tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 27, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
him. >> all right. tune in tonight with cory booker. that is at 10:00 p.m. eastern. follow me on facebook and twitter. our coverage on cnn starts right now. happening now breaking news, heated obamacare debate. we are learning about high level ka concerns for eliminating all of the affordable care act. we are told vice president pence raised red flags. exonerated? our new cnn poll shows most americans aren't buying the president's claim he has been vindicated by the mueller report. we are breaking down the numbers. police reports released. details immerging in the case of smollett. the attorney general may be asked to investigate why all of the dlarnls were dropped. the outrage growing in chicago and across the united states. >> and boeing overall.
unvailed an attempt to the 737 max jets but the faa says it hasn't signed off. law make rs demanding answers about the grounded planes and two deadly crashes. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in the situation room. we are told vice president pence raised concerns about would provide if they throw out the affordable care act in total. they say william barr a opposed the clang in strategy. also breaking house intelligence adam schiff says they will move forward but the scope will depend on what's
revealed in the full report from robert mueller. our correspondents are also stantding by. let's go to white house correspondent. it is now clear the administration's new strategy on obamacare raised a lot of concerns even inside the white house. >> that's right. the debate has been heated. it came to a head on monday. in a meeting the white house counsel raised concerns that the white house may not have standing trying to invalidate the entire affordable care act. in the end it was president trump who stood with some of his top aids including his acting chief of staff to say that the
administration should try to throw obamacare out. >> it determine nates obamacare. you know that. that's the texas lawsuit. we think it will be upheld. we think it will do very well in the supreme court. >> sources tell cnn there is no such plan. >> we are going to be the republicans, the party of great health care. >> the administration's decision came after months of heated debate. sources say it still caught key lawmakers and some white house officials off guard. >> last year i wrote to attorney general jeff sessions and protested the department not defending the parts of the law that provide protections to consumers with preexisting
conditions. now it is going way beyond that and seeking to the entire law. this contrary to the tradition of the justice department which generally defends laws. >> one key area. >> cnn learned that health and human services azar and attorney general bill barr oppose the move. he boar worried they did not ha plan to replace obamacare and barr backed lawyers that opposed the legal case being made by the states against obamacare. trump's chief of staff argued for overturning the entire law hoping to put it back on the agenda. >> are chances any greater than zero that this congress could come together on ilts replacement? >> i doubt it. what is the republican party for? >> what is the republican party
alternative? >> they take the plun omoney ou washington. >> why robert mueller decided on taking a position on whether trump obstructed justice. according to james comey telling an audience on tuesday the part that's confusing is i can't quite understand what's going on with the obstruction stuff. i just can't tell from the letter why he didn't decide these questions. >> the president's lawyer offering this explanation instead. >> i have a guess as to what happened. i think his staff was there. it's a question of interpretation. >> and as democrats demand to see the full mueller report mcconnell blocked for the
report's full release. a new cnn poll shows a majority of voters say the president and his campaign have not been exonerated by mueller. they say collusion could not be proven. >> as it seeks to shift to issue of health care that decision is coming from even some republicans. many are telling president trump the house, the republican leader calling president trump telling him it was in the a good idea to proceed with this plan for such an issue back on the agenda to motivate democrats going into 2020. >> thank you. >> i want to bring there evan
perez. we are getting new sound from james comey. he has an interview with nbc news. let me play the clip. a couple of days later you're fired. it sit down with president trump. he said when i decided to just do it i said to myself i said this russia thing is a made up story. >> what did you think when you heard that? >> i thagt it was oabinstructio obstruction of justice. he appears to be saying i got rid of this guy to shut down an investigation that threatened
me. so he thought it was obstruction of justice. what do you think? >> it was deaf flitly one of the data points they had to look at. whether or not it reaches to the level of an obstruction crime but there's a lot of other data points. a lot of things that we saw from the president publicly. some of it him threatening to fire mueller, some of it he did bethie behind is scenes, his white house down sell to work on jeff sessions, his attorney general to not recuse himself in the investigation. a lot of things happened bethiebehind the scenes and in public that he mentioned over the weekend. i think special counsel looked at all of these things. apparently they dame tocame to
decision. >> he quoted mueller as saying while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime it also does not exonerate him on obstruction of justice. >> there was also a memo written by rosenstein that scythed a lot of -- sited what he did in hillary clinton in 2016 multiple times speaking out against policy and that that is the reason he was fired not because of the russia thing as the president said but because rosenstein, his boss thought he should be fired. >> there is new information you're goating about another
individual who wasser in interv. tell us about that. >> right. this shows us how exhausted it was. it was a russian national. she has been charged with sort of working behind the scenes as sort of of a minispy here in the united states. one of the things special counsel brought her before investigators to talk about was her contacts with people in the trump campaign. he was an aid during the campaign. they simply wanted to know whether she had any incite into the russian operation to interfere in the 2016 election, the information for instance. it appears that she didn't have a lot of knowledge on this but it is one of those indications that they made sure they interviewed every single person. she is due before a judge
tomorrow. >> all right. thanks very much. joining us now tom is a member of the intelligence and the armed services committee. thanks for joining us. >> my pleasure. thanks for having me on. >> a senate majority leader has blocked a resolution calling for a full release. it passed through the house of representatives bay vote of 420-0. do you agree? he said he wants to get out as much material as possible. i agree. we should try to release as much as we can. there are some federal laws that govern the release of grand jury material. he said he is going through that review. he expects it will take weeks not months.
i do heap ope we can see as muc that as possible. we need to deal with examine as much information as possible and turn the page and mover onto the issues ahead of us. >> except for classified information as they say there is grand jury proceedings. you want all of it to be made available not tonight congress but also to the american public? >> i think it is important. >> he thought the best potential and obstruction of justice. >> he also knowledged not in fact for longer review.
it is investigating for 22 months. he is an experienced lifelong. he found no evidence of collusion has associates. >> i don't think the house democrats and i don't think there's any evidence of obstruction of justice. it was the department of justice. >> mueller reached his conclusion and finding no evidence of collusion. >> he did find some everyday but apparently not enough to file charges. he says in his report that the attorney general to congress while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime.
i can't give you a formal recommendation. >> we'll see exactly what he means by attorney general barr. i would say it's not the job of prosecutor or law enforcement to exoneratefully american. every american is preseemumed innocent until proven guilty. it is contrary. the statement about many of these matters that we probably know a lot of what public schooler is referring to in that report. the president fires jim comey or commenting about the investigation all of which occurred in plain sight. if that's the case i think it's pretty farfetched to build a case for obstruction of justice
on main tweets. >> and threatening then attorney general ridiculing both of them in tweets and in other statements. why do you believe public schooler -- mueller decided to punt thoon? >> we'll have to review the report to make that conclusion. i agree with the attorney general's conclusions. look, the democratic party and frankly a lot of people in the media have been saying that everything donald trump does proves the muind of a guilty ma. he was acting like a man who had been unjustly accused. i think anyone from the president to a private citizen, if they faced 22 months of accusations and they knew it was a false charge would be acting in a pretty agres ifr fashion.
you know the trump administration filed a brief supporting recent district court decision that declared it unconstitutional. here is what is at stake for your constituents, for americans across the country. 52 million americans benefitted from the provision in obamacare, the affordable care act that gives them health insurance even if they have preexisting conditions. 12.7 million gained coverage under medicaid expansion. they bought coverage exchanges for 2019. i understand the president now wants to repeal all of obamacare. where is the replacement? apparently no trump administration replacement that's ready to go forward to help many millions of people. >> it goes to show what a flawed law that one clanged obamacare. the repeal of individual mandate that taxed people for not being
able to afford insurance that obamacare made affordable was repealed. that case will work its way to the courts over the coming years. obamacare is still a very flawed law. it costs too much. it does very little to address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. now they want more obamacare. it includes senator harris kicking all 170 million people on private employer insurance off of their insurance. barack obama said we weren't going to do that. now the democratic party is making it their policy. >> let me press you on this. i understand repeal. i understand you want to repeal. what about replace? what's your plan to replace? is there legislation in the senate or house right now that's about to be passed? is the president going to sign it into law?
where is this going? >> well there is not legislation that's about to be passed. it took 15 months to pass obamacare in the fist place. obamacare is still nowed. basic principals we can address like covering people with preexisting conditions and ensuring that people have more choice in get insurance plans that put their needs and turning over more power to the states. both of those people that got health insurance under the medicaid expansion but also peel that have been on medicaid far long time. those are basic principals that would lower the cost of health insurance. >> i got to leave it. you understand and i'm sure do you, if you don't pass it into law the majority in the house and senate and president doesn't sign it simply repealing is going to cause an enormous amount of pain. i understand repeal and replace.
i understand it is simply repeal. >> yes. of course we are going to replait it with health care system by covering individuals with preexisting conditions and lowering the price of drugs and giving over their own health their. >> thanks for joining us. up next suddenly dropped all of the charges against the empire actor smollett. we'll have an update on his case and the outrage. this is your invitation to be our guest. this is the invitation to lexus sales event. with generous offers now through march 31st. experience amazing at your lexus dealer. with retirement planning and advice for what you need today and tomorrow. because when you're with fidelity, there's nothing to stop you from moving forward.
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to him as adding to the confusion. sarah, is anything being done to clear up what happened? >> that is what the state's attorney is trying to do. she has spoken out for the first time since being blasted by the mayor defending her office's decision. she says the entire case was not supposed to be sealed and blamed that on the mistake with the clerk's office. >> speaking out after her office has been criticized to drop all charges and seal the case against s plrmollett. >> in this instance he forfeited his $10,000 bond. he completed community service.
most people that come through the criminal justice system don't give up $10,000 of their hard earned money or engage in volunteer services connected with an alleged offense. >> she said her office should not be making dpafrp ls of people and city has more serious crimes to worry about. >> not to diminish that what mr. smollett was alleged to have done did have an impact we have to give due process we would give to a celebrity or noncelebrity that our criminal justice system has to have mechanisms by which people are held accountable and that justice is fair and our resources are being used
appropriately. >> former clehief of staff e-mailed saying she was in touch with smollett's family. they have concerns about the investigation she wrote. smollett's family member asked for a chat. fox responds spoke to the superintendent earlier. i'll keep you posted. his family member responds omg, this would be a huge victory. fox responded i make no guarantees but i am trying. the fraternal order of police initially asked for an investigation into fox's refusal. now they want more. >> we'll be asking for an investigation of the entire manner why charges were dropped and the involvement in this case. >> still smo -- were not used to get the clarnls dropped. >> there was no political
influence in this case. there were a team of lawyers. we communicated with the state's attorneys and we convinced them that the right thing to do in in case was to dismiss the charges. no one political call that i know of i don't think anyone political reached out to anyone. >> police reports released new details in the case. one of the brothers said he used a hot sauce bottle he filled with bleach to pour on smollett saying she was shown a large federal which was recovered on february 7, 2019 and stated that it was indeed the bottle he filled with bleach and poured on smollett later saying it felt good that he told the truth. we want to reiterate information coming in from the state's attorney saying that the case was sealed. a lot of people worrying about that tliing it was quite odd how quickly the case was sealed. she is saying that she believes
the entire case was sealed in error, that the court case was sealed in error. she believes the error made by the clerk's officer and talked about potentially unsealing it. we'll see if that happens. we have calls into her officer and have not received a response and we are hoping if the case is unsealed we will also get those documents. >> we'll stay in close touch with you. sarah in chicago for you. we'll have much more on this coming up later. frm also coming up more fallout from the attorney general's summary including new reaction from the fired fbi director james comey. s a very difficult . failure is not an option. more than half of employees across the country bring financial stress to work. if you're stressed out financially at home, you're going to be too worried to be able to do a good job. i want to be able to offer all of the benefits that keep them satisfied. it is the people that is really the only asset that you have. put your employees on a path
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boop! breaking news shows a clear majority 56% say president trump and his campaign have not bonn exonerated of collusion based on william barr's summary of mueller's report. he believes potentially. you write it is head scratching that bob mueller would leave a matter of this importance to someone else effectively handing it over to the attorney general. an attorney general had already
opined in a 19 page memo that the theory of obstruction in this case is fatally misconceived and grossly irresponsible. do you tli we'll get a clear answer? >> i don't know answer to that question. if they call mueller to testify and he goes i'm sure they will -- i'm sure they will ask him. it to punt that decision to congress other to the attorney general. >> do you think mueller actually intended for the new attorney general to make that decision? >> we don't flow for sure until we see that report which is why it is so incredibly important. it is pretty unlikely for him to step in and render that judgment. they are really difficult. they are difficult questions of
constitutional and whether or not acourse of conduct can constitute when an individual act does not. they have said up against the backdrop which you can't indict this individual we'll decline to make a traditional judgment. we'll establish the record, lay out the reel arguments on either side and turn it over. you pligmight say he is turning over to bill barr. sit not that he is more capable than team of counsels and not in a better position to make this judgment. he is in a worse position. the whole reason we have special counsel is to avoid political rendering these kinds of judgment. mueller intended for congress to make that decision. >> because comey said he believed potentially it was obstructionov obstruction of justice.
>> it doesn't mean you to have a particular conclusion but you have to have one. the notion that mueller and 500 witnesses and different interviews, thousands and thousands of pages being used here i find it extremely hard to believe it was you know what maybe he is is going to be good enough at the end of the day. i think that punt he was making was to congress. when barr was interviewed during the confirmation hearing they asked him how would he handle things that may be in the impeachable category. i think congress in the notion of saying look, maybe it doesn't meet your standards but of course the constitution has high crimes in a different context for us. >> let's skip the report. it may be why he came up with an awkward decision. a new cnn poll. public reaction to the attorney
general's letter on the mueller report. do you think the report exonerates of collusion? 43% say yes and 56% say no. what should congress do with report findings? the investigation 43%. what do you think about those numbers? >> i think those numbers not to use a white house at the white house's favorite line but they speak for themselves. i think perhaps even more notable to me was this divide between democrats and republican and whether or not they viewed that barr's summary exonerated the president. that i think reenforces this idea that people viewed that barr's summary, people took what they wanted to take from this report and jumped to their own conclusions. at the end of the day it's important to note as we have always said that mueller wrote that the report does not exonerate the president and as conway tweeted it is something really startling for the
prosecutor to state. i want to make one point to this. perhaps the bigger question is how mueller came to the conclusion, rendered the conclusion that the president did not commit obstruction of justice and how he was able to judge talking to trump. that is what it is going to have to explain. >> talking ability other things now and the presidential candidates out on the trail are not being asked about russia but they are being asked about issues that matter to them like health care. so i think this week when the president decided that you ought to just get rid of obamacare that was kind of a gift handed on a silver platter to the democrats. that's what they are going to try to make the next election about. >> they are going to move on
from the mueller report. >> yeah. >> don't even want to talk about impeachment. stick around. there's more news. >> we are about to go live to south carolina where cory booker will be taking voters questions tonight later at a cnn town hall. in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. openturning 50 opens theuard. door to a lot of new things... like now your doctor may be talking to you about screening for colon cancer. luckily there's me, cologuard. the noninvasive test you use at home.
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booker. it is there south carolina. we are on the scene in orangeburg, south car liolina. update us on the latest. >> that's right. cory bokoker said he wants to ws a positive campaign for president but he is stressing he wants to be tough pointing to his time and he has an incredibly unique tool to help him tell that story. for voters looking to get to know new jersey senator cory booker he recommends a movie. >> if you have time go home and watch a mover i haie called str fight. >> it is about my first race taking on one of the toughest machines. >> street fight tells the story of the 2002 campaign for mayor
of newark and his political machine. >> there's no excuse for this. the city can be doing so much better for the people that live here. >> the political brawl thrust him into the national spotlight and established him as a democratic rising star. now the documentary a taking on a new life facing another improbable race this time for president. >> the street fight is a story about an underdog trying to bring people together to fight bigger problems and in many ways i feel like i'm still that guy trying to deal with very big crowded field, a very larger than life character as president of the united states right now. i feel a lot of that same energy. >> he isn't the only to star in a film about a losing campaign. he started at the south by southwest film festival. it will begin airing in may.
rile the unsuccessful senate campaign is still fresh many have forgotten about booker's 2002 race or learning about it for the first time. >> i think it shows people, you know, what he has been through as a candidate and what he is willing to do. >> he was booker's campaign manager in '02. he says booker faced similar questions then to now. >> it is too good to be real. no way he can be all of the things he says he is. the irony and frustration that he had is how do i prove to you how i am. >> booker needed to prove he needed to be tough while still running a positive campaign. >> what do you say about that? >> curry directed street fight following the race from start to finish. >> he was running negative ads against cory and saying things that weren't true. it was incredibly frustrating. cory felt like he knew that he had to fight back.
>> i just think that there's a way to do it with dignity and to me that encapsule lates cory well. i don't think he likes to fight. i think he likes to convince people he is right an to bring them over to his side. >> ultimately he couldn't convince enough people. he lost. booker came back to win in 2006 and today the political low point is a selling point. >> i lost the first time. >> and a point of pride. >> there is power in that. you know, some times we stumble and some times we fall. you can tell a lot about how they handle victory and defeat. >> one of the big questions for booker as he seeks victory in this democratic primary will be elect blt. can he beat donald trump and what they told us is it could be instruct ifr that the lessons he learned could help him defeat donald trump because the go are
very similar characters. >> thanks very much for that report. be sure to watch the c flrnn presidential town hall. it moderates tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern. coming up the top commander sounds a warning about what may happen if kim jong un gives up on diplomacy and resorts to military force. mbiance] ♪ hi, mrs. gorman. hey, theo. police radio: i have the stolen vehicle in sight. [police siren] ♪ [police siren] ♪ [police siren] police radio: onstar, it's safe to slow it down. ♪ onstar advisor: mr. grantham, this is onstar. onstar advisor: the police have your vehicle. mr. grantham: thank you so much. so how are you enjoying your it's just lovely.ament? i'm here to let all these folks know how easy it is to save money on their car insurance with geico-
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tonight, there's a sobering new warning from the top u.s. military commander of u.s. forces in south korea. if the current thaw in relationships with kim jong-un doesn't work out, he is worried about the u.s. ability to detect an attack on north korea's military. let's go to barbara starr. what's the latest? >> reporter: general robert abrams has been on the job about 120 days commanding troops on the korean peninsula. this morning, some of the most plain language to date about the challenge for the u.s. military to see a north korean attack if one were coming. >> their activity that we have observed is inconsistent with denuclearization. as we look to the future, as conditions might change, if they change negatively, then our stance and our posture is not adequate to provide us an
unblinking eye to give us early warning and indicators. and i can give you a couple of examples during the closed session of exact capability we would need. suffice to say, we're short to be able do that if things start to turn bad. >> what is he talking about? satellite, spy aircraft, radar. these are things that are the classified systems that the u.s. needs all the time, 24/7 over all of north korea to see early signs of a potential attack if one were coming. it's those early signs that are critical. that's what gets the u.s. able to put its own defenses into place as soon as possible. general abrams also said, right now, no signs of denuclearization in north korea. >> let's not forget, the u.s. has 30,000 troops along the demilitarized zone in south korea as well. barbara starr, thanks very much.
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happening now, breaking news. comey speaks out. former fbi director james comey says he thought he was fired to shut down an investigation that threatened the president and that president trump's about russia was, quote, potentially obstruction of justice. cnn learns that investigators from the special counsel's team briefly
questioned maria butina who pleaded guilty to conspireing to act as an unregistered russian agent. why didn't they investigate her further? better than obamacare. president trump claims he has a plan that will be better than obamacare if the administration's new legal assault succeeds. we're learning key figures have opposed the attack on the affordable care act. the vice-president has raised concerns. smollett mystery. he is free. the prosecute are is taking a lot of heat. chicago officials are outraged. the police union demands an outside investigation. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> multiple breaking stories. the american public