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Police Clash with Protesters in Streets of Paris. Top Democrat Issues Subpoena for Full Mueller Report; Multiple Dem House Committees Targeting Trump's Finances; Report Calls Russian Interference "Sweeping, Systemic"; Race for the White House; Joe Biden to Announce 2020 Run Next Week; Parents Sentenced for Torturing and Holding Kids Captive. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 20, 2019 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:10] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Welcome.

We begin with breaking news out of Paris.

Protesters and police clashing in the streets. Some of the so-called Yellow Vest anti-government protesters have started small fires, in fact, and police are vowing to use any means necessary to get the demonstrations under control. They're now using water cannons and tear gas to break up protests. At least 110 people are in custody.

CNN international correspondent Melissa Bell is in Paris with the latest. So Melissa, these protests or some form of these protests have been taking place for now six months but what's different today? What has been the new, if there is a new catalyst to these disruptions?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we had been expecting today to be more violent, better attended by Yellow Vests than the last few weeks simply because they had made this a massive call for what they were hoping would be a Black Saturday.

Anda as you can see just behind me, at Place de la Republique, that's what they've achieved. We've seen pretty big numbers coming out. We don't yet have the official interior ministry numbers of how many people they believe have come out to protest but from what we've seen there are a lot of them out here.

Not just here on the Place de la Republique but they've been blocked off from the main arteries by the police in a sort of pincer movement to try and separate them. Not only are there a lost them, Fredricka, but they are very determined. There is a lot of tear gas being thrown by the police to try and push them back regularly the police front line -- the riot police charge them.

As you can see right here. It seems to be happening once again. It happens regularly. And then the rioters then push back to get as close as possible. What's added to that Fredricka, beyond the call of the Yellow Vest to come out in greater numbers than they've achieved frankly these last few weeks for this Easter weekend is what happened on Monday.

Far from dampening these protests down, far from taking the winds out of the sails of this particular protest this Saturday, the fire in Notre Dame led to, as you know, we've been reporting these least few days Fredricka, huge amounts of donations pouring in to help restore the cathedral.

We're at nearly a billion dollars of dations that have been given, many of them by some of France's richest families. Some of those families giving 230 million euros at a time. And what the Yellow Vest protesters have been saying these last few days on French media but also on social media is that, look, how can we live in a country where some people have that much money that they can donate (INAUDIBLE)?

Curiously these last few days have really spoken to the source of inequality that has been at the heart of their protest ever since they began on November 17ths.

And I think what's interesting, I'm just going to have you -- let you have a look again at these pictures which have been really quite dramatic over the course of the afternoon, is that time and time again the French government has tried to get a handle on this.

Emmanuel Macron the French president has made concessions. He's raised the minimum wage. He's lowered the price of fuel which was one of their key requests -- this is how this all began. It was (INAUDIBLE) and the fuel tax. Nothing has worked. Nothing has dampened down their protest.

There have been fewer of them, but they haven't -- they hadn't stopped protesting. I think what we've seen these last few days is really this fueling their fire. This making them even angrier, possibly, than they were before.

WHITFIELD: All right. Melissa Bell -- we'll check back with you there from Paris. Appreciate it.

And now just two days after the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report, now another sudden reversal for President Trump as he is now lashing out at the Special Counsel report in an early morning tweetstorm after first praising the Mueller report as vindication and now saying that Robert Mueller acted -- or he did say that he had acted honorably.

The President is now changing his tune. He now says the report was written as nastily as possible by angry Democrats who were true Trump haters. The President's rage coming as the Democrats in Congress issue a subpoena demanding the full unredacted version of the report. And, at least, one top Democratic presidential candidate is calling on Congress to begin the impeachment process against President Trump.

CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is in West Palm Beach near where the President is spending Easter weekend with his family at his Florida resort. Sarah -- what's the feeling as to what's behind, you know, his about-face on this Mueller report?

Is it as simple as he's now surrounded by, you know, friends and real supporters there at Mar-a-Lago?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Fred -- we know now that President Trump has been unhappy with his depiction in the Mueller report as a leader who's dishonest and chaotic, who dictated orders to aides that then ignored his directives. And we know that the President's also been frustrated of the news coverage of the Mueller report which has been overwhelmingly negative based particularly on the part of the report that focused on questions of obstruction.

[11:05:00] And the President is continuing to wail against the Russia investigation, even though it's now technically over, in a series of tweets since Mueller's findings were made public on Thursday.

Just this morning, in fact, the President took to Twitter to write, "Despite the fact that the Mueller report should not have been authorized in the first place and was written as nastily as possible," and he repeats this claim that the team was biased, "The end result is no collusion, no obstruction."

And it seems that the President is particularly frustrated at his former White House counsel Don McGahn over passages that McGahn took meticulous notes during some of his meetings with the President and detailed an incident when the President asked him to deny to the "New York Times" an episode that did happen behind close doors. And that was that in June 2017 the President asked McGahn to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller essentially and McGahn ignored that directive.

Now, the President is at the golf course this morning in West Palm Beach but really since that report was made public on Thursday, Fred, we haven't heard a whole lot directly from the President other than these angry tweets.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood -- thank you so much. Appreciate that.

So a major legal fight is now brewing in the wake of the Mueller report. Democrats have finally issued the subpoena that they've been holding close for weeks demanding to see the full unredacted report.

Let's check in with CNN's Kara Scannell from Washington. So good to see you -- Kara. The Department of Justice already pushing back on this subpoena. What can you tell us about where things stand?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. So it's a real standoff between Congress and the Department of Justice and the House Democrats have issued a subpoena to DOJ on Friday. This all stems from their distrust of Bill Barr.

Democrats believe that he mischaracterized Robert Mueller's findings and so they want to get to the bottom of what the report fully says. They are asking DOJ to provide them with an unredacted copy of the report and all the underlying materials that Mueller relied on to reach his conclusions.

And this is part of the lawmakers' request because they say they're a coequal branch of government and they want to conduct their own investigation into obstruction which then would inform their decisions on whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings.

You know, DOJ initially offered the Hill an opportunity to have a small -- excuse me -- a small number of individuals come in to see it but the Dems say that they want to have full access to the report. DOJ is pushing back saying that it is way too premature. And in a statement they say, "In the interest of transparency, the Attorney General released the Special Counsel's confidential report with only minimal redactions. The Department of Justice has also made arrangements for Chairman Nadler and other congressional leaders to review the report with even fewer redactions. In light of this, Congressman Nadler's subpoena is premature and unnecessary. The Department will continue to work with Congress to accommodate its legitimate requests consistent with the law and long-recognized executive branch interests."

So if these talks don't reach an agreement, it's very likely, Fred, this issue lands in court.

WHITFIELD: And you have a new article out, right, titled "Mueller's Report", leaving open the possibility of post White House criminal exposure for Trump, what more can you tell us about that?

SCANNELL: Yes, exactly. I mean and Robert Mueller, he says he doesn't reach a conclusion on whether the President obstructed justice, in part because of DOJ policy that you don't indict a sitting president.

But Mueller kind of went out of his way to make some additional points there. He said that the President does not have immunity after he leaves office and he noted that the team conducted this investigation in order to preserve evidence while the memories were fresh and documentary materials were available. Now, Congress will have the first crack at this as we were just discussing.

But you know, it's not the only issue that's looming over the presidency. The prosecutors in New York have identified the President as Individual One as part of those campaign finance violations that Trump's former attorney pleaded guilty to when he made those hush money payments to women.

Now all of this continues to loom, but the President's best defense to all of this is to win re-election and outrun the clock on the statute of limitations -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Ok. And it is the case that the Mueller team did refer, you know -- hand over information to what -- something like 13 or maybe even 14 other jurisdictions, particularly for the potential of that kind of post-presidency, you know, pursuit of prosecutions.

SCANNELL: Yes, that's right. The President -- excuse me, Mueller's team has referred 14 cases, we don't know what 12 of them are. That leaves a lot of speculation as to what they might include in detail. So that is one issue that is still very much outstanding -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kara Scannell -- thank you so much.

All right. I'm joined now by congressional reporter for the "Washington Post" Rachael Bade; former White House general counsel under President Bill Clinton Nelson Cunningham; and assistant editor for the "Washington Post" David Swerdlick.

Good to see all of you.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

NELSON CUNNINGHAM, FORMER WH GENERAL COUNSEL: Good morning.

WHITFIELD: All right. So according to CNN's best estimate about 8 percent of the report is redacted. That's actually a pretty small number.

[11:09:58] I think there was an expectation, David -- that a lot more of it would be redacted. But you can kind of figure out for the most part, you know, the real nucleus of the report.

So what's your reaction to now the subpoena, that Nadler has now issued this subpoena for the full report?

SWERDLICK: Right. Happy Passover and happy Easter, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

SWERDLICK: Yes. My reaction is that, Chairman Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee has a pretty good case.

You're right. The report, even with the redactions gives the public and members of Congress a pretty good picture of what's going on. That being said, I don't think the Justice Department has given a sufficient reason for why Congress can't see the full report.

At a minimum, the Gang of Eight, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee get classified and sensitive information all the time. And all 535 members of Congress are sworn to take an oath to uphold the constitution.

So the idea that they -- you know, Attorney General Barr hasn't said this directly, but the idea that they either can't be trusted with this information or the information has to be more closely-held, I think hasn't been sort of sufficiently answered.

That said, going along with Kara's report, I think we're probably headed to court with this.

WHITFIELD: And then Rachel -- you know, whether they get redacted or unredacted why, you know, devote so many resources to the Mueller report and then Congress not use that report as a roadmap, you know, and take more steps particularly, you know, after Mueller recommended that Congress could take up the rest. Pick it up from here. RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes. They

are looking at this as a road map. I think the interesting thing to watch here is that there's this debate going on in the Democratic Party about what is their end game?

WHITFIELD: Right.

BADE: Are they just going to sort of relitigate some of this investigation and hold hearings, bring in Don McGahn for instance to talk about the time the President told him that he needs to find a way to get Robert Mueller fired and get rid of, you know, the Special Counsel's investigation? Or are they actually going to initiate impeachment proceedings?

And right now, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has very much put the kibosh on any notion that they're going to open impeachment proceedings. But right now, what you have is this report where Robert Mueller makes this legal argument saying he didn't have the authority to make the decision about whether the President actually obstructed justice.

WHITFIELD: Because of the policies.

(CROSSTALKING)

BADE: He cited this, you know, precedent where -- exactly, the President can't be indicted and he very much kicked to Congress, saying Congress needs to look at this. So what that's doing --

WHITFIELD: And now they seem torn as you just, you know, underscored.

BADE: That's right. There are folks who are sort of taking that nod to Congress from Mueller and saying, he wanted us to basically take this up and initiate impeachment proceedings and investigate this whole thing.

However, Pelosi is very concerned that if they do that, there will be political blowback in 2020. They could lose the house and maybe even not be able to kick the President -- kick him out of office and put a Democrat in the White House.

WHITFIELD: So Nelson, in an article for Politico earlier this month you wrote this, "Congressional Democrats are right to demand the full report, but they are wrong to ask the Attorney General to violate the law. Instead they should learn from the lessons of Watergate and the example of Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski and House Judiciary Chair Peter Rodino. They should demand the full report but only for their own use. They should use it as a road map for their own investigation."

So what do you mean? Another investigation post this very comprehensive two-year investigation?

CUNNINGHAM: Well look, first of all, let's not be misled by what chairman Nadler is asking for in his subpoena. Yes, he asked for the unredacted report, but he also asked for all of the underlying evidence. So he's saying, I don't want to have to recreate this case from start. I would like all the underlying evidence pulled together by Mr. Mueller and his team so that we can then get a jump start on our carrying out our own duties of oversight investigation and some day, perhaps, further action on the part of the House.

And clear Watergate era precedent which was just reaffirmed by the federal appeals court here in Washington last month, clear precedent says that the Congress is entitled to the grand jury report and to the underlying evidence. Leon Jaworski, the Watergate prosecutor bundled up the evidence in a briefcase and upon the order of the court transmitted that briefcase up to the hill and the Judiciary Committee used that as the road map and as the evidentiary basis for its own hearings.

That's what Nadler's asking for here, the evidence, not just the report. Let's not focus on the report, let's focus on the evidence.

WHITFIELD: So as not to initiate an entirely new investigation. Even though there are other committees, you know, that are trying to investigate based on information from this report.

CUNNINGHAM: The Intelligence Committee --

WHITFIELD: Yes.

[11:14:54] CUNNINGHAM: -- the Intelligence Committee has clear jurisdiction here because of the Russian efforts to penetrate our political system and to interfere with it. And the Intelligence Committees have clear statutory right to demand and to obtain counterintelligence reports from -- from the administration and I think to get the -- also the underlying evidence and separately to call Mueller to testify before them.

So to jurisdictional committees -- Judiciary and Counterintelligence are each entitled by clear law to investigate this matter and to get this evidence.

WHITFIELD: And then there's even the Oversight Committee that might even be pursuing something as well.

So among the Republicans who have spoken out against this very firmly, Mitt Romney -- Senator Mitt Romney now, one of the first Republicans to rebuke the information in the report. He wrote, and I'm quoting now, "I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President."

So David, this report, you know, laying out explicit detail of how Russia did interfere in the election, painting also this chaotic picture of Trump's presidency, you know, lies, attempts to obstruct. So why is Mitt Romney the only one who is speaking of this vein, not necessarily saying, you know, it's time to impeach the President.

SWERDLICK: Right.

WHITFIELD: He's not going that far, but you know, he is shaking the finger whereas very few others in elected office are doing so who are Republicans?

SWERDLICK: Yes, Fred. Senator Romney is sort of super bummed that the President has misled the American people as per this report and per a ton of reporting by the "Washington Post", CNN, the "New York Times" and others. But the bar is so low now to talk about the Watergate era again, there are no Senator Howard Bakers and no Senator Barry Goldwaters in the Republican Party in Congress right now.

So the fact that Senator Romney at least expressed his disapproval of some of the actions taken, some of the misleading statements made that are detailed in the report, puts him ahead of the pack in terms of Republican response to the report, even though it's a pretty tepid response.

WHITFIELD: And I mean shaking the index finger. Most people get that, right?

SWERDLICK: Yes, right, right. Wagging his finger, not flipping the bird.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Exactly. Ok.

SWERDLICK: Right, yes.

WHITFIELD: So Rachael, you know, what can Congress, you know, do with information about ten potential instances of obstruction of justice?

BADE: Yes.

WHITFIELD: I mean congressional censure? What really is the potential end game?

BADE: Yes, I heard -- I was talking to one Judiciary Committee Democrat on Friday who brought up censure, I think a lot of Democrats feel that's a little weak.

But look, they're in a pickle right now, right? There are people -- most Democrats all the way up to leadership in the house do believe the President broke the law. And, you know, if they really believe that you would think the next step would be initiating impeachment proceedings to look into this, right? But they're really scared of the political blowback.

(CROSSTALKING)

WHITFIELD: -- Democrats among them are saying it's just not enough time. Is that the argument?

BADE: Time. They are going to -- they do need -- there's only what, a year and a half until 2020. And originally their sort of -- their response to talking about impeachment was, we need to see the Mueller report and see what it says. Now their response seems to be the elections next year, let's let the President -- or let's let the voters decide if he should be president.

And just going back to Romney for one minute, you know, that's why. When you have one Republican in the Senate who is rebuking the President saying this is bad but even he is not saying we should start talking about impeachment. And Pelosi has long said, any impeachment proceeding needs to be bipartisan, that bipartisanship is not there --

WHITFIELD: Not there yet.

BADE: -- right now in terms of looking at this.

WHITFIELD: All right. Rachael Bade, Nelson Cunningham, David Swerdlick -- good to see all of you. Thank you so much.

SWERDLICK: Thanks -- Fred.

CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.

BADE: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right.

Still ahead, the President's red line. House Democrats move on Trump's finances. What they're looking for and the battle to come, next.

[11:19:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

Democratic lawmakers are ramping up their investigations into President Trump's finances. It's an area the Mueller probe largely steered clear of but now Democrats in Congress are rapidly expanding their investigations into Trump's businesses and finances. Among other things, they want to find out if foreign interests hold any sway over the President.

CNN's business politics correspondent Cristina Alesci joins me right now. So Cristina, you know, what kind of information are Democrats looking for?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, simply put, they want to follow the money. So let's run through the Democratic probes as of right now.

House Intelligence and the House Financial Services Committees are teaming up to subpoena banks, including one of Trump's lenders, Deutsche Bank. Now these two committees are examining slightly different things. Intelligence is looking into whether the President is compromised by foreign entities while Financial Services is scrutinizing illicit activity like money laundering and whether any of Trump's businesses are implicated in that.

Another committee, Ways and Means is pressing for Trump's tax returns. This group oversees the IRS which does audit the President's tax returns, of course. And these lawmakers, they want to know that is happening properly.

Lastly, House Oversight issued a subpoena to Majors (ph), an accounting firm that compiled the President's financial statements.

All of these investigations against the backdrop of House Judiciary issuing a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report as you've been talking about all morning.

WHITFIELD: And so what are the chances, you know, Democrats will get the kind of information that they want on Trump's business and finances? I mean we know in terms of taxes, the Department of Treasury is already, you know, trying to put the kibosh on that.

ALESCI: You're absolutely right. It depends on the individual request for subpoena.

[11:24:56] For example, the fight as you mentioned over getting the President's tax returns is probably headed to court. The Treasury Department, which counts the IRS as one of its bureaus has already rejected the committee's request and there's another deadline this week which we will report out. But Treasury I'm hearing will likely continue to resist providing the documents.

Now, House Financial Services might have more luck with the banks. That's because that committee oversees the banks so the firms are less likely to flagrantly ignore the request from that committee.

Now as for the subpoena for the President's accounting records, Trump's attorneys argue that Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings overstepped his congressional authority there and Trump's lawyers have already told the accounting firm that they will pursue legal action if it complies with the subpoena.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right. Well, that is quite the litany. That's a really big to-do list, isn't it?

ALESCI: It is.

WHITFIELD: Cristina Alesci -- thank you so much.

ALESCI: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

All right. Still ahead, the Kremlin trashes and ridicules the Mueller report, blasting the investigation as a waste of taxpayer money. Sound familiar? We discuss next.

[11:26:03] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Almost lost in the spin over what the Mueller report means for President Trump is the actual overall conclusion of the report that Russia tried to undermine the election, U.S. election, regardless of whether there was a conspiracy or not. Saying, quoting now, "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion." That from the report.

As Fred Pleitgen explains, the Kremlin's reaction to the report has been denial, even ridicule. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Kremlin trashing 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 SPOKESPERSON (through translator): We still do not accept these accusations. From the very beginning of this report, we've 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 detailed 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 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 those facts and officials saying the report, quote, "actually confirms the absence of any argument that Russia allegedly interfered in the American elections. There's 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: In a similar situation, our audit chamber would have certainly probed what the taxpayer's money was wasted on. Any way, it's up to the U.S. taxpayer 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.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more now.

Steve hall is with me. He's a retired CIA chief of Russia operations. Good to see you -- Steve.

All right. So obviously, you know, Russia is going to deny any kind of role, you know, in interfering with the elections but they also seem to be downplaying it, you know, as well. How do you surmise how they're handling this information?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: When I think about it, Fred -- from the Russia perspective, I think they're sort -- what's happening is happening on two different levels.

As you just alluded to, of course, the Russians will rely and Putin will rely on what he's very good at which is admitting nothing, denying everything and making counteraccusations. That's just what he does. You know, he lies bigger, he lies better or he goes home.

So you know, you can expect these continued ridiculous, you know, comments like no, we had nothing to do with it. And of course, the taxpayer comment, you know, the wasting of taxpayer money allusion is particularly rich.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Why?

HALL: Well, particularly rich given, if you've spent time in Russia, you know, Russians have no idea what happens with their taxes because, of course, there's no rule of law, there's no way to monitor these things. So for them to make that comment is funny.

But on a different level, I can imagine Vladimir Putin sitting back in his dacha having a glass of tea or a glass of vodka and reflecting on the return on investment. So when he got into this back in 2015, you know, Trump -- helping Trump made sense based on what the candidate's position was at the time. Even though --

WHITFIELD: All right. Oh, ok. Go ahead.

HALL: Yes. No -- even though it hasn't -- not everything has come to fruition. There's still sanctions. There's still problems in the U.S. relationship with Russia. The disruption that this Russian operation has wrought in the United States, the divisions in our society and our political system is more than sufficient payback. He must be very, very pleased about how things are going.

WHITFIELD: Yes. You call it his investment that, you know -- so you are saying, he's definitely the puppet master here. He's the one who, you know, in your summation is the one who directed you know -- said go on this entire operation.

[11:35:03] To what extent -- I mean, what you know about him, how does he do that? How would those orders have been disseminated and carried out?

HALL: Nothing happens -- nothing important happens in Russia, of course, without Vladimir Putin knowing about it. And given his intelligence background, I assess that he would have been very interested in the ins and outs of this massive operation, massive influence operation which involved, you know, everything from social media to trying to identify people in the United States wittingly or unwittingly to help with this. It was a massive campaign. He would definitely have been involved in that. And incidentally,

recently there's been a lot of sort of glancing askance at the, you know, the Steele report, the Steele dossier. And it's interesting that all of what we've seen was actually -- you know, was predicted in significant parts of the Steele dossier, so those who say well, that's not true, nothing in the Steele dossier can be believed. It's actually quite accurate as to what actually happened in terms of this massive operation that Putin undertook.

WHITFIELD: And really, who can forget, you know, that moment when, you know, President Trump at last year's summit in Helsinki, you know, said this about Russian interference. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I can do is ask the question. My people came to me. Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said, they think it's Russia.

I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So knowing what you know now and, you know, having the report be out, is there a different way to look at that moment now? I mean how do you explain, you know, or even conclude -- why would the President state it like that? And what's behind this, you know, real allegiance he still seems to have for Putin's word?

HALL: You know, for me, not to over exaggerate but that was sort of a 9/11 moment for me in terms of just the sick feeling that I got when I saw him stand -- saw the American president stand next to this authoritarian dictator, the head of a country that definitely does not have the U.S. interests at heart and say, I believe this guy.

Either it's just incredibly misunderstanding -- stupidity is no other, it's really the best way to describe it, or perhaps, felt like he had to say it if he actually believed it. Or perhaps more darkly felt like he had to say it because he was aware that Vladimir Putin may have something on him which would make his life difficult in the future.

So either way, neither of those are very good and that I think is what caused me to respond in such a strong, emotional fashion, oh, my god, what's happening?

WHITFIELD: Steve Hall -- thank you so much. And thanks for going down memory lane with me and trying to bring it forward.

HALL: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: All right. Appreciate it.

Happy Easter and Passover. Still ahead, talk of impeachment on the 2020 campaign trail but not everyone is for it. How Democratic presidential candidates are reacting to the Mueller report, next.

[11:38:12] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: While much of Washington is focused on what the Mueller report said, Democrats on the campaign trail are looking ahead to 2020. They're meeting with voters across the country and they're being asked to weigh in on the Special Counsel's report. Senator Elizabeth Warren became the first contender to forcefully call for President Trump's impeachment. But other candidates like Pete Buttigieg are approaching the topic with caution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that he should be impeached?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Congress needs to make that decision. I think he may well deserve it but my focus since I'm not part of Congress but I am part of 2020 is to give him a decisive defeat at the ballot box if he's the Republican nominee in 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And one Democratic candidate who did not address the Mueller report at all during a prepared speech in South Carolina is Senator Kamala Harris. CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah is in Holly Hills, South Carolina, where Harris is stumping today. Good to see you.

There are a very different reactions on the campaign trail from these 2020 candidates, right?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and Senator Harris -- we are not anticipating her today at this meet and greet at the church to call for impeachment. That is not the path that she is taking. She is -- and the reason for it, the political reasons for it but also from what she's hearing from the voters are what I'll get to in just a moment.

It's a very different path than what Senator Elizabeth Warren has taken. This morning in New Hampshire at her town hall, she again forcefully said that impeachment is the way to go. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The decision we make here not only affects Donald Trump, it affects the next president and the next president and the next president. We cannot be an America that says it is ok for a president of the United States to try to block investigations into a foreign attack on our country or investigations into that president's own misbehavior. So I have called on the House to initiate impeachment proceedings. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Another 2020 Democratic contender Julian Castro has also said that it is perfectly reasonable to open up impeachment proceedings.

Now that is very different, again, from what we're hearing from other 2020 contenders.

[11:44:53] This is a live picture of a roundtable that we're anticipating involving Senator Cory Booker. He has said that it is premature to have this discussion, premature to have these calls.

And we've also not heard, Fredricka, from Bernie Sanders, we've not heard from Joe Biden after the Mueller report dropped.

And if you're wondering why certain Democrats like Kamala Harris are taking the path of a little more caution, what we're hearing from Harris is that she doesn't have enough information yet. She wants to hear Bill Barr. She wants to pull him in for hearings, she wants him to testify. She wants to talk to Bob Mueller directly.

And also, Fredricka -- at her townhall yesterday, not only did she not mention it in her prepared remarks, but no voters asked her about it -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: But, you know, I think any of the candidates have to anticipate, right, that a voter might ask that question so they may already have an answer. They're just not willing to volunteer it unless probed further. We just might find out, won't we?

All right. Kyung Lah -- go ahead. You have a thought on that?

LAH: Oh, yes -- I mean absolutely. They certainly are prepared to answer that and we already know that Harris has an opinion on it. But I think the important point here is that a lot of voters when you go into these crowds and you talk to them, they're saying they want the ballot box, that they want Democrats, at least in the Harris town halls to turn the page and to focus on winning the White House.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kyung Lah -- thank you so much for that. Appreciate it. In Holly Hills, South Carolina. Thank you so much.

Meanwhile, potential candidate Joe Biden or is it going to be a real thing? He is expected, according to reports, to officially jump into the 2020 race. He's already leading in the polls, but will his past controversies hold him back. That's next.

[11:46:43] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Former vice president, Joe Biden is expected to make it official next week and announce that he is jumping into the 2020 race. He's already the Democratic front-runner in recent polls.

CNN political reporter Arlette Saenz is covering this.

So Biden already, you know, slid back his deadline to announce several times. So what do we know about this rollout next week and how official is this news?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well Fred -- we know that former vice president Joe Biden will be making things official later this week, jumping into the 2020 race. The format right now is still being discussed amongst his team of advisers, whether it's going to be a video or a series of events to launch his formal announcement.

Earlier this week, you had Greg Schultz, one of his top political advisers was up on Capitol Hill talking to Democrats telling them that everything is going ahead as scheduled. So later this week, we do expect that the former vice president will formally be throwing throw his hat in the ring.

And really this will answer one of the final remaining questions about the make up of the Democratic primary field. It's a very crowded, historically diverse field. And Biden is kind of the last big name that hasn't just entered the race quite yet.

And last year, we heard from Biden, saying that he believes he is the most qualified person in the country to be president. And his allies point to his long record, long experience both in the Senate, 36 years there, and his two terms as vice president as the reason why he is ready to be president on day one.

But with that long record also comes a long, long past that will be scrutinized. And you've seen some of those controversies come, resurface whether over the past few months. Whether it's his handling of Anita Hill's testimony in 1991 in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, his support for the 1994 crime bill, his position on school bussing.

And Biden and his team are highly aware that these are all issues he's going to have to address down the road once he enters the presidential campaign.

And you've seen Biden kind of do that over the past few months. He's given some speeches where he talked about Anita Hill or he talked about the crime bill saying that he regretted some of his actions when it came to criminal justice.

But another issue that he is going to have to navigate is these recent allegations that he's made women feel uncomfortable in their interactions. And Biden himself has acknowledged that it may change the way that he campaigns. Later this week, we may get a glimpse at how Biden campaigns once he makes this all official -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Ok. And if he runs, if he does make it official, I mean are we going to be at 20? Will it be 20 for 2020? Would that be the slogan?

SAENZ: It may be even higher than that.

WHITFIELD: Wow.

SAENZ: There are still a few --

WHITFIELD: I know. We are losing count.

SAENZ: Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz -- thank you so much.

SAENZ: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, we are hearing from two of the children rescued from what's been called a "house of horror" in California. Coming up, what they said to the parents who routinely beat and starved them.

[11:54:18] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Checking our top stories --

A Florida man is charged with making threats against several Democratic lawmakers including two presidential hopefuls. Court documents show he made vulgar, anti-Islamic and racist calls threatening Congressman Eric Swalwell, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Senator Cory Booker. Capitol police also have a case on him from February when he allegedly left harassing voice mails for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The California parents who pleaded guilty to holding captive and torturing their children for years in their home have each been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. David and Louise Turpin were arrested last year after one of their 13 children who range in age from two to 29 managed to escape their home and call police.

Authorities said the siblings had been isolated from the outside world and were often denied showers, medical care and food. Investigators say they were sometimes tied up for weeks or even months at a time. The children spoke at their parent's sentencing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SON OF DAVID AND LOUISE TURPIN: Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But, that is the past and this is now. I love my parents.

DAUGHTER OF DAVID AND LOUIS TURPIN: My parents took my whole life from me, but now I'm taking my life back. I believe everything happens for a reason. Life may have been bad but it made me strong. I fought to become the person I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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