January 14, 2019

Reliable Source's Brian Stelter told Carl Bernstein the Mueller report should be done by now, and asked Bernstein what he meant when he said the obstruction is not separate from the collusion question.

"These are exactly what these newspapers are signaling this weekend. How you did you know this? Where is this coming from?" he asked.

Bernstein said the New York Times and the Washington Post were more advanced on the story than he was.

"But I did know something, and part of what I know comes from lawyers of some of the other defendants in this matter who have appeared before Mueller, including members of the joint defense team which collaborates with the White House, and those lawyers believe the president has been lying at every turn about his relationship with Russia, about those of his aides. Look, let us look at all of the lies, follow the money, follow the lies. They are all mostly and most vehemently about Russia. Whether we are talking about Flynn, Trump, his son, Kushner, back to lying about questions having to do with Russia, about what happened at the Trump Tower meeting. The president of the United States drafts a totally false statement about what happened at that meeting that his son was at.

"Look, you set it up right," Bernstein told Stetler.

"We don't know the answers, but what we do know is that Donald Trump has tried to convince us that unless there is some kind of smoking gun, a recording of him in the room with Putin saying, 'Yes, Vladimir, i will do your bidding,' there has been, quote, no collusion. That's nonsense. What this counterintelligence investigation was about, unprecedented, the FBI -- and this is not about the deep state, this is about the most serious counterintelligence people we have in the U.S. government saying, 'Oh my God, the president's words and actions lead us to conclude that he is a witting, unwitting or half-witting pawn certainly in some regards to Vladimir Putin.

"Trump keeps going back to the idea we need better relations are Russia. Could be. He could well be right. But from a point of view of strength and what everybody can see is that he has not acted with Russia from the United States having a strength advantage with Russia -- rather, he has done what appears to be Putin's goals. He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not, and that is part of what the draft of Mueller's report, I'm told, is to be about.

"What fits hand in glove is both the cover-up and the possibility likelihood -- we know there has been collusion. we know there has been collusion by Flynn. We know there has been collusion of some sort by Manafort. The question is, yes, what did the president know and when did he know it?" he said, echoing his and Bob Woodward's famous line from their Watergate coverage.

"But also it could be unwitting, half-witting, that's what we're going to find out. But the idea that this is just benign behavior and conduct, there is nothing benign about what the consequences of this having happened. What the hell happened at Helsinki? Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, still does not know what happened at Helsinki because the president, as that great Washington Post story points out, hasn't allowed his aides to know or to say what they know about what happened at Helsinki and in his other meetings with Putin.

"Why is he so beholden? And you know, it's his son that told us years ago, hey, we do a tremendous amount of business in Russia."

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