tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN April 9, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT
one of the common themes i hear from u.s. attorneys is how valuable the atf agents are and their technology is just outstanding in helping to deal with gun violence and violent crime. >> hello, every. i'm kate bolduan. thanks for joining me. as we have been watching, breaking news from capitol hill. attorney general bill barr has been facing lawmakers this morning, and also this is for the first time since robert mueller delivered his report to the attorney general and the first time since barr himself released the bottom-line conclusions of the special counsel's russia investigation. barr is revealing this morning some new details on what the public will and will not see and when they will see it, but he also very pointedly is side stepping some key questions, like has the white house seen the report, is president trump correct when he says it was complete exoneration? barr did not answer. a lot to get to. let's get to manu raju on capitol hill, he's been watching all this.
we learned a lot this morning, including that the wait is almost over. >> exactly. he said within a week, the redacted report would be released, but he also pointedly said, kate, he would not plan, does not plan to provide the full unredacted report to capitol hill, as democrats have demanded. also, democrats have been demanding grand jury information to be provided to the hill as part of its review process. the democrats have called for that. he said flat out he did not plan to go to court to seek the release of that grand jury information. so you're seeing two major flash points bubble up here that between democrats and bill barr. barr also spent a lot of time defending his march 24th letter, outlining the top-line conclusions. he said that he did not want to release summaries that were apparently drafted by mueller's team because he didn't want to release piecemeal versions of the report.
he wanted to provide simply the bottom line conclusions but not an intention to summarize the full 400-some-page mueller report. he did reveal the mueller team had an opportunity to review that four-page letter, but he said that the mueller team declined that offer. so these words were essentially his, not of mueller's team, that put out the four-page letter. now, he also, as you mentioned, side stepped a number of questions about the contents of the mueller report. he was asked about what mueller meant about did not exonerate the president on the issue of obstruction. he said those are mueller's words. he did not want to answer that. he would not say whether or not the white house has been briefed about the mueller report. he said he did not want to answer any more questions. he shut down that line of questioning. he did say the white house was not involved in the drafting of that four-page letter. and something that actually could make republicans and the president happy, he said he's reviewing the conduct of the russia investigation, what started in the summer of 2016.
he also revealed that the inspector general is investigating surveillance efforts that were ongoing as well. that inspector general report from the justice department could be out by may or june. also something that republicans have been demanding. so he has revealed some new information about his process, the revelations, what he won't provide to congress, and the likely fight that is going to emerge about getting the full report and signaling, too, that he did the best he could to outline the top line conclusions because of the high public interest. nevertheless, what you're seeing here, democrats not satisfied. this could tee up a subpoena fight with the house judiciary committee if they don't get all of what they want. it's pretty clear at the moment they're not going to get all they want. >> at first pass, he does not seem intending at all that he's open to releasing to the committees the unredacted report. that's exactly what especially the judiciary committee is calling for. manu, thank you so much.
much more to come. keeping an eye on the hearing and also, let me bring in cnn senior justice correspondent evan perez in washington. laura jarrett at the justice department for us. in new york, cnn legal analyst elie honig, and cnn legal analyst and former prosecutor jennifer rodgers here with me. a lot to weed through. laura, just to you as you have been following this so closely. the process behind the scenes and what is playing out in public. there was a big question if bill barr was going to answer any questions with regard to the report since it has not yet been put out, released in any fashion. he did answer some questions but very pointedly avoided answering just as many. >> yeah, that's absolutely right, kate. as he said, he's willing to discuss sort of the historical artifacts, some of the things he's put out through his letters. he's happy to walk through the process, happy to talk about the fact that he wants to put out as much as possible. and he's also sort of trying to lay the groundwork, it seems to
me, at explaining to the public that it's really his call on a lot of these issues because of the way the special counsel regulations were written. and the context in which they were written. he talks about the fact it's ironic they were first developed in the clinton administration as a result, really a reaction, to the starr report and how democrats thought too much came out then. and he says now, you know, basically the bottom line is, i can do what i want here. and it's supposed to be a confidential report. i'm not required to put out anything, but i thought that the public interest meant, and it was such a high-staked situation, i should put out the bottom line right away because people wouldn't be willing to wait. that's come back to bite him over the last week or two, but it's interesting he's trying to walk the public through that so they understand how little these regulations actually call for and how he doesn't really think he has any obligation to turn over any of the grand jury, the sensitive material, over to congress. he said basically, if nadler,
the house judiciary committee wants that fight, he can take it to court, but he doesn't intend to put out any of that. >> on that exact point, did you hear him explain why he doesn't have intention to release the full unredacted report to the committees? as we have noted in the past couple weeks as this has been percolating, members of congress deal with classified information all the time, sensitive information all the time. we say congress is leaky like a sieve, sure, but they do handle sensitive information all the time. >> sure they do. there's been a lot of criticism of the justice department and how much was turned over during last year, really, before the house flipped, and how much was turned over on the russia investigation while it was still ongoing. remember chairman nunes demanding so much information. that was turned over. but obviously, barr's position on that is different. he actually seems to think that you take the first pass and you do the least amount possible. you don't do grand jury information. he feels confined by federal
rule 6-e. he keeps invoking that. we'll hear that a lot today. his tact is you do as little as possible and don't bifurcate. you don't have a distinction between what goes to congress and the public. you do everything out in public and fight it out. if chairman nadler wants to take it to court, the justice department appears poised on what barr is saying here today, i think, to fight that. >> yeah, it would seem to be the clear suggestion from him right there. laura, obviously, stick with me. evan, one part of this, and i hope we have been able to turn it around because i would like to play it, one thing happened that was, i think, also interesting. the attorney general said that they tried to include as much of the special counsel's language as i could, he said. in regard to his four-page summary letter that had a lot of questions this morning in the hearing, and why he did it that way and not releasing more information from the special counsel. if we have that sound bite, let me play this for you.
>> so now you had time to review. your team had time to review. you indicated maybe within the next week we'll get the report released. so for the committee, is there anything new you have seen since the review of the entirety of the report that would change your conclusions? >> no, congressman. as i have explained, my march 24th letter was meant to state the bottom line conclusions of the report. not summarize the report. and i tried to use as much of the special counsel's own language as i could. but they were just stating the bottom line conclusions. and there's nothing to suggest to me that those, you know, that those weren't -- >> no collusion, no obstruction. it's over, it's done. it's over. >> well, the letter speaks for itself. >> it does, but does it speak for the special counsel? i mean, he tried to put as much of the special counsel's wording in there as possible.
really? >> right. we're talking about fewer than a dozen words from the special counsel were actually included in barr's four-page letter. i think that's why there's so many questions. but there was another exchange with the congressman from florida, charlie crist, in which barr says he was asked essentially about the reports that there are some members of the mueller team who are not happy with barr's sort of summary of -- even though he doesn't want to call it a summary, a summary of the findings. barr responded. he said i suspect they wanted more from the mueller findings to be included in his letter. so that's what he says he's working on. now, one thing, kate, i think is interesting here today, sort of like looking at the atmospherics. one of the things politically that barr has been trying to do is lock arms with robert mueller, with rod rosenstein, try to present a united front that even though this is his letter, these are his summaries,
he's trying to say, you know, everybody is onboard. but a couple times in the hearing so far, he's also said that, you know, mueller was offered a chance to look at that letter, the first letter he sent, and mueller declined that opportunity. he didn't apparently look at the second letter either. we're probably seeing a little bit of daylight between not only between barr and the mueller team but perhaps with other people there, because we do know that there's a lot of sentiment in the department to not release much more information. barr may be going further than perhaps rod rosenstein would want in releasing information, kate. >> yeah. all right, let me bring in elie on this. so barr, he laid out process. he was clearly comfortable talking about process and the fact they're in the process of redactions. and what that would look like. i want to get to that in a second. because almost in the same breath, when he was asked about
a couple times about questions regarding has the white house seen the report, has the white house been briefed on the report, he side stepped that question. he said that he's not going to answer that until the report comes out. why wouldn't he answer that? why couldn't he answer that? do you see a reason? >> yeah, kate. so william barr is a smart, savvy lawyer, but he's a fairly transparent witness. when he wants to answer, we have seen him lean into that mic and give a clear, decisive answer. when he's afraid of something or thinks something is not going to play well politically, we see him dodge and tap dance in a fairly obvious way. he tap dances around does the white house have this report. and someone this afternoon needs to ask him, to your knowledge, does anyone in the white house have the mueller report. he dodged the question about exoneration. somebody needs to ask him, is it accurate for the president to say he is completely and totally exonerated by this report? one thing that barr was clear about, though, was this grand jury issue. he was asked towards the end a
few minutes ago, do you plan to go to court and ask for permission to release grand jury materials. barr threw down the legal gauntlet, he said no. if nadler wants to sue me, go ahead. barr is tying his own hands. he has already ability to go to the court and say i would like to turn over grand jury information. that's what ken starr did and the court said go ahead. barr is creating his own situation of i'm helpless to do anything. >> my hands are tied but i have control of everything. >> exactly. >> when you talk about the exoneration bit, i found that fascinating as well. because on the president's statement, it's on two fronts basically he side stepped. on the president's statement that the report and what the president has seen, whatever that is, is total exoneration, and also the statement from mueller that was quoted in the memo, the summary, the letter from barr that says that he did not conclude, it was not exoneration on the question of obstruction. barr said he was not in the position to discuss itt euntil e report is out. i wonder why. >> right, he feels free to discuss any number of other
things that are good for the president, yet when it comes to a dicy situation, a question like is it accurate for the president to say he's been exonerated on obstruction, that pretty clearly based on barr's own letter is a no. just a simple no, but barr has shown time and again a real reluctance to show any independence from the white house and this president. >> jennifer, part of what he did talk about at length, if you will, is the process that they're going through right now. they say they're working on still at the moment of redactions and what should be redacted. he laid out the four categories he believed are the areas of redactions, which he had laid out previously in his communications. but he also talked about a color coding system for redactions. is that something -- is that standard procedure? is that something you're familiar with? >> i don't know that i have seen a lot of color coding, but i think it's a good idea. it's important for us to know when they're blocking out chunks of text why they're blacked out. at least if we know this is 6-e
material. this is material that involves an ongoing investigation, then that will be helpful. then he also said he would provide at least general reasons. i don't think he plans to go through for each actual redaction of, say, a sentence and say exactly why that particular sentence is, but he'll give a general idea of why it is that that category of redactions is being redacted. so i think it will give us some information. the real issue here, to me, is i understand all of that from the public's perspective. there is no reason to redact 3 out of those 4 categories for congress. 6-e, yes, we'll litigate that in the court. >> that's grand jury material. >> that's right, but congress should be pressing for all of those other categories, for the reasons that were discussed at the top of the segment. there's no reason they can't have sensitive information, counterintelligence information. and by the way, someone needs to ask bill barr if the counterintelligence investigation is ongoing. that is one piece of this that has not been discussed at all, whether that went to a u.s. attorney's office or whether
that's still going on. >> a lot more to come, including we're going to talk about this after the break. bill barr was also asked about ongoing, if you will, litigation. a fight going on in the court right now about obamacare and the trump administration's position on that. you'll want to hear what he has to say. we'll be right back. it turns out they want me to start next month. she can stay with you to finish her senior year? of course she can! [ laughter ] [ groaning ] hey! want to drive? really? [ engine revs ] do you think we can do this, rob? things will be tight, but we can make this work. that's great. ♪ [ laughing ] okay... here we go. now...
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attorney general bill barr, as you're seeing there, still testifying on capitol hill as we speak. he's facing more questions about the mueller report, the special counsel's investigation, and the resulting 300, 400-page report, and what congress and the public is really going to eventually see, as he says, within a week. we're watching that, monitoring that for you. also, just moments ago, another
testy exchange on another topic between the attorney general and democratic congressman matt cartwright. this was all over obamacare. and barr's boss, you'll remember, the president, has renewed his push recently to strike down the whole law entirely. that is being fought out in federal court right now. so listen to what bill barr had to say about it. >> if you're successful, 12 million people nationally and 750,000 people in my home state of pennsylvania who have coverage under the medicaid expansion would also likely lose that coverage. am i correct in that, sir? >> do you think it's likely we're going to prevail? >> if you prevail -- well, you're devoting scarce resources of your department toward that effort, are you not, attorney general? >> we're in litigation. we have to take a position. >> the answer is yes. >> we take position in litigation. >> if you succeed, that many people will lose their coverage nationally from medicaid, and
750,000 from pennsylvania alone. right? >> i'm saying if you think it's such an outrageous position, you have nothing to worry about. let the courts do their job. >> that really fascinated me. let me bring back in elie honig, jennifer rodgers back with me, also dana bash. dana, shockingly, there are theatrics coming from a capitol hill hearing. i know, i know. everyone, you can't believe it. but i was -- do you get a sense of what bill barr was trying to say in that line -- in answering that line of questioning? i was really both fascinated and surprised. >> he was trying to be tough. and trying to do it within the lane of being a lawyer and the attorney general. and trying to kind of throw it back in the congressman's face about the courts. you know, letting the courts decide.
but look, what is this all about? of course, it's all about the president's attorney general, the republicans, obviously making a decision that they have no choice on the one hand, on the other hand, they probably don't want to have a choice, but to fight obamacare in courts in a way that they were unable to do legislatively. they were unable to do legislatively when they had complete control of washington. you know, up until of course in november they had the whole entire congress, and they couldn't repeal and replace obamacare. so they have made a decision that they are going to fight it in the courts. and look, i talked to an administration official about this recently who said that when i said they don't have a choice, that that was the overriding feeling, because how do you say to your base, how do you say to your voters, to republicans who you promised for ten years that you were going to repeal
obamacare, never mind we're going to go fight to save obamacare in court. it is a tough situation. the problem now is the problem we have seen over the past ten years. let's say they are the dog that catches the car. and they are able to repeal obamacare. what are they going to replace it with? there is no answer. >> they couldn't agree on the answer when they had control of all washington. >> exactly. >> elie, how should -- if you were attorney general, or if you were an attorney for the government and sitting before congress and they ask your these questions, how would you answer. >> i would never get confirmed. >> that's a given. beyond that. >> dana is right. there's a subtext that i think attorney general barr was trying to put out there, which is almost i'm just following orders. >> i want to dip back into the hearing because i think he's asked about obamacare one more time. >> legislative response if in fact -- >> that's true. i'm asking you to speculate, and if questions are proper in this room, attorney general, if you win the case, will you agree
that we ought to stay the effect of that until a new plan can go in place rather than strand all the people with pre-existing conditions and all the people whose health care will lapse because of that ruling? >> well, from my experience, the supreme court would likely deal with that in their opinion and provide some kind of period to wind it down. >> you want them to do it on their own motion with no prompting from the justice department, is that it? >> i didn't say that. i would say whatever the administration's position is at that point, we'll carry out. from a legal standpoint. >> i'm dismayed to hear that you're willing to drive our health care system off the cliff with no plan for replacing it. >> well, i think your premise that the justice department makes health care policy is simply wrong. we take legal positions in cases. >> i'm going to follow that up. numerous reports have indicated that you, the chief lawyer for the federal government, and
secretary azar, who is the lead on health care policy for our federal government, strongly argued against supporting the complete repeal of the patient protection and affordable care act. however, reports indicate you and secretary azar were overruled by acting chief of staff, mick mulvaney and the president himself. now, at any point, did you convey either to mr. mulvaney or the president any concerns about either the effects of this lawsuit prevailing if it does, or concerned about the dubious legal arguments in this lawsuit, and did secretary azar communicate concerns about the effects on our american health care system? >> i'm not going to get into the internal deliberations of the administration on this point. i had ample opportunity to present my views. and i believe that the final decision reached is a legally defensible and reasonable legal
position, it is a position that prevailed in the district court. and it is a position taken by the four dissenting justices in the f.i.b. case, which is that once you do away with the mandate, the rest of the statute cannot stand. >> are you citing executive privilege by declining to tell me about the discussions between you, mr. azar, mr. mulvaney? >> call it what you wish. i'm not discussing it. >> you're refusing to discuss it. all right. well, it's a decision that makes more extreme and in fact even contradicts. a decision to go forward with this position contradicts the doj's june 2018 position on the case, which was so controversial then that three of the four career attorneys representing the government refused to sign on to the briefs and actually removed themselves from the case. the american people deserve to understand if you and secretary azar support this lawsuit based on sound rationale or if it was
just bald politics talking. i'm requesting you submit this exertion of executive privilege in writing to this committee if that is what you're doing. don't ask us to call it what it is. i'm asking you if you're exercising executive privilege, we need to know it and we need to know it in writing. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and attorney general barr, in your testimony, you mentioned cybersecurity. and being that the fbi is the lead federal agency for investigating cyberattacks by criminals, overseas adversaries and terrorists -- >> you're hearing there bill barr taking more questions from the same congressman about the issue of obamacare. jennifer, let me bring you into this because we kind of -- i cut elie off, but let me bring you in. barr, for background, the congressman brings up some very interesting reporting why the questions to bill barr were very
interesting here about obamacare. because the reporting is politico had this reporting that in the deliberations about are they going to take on obamacare in court, are they going to go down this road, there was basically a fight, a debate that went on within the administration, politico reporting it was the attorney general, bill barr, and alex azar, that were against going down this legal route because barr, at least, according to the reporting, said that he did not think it was going to be a successful challenge. and now bill barr is faced with this, and asked to discuss it, and he said he's not going to discuss internal deliberations. that might be the least surprising of what we're hearing about this, but what do you make of this, jennifer? >> very interesting because you're right, reading between the lines, it seems as if when bill barr was speaking about this with mulvaney and others, potentially the president, his position was this was not a good legal argument. that's why he would have been there. he's not a policymaker on this issue. so his point was to come in and say listen, we had this
position. are we going to do a 180 and change our position and here's why that's a hard thing to do and why legally it's not the best aurnrgument to make, and h lost that fight. he said a moment ago he thinks it's a reasonable position that's legally defensible. those are code for pretty bad legal arguments. they're now stuck making, you know, really not a great legal argument that he suggested they will lose, and it sounds like something he didn't want to do in the first place. >> dana, really quick, in another dynamic of all this, it wasn't just an internal debate within the administration about whether or not they should go down this route of taking on obamacare again. after the fact, if you will, there was real discussion between the top republican in the senate, mitch mcconnell, and the president about if congress was going to be able to do anything about it. bottom line, mitch mcconnell says we're not doing it. >> exactly. mitch mcconnell, kevin mccarthy, the republican leader in the house, and almost everybody down the line, almost everybody down
the line. and that is why we saw a rare pullback by the president last week after he had taken this discussion about the legal action that his administration is doing after this internal debate. and taken it a step further by putting it into the legislative political realm once again. he was forced to pull it back after they reminded him they couldn't do it, as i said before, with complete control of congress. how are they going to do it now with democrats in control? instead, the president is now saying it will be a 2020 campaign argument, which it was going to be all along. but the reality of the president as we have seen so many times just kind of going with what he feels is the right thing to do and the right thing to say based on the last person he talked to, likely, kind of smacked into a
force field of you've got to be kidding me, among fellow republicans in the congress. >> yeah. not necessarily sound like a man who was ready and willing to defend what they were doing on obamacare in court right now. dana, great to see you. thank you so much. elie, jennifer, thank you. see you in a bit. still ahead, treasury secretary steve mnuchin is also facing lawmakers today. different topic, talking about the president trump's tax returns. what does he say about it? would he have the final say to release them? much more on this after a quick break. pardon the interruption but this is big! now at t-mobile buy any samsung galaxy s10 and get a galaxy s10e free!
attorney general bill barr isn't the only trump cabinet member facing lawmakers today. treasury secretary steve mnuchin testifying before two house committees and he's quickly facing questions about the president and his tax returns. after a house committee, you'll remember, has said it has the authority to see the tax returns and the president's chief of staff just as quickly says that's is never going to happen. christiristina alesci is followl of this for us. what did mnuchin have to say about it. >> not much. he tried to kick off the hearing talking about his budget request for treasury, but very quickly, the chairman of this subcommittee turned the issue to the president's tax returns, and asked mnuchin whether or not he was the right guy to even decide whether the irs should hand over tax returns and fulfill the
democrats' request for those documents. he also asked mnuchin whether mnuchin had spoken to anyone at the white house about this issue. listen. >> last week, we were well aware that the chairman of the ways and means under 6103 of the tax code requested the president's tax returns. and we can get into the issue of what that answer should be, but at first, i think it's more important we talk about who should make that decision and with respect whether or not you, mr. secretary, should be involved in that decision. >> i want to acknowledge that we did receive the request. and as i have said in the past, when we received the request, it would be reviewed by our legal department, and it is our intent to follow the law. and that is in the process of being reviewed. now, in regards --
>> let me just interject. i apologize. what part are they reviewing? whether or not, or whether your office should be the one that makes the ultimate decision? are they reviewing whether or not you should make that decision as well, sir? >> it will be premature for me to comment specifically what they are reviewing on or what they're not reviewing on. but i would highlight, okay, i think as you know, the law calls for a request to me. as you have said, there is a tradition of delegating certain responsibilities. i would just comment it is my responsibility to supervise the commissioner. again, i think it would be premature at this point to make any specific comments other than as i have been consistent before in saying it is being reviewed by the legal departments. and we look forward to responding to the letter. >> have you spoken to the white house chief of staff or the
president about this decision? >> i have not spoken to the white house chief of staff or the president about this decision. >> has anyone from the white house talked to you about this decision? >> to me personally or to other people within my department? >> you personally first, and to other people second. >> i have not had any conversations with anybody in the white house about this issue. >> any communication. >> i personally have not had any communication with anybody in the white house. although i want to be specific, that relates to me and not everybody at treasury. >> okay. so to your knowledge, has anybody in the administration communicated with anybody in your office about this decision? >> our legal department has had conversations prior to receiving the letter with the white house general counsel. >> and did they brief you as to the contents of that communication? >> they have not briefed me to the contents of that communication. i believe that was purely
informational. >> you believe what was purely informational? >> i believe the communication between our legal department and the white house general counsel was informational, that we had read in the press, that we were expecting this. >> so they communicated just to say expect this, or did they talk about their views in any way, shape, or form? >> i want to be clear. i personally wasn't involved in those conversations. again, i want to be very clear and not be misleading. i acknowledge there were conversations. i am not briefed on the full extent of those conversations. and i would also just comment, those have been prior to us receiving the notice. >> because they saw the handwriting on the wall. >> i think as you know, it was widely advertised in the press beforehand, so this wasn't exactly a state secret that we thought we would be getting it. >> so kate, mnuchin is in a very
difficult position because he's been a loyal cabinet member for so long. and he's managed to keep a very good relationship with the president. now, democrats are saying they're pursuing a legal route to getting the president's tax returns, and mnuchin is saying he'll follow the law. he's in a very difficult position. in fact, the chairman of the subcommittee pressed mnuchin on whether or not there's an issue of basic transparency and whether the president in his view should just go ahead and release his tax returns in response, mnuchin said that is a personal decision for the president. kate. >> whether he likes it or not. steve mnuchin is now smack dab in the middle of this fight. which is going to be a fight. thank you so much. i really appreciate it. let me bring back in elie, jennifer, and dana. how do you read mnuchin's response? >> he's in a tough spot. interesting that he actually conceded there's been coordination, communication between his office and the white house. on some level.
but mnuchin just said we're going to follow the law. i would have liked to follow that up with, well, the law says, quote, shall furnish. the irs shall furnish this information to the house ways and means committee upon request. so how do you read shall furnish other than shall furnish? it will be interesting to see if they're able to get around that, but that's a pretty straightforward piece of law, and i don't know how mnuchin can come to any other conclusion other than we shall furnish. >> dana, you have what you hear from mnuchin, we will follow the law. you have what you heard from mick mulvaney, the president's acting chief of staff, that democrats will never see these tax returns. how is the white house going to navigate this? those two things don't seem to be the same. >> they don't. first of all, that was a really fascinating exchange because it's almost like you were on the journey with him trying to avoid
a mine every time he stepped on what was clearly a minefield. >> i had frogger in my head. you had minefield. exactly. >> all of the above. because he clearly has seen what happens when you don't tell the truth to congress, and he was trying to be so exact that he was tripping over himself to say that the people in his office have had the conversation. but again, it was noteworthy not since that he knows of, not since the actual letter from the house ways and means chairman was sent last week. just in anticipation of that. but look, elie is right. the law is clear. in terms of what congress can do, and it's a request to the irs, not to the president. to the irs commissioner, asking for these tax returns. but the question is, what is the opposing argument that the president's legal team is going to make when there is going to be an inevitable court
challenge, which could, likely will, elie and jennifer can correct me if i'm wrong, go up to the supreme court and create a brand-new fascinating precedent. >> yeah. that law, a 1924 law, is what is being cited by the chairman of the house ways and means committee. it's that one word, two words if you will, shall furnish, that everyone will be looking at for a long time to come. let's see what happens next, but steve mnuchin now seems to be the man, whether he likes it or not, in between congress and donald trump's tax returns. then there's some court mixed in there. great to see you. thank you so much, guys. coming up for us, the purge at the homeland security department. it now has some republicans sounding the alarm. why they say the president needs to think twice about his continuing shakeup at the department of homeland security. that's next. making my dreams a reality
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post" in an interview that president trump is, quote, pulling the rug out from the very people that are trying to help him accomplish his goal, especially when it comes to immigration. but wait, there is more. do you remember the widely condemned family separation policy we've talked about so much on this show at the border, that even president trump himself had said was a bad idea and even donald trump himself put a stop to with an executive order. well, cnn has now learned that he not only wants to bring that policy back, he wants to expand it, like the old policy on steroids. let's get right to cnn's kaitlan collins at the white house right now. kaitlan, this is all coming to light, just after the homeland security secretary, kirstjen nielsen, was forced out. what are you hearing now? >> reporter: kate, the president is increasingly furious about record-high immigration numbers that he's seeing, and he thinks a clean sweep of dhs leadership is going to help him change that. now, one idea that's been raised in recent days in response to the president pushing people to
reinstate that family separation policy is something called binary choice. that would give migrants who have been detained the options to either remain detained as family units or be separated from their children, so their children don't have to remain in those detention facilities. now, whether or not the administration can implement something like that, kate, without congressional approval, is essentially a whole another ball game. but what it really reveals is that the president is very frustrated about the immigration numbers, and that's why you've seen so many people pushed out of dhs in recent days and maybe more to come in the coming days, if the president gets what he wants. now, something you've heard from white house officials behind the scenes is they don't know if the leadership changes that the president is making is really going to make that much of a difference. they are unable to stop a record-high number of people crossing the border, but people say they don't know that it will be that much different with nielsen and those other leaders gone from dhs. >> kaitlan, thank you so much. and for everyone, it was -- yes, the color guard is always for kaitlan collins, but also today walking behind kaitlan as
they're preparing for the president of egypt, al cici, he will be meeting with president trump today. yes, the president of egypt will be there. there's a lot of discussion to have that around that as well. let's focus here on kaitlan was talking about, what's going on with homeland security and when it comes to the border. david la pann is joining me now, the former press secretary for the department of homeland security. he and secretary nielsen worked together at the department when it was led by then secretary john kelly. he's also a retired marine colonel who spent 30 years in the military. thank you so much for being here. >> thank you, kate. >> the president, as kaitlan's laying out, the president for four months has been pushing for not only a return to that zero-tolerance policy, but also an expansion of it. do you think that's a good idea? >> i really don't know. you know, as kaitlan said, the president's frustrated, and i understand that frustration, but those kind of decisions and those kind of moves are counterproductive. they aren't going to help the situation. as we've seen already, the harsh rhetoric, the harsh policies have not resulted in a decrease
of migrants coming to the southwest border. the numbers have continued to rise. so it seems pretty clear that those aren't the right answers. >> and one other thing that we're hearing, it's basically multiple steps at this point of what the president is trying to do of recent that we're just now learning when it comes to the border. he wants to shut down ports of entry, he was talked out of that. he then wants to put a stop to letting asylum seekers in. and for months, talking about the separation policy. telling -- cnn's reporting, though, that he was telling border patrol agents in el paso, when he met with them, that they should stop letting migrants in, effectively telling them to break the law. they had to be told by the other superiors to not do that after he left. david, do you think at this point that the president does not care? or that he somehow still does not understand the law. >> one, i don't think he clearly understands. two, i don't think he
understands again that what he wants to do is butbutting up against both u.s. and international law. he wants results, he wants what he wants. and whether he just doesn't understand the law or he doesn't really care, it seems, again, that he's willing to roll over all of those things. i mean, the irony here is, from the days that i was at homeland security and throughout, you know, the mantra has been, we follow the law. and i'm confident that the professionals and customs and border protection and the border patrol wouldn't follow a direction that would cause them to break the law. >> what did you think when you learned that kirstjen nielsen was effectively pushed out? >> well, i'm concerned not only at her dismissal, but all of the personnel changes that you've detailed, both the ones that have occurred and the ones that might occur. so it's creating a large amount of confusion, uncertainty, at the very head of an organization, the only
organization in the u.s. government, whose primary mission is securing the homeland. so if kevin mcaleenan is moved into the position, we will have an acting secretary of homeland security, an acting deputy secretary, an acting commissioner of customs and border protection -- >> yeah. >> -- an acting director of i.c.e. and oh, by the way, less than three months before the start of the atlantic hurricane season, an acting director of fema. >> do you think this is putting the country at more risk? >> i think it certainly has that potential. if we are looking at adversaries and they are watching closely, this is the exact type of situation they're looking for, to exploit, the confusion. >> yeah. and david, one of the people behind pushing nielsen out, we're learning, and other policies is stephen miller, the top adviser to the president. did you have a lot of interaction with him when you were there? >> not a lot, but i did have some interaction with him. if you were told that stephen miller is in charge of border
policy and immigration policy right now, are you okay with that? >> not at all. >> why is that? >> well, both because the policies and the views that stephen has espoused over time, but importantly, and especially in the -- in this change in leadership at homeland security, puts us in a situation where you have an unelected member of the staff, somebody who is not senate confirmed, therefore, not accountable to higher authority. so, again, there have always been individuals at the staff level that are involved in decisions, but usually have senior leadership, as well. so that vacuum at the senior leadership gives more power to somebody, again, who's in an unelected and non-senate-confirmed position. >> i think that's a very important point to be making. david, thank you so much for your time. thank you for sticking around with all the breaking news today. appreciate it. >> thanks. still ahead, the attorney general, bill barr, facing lawmakers right now on capitol hill, taking questions on the mueller report, on the legal fight against obamacare that the
administration has taken on anew, and much more. barr revealing a redacted report, the redacted report of the mueller investigation could be released, in his words, within a week. stay with us. a lot will happen in your life. wrinkles just won't. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair's derm-proven retinol works so fast, it takes only one week to reveal younger looking skin. neutrogena®
welcome to "inside politics". i'm john king. the attorney general tells congress a redacted version of the mueller report will be made public next week, but he dodges and refuses to answer some questions, including whether it has already been shared with the president and his lawyers. plus, the trump purge at the department of homeland security alarms republicans in congress, who worry about management of critical programs and also about the type of erratic presidential behavior that hurt the gop in the last election. the courts also push back at the president's border agenda. and remember that crowded 2016 gop presidential field? well, the 2020 democratic pack now even bigger, 18 and counting. the challenge for the latest entry, congressman eric