tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 8, 2019 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT
>> not a shrinking violet taking up the republican mantle. our coverage on this breaking news continues right now. thank you for watching. wolf blitzer will pick it up for cnn domestic. thanks so much. happening now, breaking news, voting for contempt. the house judiciary committee votes to hold the attorney general, william barr,contempt for refusing to turn over the complete mueller report as democrats raise the stakes in their showdown with the trump administration. asserting privilege. the vote comes after president trump moves to assert executive privilege over the entire mueller report and its supporting evidence as the white house tries to block congressional democrats at every turn, will this battle end up in the courts? trump jr. standoff. cnn has learned the senate intelligence committee has subpoenaed the president's eldest son. but sources say they're in a
standoff with donald trump jr. considering pleading the fifth or not appearing before the panel at all. and two shooters, two alleged shooters are in custody. one appears in court as a student who tried to protect classmates is mourned as a hero. and yet another community is devastated just miles from the columbine high school. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news, the house judiciary committee has just voted to hold the attorney general, william barr,contempt of congress for refuse to go provide an unredacted version of the mueller report. the party line vote follows president trump's move to exert executive privilege over the entire report and its underlying evidence. it's the latest clash in what's now an all-out battle between house democrats and the trump administration which has moved
to block congressional investigations on every front. jerry nadler says a constitutional crisis is already at hand while the white house accuses him of a blatant abuse of power. if the full house follows suit on the contempt move, the battle is almost certain to move to the courts. i will speak to congresswoman mucarsel-powell of the judiciary committee and full coverage of the top stories. first to phil mattingly. the battle has played out in a dramatic day long confrontation up on collision. update our viewers on the very latest. >> reporter: exactly right. hours on end of back and forth, broad sides, but a result everyone expected. the latest step in an intensifying battle that, wolf, shows no sign of easing or ending anytime soon. tonight house democrats making their most aggressive move yet
to push back against the white house. >> this is not a step we take lightly. >> reporter: in a clear escalation of weeks of intensifying battles, the house judiciary committee voting along party lines to hold attorney general bill barr in contempt for not complying with their subpoena for special counsel robert mueller's full, unredacted russia report and it's underlying evidence. >> this is unprecedented. if allowed to go unchecked this means the end of congressional oversight. as a co-equal branch of government we should not and cannot allow this to continue. >> reporter: republicans decrying the chairman's decision to decline an opportunity to read a less redacted version of the report and jumping to barr's defense. >> they had the audacity to the investigation into something the president didn't do. >> reporter: the vote coming hours after the president asserted executive privilege over the materials the committee demanded. the justice department telling
nadler that he made, quote, the assertion necessary by moving ahead with the contempt vote. >> the administration announced loud and clear it does not recognize congress as a co-equal branch of government with independent constitutional oversight authority and it will continue to wage its campaign of obstruction. >> reporter: last ditch negotiations completely fell apart tuesday night prompting barr in a letter to trump to urge the president to make a protective assertion of executive privilege. at the hearing committee members taking turns. >> i can only conclude that the president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the constitution of the united states of america. >> and what does this committee do about the abuses, the attempted coup? it comes in and decides we're going to go after the attorney general who is trying to clean up the mess. >> if it weren't for him being
president, he would be in prison with michael cohen today as individual one. >> with a singular issue looming throughout the tense meeting when and if they will hear from robert mueller himself. >> ask the guy who wrote the whole darned document. why don't you hold off on this contempt until the guy who wrote the thing, spent 22 months and $35 million with a whole bunch of democratic lawyers putting it together, ask him next week. >> it would be useful to read the material before we have him in front of us. >> and jerry nadler, wolf, said after that vote there are still discussions, the discussions are ongoing about having robert mueller testify. the justice put out a statement saying the decision to hold the vote was politically motivated. they are trying to maintain status quo. when you talk to members up here you recognize how high the
stakes were. nadler framing it this way saying this is a constitutional crisis this will almost certainly go to the house floor where this ends up, where a lot of these things are certain to end up, wolf,a court fight. >> that could drag on for a long time. also breaking the senate intelligence committee has just subpoenaed the president's oldest son donald trump jr. let's go to our correspondent manu raju. what are you learning? >> reporter: the committee has subpoenaed donald trump jr. to come back and testify. what we are learning is donald trump jr. is in a standoff with the committee about returning before this panel. there are concerns this may be an effort to walk into what is believed to be a perjury trap. we understand these discussions about trump jr. coming back started several weeks ago even
before the mueller report came out. sources are telling us trump jr.'s position hardened and he has resisted coming back in according to our sources. they are pushing him to come back. now what we are told from one source familiar with the matter that he may take the fifth if he is forced to testify or potentially not come at all which, of course, would raise a whole slew of questions and potentially they could hold him in contempt. that is not being seriously discussed from what we know at the moment but something that could be on the table if he were to go that route. significant that the president's eldest son subpoenaed by this republican led committee as part of its russia probe and fighting over its testimony because they want him to come back. the question is what will he ultimately do and how will they respond if he doesn't come and answer their questions. >> the senate leadership, the
republican leadership, said the russia probe is over, case closed. mitch mcconnell said yesterday insisting it's time to move on. how significant is it that a republican led committee, richard burr, is fight to go bring donald trump jr. back in? >> reporter: it shows this committee is not done with its investigation. it has been going on since the beginning of 2017. it's dragged on, moved at a much slower pace. the vice chairman of the committee had wanted to bring back some key witnesses. we saw jared kushner come back several weeks ago. they want to bring back donald trump jr. to ask him follow-up questions, if there's anything democrats believe may have been inconsistent with what they've learned. they just wanted to question him again. it shows the committee is still investigating this matter going forward. whether they can come to any sort of different conclusion
that robert mueller reached, that is an entirely separate question. at the moment a fight over the process, democrats and republicans want donald trump jr. to come back. donald trump jr. at the moment is resisting. >> do they want to just compare what he said then as opposed to what he might say the next time to see if there was any perjury or lying going on? >> reporter: it's not entirely clear. we have not seen the transquicr of what he said the first time. we saw the transcript before that panel but not before the senate intelligence committee, so it's not entirely clear what questions they want to follow up on, what they saw from the mueller report, where they want to ask more questions they may have learned that perhaps they didn't drill down deep enough or perhaps something that he said before that they wanted to ask him about again. it's uncertain because, as you know, this is a classified committee. they operate in secret. this testimony happened behind closed doors.
we're learning they do want him to come back. they issued a subpoena and that can only be done with the report of the republican chairman, richard burr. he's the one who issued that subpoena along with mark warner. will they get their questions answered and what will donald trump jr. do? >> all right, manu, thank you very much. president trump is clearly digging in as his administration seeks to block investigations by congressional democrats at every turn. jim, the president is doing whatever he can to keep records from going public. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. president trump appears to be head to go a constitutional crisis with house democrats as he continues to hide the mueller report as well as his tax turns. it seems the art of the deal has turned into the art of the conceal.
playing a game of hide and seek president trump is pulling out all the stops to keep the full mueller report out of the hands of house democrats. >> if the mueller report clears you, why not let congress see all of it, sir? >> reporter: the president is now asserting executive privilege to block the report's unreleased materials from house democrats after chairman jerry nadler sought to hold attorney general william barr in contempt of congress for refusing to hand over what they want n. a letter barr told the president in these circumstances you may properly assert executive privilege with respect to the entirety of the department of justice materials the committee has demanded. the house is all but taunting nadler to take the matter to court. >> you would think for an attorney chairman nadler would be more up on the law. i'm not and i feel i understand it better than he does. nadler is trying to violate the law. the president and the attorney general are upholding it. >> reporter: the standoff comes one day after the administration instructed former white house
counsel don mcgann to refuse to cooperate with nadler's committee prompting house speaker nancy pelosi to drop the i-word. >> the president is goading us into impeachment, whether it's obstruction, obstruction, obstruction. obstruction of having people come to the table with facts, ignoring subpoenas every single day. the president is making a case. he's self-impeachable. >> reporter: the president is defending his practice of avoiding paying taxes after a "new york times" report found he suffered more than $1 billion in business losses in the '80s and '90s tweeting real estate developers in the 1980s and 1990s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write-offs and depreciation. almost all real estate developers did. and often renegotiate with banks. it was sport.
"the new york times" reveal mr. trump was able to avoid paying taxes for much of that ten-year period. he has bragged about his ability to avoid paying taxes in the past. >> the only years anybody has ever seen were a couple years today turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax. >> that makes me smart. i have a tremendous income, and the reason i say that is not in a braggadocios way. it's about time that this country had somebody running it that has an idea about money. >> reporter: mr. trump's steep losses in real estate call into qui his main pitch to voters in 2016, that he was a business genius. >> our country needs a truly great leader. and we need a truly great leader now. we need a leader that wrote the art of the deal.
>> reporter: the president is eager to get to florida and hold another one of his rally where administration officials are sounding just as feisty as they sound very much prepared to take their battle from the hearing room to the courtroom, wolf. >> jim acosta joining us from florida on the scene. we'll see what happens later tonight. joining us now a member of the judiciary committee, mucarsel-powell. your critics are already saying the republicans insisting this is simply a democratic political stunt. your reaction? >> well, it's far from a stunt. it's far from a game. i really think is one of the most serious constitutional moments we have faced and looking specifically at the foundations of our democracy our
founders were smart enough, wolf, to have three branches of government that are supposed to be co-equal. so that there would be oversight of each branch on the other. if he is going to now ignore every request for a witness to come and testify, if he is going to exert blanket executive privilege which legally he can't do. he already waived executive privilege around the mueller report. now he's trying to assert it over everything and hide what is in the mueller report. we are at a deeply disturbing moment. the difference between a dictator shship and democracy i democracy has checks and balances. if you take away the entire authority and say one branch is not going to respect the branch of the other, every american
should be deeply concerned. >> jerry nadler says you're now in a constitutional crisis. his words, constitutional crisis. but impeachment, he says, may not be the best answer. what other options do you have? >> i don't think we've taken anyone off the table t. depends on the president's behavior is going forward. this contempt vote moves it to the floor, that once it passes the floor, which i believe it will, we then have the court and an inherent contempt authority, some remedies there and then i think the bigger question what happens with don mcgann? does the department of justice reel this back and provide us with the unredacted mueller report which almost every republican voted on the floor of the house several months ago to release the mueller report. that has not happened. we need to see are they going to
provide us with the report and the underlying information and allow don mcgann to testify? those are very important pieces. >> the other breaking news we're following right now, congresswoman, the senate intelligence committee has just subpoenaed donald trump jr. to testify, and we're told he is considering pleading the fifth. what's your reaction to this dramatic development? >> my first reaction was thank god there's been some bipartisanship. i've been so disappointed in my republican colleague who is refuse to understand or support the foundations that they were important to support, the constitution. so i'm glad there's some bipartisanship in the senate. his refusal to testify is another example. if attorney general barr came in last week to testify before us, my whole line of questioning was going to be around ongoing obstruction of justice.
and i see these attempts, don jr. refusing to testify, the president denying subpoenas, the president refuse to ing to allo witnesses to testify, that is all ongoing obstruction of justice. >> congresswoman jayapal, thank you for joining us. much more on the breaking news. the vote to hold the attorney general william barr in contempt. the president's eldest son has been subpoenaed. ♪ ♪
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following multiple breaking stories. donald trump jr. is in a standoff whether he will testify. also the house judiciary committee has just voted to hold the attorney general william barr in contempt of congress for refuse to go provide an unred t unredacted version of the mueller report. let's bring in our political and legal expert, jeffrey toobin.
how significant is it donald trump jr. is being subpoenaed by the republican-led senate judiciary committee? >> this is not the house under democratic control, this is the republican controlled. and they have been doing a largely bipartisan investigation unlike the house of matters relating to russia. one of the very notable facts in the mueller report donald trump jr. did not speak to the investigators and it is possible he will not speak to the senate. the question is how will he do that? will he take the fifth which he's entitled to do? will he not show up or will he testify? all of those options are now on the table. he has to come up with an answer
and soon. >> if he pleads the fifth, laura jarrett, you're an expert in the area, or if he doesn't show up what would result from that? >> well, two different possibilities. both are messy. if he pleads the fifth, the committee could try to offer him immunity in exchange for his testimony. we've seen offers like that before that gets criqui if a prosecutor then wants to prosecute him. if he just doesn't show up then i think burr is in a tough spot. does he follow through with a contempt vote? this is the president's son. that would be a different route but equally impossible. which of the two evils -- >> i can only imagine, nia, how angry the president of the united states is right now knowing his son, his eldest son, donald trump jr., is being subpoenaed to come before the republican majority senate intelligence committee.
>> that's right. because so far in this back and forth about barr coming before congress or the redacted report you had the doj on another side and here you have republicans essentially saying they want to hear from donald trump jr. he's testified before under oath. i think in 2017 about some of the matters but there are some discrepancies in what he may have said about the trump tower meeting in june 2016. if this goes further and may have to -- he refuses to testify. you can imagine that battle between a republican-led senate committee would be something we haven't really seen before, republicans standing up essentially to the president. saying they need to be compelled to come before congress. >> the chairman of the committee, richard burr, a
republican, seems to be at odds right now with the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell who yesterday delivered a powerful speech on the senate floor saying case closed. it's all over. let's move on. >> well, you could put a positive spin, dare i say, on this, wolf, to show that the system may be working for a change and that it's not just politics as usual, that the senate intelligence committee has a job to do regardless whether it's led by a republican or democrat and for whatever reason they feel like they need to hear more from donald trump jr. as nia said, going back to his testimony from 2017, we do mo what he said before the senate judiciary committee he was just peripherally aware of the trump tower moscow negotiations and conversations. what we heard later on subsequently was, no, he was deeply involved in those discussions. they could well want to talk to him about what he knew and when he knew it and if there was discrepancy over what he said a couple years ago.
"the washington post" reported that donald trump jr. is said to be exasperated by this subpoena. clearly things are getting elevated. if you want to say the system is working and you're not focused just on politics in a partisan way, this could actually be a positive sign. >> everybody stand by. there's a lot more we're following on all the breaking news. take a quick break and will be right back. that we just hit the motherlode of soft-serve ice cream? i got cones, anybody wants one! oh, yeah! get ya some! no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on my car insurance with geico. ed! ed! we struck sprinkles! [cheers] believe it. geico could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
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we're back with our political and legal experts. as we know the house judiciary committee just voted to hold the attorney general, william barr, in contempt of congress. >> you could see this fight coming a mile away. it had been bubbling up for weeks and finally boiled over today with this contempt vote. i think there's been a fair amount of bluster and posturing on both sides, right. so for the white house press secretary sarah sanders to say that nadler wants the attorney general to break the law, well, he doesn't want him to break the law. he wants him to come with him to court to get this report unredacted. but by the same token for nadler to say it's a constitutional crisis, it's not. the courts haven't even intervened yet. i think the real issue is who has made the best record at this point. the justice department feels like we've offered you an opportunity to come over and read the report and the fact they haven't done it yet i think will be interesting how a court treats that. >> what are the consequences of
someone being held in contempt of congress assuming the full house votes like the house judiciary committee just did and holds william barr in contempt. >> we have a living and breathing example of the consequences of that which is eric holder who seems to be leading a happy life in private life at a law firm. the consequences are not great. eric holder was held in contempt. the fight went on for a long time. most people paid no attention. the democrats have one real option here, i think, if they want to play hardball on this. contempt, no contempt, i don't think that will matter much. ma m what matters is you're not going to get a rise in the debt kraelg unless we get what we want from you in terms of document requests and testimony. you're not going to get a budget. the house of representatives it do both of those things.
that's the only leverage the democrats really have. >> the house of representatives has the power of the purse. the president issued executive privilege over the mueller report. this will also lead to a huge legal battle. >> it will do just that. as laura alluded to, we always knew it would lead to this. the president himself said particular it to the courts and he will fight it in the courts as well. the whole decision whether or not barr gets prosecuted will be in the hands of the d.o.j. unlikely they would follow through with that. up to democrats whether or not they want to sue and have the court weigh in. this will be a long process. it's unclear politically how this will play out. is it a wash because the president sort of likes these fights and whether or not
democrats will get anything out of it. either way this is going to be a long fight and one americans are paying to every sort of decks this goes in is unclear. >> go ahead, jeffrey. >> the fact they are exerting executive privilege, most of the redactions are from the first part of the mueller report where donald trump is not even president. so how can they be asserting executive privilege for the whole report? really it makes no sense to me. that doesn't mean it will be resolved any quicker in the court. >> how do you see it playing out? >> this is the situation where it's not one or two issues the president is stonewalling on. it's everything. it's his tax returns. that seems to be the strategy which is why it will be so interesting to see what ends up happening with donald trump jr. and this subpoena if he ends up just ignoring it as well.
overall this is a stalling tactic for the president. if it does end up in court, and i'm not a legal expert, many would agree the judge and the courts may, in fact, rule in favor of the democrats. it may be a drawnout, long process. at the same time the president is already blaming democrats for focusing on something that he and his opinion says is case closed. you are grasping at straws because you have the mueller report, it's over and, in his words, another witch-hunt. stick around. more news including out in colorado, one of the two suspects in the latest deadly school shooting makes his first appearance in court. alright, i brought in ensure max protein...
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and headache may occur. tell your doctor about your medicines and if you're pregnant or planning to be. ready to treat differently with a pill? otezla. show more of you. we're following breaking news in colorado, one of the two suspects in the nation's latest school shooting appeared in court this afternoon. yesterday's attack on a school in suburban denver left one student dead, eight others injured. cnn's ryan young is outside the court for us. what are you learning? >> reporter: wolf, charges have not been filed just yet against that alleged shooter. that could come as early as friday. the story is much bigger than we normally hear sometimes. these kids fought back. tonight devin erickson appearing in court, his head hanging, the second suspect a juvenile female officials previously identified as a male.
>> this individual is a small, young person and it wasn't obvious to us when they were taken into custody. >> reporter: police have yet to determine what prompted the attack. >> we're still working toward a motive. >> reporter: they used a pair of handguns. >> the suspects went to the school. they were able to get deep inside the school. >> reporter: investigators searched a home tuesday night but officials would not confirm if one of the suspects lived there. a student's cell phone was recording during the shooting. >> attention, please, lockdown. >> reporter: when students heard this -- one 12-year-old student in the middle school prepared to fight for his life. >> i had my hand on a metal baseball bat just in case.
because i was going to go down fighting. >> reporter: one of the shooters kendrick castillo jumped into action to protect his teammates. >> as soon as he said don't you move kendrick lunged giving all of us enough time to hide under our desks and the shooter ended up shooting kendrick. >> reporter: his action giving students time to flee. castillo did not survive his injuries. >> it's no surprise that if danger was facing him he would approach it and take it on. >> reporter: the 18-year-old senior was days away from finishing high school. >> be selfless. that's the one thing. that's what my son was. and it got him killed, but he saved others. >> reporter: at least three other students followed castillo's lead struggling to stop the shooter including an aspiring marine. >> he was tackled by a couple other students. they all risked their own lives to make sure 10, 15 of us got out safe and we were able to go
home to our families. >> reporter: his sacrifice is not lost. >> if it wasn't for him i wouldn't have my baby today. i will never be able to thank him. >> reporter: the first sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene within two minutes but it was an armed private security guard who apprehended one shooter and turned the suspect over to deputies. >> i believe one was restrained when the deputies came in contact with him. that was by the security officer that was at the school. >> reporter: three remain in intensive care. another school shooting in an area all too familiar with this kind of violence. only seven miles from columbine high school which weeks ago marked the 20th anniversary of a shooting that killed 12 students and a teacher. >> if you had suggested to anyone behind me or in this room within 20 years and 20 miles we
would have dealt with columbine, aurora theater, arapahoe high school, the shooting of zach parish and four other deputies, we would have thought you mad. and yet here we are again. >> reporter: wolf, we're now in a place where kids are talking about not going down without a fight. so very difficult to listen to. there are several memorials planned for the next several days. >> so heartbreaking. ryan, thank you very much. there's more news we're following. coming up, new signs of increasing tensions between the united states and kim jong-un's north korea. (music throughout)
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just days after kim jong-un's regime carried out a new missile test, the united states has suspended its efforts to retrieve the remains of u.s. services members from north korea. are tensions on the rise? >> they do seem to be on the rise tonight. on two different fronts. kim's regime is challenging the trump administration. in both cases it stems from north korea's frustration over that summit disaster more than two months ago. the pentagon is now confirming this smoke trail was really a warning shot from kim jong-un. >> i went for a run and the chairman called me up and said north korea was shooting rockets and missiles.
>> reporter: defense secretary told congress today about the north korean leaders test of a short range missile last week. his first missile firing since 2017. today kim's regime called it a quote, routine in self-defensive military drill and warned attempts in the u.s. to label it as provocative could be an excuse to disarm and invade north korea. >> kim is talking to trump as if he's a teenager. you are out of control. come back to being my child. i'm in charge and come to the table. >> reporter: kim jong-un isn't using missiles to confront president trump time. officials tells cnn they are suspending their effort to get back american soldiers remains from north korea because the north korean counterparts have not communicated at all with them since the failed trump kim summit in february. just last summer, vice president pence and military officers
traveled to hawaii to salute the remains of american servicemen missing as they were returned to the u.s. for burial. president trump touted the exchange and one of the best achievements of his singapore summit with kim. >> he gave us the remains of our great heroes. i've had so many people begging me, parent, mothers, father, daughter, sons, where ever i went, could you please get the remains of my boy back. they are giving them back. >> reporter: experts say north korea is using the importance, the exchange holds for trump as a way of getting under his skin. >> they are tug on our emotional heart strings by shutting down contact with the agency doing the recovery. use this in the first go to, in your face but passive, we're not happy with your behavior. >> reporter: be pentagon said there's more than 7800 americans still unaccounted for from the korean war and up to 5300 sets
of remains are still inside north korea. the north koreans in the past have used the repatriation issue as leverage. >> they will extort it for cash for their regime. beyond that it's how can they use an issue so sensitive for families and service members to try to get concessions elsewhere in the relationship. >> reporter: regarding that missile test by north korea, tonight experts who track north korean's missile program are worried that kim's regime will revert to pattern that it's engaged in before that after a diplomatic em pass th diplomatic impasse they started out small then they quickly escalate testing longer range missiles. analysts say if that's done this time, it could hurt the dynamic beyond repair. >> another very tense moment. coming up, the house inju
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news. contempt of congress. the battle between house democrats and the trump administration over the mueller report escalates dramatically as the judiciary committee votes to hold william barr in contempt. blocking access. president trump asserts executive privilege refusing to give congress the unredacted mueller report with the trump team stone walling lawmakers on one multiple fronts one calls it a constitutional crisis. the senate intelligence committee orders donald trump junior to return and testify but sources say he is considering invoking his fifth amendment right or just ignoring the subpoena all together. how will