tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 24, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
report from cnn correspondent will ripply. he's inside south korea. he broke the news to members of the kim regime. a top democrat declares there's nothing to back up the president's claim that the fbi spied on his campaign. we're getting new information about two classified briefings and why a white house lawyer was there. and lava explosions. the volcanic blasts in hawaii now hotter than ever giving way to searing blue flames. we want to take you there live. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in the situation room. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we begin this hour with breaking news on the russia investigations and negotiations for the special counsel to interview president trump. cnn has learned that the president's legal team discussed a potential date of january
27th, this year, before talks between the two sides stalled. this hour i'll talk with democratic senator ed marquee. he's a member of the foreign relations committee. right now let's go to our chief political analyst, gloria borger. tell us what you're learning about this possible interview that almost happened but didn't. >> almost, but almost wasn't good enough. president donald trump's lawyers and special counsel robert mueller discussed this potential january 27th interview with the president before talks between the two sides stalled, my sources tell my colleague and i, evan perez. they discussed the logistics of holding it at camp david, which we know is the presidential retreat in maryland.
before the president's team finally rejected the plan in a 20-page letter that was spent to the special counsel. so this possible date for an interview, wolf, has never been reported before. and had they done it, maybe the world would have been a little bit different. and if you'll recall at that time the president's attorneys were quite interested in getting this over with and moving quickly, which is why they considered this very seriously. but in the end, wolf, they decided and then the chief counsel for the president, john dowd, decided that it was just too much of a risk and that on constitutional grounds they felt the president was not required to do it. >> what do you think, jeffrey? five hours, camp david, a saturday back in january. that's what mueller wanted. didn't happen. >> right. and i think this is indicative of how everything about the trump presidency has become
harder edged in the last few months. all the so-called grown ups whether tillerson or master or ty cobb or john dowd, they're all gone. and in their place are people who are much more aggressive. rudy giuliani is now the spokesman for the defense. so instead of talking for five hours in january, rudy giuliani if he's talking about an interview at all he's talking about two hours. and he is highly, highly noncommittal about whether any interview will take place. i think that's indicative of how positions have hardened in the last few months. >> if you'll recall, wolf, on january 24th, the president said when he was asked about a possible interview he said and i'm quoting him here, i'm looking forward to it, actually. now, at the same time he was saying that he really wanted to do an interview and the president's attorneys wanted to get this over with.
as jeffrey points out, the strategy now has completely changed. and after the rain on michael cohen's office the president completely changed as well. he went from going to thinking maybe i could do an interview, let's get it over with, to i'm absolutely not going to sit down in front of these people. and i think rudy giuliani is reflecting that. so what they're doing is making the public relations case, why should we sit down with these people who are not credible and calling effectively for an investigation of the investigators, which is what they're doing? >> you'll remember, jeffrey, back in january the president's words about a meeting with mueller pretty upbeat, pretty positive. he really wasn't witch hunt, witch hunt, witch hunt as much as he is right now. >> like gloria you said you have the raids on michael cohen's office and now the president's
accusation that the fbi was spying on his campaign, which again reflects an aggressive attitude, not bounded in fact, but an aggressive attitude towards the fbi and towards this investigation that at least for some time in the winter was what was -- >> where's this heading? >> let me talk a bit about rudy giuliani's role here, first of all. i think it's more of a public spokesman than it is as one of his attorneys who's dealing with mueller. i believe he has only met with mueller once. maybe he's talked with him but only met with him once. and i think you've got jay sekulow who is still there, and you have the raskens who are doing the really serious legal work and the serious negotiations. what this explains to us with
the time line, wolf, in january as you pointed out the president was eager to do this. on january 29th john dowd sends this letter we're not going to go along with bob mueller on this. and the president we're told read the letter and approved of the letter. and then we're told there are two meetings with the special counsel's office. one on march 5th and one on march 12th. and at the march 5th session according to one of our sources, mueller made the case that we need to hear from the president himself because we need to know about what his intent was regarding certain actions. and, of course, that's referring to the question of obstruction and the firing of james comey. all right, everybody stick around. there's more breaking news we're following right now. justice department officials, intelligence officials and top
members of congress, the briefings adding another layer of controversy to the president's unproven claim that an fbi source spied on his 2016 presidential campaign. laura, the second meeting broke up just a little while ago on capitol hill. what can you tell us? >> wolf, well the anticipation surrounding these briefings had been building all week, but the main questions surrounding exactly what information would lawmakers receive. but then a surprise guest showed up on the scene today, emmitt flood, the latest edition to the white house legal team, raising questions why exactly the man that's been added to help defend the presidency in the russia investigation be included in a meeting that was supposed to be about congressional oversight? now, the white house says there's nothing to see here. both flood and chief of staff john kelly attended to make some opening remarks about transparency.
but there's still some question why take the risk of any appearance of impropriety. on the substance of the briefings the democrats say they simply haven't seen anything thus far to support the theory, the unsupported theory that the president has been pushing all week about a mole in his campaign. take a listen. >> nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the fbi or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols. >> now, republicans on the other hand, aren't saying one way or another whether they are satisfied with the briefings today, but they're unlikely to stay silent for too long, wolf. we're going to have much more on the story coming up, there's more breaking news. i want to go to cnn
correspondent will ripply. you were there on the scene when members of the kim regime were told by you that the president of the united states was canceling this june 12th summit with kim jong-un in singapore. you broke the news to north korean officials. tell us the very latest you're hearing on the reaction. >> we've just gotten off the train here. we're on an overnight train, and it was very late last night when i got the phone call from our international desk. and you don't internet on the train. basically they were just reading the letter about his remarks in a strongly worded response. nonetheless, it was an extremely awkward and uncomfortable moment. and i'm afraid as the news spread amongst all the officials onboard that the united states had canceled the summit on the
same day what they concerned to be a meaningful gesture by blowing up three of their nuclear tests along with all of the buildings on the site. it's probably going to be a lot of debate how significant those sites were. but we know from the north korean perspective they did something big and on the same day they did that, they get the news president trump has canceled the summit. there were phone calls being made. we don't have a statement just yet. and because of the sensitivity and really severity of this situation. this is more than a bump in the road. we don't have any official reaction right now. we're going to wait until something is put out from the higher level of the government. i can tell you, wolf, the north korean response is not going to be good. they're going to feel that
americans have shown our true colors here. any trust between the united states and north korea probably completely shattered at this point as a result of this. frankly, it's really anyone's guess what's going to happen here. >> we're standing by to get some new images, new pictures from north korea. i'm going to get back to you. the president says the u.s. military right now is ready if kim jong-un respond said by doing something that the president says would be foolish or reckless in response to the cancellation of the summit next month. the president's decision to scrap the talks is renewing serious questions about his dealing with the north korean leader that wept from taunting him as rocket man to praising him as very honorable. let's go to our cnn white house correspondent pamela brown. pamela, tell us how all of this so dramatically unfolded and what happens next. >> reporter: the summit was
canceled after a string of broken promises and odd judgment calls on the part of north koreans, says a senior official. and in order for the summit to be put back on they would need to see the opposite from what they've seen from the north koreans this week. president trump canceling his would be summit with north korea today. >> based on the recent statement of north korea i've decided to terminate the cement 'ing singapore on june 12th. >> reporter: warning if north korea were to retaliate the u.s. military is standing by to respond. >> hopefully things are taking place with respect to the future of north korea. but if they don't, we are more ready than we have ever been before. >> reporter: in a meeting with south korean president moon earlier this week trump hinted the summed may not happen on its original time line. >> it may not work out for june 12th, but there's a good chance
we'll have the meeting. >> but the real trouble started state night, when they released a statement calling vice president pence a political dummy and saying whether the u.s. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at a nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the united states. the insult targeting pence after his monday interview with fox news where the vice president brought up the libya model. >> this will only end like the libyan model ended if kim doesn't make a deal. >> reporter: in that deal muammar gaddafi was overthrown and killed. a u.s. delegation in singapore making final preparations for the summit was stood up by its north korean counter parts last week, and the north koreans went silent amid attempts to discuss
the summit's agenda. a source telling cnn the president made the decision to cancel the summit this morning. the news delivered in a hand steined letter that an official says was dictated by trump. it boasts of the united states's nuclear prowess. you talk about nuclear capabilities but ours are so massive and powerful that i pray to god they will never have to be used and called the missed summit a truly sad moment in history. the president saying today he had a wonderful dialogue with kim jong-un starting with the return of three detainees from north korea. >> the dialogue was good until recently, and i think i understand why that happened. >> anticipation from the summit had been building for weeks. >> i'll be meeting with kim jong-un to pursue a future of peace and security for the world, for the whole world. >> reporter: with crowds chanting for trump to win a nobel prize. >> that's very nice, thank you. >> do you deserve the nobel prize, do you think?
>> everyone thinks so, but i would never say it. >> reporter: but today trump leaving the door open for a summit in the future. >> it's possible that the existing summit could take place or a summit at some later date. nobody should be anxious. we have to get it right. >> reporter: but only if north korea agrees to denuclearize. >> that bright and beautiful future can only happen when the threat of nuclear weapons is removed. no way it can happen otherwise. if and when kim jong-un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, i am waiting. >> reporter: and a senior white house official says president trump and kim jong-un have communicated through, quote, diplomacy but would not specify whether the two men have spoken directly. now, wolf, there has not been a formal response from north korea to the canceled summit.
so at this point it's a waiting game on the part of the administration to see how north korea might respond to this. wolf? >> we're going to see what they say and do. pamela brown, thanks very much. >> also right now we're getting the first images from the north korean nuclear site. will ripply our correspondent was there to witness the destruction of that nuclear site. he's once again joining us on the phone. so, will, walk us through to what you actually saw. we'll show our viewers these new images we're just getting in. >> yeah, we're on our way to sending in our own images. first of all the deputy director of the nuclear weapons institute that gave us all a briefing once we arrived at the nuclear site showed us a map of the site, four different tunnels. one of the tunnels was closed several years ago. but with it was the construction of the remaining three,explosiv could see. and we were basically taken up
to three different observation posts that were built for us. we hiked up the side of the ravine to witness basically north korea blow them up. we didn't have any nuclear weapons experts in our group. there were only journalists. so we can't verify how significant these explosions were. but we did see the entrance to the tunnel completely blocked off. we also saw probably nine buildings on-site only blown up completely that used to house the control center, the barracks for the officers on site. just being the first national journalist actually going to a place we've reported about so many times, truly an extraordinary thing. but as to what we saw and the steps to denuclearization is something we as journalisterize
ab are unable to confirm. >> what was the explanation the north korean officials gave you while you were at that nuclear site why they decided to blow up those tunnels? >> they said they were being transparent. they said this was proof that the north koreans are committed to denuclearization. that he said it was a gesture ahead of the summit in singapore that was going to be on june 12th for president trump. and while we were on the ground for the entire nine hours we were kind of operating under the assumption that summit was still a go. at the same time it was a directive that came down from the leader kim jong-un that they needed to demolish the site and focus all their efforts on the economy. at that point they felt even though they were destroying this nuclear facility it would going
to be better for their country. obviously there are different feelings on the ground here. and a lot towards anger towards the united states. >> we're still waiting for an official north korean response. it's just getting daylight over there. >> that's right. it's about 20 past 7:00 a.m., we don't have any internet on our phones, but we're probably another 15 minutes or so away from the hotel. the first thing we're going to do is send in a video and try to get an official response. none of the officials who are traveling with us are authorized to get a statement from the north korean government. there's going to be a statement from a higher level. but the impression i get it's not going to be good, wolf. >> is there any explanation at
all why the north korea advance team didn't show up. mike pompeo the secretary of state, former cia director, he had gone to pyeongyang twice, met with kim jong-un. in recent days his contacts and phone calls to north korea were not being returned at all. any explanation you're getting from the north koreans? >> i think what we've seen in terms of the relationship between the united states and north korea has gone downhill. but with the north koreans have really been angry about one are the military exercises happening in south korea, the aerial
bombing drills and even more than that has been the rhetoric. first with john bolton with the comments about libya and also those comments by vice president mike pence also mentioning libya. of course muammar gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons and a few years later he was dead. so any reference to libya is absolutely infuriating. this is more than a minor blip. this is very significant, not even a roadblock. i mean this is nonstarter. things have potentially gone back to square one. we don't know how the north koreans are going to respond, if they're going to try to leverage something diplomatically. my sense is it's going to be a much stronger response and angry response from the north koreans. >> we'll stay in touch with you.
will ripply on the scene for us inside north korea. joining us now senator ed marquee. he serves on the foreign relations committee. thanks so much for joining us. what's your reaction? did the president make the right call by scrapping this summit? >> this is really unfortunate. just three weeks from the summit, but what we're seeing is escalating rhetoric over the last couple of weeks. john bolton started it by commenting that they were looking for the libyan model, which meant that gaddafi at the end of that scenario wound up dead after he had given up his nuclear program. vice president pence then started talking about the same kind of scenario on monday. that elicited a response on monday from high ranking north korean officials which led to a collapse today. all of this was avoided, this
rhetoric john bolton was engaging in was something the president should have put a damper on immediately. we should have had more confidence building measures put in place. and instead it deteriorated quickly and am president pulled out. perhaps he came to the conclusion the definition of denuclearization would not be agreed upon between kim and himself. we really don't know. but the fact of the matter is the world was the loser today because there were great hopes this summit could begin a pathway to reconciliation on the korean peninsula? >> should the president try for another summit? >> absolutely. we have to just re-intensify our diplomatic engagements. we should stiffen even further economic sanctions on north korea. there's still a lot more we can
do, especially crude oil. and we should even deepen our partnership with the south koreans and japanese in terms of regional cooperation on these issues. so we should not take this as the final no. we should have a process that we put in place as immediately as possible in order to put a diplomatic pathway back into motion because the military option, which the president talked about today, is not a solution. it will become catastrophic very quickly. and so, yes, we do need to go back to the table as soon as possible. >> in recent days as you know, senator, president trump seemed to be suggesting that china had a role in changing the north korean attitude towards the summit. do you think the chinese leadership, president xi, has now met twice with kim jong-un.
do you believe he sabotaged this meeting? >> i don't know the extent to which xi may or may not want this summit to take place. i do know at least the ostensible justification, which the trump white house is using is the statement that was made by the north korean foreign policy official just yesterday. and that all referred to this whole question of libya and gaddafi as a model for the denuclearization of north korea. and that's just a nonstarter. and i ultimately would put more of a blame upon this escluatory rhetoric and we had moved really from fire and fury to talking about trying to resolve the issues. and then today the president goes right back to bragging about our nuclear arsenal and his potential for using it if necessary. and that just does not contribute to the kind of atmospheric that we're looking
for in order to get a resolution of these critical issues. >> finally, senator, before i let you go a very different subject. the president's legal team and the special counsel mueller and his team, they discussed a possible date for an interview with the president back january 27th of this year, five hours, camp david, maryland. before all those negotiations stalled, this is cnn's reporting. do you believe that interview will ever happen? >> i think only donald trump's lawyers and donald trump himself knows the answer to that question. it is the only way, ultimately, to bring this investigation to a conclusion. the president will have to answer the questions of what he knew and when he knew it. and when he is able to give that interview, give definitive answers, then we're able to talk about the conclusion of the investigation. but he keeps throwing out these red herrings, accusing the fbi
of investigating his campaign last year. we're going to need an aquerm there are going to be so many political red herrings the president throws out. but it's all for him to avoid doing this interview, which is going to be the necessary condition to bringing the investigation to a conclusion. >> senator markey, thanks for joining us. let's bring in our analysts who are all monitoring the breaking news, the news that the president lawyer's and robert mu mueller discussed a potential date. jeffrey toobin based on gloria's reporting and you've heard our cnn reporting, at what point is it over, in other words, does mueller give up the notion of actually sitting down with the president and simply moves on? >> be soon because this has now been going on for months. ty cobb who was the official liaison between the white house
and the investigation, that's all been done for several months now. and really all that's left in the obstruction of justice investigation is the president's interview. it's not actually in either side's interest to have a long legal fight over whether the president has the right to refuse a subpoena. mueller doesn't want to fight it for a year. president trump doesn't want to fight it for a year, but it seems like that's where we're heading. and that could extend this investigation. that alone could extend it for quite a few more months. >> yeah, maybe even beyond the november mid-term elections. >> oh, definitely. >> do you think mueller will issue a subpoena to the president? >> definitely. it's too important a piece of this investigation. as gloria reported earlier, the question of the president's intent, why did he fire mueller? why did he act in various ways
with regards to this investigation? the only way or the best way to find that out is to ask him. and no reasonable prosecutor would conduct this investigation without at least trying to interview the president. he's got to issue a subpoena. >> and the president may or may not honor that subpoena. that could go to the supreme court, though, right? >> it certainly could. although the other possibility is that if there's a subpoena the president could take the fifth and refuse to answer. that would be difficult politically, but it would end the legal issue and eliminate the need for any court fight. because if someone takes the fifth, they just take the fifth and there's no needs for any judge to get involved. >> we know what the president has said during the campaign over the years about individuals who plead the fifth. katelyn collins, you're a white house reporter. there's been a shakeup in the president's legal team since january. >> there certainly has, and the legal team has been a mess.
they couldn't agree on what the logistics should be and what the questions should be and the setting should be. and that hadn't changed at all. we're still witnessing that even though the president has cycled through an entire thing of lawyers and now has rudy giuliani on his team. it seems what mueller wants to talk to the president about has only expanded since january. from what this reporting shows it seems it was quite limited what they agreed to, what they talked to the special counsel about. and it showed dozens of questions mueller wanted to ask the president that weren't just about russia related things before the election and during the campaign but also about what happened since he's been in office about obstruction of justice and all these things, and also the stormy daniels developments over the last few months. things have really changed since january. it just seems like things are worse and not any closer to an agreement like this. it doesn't seem much has progressed.
>> is there a split among the president's lawyers, whether or not he should sit down with the special counsel? >> there seems to be. we hear a number of things out of the white house, the president saying at one point he'd love to sit down with the special counsel. rudy giuliani seemed to suggest maybe it's not a good idea because it may be a perjury trap. rudy giuliani saying maybe we could limit it to two or three or four hours, get the hillary clinton treatment and basically have written answers and written questions in advance. you wonder if the white house, at this point, donald trump is regretting not taking that interview back in january. because as you said it's expanded, dragged on, and at some point it doesn't seem to be narrowing the scope of this interview. it seems to be expandsing this investigation. >> what do you think? >> i feel maybe they feel they dodged a bullet, so to speak. although i agree with you that as time goes on it's sort of
this balance between the president, his lawyers not wanting him to look like he's acting guilty by delaying an interview, but at the same time the lawyerly thing to do would be to protect him from a perjury trap or just making inconsistent statements that would open them up to further avenues in the investigation. >> what's been going on in these classified briefings today, like the justice department up on capitol hill, they've been briefing democrats and republicans on this allegation by the president that there was a spy planted to deal with his campaign during the presidential campaign. adam schiff, the ranking democrat on the intelligence committee, emerged from both -- he attended both of these briefings, and he said there was no evidence presented at all during either briefing to substantiate the president's claim. another top democrat on the senate intelligence committee, mark warner called the noon briefings a rogue meeting because apparently one of the
new white house lawyers at least came for for the beginning of that meeting and they say he shouldn't have been there. what's your reaction? >> let's remember the whole basis for this inquiry is the president's claim that there was a spy on his campaign, an fbi spy. there is no evidence to support that. congressman schiff says nothing came out today that supports that hypothesis. we haven't heard from any republicans in any detail about what they learned in this hearing, but at least so far they haven't come up with it. so the idea that there was an fbi spy in the campaign is at some point a completely unsupported conspiracy theory. and the fact that the white house sent the chief of staff and the white house lawyer in charge of responding to the russia investigation suggests that they saw this not as a neutral fact finding investigation but as something that they thought could help
their case. now, it looks like they were wrong. but it just shows how politicized this process has been, at least by the white house today. >> you know, it's interesting, katelyn, that originally only two republicans were supposed to get this highly classified bringing. all of a sudden they let adam schiff in and then they had the so-called gang of eight, four top republicans, four top democrats had a separate meeting on capitol hill. what caused the white house to shift in allowing democrats to get access to this briefing as well? >> well, it's looking pretty bad they only invited two republicans, one of who is very close to the president. and i think there were a lot of complaints about that on capitol hill. but also the president himself got in on this and said he thought democrats should be involved and he was originally irked they were not invited to this briefing. not because the president wants this to be bipartisan but he didn't want the democrats to say they were playing games with this and overshadow the overall
conspiracy the president believes that law enforcement officials are working against him. going back to this information one of his lawyers was there at this briefing was stunning. it raises the question of how this happened because just yesterday the white house was saying no white house officials were going to be there, even john kelly. and they've still not provided a credible explanation for why john kelly was there, especially why the lawyer handling the russia investigation was at a briefing on the russia investigation. >> interesting stuff. everybody, stick around. there's more we need to discuss. but right now i want to turn to another story we're following. the stormy daniels lawsuit against the president of united states. a judge has now put the case on hold, and the adult film star's lawyer is trying to change that, asking for the judge to allow
the suit to continue. thank you for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. >> why not simply wait those 90 days as the judge recommended? >> well, i'll tell you, wolf, the reason is because we're a little concerned it may far beyond 90 days. and we are highly confident that michael cohen and his attorneys and mr. trump are going to make an effort to prolong this indefinitely. and 90 days will turn into 180 and then 270, and before you know it we'll be looking at this we'll be looking at delay of two or three years. and there's no need for it, and we believe the case should proceed forthwith, and i should be provided an opportunity tadepose the president. >> the judge has already ruled on this. he said 90 days. so what are you offering the judge to help him reconsider his decision in. >> what we've stated in our motion is we will avoid a deposition of michael cohen during this stay period, but that other discovery against
other individuals should be permitted to proceed against -- including discovery and deposition of mr. trump and others. the mr. giuliani and mr. trump have made it clear by their statements since the stay order was issued this is not off-limits. they can defend themselves or at least attempt to. they've talked about all kinds of facts which they claim are true which we know are not true. and they've really shot themselves in the foot. >> how does this help your client, stormy daniels? >> well, proceeding with the case more quickly obviously helps our client, wolf, because justice delayed is justice denied. i mean the sooner we can get this case fully underway, the sooner these issues can be fully adjudicated. the defamation claim against michael cohen can be proven true and damages can be awarded, and my client can be permitted to proceed with her life and speak
openly about this without the threat of millions of dollars in damages, which, you know, the president made that same threat only a few weeks ago. >> you were cited in a recent bbc report on payments allegedly made to michael cohen, the president's long time personal lawyer. payments between the ukrainian president. you say suspicious activity reports filed by michael cohen's bank showed he received money from, quote, ukrainian interests. are you certain that those are the payments, those suspicious activity reports are referring to? >> look, here's what i'll tell you, wolf, we stand behind the voracity of the bbc report and the statements within that report. there's no question that information is accurate. i think it's interesting that michael cohen nor his counsel have refuted the statements in the bbc report relating to the receipt of those payments. obviously it's a very serious
charge, and it deserves a serious degree of attention not just from the american people but from law enforcement. >> as you know those reports are already being examine said by federal prosecutors. how does making them public help your client, stormy daniels? >> well, we haven't made anything public as it relates to those specific payments, wolf. but, look, i think the american people deserve information, deserve facts and deserve evidence. and i don't think it's reckless by any stretch of the imagination for the american people to have that information. it's a core principle of our democracy. where things go after that is up to others. but there's nothing wrong with disclosing information. that's the entire premise of your profession and it's a noble one. >> as you know the treasury department is investigating all these leaks on his finance statement. are you worried that you will be excell
compelled to reveal your sources? >> we did nothing wrong and i'm highly confident we're going to be exonerated. i'm not losing any sleepover this. >> earlier a bankruptcy court judge ordered your law firm to pay a $10 million judgment to an attorney who once worked for your firm. you called it irrelevant. you said it was a sideshow. you suggested that you're the target of a smear campaign right now because you're representing stormy daniels. first of all, do you have any evidence to back that up? >> oh, we have a lot of evidence, wolf. i mean you can so go on my twitter feed and look at the comments and smof tome of the t people have posted. the people on the far right that are protective of this president are getting very, very nervous about me and my client. and they should be very nervous and they should be panicked because they understand that we're effective. they understand the american people are listening to us. they understand we're bringing
the facts and the evidence and we can back it up. and they're concerned about what we have to say. and so now what they're resorting to are personal attacks against me and my client that have nothing to do with the case or the facts or anything else. that's what they're resorting to. but it's not going to work, wolf, because the american people are smarter than this. >> michael avenatti, thanks for joining us. we have another breaking story coming into the situation right now. the fugitive founder of wikileaks julian assange who is allegedly responsible of e-mails hacked by russia during the campaign, sources telling cnn he'd been kicked out of the embassy where he'd been hiding out the last six years. jim sciutto, tell our viewers what you're learning. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. hiding out for six years in three countries from sweden for rape charges, from the u.k. for breaking bail, and here in the
u.s. for his possible involvement. you'll remember the u.s. views the wikileaks as a middle man between russian hackers and distributesing those stolen e-mails from the democratic party as interference in the 2016 election. we're told by multiple sources that any day now, as soon as any day now he could lose that refuge. ecuador's embassy in london has been his refuge from british, swedish and american authorities for six years. but now sources tell cnn julian assange's stay there is in jeopardy. possible extradition to the u.s. this is something julian assange has repeatedly called unjust from the embassy's balcony. >> and the threats towards me, my staff and wikileaks as a
publisher will not be tolerated. >> reporter: recent lay caught off his access to the internet making it impossible for him to manage wikileaks. assange is only allowed now to see his lawyers who say their mobile phones are scrammed while in the embassy. he's dealing with multiple lawsuits. as a candidate donald trump repeatedly praised wikileaks on the campaign trail. >> wikileaks, i love wikileaks. >> reporter: however, u.s. intelligence believes wikileaks acted as a middle man orcut out for russia, all part of russia's int interference in the 2016 election. cnn reported last year that the u.s. has prepared charges to arrest assange. attorney general jeff sessions called it a priority. >> we've already begun to step up our efforts, and whenever our case can be made we will seek to put some people in jail. >> reporter: assange's lawyer melinda taylor told cnn, quote,
the concern from day to until the present is if julian assange walks out of the embassy he will be extradited and face an unprecedented and unconstitutional extradition. he was fleeing rape allegations in sweden when he first sought refuge at embassy. sweden is no longer pursuing the charges against assange. >> translator: we hope to have a positive result in the short term on this issue has caused us more of a nuisance. >> reporter: ecuador appears to be applying two kinds of pressure on assange. one by restricting his access, making it uncomfortable for him to be there, not able to run wikileaks, see his friends, his supporters, et cetera. but also that pressure on the
outside, the ecuadorian government to force him out, hoping he chooses to go or he's forced to go. i am told if there is an extradition request to the u.k., if he leaves the embassy, they will challenge that extradition in british courts. >> jim, thank you very much for that. let's get some reaction first of all to what jim has been reporting. and jeffrey toobin, the wall street certainly is reporting that roger stone privately sought information he considered damaging on hillary clinton from wikileaks. we should note that the intermediary said the request was never passed along to assange. stone says he still hasn't been interviewed by robert mueller. does any of this surprise you? >> this is actually one part of the mueller investigation that appears ready for charges. you know, mueller's office prosecuted a number of russians who were involved in social
media and facebook and instagram during the election. what he has not prosecuted is anyone involved in the hacking, the hacking of john podesta's e-mails, the hacking of the dnc e-mails, democratic congressional campaign e-mails. that case has been investigated, and the interesting part about that case is that roger stone appears to be a target as well. in the other cases there's never been a nexus, never been a connection between the russians and the trump campaign. roger stone is potentially -- potentially, he denies it, a connection between the efforts to help trump and the trump campaign. and that's something to keep an eye on in this investigation. >> that's a good point. katelyn, dana bash is doing some more excellent reporting for us. she now tells us that rudy giuliani says that the president's legal team wants to know as much as they possibly can to the extent that they want
to make it available about this confidential source that the fbi had wanting to learn about russian involvement in the u.s. presidential election. and giuliani tells cnn that knowing about this confidential source is actually a prerequisite for any interview with the president. >> shocker. what a tactic they have picked because of course the president has been railing and he has seized in on the reports about this confidential intelligence source, which the president has branded a spy because he sees it as this more nefarious term and he understands how branding works. so it's not a surprise to me at all now they're trying to use this in their arsenal to stop the president from sitting down with special counsel robert mueller. something rudy giuliani has been trying to stop since he became the president's lawyer. and now they're going to say it's a prerequisite for them sitting down. of course the president has been using everything within his
grasp to try to justify his claim the fbi was spying on his camane. even going as far to twist james clapper's words about this. it doesn't surprise me rudy giuliani is saying this is something they're going to use. >> giuliani says they've got to divulge this information about the confidential source, quote, unless they want to give up an interview with the president. >> and we've seen rudy giuliani who is certainly the public face of the president's legal strategy here. he before said that because robert mueller apparently said that the president couldn't be indicted then there was no need for the president to sit down and there was no need for a subpoena either if the president couldn't be indicted. so i think we see this public jockeying back and forth with giuliani and mueller. mueller, of course, essentially silent on this. he's become a bit of a punching bag. a bit of a big shift from where john dowd was, the legal team
was back in january, a different sort of war footing now with giuliani and the president going after mueller. >> you'giuliani defended the decision to sends the white house lawyer to the briefing today at the justice department. i can't understand why it's inappropriate for white house counsel to be there. maybe it would be for me or jay sekulow, but not the person representing the president inside the white house. that's a quote from giuliani. >> and has been pointed out many times today already, you have a lawyer representing the president's personal interests going to a meeting about which they're discussing interviewing the president in connection to the special counsel investigation, wolf. that is a problem. it's not a neutral meeting. the other problem is -- >> fair point. there's more breaking news we're following, guys. stick around. blue flames appear among the red and orange lava on hawaii. why they're sparking new fears of explosions.
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now? >> what i can tell you now is that some of that lava flow has has broken up into three channels that are entering the pacific ocean. i can see it from here. the plume coming up from it is very large and it is cascading away with the strong winds that we're having here today. that's one thing. we know some of the fissures have become reinvigorated and are spewing forth lava. they're keeping their eyes on that ask the summit because ash explosions continue to happen up there. and they are accompanied by earthquakes as well so ash plumes are another thick to be concerned with besides the lava and the toxic gases. as far as that geothermal plant is concerned things there are steady, they continue to quench those wells there. but no new lava has ended up on that property since. so far things are stable there, wolf. this very small section of the big island. >> what's the latest on the danger to residents?
>> well, there is always the danger of these toxic gases and the lava. they continue to allow residents in every day so they can check on their property there. it has been encroaching inside of leilani estates. i was in there, i saw where it's come closer to homes. some hopes have been lost. but they are watching this as one of the evacuation routes has been crossed over by the lava. they are preparing, they have helicopters ready where they can airlift people out if necessary. they're also asking people to be prepared to self-evacuate if necessary. >> stephanie elam on the big island of hawaii, thank you very much. meteorologist jennifer grey, jennifer, where is the lava headed right now? >> wolf, as mentioned there is that third channel now. i show you these hap -- maps. the pink is the old lava, the red is the new lava that has formed in the last 48 hours or so. you see where the new tracks
are, if you will. zoom down on this one area where it's flowing into the ocean. and you can see the pink and then there's that third channel right there that stephanie was talking about crossing highway 137. it continues to flow in the ocean there. and it's producing that laze like we talked about, the toxic gas and steam. the new lava flow, those sections where the elevation is a little higher. the geo therm at plant is 630 feet elevation. then the elevation near the bottom is 300. that's another reason why it hasn't gotten closer to that plant which is excellent news. the other reason is what we were talking about yesterday with that wall that the lava has pretty much created on its own as it hardens, so all the lava is flowing towards the ocean. so that's excellent news. here's another picture from above. you can see the lava, most of it heading away from that plant. >> jennifer, explain to our viewers what is the blue flame on the lava that we've been seeing?
>> these are what you're talking about. these pictures right here, the blue flames coming out of the cracks. it's actually producing methane. when lava covers up plants and trees, when it's ignited it creates this blue flame and releases methane. so that gas has been seeping through the cracks in the ground. it's been igniting, causing the blue flames that people have been seeing. it can also be harmful if you breathe it because it can displace the oxygen and make people have shortness of breath as well as rapid heartbeat. >> so this could go on for a while, right? >> yeah, people are in this for the long haul in this area. this is a very small part of the island, but the people around here that are impacted, it's a huge deal. it's a serious risk not only to their health but their property. >> we wish them only the very best. a lot of help has been coming in to the big island as well. jennifer, thank you very much, jennifer grey, our meteorologist. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the
situation room." "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront," trump's russia attorney showing up at the justice department briefing today, the same briefing about claims of an fbi spy in the trump campaign. one republican calls it the craziest bleep he's seen. more breaking news, new details about a potential interview with a set date, actual date, between trump and mueller. but it fell apart. why? live in north korea, will ripley back from a nearly 20-hour journey watching north koreans blow up what they say is left of their nuclear site. he's going to tell us firsthand and show you what he saw. let's go "outfront."