tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 30, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
our coverage continues on cnn. thanks for watching. happening now -- boiling over. president trump unleashes a torent of insults and outright lies as he boils over with rage against special counsel robert mueller and his investigation. he may be really worried about impeachment which he calls a, quote, dirty, disgusting, filthy word. blaming bob, the attorney general, will barr openly contradicts mueller saying he disagrees with the counsel's failure to reach a decision on whether the president obstructed justice. mocking mueller. russian officials take a cue from president trump mocking mueller in his investigation. especially the stark conclusion that moscow attacked america's democracy. and evil ambition. even after president trump publicly undermined his own
advisers and a key ally by signing with kim jong-un, north korea unleashed a new attack accusing america of evil ambition and insulting the dictator's regime. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news, a day after robert mueller's refusal to publicly clear the president, attorney general william barr's openly questioning mueller's failure to reach a decision on the question of obstruction. that comes shortly after president trump unleashed a stunning tirade against the special counsel and his investigation spitting out a string of falsehoods, lies, insults. he described mueller as a totally conflicted, never trumper, and after admitting in a tweet that russia helped him get elected, the president turned around and denied that, and he said, i got me elected. after slamming the late senator
john mccain, the president described the well-meaning that the apparent move had by white house officials to have the navy keep the "uss john s. mccain" out of view during his visit to japan. the president may have revealed what's really on his mind. the growing democratic calls for impeachment calling that, and i'm quoting the president now, a dirty, filthy, disgusting word. i'll speak with former congressman, former senator, former defense secretary william cohen and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's begin wither chief white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, the president seems really rattled by robert mueller's public statement and the reaction to it. >> president trump gave fact checkers quite a workout today as he opened up a fire hose of falsehoods on special counsel robert mueller. that performance came after he -- the president appeared to accidentally concede that the russians helped him win the 2016 election one day after special
counsel robert mueller left the door open to the possibility that the president has engaged in criminal behavior, mr. trump fired back. >> i think mueller is a true never trumper. he's somebody that dislikes donald trump. he's somebody that didn't get a job that he requested that he wanted very badly. and then he was appointed. and despite that, and despite $40 million, 18 trump haters, including people that worked for hillary clinton and some of the worst human beings on earth, they got nothing. it's pretty amazing. >> reporter: much of what the president said wasn't true. for starters, the latest estimated cost of the mueller report and russia investigation is $25 million, not $40 million. as for the president's claim that mueller was conflicted, former white house chief strategist steve bannon said that assertion was ridiculous. also he said that mueller wanted the position of fbi director. that's not true either who said
mueller did ghot in looking for the position, a job he had during the bush and obama administrations. still, earlier in the day, the president appeared to make a startling admission tweeting, russia, russia, russia, that's all you heard at the beginning of this witch hunt hoax. i had nothing to do with russia helping me to get elected. the president later tried to clean up that part about russia helping him get elctsed. >> no, russia did not help me get elected. you know who got me elected? i got me elected. russia didn't help me at all. russia, if anything, i think, helped the other side. >> reporter: here's the reality. a 2017 u.s. intelligence community report stated we further assess putin and the russian government developed a clear preference for president-elect trump. and then there's the president's personal call for russian assistance during the campaign. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. i think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
>> reporter: the president also appeared sickened by the idea of being impeached. >> to me, it's a dirty word. it's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word. and it had nothing to do with me. >> reporter: even as democrats are using that "i" word more and more. >> i believe we should open an impeachment inquiry. that is just a more robust version, more robust name and direct name to the oversight that we were already involved in. >> reporter: the president claimed he had nothing to do with efforts made by the white house military office to hide the "uss john mccain" from mr. trump during his recent trip to japan. mr. trump said he appreciated the move aimed at sparing the president the sight of the ship. >> i don't know what happened. i wasn't involved. i would not have done that. i was very angry with john mccain because he killed health care. i was not a big fan of john mccain in any way, shape or form. >> reporter: former vice president joe biden said mccain's legacy should be honored. >> john mccain was a war hero. should be treated as a war hero.
anything less than that is beneath anyone who doesn't treat him that way. it's just -- he is a hero. >> reporter: the president will be taking a big announcement about the border and border enforcement later on today. the administration is working on a proposal to make it more difficult for central american migrants to ask for asylum at the border so we'll be looking for that to come down in the next couple of hours. wolf? >> we'll stay in touch with you. jim acosta at the white house, thank you. attorney general william barr today openly contradicted robert mueller on the question of criminal activity. let's bring in our senior justice correspondent evan perez. barr told cbs news he disagrees with mueller's decision to not reach the conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice. what exactly did he say? >> well, wolf, you'll remember that robert mueller said one reason why he would not make a decision on whether or not the president obstructed justice, violated the law, was because of a longstanding justice department directive or opinion
that says you cannot indict a sitting president and also out of fairness because the president cannot be indicted, he can't defend himself. bill barr disagrees with that. take a listen. >> he could have reached a conclusion. the opinion says you cannot indict a president while he's in office, but he could have reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity. but he had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained. and i'm not going to, you know, argue about those reasons. but when he didn't make a decision, the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein and i felt it was necessary for us as the heads of the department to reach that decision. >> and you heard him there say that robert mueller could not make a decision. there's a distinction. mueller says he would not make a decision. he wouldn't even consider whether there was an obstruction crime here because of that olc opinion in the first place.
>> evan, i understand you also have new inside information about how mueller led the investigation over nearly two years. what are you learning? >> that's right. this is reporting from me as well as laura jerod, jamie herd and pamela brown. we talked to more than a dozen people who had some contact with the mueller investigation. and one of the things we learned is that even people who were close to this investigation found him to be an enigmatic figure. he was in some interviews that came in, some of the witnesses that came in for interviews. he did not show up for others. for instance, he was there when don mcgahn sat down for his 30 hours or so of interviews. when paul manafort came in, day after day during the time he was supposed to be cooperating, mueller was not there. and so what we come away from is that, obviously, a lot of people are still waiting to hear from robert mueller, even despite yesterday, his ten-minute address that he had yesterday,
press conference he had yesterday. people still want to hear from him in congress, obviously, in testimony. and he's unwilling to give it. one of the more interesting things we found out in our reporting, wolf, is that there was this crisis with the members of the president's legal team. they wanted, they demanded a meeting with mueller after the president's name showed up in a court document related to jerome corsey, an associate of the president. in the end, mueller did not show up for the meeting they had at the justice department. in some places, even the president's lawyers had a hard time getting a meeting with robert mueller. >> sdwhwhat does it tell you th mueller chose to be present for that interview with the then-white house counsel don mcgahn? >> don mcgahn is one of the key witnesses on the issue of obstruction. mueller was more closely managing that part of the investigation. had to do with the president. it had to do with whether or not
the president committed a crime in obstructing the investigation. and i think that might explain why he was there. he even apologized when he had to step away for a little while to do something and then came back in during the time that mcgahn was sitting for those interviews. >> evan perez, good reporting. thank you very much. joining us now, william cohen, a former rb congressman and senator who served as defense secretary during the clinton administration. he sat on the house judiciary committee during the watergate impeachment inquiry and has written stinging "washington post" op-ed aimed at republicans in the article. a very strong article, mr. secretary. when will the republican silence on trump end? in the article you write this among other things. the silence of republicans today in the face of presidential behavior that is unacceptable by any reasonable standard is both striking and deeply disappointing. how do you explain that silence? >> i explain it by fear that the republicans are fearful that if
they do anything at all that contradicts the president or undercuts his credibility that they'll have a primary opponent. secondly, they may very well agree with him. whether they are acting out of fear or complicity is not the question for me. the question is why aren't they willing to defend the constitution in the face of this fear or in face of their own judgments on this. >> republican congressman justin amash of michigan is out on a limb by himself. the only republican calling for an impeachment inquiry to begin. you said privately you've heard from other republicans that they agree with him. >> they do. the ones i've talked to expressed the same. frankly, they would not hear from any president in the history of this country. if you can imagine barack obama,
george bush, bill clinton, anyone else having done anything of the things dealing with obstruction of justice, obstruction of the investigation itself, they wouldn't have hesitated to move to bring an impeachment article. >> you served on the house judiciary committee during the nixon impeachment inquiry. and when you broke with the republican party, republican congress, there's a picture of a young william cohen. when you broke with your own republican party, you thought your career was going to be over. so what advice do you give republicans right now who think that they should begin some sort of impeachment inquiry but refusing to do so. >> you aren't elected to simply seek re-election. your job is one where you took an oath to defend the country against enemies foreign and domestic. you have an obligation to hold the president and any other official to the highest standards of a fiduciary. when we take an oath to serve the public, only our interests can be at stake here, not -- in
terms of serving the public's interest. we cannot act out of self-promotion or self-aggrandizement, self enrichment. only for our interests as serving as fiduciaries. so i just think the republicans have to decide whether they are willing to be defeated. and i think in my own case, i don't expect to come back to the united states congress. i had a popular opponent. most of the republicans had turned against me saying we'll never support you again. until the tapes came out that showed president nixon had, in fact, engaged in a massive cover-up. then the sentiment shifted and they said you were right. we were wrong. we should have trusted your judgment. so i would say to other congressmen saying, do what you know is right. what you feel is right. don't worry about whether you come back or not. that's not your mission. your mission is to get at the truth and only the truth. >> your article in "the washington post," you point out
correctly that the american public was not on board beginning some sort of impeachment process when you guys started thinking about that in 1974. you write this. it's also important to remember that public opinion is not anchored in concrete. it shifts according to the information it finds to be persuasive and free of rank partisanship. so you're saying -- are you saying right now that you believe congress should at least begin the process of impeachment? >> i think inevitably, they'll have to. i think that speaker pelosi is doing the right thing by saying not yet. there has to be more evidence gathered. there are lots of testimony that has to be inch corporated as they proceed. but i think it's inevitable. it's one of timing. is it better to proceed now or do it later? my own recommendation would be sooner is better than later. but it's going to require bringing witnesses in and having live testimony. having the public understand what mr. mueller has said. and as he indicated yesterday,
read the report. present it to the american people so they know what it says. most people have not read his book. and it's a textbook. and people don't read textbooks today for the most part unless you're a professional such as you and other media individual. but it's there to be read. it's there to be presented to the american people. >> very other issue, a sensitive issue, the late senator john mccain. you and senator mccain were very close over many years. what's your reaction when you heard this report that some white house officials wanted the "uss john s. mccain" far away from the president during his recent visit to japan because they thought it would upset him? >> well, i think first of all, it was petty on their part and rather prophetic given who john mccain is or was and represents to this day to this country. the fact that anyone in the white house would feel that the president doesn't want to see his name under any circumstances. now i assume the president didn't know about this. i give him benefit of the doubt
here that he was unaware of it. but also know the fact that if it comes from the top and as michael cohen said, everybody knows what he wants, even if he doesn't say it. and i believe that he did not want to see john mccain's name on that ship. john s. mccain for the father and grandfather basically, rather than john who was added ultimately. but he didn't want to see that. he was glad he didn't. i think it comes from the top. he sets the mood and the tone. they know what he wants, and they're doing it. i think the military ought to be held accountable. who authorized this, gld did you do it? one thing we don't want to see is the military being politicized. people wearing the "make america great again" hats, patches, they are not president trump's military. he likes to say it's my military. no. it's america's military. and they shouldn't be pro or anti-trump or any other individual. they serve the american people.
and they are to not be exploited for political purposes. >> this is very personal. you served as best man at senator mccain's wedding with cindy mccain. and so you have a longstanding friendship with the late senator. what did you think of the way the president, when he was asked about this today, responded and he keeps pointing out, even though senator mccain has passed away, he keeps pointing out how he disagreed with him on health care and the war in iraq and other issues. >> he also continues to say he was no hero. anyone who knows john mccain, knows about him, there's no question he was a hero of tremendous proportions. and also the fact that john was a hero on a global scale. whether you were talking about japan or china or any other place, they looked to him as a man of great courage who would endure tremendous personal suffering and still not yield his place in going back to the united states. that takes a real hero.
takes real courage. and i think when the president is unable to have even a grace note, a note that said, yes, he was a hero. i disagree with him. i regret the fact he voted against me, but we ought to raise up and say, john mccain, you served this country nobly and served it well. even though i disagree with you, i'm proud of the service you rendered to this country. that's all he has to say and show he has some note of grace in his soul. >> secretary cohen, thanks for coming. up next -- what's behind the president's latest insults, falsehoods and lies? is he worried about impeachment which he now calls a dirty, filthy, disgusting word. and attorney general barr openly contradicting robert mueller, questioning his failure to reach a decision on whethero president committed obstruction. 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,
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in the process of answering reporters' questions for, what, nearly 20 minutes earlier this morning on the south lawn of the white house, he unleashed a string of lies and falsehoods. the president. was that a result of the realization that the fallout from the russia investigation clearly is far from over? >> are you asking me to tell you what's in donald trump's head? >> yes, yes. >> good luck. >> not so sure that i can do that. on the one hand, donald trump is telling people who are close to him and this is my reporting, dana bash's reporting, abby phillips reporting that he relishes the idea of impeachment because it can mobilize his base. and he'll be able to have an enemy and he can fight back and it will be bad for the democrats, and it will get him re-elected. on the other hand, i think what we saw today was the shame of it. the sense and the understanding that any impeachment inquiry would be losing from the day it started. and it would be shameful for him. and it would be something that would drag him down.
and i think that's what we heard when he talked about it today using that language. it was surprising to me because it kind of opened the door a little bit on his narcissism and how he would react to that because everybody would be talking about him not in a positive way but about all the things he might have done wrong. >> it's interesting. the president tweeted something today that previously had denied. i'll read it to you. i had nothing to do with russia helping me to get elected. and then when he was meeting with reporters, he walked that back. listen to this. >> no, russia did not help me get elected. you know who got me elected? i got me elected. >> the i got me elected. well, what explains that? he said the quiet part out loud in the tweet. he didn't mean to. i think went back, wasn't going to delete it because it became such a thing. if he deleted it, it became more
of such a thing. >> it's still up there. >> he's acknowledging what the intelligence community unanimously concluded in 2017 and what was in the mueller report, which is that russia actively sought to interfere in the 2016 election to help donald trump and hurt hillary clinton. now how much help or hurt did they provide? that's a very difficult thing to quantify. i think it is very difficult to make the argument that the targeted release via wikileaks of hacked emails from john podesta, hillary clinton's campaign chairman and the democratic national committee had zero effect on the election. zero. how much, however, you know, i don't know. the things the russians did through facebook via their troll farm. it's hard to quantify it, but it's very hard to say it was zero. so trump acknowledged what everyone already knew, which is that, yes, russia tried to influence the election to help him win because they thought he'd be better for their interest. and he unacknowledged it.
what does he really think? i'm kind of with gloria trying to pick his brain. it changes on any given day. he's been broadly consistent, however, in saying, look, i won fair and square. which it can be true that -- those two things can both be true. russia sought to interfere and help him and he won without their help or would have won without their help, but he can't square those. >> i have to take a quick break. much more on all these developments right after this. you try hard,
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we're back with our analysts. phil mud, wasn't that long ago the president called robert mueller, he said he acted honorably. but now all of a sudden, he's saying this is a total conflicted person. he's a true never trumper who hired 18 trump haters, including, quote, some of the worst human beings on earth. >> the worst? i was among them. i was an fbi officer. >> a couple of things. the president is alone here. his advisers, according to everyone report, came in to him and said the special counsel is not conflicted. obviously the department of justice looked at this and said there's no conflict here. every time everybody watches the president of the united states get out in a speech and hug the flag and talk about the military and we can talk about, obviously, the controversy over the mccain ship, senator mccain served. mueller served honorably in
vietnam. mcmaster served. kelly served. mattis served. every time the president gets face-to-face at a senior level with someone who actually served he goes back to bone spurs. he wants out. so he can talk about honor and how he loves the military, but face-to-face, doesn't seem to work out too well. >> it's interesting, laura. the justice department ethics lawyers cleared mueller of any conflict of any wrongdoing, among other things. they addressed the issues. as for mueller's interview for fbi director, steve bannon, the former aide to the president recall the white house invited mueller to speak to the president to offer a perspective on the institution of the fbi. bannon said that, although the white house thought about beseeching mueller to become director again, he did not come in looking for the job. >> you know who did come in looking for the job? bill barr. unlike robert mueller who served and then was chosen to be special counsel by rod rosenstein after the fbi director was fired by the way,
james comey. he, in fact, auditioned for the job. an 18-page memorandum, unsolicited that said all the reasons why essentially it would be a foregone conclusion he was never going to find obstruction of justice and lo and behold, volume 2 aside, that's exactly what he found. the notion of the president attacking and singling out the conflicts involved of mueller and not highlighting the conflict that was inherent and explicitly stated in an 18-page memo, is very shocking. >> i want you to listen, gloria, about the looming threat of impeachment proceedings beginning in the house of representatives when asked about that this morning. the president had this rather bizarre response. >> to me, it's a dirty word, the word impeach. it's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word, and it had nothing to do with me. >> he says it's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word and had nothing to do with me. what does that indicate to you? >> i think it indicates that he's a little scared of it. even though he's not the bravado, which is, it will be
good for me. it will be good for my base. on the other hand, it's something that i think is unknown, frightening. the public could shift its opinion about him and about impeachment. if there is -- if witnesses that could be very convincing. when he says it's dirty and it's like -- when something is dirty, you just want to toss it aside and push it out of your line of sight and i think that's exactly what he'd like to do. >> like, on many things, he's come across a lot of different ways on impeachment. he's tweeted out any number of times, including in the 24 to 48 hours, how can you impeach someone that hasn't done anything wrong, that has the strongest economy in world history, not since mesopotamia as an economy been this strong? he, i think, doesn't totally grasp it, and i think to
gloria's point, some of that is -- donald trump understands that things can go sideways. he thinks it's a good thing, broadly speaking for him. polling would suggest he's right. but he also knows this is a changeable process and he can't control it. impeachment moves through the house and senate. the white house has limited ability to do much of anything on it. and i think that probably wo worries him a little. just time in impeach and donald trump in tweets, he sure does mention it a lot for someone not terribly concerned about it. >> the attorney general william barr is now pushing back against mueller what he said yesterday. listen to what barr told cbs news. >> he could have reached a conclusion. the opinion says you cannot indict a president while he's in office, but he could have reached a decisions too whether it was criminal activity. but he had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained. and i'm not going to, you know, argue about those reasons, but when he didn't take a decision, the deputy attorney general rod
rosenstein and i felt it was necessary for us as the heads of the department to reach that decision. >> is he right? >> well, he told us when he gave the hearing in front of congress that it was his baby now and reminded everyone that mueller worked for him. certainly, yes, he could -- maybe he could have reached a conclusion but he would have been violating the essence of that policy and the olc policy said which is not to indict a sitting president. now mueller made clear that you could investigate a sitting president. you can absolutely do that. but his hands were tied by that olc opinion. as special counsel he was tied and had to abide by that. could he have reached a conclusion? sure. what about the second pillar. the fairness aspect. the very reason people like rosenstein rilified comey for tarring and feathering hillary clinton and then saying we can't do anything about it. that's what he's talking about. i'll say on that notion, the idea the president of the united states could not have combated that insignuation is odd given e
has the presidency of the united states. >> everybody stand by. there's more news we're following. first, a very quick programming note. democratic presidential candidate senator michael bennet joins dana bash for a live presidential town hall later tonight. be sure to tune in, 10:00 p.m. eastern. the russians are weighing in on robert mueller's first public statement in nearly two years taking their cue from president trump. pepsi hear you. we're working together to do just that. bringing you more great tasting beverages with less sugar or no sugar at all. smaller portion sizes, clear calorie labels and reminders to think balance. because we know mom wants what's best. more beverage choices, smaller portions, less sugar. balanceus.org this is why we no longer have to worry about flushing too much toilet paper.
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president trump isn't alone in attacking special counsel robert mueller's investigation today. the russians are echoing him. let's go to our senior international correspondent fred pleitgen joining us from moscow. fred, tell us more. >> reporter: yeah, wolf, it's very interesting. the messaging from the kremlin and generally here from moscow almost identical to that of the trump administration. essentially the russians are saying they believe that this case should be closed. and that they wouldn't mind if they never heard about the special counsel investigation again. here's what we're learning. tonight, the kremlin trying to downplay special counsel robert mueller's emphatic statement that russia systematically meddled in the 2016 presidential election. >> and that allegation deserves the attention of every american. >> reporter: despite the mueller report's clear finding and associated indictments, moscow continues to deny attacking america's democracy. with russian politicians blasting and even mocking the
special counsel. a senior member of russia's senate saying, quote, mueller failed to put the blame on russia, as well as to prove russia's connections to trump. now he's trying to justify himself in front of those who have placed serious hopes in him. >> we all have a lot of questions. >> reporter: moscow claims it was mostly anti-trump democrats who pushed the mueller probe, echoing trump's own messaging that he repeated just this morning. >> 18 trump haters, including people that worked for hillary clinton and some of the worst human beings on earth. they got nothing. it's pretty amazing. >> reporter: despite the kremlin today submitting documents to suspend a key nuclear arms treaty with the u.s., both the kremlin and trump white house seem eager to move on and improve u.s./russian relations. secretary state of mike pompeo travelled to russia this month to meet with vladimir putin and foreign minister sergey lavrov to try and map out areas where russia and the u.s. can
cooperate. responding to cnn, vladimir putin's spokesman refused to even talk about robert mueller's statement. >> translator: no, i can't comment on that. we spent enough time talking about mr. mueller and the results of his work. >> reporter: russia has long said it wants to get relations with the u.s. back on track, claiming continued talk about election interference would only get in the way. and, wolf, senior russian officials are already saying they believe that the atmosphere between the kremlin and white house has improved since the end of the mueller probe. and they certainly wouldn't want questions about election meddling to weigh on that, wolf. >> fred pleitgen, thank you. coming up, a new blast of insults from north korea. despite president trump's going out of his way to side with kim jong-un. has been excellent. 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.
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despite president trump's disregarding his top advisers and allying this week to side with kim jong-un, north korea just released a new blast of bitter insults aimed at the united states. cnn's brian todd is here with us. brian, what are they saying now? >> wolf, analysts are telling us it took real nerve for the north koreans to come out with this just a couple of days after president trump was so conciliatory toward kim jong-un. the north kraebs are accusing the trump team of wanting to invade them and they're taking aim with personal insults at two of the president's top advisers.
>> reporter: despite more than a year of de-escalation and declarations of love by president trump -- >> and then we fell in love, okay? >> reporter: tonight north korea is once again attacking the president's administration. in a new statement, kim jong-un's foreign ministry saying, "there is no change at all in the american evil ambition to conquer north korea by force." >> there really ought to be a korean word for chutzpah. unfortunately there isn't one. >> reporter: the new broadside is especially surprising, given how conciliatory president trump has been toward kim jong-un. in japan in recent days, the president sided with the brutal north korean dictator over his own national security adviser and acting defense secretary who both said kim's recent missile tests violated u.n. resolutions. >> my people think it could have been a violation, as you know, i view it differently. >> reporter: and trump even supported north korea's insult of a prominent american, democratic presidential first responder joe biden, who kim's
regime called an imbicile and a fool of low iq. >> kim jong-un made a statement that joe biden is a low iq individual. he probably is based on his record. i think i agree with him on that. >> what it really shows is that our good words towards kim jong-un, the president's good words towards kim jong-un, will not change his behavior. this is more an illustration of the true nature of the kim family regime and we will get nothing in return by being nice to kim jong-un. >> reporter: in its new statement, kim's regime voiced, "grave concern the that the u.s. had conducted so-called subcritical nuclear tests in february" even though kim said last year he had conducted his own such tests. a subcritical nuclear test ensures all the components that make the bomb work like the trigger are functional without letting the bomb actually explode. north korea also slams trump's national security adviser john bolton and secretary of state mike pompeo in the new
statement, saying they, "have insulted the dignity of our stream leadership and spitted out abusive language to north korea." >> i think that is an effort to separate president trump from his advisers. what kim may be doing, one, is mirror imaging. he got bad advice from his own advisers. he thinks president trump is getting bad advice from his, but i think he would really like to purge bolton and pompeo from trump's circle there. >> reporter: tonight veteran diplomats say they worry president trump is so invested in good relations with the dictator that he now can't get tough with kim. >> that's my fear, that the president is every day going out of his way to keep things on a positive plain when the actual thing that he could do right now that would advance denuclearization is to squeeze the north koreans and to take advantage of the fact that the north koreans are in a much weaker position now.
>> we pressed the white house and the state department for a response to these latest verbal attacks from north korea. even after the president's conciliatory words towards kim jong-un. they didn't respond to those attacks, but a state department spokesperson tells cnn tonight that president trump remains committed to building a lasting peace with kim's regime, including denuclearization and that the president remains ready to negotiate with the dictator. wolf? >> brian todd reporting for us. thank you. coming up, a cnn exclusive, "inside the mueller investigation: how the special counsel conducted his probe and how one witness drew his scrutiny." and behind president trump's latest tirade, is he really worried about impeachment which he now calls a, "filthy, dirty, disgusting word." we all worked hard in school. but then? we got to pay back an obscene amount of student loans. so...buying a house? paying for a wedding? meanwhile our parents paid for school by waiting tables.
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attorney general william barr apparently isn't satisfied with what mueller said either. tonight he's disputing the now former special counsel's refusal to determine if mr. trump committed a crime. inside the investigation. cnn has exclusive new reporting on how mueller led the probe of the president, revealing one key witness who got his attention more than others. and mid-atlantic warning. after weeks of deadly tornadoes and floods, the danger is now shifting toward the east coast. we'll show you who is on the radar for severe weather tonight. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. we're following breaking news on new blowback from robert mueller's first and possibly only public comments about