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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
White House Bracing For Imminent Mueller Report; White House Prepping Possible Scenarios, Bracing For Mueller Report; Democrats Evaluating Thier Next Steps After White House Rejects Request For Docs Tied To Trump Communications With Putin; White House Rejects Dem Request For Info On Trump-Putin Communications; White House Rejects Democrats' Request For Documents On Trump Communications With Putin; Dems: Jared Kushner May Be Responsible For "Major Security Breach" Over Use Of Untraceable Messaging App. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 21, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next, the White House bracing for the Mueller report. Will it be the end of Trump's legal nightmare or just the beginning? Plus, Jared Kushner under fire for using personal accounts untraceable ones for official work. What was on his WhatsApp messages to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia? Was it classified? And she may be the second most talked-about politician in America for, Donald Trump, but her swing state voters buying what AOC is selling. Let's go OutFront.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the White House on high alert bracing for Mueller's report to drop. White House Special Counsel Emmet Flood and his team ready to respond right now gaming out all of the scenarios as they are waiting. Today there was a rare sighting of Robert Mueller today headed to work at his office. You see him there in the baseball cap and all eyes are on the Special Counsel as he wraps up his work. Mueller was appointed 673 days ago by then acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
And despite the President publicly attacking the investigation more than 1,100 times, according to The New York Times, Mueller has gotten results. So these are the facts, OK, 199 criminal counts so far, 37 people and companies charged, 29 of them thus far Russia. Seven people have pleaded guilty, five have been sentenced to prison, including the former campaign chairman for Presidential candidate of the United States, Paul Manafort.
But here's the thing, even when this report is formally over, which really is could, at this point, come essentially any moment. It's far from over because the President's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn still hasn't been sentenced. The former Trump campaign official, the Deputy Chairman Rick Gates who is one of the first to be indicted by Mueller has still not been sentenced.
And, obviously, that could mean they're still providing information on other ongoing inquiries, and there's still the mystery of that unnamed government-owned company that has been a battle royale, a mystery company Mueller believes could provide information for his criminal investigation. And there is, of course, that mystery of what Mueller may have uncovered and passed on to other federal prosecutors, like the Southern District of New York and the whole case with Michael Cohen that was all passed off for Mueller. Cohen, of course, is going to prison.
Now, we showed you the hundreds of pages of unsealed federal warrants targeting Michael Cohen, here they are again, including the search warrant with the header, The Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme. A scheme prosecutors say Cohen claimed that he acted in coordination with and at the direction of individual one. They say they have evidence to prove that, not just his word. Individual one a.k.a. President Donald J. Trump and what follows, 18 and a half pages of redactions.
Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is OutFront. And Evan, we've just look at this and we look at all of these redactions just in this one filing as an example. This is what we still don't know, but right now as we await this Mueller report it comes out and then all eyes are on the Attorney General Bill Barr.
EVAN PEREZ, SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, Erin. What Bill Barr does with this report is obviously very important for us to try to figure out what Bob Mueller actually did during this, what now is 674 days of this investigation. The big question that we all have on our minds is what did he find on the big question of collusion, was there actually a conspiracy between members of his campaign, of the President's campaign and people in Russia, people connected to the to the government of Russia, did that actually happen? Was the President aware of any of this?
Those are some of the big questions that are still outstanding. And, of course, did the President tried to obstruct this investigation? That's something that really hasn't shown up in any of the indictments, any of the public documents that have been released by the Mueller investigation so far. Another big question is did the Mueller investigation tried to subpoena the President? Did they ask permission from the Justice Department to subpoena the President?
We know that he never sat down for an interview with the investigators as they requested. The question is did the Justice Department reject that? Did Mueller even asked for it? We do not know. So when Bob Mueller's report lands on the desk of the Attorney General then he has a decision of how much of that information will be made public, how much of that information will be provided to Congress, and then, of course, then as you've said, what parts of this investigation live on for the next year or so.
BURNETT: All right, Evan. Thank you very much. And you know it is, the crucial question is, first of all, what we don't know from Mueller and whether we're going to find that out.
And then what more indictments are going to come, whether it'd be from Mueller or other jurisdictions. And that doesn't even count Congress and what's going on over there. OutFront now, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Harry Sandick, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan, and former Chief of the Organized Crime Section of the Department of Justice James Trusty who also is a longtime friend of the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
OK. Harry, 673 days and this is now imminent. I mean, it could be today, tomorrow, I mean we are here at the edge. How much of it are we really going to see because there are certainly, as Evan points out, so many things we don't know. Did they try to subpoena the President, that in and of itself would be a huge revelation.
HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Fascinating and I think we will learn some things in the short-term and then some things will probably come out longer term in the fullness of time. So I predict that when the report is delivered that they'll probably be some sort of public statement by the Attorney General, because there's been so much attention or maybe by Rod Rosenstein saying the report has been turned in and now it's up to the senior officials within the Department of Justice to review it, to look to see what can be shared and what they think cannot be shared.
Grand Jury materials, you'd need a court order to share, certain National Security materials. You might not want to share for reasons of sensitivity.
SANDICK: The big question is whether the position will be taken that Trump can't be mentioned if he did something wrong because of the DOJ policy that Jim Comey memorably sort of crossed over, talking about somebody's wrongdoing when you don't indict them.
BURNETT: Right, of course, to even imagine, James Trusty, that happening it just sort of defies a reasonableness at this point, because if you don't mention him and the whole thing is about him and you know that if you don't mention someone because they didn't something wrong, well I think everyone can understand the problem with that circular reasoning.
JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER CHIEF OF THE ORGANIZED CRIME SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Well, I mean, look you could comply with the DOJ prescription against naming names for people that aren't indicted by referring to them as individual one and I don't think you have to be a Navajo code talker to figure out that they're talking about the President. So there may be some kind of impracticalities to the idea of masking names fully from public disclosure.
But there is a philosophy that Rod Rosenstein seems to have which is you don't just drag people through the mud. I mean I think if you look back at Ray Donovan, the Labor Secretary who is acquitted at trial saying, "What office do I go to, to get my reputation back?" I think Rod remembers historical moments like that and worries about some of the collateral damage that can come. BURNETT: And yet April, Rod Rosenstein was supposed to, according to
a lot of the reporting, be either leaving as soon as Bill Barr took over or very soon thereafter. He didn't and now we understand he plans to stay until the Mueller report or the Mueller findings come out because he wants to be a heat shield for the fallout that he expects to happen. What does that mean? I mean, obviously, we know there's been a political fallout, but the fact that he's saying that ...
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, he wants to be a heat shield. That's what he wants, but he will be a heat shield. According to my sources, no matter what comes out, the President is going to blame Rod Rosenstein for whatever, particularly if there is some kind of negative connotation that - or not just negative connotation, but if this goes into a realm of pushing this to prosecutors around the country particularly in the Ninth District.
And then also if it's pushed to the House to hold hearings on this, Rod Rosenstein will be the fall guy for this. The President and the White House are already making plans for that.
BURNETT: So Harry, when the Attorney General was asked, Bill Barr, in his confirmation hearings, the crucial question was what are you going to do with the Mueller report, right?
BURNETT: Are you putting it out there for the American people to see or not? And after 673 days and the question of Russian hacking and 37 individuals and entities charged of which almost all of them are Russian, it is clear that this country was attacked during the election and people want to know what he found out. So when he was asked again and again about releasing the information, he gave himself space. Let me play exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations that are part of the Special Counsel regulations. I'm in favor of as much transparency as there can be consistent with the rules and the law. I don't know what, at the end of the day, what will be releasable. I don't know what Bob Mueller is writing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Bill Barr is a very respected person, clearly, and everybody has said so. Would he cover for Trump in any way in the way that Trump clearly expects people who work for him to do like he was frustrated with Jeff Sessions, like he gets about people.
SANDICK: I mean, I think that it's unlikely that he would cover for Trump for the sake of covering for Trump. It may well be that there are other principles that are important to him. Some of which should be important to everyone that lead him to conclude that, no, it can't be released in its entirety. And so in that sense, Barr doing what he thinks is right could, to some extent, line up with what Trump would like to see.
But at the same time, he did make a commitment to the maximum possible disclosure and I think it's appropriate for members of the Senate who got those promises to hold him accountable for it and to call him back if he releases nothing and say, "How could it be that the maximum amount disclosable is nothing? You need to do more than this." So that's the debate I imagine we'll see unfold.
BURNETT: And James, obviously, you look at this as an American citizen and you think we want to know what happens, you want to know whether - even if you don't have conspiracy in the legal sense, if that's the standard and then they don't release it because they don't have something indictable, but you do have all sorts of collusion and inappropriate things or people who were unwitting agents or whatever it might have been, do you think Rod Rosenstein will still think that the American people have the right to see that narrative?
TRUSTY: I think Rob is going to be consistent with Barr on that. That there are rules that pre-exists, that are there in place for all sorts investigations. You don't bend the rules to make a statement on this case. So there may be some maddening redactions. There may well be things that are sensitive, that are privileged, that are subject to executive privilege fights for instance where we would all just kind of as citizens want to be able to read every line of it and we're not.
And there could be a lot of litigation, a lot of squawking about that, but I think there's going to be a pretty fulsome disclosure and probably a pretty good idea whether Russian collusion attempts were ever ratified or joined by the American side. I think that's what the White House is probably primarily concerned with is showing that perhaps the Trump and people around him didn't rise to the offer when it comes to Russian collusion.
BURNETT: April, they're going to claim executive privilege on everything they possibly can. I mean because their goal is just - they say they want transparency. It's like Trump saying, "Oh, I want to sit down with Mueller." When, of course, he didn't then and he didn't want to and he never did. Is it possible that that's the strategy here? Say you want transparency and then just fight every single word on executive privilege?
RYAN: Well, let me say this, the hoped-for scenario is that they are saying one thing, they want transparency. The President came out on the South Lawn saying that he wants everyone to see this report. But what the White House is talking about tonight as we are speaking on the air, they're envisioning that William Barr will not release the report and they're also saying, "Well, the best-case scenario if any of the report is released is that it will be a summary." And that's what they're hoping for even as the President is saying that he wants transparency like the House Democrats, the House voted in that resolution to have this report released to the public. BURNETT: Well, of course, we'll see and, of course, even as this
comes out, you have people who haven't yet been sentenced because they're still cooperating on either Mueller related investigations or other investigations. I mean there's just so much we don't know in this report. We probably only solve one avenue here if even that. Thank you all very much.
And next, the White House now tonight fighting, refusing point-blank to turn over documents about the President's private conversations with Vladimir Putin. So just tonight saying, "No way. Forget it. We won't tell you." Plus, breaking news, the President's son-in-law accused of using a private untraceable app to talk to world leaders, including the one who the CIA concluded personally directed the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. House investigators demanding answers tonight. Plus, thrust into the spotlight with this comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just got a call from my wife, Amy, he's back in El Paso, Texas where she is raising sometimes with my help --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's Beto O'Rourke talking about his wife and kids. So who is Amy?
Tonight, top Democrats firing back at the White House after it rejected a request for documents related to President Trump's communications with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Democrats investigating whether Trump or his associates tried to misrepresent Trump's meetings with Putin. The White House is saying, "You're never going to know, because guess what, we're not going to tell you anything."
But House Committee Chairman Schiff, Engel, and Cummings say they are going to be "consulting" on appropriate next steps, calling the White House arguments and stonewalling disingenuous. Now, this comes as the nation's top General, Joseph Dunford warns that Russia is working on new missiles, ships and aircraft that are aimed at making it harder for NATO to operate, as in harder for the United States to defend its European allies.
OutFront now, Steve Hall retired CIA Chief of Russia Operations from Moscow and Jack Weiss former Federal Prosecutor. Steve, let me start with you. So the White House refusing to hand over these documents, obviously, coming on the same day. We're hearing this from General Dunford. These Putin meetings, do you think they were significant?
STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Sure, Erin. I mean anytime you've got the President of the United States meeting with a guy like Vladimir Putin, it's important but it's even more so when it's - when that person is Donald Trump. You have to remember that Vladimir Putin is a former intelligence officer himself. Sometimes too much is made of that.
But one thing I will say is that he will be a really good assessor of somebody like Donald Trump, how to manipulate him, how to move him, how to appeal to things that he thinks will motivate Donald Trump. So I can understand why the oversight portions of our Congress are interested in knowing precisely what's going on because National Security really is a team sport. It can't just be one person and everybody's got to be on the same sheet of music, so it makes sense that there would be a lot of interest in what was actually said to the Russian President.
BURNETT: And, of course, the White House refusing to say. I mean, Jack, look the context here is the Russian investigation, 16 of the President's associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign and transition that we know of. Six of them have been indicted, OK, six of these people have already been indicted. Could there be more indictments coming?
JACK WEISS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think there could be.
And that's one of the tales I'm looking for is if Bob Mueller starts running a two-minute drill and you see indictments of Don Jr. for the Trump Tower meeting for lying to Congress, of Jared Kushner perhaps for his involvement in that Trump Tower meeting, of Erik Prince for lying for Congress. Then we'll know that Mueller is near the end because those are the things that might cause Donald Trump to act the way that George Conway is predicting he will act and go nuts.
The stuff Steve Hall is talking about is critical though. Trump talks about collusion. The key issue with Trump is compromise. There are millions perhaps billions of dollars of reasons that he has been compromised potentially by the Russians and Russian interests. That's what the Russians have on him that will hopefully be at least in a counterintelligence report from Mueller to Congress.
BURNETT: Right and, of course, at least my understanding is that a Trump Tower Moscow as had been discussed we now know despite the lies at the time and even afterwards was going on through the campaign, it would have been, by far, the biggest deal ever done by the Trump Organization. It was one Michael Cohen, of course, has said he briefed the then candidate Trump on regularly during the campaign.
I mean, Steve, this is the reality, President Trump wanted to do with Russia for a long time. Back in 1987, he went there for the first time, he writes in The Art of the Deal, "On July 4th I flew with Ivana to Moscow. It was an extraordinary experience. We toured a half- dozen potential sites for a hotel, including several near Red Square. We stayed in Lenin's suite at the National Hotel, and I was impressed with the ambition of the Soviet officials to make a deal."
He then comes back and spends nearly $100,000, that's 1987 dollars, takes out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe which and this is the great irony of the whole NATO line today, takes Russia side on NATO. Open letter from Donald J. Trump on why America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves. Do you think it's possible, Steve, that Donald Trump was a Russian asset and what does that mean?
HALL: Yes. So Erin it's somewhat important to understand what some of the different terminology is without getting too far down into the weeds. An asset usually implies a spy that somebody has recruited and is paying money to steal secrets from another country from. So I don't think Donald Trump has been formally recruited as an asset yet. What is possible though is the Russians are actually very, very subtle and sophisticated. The Russian intelligence services are about this precise thing.
They understand that sometimes people don't want to be witting, don't want to fully understand what's really going on or they indeed might not be witting in it. I think my old boss at CIA put it best when he said, this is John Brennan, when he said, "I've seen a lot of people end up committing treason, but they don't really realize it until they're more than halfway down the road," or words to that effect to paraphrase it.
And the Russians are really good at getting people to begin to talk about things, to understand what their motivations and vulnerabilities are so that they will talk about these things. Would they have done that to Donald Trump when he was there in the '80s and then later? Absolutely. They would have seen him as an American oligarch. Somebody who's worth collecting against, because you just never know and now look where we are, you've got somebody that the Russians have been probably looking at for a long time as the President of the United States and that causes - I'll defer with regard to legal stuff, but counterintelligence-wise it's a big deal.
BURNETT: I mean a really big. You're talking about someone who could have been, I guess, in your words, a trusted person or certainly would have been a KGB file on, some somebody of importance.
HALL: Yes, absolutely. This is I get ...
BURNETT: Go ahead, finish your point, Steve.
HALL: ... go ahead. No, this is - I get this question a lot, what they have collected against Donald Trump, what they have tried to get compromised on him, absolutely, that's how the Russian services are set up to work. They would definitely have collected on him even in the '80s simply because of his position as a somewhat powerful businessman and a rich guy in the United States.
BURNETT: Jack, it is a pretty incredible thing to just step back from where we are and think about the importance of that.
WEISS: Well, absolutely. And you can also look at it in simpler terms. I mean there's so much Russian and Russian related money that has been going into Trump and his organization. Deutsche Bank, direct purchases of condos in real estate probably tens of millions of dollars. Business opportunities like Trump Tower Moscow, the Kazakhstan deal, other things that seems silly but generate cash like the Miss Universe contest. It could be as simple as you don't want to tick off your loan shark
and when you see Donald Trump acting the way he has in an official capacity, attacking our ally Germany, attacking Angela Merkel, attacking the EU, trying to disaggregate the U.S. from NATO. He's acted in a way as someone who doesn't want to tick off his loan shark, and that's my real concern and hopefully that will be part of the report to Congress.
BURNETT: All right. Well thank you both very much and I leave this conversation with this. Donald Trump Jr. telling a real estate conference in 2008 according to The New York Times, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
OutFront next breaking news, the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner tonight accused of using an untraceable app to communicate with foreign leaders. All of the details right here. Plus, we take you to a county President flipped and talk about why swing voters are not happy there with the Democratic Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't agree with the way the direction they're going even more now. They are tending to be socialist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news, Jared Kushner accused of using untraceable app to talk to foreign leaders. In this letter to the White House demanding information today, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings details potential violations of the law by Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Now, in this letter Cummings goes through and says he has proof that Kushner used WhatsApp and not his official email account to communicate with foreign leaders including the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who personally directed the murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi according to the CIA.
Now WhatsApp messages are private, OK, they can't be traced and the foreign leaders speaking with Kushner through WhatsApp like the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia know that, that is why they use it. According to Cummings, Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell and also did not deny that the President's son-in-law may have passed along classified information through WhatsApp.
Now, when pressed by Cummings of confidential information was sent using WhatsApp and he says he had this meeting with Abbe Lowell a few months ago, Cummings says Lowell simply responded "that's above my pay grade." No denial, just a "I have no idea."
OK. If this happened, it's a major security breach and it's against the law. Now, Kushner's lawyer says he screen grabbed WhatsApp conversations and forwarded them to his official account. But we have no idea if that happened with all communications because WhatsApp messages can't be checked, right? That's the point.
And, by the way, Kushner's attorney admitted back in 2017, Kushner used his personal e-mail for official purposes. So, if it's not already clear to him that personal email for official government business is a violation of the law, his entire father-in-law's campaign against Hillary Clinton, it should have been clear then when he was using his personal account.
Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.
And, Sunlen, look, these are serious allegations that Democrats alleging, and, by the way, Elijah Cummings goes through here and says Jared Kushner continues to use WhatsApp, and obviously, this has serious national security implications.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and you can sense the force of what Chairman Cummings is really arguing that today, Erin, in that letter, it certainly raises the question of what was revealed during these WhatsApp conversations between Jared Kushner and potential foreign leaders. Was classified information revealed?
Now, we don't know the answer to that question but certainly that's what Chairman Cummings is going after and pushing Abbe Lowell, Jared Kushner's lawyer, to really push back on what exactly was revealed in that December conversation. That conversation took place between Chairman Cummings and Jared and Ivanka's lawyer. And that's where he said his conclusion was that they did use WhatsApp and used private accounts to talk with foreign governments conducting official White House business.
Now, Jared Kushner is pushing back on exactly what was discussed and what details were revealed and specifically he said about Cumming's interpretation that's not completely accurate of what was said, specifically about the use of WhatsApp he says that Abbe Lowell said he never said Kushner's communication with WhatsApp or with foreign leaders or officials. He said, I did not specify who they were. For example, Jared has numerous friends and contacts abroad.
But still certainly many more questions, Erin, to be answered, and certainly this underscores how much Democrats are using their full oversight muscle up here on Capitol Hill to try to get answers.
BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much.
OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He's also a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
So, I know you have a whole lot of requests into other people related to this and other matters. Let me start off with the letter from the Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, which Sunlen and I were just discussing. So, he's saying Kushner is using private messaging, and using the present tense to speak with foreign leaders. As I pointed out, there's only reason people us this app, particularly in other parts of the world where there's heavy scrutiny, I can say certainly in my experience in the Middle East, people use it because they don't want to be traced. That's why people use it. What's your reaction when you hear Jared Kushner was using it and communicating with the Saudi crown prince?
BURNETT: I'm sorry, with the Saudi Arabia crown prince, we understand is one of the people he's communicating with?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Right, this may well be a violation of the presidential records act, but this is very serious. We should remember Jared Kushner was alleged to have attempted to setup a back communications with the Russians during transition if you remember that reporting. We also know that both Jared and Ivanka were denied or serious questions were raised by intelligence and law enforcement communities about security clearance. The president overruled those objections and directed they be given and then lied about it.
And now, we know about communications with foreign leaders that maybe untraceable. This is very concerning. Not only is it potentially a violation of the Records Act but also raises questions what is he communicating about, and why does it need to be kept secret? What are these communications about, and why is he concerned they not be shared in normal communication channels?
So, Mr. Cummings' request is a reasonable one. The Oversight Committee has to figure out what's going on and make sure this practice ends and make sure the national security of the United States has not been compromised in this process.
BURNETT: I mean, we don't know even know, right? I mean, Abbe Lowell is not denying that Jared Kushner used the app to transmit classified information. He's not even denying that and obviously the context --
BURNETT: Yes, go ahead.
CICILLINE: Yes, that was the most alarming part. When he was pressed, well, was classified information shared in this way, he said, oh, that's above my pay grade. So he didn't deny it.
So, now, we have the very real potential that some of the most secretive classified information that Jared Kushner perhaps shouldn't have access to begin with is now being shared with foreign leaders in an unsafe way. So, this is very serious. This is not about the personal behavior of Jared Kushner, it's about protecting the national security of our country.
BURNETT: Is this something -- so, obviously, it's been reported people from foreign countries viewed Kushner manipulated -- someone they could manipulate, right? Those include United Arab Emirates, Russia, China.
[19:35:02]W e know he communicated according to our reporting on this and perhaps other apps with the Saudi crown prince, right, the president of the United States has taken the crown prince's side over that of the CIA in that horrific murder.
What happens here from this? It would seem if you're using WhatsApp, whether you're screen-grabbing some of it or all of it, we don't know, the message you're sending to the other party is you're willing to do something secret, or otherwise you wouldn't be using WhatsApp.
CICILLINE: That's right. That's right.
And don't forget, this is -- there's also the issue of the company that saved Jared Kushner's property on Fifth Avenue is now attempting to sell nuclear secrets to the Saudis. So, there's a lot of reason to be concerned about, what is actually being shared, what's the reason for it, why is it being kept secret?
And, you know, one of the reasons intelligence and law enforcement communities raise concerns about the security clearances is because they worry that people can be compromised, that they have some motivation to advance their own personal interests rather the own national security interests of the country. So, they limit who can get security clearance to those people that can have confidence will protect the secret of the United States that are essential to protect our national security.
There are real questions about both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's ability to get the security clearances, and now his willingness to secretly share information with foreign leaders and we don'ts know what that information is, this is an absolute critical area of oversight. Mr. Cummings committee and other committees of jurisdiction will get to the bottom of it.
BURNETT: And, of course, you know, I want to point out, we reported, right, that the president overruled the concerns of intelligence officials and granted Jared Kushner that security clearance when intelligence officials did not want to do so. I want to ask you about --
CICILLINE: And lied about it. And you have to wonder, why did they lie about it?
BURNETT: Right, and this is -- and obviously these documents they're not handing that over. They refused to do so thus far, and today also refusing to hand over information that your committee house for foreign affairs requested. You got a letter from the White House counsel today, saying, forget it, we're not going to give you the information, that -- anything we know about Vladimir Putin, conversations with the president that they know, right? Some of those conversations literally no one was present but the two of them. So only the Russians have the information.
But they're saying it's executive privilege. The president should be able to have a conversation with a foreign leader and not have to have it released. Don't they have a point?
CICILLINE: Well, you know, in normal circumstances, they would have a point, but this is not a normal set of circumstances. This is president who stood in Helsinki and took the side of Vladimir Putin against the members of his own intelligence community and said he believed them when he said the Russians had nothing to do with interfering or attacking on American presidential election. This is president who was attacking John McCain and can't say a nice word about anybody but can't manage to say one critical thing about Vladimir Putin as having secret conversations with him, throwing out the interpreter, taking way notes.
This is not normal. And to begin an effort to understand what those conversations were about, what documents exist that might record what they were about is perfectly reasonable. We have over sight responsibility on the Foreign Affairs Committee. I'm on the oversight subcommittee. We have a responsibility to oversee and hold this administration accountable, and we're going to do it.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Cicilline. Appreciate your time tonight.
CICILLINE: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting the cover treatment. But is all this attention actually hurting Democrats?
Plus, the nation watched her holding Beto O'Rourke's hand as he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Amy and I are happy to share with you that I'm running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, who is Amy O'Rourke?
[19:42:22] BURNETT: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting the cover treatment. "Time Magazine" dubbing her the phenom and the second most talked about politician in America after President Trump.
But in Pennsylvania, some moderate Democrats are not buying the hype.
Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in Lucerne County, voters say Democrats lost this rural area of northeastern Pennsylvania during 2016 presidential election because the party forgot people like Eileen and Richard Sorokas.
EILEEN SOROKAS, SWITCHED FROM OBAMA TO TRUMP: This is all from Obama's campaign.
CARROLL: This county flipped like they did from supporting Barack Obama to supporting Donald Trump.
E. SOROKAS: He wants that border wall, which I'm for, you know?
CARROLL (on camera): You're for that wall?
E. SOROKAS: Yes.
CARROLL (voice-over): The Sorokas say they identify as moderate who have no regrets leaving the Democratic Party, and for now no desire to go back, because they say they have real issues with its emerging leaders, namely New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC for short.
Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described Democratic socialist who's gained national attention for a number of issues, including the Green New Deal, a sweeping proposal to combat climate change by eliminating most carbon dioxide emissions in the United States by 2030.
E. SOROKAS: I think she's too bizarre.
CARROLL (on camera): Too bizarre?
E. SOROKAS: Yes, I think she's more ridiculous and be more realistic, you know? We are people, we live on this planet, we want to survive.
RICHARD SOROKAS, SWITCHED FROM OBAMA TO TRUMP: They want to get all these environment projects done in ten years and it's impossible. You lose jobs and lose wages.
CARROLL (voice-over): More concerns about the party from voters like Paul Visoky.
PAUL VISOKY, VOTED FOR TRUMP: They're more liberal. They're attempting to be socialists.
CARROLL: There are plenty of countries across the country like Lucerne that went from blue to red during the last presidential election. Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by less than 80,000 votes.
Former Pennsylvania governor and national Democratic chairman Ed Rendell says that his party hopes to win back white working class voters, Democrats need to look towards the center, not the far left, which he says plays right into the hands of President Trump.
ED RENDELL (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: I think, all of a sudden, the 2020 election went from a slam dunk for Democrats to something we're going to have trouble beating this guy because he's going to make Democratic socialism swing to the left, which I don't think is real, but he's going to make it into an issue. AOC does not speak for the Democratic Party.
CARROLL: Ocasio-Cortez is clearly on the minds of voters here in Lucerne, who have concerns about her influence on 2020 hopefuls. Voters we spoke to say not one in the current crop would inspire them to switch to the Democratic Party. [19:45:07] Keyword, current.
(on camera): Do you see anyone out there on the landscape that might --
VISOKY: The only one on the Democrats side -- the only one right now would be Biden. People like him.
CARROLL (voice-over): Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Pennsylvania native, still popular here. Many waiting to see if he sides with the progressive wing of the party as a presidential candidate.
R. SOROKAS: He's sort of moderate and takes the same platform that I believe in and what the Democrats were at one time. As long as he doesn't get to the socialism part of it, I believe he'd be a very good candidate.
CARROLL: And there's another important point about that couple that we met, Erin. Actually, we were out doing a different story earlier. They brought up the story of Ocasio-Cortez totally unsolicited.
And there's another point that former Governor Ed Rendell brings up in, and that's about several of the candidates that did well during the midterms. He said those were moderate candidates, not progressive candidates, and he says that's a real indication where voters are in his state.
BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you very much.
CARROLL: You bet.
BURNETT: And I want to go to Van Jones, political commentator and host of "THE VAN JONES SHOW", who, by the way, takes a lot of time traveling around this country talking to people about -- what they think about politics.
So let's start with the visceral reaction as Jason says, right. He's talking about something else they bring this up and that it seems to be something he found repeated, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rural, moderate Democrats are not buying that from Democrats.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: There are two things happening at the same time. For the older generation, people my age and older, socialism is a well-defined term and people do not like it. And also in the Latino community, you have a lot of people who coming up here from this and other places, they do not like that. So you've got parts of the Democratic coalition that have a visceral reaction against it.
On the other hand, you've got a lot of younger voters who they heard Obama called a socialist. They heard anybody with any idea of the Democratic Party calls a socialist. So, it's almost like it's --
BURNETT: A meaningless word. JONES: It's become a meaningless word, and so, it almost like the antibiotics lost their strength, and when they say socialism, what they mean is they want to be able to go to college without being forever in debt like earlier generations. They want to be able to get a doctor when they get sick like their grandparents. So, when there's -- my grandparents had Medicare, why can't I have Medicare? My grandparents had free or cheap college, why can't I have it?
So there's a big communications thing happening right now where I think this could get worked out.
BURNETT: OK. So, Joe Biden as the antidote, you have the antibiotics stuff working.
BURNETT: OK. But what's interesting obviously and where Jason was in Pennsylvania, Scranton, this is an area where Joe Biden, of course, is known and beloved. But what do you think? When you look at these polls, if he gets in, it's his race to lose. Is that really the way it is out there?
JONES: You know, I've watched Beto. As soon as he got in, they started beating the crap out of Beto.
BURNETT: I think it's Beto, right? Beto. There's a lot of names out there.
JONES: So I'm just saying I don't know if the Biden bubble doesn't burst even on contact.
But what I do know is this. He is an incredibly beloved person in the country where you just don't have a lot of love left. And so, the idea that you do have somebody that everybody can say we like this guy, we trust this guy is a very good thing for the party.
But I just want to say we are very early on. These young progressives have just been introduced to the country in the past couple of months. Over the next years I think people are going to understand them a little bit better, they're going to mature better.
But I think just like some of the stuff Trump did, set the poll out much further than anybody can go on the right, these young progressives are going to move it to the left on an equal opposite basis.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Van.
And don't miss Van's show Saturday night CNN, this time interviewing -- talking about the phenom. This is the other phenom.
BURNETT: OK. How do you say this one?
JONES: I think Buttigieg. BURNETT: Buttigieg.
BURNETT: Saturday at 7:00 Eastern.
JONES: Mayor Pete.
BURNETT: Also tonight, one week into his campaign, Beto O'Rourke is acknowledging there's been some mistakes along the way in his candidacy and in his past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You do not have to be perfect. I'm the textbook example of that. But our mistakes, mine in particular do not have to end up defining you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, O'Rourke's rollout has been rocky at times. He spent days apologizing for comments he's made about his wife, Amy, who he said is raising their kids, quote, sometimes with my help.
So, who is Amy Sanders O'Rourke?
Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.
BETO O'ROURKE: Amy and I are happy to share with you that I'm running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America.
[19:50:01] ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For many voters outside of Texas, it was their first glimpse of Amy O'Rourke, playing the role of supportive and silent spouse to her ambitious husband.
But the 37-year-old mother of three has hardly been quiet during Beto O'Rourke's rise to national prominence after nearly unseating Senator Ted Cruz.
BETO O'ROURKE: Look who we found hitchhiking on the side of the road. Amy O'Rourke.
JONES: At times joining him on the swing through all 254 counties on that campaign.
BETO O'ROURKE: How many miles do we have on the odometer?
AMY O'ROURKE, WIFE OF BETO O'ROURKE: Six thousand seven hundred and eighty-six.
JONES: Steve Ortega, a former city councilman, has known the O'Rourkes for more than a decade.
STEVE ORTEGA: Amy has become Beto's most trusted political adviser. I think he trusts her pragmatism, her take on things. Sometimes when you're just around purely political people you get in a bubble. And he needs to understand that he seems to get outside of that sometimes.
JONES: A week after O'Rourke's presidential launch, just what role his wife will play in this campaign is still an open question. Toni Casas works at Stanton Street, the web design firm Beto O'Rourke established in 1999. Amy spent several years running the firm after Beto went into politics.
Casas calls her compassionate and a prodigious multitasker, who is up for the challenges of a presidential campaign.
TONY CASAS, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, STANTON STREET: Working with Amy as close as I did, I think she is one of those people who are open to challenges. Sure, she's a little nervous, but I think anybody in her situation would be.
JONES: The daughter of a prominent real estate magnate, O'Rourke graduated from Williams College with a degree in psychology and Spanish, and spent a year teaching kindergarten in Guatemala before returning to El Paso, where she helped establish the dual language Le Fe Charter School in the city's low income, mostly Latino Segundo Barrio neighborhood.
Professor Elena Izquierdo worked with her there.
ELENA IZQUIERDO, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO: She advocates for equity. She really makes sure that the voices of those children that don't have access or opportunities, she is that voice.
JONES: These days, O'Rourke works as a consultant for an education- focused nonprofit. But even for a multitasker, a political campaign can be tough on a young family.
AMY O'ROURKE: Morning. We're signing off here. Kids and I are heading in one direction. Beto is heading in the other.
JONES: With a candidate sometimes spending long periods away from home, including Mother's Day.
BETO O'ROURKE: I just wanted to wish you in a very public way happy Mother's Day.
JONES: It's an issue Beto has already had to address after saying this.
BETO O'ROURKE: I just got a call from my wife, Amy, who is back in El Paso, Texas, where she is raising, sometimes with my help, Ulysses, who is 12 years old, Molly, who is 10, and their little brother Henry, who is 8 years old.
JONES: He later apologized, sharing the feedback he had gotten from his wife.
BETO O'ROURKE: It came off sounding a little flip. And, you know, this is a serious thing, and you should treat it seriously. So I thought that was great advice, and advice that I'm going to follow.
JONES: And as we learn from Beto O'Rourke's interview with "Vanity Fair," Amy O'Rourke has been reading Michelle Obama's book "Becoming" in which the former first lady talks about the challenges of living through a toxic presidential race. As Amy's friend Steve Ortega put it to me, Amy is aware of a difficult road ahead, but she is also concerned about the direction the country is heading in, and sees this race as an opportunity for a course correction, something that will make the rigors of the campaign worth it -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Athena, thank you very much.
And next, Jeanne on Trump's complaint about not being thanked for a funeral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CORDEN, COMEDIAN: Hallmark has a very limited offering of thank you for the funeral cards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:57:47] BURNETT: Tonight, when Trump expresses gratitude for himself.
Here is Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here's a sound bite with a little too much bite, that jaw-dropper about John McCain.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted. I don't care about this. I didn't get thank you. That's okay.
MOOS: McCain's sense of humor was such that he would probably appreciate the late-night roasting President Trump got.
CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Apparently, McCain is one of many dead people who never thanked Trump. I never heard from Lincoln!
CORDEN: Hallmark has a very limited offering of thank you for the funeral cards.
MOOS: How about thank you for those oil prices. The president once tweeted so great that oil prices are falling. Thank you, President T. Or thanks for approving that oil pipeline.
TRUMP: Can you imagine the boss of whatever the hell company it is, who never actually called me to say thank you? But that's OK.
MOOS: Actually, he did say thanks in person.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
MOOS: And how about those college students the president helped extricate from China after they were caught shoplifting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you, President Trump?
MOOS: But you know who does say thanks? Most cabinet members.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't thank you enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want thank you.
MOOS: And people in commercials for Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for fixing our economy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President, for letting us say "merry Christmas" again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need you to call the number on your screen and deliver a thank you to President Trump.
MOOS: You'd think Thanksgiving would be the president's favorite holiday.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Imagine Thanksgiving at the Trump house. Let's go around the table and all say what we're thankful to me for. I'll start.
MOOS: President Trump was actually asked at Thanksgiving what he's most thankful for.
TRUMP: For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country. I've made a tremendous difference in the country.
MOOS: He's made gratitude great again.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP: I didn't get thank you. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And press 1 to tell president Trump thank you.
MOOS: -- New York.
TRUMP: I approve this message.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you for joining us, and don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT any time. You just have to go to CNN Go.
"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.