tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 1, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
be sure to tune in for state of the union. it includes demanding that the white house provide documents on how it issues security clearance new signs of foot dragging that he personally ordered a top secret clearance over the on juks of intelligence officials. cohen again former trump lawyer will return to capitol hill for another closed door hearing. this week's testimony has him firing back with a bizarre twitter ramp. make it public in a strange
twist donald trump jr. called for the mueller report he made public. that's just for starters. what are they really driving at? and no excuses, the family rebukes president trump for defending dictator in the brutal treatment and death of their son. they say no excuses or lavish praise can cover up the regime's cruelty. you're in the situation room. a powerful house dem yacocr warning it must hand over for some of the president's closest advisers. it follows a new york times report that president trump personally ordered a top secret clearance despite concerns from senior officials and intelligence agencies.
cummings wants to know exactly what the drconcerns were. they say they won't confirm or deny that certain documents exist. kellyanne conway says they have the right to order clearances. the president who denied doing this went on offense today capping a bad week with a twitter tirade aimed at former lawyer michael cohen, the russia investigation and democrats. i'll be speaking of the ov oversight committee and have full coverage of the day's top stories. we begin with breaking news. abby, the house oversight committee is saying the white house is dragging over demands that it provide documents about how it issued security clearances. what's the late snes. >> the house oversight committee is furious as they appear to be
in their view stone walls requests for information about the new york times report that the president ordered officials to give cukushner security clearance. it is one written by white house counsel about this issue and that the white house hasn't responded multiple times. i asked them abiliout that. it is clearly one more issue raising tensions wean this white house and new house majority. >> tonight the white house now defending president trump's power to grant a top secret clearance and top white house adviser over the objections of career intelligence officials who raised concerns about his background check. >> was the president involved in kushner's security clearance process? >> we don't discuss security clearances. i'm not going to discuss my own. i will tell you that the president has the absolute right to do what was described.
>> counselor not standing by trump's claim in an interview that her father wasn't involved in the process. >> the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance. >> trump that she has knowledge that some of us do not have. she has a right to do that. >> new york times reports that last year trump ordered white house chief of staff of to grant kushner's clearance despite the in an interview in january. >> did you tell anyone in the white house. >> i wouldn't do it. >> kushner's lawyer the claim to blitzer. >> they are all career people. there was nobody in the political process that had anything do it.
nobody that pressured it. it was just done the normal regular way. >> house oversight committee is now demanding the white house turn overall documents related to security clear raances by monday. president trump is firing back in a tweet storm in his former fixer, michael cohen two days after he testified before the committee in public. >> he is a racist. he is a con man and he is a cheat. >> the president suggesting that congress demand a man script of cohen's book. tweeting your heads will spin when you see the lies and contradictions against his thursday testimony. like a different person he is totally discredited. as trump remains fix sated comments giving a pass for a student that will return after
months of detention after the north korean regime is coming under fire. the family of otto warmbier now saying this. they are responsible for unimaginable cruelty. no excuses or lavish praise can change that. president trump is now trying to clean up his comments about kim. two tweets the president says i never liked being misinterpreted. remember, i got otto out along with three others. the previous administration did nothing. he continues to say that otto and his family have been a tremendous signal of passion and strength. he adds of course i hold north korea responsible for his mistreatment and death. the president is making it clear that he does hold north korea responsible. he was asked in vietnam about
whether he holds kim personally responsible he says i take him at his board when kim says he has nothing to do with otto's death. manafort's lawyers just filed court papers arguing he should get a reduced sentence. this is just in. walk us through this. >> the bulk of the memo argues that he deserves less time than the special counsel argued. the guidelines in the eastern district for which he is convicted is 19 and a half to 24 years. they also point out he is a first time offender. there are a couple of points that we'll read. one is taunting the special
counsel for not finding collusion so far in their investigation as it relates to manafort. they say they talk about his work for political candidates. they say he worked hard and proud of what he achieved. they point out after the election. they make another footnote calling attention to the fact there has been no collusion charge in this case. they say the special counsel's strategy in bringing charges had
nothing to do with the special counsel's core mandate but was designed to tighten screws in an effort to compel him to cooperate and provide incriminating information about others. again, this is something we have seen in another court filing in the last week in the district of columb columbia case. they sort of reminded everyone that so far from the mueller investigation there have been no charges. nothing directly related to alleged collusion, coordination and so they are sort of reminding everyone of what has not been so far seen in the mueller investigation and they are asking the judges here to sort of give him a break because they were unrelated to the focus of what mueller was supposed to be doing. >> does it strike you how much this document goes after the mueller investigation?
it it would make a lot of observers wonder if the president isn't part of the audience. >> i think that's exactly right. if you're someone facing a lot of time manafort is about to turn 70 years old. he is facing perhaps the rest of his life in prison and he is hoping for a pardon from the president i think the words no collusion are exactly the words you would be saying over and over and over to remind the president of what has happened. paul manafort's team believes was it not for the fact that he worked for donald trump and worked as hi campaign chairman he would not be in this predicament. none of this would have happened if it weren't for the fact that he came to work for donald trump. he has been punished. i think it's a reminder that they believe that he deserves a break as a result of that. >> how does it weigh on the judge's decision? >> look, i don't know how much it is going to wok for manafort.
he was found guilty. he had a chance at the beginning of this case and he decided to go to trial in two different jurisdictions. we know this judge can be very tough. they have serious crimes convicted of. i don't know how much of a break he will get. certainly in d.c. it has shown no mercy with regard to manafort. she said he has a history of thumbing his nose at the courts and so she doesn't believe it doesn't seem like he deserves much of a break. in that case he is only facing perhaps as much as ten years in virginia. it is the case we have this filing today. he is looking at decades possibly. >> effectively a life sentence. >> exactly. >> thank you for that report. joining me now is jerry of virginia. he is a member of the oversight committee. thanks for being with us.
>> thank you. >> what's your reaction to this sentencing document, the argument from his lawyers where they were talking about how there is no collusion. what do you make of that? >> it is reminiscent of the chant, the no collusion. did i mention there was no collusion? he pointed out when he was being prepped by donald trump before testifying donald trump would repeat remember there was no collusion. and i think it's code for manafort sending to the president that i'm with him. there's no collusion and i never testified that there is. we can't let that distract us from the crimes manafort is convicted of and why he is going to go to jail which involved massive fraudulent schemes to hide foreign revenue in the
millions and millions of dollars, foreign bank accounts, money laundering, wire fraud and other crimes which he actually pled guilt dpy. >> and i think that is a way of signaling i did not testify before mueller about anything having to do with it. >> i want to ask you about chief of staff kelly. you want to bring him in so they will answer questions about the security clearance process maybe pertaining to kushner, the president's son-in-law. he is reporting that he intervened to get his clearance pushed through. do you think he can shed light on why the intelligence committee was reluctant to approve the security of him getting a clearance? >> what we saw again on the clip before, once again trying to deflect our attention arguing
something no bun is arguing, that the president has the opportunity to give you a clearance regardless of your state and the process. no one is arguing. what we are worrying about is why did he lie about it? why did he say he never did do that? secondly, why was he denied on four tries a security clearance and what bothered them so much they felt they had to memorialize it in a memo. >> you want it file bid john kelly and the white house counsel. what is the committee prepared to do to get them? >> this goes back a ways. it is not just -- it's in the about the kelly memo. it is about lots of documents.
>> a subpoena? >> a subpoena. >> are you prepared the subpoena john kelly and those document ps? zbli don't know that we'll need to subpoena john kelly. my hope is he is enough of a patriot he will come forbard and voluntarily explain why he memorialized the concerns in a memo. >> if you hear from him on that topic will there be other topics you want him to talk about? >> that obviously is always something that is negotiated unless they are compelled to testify. >> so he would have some ability to negotiate the per am ters of that. >> what would the committee stance be? >> i think we have a need to know about this issue. >> about this particular issue.
that will drive us. we welcome his cooperation. >> after his testimony this week which took over washington many democrats are wanting to dig deeper when it comes to the trump organization. michael cohen named some names here. he talked about ron lieberman. how do you plan to pursue this line of investigation? >> well, our chairman has indicated if you were named during the hearing by mr. cohen you're likely going to be a subject and likely to be called for the committee for testimony either in private deposition. >> so eric trump? >> mr. cummings made no exception. i would carve out a little bit there. i think family members are in a different category and some of them are the subject of possible criminal investigation, donald
jr. and ivanka maybe in the southern district of new york. maybe it is best to do that. i think being compelled to testify are probably not good. >> i talked to him earlier. he seem today have a renaissance of bringing him in. do you share that? >> i would just say to my fellow democrats we should be cautious about pursuing family members when there are so many other targets available to us right now that i think are of equal or even greater interests. >> all right. thank you so much. >> pmy pleasure. >> more on our breaking news. lawyers just filed court papers arguing he should get a reduced sentence following the investigation in virginia. day and 2 boxes of twizzlers.. yeah, uh...for the team... the team? gooo team.... order online pickup in an hour. get up to $200 off on pcs and your tech destination.
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>> we are following multiple break are stories. manafort's lawyers argue he should get a reduced sentence following the conviction in virginia. jeffrey, to you first, what do you make of this argument from his lawyers that the special counsel is trying to railroad manafort after prosecutors were not able to find collusion? >> well, look, i think manafort has smart lawyers. they lrecognize his only hope i what's going on in court it's to get a part. everything in that memo is about how the prosecutors failed to prove collusion.
there was no collusion. that is a message that donald trump wants to hear. that's the only way he is getting out of prison. i don't blame the lawyering for pushing him. >> he said he is fishing for a pardon. what do you think? >> when you look at this documentation it is clear he has gotten in trouble in the past for attempting to communicate directly what he is doing is his lawyers are saying we are communicating directly. we can send subtle messages that give him a sense of what he is looking for and what we are willing to do to get it.
>> he has pretty smart lawyers but no question ability it. >> and they say he is not healthy. he is not a flight risk. he is remorseful. there was no collusion. hello, donald trump. i think the more they can make this case and appeal to donald trump and say look, we apologize and, you know, don't forget trump has said he doesn't like the way manafort was treated. >> he said positive things about him. >> so it seems to me that the president is sort of inclined to be. >> could i raise one other thing? i think there should be an element of humanity here. i was looking at what we call this and what we just showed of manafort walking out in virginia. he is an utterly transformed
person. i saw him in court. he can't walk like that anymore. he is walking with a cane. he looks disoriented. he aged dramatically in prison. i think the lawyers are right to point that out. zblo do you think that manafort has an audience that the president is receptive to this, that he will be comforted by what he is hearing in. >> it is certainly possible. when you think about what we have seen in the past he is comfortable using his partisan power and number two, he has expressed he believes it is in the a legitimate investigation by mueller. so if you add those two factors up it is likely he is likely to
pardon. the other side is what is the political impact? democrats are trying to make this a political issue. warren saying she would not stand for any pardons of people wrapped up in the mueller investigation. >> how does the judge in this case relate to special counsel? >> it is very different between virginia and washington. in virginia ellis was incredibly hostile to the mueller team. i mean it was a very contentious relationship. i anticipate, you know, they will not be terribly receptive. most judges follow the sentencing guidelines. they are not mandatory although they once were. so i think that's one factor. there was just a guilty plea in front of jackson in washington. there was certainly no
contention between the prosecutors there and the judge. when you look at the two cases it's just he is looking at an enormous sentence. this is a man that's about to turn 70. it is hard for me to imagine between the lawyers and the judges that he gets anything under a total of at least ten years. >> we'll see if the judge agrees with you on that. everyone standby. we have much more ahead with you. i want to ask about another breaking story. a fight between democrats and the white house over top secret security clearance. gauge the greatness of an suv? is it to carry cargo... or to carry on a legacy? its show of strength... or its sign of intelligence? in crossing harsh terrain... or breaking new ground? and to do these things once... or seven times over? this is the mercedes-benz suv family. get the 2019 glc, starting at $40,700.
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three times to confirm or deany memos to grant a top secret security clearance to his son-in-law jared kushner. tell us why it is so unusual in light of how it normally works. >> first of all it is important to point out this is one which it doesn't matter who you are or who you know. you go through an exhaustive
security process. finances through foreign context. what really concerns me about this particular process is that, you you know, the president had every right to do this but kushner did receive it because he did something that fell into one of two categories. there was something in his path that made him vulnerable to being blackmailed by a foreign entity. it is not like the average person that has too much credit because they try hard to make sure the president has the advisers that he wants. >> he had to file it four times. the first outlined zero kkts with foreign officials. we know that was wrong. his attorneys said that was
filed by mistakes but then he had to update it three other times. so clearly there were red flags that were raised particularly since we flknow kushner's companies. we know he established hips as the so called back channel none of that was listed. >> it is every application that was missing. it was some how a threat. the real threat is why would you oh mitt information like this? >> as we learned john kelly and the white house counsel, you chief of staff and white house counsel and they are so concerned with the president's involvement in this process they wrote memos they detailed their
concerns. what does that tell you? >> that they had some pretty serious concerns, that they were writing their memos to the file because it was so irregular that they didn't want to be blamed down the line when this came out, this incredibly irregular process. this all under lines why people with common sense avoid nepotism. nepotism creates problems where people are treated differently because they are related to the boss. that's clearly what happened here. the president had every right under the applicable laws to do what he did. >> if this report is true lying
about what he did not only what he did but also about knowing whether or not he had the thor the i to -- authority to do it. >> let's listen to this. >> you tell them or anyone else in the white house -- >> no. i don't think i have the thor think to do that. i wouldn't do it. >> he is a good -- i was never involved with this security. i me thknow there were issues b and forth about security for numerous people actually. i don't want to get involved in that stuff.
>> it raises the question of why is he lying about it? why did they and everyone lie about this instead of explaining the president has this authority to grant kushner a security clearance if he so child abuse and wants to override and that he did it because he needed him to do his job. it would have been a very simple easy explanation. >> he is looking into subpoenaing documents and kelly testifying to congress about this. it could have been as simple. >> it would be interesting to know what his memo to self-said
and what kelly's memo said. >> you guys, thank you so much. really appreciate your incite. president trump responds to criticism to a u.s. student that died as a result of his time in north korean custody. hopes you drive safely.ry iy but allstate actually helps you drive safely... with drivewise. it lets you know when you go too fast... ...and brake too hard. with feedback to help you drive safer. giving you the power to actually lower your cost. unfortunately, it can't do anything about that. now that you know the truth...
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a warning to be on the look out. you have spoken with u.s. officials that say it is a global threat, that the north koreans are desperate for cash. >> right. exactly. they are under severe sanctions that we saw during a summit meeting. as we have seen the sanctions take effect the services have been unleashed carrying out cyber attacks to try to raise
money. >> the money some times, you know, stealing actual money. >> if you will choose among the banks you're not going to start with the largest most sophisticated bank. you're going to see and look around and see maybe who you think might be more vulnerable. >> and what he is is referring to is he doesn't have the best sophisticated protections. it turns out they have become
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>> reporter: the president said he supported kim jong-un's stance that kim didn't know of american college student otto warmbier's deteriorating condition in a north korean prison. >> i don't believe he would have allowed that to happen. >> reporter: that statement is receiving a stinging rebuke from warmbier's parents. they say they had not spoken during the summit out of respect. now could hold back no longer. in a statement saying, quote, kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son otto. no excuses or lavish praise can change that. >> for them, this is a horrible situation go through. i can understand their concern about what was said. >> reporter: otto warmbier, a student at the ufr niversity of virginia, was arrested for allegedly stealing a sign during what was seen as a show trial, he wept.
warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. diplomats asked for a meeting with their u.s. counterparts and said he was in a coma. he was evacuated and died a couple of day after returning home. trump initially attacked kim and his regime for the death. >> we need only look at the depraved character of the north korean regime. >> reporter: he embraced warmbier's parents, inviting them to the state of the union address. >> you are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world. your strength truly inspires us all. >> reporter: analysts said that seemed to be a far cry from his comments this week. >> he felt badly about it. >> reporter: facing backlash from the presidebacklash, he said, i hold north korea responsible. i love otto and think of him often. >> the president is saying that
there's no indication chairman kim knew what happened when it happened. >> reporter: that seems improbable. after his death, doctors who examined otto warmbier said they believed he had been in a vegetative state for 14 months before being sent home. does kim jong-un not know about it? >> kim would have known as soon as they had determined that this was something that wasn't reversible. he would have known immediately. >> reporter: why would president trump have said he believed kim? analysts say it could have been for political expediency. >> not given access to the administration which is prioritizing the nuclear negotiations and thinking that human rights issues may get in the way. >> reporter: in the end, will kim jong-un be held accountable in the case of otto warmbier? analysts say that's not likely. the warmbier family was awarded more than $500 million in a
wrongful death lawsuit against the north korean regime. experts say it's not likely they will collect much if any of that. what could happen is that the warmbier case kwo could be used leverage in negotiations over the lifting of sanctions. >> otto's parents claim that he had been tortured during his detention in north korea. what do the doctors who examined him say? >> reporter: warmbier's parents said his legs were deformed when he was returned to the u.s. they said it looked like someone rearranged his bottom teeth with pliers. the coroner in ohio who examined him said they found no evidence of trauma to the lower teeth, no indication of torture. about everyone agrees otto warmbier detoor raeriorated becf the prison. >> brianed t ed ttodd, thank yo. lawyers for paul manafort file papers arguing the former trump campaign chairman, who is caught up in the mueller investigation, is, quote, truly remorseful.
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happening now, breaking news. manafort fights back. in a court filing, the former trump campaign chairman accuses of special counsel of trying to vilify him and send him to prison longer than he deserves. is he trying to build a case for a presidential pardon? congress wants answers about how jared kushner got clearance.
questioning trump world. executives may be among the next star witnesses to face congress. do officials know of any crimes committed by their boss? speaking out. otto warmbier's parents say they hold kim jong-un responsible for their son's death after the president said he trusted the dictator's denials. tonight, mr. trump is responding to the rebuke. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. world bli wolf blitzer is off today. i'm brianna keilar. you are in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news on paul manafort battling to limit his prison time ahead of his sentencing in virginia next week. in a court filing tonight, the former trump campaign chairman's lawyers are arguing against the recommended sentence for his