Bonus: "This Whole Thing is Sort of Mind-Bendingly Bizarre"
General are thank you for your testimony. Let me start by just saying, thank you. You've had an extraordinarily successful legal career. You don't have to take this job being attorney general of the United States is a sacred trust you have betrayed that trust America deserves better. You should resign. This whole thing is who sort of mind-bending Lee bizarre because I made clear from the beginning that I was putting out the report as much of the report as I could. And I for one of grateful that you answered that call and are leading the department of Justice both with integrity and fidelity law. Welcome to a special bonus episode of the investigation on Chris fluster, senior executive producer here at ABC news. Joining me here in the studio to senior members of our task force Johnson to cheat and Matt mosque, but we have to special guests with us senior Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas and Capitol Hill. Correspondent Mary Bruce who? Sitting outside this hearing room. But what a day it's been on Capitol Hill today and attorney general Bill bar has really truly been on the hotseat. And I think it was a letter that came out last night that exposed that gave Democrats some ammunition to fire these bullets at him. And what it what it basically calls into question was two things. One did Bill bar mischaracterize. The Muller report when he first put out that four page letter and to was Bill bar as forthcoming and honest and even truthful during his congressional hearing a couple of weeks ago. So now as I said, we have Mary, Bruce and Pierre Thomas blitz listen to one of the first testy exchanges of many from Senator Pat, Lahey describing the incident. Test by April night that you didn't know the concerns being expressed by Muller's tape back. You heard those concerns directly from Mr. baller two weeks before. Well, as I said, I talked directly to Bob Muller about his letter to me. And specifically ask them. What exactly are your concerns? Are you saying that the March twenty four th letter was misleading or an accurate or what he indicated that? It was not he was not saying that. And that would he was concerned about my question, Mr. bar using learn the filibuster rules, even better than surgeries. Do. I question was why did you say you were not aware of concerned when weeks before your testimony, Mr. molar express concerns too? I mean, that's a fairly simple answer the question. And the question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. I don't know what that refers to it. All I talked directly to Bob Muller. Not members. Of his team. And even though I did not know what was being referred to and had and Muller had never told me that that that the expression of the findings was inaccurate. But I did then volunteer that I thought they were talking about the desire to have more information but out, but it wasn't my purpose to put out more in for, you know, listen when I heard that Mary it reminded me. No, I talk about my Clinton days a lot. But it reminded me of another person who is very good at parsing language. Can we go back and listen to a very famous person who's excellent parsing language? It depends upon what the meaning of the word is. Mary. What do you think? Do you just have that ready at the radio button that you just push your Clinton button ringtone wakes me up in the morning. Tearing down. But seriously, it reminded me of those days that there's a lot to unpack your first of all that. That's democrat crats are have been very quick to point out. Look that the Bill bar. Yes. He is a lawyer. And he seems to be doing some very careful lawyer Lee parsing of the words here when you look at the big picture, right? This letter that that came out that we learned overnight the Muller letter in which he essentially complained to the attorney general about the way that he was summarizing his report that was a bombshell here for Democrats because they look at this letter, and they say that it underscores their concerns about the attorney general they say, it reinforces their criticisms and accusations that that they feel that the attorney general has been essentially acting at the president's behest that he's been doing Donald Trump's bidding and trying to create a narrative here about the report that would benefit the president. Because of course, while Muller found no determination on the question of obstruction of Justice. Bill barr. Did and said that the president did not ABS. Justice. What you hear in this exchange with with Lahey and bar? And why it's so interesting is that it gets at the question of whether bars been misleading congress when he answered questions in his previous testimony when he told lawmakers that he didn't know whether Muller supported his conclusions. And when he didn't realize when he when he testified about the time, it was reporting that members of mothers teams were frustrated with the way that Barr had put out that four page summary and bar, you know, essentially just that he wasn't aware of any of those concerns. We'll now based on this letter Democrats say that was misleading. They feel the Bill bar was deliberately misleading that he was deceptive in the way that he explained this to congress. And it's why you're now seeing so much anger and frustration from Democrats that's leading to many Democrats saying look it's time for Bill bar to recuse himself or to resign flat out. You have a one democrat saying you should be impeached. I don't think they're gonna go that far. But it's it's upped the ante here when it comes to the concerns that Democrats have about the attorney general appear. Isn't the billboard the bottom line with Bill bar is he ended up putting the whole report out isn't isn't that isn't that his like shield saying guys? What's the problem here? I you have read the four hundred and forty pages. Now at the end of the day. That's what the people around him are saying is that he's released an overwhelming majority of the Muller investigation and its findings the bottom line here is that here's what's unusual number one that several days after a bar released. This March twenty fourth what he called a summation of conclusion the bottom line conclusions. As he calls them, the military was not happy. And they felt that he needed to put out more information. Now Barr says that he picked up the phone and called Muller and Muller. Expressed his concerns. He went out of his way. According to barter say, you were not inaccurate, nor where you misleading, but they clearly wanted more information out as item one item to here is that bar is today in some ways paying a price because he did not tell congress in an initial hearing about this letter from Muller and about this exchange. He believes that this is not indicative of a real bit of strife between the two men. But it's it's you know, a situation now where he's dealing with. And I think the thing I'm struck most today's hearing that he sitting there calmly he feels very confident that he's made principal decisions. And while the Democrats are suggesting that he you know, is basically the presence attorney. And not acting as a law enforcement officer. He he seems non pressed he he's he seems like he really doesn't care about those descriptions now we'll have to see what he does if they turn to heat and try to hold them in contempt or something like that. But that his his bottom line to to go back to the beginning of your question is that look we put out the report. Right. I was what I was trying to do is got a report delivered to me. And I looked at that report. And I said, you know, it's going to take a few weeks to get the full report or most of out I felt like because of the public hue and cry for some information, I was gonna put out something, and guess what? I did it. But here's the problem politically with that from from Democrats point of view is that wall you'll have bar and those who support our many Republicans will say look ultimately put the whole thing out. Right. And even have Muller saying that that in this letter that you know, none of these summaries that he put out were or inaccurate or misleading. It's a timing issue. Because what Democrats will point on his. Yes, he put out the full report. But the Bill bar. Centrally got head start that he got out there and framed the narrative, and that that was the narrative that was beneficial to the president. It was a narrative that the president took and went running with it. It's the narrative that allowed the president to be tweeting. You know? Even again, just a few hours ago. No collusion. No obstruction full exoneration. And and the president's critics will save you dig down into this report. That's not what the report says. But that was the narrative that was allowed to be baked early on based on that four page summary that port four page letter the Bill bar put out did put out a much more to the full report on the full redacted report, right and Lois. Cheers gears a little bit here. Because this is obviously been a long day for Bill borrow Christmas. Saying source e how at some moments now, he sort of getting a little more tense as the question is going on and on and on. But one area they did explore. When the senators were asking questions is that what we're his thoughts about certain individuals testifying. He was asked about Don Mcgann. He was asked about Bob Muller. Here's what he said. Do you have any objections? Can you think of action of white Don Mcgann shouldn't come testify before this committee about his experience? Yes. I mean, I think that he's he he's a close adviser to the president ever the president executive privilege excuse me may have already waived is now we haven't waived executive privilege. Well at this point. Do you believe you're saying what about Bob mower, should he be allowed to testify before this? I've already said publicly I have no Jackson and Don Mcgann, should he be allowed to testify? I that's a call for the president to me. Well, his private citizens this points. Sumit be testifying about privileged matters. Mary. Let's get a reality. Check here from the hill. What do members of congress want? They want. Bob muller. They won down Mcgann. Also, right. Yeah. They'll take anyone they can get. But they particularly want Muller, especially after the new revelations about this letter. They say look the bars they're questioning bar so much and questioning his separation from the president so much that they say that they have to hear from bar excuse me. They say they have to hear from Muller himself as soon as possible they've made these requests already. They've reached. Out to Muller asking him to testify before the end of the month, two separate committees have and they're still waiting to hear back from him. And I've asked several Democrats today. You know, what's the hold up? Why do you think you haven't heard back from Muller, and you get some very interesting responses? You know, there's a lot of sort of about eyebrow. Raising one Senator looked point blankets that that's a very good question. I wish I had an answer. There's some concern that the Justice department is holding him back. What's interesting is that ultimately, you know, Muller's going to be a private citizen sometime in the near future. And once he is the Justice burnt won't be able to prevent him from coming up here. And of course, they could always subpoena him if they need to. But there are some Democrats who feel there's some stonewalling going on here appear Bilbo or kind of bummer and billboard been friends for almost thirty years. But today Bill bar criticize Bob Muller and said, hey, he should have made a determination about the obstruction question. That's why I had to make the determination. How do you think about Muller's going to take that you know, his head and spoken publicly in two years? He. He might not like it. The two men have is is fascinating to me dealt with each other. You know, very delicately in the in recent weeks where would fascinating to me that for example bar today. He doesn't know why Muller did not make that prosecutorial judgement one way or the other. Well, he could ask him, and he could press them on it. But apparently they've not done that. So I think one of the issues with the story today. Chris is this. Nothing. That's been said today at that hearing so far one way or the other is probably going to change the minds of anyone who is you against the president. Or anyone who is, you know, for the democratic, you know, point of view, or anyone who thinks that this has been a witch, and that's part of the issue, and you hit on earlier that ultimately reports come out most of it has and what you have is just more information about whether there's been tension between Muller and bar. And I just I think that that's part of the mentoring part about this story. You never get any definitive answer about anything hasn't this exposed here a little bit the the flaw in the special counsel system in that it really while it's publicly that Muller was independent that he was able to proceed on this investigation as he saw fit. At the end of the day. He works for Bill bar, right right in the attorney general went out of his way to today to make that point. He said essentially think of Bob Miller as US attorney his job was to do an investigation and follow a follow report. And he works for me bar said he works for me. And and there was a quote that he was almost funny. He said, it was my baby, you know, at that point. He said after Muller follows report, quote, it was my baby. In other words, the follow call rested with him. He expressed surprise that mother wouldn't make this prosecutor judgment. And he made the point. And Chris said, it it was sort of a jab when he said look does the job. Do the investigation and make the call Mary what about Republicans today? Well, what do have they scored any points? What are they? I mean, they seem to be talking about the struck FBI agents the crop that be I, but it's it doesn't seem like I don't understand their defense is there one. Well, what's interesting is that this has become for Democrats is become so much of a hearing about bar and Nana -sarily about Trump and you're hearing from Republicans. Remember, this is a committee that is chaired by Lindsey Graham, one of the president's top allies on the hill. You're hearing them focus so much on their calls for this investigation into the investigation the origins of the Muller investigation and the Russia probe. They wanna go all the way back and look at that. And what they claim was biased against the president. I've heard the name Hillary Clinton more today than I expected from Republicans. Although I guess that should should come as no surprise. But they say, that's what the attention should be focused on the one thing. That's interesting that both sides agree on, and it's an important point to to to remember years it when you. Look at the big picture. There's an election coming up, and I'm not saying that to talk about politics saying that talk about about security. There's a big focus from both sides of the about how to protect this democracy going forward. Given the fact that there are deep concerns about ongoing Russian meddling, and what lessons can be learned from from from the conclusions of this report, and how to prevent that from happening again and married to congress feel compelled now, I mean, did you get a sense that they feel compelled know that they're going to have to do something tangible to address that they are the question is can they come together to do that you heard Lindsey Graham in his opening remarks that, you know, he hopes that the committee can work in a bipartisan way going forward to try and address some of these concerns, and everyone has has a vested interest in this. It's just a matter of what that looks like Mary, I just wanna go back to what you were talking about Lindsey Graham and really the person they're playing defense for the White House. I mean, you soar in that opening exchange right out of the gate with the attorney general the questions that Graham was. Asking him. You know, basically getting him to agree with the fact that the investigation was done the right way. Take a listen to this. Thank you did thorough job. Yes. And I think he feels he did a thorough job and had adequate evidence to make the calls. Do you think the president's campaign and twenty sixteen was thoroughly looked at in terms of whether or not they colluded with the Russians. Yes. And the answer is no. According to Bob Muller. That's right. He couldn't decide about obstruction. You did. Is that correct? That's right. You feel good about your decision. Absolutely. Thank you very much. So Mary that is, you know, soon enough going to be the end around one in the Senate, we've got round two in the house. I mean, what how is that going to look different to people? They're going to tune in for this rounds, obviously, Jerry Nadler's committee. It's run by Democrats. Do we expect more fire and fury expected to be a little calmer? What what's your estimate of what what's going to look different? Is that Bill? Are may not be there right now, it is still unclear if this hearings actually gonna go on tomorrow, and it comes down to a fight over format and both sides are still digging. It the democratic chairman Jerrold Nadler of the House Judiciary committee says that in addition to having members of the committee ask questions they wanna have staff attorneys. Also, do go round to be able to ask from both sides. Republicans be able to ask questions of the attorney general Barr says if that's the way it's going to go he's not coming. And now is holding firm saying, well, you know, this isn't up for negotiation. There is some precedent for that. It is rare to have staff attorneys ask questions, but not unprecedented. But Republicans say that's just gonna make the whole thing a complete sideshow. So we don't know what's going to happen. It's entirely possible. Tomorrow there will be a hearing in an empty chair. So it will look very different. But but to get back to your question in the point about that that what Graham was saying that is chairman Graham and Republicans trying to turn the page saying look an investigation was done. It was thorough. You know Muller did his job bar. Has done his job. It's time to move on. And that's what you're going to continue to hear from Republicans over and over again. Pure lost word here. Some of the senators have gone they've gone as far as calling him a liar that call them a lap dog for the president and talking about that he should resign. Do you think Bill bars regretting taking this job as attorney general? I mean, he was this attorney general twenty five years ago and had an impeccable reputation now now look at it. Well, I have on excellent sourcing that quote, he knew what he was getting into and chose to take the job. And if you recall his confirmation hearing, the things he said over and over again is that he's been in his career long enough where he could do this job and take the fire from all sides if necessary and do what he felt like he thought was right? And from that standpoint, he's very calm about it. I can tell you about that. And he seems to be taking the approach that I'm doing what I'm doing. I'll make the calls need to make. And I live with the results. Okay. Well, that's a perfect way of ending. Our special bonus episode covering the attorney general's testimony on Capitol Hill, be sure to hit subscribe and leave us a rating and remember new episodes drop every Tuesday. Thanks to our producers Trevor Hastings, Emily Chelsea Caitlyn Falmer, and we'll see you back here next week for another episode of the investigation.