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Mueller Report Gives Dems a New Road Map; Sarah Sanders on Defense after Lying; Judiciary Chairman Subpoenas Unredacted Report; Police Appeal for Info in Journalist's Murder; Ukrainian Presidential Candidates Debate; Emma Thompson Joins Demonstrators in London. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired April 20, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): As top Democrats demand the full, unredacted Mueller report, the U.S. president lashing out at a probe on Twitter a day after claiming vindication.

SARA CANNING, LYRA MCKEE'S PARTNER: Lyra's death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else's life and her legacy will live on.

VANIER (voice-over): Northern Ireland mourns a young journalist, shot and killed as she encountered violence in Londonderry. Police are searching for the gunman.

And Ukrainian presidential rivals trade insults in a lively stadium debate.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.

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VANIER: It's time to move on. That's the present message the U.S. president Donald Trump and his allies are trying to send after the Mueller report has been released. Democrats, however, have different plans. Their first action, get the full, unredacted version, not the partially blacked-out version.

Next, they want the special counsel himself, Robert Mueller, to testify before Congress. Manu Raju takes a look at all the items on the Democrats' wish list.

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MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The fight over the full Mueller record only just beginning, the Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee sending a subpoena to the Justice Department, demanding the full Mueller report, the underlying evidence, wanting all the information by May 1st. But they are not expecting to get what they are demanding and that

could mean that the court fight could take months and weeks to get what the Democrats want, if they are successful.

Also, they're planning on issues other subpoenas. They've already authorized to send subpoenas to five individuals, former White House officials, for records that they may have received from the White House, preparing to testify before Bob Mueller's investigation as it pertained to potential obstruction of justice.

One of those officials, Don McGahn, the president's former attorney, who, according to the Mueller report, was ordered by the president to fire Bob Mueller and, according to the report, resisted doing so.

Democrats want to learn more. Dividing the party in the days and weeks ahead, in the aftermath, is whether to pursue impeachment proceedings. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 presidential candidate, senator from Massachusetts, called on the House to open up impeachment proceedings.

House Democratic leaders are not so sure. Jerry Nadler said that's not his goal. He says it is to investigate what happened and for impeachment, they would make that decision after the investigation. Not closing the door but says he is not rushing into this at the moment -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: Some Republican allies of Trump claim the report exonerates the U.S. president but one prominent Republicans senator who is admittedly a frequent critic of this president has lambasted Mr. Trump.

In a statement, former presidential candidate Matt Romney writes, "I'm sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president."

And we are having to bleep the graphic language used by the president, this time in a series of angry tweets against what he called the crazy Mueller report. He called sworn statements about him, well, he called them something that I can't repeat on TV. Here is our Jim Acosta at the White House.

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (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."

[03:05:00]

ACOSTA (voice-over): 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.

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.

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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did the president lie?

Did the president lie?

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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.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You're not aware of the president of the United States lying?

(CROSSTALK)

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.

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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: Later, the president posted a tweet, accusing unnamed forces of what he described as spying or treason. But like so many of the president's statements, he did not back that up with proof or evidence -- Jim Acosta, CNN, White House.

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VANIER: David Katz is a former assistant U.S. attorney. He joins us now, as does Peter Mathews, a professor at political science at Cypress College, both joining us from Los Angeles.

Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

David, to you first, Democrats want to see the full report without redactions and they have issued a subpoena to get it.

Do you feel that you are missing vital information from the report that we currently have? Right now is it about 10 percent redacted.

DAVID KATZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think there should not even be that 10 percent redacted. And there are certain means, like go into the court that supervised the grand jury so that they can get the grand jury records.

And the definition of who are peripheral third parties, they may not really be that peripheral. So I think not only Congress but the public should see that.

And then there are certainly some factual matters that they are going to want to get into. They're going to want to call Don McGahn and Mueller, the other witnesses they've mentioned, and they're going to want to subpoena documents, which makes sense.

This is the normal process by which the checks and balances work and where the president is not above the law.

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KATZ: The normal process in American history has not been indictment, it has been impeachment.

VANIER: I understand it makes sense from a legal perspective, to want to see everything and to want the underlying evidence. But Donald Trump makes the argument that whatever you give the public, whatever is released, Democrats will always want more and, at the end of the day, this report is very comprehensive and it is 90 percent available to us unredacted.

Doesn't that kind of make the president's argument, when the Democrats are saying, we want to see the 10 percent that is remaining?

KATZ: Well, no, for two years, Congress, both houses were controlled by Republicans. There really wasn't oversight. There was just burying any information that might be out there.

Now is the House's first opportunity under Democratic control to subpoena what they view as necessary and to see everything that needs to be seen.

Now some of it may be in closed session. It may be shown only to the chiefs of the Intelligence Committees. But that should be as little as possible because what's shown to the chiefs of the Intelligence Committees can't be shared. They're talking about having them go into a room, like during the Kavanaugh hearings, and just look in a closed room without aides, without being able to take notes and without disclosing it to the public.

This is a chance to have a public accounting of what happened with the president, with attacks by Russia on our election and by obstruction of justice, which, by the way, is very clearly spelled out.

And if it were anyone other than president, I think your viewers would agree -- [03:10:00]

KATZ: -- that someone who committed what the president is detailed for having done should be indicted, would be indicted and would be convicted by a jury of his peers.

VANIER: But the president is held to a different legal standard, as the special counsel quite clearly spelled out in his report.

Peter, on the political side of things, do you think Democrats should seriously pursue impeachment?

PETER MATHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: Well, let's first of all look at impeachment, Cyril, it's not a legal issue. It's actually a political one in the sense that, originally, a king of England could not be impeached but his ministers could. And the Parliament could remove the ministers.

In fact, some of them were removed for just giving a friend a military commission and giving bad advice. So it's a political situation where, if the president is violating his oath of office, to faithfully execute the laws of the United States and he has obstructed justice, not to forget fully executing the laws, he actually obstructing the laws from being executed and he is trying to fire people, Mueller, he tried to fire him.

He told Mr. McGahn to go and tell him --

VANIER: Ultimately he didn't, though. He didn't --

MATHEWS: Ultimately but that is because his subordinate disobeyed him. If his subordinates actually obeyed the president, he would be in real violation of obstruction of justice right now and he would be removed possibly, at least impeachment would be more right on the line, on the horizon.

I think that's very important, that Congress actually starts the investigation for the impeachment proceedings, to look to see if there's evidence to -- (INAUDIBLE) impeachment. It's very important to get to that and they should not shrink from that.

And they should not make it a partisan issue. They should not say, because there's not a lot of Republican -- it's only a Republican Senate, we can't really do it.

No, it's a step by step process. The Congress and the House starts it and the Senate gets to actually hear the trial and have a conviction voted on. It shouldn't look at it from a partisan basis at all.

VANIER: David, as far as next steps, the special -- we just discussed the possibility of impeachment and that political process. But the special counsel also hinted pretty heavily in his report that Mr. Trump could actually be indicted, once he is no longer in office.

Now how -- do you see that happening?

How would that work and who would have the authority to do that?

KATZ: Well, it's very clear that the president and others could be indicted as long as the statute of limitations hasn't run, once President Trump will no longer in office. And, of course, that could occur by January of 2021. I think a lot of the wind will be out of the sails because I agree that it's a terrible problem with the rule of law. It is a terrible precedent if a president can do all these things and, just because the Department of Justice rule that a sitting president should not be indicted but should be impeached and there wasn't time to impeach, that basically he got away with it. Donald Trump Jr. got away with it.

But as bad a precedent as that would be, I think the wind would be out of the sails if Trump were no longer the president. I think that is the reality.

VANIER: David Katz, Peter Mathews, thank you. Thank you so much for your time today. Thanks.

MATHEWS: You're welcome.

VANIER: Now France is bracing for yet another weekend of Yellow Vest rallies but this time protesters are raising new concerns. We'll tell you why they're upset over donations for the Notre Dame cathedral.

Plus, one is a president and the other played a president on TV. The latest on the candidates competing in Ukraine's runoff election. Stay with us.

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VANIER: Information is just coming into us here at the CNN NEWSROOM. Northern Ireland police have arrested two men under the Terrorism Act in connection with the murder of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee. She was shot while standing near a police vehicle during rioting in Londonderry.

The timing could not be more ironic. It happened as the world remembers the Good Friday agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland. CNN's Nic Robertson reports on the shock in Derry.

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NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Where she was killed, a shrine to her short life is growing. Flowers left clustered around a forlorn lamppost, as cleanup trucks do their best to sweep the murder from the streets.

"Not in our name." Everyone here united in grief and shock at Lyra McKee's murder, few more so than her partner. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANNING: The senseless murder of Lyra McKee has left a family without a beloved daughter, a sister, an aunt and a great-aunt, as well as so many friends without their confidante.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): McKee had been covering riding in the Catholic Creggan neighborhood of Derry. Police had raided a house; local youths gathered, throwing petrol bombs and firecrackers at their armored vehicles.

McKee, highlighted in this police video, was standing near their vehicles. She had tweeted, "Derry tonight. Absolute madness."

In the melee, a gunman, highlighted in this police video, can clearly been seeing shooting at the police. McKee was hit.

MARK HAMILTON, ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE, POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND: She was taken away from the scene in a police Land Rover and taken to Gallegan Hospital but, unfortunately, she has died.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She was a rarity here, well respected, an LGBT advocate, one of "Forbes'" top rated under 30 journalists. She reached across divides. In an incredibly rare act of unity, Northern Ireland pro-British and pro-Irish politicians issued a joint statement, "The murder was also an attack on the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic process. We are united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime."

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited the town earlier in the day, joined in condemning the killing of McKee.

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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: -- and of course to extend the deepest sympathies and sadness to the family on this Good Friday.

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ROBERTSON (voice-over): A terrible irony that she was killed 21 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed. McKee would have been 8 years old then. The peace that ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed was intended to give her generation a chance to shine. She did. And that's the tragedy.

CANNING: We are all poorer for the loss of Lyra. Her hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potential was snuffed out by a single barbaric act. This cannot stand. Lyra's death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else's life and her legacy will live on in the light that she's left behind.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Nic Robertson, CNN, Derry, Northern Ireland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Yellow Vest Protesters will be on the march across France in the coming hours for the 23rd straight weekend. Many are critical of huge donations being raised to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral. Almost $1 billion have been pledged so far to rebuild the Paris landmark after this week's huge fire.

Protesters think the funds could be better spent elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Christians around the world are using Easter weekend to cope with this fire tragedy. The holy weekend represents recovery and rebirth. And Christians hope the cathedral can also recover after the devastation.

In the next hour, we will have more on the unrest taking place across France.

Voters in Ukraine head to the polls on Sunday for a runoff presidential election. The incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, is facing comedian turned politician Volodymyr Zelensky. They traded barbs in a raucous debate on Friday in front of thousands of people at a football stadium.

Mr. Poroshenko attacked his opponent for his lack of experience.

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PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): How is he going --

[03:20:00]

POROSHENKO (through translator): -- to fulfill the functions of commander in chief?

Your team has already said that you are starting a course for a young fighter. It is a good thing to do but you should've started it four years ago in 2014, when Ukraine needed the efforts of all volunteers, when Volodymyr was hiding from conscription notice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Meanwhile, Zelensky says that he is the change that Ukrainian politics needs.

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VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I'm not a politician. I'm not a politician at all. I'm just a human being, an ordinary human being, who has come to break the system.

I am the result, Petro Oleksiyovych. I am the result of your mistakes and promises. This is true and you know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Zelensky is known for his television show, where his character becomes the unexpected president of Ukraine. Polling shows that he could pull that feat off in real life now.

Also, voters in Egypt are at the polls with some big decisions to make. One would allow the president to tighten his grip on power. CNN's Zain Asher brings us the details of Egypt's referendum.

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ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This weekend, millions of people in Egypt are voting on sweeping new changes to the country's constitution. Voters must decide on 14 amendments and several new articles.

The changes would affect every branch of government; in particular, the presidency. One amendments would extend presidential terms from four years to six. Another measure creates a new upper house in the legislature, with the president handpicking one-third of the senate lawmakers.

The amendments would also give Egypt's president new power to appoint members of the judiciary. Egypt's parliament is dominated by lawmakers who support the president. They voted overwhelmingly in favor of the amendments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): 554 members have voted, 531 members have agreed. Two members have rejected and one member has abstained. Therefore, the two-thirds necessary majority is available for passing the constitutional amendment.

RASHAD SHUKRI, EGYPTIAN MP (through translator): We have complete trust in the political leadership. And in terms of what was achieved on the ground, for stability, security and safety, we approve of the constitutional amendments.

ASHER (voice-over): Critics say the amendments are a further step towards authoritarianism. They are opposed to granting more power to the president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

If the amendments pass, it will extend the president current term and raise the possibility he will be in office until 2030. But since he led the overthrow of the country's president in 2013, then won the election in 2014, el-Sisi has cracked down on dissent.

Human rights groups accuse the regime of widespread and systemic torture of political prisoners and using a death sentence to silence critics. The government denies the allegations.

Voting has already begun for Egyptian expats living overseas -- Zain Asher, CNN.

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VANIER: The California parents who imprisoned and beat their children have been sentenced to 25 years to life. David and Louise Turpin were arrested after one of their 13 children escaped their filthy home and called police. The siblings, ranging from 2 to 29 years old, had been isolated from

the outside world. Investigators say they lived in a house of horrors, where they were sometime shackled to beds for months at a time, denied medical care and food. One of the girls told the court about her ordeal.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TURPIN DAUGHTER: My parents took my whole life from me. But now I'm taking my life back. I'm in college now and living independently. I love hanging out with my friends and life is great. 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. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me. But I realized what was happening. I immediately did what I could to not become like them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOUISE TURPIN, CHILD ABUSER: Despite everything I've done to hurt my children, I love my children so much. (INAUDIBLE) a mother each one of them. I only want the best for them. Their happiness is very important to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: The court placed protective orders on each of the children to prevent the parents from having any contact with them.

Nearly 700 people have been arrested at London's climate change protests. Activists have crippled the city streets all week long, blocking traffic, lying on the ground. Some even glued themselves to trains. It all --

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VANIER: -- inspired an Oscar-winning actress to join the movement. CNN's Anna Stewart has more.

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EMMA THOMPSON, ACTOR: We're here in this little island of sanity...

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A boost of star power for Extinction Rebellion.

THOMPSON: -- to join you all and to add my voice.

What we're protesting about is saving this extraordinary home of ours and also celebrating the passion and the inspiring energy of this young generation.

STEWART (voice-over): Actress Emma Thompson climbed aboard the pink yacht at Oxford Circus to read a so-called love letter to the Earth. The crowd sat down in silence.

THOMPSON: I would watch you in your hundreds, criss-cross, hunt on the wing. But you are now so few.

STEWART (voice-over): Then, when she was finished, the police moved in.

The silence broken as well as the mood. Some protesters attached themselves to the boat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not done?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want the government to come down and speak to us, (INAUDIBLE) about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you prepared to get arrested now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

STEWART: So this is a new peace tactic, around 50 policemen here surrounding the boat in a circle. And there are protesters that you can see chained and glued underneath. They have been told they can leave but they certainly can't come back.

Slowly this ring of policemen are moving, pushing their way backwards until all the protesters get pushed away from Oxford Circus.

STEWART (voice-over): A second larger circle of police surrounded this; those stuck in the middle were given the option: leave or be arrested. Then began the real work, unsticking and cutting loose those stuck under the boat, forcing its captain to abandon ship before finally taking the boat away altogether.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so sad the boat is gone. It was like the heart of our campaign. But the campaign still goes on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't really matter about the boat at the end of the day. That was a symbol of the rebellion but the rebellion is still going on.

STEWART (voice-over): Extinction Rebellion have lost Oxford Circus, a key battleground. But they say their war on climate change is not over. Arrests were also ramped up at Waterloo Bridge. It hasn't been cleared yet but this flotilla of specialist police units could set sail for those shores next -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

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VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier and I'm back with the headlines in just a moment.

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