitzgerald would would have more aggressive prosecutor who have come at this differently and found. A reason to bring criminal charges or do you think it's it's clear there was no criminal behavior hair. No I I don't think on obstruction I don't think the report it all makes clear that there is no criminal behavior so so first on what a different would have Pat Fitzgerald. What another prosecutor have reached. A different conclusion. It's hard to say I think the answer is probably no I think that the norm inside DOJ that you do not indict a sitting president. Isn't one that could never be revisited so I think under some circumstances it could be. And I guess there could have been revisited here but but I I think that you would need something. Maybe maybe more than what. I think there is planning in this report but I think maybe you would need more than that to move a special prosecutor to approach that the attorney general to say we've got to revisit. And that you know longstanding principle it's gotta be wrong to has to be some way to hold. A law was president accountable. And but look it's possible that at the attorney general would say no under no circumstances are in revisit that so. So it might not matter who the special counsel is as long as you have an attorney general who thinks that principle is constitutionally required. But just talking about the obstruction just ask I mean Ken Starr found obstruction of justice and he actually said there was a crime. Robert Mueller even said. Well it could they could have obstructive but he's not enough to exonerate a Mike saying that properly. I mean Moeller went short of what Ken Starr actually Ken Starr said that the Bill Clinton obstructed justice. Robert Mueller did not right. Well I I I basically agree with that so so couple things one. Obviously as he does so with that cancer is operating under a totally different statutory framework and that framework requires him to make a referral. To congress when he has uncovered you know going with the something like substantial and credible evidence. That might constitute high crimes and misdemeanors so and so we I have you'd Ken Starr is as. Looking to have satisfied very different standard high crimes and misdemeanors not he provable criminal offense or set of provable criminal offenses for a topsy can start and bring. Criminal indictment against Bill Clinton either earth he wrote a report to congress attend a lot of this looks impeachable and the impeachable conduct mostly tracked specific criminal offenses like obstruction of justice and perjury but then there is this one. And a standalone. Like a possible impeachable conduct section of the Starr report. That's of help kind of like lies to the public and conduct unbecoming of the office of the presidency that actually doesn't have. A precise analogue in the criminal law but are not but just in terms of this report and I actually do think that if you go close teachers that there's these ten acts that may constitute obstruction of justice. And the report goes through and details the evidence over the tax what was the president's likely intent what was the nexus to any kind of ongoing investigation. And as I read a report on like meaty three of those. I think the report as saying they're very likely was obstruction of justice so that includes trying to curtail the special counsel's investigation by trying to get sessions to and were accused. And then to narrow the scope of it and to get done again to lie about having been instructed to fire. The special counsel. And you know a couple of others are mixed oh and it better instead kids had to remove just to remove the special counsel directly. It's are separate from trying to get making on to lie about having done it so there's about three of the ten. That adds I read them. I think the special counsel believe the evidence. Was the air you were to argument even the term star standard yeah of the lying. The to public and yeah he actually made that part of his report in this report there are. A lot of instances of Donald Trump lying to the public over and over and over again. Why not charge of them I mean go into Matt's point that a more aggressive prosecutor. Like Ken Starr for that matter. Wood Kia filed obstruction case. With the same facts would he had made the case saying no you believe we should impeach him on obstruction yeah I mean and the same facts. I think look so he's not there's no suggestion that he should be charger that that lying publicly is obstruction of justice. Because you don't act I don't think it is I think that some of the public statements that that have you know that seemed to clearly had the intent of investing intimidating witnesses or moving witnesses to either not cooperate or ten you know just show that there on the team and provide. You know through helpful testimony helpful to the president that those kinds of public statements. The special counsel's office takes the position and are certainly relevant to potential obstruction of an inquiry now the statements alone. You know if they're not. About trying to impede some kind of ongoing investigation are matter you know grand jury matter. What have you and The Sims alone. You don't armed criminal couldn't be cricket all in what are talking about a president or not. But but I think they do it it's just. Look congress never that it you know in the Clinton. Impeachment the house decided not to impeach Clinton on these kind of standalone wise to the public. Kind of in a failure to have. Take care that the laws BP flee executed. On its interest in they DOD it was part of the Starr report and the House Judiciary Committee considered but then decided not to bring. I'm a separate church and state chiles with perjury and obstruction of justice. But but that's where I think that the you know kind of the public lies. Reach our. A lot of emerging Tilden the report and I think a lot of them are gonna become clear in the next couple of days as everyone is able to kind of read that report. Against the sorts of public statements the president was making at particular moments in time. Those just feel like they're relevance is mostly political and not legal rights of the consequences. Of all of those lies if there are ready are gonna be. Elect oral Arkin and maybe be found in the hands of congress of congress decide to sort of the aggregate of all of this. Likely but you know where possible obstruction of justice conduct on and a kind of pattern of lies and misstatements to the public that all of that warrants you know some kind of look sort through the lens of impeachment write that constitution gives. The house the initial power to have impeach him in the senate the power to remove. A present for high crimes and misdemeanors and no one really knows what that means that. Do you does some potential destruction of justice at a pattern of lies and misconduct qualified if a majority of the house decides that it does then maybe it does. We and maybe we can go all the way back to the beginning at how this report was released which is. We had the summary. Statement the four page memo from bill Barr followed by the press. Conference. By bill bar in which he summarize and describe the report followed finally by the actual release of the real report. Looking back at that did the attorney general. Do a disservice to the public do you think boys or did he describe accurately. The conclusions of the Mueller report what's your take way now that you're seeing it. I I don't think he did it particularly faithful job in terms of tests accurately summarize her part either in his initial four page letter. Or in his press conference this morning and in. That that that I don't think I don't think there are any gross misstatements in the letter. But I do think a letter casts the findings of the report any far more favorable light to the president. Then is supported by the actual contents of the report I think that's also true about the press conference this morning mean. No one thing that. He could you know there's all the things he could have done I think would have genuinely been helpful to the public but he could have explained. How and why he and deputy attorney general rose and Stein. Concluded that there wasn't enough evidence to. Constitute obstruction of justice ray because we know Mueller didn't decide where he did not reach a a traditional prosecutorial judgment about it. And and barred doesn't help us understand what process he went through to assess the evidence and YE. Now maybe is because he seems to hold this view but if there is no provable underlying crime there can be no obstruction of justice it would just be useful to know. Through how and why they reach that conclusion and the. But isn't it also true that he didn't have to release this report at all he could this could have all gone in two of volts didn't. The Justice Department. Capsule happy politically viable well but he could I mean isn't that right Emmys in history maybe yes maybe the press conferences will politics gonna put this could have gone away. I mean doesn't he deserve a little praise for the. Why it's a couple of answers one he pledged to be as transparent as possible in releasing the report. When he was confirmed right and I think queried whether he would have been confirmed -- not made that pledge right I don't. I don't know I think that that that there's been a lot of interest. On the hill right and you know we're talking a confirmation obviously just the senate that matters and just the president's party controls the senate but I think even some members a president's party. Would not necessarily have voted to confirm pump or had he not made some kind of commitment so I kind of think some some degree of transparency around this report might have been. The kind of price of the ticket and even getting the job in the first place us are hard to run counter factual had he not been willing to. To pledge to repeat transparent about it but but it's true he could have been I think that report is less productive then. I eat I suspected it would be at I think a lot of other people thought to be more productive so I think that they seemed to have. You because at this is a voluntary public disclosure this is not currently. He's nothing released right now in response to both demand and litigation or a congressional subpoena. But it. He already is being. Requested in under the freedom of information law and didn't likely will be the full text will be a subject to subpoena shortly so I think they did all the reductions. With an eye to being able to defend all of them in the litigation that was sure to follow and I thinks I think they've. They were more strain and in my defense I do think you're from the perspective transparency some credit is due. With the you don't for having been restrained in rejecting but the doing but the release you know I think park and had to do. All right well thank you very much taping threatened against. And that's are wrapped thank you for joining us for the special episode of the release of the Muller reports. Please be sure didn't subscribe and leave us a rating in the next week we're back to our regular schedule new episodes scrubbing every Tuesday thanks to our producers Trevor Hastings and also some ball Shannon Crawford. And Caitlin former my colleagues Matt mosque in Johnson to cheat. We'll see you back here next week for another episode.
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