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THE SITUATION ROOM
Reunited Families Share Horror Stories, Hundreds Still Separated; NATO Non-Diplomacy; Interview With German Ambassador to the United States Emily Haber; Russian Company Had Access to Facebook User Data; Interview With Maryland Senator Ben Cardin. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 11, 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 ANCHOR: And moving Manafort. A federal judge orders the former Trump campaign chairman to a new jail, as the special counsel reveals that he's been getting the VIP treatment. Tonight, Paul Manafort's lawyers are disputing that he's been living in comfort behind bars.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're following an attack from within on the NATO alliance by its de facto leader, President Donald J. Trump. He's been slamming some of the United States' closest allies directly to their faces, including a stunning claim that Germany is -- quote -- "a captive to Russia."
Tonight, many officials here at home and abroad, they are warning that the president is undermining NATO as it tries to present a united front, a unified front against the man Mr. Trump refuses to call a foe.
We're talking about Vladimir Putin.
This hour, I will talk with Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Ben Cardin. And I will also speak with the German Ambassador to the United States, Emily Haber. And our correspondents and analysts, they are all standing by.
First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's with the president in Brussels.
Jim, the president went there looking, what, for a fight?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It sure seems like it, Wolf. This is exactly what U.S. allies feared this week, the president ripping into the NATO alliance just before he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The president actually began a tweet earlier today with four words. "What good is NATO?"
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning, everybody. Good morning to the media, the legitimate media and the fake news media.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It was an unsettling scene in Brussels, as President Trump picked a fight with NATO, accusing longstanding allies in the decades-old partnership of taking advantage of U.S. military might.
TRUMP: Many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back, where they were delinquent. No other president brought it up like I bring it up.
ACOSTA: In harsh language that has Europe fuming, the president lashed out on Twitter, asking, "What good is NATO, if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?" -- a message he relayed to the NATO secretary-general.
TRUMP: If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia, because they supply. They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear. They're getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.
I think it's something that NATO has to look at.
ACOSTA: The president seemed to surprise NATO by calling on alliance members to dramatically boost their defense spending to 4 percent of their GDP, double the current NATO goal. The U.S. is at 3.5 percent, while Germany is way behind at just over 1 percent.
The NATO secretary-general explained, unity is also needed when it comes to standing up to Russia.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: When we stand together also in dealing with Russia, we are stronger. I think what we have seen is...
TRUMP: No, you're just making Russia richer.
We're having a great meeting. We're discussing military expenditure. We're talking about trade.
ACOSTA: For all the president's tough talk, he didn't raise the issue of Russian energy in front of the cameras with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. When Mr. Trump met with the French president...
TRUMP: He's A friend of mine.
ACOSTA: ... Emmanuel Macron made it clear he doesn't agree with the president.
QUESTION: Mr. Macron, do you agree that Angela Merkel is beholden to the Russians?
TRUMP: Oh, I'm glad they asked you that. Thank you. Thank you very much.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: No. I think -- we discussed -- we work together. ACOSTA: Merkel, who grew up in East Germany during the Cold War,
insisted she understands Russian aggression all too well.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Because of current events, I want to add that I myself lived through a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union.
ACOSTA: The melodrama at the NATO summit played out just days before Mr. Trump is set to hold critical talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The president's sharp words for Germany appeared to be in response to criticism that he's too cozy with Putin, a tactic he's used before, dating back to the 2016 election.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, that's because he's rather have a puppet as president of the United States.
TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.
CLINTON: And it's pretty clear...
TRUMP: You're the puppet.
ACOSTA: Back in Washington, the president's rhetoric on NATO unnerved fellow Republicans. Some in the GOP were careful not to criticize the president.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: NATO is indispensable. It's as important today as it ever has been.
ACOSTA: And some weren't.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Sometimes, it feels like we punch our friends in the nose and hold our hand out to people that are working strongly against us, like Russia and Putin.
ACOSTA: And it's unclear how much the president will moderate his tone as he heads to Britain tomorrow. He is set to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has had a tense relationship with Mr. Trump.
But his sense of decorum will be royally tested as he sits down with Queen Elizabeth on Friday the 13th.
Then, of course, Wolf, he heads off to Finland to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Wolf, I talked to a senior diplomatic source earlier today who said the president needs to be reminded of the fact that his hand will be strengthened if NATO is united behind him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, meeting with Putin next Monday in Helsinki.
Jim Acosta, thank you.
Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, you have been speaking with diplomats from NATO member countries. What are they telling you?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, frankly, Wolf, they're telling me they're concerned. You see this coming out in some of the public comments from European leaders there.
The president being challenged directly to his face by the NATO chief, by the French president, by the German chancellor. In private, those comments, those concerns even more severe. One particular concern is this.
They will get in private assurances from senior U.S. officials, military officials, Secretary of Defense Mattis, for instance, assurances that the U.S. remains committed to all of its commitments in Europe.
The trouble is that those assurances are often contradicted by the president's public comments. And their concern is that, while there's been that dissonance for a year-and-a-half now under the president's administration, that those assurances that they hear from those senior national security officials mean less over time.
They're concerned that the president feels emboldened somewhat to make decisions on his own, and he's shown that with the Iran nuclear deal, for instance, with negotiations with North Korea, where he has overruled his most senior national security advisers.
And in Europe, there is concern he will do the same again with the national security issue number one in the view of NATO U.S. allies in Europe, which is, of course, the threat from Russia.
BLITZER: Isn't the president playing right into the hands of Putin, as a lot of his critics are suggesting?
SCIUTTO: In his public comments, really, there's no question. I mean, President Putin has -- one of his main goals has been to not just undermine the West, but undermine the NATO alliance.
And he's said so in public. Just a year ago almost to the day, he said in a public forum the following. He said: "The disputes over NATO, do they help Russia? Well, in the sense that NATO may fall apart, yes, this may help."
So when he sees the American president, in effect, creating those disputes within NATO, because, remember, the rest of the alliance is united in the face of Russia, united in their commitments, et cetera.
But when you see the American president standing alone and taking shots at his own NATO allies, he is -- he's echoing points, talking points of the Russian president. It's just a fact. You see it there in the public comments of the Russian president just last year.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us, thank you.
Right now, we're getting new reaction from Germany to President Trump's harsh words.
We're joined by the German Ambassador to the United States Emily Haber.
Madam Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us.
EMILY HABER, GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for having me here.
BLITZER: And welcome to Washington. I know you're new here.
HABER: Thank you.
BLITZER: The president tweeted today -- this is President Trump.
He tweeted these words -- quote -- "What good is NATO, if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?"
That's from the president of the United States. Does that kind of rhetoric make you worry about the survival of NATO?
HABER: No, because I'm an output and outcome person. And if I look at what has been decided in NATO today, if I have a close look at the communique, what I see is that after the summit and because of very good preparations, NATO is better, in a better state than it was before.
BLITZER: But what about the rhetoric from the president of the United States? You must be concerned when he utters these kinds of words in a tweet today, "What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?"
How extraordinary is it that he's attacking a major NATO ally like Germany?
HABER: Well, the facts are, Germany has invested a lot in the diversity of the energy sources. Our energy consumption, the share of the Russian gas is 9 percent. Very little.
BLITZER: He says Germany is a captive of Russia. And those are poisonous words, given the history of Angela Merkel herself, the chancellor. She used to live under Soviet occupation of East Germany.
HABER: Well, as you pointed out, Wolf, she said it in a very concise and very clear way. She has lived, as many Germans did, in a state that was...
BLITZER: But when you hear the president say that Germany is a captive of Russia, what do you -- how do you react? HABER: We look at outcomes, because that's what is important.
BLITZER: But you don't pay attention to his words? Because words matter.
HABER: Words may matter, but what matters much, much more than words is what you do and what you achieve.
And NATO has achieved a lot on this day. We have increased the spending on NATO. Nearly every NATO member has. We are all...
BLITZER: But do you believe you're being bullied on the world stage by the president?
HABER: Once again, we look at what is happening, what is being decided. And that's important for the future of NATO as well, because we're being closely watched.
BLITZER: Let me put up on the screen, Madam Ambassador, some of the insults. These are public statements by the president of the United States as far as Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, is concerned. And you can see some of the words.
Captive of Russia. Merkel is ruining Germany. A total mess. Big crime, he said. Going through massive attacks to its people. People of Germany are turning against their leadership.
This is the president really railing, belittling the chancellor of Germany. I know you're a diplomat, and you want to be diplomatic. But it must be so irritating to you.
HABER: Well, but you haven't added that they had a very good talk and a very good meeting. Both of them have said so publicly. They have discussed a range of issues, as leaders should.
And, frankly, in alliances and partnerships, there will be disputes. So I agree they should be dealt with in a family way. But if you look at the outcomes, and that's what's important -- judge things by what happens and what is being decided on.
BLITZER: You have been a diplomat for a while. Have you ever heard an American president belittle a German chancellor the way this president does?
HABER: I don't think that the chancellor came out of the meeting today with the American president feeling belittled. She said what she needed to say on the German experience of having been a controlled state in the Eastern part...
BLITZER: So, let me just be precise, Madam Ambassador. Despite these angry words by the president of the United States, the outcome of the meeting with Chancellor Merkel today was positive?
HABER: They had a very good meeting, and I believe the NATO summit was a very good summit, which made NATO stand better than it has before.
BLITZER: So, is the president playing games, saying one thing publicly, but, privately, behind closed doors, when he sits down with the chancellor, he utters different kinds of words?
HABER: Let's see what's happening. And let's see what's being decided on. In the long run, that will be important.
BLITZER: The president now says, you know, it's not enough, 2 percent of Germany's GDP is not enough, and you haven't reached that level as far as defense spending is concerned. He says it's got to be 4 percent, 4 percent. Was that a stunning surprise to you today when he said that?
HABER: It has been said by many interlocutors in the past.
BLITZER: Four percent? Who said 4 percent?
HABER: That NATO -- that Germany has not -- had not achieved the 2 percent goal. If I may...
BLITZER: Right, 2 percent was the goal by 2024. It was imposed in 2014.
But all of a sudden the president saying 2 percent, and you haven't reached that, is not enough. It's got to be 4 percent.
HABER: Well, what the Wales agreement said in 2014, that we should move towards the 2 percent.
BLITZER: By 2024.
HABER: By 2024.
BLITZER: And so all of a sudden the president changes that today.
HABER: May I just lay out the facts?
HABER: What Germany, in fact, is doing?
We have increased our defense spending by 30 percent over the past four years. And this year alone, we will increase it by 11 percent. And by 2025, we will have raised our budget by 80 percent. These are the number...
BLITZER: So, will that 2 percent goal by 2024 be achieved in Germany?
HABER: What we will do is, we will do what Wales commitment requires us to do. And that is move towards the 2 percent goal.
Our defense budget will have grown by 2025 by 80 -- 80 percent. That's not nothing. It will -- we will increase up to 20 percent our investment expenditures. All of this is required by the Wales commitment as well. And we will stand by that.
BLITZER: As you know, Article 5 of the NATO charter has only been implemented once, right after 9/11. The allies came to the defense of the United States, which had just been attacked by al Qaeda.
Do you believe that this president of the United States will honor Article 5 if Germany or any other member state of NATO is attacked?
HABER: As you have pointed out, it has been invoked only once, and it was existentially important for the United States at the time to leverage and to multiply and magnify the power of their power by the power of NATO and the tools at its disposal.
I'm convinced that this experience looms large in the American memory.
BLITZER: Do you believe the United States under President Trump would defend Germany if it came to that?
HABER: I understand that all NATO members and all NATO countries stand by in a steadfast manner by Article 5.
BLITZER: So is that a yes?
HABER: That is a yes.
BLITZER: You believe the president will come to the...
HABER: I believe that the -- all NATO members stand by Article 5, and underscore its relevance and the relevance of the credibility.
BLITZER: And even the Baltic states, like Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, members of NATO, you believe the president would use U.S. military force to protect them if they were threatened by Russia?
HABER: No doubt was cast on the credibility of Article 5.
BLITZER: Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us.
HABER: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: You got -- don't leave yet. We're going to talk a little bit more.
Coming up: Is your Facebook information in the hands of Russian intelligence right now? We're getting new information on that. Stand by for this breaking story.
And is President Trump doing more damage to NATO than actual adversaries of the alliance? I will talk to a top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. There you see him, Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.
BLITZER: We have breaking news tonight on Russian interference right here in the United States through Facebook, information on millions of Americans potentially in the hands of intelligence operatives for the Kremlin.
Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is here.
Drew, you have done extensive reporting on this. Tell our viewers what you're learning.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a source briefed on the investigation into misuse of Facebook's data is telling CNN this Russian company may have opened the door for millions of Americans' user data to have been accessible to Russian intelligence.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Mail.Ru, a Russian Internet company, developed hundreds of apps through Facebook which up until 2015 had the ability to download personal user information and the personal information of all those users' friends.
A source tells CNN the data of millions of Americans would have been included, and that scooped-up personal information was almost assuredly scooped up by Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, according to former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter.
MICHAEL CARPENTER, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Mail.Ru is a large Russian company. It has to abide by Russia's laws. It has to do what the intelligence services demand of it. And in this case, they demand that they provide access to all of their data, as I said, all voice data, all e-mails, and including, by the way, encrypted communications. All of that has to available to the Russian intelligence services.
GRIFFIN: That means if you were on Facebook before the end of 2015, and connected to anyone who used Mail.Ru or its apps, the Russian government could have had access to your personal information, including name, gender, birth date, location, photos and page likes.
Mail.Ru denies gathering Americans' private information, saying in a statement to CNN: "We have not collected data on any Facebook users, other than for the purposes of in-game mechanics."
No matter the number, James Lewis with the Center for Strategic and International Studies says Russian intelligence would be very interested.
JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Big data is the secret today to intelligence. And if the Russians, who are very good at this, have access to a pot of big data, I wouldn't be surprised if they used it.
GRIFFIN: Mail.Ru had access to American users' personal information at a time when Russia was launching its disinformation campaign through Facebook and other social media and began to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election.
GRIFFIN: Wolf, in a statement to CNN this afternoon, Mail.Ru is claiming user data was neither shared with nor made accessible to any government agency and also claims to have never harvested friends of users' data.
The company says, as of last night, though, it is now cooperating with Facebook on Facebook's own internal investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Drew, thank you.
Let's talk about this and more with Senator Ben Cardin. He's a top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, how were you going to protect Americans from this kind of intrusion?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Wolf, it's good to be with you.
I authored a report on behalf of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee six months ago that pointed out this is exactly what Mr. Putin is doing in Russia. He's using cyber and he's using social media in order to get information to use against our country and people in our country.
So we shouldn't be surprised with this revelation. What our report urged is that we take steps within social media to protect against foreign interference in America.
European countries have already started to do this. The United States has been slow in dealing with the social media companies to make sure that this type of intrusion doesn't happen against Americans.
BLITZER: Let's turn, Senator, to the president's overseas trip, his meeting with NATO allies in Brussels today, which he kicked off with this tweet. I will read to you.
"What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only five of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for your protection, then loses billions on trade. Must pay 2 percent of GDP IMMEDIATELY" -- all caps -- "not by 2025."
Is the president putting the NATO alliance in jeopardy right now with that kind of rhetoric?
CARDIN: Well, Wolf, the answer is, it is certainly hurting the unity of our alliance, and that is the strength of NATO.
I listened to the German ambassador, and she was certainly diplomatic. I talked to a European diplomat earlier today who said, when the president uses those words, that type of bullying, it only makes it more difficult for our government to respond to what we need to do with NATO, because it looks like we're giving into that type of tactics by the president of the United States.
So it's counterproductive to getting the European members of NATO to do more in regards to paying their share of the cost of defense. The president's tactics only weaken the NATO alliance.
BLITZER: And shortly after that tweet, the president went further. He said he wants the NATO allies to double their spending on defense to 4 percent of GDP. Is that realistic? Is that attainable?
CARDIN: Of course the United States doesn't do 4 percent either.
No, that's not realistic. The game plan is to get up to 2 percent by 2025. That's a realistic goal. Let's stick with the current numbers. Each of the NATO countries are making progress towards that.
I agree that they need to meet these numbers and do it in a pretty aggressive way. They are moving in that direction. Let's continue the current policy.
BLITZER: As you know, the timeline for meeting the 2 percent target for all the NATO allies that was imposed in 2014, it says they have to meet that target by 2024.
BLITZER: Given Russian aggression in Europe and elsewhere, should that timeline move up?
CARDIN: We have got to recognize -- and you're listening to the German ambassador talk about the percentage increases within their own country.
When you're talking about significant increases in one budget year, that's difficult for a country to be able to achieve economically and politically.
So I think we have to have realistic progress. But it's got to be consistent, and it's got to reach its goals. We need to make sure we have adequate resources to defend NATO partners. So, clearly, we're being challenged, but let's stay on that trajectory, and all countries achieve their objective by 2024.
BLITZER: As you know, the Senate just voted 97-2 -- you were among the 97 -- to reaffirm America's commitment to NATO. Who should America's allies put their faith in right now, the U.S. Congress or the president?
CARDIN: Well, I can tell you, it is just about unanimous in the Congress that we believe in the NATO alliance. We want to strengthen the NATO alliance. America's national security is very much enhanced by the NATO alliance.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the resolution that Senator Wicker and I authored by a vote of 20-1 in support of not only the current NATO alliance, but saying we want to build on it with other countries that are qualified to enter.
So I think there is by far strong congressional support for strengthening the transatlantic partnership in NATO. The president gives mixed messages, but I think America understands how important that NATO alliance is to our security.
BLITZER: The two senators who voted against that resolution, Senator Lee, Senator Rand Paul. That was that. Everybody else voted in favor.
Senator Ben Cardin, thanks so much for joining us.
CARDIN: Wolf, good to be with you.
BLITZER: Just ahead: Paul Manafort apparently hasn't been suffering in solitary confinement. The special counsel is outlining Manafort's jail cell perks. But, tonight, Manafort's lawyers, they are pushing back.
And the deputy attorney general makes an unusual request. Why does Rod Rosenstein want prosecutors to help review the paper trail of the president's Supreme Court nominee?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a federal judge is ordering Paul Manafort to be transferred from his current jail cell where he's apparently been giving -- been getting some VIP treatment. The former Trump campaign chairman had asked to stay where he was.
[18:33:38] Our political correspondent, Sara Murray, is following the story for us.
Sara, why didn't the judge grant Manafort his request to simply stay put?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this battle over the location came, because Paul Manafort's team had asked for a delay in the Virginia trial. They were talking about how difficult it was for Manafort to prepare for his trials in Virginia and D.C. at the same time.
And part of the reasoning, they said, was that this jail that he's in is two hours away from D.C., difficult to reach his legal team. So the judge said, "OK, I'm going to move you to Alexandria."
Paul Manafort's legal team said, "No, actually, we don't want to do this," which the judge called surprising and confusing. One of the reasons Manafort's team gave was Paul Manafort's security.
Now, the judge apparently is not buying this explanation. Here's what the judge had to say about that: "The professionals at the Alexandria Detention Center are very familiar with housing high-profile defendants, including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors. All of those defendants were housed safely in Alexandria pending their respective trials, and defendant's experience the Alexandria Detention Center will presumably be no different."
So you see the judge making the move to move Paul Manafort, whether he wants it or not.
BLITZER: Sara, the -- CNN has learned that Manafort believes he was being treated like a VIP. What can you tell us about his time in jail so far?
MURRAY: Well, that's right. This is what comes from a new filing from Mueller's team, essentially saying, "Look, they can monitor Paul Manafort's calls while he's in jail." He apparently told one of his associates he feels like he's being treated like a VIP in his living area. He has a private bathroom. He has a private shower. He has his own telephone. He also has a separate work space.
[18:35:12] Now Mueller's team also points out that Paul Manafort also has access to a laptop. They gave him an extension cord so that he's able to use his laptop, whether he's in his living unit, whether he's in his work space. He's also able to send e-mails. Mueller's team says he's been sending more e-mails than he's allowed to, thanks to a work-around he's figured out, using a second computer with the help of his lawyer.
They also point out that Paul Manafort doesn't even have to wear a prison jumpsuit while he is in jail.
Now, Manafort's legal team did not take this too kindly today. They issued their own very sharply-worded response in which they point out that the special counsel doesn't seem to take a minute and think about why Paul Manafort, in these phone calls with his loved ones, might say he's getting better treatment than he actually is, might sound more chipper than he actually is.
Manafort's attorneys also said that they're abiding by all the rules in this detention center when it comes to e-mails. They also took a swipe at the special counsel's office, saying they were cavalier in dismissing the challenges of preparing for two complex trials at once.
BLITZER: Sara Murray reporting for us. Thanks very much.
Let's get some analysis. Jeffrey Toobin, what's your reaction? Give us your latest -- your reaction to this latest maneuvering by Paul Manafort and his lawyers, and what does it say to you about the nature of this case?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, his lawyers are doing what good lawyers do. They are challenging the evidence in their case, and so far, they've been unsuccessful, but that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing -- the right thing to do.
It is a very unusual situation to have the same defendant awaiting trial in two separate jurisdictions, one trial stacked up right behind the other.
It is also true that it does seem that Paul Manafort is getting a hell of a lot better treatment in jail than most people awaiting trial do.
So I expect this controversy to subside. I think it makes sense to put him in Alexandria, which is where the trial is going to be. And the focus, in a couple of weeks when the trials start, will turn to the evidence, and that's when the case is really about.
BLITZER: You know, Gloria Borger, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, he went after what the prosecutors call Manafort's VIP lifestyle in solitary confinement. Is this another hardball tactic from Mueller?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, beanbag. And you know, as Jeffrey points out, this is going to go back and forth and back and forth. And I think, you know, they were -- they were just pointing out that his living situation is not as terrible as you would think it is.
And, you know, what was interesting to me today was that, at one point, Manafort said, "Well, I want to be in this prison," which is further away. Then he changed his mind and said -- no, he wanted to be closer. Then he changed his mind and said, "No, no, I really want to be further away."
And they point out, well, actually, that prison he's getting -- he's getting treated pretty well. And I think the judge was sort of frustrated by all of this.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the attorneys overplayed their hand, right? I mean, as Jeffrey said, the legal issues in the case are more important than the conditions of confinement.
But, you know, it's like he gets sort of the -- if you will, the presidential suite at the further away jail, and then they try and bargain for the -- what, to get closer? To get released back to house arrest? And the judge clearly, and Mueller, as you say, Gloria, had had enough.
TOOBIN: Wolf -- Wolf --
BORGER: And the attorneys, right? Which makes some sense. But then he changed his mind.
TOOBIN: Wolf, I don't like to use legalese too much. But it is worth remembering that being in jail sucks. It is terrible to be in jail. And Paul Manafort is having a bad time. That is not surprising. But that is true of virtually everyone who is in jail. That's why they call it jail.
BLITZER: But you believe his security, his safety, would be endangered if he's moved to this jail in Alexandria, Virginia, outside of Washington?
TOOBIN: That seems so preposterous to me. As Judge Ellis pointed out, I mean, this is where Zacarias Moussaoui was tried. They have had all sorts of terrorist trials there. All sorts of, you know, very high-profile, very serious cases where people are looking at, you know, very lengthy -- his safety is not an issue, as far as -- as far as I can tell.
BLITZER: Rebecca Berg, let's turn to the developments in the confirmation fight for the president's nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.
The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, is now asking prosecutors all over the country to help review what they described as documents related to Judge Kavanaugh. This looks to some, at least, like they're mixing politics with all of this. What's your analysis?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, it looks that way, Wolf, because this isn't usually how it's done. It's a break with what we've seen with past Supreme Court nominees.
But the explanation from Department of Justice to some of our colleagues here at CNN is that this is a very different nomination, in terms of the document requests they are getting and just the massive scope of documents that are responsive to those requests.
Brett Kavanaugh, of course, worked in the George W. Bush White House. They had e-mail in that White House. So there can be document requests for all of the e-mails concerning Brett Kavanaugh, and already the George W. Bush Library is telling CNN that there could be a million documents concerning Brett Kavanaugh --
[18:40:13] BLITZER: So David --
BERG: -- that are responsive to that request.
BLITZER: -- do you think there are some -- the White House has reason to be concerned there potentially could be some red flags when they go back and review this entire record?
SWERDLICK: To use the word that Kavanaugh himself used in that "Minnesota Law Review" article, if he has done something dastardly or even illegal that has turned up in these e-mails or any of these records, maybe.
Short of that, if there's just something controversial or there's a legal opinion that we're not already aware of, no, I don't think there's any trouble. I think Republicans are going to vote for him, and he will be confirmed.
BORGER: Well, what could this could do is drag it out. And I think that's what Democrats want to do. When you have to go through at least a million documents, it takes time. And they're going to FOIA more documents. And they're going to -- so I think that, if the Democrats want to sort of stretch out this and start the hearings later and potentially not have him on the bench, if he were to get approved by October 1, there -- the documents is going to be a big deal for them.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, how unusual, if it is unusual, is all of this?
TOOBIN: You know, it is unusual. You know, when I was an assistant U.S. attorney and I was a criminal prosecutor, the idea that main Justice would ask you to do something like this would strike a lot of people as bizarre. You know, it's your job as a prosecutor to fight crime, not to review, you know, political documents.
You know, you can see the circumstances here might justify it. You know, his job at the White House was staff secretary. What the staff secretary does is process all the documents that go to the president of the United States. So it is a document-heavy job. It doesn't surprise me that there might be a million documents.
If this is only a couple of weeks, I don't think it's -- it's a particular big deal. But it is sort of remarkable to think that these -- these prosecutors will be taken away from fighting drugs and white- collar crime to go -- what is largely a political task.
BLITZER: And Rebecca, is there any realistic chance the confirmation won't be achieved?
BERG: Well, absolutely. I mean, there are a number of things you could run into along the way. If there is something that comes out in these documents that is damaging, there could be, you know, some -- some response that Kavanaugh gives during the confirmation hearings that turns into a big controversy.
Now, is that likely? You know, maybe not. Because Republicans have the votes. There could be some Democrats who cross over to support Kavanaugh, as well as they did with Gorsuch, just a few -- a year ago. So the odds are in his favor, but anything can happen.
BLITZER: If the Republicans keep Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, it's over.
BORGER: Well, right. But don't forget, we're also heading into a period during the Mueller investigation where there is a question of whether the president could actually be subpoenaed to testify if he -- if he decides that he doesn't want to do it voluntarily, if they don't work out some kind of a deal.
And that's another -- you know, that's another issue here that Kavanaugh is going to have to face with Democrats, because, of course, he's written about it so extensively, because he worked for Ken Starr. And when he worked for Ken Starr, he thought it was fine for a president to testify.
But then he had kind of a conversion afterwards and now thinks it's too much of a bother. So the question is, how are Democrats going to handle that, and how will Kavanaugh handle that?
BLITZER: Ken Starr, the Whitewater investigator. Spent a lot of time investigating Bill Clinton when he was president of the United States.
BORGER: And he did the Vince Foster investigation.
BLITZER: Yes, he did. I remember that very, very vividly.
All right, guys. Stand by.
Just ahead, as many separated families are still waiting to be reunited, we're now hearing more emotional stories from parents who are finally with their children once again. One mother says her son, though, didn't recognize her.
And does President Trump think his harsh criticism of NATO is part of the art of the deal?
[18:48:41] BLITZER: Tonight, the Trump administration is still struggling to reunite families after missing a deadline to return the youngest children to their parents. We heard the health and human services secretary claim right here in THE SITUATION ROOM that the process is a great act of generosity and charity for immigrant children. Separated families, though, are angrily disputing that.
Let's go straight to CNN's Ed Lavandera. He's in Texas, near the southern border.
Ed, you've been seeing some of the family reunions and you've also been hearing some heartbreaking stories.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, emotional day of a few of the stories we've been able to gather of those families reunited. The last number we had, 38 children have been reunited with their families. That's far short of the 102 that the federal government was mandated to have reunited by yesterday, almost 24 hours ago.
And what's even more remarkable, Wolf, today is that despite our efforts to ask about how many more reunions have taken place, we have received no updates from the federal government today.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Two fathers, one from Guatemala, other from Honduras, were some of the few who have been reunited with their children in El Paso, Texas.
Pablo Ortiz says he was separated from his 3-year-old son on April 30th and says he was only able to speak with him three times.
[18:50:05] He says they were going to deport me, but since my child was here, I couldn't leave him. I wanted to take my child, how am I going to leave him? He's little.
This man who only wanted to be identified at Roger says his son was taken away from him in February.
They took me by the arm, he says. They took me by the shoulder and took me to a small room. I saw when they took my child, because there was really a small window.
In Arizona, Joshua Rodriguez (ph) hugged and kissed his three-year-old son after separated 40 days. He says his son has asked, daddy where were you? Rodriguez described the experience as nightmare.
We're humans, not animals, he says. And not even animals are separated from their child. How are humans going to be separated from kid?
Trump administration officials say the process of reuniting separated families is moving slowly in part because of efforts to verify that children are being placed with their biological parents.
The secretary of health and human services says he's proud of the work the federal government has done to bring families back together.
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: One of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we're doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled in to our country or come across illegally. And so, we don't have anything to hide about it. We just have to protect privacy.
LAVANDERA: For the lucky families who have been reunited, the trauma seems far from over. One mother told "The New York Times" her 3-year- old son didn't know who she was.
He didn't recognize me. My joy turned temporarily to sadness.
Another mother said her 3-year-old daughter cried for the social worker and tried to escape her mother's embrace, an embrace many are still waiting for.
LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, the federal government is expected back in court later this week, to update that judge in California that issued these mandates for these reunions to take place to an update. Yesterday, that same judge was wondering why 63 of the 102 couldn't have been reunited by yesterday. But as I mentioned off the top, still no word if more than 38 children so far have been reunited across the southern border -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, that's heartbreaking stories. They continue.
Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.
Just ahead, is President Trump a captive to Russia? We'll talk about his slams on Germany, and on NATO, this upcoming summit with Vladimir Putin. CNN's Chris Cuomo, he's standing by live.
BLITZER: At the NATO summit tonight in Brussels, some members are deeply concerned about the potential damage to the alliance over the course of the Trump presidency. Let's talk more about this -- the president's harsh criticism of
crucial U.S. allies. For that, we're joined by Chris Cuomo, the anchor of "CUOMO PRIME TIME".
Chris, the president is going after NATO. He's going after NATO very, very sternly. What's behind this latest barrage? Is that a negotiating tactic or simply a reflection of the president's world view?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, "CUOMO PRIME TIME": Sure would be nice to know, wouldn't it, Wolf? We're going to take it on tonight because, look, there's an absence of insight here because the president doesn't share this type of thinking. His staff, his surrogates, his officials around him in the administration don't come on and talk about these things the way that we would like. We don't have press conferences the way we would like.
So, the thinking is a little bit of a mystery here. The timing I think is the biggest concern.
Is the president wrong to question the due diligence of other NATO members in terms of coming up to the 2 percent model that I think is due in 2024, 2 percent spending of your own gross domestic product on your own defense? No. He's not wrong to question that. President Obama questioned it. President Bush questioned it.
But the timing right before the Putin summit, he basically sends the most comforting signal to Putin and the most distressing signal to the members of NATO.
BLITZER: You know, he's specifically also singling out Germany, a pillar of European strength and stability. What do you make of these comments, calling the Germans captives of Russia?
CUOMO: Well, look, on the face of it, once again. What is he talking about? He's talking about the fact that Germany gets a large amount of its natural gas and crude oil to a lesser extent from Russia. That's true.
There's also a pipeline being built that is planned to be direct from Russia to Germany, that has different concerns even here in the U.S. Congress. That's true. However, to make the connection between the need for the resources and being a captive is very insulting to the German people and their government, and for obvious reason, which Angela Merkel spoke to today in a very passionate way for her.
And again, it raises question of why would you do this to the people you need the most? The motto of the American military in Europe, as you know, Wolf, is stronger together. NATO is the bulwark that's kept peace in the region since the Cold War.
BLITZER: Chris Cuomo, thank you very much.
And to our viewers, be sure to tune in later tonight, "CUOMO PRIME TIME", 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
I'm Wolf Blitzer, thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.