Robert Ray Interviewed on CNN Newsroom on Mueller’s Russia Investigation

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BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, Phil Mudd, CNN counterterror analyst and former FBI senior intelligence adviser and Robert Ray, former independent counsel on the Whitewater investigation. Counsel, I’m going to start with you with the breaking news that we just got from the White House. This release of just how cooperative they have been.

[10:10:03] I mean, I think that seems to be the message here. We put forward all these people. We turned over all these documents. What message were they sending? Why is it important?

ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Well, I think the administration, the message they want to send and they’re getting better at sending it is that they hope to wrap this investigation up sooner rather than later. The only way that that’s possible, of course, is that they have to both appear to be cooperative and be cooperative. And I think it is also a negotiating tactic with Special Counsel Mueller’s office to be able to control the breadth and scope of the interview of the president.

HARLOW: So, you’re saying that more people that they give Mueller to talk to, the less he will ask for in the president’s interview?

RAY: Well, I understand it doesn’t appear to be directly related. But the point is that they want to have the public accept the fact that they have been cooperative. And therefore they are going to be insistent on the fact that this is not going to be a free roving interview about any and all topic. It is going to be limited to the topics that the president wants it limited to. You want to talk about collusion. I’m prepared to talk about that. You want to talk about obstruction of justice and the firing of the FBI director. You want to talk about things related to Michael Flynn. I’m going to talk about that. I’m not talking about the Trump organization. I’m not talking about what happened in the — I’m talking about a whole lot of other things. I’m talking about the reason why the Special Counsel’s Office was put in place.

BERMAN: I can see what you’re saying there. If they try to limit the discussion between the president and people complain, why are you trying to keep us away –

RAY: I’ve been fully cooperative. We have been cooperative and we’re going to be cooperative to a limit, the appropriate narrow scope of your investigation.

…(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “NEW YORK TIMES”: He says collusion between the campaign, does he mean himself or does he mean that no one on his campaign could have known anything?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think he’s stating for himself and to anything that he would be a part of or know about or have sanctioned, but that would be something that, again, I think he’s very clearly laid out. He and his campaign had nothing to do with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: I mean, that’s fascinating, that all of a sudden there is this sort of narrow definition from the White House.

RAY: Look, I don’t know about that.

HARLOW: They said it is just about the president. This isn’t about his team or any of that. How do you see it?

RAY: Well, I mean, the only issue with regard to the campaign, I mean, he’s the head of the campaign, is really collusion that would amount to a crime. And I have to tell you, I understand the political interest in the word collusion, but the only relevant to me, really –

HARLOW: Is the law.

RAY: — would be the law and the only thing that Mueller is charged with, this is not, like, let me find out cosmically whether there has been collusion. The only type of collusion that would make a difference under the law would be the type of collusion that would be the Russians’ promise to do x in order to help get you elected and they’re expecting y after you are inaugurated to help them with regard to policy, got to be a quid pro quo. Absent that, all this collusion stuff is a hobby horse for you know, politics, frankly.

BERMAN: What he just did there was, a line was drawn saying that you know, I’m only saying no collusion to the stuff that I know about, I did myself. And anything else that happened, hey, you know, hands off.

[10:15:05] RAY: That’s a separate issue for the country about whether or not the Russians are trying to influence the election. The only thing he can speak to really in terms of the Mueller investigation is what it is, either he did, he sanctioned or he knew about. That’s it.

BERMAN: Robert Ray, Philip Mudd, great to have you here with us, guys. Appreciate it.