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Interview With Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Will Mueller Subpoena Trump?; Trump Quotes His Former Attorney: "You are Screwing With the Work of the President of the United States"; EPA Chief Pruitt a Target of At Least 11 Federal Probes. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 2, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Offering ground rules for Robert Mueller to question the president, insisting it could last only for a few hours at most. Might that persuade Mueller to make good on his subpoena threat?
Powers tripped. An ominous new warning from Mr. Trump, that he might use his executive authority to derail the Russia investigation. What would be the trigger for him to intervene?
And Trump's TV tapes. One of the president's accusers, former apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, is looking for evidence on Mr. Trump on recordings of his longtime television show. What does she expect to find?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, dramatic new turnover in the president's legal team, as Mr. Trump and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, may be headed for an ugly high-stakes showdown. The top White House lawyer is calling it quits and an attorney who represented President Clinton during the impeachment process is being hired.
I will get reaction from Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary to President Obama, former chief of staff to President Clinton. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, this is another sign the Trump legal team is getting more combative.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump's legal team is changing again.
This time, it's White House lawyer Ty Cobb who is stepping down. He had advocated caution on the president's legal team, but a source tells CNN Cobb was clashing with the president over his attacks on the special counsel's investigation.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It could be the most ominous departure on the Trump legal team yet. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who had counseled the president for months to stop attacking special counsel Robert Mueller, is out.
Cobb told CNN: "I have done what I came to do in terms of managing the White House response to the special counsel's requests. I'm extremely grateful to the president and Chief of Staff John Kelly for the opportunity to serve my country."
But a source familiar with Cobb's departure tells CNN the White House lawyer was uncomfortable with the president's tweets hammering Mueller and wanted no part of a mudslinging campaign, making it clear he can't go down that path.
Replacing Cobb, attorney Emmet Flood, who joins a legal team that has changed dramatically in recent weeks, adding former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and losing both Cobb and outside attorney John Dowd.
Flood had worked on the legal team defending former President Bill Clinton against impeachment.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It depends upon which the meaning of the word is, is.
ACOSTA: Democrats are pouncing on the latest chaos in Trump world.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: Nobody can stay around Donald Trump long who has a conscience and who has character and who believes in ethics. I think that's probably why Dowd left. That's why Ty Cobb left. And that's why Mr. Flood's time is limited.
ACOSTA: The president's legal tweets on the Mueller probe are a sign his legal team is getting more aggressive. Hinting he could shut down the investigation, Mr. Trump tweeted: "At some point, I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the presidency and get involved."
The president is escalating his attacks on the Justice Department after Mueller warned earlier this year he may subpoena Mr. Trump to force his testimony. Democrats argue a subpoena may be necessary.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Do I want to see it? No. But if it's necessary, it should be done.
QUESTION: What would make it necessary?
NADLER: If he refuses to answer questions that the special counsel deems necessary to be answered.
ACOSTA: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe, told CNN's Laura Jarrett his investigators are not backing down.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: There are people who have been making threats, privately and publicly, against me for quite some time. And I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.
ACOSTA: That puts even more pressure on a president, who has told reporters repeatedly he wants to cooperate with Mueller's team.
QUESTION: Mr. President, would you still like to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller, sir?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
I would like to.
QUESTION: You would do it under oath?
TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath.
QUESTION: Do you think Robert Mueller will be fair to you in this larger investigation?
TRUMP: We're going to find out, because here's what we will say, and everybody says, no collusion. There's no collusion.
ACOSTA: Now, this latest turmoil comes after the president tweeted just last month that he was happy with his legal team, calling Ty Cobb his -- quote -- "special counsel."
All the indications now are pointing to the president's legal team becoming much more combative in dealing with the Russia investigation. As one source told CNN, playing nice hasn't gotten them anywhere.
And, Wolf, there could be more changes coming to the president's legal team, as one source familiar with discussions inside the White House told me earlier today, Emmet Flood, who was brought in to essentially Ty Cobb right now, could end up replacing the White House counsel, Don McGahn, and that could happen in the coming months -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will see what happens.
Jim Acosta, thank you.
Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Evan Perez.
Evan, what might these changes in Trump's legal team might suggest?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think it suggests that the president is getting ready to do battle with the special counsel, Wolf.
I think the idea that they have brought up the idea that they have suggested going the route of doing a subpoena, if they cannot come to an agreement with the president to do a voluntary interview, I think, shows you where this is going.
Ty Cobb was the last person in the president's team who was advocating for some kind of a deal, some kind of an agreement, a cooperative stance with the special counsel. John Dowd, who initially began on that side, by the time he left, had now moved over to the point where he believed that it was not a good idea to have the president sit down for a voluntary interview.
And so now you have people who are looking at this and thinking that this is not a very good idea. And the special counsel may then have to do a subpoena. And then we will see whether or not there's going to be a legal fight.
BLITZER: Well, Rudy Giuliani is now one of his lead lawyers, the former New York mayor. He told "The Washington Post" today that if the president were to talk to Mueller and his investigators, it would be a max, he said, of two, three hours, and would be restricted to certain questions.
Is Mueller likely to agree to those kind of terms?
PEREZ: I think it's very interesting that this is the way they're going about this, which is almost negotiating through the press.
And I think -- look, I think if you're Mueller, you need to have the president speak to the special counsel before this is over. And so, if you're going to have to go through litigation, go all the way to the Supreme Court over a subpoena, that's not going to serve anybody's interests.
So I think it's very possible what will happen here is that, you know, people will -- they will line up, again, they will do battle, and then right before you get to a court decision, the two sides will find a way to come to an agreement. Maybe Rudy is right. Maybe Rudy will find a way to convince Mueller to accept a limited interview, perhaps a couple hours, not something that will last all day, and maybe have his lawyers in the room, which is not done normally under a grand jury.
There are all kinds of ways you can come to some kind of terms to allow for this to go forward.
BLITZER: Yes, Mueller clearly wants to show respect for the president, but there are limits to how far that's going to last.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much for that.
Joining us now, Leon Panetta. He served as the defense secretary and CIA director during the Obama administration. He was also the White House chief of staff during the Bill Clinton administration.
Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Nice to be with you,
BLITZER: All right. So we're seeing some of the negotiations between Robert Mueller and the president's team play out in public, as we just reported. Where do you see all of this heading?
PANETTA: Well, that's the big question of the moment.
It clearly is crunch time with regards to the Mueller investigation. I think they have reached a point where, very frankly, they're not going to be able to conclude this investigation without the testimony of the president of the United States.
And at the same time, it would seem that if the president says that he's done nothing wrong, there's no collusion, then you would think that the ability to kind of speak the truth would make it easy for him to sit down and answer the questions of the special prosecutor.
On the other hand, if that is a problem, then his legal team is going to continue to put up a confrontation and challenge the approaches of the special prosecutor. But, ultimately, they're playing a losing game, because I think the courts will uphold the right of this special prosecutor to get this kind of very important testimony.
BLITZER: Is the departure, the quitting by Ty Cobb as one of the president's lawyers a sign that the president's strategy in dealing with the Mueller investigation is about to get a whole lot more aggressive?
PANETTA: That, too, is the question of the moment, because Emmet Flood is a skilled lawyer and is somebody who I believe kind of respects the way the law is supposed to be enforced here.
So, if you're expecting to get a skilled lawyer on a team that's going to fight every step of the way and basically try to confront the special prosecutor and challenge him, the way the president's been trying to do through his tweets, I just think that that, too, is just a strategy that's going to lead to nowhere.
It's basically going to lead to the courts trying to enforce what we all know has to take place here. One way or another, if the president wants this investigation to come to an end, it's only going to come to an end when the president testifies to the special prosecutor.
That's the reality, and he can change lawyers every other day, but that reality remains the same.
BLITZER: Quick question on Emmet Flood, the new lawyer coming into the White House to work with the president on all of this. He did serve during the Bill Clinton impeachment process. He was a relatively junior lawyer at that time. Did you know him? What can you tell us about him?
PANETTA: I was not familiar with him, largely because I wasn't in Washington at the time.
But I do know through others that Emmet Flood is a skilled lawyer and somebody who is well-respected in legal circles. So, you know, it will be interesting to see how this new lawyer added to this team with Rudy Giuliani and others, what kind of strategy are they ultimately going to agree to in order to try to bring this investigation and this prosecution to a conclusion?
BLITZER: How much risk is involved for Robert Mueller, the special counsel, if he were to decide to subpoena the president?
PANETTA: I think Bob Mueller, being the kind of professional prosecutor that he is, knows that, in the end, he cannot come to any conclusion unless he has the testimony of the president of the United States.
I think he will -- knowing Bob Mueller, that he will try to do everything possible to work with the president's legal team, to see whether or not there isn't an approach that would be acceptable to them that would allow for the president to do this through some kind of agreement.
He will exhaust that effort. But if in the end they block him every step of the way, then there's no question in my mind that he will seek a subpoena, and that the courts will uphold his right to seek that subpoena.
BLITZER: What are the implications if the president were to get a subpoena, but he would still refuse to testify, to answer questions, and cite his right under the Fifth Amendment?
PANETTA: Well, again, I think -- I think the president, for his own credibility purposes, having said that he -- in the past that he's more than willing to sit down with a special prosecutor, that if there's a decision here to block his testimony every step of the way, whether it's through opposing a subpoena, fighting a subpoena, and then, when the president sits down, taking the Fifth, one way or another, that would raise implications that there is some evidence here with regards to the charges that might come against the president.
I think the president has got to be very careful to play that game, because, after all, this should be an effort. The president of the United States swears an oath to uphold the law. This should be a question of finding the truth. And if the truth is something that the president's not afraid of, then it would seem to me that he ought to cooperate with the special prosecutor to bring this investigation to a conclusion.
BLITZER: The Justice Department, as you know, says it won't turn over the complete memo that was written by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, outlining the full scope of the Robert Mueller investigation. It won't turn it over to members of Congress.
They released a chunk of it, but a lot of it has been redacted, blacked out. The president tweeted this earlier in the morning. Let me put it up on the screen: "A rigged system. They don't want to turn over documents to Congress. What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal 'justice" -- justice in quotes. "At some point, I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the presidency and get involved."
All right, so here's the question. This memo concerns the investigation into the 2016 campaign, the behavior of people in office. Is it wise for the president to make a threat like this against his own Justice Department and -- quote -- "get involved"?
PANETTA: I think the president has to be reminded time and time again that no president is above the law. This president isn't going to be able to use somehow his constitutional powers to avoid the law being enforced.
And the reality is that when the Justice Department makes the decision as to what evidence they will or will not turn over to Congress, what they're trying to do is to make sure that they do not impact on an investigation, a legal investigation, into a potential crime.
And they're the ones that have the right to make that judgment. If the president tries to interfere with that, if the president tries to do something that tries to breach their approach to enforcing the law, then, very frankly, the courts will uphold the rule of law.
That's what the president has to keep in mind. He might want to play that game, but, ultimately, he would pay a heavy price if he does.
BLITZER: Well, what if he were simply to declassify that memorandum and say, you know what, I don't agree with the Justice Department? They say these paragraphs are redacted because it could undermine criminal investigations that are under way right now.
But the president, legally, he can declassify anything he wants, right?
PANETTA: Well, I'm not so sure that's the case when it comes to a legal investigation. It's true when it comes to secrets that are involved with intelligence and in dealing with foreign crises of one kind or another.
But if it involves the president interfering with a legal investigation and releasing -- trying to release facts that could impede that legal investigation, I think that president would be in trouble.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you make a good point on that front.
But let me quickly get your reaction, Mr. Secretary, to CNN's reporting that the current White House chief of staff, John Kelly, called President Trump, and I'm quoting now, "unhinged."
This is just one of many instances of top advisers criticizing the president like this behind closed doors, but, as you know, word gets out very quickly. What does all of this tell you?
PANETTA: Well, you know, again, there are all kinds of reports about what people say about the president. And I don't know what's true and what's not true.
But it's obvious, too, that if the president is going to be able to do his job, he's got to have a trusting relationship with his chief of staff. And I guess I'm hopeful that, despite how tough it is in that relationship, that, ultimately, because I think John Kelly is a good person and trying to do the right thing, I hope that they can restore a relationship of trust, because, ultimately, this president cannot do his job unless he's got a strong chief of staff who's willing to support that president.
That's the bottom line. So we will see where it goes. But I do hope that both of them can develop that kind of trust, because it's essential to a chief of staff and a president being able to do their jobs.
BLITZER: But if the president undermines the White House chief of staff, tells new people coming into the White House, like Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser, John Bolton, the national security adviser, you know what, don't go through the White House chief of staff, you're reporting directly to me, if the president decides to use his personal cell phone to skirt the White House chief of staff and not let the White House chief of staff know with whom he's talking, how long can a White House chief of staff -- and you were once a White House chief of staff -- continue in that job?
PANETTA: Well, then that's a decision for John Kelly to make.
If, in fact, the president, who has the power to do that, tells people, you can bypass the chief of staff, you don't have to go through the chief of staff's operation, then I think John Kelly faces a very tough decision as to whether or not he can do his job if the president doesn't respect his role as chief of staff.
I would certainly not remain chief of staff if the president did that to me when I was chief of staff.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a pretty serious snub, indeed.
Leon Panetta, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.
PANETTA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Still ahead, what did a former Trump campaign aide tell the special counsel's team today? We will have a live report on the latest testimony in the Russia probe.
And the tale of the tapes -- a Trump accuser looking for evidence in recordings of "The Apprentice."
[18:23:54] BLITZER: Tonight, a new legal move by one of President Trump's accusers.
The former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos seeking access to recordings of the reality TV show, looking for evidence in her defamation case against the president.
Let's go to our national correspondent, Athena Jones.
Athena, tell us more about this new request by Zervos and her lawyer.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. That's right.
Zervos' lawyer is asking Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns the archives of "The Apprentice," to provide a series of documents to her legal team. They want them to turn over all documents, video, or audio that feature Summer Zervos or Mr. Trump talking about Summer Zervos and any recording in which Trump speaks of women in a sexual or inappropriate matter.
And I want to read to you from the subpoenas which we've now obtained.
Here's what they're explicitly asking for. They want any recordings of Trump talking or commenting on the female candidates or female potential candidates of any season of "The Apprentice" in any sexual or inappropriate manner, including, without limitation, any statements or comments by Trump concerning any female candidates or potential candidate's body or body parts and/or his sexual or romantic desire or intention concerning any female candidate or potential candidate.
So they -- the lawyer for Summer Zervos, Mariann Wang, tells me, "We are gathering evidence that will prove that defendant Trump lied when he falsely denigrated Mrs. Zervos and denied sexually assaulting her."
Of course, Zervos is suing Trump for defamation for denying those allegations, calling her a liar. She has accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2007.
So this is interesting. We also know that they want to depose a representative from Metro -- from MGM to ask them, how are all of these audio and video recordings from any tapings or auditions related to "The Apprentice," how are those recordings maintained? How are they stored? Who has access to them? Were they ever -- were any of them ever destroyed?
So, they want to be able to ask MGM representatives directly about those recordings. They're also asking for records from the Beverly Hills Hotel. That is the location where Zervos says -- was one of the incidents where she says that Trump groped her back in 2007.
That subpoena is seeking records of any stay by Trump from 2005 through the end of 2009, plus any documents related to Keith Schiller, his longtime bodyguard, and also Rhona Graff, his longtime assistant, or Summer Zervos. They also want to depose a representative from the Beverly Hills
Hotel, to ask similar questions about how the records are maintained. They also want to find out if there are any video recordings that depict the entrances, common areas, or bungalow areas of the Beverly Hills Hotel during the month of December 2007.
So they are clearly trying to get this evidence to prove their case. And as is familiar, we're seeing now in a lot of these legal woes that Trump is facing, they're hoping to use his own words against him. And, of course, this all goes back in many ways to that "Access Hollywood" tape, the infamous tape where you could hear Trump on tape talking about women in a vulgar manner and bragging about grabbing women by the genitals -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Athena Jones, thanks for that update.
As the president is girding for the battle against Robert Mueller, the special counsel's team was interviewing a former Trump campaign aide today.
Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.
Manu, what are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign adviser, did meet with special counsel Robert Mueller's team today, this after he has met with other panels that have been investigating the Russia matter.
Caputo himself has been a longtime friend and associate of Roger Stone. Stone is someone who's been very close to the president over several decades. And Stone himself has come under a lot of scrutiny as part of this investigation, because of contacts that he had with an intermediary, with WikiLeaks, which of course was the organization that released those hacked Clinton e-mails.
Stone also had jokingly told a friend that he was having dinner with Julian Assange during the campaign season. He later said it was a joke. Even his text messages and other records show that he was saying that he was going to have dinner with Julian Assange.
Undoubtedly, those are issues that this investigation is looking into, something that perhaps Michael Caputo was asked about, if he had any knowledge of this as well. Caputo told me that he believed it was a difficult, but fair proceeding, when he met with the special counsel's team.
Now, Caputo, of course, has denied doing anything wrong, said there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And when he met with the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, he made that abundantly clear.
He said this has essentially been wrapped up, people who have nothing to do with this issue and forced legal bills to skyrocket, including his own, to the tune of $125,000, forcing him to make some decisions that could really implicate his family.
And he left the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wolf, with some rather strong words, saying -- and excuse me my language, this is from his closing statement which he released -- he says, "God damn you to hell."
That's what he said to the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. Unclear if he said that to Robert Mueller's team today. But he did describe that as fair, even though he did say it was also difficult, too, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Manu, thanks for that update.
Just ahead: He helped President Clinton survive the impeachment process. How will President Trump's newest lawyer influence the next phase of the Russia investigation?
And will the president's past as a reality TV star be used against him? Our legal analysts are standing by to weigh in on the move, the newest move by a Trump accuser.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the president's top White House lawyer is stepping down after trying and failing to persuade Mr. Trump to play nice with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. This as Trump team lawyer, the new member, Rudy Giuliani, is trying to dictate ground rules for Mueller to interview the president.
[18:34:32] Let's bring in our legal and political experts. And Pamela, you and Gloria have been doing some great reporting on all of this. But the whole notion of Rudy Giuliani telling Mueller, "Well, you might get two or three hours with the president, that's it, but they've got to be specific subjects that are discussed." Where do things stand now?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You have to wonder what Robert Mueller thinks when he sees something like that: "Oh, that's what you think is going to happen?"
Because look, this is an ongoing negotiation by both sides. And sources have told both me and Gloria that the prospect of an interview between the president and Robert Mueller was dim and is growing dimmer by the day, essentially, ever since the raid on the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
That said, it isn't off the table yet. They are still looking at some possibilities of how they would want an interview to be. But that doesn't mean that Robert Mueller will agree to that.
And as we reported last night, in an earlier meeting last month, Robert Mueller did bring up the idea of a subpoena, compelling the president to testify, which would mean it would happen, if he won, if there was any court battle, it would happen in a grand jury where the president would not be represented by a lawyer. So that's something that the president's legal team seriously has to weigh here. BLITZER: What do we know, Gloria, about this Emmet Flood, the new
member of the White House legal team? What does that suggest to you?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, this is somebody who has a lot of experience with the issue of impeachment, during Bill Clinton. He's also somebody who's an expert on executive privilege, I'm told, which is another issue that could come up. He's somebody who worked for Bush.
So -- and I'm told by people who know him is that he couldn't be more different from Donald Trump if he tried to become like Bob Mueller, who is incredibly different from Donald Trump. He's a buttoned-down guy, very organized, you know, no seat-of-the-pants kind of a -- kind of a lawyer. And so, it's going to be interesting to see how that relationship develops.
He will not have the same job, I'm told, that Ty Cobb had. Cobb's job was essentially getting the documents all ready and handing them over to the special counsel. There's been some argument between, say, Don McGahn, the White House counsel, and Ty Cobb about whether Cobb should have used the issue of executive privilege more than he did. So we may be hearing a little bit more about that.
There's also some thought that maybe when McGahn leaves, that Flood could move into that job of White House counsel. But right now, his job will be focused on the Russia investigation.
BLITZER: On March 11, Jeff, President Trump flatly denied in a tweet that he was making any changes as far as his legal team is concerned. Let me read to you his statement on March 11. The president of the United States.
"The failing 'New York Times' purposefully wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong! I am very happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb, and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job."
We know that John Dowd since then is gone. Ty Cobb today, gone. He did add Rudy Giuliani, added a couple lawyers, Miami-based lawyers to the legal team. The failing "New York Times" was not failing then, not failing now. The failing "New York Times" was right, and the president clearly with this statement, was wrong.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, here's the thing about being a lawyer for working for Donald Trump. It's just like anyone else working for Donald Trump. I mean, look at the turnover. Look at the turnover in the cabinet. How many national security advisers has he had? I mean, this is how Donald Trump manages people. They come and go.
And given the importance of lawyers, and, you know, to a president who is under a very serious investigation, it is not at all surprising that he became dissatisfied and broke ranks with, you know, Dowd who was essentially in charge, Ty Cobb, who was the White House liaison to the lawyers. And, you know, the merry go round continues. BLITZER: Yes. Take a look in the last four months the turnover on
his legal team, even though a couple of months ago, the president said, there's not going to be much of a -- that he's very happy with his legal team. No changes. Nobody new is coming in, nobody is leaving. Just check that out.
TOOBIN: Just -- hardly any women and no black people. That's the rule of the Trump administration.
BORGER: Well, I was also told that one of the things that bothered the president was he couldn't get any, quote, "big-time Washington lawyers" to go work for him. So Emmet Flood is -- is a big-time Washington lawyer.
TOOBIN: He is, no question. And --
BORGER: So now he's checked that box.
TOOBIN: Superb lawyer.
BLITZER: What happens, Joey Jackson, if the Mueller team issues a subpoena to the president of the United States? Walk us through the process. Let's say he refuses voluntarily to answer questions.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. Well, just to get up to speed, you know, as it relates to a subpoena. We're talking about a grand jury subpoena. Just to remind you, grand jury has 23 members. A majority -- that is 12 -- can vote to indict whatever subject or subjects are before them. The issue is, is there reasonable cause to believe a crime was committed and that whatever subject committed it. So we're talking about a grand jury subpoena.
The process, I think, will be, is that clearly, the president, like anyone else, is not above the law. And as a result of that, there's certainly precedent for a grand jury subpoena to be issued to a president. I would remind you about Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. Remember, he testified. Ultimately, he withdrew any objection and appeared voluntarily.
The significance of that, was that he was able to negotiate the terms of his appearance, that is Bill Clinton before the grand jury. Closed-circuit television, you know, multiple hours, about five hours. He had attorneys present. That's important, because you're not allowed to have attorneys in a grand jury.
[18:40:12] So the president certainly has the option of challenging it, taking it all the way. I don't see a legitimate basis for him to challenge it.
But if he does testify, Wolf, the issue will be whether he pleads the Fifth. And how ironic that will be, having played the various clips where the president says, "Hey, only guilty people plead the Fifth Amendment. Why would they be pleading if they're not guilty?" I think the president seriously has to consider it, given the fact that he plays loose and fast with the truth. That's just an objective fact. TOOBIN: There's another point to be made about possible testimony,
either voluntary or grand jury. Rudy Giuliani, you know, said today he was proposing two or three hours. It's not unreasonable for the president of the United States to have a time limit on an interrogation. Usually in the grand jury, they can just talk to you as long as they want.
But, you know, given the unusual, unique status of the president in our constitutional system, even if it's a grand jury subpoena, and even if he's forced to testify, it is quite possible a judge would say, "You can only have him for four hours." So two or three hours, as Giuliani proposed, is certainly too short.
But you know, with Clinton, it was only four, and I think it went a little longer than that. So the idea of time limits is not unreasonable.
BORGER: But when you see those 49 questions and you see the ground that has to be covered, you know, I --
TOOBIN: He may not get --
BORGER: I can see Mueller saying, "Wait a minute. You know, that's just not enough."
TOOBIN: He may not be able to answer -- I mean, he may not be able to ask all those questions.
BROWN: That's why it's a gamble, though, if you think about it, to let this get to a subpoena where it goes to a court fight. And if Mueller wins, they wouldn't be able to negotiate these terms. A time limit, like you point out, or what questions would be asked. Because then, if Mueller would win that court fight, he would have to go before this grand jury without a lawyer.
TOOBIN: And that's why Clinton ultimately caved on that.
JACKSON: But the critical thing, Wolf, remember. He can always say, "I plead the Fifth." And, you know, that has political consequences, but legally, he's entitled to say, "I have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, no matter what you ask me, if it relates to any criminality."
BLITZER: As any -- as any American can do.
BORGER: But his lawyers say -- but his lawyers say, and they tell us at this point that there are so many constitutional issues that they've got to deal with first that they don't think that it would ever get to that.
TOOBIN: And they never change their positions on anything.
BORGER: Never. BLITZER: All right, guys, stick around. There's more news we're
following. Another front for the president's legal team to do battle. Will a Trump accuser get access to "The Apprentice" tapes?
[18:47:19] BLITZER: President Trump just tweeted a new complaint about the special counsel's Russia probe. He's quoting one of his departed attorneys, John Dowd.
Let me read from this tweet, quote: This isn't some game. You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States. That's what John Dowd said earlier. With North Korea, China, the Middle East and so much more, there is not much time to be thinking about this, especially since there was no Russian collusion.
Earlier in the day, the president had a similar tweet, saying there's very important issues, North Korea, nuclear war, China, trade deficits, negotiations and NAFTA, witch hunt! There was no collusion. It is a hoax.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: In 1997, Bill Clinton's lawyers made exactly the same argument to the United States Supreme Court in saying, I don't have time, as president, to, you know, give a deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Look at all the things I'm doing. And presidents are busy on very important matters.
And the Supreme Court said, too bad! And there's every reason to believe that a court today would say, too bad, you're not above the law.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I just make a point that he is quoting -- he is quoting John Dowd, who left --
BLITZER: Who quit.
BORGER: Who quit because the president, partly because the president wasn't taking his advice. He is quoting John Dowd, who actually said this to the special counsel, the president is very busy. But here is the very busy president, who spends his time, you know, tweeting about how very busy he is with all of these other things, instead of being busy with all of these other things.
TOOBIN: And at the oral argument of the Clinton v. Jones case, Justice Scalia said, how come the president is playing golf if he's so busy? Donald Trump plays more golf than Bill Clinton, that's for sure.
BLITZER: We also know, by the way, Pamela, there was a major meeting at the White House on North Korea today and the president did not attend that meeting.
PAMELA TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did not attend that meeting. He hasn't tweeted about that, but he has tweeted about collusion at least two times today. And yet in this latest tweet, he says, there is not much time to be thinking about this, thinking about collusion and so forth.
But what's also is interesting here is he's quoting this, John Dowd, his former attorney, what John Dowd reportedly said to Robert Mueller from "The Washington Post" article that came out last night. So, he is quoting something from "The Washington Post" that, of course, he has called fake news and Amazon and so forth. I mean, all of this is really ironic.
BORGER: But this is why the tweets are the truest Donald Trump you will ever get, because they really show you how his mind works and how one thing kind of leads to another and leads to another and takes you down this Alice in Wonderland hole.
[18:50:08] BLITZER: Yes, let me get Joey to weigh in. Joey, what do you think?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I certainly think he can't go down that Alice in Wonderland hole at least as it relates to untruthful testimony if he does testify at any point. I mean, the reality is that presidents, you know, I'm certain he knows how to walk and chew gum at the same time. The probe is a significant probe. I think the American people have a right to find out exactly what occurred. Mueller is doing it, saying we know based upon 19 indictments and five guilty pleas that it's not a witch hunt at all and we have to let it run it's course.
And so, yes, we have North Korea and China and we have the Iran deal and so many things that are, you know, impacting the country but at the same time, the show must go on as it relates to collusion and the interference of Russia in our elections.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following.
Teflon Scott, the EPA chief is now facing nearly a dozen federal investigations as new scandals emerged by the day. What would it take for Scott Pruitt to be forced out?
[18:55:46] BLITZER: Tonight, embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt is a target of a whopping 11, 11 investigations and counting, as more stunning revelations emerged about his spending and other actions while in office.
I'm joined now by CNN's Sara Ganim, who's been reporting on this.
Pruitt has managed to keep his job, Sara, but the pressure clearly is (INAUDIBLE)
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Republican supporters of Scott Pruitt thought he dodged a bullet when he went to Capitol Hill and held his own answering questions about his ethics. But even now, more has been trickling out on Scott Pruitt that he has relied on lobbyists not just for policy matters and some of the most controversial and expensive trips he has taken abroad during his first year at the EPA.
GANIM (voice-over): Already facing a dozen different probes relating to allegations of unethical behavior, new details are emerging about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's expensive international trips. Once again, his close ties to lobbyists are mixing with official EPA business.
SCOTT PRUITT, EPA SECRETARY: I met with stakeholders across the country on these issues, people that we regulate, that their voices have not been heard for many years.
GANIM: CNN has learned that Pruitt's controversial December trip to Morocco was arranged by this man, Richard Smotkin, a lobbyist and long time friend of Pruitt's, now also registered as a foreign agent making a hefty $40,000 a month to promote Morocco's interests according to a "Washington Post" report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't for the life of me imagine while an EPA administrator would be promoting energy sales.
GANIM: Smotkin accompanied Pruitt on the four-day trip, which cost taxpayers more than $100,000, "The Post" reported. Pruitt said he went to help negotiate a free trade agreement.
PRUITT: We were there in December to negotiate the environmental chapter. That was the focus of the trip.
GANIM: But the focus of his trips don't tell the whole story. Another example, Pruitt's international trip to Italy in June was also arranged by a Pruitt friend, activist Leonard Leo, the head of the Federalist Society. It cost $120,000.
PRUITT: The trip to Italy was a G7 trip, occurring a week after the Paris decision.
GANIM: An EPA spokesperson said the Office of International and Tribal Affairs organized the trips. Attempts to reach Smotkin and Leo were unsuccessful.
Despite the controversies, Pruitt's policies have been popular with his supporters but now House Republicans are moving forward with their own investigation. Among the items for them to look into, "The New York Times" reports that lobbyist Steven Hart was e-mailing recommendations for a science board while his wife rented Pruitt a $50 per night apartment in Washington.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA, OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM CHAIRMAN: We've got documents Friday. We are scheduling witness interviews. We're going to interview those witnesses and we got permission Friday to start scheduling those.
GANIM: Two of Pruitt's more controversial staffers, his head of security and his long time banker from Oklahoma, who was running the EPA's program to clean up superfund sites both left the agency abruptly this week. They had become wrapped up in bad Pruitt headlines, especially the security chief Nino Perrotta who oversaw the expansion of Pruitt's security team and justified more than $200,000 in first class travel for Pruitt.
GANIM: New information continues to come out about the way Scott Pruitt is spending money. Democratic lawmakers now say they have information that Scott Pruitt wanted an EPA office in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, secure facility with a sound proof booth where he could work and make phone calls.
The EPA says it didn't end up happening, but it's these kind of requests that have people concerned, Wolf, about his priorities and how he is spending taxpayer money.
BLITZER: So, what are you hearing from administration officials behind the scenes? How much longer can he stay in this job?
GANIM: You know, it's -- what we're hearing is that it's really divided. There's a core group of people who are surrounding him, who support him and want him to stay there, but there are also people who feel like they were scapegoated by his answers on Capitol Hill last week and think that he is really abusing some of the power that he holds and that comes with the detriment of the taxpayers and also the policies.
BLITZER: Good point. Sara, good reporting. Thanks very much.
That's it for me.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.