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Interview With Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI); Sanders Raises $3+ Million After Announcing White House Bid; "NY Times:" President Asked Acting Attorney General to Put Trump Supporter in Charge of Federal Probe of His Former Lawyer Cohen; Five Americans Detained Amid Haiti Violence. Aired on 6-7p ET
Aired February 19, 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: Crossing the judge. Roger Stone is ordered to appear in court after the indicted Trump ally posted a picture of his judge with crosshairs in the background. Will his gag order be tightened or his bail revoked?
Gang of Eight. Another revelation tonight by the former acting FBI director. Andrew McCabe says top congressional leaders were informed that the president of the United States was being investigated, and no one objected, including the Republicans.
And Bernie is back. After losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders is taking another shot at winning the Democratic presidential nomination. Can he prevail over rivals who have embraced his views?
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, new fuel for obstruction of justice allegations against President Trump.
"The New York Times" reports the president tried to influence the investigation of his former lawyer Michael Cohen by asking his acting attorney general to put a Trump supporter in charge of the probe. That supporter, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, had already recused himself from the case.
Tonight, Mr. Trump is denying the report, which offers a very detailed portrait of a president at war against investigators as they close in on him and his inner circle.
I will get reaction from the House Judiciary Committee member David Cicilline, and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, the president is denying that he interfered in the Cohen investigation. But this new report is very detailed and potentially very damaging.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a major report, Wolf.
And it really details how the president has tried to undermine or end these investigations he feels could threaten his presidency. But the big one is right at the top. It says that the president asked then acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to go to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York -- that's Geoffrey Berman, someone who worked on the president's transit transition team and was appointed by President Trump -- to unrecuse himself from overseeing the investigation into Michael Cohen, so then he could take the reins for that.
Now, this is a story, Wolf, that we should note the president is forcefully denying today.
COLLINS (voice-over): A stunning report in "The New York Times" claiming President Trump asked then acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to put someone who has supported Trump in charge of investigating hush payments made by his former fixer, Michael Cohen.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker. I think he's done a great job.
COLLINS: A bombshell Trump denied today.
TRUMP: No, not at all. I don't know who gave you that. That's more fake news. There's a lot of fake -- there's a lot of fake news out there. No, I didn't.
COLLINS: The person Trump wanted in the job, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, had already recused himself from overseeing the probe.
According to "The Times," it's unclear how Whitaker responded and there's no evidence he took steps to intervene, despite telling associates that he knew part of his job was to jump on a grenade for the president.
Still, Whitaker remarked that the New York prosecutors required adult supervision, according to "The Times." While Berman is recused from this probe, he is not recused from another that could touch Trump, one looking into the president's inaugural committee.
"The Times" adding, Trump soured on Whitaker after his inability to make the change, and he has since been replaced by Bill Barr. But Whitaker could be facing bigger problems. He recently told a congressional committee under oath that the president had never pressured him regarding any investigations.
MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: At no time has the White House asked for, nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel's investigation or any other investigation.
COLLINS: Whitaker is now under scrutiny by House Democrats for potential perjury. Today, a DOJ spokesperson said he stands by his testimony.
And Trump is standing by him.
TRUMP: That's a very, very straight shooter. I watched him during the hearing, some of it. I thought he was exceptional.
COLLINS: Since Trump told advisers Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein assured him the Cohen investigation had nothing to do with him, "The New York Times" reports he has since wondered if Rosenstein was deliberately misleading him to keep him calm.
The extensive report is also claiming Trump told advisers in February 2017 they should say he asked for Michael Flynn's resignation because -- quote -- "That sounds better." Pressed by Sean Spicer if it was true, Trump reportedly responded: "Say that. Say that I asked for his resignation."
According to "The Times," White House lawyers were so concerned about what Spicer said from the Briefing Room podium that they compiled an entire memo laying out his misstatements.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The White House counsel reviewed and determined that there is not an illegal issue, but rather a trust issue.
COLLINS: The report coming amid headlines that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired last spring, briefed congressional leadership about the counterintelligence investigation he launched into President Trump.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: The purpose of the briefing was to let our congressional leadership know exactly what we have been doing, opening a case of this nature, not something that an FBI director, not something that an acting FBI director do by yourself, right?
COLLINS: And that no one raised concerns?
QUESTION: Did you tell Congress?
MCCABE: And I told Congress what we had done.
QUESTION: Did anyone object?
MCCABE: That's the important part here, Savannah. No one objected, not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds, and not based on the facts.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: Now, Wolf, "The Times" also notes that the president has had private conversations with Republican lawmakers about attacking the Mueller campaign, something he himself has done over 1,000 times -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins reporting from the White House, thank you.
One of the journalists behind "The New York Times"' report, Washington Investigative Correspondent and CNN Contributor Mark Mazzetti, is with us, along with our Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.
Excellent work, you and your team, Mark. Thanks very much for joining us.
You broke the story. How far did the president's requests to change the person overseeing the Michael Cohen investigation in New York go?
MARK MAZZETTI, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So the president made a call to Matthew Whitaker in November.
And he made this request about getting Geoffrey Berman put back in charge of the investigation.
BLITZER: Geoffrey Berman is the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Whitaker, the acting attorney general.
MAZZETTI: That's right.
And what we report is that Whitaker pretty -- knew pretty early on that he couldn't make the change, that this was not something he was able to do within the Justice Department.
And so that was basically where that request appeared to end. We don't exactly have details about what he did inside the Justice Department. However, we do know that this was sort of part of just this general pattern of this cavalier attitude the Trump had towards his prosecutors, trying to change the course of investigations, trying to influence investigations, that's going on over two years.
BLITZER: It's a very comprehensive look. It's almost a 5,000-word article you guys wrote in "The New York Times."
What did you uncover in terms of the scope, the overall scope of the president's efforts to interfere in the Michael Cohen probe and elsewhere as well?
MAZZETTI: Well, as Kaitlan said, I mean, we're used to so much of this by now, because the president does so much of this publicly, right?
Our investigation looked at a lot of his efforts privately. So the scope involved getting senior officials inside the White House to try to lean on investigators. It had a very detailed account of his actions with congressional Republicans to try to basically derail the Mueller investigation, to try to show that the Mueller investigation is -- quote -- "a witch-hunt." So this is a very comprehensive strategy that took place over some period of time.
BLITZER: And you asked the White House the comment report, and, what, they didn't. But then we heard after your report was posted in "The New York Times," all of a sudden, the president denies it.
MAZZETTI: Yes, that's right.
We didn't hear for actually several days, and then we publish the story. The president was asked about it, and he described it as fake news.
BLITZER: Yes, that's after -- but you gave him every -- you gave the White House every chance to go ahead and rebut whatever the...
MAZZETTI: Several days, yes.
BLITZER: They were totally silent. Is that normal in a situation like this?
MAZZETTI: Well, it is normal at times. Sometimes, you find that the White House only responds after you publish stories, and they maybe want to see it in its entirety.
BLITZER: But you gave them the details, right?
MAZZETTI: We did. We gave them what we were planning to report. And there was no response.
Let's talk a little bit, Shimon, about the scope of all of this. Is there concern at the White House right now and the Justice Department for the overall obstruction case?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think overall they have consistently been concerned about the Mueller investigation.
But I think what Mark's piece, what "The New York Times" story here lays out, really what the biggest concern I think right now for people on the Trump team is the SDNY.
This is why this I think he wanted Berman to oversee this investigation. He was a little concerned that someone else would come in. And that is where many people think most of the president's problems lie right now is at the Southern District of New York and that investigation.
We don't yet know where Mueller stands on things, obviously. But I think we're probably close to learning, as things are starting, it seems, to wind down there. But the biggest concern -- and I think this is what this story lays out and this investigation lays out -- is that the SDNY investigations -- there are many there now -- is going to go on for quite some time and something that is going to consume the president, especially once the Mueller investigation comes to a close.
BLITZER: SDNY, the Southern District of New York.
And recall that it was in August, I believe, when it was revealed and Michael Cohen effectively said that the president had participated in a scheme before the election to pay off women with hush money. So the president already has a great deal of legal jeopardy in this case.
PROKUPECZ: And it is -- the Trump Org. That's the biggest concern, really. And we know now the Southern District of New York is looking at the inauguration committee, funds there, other issues. We don't have a very good picture of everything that the Southern District is looking at. But there could be other things there that we don't know about.
And the hush money payment, as Mark just said, that is still very much ongoing. That investigation hasn't ended. And the president has been implicated in that investigation.
BLITZER: We know that the New York state attorney general is looking into the Trump Foundation, among other things, lots of investigations going along.
BLITZER: Forget about the congressional investigations, lots of federal investigations going on.
You have a fascinating series of details in your report, Mark, on the concern the White House had about the firing of Michael Flynn, the president's national security adviser, and the rollout.
What was their big concern when he was let go?
MAZZETTI: Well, recall that this was really the first big crisis of the Trump administration.
Michael Flynn was fired because there were these concerns about his contacts with the Russians. And the White House was worried that this would consume the early months of the administration. And we now know it's consumed two years, but the -- they were worried about how -- about containing the damage.
And so our report talks about how there was a plan early on to sort of say Trump asked for Flynn to be fired -- sorry -- to resign -- and that this was going to be the end of the entire investigation. And there was this sort of account of like, let's put this behind us.
But, as we now know, the White House lawyers put together -- and that made the problem worse, this early effort to contain the damage.
BLITZER: And they acknowledged in this internal memo that Sean Spicer went out there in the Briefing Room and offered all these misstatements about what was going on, and they never corrected it, did they?
And one of the biggest issues that they were saying, that Spicer was putting out this misleading information, was over whether the White House had thoroughly investigated the Flynn matter and how much they had. And Spicer had said that they did investigate. The White House Counsel's Office said that wasn't true. They really barely had investigated the Flynn matter.
BLITZER: I want to get your thoughts on Roger Stone now.
The federal judge overseeing his case has now told him you got to be back in court on Thursday, because of what he has been saying and the Instagram picture he posted of the federal judge that had some crosshairs in the background.
So, if I was Roger Stone, I would be very concerned that there's a chance that he may have to go to jail, right, over this as he awaits his trial. He's going to be here. So, now he has to pay to come here, probably has to pay...
BLITZER: From Florida.
PROKUPECZ: From Florida.
It was a stupid thing to do. And there's going to be some -- something is going to happen, whether or not the judge institutes a more stricter gag order or whether or not she jails him and sees this as some kind of violation and holds him in contempt as a result. Who knows.
But this is a judge, as we know, she's the same judge that's been overseeing the Paul Manafort -- that is strictly by the book, by the record, she will put everything out there. And you know what? If I was Roger Stone right now, I would be really worried that I'm -- when I appear in court on Thursday, I may not be walking out.
BLITZER: She revoked Paul Manafort's bail after he was talking to other witnesses. She's tough.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
She's a very tough judge. And that is why you saw Roger Stone issue that apology within hours. He took down the post. Then he reposted it. The big issue with the post is whether or not -- this Instagram post -- whether or not that is some -- was some kind of a threat.
And I think that's something that the judge needs to figure out. And I'm sure there -- something that the special counsel's office also is going to have to weigh in on and let's see what they have to say.
BLITZER: We will see what happens on Thursday. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, we will see what she decides to do about Roger Stone.
Guys, excellent reporting.
Mark, thanks very much.
And, Shimon, you always do excellent reporting as well.
PROKUPECZ: Oh, well, thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks to both of you.
Let's get some more on all of this.
Congressman David Cicilline is joining us. He's a Democrat who serves on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: My pleasure.
BLITZER: I want to get your reaction to "The New York Times" reporting that President Trump asked the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, if the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, could unrecuse himself to take control of the Michael Cohen investigation.
Does this rise, this request, if it's confirmed, rise to the level of obstruction of justice?
CICILLINE: I think there's no question that, if this reporting is accurate, this is just another data point of an ongoing effort by this president to impede this investigation and to obstruct justice.
We should recall that there are 199 criminal charges that have been filed. There have been 37 defendants. There have been seven convictions and four people sentenced to prison. The president has described this as a witch-hunt, has tried to undermine the special counsel's investigation, but is now clearly concerned about the Southern District of New York.
And to call up the acting attorney general and say, can't you install someone who's favorable to me to this investigation, is completely inappropriate, clearly an effort to impede or undermine the investigation and protect himself, and would constitute obstruction of justice if true.
BLITZER: Matt Whitaker testified before your committee, the House Judiciary Committee, earlier in the month. Do you believe he perjured himself?
CICILLINE: Well, Mr. Whitaker was very evasive. He kept referring to his opening statement, which basically said, I didn't make any commitments or promises to the president.
But when we probed him directly about what the president said to him, whether he had expressed dissatisfaction or expressed some opinions about these investigations, he sort of avoided that answer.
So he created the impression that there was no discussion with the president about any investigation, when we know, if this reporting is true, that that is inaccurate. So the chairman of the committee sent a letter to Mr. Whitaker requesting clarification on a number of issues, and indicated that if he didn't provide that we would have him back before the committee in a deposition.
But he clearly misled the committee and may have been providing incorrect or false information.
BLITZER: Because you specifically asked Whitaker about CNN's reporting that President Trump lashed out at Whitaker after Michael Cohen implicated the president in his guilty plea.
Whitaker denied it. Do you think he was lying to you?
CICILLINE: Well, and I went further and said, well, because then I thought, well, maybe you will think it wasn't lashing out. So I said, lashing out or expressing dissatisfaction of any kind.
And he said, no. What we know now, if this reporting is true, they both can't be true. So, if this reporting is true, and the president called about replacing the U.S. attorney, presumably, that was because he was dissatisfied about what was happening with Michael Cohen and the guilty plea.
I doubt it was, let me replace the U.S. attorney because he deserves a vacation because he's doing great work. So both can't be true, the reporting and Mr. Whitaker's testimony. So it's really important for him to come back before the committee and either clarify that or correct it.
BLITZER: And I just want to be precise. Will your committee subpoena Whitaker to answer additional questions?
CICILLINE: Yes, I think the chairman made it clear that he expected Mr. Whitaker to return for a deposition. If he doesn't do that voluntarily, then the committee will exercise its authority to require him to appear for a deposition.
But before he left our committee room, there were many unanswered questions, contradictions in his testimony, evasive answers. And the chairman made it clear that we have a responsibility to get the truth. The American people deserve that. And he's going to be back before the committee for that purpose.
BLITZER: According to this explosive "New York Times" report today, Whitaker told associates over at the Justice Department that part of his role was to -- quote -- "jump on a grenade" for the president. And he told others that the Southern District of New York prosecutors needed what he called adult supervision.
Do you think those comments reflect any direction he might have received from the president?
CICILLINE: Well, it certainly reflect the direction that he thought he should take as the leader of the Justice Department. And it evidences again the president's fundamental misunderstanding about the role of the attorney general.
It's the same comments he made about Jeff Sessions. The attorney general represents the United States. He's there to do justice. He doesn't represent the president of the United States. He's not there to protect the president. He's there to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.
The idea that Mr. Whitaker understood that his responsibility was to jump on a grenade and protect the president is exactly the reason that Mr. Whitaker never had any business being in that position, because he was really there to protect the president, to try to protect him from these ongoing investigations.
He basically auditioned for the job on television by diminishing and attacking the special counsel and his investigation. So it's clear that's what his intention was. It's clear that's why the president picked him sort of out of thin air. But it's precisely why he had no business being the acting attorney general of the United States.
BLITZER: We also got more news from the former FBI deputy director, the acting director, Andrew McCabe. He was fired, as you know.
He confirmed that he has been interviewed by Robert Mueller, and that the special counsel has contemporaneous notes or memos that he wrote about all of his interactions with President Trump.
How significant is that?
CICILLINE: It's very significant. Agents such as Director McCabe are trained to record in contemporaneous reporting conversations they have in connection with investigations that are ongoing.
That is compelling evidence to support his testimony. So the fact that he has been interviewed by Mr. Mueller, I think, is very, very serious.
BLITZER: Congressman Cicilline, thanks so much for joining us.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Coming up, evidence of obstruction? We're digging deeper into the president's reported attempts to interfere in the Michael Cohen investigation. Could it wind up in Robert Mueller's report?
And we will talk about Roger Stone's potential punishment, as he gets ready to face the judge he appeared to threaten on social media. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, "The New York Times" is reporting that President Trump asked the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, to put a prosecutor who supports the president in charge of the case against the former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
Gloria, what does it say to you that "The Times" is reporting that the president wanted Berman, who was close to the president, was liked by the president, to oversee the Michael Cohen probe?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, this is part of a pattern we have seen, where the president publicly is calling the Mueller investigation and every investigation into him a hoax, and, privately, we discover, he's really worried about it.
And what he was trying to do was place a loyalist in the job, so he felt that he could be ensured that he would be protected.
Well, the Justice Department doesn't work that way. Whitaker, Matthew Whitaker, apparently did not work that way. And so the president wasn't able to do what he wanted to do.
But this is somebody, Wolf, we have to sort of take a step back and understand that he may well have been panicked about all of this. And the reason he's tweeted 1,000 times about the Mueller investigation is that he's scared about that as well.
BLITZER: David Swerdlick, watch what Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITAKER: At no time has the White House asked for, nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel's investigation or any other investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, those words are very specific, because some are suggesting he may have perjured himself.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: OK. I think it's a little early to know if he perjured himself. But, yes, that was very carefully stated.
The White House asked for no promises. He didn't say they didn't just toss the idea out there in a discussion. And that, I think, is what we need to get at. If "The New York Times"' reporting is right, Wolf, here's the problem for Whitaker. Even if he ultimately, as Gloria was just saying, did the right thing and didn't interfere with an ongoing investigation, if he is covering tracks for the president now, and if the special counsel's investigation or if one of the congressional committees knows who the sources are for "The New York Times," and they come before Congress and tell a different story, Whitaker will have to respond to that.
BLITZER: Yes, because those words, very precise, "At no time has the White House asked for, nor have I provided any promises or commitments."
BLITZER: Promises or commitments, those were his specific words.
Rebecca, "The Times" is also reporting that Whitaker said that part of his role was to -- quote -- "jump on a grenade" for the president.
And he also told people that the Southern District of New York prosecutors needed what he called adult supervision. Does that reflect the attitude that the president may have inspired him with?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, absolutely, Wolf.
It doesn't reflect, by the way, the job description of the attorney general of the United States, which again gets at the concerns among Democrats and Republicans about Whitaker taking on this role in the first place, with no Senate confirmation, with no input even from lawmakers, and not having any sort of oversight component to this, the president just naming his guy, naming someone who would be loyal and protect him, over someone who would do the job of attorney general and uphold the Constitution.
BLITZER: Sara, the president was asked about this bombshell report in "The New York Times" today. Listen to how he responded to a reporter's question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Did you ask acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to change the leadership of the investigation into your former personal attorney Michael Cohen?
TRUMP: No, not at all. I don't know who gave you that. That's more fake news. There's a lot of fake -- there's a lot of fake news out there. No, I didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How does this fit into this overall obstruction of justice argument that is being made?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, the president denies a lot of things. So maybe he's telling the truth in this case, but in the past he's made a lot of denials, said he never, ever thought about firing Robert Mueller He certainly denied that he was thinking of firing Jeff Sessions, and many times we knew that he was thinking about firing Jeff Sessions. So you can take that with a grain of salt.
And I think one of the things "The New York Times" story sort of does nicely is, it pulls together all of these ways that Donald Trump was essentially trying to obstruct justice, but he was doing it before our eyes. He was calling for the end of the Mueller investigation.
And then it brings you a little bit behind the scenes to show you some of the conversations that he was having, in this case with Matthew Whitaker, but perhaps has had along the way with other members of the Justice Department.
We know he had similar conversations with James Comey, when he asked him to let the Flynn investigation go. And so I think they pulled together a pattern of a president who wanted to try over and over again through any means possible to bring an end to these investigations, and has so far been unsuccessful in doing that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Gloria, CNN previously reported -- and you will remember this -- that the president lashed out at Whitaker after he was implicated in the Michael Cohen guilty plea, an unindicted co- conspirator, if you will, some have suggested.
Now "The New York Times" is reporting the President Trump has told people that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, assured him that the Cohen investigation didn't involve him, and has been asking if Rosenstein deliberately misled him.
What do you make of that?
BORGER: It's hard to know.
I think that the president treats the Justice Department as his own personal set of attorneys. And he considers it his own fiefdom. And that's why he was mad at Jeff Sessions for not -- for recusing himself on the Russia investigation. And that's why he's asking Rod Rosenstein, am I OK on Michael Cohen, and asking Whitaker to bring back Berman.
I think this is just more evidence of a president who really doesn't understand the separation of powers in this country and that he cannot ask people to do things personally for him for his own benefit. These people work for the United States of America. They do not work personally for Donald Trump.
BLITZER: There're also some fascinating details. David, you read the article in "The New York Times," a very long article about the rollout of the firing of Michael Flynn, the President's National Security Advisor, and how they came up with all sorts of convoluted answers, including at one point the legal counsel over at the White House drafting a memo that Sean Spicer had actually gone into the briefing room and misled reporters and the American public about the details.
SWERDLICK: Right. I think we still need to know more about that as well, Wolf. But I think one thing that strikes me about the resignation or the dismissal of National Security Advisor Flynn was this idea that space was needed to be created between the President and particularly Vice President Pence and whatever had gone on with Flynn and the things he was accused of. Even to this day, the White House's line is that Vice President Pence only wanted to move on Flynn after he found out that he was lied to by Flynn. But the question is, how long did he know that he was being lied to?
BLITZER: And getting back, you know, sort of that denial from the President that we just heard today. You point out correctly, the President has often denied a lot of stuff that turns out to be, you know, fake denials. And so this is a case where a lot of people are suspecting the same thing.
MURRAY: Well, yes. And I think, you know, this is a problem of the President's own making. He has this credibility problem because he so frequently said things in front of the American people that have proven to be lies. I mean, I think a good example of this are these hush money payments to women that, you know, started as the President had nothing to do with it, knew nothing about it, it was all Michael Cohen. And then, you know, Michael Cohen says in court that he was doing those at Donald Trump's direction.
And so I think he does have this big credibility gap, especially when it comes to talking about anything that has to do with this investigation. I mean, the Michael Flynn thing is another great example, and The New York Times lays this out. They thought by getting rid of Michael Flynn, that they were just going to bring an end to all of these questions about Russia. And I think that that has been where Donald Trump's mind has been since he took office, is how do we bring an end to these questions, bring an end to these investigations.
BLITZER: There's so much going on, so many investigations. The Special Counsel investigation, Southern District of New York, the New York State Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney in Washington, the U.S. Attorney in Northern Virginia, all the committees in the House and the Senate. The White House must be freaking out.
BUCK: Well, you can tell that the President is freaking out, Wolf, because all you need to do is follow him on Twitter and wait for him to say something. Because he, every day, every week, at least, is talking about how these investigations are witch hunts. It really reflects how worried he is about the direction that these investigations are going and how it reflects on him and his presidency, and, of course, how he gets wrapped up in this potentially.
BLITZER: And even after the Mueller investigation is concluded, all these other investigations, including congressional investigations, they are continuing, some of them only just beginning.
Everybody stick around, much more on the breaking news right after this.
[18:38:05] BLITZER: Now, let's get some more right now, the major new revelations by the former acting FBI Chief Andrew Mccabe. McCabe is confirming, David, that he has been interviewed by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, and he has also said he has given Mueller and his team all of the so-called contemporaneous notes, the memoranda, that he wrote about his meetings, his exchanges with the President. How significant is that?
SWERDLICK: I think it's significant for two reasons. One, it means that there's even more information potentially coming from McCabe than we know already from his interview 60 minutes interview and from his book and from some of the other statements he has made recently, some op-eds that he's written.
And it's significant because you have these writings that are presumably contemporaneous recordings of what his reactions were and what his comments were to and from President Trump in various meetings. There will be questions like there were with James Comey when he testified about whether he used 302s or he made his own separate set of notes, and did he do it on company time or did he do it out in the van or whatever.
But I think, ultimately, what matters is what's in those notes, not how they were taken.
BLITZER: You know, Gloria, McCabe revealed that he briefed the so- called gang of eight, the democratic and republican leaders of the House and the Senate, including the leaders of the two Intelligence Committees on his investigation of the President Of The United States serious allegations. He also says that none of the eight actually responded to those serious charges he was alleging.
BORGER: I mean, Imagine this stunning scene. You have McCabe going in and briefing the leaders of the Congress, including the leaders of the Intelligence Committees, and saying, we are investigating the President of the United States as a potential Russian asset. Let that sink in for a minute. And what he says is that no one objected, not on constitutional grounds, not on legal grounds and not on the facts.
What's interesting to me is that someone like Devin Nunes, who was Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, spent an awful lot of time trying to debunk any investigation and any ties of the President to Russia.
But in this meeting, apparently, he was mum. I'd like to know a little bit more about whether anybody raised any questions about this stunning revelation. BLITZER: It's truly stunning. And by the way, CNN, we contacted all eight of these leaders in the House and the Senate, democrats and republicans, to get their reaction to what we heard from McCabe. Six of them gave us their reaction. They said, no comment. They weren't going to respond. Two of them, you know, former House Speaker Paul Ryan and the former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes have not responded to CNN's request for any comment.
Go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: Well, it's a classified briefing. And so, obviously, they're not allowed to comment on it. McCabe has now sort of broken the dam on that. But I want to know from McCabe, and maybe we'll hear more about this on Anderson Cooper tonight, is did they just sit there, did they - you know, were they resigned to this fact, as I think he may have said at one point that republicans were resigned. I mean, this is a stunning moment in American political history.
BLITZER: Yes. And McCabe will be Anderson's guest later tonight at 8:00 P.M. Eastern.
He says, McCabe, Rebecca, that he is willing to come in and testify before the congressional committees. Potentially, that could be a bombshell hearing as well.
BUCK: Absolutely, Wolf. I mean, clearly, McCabe has a story to tell and he's eager to tell it. I mean, he wrote a book. He is doing this media tour. He is saying these real bombshell things. So, yes, he definitely would have a very interesting hearing. The question, of course, will this happen?
Interestingly, republicans have been saying they want it to happen. Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he is concerned about what McCabe said about the 25th amendment. He wants to hear from McCabe under oath about that. Jim Jordan of the House Oversight Committee saying he wants to hear from McCabe under oath.
What republicans are getting at is they have concerns about McCabe's credibility. So their motive here, they want to get him under oath. But democrats probably are going to want to hear what he has to say as well.
BLITZER: Almost every day, you know, Sara, we're getting bombshell after bombshell after bombshell, and it's likely to continue.
MURRAY. Yes, I think it is likely to continue. I mean, that's certainly true for McCabe right now. Because as you pointed out, he is on a book tour, he is trying to sell books. So if he can put out dribs and drabs of this along the way and continue to draw people's attention, I think that's what he's going to do.
We certainly saw the same thing when James Comey was out there with his book that he was pedaling. And now, I think, you know, what we're waiting for is the real report. We're waiting for the Mueller investigation to conclude, we're waiting to see what parts of that will be made public.
We have seen small snippets from certain individuals, you know, their impression why the President was doing these things he was doing, their version of alarm [ph]. It would be nice to know from Robert Mueller what it looks like when you have all of these witnesses together, when you have all of these accounts coming from these different places but of the same period of time.
BLITZER: Even after Mueller's report comes out, there are a lot of other investigations that are continuing.
Everybody stick around, there is more breaking news we're following.
Bernie Sanders says he is running for president again and he's revealing what will be different this time.
[18:48:07] BLITZER: All right. This just in to THE SITUATION ROOM.
An aide on the Bernie Sanders campaign now tells CNN that they have raised more than $3 million from 120,000 individual donors since the Vermont senator announced another run for the White House earlier this morning. Very impressive numbers indeed.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is joining us with details.
Ryan, Sanders describes himself as a Democratic socialist. He is also an independent running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Just like he did in 2016, Wolf. But, four years ago, Bernie Sanders surprised everyone in his bid for the Democratic nomination. And he almost beat Hillary Clinton.
This time around, no one is surprised that he's running for president. And he's made it clear he expects to win the White House.
NOBLES (voice-over): Bernie Sanders is back.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi. I'm Bernie Sanders. I'm running for president.
NOBLES: This time, though, he is not the foil to an establishment front runner. He enters the primary as a top contender.
SANDERS: This country needs a political revolution.
NOBLES: And the policies that made him unique in 2016 like Medicare- for-All, a $15 minimum wage and free college tuition are more widely embraced in the Democratic Party of 2019.
SANDERS: You know what's happened in over three years? All of those ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream. NOBLES: But even though Sanders may have laid the groundwork, the
progressive lane of candidates is filling up quickly with plenty of other options for liberal voters. And the problems with Sanders' 2016 run are becoming more apparent. Sanders was trounced by Hillary Clinton in the South, in large part due to a lack of support from African-Americans. He has already visited the key early voting state of South Carolina, making a specific pitch to black voters.
SANDERS: We have a president intentionally, purposely is trying to divide us up by the color of our skin, by our gender, by the country we came from, by our religion.
[18:50:10] NOBLES: He is also making an effort to change his campaign's culture, after accusations of sexual harassment in 2016.
SANDERS: I certainly apologize to any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately and, of course, if I run, we will do better our next time.
NOBLES: Meanwhile, his opponents are finding ways to contrast themselves with the Sanders campaign. Elizabeth Warren, applying pressure from the left, by pushing a plan for universal childcare.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to be talking a lot about childcare and early childhood education. That's how we make real change in this country.
NOBLES: Kamala Harris making sure Democratic voters know she, unlike Sanders, is actually a Democrat.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will tell you, I am not a Democratic socialist.
NOBLES: While Amy Klobuchar pitches pragmatism over purity on causes popular with the progressive base.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would.
NOBLES: And while Sanders fends off a fleet of Democratic challengers, the Republican president he's seeking to defeat welcomed him to the race.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, I think he missed his time, but I like Bernie. So, we'll see how he does. You got a lot of people running. But only one person's going to win. I hope you know who that person is.
NOBLES: All this as Sanders hopes this second presidential bid will have a different outcome from the first. What's going to be different this time?
SANDERS: We're going to win.
(END VIDEOTAPE) NOBLES: And fund-raising expected to be a big advantage for Bernie Sanders, Wolf, as you pointed out. He raised more than $3.3 million. Today, his first day on the campaign trail. That more than dwarfs any of his opponents in the race so far.
BLITZER: Very, very impressive. Just for a few hours, I know you're going to be covering his campaign. We'll stay in constant touch with you. Ryan, thank you very much.
BLITZER: Be sure to join me Monday night when I moderate our next CNN presidential town hall with Senator Bernie Sanders. It will live from here in Washington. That's Monday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
Stay with us. There's much more news right after this.
[18:56:44] BLITZER: Five Americans are being detained in Haiti where days of violence protest have plunged the country into crisis.
Our National Correspondent, Miguel Marquez is on the scene for us tonight in Haiti.
Miguel, Haitian officials are now calling these five Americans terrorists. What's their status?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we've been looking to get information from Haitian officials across the board. We saw the prime minister today and asked him if he thought they'd be charged or let go. His response shocked me. He said that these guys are not only terrorists, that are mercenaries that were sent here to target different levels of the government from his office, the prime minister's office, on down to the legislature and the parliament.
He also says that they will get to the bottom of it. He says I promise. There will be an investigation. We will know every single detail about why these guys were here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What is the opposition saying and what about these protests? How significant are they? Will they stop?
MARQUEZ: Yes, the government is on guard for any more protests at this point. The entire police force has been activated across the entire country.
The opposition held a press conference today at the same time the government was holding its own press conference. The opposition saying they will not debate and discuss with the government. They will only protest.
They're calling for more protests to try to shut down Port-au-Prince tomorrow, to put up road blocks, to keep traffic from flowing to the streets, keep people from going to schools and businesses from opening. They say they will do this until the president resigns. They say that he is corrupt and that he has to go. The prime minister expressing support for the president today. The
entire government now getting basically in line, saying that they are going to do everything they can to meet the demands of the protesters with the exception that the president will not resign. They are going to cut their budgets. They are going to reduce perks to government workers, try to raise the minimum wage, try to create 200,000 jobs almost overnight.
All of this, they're saying, will take some time, possibly weeks. Let's hope that they have that time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very quickly. The scene, are you feeling danger right now for yourself and other journalists?
MARQUEZ: Right now, it's just -- it is a tense calm here. We can get to the streets. It feels like life is coming back to normal.
But we can tell that everything is not exactly right. The government really reaching out to us, wanting to get their side of it out there, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Be careful over there. We'll stay in touch with you.
Miguel Marquez in Port-au-Prince on the scene for us as these protests continue.
Finally tonight, a very, very different story. We're celebrating with a longtime member of our SITUATION ROOM team as she welcomes a new member into her family and ours.
Go ahead and meet Jane Elizabeth, the daughter of my producer, Jill Chappell Adly, and her wonderful husband, Ramy. This is truly breaking news as Jane was born just a few hours ago, weighing in at a very healthy 7 pounds and 14 ounces.
Jill and Ramy tell us they're smitten with their baby girl as they should be and their hearts are full tonight. We are so, so thrilled.
And, Jane, Jane, we can't wait to meet you. Congratulations. A wonderful family.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.