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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Democratic Judiciary Committee Chair Subpoenas Full Mueller Report; Dems Divided Over Whether to Impeach the President; Democrats Set Sight on President Trump's Finances. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 20, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Just wanted to make sure you had a smile on your face. This is during a game Thursday night against the Nets. You see one guy there, he's covering his face. Oh no. Another guy, sweatshirt covering his nose, another one's covering up, it only spreads from there.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: It ain't the Easter eggs.

PAUL: So hard fast rule is whoever smelt it, dealt it and no one has claimed it yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe he committed obstruction. The answer is yes.

ANNOUNCER: Democrats say the Mueller report gives them a roadmap to investigate the President for obstruction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frustration is not obstruction. I think for those who pursuing this, I think the American people are exhausted by it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Total BS, as the President rages against the Mueller report. He appears to be singling out one particular person who spoke to investigators.

DON MCGAHN, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White House counsel Don McCain. Watch out for people that take so called notes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendants Louise and David Turpin sobbed, listening to toned down testimony of torture and captivity.

TURPIN'S SON: Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten.

TURPIN'S DAUGHTER: My parents took my whole life for me but now I'm taking my life back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul. BLACKWELL: Good new day to you Democrats are now demanding the release

of the full Mueller reports without redactions and the democratic aide tells CNN they feel, "they are only at the beginning of this thing."

PAUL: So where do the Mueller revelations end? Some say impeachment and Democrats are divided on that issue.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): I think we're not at that spot yet. I think the judiciary actually has the awesome responsibility to do the investigation and that's what we're going to do. Impeachment is not yet on the table but it is certainly not off the table.

PAUL: That was moments ago with Congresswoman Madeleine Dean from Pennsylvania. They have a call, the Democrats do on Monday to discuss strategy and where they go from here.

BLACKWELL: Now House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has already formally requested the report but the Justice Department is really unlikely to hand it over without a court fight.

PAUL: So for more on why Democrats say they need this unredacted report. CNN reporter Kara Scannell with us now, Kara.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right Christi. So the Democrats are saying as we heard from Madeleine Dean there, member of the House Judiciary Committee that they need the underlying report and all the facts behind it. All the work product that Robert Mueller's investigative team did as part of their fact finding mission to determine whether they believe that the President obstructed justice.

All part of this impeachment process. Now we've heard that there is a split among the Democrats, there's a lot of caution being the tone at the top is one of caution Nancy Pelosi has really tried to put the brakes on members getting too far ahead on this impeachment issue because of the potential ramifications it could have down the road for the election.

Now this is an issue though with that the Democrats are saying they are a co-equal branch of government, they have an absolute right and a responsibility to do this fact finding mission but the Department of Justice is saying, they do not intend to give them the full report.

That could put this in a court battle and it stems in a large part from a lot of mistrust that the Democrats have with the Attorney General Bill Barr. They viewed that his presentation of the Mueller report was mischaracterized and they want to - they want questions from him and they want to see the facts for themselves because they don't want to rely on his role in deciding what portions of this are redacted.

And you know, our tally of the redactions is that it's about 8% of the whole report, a lot of it has to do with ongoing investigations but Democrats are pretty determined to try to see them for themselves so they can make their own conclusions. Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you so much. BLACKWELL: Democrats are also pursuing a line of investigation that

Robert Mueller mostly avoided and that's the President's finances.

PAUL: They do plan to investigate whether the President's compromised by a foreign interest so is this just another attempt to find a Russian link to the President after Mueller found no conspiracy.

Business politics correspondent Cristina Alesci is looking into that so what are the Democrats specifically want to find here?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, simply put, they want to follow the money. Now let's run through those democratic probes. The House Intelligence and House Financial Services are 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.

Now another committee, Ways and Means is pressing for Trump's tax returns. This group oversees the IRS which audits the President's tax returns and these lawmakers want to make sure that's happening properly. Lastly, House Oversight issued a subpoena to Mazars, an accounting firm that compiled the President's financial statements.

Now all of this is happening against the backdrop of House Judiciary issuing a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report.

[08:05:00] PAUL: So what are the chances the Democrats are going to get this information that they want, specifically on the business and finance life of President Trump?

ALESCI: That's a critical question. It really depends on the individual request or the subpoena for example, the highly politicized fight over the release of the President's tax returns is probably headed to the court. Remember, the Treasury Department which oversees the IRS has already rejected the committee request and there's another deadline this week which will report on.

But Treasury, I'm hearing will likely continue to resist. Now House Financial Services might have more luck with the banks. That committee oversees the banks so they're likely - they're unlikely to flagrantly ignore the request from the committee. Now as for the subpoena of Trump's accounting records, well, Trump's attorneys have argued that Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings has overstepped his congressional authority.

These lawyers, Trump's lawyers told the accounting firm Mazars that they will pursue legal action if Mazars complies with that subpoena.

BLACKWELL: Detail for us the risks that Democrats are considering or weighing here as they launch these investigations? ALESCI: Well you guys have been touching on this all morning. You know, the risk is that the American public just grows tired of Democratic investigations and they want Congress to address healthcare and economic policy. But it doesn't seem like that risk is going to deter the Democrats at this point at least that's according to several lawmakers I spoke to yesterday.

BLACKWELL: Cristina Alesci, thank you.

ALESCI: Thank you.

PAUL: Now let's pose that question to Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. Lynn, thank you so much for being with us here on this Saturday morning. Good to see you as always.

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUNTIMES: Good morning.

PAUL: Let me ask you about that. There is a big divide in the Democratic Party right now about whether to push forward with impeachment. We know that there's a call on Monday where Democratic leaders are going to be talking about where they move you know, what the strategy is.

How divisive do you think this is going to be? How much might Democrats in the far Left who want this push Speaker Pelosi to do it.

SWEET: Well, it has the potential for being divisive but not by a large number in the caucus and here's where the leaders can buy time. You - there is no reason to make any decision about impeachment until you hear from Mueller himself who is going to be testifying up on the Hill next month.

Remember, I talked to - said well as for the next step, it depends on what Mueller says. Maybe just maybe they'll be something, some - some - some information that they'll get from Mueller that will be informative.

The other reason that they could buy time for the pro-impeachment forces is let the House Investigative Committees and do the work that we've just outlined in the segment before me. There is no reason to make a decision on impeachment without knowing the fruits of that labor.

So one of the things that will happen before - is there a divide? Maybe, could be. I don't disagree with the premise of the question but the Democratic leaders can reasonably say, we could put off that question until we learn more about what our own investigations find out regardless of whether we get all their unredacted or the redacted material, whether or not we get the underlying materials.

PAUL: Well, I want to listen to something that Phil Mudd said about the possibility of obtaining those unredacted reports, let's listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHIL MUDD, FMR CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: I think that the more

you brief, the more you rest that they'll speak about ongoing investigations because they either on the democratic side, want to attack the White House, or like Richard Burr, like Devin Nunes, they want to go tell the White House what's going on, that's the risk of democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: The risk of democracy. He's saying listen if you're going to give an unredacted report to anybody, there is the possibility that that is going to be leaked. If that happens Lynn, what kind of price might Democrats pay, if at all?

SWEET: There are so many elements here. I don't know if the information from a leak will be overwhelming and here's the context of the times that we're in. You have a President who will make up information and accuse people and things that aren't even true.

So when you inject an accusation of a leak in the middle, it might not be heard. You know, we just have a recent tweet from the President accusing people who cooperated with the Mueller investigation of saying that they faked notes and made up stuff in their notes which are cited in the footnotes of the report.

So when you have this kind of almost a - when you have this atmosphere, I think you have to look at all the ingredients in this menu not to - in the dish that's being served not just one and I think you know, Phil has a good point but I don't think it will be dispositive.

[08:10:00] So what kind of draw on your experience here and your expertise because you reported during the Clinton impeachment and what that did to both parties at the end of the day. A lot of people saw that impeachment as a personal failing necessarily that was unrelated to the President to some degree, others see this scenario as being very different. Talk to me about the contrast between the two times.

SWEET: Well, the contrast is that the Clinton presidency and the salacious material that really in the end drove the public's awareness of the issues with Clinton were deeply personal. You know, sexual affair with an intern in the White House. I mean and this has been discussed in in in various venues in this MeToo time that would have been taken in probably a much different context with less charity now than then.

But what is the same is that you had in the Clinton impeachment, a Republican controlled House going after a Democratic President that that they didn't like and in this case, you have a Democratic controlled house against a Republican President but I don't want to say the words that they don't like.

What is vastly different here is the preponderance of information about government related actions that the President took. The personal failings that might underlie why he did things in these obstruction of justice episodes are still things that could be considered by the House as impeachable.

I don't know if it is a high crime or just misdemeanor. So what is different is that you're dealing with a President who is polarizing, who is fighting strongly against any accusation. President Clinton was weakened because he had a sexual affair that he could not -

PAUL: And he lied about it.

SWEET: Yes and -

PAUL: Under oath

SWEET: Under oath which is what ended up really pushing the impeachment despite other issues surrounding some other controversies of his time. What is similar is that you know, going into a Senate trial, just remember people, you have the House in a sense indicts the Senate tries is that you knew going into the Clinton impeachment that they weren't going to be enough Democrats to side with Republicans to convict him.

And you don't have enough Republicans willing to cross over with the Democrats to -

PAUL: So that's a similarity I suppose, between the two possibly is the end game here. Lynn Sweet, we so appreciate you being here, good to see you as always, thank you.

SWEET: Good to see you, thank you.

BLACKWELL: So let's examine President Trump's frustration with his former White House Counsel. Taking to Twitter attack, Don McGahn even though some people say that maybe he saved the presidency.

PAUL: The President is annoyed apparently with details released in the Mueller report, specifically the part about McGahn taking note of his conversations with the President. CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood in West Palm Beach, Florida. Sarah, talk to us about why this is so disturbing to President Trump that an attorney would take notes?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Christi, President Trump clearly frustrated with his betrayal in the Mueller report, frustrated the way that the report has been covered and specifically, he is going after this incident with his former White House counsel Don McGahn.

There's a few parts in the Mueller report that describe some intense meetings between the President and his White House counsel and one was in June 2017 when President Trump apparently called McGahn at home. This is according to Mueller, asked that he phone the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and basically fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Now McGahn refused to do that and he told other senior White House aides that he would rather resign than carry out the President order. That was all reported by The New York Times in January 2018, nearly a year later and at that point, the President asked McGahn to go out and deny that that had taken place.

McGann again expressed to the President his refusal to do so because McGahn said the New York Times story was essentially accurate and during that meeting in the Oval Office in January 2018 when the President was instructing McGahn to issue that denial to the New York Times, according to Mueller, President Trump also confronted McGahn about why he was taking notes.

He said I've had good lawyers in the past who didn't take notes, look at Roy Cohen, the President's former lawyer and his former life as a real estate tycoon and McGahn said he was taking notes because he's a good lawyer and this is what good lawyers do.

So it was hard not to read the President's tweet yesterday as a swipe at McGahn when the President wrote, "Statements are made about me by certain people in the crazy Mueller report in itself written by 18 angry Democrats Trump Haters which are fabricated and totally untrue.

And then he goes on to say, "Watch out for people that take so called notes when the notes never existed until needed.

[08:15:00] Rudy Giuliani, one of the President's personal lawyers has questioned the recollection of McGahn. Remember that McGahn spent about 30 hours talking to Mueller's investigators so William Burke, an attorney for McGahn responded in a statement saying. "It's a mystery why Rudy Giuliani feels the need to relitigate incidents that Attorney General and deputy Attorney General have concluded were not obstruction. But they are accurately described in the report."

So Victor and Christi, we are seeing the President this morning continue to vent his frustrations about the Mueller report on Twitter but he hasn't spoken about it much to the cameras since the report emerged this week.

PAUL: All righty, Sarah Westwood, appreciate the wrap up there, thank you.

BLACKWELL: A California couple who routinely tortured their children are sentenced in court. We're going to hear the emotional testimony from two of the couple's 13 children.

PAUL: And remembering the Columbine massacre 20 years later. How survivors today are talking about what happened two decades after that tragedy.

BLACKWELL: Flash flood warnings are in effect for more than 40 million people as powerful storms pushed across the southern U.S. We'll tell you where it's heading next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:20:00] BLACKWELL: 20 minutes after the hour now. For the first time we are hearing from two of the 13 children rescued from an abusive home in California.

PAUL: These kids were shackled, they were starved, they were routinely tortured by their parents And CNN's Paul Vercammen tells us what they said to their parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER: The packed courtroom filled with quiet anticipation and raw emotion. Two thin, neatly dressed adult children for the Turpin family delivered heart-breaking victim statements. The judge ordered that the media not show their faces.

TURPIN'S DAUGHTER: My parents too my whole life from me. But now I'm taking my life back. I'm in college now and living independently. I'm a fighter, I'm strong.

VERCAMMEN: The defendants Louise and David Turpin sobbed listening to toned down testimony of torture and captivity.

TURPIN'S SON: I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up. Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that had happened such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things they did to us.

VERCAMMEN: The young woman wiped tears from her face throughout the sentencing hearing especially when her parents gave their statements.

LOUISE TURPIN: I'm sorry for everything I've done to hurt my children. I love my children so much.

DAVID TURPIN: I miss all of our children and I will be praying for them. Allow us the opportunity to have contact with them. Again, thank you.

VERCAMMEN: The sensational house of horrors case broke more than a year ago. The Turpin's then 17 year old daughter climbed through a window in their Perris, California home called 911 on a deactivated phone.

ABC news obtained the chilling phone call.

OPERATOR: And how many of you siblings are tied up?

TURPIN'S DAUGHTER: Two of my sisters, one of my brothers.

OPERATOR: How are they tied up? With rope or with what?

TURPIN'S DAUGHTER: With chains, they're chained up to their bed.

VERCAMMEN: Now the attorney for the adult Turpin children says all 13 siblings seen in old photos in those matching outfits are doing well. The lawyer for the Turpin children says, they're attending sports events, they're loading the grocery shop, they're moving away from the painful terror filled childhood that led to their parents being sent to prison for at least 25 years.

Reporting from Riverside, California I'm Paul Vercammen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: All right, thank you Paul. Now 20 years ago today, so many American lives were changed when two students stormed Columbine high school in Colorado and killed 12 classmates and one teacher.

PAUL: So 20 years and several school shootings later really when you think about it, we're remembering the people who lost their lives, looking back at the lessons learned as well and CNN's Natasha Chen is in Littleton, Colorado, this morning.

So I know that you spoke with some of the adults who were children at the time, who were survivors of this shooting. What did they talk to you about regarding what their lives are like now?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, they have definitely carried this with them, every single day of the last 20 years as you can imagine. Some of them brought their children to this Memorial behind us last night for a vigil.

Their children of course are not living in a world where active shooter drills are a regular saying and they have to explain to them exactly what happened back then but today is really about remembering those who were killed. You can see that on the inside circle there are folks bringing flowers now. On the outside wall there are quotes from people in the community at the time.

One of them that struck me said, it brought the nation to its knees but now that we have gotten back up what has changed and what have we learned?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: On a hilltop next to Columbine high school is a quiet space filled with 13 plaques naming the people who were killed on April 20, 1999. The community of Littleton lit candles Friday night standing by the friends they lost. Among them are people who could have died that day.

Survivor Patrick Ireland who was shot twice in the head.

PATRICK IRELAND, COLUMBINE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Fortunate that I'm still here and was able to you know, regain so much of my life back.

CHEN: Frank DeAngelis was Columbine's principal at the time. He now dedicates his life to helping school shooting victims.

[08:25:00] FRANK DEANGELIS, FORMER COLUMBINE PRINCIPAL: Whenever I go out and do presentations, I start to my presentation with the picture of each of the kids and I read their names and it gets me in a calming place and I know what I need to do.

CHEN: Survivors like Will beck have also been approached by Parkland Florida students. He says don't be afraid to live your life.

WILL BECK, COLUMBINE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: It was horrible like dominated my life for a long, long time. But I still have a beautiful family and I have a life that I was able to rebuild from that. IRELAND: Having a choice of being a victor instead of a victim can be a great positive message.

CHEN: Both those people you heard from right there, Will beck and Patrick Ireland happen to be financial advisors now. In fact, some of Patrick's clients include the same people who saved him that day 20 years ago. Live in Littleton, Colorado, Natasha Chen. Back to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Wow, that's something. Natasha Chen, thank you so much. We want to tell you about a former U.S. marine in custody now in connection with a brazen daylight raid of the North Korean Embassy in Spain. We'll tell you more about this.

BLACKWELL: And the Mueller report shows that Russia began interfering in the U.S. elections, American democracy in 2014 so what does that mean for President Obama's administration? We'll discuss this with CNN's counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd. He's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:30:00] PAUL: Good morning to you. Half past the hour right now. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: So you know the focus has been on what the Mueller reports says went on in the White House. The Special Counsel also investigated rushes efforts to influence the election with hacking operations into the use of social media to increase political discord in the U.S.

Well, the reporter goes into detail about a year's long campaign run by the internet research agencies located in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Robert Mueller indicated - indicted rather the troll group agency last year and the report says, "The IRA later used social media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the U.S. political system through what it termed information warfare."

Now in one case for instance Russians use the controversy over the death of Philando Casteil who was shot to death by police during a traffic stop to try to sow some bad discord. Well, now CNN Business reporter Donie O'Sullivan with us. So Donie, good to have you here.

We know they targeted organizations such as Black Lives Matter. What other groups has it been revealed that they were looking at?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes Christi, I mean Russia essentially had a team working 24/7 around the clock to really just sort of add fuel to the fire of existing divisions and tensions here in the United States.

In the case of Philando Castile, we can see from all their posts that the Russians really just jumped on this almost immediately. I mean you might remember that's when Castile's final moments were streamed live on Facebook, it was sort of late in the evening here in the U.S. but that was close to the start of the working day in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

And they started - the Russians started to actually organize and promote a protest outside a police station in Minneapolis after the shooting and I went back and I spoke to some activists there and they actually remember this page at the time being quite concerned about this because they didn't know who was behind this.

And particularly in times where tensions are high like this you know, activists try to - leaders in an activist movements try to basically self-please their own events and they had been concerned that this particular event might get out of hand and they had suspicions of who might be behind it.

They thought it could actually be white nationalist trying to rile people up but they never suspected that it was Russia and they were frankly you know shocked and disgusted when they heard that their movement had been exploited in this way.

PAUL: So Donie, is there - is there any gauge as to how effective it really was at the end of the day? What they were targeting? What they were trying to do? Were they successful?

O'SULLIVAN: I mean, it's - it's a difficult thing to measure but I mean, frankly they were able from the comfort of behind computer screens in Saint Petersburg to get Americans out onto the streets, protesting, facing off with one another and in fact in one instance in May 2016, the Russians through Facebook organized two opposing events, a pro-Islam and anti-Islamic rally in Texas and that is - fortunately that didn't turn violent but that is where they actually had Americans shoving each other at the streets.

I mean, the Russians have been doing this for decades, active measures where you know, they are embedding people into activist movements here in the U.S. The difference now of course is that they can do it from behind a computer screen for a very little cost and a lot of reward.

PAUL: Yes, they don't even need anybody to be physically present for that. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much, appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Well, Russia's meddling in the 2016 election happened during the Obama administration. The Mueller report states that Russia began interfering in the American democracy in 2014 so what does this mean for President Obama's legacy as it relates to this?

Joining me now to discuss Phil Mudd, CNN counterterrorism analyst, Former CIA counterterrorism official and former FBI Senior Intelligence Adviser. Phil, good morning, welcome back to New Day Saturday.

MUDD: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So let's start here. The premise for this conversation is that an opinion piece on CNN.com by Republican strategist and CNN contributor Scott Jennings in which he says the headline here is Mueller's report looks bad for Obama. He makes the argument that the Obama administration was too late to

respond. When they responded, the response was insufficient not something that's exclusive to Republicans in that case but let's take - accept the premise of his argument and then challenge it.

[08:35:00] First the premise, he writes that Mueller's - the Mueller report makes it clear that the Russian interference failure was Obama's alone. How much of this should be attributed to the Obama administration's delay in action and then the type of action taken?

MUDD: I mean, I think if you look at this, there's a fair question about what the Obama administration should have done, whether they should have in the midst of dealing with issues like rising China, like Syria, like ISIS, whether they should have said early on wow this looks like the Russians are trying to meddle in the American electoral process.

The counter argument to that is pretty simple. Let's go to the pre- electoral campaign between Clinton and Trump and imagine a President of United States, a democratic President standing there months before an election and telling the American people, believe it or not, there is credible information about Russia interfering in the election.

In our enemy the Russians are trying to favor the Republican candidate over Hillary Clinton. What do you think people would have said if Donald Trump would have lost? I think there's a fair question about whether Obama should have done more but the question isn't focused enough for a moment, Victor on what would have happened if Obama had gotten out there and tried to say what we saw, which was that the Russians were favoring the Republican candidate.

BLACKWELL: So let's - control room you put that full screen up a little early, let's put it up. I want to read through it with people who are watching and listening. "A legitimate question, Scott writes, Republicans are asking is whether the potential collusion narrative was invented to cover up the Obama administration's failures.

Two years have been spent fomenting the idea that Russia only interfered because it had a willing colluding partner, Trump. Now that Mueller has popped that balloon, we must ask why this collusion narrative was invented in the first place.

All right, now in challenging the narrative. What we know about how this investigation began and reconcile the report with what we know that those associated with the Trump campaign did in their engagements.

MUDD: Boy, repeatedly, I find this curious. It was Republicans who initiated the Special Counsel going back to the Republican Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing the Special Counsel. It was Republicans on Capitol Hill including after the report including Mitch McConnell who said, this was a legitimate report.

It was people like Richard Burr leading the Senate investigation in these issues saying these are significant issues we need to look at. It was by the way, a Republican administration in the midterm elections, who said we continue to see Russian intervention in the electoral process and the President of United States chose not to speak.

And finally Victor, I'd say we're 2.5 years into this. We have a luminous information in this report about how Russia is trying to undermine the American democratic process and the President of United States chooses to talk about how he was cleared and says not a word about how America is under threat and what he intends to do about it.

He's had 2.5 years, you can't blame this all on Obama and you can't say there's nothing going on here.

BLACKWELL: And now that the conspiracy, the criminal conspiracy question has been answered by Mueller, will the President be able to separate the you know, the no collusion mantra from the work that needs to be done to prevent interference in 2020.

MUDD: No, because what he has to do is looking backward, he has to look there is someone who's spent a lot of time obviously defending his reputation. He has to look backward and acknowledge that what everybody said and what he said wasn't true, what everybody said was true.

That but that that the Russians didn't want Hillary Clinton as Vladimir Putin told us in Helsinki and they did want a Republican candidate and looking forward, he's going to have to acknowledge going into the next campaign, when he's the core Republican candidate that once again our adversary wants him to win.

How do you sit in the Oval Office if you want to protect your reputation and look at the American people and say, be careful about the stuff you see that favors me. It could come from our adversary. He should do it but it's incredibly embarrassing.

BLACKWELL: All right, Phil Mudd, thanks for being with us.

MUDD: Thank you.

PAUL: This morning former U.S. marine is in custody, accused of raiding North Korea's embassy in Spain. Federal authorities say Christopher Ahn is one of the masked assailants who tied up embassy staff, stole computers and then fled to the United States. But the attack happened just five days before President Trump met with Kim Jong-un.

This was back in February. Yesterday a federal judge in Los Angeles granted his attorney's request to seal that case so on as reportedly, a member of a group dedicated to overthrowing the Kim dynasty.

BLACKWELL: Well, still to come a powerful storm is putting up more than 40 million people under flash flood watch this morning. We'll show you the damage it's already caused and tell you where it's heading next.

[08:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: All of you waking up in the south, in the mid-Atlantic states, get ready for some kind of brutal weather this Easter weekend. We're talking about 40 million people nearly who are under a flash flood watch through this afternoon.

BLACKWELL: A powerful and deadly storm is pushing through, carrying heavy rain, strong winds even a few tornadoes and at least four people are dead including an eight year old girl. She was killed when a tree fell on her home. Thousands are without power.

Homes have been severely damaged and some roads are submerged, this morning. So the question is how long is this nasty weather expected to last?

PAUL: Let's go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar in the CNN weather Center. She's been looking at this. What can you tell us, Allison?

[08:45:00] ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It should really start to wrap up here in about the next 24 hours. So the good news is the entire washout as a - it won't be a wash out for the entire weekend but it's been a very busy past 24 hours.

Over 300 total storm reports, 17 of those were reported tornadoes stretching from Florida, all the way up towards Pennsylvania. Now here's a look at some of the damage. This coming out of Franklin County, Virginia. Again, you can see some damage to a well-built home.

I mean, you're talking, these are very decent structures here that sustain some pretty significant damage. Again this is what they're looking at. There's a potential tornado. The National Weather Service will go out, they'll survey some of this damage not just here but in other states as well to determine whether or not this was straight line winds or a tornado.

We also had a lot of flooding occurring across the southeast. This video was in Henderson county, North Carolina. That's just south of Asheville, North Carolina. Ashville actually broke a record yesterday. Over five inches of rain, that's not only a record for the day but also their fourth wettest day in history and they've been keeping records for about 150 years.

The flood concern for today now begins to shift up to the northeast. We're basically saying from about Washington DC all the way up through Maine but even if you don't live here, you still need to pay attention to this because it's going to have some big implications for a lot of travel across the U.S.

Keep in mind, you've got some midwestern cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, that are all going to have some delays today but the biggest delays guys are actually going to be in the northeast. We're talking cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Victor and Christi, yesterday New York had delays of over four hours. We don't expect it to be quite that bad today but even an hour or two, if you have a connection that may not be enough time for you to get on your next flight so do keep that in mind if you have some travel plans today.

PAUL: Yes, very good point. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

CHINCHAR: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Next, we taking you live to Paris. I think we have some live pictures here where police are facing off with anti-government protesters, the Yellow Vests. For now a 23rd weekend, the protests have now turned violent with fires being set.

You see an effort to get those fires out. We'll take you there with more.

PAUL: Also don't miss the CNN original series, Chasing life with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that's tonight.

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[08:50:00] BLACKWELL: Live pictures now. This is Paris. Police are using tear gas against the so called Yellow Vests. You can see the fire that was there in the middle of the street that was set, they're trying to get that out.

PAUL: The government's been warning protesters that police would use, "all means necessary to stop these demonstrations that we are seeing now. They were trying to get them out of control. There's more than 60,000 police that have been deployed across France. You hear the emergency alarms going off.

Melissa Bell is there as well. Melissa, how are you? What are things like there where you are?

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MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there air is actually filled with tear gas so I've had to take off my mask to speak to so I hope that it lasts and I don't tear up too soon but as you can see, pretty chaotic scenes here at the front line of the Yellow Vests protesters' 23rd Saturday in a row.

They've lit fires every place that they can. You can see them there over there to the right, you can see them over here, on every street they've put cars alight and the firemen are doing what they can to put them out.

But what we've been seeing is a very determined, very angry protests. We were up just a little bit further out there, perhaps we can pan over and show you where that black smoke is coming from. That's where just a moment ago, the riot police charged the Yellow Vest protesters.

Really unleashing a fair amount of tear gas so some of them have come prepared, they're trying to cover their mouths but the air is really thick with it and in the crowds that mad their way to here, to this line where they were blocked by the police because the police would not let them into the (inaudible) which is where they had planned to finish their protests. This is where the confrontation took place for now. We really haven't

seen scenes like this since March 16. Now we did know that the Yellow Vests were planning on making this another big day of protest, even before all the row about Notre Dame and the amount of money that's being given to its restoration is being donated by some of France's richest families, biggest corporate names.

There had been a big call for the Yellow Vests on this Easter weekend to gather once again to make their anger known. That controversy over the amount of money given by individual donors to help with the restoration of Notre Dame so damaged in the fire really exacerbated that anger.

There had been some question about whether they'd come out, given the mood in Paris, in the wake of that fire. In fact, it is a controversy about the money that has really got them going and has got them on the streets in huge numbers today.

BLACKWELL: Melissa Bell, for us there in Paris. We've heard from protesters saying that they found that to be quite insulting. You've seen the live pictures there of more fires there.

[08:55:00] Police also say that 126 people have been in there characterization, taken aside for questioning in Paris. Now this started at the end of last year. Look at these flames.

PAUL: It started in November of last year.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: And they were initially protecting gas prices and it has morphed now into a much broader bigger protest against the Macron government as a whole but they seem to be, if they can get their hands on a car, on a bike, on a motor bike, it seems like they are setting it on fire.

We have not seen I don't think, fires of this magnitude and a protest like this over the last 23 weeks. This seems to be more severe than we've seen in the past.

BLACKWELL: We have certainly seen some fires but this means, this shows that they're trying to set them quite quickly. We'll continue to follow this throughout the morning and of course we've got more news straight ahead.

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PAUL: Smerconish is with you next.

BLACKWELL: We'll see you in an hour.

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