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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 17, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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the centers for disease control say 130 americans die every day from these pills, both legal and otherwise, which means, jake, that a little more than five have died since this show began. >> tom foreman, thank you so much. be sure to tune into cnn tomorrow morning at 6:00 eastern for our special coverage of the mueller report. our coverage on cnn continues right now. thanks for watching. the justice department announced that william barr will hold a news conference on the mueller report tomorrow morning, and president trump suggests he may do the same thing as he launches a pre-emptive strike with a round of radio interviews and twitter rants. more assange charges. new documents reveal an ongoing criminal investigation in the case of wikileaks founder julian assange. are prosecutors now looking into wikileaks' handling of
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democratic emails stolen by russia? stonewalling. democrats are poised to subpoena the full mueller report and supporting evidence, but the trump administration is already stonewalling document demands in several investigations. how long can the standoff continue? and found dead. the woman who was viewed as a threat to denver-area schools, including columbine, is found dead. now investigators are trying to learn if she had accomplices. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. breaking news. we're just hours away from the release of the mueller report, and the justice department says attorney general william barr will hold a news conference about it in the morning. president trump suggests he may follow suit, and in radio interviews, the president says you'll see a lot of strong things come out tomorrow, his words. it will be a redacted version of
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mueller's report, but administration officials are worried the president will explode in fury if it reveals their testimony to mueller's team. a republican source warns the president will, quote, go bonkers. he's already been hyperventilating via twitter, calling the mueller probe a witch hunt, a total fraud, instigated, and i'm quoting him now, by a bunch of dirty cops and democrats. while he falsely claims chon ration, democrats note the report does not draw conclusion on obstruction, and they're poised to subpoena the full report with supporting evidence. i'll speak with congressman andre carson of the intelligence committee. our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's begin with the breaking news. our cnn justice reporter laura jarrett is joining us from the justice department. things are moving dramatically right now just ahead of the release of the mueller report. first of all, tell our viewers what you're learning. >> well, wolf, while much of the report itself still remains a mystery, we've now learned that the attorney general bill barr
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plans to hold a news conference tomorrow morning at 9:30 here at the justice department. he'll be joined on stage with the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, who appointed mueller and has been overseeing the investigation for much of its nearly two-year-long life. i'm told by a source familiar with the plans for tomorrow that barr's expected to provide an overview of the report, sort of explain his thinking, and also address some process related questions. of course, the big issue is when exactly is the report coming out? the justice department still not saying that at this hour. but barr clearly attempting to try to take the reins and control the narrative here, wolf. >> this news conference in the morning, 9:30 a.m. eastern. in relation to when the report will be released certainly is key. i assume that reporters, the public, will get a copy of the 400-page redacted mueller report before he actually goes out and makes a statement and answers
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reporters' questions. >> we just don't know yet, wolf. the timing is very fluid, and the justice department is being very tight lipped about it. i can tell you we do know at some point cardioloongress, rep the public will have access to the full report online. we know that's going to be redacted, everything from grand jury information to ongoing investigations. we can expect to see those color coded redactions. remember what barr said last week. we'll see more than just the gist, so we should manage our kpn kp expectations on those redactions. >> stand by for a moment. i want to bring in evan perez and jeffrey toobin. give us your analysis, evan. obviously we want to see the actual 400-page redacted mueller report before we can start asking serious questions of the attorney general. >> right. well, wolf, first of all, i'm not assuming that we are going to see the report before the attorney general does his press conference. i don't think that's an assumption anybody should make
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at this point. secondly, the announcement of this press conference came from the president in a radio interview this afternoon, which is definitely not the way the justice department planned for this to come out. and that's something that's important for us to underscore. this is an important moment for this attorney general, for this justice department. this is an investigation that's been independent. and this is an important moment for the justice department and the attorney general to show some distance from the white house. so it's problematic, at least from the optics, for the president to be making an announcement about something that the attorney general is going to be doing about this investigation that has centered on the president. so it's just not a good look. and it just really -- again, it helps further some of the accusations that people have been making against the attorney general that perhaps he's playing a little bit of rear guard for the president. this is not the way this should have gone today. and you got to think that the attorney general understands that. >> well, is he trying to control the narrative? is that what --
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>> sure, i think if you're him, this is the one opportunity you have to control the narrative. but i also do think, though, that this is the first time he's going to answer questions from us. so i think it's an important time for that. there are also big questions he needs to be able to answer, including, for example, did the justice department ever come close to subpoenaing the president over the obstruction investigation? that's something we don't even need to look at the report for. we know from his letter enough information that we can certainly ask some very good questions tomorrow, even if we haven't had a time to go through the report. i don't think the press conference is going to be a waste. there's going to be a lot of information there from him. i also do think that given bill barr has a tendency to go off script, i think it's going to be something that perhaps he's going to have to live with for some time to come. i think you should pay attention to everything he says. >> i think he would get some praise, the attorney general, jeffrey, if they release the
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report let's say at 6:00 a.m., even 7:00 p.m. everybody can have a few hours to read it. then he comes out, makes a statement, and then says, go ahead, your best questions. >> this is political news management 101. most americans are going to see william barr describing what's in the report before they see anyone else describing it. and william barr is going to y say, i was right three weeks ago or four weeks ago, whatever it was, that the conclusions are as follows. no one will have the opportunity to say otherwise. the report either will not be out, or certainly most of us will not -- and the reporters in the room will not have a chance to have gone through it. so you know, i think the phrase we've all started to use is controlling the narrative. this is a political judgment on the part of the white house and the department of justice that they are going to tell the
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american people what the report says before anyone can read the actual report. >> and it is a sensitive issue, laura, that the president is announcing there's going to be a news conference at the justice department by the attorney general on this really, really sensitive issue, the 400-page redacted mueller report, even before the justice department makes it official. >> it sure it. you know, this is one of the risks, i guess, when you tell the president something. there's a chance he might just tweet it out or might just say it on a local radio station. and we don't know all the backgrounds of what exactly transpired here. clearly he's now saying that he may hold a press conference and may take questions. but to underscore evan's point, this is certainly a time where the justice department is trying to hold itself up as an institution. it's obviously part of the executive branch. i think that's important to note, but at a time like this where the president is clearly
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implicated in a major portion of the report, meaning the obstruction of justice section of it, i think that there is some delicate balancing going on here. >> because the president also said in one of these radio interviews he did today that we'll see, in his words, and i'm quoting now, some strong stuff come out tomorrow. do we know if the justice department has briefed the president already or if the president has been allowed to see the nearly 400-page report? >> the president and his legal team say they have not seen the report. whether or not they've been given any tea leaves or any briefing or anything like that, i'm sure we'll find out in the days to come. but they say they have not seen the actual report. if you think about it, it sort of insulates them a little bit to be able to say that. maybe they've got an briefing, but having actually not had the physical report in their hand allows them to have a little plausible deniability. >> how do you see it, evan? >> i think laura is right. they've been careful to tap
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dance around that question. i can bet you that's one of the first questions we'll be asking of the attorney general during his press conference. obviously the president knows something. if he was told about the press conference, some information was passed on to the white house and the president before he went on to this radio show to essentially break the news. it creates additional problems for the attorney general. this is not a new problem he needed to have. the attorney general created some problems last time when he was in congress where he referred to spying on the trump campaign. the president immediately goes out and not only endorses it but then sends out campaign fundraising endorsing what the attorney general said. these are not helpful things for the attorney general because if you want to show some independence that this is an investigation that's been done seriously and with some distance from the white house, then this is not the way to do it. >> evan's right if you believe that the attorney general should have his role defined as it's
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traditionally been defined by, which is a measure of some independence. this is a different administration. the president has been complaining since he appointed jeff sessions that he doesn't have one of his lawyers in at the justice department. now what we're seeing is it looks like he does. it looks like he has someone who is the same as the secretary of education and the secretary of commerce, someone who works for him, not for the institution, and that's how barr has portrayed himself so far in his press conference, in his congressional testimony. so yes, that's true in terms of the traditional role of the justice department, but the donald trump justice department looks very different. >> rod rosenstein, jeffrey, the deputy attorney general outgoing, he was the acting attorney general. he criticized james comey at the time of the hillary clinton conclusion of her investigation for having a news conference and spilling all that information
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even though she wasn't going to be charged with any criminal wrongdoing. >> rod rosenstein has had one of the longest farewells since cher. i think it's a little unfair to predict what barr is going to say. i don't know what he's going to say, if he's going to embarrass himself, what he's going to do. the only thing i think you can assume he's going to say it he was right before. his characterization of the report was right. now you can see for yourself, even though by the time he speaks, none of us will have seen it or seen it for very long. >> laura, very quickly, does it create an appearance potentially for the attorney general of impropriety. >> i don't think of it as much of impropriety as what is the motivation and setting the tone for the day. again, we have to see when exactly the report is released in relation to this press
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conference. if we walk in in the morning and it's 9:30 and we don't have a report, the questions will be a lot less informed because we won't have the benefit of those 400 pages to pore through. so there will be a different tone. as evan said, we will still get information out of it. to the james comey point, i think the situation is quite different. this is the attorney general making a statement, not the fbi director. he's not going to get out there and provide derogatory information about an uncharged process. he's going to talk about his thinking. he might talk about redactions. he could talk about a whole slew of things that don't have to do with the underlying charges. but i think we should wait and see and wait and see the report. we've made a lot of assumptions about what he's doing in terms of being the president's hand-picked attorney general. we may see a different report tomorrow. >> and very quickly, once again, laura, robert mueller, he helped the attorney general, the deputy attorney general decide what should be redacted, what shouldn't be redacted. is there any indication at all we're getting that he may be at this news conference tomorrow morning as well? >> that would be news.
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no, i do not have any indication we're going to have a rare robert mueller sighting tomorrow, much less take questions. certainly that would be something. i think he's going to stay under the radar as he has continued to do for the past two years, wolf. >> should he stay under the radar, jeffrey? >> i think it would be a bad look for him to be part of this press conference. he's going to have a chance to speak on his own if he wants. he'll undoubtedly be asked to speak before congress. given the contentious nature, it appears, of the relationship between the justice department and the special counsel, it doesn't seem likely he'll be used as a prop tomorrow. >> i speak for all journalists, we're happy when senior officials give us news conferences and we can ask tough questions. everybody stand by. there's more urgent news we're following. i want to go to our chief white house correspondent jim acosta. the president is hinting, as we just have been reporting, he may actually hold a news conference later in the day tomorrow. what are you hearing? >> reporter: wolf, it sounds
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like the communications director in chief over here is getting warmed up at the white house. president trump told a local washington, d.c., radio station this afternoon, as you were just saying that, attorney general william barr will be holding a news conference tomorrow to go over what's being released from the mueller report. the president also hinted he might hold his own news conference. so fasten your seat belts for that. the president was also sounding off on the probe during this interview, at one point raising questions about former president barack obama's role in this investigation, a warning sign he's not going to be pleased about what's coming out in this report. i've talked to people who have spoke within the special counsel's office. one former aide here at the white house says the white house told officials they had talked to investigators, raising the question why the president would be so upset with all of that cooperation. as the president tried to stay on script at the white house, current and former trump aides were nervously anticipating the findings from attorney general william barr's redacted version of the mueller report. one former administration official scoffed at the notion
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that the president could be upset with what comes out in the report, as some trump aides were told they had to cooperate and that in some cases their email addresses were handed over to the special counsel's team. democrats are wondering why there's so much anxiety and are ready to review the findings. >> i want to understand what the mueller report found on the issue of obstruction of justice. we know that the mueller report doesn't exonerate the president. the mueller report refused to make a conclusion. we should see what evidence the mueller team collected. >> reporter: a former justice department official who's familiar with the investigation says there could be embarrassing details about the president in the report, but this former official cautioned the president is impossible to embarrass, despite the fact he's already welcomed mueller's findings of no collusion with russia during the campaign, the president is still trashing the probe tweeting, the witch hunt has been a total fraud on your president and the american people. it was brought to you by dirty cops, crooked hillary, and the dnc. as he awaits the findings, the president is weighing in on the democratic field for 2020,
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tweeting, i believe it will be crazy bernie sanders versus sleepy joe biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best economy in the history of our country and many other great things. i look forward to facing whoever it may be. may god rest their soul. sanders fired back, looks like president trump is scared of our campaign. he should be. in an interview on sirius xm, the president relished the idea of running against a self-described socialist. >> our country is doing so well, and if we ever went socialistic, if we became a socialist country, you could write off this country. this country would go down so fast. >> reporter: the trump administration is also finding new ways to crack down on the border with the proposal to detain migrants seeking asylum instead of releasing them as their cases are heard. top republicans say they're willing to accept the tough policy. >> so we do need to address the problem in the here and now. i hear people, let's send billions down and repair the economies of central america. that's not going to happen. we have to address this problem.
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>> reporter: now, as for the mueller report, the former official who spoke with the special counsel's office that i talked with earlier today, this person told me it may have been better to talk to the grand jury instead of the investigatorins. the lesson learned after talking to mueller's team is, quote, don't cooperate. and wolf, getting back to the president possibly talking to reporters tomorrow, it does raise the question why the white house, why the president was in such a celebratory mood when the barr letter came out, summing up the mueller findings. the other question, of course, obviously, is why the president feels the need to try to reshape the news cycle if he has nothing to worry about. certainly goes to this narrative that we've heard over the last several days that anxiety levels are going up over here at the white house, and among those officials, those former officials who spoke with the mueller team. >> going to be a dramatic day tomorrow for sure. jim acosta, thank you.
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lets get more on the breaking news. senior congressional correspondent manu raju is joining us from capitol hill. if the mueller report comes back heavily redacted, how do you expect democrats to immediately react? >> reporter: expect the house judiciary committee to issue subpoenas as soon as this week. they're not saying exactly when they'll issue subpoenas, but they want to see exactly what is redacted. there's an expectation here on capitol hill that there will be a significant amount of redactions that will prompt a subpoena fight. democrats will try to issue a subpoena for the full mueller report. they're also going to try to go to court to demand that grand jury information be released to capitol hill. also, wolf, expect subpoenas to be issued to five former white house officials who cooperated with the mueller probe, who may have received documents from the white house as they cooperated with the probe's look into potential obstruction of justice. so on multiple fronts, subpoenas would could be issued. but resistance from the justice
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department is certainly expected. that could mean court fights that could last for some time and what capitol hill ultimately sees remains a big question. >> do these committees have the time, the resources, the political will to keep fighting for these documents as they go through court procedures? it could take quite a while. . >> reporter: it could take quite a while. according to a senior house democratic aide, there have been 35 requests for information to the administration that have either been slow walked or gotten no response at all from the administration. they point to nine trump administration officials where they've asked to testify who have not asked to testify. there are some outstanding subpoena requests that they're demanding information. some of these could end up in court. the white house says the house democrats are overreaching in their requests, but nevertheless, this fight could take up much of the next two years, could end up in court, and could test exactly how much oversight congress can give the
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executive branch. >> clearly the stakes are enormous. manu raju on capitol hill, thank you. joining us now, democratic congressman andre carson. thanks so much for joining us. let's get to the breaking news right away. the president says he may hold a news conference on the mueller report tomorrow. we're already hearing from white house officials who are having serious second thoughts about having cooperated with the special counsel. does that tell you anything about what we should expect from this redacted version of the mueller report? >> in many ways, yes. i think the president wants to get ahead of the media frenzy that will inevitably take place as a result of the full report being released. i'm concerned about the reza redactions in the report, what it means, to what extent are we protecting sensitive sources and methods. and hopefully as we go further,
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how much of it is how broad is it, how ambiguous is it? i'm hoping we don't get muddled with redactions that we can't get to the root of the report. and if the president really believes that no wrongdoing has taken place, he should feel okay. i think what director mueller has essentially done since the president hasn't been indicted, he's really left the task up to congress. after we review the legal nuance and comb through this report, he's left the task of indictment, if there's a cause for indictment, he's left it up to congress. >> the attorney general, william barr, is going to hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning here in washington. we don't know if the full report will have been released by then. we hope it will have been released a few hours earlier so people could go through, read the 400-page document and ask tough, serious questions. but is he trying -- already there's some speculation the attorney general is trying to control the narrative. what's your reaction?
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>> of course he is. the attorney general was hand picked by the president given his history to essentially protect the president. both the president and the attorney general are essentially working together in a very real sense to get ahead of the messaging, to get ahead of the narrative, to kind of frame this in a way that will not impact the president going into the 2020 election. >> the report is supposedly close to 400 pages. we don't know how many of those pages will be blacked out or redacted. what specific information will you be looking for as you read through the document? >> things that haven't been established. i'll be looking for things like the extent of the president's associates, even the president himself in terms of the obstruction of justice, those persons who went before the house intel committee of which i serve, to what extent did they try to obstruct justice or even lie to the intelligence committee. those are the kinds of things i'll be looking for. also, looking at things that are
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unredacted, certain individuals who have acted as sources, critical sources. but i understand as being the chairman over the counter intelligence subcommittee on intelligence that there are serious national security concerns that probably should not be made available to the public, wolf. so we have to protect those things as well. but in a very real sense, i want the american people to see to it that we're being good stewards over their taxpayer dollars and their personal interests as this report is released. >> you don't want sensitive, classified information that could undermine sources and methods to be released to the public, but do you want your committee to have access to that information? >> without question. i think the committees who deal with that kind of information, the intel committee and certainly the judiciary committee and democratic leadership will have that kind of information, but the wllaw o averages, once you have so many
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human being involved, that information will inevitably get leaked at some point. >> congressman andre carson, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. up next, more on the breaking news. the attorney general will hold a news conference tomorrow morning to accompany the release of a redacted version of the mueller report. president trump says he may do the same thing. democrats are poised to subpoena the full version of the report. lots going on. we'll be right back.
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it comes to the investigation into this president? do you really believe attorney general barr read a nearly 400-page report in one day? and that his 4-page summary is the whole truth? i'm tom steyer, and i'm organizing an effort to to release the full mueller report now and let the american people decide. if you think we have a right to read the report for ourselves, you can call the attorney general at this number. our tax dollars paid for the report. don't let him cover up the truth. so, every day, we put our latest technology and unrivaled network to work. the united states postal service makes more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country. i'm begging you... take gas-x.ed beneath the duvet your tossing and turning isn't restlessness, it's gas! gas-x relieves pressure, bloating and discomfort... fast! so we can all sleep easier tonight.
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now, you'll see a lot of very strong things come out. attorney general william barr will take questions at a news conference at 9:30 a.m. eastern tomorrow morning. that raises a lot of questions, lots of discussion points for our analysts and our correspondents who are here. susan, what do you think? the attorney general going to make a statement and answer reporters' questions at 9:30 even though we don't know for sure that the actual report will have been released by then. >> certainly a little bit of a strange decision to hold that 9:30 press conference. of course, if it's in advance of the report, why weigh in now when he declined just last week, saying let's wait for the report to come out. if it's shortly after the report comes out, that itself is a little bit of an odd decision. we've been told this is a 400-page report. it's going to take time for people to read and digest that information and ask substantive questions. there's a concern if this conversation is essentially timed for the report to be released and then immediately thereafter, therefore not
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allowing people time to actually read what's in it, that really it's a press conference that's not so much about answering substantive questions but instead about controlling the narrative right out the gate. >> the person who made the announcement about the bill barr news conference, abby, is the president of the united states. he said barr is going to have a news conference. he may hold a news conference, the president himself. it's pretty unusual for the president to be making an announcement like that. >> it is. it just reflects that he has some idea of what's coming tomorrow in the sense that he understands the logistics of it. but he's also eager to respond himself, fire back, and shape the narrative. in some ways what barr is doing tomorrow is going to be yet another summary of this mueller investigation. whether it comes out moments before or after the report is released to the public, it's clearly going to be at a time when people have not had a significant amount of time to digest what's in the report. so barr is going to be, in many cases, framing the narrative. the president wants to take the opportunity to do that yet again when he speaks to reporters.
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just in my experience, as someone who covers him, this is not a president who's particularly concerned with the details really ever. i don't expect that whatever he says about what's in the report to be really wedded to what is actually in it. it's going to be just, i think, a lot more of the spin that we've been hearing from the last several days, no collusion, no obstruction. >> as we know, the president likes to break news. in this particular case, he clearly did. what do you think? >> well, look, this is a president who thought that he would jump ahead of the mueller report from the get go, and initially when the barr memo came out, he called himself vindicated and said this had all been a witch hunt, nothing else to see here, folks, move on. that may have been the best day of the past few weeks for the president. subsequently, we now have a 400-page document being released tomorrow. don't know what the redactions will look like and how heavily the report will be redacted, but you can already see the president running to his corner saying not only was i vindicated, but remember this
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was all a witch hunt and an illegal investigation as well. you had his attorney general last week give him a little bit of ammunition, whether that was intentional or not, by suggesting there was spying going on. so once the report comes out, as people start sifting through it, you can see the president not only calling himself vindicated but reminding americans that this was an illegal investigation, in his opinion, and the attorney general is looking into that. >> and the president also, in one of his radio interviews, said today that you'll see a whole bunch of very strong things come out tomorrow, which suggest he has a pretty good understanding of what we're going to get. >> let's look at this at two levels. when the president took a victory lap, appropriately, it was a victory lap about legalities. there's not going to be charges coming out on cooperation, conspiracy with the russians during the cooperation. what you're going to see tomorrow, regardless of the debate about redactions, is ugliness. the second round of what we're going to see is not whether something illegal happened.
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it's whether something really inappropriate happened during the campaign. i'd bet a paycheck, we'll see tomorrow, that stuff happens that singes your eyebrows. so what the president is trying to do is get out in front of not whether something illegal happened but the conversation tomorrow afternoon about whether something inappropriate happened. i guarantee you the report is going to tell you it did. >> because in that four-page summary, the principal conclusions that the attorney general released three or four weeks ago, he specifically stated there are not going to be any more criminal charges as far as mueller is concerned. >> sure, so that question has been answered, but we always news that was going to be the answer to the question with respect to the president. clearly mueller believes that there is significant evidence on either side of the obstruction question. certainly members of congress are going to weigh in with their own assessment of potential legality or illegality. consider the body of reporting that the white house has been actively denying that this report is either going to confirm or deny sort of in a conclusive way.
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did donald trump tell jim comey to see his way to letting michael flynn go? did he direct don mcgahn to pressure the attorney general, jeff sessions, to unrecuse in the russia investigation? two years into this, there are still really basic questions that as far as the white house is concerned have not yet been answered. >> and wolf, that's a great point about just what we already know based on the reporting that's been publicly revealed over the last two years just from the journalism around this white house. the mueller report could very well confirm a lot of those things that this white house has been denying for months and years. in some cases, it's damaging to them in that respect because it could present real evidence based on interviews from people who work in the white house or who worked for president trump that confirm potentially events that have been denied for many, many months now. >> bianna, go ahead. >> in an era where we have so many different media outlets, some a bit more friendly to the president and administration, you see him already getting ahead of it by giving a radio
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interview to one of those outlets as well. today you can see numerous interpretations or numerous different focuses on specific aspects of this mueller report, and some wanting to focus more on those that may vind kaicate ab solve the president in his opinion versus others that may be more problematic. >> phil, i want to put on the screen a bunch of current and former trump officials who cooperated, answered questions posed by robert mueller and his team. we're told some are regretting that cooperation. they're fearful what might come out in that report tomorrow and what they said about the president could wind up, for example, angering the president. >> as they should be. we went into this with people across the country saying everything should be revealed to the american people. somebody goes in front of the special counsel and says, let me tell you everything i know about inappropriate presidential behavior, because i presume you're not going to dime me out to the american people and to wolf blitzer tomorrow night. turns out if they presumed they
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weren't going to be exposed to the american people, that might be incorrect. if i were the white house officials who might potentially be named and shamed tomorrow, i would be irate. do we go into a conversation with investigators saying we're going to be exposed or do we think this is a private process? i guess it's going to be public. >> to put this into context, this is a president who makes a lot of people who work for him sign ndas, nondisclosure agreements. a lot of these people are going to have things that they said privately that are probably truthful being revealed publicly. many of these people who don't work in the white house anymore are in the business where closeness and proximity to the president is really the coin of the realm. so they're risking not just their relationship with president trump on an interpersonal basis, but in many cases their whole livelihoods are sort of on the line here where a lot of people who rely on just simply being close to the president and saying they're loyal to him will have their comments about him, some of which might be unflattering, just out there in the public. it's damaging. >> what do you think, susan? >> i don't have any particular
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sympathy for this group of people, especially people who work for the united states of america and not donald trump. whenever they meet with investigators, they have a legal obligation to tell the truth. if the underlying facts of what happened, of what they saw, of what the president did and what they witnessed are unflattering or damaging to the president, then ultimately the responsibility rests with the president and rests with the people who engage in this behavior. ultimately, the american people need to understand what happened in order to have a basic accountability into what is happening in the white house and what is happening on our behalf. >> you know -- go ahead. >> you could very well see a scenario, and i believe in some cases this was how things played out, that the president, instead of him going before mueller, advised and would have preferred that others in his inner circle go for no other reason than to buy time for the president and to sort of placate the investigation as well, which raises the question of whether this administration and this president in particular is a savvy tactician and maybe just
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not a very good strategist in the long term because ultimately we're in a scenario where you have a lot of people who are concerned about what they told and maybe at the president's own behest to avoid him having to go testify before robert mueller, now having to be concerned about whether or not they'll be outed. >> phil, "the new york times" just posted a story about all of this, the headline being, white house and justice department officials discuss mueller report before release. let me read a couple sentences to you. robert mueller's findings will be public on thursday, but some of them will not be news to president trump. justice department officials have had numerous conversations with white house lawyers about the special counsel's conclusions in recent days. according to people with knowledge of the discussions, the talks have aided the president's legal team as it prepares a rebut tatal to the report. but listen to this next sentence. a sense of paranoia is taking hold among some of the president's aides, some of whom fear mr. trump's backlash more
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than the findings themselves. the people said the report might make clear which of mr. trump's current and former advisers spoke to the special counsel, how much they said, and how much damage they did to mr. trump providing a kind of road map for presidential retaliation. >> i mean, that seems so self-evident. the president, as we knew when this report -- when the barr letter came out, won. he won on the issue of conspiracy. so then why the heck do you worry about the details coming out? the president has beaten every competitor since the republican campaign. the only reason you would worry about the details coming out is in a national security perspective, this is an "access hollywood" moment. that is, the details that come out are going to be so cringeworthy, that the president and his team, who already know what the details are, are going to have to say, i have to defend myself. despite the fact the top line exonerates me on the issue of conspiracy, the details are nasty. >> what about the news here that white house lawyers have had extensive conversations with justice department officials
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about this report? >> i think that itself is the most significant revelation. the barr -- i think it's also important to know whether or not those conversations happened before or after bill barr wrote that initial summary letter. look, you know, this is going to be an immense test for the department of justice tomorrow as an institution and sort of in preserving the public faith in that institution. there's a big question about whether or not bill barr's conduct up to this point entitles him to the benefit of the doubt that he's going to need in defending those redactions. engaging in behavior like briefing the white house on the contents of this report, despite congress having specifically asked them not to do it, not being forthcoming and transparent about that fact but waiting for it to be reported in the news. >> "the new york times" report adds the discussions between justice department officials and white house lawyers have also added to questions about the propriety of the decisions by the attorney general, william barr, since he received the special counsel's findings late last month. >> yeah, this is a major question that has been hanging
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over bill barr for days now. last week when he was testifying on the hill, he refused to answer a questions about whether or not he was going to provide the white house with the findings ahead of time. now we know according to "the new york times" that apparently he did or people are the the justice department did, giving the white house a potential significant heads up to prepare for this, to potentially frame and spin what's in the report before congress gets to see it. and it feeds into the questions that democrats have had on the hill, the concerns they've had, that barr is basically blocking and tackling for president trump. they've been concerned from the get go that as a political appointee who essentially got the job by having skepticism about the point of the mueller probe, particularly as it goes to obstruction, that barr is basically in this job to help protect president trump. that's what the democrats are saying. i think this report from "the new york times" is going to suggest that maybe they are not totally off base here. i think it's going to make it very difficult for him going forward, even when we get into
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some of these legal fights. it speaks to what his objectives are in trying to withhold information. >> let bianna weigh in as well. go ahead. >> it makes it all the more interesting. not only what we'll hear from barr tomorrow at 9:30 but rod rosenstein, who's expected to be with him as well. remember, he's the one who appointed bob mueller to this investigation. he may have a say in at least trying to give some legitimacy or cover for bill barr. bill barr alluded to him in that four-page memo that he also concluded that the president could not be charged with obstruction, or at least there was not enough evidence of obstruction in the 400-page mueller report. he does have a mixed reputation as far as the history involved in this presidential -- in this president, this administration with regards to the firing of jim comey and the letter he wrote justifying the firing, but obviously leading up to bringing mueller on the team. he was not expected to be in this job at this point, but he still is there.
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i'm curious to hear what he has to say tomorrow, if he'll be answering any questions himself. >> there's other news we're getting now. let me let susan first weigh in on this. apparently the public release of the redacted version will go forward tomorrow, but they will make basically an unredacted version available to some select committees, select members of congress. this is in a filing, court filing in the roger stone case. let me read a sentence from the filing. once the redacted version of the report has been released to the public, the justice department plans to make available for review by a limited number of members of congress and their staff a copy of the special counsel's report without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case. that would be the roger stone case. this version of the report will not be made available to the media or in public settings consistent with the court's february 15 order.
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>> so this is referring to the fact that members of congress are going to be able to see the classified information contained in the report. we don't know how much of that information was going to be included, but that's why the other two categories of possible redactions have always been the most significant. the executive branch, the justice department, and the white house is not going to be able to assert classified information against congress as a way to not allow congress to see that information. they have separate entitlements. that's why it's going to be sort of most important to understand the grand jury material that may have been redacted and also that third prudential category of information related to essentially, you know, innocent third parties. that's the area in which the justice department is really asserting without having a court come in to look, this is the information we're going to keep secret because we feel like it. that's where really, especially to the extent there's reason to be suspicious of the justice department and bill barr's conduct, really, really serious questions are going to arise. >> historically, and you can correct i wrong. you used to work in the
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intelligence committee, phil. the executive branch of the u.s. government often over the years has shared the most sensitive national security classified information with what they call the gang of eight, the leaders of the intelligence committees in the house and senate and the leaders of the senate and house of representatives, democrats and republicans. they've shared some of the most potentially explosive information. is that right? >> sure, and i was there when he shared information, for example, on interrogation techniques, which back in 2003 when i briefed the congress was extremely sensitive. but don't look at me. look at what director mueller, now special counsel mouler, and the team put out in terms of the indictments of russian officials. when i first read those, that's not just indictments. that was intelligence information. i mean, the information in those about the activities of russian-linked people in terms of accessing american voter systems, american -- not voter systems, pardon me -- social media was incredible intelligence. to tell somebody in america
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today that we can't reveal sensitive information now after all that information about russia came out, i think we're going to see a lot tomorrow. more than we need to know maybe. >> keep in mind, we knew from the outset there were two major prongs to this investigation. one was that criminal investigation. the other was the counterintelligence piece. that's the piece that they're going to have to brief to that gang of eight. >> they certainly will. everybody stand by. there's more on the breaking news. there's a lot of dramatic developments unfolding right now. president trump dropping hints about the mueller report, revealing the attorney general will hold a news conference 9:30 a.m. eastern tomorrow morning. also, more saber rattling coming in from kim jong-un as satellite pictures reveal rail cars near a key nuclear site. what is the north korean dictator planning? with the most lobster dishes lobsterfesof the yearred lobster
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sints since his fails summit, kim jong-un is showing off his military and there's ominous activity near a nuclear facility. brian, what are you learning? >> despite his efforts at talks with the u.s., kim jong-un may be ready to flex his milital m s muscle. kim jong-un back on camera and
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in command. in newly released photos, the 35-year-old dictator is seen beaming. north korea's supreme commander loves to flex his military muscle on camera. something he does when back sboobacked into a corner. he ordered pilots to perform complicated air combat actions in case they are needed against the u.s. there's word the dictator could be preparing other weapons against america in case his talks with president trump which are already strained fully break down. new satellite images analyzed show the presence of what the group calls specialized train rail cars near an enrichment facility at the nuclear complex. >> this is likely plan to separate that's used in thermo nuclear weapons. they would have shipped it to rail car to this facility. >> reporter: they can't rule out
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the possibility these cars are being used to move radioactive material. cnn reached out to the white house, the state department and the cia. none of whom are commenting on these new pictures. analysts believe kim is still producing nuclear bombs and missiles in secret. >> the biggest fear is he's refining his ability to put a thermo nuclear weapon on an icbm and building many of those. many in that sense is five to ten and would be able to really target the united states. >> reporter: as for these new picture, analysts say it's possible the north koreans want u.s. officials to see what they are doing and want to send a signal. >> to raise tensions or get economic concessions. they want political concessions. they want the united states to agree to a summit but they want the united states to lift sanctions.
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>> reporter: tonight, kim seems to be preparing to use another kind of leverage against president trump. a senior russian official tells cnn preparations are being made for a possible meeting between kim and russian president vladmir putin. reports say they could meet as early as next week in russia's far east. putin analysts say would love to drive a wedge between kim and trump. kim could use putin to his own advantage. >> kim wants to see putin to use him to support his blackmail diplomacy. an alliance will put pressure on the united states. >> reporter: analysts warn there's others way to help out. the russians could give submarines and russia could help north korea perfect it ts capabilities in cyber warfare. capabilities that have been dangerous for the yiunited stat. coming up, the attorney general will hold a news conference tomorrow morning to accompany the release of a
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redacted version of the mueller report president trump says he may do the same. has the justice department been tipping off the white house about the report. yeah, i thought doing some hibachi grilling would help take my mind off it all. maybe you could relieve some stress by calling geico for help with our homeowners insurance. geico helps with homeowners insurance? they sure do. and they could save us a bundle of money too. i'm calling geico right now. cell phone? it's ringing. get to know geico and see how much you could save on homeowners and condo insurance. get to know geico and see how much you could an ocean? are you edible? no. ♪ ♪ can't sleep. me neither. woo!
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ready to talk. william barr doesn't plan to let the mueller report speak for itself. he'll hold a news conference tomorrow morning as his redacted version is released. trump's spin.
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joust hours before the big mueller report revealed, the president is speaking out tonight in a new round of interviews. will he make a formal statement or even take questions once the report is public? white house consultant. there's a new report out that justice department officials have had numerous conversations with white house lawyers about the special counsel's conclusions in recent days. how much did they reveal to the president's team? two reports. the justice department reveals that some members of congress will get to see a less redacted version of the mueller report than the one that's made public. will that satisfy democrats demanding to see everything. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're many t you're in "the situation room." we're following a lot of brea


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