tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 10, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
outrage among congressional democrats. circling trump. a new report says new york prosecutors have moved in on president trump's inner circle interviewing some of his closest former aides and gathering more evidence in the hush money case than anyone previously knew. i won't do it. the president defies demands by democratic lawmakers and vows he won't hand over his tax returns as the deadline set by the head of the house ways and means committee arrives. star pressure. federal prosecutors up the stakes for one of the celebrities in the college admissions scandal in an effort to get her to plead guilty. we want to welcome viewers in the united states and around the world. i am wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news tonight. outrage among congressional democrats after a bombshell statement from the attorney
general, william barr. in his second day of testimony on capitol hill, he claimed that the fbi or the intelligence agencies may have spied on the 2016 trump presidential campaign. at the same time, "the wall street journal is reporting new york prosecutors have gathered more evidence than previously known in the investigation into hush money payments to women who say they had affairs with mr. trump before he was president. i'll talk about that and much more with congressman steve cohen of the judiciary committee and our correspondents and analysts are standing by. first, let's get details of the attorney general's truly stunning claim about spying on the trump campaign. our political correspondent sara murray has the latest. democrats are furious about bill barr's you be substantiated allegation. >> that's correct. it made a splash on capitol hill when he said he believes the trump campaign was spied on but didn't have evidence to back up his conclusion.
now democrats are fuming. >> i think there was spying did occur, yes. i think spying did occur. >> reporter: a stunning statement by attorney general william barr, claiming the fbi or intelligence agencies during the obama administration may have spied on the 2016 trump campaign. >> i think spying on a political campaign is a big deal, it's a big deal. >> reporter: later he tried to clarify his claim. >> i am not saying improper surveillance occurred, i'm saying that i am concerned about it and looking into it. that's all. >> reporter: while he stopped short of accusing anyone of breaking the rules, barr suggests there may have been missteps in the fbi led by james comey during the 2016 election. >> to the extent there were issues at the fbi, i do not view it as a problem that's endemic to the fbi. i think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelon.
>> reporter: his comments drew a sha sharp rebuke from democrats. >> the chief law enforcement officer of our country is going off the rails yesterday and today. he is attorney general of the united states of america, not the attorney general of donald trump. >> reporter: barr telling lawmakers he is looking into origins of the fbi investigation into possible ties between donald trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the russian government. the investigation into the investigation already cause for celebration from the president who has repeatedly called for a probe like this. >> doing a great job getting started on going back to the origins of exactly where this all started because this was an illegal witch hunt and everybody knew it. what they did was treason. what they did was terrible. >> reporter: when it comes to special counsel robert mueller's
report, the president may not be as pleased. barr said he will not sanitize it to protect trump. >> does that mean you'll redact information to protect the reputational interests of the president? >> no. i'm talking about people who are in private life, not public office. >> reporter: still, barr faced another round of criticism to clear the president of obstruction of justice. >> you indicated they did not exxon rate the president, you did, so i'm asking you whether you agree with mueller that there were difficult issues of law in fact of making that assessment. >> that's not a question i can answer. >> reporter: admitting he didn't know if mueller wanted him to make that call. >> did he express expectation or interest in leaving the obstruction decision to congress? >> not that -- he didn't say that to me, no. >> so he said the obstruction
decision should be up to you? >> he didn't say that either. but that's generally how department of justice works. >> reporter: and he still doesn't know if mueller agrees with it. >> did bob mueller support your conclusion? >> i don't know whether bob mueller supported my conclusion. >> reporter: barr said he will hopefully have a version ready for congress to see next week. it won't be the version that will satisfy democrats. it is expected to be full of redactions. >> i want to bring in evan perez. he makes a stunning statement that there may have been spying on the trump campaign by the fbi or the u.s. staeintelligence community. what kind of evidence do you think he has? >> it is not clear. certainly people at the justice department told reporters that he didn't mean spying in a pejorative sense, he sort of mentioned this in passing obviously, but multiple times
today was given a chance to clean it up and kind of made it frankly just a little more worse. so the question is, is he talking about the fbi and beginning of the investigation, is he talking about the fisa application involving carter page, is he talking about some of the work the cia was doing, looking at what the russians were up to. we don't know exactly what he means, and i think certainly if there are changes that will happen as a result of this, i think it is a big deal, perhaps members of congress are going to want to be involved in any changes that happen. >> because, sara, presumably the president was happy when he heard the attorney general was launching this investigation, even though there's a separate inspector general investigation looking into a lot of these same matters. the allegation against the attorney general is he's doing and saying what the president of the united states likes to hear. >> yeah, the president is absolutely happy about this, he has been saying this is an illegal investigation, that his campaign was being spied on for years essentially, so now you have the attorney general going
forward saying this in front of congress without offering any facts to back it up, and it is sort of a bizarre situation to see him out there, the attorney general, talking about it like this, when he is also saying we're actively looking into it at the justice department now. normally you would expect them to wait until they reached the conclusion and then share it with the public instead of being there on capitol hill and spit bawling on the way. >> saying the whole investigation was an act of treason, treasonous. amidst this, getting word the u.s. attorney of the southern district of new york in manhattan is interviewing key asoci associates in connection with the hush money payments to the two women. >> "the wall street journal" is reporting last year around this time that the u.s. attorney's office interviewed hope hicks, his long time communications adviser, and keith schiller, long time security adviser, kind of body man. all related to the campaign finance investigation.
according to the journal, a lot of questions involving them had to do with american media, the publisher of national enquirer. these interviews took place last spring and the journal doesn't say it, but usually the way the investigations work is they use this as leverage. having this testimony from the inner circle, people that know intimately about arrangements likely helped prosecutors get david pecker and publisher of american media and the company itself to cooperate as part of the immunity and nonprosecution agreements. likely the cooperation will provide inside information about his long time relationship with david pecker, which was enough to force -- >> and david pecker got immunity in exchange for cooperation. allen weisselberg got immunity in connection with his cooperation. how much of a threat is all of this to the president? >> look, i think people around
the president are very much more worried about what the southern district of new york is up to than about anything that might come from the mueller report. this has always been the thing that worried him. wolf, if you think about this, as far as investigations have gone, the southern district of new york, manhattan prosecutors are the only ones that landed a punch on the president so far. they basically called him an unindicted co-conspirator in not so many words in the michael cohen plea document. i think that's the reason they're concerned and i think they believe this is going to go through the end of donald trump's presidency. >> individual number one. >> and that investigation is on-going. >> certainly is. everybody stick around. house democrats, deadline arriving for president trump to turn over his tax returns, a deadline he vowed to ignore. let's go to white house correspondent abby philip. the president said flatly he won't give democrats what they want and launched sharp new
attacks against the mueller investigation. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. president trump is preparing for multiple major fights on various fronts, first pushing back on democrats' demands to see six years of personal and business tax returns and launching new attacks against robert mueller and his investigators, even after weeks ago he said he wanted the public to see the full mueller report. >> this was an attempted coup, attempted take down of a president, and we beat them. we beat them. >> reporter: tonight, president trump going on the attack against the russian investigation ahead of release of the full mueller report. >> so the mueller report when they talk about obstruction, we fight back. you know why we fight back? because i knew how illegal the whole thing was, it was a scam. >> reporter: as attorney general bill barr testifies on capitol hill that redactions won't be made to protect him. >> does that mean that you will
redact information to protect the reputational interests of the president? >> no. i'm talking about people who are in private life, not public office holders. >> reporter: trump gearing up for another battle with congress over his taxes. >> i got elected last time with the same issue and while i'm under audit, i won't do it. if i'm not under audit, i would do it, i had no problem with it. >> reporter: as the irs appears poised to buck a deadline to hand over six years of the president's tax returns by today. >> this isn't just about the president and congressional oversight, as i said yesterday, can you imagine if kevin brady when he was chairman, he had requested tax returns of prominent democrats. we want to make sure that we follow the law properly. >> reporter: meantime, in texas today trump painting a gruesome picture of the situation at the
border. >> they'll sometimes rob the house, who the hell can live like this. >> reporter: down play the influence of senior policy adviser steven miller that sources say is in charge of immigration and border related issues. >> steven is an excellent guy, he's a wonderful person. people don't know him. he's been with me from the beginning. he's a brilliant man and frankly there's only one person that's running it, you know who that is? it's me. >> reporter: his heart line advocacy is calling or republicans to put a check on his power. john thune telling cnn i think his voice is influential, i hope it is balanced out with other voices there. and increasingly, republican lawmakers are speaking up about trump's unconventional picks for another role, the federal reserve board. trump has selected steven moore, former campaign adviser who critics say lacks economics qualifications for the post, and
former republican presidential candidate herman cain who faces renewed scrutiny over allegations of sexual harassment. but senate majority leader mcconnell is privately urging senators to raise concerns about both men to the white house. sources tell cnn trump now won't say if herman cain's nomination is in jeopardy. >> i like him, and herman will make that determination. herman is a wonderful man, he has been a supporter of mine a long time. how he is doing in the process, i don't know, you go through a process. but herman is a great guy, i hope he does well. >> reporter: president trump in texas teased that his son-in-law, jared kushner, is working on an immigration plan that he's excited to release. moments ago, kushner and acting chief of staff mick mulvaney were on capitol hill, meeting with republicans and democrats on immigration related issues. it isn't clear yet what may come of renewed talks, wolf. >> we'll see fairly soon, i'm
sure. thank you very much. let's get more on all of this. democratic congressman steve cohen of tennessee is joining us, member of the judiciary committee. congressman, thanks for joining us. i want to begin with the attorney general's stunning admission today that he believes spying, spying, he used that word, did occur on the trump campaign back in 2016, although he wouldn't say whether or not that surveillance was improper. do you see any evidence of impropriety in the way the fbi or cia or when they were involved in the russia investigation? >> i have not seen improprieties with the fbi or cia, i see impropriety by the attorney general, even suggesting there was spying without knowledge and without proof. unless he has proof, he shouldn't put out any information or thought like that that could lessen the public's respect for our fbi or justice department and our judicial processes. he is head of the department of
justice and is putting it into a light that's not favorable in the public's eyes, saying somebody in that area might have done spying. that's wrong. >> the inspector general at the department of justice is already conducting investigation into origins of the russian probe. should the attorney general conduct his own investigation at the same time or is it wait to see what the inspector general's report concludes? >> certainly he should wait. there are so many more important things to do, white nationalists rising and hate crimes, saw racial insignias painted at the fire and highlander institute, burnt to the ground two weeks ago, place where rosa parks and other labor leaders trained for years, a spot where white nationalists painted racial insignias similar to
christchurch and charleston at that church, and so many things to be investigating that are a threat to the american public's safety. >> the house speaker, nancy pelosi, said the attorney general is in her words going off the rails. she also said he is acting more like the attorney general for the president rather than attorney general of the united states. are you concerned that the president may be compromising bill barr's independence? >> i think he gave away independence when he took the job, said it for weeks, probably said it on your video, he hired him and he has taken the position. they're carrying on. bill barr if he had a good reputation which some said he did, he's losing it. he's acting less like janet reno, less like elliott richard son, more like john mitchell every day. >> the president tweeted earlier this afternoon that the mueller investigation, he used the word
treasonous. treason is punishable by death. what's your reaction to that inflammatory rhetoric by president trump? >> the president doesn't know what he's talking about about treason or anything else. he says whatever comes to his mind and that's sad that the whole idea of the truth and people speaking honestly to the american public, trying to encourage people on facts and fact based discussion is being eroded. the truth being thrown out. trump is the leader in that. that's a terrible legacy for him and terrible for america and for the country that's based on the rule of law, and with respect for law enforcement. >> the attorney general also refused to say whether or not special counsel robert mueller intended for him to make a determination on the sensitive issue of obstruction of justice, rather than simply believing the matter to congress. does it worry you that barr couldn't or wouldn't answer that question? >> well, i think he wasn't going to lie because the fact is mr. mueller would not have wanted him to make that decision. i think he left it there without
conclusion, saying it didn't exxon rate h exonerate him. never has the attorney general stepped into the breach like this, no legislation or law says he should, no tradition that says he should, never happened before. mueller probably didn't anticipate it happening. this is why barr was hired and he is doing everything to help the president. think about it, you have a president that we know is number one identified in what's the term -- >> individual one. >> that's the president. that the president of the united states, individual one, has been indicted for felony while he is in office. if this was any other time without more crazy things going on, this would be the number one story. imagine harry truman, roosevelt, eisenhower, any president in the past, where they're individual one for a felony. there's so much else about this
guy that one fire that would be tremendous fire isn't even thought about because we move on from paying off models to influence the election to get around the campaign finance laws to dealing with the russians to obstruction to conspiracy. you name it. this is a very sad time in american history and this is the lowest ebb that a president has been in, if he is individual one, and we think he is, anything -- only thing worse was richard nixon when they had the goods on him for obstruction. and this is the only other time a president has sunk this law. >> want to point out, individual number one which everyone assumes was the president was an unindicted co-conspirator in that allegation and as you know, long time justice department policy is a sitting president of the united states can't be indicted. >> that's the only reason he is not indicted is because of that. he is conspiracy to a felony, it is individual one and individual one ranks down there with
richard nixon. >> steve cohen, thanks for joining us. >> you're welcome. breaking news continues. next, we dig deeper into nancy pelosi's scathing remarks about the attorney general. she says he is, quote, going off the rails. and two hollywood stars caught up in the college admissions scandal taking two different approaches. federal prosecutors are pressuring one to plead guilty. they really appreciate the military family and it really shows. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. it was funny because when we would call another insurance company, hey would say "oh we can't beat usaa" we're the webber family. we're the tenney's we're the hayles, and we're usaa members for life. ♪ get your usaa auto insurance quote today. at to cover the essentialsyou have in retirement, as well as all the things you want to do. because when you're ready for what comes next,
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allegation by attorney general of the united states, william barr, that has democrats outraged with house speaker nancy pelosi saying that barr, quote, is going off the rails. let's dig deeper with correspondents and analysts. dana, the attorney general made an extraordinary claim today about spying on the trump campaign in 2016. listen to this exchange he had during his congressional testimony. >> i think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. >> so you're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred? >> i don't -- well, i guess i think there was spying did occur, yes, i think spying it occur. i am not saying improper surveillance occurred, i am saying i am concerned about it, looking into it, that's all. >> he seemed to backtrack on the subsequent answer. what is he suggesting in. >> look, he is saying what
happened. what happened is that there was surveillance of people associated with the trump campaign which is how the whole notion of the investigation began. he is also saying the word spying which is very, very loaded. it is technically accurate, which he said there when he was pressed on it by senator schatz of hawaii, and he seemed to understand at that point maybe before as well, that the term was incredibly loaded but this is precisely the kind of rhetoric that the president and people around him have been saying from the rooftops to their base, that this is what's wrong. this whole investigation was run amuck, shouldn't have happened from the get go. but the fact is, what he really did say is yes, there was surveillance and i want to figure out if it was done properly. >> bill barr is a classic
demonstration of what's happened to the republican party. he used to be an establishment figure. george herbert walker bush administration. now it is a fox news party where they -- and you saw this in his confirmation hearing, talking about uranium one, fantasies about hillary clinton's wrongdoing. this is how he talks because he is part of that party now, and that party thinks the fbi, the cia, everybody is conspiring to get donald trump, and they now have their attorney general. >> it is true that there was technically spying on people. >> carter page was under investigation. >> so what he said is not wrong, it is just the terminology he used. >> fair enough. the attorney general of the united states in a dog whistle to sean hannity is a big deal. >> one thing to say there was
spying, another thing if a fisa court authorized some surveillance because of credible evidence or suspicions. >> and the federal government would have had to present evidence or at least believe there was probable cause to obtain that fisa warrant against carter page, and i think when attorney general william barr is under questioning from brian schatz said talking about unauthorized surveillance, he did sort of understand the weight of the term spying which frankly is a word the president and his allies have used, and that's why the connotations were very problematic, certainly for democrats on capitol hill who said that they were flabbergasted and did not believe that barr in his position would not have known what the sub text to many people of the word spying might in fact be, particularly since he said he didn't have evidence to suggest that the surveillance of carter page was illicit. >> if you give me a chance to defend the spies.
>> i used to work at the cia. >> i wasn't a spy, i was an investigator. i think the language is significant. the difference between an investigation, if barr said investigations were aggressive during the campaign, including a court authorized wire trap of carter page, people would have said well, we knew that a long time ago. he used the word spy. i think what he is referring to in part is that carter page investigation that was under way, but by telling the american people we were spying, they think we had james bond inserted in the campaign. >> he is saying more than that. he's saying he's going to do an investigation of the investigation, improper surveillance. it is not just a factual observation of what went on, he is doing the bidding of donald trump who has been saying from the very beginning that this is a witch hunt, this was improper, this was outrageous. so it is not just a factual observation. he is putting the department of justice to work to investigate the fbi and cia.
>> to be clear, he is being encouraged to do that aggressively by republicans in congress who have been, you know, not necessarily very aggressive on the notion of oversight in general but on this particular idea of oversight, they're writing him letters, calling him, saying you have to figure out whether or not the genesis of this spying counter surveillance, whatever you call it was done properly and warranted. >> there are a couple of issues to point out on carter page. one, this fisa warrant was obtained after he left the trump campaign. there would have been probable cause to say he was acting as an agent of a foreign government and they were relying on information provided by a confidential informant. and the other point that some people are making about the investigation is that this is of course a focus on the fisa warrant, but the broader investigation of russian interference in the campaign was the fact that george
papadopoulos bragged to the australian ambassador to the suchlts th u.s. that the russians had dirt on hillary clinton. >> and also at the cia and the fbi, what's academwkward, there already an attorney general looking into the russian involvement in the u.s. presidential election. you would think the attorney general would simply have said you know what, let's see what the inspector general, michael horowitz has to conclude, it will conclude in a few months. at that point week follow-up. >> you're killing me, wolf. i was just going to say that. the fact we're missing is he is talking about an investigation that was already under way, the difference in language. if he said there's a standard process, and this is a highly sensitive investigative procedure, looking at the emails for somebody involved in the political campaign, any attorney general, democrat or republican may say i want to look at that, and by the way, preceding me, department of justice decided to
look at that. that's about page a-17 in "the washington post." he decides to say i'm looking at spying. if he made that choice consciously, i would say why are you doing that. you're encouraging the american people to say the fbi is spying and the american people say that's wrong. >> you answered your own question, don't you think that's part of why he is doing that, to jeff's point, that he is trying to play into the politics of the people who -- >> i think maybe, but i must be the only naive cia person -- >> if there's spying on american citizens on a presidential campaign, you have to have some judges who will authorize that under the foreign intelligence surveillance act, fisa courts. >> and that's what happened. these are judges named by chief justice john roberts, a republican appointee, the judges themselves were republican appointees, so the idea this was some democratic conspiracy to get the trump campaign has been absurd from day one and no matter how many times the
president says it, it doesn't make it true. >> everybody stand by. there's more breaking news we are technology. we will continue special coverage after this. introducing... smartdogs. the first dogs trained to train humans. stopping drivers from: liking. selfie-ing. and whatever this is. available to the public... never. smartdogs are not the answer. but geico has a simple tip. turn on "do not disturb while driving" mode. brought to you by geico. we do whatever it takes to fight cancer. these are the specialists we're proud to call our own. experts from all over the world working closely together to deliver truly personalized cancer care. expert medicine works here. learn more at cancercenter.com.
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people that are at the center of the president's orbit, hope hicks and keith schiller into the hush money allegations that the president as a private citizen paid to two women who alleged they had affairs with the president. take a look at the individuals. put that up on the screen again. hope hicks, michael cohen, the president's former lawyer, keith schiller in charge of security, david pecker, publisher of national enquirer. wise he willburg, long time chief financial officer of the trump organization, it is a big deal. >> doesn't get closer to the trump inner circle at that time than the people you just put on the screen, not only michael cohen but more importantly keith schiller, his long time body guy, security guy with him all the time and hope hicks we know was his communications person. the question is whether or not they're being asked about the president's role to keep in their back pocket for when he is no longer the president, maybe
he can be indicted, or for other broader reasons because we know that they've got their answers with regard to michael cohen and his case and his vulnerability on this. he was convicted of doing, and the president himself was named in that. >> individual number one. >> individual number one. if i'm president trump, this is extremely troubling. >> legally jeffrey toobin, allen weisselberg, david pecker got immunity in exchange for their cooperation, limited cooperation. >> at the moment, the view of southern district of new york is the whole thing was michael cohen's fault. now, you can think what you want about michael cohen, but who was the beneficiary of the trump money, oh, i said, hush money, i said trump money. it was trump money ultimately, so the question arises are they going to charge the person who was the real beneficiary of this, who was donald trump, as
dana pointed out in the charging instrument where he pled guilty, the payment was at the direction of donald trump. for a campaign finance violation it is usually the candidate who is at fault, not someone doing the candidate's bidding. >> i think this is interesting that people, especially schiller, do you want tv in black and white or color. black and white is emails, phones, financial records. i want to talk about the bodyguard and what did they talk about. you won't see that in email or in a financial transaction. hope hicks said i told white lies for the president. what were those, did they relate to personal relationships with women. you can get color from interviews you can't get from technical information. that's what's going on. >> and the president on another sensitive issue today made it clear he has no intention of releasing tax returns from the last six years. >> the president maintained he
can't release tax returns because he is under audit. important to note it doesn't say and the irs itself said being under audit wouldn't preclude someone releasing tax returns. michael cohen succeeded in testimony on capitol hill that the president was not in fact under audit. cohen said he believed he was reluctant to release tax returns because he then may find himself under audit, be forced to pay untold penalties. democrats made it clear they intend to go after tax returns which signals we're headed to another protracted legal battle. >> the deadline house ways and means committee said is later at midnight. >> the response of the administration, the president, secretary of the treasury, commissioner of the irs is a gesture we're not supposed to use on television, and it will wind up in court. we'll see what happens. >> george w. bush would call that the one finger salute. >> what i can't get over, i was nominated for a third rate chump
change position that required senate confirmation in 2009. i was required to hand over more financial information to the senate than the president is handing over for a third rate position at the department of homeland security. unbelievable. >> how many electoral votes did you get? >> everybody stick around. we have an important programming note for viewers. be sure to tune in later tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern when i will be moderating a cnn democratic presidential town hall with washington state governor jay inslee. 10:00 p.m. eastern, later tonight. i will be back for that. just ahead. growing pressure on a hollywood star to plead guilty in the college admissions scandal. plus, a deadly explosion that leveled a building, injured more than a dozen people. we are learning new information. stay with us. state of the art technology makes it brilliant. the visionary lexus nx. lease the 2019 nx 300 for $359 a month for 36 months. experience amazing at your lexus dealer.
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and accessoriesphones for your mobile phone. like this device to increase volume on your cell phone. - ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program call or visit we've got some important breaking news. we just received a copy of a letter the secretary of the treasury steven mnuchin sent to chairman of the house ways and means committee in which he explains department of the treasury, irs, need more time to review the request whether or not to hand over six years of the president's tax returns to the house ways and means committee, among other things, steve mnuchin, treasury secretary says given the seriousness of the issues which bear no connection to ordinary
tax administration, we have begun consultation with department of justice to ensure our response is consistent with the law and constitution. now, this is significant. they're not saying they're not going to do it, they're saying give us more time to consider the legal issues. >> it is not no. it is not no, and this is a big deal, and we need to talk to other departments, including and especially department of justice. it's also interesting the letter comes from the treasury secretary, steve mnuchin, who was asked about this very issue yesterday on capitol hill because he, of course, department of treasury oversees the irs, so the fact that he is saying, that he is not only responding but making clear in the letter he is going to oversee it is interesting and noteworthy. obviously he's somebody who is one of the president's oldest and earliest supporters, but he's taken it upon himself, i don't think he has much choice, but saying this in black and white that he's going to navigate the waters so far.
>> jeffrey, he says in the letter i intend, steve mnuchin. i intend to supervise the department's review of the request to ensure taxpayer protection and applicable laws are skrup yusly observed consistent with my statutory responsibility. >> i made a flip response a couple of minutes ago and i was wrong. this is a serious response. it is not this is a serious response. i think the tip-off is the word of the and the constitution. because the statute could not be clear. the statute says they shall turn over the tax return to the ways and means committee. but the argument that's been made by the president's supporters is that that isn't somehow unconstitutional. and that if they are going to refuse to turn over the tax return, i think that's the argument they're going to have to make, because if they just go by the statute, they have to
turn over the tax return. it's very clear. >> that's another important line, sabrina, in this letter from the treasury secretary, the chairman of the house ways an means committee. the legal implications of this request could affect protectionles for all americans against politically motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power. so there is a civil liberties aspect that they're raising as well, that's why they need more time to spin it. >> stephen mnuchin tried to spin a fine line on the one hand he says he fully intends to follow the law and not for politics to interfere with the request from congress. at the same time he defended the president's rights to keep his tax returns private. he also disclosed he has discussed the request with white house lawyers, but he said under oath that he has not personally discussed the matter with the president, himself. >> there is something else interesting in this letter as we are reading it now, that it
refers, it starts out by referring to a resolution that the ways and means committee, the tax writing committee, the one that actually requested this, now under democratic control, a resolution that it passed under republican control in the last congress explicitly saying that if this kind of request comes forward, that they knew it likely might, that it might set a dangerous precedent by targeting a sing individual's tax authority and target a single individual's tax return. basically saying we knew this was going to come. we kind of laid the ground in order to accuse or potentially accuse democrats of asking for this for political reasons, so we're going to use this, we're going to look at it to see if this jives with the law as it currently stands. i don't know, you can still me if that's nice or not. >> well, you know, it is true
that this is an unprecedented legal issue. this law that gives the house ways and means committee the authority goes back decades, but it's never been used in anything like these circumstances, so it's certainly fair for mnuchin to say this is unprecedented. it really is unpress didn't itted. the law, itself, you don't have to be a lawyer to understand it. it says they shall turn it over upon q. and the request has been made. now the issue that he's alluding to here is whether the targeting of a single individual in a politically sensitive environment may implicate the first amendment, freedom of speech, punishing someone. >> that may be the argue that they make, but if they're just going by the law, the law is really clear. >> interesting, in this letter, phil, the treasury secretary refers to comments made by the republican chairman of the senate finance committee and shares some of the concerns who describe the april 3rd request
by the house ways and means "as lacking the legitimate legislative purpose and as nicksonian to the core. >> i think laying this out but as we have been discussing as a legal issue. look at this presidency, the president said we are deploying troops. the president gore said they got it deployed according to law, not what you say. we had dhs secretary leave, ev departmentally, the family is saying family separation. she is saying i have a responsible to interpret the law beyond what you say. once again, we have a cabinet secretary saying there is a secondary why, i think a primary issue, what does the law say? time and the again cabinet versus to look at the presidents for saying we're responsible for interpreting the law. >> that isn't always what you say, mr. president. >> they're making legal arguments in here as well. they need more time to study it, a serious issue. we can't meet your deadline, give us more time.
there are several legal arguments, potentially, let steven mnuchin the secretary treasury is laying out. >> certainly in the beginning of this letter, he is raising the spectre that this is an act of political harassment, not legislative inquiry and that certainly is going to be a theme if they decide to reject this request. but i have to say, it is sort of rich that he's talking in here about the precedent. you know, the precedent is that all presidential candidates already release their tax returns, so this has never come up since the 1970s. because everybody's already released it. so the idea that the precedent is the worry. the worry is the precedent set by donald trump by not doing this whole thing voluntarily. >> richard nixon always released his tax returns. stick around, we are learning more a v information about the scleenl admin scandal and a celebrity defendant accused of buying her daughter's way into
an elite university. let's go to our national correspondent erica hill. what's the latest? >> so what we are hearing is one of the most invisible defendants in this case, lori loughlin along with her husband allegedly spent $500,000 to get their daughters into college is not only facing a new charge but also more jail time. you'll smiles, a seemingly confident lori loughlin days ago outside federal court in boston. now facing an additional charge of money laundering conspiracy, cnn has learned the attorney's to this point never engaged if substantial plea discussion. though that same law enforcement source tells cnn, it's not too late. the government raised the stakes completely. now what they did is up the ante, more exposure, the time to get out and bail out is now. >> the fog designer, her husband, among 16 parents hit with the additional charge.
they now face two counts. both carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. cnn has reached out to her attorney. we have not heard back. the additional charges coming on the heels of plea agreements for more than a dozen other parents, including actress felicity huffman, who said in a statement, i am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what i have done, i accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions. the government is recommending huffman be sentenced at the low end of the guidelines and as part of the agreement will not bring further criminal charges. >> there can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy and i'll add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either. >> reporter: the outrage flows freely when the accused are wealthy and well connected. it is impossible to miss the stark contrast between loughlin signing auto graphs at the
airport hours before appearing in court last week and huffman on the same day. >> i think the optics of being outside of court, behaving in that way, they do matter. i think they matter in terms of public reception and whether you are getting an understanding of what this is about. they matter in terms of contrition. they matter in terms of really remorse. and. >> and we are told it is possible there could be more charges filed. meantime, over two dozen lawyers penned a letter, accusing attorneys of so-called judge shopping. saying their client shouldn't be lumped together in one indictment. because they didn't know one another prior to the case. in response, a federal prosecutor called that letary quote hail mary. >> erica hill, thanks, very much. there is more breaking news, this time coming out of israel, where benjamin netanyahu is seeking a fifth term. what is the latest?
>> reporter: a few times ago, they conceded saying that i will abide by the people, by the process here and leave it up to the president. given how these numbers look. given netanyahu's right wing block. i looks like he is on course to put together a coalition. >> that means as you pointed out, it would be a fifth term for him him. he would become israel's longest serving prime minister this summer. the numbers were fairly close. netanyahu went over 13,000 votes apart. >> that path clearly for netia huh. where does the process go from here? there are a couple hundred,000 more votes to count from soldiers, from diplomats. it will be next week the president here meets with different parties and recommends a name, puts the path informing a coalition to a prime minister. >> that as we are learning now is going to be by everything it looks like netanyahu. wolf. >> the prime minister, he veered far right towards the end of this campaign, pledging to annex west bank, jewish settlements if
reelected. dining he will follow through on that pledge assuming he does form the next government in israel. so many are concerned that would effectively end any hope of an israeli-palestinian hope of a peace deal? >> reporter: if he does follow through, it depends on how much. if he goes after unilateral annexation of the blocks, which are built up settlements along the green line. those have always been viewed under land swaps with the palestinians. if he tries to do that, he probably has the cover of the trump administration. if he goes after the isolated settlements, some which are very deep. it would be the end of a two-state solution. crucially what we are waiting for is trump's peace plan. we are expecting it in the next few weeks or months, netanyahu, according to what he says, hasn't seen the full details of that, he is very unlikely to
make a move on his own that would forestall that until it's on the table from the trump administration. >> we know president trump called president netanyahu to congratulate him. or ren lieberman in jerusalem, thanks very much. >> that mpgs to our viewers for watching. erin burnett "out front" starts right now. "out front" next, a conspiracy theory. the president's attorney general sounding more like president trump saying he believes the trump campaign was spied on. where's the evidence? plus, president trump sitting do one federal prosecutors, should president trump be concerned? and breaking news, the deadline for trump's deadline to turn over his taxes is tonight. the treasury department is just responding. let's go "out front." good evening, i'm erin burnest. "out front" tonight a stunning claim from the attorney general bill barr. he said he thinks the obama administration spied on the