Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Praises Hungary's Strongman; Bernie Sanders Rallies with Ocasio-Cortez Tonight; Rosenstein Speaks Out on Mueller Probe For First Time. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired May 13, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I know you two more reports coming up here in the SITUATION ROOM to continue the follow up on this explosion of anti-semitism. Sara, thanks very much for that report. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Donald Trump Jr. stonewalls, refusing to answer questions about two very specific topics. What are they and what is he hiding? Plus President Trump threatening to hit China with even more tariffs, and what could this mean for Trump country? A farmer about to lose 10s of thousands of dollars because of tariffs is my guest. Plus breaking news, the man who oversaw the Russia investigation, Rod Rosenstein, about to break his silence this hour about the Mueller investigation? Let's go out front.

And Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT this evening breaking news, new details on what Trump Jr. may be trying to hide. The President's son refusing to answer questions tonight from the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. This is according to two sources and we now know what questions Trump Jr. won't answer. Anything about Trump Tower Moscow or his infamous meeting in Trump Tower New York with an admitted Russian informant.

Sources tells CNN that at one point, Trump Jr. actually did agree to voluntarily be interviewed, but he backed out over what the Republican Chairman Richard Burr wanted to ask. And that's not all, the committee wants a lot more than just those two topics. Sources tell CNN tonight the committee wants to cover roughly a dozen topics with Trump Jr.

And after months of negotiations, the Republican Chairman of the Committee, Richard Burr, is done with talk. He has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., which is causing a bit of a schism in the Republican Party. Current Trump backer, Senator Lindsey Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is actually urging the President's son to defy Congress, to take the fifth but only after he originally urged the President's son to ignore Burr's subpoena.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If I were Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer, I would tell him, "You don't need to go back into this environment anymore. You've been there for hours, and hours and hours, and nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation. I would call it a day."


BURNETT: A Republican Chairman with the power to subpoena encouraging, well, the President's son to not honor a subpoena to his Republican colleague, Chairman Burr. That is a pretty stunning development. Manu Raju is out front live on Capitol Hill. So Manu, obviously this is crucial. You've got these two topics that we know Don Jr. does not want to talk about, what else do we know about what the committee wants to ask Donald Trump Jr. about?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Republicans and Democrats on the panel want to clear up any discrepancies of his past testimony in the aftermath of the release of the Mueller report. And previous testimony before a separate committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which released a transcript of the Donald Trump Jr.'s appearance, it said that when he was discussing the run up to that now infamous 2016 meeting, he said that he had only briefed Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort before that meeting.

But we've now learned from the Mueller report that he said in a meeting, a morning meeting with top Trump campaign officials and family members that he had a lead on dirt on the Clinton Foundation in the run up to that 2016 meetings, so the Democrats and Republicans want to ask him about that. They also want to ask him about what he had said previously before separate committee about his knowledge, about the Trump Tower Moscow project.

Initially he said he had just peripheral knowledge about that project, but Michael Cohen testified under oath and said that he had briefed Donald Trump Jr. multiple times about the project. So they want to understand more about that. And what we have been told is that Donald Trump Jr.'s attorneys have said that they don't want to get into those areas. They are concerned about what Republicans say is a, quote, perjury trap.

They said that he has cooperated extensively. They don't like the format that has been proposed and what has set off Republicans and Democrats on this Senate Intelligence Committee is they believe they had an agreement Donald Trump Jr., initially, for a voluntary interview before he initially backed off, which is what prompted Richard Burr to issue that subpoena.

But, Erin, we are told tonight that talks continue possibly about trying to reach a deal, possibly about written answers with Donald Trump Jr.'s attorneys maybe are open to. So far the Committee has said no, but nevertheless you're hearing some Republicans on Capitol saying take the fifth or defy the subpoena, Erin.

BURNETT: Pretty incredible for someone in Congress to say, "Defy a subpoena," one of the most important powers Congress has. All right. Manu, thank you very much. And, of course, we should note when you look at the Mueller report in the section on the collusion with Russia, that is where you see the vast majority of the reactions and some of them come right after sentences that do involve in consistencies and the public testimony under oath and interviews, things that Mueller found out about Donald Trump Jr.

Out front now, former Senior Counsel to Ken Starr during the Whitewater probe of President Bill Clinton, Paul Rosenzweig, and former White House Associate Counsel to the President George W. Bush, Jamil Jaffer. So thanks very much to both of you.

Paul, let me start with you. What does it say to you, let's start here with the two specific topics, Trump Tower Moscow and the 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian informant and others that Don Jr. does not want to talk about. What does that say to you?

[19:05:15] PAUL ROSENZWEIG, FORMER SENIOR COUNSEL, KEN STARR'S WHITEWATER INVESTIGATION: Well, the first thing it says to me is that it's not case closed, it's case still open. There certainly are questions yet to be asked of Donald Trump Jr. And it also says to me that he's worried that the evidence that Mueller has put on the plate seems to contradict his earlier testimony to the Senate and the Houses as we've heard from your reporter.

The truth of the matter, nobody knows for sure, but I certainly understand why he doesn't want to be called account for the inconsistencies between what he has said in the past and what others have said about him.

BURNETT: So Jamil, there's inconsistencies and then as I pointed out when those inconsistencies, at least, as we can determine from at least one of them, then there's redacted text, so there's questions about what that might include. You also have in addition to the two topics, a dozen, now we are learning tonight. A dozen topics that senators on that Republican chaired committee want to ask Donald Trump Jr. about? What does that say to you that there are a dozen topics, only two include Trump Tower Moscow and the meeting in New York?

JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think as Paul said, there are more questions to be asked than answered by Donald Trump Jr. And it may be that the Mueller investigation has raised additional new questions that they want to ask him, new topics, new areas of exploration. The ones we've always focused on, have there been these questions about the Trump Tower Moscow and about that meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya.

But the range of topics that the Senate might be interested in can be diverse and they may have been brought to them by the report and so more to come on what those are and how those are playing out. But if he doesn't want to testify, it's going to be very hard for the Senate to make him testify. They have limited powers to do so and so this is largely a political fight between him and his lawyers and the Committee.

BURNETT: OK. So Paul, talk to me what these powers are. So far Donald Jr. is defying the subpoena, which is a serious offense. I mean he could be held in contempt. He could even go to jail or no, what's the next step in the process here if he does formerly defy the subpoena?

ROSENZWEIG: Well, it's a very difficult road for the Committee to hoe. They can hold them in contempt but the power of contempt is actually held on the floor of the Senate and Mitch McConnell controls access to the Senate floor. He's determined already that the case is closed and that he wants to move on and it's going to take a supreme act of defiance by the Republican members of the Senate to override the will of Majority Leader.

I think, frankly, it would be a travesty if they did not. It would be a travesty if the Republican Senate accepted the refusal of a private citizen witness to testify one with no privilege at all, but that seems to be where we are.

BURNETT: So Jamil, what happens? I mean is it possible that the example the American public sees is you can seemingly perjured yourself in one state to the other or tell lie and defy a subpoena and get away with it?

JAFFER: Well, I think what makes this really hard is even if they were to enforce subpoena and hold him in contempt, what power do they have to enforce it? One, they can hold him in inherent contempt and try to use the power of the Senate to arrest them. That's not going to happen. It hasn't happened in a hundred years and not to a private individual, so that's not happening.

They could go to the Trump justice department and ask to enforce a criminal contempt subpoena, that's not likely to happen. It happened with Eric Holder and the Obama administration didn't enforce that. And then it can go to civil contempt and that takes years to play out. If you look at the case of Josh Bolden or Harriet Miers or Lois Lerner or Eric Holder, which most of the cases are still pending.

And so this idea somehow that even if they were to hold him in contempt that they're going to be effective is probably a challenge too. It does make a statement as Paul currently points out that (we're not) likely to make.

BURNETT: All right. So where are we though here, Paul? You've got 20 investigations by Democrats going right now in to President Trump, his administration, his finances, you name it, runs the gamut. They have failed to comply this administration with 79 requests for information. This is according to House Democrats. They put out 79 requests. Is that par for the course? Is that normal or are we at an important moment in history?

ROSENZWEIG: Well, it's certainly not normal. As Jamil says, there have been instances in the past in which administrations have resisted particular specific types of inquiry. This is the first instance in which a President has effectively declared himself immune from congressional oversight.

He has done so, I'm sure, for political reasons. It's certainly plays to the base and he has also discerned, as Jamil has described, that Congress' inherent authority to enforce its will is very weak, especially when his own party is willing to defend him in the councils of the Senate as this Senate majority seems to be. It is really a wholesale stiff arm or stonewall, if you will, of the congressional investigative process to a degree that we've never seen before that makes it different in kind.

[19:10:24] BURNETT: All right. I think it's important for people to realize that, that it is different in kind. Thank you so very much both of you. And next, the breaking news, the Dow plunging more than 600 points. President Trump threatening more tariffs tonight. Is this the biggest gamble of his presidency? Plus, President Trump offering up nothing but praise for yet another strong man who the United States has shun both parties for nearly two decades.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Probably like me, a little bit controversial but that's OK. That's OK. You've done a good job.


BURNETT: And the fight for 2020, Bernie Sanders teaming up tonight with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a live rally this our.


[19:14:50] BURNETT: Breaking news, more tariffs. Trump saying he's ready to put tariffs on everything from China, adding another $300 billion dollars to his tariff war. Already today, stocks went into freefall. The Dow down 617 points which is the worst drop in more than four months. The plunge coming on China's retaliating to Trump's last round of tariffs, so as you can see with this new threat tonight, the trade war escalating quickly. Now, according to Trump though it all means more money for America.


TRUMP: We're taking in billions of dollars of tariffs and those tariffs are going to be tremendously - the bottom line is we are taking in tremendous amounts of money. It already started as of last Friday, but a really started seven months before that. It's in the form of tariffs or taxes and it had a tremendous impact.


BURNETT: Taking in tremendous amounts of money. Of course, the question is from where and that's where the problem is. You are the ones paying that extra money. We are, the consumers. Here's President Trump's top economic adviser. His top economic adviser Larry Kudlow.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: It's U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers who pay, correct?

LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: Yes, to some extent. I don't disagree with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Larry is always honest and he doesn't disagree with that

because it is true. When Trump slaps tariffs on China and brags about $300 billion of them, those tariffs usually get passed along to the people who buy those products, i.e. us, Americans. So for American farmers it's a double whammy because they're paying more for what they buy like all the rest of Americans and they're paying tariffs to China on what they sell as part of the retaliatory practices.

Out front now, Bill Gordon, soybean farmer from Minnesota who serves as the Vice President of the American Soybean Association. He could lose $65,000 this year on his farm because of tariffs. It's a stunning number, Bill. I appreciate your time. I mean talk to us about the scale here. You've got tonight the President saying, "Put tariffs on everything," another $300 billion after China threatens to retaliate today. How much have the tariffs hurt you?

BILL GORDON, VICE PRESIDENT AMERICAN SOYBEAN ASSOCIATION; FARMER: Well, it's definitely real out here, Erin. In the rural communities, we're starting to feel in our schools and down on main street when farmers are not making money and we're coming up with money from our savings accounts, basically our equity and moving it into our cash flows to pay back our loans and our different inputs from those countries and it definitely is starting to get dire out here in rural America.

BURNETT: And you're talking about as things continue, what, $65,000 for you and your farm.

GORDON: Yes. Right now just on our soybean farm, just between what my cost of production was, so basically zero to breakeven. Right now I have to come up $65,000 just to plant this crop. It's more not to plant the crop, that's the unfortunate part that we need to plant the crop. Actually, that's a lower loss percentage than not putting the crop in at all.

BURNETT: Wow. I mean, so when you say it's not a question of if you're losing money, it's how much you're losing, that's what you mean.

GORDON: Correct. Right now and then this time value of the tariffs and there's other economic parts here. We've done a really good job of raising a crop, what we do here as American farmers, we have our counterparts in South America raising a great crop, that definitely put strain on the markets also. But when you have the time value of the tariffs and no trade basically with China, they had offered 20 million metric tons of soybeans to be purchased. They've only purchased around 5 million metric tons into the other 15.

Now, it'll probably be delayed till fall which that is old crop soybeans instead of the new crop soybeans that we need to get rid of.

And when you talk about this, when you said that's what we do, I mean I know you're talking about sort of the moral fabric of what it means to be a farmer and the purpose in providing food for others. This situation I know is hurting people's lives and then when I say lives, I mean lives. You're talking about even seeing a rise in suicides as a result of these tariffs.

GORDON: Yes. And all of this economic downturn. A few years back we had a great market in corn and soybeans and even wheat and different crops. That has turned in the last five years. We've had an economic downturn. Our prices have lowered. We've done a good job of over producing like we do trying to raise food and now with these added tariffs, farmers are not getting their lines renewed, the banks are coming in and foreclosing on their farms, taking their family living away and it's too much for some of them and we've seen a definite increase in suicide rates and depression in farmers in the United States, especially the Upper Midwest.

BURNETT: It's a human side, I think a lot of people don't realize. I hope people hear this. Bill, thank you very much.

GORDON: Yes. Thank you. Thank you for taking the opportunity to talk to us here and we're like everybody else, we want to raise our family out here in rural America. We want to raise a crop that you guys can eat and safe affordable food. And when that gets taken away from us, it's really tough on us personally and tough on our families.

[19:19:59] BURNETT: All right, Bill. Thank you. I want to go now to Jim Bianco, Economic Analyst and President of Bianco Research along with Jack O'Donnell, former President and Chief Operating Officer of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino. Jim, you heard what Bill said, it's just the deep impact that this is having broadly in rural America when he's talking about schools are now being impacted, individual farmers, depression, suicide and it's pretty hard to hear when you hear the human toll that is happening.

JIM BIANCO, PRESIDENT, BIANCO RESEARCH: Yes, it is and that's the problem with a tariff. A tariff is a tax and it does reduce the price and it does reduce the demand for a product, especially for a farmer because as Bill said, he's got to sell his crops now. He can't wait till the fall to sell them because they'll spoil by then.

But President Trump did tweet over the weekend that the money that he's bringing in from tariffs would be redistributed back to farmers like Bill in the form of some kind of a bill that would be coming. Now, a tweet is not a bill, but he did to say that that should be coming, so hopefully there is relief coming for them soon.

BURNETT: Do you think that'll solve it? I mean I know big picture, Jim, you're not someone who supports tariffs but you're talking about time here, a window of time?

BIANCO: Right. I mean let's remember what we're trying to do here. The Chinese convey engaging corporate espionage, the Chinese break what we would call Western rules and that there's needs to be some - with them bringing them into line. We've got an imperfect tool in tariffs to try and do that, even Chuck Schumer is in favor of what President Trump is doing, so there is some bipartisan support.

So the idea here is that we're going to put tariffs on permanently but use it as a stick to try and get a better trade deal. If that happens over a short period of time, that's good. But if it takes a longer period of time, it is going to run into problems and just redistributing tariff money back to farmers can only stopgap it. It won't fix it permanently.

BURNETT: Right. Right. It's as if you're trying to plug a giant hole with a straw. Jack, it's interesting though when you hear Jim saying use the stick to try to get what you want and think it's going to work quickly. You hear the President, which we just play bragging about the money that the US Treasury is getting from China and leaving out the inconvenient fact that it is Americans who eventually will be paying that money in the form of higher prices as Larry Kudlow was very honest and admitted.

Does the President really think people don't know that? Is this part of his strategy?

JACK O'DONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT & CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, TRUMP PLAZA HOTEL & CASINO: Well, I think the whole tariff issue is part of his political strategy for sure. This is what he promised his base and he's delivering and it's a battle of the two largest economies in the world and it's what they wanted from 2016 when he promised it to his base to the first day in office. He said he was going to go to war with China.

As far as the American people, I don't think the President is in touch at all with the impact that it has not only on the farmers but the average family across the country. It's been suggested that it's going to cost every home $800. That's like $0.80 to him. He can't relate to the fact that that $800 is going to come out of people's budgets and it's going to change the way they consume products in this country, because they'll be forced to do it.

BURNETT: So you think he's basically without any empathy?

O'DONNELL: Oh, I don't think that there's any empathy at all for the American people and the price that certain people are going to pay. I think he probably hopes that this is going to be a short-term issue and that he's going to be able to solve this in June at the summit. But if it carries on, we all know it's going to be disastrous for this economy.

So I think he'll cut a deal just for that alone. I don't think he can afford to have go into 2020 with the economy collapsing.

BURNETT: No. That certainly he can't do. All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it. And next, Trump embracing a far-right nationalist who was shunned by both parties in the United States for nearly two decades.


TRUMP: Highly respected all over Europe.


BURNETT: Plus, breaking news, for the first time the former Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, breaking his silence about Mueller's investigation and former FBI director Jim Comey and he's not holding back this hour.


[19:28:58] BURNETT: President Trump meeting the man, Steve Bannon, once called the Trump before Trump. Hungary's far-right nationalist prime minister shunned by both the Bush and Obama administrations, but not by Trump, embraced by Trump who lavished praise on him, inviting him today into the Oval Office. Michelle Kosinski is out front.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): In the Oval Office, President Trump full of praise for Viktor Orban.


TRUMP: Highly respected. Respected all over Europe.


KOSINSKI(voice-over): The man the European Union has branded a systemic threat to the rule of law as the Prime Minister of Hungary.


TRUMP: Probably like me, a little bit controversial but that's OK. That's okay. You've done a good job.


KOSINSKI(voice-over): Orban is just the latest version of autocrat Trump has either welcomed, invited or praised like Egypt's el-Sisi, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un. Yet, Trump's ex-campaign manager, Steve Bannon, called Orban Trump before Trump.


VIKTOR JonAN, PRIME MINISTER OF HUNGARY: We are proud to stand together with United States on fight against illegal migration.


[19:30:00] KOSINSKI(voice-over): In the last eight years, Jonan and his party have been accused by international observers of chipping away democracy, rewriting the constitution, allowing corruption, controlling the media, gerrymandering, thwarting opposition, and stacking the courts and government offices with loyalists.

[19:30:15] Months ago, an international watchdog group named Hungary the Least Democratic in the E.U.

But he and Trump do have some things in common.


KOSINSKI: Jonan's motto, Hungary first. Once a fighter for democracy post communism, in 2010, he seized on populism after economic downturn and fear over migrants. Jonan called it an invasion.

TRUMP: You look at what's marching up, that's an invasion.

KOSINSKI: Jonan built a wall, a big one on the border with Serbia.

TRUMP: We will build a wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

KOSINSKI: Jonan sent the bill for his wall to the E.U. And he's demonized Hungarian born billionaire George Soros who has the ability to form opposition there just as Trump supporters have demonized him here.

Seeing the threat of a free press, Jonan has consolidated now around 90 percent of Hungary's media either under state control or Jonan's friends, according to a Hungarian study.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the reasons that Obama didn't want to meet with this guy is because he considered the way he ran his society beyond the pail and worthy of the reprimand of the United States.

KOSINSKI: The last time an American president let Jonan in for a one- on-one was 1998.


KOSINSKI: So, Trump administration officials tell CNN this is just a way to engage more with Central European countries at a time when they're being courted by the likes of Russia and China and that they want the erosion of democracy to stop, although Trump wasn't expected to bring that up in this meeting.

So, it ends up being one more time when Trump finds plenty of kind words for somebody like Viktor Jonan on the same day he is partially criticizing a fellow American, namely a Democrat, namely on this day, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much.

I want to go now to Phil Mudd, former CIA counterterror official and our analyst, and Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, also national security analyst here.

So, Phil, you see that piece laying out the history. It's not just the history of this person, this prime minister. It's the history of United States leaders of both parties saying that's not acceptable. And yet, President Trump welcomes him, calls him highly respected. He's adulating him.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think you could look at this from a policy lens and say, look, the president who ran a business is stepping back and saying, it'd be nice to have no media that attacks you. I'd be nice to deal with the Congress --

BURNETT: And he sees that 90 percent as hey, that's great.

MUDD: That's great. I think there's a simpler lesson that has to do with the president's ego. I don't want to make this too simplistic, but as the foreign policy guy, I keep trying to find a systematic explanation. Every circumstance, North Korea, Russia, China on trade, NAFTA, NATO in terms of how they pay for NATO costs -- every single time, if you can find me a time where the president said the guys before me got it right, every single time, it's like Iran, again North Korea, NAFTA.

Every single time, it's they got it wrong, I'm the genius in the room, I'll change it. Sometimes, Erin, we're overcomplicating this.

BURNETT: We're overcomplicating. It comes down to more simple, you know, ego.

Juliette, though, to the point that Phil's making, Trump's history of praising dictators, you know, some of whom by the way did receive a bit more positive reception by other administrations than Viktor Jonan has, but President Trump embraces them all. Here he is.


TRUMP: Chairman Kim Jong-un, a man I have gotten to know and like wants, peace and prosperity for North Korea.

I think Putin's been a very strong leader for Russia. I think he's been a lot stronger than our leader, that I can tell you. It's a great honor and privilege because he's become a friend of mine to introduce President Erdogan of Turkey. We've never had a better relationship, Egypt and the United States, than we do right now. I think he's doing a great job.

BURNETT: I mean, you know, before you smile when you look at the record of jails and murdering dissidents, murdering journalists, I mean, these countries are the worst of the worst.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. And there's something about inviting them as he did today into the Oval Office and sort of denigrating that room. And, you know, you can do these kinds of meetings if there's a policy reason for it at a lower level.

I just want to make something clear two important points. One is to remember how Jonan came into power, and it was really what's called the polarization model, and I think that's what's actually appealing to Donald Trump. It is pitting people against each other.

[19:35:02] So, it's the anti-Semitism. It's the anti-immigration. It's the LGBTQ issues. It's those issues that serve as a dog whistle here domestically to those forces here who see Trump praise someone who came into power by polarizing rather than uniting.

The second thing is even if it's true there should be a median or maybe just Trump's ego, the timing cannot be forgotten. There are E.U. elections next week. If he wants to meet like the head of Hungary, why not in two weeks?

Trump is signaling, whistling to the forces of autocracy in those elections, Brexit and others, that he does not want the more progressive groups to win. So, to me, this was more purposeful, more signaling, more dog whistling for the domestic audience than just a national security issue.

BURNETT: And also, Phil, when you talk about the timing of what issue he's going to take a stand on, right? So, in the United States, he likes to take a stand against Congressman Tlaib, which Michelle referenced. You know, comments she's made about the holocaust.

The president tweeted her today: She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Right? She is enemy number one for him. And yet, the Hungarian prime minister who talks about creating a European ethno state reminiscent of the Aryan race, right? And yet, he is a highly respected guy.

MUDD: Let's take a step back here. Look, I don't like what the congresswoman said. I thought she was out of line. I thought she should have never used those words.

That said, let's look at the president in perspective. You're going to go out and say you've got love letters with Kim Jong-un who murders his own citizens. You're going to go out and say I'm reluctant to do anything about Saudi Arabia, murdering somebody who writes for "The Washington Post", you're going to go out and have a love affair with Vladimir Putin who was involved as far as I can tell in murdering oppositionist.

I think he's right to make some comments about the congresswoman. I thought her words were inappropriate. That said, legitimacy is a problem when you hear the president say, all these dictators who not only side line opponents but murder them, I like those people. I don't know how you have a legitimacy in going after the congresswoman with that in your background.

BURNETT: Right. It's just utter hypocrisy of what he chooses to say.

Thank you both very much.

And next, the fight for 2020. Bernie Sanders taking the stage this hour with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Will it give him a boost as Biden is clearly taking the lead?

Plus, breaking news. The man who oversaw the Russia investigation, Rod Rosenstein, speaking out this hour at this moment. His first public remarks about the Russia imbroglio.


[19:41:19] BURNETT: At this hour, in the fight for 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders about to appear at a rally in support of the Green New Deal. He's attending a Washington event hosted by the plan's greatest champion, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Sanders is with the far left hero AOC as the more moderate Joe Biden remains the clear front-runner in polls. Here he is today in New Hampshire. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election is bigger than any you've been engaged in, not because I'm running or anybody else is running, but because who occupies the office. This is -- this election is quite frankly bigger than politics.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now is CNN political commentators Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", and Paul Begala, former White House counselor to President Clinton.

OK, Joan, Sanders is on stage with AOC talking about the Green New Deal.


BURNETT: Is this smart?

WALSH: Well, sure. I mean, AOC is a celebrity to the young left. Bernie Sanders is also a celebrity to the young left to be honest.

BURNETT: It's amazing.

WALSH: It is, I know, yes. And so, you know, this is his crowd. This is one of his issues.

And I think he's got to really push his base because Biden has certainly cut into his poll standing. He -- you know, even though these two men are so divergent, ideologically, they are really competing pretty directly. And since Biden got in the race, Bernie has fallen both nationally and in several states.

So, he's got to be clear that I am on the progressive cutting edge and Joe Biden is behind me.

BURNETT: Right, and I guess that's the big question, Paul, is what group is going to determine this election? Is it the progressive young cutting edge, or is it the, you know, voters from Midwest and swing states, right, who felt left behind by the economy? Not the young voters, right, the older whiter voters.

So, Jason Carroll recently went out to northeastern Pennsylvania to this point, Luzerne County, which flipped from Obama to Trump, right, those voters going for Trump. Here's what one couple had to say about AOC and the Green New Deal. They did vote for Obama, but here they are now.


EILEEN SOROKAS, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I think she's too bizarre.


E. SOROKAS: Yes, yes. I think she's ridiculous and be more realistic. You know, we are people, we live on this planet. We want to survive.

RICHARD SOROKAS, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: We want to get all this environment projects done in ten years and it's impossible. You lose jobs, you lose wages, you lose -- you're going to lose your economy.


BURNETT: Paul, those are voters, they voted for Obama and then they voted for Trump, right? That AOC Green New Deal is not going to work with that kind of voter. What is more important for Joe Biden to appeal to? Those voters or the AOC standard voters?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's like asking which child do you love the most? I mean, I know my mother loved me the most. She told me yesterday on Mother's Day.

I think it's a false choice I really do, the art of this. And the Democratic Party is a really diverse party and it's a big party. So you've got to be able to do both. You've got to be able to electrify those folks that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez electrifies, and also reach out to folks who voted for Donald Trump like those people in Luzerne County and say, hey, come on back, we represent you.

I will say too many -- I don't have a favorite. First of my life, I don't have a candidate, honestly. I think too many of these candidates and I've talked to most of them, I think they're chasing the kind of well-off well educated white liberals too much. I have nothing against them, I am one.

But heart of the Democratic Party is people of color, I'm not one. I have a color that's pale. We are not talking enough I think to the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. There's nothing wrong with my fellow white liberals on Twitter, but somebody needs to get back to people of color, blue collar whites, those folks who are still a vast bulk of the Democratic Party.

[19:45:02] BURNETT: Joan, is it a false choice or is it ultimately going to be a choice? You can be a big party, but at some point, different groups want different things.

WALSH: Sure, there will be choices. I mean, there are -- and candidates are making choices. And Joe Biden has decided he's going to be OK with being in the moderate lane. He's not hiding his corporate ties. He's had several corporate fund raisers.

BURNETT: Yes, you've got to give him credit because what's the point in hiding? You can't hide it.

WALSH: Exactly. He's embracing to some extent his place in the center lane, that lane that Mike Bloomberg wasn't sure was there. I think Biden's going down that lane. He's not going to come up with the Green New Deal.

An advisor told "Reuters" that he was searching for a middle ground on climate change and they got scalded over the weekend for that. So they backed off from it, but we're going to see. He's got an environmental platform coming out shortly. We'll see how far it goes and what of the Green New Deal it embraces. It may embrace more than we think.

BURNETT: You know, and, Paul, big question, though, Biden in the past has said we do need to finish this green new deal revolution. And maybe he looks back and says that's something to be concerned about. But yet, to Joan's point, you see in the polls people and the Democratic Party support the Green New Deal overwhelmingly, they support the Green New Deal. Sixty-one percent of them are likely to support someone who's in favor of it.

Again, that's the primary voter but what's going to be -- does he at his risk, at his peril embrace it too quickly?

BEGALA: Yes, I think people obviously want action, especially Democrats, action on climate. If I were Joe Biden, if I were working for him and I'm not, I'd say, Joe, you should call it Green New Deal part 2, because Green New Deal part 1 was the Obama-Biden recovery package in 2009. Joe Biden ran that for President Obama, and it had billions of dollars in exactly the kind of stuff all of us in the Democratic Party want to retrofit buildings and move away from a carbon-based economy. It was a terrific green new deal under Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

So, I think you can embrace the label but I think Joe will likely have more moderate policies than --


BURNETT: That's an interesting point you make. Obviously, he doesn't get credit for that. He some sort of dinosaur, but they're doing a poor job on messaging that. But an interesting race.

Thank you both.

And next, breaking news, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about to speak publicly for the first time -- first time publicly about Mueller's investigation and the former FBI Director Jim Comey. That is coming up in just a moment. We're going to tell you exactly what he's saying.

Plus, Jeanne on Trump's favorite non-answer.


TRUMP: We'll see what happens.

We'll see what happens.

We'll see what happens.



BURNETT: Breaking news, former deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who oversaw the Mueller probe, is about to take the stage giving his most extensive public comments yet talking about the probe, expected to slam the former FBI Director Jim Comey. And for the first time, Rosenstein will talk about his reaction to Comey's firing which, of course, is part of all of this.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT in Washington.

And, Evan, you know, look, there's been reporting about Rosenstein and what he thinks about this or thought about that. This is the first time that Rosenstein is speaking publicly.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Erin. Until now, we've heard accounts of exactly what went on when he was asked to write the memo that the president used in order to fire James Comey, the director of the FBI. We've heard those accounts from everyone including from the Mueller report, which was released just a couple weeks ago.

So, now -- now, he has finished his term as deputy attorney general, 30 years, almost 30 years serving inside the Justice Department. For the first time he is actually a regular citizen. He's now speaking in Baltimore at an event actually that he was speaking to two years ago right when after the firing of James Comey.

So, we expect that he's going to be talking a little bit about perhaps responding to some of the comments from Comey. If you remember Comey at the CNN town hall last week questioned Rosenstein and his character, said he did not have strong character, and questioned whether or not people like Rosenstein didn't stand up enough to President Trump over the last couple of years. So, we know that he's been sort of itching to respond to some of those things having been muzzled for the last couple of years, Erin.

BURNETT: And, Evan, obviously the significance here for Congress also, right? Everybody is going to be watching because these are the first public comments.

PEREZ: Right, exactly. And, look, he is actually one of the people we are hoping to hear from. We know the Democrats in Congress have said that they would like to have him testify in Congress as a result of seeing the Mueller report, but we have not yet heard exactly what he's going to say tonight. And certainly, when he is called, I think he's now begun speaking, Erin, as we speak.

And I think, now, we're able to use some of the prepared remarks we had been able to get our hands on beforehand. I'll tell you one of the things he said in response to the Comey criticism. He said that the former director of the FBI Comey, he said that he's a partisan pundit now, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating on the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul.

This is a direct response to the comments Comey made to Anderson Cooper at that CNN town hall last week in which he questioned the strong -- whether Rosenstein had strong enough character to stand up to the president.

BURNETT: Wow. Pretty significant slam there.

Evan, thank you very much.

Rod Rosenstein calling Jim Comey a partisan pundit.

And next, Jeanne Moos on the president's go-to answer when he doesn't have an answer.


[19:58:27] BURNETT: Tonight we saw, again, Trump's favorite non- answer.


TRUMP: We'll see what happens with Iran. We'll see what happens.


BURNETT: All that today and here's Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When in doubt --

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. We'll see what happens. So we'll see what happens.

MOOS: It is the president's favorite answer.

TRUMP: As far as North Korea is concerned, I think most of you know how I feel. We'll see what happens.

MOOS: From Korea to Russia --

TRUMP: But we're going to see what happens.

MOOS: From hurricanes --

TRUMP: We'll see what happens.

MOOS: -- to health care.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. No particular rush.

MOOS: It's perfect to fill time when the president's in no particular rush to answer, or maybe he wants to build suspense.

TRUMP: Something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord. We'll see what happens.

MOOS: As one critic tweeted, it's like he thinks every question is a chance for a teaser heading into a commercial break. The phrase is so beloved by the president that he's used it three times in a mere five- second answer, again, on the subject of North Korea -- TRUMP: We'll see what happens. We'll see what happens. Certainly,

it's not a first choice. We will see what happens.

MOOS: Now, in a few cases, we've actually seen what happened.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.

MOOS: Three days later, Mr. Bannon went bye-bye.

As for then FBI Director James Comey --

TRUMP: I have confidence in him. We'll see what happens.

MOOS: Comey was fired less than a month later. So when the president mentions seeing what happens --

TRUMP: I'm very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens.

MOOS: Beware.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: And thanks for joining us.

Anderson's next, so we'll see what happens.