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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA); Brock Long Out as FEMA Chief; New Information Emerges on Mueller Investigation; Will Trump Sign Deal to Avoid Shutdown?; Barr Consulting on How to Handle Mueller Report Ahead of Expected Confirmation as Attorney General; Former Air Force Intel Specialist Charged with Spying for Iran; Congressional Aides Drafting Final Pieces of Bill to Avert Shutdown. Aired on 6-7p ET
Aired February 13, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news.
Lying to prosecutors? A federal judge could rule at any moment on whether Paul Manafort lied, in violation of his plea deal, as the special counsel claims. What will it mean for the former Trump campaign chairman and for the collusion investigation?
Overseeing Mueller. We're getting exclusive new information about how the president's pick for attorney general is preparing for his confirmation and for his crucial role in the conclusion of the Russia investigation.
Looking for land mines. That's what President Trump says he's doing as he refuses to commit to a deal to avoid a government shutdown. Will he blow up the agreement or will he sign it?
And Long gone. The head of FEMA calls it quits, joining the swelling ranch a former Trump administration officials. Why is Brock Long leaving now months after a controversy over his travel?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the Russia investigation.
We're standing by for a ruling in the special counsel's case against the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. A federal judge set to decide if Manafort lied to investigators, in violation of his plea agreement. Robert Mueller's office says one of Manafort's lies involved a meeting with a Russian that's at the heart of the collusion investigation.
This as we're learning that the man on track to be the next attorney general is already having discussions about how to handle Mueller's final report, including if and how it's released.
William Barr is expected to be confirmed to head the Justice Department and oversee the Russia probe this week.
I will get reaction from Congressman Eric Swalwell. He's a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our Justice Correspondent, Jessica Schneider.
Jessica, we're standing by for this ruling on whether Paul Manafort lied.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf.
And it's all in the hands of Judge Amy Berman Jackson. She has gone to great lengths to listen to evidence from prosecutors, which they say shows Paul Manafort lied on multiple occasions during his plea deal talks.
Manafort's attorneys, of course, dispute that Manafort intentionally misled the special counsel's team. But at the heart of these supposed lies is a meeting in August 2016 where Paul Manafort seemed to sneak away from Trump campaign headquarters to a secret meeting with a man who has ties to Russian intelligence.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, a federal judge is weighing whether former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors during plea talks. If the judge decides Manafort lied, it could impact Manafort's March sentencing, with the judge possibly imposing a stiffer sentence.
QUESTION: Did you commit a crime?
SCHNEIDER: But the questions surrounding Paul Manafort and any possible Russian collusion remain, and special counsel investigators believe details about Manafort's meeting at the height of the 2016 campaign inside this Manhattan cigar bar could prove pivotal.
In a closed hearing last week, Special Counsel Prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann revealed the dinner meeting was very much to the heart of what the special counsel's office is investigating. On August 2, 2016, just weeks after the Republican National Convention, Manafort met up with his Russian business associate Konstantin Kilimnik just blocks from Trump's campaign headquarters inside the private Grand Havana Room in Midtown.
The FBI has alleged Kilimnik had connections to Russian intelligence and that those ties continued into 2016. The meeting happened on the heels of Russia's boldest election meddling maneuver, stealing thousands of e-mails from the Clinton campaign and the DNC before they were published by WikiLeaks.
Also in the days before, Donald Trump himself made comments seeming to court the country.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
The people of Crimea, from what I have heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.
SCHNEIDER: Manafort's Deputy, Rick Gates also attended that cigar room meeting, and all three men apparently left through separate doors.
Weissmann said in court last week there was an in-person meeting at an unusual time for somebody who's the campaign chairman to be spending time and to be doing it in person.
Inside the Grand Havana Room, the men allegedly talked about Ukrainian policy and a peace plan that would have benefited Russia by lifting economic sanctions. Manafort's lawyers now say Manafort told Kilimnik any peace plan idea was -- quote -- "crazy." And they have repeatedly argued Manafort never intentionally lied to prosecutors.
According to "The Washington Post," just days before they met in Manhattan, Kilimnik sent Manafort a cryptic note saying he had met with a man who had given Manafort -- quote -- "the biggest black caviar jar several years ago."
"The Post" saying congressional investigators believe black caviar was code for money. And prosecutors also seem to be looking at whether this August 2016 meeting was when Paul Manafort shared campaign polling data with Kilimnik, something Manafort's attorneys inadvertently revealed in earlier court filings.
SCHNEIDER: And this 2016 cigar bar encounter, it wasn't the only meeting between Kilimnik and Paul Manafort, according to prosecutors.
They apparently met several times throughout 2017, including when Kilimnik was in Washington, D.C., for Donald Trump's inauguration, as well as into 2018. And, of course, Wolf, all those meetings, including that August 2016 meeting, those are probably of key importance for these prosecutors with the special counsel's office now.
BLITZER: Clearly a very, very critical moment right now.
Jessica, I want you to stand by.
I want to bring in Evan Perez and Laura Jarrett.
You guys are working on some new information on William Barr, who is expected maybe as early as tomorrow to be confirmed the next attorney general of the United States.
So, Laura, assuming Barr is confirmed -- and we all expect he will be confirmed by the U.S. Senate -- he will be the decider on what happens with Mueller's report once Mueller's report is ready, and by all indications they're getting closer and closer.
What are you learning about how Barr is preparing?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the clues have been mounting up for weeks now suggesting that Mueller is winding down, the acting attorney general has said as much, we're learning for the first time tonight that Barr has actually been having discussions with top officials within the Justice Department about how all this will go.
And he's very much aware of the fact that the most pressing issue will be what exactly gets released to Congress. We have heard senators press him on it. And while we're told by officials that he doesn't know what's in the Mueller report, he hasn't seen it, he hasn't been briefed on it, there's no final plans for that.
He's very much aware that this is going to be honest plate, it's going to be a big deal. And so while he wants to take some time to get up to speed, he's ready to hit the ground running.
BLITZER: Evan, there's a lot of concern from lawmakers that the public won't actually see the Mueller report. What is Mueller required to submit? And what's the law state as far as releasing that information?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Justice Department regulations only say that the special counsel is supposed to submit a confidential report to the attorney general.
And then it's up to him, really, as to how much of this becomes -- it goes into the hands of members of Congress, and, by extension, the members of the public, right? And, look, I think Bill Barr knows very much that there's a public interest here to be served by releasing some information.
But one of the things that I think is emphasized in the discussions that he's been having with people at the Justice Department is simply nobody wants a repeat of James Comey. Nobody wants a repeat where somebody goes out and says, we're not bringing charges, but here are all the things that they did wrong.
So we don't think he's going to go there. But he's going to go somewhere perhaps short of that. And so the question is once he sees what Mueller has produced, once they see what the investigation has produced, then he can make some decisions as to what exactly he can tell the Congress, what he can tell the public.
And, look, we know that there's a lot of pressure from members of Congress. We know Jerry Nadler on the House side has already hired a couple of lawyers who are experts on...
BLITZER: Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
PEREZ: The chairman of the Judiciary Committee has hired lawyers specifically to look at this issue. We know that there's legislation, bipartisan legislation in the Senate
trying to force the attorney general to release some of this. So there's really a lot of pressure from Congress once he gets in there.
Probably, the first thing Bill Barr will get is a national security briefing. The second thing he will probably get is a briefing on the Mueller investigation.
BLITZER: Barr hasn't formally publicly committed to releasing this Mueller report, even to Congress, has he?
JARRETT: No, that's exactly right.
And senators wanted that commitment, but he stopped short of it. Instead, he repeatedly said I want to do as transparent a report as possible consistent with the regulations. And that was always sort of the backstop there, because obviously the regulations actually don't say that he has to turn over all that much to Congress at all.
All he has to say is, it's been concluded. So take a listen to what he said to Senator Hirono last month at his confirmation hearing on all this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: The rules, I think, say that the independent -- the special counsel will prepare a summary report on any prosecutive or declination decisions, and that that shall be confidential and shall be treated as any other declination or prosecutive material within the department.
In addition, the attorney general is responsible for notifying and reporting certain information upon the conclusion of the investigation.
Now, how these are going to fit together and what can be gotten out there, I have to wait and -- I would have to wait. I would want to talk to Rod Rosenstein and see what he has discussed with Mueller and what's...
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: But you have testified that you would like to make as much of the original report...
HIRONO: ... as possible.
All I can say right now is, my goal and intent is to get as much information out as I can, consistent with the regulation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JARRETT: Now, of course, anything that he does short of providing the full report, Congress is not going to stand for. Certainly, the Democrats are going to pounce on this.
We can expect to see subpoenas start flying. And, of course, they're going to want to speak to Bob Mueller.
BLITZER: He's got to make a major decision, Barr, once he's confirmed, who's going to be his number two.
The deputy attorney general, you mentioned Rod Rosenstein, who's now the deputy attorney general. What are you hearing?
PEREZ: Well, one of the things we expect is Rod Rosenstein is going to be leaving in the coming -- in the next few weeks.
And he has been looking at a few candidates, some from inside the department, some from outside. But the top contender right now is Jeffrey Rosen. He's a seasoned lawyer here in Washington. Right now, he's the number two official at the Department of Transportation.
He doesn't any experience, previous experience working at the Justice Department, which is going to raise some eyebrows for people, but, look, I think they go back more than 20 years together. They're very good friends.
And I think talking to officials, they feel that relationship, the fact that the two men know each other very well, is going to go a long way to sort of making that work for them at the Justice Department.
BLITZER: Barr once served as attorney general of the United States.
BLITZER: He's got a lot of experience.
Guys, thank you very much.
We're continuing to follow more breaking news this hour, the sudden resignation of the head of FEMA, Brock Long.
Let's go to our White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, yet another exit from the administration, and it comes as the president has a rather important decision to make.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
Brock Long, the FEMA administrator, resigned today, less than two years into his tenure, a tenure that was not only marked by floods and hurricanes, but also by an investigation into his use of government vehicles to get from Washington to his home state of North Carolina, and a class with his boss, the DHS Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen. Now, today, Long said in a statement that this was one of the toughest choices he's ever had to make. And Nielsen announced that his deputy will take over for him at FEMA.
The White House and President Trump have not weighed in on his departure yet, but, Wolf, that's likely because they have been facing questions of their own about whether or not President Trump is going to sign off on this spending bill to avoid another government shutdown at the end of the week.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump leaving Washington guessing tonight.
TRUMP: We're going to look at the legislation when it comes and I will make a determination then.
COLLINS: Declining to say whether he will sign the border security spending deal until he's seen the final package.
TRUMP: Well, we haven't gotten it yet. We will be getting it. We will be looking for land mines, because you could have that.
COLLINS: Despite claiming earlier this week that Democrats would shoulder the blame for another government shutdown, Trump all but ruling one out today.
TRUMP: I don't want to see a shutdown. Shutdown would be a terrible thing. I think a point was made with the last shutdown. People realized how bad the border is.
COLLINS: The president hinting that if he does sign the deal, he could still use his executive powers to secure further funding for the wall.
TRUMP: Regardless of what I do, we already have, as you know, a lot of money where we're building existing wall with existing funds. But I have a lot of options. Just like we do with Venezuela, we have on the border
COLLINS: Adding he has options most people don't understand to build the wall without congressional approval.
TRUMP: It's going to happen at a really rapid pace. We're giving out contracts right now. And we're going to have a great wall. It's going to be a great, powerful wall.
COLLINS: The bipartisan compromise includes just over a billion dollars for 55 miles of new fencing, far below the $5.7 billion for 230 miles Trump shut the government down over in December.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I'm extremely disappointed in the amount of money in this compromise. I assume the president's going to sign it. I don't think anybody's interested in having another government shutdown. But he has to be frustrated. COLLINS: But questions remain about whether the president could be
swayed by conservative backlash.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": I'm not happy either. Nobody should be happy. The president has every right to be angry. The so-called compromise is typical of the D.C. sewer and swamp and its level of funding for security and safety of the American people is pathetic.
COLLINS: At least one immigration hard-liner in the president's corner is framing it as a win for him, pointing to remarks made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when she said she would only give the president $1 for his wall.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Well, try $1.375 billion. She might not want to call it a wall, but that's what it is.
And that's not all bad.
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, no White House officials will go on the record and say that the president is likely or is going to sign this bill, because they say they're still waiting for the final text to come here from Capitol Hill, something that's still being hammered out over there.
But, Wolf, a lot of this also has to do with they know the rough outline of this. The president's been briefed by his legislative affairs director and even Senator Richard Shelby, who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and was one of the principals negotiating this deal.
But these officials don't want to get out ahead of the president because they know this is someone who changes his mind often, and they don't want to be contradicted by their boss -- Wolf.
BLITZER: This bill is more than 1,000 pages, we're told.
Kaitlan Collins reporting for us, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Congressman Eric Swalwell. He's a Democrat. He serves on both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Of course. Good evening, Wolf.
BLITZER: We got lots to talk about.
But let me get your thoughts first on Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. What would motivate Manafort to lie to the special counsel after making his plea agreement?
SWALWELL: Wolf, I think Paul Manafort is protecting deep, deep secrets that if he told them would probably put himself and his family and the president, his best chance at a pardon, at risk.
And when you look at the other defendants in this case, from Michael Flynn, to Michael Cohen, to Richard Gates, so many of them, when confronted with overwhelming evidence, have chosen to be cooperators. Paul Manafort is the outlier here.
And, again, I think that's because he fears what happens to people -- and there's a lot of evidence of this -- who turn over the goods that they have on Russia and Ukraine, which ends up being poisonings or family retribution.
BLITZER: The special counsel's team says that an early August 2016 meeting in New York City is at the heart -- their words -- the heart of their investigation.
This was a meeting involving Paul Manafort, his deputy Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik. What are your concerns about that meeting?
SWALWELL: Yes, the heart of the investigation, I believe, has to be, did the Trump campaign work with the Russians to elect Donald Trump?
And to put this in perspective, Wolf, we know, in October through December of 2015, there were intense discussions between Michael Cohen and Russian American businessman Felix Sater about connecting the Trumps with Putin for a Trump Tower in Moscow.
We now know that continued all the way up to the election, by Rudy Giuliani's own words. But fast forward to June is when the Trump Tower meeting takes place. Russians come to Trump Tower, offer dirt on Hillary Clinton.
And then August is a very, very hot month here for evidence in the case. You have the early August meeting with Manafort and Kilimnik. And then, of course, Manafort's former partner Roger Stone, just about 19 days later, sends out this bizarre, cryptic tweet about Podesta spending his time in the barrel. We later learned what that meant.
I think that clearly there was a partnership, an eagerness to work with the Russians, to receive the help that they were offering. And right now, the special counsel is trying to fill in the color there, where Manafort continues to refuse to cooperate.
BLITZER: Well, you're making the case that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
SWALWELL: Wolf, we're way -- that was 10 chapters ago. I think we've seen the collusion.
BLITZER: But you heard the chairman yesterday of the Senate Intelligence Committee saying there's no direct evidence of collusion.
SWALWELL: And I would like to address that, with all due respect to the chairman. I think they have run an admirable investigation. But you have to
look at his words very carefully. He said, no direct evidence of collusion.
Now, in the law, direct evidence and circumstantial evidence are treated exactly the same. And I -- my question is, is there circumstantial evidence?
And I will give you an example, Wolf. If I make brownies for my son, Nelson, and I leave the room, and I come back and those brownies are gone, and Nelson has chocolate on his face and chocolate on his hands and crumbs all over him, I don't have direct evidence that he ate the brownies, but I have pretty damn good circumstantial evidence that he did.
And, in this case, we have very good circumstantial evidence that the Trump team, the family, the businesses were eager to work and were working with the Russians while the Russians were helping them.
And I think, in the court of law, that's enough. And, in the court of public opinion, that certainly is enough.
BLITZER: Well, what happens if the Mueller report comes out, and if there is a Mueller report, let's say, and there's -- and Mueller himself concludes, like Senator Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has at least so far concluded, no direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?
BLITZER: What happens then?
SWALWELL: And, Wolf, Mueller's standard is higher than the standard we have to tell the American people what happened. His standard is what he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the highest standard in the land.
However, there's also a challenge that he's up against, which is, we have already seen people who have lied, obstructed, tampered with witnesses, tried to destroy evidence. And, fortunately, the reason we have crimes for doing all of that is because you don't get rewarded for making the evidence go away.
So, if you make the evidence go away, so that they can't prove the elements of the crime of conspiracy, we can still hold you accountable. And the idea here is, if you're holding a shovel, and you have got dirt on your boots, we can assume that you're trying to bury something important even if we can't find it.
And there's a crime for that. People have already pled guilty to that or are pending trial for that.
BLITZER: You just heard our new reporting on the expected new attorney general, William Barr. He is expected to be confirmed by the Senate as early as tomorrow.
How concerned are you that he might refuse to release a full report when the special counsel's investigation concludes? And it's expected to conclude fairly soon.
SWALWELL: We need to see a full report.
This is the largest investigation into any of the 44 people who have served as president of the United States. And so it's critical that we understand whether the president worked with the Russians and whether he is compromised today.
So we're going to do all we can to make sure that that report gets out. Of course, I'm concerned when he uses kind of wiggle language in his confirmation that suggests he may not get it out.
But the American people can be assured that the Congress is going to do all it can with this new majority to make sure that, as soon as that report is concluded, that the American people see it.
BLITZER: You had a chance to question the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, last week, when he appeared before your committee, the House Judiciary Committee.
Now the chairman, Jerry Nadler, says Whitaker may have misled you and others in his testimony. What are the areas of concern?
SWALWELL: Well, the area is, how did you get the job?
He seems to suggest that he didn't say anything to the White House about his prior existing views that the Mueller investigation was a witch-hunt. And so we now have witnesses that he gave us who can either corroborate his account that he never brought that up when he auditioned for the job or would contradict it.
That would be important to know. Also, when it comes to recusal, again, it's very fishy that he was advised to recuse himself, yet he chose not to.
So, now we understand how that process played out and we can probe further. And, finally, I asked him, would Bob Mueller agree with your account that this investigation is nearly complete?
And he actually was pretty straightforward with me when he said, no, Mr. Mueller wouldn't agree.
So the concern now is, is he limiting the freedom of movement that the Mueller team needs to have to follow the evidence? And, again, we can shine further light there.
BLITZER: Last time we spoke here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Congressman, you said you were getting, in your words, pretty close to making an announcement on whether you're going to run for president.
It's been a few weeks. When will you be announcing? Have you made your final decision? The family on board? SWALWELL: Wolf, well, we're going to be in Iowa this weekend and New Hampshire next weekend.
I want to get the government open and be a part of the team and members of Congress that are going to vote to do that hopefully by tomorrow.
But, Wolf, when I take a step back -- and is the family on board? That's a great question. We spent the last four days at the hospital with our daughter at the ICU.
And, being in that experience, I think, showed me more than anything that health care is a top-of-mind issue for people, because we're fortunate that we're on my wife's health insurance. I saw too many babies and talked to too many families there who don't have insurance. And it's going to wipe them out.
And we need someone who's going to go big and be bold in the solutions we offer to have a health care guarantee. So, I'm more fired up than ever to make this decision very soon. And I promise you will be one of the first to know.
BLITZER: Is your daughter OK?
SWALWELL: Thank you for asking.
She is OK. But, of course, you get home, and you have a son who's got a 103-degree fever. So it never gets easy. This is what most families go through. And we're just living through the struggle.
But, fortunately, we have health insurance.
BLITZER: Is he OK, too, your son?
SWALWELL: He's going to be OK, yes. He's going to be OK.
BLITZER: All right, keep us -- gives us a continuing update. We're concerned about their medical condition.
SWALWELL: Thank you. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: In the intensive care unit, not necessarily all that much fun for these little kids.
But thanks so much.
SWALWELL: Yes, but she's home now. So, thank you.
BLITZER: All right, well, good luck. We appreciate it very much.
As soon as you make your final decision, we're here. We will make that -- we will let -- we will give you an opportunity to explain to the American people, yea or nay, what you decide.
Thank you very much.
SWALWELL: Thanks, Wolf. my pleasure.
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our analysts to discuss this and more.
And we've got Jeffrey Toobin, who's watching all of this very carefully.
That August -- early August 2016 meeting involving Manafort, Rick Gates, his deputy, this Russian, Konstantin Kilimnik, what do you make of that? Because, apparently, the Mueller team thinks that's at the heart of this collusion investigation.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: If there was a movie, this would be the stage set, because the Grand Havana Room is on the top floor of the building that Jared Kushner's family owns, 666 Fifth Avenue. It's the haunt of Rudy Giuliani.
That's where I spent a lot of time with him when I was -- when I was interviewing him. Everything happens at the Grand Havana Room, this sort of slightly seedy club with velvet drapes everywhere.
And now we have a Russian spy apparently meeting in the backroom with the campaign chairman at the precise time that Manafort is at the peak of his powers. What did they discuss? Did they trade information about the Trump campaign? What did Manafort get?
Was he working for the Trump campaign, trying to get information to help Trump, or was he just trying to make money for himself, because Kilimnik was part of his meal ticket in the Ukraine?
I mean, it is really an extraordinary meeting in an extraordinary place. But, obviously, what went on in that meeting is something we can't know for sure, at least at this point.
BLITZER: Well, Jamie Gangel, Rick Gates, Manafort's deputy, who's already pled guilty, he's cooperating with the Mueller investigation.
He was at that meeting, and presumably he's told Mueller and his team everything he knows about that meeting. He was there. He is an eyewitness. They were smoking cigars, apparently, at that Havana Club.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm just glad that Jeffrey Toobin explained to us why he knew where this bar was.
GANGEL: I haven't been there.
Look, Rick Gates -- you have heard of MVP. He's MVW, most valuable witness. He was in these meetings. And as we look for an explanation, as Laura will -- knows better than I -- about why Mueller's team thinks that Manafort is lying to them, Rick Gates was in those meetings. Who told them when he came, that they left by different doors? He is critical. And another example is, he's clearly been cooperating, cooperating, because they keep putting off his sentencing date. It's now at March 15.
BLITZER: If he knew, Manafort, that his deputy, Rick Gates, was fully cooperating with Mueller, why would he go ahead and lie, as Mueller is now alleging?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it's a good question. It doesn't seem like a smart strategy, Wolf.
What Mueller, his team have speculated in a recent court hearing that was unsealed last week, is that Manafort was hoping to get a pardon from the president and show his loyalty by trying to cover up whatever happened in this meeting.
Now, we're not certain that that's the motivation here, but it seems like a reasonable guess, especially when the president has very clearly on Twitter expressed anger at people who he calls rats and support for people who he deems loyal.
TOOBIN: I have a theory too.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
TOOBIN: He's just a liar. I mean, liars lie.
And, you know, one of the things about being involved in the criminal justice system is that a lot of people like. Jimmy Breslin, the great columnist, used to call courthouses places people go to lie.
I mean, it's just a part of some people's constitution. Now, there is a theory that he's trying to -- and that's a plausible theory -- that he was trying to get a pardon, but he may just be someone who lied.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Laura.
JARRETT: We have seen so many people connected to this Russia investigation lie to the FBI and the special counsel investigators.
And I think one of the biggest questions coming out of this for Mueller is, do why they lied? Did they lie because they didn't think they were going to get caught or they just weren't good at this? Or did they lie because they were covering something else up?
Now, we don't -- we don't know what he will ultimately provide on that, if anything, but it just raises the question. I mean, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Manafort, everyone we have seen here for the most part hasn't been charged with conspiracy against the United States.
They have been charged with lying to FBI officials or the special counsel's office. BLITZER: And after they lie and get caught lying, they got to cop a plea, they got to start cooperating, Jamie, because they want a reduced sentence after it's been confirmed that they were lying, which is a felony.
GANGEL: That's what my kids did.
I mean, this is -- again, as Laura said, everybody is now in a position going for what the best thing they can do is. For Rick Gates, it's cooperating. For Paul Manafort, I think he is hoping for a pardon.
But, again, the context, why did they all lie over and over?
BLITZER: And update our viewers, Laura, because you have been doing some reporting with Evan Perez on the new attorney general.
He is probably going to be confirmed as early as tomorrow, William Barr. He's going to have to make a major decision shortly after this Mueller report is concluded, after Mueller briefs the new attorney general on what he has, what he doesn't have.
He's got to decide what to make public, what to tell Congress, what to tell the American people.
JARRETT: That's right. It's probably one of the most immediate and pressing decisions Barr will face if he is confirmed later this week.
And I think the challenge for him is this. The Justice Department does not typically talk about people who are not charged. They don't like to put out so-called derogatory information.
BLITZER: Comey did.
JARRETT: Comey did. And Barr has skewered him for it, along with a whole bunch of other people who have skewered for it.
But Comey did in the case of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, and has suffered for it ever since. And Barr made it very clear, that's not me. That's not what I'm going to do. I'm going to follow the tradition of the Justice Department.
The problem here is, this isn't any ordinary investigation. This is the investigation of a lifetime. And Congress is beating down the Justice Department's door for every last detail about it.
So, it may be the situation where Barr is going to have to face a subpoena for this. But he's already in consultation with Justice Department officials that were told about what exactly he should do on this, how he should handle it, what the rollout will look like.
Now, he hasn't made any final decisions. I want to caution about that before any speculation starts. He hasn't been picking what will be in it and what won't, because he doesn't know what the findings will hold. But he is starting those conversations knowing how critical this decision is going to be. BLITZER: Jeffrey, you are a former federal prosecutor. How much leeway, how much discretion does the new Attorney General William Barr have?
TOOBIN: A lot, a lot. I mean he is going to have - you know, this is suis generis situation, particularly when you talk about the involvement of the president, if any. You know, he's not an ordinary perspective defendant because justice department policy, which certainly will be followed here, is that he can't be indicted while he's president. So the - he's not really a potential defendant in any realistic sense.
And also there is implicit in the regulation and the underlying authority is that there's a public interest here. He is - the fact that Congress has a potential interest in impeachment or not impeachment, that is something to be considered as well. I mean, the idea that this could be kept secret in any significant way is just beyond the pale.
Now, classified information, obviously, that is now not going to be released. But anything beyond that I think you will see a storm of outrage. But, you know, I have seen lots of storms of outrage and things don't change.
WOLF: There is a history, a very good relationship that Barr has with Mueller, right, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Yes. And one of the most memorable moments of Barr's testimony was he talked about the Barrs and the Muellers. They hang out together and they're like pals, and that isn't that great. And you know what, so what? That doesn't really matter that much when you talking about the fate of the presidency on the line. He has going to decide, you know, the political and legal cross currents, and it's going to be really tough.
But I thought the most interesting thing you heard during the confirmation hearings was it wasn't just democrats who wanted this information. You had Chuck Grassley, the former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee saying, we've spent all this for taxpayer money, we need to see what's out there. There's going to be a lot of pressure on both sides to get it out, but he may just resist it.
GANGEL: Just quickly, as Laura said, he does not know what's there yet. But I spoke to an old friend and colleague of his who said, in general, this is a man who is going to do what he thinks is best for the country in putting it out there. And I think we should remember that.
WOLF: He is about to become the Attorney General of the United States.
Everybody stand by. We are getting breaking news right now.
The House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, sending a new letter to the acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker after his combative testimony before the panel the other day. Let's go to our Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju.
Manu Raju, tell our viewers what you are learning.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jerry Nadler, the Chairman sending this letter to the acting Attorney General, raising serious questions about that testimony from last Friday, saying that it was unsatisfactory, saying this, although the committee appreciates your decision to appear, members on both sides of the aisle found many of your answers to be unsatisfactory, incomplete or contradicted by other evidence. You repeatedly refused to offer clear responses regarding your communications with the White House and you were inconsistent in your application of the department's policy related to the discussion of ongoing investigations.
Nadler in this letter cites a couple issues. One, about the President's interactions with Whitaker and what Whitaker said about how he discussed the Michael Cohen guilty plea with the President. He was asked about a CNN reporting about the President lashing out at Matt Whitaker. Initially, he denied that. But then he was later asked in that same testimony about any discussions he had with the President. He side stepped that question. They asked for clarity on that.
They also asked for clarity about when he was a private citizen, when he was interviewing for apparently a White House attorney job, dealing with the Special Counsel's investigation. At that point he said in his testimony, he did not have any discussions with the White House about his criticism, his public criticisms of the Mueller investigation.
They - according to Nadler, he says that this is a - he said this is somewhat incredulously, you suggested that you didn't discuss your opinions on the Mueller investigations. So they are asking for all of these. And they say, if they don't get clarity, then they're going to bring him in a deposition before their committee behind closed doors.
Now, I did actually ask Jerry Nadler earlier today, Wolf, whether or not he believes Matt Whitaker misled his committee in any way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: When look back at it, is he truthful to your committee during his testimony?
JERRY NADLER, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: We're reviewing the testimony. I'm not sure he was truthful in everything he said.
RAJU: So do you think he have messed up in the committee?
NADLER: He may, but I don't want to say until we finish reviewing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So the question is where does this go from here? Of course, at that same hearing, Whitaker did not discuss his conversations with the President. He said they were essentially off limits, threatened to invoke executive privilege. He is not going to be acting Attorney General for longer tomorrow.
Bill Barr is going to be confirmed by the Senate to essentially take over overseeing Mueller investigation. But democrats say they're not done questioning him. Will he be a private citizen, will they ask him to come before the committee then? Will he still say that he won't discuss those questions, those conversations with the President, all still yet to play out? But democrats say they want to make it clear that if they have questions, they are going to get answers.
They're going to pursue them even if they have to do so with subpoenas. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. Clearly, they were not very happy with his testimony the other day. Manu, thanks very much for that breaking news.
Jeffrey Toobin, let me get your reaction. Because as you remember, he was sworn in, Whitaker, during that hearing, and if you lie to Congress, that's a crime.
TOOBIN: Yes. And the idea that he was appointed for any other reason than to protect Donald Trump from the Justice Department and from the Mueller investigation is pretty ludicrous. I mean, do you think he was picked because he is the best lawyer in the United States? Did he give any indication that he is even a good lawyer, much less the kind of person who's the Attorney General, which Bill Barr certainly is?
I mean, the explanation of how he became the acting Attorney General was - did strain credulity. Now, whether it can be proved false is a separate question. But you can see why the democrats are unhappy about it.
WOLF: He became the acting Attorney General as you remember, Laura, because he was the Chief of Staff to the then Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But as Chief of Staff, he didn't have to go through Senate confirmation.
JARRETT: Right. And he had managed to endear himself to the White House for months before he had a job, as Pam - Pamela Brown and I had reported, he have had conversations with the President about investigations, including the Hilary Clinton - the Clinton Family Foundation and the like. And so they had a relationship there.
But I just want to point out a part of this letter that I think might not get underscored unless we do. The committee is saying they have identified several individuals with direct knowledge of phone calls that you denied receiving from the White House.
So Pamela and I have reported that the President was unhappy with the Southern District of New York and how they had been investigating Michael Cohen, how they had named him as individual one in the court papers when they were talking about the hush money payments that Cohen had made on behalf of the President to certain women connected with the campaign. And the committee is now saying, we know that those phone calls happened. Now, they're going to have to have their put up, shut up moment as well and see what exactly they can put forward. But they are saying they have something in indirect contravention of what he said in his testimony.
WOLF: And this letter to Whitaker, Nadler says, Jamie, members on both sides of the aisle found many of your answers to be unsatisfactory, incomplete and contradicted by other evidence.
GANGEL: And let's just look at Donald Trump for a moment. Who was Donald Trump going to make Attorney General? Even though he said he didn't know who Whitaker was, that was not believable. This was the most important job and he put him in there, you know, common sense, because he thought that he would get some information out of him.
The other thing that we've talked about that's I think worth repeating is that Donald Trump talks about the Mueller investigation with everybody. The notion that he would - the one person he didn't bring it up with is Matt Whitaker seems unlikely.
BLITZER: What do you think, because the fallout from all of this potentially could be very significant now that the democrats are in the majority of the House of Representatives? They can prolong this for as long as they want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. And this is - make no mistake, this is a show of force by the democrats, showing what they will do now that they have the majority, demonstrating to future witnesses that they are not to be messed with, that they won't be taken advantage of. They won't just sit idly by while you spew misinformation in the committee hearing. This is a show of force by democrats.
And I think it's important not just in the context of Matt Whitaker but witnesses still to appear before these committees.
GANGEL: And let's remember why is Michael Cohen going to prison, for lying to Congress. This is something that Robert Mueller has line in the sand, whatever you want to call it, said, this will not stand. So if Matt Whitaker has lied to Congress, there is a bigger issue here.
TOOBIN (ph): Yes.
BLITZER: And we're just getting - I just got a copy of this United States district court ruling by the judge in this particular case, Amy Berman Jackson, United States District Judge. I have been going through it. You have been going through it, Laura.
Jeffrey Toobin, I want your assessment. But she concludes that - yes, that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, did, in fact, lie even though he had promised he would not lie as part of a plea agreement, part of his cooperation agreement with Mueller and his Special Counsel team. And as she says he did lie on several of these points, Jeffrey. TOOBIN: Well, it's doom for Paul Manafort. I mean, yes, it's better for him that it was only three out of five. But remember, Amy Berman Jackson also revoked Manafort's bail because of his behavior while he was out on bail. I mean, this is a judge who has had it with Paul Manafort. And, yes, it could have been worse, but going into sentencing as a 70-year-old man with this kind of finding is just disastrous for him.
BLITZER: The Office of Special Counsel according to Judge Jackson, and, Laura, we're just reading it together with you, has established the preponderance of the evidence that the defendant intentionally made false statements to the FBI, the Office of Special Counsel and the Grand Jury concerning the payment by firm A to a law firm, another one, the Office of the Special Counsel has established by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant intentionally made multiple false statements to the FBI, Office of Special Counsel and Grand Jury regarding material in the investigation, including his interactions and communications with Kilimnik. We've been hearing a lot about him.
Also there's a third point, the Office of Special Counsel has established by preponderance of evidence that on October 5, 2018, the defendant intentionally made false statements that were material to another Department of Justice investigation. They don't explain that in detail. But, clearly, Paul Manafort is in deep trouble right now.
JARRETT: Yes. I mean, it looks like, as Jeffrey said, a mixed result, but overall, not a good one for Manafort given that she sort of laid out here all of the different ways she's weighed the evidence and has found that essentially Mueller prevailed on at least three of them. And she also goes on to say that this means the Office of Special Counsel is to longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including the promise to support a reduction of the offense.
Now, that doesn't mean she won't take into account her own judgment when making the ultimate decision on sentencing. That's up to her. It's not up to Mueller. And so she says this doesn't address the question of whether the defendant will receive credit for his acceptance of responsibility. So he may still receive some reduction. But overall, she has found that he did lie on those issues that you list out (ph).
BLITZER: The three of the five issues. Amy - the judge, Amy Berman Jackson, on the two out of the five, she says, the Office of Special Counsel failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that on October 16, 2018, the defendant intentionally made a false statement concerning his contacts with the administration.
Evan Perez, you have been going through this document. We've been waiting all day for it. She has now concluded that on three of the five charges, Manafort lied.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And, look, I think Paul Manafort's legal team had made the calculation they were going to oppose this. They said he did not intentionally lie, that he misremembered some certain facts that once he was prompted with some of the documents in some of his previous statements, he corrected those statements during time he was supposed to be cooperating with the Special Counsel.
But they had the calculation that even if the judge had decided that all five lies were essentially proven by the Special Counsel, that this was going to end up with no additional time for Paul Manafort, that in the end, he was probably going to end up getting about ten years. And so they had made the calculation that they were going to fight it. They were not going to admit that he had made these intentional false statements, but that it would not make much of a difference on the end of his sentence.
Now, we'll see what the judge does. We don't know. She clearly has taken a very harsh view of what Paul Manafort and his legal team have done. But it is very key here, the especially these interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik. The Special Counsel says that Konstantin Kilimnik is an agent essentially of the Russian Intelligence Services. Paul Manafort's legal team has suggested maybe it's a little more complicated, that he's had meetings, Kilimnik has had meetings with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, in Ukraine, suggesting that perhaps Kilimnik might have been a double agent.
So I don't know how that helps him necessarily. But you can see that they had made certain calculations and that has failed here with Amy Berman Jackson, the judge who has ruled against him on three of these five false statements that the Special Counsel said he made.
BLITZER: Yes. And let's - and, Jeffrey, let's remember, he is almost 70 years old, Paul Manafort. He has been in jail all these months awaiting sentencing. If he is going to get ten years now as a result of lying and all the other charges, all the other convictions he's had, this guy is going to be spending a lot of time in jail.
TOOBIN: And I saw him in court the other day.
[18:45:01] He is shockingly -- he has shockingly declined. He walks with a cane. He appears disoriented. He is in terrible shape already.
And remember also, this is just one case where he is being sentenced. He also has to be sentenced in the Eastern District of Virginia where he was convicted at trial. So, this isn't even all of what he faces. I mean, it is just a disastrous situation for Manafort. And, you know, he's -- no one needs a pardon more than Paul Manafort. That's for sure.
BLITZER: And not just you but others who have seen him in court and elsewhere say they wouldn't recognize him. We know what he looked like, very dapper during the campaign, always wearing a suit and tie. Now he looks totally different. He has been in solitary confinement in this jail in Virginia.
TOOBIN: I think it's generally described as protective custody. It's not like he was in a punishment situation of solitary. One of the things I think people done realize is how bad jail is, even
in the best of circumstances. Jail ages people. He is not in some sort of country club where he can go out and get fresh air. He is in -- he is being held close to the city. I mean, it is a miserable situation for anyone, particularly someone who is 70 years old, in uncertain health, in an emotional disaster situation.
I mean, it's really bad. You can see it on his face.
BLITZER: They say, Jamie, he has been suffering from all sorts of illnesses, including gout and as Jeffrey said, he could barely walk right now. He needs a cane. Otherwise, he needs a wheelchair.
GANGEL: I think one of the things that was interesting in the decision is the last graph where she said -- the judge said that these were the cases but she was still to decide how it would play into his time served. But as Jeffrey said, this is just one case. This is going to go on and on.
And I -- back to our question of a pardon. He has held firm. And the president has maybe hinted, put out there that pardons for people who hold firm are more likely. I think that they have to be hoping that that might happen.
BLITZER: Just to put this --
TOOBIN: That's an understatement.
BLITZER: Yes, with Paul Manafort, the meeting he had early august 2016 at 666 5th Avenue at this Havana Club with the cigars and all of that.
JARRETT: That only Jeffrey knows about.
BLITZER: The Mueller team suggests that's at the heart of the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
JARRETT: They have and they haven't said exactly why though. That's the second step that we don't know. We understand Kilimnik's role. We understand his connections to Russian intelligence, according to the FBI, but we still haven't seen that link as to why it's at the heart of it other than the fact that conspiracy and Russian interference in the election is at the heart of Mueller's work.
But he needs to flush that out a little bit. And again, this is why it's so important that the public and, of course, Congress gets their hands on Mueller's report.
BLITZER: And his sentencing is scheduled for mid-March, right?
JARRETT: That's right. We'll see what happens.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens in that point.
The fallout, the political fallout, Rebecca, from this is going to be significant, as there seems to be this divide not only in the House between Democrats and Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, but now in the Senate as well.
BUCK: That's right. The question that is really interesting to me is when do Republicans -- Republican voters who have supported the president, who have believed his argument that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, at what point does all of this pile up, all of the people who have been lying or pled guilty, at what point does that turn the tide in public opinion and particularly with supporters of the president?
That is the moment when this becomes very politically perilous for Donald Trump and Republicans.
BLITZER: I want to bring back Evan, because he is getting more information right now.
You have been going through the document as we have tried to do here on the set as well. What else are you learning?
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, I think one of the important things is to bring back to the attention on Konstantin Kilimnik. Look, I think he is a key character here. We haven't heard the last of him I think as part of this investigation, the Mueller investigation.
One of the things that's emerged in the court hearing, especially the one -- the sealed court hearing that happened just about a week and a half ago, what emerged was the prosecutors believe that essentially Kilimnik is the key to whatever might have been happening behind closed doors, that might amount to what people call collusion. There was some kind of conspiracy. He is the one that's receiving -- if you remember, Paul Manafort is handing over polling data that according to Paul Manafort's team is not that important.
[18:50:07] But according to prosecutors, they are saying that it's very detailed. It's very important. And there is something that is happening behind the scenes.
Now, the special counsel, the FBI, they have a lot of information from intelligence intercepts to know what the Russians were doing behind the scenes. We don't know that yet. So, again, I think he's an important character in this investigation and I think we're yet to see more about what that is.
We may not see it in an indictment necessarily but perhaps Mueller is going to produce this in trying to explain in his report what exactly might have been behind the scenes, whatever was happening behind the scenes with the Russians and with Paul Manafort. Again, it goes to this heart of the investigation of whether or not there was a conspiracy or what people call collusion during the 2016 election.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stick around because there's more breaking news we're following right now, very important information just coming in.
A former U.S. Air Force intelligence specialist is charged with turning against her country and becoming a spy for Iran. Monica Witt is accused of helping Iran identify and target American counterintelligence officers.
Our Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr is reporting from the Middle East. She's joining us live from Oman.
Barbara, first of all, tell us more about these spy charges.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, espionage is always the ultimate betrayal but this time, especially painful because it's espionage on behalf of Iran.
STARR (voice-over): Tonight, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence specialist who disappeared and was believed to be in Iran is now wanted by the FBI for spying on behalf of the Islamic republic. Thirty-nine-year-old Monica Witt who had access to top secret information including names of U.S. intelligence officers defected to Iran in 2013 and was once thought to be missing.
But instead, the Justice Department says she was recruited by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
JAY TABB, FBI EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Monica Witt provided the Iranian government with the identities of employees in the U.S. intelligence community who are operating covertly.
STARR: The Justice Department says Witt worked with Iran to target at least eight U.S. government agent computer accounts in order to deploy malware that would provide access to computers and networks used by the U.S. intelligence community.
The U.S. also alleges Witt created target packages for Iran to identify and track down U.S. government agents.
This week, Iran marks 40 years since the Islamic revolution brought the current regime to power. And the rhetoric from the Trump administration is getting hotter.
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think you'll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.
STARR: The hawkish language from national security adviser John Bolton is at odds with the pentagon, according to a senior military official.
The official said the military is seeking to avoid open conflict with Iran and rely instead on economic and diplomatic pressure. But in an exclusive television interview, the top navy commander for the region says the threat is real.
VICE ADMIRAL JAMES MALLOY, COMMANDER, U.S. NAVAL FORCES CENTRAL COMMAND: They have a growing capability in cruise missiles, they have a growing capability in ballistic missiles, they have a growing capability in unmanned surface systems.
STARR: CNN went aboard the USS Gladiator, one of the Navy's mine countermeasures ships in the Persian Gulf, where the crew faces the threat Iran poses to the U.S. and shipping in this critical area.
MALLOY: We are prepared for everything that they actually have and everything that their rhetoric says that they have.
STARR: For the commanding officer of USS Gladiator, the mission is making sure that if Iran lays mines in the vital Strait of Hormuz waterway, the ship will be able to find and destroy them.
LT. COMMANDER REBECCA WOLF, U.S. NAVY: We take it as a threat that is something that could happen and we need to be ready for and prepared for.
STARR: U.S. military officials say that some of the new Russian missiles and weapon systems going into Iran are so strong with long ranges, very powerful that it means the U.S. military may have to change the way it conducts operations in the vital Persian Gulf waterways sometime in the next five years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Lots of important stuff. Barbara Starr reporting exclusively for us from the Persian Gulf in Oman, thank you very much.
Other news we're following, as congressional aides are drafting the final pieces of a bill to avert a government shut down, one of the lead negotiators of the compromise is making history. We're talking about Democrat Nita Lowey, is the first female chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. And get this, the ranking Republican on the panel is a woman as well.
[18:55:02] Our Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash is joining us right now.
These women are really breaking down barriers and they are engaging in some badly needed bipartisanship.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's already happening. You're already seeing the results of that. There were four lawmakers in the room on Monday night cutting the deal that led, they hope, to what's going to happen later this week, which is averting a shut down, two of them are women who are in those new roles, leading the powerful House Appropriations Committee. They're determined to figure out sticky problems and do it across party lines and I sat down with the history making duo for a colorful conversation.
REP. NITA LOWEY (D-NY), CHAIR, HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: What an honor it is to serve as the chairwoman of this committee.
BASH (voice-over): A moment for the history books. Democrat Nita Lowey, the first woman to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
REP. KAY GRANGER (R-TX), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: I look forward to continuing our very productive relationship.
BASH: And with Kay Granger, the top Republican, this is the first female duo to lead any House panel since 1977 and that was a committee on the House beauty shop.
LOWEY: Too bad it was disbanded. I could use a house beauty shop. I never knew there was a House beauty shop.
GRANGER: I didn't either.
BASH (on camera): You're in charge of the committee that performs the most important task constitutionally of Congress, the power of the purse.
(voice-over): Translation, they write bills to fund the government, and were key players in cutting a border security deal to avert another government shut down. The duo joked it could have been quicker if they were left alone to hash it out.
LOWEY: We do it. Give us an hour, 30 minutes.
BASH: They have worked together for years, across party lines.
GRANGER: Nita Lowey said we're going to be friends, we're going to show how well two women can get this done. We're going to disagree but not be disagreeable and work things out. Do it on time. Do it the right way.
BASH: But don't let their congeniality fool you.
GRANGER: There will be times when someone would come to the podium and misunderstand that beautiful smile and that nice way she handles is. I would watch, I would say he's in for such a surprise because she's a very -- she's a very tough lady.
BASH: A male colleague even gave Lowey an ice pick as a gag gift.
LOWEY: He said watch out for that smile, she has a silver pick in her hand.
BASH: Granger, the first female mayor of Fort Worth, Texas, is no different.
(on camera): You probably have steel toed cowboy boots.
GRANGER: Yes, one member of leadership said if there's going to be a knife fight, make sure Kay is on your team.
BASH (voice-over): Lowey, age 81, and Granger, 76, marvel at the influx of young women in Congress.
(on camera): Do you feel a sense of responsibility to mentor the younger women?
BASH: You do?
LOWEY: Absolutely. I interact with the young women, the middle aged women, and reach out and try and be as helpful as I can.
BASH: You're one of 13 Republican women, that's all in the House. And that's total of 102 women, which is pretty remarkable, only 13 are Republicans.
GRANGER: It's very disappointing. We have a lot of work to do.
BASH (voice-over): A big part of their job, traveling to see firsthand how taxpayer dollars they appropriate are spent, like Granger's recent trip to the southern border.
GRANGER: Talking about it in a room in Washington is one thing, when they see it for themselves, it's a game changer.
BASH (on camera): Man, man, man.
(voice-over): Back in Washington, walking through the Capitol's Statuary Hall, it's hard not to notice most of the statues are men.
(on camera): These men probably never imagined that women would be in charge. And you are.
BASH (voice-over): A female oasis of bipartisanship on a crucial House Committee.
GRANGER: This is what I gave her when she became chair. And when I became, when I was elected by the steering committee, she's the first one that called and congratulated me. We have that sort of relationship.
BASH (on camera): Do you actually use that at the hearings, or it's ceremonial?
LOWEY: I use it for lots of things.
BASH: And Lowey and Granger each has three children. They have 13 grandchildren between them. I asked if they bond as grandmothers, they both paused, looked at one another and looked back at me surprised to realize their answer is no, Wolf. They said they don't, they're doting grandmothers, of course, but they realize they just don't have time to do that.
And Lowey looked at granger and isn't that something, we don't talk about our grandchildren.
BLITZER: It's a whole new world in the House of Representatives. More than 100 women out of 435, that's so significant.
BASH: It is so significant, and when each of these women came, when Lowey, there were somewhere in the 20s, same goes for Kate Granger, so they have seen the change and they do feel a responsibility to continue to be part of that change.
BLITZER: I covered Congress for a long time. I never knew there was a beauty shop there.
BASH: Neither did they.
BLITZER: Very interesting. Good work, Dana. Appreciate it very much.
BASH: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitroom.
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