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Officials: Militia Group Detaining Migrants in New Mexico; Trump Lashed Out at McGahn for Taking Notes in Meetings; Officials: 5th Grader Died of Natural Causes, Fight not a Factor. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 20, 2019 - 13:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with another sudden reversal for President Trump as he is now lashing out at the special counsel report in a furious tweet storm after first praising the Mueller report as total vindication and saying that Robert Mueller acted honorably. The president is changed 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 the Easter weekend with his family and his Florida resort. So, Sarah, what is behind this change of heart from the president?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Fred, you are right, President Trump has gone from touting this report as a total exoneration vindication for his White House to lashing out at the Russia probe. Even though now, it's technically over. We haven't heard a lot from him directly. He left the day that the Mueller report came out to come down here to West Palm Beach, spend the Easter weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

But he is active on Twitter. This morning, for example, he wrote, "Despite the fact that the Mueller report should not have been authorized in the first place and written as nastily as possible," and then he goes on to repeat his claim that Mueller and the team was bias. The end result is no collusion, no obstruction.

Now, the president also directed some -- or appeared to direct some of his former White House Counsel Don McGahn when he took to Twitter to write that some people just produced notes that never existed before when it was convenient. Now that seemed to be a swipe at McGahn because there's a particular incident in the Mueller report that according to investigators, the president chastised McGahn for taking notes during one of their meeting. Mueller also says that the president, in June 2017, directed McGahn to try to get Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired. That didn't occur. McGahn ignored the directives. Now we know the president is also angry about the portrayal of him as an out of control leader who would bark orders at aides who then ignored them.

The president is also questioning the legal strategy that went into the White House's cooperation with Mueller at the time his lawyers Ty Cobb and Dowd encouraged all of the White House aides to cooperate fully with the special counsel. But now, there are some former aides who are questioning that strategy given the amount of damaging and embarrassing information that has emerged. The president is on the golf course today here in West Palm Beach. And Fred, we just are waiting to hear more directly from the president as he has not said much to the cameras since that report emerged on Thursday.

WHITFIELD: Right. He promised that he would have a press conference or at least be before the cameras yesterday. And that didn't happen. He went straight for that helicopter and on to Air Force One to where you are now.

All right, Sarah Westwood, keep us posted. Thank you so much.

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

Let's check in with CNN's Kara Scannell from Washington. So, the Department of Justice already pushing back on this subpoena. Where do things stand?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Fred. So the Department of Justice is pushing back on the subpoena that was sent on Friday by the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. And this whole stems from the distrust that the Democrats have with Attorney General Bill Barr. They believe that Bill Barr mischaracterized the findings of the Mueller report. And so, they are asking for the full, unredacted report as well as the underlying information. That the Democrat says it is because they need to conduct their own investigation into obstruction, which would inform any decision on impeachment.

Now DOJ pushed back on this. They previously had offered to bring the gang of eight in to see a less redacted version of this -- of the Mueller report. They would still redact the grand jury investigative materials. Now, the Democrats rejected that. They sent the subpoena on Friday.

And DOJ issued a lengthy statement in which they said that "In the interest of transparency, the attorney general released the special counsel's confidential report with only minimal redactions. The Department of Justice 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, Fred, if an agreement cannot be reached though, it seems quite likely that this may end up before a judge in court.

WHITFIELD: OK. And then in your new article titled "Mueller's report leaves open possibility post-White House criminal exposure for Trump." How concerned should the White House be of that?

[13:05:04] SCANNELL: You know it's interesting. Robert Mueller does not make a traditional prosecutorial decision on the question of obstruction of justice saying he is bound by DOJ guidelines that prohibit the indictment of a sitting president. But he does include some language in there, in which he knows that the president is not immune from prosecution after he's out of office. And he also says that they conducted this investigation in order to preserve evidence.

Now some of this will be used by Congress, of course. But it does remain an open question as to whether a future U.S. attorney's office could look at this investigation and take a different look. The Attorney General Barr had determined that the president did not obstruct justice. It's not impossible that down the road someone else could look at this and come up with a different conclusion.

Now one former prosecutor said that you know well that is entirely possible. He thinks that it may be unlikely because of the distance in time that would pass once Trump is out of office. So, right now, the White House and the president's best defense is win re-election and round the clock on the statute of limitations. Fred?

WHITFIELD: And the Mueller team did forward information to some 14 other jurisdictions. So these are real possibilities. Kara Scannell, thank you so much.

Joining me right now to discuss, congressional reporter for "The Washington Post," Karoun Demirjian and former U.S. Attorney Greg Brower. Good to see you both and Happy Easter and Passover. So, Karen, you know tell me now about what happens. What are the obstacles now that the subpoena has been issued?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well the subpoena has been issued which we will see if that changes Attorney General Barr's mind. But so far, he's been very, very firm in saying, look, I can show you some of the redacted information to select members of Congress and select staffers, but I'm not going to show you the grand jury information and I have no intention of going to court to get any sort of order to release it on my own. You are welcome to do it if you want to.

House Democrats have been extremely frustrated by this stance. They have basically told him that it is not good enough, the offer he made to show a select group of lawmakers the redactions, but absent the grand jury information. And this looks like it may actually be going to definitely through stages of negotiations, potentially a court battle. If it comes to that, that would start to get rather awkward.

I think that right now, it's going to depend on who decides if the House Democrats decide they are going to go to a judge to try to get a court order to see that grand jury information and circumvent Barr that way. That's somewhat unprecedented but it's an option that's available to them and they have said they will avail themselves of all options until they get to see every last letter of that report.

WHITFIELD: That will be unprecedented but so much already has been unprecedented.

DEMIRJIAN: Exactly. Exactly.

WHITFIELD: Right. So just continue on with that theme. So, you know, Greg, CNN you know estimates about 8 percent of the report is redacted because of ongoing investigations. So, will an unredacted version make a real difference, you know, in the comprehension you know of this report or you know of the acts committed?

GREG BROWER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Fred, I think you hit it right on the head. It seems to me that there aren't, as you pointed out, a whole lot of redactions. There's not a lot of what appears to be important information in the report that has been redacted, effectively hidden from Congress and the American people.

And so, I'm not sure that that is a big deal. It might even -- some might say, it's a bit of a side show. I think the real question is, even if Congress is able to get the unredacted information, would it make a difference with respect to any possible impeachment proceedings? It seems so far that while Democrats are very serious about potential for impeachment, no one on the Republican side is even willing to say that word out loud. And unless it's a bipartisan effort, it simply will not be successful. And so, Democrats will have to think twice, as they clearly are about going down that road.

WHITFIELD: And so, Karoun, you know what can Congress do you know with information about, you know, these 10 potential instances of obstruction of justice? I mean, if it's not going down the road of impeachment, is it censure that is the goal? I mean, what is the possible end game here?

WHITFIELD: You are asking the question that they have yet to answer. Impeachment is very clear end game, even if, as Greg said, it's not going to necessarily to lead to a successful vote in the Senate to oust Trump from office. At least that is a target they could hit. But Speaker Pelosi does not want to. The leaders of the Democratic Party in the House are feeling very squeamish about the idea because they know if it doesn't go anywhere, it could really have a backlash effect in 2020 as for the seats that they hold in Congress.

But they have not said more than we are going to do our oversight functions. We are going to investigate everything. We want to see all the evidence. This is keeping the issue alive. But it is not really packaging it into a sort of slogan that you can deliver to the voters who are frankly not watching this issue as closely as I think everybody in D.C. is as they make up their minds who they are voting for.

[13:10:00] So, this is the balancing act the Democrats are trying to do. But in the process, they haven't said what the other potential end game goal is. If it's not impeachment, then what? They don't seem to know except that they're working - at the election calendar, the clock that we are all watching, which means that they have to do something before the fall of 2020. That's conclusive, otherwise, they kind of miss the moment.

WHITFIELD: U.S. Attorney General Barr, you know, he of course is facing a lot of criticism for his characterization of the Mueller report. That came immediately following that. But then he was criticized once again once he you know was releasing the redacted version. Take a listen.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The White House fully cooperated with the special counsel's investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the president took no act that, in fact, deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.


WHITFIELD: That caught the attention of many because in reality the report expresses Mueller's frustration with the president's cooperation for his written answers saying that they seemed inadequate. So, you know, Greg, what's -- is Barr trying to mislead the public? I mean what's the motivation here? What is behind this? Why would he characterize it when, in the end, everyone gets to read for themselves and see it's like you know the opposite.

BROWER: I'd like to think, Fred, that the attorney general is not trying to mischaracterize or mislead the public. But I've said since the beginning of this latest episode, that the worst thing the attorney general could do is to say something in a letter or in a press conference that is later contradicted by the actual report or by testimony by the special counsel.

And it appears as though the conventional wisdom in Washington right now anyways is that he did just that. That he sort of summarized in an unfair way and then he sort of sugar coated or even expressed more sympathy for the president during his press conference than the report really would allow for. And so, as you know and has been mentioned throughout the weekend so far, many people in Washington think he is doing exactly what those who voted against his confirmation were fearful of.

WHITFIELD: He's only been in the job for like a month and a half, two.

BROWER: So you know he's going to have to testify along with the special counsel and Congress will get a chance to ask all the questions, hopefully for the attorney general, he will be able to explain and answer those questions in a way that undercuts the kind of that narrative against him right now.

WHITFIELD: Right. All right, Greg Brower, Karoun Demirjian, thanks to both of you, appreciate it. Happy holiday weekend.

All right. Still ahead, the president's red line. House Democrats move on Trump's finances. What they are looking for in the battle to come, next.


[13:17:04] WHITFIELD: Democrats 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 politics and business correspondent, Cristina Alesci joins me now. So, Cristina, what kind of information are Democrats looking for?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: In short, they want to follow the money. So let's take through the Democratic probes that are outstanding right now. House Intelligence and the House Financial Services Committees are actually teaming up to subpoena banks, including one of Trump's lenders, Deutsche Bank. 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 activity.

Another committee, Ways and Means is pressing for Trump's tax returns. This group oversee the IRS, which does audit the president's tax returns. And these lawmakers, they want to know that audits are happening properly. Lastly, House Oversight issued a subpoena to Mazars, an accounting firm that compiled the president's financial statements. All of these is going on against the backdrop of the Judiciary Committee as you've been reporting all morning, issued a subpoena for the unredacted and full Mueller report.

WHITFIELD: And the chance of them getting that information?

ALESCI: That's the big question. It depends on the individual request or subpoena. For example, the fight, the highly politicized fight over the president's tax returns is probably going to head to court. The Treasury Department, which counts the IRS as one of its bureaus, has already rejected the committee's request. There's another deadline this week which will be on top of but I'm hearing Treasury will likely continue to resist providing those documents.

Now, House Financial Services may have more luck with the banks because the Oversight - that committee has oversight on the banks. So, those firms are less likely to flagrantly ignore those requests.

Now as for the subpoena of Trump's accounting firm or records, rather, Trump's attorneys have urged - argued that House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings has overstepped his congressional authority and Trump's lawyers told that firm that they will pursue legal action if it complies with the subpoena. WHITFIELD: Are there any other risks you know for Democrats who are launching these investigations?

ALESCI: You touched on this with some of the guests earlier this morning. I mean the risk is the American public grows tired of Democratic investigations. They want Congress to address health care and economic policy. They don't want to see a never-ending list of investigations. But that doesn't seem to deter Democrats. I spoke to several lawmakers yesterday who said they are pushing forward. Fredricka?

[13:20:00] WHITFIELD: All right. Cristina Alesci, thank you so much, appreciate it.

All right. Still ahead, today marks a somber anniversary in American history. It's been 20 years since the massacre since Columbine High School in Colorado. How some of the survivors are remembering the 12 classmates and teacher who lost their lives that day.


WHITFIELD: April 20, 1999 is a day that forever changed so many American lives. Two students stormed Columbine High School in Colorado, killing 12 classmates and one teacher. Well, today, 20 years later, the community is remembering those lives lost with solemn memorial and tributes and supporting the survivors who lived through the unthinkable tragedy. Here now is CNN's Scott McLean.

[13:25:10] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On April 20, 1999, a high school in Littleton, Colorado was under attack. There are students armed with guns and even homemade bombs walked on to campus, started shooting at their peers. In the moments that followed, live images of students running for their lives was broadcast nationwide. Then 16-year-old Samantha Haviland was one of them. She was in the cafeteria when the first shots were fired.


SAMANTHA HAVILAND, COLUMBINE SURVIVOR AND HEAD OF COUNSELING, DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS: My friends had to pull me out of my chair to the ground. I didn't understand. I had no concept of someone shooting at me, particularly in school.


MCLEAN: Haviland narrowly escaped the danger but her friend, Rachel Scott did not. She was among the 13 people killed. Grant Whitus was the first S.W.A.T. officer to enter the building. He is the one seen here at the window to the cafeteria.


GRANT WHITUS, FORMER JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE SWAT LEADER: We broke the window. I went in right then, fully expecting to be in a fire fight.


MCLEAN: By the time police went inside, 47 minutes after the initial gunfire, the shooters were already dead.


WHITUS: By the time we arrived, there was hundreds of cops there and nobody went in. 20 years ago, this is how business was done, you know, patrol gets there, surrounds it, locks the scene down and waits for S.W.A.T. In hindsight, that was the biggest mistake.


MCLEAN: It's a mistake he won't make twice. Since then, he's teaching police to go straight to the sound of gunfire. For 10 years after the shooting, Haviland spent her life on high alert. Always looking for the exits, looking out for danger.


MCLEAN (on-camera): That sounds exhausting.

HAVILAND: Hypervigilance is extremely exhausting. It takes up a lot of mental energies.


MCLEAN (voice-over): Haviland is now the head of counselling for all Denver public schools and sees that same hypervigilance in more and more students every year, even kids who have never experienced trauma themselves. She says it's due to monthly active shooter drills. In graphic school shooting video shared on social media.


HAVILAND: I can't say it surprises me. I can say it breaks my heart.


MCLEAN: Today, Columbine still attracts hollow threats and unwanted attention. Last week, a Florida teenager who police say was infatuated with the shooting took a one way flight to Colorado and bought a gun, forcing the closure of schools across the region.


HAVILAND: I feel for the students and staff that are there because these children were not born even 20 years ago when it happened, but they are the targets.


MCLEAN: A lot has changed since Columbine's School shooting truly shocked the country. Police tactics, gun laws, school security and hundreds of lives. Some things maybe never will.


HAVILAND: When I think back to high school, I don't think about the shooting, I think of the volleyball tournaments, the speech tournaments, my friends. But Columbine, to an outsider is referring to the shooting itself.

MCLEAN: Means only one thing.

HAVILAND: Means only one thing.


MCLEAN: Scott McLean, CNN Denver.


WHITFIELD: And coming up, a militia group takes the border crisis into its own hands. But many including Customs and Border Protection are condemning the group.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. New Mexico's attorney general says members of a self-described militia group, United Constitutional Patriots as they call themselves, are stopping migrants crossing into the U.S. illegally and holding them for Border Patrol Agents. In one incident this week, the group is seen holding -- is seen on video holding nearly 300 people.

CNN's Nick Valencia joining me right now. So, Nick, tell us more about this group and how they are able to do this.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This really is remarkable and I think it's reminiscent to a lot of our viewers of what was seen along the border of U.S.-Mexico border with the minutemen in the early 2000's. What is different though is that this is rare. You see migrants held, intercepted by this militia group. As Fredricka said, the United Constitutional Patriots. They described themselves as concerned citizens that are helping to secure the border. And they believe they are just plugging the holes, they say, where border patrol can't be.

Here is the problem. Their actions have drawn sweeping condemnation from several people, including the ACLU, and state and local officials in New Mexico. The video that you're about to see shows why. In this video, a member of the United Constitutional Patriots identifies himself as a border patrol agent. Not only does he say he is one, he is also acting like one, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MILITIA MEMBER: Border patrol. If you guys are at camp and you -- here we go.


VALENCIA: So, we have reached out to the United Constitutional Patriots. You can hear there one member saying border patrol to these migrants that just crossed, misidentifying who he is. We have reached out to them. They have not gotten back to us. We're giving them ample time. They did however spokesman for the group talked to "The New York Times." They've described their actions as lawful and compared them to citizens arrests.

Now I just spoke to the ACLU. They say that it's not clear that a felony is being committed in this case and for citizen arrest to happen that must be very apparent. There are also some concerns about safety for these migrants potentially being caught in the crossfire. You know these individuals are in full military gear, have handguns strapped to their sides. In some videos and images that we have seen of this group, they are wearing balaclavas or masks. It is, you know, goes without saying, Fredricka, that border patrol agents who see these individuals in the area, they may not know who they are and may consider them a threat, making it a very potential as the ACLU brings up. for these migrant families to be caught in the crossfire.

WHITFIELD: Wait a minute. Posing as a federal law enforcement, how is that not a crime?

[13:35:01] VALENCIA: It should be. Which is why the Customs and Border Protection are looking into it. The FBI is looking into it. Here's what CBP had to say about that notion. We reached out to them because they have seen this video as well. Here is what they said to us in a statement. "Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved. Border Security operations are complex and require highly trained professionals with adequate resources to protect the country."

But you heard it there. Clear. This individual not a border patrol agent but identifies himself as such anyway.

WHITFIELD: Powerful stuff.

All right. Nick Valencia, thank you for bringing that.

VALENCIA: You bet.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, President Trump lashing out at his former White House Counsel Don McGahn, even though some people say he may have saved Trump's presidency.


[13:40:20] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. President Trump frustrated with his former White House counsel, even though some people say he may have saved the presidency. Trump now lashing out at Don McGahn over details released in the Mueller report, specifically the part about McGahn taking notes of his conversations with the president. CNN's Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Total BS as the president rages against the Mueller report. He appears to be singling out one particular person who spoke to investigators. Former White House Counsel Don McGahn.




FOREMAN: "Watch out for people who take so-called notes," Trump tweeted, "when the notes never existed until needed."


MCGAHN: It's been a privilege to be part of a presidential campaign that was successful.


FOREMAN: It is a big turnaround considering McGahn's role during in the Russia probe. It was McGahn who refused to fire the special counsel when Trump said Mueller has to go. McGahn, who refused to lie about it later. The Mueller report indicates both actions protected Trump from obstruction charges. But Jack O'Donnell, a former executive in the Trump organization, says Trump's anger is typical.


JACK O'DONNELL, AUTHOR, "TRUMPED": In this case, where Don McGahn really saved him, it's not relevant because the bigger picture makes Donald look bad.

MCGAHN: I don't have a list of enumerated powers I can look to when I advise the president on what he can and he can't do. It's more general.


FOREMAN: The Mueller report suggests Trump was always suspicious of McGahn's potential power. "Why do you take notes?" Trump reportedly said in a meeting. Lawyers don't take notes. When McGahn said he was a real lawyer, Trump shot back, I have had a lot of great lawyers like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes.

Cohn served Sen. Joe McCarthy during his infamous campaign to rule out communists and he worked for Trump in the 1970s when Trump's company was accused of discriminating against African-Americans. Cohn had to settle in that legal battle and eventually lost his license for unethical conduct. Still, before McGahn left the White House last fall, Trump said he would not be a rat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


QUESTION: Any concern what he said to Mueller?

TURMP: No. No.


FOREMAN: Perhaps the president had reason to think that. After all, when he was trying to get his Casino up and running years ago, battling politicians, regulators and more, who helped manage every detail no matter how small Don McGahn's uncle, Pat.


O'DONNELL: Because literally, Donald could ask Pat McGahn to do anything and he would do it for him. Obviously Don McGahn had his limits with Donald Trump.



FOREMAN: So, Trump fans are facing something of a puzzle right now. What should they think of Don McGahn? Sure, the president is putting him down, but he is also the very man who appears to have saved the Trump presidency.

Tom Foreman, CNN Washington.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more now. Here with me, right here in Atlanta, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor. Welcome.


WHITFIELD: And someone who should be right here in the house, but that's OK, he's joining us from Los Angeles - Richard Herman criminal defense attorney.

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Close enough. If I was invited. If I was only invited, Fred.

WHITFIELD: You are always invited. The door is always open. The door is always open.

FRIEDMAN: Sooner or later.


WHITFIELD: OK. So, let's talk about this. Does the president, you know, have Don McGahn to really thank you know, Avery, for keeping, you know, everything together, not following the orders of the president. That sounds really crazy, and ultimately saving the presidency.

FRIEDMAN: I don't think he saved the president at all. I think he is an ethical lawyer. When Donald Trump said I have never seen lawyers taking notes, he goes that's because I'm a real lawyer, meaning, I'm an ethical lawyer. He's keeping track. It's one of these amazing vignettes, Fredricka, that deal with all the legalistic inclusion in 448 pages. It's a powerful commentary on the fact that McGahn is the anti-Giuliani. This is the straight story doing it right, kind of vintage Jones day, which is where he came from. A wonderful sort of arrogant, interesting commentary included in this report.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And he let the president know, you know he's not going to do it. And of course that really got --

FRIEDMAN: No nonsense.

WHITFIELD: But then, Richard, you know if McGahn had complied, you know, with the president's request, would that have amounted to obstruction because even attempting to obstruct is meaningful, too, isn't it?

HERMAN: Of course, it is meaningful, Fred. You just have to look at the Mueller report. Most people won't read it because they just don't care about this.

[13:45:03] And that's the problem. The country has become numb to this president and all the insanity. But the report is really telling, Fred. Mueller took the time to lay out obstruction. This is one instance with McGahn. There are mere yard of instances where he laid the framework and the foundation for an obstruction prosecution against this president. And the only reason, you know, from New York, bottom line, the only reason he did not seek to indict or charge the president in obstruction is because he could not. He was bound as an employee. (CROSSTALK) Right. As the Department of Justice prosecutor, he was bound by that policy, you can't do it. But he laid it out for Congress. And Congress will have it now.

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

HERMAN: He will get the full report. And they have the obligation, as oversight to look into it. And Fred, the House must draft articles of impeachment. They must. But the problem and the absurdity -


WHITFIELD: Because why? Why do you say? You say they must because --

HERMAN: Because, if you don't draft articles of impeachment on everything that Mueller uncovered here, when do you do it? What do you need to bring impeachment proceedings?


WHITFIELD: But what - wasn't this the completion of the investigation, the report is finalized. And if you don't, I guess, you know to continue the question that Richard brings up, if you don't do it, then don't you undermine all the resources put into putting the report together in the first place, Avery?

FRIEDMAN: You know, honestly, I think you look at the Mueller report and tees it up for further investigation. In two paragraphs, Robert Mueller says that look, we have separation of powers. Let's go forward with this. Let's do further investigation, lock it in. Mueller had to operate with one hand tied behind his back. But let's let the committee do a full investigation before we start talking about impeachment.

WHITFIELD: And before there were more investigations, all the subpoenas. We know one subpoena of course being issued to get the full, unredacted. And then the House Judiciary Committee has authorized subpoenas for five former White House officials who were mentioned in the Mueller report, including former White House Counsel Don McGahn. So, what kind of light could that testimony shed?

HERMAN: And there are 12 other referrals that the Mueller group did pending investigation. Criminal referrals, by the way. So - but Fred, the absurdity is this. And it's so sad.

OK. So, everybody is yelling impeachment. So it goes to the House. It's a majority vote to draft articles of impeachment. They can do that. It's like an indictment and then take that over to the Senate where the trial takes place.


WHITFIELD: Right. But it doesn't -

HERMAN: You need 75 percent, three quarters. They can't vote on releasing the Mueller report. So it's never going to happen. This concept of prosecuting a president after he leaves, that's garbage, too. He will pardon himself.

WHITFIELD: But it sounds like your point is even if it goes nowhere in the Senate, it's at least to be on record for the House to continue what has been started, which, you know, is, I guess, respecting what the report is telling you. Then doing something about it.

FRIEDMAN: And, and, and, doing the investigation by these various committees. That's critical. Because if we can maintain the sense of separation of powers, Fredricka, and we are going maintain the integrity of what the republic is about, that has to happen. I think Mueller tees it up. I think the responsibility falls on the various House committees, whether or not the Senate convicts. Doesn't matter.

WHITFIELD: Then what? I mean you have investigations after the investigations, but then what?

HERMAN: Right.

FRIEDMAN: Well, then there's an ultimate referral. And that's where it gets more complicated. Go back to the Justice Department.

WHITFIELD: Richard, final word? HERMAN: And then he pardons himself. And unless the states - the state attorney general of New York or someone can bring state charges. This guy is going to skate free. He's going to walk away from all of this.

FRIEDMAN: We'll see.

WHITFIELD: All right. Richard, I heard you. You're like New York bottom line.

FRIENDMAN: There we go.

WHITFIELD: Cut to the chase. All right.

HERMAN: Enjoy your day, guys. Have fun!

FRIEDMAN: You bet. You bet, buddy.

WHITFIELD: We will. Next time, come on.

FRIEDMAN: Yes. What are you waiting for?

WHITFIELD: All right. Avery, Richard, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

All right. Still ahead, no charges will be filed in the death of a South Carolina girl who suddenly died after a fight at school. Coming up, the birth defect that doctors say caused her death.


[13:53:42] WHITFIELD: All right. Don't miss the CNN original series "Chasing Life" with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Here's a sneak preview.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And while quinoa is a major export for Bolivia, I've heard there's another super nutritious grain from here that we should all know about. It is good for the heart, and I've heard delicious as well, in the right hands. To find it, I'm headed here, to Gustu restaurant, to meet with restauranteur, Samaya Pradda (ph).


GUPTA (on camera): I was at the market today, and some of these grains I never heard of. And I look into this kind of thing, you know. Quinoa is one of my favorite foods. What are some of the other grains people here in Bolivia know but the rest of the world doesn't know about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amaranth. It is considered, scientifically considered all of the minerals and vitamins that you need, in just one small grain.

GUPTA: But if you had balance quinoa and Amaranth next to each other -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amaranth.

GUPTA: No question?




WHITFIELD: OK. Let's change our diets, everyone. "Chasing Life" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Airing tonight, 9:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific. Right here on CNN.

All right. Look at our top stories right now, a Florida man is charged with making threats against several Democratic lawmakers including two presidential hopefuls.

[13:55:03] Court documents show he made vulgar and Islamic and racist calls threatening Congressman Eric Swalwell, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Sen. Cory Booker.

And nearly six weeks after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 Jet crashed killing everyone on board, new information about the investigation into this type of plane, the FAA says nine countries and three federal U.S. agencies plan to investigate how the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane was initially certified. The 737 Max 8 was grounded last month, after two deadly plane crashes, within six months. The group will take three months to conduct the review.

The California parents who pleaded guilty to holding captive and torturing their children for years in their own home had 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 ranged in age from two to 29 managed to escape the home and call police. Authorities said the siblings had been isolated from the outside world and were often denied showers, medical care, and food.


UNIDENTIFIED TURPINS' CHILD: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED TURPINS' CHILD: 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 I remain strong. I fought to become the person I am.


WHITFIELD: In court, the Turpins apologized to their children for everything they had done.

Police will not, won't file charges in the death of a fifth grade South Carolina student. The ten-year-old died after a fight at her school. But officials say the fight was not a factor. And a birth defect caused the death. The attorney for the girl's family say that there is so much more to investigate.

Here is CNN's Dianne Gallagher.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I miss my daughter. I am not able to hold my daughter again. Kiss her. I'm not able to see my child go to prom.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the nearly one month since the ten-year-old Raniya Wright died after a fight at school, her family has been asking the same question, what happened inside that fifth grade classroom on March 25, and why did her little girl die two days later? On Friday, South Carolina investigators announced their surprising conclusion.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raniya Wright died of natural causes. There was no evidence of trauma on or inside the body of Raniya Wright that would indicate that any fight in any magnitude contributed to her death. As a result of those findings, there will not be criminal charges brought in this matter.


GALLAGHER: The pathologist determined Raniya's death was caused by a relatively rare birth defect called an AVM, a tangled mass of blood vessels on her brain. The solicitors said that during the last two years, Raniya had visited a doctor at least six times complaining of headaches and dizziness. Her final visit, just 13 days before she fell unconscious at school. Now, officials say based on interviews and medical evidence, it does not appear a fight of any kind contributed to Raniya's death.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were no bruises, no cuts, no scrapes, no busted lips, no black eyes.


GALLAGHER: But Raniya's mother and her legal team say they hired a private investigator, who also interviewed children inside the classroom that day. And got a very different description of what the district labeled a scuffle and county officials called a quote "five to ten-second slap fight between Raniya and another student."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each punch to Raniya's head made a loud sound. With Raniya's head in a choke hold, students who slung Raniya into an orange-file cabinet, all the while hitting her in the head.


GALLAGHER: They believe there is still much more to this investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While we certainly respect the efforts and the initial, I will stress the word initial findings that have been presented to us today, we certainly know that this is not where the story ends.

I'm angry and get to the bottom of it. I promise you, I will get to the bottom of it, if I got to take every breath of my body, for that to come out, I will find out what happened to my baby.


Dianne Gallagher, CNN Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: And the school district superintendent said officials found district employees acted appropriately and all safety procedures were followed during Raniya's medical emergency. So much more straight ahead in the Newsroom.