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THE SITUATION ROOM
Offer Rejected; Lone Republican; Ongoing Investigations; Remove Him; Interview with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on Mueller Report Redactions; Democrats Reject Justice Department Offer To Let Some Members Of Congress See A Less Redacted Mueller Report; Trump Impeachment Picks Up Support. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 19, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I believe there's a good chance that they are based on the redacted - the stuff with this redacted other report. I think that there are.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR "THE LEAD": All right. Steve Hall thank you so much, Happy Easter to you. Be sure to tune in to "State of the Union" this Sunday morning, my guest, President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani. That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news.
Offer rejected. Top Democrat in the House had turned down Attorney General Bill Barr's offer to let some members of Congress see a version of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report with fewer redactions. They're demanding to see the full report and all the underlying evidence, issuing a subpoena that will almost certainly end up in court. How long will this new fight last?
Lone Republican. Former presidential nominee Mitt Romney becomes the first GOP senator to call out the White House in the wake of the Mueller report. Romney says he's, quote, "sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of the dishonesty in the Trump White House."
And breaking now, a presidential candidate is calling for the president's impeachment. Ongoing investigations, another battle is shaping up as Democrats want to see details of a dozen cases of potential criminal activity Mueller discovered that are now the subject of ongoing investigations being handled by other parts of the Justice Department. Will the attorney general allow those probes to go forward?
And remove him. The Mueller report starts a new chapter in the Washington soap opera, as George Conway, a prominent conservative and the husband of top Trump adviser, Kellyanne Conway, labels the president, and I'm quoting him now, "a cancer in the presidency" and calls for his impeachment.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories tonight. Democratic congressional leaders just said "no" to the Attorney General William Barr's offer to let some key leaders read a version of the special counsel's report with fewer redactions. The rejections come only hours after the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the entire un-redacted Mueller report and all the underlying evidence, setting up a court fight over how much of Mueller's work Congress will be able to see.
Also breaking, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney becomes the first Republican in Congress to harshly criticize the administration, because of what's revealed in the special counsel's report. Romney calls himself, and I'm quoting him now, "sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection in the highest office of the land, including the president."
All of this comes as the president is lashing out once again, trying to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller's entire investigation. In a series of very, very angry tweets, the president calls the Mueller report crazy and labels statements by witnesses and this is the president of the United States, this is what the president himself said and I'm quoting him now, he calls it "total bullshit."
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Judiciary Committee, will take our questions. And our correspondents and analysts, they will have full coverage of the day's developments.
Let's begin with the news that's breaking right now. The Department of Justice has just moments ago responded to Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler's subpoena for the full Mueller report.
Let's go to our senior Congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. He's up on Capitol Hill. Manu, so what is the Justice Department saying?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, tension is building between the Justice Department and House Democrats over the full Mueller report, in which Democrats are demanding, earlier today, the Judiciary Committee chairman sending a subpoena, demanding the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence. And just moments ago, a spokesperson for the Justice Department rejected those calls for the subpoena, calling it, quote, "premature and unnecessary."
Now, what the Justice Department is saying is that they're offering select group of members, a dozen members, leaders of Congress to come and review the Mueller report that has fewer redactions than what we saw released yesterday, but Democrats are rejecting that offer, as well. And in a letter that was sent earlier this afternoon, top Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the respected Intelligence Committees also said that that offer is also not acceptable.
What they are pushing for in particular is grand jury information that they say the Democrats believe they have a right to in Congress to try to pursue as part of their investigations going forward. But the Justice Department says that that information is essentially off- limits. So where does this all end up, Wolf? Probably in court, both sides are girding for a court fight. Democrats say they may have to seek a court order to release that grand jury information and may seek - may end up in court fighting for the full Mueller report.
[17:05:07] So this is just the end of one chapter and the beginning of what could be a long and brutal fight in court, Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly will be. You know also breaking right now, Manu, Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah is the first Republican senator to publicly blast President Trump after the Mueller report has come out. Tell our viewers precisely what he's saying.
RAJU: Yes, very strong words from the U.S. senator, the former Republican presidential candidate, someone who doesn't always criticize his president, often sidesteps criticisms of this president. But here, after reading the full Mueller report, issued this very strongly worded statement, saying, "It is good news that there was insufficient evidence to charge the president of the United States with having conspired with a foreign adversary or with having obstructed justice. The alternative would have taken us through a wrenching process, with the potential for constitutional crisis. The business of government can move on. Even so, I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection, by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia -- including information that had been illegally obtained. That none of them acted to inform American law enforcement. And that the campaign chairman was actively promoting Russian interests in Ukraine. Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders."
And Wolf, you mentioned it. This is the strongest statement, strongest criticism we have heard from a Republican since the release of that report. Most of the Republicans have said that it did not charge the president with conspiracy, with the Russians, did not charge the president with obstruction of justice. It's essentially time to move on and focus on the investigation about how the actual Russia probe began, but now Mitt Romney taking a much different approach, criticizing the president and the White House in the wake of this. So we'll see if others join them. But right now, Mitt Romney joining Democrats who have raised alarms about the nature of this report. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, very, very strong statements from Mitt Romney. Manu Raju, thank you very much.
Now let's go to our CNN political reporter, Sara Murray, who's been looking into the work of the special counsel, the work left unfinished. Sarah, a surprising number of investigations are still going on. It's detailed in this 400-page report. But the Attorney General Bill Barr, made sure we don't necessarily know about those investigations, which presumably are very serious.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. We got, obviously, a lot of answers to our questions in these more than 400 pages that the attorney general put out, but we still have many questions, especially about these mysterious ongoing investigations, roughly a dozen that we know next to nothing about.
MURRAY (voice-over): Tonight, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is over, but more than a dozen offshoot investigations continue. Mueller referred 14 investigations to other attorney's offices, 12 of which are still unknown, redacted in the Mueller report as harm to ongoing matter. But Democrats are already raising concerns about Attorney General William Barr, who will oversee those ongoing cases.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's hard to image anyone will trust the attorney general after his performance so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: And they're taking action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: We still want the Mueller report in its entirety and we want other evidence, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler issuing a subpoena for the full Mueller report, without redactions plus the underlying evidence, giving the Department of Justice 12 days to comply. Nadler writing, "I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of Congress in the dark, as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight, and constitutional responsibility."
Democrats are pointing in part to heavily redacted sections of the report that cover the campaign's extensive interactions with Russians and "WikiLeaks."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: I think it was probably written with the intent of providing Congress a road map as other reports have in the past and -- but with a lot of the redactions and others, Attorney General Barr seems to be trying to frustrate that intent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: The redacted sections point to just how eager Trump's team was to get help from Moscow and allied entities like "WikiLeaks," mentioning conversations the president had with close aides, like deputy campaign manager Rick Gates and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. At one point in the summer of 2016, Trump takes a phone call and then tells Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming. The person Trump talked to, redacted, along with much of the rest of that section of the report, citing, "harm to ongoing matter." Plus, there were the many other links between the Trump team and Russians, like when then candidate Trump said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening,, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:10:00] MURRAY: And later asked his campaign staff to find the deleted Clinton e-mails. Michael Flynn recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the e-mails.
Mueller also found that within hours of Trump's directive, Russian hackers targeted Clinton's personal office for the first time. And while according to Mueller's team, these attempts did not rise to the level of criminal conspiracy, Mueller revealed that his conclusion might have been different if his investigators had access to more information. The probe, Mueller says, was impeded by witness who is lied or even deleted information.
Writing in the report, "The office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on or cast in a new light the events described in the report."
MURRAY: Now, Democrats are fighting to get the full report. They also want to see Bill Barr testify, Wolf, they also want to see Robert Mueller testify. That could shed a little bit of light, maybe on some of these ongoing investigations. But it's also possible, especially if these investigations never lead to charges, that we'll just never know what these redacted portions were about.
BLITZER: But they're pretty suspicious and a lot of people would like to have details of all of that.
BLITZER: Sara, good reporting. Thank you very much.
Now that the Mueller report is out, the president is clearly on the attack once again. Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. So, the president is very, very angry based on his statements today, his tweets. Tell our viewers what he's saying.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The president has been on the attack, but he's also staying out of sight, on the golf course in Florida, as his administration is reeling from some of these embarrassing revelations from the Mueller report. And after latching on to the initial findings by the Mueller report, released by the attorney general, the president has now changed his tune, calling the special counsel's findings, as you said earlier, and as the president said in his own words, "bullshit."
ACOSTA (voice-over): Heading into a holiday weekend, President Trump is using some colorful language to blast the Mueller report, tweeting, "Statements are made about me by certain people in the crazy Mueller report which are fabricated and totally untrue. Watch out for people that take so-called notes when the notes never existed until needed. Because I never agreed to testify, it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the report about me, some of which are total bullshit, and only given to make the other person look good or me to look bad."
But a former senior administration official confirmed one of Mr. Trump's comments in the report, when he reacted to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, by saying that his presidency was over and that he was F'd. That official said, "The president wasn't whining, it was tactical bullying."
Mr. Trump's attacks on the Mueller team run counter to his comments last month when he said the special counsel had acted honorably.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yes, he did. Yes he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The president is also trying to shift the blame, tweeting, "Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 election was done while Obama was president. He was told about it and did nothing. Most importantly, the vote was not affected."
But former President Barack Obama says he warned Russia's Vladimir Putin against interfering in the U.S. election in 2016.
Also coming under heavy criticism is Press Secretary Sarah Sanders who tried to explain an admission in the Mueller report that she was not telling the truth when she said former FBI Director James Comey was fired after losing the confidence of Rank and File agents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I said the slip of the tongue was in using the word "countless."
I'm sorry that I wasn't a robot like the Democrat Party.
Director Comey had lost the confidence of the Rank and File within the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Sanders made the comment both on Fox News and at the White House briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Look, we've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.
I said that it was in the heat of the moment, meaning it wasn't a scripted thing, it was something that I said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Sanders' deputy, in an interview on CNN, struggled to insist the president hasn't lied while in office, despite fact checkers catalogs thousands of Mr. Trump's false statements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Did the president lie? Did the president lie?
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY SECRETARY: I'm not aware -- no, I'm not aware of him lying. He hasn't lied to me.
COOPER: You're not aware of the president of the United States lying?
GIDLEY: He's absolutely coming forth and accomplishing all the promises he -- he said he'd do for the American people, whether it's building the wall or defeating ISIS.
COOPER: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The outgoing French ambassador to the U.S. tried to explain the president's behavior to Foreign Policy magazine, saying, "...suddenly you have this president who is an extrovert, really a big mouth, who reads basically nothing or nearly nothing, with the interagency process totally broken and decisions taken from the hip basically."
The ambassador says, White House aides "...don't know what the president is going to say. And if the president has said something, they don't know what he means."
Democrats say others in the administration also have some explaining to do, like Attorney General William Barr, who has repeatedly tried to downplay Mueller's findings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): Well, it was diminished yesterday. There was no reason for him to have that press conference and to try to explain away why the president did what he did. And I think he did misrepresent the report, giving a partial sentence about some of these issues. It was just -- it was unnecessary and I think he embarrassed himself and I really think that's unfortunate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now as for the president defending himself on Twitter, we should point out, he did finally finish a tweet he posted earlier in the day, nine hours later, Wolf.
[17:15:07] Let's put this up on screen. The president tweeted, "It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring back justice to some very sick and dangerous people," he says, "who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even spying or treason."
The president using the word "treason" once again. The White House told reporters earlier today, the president was playing golf with talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. The president will need his allies in conservative media in the coming days to keep his political base from cracking after so many lies, Wolf.
But getting back to that tweet a few moments ago, where the president accused people of spying and treason. Once again, Wolf, like so many claims from the president, so many claims from the White House press secretary, this is not backed by evidence or fact or proof. It is just something he's saying and they haven't proven it over here at the White House. Something we see a lot of, something we've seen a lot of over the last couple of years, Wolf.
BLITZER: And it's interesting, he's avoided meeting with reporters, even answering a few questions from reporters, skittering away, as they say, to avoid obviously what would be some pretty tough questions.
Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He's a key member of the Judiciary Committee. Senator thanks so much for joining us.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you, Wolf. Thanks for having me
BLITZER: All right. So the Justice Department calls the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler's subpoena for the un-redacted report "premature and unnecessary." Why have Democrats decided to move forward with this subpoena to reject the opportunity to see more of the Mueller report, because the Justice Department, the attorney general is saying, they could basically see everything, at least some limited members of the House and Senate, with the exception of grand jury material.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, that's exactly the point. The number of members of Congress would be extremely limited to literally a handful, and the conditions of that viewing would exclude grand jury material and perhaps other material that's redacted. If you read this report, you see page by page, key details that are scrubbed, sanitized, edited out. It's like a road map that detours the traveler into the woods. And that's exactly what William Barr has done from the very start of release of this report, holding the president accountable, demands that we have all the facts and evidence from this report, as well as the full report itself. Mueller, as a witness, with his team, and others who are named in this report as having key facts about the collusion with the Russians and clearly, the obstruction of justice by the president and his inner circle.
BLITZER: What sort of information do you think might be behind those blackened sections? And we're showing our viewers some pictures of those redactions.
BLUMENTHAL: Probably sources of information that are important for the Congress to know, because we'll have to consult with them, in determining what steps to take next. President Trump needs to be held accountable in the Congress, through hearings and other actions, in the court of public opinion, through the ballot box, and maybe through the courts themselves. And all of those proceedings, for accountability, as well as protecting our country against a continuing Russian tack require that we know all the facts and evidence, such as the testimony before the grand jury that will provide greater details or sources of information that Mueller has presented in the report. That kind of detail is immensely important.
BLITZER: In a rare critical statement, that you heard it, Republican Senator Mitt Romney now says he's, in his word, "sickened by the dishonesty revealed in this Mueller report." Do you think that will translate to any action in the Senate?
BLUMENTHAL: That is really the question that most concerns me, Wolf. Whether my Republican colleagues will join in a bipartisan effort to act against the continuing Russian attack on this country. We see a Department of Homeland Security in disarray, with key positions unfilled. That's the department that is supposed to protect our electoral process against the kind of attack that Russia launched in 2016. And they are preparing to launch again.
We need bipartisan effort, acknowledging that the Russians committed an act of war against the United States. They hacked into our computers. They stole information. They conducted a misinformation campaign.
And the president of the United States is denying it. He is still in denial, as you saw on the stage at Helsinki, he believes that Vladimir Putin, over our Intelligence Community, that is not only irresponsible, it is profoundly dangerous.
[17:20:07] And my Republican colleagues should join in a bipartisan effort to stop this continuing attack on our country. It's an issue of national security that affects all western Democracies these days because that's Putin's playbook.
BLITZER: When you say - BLUMENTHAL: -- to conduct this attack for a disarray.
BLITZER: When you say, Senator, an act of war, obviously, it doesn't get tougher than that. What would you have the U.S. do to Russia?
BLUMENTHAL: We need to respond in kind, with stronger sanctions. President Obama started sanctions. There have been increased sanctions since then. By the way, I use that term "act of war," in hearings of the Armed Services Committee. Literally, years ago and a number of my Republican colleagues seemed to agree with me. I hope that we will have bipartisan action because the future of our Democracy and the upcoming elections is at stake.
BLITZER: Senator Blumenthal thanks so much for joining us.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, we'll have more on the breaking news. The Justice Department is firing back at a Democratic subpoena for the full un- redacted Mueller report, calling it "premature and unnecessary." Lots of breaking news, we'll be right back.
[17:25:40] BLITZER: The breaking news. Top Republicans have just rejected a proposal from the Attorney General Bill Barr that would have allowed a small group of congressional leaders to read a less- redacted version of the Mueller report.
Also tonight, Senator Mitt Romney has staked out his position as the first Republican lawmaker to strongly condemn President Trump after the release of the Mueller report. Romney says he's "sickened." He used that word, "sickened" by the president's behavior.
Our political and legal experts are joining us now with more analysis. And Gloria Borger, the Democrats, I should say, have rejected -
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes.
BLITZER: -- the Justice Department's offer, just to be precise on that. What's the strategy behind this decision by the Democrats to reject the offer from the attorney general, to let them see at least a few of them, the leaders, a less-redacted version.
BORGER: Well, you know, they've asked for everything and they've subpoenaed everything. And this was a proposal to allow the heads of Judiciary, Intelligence, and party leaders to go look at the information. And they've said "no."
They've said, we're the Congress, we have an oversight role, and we have asked you through a subpoena to get everything. Why should they say, oh, never mind. By the way, just show it to a few of us instead of all of us. So I think they're going to stick by that, unless they can come to some accommodation, with the Justice Department, to see more. And I don't think that -- look, not that much was redacted. What was it, 9 percent -- something like that? But it's very important. We don't know how important the redactions are. And I think if you're going to perform an oversight function, you ought to be able to see the whole report.
BLIRZER: Sabrina, what's the political calculation of the Democrats in launching this battle with a subpoena and now saying that they've rejected the offer that the attorney general has given them.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, there's no question that this tees up a protracted legal battle, but the fact of the matter is, there's simply no trust between Democrats and the attorney general. You've seen Democrats widely condemn the conduct of Attorney General Barr. It began with the four-page letter, summarizing Mueller's conclusions. And then, of course, the press conference only compounded the criticism among Democrats of Barr's conduct, where they said that before anyone even had a chance to review the report, to see the report, you had the attorney general of the United States give this press conference, where he essentially sought to absolve the president of any wrong doing.
Now, you know, I think that they have made clear that they don't believe that the Justice Department is going to oversee a transparent process. You see Democrats calling now on the attorney general to resign. And that's not going to happen, but I think they truly believe that they are not going to get the kind of cooperation that they anticipated from the Justice Department.
BLITZER: There's a lot developing right now. I want to sneak in a very, very quick break. We'll resume our coverage right after this.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: We're back with our experts and our correspondents. You know, Susan, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, subpoenaed for the full unredacted version of the Mueller report and all the underlying evidence, which could be hundreds of thousands of pages and documents and a lot of other material. There's going to be presumably a court fight. How is this going to work out?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: At least on the grand jury material piece, actually, a recent opinion in the D.C. circuit has made it significantly harder. The House Judiciary Committee is going to have a difficult time getting that grand jury material.
But remember, the grand jury material, it's just a few lines here and there. It's really, really a very limited amount of the redactions. The more significant redactions are those related to ongoing investigative matters and third party privacy, which DOJ has made at least some suggestion about along certain senators to see. That will likely be handled more through sort of inter-branch negotiations. BLITZER: Sources and methods too.
HENNESSEY: Exactly, and law enforcement investigative --
BLITZER: Classified information. But there's a format that the So- called gang of eight, the leaders of the intelligence committees and the leaders of the House and Senate democrats and republicans, they'll get access to that.
HENNESSEY: Exactly. And there's no indication that there's actual classified information. It appears that these are law enforcement -- unclassified law enforcement techniques.
But one thing to keep in mind here is that despite over sort of the procedure, saying, we need every last word of this document. In some ways, it's also a stall tactic. It's clear that the leadership of democrats in the House are not sure how they want to proceed, how they want to engage with the substance of the report. Do they want to initiate impeachment proceedings? And so the longer period of time they can drag this out to fight over, well, we want to have a court fight over getting this line and that line, the more they can forestall eventually having to confront that question.
BLITZER: Should all 435 members of the House and all 100 members of the Senate get to see everything?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Heck, no, like never. But I think some members, you mentioned the gang of eight, which is the term for the leadership of the House and Senate, I think they should. If you accept that that's good enough, if you're an American citizen who says, maybe a limited number of people should see it.
There's a couple of problems with that. Number one, they can't talk about it. If you have an ongoing investigation related to Russian interference, and a lot of the redactions, I think, are related to that, obviously, you can't talk about that in public. If you have private information that relates to the privacy of a U.S. citizen who's never been charged, you can't talk about that. So these people might see a bunch of stuff that they can't actually speak about.
I'd say the other issue that's really in the weeds but significant, I don't think any member of staff should ever see this. So you've got hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of pages of information. The senators and congressmen can't look at this, they can't review it. So if staff never sees it, we're never going to get a picture from the Congress about what they really think, because they can't read everything.
BLITZER: But you see in this Mueller report, there's a suggestion in there that when you talk about the gang of eight, the leaders of the intelligence committees, Richard Burr, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was among those briefed. And they say, within a few days, he was meeting with White House officials and informing them of individual who may have been targeted in this investigation. MUDD: Pardon me, Wolf, you didn't ask whether I trusted the Congress, you asked whether I thought they should see it. I'm only being half facetious. I think that the more you brief, the more you risk that they'll speak about ongoing investigations because they either, on the democratic side, want to attack the White House or like Richard Burr, like Devin Nunes, they want to go tell the White House what's going on. That's the risk of democracy. I'd tell him. And then I'd say, when you leak it, we'll come after you. It will never work, but threatening might help.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney, Gloria, the first republican lawmaker to really go after the President in a very tough statement. I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President. Very strong words.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It was. He started off, as we were talking during the break, by saying that, you know, he was pleased at the President, that they had been cleared on collusion and obstruction. We know that Mueller did not clear him on obstruction, that the Attorney General decided not to prosecute.
But this is a very strong statement and the President will take it personally. He will the no surprised it's coming from Mitt Romney. But I think you raised the right question, which is where are the other republicans? When are they going to speak? I haven't heard.
HENNESSEY: I mean, ultimately, the idea that we would consider this a strong statement, this is exactly what you would expect anybody to respond to in the face of the really shocking, devastating allegations. And so I do think that, you know, Mitt Romney is a smart person, he's a careful person. It's hard to believe it was a mistake to characterize that Mueller had found that there was insufficient evidence to charge the President on obstruction. That certainly isn't true. And so a little bit of a question about why he decided to include that.
The idea that sort of platitudes about the vision of the founding fathers is sufficient to respond to this really astounding and urgent national moment, and that he's the only person that's willing to say anything, really is quite a statement on the current state of the Republican Party.
BLITZER: For years, he's been very deeply concerned about Russia. Back in 2012, when he was running for president, he told me in an interview that Russia was America's number one geopolitical foe. He got some criticism at that time, but he's been right on that specific issue for a long time. And that's why Russian interference in this election is so, so powerful, an issue for him personally.
BORGER: And he's also been very critical of Donald Trump. He was critical of Donald Trump during the campaign, if you recall, calling him a fraud, et cetera. And since he's been to the Senate, he's been a little bit more circumspect. But, you know, everybody knows where Romney stands on Donald Trump. BLITZER: All right, guys, stick around. There's more breaking news. We're learning new information about an impeachment resolution that's now picking up steam in the House of Representatives. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: We have more breaking news on Capitol Hill, where a resolution calling for President Trump's impeachment is starting to pick up some support following the release of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.
Let's go to our Congressional Correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty. Tell us more, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is notable. It is still, of course, a very, very small group of democrats up here on Capitol Hill, who are putting their names on an impeachment resolution, but it's notable in that it is certainly growing in size, since the Robert Mueller report, the redacted version has been released up here on Capitol Hill.
Now, this was a resolution first proposed last month by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a freshman congresswoman. When she first proposed it, she only had two names on that list. herself and Congressman Al Green. Well, now, we are learning today that two other freshman members, Representative Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley have signed their names or intend to sign their names on to this impeachment resolution. And that follows Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez who last night said she intended to sign on in light of the Mueller report. So significant here that you have growing numbers on this freshman member of Congress' impeachment resolution, and, of course, that follows 2020 Candidate Elizabeth Warren, who, tonight, spoke out for the first time, saying that impeachment proceedings should start on Capitol Hill.
Of course, impeachment talk really irks democratic leaders up here on Capitol Hill. They have been very eager to squash impeachment talk.
They say they want to keep focus on investigations. They want to keep focused on their legislative priorities, and focus on the upcoming midterm elections and 2020 elections.
So certainly this refreshed and renewed push for impeachment, no doubt will irk the democratic leaders.
BLITZER: We'll see how much momentum that gains. All right, Sunlen, thanks very much. Coming up, there's more trouble for top Trump adviser, Kellyanne Conway. Her husband, a very prominent conservative activist, just labeled the President of the United States, and I'm quoting him now, "a cancer in the presidency," and he then went on to call for his impeachment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: While many republicans are trying to move on now that the Mueller report has been released, the one in particular is calling for impeachment. CNN's Brian Todd has the details of what appears to be the latest chapter in a Washington political soap opera. Very interesting material, Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. A political soap opera as you mentioned, a soap opera that involves top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway and her husband George, a prominent conservative attorney who has been relentless against the president. Tonight George Conway is going further than his fellow republicans and even further than top democrats in comparing this to Watergate and calling for the president's impeachment.
It's a scathing attack on President Trump in the op-ed pages of the "Washington Post"; notable not just for its argument but because of its author. White House Counsel John Dean famously told Nixon that there was a cancer in the presidency and that it was growing, the column says. What the Mueller report disturbingly shows with crystal clarity is that today there is a cancer in the presidency, President Donald J. Trump. Congress bears the solemn constitutional duty to excise that cancer without delay. It's a call for impeachment not from a liberal democrat but from a prominent conservative, George Conway, the husband of one of the president's closest advisors, Kellyanne Conway.
TODD: Is he out on a limb here?
CARRIE CORDERO, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: I think he has decided to put himself out front as someone who has been part of the conservative legal establishment. I think he does have a unique voice, and he is trying to use it in a way that is productive for the country.
TODD: It's unique that in calling for impeachment, the republican Conway is going further than top democrats in Congress. Nancy Pelosi saying last month of Trump, he's just not worth it. And her number two, Steny Hoyer, telling CNN Thursday, "Impeachment is not worth while at this point."
CORDERO: Well, he doesn't have the political considerations that they have. So the democrats in Congress obviously have their own political calculations that they are trying to make as far as 2020.
TODD: George Conway writes that Mueller's report describes a relentless torrent of obstructive activity by Trump in the investigation into Russian election interference, calling it presidential attempts to abuse power. Conway's wife says there was no obstruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO) KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: That report makes very clear that this White House and this president and none of us got in their way.
TODD: George Conway, who says he turned down a job in the Trump Administration has been a relentless critic of Trump since the president took office. Once rather colorfully describing the White House as...
GEORGE CONWAY, HUSBAND OF KELLYANN CONWAY: Like a shit show in a dumpster fire.
TODD: Last month George Conway tweeted that Trump's mental health quote, "is getting worse" and posted screen grabs from a psychiatric manual of conditions including narcissistic personality disorder.
On his twitter bio, Conway now sarcastically calls himself a windmill cancer survivor, a reference to a recent false tirade by the president against of all things, windmills.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one.
TODD: Conway has been careful to separate his wife from his criticism of Trump saying on a Yahoo podcast that he was proud of her accomplishments as Trump's campaign manager.
GEORGE CONWAY: My wife did an amazing thing. She basically got this guy elected.
TODD: Trump, on the other hand, has made Conway's criticism personal, calling him a stone cold loser and weighing in on the Conway's marriage.
TRUMP: Well, I don't know him. I don't know him. He's a whack job. There's no question about it, but I really don't know him. I think he is doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.
(END VIDEO) TODD: Is Conway being fair in his comparison of Trump's White House to former White House counsel John Dean and Dean's famous warning to Richard Nixon? One of the foremost scholars on Nixon believes he is.
NICOLE HEMMER, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The Mueller report is pretty close to what we were looking at during Watergate. The calls to have people fired, the moves to block the investigation.
TODD: Where is George Conway taking all of this? Is he trying to rally more conservatives to get behind a drive for impeachment? One of his colleagues in the group, "Checks and Balances" tells us they believe Conway simply wants people to look at obstruction through a Constitutional lens and not a political one and that he wants Congress to see its role in that. George Conway is not saying right now where he wants to take this. He would not comment for our story and neither Kellyanne Conway or anyone at the White House would comment on George Conway's op-ed or comment on our story. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian, has John Dean, himself, weighed in on George Conway's comparison of him during Watergate?
TODD: He has, Wolf. John Dean told CNN he thinks there is a cancer in this presidency. He did not specify that Donald Trump is that cancer but Dean said this is grim. This is not a health presidency and he said he's not sure if we can wait until 2020 to decide the fate of Donald Trump's presidency.
BLITZER: Very dramatic developments. Brian Todd reporting. Thank you and stay with us. We have more on the breaking news. Democrats reject Attorney General William Barr's offer to let leaders in Congress see a less redacted version of the Mueller report.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Redaction fight as democrats pull the trigger on a subpoena to see the full Mueller report. They're refusing the attorney general's offer to see a less redacted version that falls short of what they want. Will that help or hurt their battle to see everything the special counsel uncovered?
Romney's response, the republican Senator says he's sickened -- sickened by what he describes as the president's pervasive dishonesty documented in the Mueller report. Will any other GOP or lawmakers follow Mitt Romney's lead? Referred cases.