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White House Prepares for Push Back; Rep. Ted Lieu (D) California is Interviewed about the Request for Documents; Ivanka Trump Not on Document Request List; Schiff Hires Ex-Prosecutor for Investigation; Stone Possibly Violates his Gag Order; Trump's 2020 Strategy. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 5, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG": More rallying, maybe that will be how people perceive this.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You want to be pure or do you want to have some money?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: There you go.

HULSE: That's -- that's the question.

KING: Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow.

Don't go anywhere. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great day.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, the war begins. New hints the president may invoke executive privilege after Democrats target the people closest to him.

Plus, I'll speak with one Democrat on the Judiciary Committee who just referred Jared Kushner's actions for a criminal investigation.

Is President Trump's response to bigoted remarks swayed by politics? Why he's condemning a Democrat but staying silent on a Republican.

And a chilling new warning. A U.S. general says America's military's advantage against Russia is shrinking fast.

Up first, the White House plans its strategy as Democrats step up their investigation of President Trump. The administration is promising to cooperate, but behind closed doors officials are planning to push back. And that includes the possible use of executive privilege.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders blasting Democrats and House Judiciary Congressman Jerry Nadler. Sanders says, quote, Chairman Nadler and his fellow Democrats have embarked on this fishing expedition because they are terrified that their two-year false narrative of Russian collusion is crumbling. Democrats are not after the truth, they are after the president.

Democrats, for their part, are not backing down. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has hired a veteran ex-prosecutor with experience fighting Russian organized crime to lead his investigation.

White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is following all of this for us.

What are you hearing about the possibility of the president asserting executive privilege?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly something that's on the table, as well as maybe slow walking some of this document production, possibly defying subpoenas -- subpoenas if it does come down to that. But right now we know that even though the White House is saying publicly we're going to cooperate behind the scenes, they're getting ready to push back because they believe this is an expansive document request and Democrats have overstepped their boundaries here by going after such a broad scope of documents, instead of focusing on targeted lines of inquiry.

And, Brianna, part of that pushback could include the White House refusing to produce some documents that have been requested, including some of the ones that are related to the president's time here in office and maybe some dealing with his communications with the former White House Counsel Don McGahn, things of that nature. They're getting ready to push back on.

Now, they have been preparing for an onslaught of investigations ever since the Democrats won the House back during the midterm elections, but they were caught off guard by just how broad and expansive Chairman Nadler's request yesterday was. Over 80 people requesting documents from 80 people or entities. They were surprised by that. But, Brianna, now they say that they are preparing for more of that to come and they believe a request to go after the president's tax returns could be next.

KEILAR: Yes, that may be a safe bet.

Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much for that.

Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California is a member of the House Judiciary Committee carrying out this sweeping investigation of the president. He's with us now from Capitol Hill.

Sir, thank you so much for being with us.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: So you've heard some -- you heard some of Kaitlan's reporting there. Our White House team is reporting that the Trump administration was pretty surprised by just how expansive this list was and they're planning to limit the number of documents that they have to produce, including those from Trump's time in office, like his communications with the former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

What recourse do Democrats have here?

LIEU: I thank you for your question.

Let me first say, a number of these individuals and organizations cannot claim executive privilege because they did not work in a senior capacity at the White House. So we expect to get all of those documents. And then for people who work in a senior capacity at the White House, they cannot use executive privilege to cover up evidence of crimes or other misconduct. If they try to do that, we will negotiate with them. And if we still don't get those documents, then we'll look at issuing subpoenas.

KEILAR: They -- and what do you do because you heard Kaitlan reporting there that part -- they're talking about pushing back on subpoenas if it comes to that?

LIEU: They -- well, they certainly can do that, and then it will be left up to the judicial branch to decide how to proceed. But if you look at what happened in past standoffs between Congress and the executive branch, we did see that the judiciary did side with Congress in ordering the executive branch to basically produce tapes during their Nixon impeachment hearings. We believe that were on solid, legal footing.

And why would the White House want to hide this information? If they want to clear Donald Trump's name, they would simply provide the documents and have it clear his name.

KEILAR: You tweeted today that you and Congressman Don Beyer have made a criminal referral of Jared Kushner to the Justice Department for reportedly intentionally omitting information multiple times on his security clearance application.

[13:05:06] Do you think that having Jared Kushner have that clearance is a threat to national security?

LIEU: Absolutely. I've had to fill out these SF-86 security clearance forms. I had a security clearance before entering Congress. And right on the form it says, if you make false statements or omit material acts, you can be punished up to five years in prison. Jared Kushner had to submit two forms because -- actually he had to submit three forms. The first two were false and misleading, so he should absolutely be investigated. And the fact that the CIA, the FBI and the White House Counsel and former Chief of Staff John Kelly all told the president, do not do this, do not grant him a security clearance, raises all sorts of red flags and we need to find out why they believe that he should not have gotten his security clearance.

KEILAR: You -- as you're aware, the White House is saying that this investigation is a fishing expedition. I know that when they make that point, you say, yes, this is a wide-ranging investigation, but it's what the committee has the mandate to do, to look into areas that Robert Mueller cannot.

Now that said, when you look at this list, it's interesting because you see Donald Junior, Donald Trump Junior, you see Eric Trump. Ivanka Trump is conspicuously absent from your list. And privately one of your colleagues actually told me there's concern that involving her will backfire politically against Democrats.

How much is politics playing into this, in addition to trying to discover what the truth is.

LIEU: Donald Trump and his family and associates have engaged in a wide-ranging array of what looks like criminal activity or abusive behavior or ethical misconduct. The fact that our investigation is wide-ranging is because we're not going to let any of that behavior go unnoticed. We're going to leave no stone unturned. If there are dots to be connected, we're going to connect them. This is just the first wave of document requests. If this information leads to information as to why we need to have Ivanka Trump produce documents, we will ask those questions as well.

KEILAR: But knowing that she is certainly aware of certain things, the security clearance -- I mean you just said Jared Kushner having a security clearance is an issue of national security. She spoke not even a month ago and if the report about the president intervening is true, then she lied about that. She's also aware of certain things according -- Michael Cohen testified that he briefed family members, including Ivanka Trump, repeatedly on Trump Tower Moscow.

Why is she not on a list now to produce documents?

LIEU: I wouldn't read too much into the fact that she's not on the list. She certainly could be asked at a later point in time. We just want to get an initial set of documents. It's already pretty wide- ranging, 81 individuals or organizations. We could certainly ask her additional information in the future.

But, you're right, she did lie in a very graceful and seamless manner about the fact that her father had nothing to do with these security clearances, when, in fact, it turns out, he ordered that Jared Kushner be given one and maybe he ordered that she be given one as well.

KEILAR: "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that Michael Cohen's attorney discussed the possibility of a pardon with President Trump's lawyers after the FBI raided Cohen's properties. So in his public testimony last week, you'll recall that he said he had not requested, nor would he accept a pardon from President Trump.

Do you have any concerns that he may have, again, lied under oath?

LIEU: It's not clear whether the attorneys for Michael Cohen are simply making this out of what attorneys would do, which is trying to zealously represent their client. We don't know what the communication were between Michael Cohen and his attorneys.

What I do know is that after Michael Cohen's testimony before Congress, there's no way he's going to get a pardon from Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Certainly that -- I think that is a safe bet.

We'll, I mean, we'll never know, to be honest. You -- never say never. But I wonder if you think it's plausible that Cohen's lawyer talked to

Trump's lawyer and this outside lawyer for the Trump Organization about this idea of a pardon without Cohen knowing. Is that plausible to you or not really?

LIEU: That's certainly possible. If you're a lawyer representing a client, you would look at all avenues to help your client. I wouldn't surprise me that multiple lawyers have asked White House lawyers about the issue of pardons. I simply think that if the White House were to grant any, that that would be obstruction of justice if the intent was to keep the person from testifying.

KEILAR: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much.

LIEU: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: So Democrats say that Ivanka Trump is not on their list right now. That could change, though. You just heard Congressman Lieu say that.

Our chief political correspondent Dana Bash is here to discuss this with us.

Why could -- what all could Ivanka shed light on and why isn't she on the list?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, why isn't she on the list is really interesting, because you could look at it and say, well, perhaps she isn't on the list because the focus is on things that they know -- the, the House Democrats, know that other family members, Don Junior and Jared Kushner, for example, were involved in, the Trump Tower meeting. They were both there in 2016.

[13:10:09] But what kind of defies that potential line of thinking is that Eric Trump, the -- her brother, the Trump son who was also not at that meeting, and not involved directly, who -- I mean they were all involved in the campaign, but not involved directly that we know of, of anything except for the Trump Organization, he is on the list.

So it is kind of questionable why she's not on the list. And the fact that you just said that you heard that it was politically more dangerous for Democrats to put her on the list gives you a sense of the way that Republicans are already going to come back at this, that it is politics just by the nature of who they chose in this first round. But it sounds like, from what you just got from Ted Lieu, and from what Jerry Nadler was telling CNN yesterday, he's the chairman of course, she may be close to being added.

KEILAR: Interesting.

OK. So, let's keep in mind, this is what Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's attorney, said last year about why Democrats are unlikely to investigate Ivanka.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: If they do do Ivanka -- which I doubt they will -- the whole country will turn on them. They're going after his daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about his son-in-law. They've talked about him.

I guess -- I -- Jared is a fine man. You know that. But men are, you know, disposable. But a fine woman like Ivanka, come on.


KEILAR: Is that how the president sees it?

BASH: Oh, of course. I mean, absolutely, that's how the president --

KEILAR: That's a nerve for him compared to Jared Kushner or even one of his sons?

BASH: Well, to be fair, I think all of his -- not I think, I am told by people close to him, when you get to his children, any of his children, it is a raw nerve, which I -- for any parent you would understand that.

But when you kind of take a step back, it's not just picking on his children. The question is, what do House Judiciary investigators see as a potential avenue of inquiry that she could help with. Is it what they're looking at with regard to the Trump Organization? Is it what they're looking at with regard to the inaugural committee, which there have been reports that she somehow could have been involved in that.

If there isn't anything that she can shed light on, they shouldn't ask her a question. If -- if there is even the potential then -- in any of these -- and, again, these are non-Russian related issues that they are looking into as part of this broad subpoena that they sent yesterday, then -- then that's it. It's just because she's the daughter, it's because of what she could be involved in, in all of these potential avenues of inquiry.

KEILAR: All right, Dana Bash, thank you so much.

BASH: Thanks, Bri.

KEILAR: Also, just in, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee hiring a former prosecutor who fought Russian organized crime.

Plus, is Roger Stone flirting with jail even before he goes to trial. Why he just played with fire with an Instagram post.

And, breaking news, three explosive devices found near London transport hubs near two airports and a train station. We'll have details ahead.


[13:17:33] KEILAR: The House Democrats' investigation into the president's ties to Russia just got a lot more interesting. House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff has hired Daniel Goldman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, who is well versed in Russian organized crime, to spearhead the committee's investigation.

We have Elliot Williams with us. He's a former deputy assistant AG at the DOJ and former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and CNN political correspondent Sara Murray with us as well.

What does this hire signal to you, Elliot?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL AT DOJ: It says they're taking it very seriously. I know Dan. That is a top prosecutor and a great lawyer with a long history of building investigations. So it's clear that this is not just some partisan hit job, Daniel is not a hack or anything like that, is that they want to get to the truth. And if the public can believe that these investigations are a request for truth and not a partisan hit job, then they'll succeed. I mean --

KEILAR: So his background in Russian organized crime, why is that significant to note?

WILLIAMS: Because it's very hard to get information out of foreign countries. It's very hard to get information -- investigations are hard to build as a general matter. Russia is a particularly thorny place because you're dealing with, you know, mutual legal assistance treaties and all kinds of things like that, that complicate investigation and prosecution. So I think it's very smart to get someone tied -- not tied to Russia, but who knows how to investigate in Russia.

I wouldn't -- again, I wouldn't get into full conspiracy theory zone and I wouldn't think that the mere fact that they're hired Daniel is a sign that, you know, we're going after the president for collusion or anything like that, but it's just knowing the background of what you're investigating is a very important step in the investigative process.

KEILAR: So the special counsel, Sara, actually notified a federal judge that Roger Stone may have violated what is now a pretty strict gag order on him and his case. So the main issue of concern is an Instagram post that he put up and this is something that he then, Roger Stone, the president's longtime associate, took down on Sunday. It's not just the Instagram post, though. He has a book release that could be in violation, right?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he does. And, you know, this is just another one of those situations where, you know, they notified the judge later about the book release and she -- she made it very clear that she's not amused by these antics. You know, we've had a hearing about the gag order. People put out filings about the gag order. It's pretty clear based on his post that Roger Stone still thinks he can tow the line and try to get away with some of these kinds of antics. And we'll see what the judge says. She has not weighed in on sort of

the latest about what's going on with Roger Stone's book release, this latest Instagram post. But prosecutors were pretty quick to raise it. And not ask her to do anything. Just say, hey, just want you to know that this is out here, this is what he's still up to.

[13:20:05] KEILAR: Why do they -- why do they want the judge to know?

MURRAY: Well, you know what, I think that they don't want Roger out there tainting a possible jury pool. They don't want him tainting the way the case looks by saying that he was framed. That suggests that this is an entirely made-up case. And that's not where you're having that argument. You might want to have that fight politically, but this is now a court case and you have to have that fight in the courtroom.

KEILAR: But what's he thinking? I mean when you -- OK, when you look at some -- someone like this, a defendant like this doing this kind of -- not just once, twice, and then there's the book, what do you think?

WILLIAMS: It's staggeringly poor judgment. I think about my five-year- old where really it's about testing the limits of what you can get away with, which is what little kids do. And that's what he's doing. The difference is, the person he's testing can hold him in contempt of court, can put him in jail despite evidence (ph).

KEILAR: Does he -- do you think he might want to be in a way? Does it further his narrative that he's being persecuted?

WILLIAMS: It's just such bad judgement. And the thing is, judges, federal judges, take themselves and the rule of law and what happens in courts very seriously, almost to a fault, almost too much. And this is a judge that's proven and demonstrated that she's just not amenable to feeling like she's being okey-doked (ph). And that's what he's doing. He's -- he's lying to the court and sort of testing her limits. And of course she's going to either lock him up or fine him or something. But the fact -- and she did with Manafort for lying too. So I think you -- I'd be stunned if some book isn't thrown at him. You know, maybe it's his own book, I don't know, but --



KEILAR: It's not out yet.

WILLIAMS: Sorry. Sorry.

KEILAR: It's not out yet, Elliot.


KEILAR: Right? Fact check, not out yet.


KEILAR: Do you think he wants to get in trouble in some way or no? MURRAY: Yes, it's hard to say. I think that when he does things like

that that are incendiary, he's doing it because he's trying to raise money for his legal defense fund, and he feels like something like, you know, the more inflammatory you can be, it's going to rile people up, it's going to get them to give more money. And so if he does get himself thrown in jail, I guess, you know, they can use that as another way to raise money and say, look at how unfair this is.

But I think when you look at the number of steps this judge has taken to try to warn him and keep him out of jail, it's kind of hard to look at this and say, OK, you know, she gave you a number of chances and you blew it.

KEILAR: He's creating legal costs, too, by doing this, I will point out for sure as his attorneys have to respond.

Elliot Williams, Sara Murray, thank you guys so much.

We have more on our breaking news. The White House gearing up to push back against Democrats as they demand documents from dozens of people.

Plus we're getting a sneak preview of the seeds of distrust the Trump campaign is sowing ahead of the 2020 election. We'll have details ahead.

And the president blasting offensive remarks by a freshman Democrat, but silent on offensive comments by a Republican.


[13:27:18] KEILAR: President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign is lashing out at House Democrats, calling their investigations into the president a dramatic overreach. But another line in that statement is giving some insight into the campaign's 2020 messaging.

We have CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza here.

Tell us this part that stuck out to you.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: OK, so let's go through it because Donald Trump has been running and is running for re-election pretty actively. So when we see a statement like this come out, it's worth flagging.

OK, this is from Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary for the re-election campaign. These desperate Democrats know they cannot beat President Trump in 2020. Skip ahead, because this is where I think is important.

They want to topple the will of the American people and seize the power that they have zero chance at winning legitimately.

OK, keep -- just keep an eye on that word "legitimately," Brianna. Let's go to the next slide. It's Donald Trump, actually his tweet. OK. He's essentially saying Democratic in Congress are terrible. The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win. OK, let's go -- we've got -- I think we have one more. OK. This is Cohen. This is from his testimony last week in front of the House Oversight Committee. Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power. My ear perked up at that.

Now, it's Michael Cohen. I always say this when we talk about him. Proven liar. He's going to jail, at least in part, because he lied to Congress. So keep that in mind. But I do think we have some evidence that Donald Trump will not take, if a loss comes, will not take it well. What is the evidence of that? He won in 2016 and said 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally without any evidence ever. And he did that because he didn't want Hillary Clinton to have won the popular vote, which she won by about 3 million. But that was in a win. So just keep that in mind when we're talking about the possibility -- and I wouldn't say probability -- the possibility if Donald Trump loses, he will not acknowledge that the election was administered fairly and that the result is an accurate reflection of what the American people want.

Back to you, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Chris Cillizza, thank you.

Let's talk this over now with former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and CNN's senior political commentator Rick Santorum.

OK, as Chris Cillizza was over there explaining this to us, you were shaking your head. Why?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no, I understand the point he's making. And I think he's correct that if Donald Trump loses the election, no matter what, he's going to question the legitimacy of it. He's right, he questioned the legitimacy of it when he won. But I think that's to the extent that it is, it's just sort of his nature. But the idea that there will be any -- any kind of resistance of handing over power is, I think, goes beyond the pale. That just will not happen.