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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Maine Senator Angus King; Interview With Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego; North Korea Crisis; Will Hurricane Irma Hit U.S.?; President Trump Ends Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program; Conflicts Emerge in Probes of Trump Campaign & Russia; Clinton Blames Sanders for "Lasting Damage" in 2016 Race. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 5, 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: Happening now: Prepare for the worst. Hurricane Irma strengthens to a Category 5 storm. Forecasters warn it could be a potentially catastrophic. Florida's governor is warning residents to prepare for the worst, but when and where will it hit?
Uncertain future. President Trump decides to end an Obama era program that protected nearly 800,000 young immigrants, claiming it's unconstitutional and will save jobs. Tonight, amid nationwide protests and increasing pressure on Congress, former President Obama is now speaking out.
Moving missiles. Kim Jong-un is believed to be moving a mobile launcher into place for another missile test. As South Korean warships conduct live-fire drills, will the U.S. be able to stop an outbreak of war?
And lasting damage. Hillary Clinton blames Senator Bernie Sanders for causing her -- quote -- "lasting damage" in the 2016 primaries. In an excerpt from her new book, Clinton also writes that Sanders -- quote -- "had to resort to innuendo and impugning my character" because the two agreed on so much.
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.
BLITZER: We are following breaking news.
Hurricane Irma strengthening to a Category 5 storm with 185-mile-an- hour sustained winds. It is tied for the second strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic. Tropical-storm-force winds will be hitting the islands of the Caribbean later tonight.
Florida residents are stripping stores of emergency supplies. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered and the National Guard is activated already. Stand by for the latest forecast.
There is also breaking news over at the White House. President Trump just said he has a great heart for the thousands of young people whose undocumented parents brought them into the United States as children, even though he's ending protections President Obama put in place to keep them from being deported.
As protests spread across the country, the former president issued a rare public rebuke, calling the decision -- quote -- "self-defeating and cruel."
We are also following ominous new threats from North Korea, which now claims it can -- quote -- "blow up the U.S. main land and annihilate Americans." Can Kim Jong-un be swayed by shows of military force or threats of more crippling sanctions?
We are covering all of that, much more this hour with our guests, including Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.
Let's begin with the threat, and it is a very serious threat, posed by Hurricane Irma.
BLITZER: Yes, not good news at all.
And don't forget the millions and millions of people in South Florida who are wondering what they should be doing. Certainly, they are getting ready, and the governor of Florida, Rick Scott,already ordering some mandatory evacuations, but presumably a lot more on the way.
You say there's time, but there isn't a whole lot of time before the weekend.
Tom Sater, we are staying in very close touch with you.
There is other breaking news we are following, breaking news over at the White House.
President Trump just met with the Republican leaders of the House and the Senate after tossing Congress another huge political problem. The president says lawmakers need to come up with a fix because he's ending protections for 800,000 young people who were brought into the United States as children.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president is taking a lot of heat already for this decision, including from former President Obama.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
We finally heard from the president on this decision this afternoon. He told reporters he has a -- quote -- "great love" for the dreamers, but those dreamers are not feeling the love tonight.
ACOSTA (voice-over): For the young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as the dreamers, it could be a nightmare.
The Trump administration is terminating the Obama era policy that shielded the dreamers from being deported. The White House sent out Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fierce immigration hard-liner in the Senate, to make an announcement that sounded tailor-made for the president's political base.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It's just that simple. That would be an open borders policy, and the American people have rightly rejected that.
ACOSTA: Instead, the same president who claimed he loved the dreamers...
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We love the dreamers. We love everybody.
We are going to deal with DACA with heart.
ACOSTA: ... released a statement: "My highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws."
(on camera): Why did the president not come out and make this announcement himself today? Why did he leave it to his attorney general? It's his decision. These kids and their lives are on the line because of what he's doing. Why not...
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's in large part a big part of the legal process. This was deemed illegal by, I think, just about every legal expert that you can find in the country.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Late in the day, the president finally weighed in.
TRUMP: I have a great heart for the folks we're talking about, a great love for them. And people think in terms of children, but they're really young adults.
I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly. And I can tell you, in speaking to members of Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right. And really we have no choice. We have to be able to do something. And I think it's going to work out very well. And long- term, it's going to be the right solution.
ACOSTA: The White House is stressing Congress still has six months to pass a fix to protect the nearly 800,000 dreamers and that no immigrant of the program will be impacted before March.
But for the president to sign a dreamer fix, he wants something in return, such as the wall.
(on camera): You're saying that if we're going to allow the dreamers to stay in this country, we want a wall. Is that accurate?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't think that the president's been shy about the fact that he wants a wall. And certainly it's something that he feels is an important part of a responsible immigration reform package.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Democrats are already balking at that, questioning the president's motives, noting he pardoned Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted in federal court for defying a judge's order to stop profiling Latinos, not to mention Mr. Trump's past statements about Mexican immigrants.
TRUMP: They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
ACOSTA: Fierce opposition to the president's plan is coming in from all sides, from a member of the president's own diversity council.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am resigning right now from that council. I don't see the point in continuing to try to work with people that clearly don't see this issue the way I do.
ACOSTA: To former President Obama, who said in a statement: "To target these young people is wrong because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating, because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel."
Now that it's in the hands of Congress, the question is, do they have time to fix this?
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: Let me say a word about the six months. The calculation of six months is to March 5, so we have plenty of time, right? Not by Senate standards, we don't.
ACOSTA: Now, the Trump administration is not offering much comfort to those dreamers who handed over their personal contact information to the Department of Homeland Security when they received protection from deportation.
Officials now say that information potentially could be used by immigration authorities and that, as soon as those dreamers lose their DACA status, they are eligible for deportation, just like anybody else who is in the country illegally -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much.
Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Thank you.
BLITZER: I think there's about, what, 28,000 DACA recipients in your home state of Arizona. How is this going to affect them?
GALLEGO: Well, it's going to be terrible.
And these aren't just recipients. A lot of them are my friends, and I consider them family. You're basically destabilizing their lives. These young men and women have started families, bought homes, started businesses. Some of them are police officers, firefighters. Some of them have joined the military and are now veterans.
And we're just going to go and cruelly just take them away from this life?
BLITZER: Do you think that's realistic, that the 800,000 nationwide might eventually be deported or at least some of them will be deported?
GALLEGO: If we don't -- if we as Congress do not act to stop the president -- and we have to stop the president -- this is not something that we're doing for the president -- they will be deported.
The way ICE is operating right now, they don't care who they are nabbing and grabbing right now. They would rather go for the easiest targets. And they're going to go for people that they know are good citizens. They know that they have steady routines.
They're going to go and they're going to start taking these young men and women and their families, anyone they encounter, because at the end of the day, all they want to hit their quotas and that's what's going to happen.
BLITZER: How far are you willing to go to pass legislation that will prevent that, that will allow these 800,000 young people to remain here in the United States, to have a pathway for legal status and maybe even citizenship?
GALLEGO: We believe that there is a compromise among Democrats and Republicans.
BLITZER: What is that compromise? GALLEGO: The compromise at a minimum is going to make sure that there is there protection for these dreamers, that they have some level of permanent residency here.
At the same time, we are also not going to be put into a situation where we are going to be using human beings as a bargaining chip, especially when we know the president did not have to do this. This idea that the president was kind of put into a corner and this is the best decision he can make is absolutely false.
BLITZER: The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, says there was this deadline because these attorneys general from various states were filing motions against President Obama's unilateral executive order claiming it was unconstitutional, and they had to do something.
GALLEGO: Well, he could have also just challenged the attorney generals and actually defended DACA in court.
Instead, they chose to go by this arbitrary deadline and use that as like the go/no-go situation that made them make this decision. Look, at the end of the day, this may go down as the most cowardly and cruel move ever by a president in the modern United States.
BLITZER: But he says he loves the dreamers and he has a great heart, wants to help them, that if in fact legislation is passed over the next six months in the House and Senate, they will be even better off.
You heard him say that.
GALLEGO: I don't think the word love means the same thing to him that it does to other people.
So, whatever the president is saying, we just -- you just have to take with a grain of salt. And that's why Congress needs to act and pass a -- you know, some form of DREAM Act that will actually protect them from deportation.
At the same time, we are also not going to be used and we're not going to allow human lives to be used as a bargaining chip for a really stupid border wall that at the end of the day does not bring us any...
BLITZER: What if that is the only thing that will prevent these 800,000 young people from being deported? Will you vote for funding for the border wall with Mexico if it includes legal status for these 800,000 dreamers?
GALLEGO: At this point, I just have to say no.
Again, this is not a situation where we want to set up a precedent where we're going to be able to use human lives for egotistical- driven, dumb ideas of what border security brings you, especially when your campaign promise was that Mexico was going to pay for it. That's not how you govern. That's not how you become -- that's not how you govern a nation like this.
BLITZER: How do you see this decision today by the attorney general and the president -- the president ordered the attorney general to make this announcement -- coming, what, a week after the Sheriff Arpaio decision, the decision to forget about his conviction, to pardon him?
GALLEGO: Well, I think this plays further and further to the idea that the president is just trying to play to his base, which is a base of voters that's really xenophobic.
At the same time, I find it quite funny they want to talk about the rule of law. But Sheriff Arpaio was found guilty by a court of law by the Department of Justice, and the president interceded in the process of justice to overturn his conviction.
Meanwhile, you know, they on the flip side try to say that this is something that they had to do in terms of -- to fulfill the rule of law. This is all going back and forth. The president at the same time wants to say he has authority to enforce his Muslim ban, but doesn't have the authority to also stop people from being deported.
You can't have it both ways. And really the only reason you're doing this, again, is to excite your base, who at this point has pretty much lost everything that they have been trying to do.
BLITZER: Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona, thanks very much for joining us.
GALLEGO: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up: Just days after testing its most powerful nuclear weapon, North Korea is now directing ominous new threats towards the United States. Is Kim Jong-un's regime on the verge of testing yet another intercontinental ballistic missile?
BLITZER: We're following an alarming new warning from South Korea. It's predicting North Korea may be preparing to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile only days after successfully detonating its most powerful nuclear weapon.
North Korea's state-run media claims Kim Jong-un's military is ready to -- quote -- "blow up the U.S. mainland and annihilate Americans."
Let's check in with our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
So, Barbara, how is the U.S. military responding?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Wolf, nobody is engaging in very much cool, calm, collected talk about all of this. There's a lot of rhetoric from Washington all the way to Pyongyang. Right now, hard to see how this all ends.
STARR (voice-over): New live-fire drills by South Korea's navy, as tensions continue to rise. Several warships sending a message to Kim Jong-un: South Korea will hit back against any provocation.
President Trump sending his own message, tweeting: "I am allowing Japan and South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States."
The U.S. has already agreed to allow South Korea to buy more powerful missiles. Pyongyang may be getting ready to fire a third intercontinental ballistic missile, according to South Korea. Two U.S. warships armed with the Aegis missile defense system are in the region. Other missile defense systems are ready in Japan and South Korea.
U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers could conduct an air drill over the East China Sea and possibly across the peninsula this week in yet another U.S. show of force.
But none of this is deterring North Korea's escalating threats.
HAN TAE SONG, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The recent self-defense measures by my country, DPRK, are packages addressed to none other the U.S. The U.S. will receive more gift packages from my country as long as it relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK.
STARR: And the U.S. effort to get North Korea to even talk about giving up its weapons is doomed, the North Korean ambassador says.
TAE SONG (through translator): The DPRK will never under any circumstance put its nuclear deterrence on the negotiation table.
STARR: One of President Obama's top advisers says, it might get worse, a lot worse.
LISA MONACO, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: What we should be focused on is their ability to basically deploy nuclear blackmail. They have an ability to hit South Korea. And if they were to invade South Korea, they could threaten further nuclear destruction if we were to intercede.
STARR: Nuclear blackmail that needs to be countered.
MONACO: We ought to be doing more in the covert realm. We should be deploying cyber and other tools to roll back, to sabotage, to curtail their current -- North Korea's current capability.
STARR: And tomorrow on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the CIA director are all scheduled to brief Congress on the latest North Korean intelligence.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you very much.
Let's get some more on all of this with independent Senator Angus King of Maine. He's on the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
How serious is this new threat from North Korea right now?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: It's extremely serious, Wolf. It's serious on a lot of levels.
And the whole situation is very unnerving because of the heightened level of rhetoric. If you go back through history, Wolf, wars usually start because of misunderstandings, misinterpretations.
And that's why the whole -- the escalation of the language which could presage escalation of actual conflict is what's so disturbing at this point.
BLITZER: South Korean officials, as you heard, say that North Korea is now moving an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missile, ready for another test. You're a member of the Intelligence Committee.
First of all, have you been briefed on this? What can you tell us? Is this a realistic threat?
KING: Well, we have been briefed.
It is a realistic threat. We have been briefed on it numerous times. And, as Barbara mentioned, there is a briefing coming up this week from the top military and intelligence officials that will fill in some of the details.
But there's no question that the North Koreans have been developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. They have tested several. They are developing miniaturized nuclear weapons. They have tested several, one as recently as a few days ago.
So, the real issue is putting those two things together. This is a problem, Wolf, that's been festering for 25 or 30 years, and, unfortunately for President Trump, it's coming to fruition on his watch. And the options are very limited.
I think it's got to be all of the tools that we have, whether it's diplomatic, financial, military, all of those things have to be deployed in order to deal with this threat. This is very serious, and we have to understand what this regime in North Korea wants, what their goals are.
And, Wolf, I don't want to make your nightmares worse, but another piece of this that isn't getting a lot of discussion is the proliferation risk, in other words, North Korea sharing some of this technology. My personal nightmare is ISIS with some kind of nuclear capability and
a tramp steamer heading across the Atlantic Ocean. This is a threat to the entire world, and yet there are no good solutions. I continue to say I believe the only solution comes through China.
They're the only people that really have any power to influence the actions of the North Korean regime, and they have got to decide that this is a greater threat to the stability of the entire region, rather than looking at it parochially, as saying they don't want the United States to have more influence on the peninsula.
But we have got to pull all the levers here, and -- but I think the number one opportunity is China.
BLITZER: I know that, what, almost a decade or so ago, North Korea did share nuclear technology with the Syrian regime of Bashar al- Assad. They built a nuclear reactor that the Israelis then blew up. So this notion of sharing nuclear technology, that has happened in the past; and I assume it's a great fear right now.
[18:30:22] But let me get your quick reaction. Steve Bannon, the president's former strategic advisor, of Breitbart News, he said there is no military solution. He told the magazine, "The American Prospect," "Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about. There's no military solution here. They got us."
Is he right?
KING: Well, I don't -- I wouldn't -- I think he's certainly right to point out the risk to Seoul. I was over there less than a year ago, and I didn't realize, frankly -- you don't really realize it until you see it -- that Seoul is about as far from the North Korean border as Washington is from Annapolis, Maryland. I mean, it's very -- it's about a 40-minute drive.
And, so the North Koreans could devastate Seoul, which is a city of 26 million people. And by the way, there are probably 50 to 100,000 Americans in there, soldiers and civilians, that is very vulnerable to conventional attack from the North. They've got something like 8,000 artillery pieces already targeting Seoul. So, it's not a case of bombers or rockets or missiles. They can do this with conventional artillery.
So, Bannon is right that this -- this is a very real counter threat, if you will. And the other reality is this -- any idea that we could somehow do -- I remember the term, a surgical strike, and go in with, in one or two days and take out the entire nuclear capacity of North Korea, I don't believe that's true either from a logistical or a military standpoint.
And finally, you can't bomb knowledge. If they've got the expertise, even if there was a bombing campaign, that expertise could be reconstituted in some period of time. Ultimately, there has to be some diplomatic settlement of this. But
it's got to be backed up by force. I mean, they've got to understand that, if they make a provocative act, they're going to be in trouble.
And China said something very interesting. China said, "If North Korea is attacked, we will defend you. But if you -- if North Korea attacks first, we won't." And I think that's giving us something that we can build on.
BLITZER: Senator Angus King of Maine, thanks as usual for joining us.
KING: Yes, sir, Wolf, good to be with you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, the political side of the North Korea dilemma. What can President Trump do to ratchet down the tensions with Kim
Also, can the president persuade Congress to work together on immigration after making a decision that provoked a storm of criticism today, including from former President Obama?
[18:37:41] BLITZER: We're watching protests across the country tonight, looking at some live pictures coming in from Minneapolis. President Trump is taking heat from all sides for his decision to end protections for young people who were brought into the United States as children, grew up knowing no other home.
Former President Obama, who put the protections in place, issued a rare criticism of the White House, calling the decision "self- defeating and cruel." Unless Congress acts quickly to fix the problem, 800,000 young people could face deportation, although President Trump insists it will be a low priority.
Let's bring in our specialists.
And Gloria, you heard Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, say today the administration has confidence Congress will pass legislation to deal with this. So, what's the political calculation here?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Is that the first time you've heard anybody say they have confidence in Congress, that they would get something done? You know, the history here is that Congress has tried for years and failed to get something done.
I think the real story here is the president was faced with a -- with a real problem. He had been on the campaign trail, consistently saying that he wanted to end DACA, and then he had also said, since he came into office -- he spoke to President Obama about it, he spoke to others about it. And he said that he really cared about the DREAMers. Well, how do you square those two things? It's very difficult.
So, what he did was he said, "OK, I'm going to pass the buck. I'm going to pass the buck here to Congress, and let's see if Congress can resolve it." And -- and now the challenge, really, to the Congress is to figure out how they can resolve this. And maybe the president is looking for some kind of a deal where he gets a little money for the border wall in exchange for not ending DACA.
BLITZER: You know, Manu, you're up on the Hill. You cover the Hill every day. What are the prospects of getting some serious legislation on immigration passed that will allow these 800,000 young people to have some legal status and maybe even a pathway to citizenship?
RAJU: I think it's going to be very difficult, Wolf. Even that idea that Gloria just talked about there, possibly adding something to deal with the wall, a border wall, or even something that other Republican senators have talked about to limit legal immigration, that's something that Senator Tom Cotton has talked about. Adding something like that, which would get a lot of Republican support, to something like DACA, a DACA bill, is a non-starter to Senate Democrats. A top leadership aide told me that there's no way that Senate Democrats would go along with something like that.
[18:40:14] On top of that, Republicans are really badly divided over how to move forward on DACA. Some want those tougher enforcement measures that Democrats don't want. Others are OK with providing some sort of legal status to DREAMers. And other hardliners like the Steve Kings of the world say that we should not give any legal status to them.
And on top of that, Wolf, the White House today throwing, making things even more difficult by suggesting there should be a big comprehensive immigration bill, something that Republicans strongly oppose in the House and in the Senate by, for the most part. And suggesting they should do that really prompted a lot of Republicans to scratch their head, including Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican, who told me earlier that's a guaranteed recipe for failure if they were to go that route.
So, really unclear how to go forward, especially if the White House does not signal what exactly they want, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, you're our legal expert. Was the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions, right when he said that President Obama's initial executive order creating this DACA policy, Sessions said it was unconstitutional.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is true that several conservative judges, hand-picked by the plaintiffs in those cases, have ruled that the president exceeded his authority.
BLITZER: President Obama?
TOOBIN: President Obama exceeded his authority. But it is far from clear that he was correct -- that those judges were correct. And, in fact, the United States Department of Justice, the Office of Legal Counsel which passes on these -- these executive orders, gave President Obama the OK here.
The idea that the president was compelled to, in effect, declare President Obama's executive action unconstitutional is simply not true. And if he really thought it was unconstitutional, he wouldn't give him the extra six months. If it's -- it's either constitutional or it's not.
So I think what he was doing was trying to act like he's not killing DACA, trying to act like he loves these 800,000 people whose lives are now in jeopardy, but he is throwing them to the wolves.
BLITZER: We did hear from former President Obama, David, and he said this decision by the president today, President Trump, was cruel. It's not often we hear nowadays from President Obama.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And for SITUATION ROOM viewers who want to know just how strongly that President Obama feels about this issue, I encourage people to go back and read President Obama's speech from 2014 when he talked about comprehensive immigration reform. He compared DREAMers to Malia and Sasha, his own children, and said that, other than circumstances of their birth, he saw them as exactly the same. This to me is a shot across the bow to Congress that, if they don't fix this, they are on the wrong side, morally.
BLITZER: Yes, everybody stick around. Don't go too far away. We're just getting some new information about potential conflicts in the Russia investigation. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:47:42] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: There is more breaking news we are following. The White House has just issued emergency declarations for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma, very dangerous category 5 storm, churns toward the United States. We'll continue to track Irma throughout the evening.
In the meantime, let's get back to some other important news, including some political news we are following.
Manu, you're up there up on Capitol Hill. You and Evan Perez, our Justice Department correspondent. You've been reporting on some potential conflicts that have emerged between various congressional investigations into the Russia probe and the U.S. presidential election and what the special counsel Robert Mueller is up to.
Tell our viewers what you guys have learned.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right. You know, this probably could be foreseen given the fact there are three congressional committees that are investigating this issue. They really don't talk to each other. They are doing their own investigations and they are not getting much guidance about exactly what Robert Mueller is looking at as well.
But what we have learned is that the Senate Intelligence Committee and Robert Mueller's team had a bit of a snafu earlier this summer when Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, had been interviewed behind closed doors with the intelligence committee about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., which Donald Trump Jr. was promised dirt from the Russians about the Clinton campaign.
Now, when Manafort talked to the committee, Mueller's team actually wanted to get a transcript, transcribed interview. They wanted the transcript from that interview but they were denied from getting that transcription because of an agreement that had been reached between the committee and Paul Manafort's attorneys.
Now, also, Wolf, I just had a chance to speak with Senator Richard Burr, the intelligence committee chairman, who said there are still more questions about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting telling me that, I'm not sure that we know everything. He said that there are real questions about what the intent of the people in the meeting were, including the Russians. And he also is trying to figure out more about those -- the e-mails that came out from Michael Cohen, Trump's attorney, trying to move forward on a Trump Tower project in Moscow, saying they're trying to learn more information about that as well, a sign that this investigation could continue to go on.
[18:50:02] Mike Warner, his vice chairman, saying earlier today that he expects this to go into next year. Burr said his aspirational goal is to get it done this year. But there are so many things to continue to dig in on, including this Trump Tower meeting from June 2016 and this Trump Tower Moscow project as well.
BLITZER: Yes. Jeffrey, does Mueller's investigation outrank the congressional investigations?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, in simple terms, it does, because they have the ability to subpoena anything they want. And what I find peculiar about this story is that, you know, if Paul Manafort received a grant of immunity from Congress, then you could see why Mueller's team would not be able to get access to the transcript or not be able to use it.
But we know that Manafort has not received immunity. So, this transcript is simply a transcript that exists in the world and I don't see any reason why Mueller's people can't get their hands on it. And I assume by now they have, but that's the kind of thing that the tension that goes on. But the big fight is --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But as Manafort's lawyer, would you -- would you -- would you say, just hand it over?
TOOBIN: It's not up to him.
BORGER: Saying that's not the deal we struck, I mean, according to Manu.
TOOBIN: That's what's peculiar about this story is that I don't see how Manafort could strike a deal with Congress that says you can't give it to Mueller. Mueller could subpoena Congress. Mueller can get documents.
The idea that you can create documents outside of immunity, which is a whole separate category that are off limits to a criminal prosecutor just seems wrong to me. BLITZER: All right. Everybody, standby. There is much more
developing right now and I'm going to ask all of our panelists about a newly released excerpt from Hillary Clinton's book about the 2016 election. Get this: She's blaming Senator Bernie Sanders for, quote, lasting damage that led directly to Donald Trump nicknaming her crooked Hillary.
We're also monitoring Hurricane Irma, which is now one of the most powerful hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic. Will it hit the United States?
[18:56:37] BLITZER: We're back with our political specialists.
And, David, you know, it's amazing, the new book that Hillary Clinton is about to release next week, some excerpts have been released where she criticizes Bernie Sanders --
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.
BLITZER: -- pretty significantly.
Let me read a couple of sentences.
Throughout the primaries, every time I wanted to hit back against Bernie's attacks, I was told to restrain myself. Noting that his plans didn't add up, that they would inevitably mean raising taxes on middle class families, or that they were little more than a pipe dream. All of this could be used to reinforce his argument that I wasn't a true progressive.
My team kept reminding me that we didn't want to alienate Bernie's supporters. President Obama urged to grit my teeth and lay off Bernie as much as I could. I felt like I was in a straitjacket.
Pretty blunt words from her. And at least in part blaming Bernie Sanders for the problems she had eventually against Donald Trump.
SWERDLICK: Yes, blunt words and, you know, it may not be a popular thing to say, but I think she's right that he was one of a number of reasons why she lost. There are a lot of -- you know, sort of self- inflicted reasons, but one of the things that Sanders did in that campaign, for better or worse, was convince some Democrats that whatever had happened during the Obama years, a 38 percent drop in unemployment, getting rid of don't ask, don't tell, Obamacare, et cetera, wasn't good enough, that they weren't getting anything out of their party and that they should go a different way. It didn't work out for Democrats.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, even more so, Bernie Sanders set up the crooked Hillary image, you know, through talking about the speeches to Goldman Sachs --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. TOOBIN: -- you know, through talking about the speeches to Goldman Sachs, talking about how she was in the pocket of Wall Street, that I think was used to devastating effect by President Trump
SWERDLICK: And also forcing her hand on TPP as well.
BORGER: Right. But if -- let's just play this out. If she had hit back on him on all of this stuff, Bernie Sanders did not raise her e- mails. Remember, he was sick of her damned e-mails, right? So, he didn't raise her e-mails and he would have if she had hit him back, if she had hit him harder on a bunch of stuff.
I remember by the time your debate in Brooklyn occurred, they had the gloves pretty well off and Goldman Sachs came up, the speeches to Goldman Sachs, et cetera. But if she had started hitting back at him, they would have just handed the Republicans more fodder.
TOOBIN: And Trump might have won the election in that case.
BORGER: No, but they would have. So I don't think she was necessarily getting bad advice. I'm not so sure that she couldn't have thread the needle a little bit differently to kind of get it to a certain degree without alienating his supporters.
BLITZER: Her aides basically thought she had the Democratic nomination locked up and why get into a fight like this.
SWERDLICK: Yes, no, and that makes sense, and as Gloria saying, it's probably good advice to not start that fight when they were looking ahead to the general. That being said, though, I think she was -- and, look, let's be clear -- Senator Sanders was playing tough and playing fair, but he did soften her up for the general election.
BLITZER: You agree?
TOOBIN: Absolutely, absolutely, and especially about the idea of personal corruption, the idea that there was about her that was untrustworthy, which was something that Bernie Sanders made very clear and Donald Trump certainly made --
BORGER: But they didn't need Bernie for that. He already had that argument.
TOOBIN: And you're right, that Bernie did not raise the e-mails, which certainly Trump did.
BLITZER: We will continue this conversation, but after this show.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.