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Trump Says People Won't Stand for Mueller Judging the Presidency; Trump Says He Never Heard About Kushner Using WhatsApp; Trump Says He Would Love to Face Biden or Bernie Or Beto in an Election. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 22, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN. Thank you so much for being with me. We're waiting and waiting some more for word that special counsel Robert Mueller has completed his investigation. It is Friday afternoon, sounds of silence are driving Washington to distraction. Every tiny movement seized upon as a potential sign of progress. First a rare sighting of the man himself, Robert Mueller, arriving to work today. The CNN team noted that he did not leave for lunch Thursday when he usually does. Yes, this is the level of detail the world is watching for. Then CNN's Katelyn Polantz tweets out these signs of an investigation winding down. Special counsel prosecutors bringing family into the office to visit. Staff carrying out boxes. And a serious drop in staffing with attorneys going from 16 to 10. As the tea leaf reading is clearly in overdrive, the President is saying this today to "Fox Business" about the man who authorized Robert Mueller to do his job, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A deputy that didn't get any votes appoints a man that didn't get any votes. He will write a report on me. I had one of the greatest election victories in history. Now I have a man that because we have an Attorney General who nobody can even believe that he didn't tell me but he recused himself, so I have a man who is a deputy who I don't know, who I didn't know at all, and he appoints a man who had just left my office, I didn't give him the job at the FBI, I have a deputy appoints a man to write a report on me to make a determination on my presidency? People will not stand for it.


BALDWIN: Let's start the hour at the White House. Sarah Westwood is our CNN reporter standing by. Sarah, speaking of tea leaf reading, are you seeing any signs that this Mueller report is about to drop?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Tea leaf reading is exactly what folks here at the White House are doing. They are in wait and see mode just like the rest of the country. They don't know what will be in Mueller's final report. But sources do tell CNN that the White House expects to have an opportunity to review the version of the Mueller report that Attorney General Bill Barr intends to send to Congress. And that will potentially give the White House legal team time to maybe exercise executive privilege over parts of that report prevented from being disclosed to the public. As he was leaving the White House earlier this morning, President Trump said he did not know anything about the Mueller report, but he was clearly on offense continuing to attack the probe even in its final hours as a witch hunt and hoax. Here at the White House, there are mixed emotions as the Russia investigation comes to a close. Obviously, there is some anxiety about what could be in Mueller's final conclusions. Also, a sense of relief that this two-year legal drama for the White House could finally be clearing up. The legal team has prepared different responses, different strategies based on the different ways that it could play out. But until the White House has an idea of what they are dealing with, it is difficult to commit to one strategy. So, they are very much on the edge of their seats just like the rest of Washington and the country.

BALDWIN: 675 days since Mueller has been on the job and yes, we are counting. Sarah Westwood, thank you. Let's take a deep dive on what the Mueller report could bring. With me now, Jon sale who is an assistant special Watergate prosecutor he also served as an assistant United States attorney in the southern district of New York, and Jon, thank you so much for being with me.


BALDWIN: Listening to the President talking about the deputy, the deputy being Rod Rosenstein, what would Trump be casting doubt because after all it is President Trump who appointed him?

SALE: Brooke, President Trump is clearly frustrated to say the least. Venting. But actions speak louder than words. He did not fire him. I mean, in Watergate, President Nixon directed the firing of everyone from the deputy Attorney General, prosecutor, I was even fired. So, the President did not fire him, he was just letting off steam. Rosenstein is still there.

[14:05:00] But regarding Rosenstein, I have a lot of views but one of them just to be very current, everybody is embracing transparency. The Attorney General in his confirmation hearing said that he wants to be transparent, consistent with law and the regulations. Rod Rosenstein recently said transparency is a knee jerk reaction. It is not necessarily good are regarding the release of anything involved in -- contained in the Mueller report.

BALDWIN: What did you make of that?

SALE: He may have gotten a preview. Because as the supervisor, he would have gotten periodic briefings. And may know what is in it. And I'm troubled by that. Because we all are curious. But why would he say that publicly that transparency may not be good. I don't know.

BALDWIN: How are we do take that as the nation waits with bated breath?

SALE: We're to take that as a sign that Rosenstein is sticking around and to the extent, he has any influence, although the buck stops with the Attorney General, that he is going to urge that minimal release to the Congress. But I just came back from Washington. I'm in Miami where I live and practice. I've never been seen so much media interest. I don't know what they expect to see because the Mueller report is confidential by regulation. And it is the Attorney General who then has to decide and he has a lot of discretion. And there are some legitimate regulations that really will inhibit how much he will release to the Congress.

BALDWIN: Sure. And I think we all know that. I can't speak for all the members of the media, but it is a significant time in our nation's history and just to know that this 600 and however more it will take to end therein begins the process of potential accountability or not. By the way, we know this President has spent months and months railing against the investigation, witch hunt, no collusion, that kind of thing. But there is the potential that this report vindicates him. So how would then the White House unspin the spin?

SALE: Well, I share the desire to know everything that is in it, but a special prosecutor, a special counsel is just as effective and successful if he does a thorough investigation, leaves no stone unturned and does not find any criminal or inappropriate conduct. The job is not to get the President. It is to thoroughly investigate. And let the chips fall where they may.

BALDWIN: Whenever this whole thing comes out, Mueller hands to Barr, Barr figures out what he gives to Congress, committee heads. Put yourself in the position of White House counsel. You suddenly learn that Mueller has finished this conclusive report. What is the first thing you do?

SALE: You review it legitimately. You represent the presidency, rather than the President. And executive privilege is legitimate. It is not a way of suppressing things. And you review it and you assert executive privilege where appropriate and the only way that gets tested is in the courts. And this could be tied up in the courts for a long time. The U.S. versus Nixon in which the President lost 8-0, while it directed President Nixon to turn over certain tapes and documents, it recognized, the court recognized executive privilege is legitimate and the Obama administration asserted it in "Fast and Furious" and the Attorney General was held in contempt over that issue. So, it can be applied appropriately and we may just have to sit and wait for the courts to decide it. Which I'd love to see what is in it, but that is the law.

BALDWIN: Jon sale, thank you so much for your expertise. Even if Robert Mueller and his team are winding down, House Democrats are just getting started. From the pre-election hush money payments to Donald Trump's tax returns to Russian collusion, the House has a lengthy list of investigations into this Trump administration. One of those notable is the House Judiciary's probe into possible be abuses of power, corruption and obstruction of justice. Of the 81 names and entities that the committee requested documents from, only a few of the President's former and current allies have agreed to comply. Hope hicks is the most recent to say that she will turnover documents. She joins Steve Bannon and Tom Barrack and AMI. The House oversight committee chair meantime says several senior White House officials have used personal email to conduct official business including Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Elijah Cummings says Kushner has been using WhatsApp to communicate with foreign leaders. And so, this is what President Trump said this morning when he was asked about this.


TRUMP: I know nothing about it. I never heard that.


BALDWIN: Chairman Cummings says that Kushner's lawyer confirmed Kushner's use of WhatsApp to the committee, Lowell says Cummings is not completely accurate about what was said. Social media and tech expert Lance Ulanof is with me here. Good to have you back. WhatsApp. How vulnerable is an app like that?

LANCE ULANOF, CNN SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECH EXPERT: It is not that vulnerable it has what is called end to end encryption, so the message starts on your phone and just totally encrypted from that point until it reaches the other phone on the other side. So, no one can intercept in the middle, even if they could it would be garbage to them without the decryption key. So, in that way it is secure.

BALDWIN: OK, it is secure, the but is that we have learned that apparently according to Kushner's lawyer, Jared Kushner actually took screenshots of said conversations on highly secure WhatsApp and then used his official White House email to email those along. Let me get this in because the administration official also says that all communication must be screenshots so no classified information is involved.

But I am thinking screenshot, cloud, it is sort about there in the ether.

ULANOF: Definitely, because we don't know is that platform fully encrypted from the moment it leaves the desktop and wherever it ends up on a phone. It is a completely different thing. It is outside of WhatsApp, it is a different system, and I get it, they are trying to find a way of quickly sharing what is obviously important information.

I should say also that, WhatsApp is secure but it is not an official app, is not a certified White House application. I get the sense here that the millennial Kushner is straining against the restrictions of the White House as far as technology goes.

BALDWIN: Like technology has not caught up.

ULANOF: Exactly.

BALDWIN: Or rather the White House is not caught up with the technology.

ULANOF: The White House and technology or sort of out of step, and it has often been the case, and so you will see presidents and staffers struggle with that. They keep their personal email accounts alive because they can exist on this really restrictive platform, but they also find there are better tools outside.

Here is the thing, WhatsApp, every single communication is supposed to be saved. Is he saving them? I don't know. You can store information, the text of the information, from WhatsApp locally. That could potentially be shared.

But to do the other part you have to screen shot in, theoretically, by the way, when you screenshot something in WhatsApp, your recipient at the other side has no idea. So, I don't know who he was talking to but if they expected that this was for your eyes only, they would have no idea that he screenshot it and then passed it along.

BALDWIN: I got you, again, the administration says, all communication must be screenshot, no classified information was involved, that is what the White House is standing by. Thank you.

As pressure mounts on Boeing, CNN is learning that the new safety training for the 737 MAX jets was not completed by instructors or in classrooms but rather on an iPad. Thus, we are getting word of heavy fire in Syria with ISIS fighters as the White House declares the caliphate is 100 percent defeated. We are live on the front lines.

In moments ago, the President making another foreign-policy announcement be a tweet, this one involving North Korea. You are watching CNN, I am Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: Just in, the President sparking even more confusion today with yet another foreign-policy announcement be a tweet, quote, "it was announced today by the United States treasury that additional large-scale sanctions would be added to those already existing sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional sanctions."

Let's get some context and connect the dots here. CNN national security reporter, Kylie Atwood, is with me now from DC. When she trying to get across here?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: What was rolled out yesterday Brooke was new action under existing sanctions authorities, so it was not as Trump tweeted that these were indeed new large-scale sanctions. This was going after two Chinese entities that were violating sanctions that are already in place.

And we heard from a senior administration official yesterday describing the action that was taken as maintenance, not upping the ante, not really pulling out any new very forceful sanctions on North Korea. But proving to North Korea that the United States is going to take off the sanctions that are already in place.

Now what is unclear here is to White House officials, what do they do next? The President is tweeting this, does treasury rollback these sanctions on these Chinese entities? Well if it did that, then they would also have to rollback even more sanctions on other companies and entities that were violating these sanctions in place. [14:20:00] it is extremely complex and administration officials are quite confused about where they go from here, Sarah Sanders however saying Trump likes Kim Jong Un, and not being clear as to what he meant when he sent that tweet out today.

BALDWIN: Yes, she says the President likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think the sanctions will be necessary. Kylie, thank you. Gloria Borger is with me also and Gloria, yesterday it was Golan Heights in Israel and dropping that piece of news over Twitter and now it is this with North Korea. This one especially sparking all kinds of confusion.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And we don't know with the Golan Heights tweet whether it is actually policy and we don't know with this tweet what it means. My colleagues and I have been rushing around and trying to figure out who knew what when about this and it seems that this takes everything to kind of a new level of dysfunction that if the President can tweet something about his own policy on sanctions and nobody quite understands what it means, how do you run foreign policy. Aside from Sarah Sanders saying President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think the sanctions will be necessary. Well, they are already instituted as Kylie said. And we need to kind of -- we're trying to confirm whether they are part of existing or whether they are actually new. And Treasury was surprised by it. National security staff were surprised by it. Makes you scratch your head and say what is going on over there. Maybe they are waiting for Mueller.

BALDWIN: That's what we're all wondering about. Let me ask you also about President Trump. President Trump has his eyes on the b boys, the b boys are Biden, Beto and Bernie. This is the President.


[14:25:00] TRUMP: I'd love to have Biden. I'd love to have Bernie. I'd love to have Beto. Beto seems to be the one that the press has choSEN. The press seems to have chosen Beto.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this socialism versus capitalism?

TRUMP: When you watch Beto, I say we could dream about that. But whatever it is -- No, I think it is competence.


BALDWIN: So, pulling back for a second, we remember the President saying that Kamala Harris had the best rollout so far. He mocked Senator Klobuchar about her snow-covered announcement. But you when you heard him today, it is almost more significant who he didn't mention. He didn't mention any women, he didn't mention any people of color. He just mentions the three white guys.

BORGER: I think that is how he looks at the race. I think he looks at the race that he will be running against a guy at the top of the ticket and I think a lot of Democrats look at it completely differently. And maybe he hasn't figured out a nickname for Kamala Harris yet. We know he has one for Elizabeth Warren. But I think internally people that I have spoken with who are affiliated with the campaign say that they fear Biden, that Biden would be very tough. And Beto is a new face on the scene that I think what you see is the President kind of absorbing him and figuring out what to make of him and of course what he can call him. Because that is really important to him.

BALDWIN: One more news nugget. We just heard that President Obama will be up on -- or within Washington on Monday Speaker Pelosi for this reception honoring the freshmen Democrats. So, this is just weeks after Congresswoman Ilhan Omar appears to criticize the Obama administration saying people before Trump also had bad policies. They were just represented by, her words, a pretty face and a smile. So, Obama, the Democrats -- might that be awkward?

BORGER: Well, it could be. I think Nancy Pelosi was really smart to have him come in. And remind everybody what their jobs are, what they are doing, what staying together means. For example, there is an internal fight in the Democratic party about Israel which the President has picked up on saying the Democrats hate the Jews, et cetera, et cetera. And I think someone who has been through two Presidential races and who has won and who is well regarded despite complaints here and there is a good person to talk to freshmen about what they are going to face and what they can do. And how they can help Nancy Pelosi in any way. Maybe he will tell them, look, I don't think going after impeachment is a good idea right now. We have now an elder states man believe it or not, so I think that it is wise of her to have him come in.

[14:25:00] BALDWIN: Gloria, thank you very much.

Now to the fact that Boeing is facing a criminal investigation. The company's safety and training procedures are being uncovered. Did pilots get enough training on the new max 8s? We'll talk to our transportation specialist. And we have the inside story of how chief justice John Roberts arrived at the decision to save Obamacare. We'll talk to the woman with the new details about the landmark Supreme Court ruling.


[14:30:00] BALDWIN: We have reporting about the Boeing planes that crashed in Ethiopia and the Java Sea killing everyone on board. We're learning that Boeing promoted the promoted the 737 MAX 8 is a newer and more efficient version of the company's popular aircraft. Boeing said it was so similar only minimal pilot training was required which could save airlines millions of dollars.

Unions told CNN that training was completed over a quick iPad course for pilots. Made no mention of the new system now at the center of the two crash investigations. Let's go straight to the former Inspector General for United States Department Transportation, Mary Schaivo.