tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 31, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
reveals that he may also offer a reprieve to celebrity ex-con martha stewart. is he sending a signal to robert mueller's witnesses? steve bannon blasting intelligence insiders as he weighs in on mr. trump's debunked spy conspiracies. stand by to hear from bannon in a new interview. kim jong-un's ex-spy enforcer is headed to washington to deliver a letter. is the summit back on. vile and vicious. the white house condemns a vulgar remark about ivanka trump, samantha bee is apologizing. is there comparison on the president's daughter and racist tweets that got roseanne barr fired? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer.
you're in the situation room. new york's top law enforcement official accuses trump of using pardon power to thwart justice rather than advance it. issuing another pardon to a conservative author and filmmaker, and floating the pablt that he will pardon other high profile convicted felons, including martha stewart. i will get reaction from the houd judiciary committee ted lieu. and correspondents and analysts are standing by. let's go to jim acosta. the president has shown he is granting pardons early and to do so often. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. a white house official talked to reporters in texas with the president traveling there, saying no, the president is not just considering celebrities for
presidential pardons but sure seemed that way today. seemed like a new episode of president trump's white house version of the apprentice. this time the presidential pardon edition. the president not only announced he is pardoning darling of the far right, but he added he is considering leniency for two former stars of the apprentice, making the white house again seeming tee tachd from reality. >> we are going to dallas and houston. going to have fun. >> reporter: he sounded likes he was contemplating a catch phrase, not you're fired but you're pardoned. it started with a man convicted of violating campaign laws. thank you, mr. trump, for restoring both. this is a win after former
prosecutor tweeted karma is a bitch. well known in conservative circles for racially loaded commentary. >> somehow the white guy is not welcome at the multi cultural picnic. if they show up, they're satan. >> reporter: once issued this attack on barack and michelle obama. asked why he pardoned him, he said i never met him. i called him last night, first time i spoke to him. i read the newspapers, i see him on television. >> the president hinted he may show leniency to stars from the apprentice, including the sentence of governor rod blagojevich. >> governor, i have great respect for you and your tenacity, for the fact that you just don't give up. but rod, you're fired. >> reporter: convicted foray tempting to sell obama's former senate seat and style icon martha stewart, convicted of
lying to federal prosecutors. >> we're going to make a scrum issues meat loaf sandwich. donald's favorite sandwich. >> she said she is no fan of the president, giving him the middle finger in this instagram photo, once hosted her own version of the apprentice. >> it really, really bothered me that you talked about quitting. i don't think i ever quit a job. i mean, i've gone through going to jail. >> the president made it clearest willing to issue pardons to controversial figures, starting with joe arpaio. democrats believe the president is sending a message to former aides in legal jeopardy. >> i think manafort knows it, i think michael cohen knows it and others. i think robert mueller knows it. >> reporter: the white house that welcomed kim kardashian to talk pardons denies that. >> each of the president's action and pardons should be
judged on merits, looking at the facts and circumstances of the case. >> reporter: the president is refusing to deal with realities of the russia probe, tweeting not that it matters, i never fired james comey because of russia. corrupt mainstream media likes to push that narrative but they know it's not true. that's not what the president said to nbc last year. >> in fact when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story, it is an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election that they should have won. >> reporter: the president is teeing up the debate over pardons as he announces new tariffs against mexico, canada, and european union. they're talking about imposing tariffs on american products, actions that could drive up costs for american commercnsume. paul ryan came out against the tariffs, although it is unclear what the republican controlled
congress will do about tariffs at the end of the day, wolf. >> lot of fear of retaliation and potential trade war. jim acosta, thank you very much. let's talk about the president's use of pardon power. cnn justice reporter laura jarrett is with us. the latest party sir couple venlted the office that handles this. >> both the process and timing are noteworthy, wolf. in the typical case, somebody submits a petition to the justice department for a pardon or commutation to try to reduce their sentence. justice department has an office that takes a look at it, then they make a recommendation to the white house. and of course the reason for this is so the justice department can be an independent branch, making assessment about things like dangerousness or resit vichr revit vichl.
we haven't seen that in the case of sheriff joe arpaio or desouza. some speculate that he is signaling to former associates caught up in the russia investigation, but this is not without precedent. there's history for this. nothing in the constitution that prevents him from doing this. and of course, president bill clinton bypassed the justice department over 40 times when he was president. >> you cover the justice department for us. when the president issues a pardon, suggests that the convicted felon, convicted person was treated unfairly, do prosecutors over at the justice department feel like their authority, their credibility, their reputations are being undermined? >> i think any time a pardon happens, presidential executive clemency happens, it is sort of a slap in the face to prosecutors that worked on it, but at least in the typical case, they would get to weigh in and say whether this is somebody that has shown remorse. in these cases they're not able
to do that, and in fact the president has gone completely around the process. i think that's part of why you see former federal prosecutors saying in this case we did it by the book. the president is allowed to do this under the constitution, but we think we did it right. >> i understand we're getting in a new tally on how much the russia investigation is costing taxpayers. >> that's right. we have seen the president tweeting about some $20 million number, saying it is a waste of time, it is a witch hunt. but new figures from the justice department today when added with prior figures that were released in the past, wolf, showed the cost is actually roughly around $17 million. more specifically, $16.7 million. but it is important to breakdown how these costs are coming about. remember, the russian investigation is not just mueller, it started with an fbi counter intelligence investigation. so if you look at the figures spent to date for mueller's office alone, his team,
$7.7 million from last may when he was appointed. but there's also a $9 million amount from other justice department or fbi personnel who don't report directly to mueller but have been tangentially related to other activities. when you add those together, you get to $16.7 million. but of course the president says it is all a big waste of money. >> good reporting on your part. thank you very much. joining us, ted lieu, served on the judiciary and foreign affairs committee. congressman, what's the message the president is sending with the latest pardon? >> thank you, wolf, for your question. even though i'm a former prosecutor, i've sent a number of letters in support of commutations, clemency and pardons because one of the things that makes us human is our capacity for forgiveness and mercy. that's why when the president uses a pardon power, he needs to
do that to vindicate the values. instead, he is using that power for political reasons or send a message to those under investigation. >> you doen't deny the presiden has the authority to issue pardons. >> he actually has authority to issue pardons, but that's why we need to make sure that he does it in a way that vindicates values of mercy and forgive nne, not doing it to help people that are celebrities or for sheer political reasons. that debases values we hold dear as society. >> that's your interpretation. but let me read from the u.s. constitution. the president shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the united states, except in cases of impeachment. there's no reference to mercy or anything along those lines. >> no one is saying the president doesn't have the power
to pardon these people. what some of us are saying is it is inappropriate, it looks like he is pardoning people that have been convicted of similar crimes to which he and his asoes atmospheats, like purge re, making false statements, obstruction of justice or doing it for people with high name identification or celebrities and that seems inappropriate. >> the president tweeted that the man he pardoned today was in his words treated very unfairly by our government, closed quote. what does that tell you? >> tells me he didn't look at the facts of the case. he was convicted of violating our campaign finance laws. those laws are put in place to make sure we don't abuse the system, don't have a flood of money coming in, don't have straw donors. that's actually some of the same crimes michael cohen is being investigated for. that seems troubling to me, that pardon. >> what would you do, congressman, if the president
eventually were to pardon michael flynn or paul manafort, former campaign chairman, or michael cohen, his long time personal attorney who hasn't yet been charged with anything, although he is under criminal investigation. >> that's a great question, wolf. i think special counsel mueller is very aware of that, in michael cohen's case, for example, his business partner has pled guilty to state crimes which leads me to believe that michael cohen is potentially also liable for state crimes. those cannot be pardoned by the president. michael flynn would have given most if not all information that special counsel mueller needs, so i think if the pardons haven't happened already, it's probably too late to prevent special counsel mueller from already getting information from george papadopoulos, michael flynn and mr. gates who pled guilty for awhile. >> kaitlin collins is reporting that president trump pressured
jeffrey toobin jeff sessions to unrecuse himself on multiple occasions, one time we knew occurred at mar-a-lago in florida, the president's resort there. legally is there anything stopping the president from reinstating sessions to oversee the mueller investigation? >> in my view that would be obstruction of justice. he would be doing it because he wants jeff sessions to protect him. that's not the job of the attorney general. the job of attorney general is to follow the constitution, federal statutes and regulations of department of justice, and it is clear jeff sessions has recused because of conflicts of interest. that's why robert mueller is investigating. >> let me get your reaction, congressman, to "new york times" reporting on andrew mccabe. fired number two at the fbi, memo on the firing of his boss,
james comey, former fbi deputy director wrote that rod rosenstein currently oversees the mueller investigation, deputy attorney general said that president trump asked him to reference the russia investigation in his explanation of comerica's firing. how important is that do you believe to understanding the president's motivation for the firing. >> not clear what that means, if he wanted that to reference that comey said the president was not under investigation in the russia investigation or if he wanted him to say something more. it is ambiguous. the most important thing is see what the president said in his own words. went on national tv with lester holt, said he fired him because of the russia investigation, and what's more important, told the russian ambassador he fired comey because there was great pressure from the russian investigation, and he fired
comey to relieve that pressure. that's textbook obstruction of justice. >> thanks for joining us. just ahead, with a series of pardons, is president trump living up to his promise to be a law and order president? and samantha bee says she crossed the line when she used a vulgar word to slam ivanka trump, after the roseanne barr scandal, the president's constant attacks, where should the line be drawn? no bars. oh no! when i got unlimited, they told me they were all the same. well, verizon has the largest, most-reliable 4g lte network in america. honey, what if it was just us out here? yeah well, i guess, uh, didn't think about that. verizon did. (vo) go with the best. starting at $40 for four lines.
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we are following breaking news on president trump's newest pardon, and other reprieves that may, repeat, may be in the works. president's critics venting fears that all of this is a wrap up for potential pardons related to the russia investigation. bring in the legal and political experts. michael flynn, former national security adviser or paul manafort, former campaign chairman, michael cohen, long time lawyer, if they were pardoned, how would that be viewed if you look at the five pardons he's done so far? >> if i were flynn or if i were who's the other person you were talking about. >> paul manafort. >> paul manafort. >> or michael cohen. >> i would look at this and feel pretty good actually about it. it is a clear signal what the president is saying is i treat my friends a lot better than i treat my enemies, and what he did today and what he intends to do if you believe him about blagojevich and martha stewart is that he is undoing big wins by people he considers to be his
enemies, and he is willing to use whatever power he legitimately has to do that, bypassing normal procedure, i would add. so i would feel good if i were either of those folks. >> publicly said he is considering pardons for martha stewart, rod blagojevich, former illinois governor. what they were prosecuted for and convicted of, is he sending a message to other folks? >> and by whom? remember, james comey as u.s. attorney in new york, his big win was against martha stewart. pat fitzgerald who now represents james comey in private practice, his big win was rod blagojevich. this is an opportunity to send a message that he takes care of his friends, but it's also an opportunity to settle some scores with people he doesn't like. you know, this is the president's right, but it's an example of how in so many areas
the president has changed the norms, the expected level of behavior we've associated with presidents, and the question is will the congress tolerate this. i think clearly for the short term they will. if the democratic house comes in, we'll see. >> the president ran as a law and order candidate, but he doesn't seem to be trusting the law completely when he goes ahead with these kinds of pardons, these individuals were lawfully convicted. >> couple of things, wolf. first of all, we're far enough into the presidency, president trump doesn't feel obligated to stick to just about anything that he campaigned on. if it suits him, he is going to flip or go another direction from what he said. the other thing as jeffrey was saying, this is a triple whammy. he gets to look magnanimous, pass out party favors, gets to road test the idea of let's see what happens if i pardon people, and wolf, he gets to say to his
base look, there's a sense of grievance, justice system doesn't work, i have to take matters into my own hands. >> kaitlin, you have been doing excellent reporting. tell the viewers the latest you're hearing about the deputy attorney general and the efforts by the president to try to convince him to unrecuse himself. >> that's right. jeff sessions recused himself from overseeing the russian investigation last march. since then, his relationship with the president is less than good i would say. yesterday, he was saying he wished he picked someone else to be his attorney general. we now reported that the president pressured jeff sessions to overturn the recusal, go back to being in charge of the russia investigation. clearly jeff sessions declined those requests because he is still recused from overseeing the russia investigation. this comes after "new york times" first reported that two days after jeff sessions recused himself last march he flew to mar-a-lago and met with the president where he first made that request, hey, overturn the decision to recuse yourself, go
back to being in charge of the russia investigation. "new york times" reported that's something that special counsel robert mueller is looking at. we don't know if he is looking into multiple requests for jeff sessions to take back the recusal. mueller knows more about what is going on and what he is looking at, it could be one of the things he is looking at, could show that what mueller is looking to as far as obstruction and actions post election since in office could be much more widespread than previously believed. >> but it is all the same story. it is all the president using his power to try to limit the investigation of him. the reason he is going to jeff sessions and saying well, don't unrecuse yourself, it is not because he thinks it is good policy, he wants sessions to help him limit the russia investigation. and that's evidence of obstruction of justice. >> and it's a question to talk
about the pardon issue, is he dangling pardons in front of people now so they behave, you know, and so they don't cooperate with mueller. i mean, that's another question. >> all of a sudden the former steve strategist steve bannon is weighing in on getting access to sensitive documents in the russian investigation. watch what steve bannon said. >> they refuse to give the documents to nunez. i think now that rosenstein ought to be -- i think he ought to be given a direct order. very simple. turn every document associated with this spy in cambridge, and whatever foreign institution was involved, mi-5 or 6 or anybody else, you get whatever the fbi did, you get whatever the cia did. you see clapper and these guys on tv and brennan, they're bitter old men. turn over every document and if he doesn't turn it over, give him 24 hours. doesn't turn it over, i would fire him. and that's not obstruction of
justice. that's giving a law enforcement officer to turn over documents to capitol hill, and if he doesn't do it, i would fire him. >> go ahead. >> this is exactly the plan i think. i think bannon is right on here. they keep asking rosenstein to do things that they know are inappropriate. there is a long-standing policy that the justice department does not turn over to congress records of on-going investigations. that is something eric holder was held in contempt of congress because he refused to do so this. but they want to keep pushing rosenstein and pushing rosenstein until he says no, so then they can fire him, then they can install someone that will bring the hammer down on mueller. either way, trump wins. >> steve bannon left the white house on poor terms with the president, he was pushed out, then made comments about donald trump jr., and the white house issued a blistering statement on steve bannon. they're not speaking.
this is steve bannon's way of communicating to the president what he thinks he should do, his way of potentially trying to get back on president trump's good side. >> you can see all of fareid isa i can't's interview. and making threats to mr. trump before he was president. >> i warn you, [bleep] what i'm going to do to you. do you understand me? don't think you're going to hide behind your pen because it's not going to happen. kyle: mom! mom! kyle, we talked about this. there's no monsters. but you said they'd be watching us all the time. no, no. no, honey, we meant that progressive would be protecting us 24/7.
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comcast, building america's largest gig-speed network. tonight, comedian samantha bee apologizing for a vulgar, disgusting remark about ivanka trump. the comment and backlash getting more attention after rose anne barr's comments. her show airs on tbs, owned by time warner. kaitlin, samantha issued an apology. i would like to sincerely apologize to ivanka trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. it was inappropriate, inexcusable. i crossed the line and deeply regret it. tbs issued its own apology. samantha bee has taken the right
action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language used about ivanka trump last night. those words shouldn't have been aired, it was our mistake and we regret it. what is the white house saying? >> the white house is hot on this story all day, saying they want it to get as much coverage as roseanne coverage got. that's a remark they didn't initially condemn, saying the president was not focused on that. sarah sanders later said they believed it was poor language roseanne used. they issued a statement about samantha bee that it was vile and vicious. collective silence by the left and media allies is appalling. her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast, and call on time warner and tbs to demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network. the white house was outraged. they wanted that. there was plenty of coverage surrounding the remark. we're talking about it right now on national television. so i don't think that was a
fitting comment from the white house that it wasn't being covered, i do think it got a lot of air time. we should also note the white house is outraged by this remark. this is a president that used vulgar language a lot of the time, certainly in private, even in public once called ted cruz a word that i cannot say because my grandmother is probably watching. he said it at a campaign rally in new hampshire over the microphone. roomful of children, women, adults, people listening to the president. this is a president that used vulgar language in the past, but the white house certainly was happy to really seize on this comment, to be outraged about it and demand it get as much covered as the roseanne. >> bring in brian seltzer, host of reliable sources. the president was tweeting about roseanne barr this morning, tweeted this. let me read it to viewers. iger, the ceo of disney, where is my call of apology when you and abc have offended millions
of people. how is brian ross doing, he tacked the market with an abc lie. yet no apology. double standard. what stood out to you about all of that? >> it was fact challenged when brian ross made a big mistake last year, he was suspended, reassigned, and abc did apologize. president trump is making the roseanne barr story about himself, tapping into a potent strain of grievance politics. we heard from white house aides as well. indica the white house wants it about media bias, where comedians on the liberal side get off easy compared to conservatives. it is the same idea that's heard across fox news on the president's favorite shows, and it's a powerful feeling of resentment among his base. we talked about roseanne barr, samantha b samantha bee. each case is unique. an old line applies. be soft on the people, be hard on the ideas.
applies to ivanka trump, sam bee, everybody. you can hate the president's immigration policy, want to criticize ivanka trump for it, be soft on the people, don't call them names, be hard on the ideas. i wish we could all apply that in these situations and clearly samantha bee did not today. whatever she was trying to do, going for shock value, it back fired big time. >> is there pressure on tbs now, brian, to can sell samantha bee's show? >> we are seeing a few advertisers say they don't want their ads running. that's significant. see if the advertiser boycott gains more momentum or if it fades away. the show is only on once a week. may give tbs some breathing room. i think we should mention the white house response to this is concerning as well. yes, samantha bee was out of line, but whenever any white house or any administration starts talking about wanting a show cancelled, sarah sanders came close to saying that today, that's always concerning. it can always have a chilling effect on free speech.
>> you think it is fair to compare what she said to roseanne barr and what she tweeted? >> i think each case is different. it is fair to talk about them in the same conversation, wolf, they both involve using cheap sexism and racism to score points. i think the difference with samantha bee is this. one, she apologized and her apology seems sincere, this seems out of character for her, versus roseanne barr's apology struck me as totally insincere, this was the last straw in a line of offensive comments. the other thing, wolf, you talk about roseanne barr, her tweets and comments were trafficking in generations old demeaning trolls about african-americans and jewish americans that gained traction in recent years of politics. that's something that can't be overlooked. >> gloria, then jeffrey. >> look, i think they're both terrible. samantha bee was full of hate for ivanka trump. and roseanne barr was racist.
i mean, you know, they're both awful. i don't know any other way to describe it. >> i agree. and you can draw fine distinctions between outright racism and vulgarity. but there's no defending what she did. the only question is what's the appropriate remedy. i don't think, i don't run a television network, god knows, but i don't think it is a firing offense, but it is certainly one that can't be defended and no one is defending it. >> people should stop saying horrible things, then you toedo have to apologize. samantha bee knew when she said that there would be reaction. i don't know what she was thinking. >> and it was on tape. >> scripted, on tape. this isn't a surprise, she is not shocked by this. same with roseanne, you can't tweet things like that. more news we are following. getting a stunning taste of michael cohen's role as donald trump's fixer.
going to share recordings of the president's long time personal lawyer threatening a news organization over a 2015 report about mr. trump. >> you write a story that has mr. trump's name in it with the word rape. ordinary stains say they can do the job, but behr premium stain can weather any weather. overall #1 rated, weathers it all. find our most advanced formula exclusively at the home depot.
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recordings that were just made public. the president's lawyer going after a news organization in 2015 with legal threats and rather foul language. our national correspondent is joining us. tell us more about the recordings. >> this is why this is significant. this is the first time we're hearing michael cohen's voice on tape making threats as it has been widely reported he would often do as the president's personal attorney. let me give you context. this was a recording from a july, 2015 call between cohen and tim mack, a daily beast reporter at the time, currently with npr. mack who i spoke with today on the phone said he recorded the conversation. said the decision to release this audio today came after discussions in npr's newsroom about cohen's pattern of threats. >> you run this story with trump's name with the word rape and i'm going to mess your life up, for the rest, for as long as
you're on this frigging planet. >> what's the threat about. in 2015, mack reached out to cohen for comment on a story the daily beast was running about a rape ak allegation i vanna trump made about donald trump. she later walked back the claim. after the story was published, she said the story was without merit. on the recording, cohen is speaking as an employee of the trump organization, telling mack you could not legally rape your spouse, a comment he ultimately apologized for making. there's seven minutes of audio published today by npr. mack said he can't remember how long the conversation lasted but characterized it as starting off reasonable and escalating. something referenced in the recording. here's some more. >> i am warning you, tread very [bleep] lightly. what i'm going to do will be disgusting. do you understand me? don't think you're going to hide
behind your pen because you're not. >> back in 2015, cohen characterized his words as inarticulate, saying mack's questions sent him into a tail spin. we also reached out to michael cohen for comment but haven't heard back. wolf? >> thank you. more breaking news tonight, america's top diplomat says real progress has been made in the last 72 hours for reviving the u.s., north korea summit. secretary of state mike pompeo meeting with kim jong-un's former right hand man. kim yong chol is expected to deliver a letter from north korea's dictator to president trump at the white house tomorrow. let's go to senior diplomatcorrt michelle kosinski. where do things stand now? >> these talks were to determine if a trump, kim summit was possible. it is still unclear whether it
is. today, pompeo said some progress was made in setting conditions for such a discussion. but we don't really know the outcome of that. he wouldn't really go any further into detail. so whether it will happen or not i guess we'll know in coming days. also, the u.s. is looking for some big gesture towards denuclearization by north korea as part of a trump, kim summit. but all that secretary of state pompeo could say is that north korea was contemplating a shift in strategy. kim jong-un's right-hand man after two days of meetings with secretary of state pompeo in new york will now head for the white house. tomorrow, they'll hand deliver a letter from kim jong-un to president trump. >> a letter will be delivered to me from kim jong-un, so i look forward to seeing what's in the letter, but it's very important to them. >> reporter: this as pompeo met with north korea's vice
chairman, kim yong chol, attempting to seal the deal for a trump, kim summit which today he still called a proposed summit, trying to convince north korea it is more secure without nuclear weapons. all in today's meeting that ended two hours before it was scheduled to. the state department says that's because it went so well. >> the conditions are putting president trump and chairman kim jong-un in a place we think there can be real progress made by the two of them meeting. does no good in a place there's no real opportunity to place them together. we made real progress toward that in the last 72 hours. >> reporter: but pompeo gave no detail on whether the summit will happen, when we will know that, or how much the north koreans are willing to give up, insisting the u.s. demands complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. >> i believe they are contemplating a path forward to make a strategic shift, one the country has not been prepared to make before. this is going to be a process
that will take days and weeks to work our way through. >> reporter: kim yong chol arrived last night in new york, his first ever trip to the united states. in photos released by the state department, secretary pompeo showed him the skyline, exchanged pleasantries over a dinner of american steak. but the other stakes, as in all that could be gained or lost were also sky high, the goals broad. the u.s. wants to see the north koreans do something historic, something they've never done before to show they're serious about denuclearization and to commit to it before meeting with trump. that could mean giving up some of the nuclear arsenal or ballistic missile program. >> they think kim yong chol will dangle just enough in front of secretary pompeo so that pompeo can return to trump and say that everything is fine and that the summit can go ahead. >> reporter: also, in pyongyang today meeting with kim jong-un the russian foreign minister who
said denuclearization should be phased in with sanctions starting to be lifted for north korea. the opposite of the plan the u.s. wants. it is not clear how much kim will budge on that as he praised russian president vladimir putin for standing up to, quote, u.s. domination. but both trump and pompeo say meetings have been going well, things progressing. the president still hedging. >> all a process. we'll see. hopefully we'll have a meeting on the 12th, that's going along very well, but i want it to be meaningful. it doesn't mean it all gets done at one meeting, maybe you have to have a second or third, and maybe we'll have none, but it's in good hands. that i can tell you. >> reporter: it doesn't seem at this point that the u.s. has gotten a solid commitment from north korea towards denuclearization. second pompeo said today there's still a great deal of work to be done, wolf. >> michelle kosinski reporting for us. thank you. just ahead. will the house intelligence committee chairman lose his seat
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the president in the russia investigation. cnn's nick watt joins us from central california. nunes faced a crowded field of challengers. he faces a crowded field in next week's primary. >> that's right, wolf. so he has five challengers in that primary tuesday. the way it works here in california is the top two vote-getters then get their names on the november ballot. but tuesday for the first time in a long time, one of those challengers really might just have a chance at a major upset. california's central valley is deep red farm country and a long-time lock for devin nunes. >> i like his values. i like the way he's represented central california. >> that one just had a calf. they move from this pen as they get close. this is the maternity area -- >> reporter: the son of the soil, third-generation dairy farmer. in 2016 he tumbled his
democratic opponent by 35 points. but there are now demonstrations outside his often empty district office. >> a congressman who has no interest in serving the seniors. >> reporter: and three billboards outside fresno. funded by fight back california, a pac cofounded by former democratic californian congresswoman ellen tauscher. >> lots of people are upset that he is, as they said, in the local paper, trump's stooge. spends most of his time play inspector clouseau in washington. >> reporter: where he chairs the house intelligence committee that released a report from the panel's gop members disputing the intelligence community's assessment that russia tried to help elect donald trump. recently nunes also issued a subpoena to the justice department for documents about a confidential fbi source that the president falsely claims infiltrated his campaign. >> a very courageous man. he's courageous.
congressman devin nunes. >> i think that mr. nunes can be beaten. >> reporter: here's his most likely challenger. >> devin nunes, i believe, wholeheartedly, is a threat to our national security. >> reporter: andrew janz, prosecutor, democrat, political rookie who's raised over $1.8 million for his campaign, nearly $500,000 since april 1st. does andrew janz have a snowball's chance in hell? >> maybe what's most important is the voter registration. so 42% republican, 32% democrat, 20% decline to state. maybe in that third group, ja sometime z can pull some votes. >> reporter: he's talking about education, veterans' affairs, health, and water here deep in farm country. here in his campaign office in visalia, it is obvious what the number one focus is of this campaign. >> he's forgotten us, he hasn't held a town hall since 2010, a real town hall. >> reporter: nunes disputes
that. janz slams him on russia. >> i don't know if he himself has some potential liability or if it's out of some misguided attempt to protect the president of the united states. >> reporter: it's just possible robert mueller's report into russian election meddling might provide california's 22nd district with an october surprise. >> are there going to be findings, how might that reflect on devin nunes? >> when if he delivers it before november, it could impact this ra race? >> it could. devin has been a staunch supporter of the president, highly critical of robert mueller. >> if you were a betting man, nunes would win? >> yes, today. standing here today. but we're a long way, right? you know this. we're a long way from here to november. >> reporter: now we reached out to the nunes campaign for comment or interview, we have not heard back. tuesday is going to be very interesting. there hasn't been any reliable polling here in the 22nd
district, so it's going to be the first indication we really get as to whether this race is going to be tight and whether devin nunes really is in danger. >> we'll watch it closely with you, thanks very much, nick watt reporting. that's it from me, thanks for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, the president considering more pardons tonight. is the pardon frenzy all about a signal to his allies? plus a source telling cnn the president pressured the attorney general jeff sessions multiple times. to get control of the russia investigation again. was this about obstructing justice? trump refusing to condemn roseanne's racist tweets. why won't he take a moral stand on this one? let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, pardon spree. today with little explanation, announcing on twitter, the president said he will pardon controversial conservative