tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 20, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
me at the lead. i bla -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com breaking news, congrats to the kremlin. president trump called to congratulate vladimir putin on the re-election as republican leaders finally rally around robert mueller. secrets and under covering an investigation tied to the trump campaign. reveals executives boasting that they were responsible for the president's election win. the firm's ceo has been suspended. was there a violation of election law? texas explosion. a package explodes in texas. this time at a texas sorting zpalt another suspicious parcel
is being examined. are they linked to the deadly series of bombing that's have terrified austin? plus, the porn star. could a lawsuit and the polygraph test keep the press occupied? and what about litigation by a reality show contestant? i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." >> breaking news. president trump is taking heat for his call, congratulating russia's president putin on his re-election win and with republican leaders now openly defending special counsel robert mueller. the white house insists it is now planning to fire mueller. the president is also facing risks relating to legal action by a former playmate, a former reality star and a porn star, stormy daniels, who has now released the results of a polygraph test. i'll speak with congressman eric swalwe
swalwell. er my specialists are all standing by with full coverage. the white house clearly on the defensive as president trump congratulates russia's president putin on his re-election win. let's to go our senior correspondent pamela brown. she has the latest. >> today, wolf, the president said he had a very good call with vladimir putin saying that the two will meet soon to discuss the arms race. despite escalating tension over russian election meddling and the poisoning in the u.k., the white house said neither of those issues were brought up on the call. >> thank you very much, everybody. >> president trump announcing today that he called russian president vladimir putin to congratulate him on his recent re-election. >> i had a call with president putin and congratulated him on the victory. his electoral victory. the call had to do also with the fact that we will probably get together in the not too distant
future so we can discuss arms. we can discuss the arms race. >> after a scathing statement from john mccain, the white house wouldn't say whether it believed russia's election was free and fair. >> we don't get to dig tate how other countries operate. what we do know is that putin has been elected in their country, and that's not something we can dictate to them how they operate west disagree with the fact we shouldn't have conversations with russia. >> the president maintains he has been tougher on russia than his predecessor. today the white house didn't bring up the recent poisoning of a russian in the u.k. during his conversation with putin or the meddling of the 2018 elections. this after key finding that's russia meddled in 2016. >> let me say this with a great
deal of confidence. it is clear the russian government was looking for the vulnerabilities in our system. and highlighted some of the key gaps. >> meanwhile, the white house is insisting there are no plans to fire the man conducting the independent russia investigation. >> white house yet again confirmed that the president is not considering or discussing the firing of special counsel robert mueller. >> why doesn't he push for the firing of robert mueller if he thinks the probe shouldn't have begun in the first place? why doesn't he fire him? >> we would like to be cooperative and we would like this to wrap up soon. we would like to see this document a conclusion. >> democrats aren't buying what the president's surrogates to have say pointing to what the president himself has been saying on twitter. that the probe should never have been started and suggest mueller's investigative steam politically biased. >> i trust the tweets that the president puts out when he's unsupervised. and i think what we have seen
over and over again is his intention to obstruct justice. >> and some believe a mueller firing could spell the end of the trump administration. >> if the president fired robert mueller, do you think that would be an meeimpeachable offense? >> probably so. if he did it without cause. i can't think of a more upsetting moment in the rule of law to have an investigator looking at it. to stop it without cause i think would be a constitutional crisis. >> even if donald trump himself categorically denies any intention to fire mueller, his credit sbilt highly suspect. just last week, trump flatly daenld "new york times" report saying he was unhappy with his legal team and intended to add another attorney. then did exactly that on monday. adding joe digenova who for
months talked about the conspiracy of the fbi. >> nike mistake about it. a group of fbi and d.o.j. people were trying to frame donald trump of a falsely created crime. >> and the president's lawyers also reached out to the former solicitor general about joining the team. he declined the offer for a second time. he was also approached early last year. and despite the president's lawyers saying for months that the russia probe would wrap up soon, it appears they are preparing for something different. >> good point. thank you. the republican leaders at the house and the senate finally spoke out forcefully on behalf of the special counsel robert mueller. and another key republican warned that firing mueller could be an meeimpeachable offense. what are you hearing? >> well, republicans are it very clear that they would not be happy with any effort by the president to dismiss robert
mueller. they are expressing great frustration and concern about the escalating attacks. however, they're stopping short of doing anything legislatively to protect robert mueller in this position. now, earlier today, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell who has been silent about president trump's escalating attacks on mueller got a chance to weigh in after i asked him about those snakes his views on what the president has been saying. >> over the tweaked president launched a series of attacks against the special counsel result of confident about going after the special counsel in such a direct way? >> i agree with the president's lawyers that bob mueller should be allowed the finish his job. i think it was an excellent appointment. i think he will lead, he will go wherever the facts lead him. and i think he will have great credibility with the american people when he reaches the conclusion of this investigation. so i have a lot of confidence in
him. >> the top democratic leader afterwards, chuck schumer, praised him and said it was a shot across the bow. that defending himself as the majority leader did, he was asked whether he would support any of those bills, the two bills that are pending in the senate, that would ensure that robert mueller would have some recourse to protect him in case the president took steps to fire him. he said it is not necessary. and that's something that has been echoed by republican after republican today. that they would not support any effort to protect robert mueller. and they don't want to antagonize the president. at least right now, he won't fire him. >> all right. thanks to you as well. joining me, robert balanswalwel. thank you for joining us. so the white house says firing robert mueller wouldn't be the most productive step forward but the president is attacking him
by name. hiring a lawyer who speaks officials at the justice department and the fbi, quote, framed the president. is the president gearing up, do you believe, to go on the offensive right now? >> i believe he is. and i believe he has a number of allies in congress who will allow him to do that. we should take people at their word. and we'll be sorry if we don't. i think the best thing we can do is to bypass the legislation in the house and the senate that would cement bob mueller's role and ensure he can follow the evidence so the american people can once and for all blank the president's culpability was. >> after the president called the firing of the fbi deputy director andrew mccabe over the weekend a great day for democracy, his words. you tweeted. this gloat now but you will be fired soon and it won't be double cowardly as you've done
to so many who served you. there is a storm gathering plrgs president, and it is going to wipe out you and your corrupt organization all the way down to the studs. >> what are you suggesting? >> i home it is at the ballot box and then in 2020 by the voters. i think by his own conduct he's inviting articles of impeachment before the house judiciary committee if we to fire mueller, or if mueller were to refer any charges. then of course there are the pending criminal investigations that are taking place. my point is that there is going to be a reckoning for this president. my home for the country is that it comes at the ballot box. >> do you support impeachment? >> i think the only way we can get a thorough investigation if the democrats win the congress and an investigation should first tell american people what we'll do to harden the ballot boxes and then held to president
accountable. whether it is on hiring his family, making money on the office, any work he did with the russians during campaign. i think we should be more faithful with the facts than he is. >> today, a very stern warning about the upcoming mid-term elections. president trump was congratulating vladimir putin on his own election. he didn't press putin on the nerve agent attack in the u.k. or the ongoing election meddling by russia what does that tell you? >> that tells me that he identifies more closely with putin than he does with our friends. it is also like congratulating the harlem globetrotters. it was a sham election. putin had thrown out his chief component. but this is a pattern when president erredigan announced.
and president xi announced he would be able to serve much longer, president trump said we should do that in the united states. when lank merkel was reelected, it took over two days for the president to reach out to one of our closest allies. i think he needs to reach closer and bring us closer to our allies and speak more firmly toward those a wish to hurt america. >> and the video uncovered by itn news, alexander nix spoke about this. watch what he said. >> the republicans asked three questions he --
>> nix appeared before your committee last december. >> nix was not the only witness who the republicans went easy on. this was a pattern that we saw throughout the investigation. witnesses would literally be asked, did you see any collusion with the russians? nope? okay. go on your way. we won't subpoena any records to verify whether that was true or not. we owe it to the american people whether the government response was adequate and what response is put in place in a unified way. we should reopen our investigation and make sure we fully understand what happened. a package explodes at a shipping facility and another
suspicious package is being checked. are they linked to the deadly bombings in austin? and four star stormy daniels unleashes the results of a polygraph test. >> tech: at safelite autoglass we know that when you're spending time with the grandkids... ♪ music >> tech: ...every minute counts. and you don't have time for a cracked windshield. that's why at safelite, we'll show you exactly when we'll be there.
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i want to get to what's happening in austin. it's pretty frightening, as you well know. a couple of news questions. we want to get your thoughts on this cambridge analytica. this scandal that's going on right now. you've heard the executives claim they were the ones responsible because they had access to all the facebook profiles of getting donald trump elected president of the united states. your reaction? >> i think there's a question of privacy. i think it impacted 50 million facebook accounts. the ad from cambridge analytica about, 275,000 users. so there was a letter sent he to facebook asking about the privacy implications. to see what happened here, how were these -- >> you want to hold hearings? >> i think it will take the lead. they sent a letter to find out, is privacy violated?
so i'm not sure of the campaign they were getting 50 million users. but that's something that will come out. >> a lot of people the want mark zuckerberg to personally go there and answer questions. would you support that? >> i would. >> i got the briefing in october. gang of eight in the the 2016 elections. it was clear that russia was meddling in the elections. very consistent west should call them out for what they're doing and have the sanctions. >> and they're doing it now. they're getting ready for the mid material elections. >> the president today congratulated the vladimir putin. let me read to you what john mccain said. he said an american president does not lead to free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. by doing so with vladimir putin, president trump insulted every
russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine country's future including the russian patriots who have risked so much to protest putin's regime. your reaction to that. >> i think the president is trying to be diplomatic. putin is not our friend. he's been very aggressive. he wants to regain the glory of the old soviet he will pier. he is actively, from my briefings, he is trying to influence the 2018 elections. so i think we need to stand up firm like we have with kim jong-un to putin in russia. xi in china and also, iran. throws main foreign adversaries. >> his concern that they're going to hack the nation's power grid. the electrical, the water system as well. you're the cheryl of the homeland security committee. have they done it? >> they already have. the fingerprints in our system,
the critical infrastructures, currently. we know they have capability of doing it. china does tooflt china still has security clearances. this is all going on in cyberspace and it is something my committee has been very vocal about. >> is the president personally, i know some of his cabinet members are involved but is the president personally speaking out enough about it? you rarely if ever hear him say a critical word about putin. >> i think he finally has acknowledge that had they meddled in our elections. >> barely. >> when you look at it, the secretary, they've all come out. >> they have. but the president doesn'test never says anything even remotely critical of putin. >> he congratulated him. >> i think he would be well vised to condemn and criticize. >> would you want him to speak out. >> i would. are you confident that our mid-term elections will be safe, secure, free and fair and the
russians won't be able to change votes? >> that's something that they can't, in terms of the voting machines, what we are worried about is the campaign disinformation warfare that they, we know they're trying to attack. we're also worried about members of congress being hacked into with these fishing e-mails. i get probably ten of those a day. and i think they have begun a very active campaign to influence the 2018 elections. >> let's talk about what's going to in texas right now, your hole town of austin. this looks like a serial bomber may be on the loose lt. >> for me it is frightening. this is in my home town of austin. there were four bombings, the fifth one, i talked to the head of the fbi down there, the atf, my police chief. it looks like they're all interrelated. >> is there one individual or multiple? >> we don't know at this point in time of the we know the
devices are very similar. >> one including the trip wire is similar to the other two? >> the trim wire and the one that went off at fedex. remember, that package was going from austin. it went through, the center was to austin, texas. >> what does the sophistication of the bombs tell you? >> i think it is fairly sophisticated. the trim wire shows a high level of sophistication. i'm concerned, this is almost like the sniper incident on the east coast. you don't know where and when the next sniper will hit. that's the anxiety in my home town right now. i will tell you, we've deployed 500 agents down there. 400 fbi, 100 atf. we have our department of public safety, all the other police departments surveilling austin. i think with the evidence we may get from this latest bomb, there was a package also found at the airport that we think may be linked to him as well.
that can provide, because it didn't explode. it could provide information about fingerprints, dna, that sort of thing. >> is this domestic terrorism some. >> well, i defer to the fbi on that. if they open the case up as domestic terrorism, then that's their call. i was the chief of counter terrorism and national security down in austin, texas. for many years. or international terrorism. we haven't ruled out isis. i would say if it was isis, i think they would have claimed credit at this point in time. >> if isis were involved in the bombings. but we do know that isis wants to send bombs in packages. this looks more like an anarchist if you ask me. >> let's home you find this guy, or these people. people are terrified right now. >> people need to be careful. a package on the front door. you don't know what it is. don't open it. just call 911.
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lots of breaking news coming in including a tweet from stormy daniels. let me read this. she's not going away by any means. technically i didn't sleep with the potus 12 years ago. there was no sleeping. hehe. and he was just a goofy reality tv star. two other women are legally challenging the president right now as well. >> so i think the president has met his match in stormy daniels. they're pretty similar. they know how to use the media. they're not afraid to do it. she's got a new lawyer who is all about the publicity, getting on television. they're promoting this interview that she's doing on 60 minutes.
and now the other women, they're giving them some running rule. some oxygen. so i know we've been talking about russia and everything else. but sthis is a story that's bubbling up and i think it will continue to place the president in a situation where he's going to have to address it. not just in court. >> the three women with legal challenges. karen mcdougal, the reality star from the "the apprentice." you see the pictures on the screen. >> zervos just won in court today. >> i think this is one of the few stories in the trump era that has stuck for several weeks. in part, because stormy daniels and her lawyer have been very savvy by the way they've kept it
alive. offering up little bread crumbs but not giving up too much detail. and you have someone like stormy daniels who was paid this hush money by michael cohen he said he paid it out of his own pocket but there are links to the trump organization in the correspondence. i think as you have more and more women coming forward, it is hard to believe the white house won't have to address this directly. you can see trump is tweeting about it. >> it is a political nightmare for the president. >> it is. we're talking about hush money paid to a pornographic actress. we're talking about intimidation to try prevent a important graphic actress from going out and talking about her relationship with the president.
we're talking about other women who are saying action was taken to prevent them from telling their relationship with the president. if this was anyone else, they would be gone. thrown out of white house. what are the american people thinking? that i understand there's a fire hose out of washington right now with russia news. the fact government could shut down in a couple days. what are they thinking? >> let's ask phil mudd what he's thinking. >> first, i'm glad you referred to stormy daniels as a born actress and not a porn star. what awards has she won? i would have said this is a problem for melania. if someone wants to sleep with a porn star, that has transitioned recently. wave judge in the past day or two has agreed that a suit
should go forward. that includes allegations of assault by the president. so we're transitioning from a vaguely humorous story about what the president did ten years ago to an ongoing lawsuit, assault against a woman. i think we need to focus on that. the porn actress was funny a month ago. it's not funny noim. >> and the public seems to be shifting its attitude toward robert mueller. >> the president is in a punching mood. he believes that he was misled by his attorneys who told him this will be over, this is going to be over. it's not over. mueller has indicated to them that he wants to know a lot about things that trump really doesn't want to talk about. the trump organization, jeff sessions' role in the firing of comey, what trump knew about serge dli kislyak, the investigation with general flynn
and there's more. he's adding horses. his legal team is in disarray. some have threatened to quit privately and now he's running the show and it will be a show in which he fights back. >> and republican leaders in this house and senate, they're finally basically telling the president, don't even think about firing mueller. >> they are. if he does fire mueller, the problems will rest on the shoulders of the members of congress. we only heard mitch mcconnell speak the nail. he said don't touch him. when paul ryan walked up and said i've been told he will let him do his job. we hope that's true. with president trump, he could fire him. he is more likely to fire him yesterday. >> or rosenstein. >> i think the president has
been given a great deal of latitude on capitol hill. he's been emboldened to test waters, put owl the trial balloons about considering firing mueller to see if republicans would take any kind of action. it is note panel even as mitch mcconnell was force envelop expressing the integrity of the special counsel, he also said there's no need to frequent special counsel. both of them, they only speak about it when they're asked. they don't go out and aggressively make a statement. let me talk about the president saying why are you congratulating? this was a sham election. what are your thoughts? >> one quick thought. we had five weeks ago, the department of justice indict 15 russians. and saying the russians tried to
murder someone in the u.k. and the president can't stand to mention it. it doesn't make sense. >> why? >> it suggests the russians did interfere and people start getting to that achilles' heel that he worries about. is the election legitimate? >> all right, stick around. rapidly changing, another bombing in texas. and a school shooting where a school resource officer confronted a student gunman.
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breaking news in the texas bombing. a second suspicious package turned up intact near austin where four other pack an bombs have exploded this month. cnn correspondent nick walker has the investigation. what are you learning? >> well, this investigation is fluid, fast moving and growing. local enforcement. it started with doorsteps, then a trim wire, and now appears to be sending explosive packages via fedex.
a package showed thatted. 60 miles southwest of austin. one employee standing near the conveyor belt later complained of in the ears. she was treated and released. >> law enforcement swarmed it. >> we're trying to understand what happened. we're trying to get through the evidence and let the evidence tell us where we need to go. >> law enforcement is now looking at two packages from tuesday. the one that exploded and the second suspicious package at another location. fedex said the company turned over extensive evidence related to these packages and the individual that shipped they will. collected from our advanced technology security systems.
the fbi now saying they suspected they are linked to the bombing that have left two men dead, an elderly woman injured by another device and two young men injured by a trip wire across a sidewalk in a quiet neighborhood. >> before you had to look for a package. now you have to look everywhere. it is harder to feel a wire. >> if you're not expecting a package. if it doesn't have an official label on it. not just a package itself. if there is anything out of the ordinary, we are asking the community to please call 911. >> and sarah sanders tweeting, there is no apparent nexus to terrorism at this time. >> these are sick people and we will get to the bottom of it.
>> authorities have appealed to the bomber to contact they will. a motive remains unclear. >> investigators are pouring over surveillance footage from the wire attack sunday night as well as the two devices from today and they're also appealing to the public for help. an award leading to arrest is now at $115,000. >> let's home they get this guy and get him quickly. thank you very much. coming up, an update on the deadly events at a maryland school where a teenage student broad a gun and opened fire. >> tech: at safelite autoglass we know that when you're spending time with the grandkids... ♪ music >> tech: ...every minute counts. and you don't have time for a cracked windshield. that's why at safelite, we'll show you exactly when we'll be there. with a replacement you can trust. all done sir. >> grandpa: looks great! >> tech: thanks for choosing safelite.
another bloody school shooting today, this time in southern maryland where a high school gunman opened fire before he was engaged by an armed school resource officer. two students were wounded. the shooter is dead. let's go live to brian todd. he is in great mills, maryland for us. what are you learning, brian. >> wolf, one of the students, a 16-year-old female student from the high school has life threatening injuries tonight. we're also getting more information on the possible motive of the shooter. and if the decisive heroic actions of the school resource officer here that are being credited with saving lives. it's believed to have lasted for less than a minute.
a 17-year-old student opened fire in the hallway of the school just before 8:00 a.m. >> today at approximately 7: 7:55 a.m. great mills high school student austin wyatt miles, age 17, produced a handgun while in hallway f in great mills high school and shot a great mills high school student, a female who was 16 and a great mills high school student, a male who was 14. >> reporter: authorities say austin rollins shot the female student before engaging in a round of gunfire with the school resource officer, blaine gaskill. officials say it's not clear whether rollins was killed by gaski gaskill's shot or he committed suicide. >> gaskill fired at the shooter and almost simultaneously the shooter fired. >> reporter: the sheriff tells cnn that gaskill, a current s.w.a.t. officer was just assigned to great mills high school last august. tonight investigators are looking into the relationship between the shooter and the
female victim as a possible motive. >> there is an indication that her prior relationship existed wean the shooter and the female victim. we are working as we speak to determine if that was, and if so the extent of that. and if it was part of the motive for this shooting. >> reporter: tony forman has lived across the street from austin rollins for years. he would often play sports with her son. no signs of any previous behavioral issues? >> nothing. great family. great kid. i think it was just a bad situation that he couldn't process. >> reporter: the incident marks the third shooting at a high school since the deadly shooting at marjory stoneman douglas high school in parkland, florida last month, where 17 were killed. the school resource officer at stoneman douglas, scott peterson resigned his position after footage emerged showing that peterson never went into the building while the shooting was happening. this edited surveillance video released last week appears to show peterson standing outside
the building while the shooting unfolded. >> what i saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position, and he never went in. >> reporter: the shooting in parkland sparked a national outcry for gun control legislation. last week, students at great mills high school walked out of class as part of a nationwide student-led protest against school violence. >> we just had a walkout, just a week ago about gun violence. we're just trying to make sure that we don't have to deal with, this and we deal with this a week later. >> reporter: tonight investigators say so far they have not discovered any warning signs on the part of the shooter. no instances of previously disturbing behavior, nothing indicating that on his social media accounts, on his cell phone, on his computer or in his car. but officials tell us they are combing through all of that evidence. we are told that the shooter's
family is cooperating with investigators. wolf? >> brian todd in great mills, maryland, thanks for that report. coming up, the white house now scrambling to explain president trump's phone call congratulating russia's vladimir putin on his reelection as republican leaders finally rally around the russia probe special counsel robert mueller. and the president facing risks relating to new legal action by a former playmate, a former reality star and by porn star stormy daniels who has also now released the results of a polygraph test. that i served. i was a c130 mechanic in the corps, so i'm not happy unless my hands are dirty. between running a business and four kids, we're busy. auto insurance, homeowner's insurance, life insurance policies. knowing that usaa will always have my back... that's just one less thing you have to worry about. i couldn't imagine going anywhere else. they're like a friend of the family. we are the cochran family, and we'll be usaa members for life. save by bundling usaa home and auto insurance. get a quote today.
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stunning new claims tonight in an undercover investigation of a controversial data firm that worked for the trump campaign. did cambridge analytica win the election for the president? and were laws broken along the way? praising putin. president trump is facing backlash tonight for calling the russian leader to congratulate him on his reelection. why didn't mr. trump bring up moscow's interference in the u.s. election or other alleged crimes with links to the kremlin? stormy's truth. we now have the results of polygraph tests taken by the porn star. they indicate her claim of a past affair with president trump is true. and tonight stormy daniels is tweeting about whether she slept with mr. trump. and playboy model sues. another woman who allegedly had an affair with mr. trump is going to court, fighting to be released from an agreement to stay silent about their relationship. will the president pay a price for these multiple lawsuits and