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House Judiciary Approves Subpoena for Full Mueller Report; Trump Flips on Health Care & Border Security; Fact Check: Trump's Speech at GOP Dinner. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 11:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The net is getting bigger and bigger. Bryn, great reporting on this throughout. Thank you very much.

[11:00:06] Thanks for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto. It's been great to be in Atlanta. AT THIS HOUR with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.

House Democrats are readying for a fight. Yes, another one. And gearing up for battle. Yes, another one.

Minutes ago, the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of getting subpoena ready for the full, unredacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This was not without serious objection from Republicans on the committee.

President Trump has called the move ridiculous, although, of course, he also said, "Let the people see it" just a little while ago.

And with that, the stage is now set for a showdown between Congress and the Trump administration. Yes, another showdown. But this one, again, very important.

Here is what happened in this contentious -- during this contentious vote just this morning. Listen to this.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: On multiple occasions I have asked Attorney General Barr to work with us and go to the court and obtain access to materials the department deems covered by Rule 6(e). He has so far refused. I will give him time to change his mind.

But if we cannot reach an accommodation, we will have no choice but to issue subpoenas for these materials. And if the department still refuses, then it should be up to a judge, not the president and not his political appointee, to decide whether or not it is appropriate for the committee to review the complete record. REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This is the problem

we're seeing right now. But you know something? A different political landscape compels the chairman to adopt new standards of fairness, ignoring existing law and demanding material he once considered unfair to release, to be released.

As much as the chairman now may want to view this material, it is the fundamental underpinning of our justice system and the law we cannot. In the face of laws and rules he finds inconvenient, the chairman demands our nation's top law enforcement officer to break the rules, and the regulations and the law. This is reckless; it's irresponsible; and it's disingenuous.


BOLDUAN: All right. Let's cut through it all right now. CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. He's been watching all of this play out.

Manu, big moves on Capitol Hill this morning. Can you make sense of this all? Where do things stand right now with this subpoena?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have now been authorized. The subpoenas would essentially force the Justice Department to provide the full Mueller report, the underlying evidence to Capitol Hill.

Also, the subpoenas would -- that were authorized would force records to be disclosed from five former White House officials, records that they may have gotten from the White House in preparation of their testimony before the special counsel as part of the special counsel investigation over the past two years.

Now, the question is when will the subpoenas officially be served? Jerry Nadler is now authorized to have the subpoenas in his back pocket, and he is saying that he is going to give the Justice Department some time to see if they will fully comply with his requests to provide all this information before they ratchet up a fight that could end up in court.

And, Kate, moments ago, I had a chance to talk to Jerry Nadler. And I asked him, "Are you open to any possible middle ground to negotiate on redactions?" He said no.


NADLER: We're going to work with the attorney general and -- for a short period of time, in the hope that -- that he will -- that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and all the underlying materials. And we'll go to court to get permission to have the 6(e) material, but if that doesn't work out, then in very short order, we will issue the subpoenas.

RAJU: What does that mean, "in a very short order?" I mean, are you willing to do that as soon as this week, to serve the Justice Department with subpoenas?

NADLER: A very short order. I can't say how many days.

RAJU: Are you willing to negotiate any middle ground in terms of redactions --


RAJU: -- of the Mueller -- you're not?

NADLER: No. The committee must see everything, as was done in every prior instance.

Obviously, some material will have to be redacted before it's released to the public, to protect privacy, to protect the various rights. But the committee is entitled and must see all the material and make judgments as to what can be redacted for the public release by ourselves.

We handle confidential material all the time. We have facilities to do that. We make those judgments. And we're not willing to let the attorney general, who, after all, is a political appointee of the president, make that -- substitute his judgment for ours.


RAJU: Now, Bill Barr, the attorney general, said that there would be four areas of redactions that he would seek for the Mueller report. That includes grand jury information.

And you heard in the hearing this morning that a grand jury information was something that Republicans wanted to prevent Congress from getting. They offered an amendment to prevent that from actually being turned over to Capitol Hill. Democrats rejected that.

[11:05:07] Now, I had -- when I asked Jerry Nadler about that, I asked him, "Are you willing to go to court without the Justice Department to get that grand jury information that was part of the Mueller probe?"

He said absolutely.

So Kate, we're seeing what could be a protracted legal fight over the full Mueller report, the underlying evidence and the like. And the question ultimately is what does the Justice Department do? How much of the report do they release? Do they provide any of these evidence? Right now, the Justice Department is declining to comment on these subpoenas that have been authorized just today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And to just put a fine point on it, even if the -- even if Congress gets the full, unredacted report, what does that mean for the public?

RAJU: It's a question still. Republican -- Democrats are suggesting that they want to release everything. They want to release the full unredacted report. They want to release the underlying evidence. But there's some classified information that Bill Barr has said that he would try to redact as part of that. Democrats say that at least that Congress should look at that classified information. It's still unclear how much the public will ultimately see, even if

Democrats do get everything they want. But still that's going to be -- the first fight the Democrats want to fight is they want to see -- get Congress to get a hand in all of this first before deciding what the public will ultimately see -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Definitely clear the public release, that whole conversation is a few steps down the road, even beyond where we are right now. Thanks, Manu. Great stuff.

Joining me right now for some perspective on this is CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich; and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu.

So Jackie, the attorney general, he hasn't done anything yet. Nadler isn't saying he's going to use this subpoena right away.


BOLDUAN: Why are they moving on this now? What is the point do you see?

KUCINICH: Well, I think this is about congressional authority and the separation of powers, if you take it from Nadler's position here.

And let's not forget: in mid-March, 420-0, I think, there was a vote in the House about releasing the Mueller report to Congress. So -- and I think it's important to -- to be exact here.

He's talking -- what Nadler is doing right now, he's talking about releasing the unredacted report to Congress, with the classified information exposed, which is something Congress deals with all the time, as opposed to releasing it to the public with all -- with nothing redacted. And I think you heard in some of those speechifying on committee that there seemed to be a conflation there.

BOLDUAN: Speechifying. Something we do all the time.

Shan, if the chairman is -- with this move is putting the attorney general on notice, how much notice is he on? I mean, does this change, do you think, the process that Bill Barr is going through?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think it will change Barr's process. He seems very intent on exercising his maximum discretion and laying out a lot of legal basis for the use of that discretion.

I think the timing is important. I mean, If you look back historically to when they held former Attorney General Holder in contempt, one of the issues that the judge, Amy Berman Jackson, as it so happens to be the case --

BOLDUAN: I mean, she's literally everywhere. Keep going.

WU: Like Forrest Gump.

BOLDUAN: Right. The Forrest Gump of anything legal. Keep going. WU: Well, she said that the -- they tried to hold -- they did hold Holder in contempt. And she said that that was unreasonable at that time. There hadn't been enough time for Justice.

So I think Congress does have to give some reasonable time for Justice to work through the issues, but I don't think that's going to change their respective litigation positions.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting.

Jackie, Lindsey Graham told me last week, I think -- time space continuum has folded, I can't remember.


BOLDUAN: That the president had said to him, "Release it all." And in classic Trumpian fashion, the president is not giving that impression anymore, at least not yesterday. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you, anything we give them will never be enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the fact that --

TRUMP: We could give them -- it's a 400-page report, right? We could give them 800 pages, and it wouldn't be enough. They'll always come back and say, "It's not enough. It's not enough."


BOLDUAN: I mean, the president contradicts himself all the time. Is there any suggestion that he has any -- that you see that he has any impact on the process right now?

KUCINICH: It doesn't seem like that at this point. But it's important to note, it's not just Congress, which has overwhelmingly spoken with one voice and said this should be released. It's also the public.

Eight-three percent of people in the last poll I last saw said that they want to see the Mueller report, and it should be released publicly.

So -- and you know, at least when Barr released his letter on Friday, he said that he hadn't really -- he wasn't planning on releasing the report or having the White House review the report --

BOLDUAN: Correct.

[11:10:03] KUCINICH: -- to make redactions for executive privilege. Now, has that changed in the last week or so? I don't know.

But, you know, perhaps the president was talking to someone right before that or seeing something on the TV, that he wasn't being treated fairly, which can, you know, change what he says publicly. But what -- what happens actually functionally as a result of that, I just don't think we know yet.

BOLDUAN: We sure don't. Shan, the big issue, at least right now -- and it keeps changing is about -- when it comes to the redactions -- seems to have to do with grand jury material. Right? Can you lay it out? Why wouldn't you want that grand jury material released to Congress?

WU: Well, first of all, some of the remarks made in the hearing are simply wrong. I mean, they're not being -- Justice is not being asked to break the rules. I mean, the rule is you keep it secret, and then you can ask a court to release it. So they're following the rules.

BOLDUAN: And there was, like, a two-fold on that. Because they're -- Jerry Nadler is using -- seems to be talking a lot about the Starr report, right?

WU: Right.

BOLDUAN: That was independent counsel versus special counsel. And they kept -- they're fighting about there were different regulations and different rules under those two things, which is true in some respects. Please keep going, because it gets so in the weeds.

WU: Right. I mean, the independent counsel statute required a public report to be written. So it is different that way. But it didn't obviate the secrecy.

So the purpose of the grand jury secrecy is to protect the integrity of the investigation. You want -- you don't want to telegraph everything that you're doing. And then also, to some extent, to protect the privacy of individuals.

One of the problems for Justice now is the investigation is over. So it's a little bit hard to argue that the grand jury material is going -- if it's released, is going to impact the investigations.

You might say there's still some other matters pending. That's kind of case by case. But it can't work as a blanket reason not to release it.

And then with regard to will it embarrass individual people, you see Barr is kind of using a belt and suspenders approach to that, because he has a separate category for that. That's something that they can argue.

But I think historically, the courts are interested in transparency. If, by some chance, it goes to Judge Jackson, she is very interested in transparency.

And it's interesting. In that Holder situation, historically we alluded to, one of the reasons she ultimately ruled that materials should be released, despite Justice's unhappiness with that, was that it was already so public and so much had already come out in other forms. There had been I.G.'s report, et cetera. And we may see some of that start to happen. There could be leaks.

There could be a few more quotes coming out. And ultimately, I think Justice is going to have a hard time resisting this, at least at the district court level. Unknown, the court of appeals level.


WU: If it goes to Supreme Court level, it's going to be quite a fight, really, over the power of the presidency.

BOLDUAN: I think at this point, though, we all need to put money on if this is goes to court, it's going to Amy Berman Jackson. I think we all just basically need to agree on that right now.

WU: Looks like a safe bet.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it. Much more to come on this.

So coming up, it is the new whiplash. We're going to fix health care. We're not going to, well, at least not right now. We're going to talk about it, though, quite a lot until then. That is the president's message for Republicans, in a nutshell. What do they do with that? That's coming up.

Plus, the president claims his father was born in Germany. That is very fine, except that he wasn't. What the heck does that mean? And is this the start of a whole new birther conspiracy?


[11:17:37] BOLDUAN: This morning, Republicans have good reason to be confused. Whiplash on two major issues coming straight from the president. Health care and the border.

The president threatened to close the U.S. border with Mexico. Now he is somewhere short of that, I say, question mark?

Last week, the president shocked pretty much everyone by saying the Republicans were coming up with a fix for health care, and the vice president's chief of staff even was put out there to put a timeline on it.


MARC SHORT, VICE PRESIDENT'S CHIEF OF STAFF: The president will be putting forward plans this year that we hope to introduce into Congress.


BOLDUAN: Something like that. But just as quickly, the president scraps those plans, saying he wants to wait until after the election, while also issuing this warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: If we stay away from that subject, we're going to lose.

We have to protect and cannot run away from a thing called pre- existing conditions. We can't do it. You're going to get clobbered.


BOLDUAN: So that leaves them where?

CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is joining me now with some answers.

Kaitlan, we need answers. Yet another change just this morning from the president. What's he saying?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After the president backed off that push to have a replacement health care plan, after his administration threw their weight behind a lawsuit that would invalidate Obamacare, and if that lawsuit won, would leave millions of people without insurance, because of course, the Republicans do not have a backup.

Now the president is claiming on Twitter this morning that he did not ask the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for Republicans to vote on a health care plan before the 2020 election. He says it's incorrect reporting, and he says, "We're only going to do it after the election, when Republicans take back the House." Of course, that's not something guaranteed, but that is what the president is hoping for.

But Kate, what we do know is that behind the scenes, when the president and his administration threw their weight behind that lawsuit, Republicans were scrambling, because they did not want this fight.

And as we reported yesterday a slew of lawmakers called the president for the last several days, telling him as much, including Mitch McConnell.

I've got a quote from Mitch McConnell of what exactly he said to the president. And he said that he made clear, quote, "We are not going to be doing that in the Senate." He said, "He did say, as he later tweeted, that he accepted that and that he would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people during the 2020 campaign."

So, Kate, all of this is contingent on President Trump winning re- election; but he's now saying that Republicans are going to present this healthcare plan. And, as Marc Short said, he still says this year they're going to present some kind of plan to Congress.

[11:20:11] Now, whether or not that happens, because, as we know behind the scenes, there is no backup plan. And right now, it's not clear that anyone is actually working on one.

BOLDUAN: That's for sure. The president is also muddying the water, though, on the plan or his plan for the border. Isn't he? COLLINS: There was a bit of a freak-out after the president

threatened to close down the border and that seemed more serious than the previous times he's made it, especially when his chief of staff was on television saying that, unless something dramatic happened, he thought the president was going to follow through on that threat.

Now the president seems to be backing off that, after he's been getting advice privately that would be a terrible idea, because it would disrupt the economy and cause all sorts of issues.

And now the president seems to be saying that he believes Mexico is actually doing more to stop migrants from coming up through the border. Listen to what he said just last night.


TRUMP: I really wanted to close it. But now Mexico is saying, "No, no, no." First time in decades. "We will not let anybody get through." And they've apprehended over 1,000 people today at the -- at the southern border, their southern border. And they're bringing them back into their country.

I said, "Why the hell didn't somebody do that in the first place?"


COLLINS: So Kate, not only are you hearing that from the president, you're also seeing him on his Twitter feed try to shift the blame to Congress.

That comes as a direct result of a sense of panic that happened in the West Wing on Monday when aides were trying to figure out a way to keep the president from closing the border and were trying to come up with an idea to present new immigration laws to Congress so then they could shift the blame for these record-breaking immigration numbers away from the administration and the White House and onto lawmakers.

BOLDUAN: Kaitlan, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Glad you're following it.

So flip-flopping is one thing, and Kaitlan lays it out really well. But completely making things up out of thin air, it's quite another. And that's exactly what it looks like the president did last night. One speech requiring an almost hilarious amount of fact checking.

CNN senior political analyst John Avlon has the hilarity in a reality check.


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Last night things got really weird when President Trump spoke at the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner. And he apparently didn't know the whole thing was being broadcast live.

So he began by making yet another completely unfounded accusation about voter fraud. But this one flipped the conspiracy to the counting.


TRUMP: There were a lot of close elections that were -- they seemed to -- every single one of them went Democrat.

Hey, you've got to be a little bit more paranoid than you are, OK? Because I don't like the way the votes are being tallied.


AVLON: Yes, in a world where our election system is still very much vulnerable to foreign influence and a poll just ahead of the midterms found that almost 50 percent of Americans thought their votes wouldn't be counted accurately, President Trump just instructed his fellow Republicans to be, quote, "more paranoid" when they lose.

This is the opposite of "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

And speaking of paranoid, it's not entirely clear the president knew he was on the record at the time.


TRUMP: There's always somebody's going to leak this whole damn speech to the media, to the fake news.


AVLON: That's despite the fact there were TV cameras in the back of the room, and the whole event was being broadcast live on C-SPAN.

Now make no mistake. The idea the Republicans lost close midterm races due to fraud, not reality-based. The president wasn't big on specifics last night, but in the past, he suggested there was fraud in close mid-term Senate races like Florida and Arizona. Despite the fact that Florida ultimately went Republican.

The only election fraud we've seen is in North Carolina, where an entire congressional race is being redone; but Donald Trump has been silent on that one.

Also North Carolina, where separately, the GOP state chair was just indicted, though he denies any wrongdoing.

Now all of this, of course, from a president who claims that millions voted illegally, costing the popular vote. He even started a commission to find the fraud, only to quickly dissolve it in a cloud of controversy.

But if this "be paranoid about voting" thing is dangerous, the next one is just bonkers.


TRUMP: If you -- if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations. Your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You told me that one, OK.


AVLON: To be clear, there is no "they" that says the sound from windmills cause cancer. But as Jon Chait at "New York" magazine points out, one form of energy that does cause cancer is Trump's beloved coal.

But even with all this, perhaps the weirdest part of Trump's day is when he insisted, yet again, that his dad wasn't born in America.


TRUMP: My father is German, right? Was German.


AVLON: Look, one can only assume Donald Trump knows where his dad was born. That would be the Bronx, New York, 1905. And yet, this is at least the fourth time in the past year the president's made this claim.


TRUMP: My father is from Germany. Both of my parents are from the E.U.

Both my parents were born in E.U. sectors, OK? I mean, my mother was Scotland. My father was Germany.


[11:25:00] AVLON: But maybe this is a form of progress. Because for years Donald Trump falsely insisted his father was Swedish.


BOLDUAN: I'm sorry. That last bit. Thanks, John. Really appreciate it.

Important note, CNN has reached out to the White House. Sometimes I can't believe the stuff that I actually have to say. CNN has reached out to the White House about one of the president's repeated claims that his father is from Germany. CNN has not heard back a response.

Up next, from fact check, let's go back to flip flop. Even if it happens all the time, it still matters, friends, that you know where lawmakers stand on issues and when they change that stance. Do Republicans know where the president stands? Do they have a clear direction for 2020 now? We're going to ask the former Republican governor of Ohio next.