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Questions from Mueller Team to Trump Released; Source: Tabloid Story Could Be a Warning from Trump to Cohen. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 1, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Quick reminder, shameless plug. Check out my new novel, "The Hellfire Club," on Amazon and at local book stores now. That's it for "THE LEAD." I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.
[17:00:15] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Deferring and referring. The White House refuses to comment on the leaked questions Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump, who launched an angry tweet storm as the list went public. What do the questions reveal about Mueller's investigation?
Obstructed view. President Trump says the Mueller probe is all about obstruction of justice, and he claims there can't be obstruction if there's no underlying crime. Why do legal experts disagree?
Records raid. The president's former personal doctor says a White House aide raided his office and robbed him of Mr. Trump's medical records after pushing aside a patient and terrifying his secretary. What's in the records that the White House allegedly wanted so desperately?
And breaking Trump's fixer. A tabloid cover story targets the president's long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who's under criminal investigation. Sources say the paper's publisher, a close Trump friend, wouldn't have put out the piece without the president's permission. Is Mr. Trump turning against Michael Cohen?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The White House is refusing to comment on the reported questions Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump. The leaked list published by "The New York Times" and infuriating the president, who falsely claimed in a tweet that the questions did not include any on collusion.
Also breaking, the president's former personal doctor is accusing the White House of robbery. Dr. Harold Bornstein tells CNN a White House aide barged into his New York office and stole Mr. Trump's medical records.
We'll talk about the breaking news and much more with Senator Ben Cardin from the Foreign Relations Committee. And our reporters and experts are also standing by. First let's go straight to the White House. Our chief White House
correspondent, Jim Acosta, has the latest. The president is clearly irate that these Mueller questions have now been made public.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The anger is just not going away. The president tweeted but it but would not talk about the leak that the questions special counsel Robert Mueller has for Mr. Trump in the Russia investigation. On the subject of collusion, when it comes to the president, there seems to be some confusion.
ACOSTA (voice-over): No comment in the Oval Office, as President Trump tweeted his frustrations over "The New York Times" obtaining more than four dozen questions expected to be asked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia probe.
"So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russia witch hunt were leaked to the media," the president tweeted. "No questions on collusion. Oh, I see. You have a made-up phony crime, collusion, that never existed. And an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice."
But there were questions that go to the allegation of collusion. Like "When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting?" That's the meeting held by the president's son, Donald Trump Jr.; son-in-law Jared Kushner; and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, with the Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. The White House declined to weigh in.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would refer you to the president's outside personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani.
ACOSTA: They White House was in no mood to answer questions about the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who suddenly appeared on the cover of the Trump-friendly "National Enquirer," a possible sign, a source told CNN, that the president is turning against his long-time fixer.
Asked what he thought, Cohen told CNN, "What do you think?"
The White House won't weigh in on Cohen, who appears ready to plead the Fifth.
SANDERS: I can't speak on behalf of Michael Cohen. I'd refer you to him.
ACOSTA: The president is trying to turn his attention away from the Russia probe to his plan for a nuclear summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's probably going to be announced over the next couple of days, location and date.
ACOSTA: As he thanked the South Korea president's suggestion that Mr. Trump could win the Nobel Peace Prize.
TRUMP: I thought it was very generous of President Moon.
We want to get peace.
ACOSTA: But the White House is in damage control mode on another aspiring nuclear power, Iran, after the administration asserted in an official document, "These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known. Iran has a robust clandestine nuclear weapons program." The White House later changed the statement from "has" to "had."
SANDERS: We think the biggest mistake that was made was under the Obama administration by ever entering the deal in the first place. The typo that you referenced was noticed, immediately corrected.
ACOSTA: The White House is also not admitting any mistakes after the president's former personal doctor told NBC that his office was raided by aides to Mr. Trump early last year.
DR. HAROLD BORNSTEIN, FORMER PHYSICIAN FOR DONALD TRUMP: All his medical records, his pictures, anything they could find.
They must been here for 25 or 30 minutes. They created a lot of chaos. I couldn't believe anybody was making a big deal about a drug that's to grow -- to grow his hair, which seemed to be so important. And it certainly is not a breach of medical trust to tell somebody they take Propecia to grow their hair. What's the matter with that?
ACOSTA: The White House denied it was a raid.
SANDERS: As a standard operating procedure for a new president, the White House medical unit took possession of the president's medical records.
ACOSTA: Now as for the future of chief of staff John Kelly, the White House said he is not being considered for Veterans Affairs secretary. Questions about Kelly are swirling after it was learned that the chief of staff had made disparaging comments about the president in the past. The White House insists the two men have a good working relationship.
And Wolf, we should point out to our viewers, getting back to this question of collusion, it should be noted that the White House -- the president, they're still doing some doctoring of the truth. The Mueller investigation has still not reached a conclusion on that subject of collusion -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Fair point. Good work. Jim Acosta at White House.
Let's take a closer look at the questions the special counsel, Robert Mueller, wants to ask President Trump. Our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, is here. Jessica, you're getting some new information from your sources.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Wolf. Sources are telling us here at CNN that the special counsel's investigators have outlined nearly 50 questions to the president's legal team. And their scope is wide-ranging, encompassing four major categories: former national security Michael Flynn; fired FBI director James Comey; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; and any possible Russian coordination with the Trump campaign. And of course, it's that last line of inquiry that goes to the heart of those collusion questions.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The special counsel's investigators are focusing in on several areas where they have questions for the president. Sources tell CNN the questions themselves began taking shape in March when the president's legal team met with Mueller's investigators and took notes on the various topics the special counsel wanted answers on.
Several of those questions focused directly on possible collusion, including "What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?" That's according to a list obtained by "The New York Times" paraphrasing the potential questions.
Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman during the height of the primary, leading up to the convention. He's now fighting criminal charges filed by the special counsel, including money laundering and tax fraud.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: You look at the questions, they -- they demonstrate that the president has a lot of very difficult questions to answer. And it shows that this investigation is ongoing, both with respect to Russian participation and, you know, collusion with the Trump campaign. And the ongoing efforts of the president to impede, undermine, obstruct or stop the investigation.
SCHNEIDER: The president called the release of the possible questions disgraceful on Twitter Tuesday and falsely stated, "No questions on collusion," when, in fact, Mueller's team is looking for answers related to possible collusion, including "When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a Russian lawyer and others in June 2016?"
"During a 2013 trip to Russia, what communication and relationships did you have with the Agalarovs and Russian government officials?" Referring to his trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant he put on with Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov.
And "What discussions do you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin, since one-time campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russians and e-mailed several high-level officials during the campaign about requests from Russia to meet Trump.
TRUMP: It's a witch hunt. That's all it is. There was no collusion with Russia.
SCHNEIDER: Trump's tweets today lashed out even further. "It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened. Witch hunt." Legal experts, though, say that argument doesn't hold up.
MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You absolutely can obstruct a crime that never occurred.
SCHNEIDER: The obstruction of justice angle of the Mueller probe is clear in numerous questions asking for the details behind the firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey and the attorney general's continuously uncertain status. "Did you discuss whether Mr. Sessions would protect you? How was the decision made to fire Mr. Flynn on February 13, 2017. Regarding the decision to fire Mr. Comey, when was it made? Why? Who played a role?"
The official justification for Comey's firing was his handling of the Clinton e-mail probe. But the president acknowledged Russia played a part in a TV interview days later.
TRUMP: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, "You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."
SCHNEIDER: The questions touch on a long list of Trump associates and government officials, including Michael Flynn, James Comey and Jeff Sessions, as well as then CIA director and now secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former chief of staff Reince Priebus, and fired deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.
[17:10:00] SCHNEIDER: So the question still looms. Will the president sit down for an interview with the special counsel? Now you'll remember it was back in January when President Trump said he was looking forward to it, said he'd do it under oath but then acknowledged he'd have to follow the advice of his attorneys.
Now, the president did most recently address that exact issue again on Thursday in a wide-ranging interview on "FOX and Friends." At that point, he said he could talk to Mueller, but then argued that Mueller's investigators were conflicted because of their contributions to politicians in the past.
However, Wolf, President Trump has made this argument over and over again, but it should be noted that some of Mueller's team, they have donated, but both to Democrats and Republicans.
BLITZER: Good point. All right, Jessica. Thank you very much.
Let's get some more on all the breaking news. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland is joining us. He's a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, what stood out to you from that list of questions? SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Wolf, it's good to be with you.
I think the questions that they're asking are the ones that you would expect that they would want to have the answers.
There's been a lot of information about different people associated with Donald Trump and their connections to Russia and their connections to the Mueller investigation. So what Mr. Mueller investigators clearly want to know from Mr. Trump is his relationship to those individuals and to those that had relationships with the Mueller investigation.
BLITZER: Do these 49 questions tell you anything about where Mueller's investigation might be headed next?
CARDIN: Well, he's clearly looking at the relationship between associates of Donald Trump and Russia, as to how those connections were made and what Mr. Trump knew about it and when he knew about it.
He's also concerned about how individuals affected the investigation. Certainly, with the Comey firing and other issues, they want to know how Mr. Trump was engaged in those issues as to whether he's trying to affect the investigation. So I think they are pretty clear that their concerned about Russia engagement with Trump associates and the progression of the investigation on whether Mr. Trump was trying to influence that investigation.
BLITZER: The president tweeted this -- and I'll put it on the screen -- "It would seem hard to obstruct justice with a crime that never happened. Witch hunt." As you know, legal analysts, they disagree but it is true, as of right now the Department of Justice said that a sitting president can't be indicted. Should that standard change?
CARDIN: Well, no one's above the law. And everyone needs to be held accountable. We also want to make sure the Mueller investigation is able to complete its work without interference.
So no, no one is above the law. Obstruction is a pretty clear offense. It is well defined. We'll see where the investigation goes. But whether the president of the United States or whomever you may be, you are subject to the laws of this land.
BLITZER: Because the argument is that it shouldn't be up to the Department of Justice to make a decision like that. There is an impeachment process, impeachment of the House of Representatives, a trial in the U.S. Senate. In that regard, the president would not be above the law, as you say. What do you say to that argument?
CARDIN: The impeachment process is within the purview of the Congress of the United States. The criminal investigation are within the Department of Justice. And it is independent format. That investigation must meet its logical conclusion. And no one is above the law, and everyone needs to be held accountable.
BLITZER: Let's move to another important topic, Senator. The president said the location of his upcoming summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be announced in the next few days. The president seems intrigued by the idea of holding the meeting along the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. He said this. He said, "Numerous countries are being considered for the meeting, but would Peace House, Freedom House on the border of North and South Korea be a more representative, important and lasting site than a third-party country? Just asking."
What do you think? Is that a good idea?
CARDIN: Well, I've been to the Demilitarized Zone, and it is a neutral site. It is truly a place where you could meet directly on the border between North and South Korea. So it is a neutral site.
I'm not so concerned about the venue of the meeting, but the substance. Diplomacy is our best chance, our only chance to resolve the Korean nuclear conflict in a peaceful manner. So we're for success. We want the president to succeed. We want to see this nuclear crisis end. And we know that diplomacy is the way to get there.
So we're hoping that the venue will not become a controversial issue. Let's get all the parties together. It's not just the United States and North Korea and South Korea. We also need to engage China and our other allies in the region. So it is a very important meeting, and it's going to be challenging. Let's make no mistake about it.
[17:15:19] BLITZER: Certainly will be. All right, Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
CARDIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Ben Cardin of Maryland.
There's more breaking news. We're following new details of the tabloid cover story that could be a warning from President Trump to his long-time personal lawyer, friend and fixer, Michael Cohen. Stand by.
BLITZER: More breaking news. A possible sign of a rift between President Trump and his long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen. CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.
[17:20:07] Brian, there are lots of questions about a tabloid cover story targeting the man known as the president's fixer.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lots of serious questions, Wolf. Tonight Michael Cohen is under some serious legal pressure. And the questions center over whether Cohen will flip and -- on the president and cooperate with prosecutors or whether he already has.
That could be a key reason why Mr. Trump and a powerful ally of his in the tabloid media seem to have fired a warning shot at Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COHEN: It's splashed all over "The National Enquirer": "The Secrets and Lies of Donald Trump's Fixer." Inside the tabloid, a rehash of the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and other cases where Michael Cohen has allegedly cleaned up after his boss.
A source close to President Trump tells CNN, just the publishing of that "Enquirer" story could be a strong sign that Trump is upset with his personal attorney. According to CNN source, Enquirer publisher David Pecker, a long-time friend of the president, wouldn't have allowed the story to be printed without Trump's blessing.
MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED": It either means that someone in the president's camp has determined that Michael Cohen is already talking to prosecutors, to the special counsel, or that they're worried that he might flip in that way, and this is kind of a warning to him that the president could turn on his long-time ally.
TODD: Cohen has been under federal criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and Robert Mueller's team has reportedly sought documents and questioned witnesses about Cohen.
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: He's under a tremendous amount of pressure. The fact that they actually executed a search warrant on his office, a lawyer's office, very, very aggressive thing to do. Very rare that the Justice Department approves that.
TODD: According to two Trump campaign officials and federal election records, Trump's reelection campaign has paid more than $220,000 of Cohen's legal bills pertaining to the Russia investigation.
Trump recently tweeted he didn't think Michael Cohen would flip on him. But the president could still be distancing himself from his long-term-time confidant.
TRUMP (via phone): Well, as a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny little fraction. But Michael would represent me and represent me on some things. He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal he represented me. And you know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong.
TODD: For 12 years Michael Cohen has vowed to protect his most famous client, no matter what.
MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: He's a man of great intellect, great intuition and great abilities.
TODD: But if he flips, what kind of damaging information would Cohen have on the president?
FISHER: He's been kind of his advance man, looking at big projects, such as the idea of building a Trump Tower in Moscow. So Michael Cohen has been someone who has cleaned up some of the rough stuff in the Trump Organization through the years, whether it was paying off the porn star on behalf of the president, or going out and threatening reporters.
TODD: What might the long-term consequences be if Mr. Trump and Cohen turn on each other? Legal analysts say that could start a downward spiral for both of them. President Trump could make reckless comments that might incriminate him. Cohen could end up violating attorney- client privilege.
When asked if he thought the publication of "The National Enquirer" story was sending a message to him, Cohen told CNN, quote, "What do you think?"
But otherwise, Cohen has not commented on it.
We also just heard from AMI, the publisher of the "National Enquirer," which calls the characterization that that "Enquirer" story of Mr. Cohen would not be have been printed without the president's blessing, well, they call that ridiculous and absurd -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, Brian, Michael Cohen is now apparently also facing some questions about unpaid taxes. A lot of them, right?
TODD: That's right, Wolf. CNN has identified 16 taxi medallion holding companies in New York owned by Michael Cohen or members of his family. CNN's analysis of those companies shows they owe more than $280,000 in unpaid taxes. Excuse me. CNN has reached out to Cohen for comment. He hasn't gotten back to us, but Bloomberg, which first reported on this, says Cohen claims that he does not owe those taxes and that a wealthy taxi magnate in New York named Evgeny "Gene" Freidman is responsible for those payments.
BLITZER: Very interesting. All right, Brian. We'll continue to work this part of the story. Thank you.
There's more breaking news we're following. President Trump making false claims about Robert Mueller's questions for him while the White House refuses to comment. What do the questions reveal about the special counsel's probe?
Plus, President Trump's former personal physician, his personal doctor, is accusing the White House of robbery. Did Mr. President Trump's aides really raid the doctor's office?
[17:29:31] BLITZER: All right. Breaking news. Earlier this afternoon over at White House, the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, repeatedly avoided reporters' inquiries about the leak of questions that investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller apparently want the president to answer. The president himself took to Twitter to call the leak disgraceful.
Let's bring in our correspondents and analysts. And Laura, what stands out in your mind from these 49 questions?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Self-inflicted wounds, Wolf. These -- all these questions -- circle around what the president has tweeted, has spoken about, has alluded to, has insulted people a variety of ways. And so now it is coming back to haunt him.
I find it very ironic he would call it disgraceful when all it essentially is, is a composition of all the things you've already said. It's already in the public record. And naturally, Mueller and his team would be inquisitive about the things you said, your motivation behind saying them, your intent, why. It answers all the why.
The one thing you cannot get from every other evidence is what the president's motivation was, what was his state of mind, especially when it comes to obstruction cases.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Susan, do these questions reveal where Mueller's investigation is now heading?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they confirm that Mueller is interested in what we suspected he was interested in: Russian interference in the election and whether or not maybe anyone in the Trump camp assisted in that effort, and then any obstruction of justice questions. So there isn't really new information there.
Some legal commentators have suggested that, you know, these are the kinds of questions you might ask if you already had evidence of some kind of criminal conduct. There's a risk of over-reading here. Mueller is only going to get one shot at interviewing the president, if he gets that. So certainly, they're going to want to be thorough, sort of leave absolutely no stone unturned.
Conversely, the fact that some questions aren't here, particularly -- particularly those related to sort of Trump's finances. Just because they aren't included in this list does -- that doesn't mean that they're not going to be part of this interview.
BLITZER: Right. Because you can ask a question, and the president can give an answer, but then you can do a follow-up.
HENNESSEY: Right. Plus, these are sort of -- these appear to be sort of top-line topics. They aren't the verbatim questions, and they aren't necessarily a complete list.
BLITZER: Reading through these questions, Jamie, do you think it would be wise for the president to sit down and have an interview with Robert Mueller and his team?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: If he was watching television today, every single lawyer said, "If he was my client, I would not let him sit down."
And you have to wonder. One of the things we can't forget about these questions is that Robert Mueller gave Team Trump these areas and these questions in order to try to convince them it was OK to sit down. That was what was behind it, originally.
However, as we know, the president has a tenuous hold on the truth and a very tenuous hold on consistency. So perhaps one of the motivations for this coming out now is his lawyers are saying, reminding him, maybe this is not so good.
BLITZER: Yes. They've got to make a decision, because it looks like Mueller is beginning to move towards a conclusion in this investigation. We'll see if that happens any time soon.
Bianna, the president was pretty angry about this leak to "The New York Times." This is what he tweeted: "So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian witch hunt were leaked to the media. No questions on collusion. Oh, I see. You have a made-up phony crime, collusion that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice."
That's the president's tweet. But it isn't exactly true, because there were several of the questions that clearly revolved around collusion or cooperation or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. That was actually an entertaining tweet to read for a number of reasons. Because there is some speculation about where that leak actually came from, these questions, and it may be closer to the president than he's willing to admit.
And to be fair, there were 49 questions. Maybe he didn't get to question 45, which said, "Which knowledge -- what knowledge do you have about any outreach by your campaign, including your campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance?" I think most people would read that that implies any sort of potential collusion with Russia.
So that question is laid out bare right there, and obviously, this is a question and an issue that had been discussed now for months. So none of this should be a surprise. And as you said, the president said this is wrong. This is clearly written in one of the questions.
BLITZER: Yes. It certainly is. You know, and Laura, my own suspicion -- and I'm sure it's yours, as well -- you know, the Mueller team, they've collected so much information. They probably have the answers already to all of these questions. They're trying to determine if the president sits down and does an interview, will he commit perjury?
COATES: Yes. And that's absolutely true. Remember, no good prosecutor, investigator, would ever really ask a question they didn't already have information to support what answer they expected. Right? That's the No. 1 thing, but also, remember, it's all about incentive here, Wolf.
Both President Trump and Mueller's team have an incentive to come together and have a voluntary sit-down. Why? If you're Trump, you want your lawyers present. They can't be there in a grand jury. You want them there to rein you in, to potentially give you a muzzle, also to give some guidance of the parameters of the length and questions that are asked.
If you're Mueller, you would have to be hoping the president of the United States would not simply thumb his nose at a grand jury subpoena and would not require you to hold him in contempt, which has never been done before. The request has never been made of federal court or even the Supreme Court to say, hold the president of the United States in contempt.
So both have an incentive to come together, and you may see the categories of information that says, "Look, can we make this work?" In the back pocket is a grand jury subpoena. It's a strong one, only if the court supports it.
[17:35:03] You know, Susan, the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who's overseeing this investigation, he was asked today if a sitting president could actually be indicted. This is what he said.
"I'm not going to answer this in the context of any current matters, so you shouldn't draw any inference about it. But the Department of Justice has in the past, when the issue arose, has opined that a sitting president cannot be indicted."
Does this reluctance by him to answer that question tell you anything specific about where this might be heading?
HENNESSEY: I don't know that if provides any hints. We expect Rod Rosenstein to be extraordinarily careful.
He's referring to two memos authored by the Office of Legal Counsel, one in 1973 and in 2000. Both of those found that the sitting president could not be indicted. Those -- those opinions are binding on all Justice Department officials.
There is an open question, sort of a minority view belief that maybe this isn't binding on the special counsel's office. So the most interesting question here is really, whether or not Robert Mueller believes that he is bound by these legal questions, these legal decisions or whether or not he thinks, actually, he can answer that question for himself.
BLITZER: The deputy attorney general also responded to this threat of impeachment that some House Republicans are putting forward. He said the Department of Justice would not be, in his word, extorted, that he wouldn't let threats have an impact on how he does his job. What does it tell you about his state of mind?
GANGEL: I don't think he ever imagined that he would be in this position. He is known to be apolitical, professional, competent. He worked for five different presidents. When George W. Bush left he was one of three U.S. attorneys that stayed over for -- that Obama kept.
So I think he is stunned to be in this situation. But he sort of shrugged it off today. He used humor. He said at one point, they even leak their drafts. So I think he's trying to keep it in some context.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're right.
Ladies, there's a lot more we need to discuss. Everybody stand by. CNN has just spoken with President Trump's former doctor. He said he
was robbed when a White House aide came and took the president's medical records from his New York medical office. We're going to get a live update. That's next.
[17:4:54] BLITZER: Breaking news, the president's former personal doctor is accusing the White House of stealing the president's medical records from his medical office.
Our correspondent Alex Marquardt is in New York. I understand you just spoke with Dr. Harold Bornstein and what did he tell you?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We spoke with Dr. Bornstein outside of his Park office here a couple hours ago. He told us in no uncertain terms that his office was robbed. I asked him point blank, "Was a crime committed?" And he said, "They stole them," referring to President Trump's medical records.
The "they" he's referring to are two men. The first is Keith Schiller, who is President Trump's longtime bodyguard, who then went on to the White House to become the head of Oval Office Operations before he resigned. The second gentlemen is someone by the name of Alan Garten, who is an attorney for the Trump Organization.
Now Dr. Bornstein is telling us that normally in these situations, when medical records are handed over, that a release would have to be signed. That's known as a HIPAA release. He told us that had not been signed.
Instead, he said, they barged through the back door, terrified the secretary, pushed aside the patient who was in there. So a very dramatic account from Dr. Bornstein, which the White House disputes.
They do not dispute the fact that they came here to take control of the president's medical records. But they do dispute the fact that this was a raid. They said this was standard proceeding procedure for the White House medical unit to take possession of these medical records.
Of course, Dr. Bornstein says that that is -- they could not be farther from the truth. He said, "I've been waiting, humiliated for an entire year." This incident, Wolf, allegedly took place in February of last year. "How would you feel if you cared for someone for 35 years, and they came and raided your office?"
So Dr. Barnstein [SIC] -- Bernstein [SIC] -- Bornstein is alleging that a crime was committed. We checked with the NYPD. They say that no police report was filed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Wonder why he didn't file a police report. But that's an interesting question. Alex, thanks very much for that good reporting.
You know, it's a very bizarre story. Was a crime potentially committed, Laura?
COATES: Bizarre isn't even the word any more for what's happening here. But, yes, if you rob somebody, that's a crime in the general sense of things. If you say you have a justifiable reason, based on White House protocol, well, we'll have to look into that. But generally speaking, the medical records, in different states, they usually belong to the provider. The content in the medical records belongs to the person getting the treatment, and they could have access to it. They can copy it. They can transfer it.
But to actually take it and remove it is normally a violation, especially because of the HIPAA clause you talked about, which seeks to protect people and their privacy of medical records.
And so Donald Trump didn't go into that office to take his documents or the medical records, or the content. It was a surrogate or perhaps a proxy. And if that was not signed over, under HIPAA violations, I'm sure that any reasonable doctor would have said, "Well, this is a problem for a HIPAA violation. I should report it." The fact that he didn't is odd and kind of undermines a little bit of his credibility.
But then again, is it so shocking that he would not have alerted the authorities about the president of the United States' activity? Not so much.
BLITZER: Right. Well, what do you think? Is it too late -- Susan, you're a lawyer -- for the doctor to notify local police and say, "I was robbed a year ago"?
HENNESSEY: It's certainly bizarre, particularly if President Trump himself is not sort of concerned about this. The White House is saying that this is ordinary process.
It's not surprising that the White House would want to take possession of the President's sensitive medical records. That, obviously, would be a security vulnerability. But everything about this process seems utterly bizarre.
That said, if we go back to sort of February of last year, that post -- the post-inauguration period, a lot of things that were occurring without sort of a resort to process, so maybe it's not surprising that this type of stuff was going on.
BLITZER: Yes. Apparently, the White House -- the President wasn't happy about "The New York Times" interview that the doctor gave in which he said one of the drugs -- prescription drugs he was giving him, Propecia, helped hair growth.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You never know what is going to make him sensitive, but hair is certainly one of the things you can count on. Look, there are three sides to every story -- his, hers, and the truth. I think we're getting pieces here and there.
What is true, I'm told, is that the doctor, as you said, is supposed to keep the original. The patient can get a copy. So at the very least, the fact that everything disappeared from his office, whether or not an authorization was signed, is unusual.
We've also heard one report that he didn't know how to work his copy machine, so he just gave it to them. But this is -- you know, in the world of Donald Trump, this is not so unusual.
And remember, this is the doctor who famously said, if elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.
BLITZER: And you said it was bizarre story. Bianna, give us some context.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I can say, Wolf, that there are some names and some people that, prior to the election, we thought we continue to hear from. I can honestly say this was not one of them. I didn't think that we would hear from Dr. Bornstein, sort of a 2.0. But in this world, anything is possible.
I will say there are a lot of unanswered questions. Had the White House reached out to Dr. Bornstein first and asked for his records? Had he denied that request?
We don't know a lot of things here, but I can say, we've never seen this type of interaction about issues that seem to be rather mundane, right?
I mean, what other president's -- former president's doctors' names do you really know off the top of your head? And yet these people seem to be coming in and out of our lives and become celebrities in their own right. It just doesn't seem normal, but I guess this is the new world we live in.
BLITZER: Yes. I should point that that Keith Schiller, the President's longtime bodyguard, he's now on the payroll of the Republican National Committee. So he's still working indirectly for the President of the United States who is the leader of the Republican Party.
Guys, stick around. There is some more breaking news we're following. Getting details of the alarming new provocation of the United States military by a Russian fighter pilot.
[17:52:41] BLITZER: Tonight, we're getting new details about an alarming incident involving a U.S. Navy surveillance plane like this one and what Pentagon sources are now calling unprofessional conduct by a Russian fighter pilot.
Let's go to our Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne, who's covering this for us. What happened, Ryan?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Wolf, a U.S. Navy P-8 surveillance plane was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet known as an SU-27 in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea, we're being told.
Now, officials originally described this intercept as being unprofessional but safe. Now, the U.S. Navy not commenting publicly on intercepts, saying they will only comment publicly on ones that are considered unsafe.
But this is in an area that is heavily contested between Russia and the United States, where they monitor each other closely. Both have military forces in the region. There are many NATO allies there. And the Russians have a significant military presence as well.
BLITZER: How common, Ryan, are incidents like this?
BROWNE: Well, these intercepts are fairly common. Now, unsafe intercepts are much less common.
You're seeing video there from an unsafe intercept from January where a Russian fighter jet came within five feet of a Navy surveillance plane in the Black Sea.
Now, U.S. officials believe that Russia does this both to send a message to U.S. military forces in the region, kind of indicate that they see this as their backyard, but also to closely observe U.S. activities as they fear that the U.S. may be gaining critical intelligence about Russian military assets in the region.
BLITZER: So what's the usual U.S. response? Does it deter the U.S. from engaging in these kinds of activities that the Russians clearly don't like?
BROWNE: Well, the U.S. continues to say they're going to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows. These occasions do happen in international airspace. And the U.S. is seeking to, quote/unquote, desensitize Russia to these types of surveillance flights, so they're going to keep this activity up in the hopes that Russia gets used to it.
BLITZER: Ryan Browne at the Pentagon. Thanks very much.
BROWNE: You got it.
BLITZER: There's breaking news coming up, why the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is asking for more time before sentencing the President's national security advisor, Michael Flynn.
[17:54:48] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Flynn's sentencing delay. The Special Counsel is asking for more time until punishment is decided for the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who's been cooperating in the Russia probe. What does the request reveal about Robert Mueller's investigation?
Questions, no answers. As we're learning more about what Mueller wants to ask the President, the White House is refusing to comment tonight. What did Mr. Trump know about the questions before they were published in print and online?
Won't be extorted. That's what the man who oversees the Mueller investigation is declaring tonight. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein firing back at Trump allies who want to oust him from the Justice Department.
[17:59:55] And doctor's orders. The President's physician for decades says Mr. Trump's medical records were stolen from his office by key White House and Trump organization officials. His claims are raising new concerns tonight.