tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 20, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
to turn over his private information to congress. mr. trump is directing his former white house counsel to defy a subpoena to testify before congress tomorrow. i'll get reaction from the top fbi lawyer during the russia investigation. running scared? president trump is getting ready to hold a rally in must win pennsylvania tonight. he's ramping up his 2020 campaign with new reasons to feel threatened by joe biden and the democrats. and tornado zone. right now millions of americans are at high risk for catastrophic tornadoes. cnn is on the ground tracking the storms and the danger. we want to welcome our 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, a federal judge orders president trump's
longtime accounting firm in new york to give congress financial records from before he took office. it's a win for the democratic controlled house oversight committee, which subpoenaed the information. the president challenged the subpoena in court and is now expected to appeal. also breaking, the administration is blocking former white house counsel don mcgahn from appearing before the house judiciary committee tomorrow morning. the justice department claims mcgahn has immunity from testifying about his work for the president. mcgahn, a pivotal witness in robert mueller's obstruction investigation and could be the next insider to face a contempt vote in congress. this hour, i'll talk to the former fbi lawyer during the russia probe, james baker. and democratic congressman go gon' -- john garamendi is standing by. first manu raju.
this is a significant ruling for the financial records. tell our viewers about that. >> so just a short while ago a federal judges here in washington, d.c. ordered that donald trump's accounting firm may turn over records that the house oversight committee that they thought go back to 211. in this opinion the judge makes it very clear that he believes congress is well within its rights to seek this information. now, donald trump and his company had sued to block the subpoena. now, the judge's ruling, very clearly here he thinks that the congress should get these documents and that he will not grant donald trump's request to have a stay or that is to prevent the accounting firm turning over these documents so he can appeal. now, i'll read one of the lines from this opinion where the judge says the court is well aware it concerns the private
business afreyrs affairs of the president. so there he's saying very clearly he does not believe that the president can win on the merits of this case. it's interesting he also cites watergate and whitewater, two investigations that congress did conduct and he says that the court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history. >> this u.s. district court judge amet meta in this decision, he clearly is backing the potential -- the need for congress to investigate potential wrongdoing on the part of the president. >> that's right. the president's lawyers argued this was just congress' attempt to embarrass him and go through the records and the judge is saying that congress does have a legislative purpose, well within their scope. he says that history has shown that congressionally exposed criminal conduct by the president or a high ranking executive branch official can lead to legislation so saying it is very clear this is within congress' scope and the potential impact of this is really quite broad because
congress is trying to get the president's financial records and those of his company to look into conflicts of interest to explore whether he had committed any crimes before he was in office or during office and the judge stated very clearly this is well within congress' mandate. >> manu, it is clear this is a considerable, very significant win for the house democrats and potentially could have a spillover effect involving all sorts of other legal battles with the white house. >> reporter: yeah, no question bit. the ramifications to be broad because the white house and trump administration has been making this argument in a range of cases as they try to push back on the democratic request saying there is no legitimate reason for leading this. there is no legitimate purpose, all intended to harass the president. one line stuck out from the judge's 41-page opinion just moments ago. he said -- he said, wolf, i lost it right here.
essentially, he says that there's -- that it's -- it doesn't make sense for congress not to be able to get this information, because of the fact that this is the job of congress to investigate and even -- they don't need to open an impeachment inquiry. they may have to go through the normal process of impeachment. even if they dent go through that formal process of impeachment, they would still need this information because congress does have a role to investigate any potential criminal conduct and that is one thing that the democrats could cite going forward. one of the big questions had been whether or not they needed to actually mount an impeachment investigation in order to get this information but the judge is saying very clearly that, no, that may not be necessary. that, in fact, that just because -- just by announcing an impeachment inquiry doesn't mean that's the only reason why congress should get this information. they have the right to this
information and could give breathing room for people like nancy pelosi, the house speaker who have not wanted to go down the route of impeachment but wanted to pursue the investig e investigative front so the ramification is significant and could lead to -- we'll see how it ends up affecting those other cases, likely court cases involving the president's tax returns, those financial records through deutsche bank, capital one, other financial institutions as well as another denial from last week about the house judiciary committee's probe into potential obstruction of justice. the white house making a similar argument there, there's no legitimate reason for congress to get those records, but clearly they're making the argument here there are -- the judge said they should get the records even if they decide not to mount a formal impeachment proceeding, wolf. >> manu, i think we got the line you wanted to quote. let me put it up on the jean and re read it. it is simply not fathomable that a constitution that grants congress the pow story remove a president for reasons including
criminal behavior would deny congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct, past or present even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry. that's judge amit mehta. there is other breaking news we're following, the trump administration is directing former white house counsel don mcgahn not to testify before congress tomorrow. let's go to our congressional correspondent and the house judiciary committee has said it will hold a hearing with or without mcgahn tomorrow morning. what are democrats warning will come next. >> reporter: something chairman nadler reiterated in a statement saying this committee hearing is going to go on whether don mcgahn ends up showing up or not and no expectation that he will and certainly we could, of course, see a little theatrics at play there, potentially an empty chair to really signify he didn't show up as we saw earlier
this month in the hearing when the attorney general, bill barr did not show up. now, nadler tonight saying in a statement that the attempts to block mcgahn from testifying shows that in his words president trump clearly does not want the american people to hear firsthand about his alleged misconduct so he has attempted to block mr. mcgahn from speaking in public tomorrow and nadler went on to say this is just the latest act of obstruction from the white house, parts of his blanket refusal, he says, to cooperate with the committee. in terms of what happens next after tomorrow's hearing with or without mcgahn, well, chairman nadler has been very clear, wolf, that he will very likely move to hold don mcgahn in contempt of congress like we saw with the attorney general. that, of course, likely setting up a big battle, a likely court bat toll compel his testimony in day as head. >> thank you. we may have to interrupt you. the president is leaving the white house. he's on his way to pennsylvania
for a political rally later tonight. but as usual, he stopped and spoke with reporters as he was leaving the white house out on the south lawn of the white house about to board marine one. i think the president is getting ready -- i think we're getting the tape any minute now and, well, here he come, walking over to
the microphones, this is the president moments ago. >> okay, so i'm heading to the great state of pennsylvania and we're going to have a rally. a lot of people are outside, as you probably know, many, many people and it's going to be a packed house as it always s i don't know if you've ever seen a vacant seat for trump but i don't think so. we're going to have a good time. i don't know who is coming but i hope you come. it will be a lot of fun. >> why are you asking don mcgahn to -- >> well, as i understand it, they're doing that for the office of the presidency for future presidents. i think it's a very important
precedent and the attorneys say that they're not doing that for me. they're doing that for the office of the president so we're talking about the future. yes, go ahead. [ inaudible question ] >> -- financial records -- >> we disagree with that ruling. it's crazy because you look at it. this never happened to any other president. they're trying to get a redo. trying to get what we used to call in school a do-over and if you look, you know, we had no collusion, we had no obstruction. we had no nothing. the democrats were very upset with the mueller report as perhaps they should be, but, i mean the country is very happy about it because there was never anything like that. they're trying to get a do-over or redo. you can't do that as far as the financials are concerned it's totally the wrong decision by obviously an obama appointed judge. he was a recent obama appointed
judge. >> mr. president -- [ inaudible question ] >> well, i've known him and he's been against trump from the beginning. he probably wants to run for some other office. i don't think he'll do well. he's been a loser for a long time. rarely votes for republicans and, you know, personally i think he's not much. >> mr. president, what do you have to say to americans who feel that your administration is stonewalling all these investigations up on capitol hill? why not let don mcgahn testify. >> i think we've been the most -- yeah, i think we've been the most transparent administration in the history of our country. we just went through two years of bob mueller with 18 people that hated donald trump, they were angry democrats as i call them. we've been through it for two years and they spent almost $40 million on it. we had, i think, 500 people testified. we had 1.4 or 1.5 million
documents. at the end of all that, he said there's no collusion. now, what happens is the democrats want a redo and we've had enough and the country has this enough. there has never been ever before an administration that's been so open and transparent so we -- we want to get on -- what we want to do is get on with running the country. [ inaudible question ] >> -- alabama abortion law -- >> i put out my position on abortion. i put it the other day. you have it. i feel strongly about it and all of that is working its way through court along with the fact that the democrats are talking about third term and they're really talking about beyond third term and that's a terrible thing. [ inaudible question ] >> what's going on with iraq? should we be worried about a war? >> with iran, we'll see what happens but they've been very hostile. truly been the number one
provocateur of terror in this country and representing their country, but certainly our country has been very much involved because we're trying to help a lot of people out and i don't mind that at all. we have no indication that anything has happen the or will happen but if it does, it will be met obviously with great force. we'll have no choice. [ inaudible question ] >> say it? >> the negotiations for iran -- >> we have not -- we've not talked about it. we'll see what happens. if they call we would certainly negotiate but that's going to be up to them. i'd only want them to call if they're ready. if they're not ready, they don't have to bother. [ inaudible question ] >> well, we'll see what happens but right now we have very strong sanctions. we'll see what happens. [ inaudible question ] >> i don't know. i think we're doing well in pennsylvania.
we won it last time. the polls had us losing pennsylvania last year and we won and i expect we'll win it this time because the coal industry, the steel industry, the car industry are all doing incredibly well. pennsylvania now has the best employment they've ever had. the best employment record, more people working in pennsylvania now than ever before like in our country, so i think we'll do very well in pennsylvania. [ inaudible question ] >> yeah, they'll appeal it. they'll appeal it. sure, they'll appeal it. [ inaudible question ] >> what about this other child that died on the border. >> if you look at the border and look at the fact that the democrats are really making it very, very dangerous for people by not approving simple, quick 15-minute legislation, we could have it all worked out, it would be great for people. great for live, great for safety and the border is a dangerous
place and only made that way because the democrats will not approve any legislation. i mean they don't want to approve anything and it is making the border very dangerous. >> what are you doing to make sure these kids don't die. >> i'll tell you the border patrol people and all of law enforcement is working very hard. i mean, unfortunately, many of them have become doctors and nurses and they're taking people that are very, very sick from a long trek up, 2,000 miles and they're doing an incredible job. honestly what should happen is the democrats should sit down and make changes so that we can protect people on the border. [ inaudible question ] >> -- going on right now. >> say it again. [ inaudible question ] >> there are no talks going on with iran. [ inaudible question ] >> i think iran would be making
a very big mistake if they did anything. if they do something, it'll be met with great force. but we have no indication that they will. okay. >> are you going approve additional funding for -- >> so, i've given more money to puerto rico than i believe any president ever. they've gotten $91 billion for the hurricane. not only that, our military, our law enforcement and fema has done a great job for puerto rico and i think the people of puerto rico are very thankful. [ inaudible question ] we'll see you in pennsylvania. >> all right,
so there you have the president, he was on the south lawn getting ready to board marine one heading to a political rally in pennsylvania but he stopped and answered a whole bunch of questions from reporters on several significant subjects. jim acosta was there. you asked him about stonewalling by the white house. let's discuss that first. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. i asked the president what does he have to say to americans who think he's stonewalling and his
team stonewalling members of congress when it comes to their investigations and ee answer surveillance a turned back to his talking points and said his has been the most transparent administration we've ever seen. that's obviously not the case and had 70 days in a row without a white house briefing. hardly transparent but, wolf, earlier in those comments to reporters, he did say essentially what his attorneys are saying in terms of why he is trucking the former white house counsel don mcgahn no not testify tomorrow. the president's team has been saying, listen, don mcgahn is protected immunity for former white house official, white house officials over here at the white house, and the president said this is not being done for me. this is being done for the presidency and so the president is essentially saying what his team is saying this is about protecting the interests of the presidency. but, wolf, i thought it was also interesting, you know, the way he answered my question about whether or not his administration is stonewalling the congress. at the very end i tried to ask a follow-up as to whether or not he's will and whether his team is willing to battle it out in
the courts and didn't answer that question and turned to the next question at that point. one thing we should also point out he was asked about this judge's ruling earlier this afternoon that said that his longtime accountants had to turn over financial records to members of congress. wolf, the president there said that he blamed all of this, this ruling on an obama appointed judge and so, you know, that is one of his go tos when he's confronted with a ruling that goes against him and his interests and his agenda he typically blames it on an obama appointed judge so, wolf, it seems clear at the white house talking to official, hearing what the president just said a few moments ago that all of these investigations are heading to the courts and it's just going to get battled out in these courtrooms when it comes to these various investigations and it's going to be a very important moment i think for the country when these judges ultimately come down and say, okay, where does the congressional oversight power begin and where does it end? >> stand by for a moment. jeffrey toobin, chief legal analyst is here as well. you heard the president make the
legal arguments why he's doing what he's doing. what did you think? >> reporter: well, i think there are two very separate issues here. the issue of the accountant, the white house has really bad arguments here. i mean the idea that this is outside congress' purview, no court has held an investigation outside of congress' purview in many decades. it's just a losing argument and why that's especially important in this case is that the accounting firm is not under the white house's control. the congress may actually get the tax returns. the president unless he gets a stay from the court of appeals which is by no means a sure thing, he is -- the congress is really likely to get those documents. the mcgahn issue is a very different one. the white house has some good arguments there. that is a very unsettled issue which is the scope of testimony by top white house advisers.
there was a case that involving harriet miers, the white house counsel under president george w. bush. congress won but it was never appealed so it's not a clear precedent, don mcgahn and the white house has some pretty good arguments to keep him off the stand but the one about the accounting firm, that is one that congress is very likely to win. >> you heard the president call that decision by this federal judge a -- he said it was crazy. they're going to do a do-over and went after this judge saying he is a recent obama appointed judge. what did you think of that? >> well, i mean, you know, it's unfortunate that, you know, the pedigree of every judge becomes the proxy for the outcome of the decision but on that one, i really don't think there is much politics involved because arguing that an investigation is outside the scope of congress' interest, that's just been a losing argument for a long time. very different from the
executive privilege issues raised by the white house counsel don mcgahn's case. when that goes to court, that is likely to be a much closer question. >> jeffrey, thanks very much. i want to you to stand by. joins us is congressman garamendi. thanks so much for joining us. let's get to the breaking news, the president's efforts to block a congressional subpoena for his financial records. as you know now it's been struck down in a federal court here in washington. how significant is this? >> well, he's the loser. a word he likes to use all the time. he is a loser on this. jeffrey said it so well, have the right in congress and in fact have the obligation to investigate and the scope of investigation is really unlimited. it can be an individual t can be the president. it can be the president's -- frankly the president's ex-chief of staff. >> this comes as the president is directing his former white house counsel don mcgahn not to testify tomorrow morning before congress. you just heard the president say
this is an important precedent, he says, for the office of the president. looking down the road, the future president, what did you make of his argument? >> i don't think he knows h history but was around for the watergate investigation if i remember who was the white house counsel during that period of time. yeah, howard dean. i'm sorry. i blew that one. but, yes, he was -- and he came and testified before congress. and i would expect that that would be the case going forward now that we would see the white house counsel who does not work for the president but rather works for the office of the presidency to come to the congress and to testify. it's an important thing. he was a major part of the mueller report on the obstruction of justice question and that is surely a legitimate issue for the congress to investigate. >> should the house of representatives move forward with a vote to hold both don mcgahn and for that matter the
attorney general of the united states, bill barr, this contempt? >> well, let's hold barr for a second. if mcgahn doesn't show up the answer would be yes. there is no reason other than the president doesn't want that information out in public for mcgahn to not testify and so, yes, he should be held in contempt if it comes to that. >> your republican colleague in the white house, justin attach says president trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. are you surprised to see that. >> no, not at all. many republicans are deeply disturbed and looked at the report and said, oh, my, there's something here and don't want to step outfront. let's hear it for amash. he's been willing to step outfront and do what is necessary and that is to say that there's something here that needs to be thoroughly investigated by congress. will it lead to an impeachment? that's possible.
let's get the investigations under way and hear from mcgahn. let's hear from the others and see if the end during durithat process if impeachment is warranted. >> tens of thousands of dock thes are from trump inaugural committee. have you seen indications that foreign donors may have used the inauguration to try to influence the administration because i suspect that's one of the areas they're investigating. >> well, foreign donors' involvement in campaigns is illegal. whether it's illegal and the question of an inaugural committee remains to be seen here but the bottom line is that there is no doubt that foreign governments, certainly the russian government, quite possibly others were trying to certainly involved in the election, trying to get trump elected, would not surprise me at all that there was foreign money in that for the purposes of swaying the president one way or the other. also, there was plenty of private american mona was -- whose purpose was exactly the same.
to try to get in tight with trump. the most expensive inaugural committee ever, big questions where the money was spent, who was the beneficiary of all that money? all of that needs to be investigated, bottom line of it is, you bet. a lot of folks were trying to buy access to the president, nobody, at least many did not expect him to president. they were buying in late. >> congressman john garamendi, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. following breaking news including a new setback for the president's efforts to defy democrats in congress. a federal judge ordering mr. trump's longtime accounting firm in new york to comply with a subpoena and turn over financial records to a house committee. this as the trump administration is blocking former white house counsel don mcgahn from answering lawmakers' questions tomorrow morning asserting he has immunity from testifying. let's discuss this and more. jim baker is joining us. he was the bureau's top lawyer during the russia investigation. jim, thanks for coming in.
first of all, what do you make of this federal judge's rejecting the president's efforts to block a subpoena from the accounting firm for the president's financial records before he became president? >> i think it's a recognition that congress has a lot of power under the constitution. that's just the case. it has a tremendous amount of power. over the years it's not exercised that and been inclined in many instances to see over to the president or presidents, a lot of their power so this is them taking some of this back by trying to enforce the subpoena and so the ruling from the court doesn't surprise me. >> on the other issue, the other breaking news, the white house ordering the former white house counsel don mcgahn to dea congressional subpoena. they released the white house and justice department argument saying it is well within the right of the white house to insin don mcgahn not appear. what do you think? >> i haven't read the analysis yet but as jeff was saying earli earli earlier, it does make sense they
have good arguments on their side. the biggest problem they have is that they allowed him to speak to the mueller team and then that report was allowed to be made public. there's going to be issues with respect to waving the various rights that they're trying to assert. >> one of their arguments and i wonder what you think is that when they waved executive privilege and allowed them to speak to the mueller team, that was all within the executive branch of the government. by letting it go to the legislative branch is different. that's one of their arguments. >> they allowed the report to come out in the form it is so i don't see how you -- i don't think you can claim there is executive privilege with respect to any of the materials in the mueller report because it's public. >> the aftermath of the mueller report coming out, the president said his administration and i'm quoting him now must investigate the investigators. that would be including you. >> that's me. that includes me. >> you're one of the investigators. >> that's me. >> if bill barr investigates
you, is he going to find a lot of -- as the president claims -- a lot of crooked stuff going on. >> no, there was no crooked stuff. there was no coup attempt. there was no sedition, there was no treason. i would not have allowed that thing to happen nor would anybody around me. jim comey, all the other folks, they would not have allowed something like that to happen. >> why have you decided to speak out so forcefully right now on all these issues. >> because i got sick of all this baloney and i thought that the american people, i think that the american people need to have more confidence in law enforcement and intelligence agencies than they would if they just listened to the narrative out there. i got sick of it and feel it's part of my duty to the country to try to help inform them about what actually happened. >> tell our viewers a little bit about yourself because they're going after your credit jt, they're making all sorts of suggestions. you worked at the fbi for awhile. >> yeah, i worked there for four
years, i loved it there. i was in the justice department for over 20 years or so. they are great executiinstituti. the law enforcement is some of our crown jewels and have been the envy of the world historically and wanted to's assure people these are people who are able actually to put aside their political views, they are apolitical and move forward with the administration of justice. >> clearly smearing people like you saying there is a deep state. let me read a quote from the attorney general bill barr just published in "the wall street journal." barr says this, i felt the rules were being changed to hurt trump and i thought it was damaging for the presidency over the long haul and then he added this, if you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for congress we'll be a much weaker and more divided nation. you know bill barr. you say you respect him but do you agree with that assessment? >> well, you need a strong executive but you need a strong
congress also and as i said earlier what has happened over the decades, many decades, congress has crededed a lot of authority to the president. >> the attorney general also says in this new interview with "the wall street journal" his investigation into the start of the russia probe could lead in his words to changes in how future counterintelligence investigations are conducted. do you think he found evidence of impropriety on the part of the ficker duritime you were th? >> i read what the attorney general says very carefully and he's very precise with his words and so, look, as i said earlier i don't think there was anything unethical, improper that went on. but if things can be improved an attorney is entitled to do that the fbi needs good oversight by the department. >> there is a bipartisan effort
in the house intelligence committee to get information on what's being described as the counterintelligence portion of the mueller probe which wasn't included in the final mueller report, the 450 pages. is that something members of congress should be privy to? >> well, it's a difficult analysis that you have to go through in terms of what you discussed with congress but historically we at the bureau and in the justice department have apprised the intelligence committees and sometimes other leaders of congress about sensitive intelligence matters, so i think the answer is yes, that's why those committees were created in the first place in the '70s. >> you urged the country to come together because this threat from russia potentialally is still out there going into the 2020 elections. is that right? >> it's huge and we need to stop this rancor and make sure we're protecting and honoring our country and those who went before us to give us the freedoms we have. >> are you concerned that the russians will try to hack
individual counties? we now know two counties in florida were hacked and they're asking the governor not to release officially the names of those. >> the russians are sophisticated, motivated and they have the capability to do that kind of thing. if they set their minds to it given the posture -- given the variety and number of election systems there are out there in the country, something like 8800. >> as i've said many times in the past if their goal was to sow dissent and undermine america's democracy, mission accomplished. >> they hit the jackpot, yeah. >> on the part of the suggestions. thanks for coming in. still ahead, we'll break down the impact of a federal judge's new ruling on a subpoena for the president's financial records. how will democrats respond to the new defiance from the white house blocking testimony from the former counsel don mcgahn. a very different story, there are tornado warnings out
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over a subpoena from house democrats. this as the white house is defying another congressional subpoena directing the former white house counsel don mcgahn not to testify on capitol hill tomorrow morning. let's bring in our analysts on this ruling saying the accounting firm, david, has to turn over all these documents involving the president's accounting, going back to before he became president. how significant of a decision is this? >> i think it's significant and it's a win for democrats for a couple of reasons, one, just because it is a win it is a situation where after weeks of being stonewalled by the justice department and the white house, democrats at least have some news that sort of turns things in their favor in the big narrative of their tug-of-war with the white house. it also is a win in the sense they get one piece or at least they hope they're getting a piece of a puzzle they're trying to put together about a picture of the president's business dealings and interests that extend beyond the white house, i do think this is not stayed by a
higher court they are actually going to get these documents because as i heard jeffrey say earlier in the show, this is a situation where the accounting firm involved is not part of the government and the president can't order them to do something because they're not part of his administration. >> if the house democrats get these documents and decide to make them public, the president is not going to be happy, i'm sure. >> no. >> bianna golodryga is here. they're fighting and stonewalling a lot of these but this federal judge amit mat mat mata rejects it and. history has shown congressionally exposed criminal conduct by the president or a high ranking executive branch official can lead to legislation. could that spell trouble for the president down the road. >> it could which is why you heard the president just moments ago say this was an obama appointed judge, right?
so for him everything seems to be political. this had never been a real debate as to whether democrat was have the law on their side. the question is how long republicans and specifically the president can stonewall. can kick the can down the road. obviously they're going to appeal this order right now and it does, however, embolden democrats because we had that ruling from the judge last week about michael flynn. when it comes to subpoenas now you'll see more democrats calling to hear not only don mcgahn, obviously we have news about him tomorrow and that he won't testify but michael cohfl and get these documents. >> they want mcgahn to appear before the committee and the white house says he's not going to show up. he is a private citizen. if he wants to show up technically he can. but are we going to see another empty chair. >> we could, wolf. you just have to think about the power of that visual and what this could mean for republicans,
for the president, from a political perspective. of course, republicans, this administration, they're saying the democrats are playing political games essentially but not taking this seriously. the longer it goes on, you wonder when the political tide will start to turn or could start to turn in favor of democrats. voters, you would expect at some point would say, you know, what are they trying to hide. >> ron bronstein is here as well. he's not doing this for himself. he says this is for the office of future presidents. i'm doing it for the future. >> yeah, well, i mean he is extending -- certainly there have been skirmishes before conditions and administrations about what information congress would have access to. but the president has taken this to an entirely new level of systematic stonewalling to
perform any kind of oversight over the executive branch and one thing striking in this decision today, i haven't read the whole thing but in the portion i read the judge talks about the clear line and the previous decisions on these questions is for the judiciary to be deferential to congress in its definition of what information it needs to pursue legislation and that standard of deference to congress not second-guessing their political motives is a really important argument as we're suggesting not only in this case but the many mothers advancing as president trump tries to roll back this historic opportunity and authority for congress to conduct oversight. >> you know, david, don mcgahn as we noted is a private citizen right now and has gone back to his law practice. any realistic chance he defies the order from the president and shows up tomorrow. >> i don't see him defying the president's order and showing up. down the road there is a chance
that you will see mcgahn testify. i can imagine his lawyers perhaps telling him, look, let's wait this out until there's absolutely no choice until a federal court orders you to appear and then he'll have that as something to lean on and say, simply, i had no choice. a court ruled the white house doesn't control this. i have to testify before congress and maybe that's what will happen. >> i wouldn't expect to hear from don mcgahn any time soon. he had the opportunity to resign and threatened to resign but ultimately didn't. he is a private citizen and works for a law firm closely aligned to the republican party and could see a situation where he would be shut out by many of the president's advocates and aides if he does speak out even if it's not in support of the president or what have you, he doesn't have to have an opinion, just stating the facts and how he saw things or interpreted things playing out, seeing that on live television would be very troublesome for the president. >> rebecca, could we see the
full house vote to hold not only don mcgahn potentially but the attorney general bill barr in contempt? >> absolutely. that is a possibility, of course, democrats control the house and want to send a message, not just, you know, take this vote for the sake of taking the vote but accepted a message to the administration and any other witnesses who would try to obstruct their investigation that they're taking this very seriously and they want to get to the bottom of it. >> you know, let me get your thoughts on this republican congressman, justin amash saying in a series of tweets over the weekend doubling down today in a whole bunch of tweets saying that the president in his words has engaged in impeachable conduct. it's pretty extraordinary to hear a republican lawmaker say this. >> it is. you know, if we go back to watergate it wouldn't be but today this tribaling circling of the wagons have eclipsed any national interest. i don't know how many other republicans will be moved by
this but advances the dialogue and raises the same question we're asking about don mcgahn as we're noting as a private citizen could testify. willing to talk to mueller and has gone so far not to say ex post facto that he will willing to exonerate the president. is it to the public to give them a full understanding into the incidents he was involved. kind of the same question everyone is facing after this report, where do they place their highest obligation and is it ultimately to the republican party or to the country overall? >> remember, don mcgahn, though, initially did not want to work alongside, with and cooperate with the mueller investigation as we've heard from reporting, it was ultimately because he thought that he was going to be thrown under the bus by this administration that he finally relented and agreed to speak with mueller. >> we got word from don mcgahn's lawyer that he will not be testifying tomorrow morning before the house judiciary committee. everybody, stick around. an important programming note to our viewers, stay with cnn to
learn more about the 2020 presidential candidates. dana bash is hosting a town hall with beto o'rourke live from iowa tomorrow night 10:00 p.m. eastern only on cnn. just ahead, the most dire warning in years about the risk of catastrophic tornadoes threatening millions of americans right now. we'll tell you what is happening on the ground. and the gift of a lifetime as graduates walk away from their commencement with a stunning promise that all their student loan debts will be paid off. now, super stay matte inkades. from maybelline new york. bold color. urban edge. liquid matte formula. up to 16 hour wear. super stay matte ink. only from maybelline new york.
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right now we're following a very, very dangerous situation with 2 million americans potentially in the path of very dangerous tornados. our meteorologist in the severe weather center for us. what's the latest you're hearing? >> wolf, we haven't seen a day unfold like this for the entire year or even the spring season. let me set the stage. the storm prediction center which typically gives us a bulls eye of activity for the severity has gone to the highest level today. we went to a level 5 out of a possible 5. we didn't have one last year, we didn't have one the year before. we talk about marginal, slight, enhanced. the damaging winds, the hail, a
tornado. that means violent, large and long track tornados are possible like the one six years ago today, the ef-5 that moved into -- i'm sorry just south of oklahoma city and more. it took 24 lives, 212 injuries, and this is an outlook where we may see the greatest activity. this takes us 10:00 at night. that's when it gets a little frightening. when you lose the light and you're in the darkness. and besides the opportunity of tornados we've already seen damage from hail from lubbock, texas. we've had damage reports, over 7 tornados being reported throughout the afternoon, but we're looking for the possibility of more to develop. the enhancement of rainfall is a concern. they are plcompletely saturated. we could see in oklahoma city
water rescues if they pick up. notice the watches. these are not just tornado watches that extend through the evening, these are what we call particularly dangerous situations a pds. those times that's only the second enhance the warnings. all the elements, wolf, are enhanced or elevated and makes this a day we haven't seen this spring season. we've had 660 of them so far this year. but we haven't had a day setting up with the ingredients needed. near joplin this is the second tornado warning they've had so far today. then a streaming of rainfall, a big concern. baseball size hail has already been reported. but overnight, wolf, we're going to see more of these tornados. if there's any good news here i can find, we've had cloud cover,
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moorehouse college in atlanta will never, ever forget. billionaire investor and robert smith offered much more than the typical words of wisdom. he promised, get this, every member of the class of 2019 at the historically black college that he would pay off their student loan debt. that amounts to about $40 million to cover the loans of nearly 400 graduates. >> this is my class, 2019. and my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans. >> a great, great man indeed. students were surprised and stunned, so happy. congratulations to all the students at morehouse. congratulations indeed to all the graduates all across the united states. and i want to give a special shout outright now to the graduates at haufster university
out at long island in new york where i was honored to be a commencement speaker yesterday. it was a terrific, terrific experience. congratulations to all the grads, and their families, their professors, everyone else. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. erin burnett out front starts right now. out front next, breaking news. a striking blow to president trump. federal judge ruling congress has a right to the president's financial records. it is a decision tonight with major implications. also breaking this hour, the president denying democrats their star witness, blocking the former white house counsel don mcgahn from testifying in the morning. plus the fight for 2020. bernie sanders deep in trump country. does he think he can win anybody over? let's go out front. and good evening. i'm erin burnett. out front tonight the breaking news. a major blow tonight to president trump. democrats could be about to get what many believe is the holy grail. president trump's finances. a federal judge as ordered, this