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Trump Sanctuary City Executive Order Blocked; Interview With Idaho Senator James Risch; Did Former Trump National Security Adviser Break the Law?; Ivanka Trump Heckled As She Defends Her Father; Trump Biographers' Insights Into His First 100 Days. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 25, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is the Trump administration cooperating with the investigation?
Public testimony. Some eagerly awaiting witnesses now have a date to appear before Congress, including Obama Justice Department official Sally Yates. She raised early concerns about Michael Flynn's Russia connections. What will she reveal under oath?
And the wall stands. Tonight, the president is insisting that his border barrier will be built soon. Is the wall still a potential trigger for a government shutdown? We are sorting through the mixed messages from the White House.
We want to welcome our viewers from in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news this hour, a federal judge has now blocked part of a Trump executive order that would cut off funding for so- called sanctuary cities across the country that protect illegal immigrants.
The ruling issued in California just a little while ago, it's another major legal blow to the president's immigration agenda after his travel ban also was blocked by the federal courts.
Also breaking, new oversight for the feds' Trump-Russia investigation amid new signs president ousted national security adviser may have broken the law. The Senate just confirmed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He now has authority over the entire Russian probe since his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself.
This as the Republican chairman of House Oversight Committee now suggests Michael Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose payments he received from Russia and Turkey before becoming the president's national security adviser.
Tonight, we are following duelling shows of force by North Korea and the United States as tensions clearly continue to escalate. Kim Jong- un's regime carrying out a massive artillery fire drill with the U.S.- guided missile submarine nearby in a South Korean port and a U.S. Navy strike group finally closing in on the Korean Peninsula.
This hour, I will speak with Republican Senator James Risch. He's a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, and follow the breaking news.
Tell us about this new federal ruling. A federal judge in California just delivered another major setback to the president.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a big setback, Wolf.
A federal judge in California blocked the president's executive order that would have punished so-called sanctuary cities for not cooperating with immigration authorities, cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and so. The judge's ruling found that cities would have been harmed had the administration carried out its threat to withhold grant money from those cities and local police departments.
That's a big setback with Trump, as you said. He promised he would end funding for sanctuary cities as a candidate. And it's not the only loss for the president on the subject of immigration. His travel ban, as we all know, has been tied up in the courts for weeks. And today we learned Republican lawmakers are drafting a spending bill this week that doesn't include funding for the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Instead, that proposal includes funding for border security measures. But, Wolf, getting back to the judge's executive order blocking -- excuse me -- the judge's ruling blocking the president's executive order on sanctuary cities, I just spoke with a senior administration official in the last several minutes.
Didn't want to comment a whole lot on the judge's ruling, but said that ultimately they feel like they will prevail. At this point, I talked to a separate White House official who said don't expect an on- the-record comment from the White House at this point.
Wolf, I think that is significant, given the fact you will recall during that travel ban fight between the administration and the courts, the president was tweeting about it. He referred to so-called judges. And you had the White House drafting statements and releasing statements that were pretty scathing of the courts during whole process.
At this point, we don't see any indication of the White House or the president will lash out at the judge out in California for issuing what is essentially a setback, another setback during these first 100 days in office, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, he has setbacks to travel ban one and travel ban two. That's still before the federal courts, all on hold right now. And we know tomorrow the Department of Homeland Security has been scheduled to release information about its new office of victims of crime involving foreigners, illegal undocumented immigrants who commit crimes here in the United States.
Any reaction, any statement yet from the White House or the Justice Department on the latest federal judge who delivered the setback to the president?
ACOSTA: Not as of yet. And I was told by a White House official that we shouldn't expect one any time soon. Of course, that would change. You never know when the president decides he want to tweet something.
But I did talk to a senior administration official who said they are confident they will prevail on all of this. But the judge in this case out in California, he said these cities, these municipalities that were challenging these executive -- this executive order, that they had some grounds to state that this would have been unconstitutional, that they would have been harmed in some way if the administration had carried out its promise.
We heard, Wolf, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came into the briefing room at the White House not too long ago to explain some of this to reporters and was essentially saying this is the president following through on a campaign promise to go after the cities and essentially warn those cities that if they don't cooperate with immigration authorities, for example, when a police department picks up somebody for a traffic stop or a crime that was committed, if those municipalities, if those police departments aren't cooperating with immigration authorities and saying, hey, wait a minute, we have somebody here who is undocumented or their paperwork is not in order, the attorney general was making it very clear to reporters when he came into the briefing not too long ago that funds, law enforcement fund and grants could be taken away from those police departments.
The judge in this ruling today has essentially frozen that process. And so these sanctuary cities are going to continue to do what they have been doing. But no question about it, Wolf, this is a big setback for a president who has made immigration really one of the cornerstones of his first 100 days.
But it seems at every turn he is being thwarted either by the courts or by members of Congress up on Capitol Hill -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, a huge setback. We will see what happens in the courts. Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much.
Now to another major breaking story we are following, the Russia investigation and new indications that the former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may, repeat, may have broken the law.
Let's go to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown now.
Pamela, you have new information, more on this investigation of Michael Flynn. What are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we are learning tonight that top House Republican says that Michael Flynn likely broke the law for failing to disclose payments he received from foreign governments before he became President Trump's national security adviser.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, new questions about whether President Trump's former national security adviser broke the law over payments he received from Russia and Turkey.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you believe that Michael Flynn broke the law?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I see no information or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law.
BROWN: The revelation comes after leaders of the House Oversight Committee reviewed classified documents in a private briefing. Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill today, they revealed they have seen no proof showing Flynn, a former top military intelligence official, received permission from the Pentagon or the State Department for the foreign government payments he received.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: He was supposed to get permission and he was supposed to report it, and he didn't, period.
BROWN: And they say he didn't fully disclose the more than half- million dollars his firm was given for lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey when he applied to reinstate his security clearance, or the $45,000 he received from Russia for an R.T. TV speaking engagement, money Chaffetz says Flynn might have to pay back.
CHAFFETZ: As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money, it was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for a violation of law.
BROWN: Flynn's attorney general said in a statement he did comply with the law, saying -- quote -- "General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of DOD, extensively regarding the R.T. speaking event trip both before and after the trip."
At the same time, the White House is refusing to turn over necessary paperwork on Flynn, saying it doesn't have the relevant documents.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right now, to ask the White House to produce documents that were not in the possession of the White House is ridiculous.
BROWN: The embattled former national security adviser left amid controversy in February after he lied about discussing sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak Now the former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who alerted the White House about Flynn's conversation with Kislyak, will soon testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Russia's interference in the election.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We will ask her all questions about Russia, what she knew about Trump ties. Was there any administration effort to unmask people for political purposes? We are going to get to all things Russia in terms of what the administration did and what Russia did.
BROWN: And the GOP chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says the panel wants to question Flynn.
RAJU: Is there any way you give Flynn immunity to testify?
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: No.
RAJU: There's no way?
BROWN: And the Judiciary Committee's hearing adds to the crowded together field of investigations into Russia, including the FBI, the Intelligence Committees, and the House Oversight Committee.
And, today, Republican Senator Richard burr of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who you just heard, downplayed the idea this committee is dragging its feet with this investigation, amid criticism from Democratic senators that the pace is too slow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown reporting for us. Thanks, Pamela very much.
Let's talk about all of this and more with Republican Senator James Risch. He's a key member of both the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Thank you, Wolf. Glad to be here.
BLITZER: So, react to the breaking news, our top story, a federal judge now blocking part of President Trump's order to take funds from so-called sanctuary cities all over the country, whether Los Angeles, New York City, all over the country.
How much of a setback is this to the Trump administration?
RISCH: Well, first of all, not fully unexpected.
Every time the president does something like this, it is pretty easy to find a left-leaning judge somewhere in the country that would block it at the lower level. You got a circuit court and a Supreme Court above that. These kinds of things -- every time the president does something, he is going to get sued over it. And they don't unravel until you get higher up. BLITZER: His travel bans, travel ban one, then the revised travel
ban, both of those were at least stayed by federal judges, including higher level federal judges. And they are still on hold. He can't go forward with that travel ban.
This could stick around for a while as well. It is pretty embarrassing, though, when these federal judges come and say to the president, to the attorney general, what you have done may be unconstitutional.
Well, look, all of us that are in public office do things and expect to be challenged by them. And it's up to the courts to make a determination as to what is constitutional and what isn't.
When it comes to the travel ban, obviously, the issuance of visas is totally within the discretion of the second branch of government, not the first, not the third, but the second branch. I doubt federal courts are going to take over the discretionary issuing of travel visas to the United States.
It's got to get higher up in the courts before you some get clarity on that issue.
BLITZER: At this point, do you think the Trump administration, the Justice Department should rewrite this latest order on the so-called sanctuary cities preventing federal funds from going to these cities as long as they occasionally go ahead and protect some of these undocumented immigrants?
RISCH: I haven't read it, but obviously after you get to court and you read a court order and see what it is that caught the court's fancy, you can many times go back and correct it, as if with legislation or anything else.
But that is going to be up to them. Good lawyers. They will handle it.
BLITZER: Based on what you know on this other breaking story we're following, Senator, involving former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, do you believe that he may have broken the law, that he may have committed a felony?
RISCH: I don't know.
Obviously, I have seen the same stories you have. And it's possible. Look, in the position that he was in, we have some very clear and very strict laws about what people who have been in the position of national security can and can't do, particularly when they are holding a clearance.
The rules are very specific. They're very clear. Obviously, people in the House who have reviewed those think there is reason to believe that. But, again, that's not the job of the Congress to prosecute. That will be up to the Justice Department. I have every confidence that if indeed the law was broken that he can
and will and should be held to account for it.
BLITZER: It's not just the Democrats who are these making insinuations. As you know, Jason Chaffetz, he's a Republican congressman from your neighboring state of Utah, he's the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
If he says there is no evidence he was actually, Michael Flynn was complying with the regulations, may have committed a felony, that's a big deal, right?
RISCH: It is a big deal. But, in America, always you're presumed to be innocent until otherwise.
And I think, like you say, there is reason to look at this. Where it ends up, let's let the facts come out and we can all make a decision.
BLITZER: That's fair enough.
Senator, do you think the White House, though, bears some responsibility for not properly vetting Michael Flynn? It was so well-known he visited Russia, had dinner with Putin, sat at a table.
We all saw the video of him on so many occasions during the campaign celebrating President Putin. There you see Putin at that event. This is in December of 2015. You see General Flynn sitting at one of the main tables right there. Everyone knew he went to Moscow. There was a problem there. Maybe they didn't do a good job vetting him.
What do you think?
RISCH: Well, first of all, you're absolutely right. We all knew what the situation was. The national media reported that he was over there at this celebration of Russian TV, who operates in the United States, by the way.
And so that particular fact was well known. As far as the vetting is concerned, look, I was a governor, I know how you do these vetting things. It is a lot easier to do at the state level than it is at the national and international level.
You need good people to do the vetting. I would think they would have asked the questions. But I guess when the documents come out, we will get a better feel as to whether or not the vetting was properly done.
BLITZER: It's not just, what, the reported $45,000 he got for the speaking engagement for R.T., Russian TV, when he went over to Moscow, but more than half a million dollars from various Turkish elements.
He only registered as a foreign agent after he left the White House, after he was fired as national security adviser. They are looking at that as well. That's appropriate, right? RISCH: It is appropriate they look at it. This whole thing doesn't
have a good feel to it by any stretch. But having said that, again, we need to not rush to judgment on this and get all of the facts in front of us. But it doesn't have a good feel to it.
BLITZER: Because it is significant also when you see the Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee in the House, Jason Chaffetz, and the ranking Democrat, the ranking member, Elijah Cummings, they're both on the same page as far as Michael Flynn is concerned, you don't see that all that often nowadays, but that's significant.
RISCH: Significant. And you're right, you don't see that all the time.
BLITZER: Stand by, Senator. We have got more to discuss, including there are some late-breaking developments involving North Korea. Want to pick your brain on that.
We will take a quick break. We will be right back.
BLITZER: We're back with Republican Senator James Risch. He's a key member of the both the Foreign Relations Committees and Intelligence Committees.
Senator, I need you to stand by.
We are getting an update right now on U.S. tensions with North Korea. Kim Jong-un's regime putting on a new show of military force with the U.S.-guided missile submarine nearby and other American warships closing in on the region.
Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
What are you learning tonight, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, North Korea taunting, threatening the U.S., saying Donald Trump is just short of, in one of their party newspapers, just short of lighting the fuse on total war.
This of course not uncommon rhetoric from North Korea, but right now lawmakers have been briefed on the threat, as well as seasoned North Korean experts increasingly concerned about the level of tension between North Korea and the West.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): From the U.S. and North Korea, escalating shows of force, Pyongyang carrying out a massive artillery fire drill to mark the 85th anniversary of the North Korean army, while the USS Michigan guided missile submarine made a visible port call in South Korea and the USS Carl Vinson carrier is now finally approaching the region.
MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: What is very clear is that they are pursuing a nuclear ballistic capability and continuing to carry out tests to give them the ability of reaching, not just other countries if the region, but possibly the United States. And that is, to put it mildly, a game-changer.
SCIUTTO: As President Trump continues his outreach to the leaders of China and Japan, he questioned the power of the North Korean leader, telling a group of conservatives reporters -- quote -- "I'm not so sure he is so strong like he says he is. I'm not so sure at all."
However, after meeting with fellow U.N. Security Council members, he discussed further economic sanctions, rather than more dramatic actions such as military strikes.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs. This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not.
SCIUTTO: Senator John McCain, who had dinner with the president last night, said Mr. Trump hasn't yet decided whether he will order military action.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't think he has reached that decision yet. I'm sure he appreciates that, as his military advisers have told me, that's the ultimately last option and can be very expensive. I'm sure he is exploring all options, but that would be the last one.
SCIUTTO: All 100 members of the U.S. Senate will visit the White House Wednesday for a briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford. The urgent focus? What will and what can the administration do next?
SCIUTTO: And an administration official tells CNN that President Trump himself may make an appearance at the briefing for senators at the White House tomorrow, but as this is happening, the Pentagon telling CNN and defense officials that there are signs at the site of North Korea's nuclear test site of renewed activity, which would mean the possibility that a nuclear test, another nuclear blast there may be put off.
The activity there normally stops if a new nuclear test is imminent, but the Pentagon saying they are seeing now signs of renewed activity there. That risk might be less so now, Wolf, at least of a nuclear blast that test facility.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Sciutto reporting for us, Jim, thank you very much.
We're back with Senator James Risch. Senator, President Trump says he's, in his words, not so sure that Kim
Jong-un is as strong as he says he is. Do you think he could be underestimating the North Korean leader?
RISCH: Well, it's hard to say.
I have seen intelligence reports on both sides of that issue. But I can tell you this. The administration is right in the middle of this. They know what a serious situation they have on their hands. Earlier this afternoon, I spoke with Vice President Pence who just returned at 7:00 this morning from 10 days in the region.
And this is a serious situation. As you reported, the North Koreans are in the process of, if they haven't already, developed a nuclear weapon to deliver to the United States. The number one responsibility of the United States government is to protect our people.
And right now the North Koreans pose the most significant threat to us here in the United States. All options are on the table. Now, obviously, we and we prefer, the preferred solution is a diplomatic solution, but all options are on the table.
BLITZER: But, when you say that, when you say that, Senator, all options are on the table, what exactly does that mean? We hear that all the time. But are you saying a preemptive U.S. military strike to knock out their capability, that's on the table?
RISCH: All options are on the table. And obviously that is an option.
But, as Senator McCain just said, that's the last option that anyone wants to look to. On the other hand, we can't have these people possessing a nuclear weapon and the delivery system to be able to drop it on where you're sitting in New York City or where I'm sitting here in D.C. or anywhere else in the United States.
I think one of the stories here that isn't getting quite the attention it should is China's role in all of this. North Korea has been an ally of China for a long time. china looked at them as an asset. They don't look at them as an asset anymore. They look at them as a real liability.
The son right now, who is in charge there, Kim Jong-un, his father and grandfather were very close to China, good friends with China. They liked each other. With the son, not so much. And the control isn't there that China had over the other two.
The Chinese have -- there's reason to believe that the Chinese have concluded that they are going to have to go something about this, finally. And they have the ability to do something about this because of leverage they have with North Korea.
I think they have come to the conclusion that, if they don't, that the United States is going to do something about it. And that's the last thing the Chinese want is us involved in something over there. The Chinese really want stability, just as we want stability there.
And so there's ways that they can do this diplomatically that can get the job done. And I think, I have reason to believe that they are turning to efforts in that regard. And we've actually seen in recent days some ratcheting back of things that the North Koreans have threatened to do, and then ratcheted down considerably.
BLITZER: Well, we will see what the Chinese do.
We know the president is really working on his relationship with the Chinese president to get China to be more supportive of the U.S. objectives as far as North Korea is concerned.
Senator Risch, as usual, thanks for joining us.
RISCH: Wolf, thank you. Glad to be here.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we will have more on the breaking news, a federal judge blocking the president's executive order threatening to withhold funds from so-called sanctuary cities across the United States.
Plus, the hostile reaction to Ivanka's Trump's remarks in Berlin. What did she say that prompted some heckling from the audience?
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. A significant new legal setback for President Trump tonight and his immigration policy as he nears 100 days in office.
[18:33:10] A federal judge in California ruling just a little while ago, blocking part of an executive order that would cut off funding for sanctuary cities across the United States.
Let's bring in our political, legal and national security analysts. Gloria, this is the -- a White House that's now running into more legal hurdles while the president is trying to roll out these executive orders. This is another major legal setback, at least temporarily.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is. And you know, when you try and do big things you are always going to run into these kinds of hurdles. We saw that on the travel ban and now we're seeing it on this.
Although this judge stopped short of calling this unconstitutional, the judge said that the people who disagree and the cities who disagree add case to make that, if this were inactive, it would cause them undue harm in their cities and allow that to continue. But the judge stopped just short of saying, you know, this is a constitutional question but said the cities in the future might be able to make the constitutional case successfully. So it allowed the cities to continue.
BLITZER: You know, Rebecca Berg, the judge, as you know, he's lashed out at federal judges in the past. His travel ban one, that was rejected. Travel ban, too, it's on hold right now. What do you think? Can we expect a similar reaction to this federal judge who just ruled against him on this -- this issue of sanctuary cities?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise, Wolf. There is a precedent for this with Donald Trump. It seems to be his political strategy, whenever something like this happens, to blame outside forces. In this case, the judicial system and the judge who made the ruling.
And it gives him an opportunity politically to try to fire up his supporters and draw more attention to what he is doing on this issue or trying to do but being blocked from doing.
[18:35:06] But at the same time, I mean, there's no question that this is going to be a setback for him and his administration, right as we're nearing the 100-day mark.
And I'm sure he'll be looking to blame someone. So it's just a question of, does he blame the judge or does he assign blame elsewhere? We haven't seen Donald Trump usually take his own responsibility when something like this happens.
BLITZER: Susan Hennessey is with us. Our newest national security and legal analyst. Susan, first of all, welcome to CNN. What other legal pathways are available to the Trump administration right now in the face of this latest federal judge, this legal setback?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: As Gloria mentioned, in this injunction, the judge didn't decide any of those constitutional questions but ultimately, this is a constitutional question. It's whether or not this executive order violates the separation of powers, by usurping the spending powers of Congress.
So if that's the ultimate decision in this case, really, the only path forward is for the Trump administration to convince Congress to pass legislation. He hasn't had much luck there thus far.
BLITZER: Phil Mudd, from a law enforcement perspective, in addition to working for the CIA -- you used to work for the FBI, as well -- what's your reaction to this latest federal judge decision, a setback to the administration?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, on the surface, this looks like a simple story. If there's a federal law that says somebody is here illegally, why wouldn't law enforcement want to participate in an effort to remove those people? Not that simple. There's a couple reasons.
No. 1, resources. If you're on the street doing community policing, if you're worried about burglary, if you're worried about murder, rape, violent crime, how many resources as a police chief do you want to divert to participate in immigration sweeps? I can tell you, some of the cops I've talked to said they don't oppose the law; they oppose to diverting resources to the law. The second significant issue, from a counterterrorism perspective is,
you used to say on the criminal side, on the drug side, for example, if you see something, say something. We said the same thing on the counterterrorism side. If somebody in the community, including an immigrant community, sees something, call the cops.
If you were to pursue this law, some in that community might say, "If I call the cops, are they going to ask me whether my family is here illegally or not?" Some cops would say, "If you want to encourage people to speak, be careful about requiring us to ask them their immigration status."
BLITZER: Good point.
Susan, let's talk about the other breaking news we're following: a dramatic statement today from the leaders of the House Oversight Committee on the president's fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn. I want you to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAFFETZ: I see no information or data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law. And that is, he was supposed to seek permission and receive permission from both the secretary of state and the secretary of the Army prior to traveling to Russia to not only accept that payment but to engage in that activity. I see no evidence that he actually did that.
As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for the violation of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Susan, I want your reaction to what the Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, we just heard him say, there's no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law. He's walking right up to the line of accusing General Flynn of actually committing a crime, a felony. Doesn't quite say it. What do you make of that?
HENNESSEY: Certainly, Chaffetz is being rather careful here. General Flynn had two obligations relevant to this instance. He needed to report all foreign payments and travel and contact on his SF-86 form. And if he accepted payments from foreign governments, he needed to get permission from the secretary of the Army.
The chairman, Congressman Chaffetz, has now seen the SF-86 form, and presumably, he's spoken to the Department of Defense. So if he's seen those -- that material, and there's no data to indicate that Flynn complied with the law, that's a pretty strong indication that there's a serious problem here.
BLITZER: What do you think, Phil Mudd? Is he going to testify before these -- these House and Senate committees, General Flynn? I know that his lawyers have suggested immunity. There's no indication anyone wants to grant him immunity.
MUDD: Why the heck would he testify? We've got two questions here. Jason Chaffetz just stepped into it by violating some of the principles of innocent until proven guilty.
Question one: Are we investigating individuals, as the FBI does, on the congressional side, or are we determining how to protect America from Russian hacks in a future election? I don't get it.
No. 2, when somebody shows up to testify, including General Flynn, if somebody on that committee says they're found guilty before they show up, why would General Flynn ever show up? If I were his lawyer -- I'm not a lawyer, but I'll take the fee -- if I were his lawyer, I'd say, don't show up, because we know what the Congress already thinks. They think you're guilty. Why would you testify?
[18:40:00] BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's more -- there's more information I want to assess with all of you, including Ivanka Trump as she faced a tough crowd overseas today getting heckled as she tried to defend her father. How did she handle a rather tough situation?
BLITZER: Tonight, Ivanka Trump says, "Getting heckled is part of politics."
[18:45:02] The first daughter and top adviser to the president, face a tough audience in Germany today, as she defended her father's record on women's issues.
We're back with our analysts.
And, Gloria, I want you to listen to the reaction from the crowd as she describes her father, President Trump, as a champion of women and families. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: He has been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive in the new reality of --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hear the reaction from the audience.
TRUMP: I certainly heard the criticism from the media and that perpetuated. But I know from personal experience. And I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades, when he was in the private sector, are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, what did you think of her reaction, Gloria?
BORGER: Completely predictable, Wolf. I've interviewed her, other people have interviewed her. And she
always defends him on the question of women and how he treats women by saying that he has always employed an awful lot of women in his business, which is true. And that she wouldn't be where she is today were it not for her father having faith in her.
But there is sort of a larger question here which is, what's her job at the White House? What are her qualifications for that job?
I think Angela Merkel was really smart for inviting her over to this august group, and these women are clearly going to network with Ivanka Trump at the highest level they possibly can, because they want to have the president's ear and they believe that she's a way to get that. And we know her qualifications on dealing with women's issues. She's been talking about it for many years.
But beyond that, Wolf, if she did have any influence on her father on the, you know, cruise missiles into Syria, what's her qualification for that? What are her credentials for being a senior adviser to the president of the United States or does she have a lane that she really ought to stay in?
I don't think we kind of know the answer to what she's going to do and how much her influence will truly be.
BLITZER: Now, Rebecca Berg, how do you think she handled it?
BERG: Well, it was a tough position for her to be in, Wolf. But she reverted immediately to daughter mode. The mode we saw Ivanka in throughout the campaign, talking about her father from a very personal perspective.
But to Gloria's point, I think this really underscores the unique position that Ivanka is in right now. She is not any longer just a daughter. She is a senior adviser to the president of the United States and most assistant to the president or most senior advisers to the president, if they were in a similar position, they wouldn't have the luxury of doing what Ivanka did, which was it answer this question in a very personal sort of easier way, talking about her father, the president of the United States, as a person as opposed to a leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Most advisers would be in a position where they would need to defend him from a policy perspective. And I think she took the easy way out on this. The question is, is she going to be serious enough about her position as a senior adviser to the president as assistant to the president and will she start acting like she is that as oppose to acting like she is his daughter? Which is, I think at this point, kind of a secondary job.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Phil, what's your reaction?
MUDD: You want the male reaction on this, I've got two perspectives. Number one, she is a White House official. You can't under cut the boss. Number two, she is a daughter. Blood's thicker than politics. That said, she's got to come up with a better answer. The answer
can't be, he champions women's rights when he makes fun of a women's face. He makes fun of her menstrual cycles and he's got a bunch of dead white dudes in the cabin, all right? You got to come up with a better answer.
That said, what would you expect a daughter to do? Throw the president under the bus when she works in the White House? We have to give her a break for another six months and my counsel to her is do better next time.
BLITZER: Guys, stand by. We are getting more information, including just ahead, we've got a new story. Donald Trump's biographers sharing their unique insights on his first 100 days as president.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do have a sense that this is a lonely president. Let's face it, the presidency is an isolating institution.
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[18:54:07] BLITZER: Tonight, as the president closes in on his 100th day in office, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger spoke with two people who wrote the book on Donald Trump, his biographers.
Here's their take on how he's handling his job.
TRUMP: Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
BORGER (voice-over): For a man used to tracking his TV ratings and then his poll numbers --
TRUMP: Have you been seeing what's happening with those polls? They're like rocket ships.
BORGER: -- the measurement of President Trump's first 100 days is a tougher score to reckon with.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": He doesn't like for there to be an umpire calling balls and strikes. This is why he doesn't like the press.
BORGER: Michael D'Antonio, a Trump biographer, should know.
D'ANTONIO: He is aware of what the real score is and he's aware now that we're getting to the hundred-day mark that presidents have been judged by that first hundred days all the way back to FDR.
[18:55:06] BORGER: It's a ritual, a moment to take stock. And ask another biographer --
(on camera): Has the presidency changed Donald Trump?
TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMP NATION": We're really early in this. I don't think someone who is about to turn 71 years old and has been the same person since the he was 4 years old is going to get changed overnight by the presidency.
BORGER: Do you think the office has humbled him in any way? You're laughing but --
O'BRIEN: Yes, yes, I don't think anything will ever humble Donald Trump.
D'ANTONIO: I do think he's understanding now that he needs friends, he needs allies, he needs the world to be on his side as often as possible. So, yes, I think the office is humbling him a bit. And it may have been the only responsibility on earth that would ever visited humility upon Donald Trump.
BORGER (voice-over): Oval Office aside, these Trump watchers say he's still Donald Trump, tweeting --
O'BRIEN: Trump has been planting gossip items his whole life.
BORGER: Raising attention.
O'BRIEN: He would be bereft if that spotlight turned away from him.
TRUMP: Look at all of those cameras.
BORGER: Changing the conversation.
D'ANTONIO: I think that what we've seen in the president's distortions, misstatements and really occasionally outright lies is him attempting to use the method he always used in the past to get out of a jam, say anything, divert attention, and run on to the next topic.
BORGER: He runs his White House like he ran his business, often improvising.
O'BRIEN: He's the king of chaos. So, I think he likes being right in the middle of the storm.
BORGER: The anchors remain his family.
(on camera): You think Ivanka and Jared are there because he has a comfort level with them?
O'BRIEN: At the end of the day, he'll always come back to family. It's been true of his business life. That's how the Trump Organization was run. It's a little boutique business that he populated with family members or quasi family members.
And he's trying to replicate that in the White House. I think Ivanka and Jared are there for a few reasons. They're willing to be public faces of the White House. And I think he is. I don't think he's that interested in doing that constantly. And then I think he also just doesn't trust people.
D'ANTONIO: I do have a sense that this is a lonely president. This is a man who has always loved to be surrounded by good friends, long- term friends, my family members. I think this is why he travels to Florida so often. I think it's a cure for the loneliness.
I don't think he's comfortable with the Washington crowd.
BORGER: Especially if he's getting drowned by it, like he was with a healthcare defeat which he vows to revisit soon.
D'ANTONIO: When he first went bankrupt in the early 1990s, it was because he kept doubling down, and he kept pushing to get a success when really he was throwing good money after bad. I think that's what happened with the health care struggle.
TRUMP: Thank you. We were very close.
D'ANTONIO: He went too far down the road and was left embarrassed and looking like a loser. And the last thing Donald Trump wants is to look like a loser.
BLITZER: Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is joining us now.
Gloria, was there anything that happened in those first 100 days that really surprised these biographers?
BORGER: Yes, Michael D'Antonio was really surprised about the strike in Syria, because he said that in the past, the president's outrages have always been purely personal, and what he saw in Donald Trump that he had never seen before was somebody who had a humanitarian impulse and that that motivated him in many ways, having looked at those pictures of those children, in particular in Syria, that that motivated him to act. And he said that moral outrage is something he had never seen in Donald Trump's repertoire before.
BLITZER: It's a fascinating development to be able to speak to these two men --
BLITZER: -- who spent so much time studying this president, isn't it?
BORGER: Yes. And, you know, they say he's changed but just around the edges. That Donald Trump will always be Donald Trump. It's hard to change when you're 70 years old -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. As one of this said, almost 71 years old.
BORGER: That's right.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks so much. Good reporting from our own Gloria Borger.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.