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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  May 3, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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but ended up as a mouse. why didn't president trump warn putin not to meddle in the next u.s. election? barr back. house judiciary committee jerry nadler makes a new offer to attorney general william barr, hoping to lure him back to testify about the mueller report and overcome the impasse that has nadler threatening to hold barr in contempt. senate judiciary chairman lindsey graham sends a letter to special counsel robert mueller asking if he feels the attorney general misrepresented their phone conversation. will mueller take graham's dare to refute barr's senate testimony? and jobs, jobs, jobs. president trump touts historic job market performance as unemployment falls to a 50-year low. but his approval rating remains stuck with a majority of americans disapproving of his performance in our newest cnn poll. why is the president struggling despite a strong economy? we want to welcome our
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viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. breaking news tonight. president trump speaking with russian president vladimir putin in an hour-long phone call, their first since the release of the special counsel robert mueller's report on russian meddling in the 2016 u.s. election. mr. trump says he and putin discussed the report as well as venezuela and north korea, but the president says there was no discussion of or warning against russian interference in the next u.s. election. also breaking, senate judiciary committee chairman lindsey graham daring mueller to refute attorney general william barr's testimony about his phone call with mueller and his reaction to barr's summary of the special counsel's report. we'll talk about that and more with democratic congressman ro khanna, a member of the overstieth and reform committee.
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first let's go to our white house correspondent, kaitlan collins. kaitlan, an hour-long call between presidents trump and putin and no mention of election interference. >> reporter: no, wolf. and it seems as they talked about everything but what was one of the key aspects of robert mueller's investigation and his report that detailed that russia interfered in the u.s. election in sweeping fashion. but today when president trump spoke with the man who u.s. intelligence is behind that interference, the president said the topic just simply didn't come up. >> i had a very good talk with president putin, probably over an hour. >> reporter: president trump was in high spirits after his first phone call with russian president vladimir putin since the release of the mueller report. >> we discussed, and he actually sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain, and it ended up being a mouse. but he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever.
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>> reporter: but his good mood was quickly dashed after a reporter asked if he had told putin to stay out of american elections, which the special counsel said happened in sweeping and systematic fashion in 2016. >> excuse me. i'm talking. i'm answering this question. you are very rude. >> reporter: asked again if he warned putin not to attack or interfere in the next election, the president said it didn't come up. >> we didn't discuss that. really we didn't discuss it. we discussed five or six things. >> reporter: it's a question his press secretary also refused to directly answer earlier in the day. >> the conversation on that part was very quick, but what i can tell you is that this administration, unlike the previous one, takes election meddling seriously. >> reporter: the phone call coming amid growing tensions between the united states and russia over venezuela. several senior administration officials have accused the kremlin of intervening to prop up nicolas maduro, who the trump administration is working to
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remove from power. but today the president downplayed putin's involvement. >> he is not looking at all to get involved in venezuela other than he'd like to see something positive happen for venezuela. >> reporter: that statement directly contradicting what his secretary of state told wolf three days ago. >> he had an airplane on the tarmac. he was ready to leave this morning, as we understand it, and the russians indicated he should stay. >> reporter: russia has also acknowledged it has military personnel on the ground in venezuela. tonight, new cnn reporting reveals that in recent days, trump has been at odds with his senior advisers, who have been teasing military action there. >> the president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. military action is possible. if that's what's required, that's what the united states will do. >> reporter: sources say instead trump has cautioned his advisers to stick to the line that all
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options are on the table. >> we have lots of options and some of them are very tough options. >> reporter: the president's skepticism after juan guaido's operation failed to gain traction, raising questions about the reliability of u.s. intelligence that members of maduro's inner circle were ready to defect. one thing the president is feeling confident about, the economy. >> i'll be running on the economy. >> reporter: a strong new jobs report revealing the u.s. economy added 263,000 jobs in april, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, the lowest in 50 years. now, wolf, up until now, president trump has given john bolton pretty wide leeway in managing the venezuela situation. but in recent days, he's been telling him he does not want him teasing the military option in venezuela as much.
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we just got a statement from the national security council spokesman. they said, quote, bolton is executing the president's strategy of maximum pressure to achieve a peaceful transition to democracy in venezuela. they added, as president trump himself has made clear, all options are on the table. wolf? >> kaitlan collins at the white house, thank you. we're also following breaking news up on capitol hill. our congressional correspondent, sunlen serfaty, is there for us, tonight. sunlen, lindsey graham, the republican chairman. senate judiciary committee is giving special counsel robert mueller an opportunity to refute william barr's testimony this week. >> reporter: senator graham writing to robert mueller today asking him if he wants to provide testimony to his committee, but testimony only on one singular issue, an issue that came up during attorney general barr's testimony up here on capitol hill on wednesday. barr told the committee on wednesday that he talked about this phone call that he had with robert mueller, and barr says during that phone call, that
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mueller said he did not think the four-page summary was inaccurate, and barr said that mueller said he was unhappy with the media coverage of the barr summary. that, of course is a quite different tone and different substance than what we've heard of mueller's complaints, of course, that were documented in that letter he, himself, sent to barr. so senator graham today basically giving mueller an opportunity to go ahead, refute what barr says. he says, quote, in this letter, attorney general barr testified that you believe media coverage of your investigation was unfair without the public release of those summaries. please inform the committee if you would like to provide testimony regarding any misrepresentation by the attorney general of the substance of that phone call. now, graham, of course, has adamantly opposed to having robert mueller appear in person before his committee to a full testimo testimony. at this point, though, it's very unclear what graham is referring to when he says provide testimony, whether that takes the form of staff interviews, whether that takes the form of
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him providing some written testimony. of course, wolf, the house democrats over in judiciary, they of course trying to negotiate a time for robert mueller to come in, potentially on may 15th. >> among other things, the attorney general, bill barr, sunlen, is also under pressure on two fronts. what are you learning? >> reporter: that's right. absolutely. first and foremost coming from the house judiciary chairman jerry nadler. he has basically renewed his threat and also issued somewhat of a counterproposal, of course, as it relates to nadler pushing to get the unredacted mueller report and the underlying materials. that, of course, doj has not complied with their subpoena requests for. so nadler making this counterproposal today, saying that his committee would be willing to work with the doj to prioritize which investigative materials, materials like witness interviews, are turned over to congress first. that, of course, showing a little bit of give on nadler's part, but he is not negotiating on his insistence that all members of congress be allowed
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to view the materials, those of course in the redacted version that had been blacked out. he wants to make sure all members of congress can still see that, not negotiate on that part. and nadler is saying in that, barr has until 9:00 a.m. on monday morning to comply. otherwise he will hold him in contempt of congress. meantime, barr is also facing some pressure coming from senator kamala harris. of course she has called tonight for the doj inspector general to investigate whether the white house has urged the attorney general to open up investigations of anyone. this, of course, was a breakout moment that she had during that hearing with bill barr, really pressuring him, setting up a sort of awkward pause at times with him over the suggestion that he could have opened -- been pressured to open up investigations. of course the 2020 candidate very eager, wolf, to keep her name in this conversation. >> sunlen serfaty on capitol hill, thanks for that report. let's get more on all of this, democratic congressman ro khanna of california is joining us. he's a member of the oversight and reform committee.
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thanks so much for coming in. >> great to be on, wolf. >> the president of the united states has a one-hour phone conversation with vladimir putin today, discussed a whole bunch of issues. they spoke about what the president still calls the russian hoax and putin made a big joke about it. but the president, president trump, never warned putin against interfering in the 2020 election, let alone discussed what happened in 2016. what does that say to you? >> it's really astounding. even republicans on the hill acknowledge mueller's conclusion that the russians intervened, that that intervention was systematic. the most basic duty of the president of the united states is to tell russia to knock it off, to make sure that they never do it again. and sarah sanders' statement is totally hypocritical to go after obama. obama had the guts to tell putin to his face that in interference needs to stop. >> why do you think the president doesn't do that when he has a conversation with putin? >> i think he's so concerned and wrapped up in his own legitimacy of his own election, and he can't separate the two.
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and i would just ask as an american citizen that he be able to do that. put aside the issue of his campaign. he needs to stand up for the united states' sovereignty. >> when it comes to russia, he also publicly totally contradicted what his own secretary of state, mike pompeo, said earlier in the week in the conversation with me here in "the situation room." pompeo made it clear that russia was directly responsible for maduro's regime in venezuela right now, that maduro was ready to get on a plane and fly out. the russians talked him out of it. and he seemed to accept putin's suggestion that russia's really not involved. >> wolf, here's what i think is going on. putin said russia is not involved, and i think the president actually disagrees with his own advisers. i think the president's instinct is we shouldn't be involved in a civil war in venezuela, and bolton and pompeo are pushing him to that. here's the irony. he's tweeting out that we should have good relations with russia, and bolton is the one who is trying to get us out of the inf treaty. so my view is that the president is being ill served by some of
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his advisers. >> he's disagreeing with bolton, his national security visor, and with pompeo. what do you make of senator lindsey graham, the senate of the senate judiciary committee? his proposal now to mueller to come and testify and potentially correct some of the statements made by the attorney general, bill barr, involving mueller? >> well, senator graham's been in washington a long time, and this is a cynical ploy. he knows that bill barr and mueller are good friends and that mueller is going to want nothing to do with contradicting bill barr. it's a total sideshow, a distraction. the country needs to hear from mueller about the president's conduct, about what happened with the president's administration. we all know that bill barr has misled congress. that shouldn't be the topic of conversation. >> but mueller was irritated by the public statements that the attorney general was making, and that in part led to a phone conversation and then a letter that he sent to the attorney general, specifically saying
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that what he was suggesting was not necessarily in line with the substance of the mueller report. >> and i'm sure mueller would testify at some point, when he's called before congress, that bill barr mischaracterized the report. but he's not going to make the entire show about whether bill barr wrote an accurate summary letter to the united states congress. what we need to hear from bob mueller is the conclusions of the report, what the conduct was of this administration, and whether he thinks -- >> you think mueller will testify before the house judiciary committee? >> i do. i think he owes that to the country and i'm confident he will. >> and you think don mcgahn, the president's former special counsel, will he appear before the house judiciary committee? >> i do, but this is why it's so important to get the underlying evidence. we need the notes what don mcgahn told the fbi witnesses so we can lock him in. otherwise, mcgahn, who is a lifelong republican, is not going to be inclined to implicate the president. what we need is the underlying evidence so that he can't contradict his testimony.
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>> what do you think of these incredibly positive jobs numbers, the low unemployment rate, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are being created? how much credit do you think the president of the united states deserves for this? >> look, the numbers are good. i'm sure trump is going to run on them. but here's the real story. rural america and communities of color have been left behind. i'm going to spencer, iowa, with bernie sanders, and the story there is not having a robust downtown, not having access to rural broadband and high-speed internet. not having a shot at the jobs of the future. that's where democrats are focused. we need to bring pos perity to places -- >> unemployment among african-americans is at record lows also. >> the unemployment has fallen. no one can deny that. the question is do people have good-paying jobs. do they have an opportunity for upward mobility in the middle class. i'm happy to have that conversation with donald trump. the growth has been in the coast. the growth has been in wall street.
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the growth has been in places where people work for fortune 500 companies. what democrats believe in is we need to bring that prosperity to communities left behind. >> congressman, thanks for coming in. just ahead, is president trump emboldening russia by refusing to confront vladimir putin on election interference. i'll ask the former director of the national intelligence service, james clapper. plus the president contradicting his own secretary of state on russia's role in the crisis in venezuela. why aren't the president and some of his top cabinet members on the same page? 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.
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more now on the breaking news. president trump's first phone call with russian president vladimir putin since the release of the mueller report. the president says they did not, repeat not, discuss russian meddling in the u.s. elections during the hour-long call. the former director of national intelligence, james clapper, is here in "the situation room" with us. he's a cnn national security analyst. thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. >> all right. here's the clip from what the president said today. listen to this. >> mr. president, did you address the election meddling issues that came up in the mueller report with mr. putin today? >> we discussed it. he actually sort of smiled when
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he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain, and it ended up being a mouse. but he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever. >> did you ask him not to med e meddle? >> we did not discuss that. really we didn't discuss it. >> is the president emboldening russia by having a one-hour phone conversation with putin and then telling all of us he didn't even discuss russian meddling in the 2016 election and the threat that is going to do the same in the 2020 election? >> well, i think, yes, he is. i think both leaders, president putin and president trump, are in a state of denial for different reasons. in putin's case, obviously deny that there was any meddling at all. and in the case of president trump, acknowledging there was meddling, you know, cast doubt on the legitimacy of his election. and it is bad because it marginalizes what happened as
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well documented -- exhaustively documented in the mueller report. and emboldens the russians to keep doing what they've been doing. >> the phone conversation lasted more than an hour. how valuable is that omission by the president to a former kgb agent like vladimir putin? >> first of all, just a editorial note. it was probably substantively only a half hour because you have to cut it in half for translations. >> even a half hour is a long conversation. >> it is. but i just wouldn't want to exaggerate that. and, yeah, it's just not good not to have brought that up, particularly in the face of the evidence. i mean it would have been nice to at least go through the motions of asking to extradite the russians that were indicted in the two key indictments that mueller put out in february and july of last year against the i.r.a., the internet research agency, the st. petersburg troll
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farm, and the 12 gru officers last july. and he didn't. didn't even mention that. but it's not surprising. >> you served what, for some 50 years in the u.s. military, the intelligence service. you've seen a lot, the cold war. how worried are you about this threat from russia right now? >> i am very concerned about it, and what concerns me is we don't focus on that enough. we're all hung up about collusion or obstruction or the absence thereof. and the big deal here in my mind and the big concern i've had from the get-go has been the threat posed by the russians, which is profound, and it's going to continue. we're going to see it again in 2020. >> he also seemed to be taking russia's position on venezuela in contradiction to what his own national security team is saying. listen to this. >> he is not looking at all to get involved in venezuela. >> are the russians responsible now for what's going on?
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>> we've made clear all along, wolf, that maduro is surrounded by cubans and has been supported by russians there in venezuela. we've told the russians and we've told the cubans that's unacceptable. >> says that putin is not lo looking at all to get involved in venezuela. but a couple days ago, the secretary of state mike pompeo specifically told me that maduro didn't leave -- there was a plane on the tarmac -- was because the russians told him not to say. >> this is a classic case of not believing anything vladimir putin says, who, by the way, is a winner in all of this. and i think i would go with secretary pompeo's analysis. the russians have on and off had long interest in venezuela or anyplace in the western hemisphere they can gain a foothold. if it isn't cuba, it's venezuela. by the way, i'm not sure i understand exactly what dog we have in this hunt, particularly when we're speaking about
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military options. well, options to do what? >> well, the president keeps saying all options are on the table, but his national security advisers like john bolton keep suggesting that that military option and pompeo also suggesting that's a very real option for the u.s. >> well, i understand that. i'm just not sure i understand what is the military option. what would be the objective of military intervention in venezuela, and i hope people remember history because sometimes those don't turn out so well. >> the president praised "the new york times" for a front page story that there was an undercover fbi investigator who met with a trump campaign official, george papadopoulos. the president views this as spying. the attorney general says this is being looked at. do you think the justice department inspector general will find anything inappropriate on the part of the fbi or the u.s. intelligence community as far as this is concerned? >> well, i don't know. but i will say that using
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undercover agents is a standard and legitimate technique that is widely used in investigations. that technique has been used to thwart a lot of counterterrorism plots in this country. so i'm sure -- i mean there are protocols and standards for using an agent, and i'm sure that's the kacase here. >> so you're saying this was not done lightly. >> no, it's never done lightly. >> was it spying? >> well, yeah, i guess it meets the dictionary definition of surveillance or spying, a term i don't particularly like. it's not a term of art used by intelligence people. it has a negative connotation of a rogue operation, out of control, not in compliance with the law, and that's not the case at all. >> general clapper, thanks so much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. coming up, the head of the senate judiciary committee gives special counsel robert mueller an opportunity to refute
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the number one rule is do no harm, and this is harm. we must act now. learn more. text titlex to 22422 we're following breaking news. president trump revealing details of his first phone call with russian president vladimir putin since the release of the special counsel robert mueller's report on moscow's meddling in
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the 2016 u.s. presidential election. let's dig deeper with our correspondents and analysts. susan hennessy. the president did not at all raise the issue of russia's interference in the election during this long conversation with putin. how troubling is that? >> well, it's not surprising at all but it's incredibly troubling because it says that the president continues to not take this very important national security issue seriously. i do think we have to ask ourselves whether or not trump is concerned about putin meddling in the 2020 election. you can imagine a situation -- we saw from the mueller report that the president had no concern about accepting that help, delighted in the assistance in the 2016 election. even if he were to lose the next election, based on what he said during 2016, calling the election rigged, saying he might not respect the outcome if he lost, meddling might add to that. one of the issues is we hear the own administration officials really sounding the alarm about 2020, about what's coming.
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his departments, certainly his homeland security department can attempt to -- but ultimately, this is a deterrence question. and if the president of the united states is not even bringing it up on phone calls with vladimir putin, you have to ask yourself if you were putin, would you be concerned. >> why won't, you know, sean, the president confront putin on russian meddling in the election, which the mueller report, like the u.s. intelligence community earlier, laid out in great detail why the russians were doing this? >> yeah. you know, i never thought i would say this, but i think this is one of those rare occasions where i think we really can tell what the president's thinking in this case. if you go back and look at what russia was doing leading up to the 2016 presidential election, russia was engaged in an information operation that stoked the divisions in this country, that really built on the strife, the divisions that we already have in this country. and all of that intense strife, all of those divisions, all of that discontent benefited the president, and he knows it benefited him. so what the president's doing is he's sitting in front of vladimir putin, and he knows
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that vladimir putin did this. and the president recognizes that if he confronts vladimir putin, basically it's like looking a gift horse in the mouth. vladimir putin gave the president something in the 2016 presidential election. he gave him a sense that -- he gave his base a sense they were in this together, and the president worked to continue to build on those divisions, and it helped push him into office. so i think he won't confront him because he does not have a lot of concerns as to whether vladimir putin does this again in 2020. >> listen to this. >> he had an airplane on the tarmac. he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it, and the russians indicated he should stay. we think the situation remains incredibly fluid. >> i just want you to elaborate, mr. secretary, on what you said earlier, that he was apparently ready to leave, head off to the airport -- maduro -- but the russians talked him out of that. is that right?
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>> that's right. >> so you blame russia for the violence right now? >> he was headed for havana. >> that was the clip on venezuela. putin in the phone call -- in the phone conversation with the president today, he said, you know what? we're really not involved. but you heard what the president -- what pompeo, the secretary of state, told me the other day. >> that's right. and so the president continues to believe vladimir putin over his own administration, his own career professionals working for the united states government, working for the american people, but also trying to help him make the best decisions possible, the most informed decisions possible. and we really haven't answered the question of why president trump continues to believe people like vladimir putin, who don't have his best interests or the best interests of the united states at heart, versus people who are working for the betterment of the united states on behalf of the united states. >> listen to how the president describes the overall russia investigation. listen to this. >> i call it the russian hoax.
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it turned out to be. no collusion, no obstruction. it was a total hoax, and yet i was transparent. we gave 1.4 million documents. we gave hundreds of people. i let him interview the lawyer, the white house lawyer, for 30 hours. think of that. 30 hours. i let him interview other people. i didn't have to let him interview anybody. i didn't have to give any documents. i was totally transparent because i knew i did nothing wrong. >> he says he was totally transparent, but he refused to sit down for an actual interview with the mueller team. >> right. the president and his legal team refused to make -- well, his legal team refused to make the president available for an interview with the special counsel, so he can't really argue that he was fully transparent. he certainly can't make the case that he was cooperative when he spent the greater part of the last two years publicly attacking not just the special counsel and the investigation, but the integrity of the fbi and the justice department. and now we also know that the president is trying to block don
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mcgahn, the former white house counsel, from testifying on capitol hill. so he clearly feels like there's still a lot that he doesn't want to be laid out there in public even though we know from what we've seen of the mueller report that mcgahn is really at the center of some of the president's efforts to potentially obstruct justice. he, of course, threatened to resign when the president issued an order that the special counsel be fired and, you know, the question now is whether or not he's going to try and claim executive privilege. of course a lot of legal experts will tell you that the president can't now try to claim executive privilege when what mcgahn told the special counsel and investigators has already been made public. >> we'll see if mcgahn actually shows up and testifies. that will be significant. much more on all the breaking news right after this. tailored recommendations, tax-efficient investing strategies, and a dedicated advisor to help you grow and protect your wealth. fidelity wealth management.
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more breaking news we're following. new fallout tonight from the attorney general william barr's controversial testimony before the senate judiciary committee on the mueller report earlier in the week. susan hennessy, one of the members of the judiciary committee, kamala harris, is now running for the democratic presidential nomination. she's calling on the justice department, the inspector general there, to investigate the attorney general, who struggled to answer questions about whether the white house urged him to open up specific investigations into the president's opponents. is senator harris on to something? >> she's certainly on to something in that this should not be a difficult question for
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the attorney general to answer, whether or not the president of the united states has directed him to open an investigation into political opponents. any attorney general since richard nixon would be able to answer that question immediately without having to pause over what the word suggests might means. they would have said, no, of course not. that is a prototypical abuse of power, abuse of office. of course the mueller report, there's a reason why harris was asking that question, and that's that the mueller report says that on multiple occasions trump did exactly that, directing jeff sessions to open an investigation into his political opponent, hillary clinton. it was sort of a footnote to the mueller investigation. we've barely even discussed it, one, because there's so much else on table, but also because the president does this in public. he does it on twitter. so somehow he has been successful in acclimating the public to this notion of this really astonishing abuse of office, something a prior president would have been impeached for. the fact that he's shameless enough to do it in public, somehow that makes it
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acceptable. >> it's interesting, rebecca, that in a new letter, the senate judiciary committee chairman, lindsey graham, is offering the special counsel, robert mueller, an opportunity to come and provide testimony. is this a new development? what's going on here? >> so this is sort of a political play, wolf, right? because lindsey graham, if he wanted answers, he has tools he could use to get those answers. mueller could come and testify to the senate judiciary committee. they could subpoena information. they have quite a toolkit at their disposal. but instead lindsey graham is putting out this open letter, essentially saying, if you want, you can give us this information. totally up to you. this is lindsey graham being able to say, you know, plausible deniability, be able to say, i did what i could. i gave mueller the opportunity. if he really wanted answers, he could do what we believe the house judiciary committee is doing, house intel, you know, talking about having a hearing with robert mueller. >> sean, how do you see it? >> i think rebecca is absolutely right. in the coming weeks and months, we're going to see lindsey graham go to the microphones and
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he's going to stand there and say, i gave bob mueller every opportunity to come up and to explain to us whether or not he differed with the attorney general with regard to the letter that the attorney general put out, and he did not take advantage of that opportunity. he's going to say, what does that tell you? that tells you exactly what i said. that means this is over, and he did not have any issues and that it was all about the media. so this was a strategic move, a political move on the part of lindsey graham. >> and it's important to note what graham is actually doing. in his letter, he's asking mueller whether or not mueller objects to barr's characterization of a single phone call, the substance of a single phone call. so he's putting this out, if mueller doesn't object to this very, very narrow question, clearly the effort here is to then say, well, obviously mueller doesn't object to any of this, and therefore there's no reason to have him testify. >> what do you think, sabrina? >> that's precisely the point. lindsey graham wants to challenge robert mueller to dispute a very specific characterization on the part of attorney general william barr of the phone call that the two men
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had after mueller sent that letter to barr complaining about the march 24th memo that he says mischaracterized and failed to capture the context of his report. i actually reached out to lindsey graham's office and said, are you actually inviting robert mueller to publicly testify before your committee? and his spokesperson said, well, there are many ways in which individuals can provide testimony to a committee, which is sort of a cute way of saying maybe they'd actually prefer that he just provide some sort of written form of testimony, essentially, again, trying to get him to dispute what barr said or, in fact, to confirm that he has no issue with the way barr characterized their phone calls. but make no mistake, lindsey graham has made 2 very clear which side he stands on. he's been very supportive of both the president and the justice department and attorney general william barr. i don't think >> everybody stick around. there there's more news. he was convicted of plotting to bomb the new york city subway. so why is he now about to get released from prison?
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one of the terrorists convicted of a plot to bomb td new york city subway is expected to be released from prison in days. cnn national correspondent athena jones is working the story. tell us what's going on, athena. >> he is in handcuffs. >> reporter: tonight, najbulla
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zazi who once planned to bomb the new york subway system could walk free in days. >> he will hopefully be released in a short period of time. the reality is that the light at the end of the tunnel is extremely bright for him. >> reporter: he is sentenced for the plot. he has been in prison and was facing a life sentence, that amounts to time served. the unusual reprieve coming after what the judge said was his unprecedented cooperation with investigators. zazi who learned to make bombs in pakistan met with investigators more than 100 times after pleading guilty to the plot in 2010. he reviewed hundreds of photographs, testified in multiple trials and provided critical intelligence and insight. it came in the face of sub stang
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danger in the form of retaliation from al qaeda. i tried my best to correct my horrific mistake by cooperating with the government he told the court during sentencing thursday, adding he is not the same person when arrested. i find it hard to imagine what i was involved in in 2008 and 2009. in a letter to the judge, the 33-year-old writes about the path to extremism and change of heart in prison. around late 2006, he met two men that introduced him to the teefgs of the leader al awlaki. he watched hundreds of lectures and was seduced by the twisted and corrupted teaching of the core and. he thought he would be doomed if he didn't wage jihad against america. he gained a new understanding of the koran which he says changed his perspective. he disavows that terrorist ideology, a real redemption story. >> he came to understand that's
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not the message of islam, not the message in the koeran. it is the opposite. that's why this useful intelligence came to the united states and has no doubt saved lives. >> reporter: he will be the third terrorist released. an associate that pled guilty in connection to the plot was released in december. recruit that once pitched terrorist leaders on plans to bomb long island railroad and a walmart was released in 2017. now, it is unclear what the terms of his release will be, what level of supervision he faces. it is also not clear how concerned he is about his own safety and what arrangements may have been made to deal with the potential concerns. in his letter to the judge, zazi said he would continue to assist law enforcement any way he can. >> athena, thank you. stay with us. more news just ahead. (ding)
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world free press. it is essential to develop and maintain democracy. hard to believe but that idea is under assault now, more than ever. in far flung corners of the world, journalists are under siege. some are imprisoned, held for reporting the truth. a cnn colleague charged for criticizing regime on her website. and in syria, it appears bashar al assad is holding austin tice, after six years. his parents hold out hope tonight he's still alive. and sadly in the united states, reporters that show up to do their jobs are often insulted,
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harassed, sometimes as was the case of our friends at the capital gazette in maryland, they're killed. and they're called the enemy of the people by the president of the united states. on this world press freedom day, i am reminded of words of the brilliant dallas tv anchor that said we aren't the enemy of the people, we are the people. reporters armed the world risk their lives to document war and risk their freedom to confront despites. they, we, we are just like you, we are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, doing our duty to shine light where there's darkness, always hoping to make it home to our families at the end of the day, just like you. so tonight i hope you'll take a moment to remember those brave journalists who have died and those who are still detained, as well as reporters working at your local newspaper or tv
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station just down the street. they are not your enemy. they are working for you because they are you. and they, just like thousands of my colleagues at cnn, they deserve your praise and your protection. we dedicate tonight to them. i'm wolf blitzer. thanks for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts now. outfront next. trump fails to confront the russian leader when it comes to election meddling siding with a dictator over his own top aides. new calls for impeachment proceedings from one of ken star's prosecutors. he is outfront. and former fbi official and republican telling me why it is wrong to say trump's campaign was spied on. let's go "outfront." good evening, i am erin burnett. up front, trump calls


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