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THE SITUATION ROOM
Analyzing the Mueller Report; Interview With Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX); Kremlin Twists Findings of Mueller Report, Claiming No Proof of Russian Interference Despite Extensive Evidence; North Korea's Kim Jong Un to Meet Vladimir Putin For the First Time In Russia Later This Month; Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) Slams Trump Over Mueller's Findings, Says He's Sickened By Pervasiveness Of Dishonesty; Justice Department Says House Democrats' Subpoena For Full Mueller Report Is Premature And Unnecessary. Aired on 6-7p ET
Aired April 19, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Romney's response. The Republican senator says he sickened, sickened by what he describes as the president's pervasive dishonesty documented in the Mueller report. Will any other GOP lawmakers follow Mitt Romney's lead?
Referred cases. There are big secrets buried in the redacted Miller report, more than a dozen mystery cases referred or spun off by the special counsel. Who are the targets?
And left hanging. President Trump goes on a Twitter tear against what he calls the crazy Mueller report, stopping in mid-sentence, before resuming his rant nine hours late. Mr. Trump distracted and in attack mode, as Americans digest all of Mueller's damaging evidence against him.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM..
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the Mueller report unleashing new battles and rare Republican condemnation of the president.
Tonight, the Justice Department is calling a new Democratic subpoena to see all of the Mueller report and all of the underlying evidence premature and unnecessary, this as Democratic congressional leaders are rejecting a Department of Justice proposal to let key lawmakers read a less redacted version of the special counsel's report. They say the offer is unacceptable.
Also breaking, Republican Senator Mitt Romney issuing a powerful statement on Mueller's findings. He says he's sickened and appalled -- his words -- by the actions of the president, his administration and his campaign.
I will get reaction from the House Intelligence Committee member Democrat Joaquin Castro. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.
Manu, the Justice Department just responded to the House Judiciary Committee chairman's subpoena for the full Mueller report. So what happened?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the fight is escalating between House Democrats and the Justice Department over the full Mueller report, after, earlier today, the House Judiciary Committee chairman issued a subpoena demanding the full Mueller report, the underlying evidence and the grand jury information.
Well, just moments ago, the spokesperson for the Justice Department sent a statement calling the subpoena -- quote -- "premature and unnecessary," saying that the Justice Department has offered a select group of members the ability to look at a less redacted version than the one that came out publicly yesterday.
But, earlier this afternoon, top Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the leaders of the Judiciary Committee in the House and Senate, the leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committee, put out a letter saying that they would not agree to this offer, calling it -- quote -- "not acceptable" because of their demand to see the grand jury information that the Justice Department is not offering with that less redacted report that they're willing to let people see behind closed doors.
Now, Wolf, where does end up? Likely in court. Democrats are girding for a court fight. They say they may have to seek a court order to see that court -- that grand jury information. And both sides are expecting this end up in court for the full Mueller report as well.
So while we have seen the end of the Mueller report -- probe and the redacted report, expect a court battle to play out for weeks and months, and both sides are expecting that it could be rather brutal -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Republican senator, Manu -- we're talking about Mitt Romney -- is blasting President Trump after the Mueller report.
We haven't heard this kind of public criticism from other prominent Republicans. Update us on that.
RAJU: Yes, the Utah senator, the former presidential candidate, who doesn't always criticize the president, but does from time to time, took strong offense to what he read in the Mueller report, issuing a statement earlier this afternoon, 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 like you said, Wolf, this is the strongest condemnation that we have heard from any Republican so far. Most Republicans have sided with the president, said he was not charged with conspiracy with the Russians, he was not charged with obstruction of justice, that investigations should instead focus on the start of the Russia probe, not on anything that Mueller uncovered.
Nevertheless, Romney raising some significant concerns and joining Democrats who in the House, of course, are planning to investigate all of this, particularly over potential obstruction of justice -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All very dramatic developments, indeed.
Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you.
There's a good deal of secret and potentially incriminating information into redacted portions of the Mueller report that Democrats are demanding to see.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown.
Pamela, you have been reading between the lines in those blacked-out sections. And it's raising lots of questions.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's raising lots of questions, as the Democrats fight back against these redactions.
As you look through the report and see the redactions, they certainly raised more questions, particularly about the 12 investigations that Mueller referred to other offices, signaling the fallout over the report may continue.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, Democrats on Capitol Hill are focused on the parts of the Mueller report they haven't seen.
The chair of the Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena today, demanding the full report, along with all the evidence collected by the special counsel.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): We need the entire report on redacted and the underlying documents in order to make informed decisions.
BROWN: Among the 1,600-plus lines of redactions, a detailed list of more than a dozen cases that Mueller's investigation either spun off or referred to other U.S. attorneys.
The report list two cases started by Mueller that are still ongoing, and lists 12 others that were handed over to other jurisdictions. It's not clear where those cases stand. But, tonight, Democrats are raising concerns that those investigations will now ultimately be overseen by a Attorney General William Barr, who they say lost credibility by mischaracterizing the report in his letter last month and in a press conference Thursday morning.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):: It's hard to imagine anyone trusts the attorney general after his performance so far.
BROWN: But a source close to Barr pushed back on the criticism, saying he followed through on his pledge to be transparent.
The report also reveals new details about the extensive interactions between the Trump campaign, Russians and WikiLeaks. Democrats are now demanding access to the information blacked out over more than seven pages covering the Trump campaign and -- quote -- "dissemination of hacked materials."
The heavily redacted section points to interest the campaign had in WikiLeaks' releases of hacked e-mails and mentions conversations the president had with deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, including one during a car ride to the airport, as well as with his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
A few sentences that aren't redacted appear to suggest Trump may have had some knowledge of the WikiLeaks campaign.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks.
BROWN: At one point, Cohen told the special counsel that after WikiLeaks released stolen e-mails in July of 2016 -- quote -- "Candidate Trump said to Cohen something to the effect of" -- but then the rest of the sentence is redacted.
The report also details conversations between Jerome Corsi, an acquaintance of Roger Stone and former adviser to Trump, and Ted Malloch, who has said he was an informal adviser to the Trump campaign. Malloch told investigators he and Corsi had multiple FaceTime discussions about WikiLeaks and says an unnamed person had -- quote -- "made a connection to Assange" about John Podesta e-mails.
That person, whose name is redacted, says the e-mails would be released prior to Election Day and would be helpful to the Trump campaign.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Whether these contacts were sufficiently elicit or not to rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy, they are unquestionably dishonest, unethical, immoral and unpatriotic.
BROWN: While the report says investigators could not prove a federal crime related to the contacts, it reveals that Mueller's conclusion may have been different with access to more evidence. The investigation, Mueller says, was impacted by witnesses who 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."
BROWN: So, in the end, by our account, 8 percent of the report was redacted.
And defenders of Barr and his handling of this and the discrepancy of his four-page letter to Congress and the actual report say that he was trying to mitigate some of the damage in releasing information in this report that was clearly not flattering to the president and an investigation that he was skeptical of in the first place.
So that's how those close to Barr are trying to defend him today, and saying that he said he would be transparent, and that, for the most part, he was, in their view.
BLITZER: Let's see what happens with those redacted chunks of the document, 400-plus pages.
Thanks very much, Pamela, for that report.
Tnt, President Trump not only is angry about the Mueller report. He appears to be distracted as well, based on his latest Twitter tirade.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president was busy attacking the Mueller report this morning, and then, suddenly, he picked up where he left off just a little while ago.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
BLITZER: Update us on that.
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf.
The president was laying low today, staying out of sight, out on the golf course. But he has been ranting on Twitter this evening, as his administration is reeling from some of the embarrassing revelations coming out of the Mueller report.
After latching on to the initial findings from the Mueller report released by the attorney general, the president has changed his tune, calling the special counsel's findings -- quote -- "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 his presidency was over and that he was F'ed. That official said the president "wasn't whining. It was tactical bullying."
Mr. Trump's attacks on Mueller's team run counter to his comment last month, when he said this special counsel had acted honorably.
TRUMP: Yes, he did. Yes, he did.
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.
SARAH HUCKABEE 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.
ACOSTA: Sanders made the comment both on FOX News and at the White House briefing.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, we have 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.
ACOSTA: Sanders' deputy in an interview on CNN struggled to insist the president hasn't lied while in office, despite fact-checkers cataloging thousands of Mr. Trump's false statements.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did the president lie? Did the president lie?
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not aware of -- I'm not -- 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 did -- he said he would do for the American people, whether it's building a wall or defeating ISIS, absolutely.
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.
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 -- I think he embarrassed himself. And I really think that's unfortunate.
ACOSTA: Now, as for the president defending himself on Twitter, he finally finished a tweet he posted earlier in the day some nine hours later.
We can put this up on screen, the president tweeting: "It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people," as he describes them, "who have committed very serious crimes," the president going on to say, "perhaps even spying or treason."
Wolf, the president once again -- and we have seen this repeatedly from the president on Twitter and in his public statements to the cameras -- he will make statements without any evidence or proof backing it up.
And he's doing it once again there, throwing the words treason and spying around without any kind of proof, without any kind of evidence. And as we're having this conversation about what the White House is telling people, what the White House press secretary is telling people and the validity of those statements, it is once again a reminder that not everything that comes out of this White House and out of this president can be believed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I wonder if he understands that treason, if convicted, that carries the death sentence here in the United States.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BLITZER: So he throws around that word very casually, but it's a very, very powerful word.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, a member of both the Intelligence and the Foreign Affairs Committees.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. We have got a lot to discuss.
Let's start with the Justice Department now saying the subpoena issued by the Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, for the complete, unredacted Mueller report is premature and unnecessary.
How do you justify this subpoena while at the same time Democratic leaders are turning down an offer to see more of the redacted information?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, obviously, Jerry Nadler's an important chairman there of the Judiciary Committee.
That is the committee that is going to consider any kind of impeachment proceeding, if it ultimately comes, for example. So I suspect that this will end up in court at some point.
BLITZER: What specifically do you want to see from those redacted sections?
And, as you know, the attorney general says several of those sections at least will be made available to a limited number of House and Senate leaders.
CASTRO: Well, the first thing is, I have always said that this report, most of all, was owed to the American people.
So as much of the report as possible should be made available to the public, so that everybody can see, because this is, as far as I can tell, a constitutional matter.
But when we're talking about the members of Congress, I don't think that it should just be the Gang of Eight or select chairmen or chairwomen. It should at least be all members of Congress that are able to see the unredacted report. BLITZER: Now that you have had time to review the Mueller report, do
you think the special counsel meant to leave the question of obstruction of justice up to Congress?
CASTRO: Yes, I do, Wolf.
It looks -- when you read that report, it's pretty clear that he meant for Congress to take this up. And I think that ultimately that will happen. But the first thing that we need to do is bring Bob Mueller in and hear his testimony to go along with his written report.
BLITZER: The chairman of your committee, the Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, told me yesterday here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- and I'm quoting him now -- "A failed impeachment is not in the national interest."
Where do you stand on impeachment?
CASTRO: That's a great question.
And each member of Congress is going to have to make up his or her own mind on that. I mean, look, is there a political risk in pursuing impeachment? Of course, the answer is, yes, there is a political risk for Democrats. We saw what happened to Republicans in 1998, when they tried to impeach Bill Clinton.
But I also think that there is an even greater risk that is not particular to a party, the Democratic Party. There's a greater risk to the country in doing nothing, because if you do absolutely nothing, it means that a president has gotten away with, at a minimum, trying to obstruct justice, but I believe substantively obstructing justice.
So I think that, while there may maybe some cost, potentially, to the Democratic Party -- and I don't know that that's true, because I believe that Americans want us to get to the bottom of this. But there could be a greater cost to the country for doing nothing.
BLITZER: Because your brother, Julian Castro, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, says he thinks it would be, in his words, perfectly reasonable for Congress to open up impeachment proceedings.
Do you agree with him?
BLITZER: So you want the House Judiciary Committee to begin the process at least of opening up impeachment proceedings?
CASTRO: Well, I want us to do a few things.
I want us to bring in Bob Mueller, so that we can hear his testimony to go along with what he's written. I want us to pursue the unredacted versions of this report. And I want us to continue talking about this with the American people. I do think that it's important that the American people also buy into
the process of going through an impeachment, because, even though some Republicans may think that the Democratic House of Representatives is giddy about this, I have not met anybody who's excited about going through impeachment.
Of course, people are not big fans of Donald Trump, but nobody said, hey, I'm going to run for office because I would like to go and start an impeachment proceeding. Everybody is very sober about this process, and understands that this is the most significant thing that you can undertake in American democracy.
And that's how we should treat it.
BLITZER: Congressmen Schiff also wants to continue investigating the president's financial relationships with foreign countries and other counterintelligence questions.
How do you respond to critics who simply are saying right now that the American people are exhausted, they want to put all these issues to rest, and move on to substantive issues, like health care, or infrastructure, major national security questions?
CASTRO: Well, you have seen us continue to talk about these things, what I consider an infrastructure of opportunity in this country, things like great schools and universities, a strong health care system, an economy that's supported by well-paying jobs.
But we also have to make sure that we investigate these issues and prosecute these issues that are so important to our democracy and to the rule of law in this country.
BLITZER: Mueller, in his document, he made it clear that the FBI had embedded agents within the special counsel's office to write summaries of the counterintelligence information that was being gathered during the course of the investigation.
Is your committee, the Intelligence Committee, interested in asking for those summaries from the FBI?
I mean, as I have said before, I would like to see as much documentation as possible on all aspects of their investigation.
BLITZER: Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, thanks, as usual, for joining us.
CASTRO: Thank you.
BLITZER: There's more breaking news just ahead on the escalating battle over the Mueller report, as the Justice Department dismisses a new subpoena from House Democrats. And the secrets hidden in the redacted pages of the Mueller report, what might we learn if more than a dozen mystery investigations are revealed?
BLITZER: We're following late-breaking news on the battle between House Democrats and the Trump administration over the Mueller report.
The Justice Department now dismissing a new subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee chairman, calling it premature and unnecessary.
Let's bring in our analysts and our experts.
And, Laura Jarrett, you cover the Justice Department for us. You have got some new reporting on what the Justice Department is planning on doing.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So they just issued this statement. And their whole point in saying that it's premature is to try to probably get out ahead of what they know is going to be an ugly court fight and show that, look, we have been solicitous, we have offered you to come in starting on Monday at 10:00 a.m..
We have a reading room all set up for you at the Justice Department. You can come all day, read the less redacted version of that report. And the only thing that's going to be redacted in it is grand jury information. And so everyone was welcome to come, at least the people on the Intelligence Committee, the Gang of Eight, House and Senate Judiciary leaders.
They were able to come. Democrats saying, no thanks. We will see whether the Republicans show up at 10:00 a.m. on Monday.
BLITZER: Well, the Democrats want everybody in the House and Senate have access to all that information, including the grand jury information.
BLITZER: That potentially sets up a big legal fight.
What do Democrats hope to learn from these redacted portions?
JARRETT: Well, they say they need to uncover the redactions in order to make informed decisions.
And there's a couple of areas in particular that are redacted that seem to be of interest to the Democrats having to do with President Trump, the campaign and the dissemination of those hacked e-mails.
There were parts -- for example, Michael Cohen told special counsel that he said something to the effect of, and then it went redacted. He was talking about President Trump, then candidate Trump. And there were other interactions with then candidate Trump and people on his campaign.
So you know that. But then there are redactions around it. And so Democrats are clearly interested to learn more about Donald Trump and whether he had any knowledge about WikiLeaks beforehand.
BLITZER: We're lucky that our chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, is with us, because he definitely knows the answer to this question.
How is this legal battle potentially going to play out?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, you know, I'm not usually big on predictions, because I have been wrong so often, but I'm going to make one here that I am super confident in.
This is going to take months and months. I mean, the process is slow. The House will have to find the Justice Department in contempt. It'll go to the district court. It will go to the court of appeals. The -- and perhaps it will go to the Supreme Court. Nothing in a case like this will go quickly.
As to the ultimate legal argument, it's actually a very tough and interesting case. There are no direct precedents on point. There are good arguments on both sides.
But the key point to remember -- and mark my words -- is that forget about getting a quick answer to this thing.
BLITZER: Now you know, Ryan Lizza, why he's our chief legal analyst, because he understands all this stuff.
BLITZER: But what's the politics of all of this? How's it politically going to play out?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, politically, the Democrats, the real reason they need all the information is they would argue that, if they are actually going to perform oversight of the president -- and the ultimate oversight is making a decision about impeachment, right -- they need everything.
In the late '90s, the Starr report was handed over to Congress with no redactions. And the Judiciary Committee in the House didn't even do any real hearings. They just used the information from Starr and went forward with impeachment.
Now, we're operating -- we don't have the independent counsel law anymore, so it's a little different. But if they -- and from -- the politics on the Trump side are, the longer this drags out, the way that Jeff suggested, I think the more and more likely, if there's -- if we get into an impeachment scenario, Trump's argument will be, let the 2020 election decide this, not impeachment.
And the closer you get to an election, the more -- election, the more resonance that argument will have.
BLITZER: It will be a big issue in the election.
TOOBIN: Well, I think Ryan...
BLITZER: Go ahead.
TOOBIN: Ryan's not only right about if there's impeachment. Even if there's not impeachment, delay is good for the president, I mean, that the more this kicks around, the less opportunity the Democrats have to see this, is good for them.
And if you look at how the White House is responding to every Democratic attempt to get documents, to get testimony from the White House, they're saying no to virtually everything and saying, see you in court.
And that means many of these cases will be on a slow boat to nowhere.
BLITZER: It's going to be going on for a while.
Pamela Brown, the -- Mitt Romney, the Republican senator from Utah, the former Republican presidential nominee, really the first Republican to issue a really blistering statement against the President in the aftermath of the Mueller report.
Among other things, he says this. I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.
Those are strong words.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Those are strong words from the republican senator. Remember, this is the same person who, back in 2012, said that Russia was America's number one geopolitical foe. At that time, he was sort of mocked, I remember -- if I remember correctly. And now, he is reading through this and seeing how expensive Russia interference was and reading about Trump campaign members encouraging it, expecting to how being okay with this help from America's adversary. And so you're seeing this reflected in the strongly worded statement from Mitt Romney today.
But as you said, as far as I know, he is really the only republican so far to step forward and say something.
BLITZER: He was way ahead of the curve back in 2012.
BLITZER: He happen to have said that in an interview with me. And I remember pressing him and saying, are you sure about that? And the Obama administration was criticizing him big time for that, but he was ahead of the curve on that.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He was. And, look, I think he was right to say what he said. But what is Mitt Romney going to do about this? It is one thing to be shocked that the President took the steps he took and lied and all the rest. But you know what, Romney is going to do? Nothing. Read the rest of the statement. There's absolutely -- he's a United States Senator. His party is in the majority in the Senate. They have an oversight role. Is he calling for hearings? Is he calling for a resolution to condemn the President? Is there any follow-up whatsoever by any republican who is saying the stuff in the Mueller report is bad? I think that's the question we need to be asking.
BLITZER: The first part of the statement, Laura, he did say this, and I'll read it to you. 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. That's setting sort of a relatively low bar.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. If there had been sufficient evidence, I think we would be having a different discussion today. I think that would be a pretty scary thought. But to Ryan's point, where is Mitch McConnell on this? Where is Lindsey Graham on this? The statements from them yesterday stand in stark contrast to Mitt Romney. And so his sentiment, I think, is obviously interesting. And it's interesting to see where he picks his moments, where he decides he wants to take on Trump. But he has no power here to do anything. And the people in leadership are saying nothing.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, I know you want to weigh in. Go ahead.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The ghost of Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are out there expressing concern and doing nothing. Now, I guess it's better to express concern and do nothing than not even to express concern. But, you know, as I always like to quote the great John Boehner, there is no more Republican Party. There is just a Trump party. And you see that in the reaction to this report.
BROWN: And remember, sorry, I didn't mean, to cut you off there, Lindsey Graham, during the Clinton and Kenneth Starr, I mean, he went after his conduct. And now, so far he hasn't said anything about this.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney is basically solo at least so far on this. There's a debate emerging among House Democrats. A few of them at least are beginning to say out loud there should be impeachment proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee.
LIZZA: And I think this is where the presidential campaign on the democratic side will really intersect with house democrats. Because you have Elizabeth Warren, who today came out, and I believe she's the first prominent presidential candidate to call for impeachment, at least impeachment proceedings, if not, full-on impeachment. And if the past is any guide, that is going to trigger everyone, she's running against to say the same thing, right? Now that she is out there saying that, if you are Beto O'Rourke, and you are Joe Biden coming into the race, Bernie Sanders, now, there's going to be a lot of pressure to follow Elizabeth Warren.
BLITZER: Biden will formally announce next week. Go ahead. TOOBIN: It's just not going to happen. I mean, Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler have said 17 different ways that they are going to hold hearings and they are going to continue their investigations. But they're not doing impeachment. I mean, they're just not. And this -- I mean, frankly, we are quite obsessed by this question. But the voters don't seem to be terribly engaged in the question of impeachment and it's not just happening. I just don't see it. I mean, I don't see any circumstance.
LIZZA: The way to get voters engaged is for democrats to all be on the same page and make the argument.
BLITZER: So far, that is not happening, as Jeffrey correctly points out. Much more on all the breaking news right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with our analyst. And, Jeffrey Toobin, in this Mueller reporter, he notes that there are several, maybe a dozen more, maybe more ongoing investigations that were farmed out by Special Counsel, other continuing investigations. The new Attorney General, William Barr, is now in charge. How is that going to impact as you see it, all these other investigations?
TOOBIN: Well, the other investigations that we're aware of do not seem as politically explosive as the Mueller investigation. And I don't anticipate that there will be some huge bombshell coming out of any of them. The possible exception is the ongoing investigation in the Southern District of New York that involves the Trump organization.
But in terms of the 14 others, as far as I can tell, they have been mostly low profile affairs. But the Attorney General and his subordinates will be in charge of all of them now. And it will be subject to the usual processes. And we'll see if there is any political interference.
JARRETT: But there are some that we just don't know about. I mean, there is a fair amount of redactions in there. And there is Roger Stone that's ongoing. And you see from the report, there are at least some suggested communications between Stone and Trump that are redacted in there and we just don't have a full picture on. To the extent that they lose touch on the President, I think that's where democrats are going to say, well, wait a minute, we already know how Barr feels about this.
BLITZER: We did learn in this report, and we did learn a lot of new material, but among the things that we learned, Ryan, I want you to weigh in. Pamela, you as well, that the Russian interference in the United States and our democracy, they say in this report, the Mueller report, actually began in 2014, continued in 2015, and then they say it was originally waged as a social media campaign designed to provoke an amplified political and social discord in the United States. But then, the report then says it evolved in early 2016 to an operation that, quote, favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton.
The President of the United States still refuses to accept that kind of information, even though the U.S. Intelligence Community has told them all of that. This Mueller report concludes with all of that. But he is still reluctant to accept that information.
LIZZA: Yes. And, look, Putin hit the jackpot here, right? He started the campaign early when he obviously would have no idea Trump was going to run for President. And lo and behold, a candidate came along and started to dominate the republican primaries that was much more in sync with Putin's world view than any of the other republicans and certainly more than Hillary Clinton. And that's why the campaign changed from just a general disrupt of things to, wait a second, we now have a Candidate we can get behind. We can actually help this guy win.
One of the quote in the report is from that I found very interesting is one of the Russian oligarchs gets an email the night that Putin won. And we don't know who it's from because some part of it is redacted. But email just said, the night of Trump's victory, it said, Putin has won. That was the view from Russia.
BLITZER: Pamela, from Putin's perspective, mission accomplished.
BROWN: Yes. No, mission accomplished. And, you know, our reporting is that Putin was very much involved in the operation and wanted Donald Trump to win. And then when it looked like perhaps he wasn't going to win, according to the polls in Russia, there was a sense of like our candidate, is he going to win, and then that changed. And they were apparently celebrating after when Donald Trump did, in fact, win. But I think the bottom line with the President is he can't accept the idea that Russia helped him win the presidency.
Now, we don't know how much influence Russia ultimately had. But what is laid out in this report is America's adversary trying to help him win through social media, disinformation campaign, and hacking. And I think that is why it's so hard for the President to acknowledge this because of the underlying implications.
BLITZER: Ryan, if his goal was not only to help Trump win but to sow discord, political discord in the -- is there any political discord in the United States right now?
LIZZA: Well, I mean like mission accomplished. I mean, everything -- you read that report and you just think, you know, if the two parties could have gone together on a common view that this was wrong, the villain we'd all be talking about here is Vladimir Putin. Instead, we're still sort of fighting over this.
And what about 2020? Does Putin -- we don't know who the democratic candidate is going to be. But does Putin decide to play again in our election?
BLITZER: Let me ask Jeffrey Toobin. TOOBIN: Does Putin -- I don't know. I mean --
BLITZER: Is Putin and the Russians, are they going to want to help Trump get re-elected?
TOOBIN: Well, if you looked at the press conference in Helsinki, where Trump was Putin's poodle, you would certainly expect that Putin would want Trump to win again. But, you know, how that will work and whether our intelligence agencies are, you know, more attuned to what's going on and more able to stop them -- I mean, they certainly had a preview of what they did before. And our social media organizations, are they more on the ball? I mean, we'll see. But you certainly --
LIZZA: I don't get the impression that this is a real top priority for President Trump, making sure that the Russians don't meddle and talking about it that that's a serious thing.
BLITZER: It's a priority for Putin though, to be clear.
All right. Guys, stick around. There is more news we're following.
Russia has now responded to the Mueller report, taking a page out of President Trump's playbook.
BLITZER: Tonight, President Trump and the Putin team in Russia seem to be on the same page about the Mueller report. Kremlin officials are dismissing all the extensive evidence of Russian election interference and trying to twist the findings in their favor.
[18:50:05] Let's go our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He's joining us live from Moscow right now.
So, Fred, what are you hearing from Russian officials tonight?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, absolutely. The Russians very much in lock step with President Trump on this issue. Like President Trump, absolutely claiming that there was no collusion, but even going further and denying despite all the things that were in the Mueller report still denying that they ever meddled in the 2016 election and even making fun of the findings of the special counsel.
Here is what we are learning.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Tonight, the Kremlin crashing the Mueller report after the special counsel revealed in hundreds of pages of evidence what it called a wide ranging and sweeping Russian operation to influence the 2016 election. The Kremlin is still denying doing anything wrong. DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN (through translator): We still do
not accept these accusations. From the very beginning of this report, we have been saying that no matter what the investigators do, they will not find any sort of interference. And President Putin said this as well.
PLEITGEN: The Mueller report details the lengths Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU, went to to hack the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. As well as a pervasive social media influence operation by the Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency.
Even though the special counsel said he could not prove coordination between the campaign and Russia, he laid out the repeated contacts by Russia and the campaign and said both sides had the same goal, getting Donald Trump elected.
Russia's foreign ministry brushing off facts and officials saying the report, quote: Actually confirms the absence of any argument that Russia allegedly interfered in the American elections. There is not a single proof the authors of the report actually signed on that they have no such evidence, even though that's simply not true.
Russian state media is barely talking about the Mueller report. The main political talk show had the results up as graphics but focused on upcoming elections in Ukraine. The Kremlin, however, publicly ridiculing the nearly two-year long investigation.
PESKOV (through translator): In a similar situation, our audit chamber would have certainly proved what the taxpayers money was wasted on. Anyway, it's up to the U.S. taxpayers to ask such questions.
PLEITGEN: While the Kremlin continues to mock America's investigation into election interference, it's also complaining, saying the fallout from the Mueller probe is preventing U.S. Russian relations from improving.
PLEITGEN: Wolf, some of the other things that the Russians are throwing out there is they've called the report, at least the Kremlin, low quality and continue to say they believe it's the findings of the Mueller report and not Russia's actions that are responsible for the bad relations between the U.S. and Russia, Wolf.
BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen in Moscow for us -- thank you.
Just ahead, a dangerous twosome. Why are Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong- un planning to meet?
Stay with us.
[18:57:46] BLITZER: Tonight, a new summit is in the works between two dangerous U.S. adversaries, both embraced by President Trump. North Korea's Kim Jong-un is set to meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin for the first time.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is joining us.
Barbara, so, what more can you tell us about the Kim-Putin summit?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.
North Korean state media reported now that Kim Jong-un has accepted an invitation from Vladimir Putin to meet with him in the coming weeks somewhere in Russia, the exact date has not been announced. But in accepting the invitation, the message from Kim to Putin was, that Kim wants to closely cooperate with the Russian leader. That is not good news for the United States, because, of course, those denuclearization talks have broken down.
Right now, Kim clearly exercising political muscle in the meeting with Putin, clearly wanting to show he is still a player on the world stage. And the question will be, what does Kim come away with when he finishes meeting with Putin? Will he have Putin's blessing to actually engage in a new provocation potentially another missile test or something like that? That is the big worry for the Trump administration, Wolf.
BLITZER: Amidst this, Barbara, North Korea now says it wants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo removed from stalled nuclear talks replaced, they say, with someone, in their words, more careful and mature. Pompeo I understand is responding.
What's the latest?
STARR: He did respond publicly earlier today and said, as you would expect, that that's no-go. That he still leads the U.S. diplomatic team with North -- working with the North Koreans to try and get back to the negotiating table.
But, look, President Trump wants an agreement with Kim Jong-un. The question how far will the president go? Would he potentially appoint a new negotiator to work with the North Koreans? We simply don't know. Mike Pompeo very adamantly saying he is still in charge of the diplomatic effort -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly is. We'll see what happens on that front.
Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
And to our viewers, thanks very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNsitroom.
To all those celebrating happy Passover, happy Easter, enjoy this holiday weekend.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.