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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump on Releasing Tax Returns; Nadler Demands DOJ Release Communications between Attorney General and Special Counsel Mueller; Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD.), Foreign Relations Committee, on Mueller Report; Boeing CEO "Sorry" for Lives Lost in 737 MAX Accidents; Judiciary Committee Chairman Demands Immediate Release of any "Summaries" in the Mueller Report; FBI: DNA Test Disproves Young Man's Claim; Kim's Next Move. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 4, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So it will bring a lot of things back. I think it'll be great for the United States. I think it's going to be hopefully fly good for China, too. It's going to be good for everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: Oh, we have things. We have things. We're talking intellectual property protection and theft. We're talking about certain tariffs, it's very important that certain elements of the tariff that is in discussion right now. We have a number of things.
But we also -- we've agreed to far more than we have left to agree to. And in fact I would say, I think I can say that some of the toughest things have been agreed to. We have some things that are actually easier right now that we're doing.
But it's a very, very, using a word that I don't like using too often but it's a very, very comprehensive deal. It's very complete. We discuss everything. We talk about everything. When we first started, people said, well, you'll never talk about intellectual property or you'll never talk about a vast array of elements.
Every one of them is not only talked about but highly negotiated. And whether it's our farmers or our technology people, all of them will be really happy and I think China is going to be very happy, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your plan right now on tariffs?
What would you like to see happen on tariffs?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that to you but I'm going to be discussing that with the vice premier in about five minutes, as soon as you leave. But just a lot of good things are happening. A lot of really great things are happening.
And I think very important is, the relationship with China is very strong. Probably the strongest it's ever been, in a sense. And yet we're negotiating a strong deal. But I think our relationship is at a point that's about at the highest it's been. And that's not a bad thing. That's a very good thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: Well, when you say negotiation, he's a very tough negotiator. And so is President Xi.
But it's so nice, when I see the Fentanyl, because that's been so -- we lost 77,000 people due to Fentanyl. And that was a very important thing. And I really appreciate it. And this is before the deal is done. This is something that China's doing before the deal is done. And I think you're going to see a big impact, a tremendous impact.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) what kind of benefit will it bring for both countries?
TRUMP: Say it again?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there is a deal, what kind of benefit will it bring for both countries?
TRUMP: Well, I think it's going to be great for China, in that China will continue to trade with the United States. I mean, otherwise, it would be very tough for us to allow that to happen. And we are -- China's by far biggest trading partners. They are --- you know, they are a tremendous trading partner the other way, too, from our standpoint.
But it will be a great deal for China, because we'll continue to deal. We'll continue to have a relationship in terms of trade. Otherwise, it would be very tough to do that, in a large way, as we have in the past because it was a very one-sided, one-sided thing.
From our standpoint, we love dealing with them. They have certain products that are tremendous. They have certain pricing advantages that we take advantage of, a lot of advantages.
And I think just the relationships between the two countries are very, you know, very strong. And that's an important element of what we're doing, having that, maintaining the great relationship, which perhaps we would maintain anyway but certainly, we maintain that with a deal like this.
This will be a really terrific, very unique deal. This is an epic deal, historic, if it happens. We'll see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Are you looking for people --
TRUMP: I've recommended Herman Cain. He's a very terrific man, a terrific person. He's a friend of mine. I have recommended him highly for the Fed. I've told my folks that that's the man and we'll -- he's doing some pre-checking now and I would imagine he would be in great shape.
I find Herman to be an outstanding person, a truly outstanding individual. I would think he would do very well there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, is there still an imminent threat of you potentially closing the border?
Or is it everything for immigration --
TRUMP: Well, you know, Mexico has been -- Mexico has been doing a very good job the last three or four days, since we talked about closing the border, which is very real. But what's more real, initially, is tariffs on the cars coming in, a 25 percent tariff on the cars being made in Mexico coming in.
You know, Mexico, prior to my becoming president, took close to 30 percent of our car business, OK?
That's a lot. That's a big, big chunk. They did that under NAFTA. And I have -- for years --
TRUMP: -- I've been talking about it. I think NAFTA is one of the worst deals ever made. One of the worst trade deals ever made, maybe the worst. And Mexico took a big chunk of our car business, which I don't like. And I haven't liked. And I've spoken about it long and hard, long before I became president when I was a civilian, so to speak.
But I will say this, that Mexico, the last four days, has really done a great job on their southern border with Honduras, with Guatemala, with El Salvador of grabbing and taking and bringing people back to their countries, because they're not going to come to our country.
We're not going to allow it. What's happened on our southern border is a disgrace. And Mexico has brought people back. They've told people, you can't come in. And that's happened really over -- they've done, as I understand it, over a thousand today, over a thousand people yesterday, over 1,000 people the day before. Before that, they never did anything.
So if we don't -- and they have the strongest immigration laws, as strong as there is anywhere in the world. They can do it, if they want to do it. They've never really wanted to do it, for many, many years.
And we've told them, if you don't do that, we're going to close the border. But before we close the border, we'll put the tariffs on the cars. I don't think we'll have to close the border, because the penalty of tariffs on cars coming into the United States from Mexico, at 25 percent, will be massive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the border will stay open at least for a year?
TRUMP: No, I didn't say that. We're going to -- we would start with the tariffs and we'll see what happens. But they are removing people out of Mexico, on the way up to the United States. And if you take a look, you'll see a big difference.
Now maybe, by the end of this news conference or maybe tomorrow, that will stop. And if that stops, we're doing a big tariff deal and that will be fine with me, too, because you know I like tariffs. I'm one of the people that really likes tariffs.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Mr. President, this year marks (INAUDIBLE) anniversary of you and China's relation, what's your commands (ph) on this (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: If you would, please speak louder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, sorry, sorry. This year, the (INAUDIBLE) U.S. and China relations.
What's your commands on this (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comment on the 40th anniversary of U.S.-China relations.
TRUMP: Well, my comment is it is 40 years. It's 40. It's a lot but it's not that much. Again, I think, I could just say what I've already said. The relationship is strong, we hope it's going to get stronger. I think we can do a lot of things militarily, also. For instance, they're making a lot of weapons, tremendous weapons. And so are we. We just had $716 billion approved for military last year and now we're
possibly going to do more this year. And between Russia and China and us, we're all making hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including nuclear, which is ridiculous.
And I would say that China will come along and I would say Russia will come along. It doesn't really make sense that we're all doing this. I think we're the leader. I think we're always going to be the leader. I think we have to be the leader. I think it's much better if we all got together and we didn't make these weapons.
So I think that's something that could be a phase II after this is done. But as you know, China is spending a lot of money on military, so are we, so is Russia. And those three countries, I think, can come together and stop the spending and spend on things that are more productive towards long-term peace.
I don't know, I'm speaking out of turn, we haven't discussed this very much but I feel like that military expenditure of you and Russia and us, it's a lot, a lot of money could be put in other things.
Would you like to respond to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that it is a very good idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, the summit with President Xi, are you committed to that happening and when will that happen?
TRUMP: Well, if we have a deal, there will be a summit. I would say we'll know over the next four week.
And I think that's correct, Bob, wouldn't you say?
And I look forward to seeing President Xi. He will be here and if we -- if we have a deal, then we're going to have a summit. If we don't have a deal, we're not going to have a summit. But there's a very good chance that we'll have the summit.
How about one more.
Jeff, you have one?
JEFF: I would like to follow up on the sticking points, Mr. President.
Is enforcement one of the good ones?
TRUMP: Yes, it still is. Enforcement. We have to make sure there's enforcement. I think we'll get that done. We've discussed it at length. I think we're going to get that done. So just to finish --
[17:10:00] TRUMP: -- a deal is coming along really well. We'll probably know over the next four weeks. It may take two weeks after that to get it papered but I really think that over the next fairly short period of time, we're going to know. And it's looking very good.
A lot of really good things have been negotiated and agreed to. I would really say and I say it again, a lot of the most difficult points, points that we didn't think we could ever do or we wouldn't agree to, on both sides, have been agreed to.
We've negotiated out some of the toughest points -- really, the tougher points. And but we have some ways to go and I think we have a very good chance of getting there.
I want to thank everybody for being here. And in particular, I want to thank the vice premier and his entire group of very, very talented representatives. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Thank you so much.
Thank you, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: OK. I'll look at it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) relations between U.S. and China could affect everything. And (INAUDIBLE) precise (INAUDIBLE) a sense of (INAUDIBLE) responsibility.
So what's your sense of this issue?
TRUMP: I think there's truth to that, a global responsibility.
Who did you say said that?
Who said that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: No, who said it?
Who said it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that foreign minister --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trade minister --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Malaysia trade minister. TRUMP: Well, I think it's true. I think the word global responsibility, those are two nice words. And frankly, maybe we do have a global responsibility between the United States and China.
I think it's actually -- actually, it's well brought up. It's true. I think we do have responsibility to the world, both countries. And that's what I think it's -- maybe to a certain extent, that's a big reason we're here. This will be a tremendous thing for the world. Forget about China, forget about the United States.
This will be a tremendous thing for the world if we get it done. Let's see what happens. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) by putting Herman Cain in as a (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: None whatsoever. He's a highly respected man, he's a friend of mine. He's somebody that gets it and I hope everything goes well. But Herman Cain is a very good guy. Thank you very much.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following multiple breaking stories right now.
We just heard President Trump address Democrats' demands for his back tax returns as the House Judiciary Committee chairman is demanding that the Justice Department release all communications between the attorney general and the special counsel's office. There's lots to unpack right now.
I first want to go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president was firm in saying, I'll speak to my lawyers, when he was asked about releasing his tax returns.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. You just saw the president wrap up a meeting there with top Chinese officials. They're trying to work out a summit between the president and China's leader, Xi Jinping, on their trade dispute.
But I think the big news coming out of what you just saw there a few moments ago is the president sidestepping that question about whether or not he's going to release his tax returns but then also keeping the door open just a crack by saying, speak to my lawyers.
That is not the same as the president saying, well, I'm under audit, I'm under audit.
So we'll have to find out exactly who are the lawyers he's talking about there. But as we've been reporting all day long, Wolf, President Trump is blasting the news, sounding off on the news that members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team are unhappy with attorney general William Barr's summary of the conclusion, contained in the report.
But that's hardly the end of the president's headaches As you said, as Democrats are now making a move for the president's tax returns.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Now that investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller's office are complaining that attorney general William Barr's letter on the investigation's findings go too far in clearing President Trump, anger is building at the White House.
The president tweeted his fury. "There is nothing we can give to the Democrats that will make them happy. This is the highest level of presidential harassment in the history of our country."
Press secretary Sarah Sanders lashed out at news reports about the frustrations inside Mueller's team.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You mean the anonymous sources that allegedly leaked confidential information?
Look, I have full confidence in the attorney general and his assessment.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But up on Capitol Hill, support is building to reveal Mueller's findings, with Iowa Republican senator Charles Grassley tweeting, "I support release of the Mueller report."
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), HOUSE SPEAKER: There's an easy answer to this: release the Mueller report as soon as possible. And let me just say, the Mueller report will be released. It's a question of -- to us it is inevitable; to them, it is inconceivable.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Convinced Mr. Trump is hiding something, House Democrats are also making an historic --
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- request for six years of the president's tax returns, a secret he has closely guarded since the campaign.
REP. RICHARD NEAL (D-MASS.), CHAIRMAN, WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: This is likely to wind its way through the federal court system. And we wanted to make sure that the case that we constructed was, in fact, one that would stand up under the critical scrutiny of the federal courts.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Asked whether he will release them, the president sidestepped the question.
TRUMP: They'll speak to my lawyers, they'll speak to the attorney general.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president has repeatedly beat back efforts to obtain those tax returns, claiming they're under audit.
TRUMP: I'm audited every single year and, when it's under audit, you don't discuss anything.
I'm releasing, when we're finished with the audit. I have to say, the IRS has been very professional.
When the audit is complete, I'll release my returns. I have no problem with it.
Well, I'm not releasing the tax returns, because, as you know, they're under audit.
As I've told you, they're under audit, they have been for a long time, they're extremely complex, people wouldn't understand them.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But fellow Republicans are starting to break from the president on that issue, too.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I think, all things being equal, I would like to see the president's taxes. I wouldn't be adverse to turning over my taxes. I don't have anything to hide.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is backing down when it comes to his warning that he will shut down the border. Now he says he'll give Mexico one year to crack down on the influx of migrants crossing into the U.S.
TRUMP: We're going to give them a one-year warning and if the drugs don't stop or largely stop, we're going to put tariffs on Mexico and products; in particular, cars. The whole ball game is cars. It's the big ball game. With many countries, it's cars. And if that doesn't stop the drugs, we close the border.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is allowing Mexico more time to solve the problem, despite calling the situation a national emergency once again.
TRUMP: I hate to see it but at least I can say I was right. I told everybody, this is -- you have a national emergency at our border.
ACOSTA: Now as for the Mueller report, one administration official expressed some frustration with Democratic demands to see as much as possible of that report. This official complained that the report should not reveal information that is embarrassing about the president if he's not going to be accused of a crime by the special counsel's office.
And this official with the administration called the possibility of that happening a word that we can't say on the air, Wolf. But it rhymes with gritty.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta, I hear what you're saying, thanks very much, up on Capitol Hill.
House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler insists that the Justice Department turn over communications between the attorney general and the special counsel's office. Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.
Manu, what's the latest up there.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jerry Nadler just sent a letter to the attorney general, saying that he is troubled by news reports about tension between Robert Mueller's team and the Justice Department, saying that he wants to understand why the Justice Department did not release apparent summaries that Mueller's team wrote that may reflect differently than the four-page letter that Barr put out, laying out the top-line conclusions of the Mueller report.
And in this letter to the Justice Department, the House Judiciary Committee chairman is demanding all communications written between the Mueller team and the Justice Department over the release of the Mueller report.
Now Nadler says this. He says, "These reports suggest that the special counsel prepared his own summaries intended for public consumption, which you chose to withhold in favor of your own. We also request that you produce to the committee all communications between the special counsel's office and the department, regarding the report."
Now the Justice Department has pushed back in the notion that they did not fairly characterize what the Mueller report has said.
The Justice Department spokesman putting out a statement, saying that the four-page letter was not meant to be an overall summary of the report and said that all of the pages within of the Mueller report included some confidential information, grand jury information, that they needed to scrub. They still plan to put this out by mid-April.
Now at the same time, I got a chance to talk to Jerry Nadler about these reports and ask what he believes needs to happen and he made clear that special counsel Robert Mueller needs to come before his committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-N.Y.), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: And, yes, I think it's inevitable that Mr. Mueller is going to testify at this point but the first thing we need is the release of the report and the documents.
RAJU: You think it's inevitable that Mueller is going to come before your committee?
NADLER: At some point, yes.
RAJU: How important is it for you to show that you're being accommodating to the Justice Department?
NADLER: It is important to show that we're being accommodating. That's the -- the lawyers say that that's important in court and in enforcing the subpoenas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Wolf, that last point is very important, because yesterday the House Judiciary Committee authorized Nadler to issue subpoenas, actually serve the Justice Department with subpoenas. But Nadler wants to make sure that he is viewed as being accommodating to the Justice Department, saying that they will issue the subpoenas at last resort.
So right now they have not served the Justice Department with subpoenas but, ultimately, if they do, they want to tell the court they did everything --
RAJU: -- they could to at least give the Justice Department time before they actually force -- try to force the Justice Department to provide the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point, indeed. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you.
Also breaking tonight, in a new statement, Boeing's CEO acknowledges the similarities between two recent crashes that took the lives of 346 men, women and children and forced the worldwide grounding of the planes. He's promising that Boeing will fix the problem. Let's bring in CNN's Tom Foreman.
Tom, you've been working closely following this story. Tell us more.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, what is happening is that Boeing is admitting its automated software called MCAS not only played a role in the Ethiopian crash recently but also the Lion Air crash off Indonesia last fall, which took hundreds of lives.
And what seems to have pushed the CEO of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburger, over the edge is a preliminary report with very dire details that was first obtained by CNN.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Tonight, a rare and stark admission of fault from the world's biggest airplane maker.
DENNIS MUILENBURG, BOEING CEO: We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. It's apparent that, in both flights, the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system known as MCAS activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.
It's our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN (voice-over): The video statement from Boeing's CEO came late today after a preliminary report laid out in horrific detail what apparently happened to the doomed Ethiopian Airlines plane. The report says the trouble starts right after takeoff, with air speed
and altitude readings from the left side of the 737 MAX 8 that don't match the readings from the right side. Two censors on the front disagreeing about the angle of the aircraft's nose.
The sensor on the right shows steady readings around 15 degrees but the one on the left swings wildly, from 11 to nearly 75 degrees steep, as if the plane is rocketing upward. Those readings are false but they appear to trigger the MCAS system, an onboard computer, which starts pulling the nose down.
If the plane were climbing steeply, that would prevent a stall. But because it is climbing normally, the system erroneously starts pushing it toward the ground. The report does not name MCAS but Boeing has now acknowledged it was involved.
The captain asked the first officer to pitch up together, to pull back on their controls simultaneously. It does not work. Instead, the flight data recorder shows the plane diving, in all, four times without pilot's input. An impact warning sounds in the cockpit. don't sink, don't sink.
DAGMAWIT MOGES, ETHIOPIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly, provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The report says the cockpit crew even figures out what is wrong and disables the MCAS system. Then the captain asks his first officer about a key part of the plane needed to regain control, the trim.
The reply, it is not working.
Less than six minutes in, once again, the aircraft began pitching nose down, eventually reaching 40 degrees and slams into the ground with 157 people on board at nearly 600 miles an hour.
It is all eerily similar to the crash of an identical jet near Indonesia last fall, killing 189 people. And even though this is just a preliminary report, which does not find a probable cause, Boeing is promising a software update for MCAS, some additional safety measures and trying to regain public confidence.
MUILENBURG: This update along with the associated training and additional educational materials that pilots want in the wake of these accidents will eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again.
FOREMAN: Still, just a couple of years ago, Boeing was talking about how it appreciated the new streamlined approach to regulations, which specifically was credited in development of the 737 MAX line. And now multiple investigations are looking into how those planes were designed, tested, certified and, frankly, whether they can ever be trusted again -- Wolf. BLITZER: What a disturbing story that is. We're going to have much
more on this story coming up later in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tom Foreman, thanks for that report.
Joining us now, Democratic senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. He's a member of the Foreign Relations and Finance Committees.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD.), MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS AND FINANCE COMMITTEES: Wolf, it's good to be with you. Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's begin with our top story.
Do you support the efforts by the House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler to access the communications between the attorney general and Robert Mueller's team?
CARDIN: Oh, absolutely. I think it's critically important --
CARDIN: -- that there be complete transparency on the Mueller report and efforts made by the Justice Department, with Mr. Mueller. So we have to draw our own conclusions. Not just the Congress but the American people.
There's now different views as to how the attorney general's summary was handled and whether it's a fair representation of the conclusions reached by the Mueller team.
The way to solve this is for the public and the Congress to be able to review the source report and its supporting documents and to get the correspondence between Mr. Mueller and the attorney general.
BLITZER: Should Democrats accept anything else less, though, than the full report without any redactions?
Or do you think there's room for negotiation with the Justice Department?
CARDIN: Well, I do believe that, if there is sensitive grand jury information that's not related to the president of the United States or public officials, that's something that clearly can be redacted. So it does not have to be the entire report.
But the attorney general can't pick issues that he believes might cause the president embarrassment and not release that information. So, basically, the entire report needs to be released, other than sensitive information that will compromise the grand jury.
BLITZER: Do you worry that a lengthy subpoena fight, for example, would allow the Justice Department potentially to run out the clock?
CARDIN: Well, you know, clearly, we would like to see the Justice Department carry out its responsibility, as the chief counsel for the American people. We don't understand why they would want to hold back this report.
Attorney general Barr said he's going to release it. Let's see that he carries that out. I don't know why it's taking him so long. He had a summary done in a matter of minutes. The report should have been released by now. So I hope he releases the report. I hope subpoenas are not necessarily.
We all should be expecting and demanding transparency, including the attorney general of the United States.
BLITZER: How long should the Judiciary Committee chairman in the House, Jerry Nadler, wait before serving subpoenas for the Mueller report?
CARDIN: Well, I think the Mueller report should have been released by now. The attorney general said mid-April, so we are talking about perhaps as long as nine or 10 or 11 more days. I think that's a reasonable period of time.
Beyond that, no. We need to see the report. We can't let it sit there and use the clock to try to distract the Mueller report from the American people.
BLITZER: As you know, the special counsel conducted his investigation 22 months, nearly two years with virtually no leaks. But now some members of his team are expressing frustration privately with the attorney general's handling of the report.
What does that say to you?
CARDIN: Well, you know, clearly, it was a professional team that Mr. Mueller had. There were no leaks from the Mueller team. I think we'll see exactly -- we'll reach our judgment when we see the report.
There is a concern that there's been press accounts that the Mueller team had conclusions at the end of each of the different sections of the report that are inconsistent with the attorney general's conclusion in the letter that he sent to Congress. That's disturbing, if you were part of the Mueller team.
So I think, right now, rather than trying to speculate what that means, let us see the report, let us see if there's summaries in that report. Let us draw our own conclusions and see whether attorney general Barr's letter is accurately reflecting what's in the report.
BLITZER: You're a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Let me get your thoughts on the president's now backing off his threat to close the entire border with Mexico. He had threatened to do so as early as this week but now he says he's giving Mexico a year to come up with some new policies.
What do you make of that decision?
CARDIN: If he closed the border with Mexico, it would be disastrous for the United States, for our economy. It would be -- there's no justification to do that. I think he was told that, not only by his senior advisers, told that
by both Democrats and Republicans in the Congress of the United States and by his economic team, telling him it would be disastrous to do this.
I don't know why he said that originally. I'm glad that he's backed off on that threat. It would have been damaging to both Mexico and the United States.
BLITZER: Senator Cardin, thanks so much for joining us.
CARDIN: Good to be with you, Wolf. Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's bring in our political and legal analysts and assess what we just heard.
Dana, what are lawmakers hoping to learn from these communications between attorney general Bill Barr and the Mueller team?
DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What the Judiciary chairman zeroed in on in his letter is the notion that there are reports of the Mueller team writing their report in such a way that the expectation was they could just take the summaries in the report that they wrote and put it out in a public way.
And that they were upset that that didn't happen.
So, clearly, what Chairman Nadler is trying to do is trying to get any internal communications that show - that illustrate the fact that they were either "a", they were upset afterwards, or "b," probably more importantly that the expectation was that what they were writing would be made public, you know, from the beginning.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Gloria, are Democrats right to be skeptical of the Attorney General Bill Barr?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think Bill Barr is a very reputable person. I think they're right to raise questions about whether there are discrepancies in -- from Barr's four-page letter versus what team Mueller reported. And if it is true that the Mueller team, and again, we have to see the report, provided these summaries for each section of the report that they believe were scrubbed and could be released to the public.
I think the question to be asked, which I think Jerry Nadler is asking, is why didn't you release those to the public? The attorney general will say, well, at the top of each page, there was something that said, be careful, this is some of the results here may be the result of grand jury testimony. But you have to look at each summary in and of itself and see what it said.
And don't forget, the attorney general did not consult, so far as we know, with the special counsel, about what he was deciding on obstruction or his letter. So maybe there are folks in the Special Counsel's Office who are upset and think that perhaps they should have had a little more input or perhaps they should have been quoted more than a couple of times in Barr's letter.
BLITZER: That's an important point. Phil Mudd, Mueller's team conducted this nearly two-year investigation without any really significant leaks. As you know, they were all very, very tight-lipped. What does it say to you now that some of these investigators are apparently beginning to leak their disdain, their anger or their disappointment in what the attorney general is doing?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think there's a couple of things here. First, there's an ethics issue. The taint is off. The story is over already. We know what the special counsel judged. We know what the letter says from Barr. So you walk out of the room and evidently some of the officials on the team walked out of the room and started talking to friends.
I understand what they're thinking. There's no way you can taint the case anymore. Why wouldn't you speak to a friend over dinner about what you saw? There's a different issue here that I think is significant. It's like going to a football game when you're playing in the game and seeing the score tomorrow morning, 21-20. What's the story? The game was that close. What happened behind the scenes? What kind of calls did the referees make? I suspect the players in this game that is the people on the Mueller team saw a lot of color in terms of how the president tried to obstruct justice. That color was eliminated from the Barr letter, and those people are now saying, the American people don't have a real picture of what happened, I think.
BLITZER: Why do you think, you know, Laura, the attorney general released his own summary of the principle conclusions, when, in fact, the Mueller team had written some summaries that potentially could have been released. Why not release the summary of the report that the Mueller team themselves put together?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well that's the million- dollar question, or should I say, the 19-page question, here. Because remember, this is an attorney general, who before he actually got the job, thought it was enough. It was only sufficient to convey his concerns on an issue that ended up being a close call in 19 pages. You contributed less than two pages of this four-page summary. And to find out that you distilled what was already distilled. Well, they already had iota towards it going to the public. That's a question that actually Barr has to answer. And it's especially odd, given that there was already a cloud of suspicion hanging over him about his motivation for having drafted that 19-page letter.
Is this a matter of a self-fulfilling prophecy, that you could write the same thing before you see one iota of evidence and you have the same conclusion now? That's one of the reasons why the full context, the summation by the Mueller team, and of course, the full report can actually answer it. If he wants the note that transparency is going to be the ceiling or the floor, that's going to be a part of his reputation. I suggest he do it as a floor, not what he's doing right now. BLITZER: Does all of this, Dana, give ammunition to the Democrats who want to see not only the full Mueller report, but also all the underlying evidence that was created to develop that report.
BASH: They're hoping so, they're seizing that Democrats are not making any mystery about how much they do hope that this helps them. As you said, it's not just about seeing the report and Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary chairman, reiterated it in this letter that he wrote this afternoon, that he wants to see the underlying data, the raw data, the information that led to the conclusions, or in this case, obstruction, the inability to make a conclusion. Maybe that might be as important if not more important to them than the question of collusion.
[17:35:00] But that is probably the biggest open question about whether or not there is any reason for the Justice Department to give that over. I mean, Phil can answer this. People who we talked to who have done investigations, in an apolitical way, argue that this is something that is kind of the code of conduct and there's a reason why you don't give a lot of this information away, because you hurt people's reputations who weren't ultimately charged. It could be and maybe should be different when you're talking about the president of the United States.
MUDD: Sure. I mean, let's go through one quick example. Let's say you're a sitting person in the White House now and you said something potentially embarrassing to the special counsel about how the president operated. That didn't, obviously, given the judgment, reach the level of illegality. But if you're named in those hundreds of pages and the Congress decides to put that out and you still have a job, don't you have any expectation of privacy? There's a lot of issues beyond grand jury.
BORGER: But there's a big --- you know, there's a big question and Dana, you know, touched on it, about the president of the United States. If you know in advance that you're not going to be able to charge him with any crime, because that's what the Justice Department guidelines are, how much can you say about him and his behavior, that is released to the public, if, you know, that would cast a bad light on him, if you're not going to charge him? I mean, we know that this was a complaint about Comey and Hillary Clinton, even though he didn't charge her, he called her reckless. So, it's a balance here that I think they are trying to strike, but you can't go so far, I would think, as to say, well, you can't mention the president's behavior at all. So, that's -- that's sort of, I think, what's at play here.
COATES: But remember, the letter from Barr, and that's correct that that would be contemplation. But the letter from Barr actually said that they did not contemplate the fact that they could not indict the president of the United States, as part of their reasons for not having obstruction. So that begs the question even more as to why don't you actually be forthcoming at this point.
BLITZER: And hopefully we'll not only hear directly from Barr when he testifies and we'll hear from him, but also from Mueller himself. All of us want to hear what he has to say on this. Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following. A shocking new development in the case of a young man in Kentucky who showed up on a street saying he was a little boy who had been kidnapped eight years ago. Tonight, the FBI says he's not -- repeat, not -- the little boy and he's not even a teenager. Was it all a sick hoax?
And later, why is North Korea's brutal dictator paying a visit to his father's birthplace. In the past, it's signaled some type of momentous decision.
[17:41:55] BLITZER: We have more breaking news coming in THE SITUATION ROOM. In a shocking announcement just now, the FBI revealed the DNA test shows a young man's astonishing claim that he is the same boy who vanished nearly eight years ago is simply not true.
Our national correspondent, Athena Jones, is covering the story for us. Athena, tell us more about this astonishing twist in this story.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we now know the real name of the man who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen. According to police here in Newport, Kentucky, he is Brian Michael Rini, a 23-year-old man from Medina, Ohio, with a prior arrest record. It is a devastating development for a family that has already suffered so much.
JONES (voice-over): A stunning and devastating twist in a nearly eight-year-old cold case that drew national attention. Late today, law enforcement authorities said a DNA test shows this 14-year-old boy is not a missing child named Timmothy Pitzen.
Pitzen vanished in 2011, when he was just 6 years old. After his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, checked him out of school and took him on a three-day road trip. He was last seen leaving this Wisconsin resort with his mother. A few days later, Amy Fry-Pitzen was discovered dead inside this Illinois motel from an apparent suicide. She left behind a chilling note that read, "Tim is somewhere safe with people who love him and will care for him. You will never find him."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN FERELLI, AURORA POLICE SPOKESMAN: Every day that goes by, our concern for Timmothy is heightened. It's a very difficult case to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: The case confounding law enforcement officials and the boy's family for years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM PITZEN, TIMMOTHY PITZEN'S FATHER: I don't know why my wife did what she did. I don't know where my son is. It is just terrifying for me to know that my son is there, with somebody I don't know. And I have no idea what my wife told them, so if they would keep him away from his family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Then on Wednesday morning, a 14-year-old turned up on this street in Newport, Kentucky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
911 DISPATCH 1: We have this child said he ran away. He said he was kidnapped. His name is Pitzen, P-I-T-Z-E-N, first name is Timmothy. If you Google it, It will just pop right up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: An Ohio police report says that the teen says he, quote, "just escaped from two kidnappers" who were holding him at a red Roof Inn. He claimed that he had run across a bridge from Ohio into Kentucky. The boy was unsure where the inn was located. One woman who saw the boy outside her House telling CNN her neighbor called police after the boy told her he'd been running for two hours and didn't know where he was. Other witnesses saying the boy looked scared, shaky, and bruised. One, who didn't want to be identified, telling CNN affiliate WLWT --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He walked up to my car and he went, can you help me? I just want to get home. Can you just please help me. I asked him what's going on, and he told me he's been kidnapped and he's been traded through all of these people. He just want to go home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Tonight, after years of looking, more devastating news for Pitzen's family.
[17:45:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALANA ANDERSON, TIMMOTHY PITZEN'S GRANDMOTHER: We never stopped looking for him, thinking about him, and that we love him and we'll do everything to get him back to a good life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So this really is shattering news for Pitzen's family. In their statement, the Louisville FBI said law enforcement has not and will not forget Timmothy and we hope to one day reunite him with his family. Unfortunately, that day will not be today. And we're hearing from Timmothy's relatives, his aunt telling reporters that Timmothy's father is devastated once again. As for Brian Michael Rini, he has not yet been charged. Wolf?
BLITZER: I'm sure he will be. All right, Athena, thank you very much. Athena Jones reporting.
Coming up, Kim Jong-un pays a visit to his father's birthplace. What kind of signal is the North Korean dictator sending?
[17:50:29] BLITZER: The North Korea leader Kim Jong-un has visited his father's birthplace, something he's reportedly done in the past before taking big steps like attending summits or ordering the execution of his uncle. This time the visit follows the failed meeting with President Trump and some tough talk by the North Koreans.
Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. So, Brian, what can we read into this development?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, experts say we might be able to read into this that the North Korean leader is about to make another bold move from his relationship with President Trump to his internal political maneuvers to his weapons program. Most observers believe we're at real cross roads with Kim Jong-un tonight.
TODD (voice-over): To Kim Jong-un, his family and its hold on power mean everything. As do the symbols of that power. Tonight Kim's visit to one his family's most revered sites is generating anticipation that the dictator is about to make a bold move. Kim just toured Samjiyon County, near Mount Paektu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula. That may seem pretty innocuous, but the North Koreans claim Mount Paektu is the birthplace of Kim's father, Kim Jong-il. And it holds great meaning to the dictator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK JANNUZI, THE MANSFIELD FOUNDATION: I think a good way to think about Mount Paektu is a little bit like Camp David. It is a place where the North Korean leader would go to reflect and ponder important moves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Moves like purging people in his inner circle including his own uncle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MADDEN, NORTH KOREA LEADERSHIP WATCH: The most famous instance of Kim Jong-un going up to Samjiyon County was when it was about two weeks before they executed Jang Song Thaek in 2013.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Kim also went to the mountain shortly after his summit with President Trump last year in Singapore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDEN: What happened in July 2018 is he gone up to Samjiyon and a couple weeks later he instituted what we think is a major purge of some very top officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Kim is now about five weeks past his second summit with President Trump in Hanoi which broke down without the two leaders moving forward on a denuclearization deal. Not long after that, Kim's vice foreign minister said the U.S. had made, quote, "gangster like demands" and threatened to suspend North Korea's diplomatic outreach with Trump. Analysts say this is a crucial moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDEN: Kim Jong-un is at a crossroads in terms of strategic policy. On one hand he can continue rapprochement engagement with -- rapprochement efforts with South Korea and the United States, but on the other hand, they can start to begin the preparatory work to continue the research and development cycle around weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. So, he's at a crossroads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Another sign that this is a critical juncture, Kim's aides have just wrapped up a series of meetings with Russia's interior minister in Pyongyang. What would it mean for the U.S. if Kim's relationship with Trump breaks down and he draws closer to Vladimir Putin?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANNUZI: I think there is really no limit to the kind of mischief that Russia might be up to even to include a potential violation of U.N. sanctions in the form of arms sales or other assistance to North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Analyst Michael Madden who consults with U.S. Intelligence agencies about North Korean leaders is watching other indicators tonight. Specifically concerns about the 35-year-old leader's health. Kim already known as a serious drinker is noticeably heavier than he was when took power and he's frequently seen smoking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDEN: Kim Jong-un looks like he is exceedingly obese. He -- if you look at photographs from the Vietnamese or the Vietnam news agency, from when he was Hanoi, he appears to be jaundiced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And analysts say concerns inside North Korea over Kim's health could figure into all the important moves that are at play right now. They say those concerns could determine whether Kim and his aides push to accelerate nuclear talks with President Trump or to walk away. And, Wolf, what may be the most ironic part of all of these, scholars believe that Kim's father, Kim Jong-il wasn't even born near that mountain, they think he was born in the former Soviet Union.
BLITZER: Interesting. What else can we look for in the days ahead, Brian, if we are looking for a bold move from Kim?
TODD: Well, Wolf, we've got two important events coming for Kim. He's got a big gathering of his legislature next week where he often makes big announcements that could mean a new round of dangerous purges or it could be - mean an announcement regarding his relationship with President Trump. He has also got his grandfather's birthday coming up a week from Monday. He absolutely reveres his grandfather more so than his father. So we could see something from him that day.
BLITZER: We'll watch very closely together with you. Brian Todd, thanks for that report..
Coming up, a shocking development in the case of a teenager in Kentucky who showed up on a street saying he was a little boy who had been kidnapped nearly eight years ago.
[17:55:06] Tonight, the FBI says he is not the little boy at all, not even a teenager. Was all of this a sick joke, hoax?
[17:59:49] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, demanding answers: A top Democrat is calling on the attorney general to immediately release communications with Robert Mueller's office as sources reveal the special counsel's team wrote their own summaries of Mueller's report.
Under pressure: The president is lashing out as we're learning that the complete Mueller report is more damaging to him than the attorney general let on.