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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
WH Asked McGahn To Say Trump Never Obstructed Justice; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) Is Interviewed About President Trump's Denial Of Obstruction Of Justice; Key House CMTE Chair Issues Subpoenas For Trump's Tax Returns; Giuliani Denies He's Traveling To Ukraine To Meddle In 2020 Election; Iran: U.S. Fleet Could Be "Destroyed With One Missile"; U.S. Deploying More Patriot Missiles to Counter Iran Threat; 2020 Candidates Pitch Voters on the Challenge of Being a Mom. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 10, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Alex Marquardt reporting for us. Alex, thanks very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. To all of the mothers, a very Happy Mother's Day. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next breaking news, a shocking request. The President asking the former White House Counsel Don McGahn to declare the President did not obstruct justice. It is an order McGahn denied in recent weeks. Plus, is Trump's attorney colluding with a foreign government? Rudy Giuliani publicly saying he plans to pressure a foreign government to investigate Trump's potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. How does this add up? Plus, Senator Kamala Harris in a revealing new interview opening up about being a stepmother and what she calls her very modern family. Let's go out front.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, an administration official telling CNN moments ago that the White House asked former White House Counsel Don McGahn to state publicly that President Trump did not obstruct justice. The New York Times reporting that team Trump asked McGahn not once but twice.
The requests coming after the White House saw the Mueller report, which said that Trump had ordered his then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Bob Mueller. Now, McGahn turned the President down then and in this request to publicly say that wasn't obstruction of justice.
McGahn is crucial to all of this. He of course, was the White House Counsel. He was one of Bob Mueller's key witnesses, mentioned more than 500 times in the Mueller report more than any other witness in the entire document. And according to Mueller's reporting, Trump ordered McGahn to fire Mueller which, of course, is a request the President has publicly denied making.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never told Don McGahn
to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I would have done it myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Pamela Brown is out front live outside the White House. Pamela, what are you learning this hour?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning more about the White House reaction to the episodes laid out in Robert Mueller's report about former White House Counsel, Don McGahn and the President's request to him to dismiss the Special Counsel. In fact, we've learned through sources familiar with this matter, Erin, that the White House reached out to Don McGahn's lawyer, William Burck, asking Burck to ask his client, Don McGahn, to come out and say that the President's directive to fire the Special Counsel Robert Mueller was not obstruction of justice, and that Don again rebuffed that request.
Now, a source familiar with this matter says one of the factors in that was because Bill Barr, the Attorney General, had already come out and said that publicly not only in that four-page letter saying that he didn't believe the President obstructed justice, but also in the press conference that he held just before the release of the Mueller report. And so the calculation was made among Don McGahn and his attorney that it wasn't necessary, that was one of the factors I'm told by a source familiar why McGahn didn't do it.
Now, the White House was aware that Don McGahn had told the Special Counsel during his more than 30 hours of interviews, that McGahn did not believe that the President obstructed justice through his actions. And so it appears, Erin, that the White House wanted McGahn to then come out and publicly say that to help squelch some of the fallout from the report but, again, McGahn decided not to do that.
And also part of the calculation was that the President tweeted directing right at McGahn. As you'll remember, right after the report's release the next day saying that - asking why people are taking notes and so forth. And so at that point, it really became moot for McGahn to ever come out and make any sort of statement.
But it's interesting to note that this is coming out now because in effect the White House is getting what it wanted, getting it out there that McGahn had told the Special Counsel that he didn't believe the President obstructed justice, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Pamela. Let's go to Manu Raju out front on Capitol Hill. And Manu, look, as we said no one is more integral to the Mueller report, certainly in terms of mentions and time testifying to Mueller than Don McGahn.
Chairman Nadler, of course, who would initiate impeachment proceedings if there were to be any has subpoenaed McGahn. The President has instructed McGahn to defy that subpoena. Where does this go from here? MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democrats
undoubtedly will want to ask these questions to Don McGahn if he were to appear in a public setting. And Erin, you're absolutely right, a subpoena has been issued for his appearance by May 21 and earlier today Jerry Nadler told me that if McGahn does not appear, that he will be held in contempt of Congress for defying the subpoena.
Now this, of course, comes after McGahn declined to turn over records to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week under instruction from the White House that said that those records could breach confidentiality discussions between the White House Counsel and the President.
Now, if they were to take this move, they were to do something similar to prevent him from actually testifying in a public setting, either invoking executive privilege or taking other actions to stop him from answering questions, expect this to be yet another court fight between House Democrats and the administration to get the bottom of this, to get the records and to hear from such a key player who witnessed all of these actions in the first two years of the Trump presidency, who also was ordered, according to the Mueller report, to fire the Special Counsel in an apparent effort to squelch that investigation.
Democrats want to hear all of this. The moment though, Erin, is not clear whether McGahn will come to Capitol Hill and answer these questions, which is why these threats are now looming large, potentially holding him in contempt, fines, disbarment and et cetera as the consequence. We'll see how the Democrats - what the Democrats will ultimately do. We'll see what McGahn decides to do as well, Erin.
[19:05:51] BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu. And I want to go now to Democratic Congressman from Illinois, Raja Krishnamoorthi, who sits on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees. Congressman, good to have you back. What's your reaction to this breaking news?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: The White House asked former White House Counsel Don McGahn twice in the past month once they saw the Mueller report and in one case prior to it actually becoming public, but after the White House saw it, telling Don McGahn to go publicly and say President Trump never obstructed justice and McGahn denied - refused to do so.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, as you know the President said that there was no obstruction of justice. So the fact that he would ask began to go out there and say that there was no obstruction of justice and hints at what they really believe is the case. But this all goes to a bigger issue, which is we need to have the unredacted, fully unredacted Mueller report, including everything related to McGahn's conversations with regard to these issues and others. We need to see the underlying documents and, of course, we need to have McGahn testify in Capitol Hill.
BURNETT: So, obviously, when one looks at this obstruction issue, the President said there's no obstruction. You've got now, what, more than 800 former prosecutors at the DOJ saying that they think when you look at this it adds up to obstruction. Don McGahn won't come out publicly and say that it wasn't. But he's a crucial guy to hear from and thus far you might not.
BURNETT: I mean, does this change where you are on impeachment or no? And if no, why?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, right now I'm so like focused like a laser on the challenge right in front of our face which is, are the American people going to have oversight of this president or do we have a system of checks and balances with regard to this executive or not? We have subpoenas out, obviously, for Mr. McGahn's testimony, but today also subpoenas were issued for his tax returns. Subpoenas were issued for other folks' testimony as well.
On other issues, none of them have been complied with. Now, we're even seeing Republicans start issuing subpoenas such as Senator Richard Burr in the Senate for Don Jr.'s testimony. So this is becoming, I hope, a bipartisan concern because this should not just be an issue for one party to be concerned with.
BURNETT: So the House Judiciary Chairman, Nadler, has threatened to hold McGahn in contempt if he doesn't comply with his subpoena and there's various things you could do as Manu was laying out. You could end up with him being disbarred, all sorts of things that would affect his life significantly.
Congressman Nadler also says the full House could hold a single vote to find multiple people in contempt. Are there other people you plan to hold in contempt, noting that Barr, obviously, was already voted as such by that committee?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes. I think that - well, let's see. We have to see whether folks comply with subpoenas that are outstanding. For instance, Mr. Mnuchin and the IRS Commissioner, Mr. Rettig, now must turn over tax returns by next Friday, according to the subpoena issued by Chairman Neal from the House Ways and Means Committee and let's see if they comply.
But for instance on my Committee on the Oversight Committee we had Mr. Carl Kline who is in charge of the security clearance process, refused to answer a number of questions and he is also under subpoena. So in my opinion, it probably does make sense to consolidate these various contempt proceedings and so forth. But, obviously, we have to give people a chance to comply.
BURNETT: All right. So but if they don't comply, what do you do? You go to a court to enforce that if they still don't comply, then you move forward with an impeachment proceeding? Is that still the extra step that needs to occur in your mind, Congressman?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm not there yet. I want the investigation to proceed. And one issue that I just want to raise very briefly is with regard to the tax returns there's actually a statutory violation in addition to a violation of the subpoena. But the main point here is that we have to have a system of checks and balances.
The President right now is thumbing his nose at the American people and not answering any of these subpoenas or having people testify on Capitol Hill and we cannot have that. The other question that comes up is what are they trying to hide? What is behind this refusal to comply with basic request for information?
[19:10:20] BURNETT: So, look, you have a fair point. They say, "But, hey, there's 17 of these." You guys want everything in the kitchen sink and how do you make the case to the American people that this is not as the President says, your effort to influence 2020 or relitigate 2016?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sure. Well, right now, as we can see, not only is he not complying with issues related to the Mueller report but on a whole host of issues, Erin. And I know that the American people definitely want to be able to have oversight of the president with regard to, for instance, health care issues or with regard to immigration issues and the list goes on and on.
If we allow the President not to comply with these basic requests for materials, then he will do the same thing with regard to those other issues which are as crucial as these to the interests and welfare of the American people. Finally, I would just say one thing on my House Intelligence Committee, in another bipartisan request, Chairman Schiff and Devin Nunes, the ranking member have come together, and now for the second time requested all counterintelligence materials associated with the Mueller report. They still have yet to receive that.
And so I think that there's perhaps a growing dissatisfaction with the President's behavior even among Republicans.
BURNETT: Well, getting Nunes and Schiff to agree on anything is a pretty miraculous thing. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congressman.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you. Thank you, Erin. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, is Trump's personal attorney already colluding? Rudy Giuliani tonight says he's pushing a foreign government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. What is he thinking? Plus, breaking news, tensions escalating in the Middle East. The U.S. sending more patriot missiles to the region tonight. Is Trump on a collision course? And a former Congresswoman who voted to impeach Richard Nixon talks about whether history is repeating herself. She's out front.
[19:15:56] BURNETT: Tonight, the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani going to foreign soil to dig up dirt on his boss' potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. Rudy Giuliani tells CNN that he is going to Ukraine, of all places, to pressure that government to investigate Biden. So it's obviously not a secret he is admitting it. Giuliani then tells The New York Times, quote, we're not meddling in
an election, we're meddling in an investigation which we have a right to do. There's nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it's improper." Yes, somebody could say that. The President's personal attorney is going to Ukraine and he admits it is at best improper.
It's sort of bizarre, you can't make this up, right? OK. So why is Giuliani doing it? Well, according to Giuliani, quote, that information will be very, very helpful to my client. His client is President Trump who should know better by now, right? I mean where to even start with this? How about with Trump's own hand-picked FBI Director?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): If a foreign government offers assistance on political campaign, opposition research, stolen information, social media campaign or otherwise, what would you as Director of the FBI if you discover 1915 [00:02:06] that campaign to do?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: My view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation, state or anybody acting on behalf of the nation state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that's something that the FBI would want to know about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And they sure want to know if American citizen was calling up a foreign government and asking - well, that's actually like a whole another thing actually, even worse. So the FBI knows about it now, because Giuliani is not hiding it. He is putting it out there for us all to see.
Out front tonight, Jeffrey Harris former Principal Assistant to Rudy Giuliani at the Department of Justice and former deputy associate attorney general in both the Reagan and Carter administrations, Michael Warren, CNN Reporter who has been covering this story and Patrick Healy, Political Editor for The New York Times.
So Jeffrey, is what Giuliani is doing as he says it could be improper, is it even allowed?
JEFFREY HARRIS, FORMER PRINCIPAL ASSISTANT TO RUDY GIULIANI AT DOJ: Well, no it is not allowed and Rudy knows that. What I think is going on here is that people like Rudy are emboldened by the fact that they think that they have teflon on them that in the Trump administration with an Attorney General like Barr that they can basically do what they want. And even though it might cause scrutiny in another administration, they sort of feel free to do whatever suits their purpose.
BURNETT: So I mean, Michael, from your reporting let me just quote Giuliani, again, here, "We're not meddling in election, we're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do." And, of course, then he says it's going to help his client very, very much. His client being the President. Joe Biden is obviously part of the story. The reason Giuliani is doing this.
So this is the context here, this is important, Joe Biden is the head of the Democratic polls, he could very well be the opponent for President Trump. Giuliani says there's questions about Biden's efforts to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor who years earlier was investigating a Ukrainian natural gas company connected to Biden's son. It sounds complicated, but they think there's something really smelly there, opposition research that they could dig up or they could ask the foreign government to dig up for them, that's the crazy thing here. Is there any there there?
MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Erin, I think there are some legitimate questions maybe about Hunter Biden's role in this company. He comes to be on the board of this company. It's a compensated position. He has no experience in the energy industry and this is in Ukraine which was at that point having a sort of political upheaval, a lot of oligarchs running these big companies and his father happened to be Vice President of the United States.
But set that aside, because one of the things I've been talking with Rudy Giuliani about this issue for about the past week and one of the frustrating things for me as a reporter is every time I've asked him for evidence about whether Joe Biden himself ever acted improperly or unethically, he can't provide it. And so I think we should really be approaching sort of the insinuations Giuliani is making about Joe Biden's role in this with a healthy dose of skepticism.
[19:20:15] BURNETT: And Patrick as you say - you heard what the President's FBI Director said, nothing that anyone should even need to be told this, but I guess it's the heart of the Mueller report. When someone reaches out to you and says, "I have dirt. I'll do this in their foreign government." It is against everything this country stands for. It is against the law. You call the FBI. Rudy Giuliani is calling them and asking for their help.
PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Incredible. Incredible. I mean he's going to Ukraine trying to get in a meeting with president elect Zelensky to basically lobby him to encourage an investigation. It sounds like political pressure from president elect on their own investigators to keep something cooking simply because it might help President Trump, not necessarily because it's in the interests of truth one way or another or because this is somehow in America's interest, but because it would help his client, President Trump.
I mean if Rudy Giuliani just looks like basically a paid political lobbyist going into foreign soil asking a foreign government to help out the political prospects of the President, it feels like we just saw this movie for two years and it's just very strange that folks in the Trump administration, Mayor Giuliani, seem to think this is a good idea and would be, as he said it, could be seen as improper --
BURNETT: And even admits that.
HEALY: Yes and he sees it as proper.
BURNETT: I mean, Jeffery, you know Rudy Giuliani. You've worked with him. What is he thinking?
HARRIS: Well, that's a very good question. The Rudy that I knew and worked with would never engage in this kind of conduct. He was pretty scrupulous and in ethical issues he never even approached the line. I really wonder what's happened in the intervening years since I worked with him.
But I really think there is an atmosphere now among the Trump loyalists that they really feel that there are no brakes on them. They can do what they want, no one will hold them to account. But you know the day will come when this kind of Faustian bargain may come home to roost.
BURNETT: So Michael, what does happen from here? Did Rudy Giuliani going to presumably go to Ukraine and try to force a new government to reopen an investigation into something that happened seven years or several years ago ostensibly to find out what about Joe Biden?
WARREN: Right. I mean I think that what Rudy Giuliani's goal here is not necessarily to seek an end answer to these questions, but it's just to raise them and to have people sort of reconsider, "Well, maybe something did happen," so doubt. I think that's really the role that Giuliani has taken over the last couple of years, particularly in the last year as he's been working as the President's personal lawyer.
Again, he's not really offering legal advice in a traditional sense. He's much more of sort of a mix between public relations, going on cable news and defending the President and political attack dog. That's what he's doing here.
BURNETT: Patrick, there's also this thing about Giuliani. He has muddied the waters and sometimes you look at him muddied the water, he's the one who made it clear the President was lying about Stormy Daniels. But yet the President has seemed to think this works, this confusion, this muddying the waters. There's times making the President looking really bad, but then maybe it doesn't, times like these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians, no collusion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it still the position of you and your client that there was no collusion with the Russians whatsoever on behalf of the Trump campaign?
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Correct.
I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I'm sorry, it's Chris' face that made me laugh there. But this is what Rudy Giuliani does. HEALY: Right.
BURNETT: I mean the guy who is going over to the Ukraine to ask a foreign government to dig up dirt which by the way, I mean, aget into the espionage issues or whatever that could cause. He's directly contradicted the President on that single most important thing the President keeps saying.
HEALY: Yes. Rudy Giuliani is a classic muddier. I mean oftentimes he undercuts himself, he undercuts President Trump. In this case though he would not be saying, "I'm going to go over to a foreign government and start meddling in the investigation," if he didn't have the blessing of the Trump administration in this.
BURNETT: I mean he used the word meddling.
HEALY: Meddling, I mean it's just so strange, but what it goes to and it's another reminder, Joe Biden isn't just an early frontrunner in the race. He is the candidate who a lot of the folks around Trump and we've heard Trump himself very much see as the most direct threat to an electoral college victory for Trump in 2020. They are very worried about him and they very much want to muddy this up as much as they can with Biden.
[19:25:11] BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much all of you. And next breaking news, the Pentagon deploying more missiles tonight as Iran warns they can destroy an entire U.S. naval fleet. How dangerous is this escalation? Plus, the Democratic women running for president open up about being mothers as part of their pitch to voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): As a mom I've got little Henry with me. I'm going to fight for people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:30:03] BURNETT: Breaking news, the U.S. sending more missiles to the Middle East. The Pentagon announcing its deploying more patriots to the region due to threats from Iran. The latest coming from senior Iranian cleric warning that a U.S. naval fleet in the Middle East could be, quote, destroyed with one missile. This comes as North Korea says its military is, quote, fully prepared to carry out any operations.
Those are two major threats coming from battles escalating over the past week. A person who is being blamed for it is not just the president but also the national security adviser John Bolton.
Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT.
And, Michelle, how much, you know, obviously, the president taking a lot of the blame but also Bolton. MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, it
does seem like right now, Iran policy is squarely in the hands of national security adviser John Bolton. Just taking a step back, President Trump is supposed to be this big non-interventionist, right? He doesn't want America involved in endless wars. He doesn't think the U.S. should be the world's policeman.
But inevitably, problems encroach on national security. He has surrounded himself with some hawks. The most hawkish of whom and the most notorious of whom is, of course, John Bolton. The reason why this is so concerning now is he's gone on the record so many times advocating for strikes against Iran, advocating for regime change.
But Trump doesn't always listen to him, there are a couple of times when Trump outright disagree, when Bolton in regards to North Korea mentioned something called -- he called the Libya model, referring to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi giving up his weapons but then ending up dead. That was bound to infuriate North Korea, and it did. But it also infuriated President Trump.
Also on Syria, Bolton had been advocating for the U.S. to stay there until all of Iran's proxy troops are gone. But the president was saying no, I want U.S. troops out of there right away. So, it doesn't seem to be lost on Trump either right now that some people are getting very freaked out about escalating things with Iran.
So, listen to what President Trump said about Bolton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John is very good. John is -- he has strong views on things but that's OK. I actually temper John which is pretty amazing, isn't it? Nobody thought that would happen. I'm the one that tempers him but that's OK.
I have different sides. I mean, I have John Bolton and I have other people that are a little more people dovish than him. And, ultimately, I make the decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: It's also telling and comforting to some that as many times as we've seen a show of force on the part of the U.S. in the last few days, we've also heard the Trump administration say, no, no, the president is willing to talk to Iran, Iran.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Michelle.
And now, Gordon Chang, author of nuclear showdown, North Korea takes on the world, and retired lieutenant general, Mark Hertling, former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army.
OK. Thanks to both.
General, let me start with you. You have here Iran saying that the entire U.S. fleet in the Middle East could be destroyed with one missile. North Korea says it's on high alert. Its highest alert missiles are being tested, fully prepared to carry out any information,
How dangerous is this escalation right now, General?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Haven't we heard this before, Erin? I mean, this is the same kind of bluster that occurred over North Korea, and what I'd say is, quote, my fellow military analyst, John Kirby, when he says we have an arsonist who is lighting a bunch of fires and going in later on with the fire hose and saying, I'm the only one that can put it out.
This kind of bluster is not -- it's dangerous. I mean, I can't say it any other way. These kinds words back and forth with various countries will cause eventually some kind of mishap. We have seen this before throughout history. That's what concerns me the most is something that isn't plan for that goes wrong, and it inflates in a very large scale.
BURNETT: Now, just to be clear, you talk about the arsonist who then wants to get credit for putting up the fire, I and I alone. I mean, you're talking about the president and his decisions.
HERTLING: I would say so. And what we're seeing here, sort of the same things we saw in North Korea in a different perspective, is mixed messaging on the part of various members of the administration. You know, the president as you showed in your last clip can claim that he's the decider, but in fact, he's got other people using public information to warn regimes that they better do something or else.
And you have a bunch of people speaking. It's confusing folks when talking about the potential for violence on a very large scale.
BURNETT: I mean, Gordon, you know, we've gone from, you know, talk of getting along and love letters and beautiful love letters, to all of a sudden, Kim now, you know, doing missile tests again. It's been an incredible escalation and deterioration.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, yes, it has. But we got to remember that President Obama just before Trump took office told Trump, look, North Korea is your number one national security problem.
[19:35:00] Trump received on day one a very difficult situation. And Trump had a very good North Korea policy pushing the North, pushing Moscow, Beijing, Seoul in directions that were very good. Now, I think that this whole idea of trying to entice Kim Jong-un into good behavior isn't working. And we're probably going to see a more hard edge policy going forward and we absolutely need to do so because Kim is pushing everybody certainly in the wrong directions.
BURNETT: General Hertling, how big of a risk? I mean, you talk about missile threats from Iran, missile threats from North Korea. You have a disaster and chaos in Venezuela as well.
HERTLING: Yes, and let's add a few more like Afghanistan. We're still fighting there. We still have elements of ISIS that we're still trying to tamp down. There are other parts in the world like the South China Sea.
The thing is, Erin, what I'm seeing today is there's great spin within the Pentagon in terms of dealing with all the problems that are picking up. Now, that's part of a complex world, so you don't need to, again, throw gasoline on the complexities and make them even worst.
You have combatant commanders, the four-star generals in different regions of the world now all asking for additional resources in different theaters. That's very tough to do. It's very hard to fight in multiple theaters. And if something happens in any of those theaters, the rest of them are going to react in similar ways. So, that concerns me a great deal.
BURNETT: And then, Gordon, on top of this -- the trade talks between the U.S. and China have ended with no deal. How big of a threat is this? When you think about it, right, all this trade war escalation coming as North Korea also escalates its threats against the United States. North Korea, of course, in so many ways is a satellite state of China.
CHANG: Yes. Well, you know, right now, you know, the Chinese are not in the mood to deal with the United States in good faith, and we saw that with the retraction of those commitments across the board. Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler, doesn't believe in the notion of comparative advantage which underlies the whole idea of trade. So, it's hard to have a trade agreement with someone who doesn't believe in trade.
Xi Jinping is taking China, making it much more belligerent, trying to take territory from its neighbors, close off the global commons. Putin did the same thing. You know, Trump faced a situation where he's two immediate predecessors sort of empower the worst elements in both Moscow and Beijing. And now, we face a very dangerous situation.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time.
And next, a former congresswoman who voted to impeach President Nixon is OUTFRONT. Does she agree with members of her former committee?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): We talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Senator Kamala Harris in a revealing new interview talking about being a step mom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have therefore have two children that are Cole and Ella who are here. They named me their Momala.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:41:54] BURNETT: Tonight, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens weighing in on President Trump's stonewalling. Justice Stevens telling "The Wall Street Journal", quote, the president is exercising powers that do not really belong to him. I mean, he has to comply with subpoenas and things like that.
OUTFRONT now, former Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman. She served on the House Judiciary Committee during President Nixon's impeachment. You see her there. So, you have a very specific perspective on this.
You voted to impeach Nixon 45 years ago. You now got a retired Supreme Court justice saying now the president is overreaching on the powers that he is exercising. You say we're in a constitutional crisis now. Why?
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE; VOTED TO IMPEACH NIXON: Well, here you have a president who is exercising imperial powers. He's trying to engage in what I call the biggest cover up of all. I mean, he wants to be the biggest, he wants to have the biggest in inaugural crowd, he wants to be the best president, he wants to have the most blah, blah.
He's got the biggest cover up now. He said, I'm going to fight every subpoena.
HOLTZMAN: He can't do that. I mean, I was in Congress for eight years. There is a role of law. Congress is supposed to oversee the executive branch. Congress also has a power to issue subpoenas, to get information about the government.
This will be the first government where Congress wants to fight out what the government is doing. Government can make mistakes. They can make -- they can commit crimes. People have to be able to see the American people.
So, to stand in the way of Congress, Congress legitimate power to find out what's going on and what's he trying to stop, information that would be embarrassing to him, that would be politically destructive to him and that would undermine the rule of law.
BURNETT: All right. So, if you say constitutional crisis, in that you're not alone. I mean, the House Judiciary chairman, Jerry Nadler, has said that, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They agree with you.
But yet, they are not ready to pull the trigger on impeachment.
BURNETT: So, if this is a constitutional crisis, how can Democrats not mover forward with impeachment hearings, with proceedings?
HOLTZMAN: OK. This is what I think they should do. I mean, having lived through Watergate, which is the only successful impeachment effort ever undertaken by Congress, because the president resigned and that proceeding was never attacked, ever. I mean, it has withstood the test of time.
HOLTZMAN: What you need to do is get the facts out first to the American people. They need to see Don McGahn. They need to see Donald Trump Jr. They need to see how many times he's going to say, I don't remember. They need to see Jared Kushner, how many times he's going to say, I don't remember.
BURNETT: Should they still be fighting this with subpoenas in courts overtime or do they launch the proceedings to get information?
HOLTZMAN: They should launch the proceedings to have public hearings, which is what happened in Watergate. The Senate Select Committee had public hearings. John Dean testified. That's equivalent of Don McGahn. That kind of set everything going.
We need to have a reputation that the American people should know the facts, they're not going to read 440 pages of the Mueller report.
[19:45:01] Very people have, I have. They're not going to do it. But they need to get those facts presented. Then you can start, depending on the public response, then you can start the inquiry, which is how we did in the House.
BURNETT: So, a lot of people are drawing comparisons between you and Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Obviously, you were political outsiders. You know, when you started --
HOLTZMAN: Very much.
BURNETT: It's funny. You sort of have the same smile, that big wide mouth smile. You unseat a House veteran when you came into the House. She honored you on Twitter writing, before me, there was she, the first youngest shoe leather destroyer, subway-canvasser, no-one-saw- her-coming-either Queen or Kings County, the Honorable Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman.
Do you see yourself in her?
HOLTZMAN: Well, I see some similarities. I see -- I'm very excited that a young woman was elected. I -- when I was elected, I didn't realize I could be the youngest woman, and it took 42 years for that record to be broken. I was very sad about that, because we need energy, the excitement, the idealism of young people in Congress.
So, I'm really glad about that. I think it was great she got elected with a grassroots support. That's how I won.
The political pundits gave me no chance. They gave her no chance. She was able to raise a little more money than I was and we both had a mission.
I want to stop the Vietnam War. I was idealistic. She wanted to get social justice. She's idealistic. So, we need people like that. I'm not saying everybody has to be that way. God forbid, you know, in a way, so many like us, but you need that kind of energy, prodding, reaching for new solutions. I think it's really important and I'm glad she's there.
BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman Holtzman, thank you so much for your time.
HOLTZMAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, Senator Kamala Harris revealing new details about her personal life, including her stepchildren, and her relationship with their mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Their mother Kristen (ph) is here who is a dear friend of mine. We have a real modern family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Jeanne Moos on President Trump's obsession with beautiful leathers.
[19:50:58] BURNETT: Tonight, in the fight for 2020, ahead of Mother's Day this weekend, Kamala Harris is opening up about her relationship with her stepchildren who she says call her Momala.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT with the look at how Harris and other candidates are redefining motherhood and talking about it on the trail.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heart of West Virginia, Senator Elizabeth Warren joined by her son.
WARREN: By the way, the guy over in the blue shirt, that's my son, Alex.
LAH: Her experience as a mother, part of her pitch to voters.
WARREN: Child care never stopped being an issue. For me, like for so many working parents today, it was this weight I had to carry around every single day. And it never let up.
LAH: The motherhood identity, once viewed as an albatross, in 2020 is getting a makeover with a record number of women running for president.
Senator Kamala Harris, married to Doug Emhoff, father of two children from a previous marriage, Ella and Cole.
HARRIS: And I, therefore, have two children that are Cole and Ella who are here. They named me their momala and their mother. Yes, and their mother, Kristen (ph) is here, who is a dear friend of mine. And we have a real modern family.
LAH: The portrait of a modern candidate. In a personal essay in honor of Mother's Day, Harris writes about the heartache of missing her stepdaughter's graduation for the 2017 James Comey testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
HARRIS: I am not perfect, our kids are not perfect, my husband is not perfect and I don't think that the American people want perfect.
HARRIS: Senator Amy Klobuchar at a CNN town hall explained how getting kicked out of the hospital 24 hours after giving birth to her daughter, who was born with a condition that made her unable to swallow, made her fight back and become a lawmaker.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That was when I got hooked on public service, because I could see that you could make a difference.
HARRIS: To even joke about motherhood means backlash in 2020. Beto O'Rourke quipped about barely helping his wife with the kids, prompting this public apology.
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only will I not say that again, but I'll be much more thoughtful going forward.
AMY O'ROURKE, WIFE OF BETO O'ROURKE: Really looking toward to getting a chance to say hello.
LAH: Today, Amy O'Rourke is on the trail. She's doing the driving.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've got little Henry with me.
LAH: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand brings her children on the trail. Her mom status, a credential as a candidate.
GILLIBRAND: I'm going to fight for people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own. I'm going to fight for their families and their communities.
LAH: The mom candidates as well as many of the dad candidates do not have any public events on Sunday. Erin, the Kamala Harris campaign says that she is going to take a rare day off on the campaign trail so that she can spend mother's day as momala -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kyung.
And next, Jeanne Moos on Trump's love for a beautiful letter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did get last night a very beautiful letter.
Well, he just wrote me a beautiful letter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:58:24] BURNETT: Tonight, Trump's obsession with beautiful things, especially love letters.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We know President Trump is big on getting letters, but no wonder, since this keeps happening --
TRUMP: I did get last night a very beautiful letter from President Xi. Well, he just wrote a beautiful letter.
MOOS: That crazy Trump, read one tweet, stacking up love letters like nobody else can.
MOOS: This latest one from China's President Xi sparked memories. Another beautiful letter to keep his alongside Kim's? That would be Kim Jong-un.
TRUMP: He wrote me beautiful letters. And they're great letters. We fell in love.
MOOS: And though the love affair has hit a rocky patch, the president could always re-read old letters from Kim.
TRUMP: He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters. It's a beautiful piece of art.
MOOS: An envelope this enormous could cause dehydration just from licking it. Someone photo shopped it to make it bigger. Wow, that letter really makes Trump's hands look tiny.
And then there was that beauty from Japan's prime minister nominating President Trump --
CROWD: Nobel! Nobel!
TRUMP: Nobel --
MOOS: -- for the Nobel prize.
TRUMP: It's the most beautiful five-page letter.
MOOS (on camera): The common wisdom that the pen is mightier than the sword, but to President Trump it's more beautiful.
(voice-over): With so much beauty in letters, no wonder the president doesn't email.
TRUMP: It's a beautiful letter. We appreciate it.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.
TRUMP: And then we fell in love, OK?
MOOS: New York.
BURNETT: It's beautiful.
Thanks for joining us. Don't forget you can watch the show any time anywhere, just go to CNN Go. Have a great weekend.
"AC360" starts right now.