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Trump Jr. Makes Deal To Testify Before Senate Intelligence; Interview With Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA); Attorney General Launches Investigation Of Russia Investigators; Putin Praises Mueller For Objective Investigation; Trump Slams Report Bolton Wanted Plan For 120,000 Troops To Middle East; Biden Defends Climate Record After Rebuke By Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) New York; Gov. Steve Bullock (D) Montana Joins Democrat's List Of Presidential Candidates; Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend, Indiana Slow Jams With Jimmy Fallon; Governor Says Two Florida Counties Hacked In 2016 Election; Anti-Jewish Violence Sparks New Security Concerns. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 14, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The judge suggesting is unlikely to curtail Congress' ability to investigate the president.

Exotic and objective. That's how Russia is Vladimir Putin is describing the Mueller report, the Kremlin boss offering odd praise for the special counsel, as President Trump is cheering on a new investigation of the Russia probe.

And slow jam. We're following new riffs in the Democratic presidential race, including Pete Buttigieg's late-night performance, Beto O'Rourke's new view, and Joe Biden's clash over climate change.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news this hour, CNN just learned that Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to face a new round of questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee in mid-June, the president's son striking a deal to comply with a subpoena.

But we're told the interview will be limited in time and in scope, this as the House Intelligence Committee is demanding interviews with four lawyers tied to President Trump and his family.

The panel is investigating whether they obstructed the Russia probe in Congress. The lawyers have been accused by former Trump picture Michael Cohen of helping to edit his false 2017 testimony to Congress.

This hour, I will talk to Congressman Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat on the Oversight and Ways and Means Committee. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, what more are you learning about Donald Trump Jr.'s deal to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a very significant development, after Donald Trump Jr. had fought a subpoena issued by the Republican-led committee demanding that he return, amid questions about whether or not he had been truthful in his past testimony to Congress.

Now he has agreed to return and that, in return, the Republicans and Democrats on the committee, the leaders of the committee, have agreed to limit the time and scope of the questions. And he will probably -- we're expecting him to be back on Capitol Hill in mid-June.

Now, this came after they were concerned that he would not appear, that he could defy the subpoena. And you heard talk on Capitol Hill that the president's son could be held in contempt of Congress.

Now, we are just told just now, our colleague Kara Scannell got information from a source close to Donald Trump Jr. that Trump Jr. was prepared to be held in contempt and had a letter written he was prepared to send to the committee saying he was ready to do that.

But the committee -- this is all part of the negotiations that ultimately led to today's late deal in order for him to come in. He also agreed -- the committee agreed, according to this source, to limit follow-up questions that could be asked, and if there were questions that would go over his past testimony, he would simply refer those questions to his past testimony from 2017.

Now, two big topics they do want to discuss, the Trump Tower Moscow project that the Trump Organization pursued in the run-up to the 2016 elections, as well as his testimony about the 2016 meeting that he had with Russians at Trump Tower in New York.

Those questions are not off-limits, we're told. But, Wolf, he would -- Burr, Richard Burr, the chairman of the committee, and Mark Warner wanted to ask him roughly 12 topics.

Now this limited to five or six topics, so both sides giving a little, but a big development here. Donald Trump Jr. will be back on the Hill after fighting and threatening to defy a subpoena and even taking the Fifth Amendment by not -- to not incriminate himself, as Republicans were concerned, his allies were concerned he could be walking into a perjury trap -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But he was willing to stand up to that subpoena, to defy the subpoena, is that what we're hearing?

RAJU: He was willing to defy the subpoena. He was willing to be held in contempt. This is according to a source close to Donald Trump Jr., according to our colleague Kara Scannell.

Now, Wolf, the areas that he did not want to talk about initially, he was pushing back about, was about that Trump Tower meeting and about the Trump Tower Moscow project, because, in the aftermath of the Mueller report, it showed that there was some discrepancies in what he had said previously.

He had previously said he only was peripherally aware of that Trump Tower Moscow project. But the Mueller report revealed that Michael Cohen, the president's former attorney, had testified that he had briefed Donald Trump Jr. multiple times about that project.

Also, Donald Trump Jr. said that -- initially to Capitol Hill that he only told Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. But the Mueller report said that he actually had discussed with a larger group of individuals, including Trump family members and members and top Trump campaign aides, that he had a lead into dirt about the Clinton Foundation in the days before that Trump Tower meeting.

Those are the types of discrepancies that they -- the Senate Intelligence Committee has wanted to clear up. They have wanted to ask Donald Trump Jr. those questions. That's why he balked, because of concerns he could be walking into potential legal problems.


But, apparently, after days of negotiations, threats to potentially hold him in contempt, and threats that he may defy the subpoena, he's agreed to come back, answer questions, limited follow-up questions, limited time on Capitol Hill.

And this will be the last time he will be up on Capitol Hill, but a very newsworthy development here, the president's eldest son coming back to Capitol Hill after fighting a subpoena opinion, the president today saying that he thought it was very unfair that his son would have to come back and answer more questions from a Republican-led committee -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This is a big deal, the son of president of the United States now coming back for a new round of questioning.

Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the president probably isn't very happy that his son will be questioned upon Capitol Hill once again.


President Trump was just complaining to reporters earlier today that he thought this was very unfair that his son Donald Trump Jr. was going to have to go back to the Senate Intelligence Committee and answer more questions about those topics that Manu Raju was just talking about.

And the president was finding some support up on Capitol Hill and in conservative media, among his allies and supporters, of folks who were saying, what is the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee doing by putting Donald Trump Jr. in this position?

But, as Manu was just saying, it appears a major confrontation between the White House and this Republican-led committee has been averted.

In the meantime, Wolf, we should point out President Trump did give his blessing earlier today to Attorney General William Barr's decision to launch an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe that began during the 2016 campaign, but he claimed today that he didn't ask for that probe, this inquiry that's being launched by the attorney general.

As for the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel did pick up one notable endorsement earlier today from none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin.


ACOSTA (voice-over): After weeks of complaints about the Mueller report, President Trump is getting what he wanted, an investigation of the investigators who probed Trump campaign contacts with the Russians during the 2016 election.

Asked about Attorney General William Barr's move to tap a federal prosecutor to launch an inquiry, the president said it wasn't something he ordered.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn't ask him to do that. I didn't know it. But I think it's a great thing that he did it. And you know what? I am so proud of our attorney general that he is looking into it. I think it's great. I did not know about it, no.

ACOSTA: But Barr didn't exactly need a nudge. He could just check the president's Twitter feed, such as this tweet from last month that said: "Investigate the investigators."

It seems the president has already made up his mind on the subject, criticizing his handpicked FBI Director, Christopher Wray, who testified he didn't think federal investigators were spying on the Trump campaign.

TRUMP: Well, I didn't understand his answer, because I thought the attorney general answered it perfectly. So I certainly didn't understand that answer. I thought it was a ridiculous answer.

ACOSTA: That answer from Wray came at a hearing last week.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Do you have any evidence that any illegal surveillance into the campaigns or individuals associated with the campaigns by the FBI occurred?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I don't think I personally have any evidence of that sort.

ACOSTA: A rare, but notable moment of public disagreement with the attorney general. WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think there's -- spying did


ACOSTA: While the president has aired his frustration with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, that probe did find a fan in Russia's Vladimir Putin.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Despite the exotic nature of the work of special counsel Mueller, we must give him credit.

ACOSTA: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was meeting with Putin in Russia, warned, the U.S. won't tolerate Moscow's meddling in 2020.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Interference in American elections is unacceptable. If the Russians were to engage in that in 2020, it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been.

ACOSTA: The full scale of that interference is still being revealed, as Florida's governor told reporters today voter databases in two of his state's counties were infiltrated by Russian operatives.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: For the 2016 election, two Florida counties experienced intrusion into the supervisor of election networks. There was no manipulation or anything, but there was voter data that was able to be gotten.

ACOSTA: The president is eager to wrap up the Russia probe, complaining he doesn't want his son Donald Trump Jr. to spend any more time testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, something he now plans to do next month under a deal struck tonight with lawmakers.

TRUMP: I have no idea why. But it seems very unfair to me.

ACOSTA: On his trade war, Mr. Trump is defending his tariffs on China, tweeting: "Our great patriot farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of what is happening now," despite growing complaints that the U.S. agricultural sector is suffering.

TRUMP: We're having a little squabble with China, because we have been treated very unfairly for many, many decades, for actually a long time.


ACOSTA: The president is also rejecting reports that his administration is making plans in the event of a massive military confrontation with Iran.

TRUMP: Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we're not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: Now, the president was certainly applying pressure earlier

today on the Senate Intelligence Committee, when he said it was unfair for his son Donald Trump Jr. to spend more time detailing what he knows about Russian interference.

But the GOP-led Intelligence Committee appears to have had the support of the Republican leadership, as Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier today he's not going to tell that committee's chairman, Richard Burr, how to do his job.

And, Wolf, it seems both sides are getting something out of this. The Senate Intelligence Committee is not having to go to the route, and a pretty dramatic route, of having to essentially hold the president's eldest son in contempt of Congress and contempt of that committee, and the White House and Donald Trump Jr. and his team, they have been able to get something out of this too, in that they have been able to limit exactly what he's going to be telling those investigators when he finally goes and wraps up his testimony before that committee -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Clearly, a significant development.

Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much.

And now to the breaking news on the House Intelligence Committee investigating the lawyers tied to President Trump and his family and whether they obstructed the Russia probe in Congress.

Let's bring in our Political Correspondent, Sara Murray.

Sara, what's the latest on the Intelligence Committee's focus on the president's lawyers?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the House Intel Committee wants to hear from lawyers for President Trump, for his family business, for his family members, essentially about whether they misled the committee or tried to obstruct the probe.

And this all ties back to Michael Cohen's false testimony to Congress. And, as you may expect, the lawyers are none too pleased about this.

But here's how Adam Schiff is describing why he needs this information from them, their testimony.

He says: "We must determine how expansive the obstruction effort was and whether others were involved beyond those who were indicted. The materials we are requesting in these letters go to the heart of that investigation and to Congress' ability to conduct meaningful oversight."

And Schiff is apparently prepared to go so far as to issue a subpoena if these lawyers don't cooperate. And, as of right now, it does not look like they're willing to do so.

There's a statement on behalf of all four of these gentlemen, Jay Sekulow, Alan Garten, Alan Futerfas, and Abbe Lowell. And this statement on their behalf says: "Instead of addressing important intelligence needs, the House Intelligence Committee appears to seek a truly needless dispute, this one with private attorneys, that would force them to violate privileges and ethical rules. As committed defense lawyers, we will respect the Constitution and defend the attorney-client privilege, one of the oldest and most sacred privileges in the law."

So, Wolf, if this battle continues, it's the kind of thing that could end up being decided by a judge.

BLITZER: There's another significant development. And you were outside a federal courthouse today watching this fight develop between the Trump administration and Democrats over a subpoena to try to access the president's personal financial records. What happened?

MURRAY: That's right.

I mean, this is the first time we have seen a judge weigh into the fray of Democrats demanding documents from this time President Trump, but also the White House, to try to conduct oversight, they say, and for the White House, and in this case President Trump personally, essentially saying, we're not going to give this to you.

Well, today, a judge weighed in. And the judge had pointed questions for both sides, both the president's lawyers, as well as lawyers representing House Democrats. But he did go out of his way to point out, look, it's very rare for a judge to weigh in and limit the scope of a congressional investigation.

And he said not since 1880 has a Supreme Court or an appellate court actually decided that Congress overstepped its subpoena authority. So I think that gives you a hint into where this judge is heading. It would be very difficult, he thinks, at this point for him to say, no, no, we're not going to -- we're going to let you essentially get around this without handing over these documents.

And this is telling, because this judge will write his opinion. And that's the kind of thing that other judges are going to look to and potentially point to as they are faced with these kinds of cases down the road, Wolf.

BLITZER: Another very significant development potentially could be very, very soon. Thanks very much for that, Sara Murray reporting.

Joining us now, Congressman Jimmy Gomez of California. He's a Democrat. He serves on the Oversight and Ways and Means committees.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Let's get to all the breaking news. Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee. And the Trump Tower meeting, the Trump Moscow project are fair game for questioning.

So what do you think they need to ask him during this interview that's going to take place in mid-June?

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: You know, I'm not on the Intelligence Committee. But you know what? It's about time that somebody from this administration or associated with those president is coming in freely to talk about asked questions that a committee has.

I just wish that they would start doing this across the board. Remember, this administration had one strategy, which is dodge, delay, and lie to protect this president. So I would love to see more of these individuals come before the Democratic House.

They're going in front of the Republican Senate, but not the Democratic House. So I want to see them come before our committee and make sure that they ask -- they can answer questions and that we get a chance to ask our questions.


BLITZER: Speaking of the Democratic House, your colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee are now pursuing Michael Cohen's claim that President Trump's lawyers edited his false testimony to Congress, one of the reasons he's now serving a three-year sentence in prison.

Did Robert Mueller miss an opportunity to fully investigate this?

GOMEZ: I think what we're doing, the -- I'm not on the intelligence Committee, but I also recognize that we need to follow up on the testimony that Michael Cohen gave before all these committees to make sure and ask the questions and see where it leads us.

If his -- the Trump attorneys were interfering, were manipulating testimony, that is a big deal, and the American people have a right to know.

BLITZER: This comes as the attorney general, William Barr, is ramping up his own investigation into how the Russia probe initially started.

Do you think President Trump, directly or even indirectly, ordered this new investigation that has just been announced?

GOMEZ: Michael Cohen said that Donald Trump communicates in a variety of ways.

And one of the ways he does it is through Twitter. So, I think he prompted this investigation, of course. But, at the same time, I'm in favor of this investigation, as long as it's about transparency and getting to the truth, not to cover up or to protect this president.

And I know that there's already an investigation going on. So I would love to see what the conclusion of that investigation is as well.

BLITZER: The inspector general is supposed to conclude an investigation into that. That's why it was a little surprising that the attorney general decided to announce a new investigation, even while the inspector general of the Department of Justice had not yet wrapped up his final report.

As you know, today was the first test in court, in a federal courthouse, for the subpoena issued by your committee, the House Oversight Committee, for the president's financial documents.

How did you read that federal judges line of questioning today?

GOMEZ: You know, it's it's the first test, but it's not the last test in the court case.

We have been prepared that this administration was going to do everything to prevent the Democratic House from doing our investigations. So, Chairman Richie Neal, he knew that from the very beginning when it came to the taxes, when it came to that particular issue. So he's been taking a very cautious approach.

So has Chairman Elijah Cummings. They know that this administration was going to delay, dodge and try to prevent us from doing our job. And you know what? I think that we're doing it in a way that, hopefully, it will end up in a favorable ruling for the House. But you know what? I'm not a constitutional attorney. So I'm going to wait to see what the court says.

BLITZER: What does it tell you, though, that the president's legal team is arguing that this federal judge is moving too quickly?

GOMEZ: I think they're grasping for straws.

I think they're -- they know that the law is not on their side. So what they're trying to do is delay and trying to push back. But I think that the law is clear, and, hopefully, we get to a point where we get the documents that we have requested.

BLITZER: The president's lawyer says -- and I'm quoting now -- "This is an effort to engage in law enforcement, not to legislate."

He's referring to your committee. Isn't it true that you want to find out if the president potentially committed tax fraud or bank fraud? What's the purpose of all of this?

GOMEZ: Michael Cohen came before the committee, presented financial documents, also testified that this president manipulated his financial statements for personal gain.

I think the American people have a right to know that. They have a right to see what has been done in order to strengthen his hand. So, we're going to we're going to follow through.

And if -- I think the American people have a right to know if this guy is a crook or not.

BLITZER: On a very different subject, ""The New York Times"" is reporting -- and you have seen the report -- that the Trump administration has prepared a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American troops or restarts its nuclear program.

President Trump, he denied that "New York Times" report today, but then went on and said that, if he were to send troops, he'd send in way more than 120,000. How worried are you about the all this escalating rhetoric we have

seen over these past few days?

GOMEZ: Well, I have always been concerned by this president's foreign policy.

Remember, a lot of things he does is by tweet. And a lot of things he's done is not in coordination with the national security apparatus. So I have some deep concerns about the course of action.

Also, I want to -- this is a big deal. And we want to remind him that, if he's going to take these steps, he has to go before Congress and make his case, so we don't assume the worst about his decisions.

BLITZER: Congressman Jimmy Gomez, thanks so much for joining us.

GOMEZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, let's dig deeper on all the breaking news with our correspondents and our analysts.

And, Kaitlan, let me get your quick reaction to Donald Trump Jr. agreeing, agreeing to go ahead and testify, even though there are limits on his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And there's a question what those limits are going to look like.

But this is a pretty big, significant change, because it allows for this to cool off from this heated standoff that we have seen playing out, not only between the chairman who subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., but also the president's allies, who were so furious with a Republican for doing so, because they thought it provided Democrats with a talking point.

And it actually helped Richard Burr avoid a pretty tough decision of how he was going to respond if Donald Trump Jr. wasn't going to answer this subpoena and wasn't going to show up. Was he going to initiate contempt proceedings against the president's son?

So it certainly does allow for a cooling-off period. But there's a question of what the interview and the sit-down is actually going to look like.

BLITZER: It will apparently be limited to two to four hours in mid- June, Jeffrey Toobin.

But the Trump Tower meeting in New York in 2016, that controversial meeting with those Russians, the Trump Tower Moscow project that was being discussed, they won't be off-limits.


This sounds like an intelligent compromise. Both sides get something out of it. The committee gets to have their questions answered on subjects that matter to them. Donald Trump Jr. gets to avoid being held in contempt. He doesn't have to testify endlessly. Two to four hours is a reasonable length of time.

It just struck me, in an irrational period in our politics, this was a rational resolution for both sides.

BLITZER: What do you think? Because, potentially, there's some limits into what he has to say, what he doesn't have to say. If he certainly doesn't like a question, he can say, I refer to my previous testimony.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I think we will learn more about what those limits are.

But if there's this short two-to-four-hour window of time, I think that you will see members of the committee, particularly Democrats, want to get to the heart of the matter, particularly about the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower, including what Donald Trump Jr. meant in that e-mail chain when he was approached about that meeting, and he said, if it's what you say it is, I love it.

You know, Mr. Trump Jr. what did you mean when you said that when you got that e-mail from Rob Goldstone about contacting someone who was connected to the Russian crown prosecutor's office?

TOOBIN: If the Democrats are smart, they will let the lawyers, staff, do the questioning, because that's the only way you will be able to develop any sort of momentum, especially if you're limited to half. The Democrats will only get half of the questioning of two to four hours.

COLLINS: Yes, and it's not clear yet that we -- that they're going to have that, if that's going to be an option that the president's son has agreed to.


BLITZER: I was just going to say, you can ask a lot of questions, Jeffrey, in two to four hours without commercial breaks.


TOOBIN: You can, if you know what you're doing.


TOOBIN: Like, Wolf, maybe you're available. I don't know.



BLITZER: I think they will have good staff lawyers who will be able to ask a lot of those questions.

Bianna, go ahead and make your point.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I was going to say, you can expect that Donald Trump Jr. will be putting a lot of the blame on the president's former attorney, and who's currently behind bars.

And he will say that he was not a credible source and that he had -- that Michael Cohen had told many lies in the past, so if any of this confusion stems from any testimony that came from Michael Cohen, that should not be taken very seriously.

This also -- I agree with Kaitlan -- takes a lot of pressure off of Senator Burr and any fusion and tension that may have been rising within the Republican Party itself.

Remember, it was only a couple of days ago that Senator Graham said that he would advise Donald Trump Jr. not to testify. The president, we know, has spoken out about it as well. But this puts this -- the rising tension, it simmers that a bit now that we will be hearing from him.

And I think it is a way that they could compromise.

COLLINS: It puts a weird spotlight too, going back to Lindsey Graham, because he was someone who was saying that Donald Trump Jr. should ignore this subpoena. And now Donald Trump Jr., they have clearly come to an agreement. They wanted to find a way forward.

It obviously wasn't that difficult to get here, even though it is in the 11th hour, it seems. But -- and it is interesting to see Lindsey Graham, an ally of the president's, because other Republicans were saying they didn't totally agree with Burr, they didn't know what he knew that they didn't know.

But to see Lindsey Graham go out and publicly say that the president's son should ignore a subpoena, and now he's come to an agreement with him puts Lindsey Graham in a bit of a position.

SWERDLICK: Yes. That's part of the problem with carrying water for the White House, like Senator Graham has done recently, is that the strategy of Donald Trump Jr., who I would assume has at least communicated with his dad, can shift on a dime.

And then you're out there having taken that stance, as you just described, and then you look like you're out there all alone.

GOLODRYGA: And it's also a consequence of reacting without getting down to deeper information and knowing, as we now know from Senator Burr, that they, in fact, reached out and had asked Donald Trump Jr. repeatedly to come testify.

He did not respond. Obviously, that led to the subpoena. So that may have been something that Senator Graham was not aware of initially.

BLITZER: What does it say to you, Jeffrey, that the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, was so determined to get the president's son back before the committee? TOOBIN: Well, that Burr is doing his job.


And even the public record is clear that there's contradictions between how Michael Cohen described the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations and how Donald Trump Jr. described them.

Now, it may be that both of them just have different recollections. It may be that one of them is lying. It may be that the paper record, the e-mails, corroborate one or the other.

But any serious investigatory body wants to try to resolve contradictions. And that's what they're doing.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around.

There's a lot more we're following on all the breaking news -- right after this.



BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents and our analysts. And, Jeffrey Toobin, even as Donald Trump Jr. and his lawyers have now agreed that he will come back and testify the second time before the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was an important day hearing in a federal court house earlier today the House Oversight Committee trying to get access to Donald Trump's financial records.

The Trump lawyers are denying that. But this federal judge asked this question. And let me get your reaction. This is the U.S. district court judge for the District of Columbia. Am I right there isn't a single Supreme Court case or appellate case since 1880 that has found a congressional subpoena overstepped its bounds?

TOOBIN: That's a very damaging question if you're Donald Trump's lawyers. And they didn't have a very good answer for that. They said essentially, well, no, but you should still reject the subpoena. I think it was a bad day in court for Donald Trump's lawyers. And that may have contributed to Donald Trump Jr.'s decision to rather than fight, agree to testify. You know, there're going to be a lot of these court hearings coming up.

But even though it was a bad day for Trump and a good day for Congress, keep in mind, there's no decision, it's going to still kick around the courts, even if Congress wins, it's going to be appealed to the D.C. circuit and then perhaps to the Supreme Court. So time is on the President's side. But on the merits, it was a bad day.

BLITZER: Yes. Good point. You know, Bianna, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, today said Robert Mueller should get credit for conducting what Putin called an objective investigation that prove he said there was no collusion. Do you think he's trying to ingratiate himself, Putin is trying to ingratiate himself with President Trump. GOLODRYGA: Well, anyone believes that Vladimir Putin read the full Muller report also believes that he scored eight goals playing ice hockey last week, because that's just not the case, given especially what we saw in volume one.

Look, 29 Russian individuals and companies were charged and 161 charges out of this Mueller report. 13 Russians were indicted. We know the Russians continue to infiltrate and try to attack elections throughout Europe. Parliamentary elections are coming up in the next few weeks as well. There have been documented reports about Russian interference there. Concerns still mount about what Russia was able to do in 2016 and what they continue to do in 2020.

And there is just no expecting of Vladimir Putin to accept or acknowledge what Russia has done. And according to at least Donald Trump, him saying flatly, I deny doing it was enough. It's clearly not enough for other intelligence communities in the United States and other countries around the world who continue see Russia as a threat.

BLITZER: Kaitlan, ""The New York Times"" saying that there's one contingency plan for the U.S. to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran, for example, were to attack U.S. personnel or restart its nuclear program. The President said -- he said, hopefully, we're not going to have to do that. But if we did, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that. He also called "The New York Times" report fake news.

COLLINS: Yes. It was a pretty stunning number that they reported last night. And when the President was asked about it today, he initially dismissed the report. But then he said not only was that number stunning, he said he would send more if it came down to it.

Now, the questions are what would it take for them to do to send 120,000 troops, something that would take months to carry out to the Middle East? And that's really the question that a lot of people in the administration aren't so sure about. And that's a lot of this we talk about John Bolton, the President's National Security Adviser and how he appeals to a certain of the President's census.

But here, you see how it's the President himself who agrees with this. And he made it pretty clear in front of the cameras today how he feels about those troop numbers which a lot of national security officials were astounded that they were so high.

TOOBIN: Can we just remember to point out Iran is a much bigger and powerful country than Iraq, and that was a disaster for the United States fighting a war in Iraq. The notion of fighting Iran in a war is just beyond the description. It's just hard to imagine. Anyone is considering that --

BLITZER: The U.S. deployed 150,000 troops to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

All right, everybody stick around, there's much more news we're following. Joe Biden rebuked by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Tonight, he's responding. Plus, Pete Buttigieg, look at this, he's slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon.



BLITZER: Former Vice President Joe Biden is now responding to some pointed comments made by Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez after she appeared to question Biden's commitment to the issue of climate change.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I will be damned if the same politicians who refuse to act then are going to try to come back today and say, we need a middle of the road approach to save our lives. That is too much for me.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: You never heard me say, middle of the road. I have never been middle of the road on the environment. And I'd tell her to check, you know, the statement that I made and look at my record. She'll find that nobody has been more consistent about taking on the environment and the green revolution than I have.


All they've got to is go back and read what I've done already. And you'll be hearing shortly the totality of what I plan on doing. So it's a long campaign and everybody should just calm -- they should calm down a little bit.


BLITZER: Let's get some more on this. Our CNN Political Director, David Chalian, is with us. What do you make of this back and forth, David?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, what is clear to me is that Joe Biden is pretty confident with the position he's holding in this race now. This was not a Joe Biden today taking this question and this criticism coming from the left, Wolf, that seemed to think he had to calculate or capitulate or, in somehow, cave to the demands of the left wing of his party right now.

No. This with a Joe Biden who seemed in full command and with a slight brush back to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just saying, hey, look at my record. You're going to see my plan fully but don't question my commitment to this issue.

I think one of the big questions hanging over Joe Biden's candidacy was how is he going to operate in this modern day Democratic Party with all this energy on the left. And I think we saw today he's not going to let that energy derail him. He's going to continue to court it but he's not going to give up that broader middle ground where he's campaigning as well.

BLITZER: The democratic presidential field expanded to 22 today with the Montana Governor, Steve Bullock, entering a race. He's a Democratic Governor in a state that Donald Trump, what, carried by 20 points and he was elected at the same time. It's a significant -- potentially significant add to this contest.

CHALIAN: Well, it is. Any governor would be, right? You look at that, first and foremost. But, yes, he is making the pitch of really being the guy that can win in Trump country because that's where he literally serves as Governor of Montana.

It's a similar pitch actually that Joe Biden is making. I think what Bullock is making is he's sort of younger new generation Joe Biden and he's going to be there in case perhaps Biden falters. But I do think you are going to hear Steve Bullock continue to make the case that he can win in a red state, in a Trump state, and then that's key to winning back the White House for Democrats.

BLITZER: Finally, the Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, he was on with Jimmy Fallon last night. Let me play the clip.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON: Is it true you hooked up with Fox News at the start of your campaign because some might say that makes you a naughty boy?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Actually, I am proud to say that I was the first candidate to appear on Fox News Sunday because I don't believe in leaving out an entire portion of the country. So, yes, I want to invite everyone to join this campaign, Democrats and Republicans.

FALLON: Democrats and Republicans? So what you're saying is you go both ways?

BUTTIGIEG: No, I'm just gay.


BLITZER: Very funny. Barack Obama when he used to do it used, when he was running, he used to do a little slow jam with Jimmy Fallon.

CHALIAN: He did. It's a great way obviously to reach a broader audience and show you have a sense of humor. That's a real cultural moment, Wolf, right? I mean, you can't imagine, not even two or three years ago, that there would be a top tier contender for a major party presidential nomination who could stand on late night television and talk about being bay in a casual way filled with humor. That just -- that was unimaginable not that long ago. So it does show a real cultural shift.

BLITZER: He got a great laugh on that line as well. All right, David, thank you very much.

Just ahead, one of the more disturbing findings in the Mueller report now, new revelations of 2016 election hacking in a key state.


[18:48:06] BLITZER: On the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the Mueller report, calling it objective, there are new revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, specifically in Florida.

Our Senior National Correspondent, Alex Marquardt is working this part of the story for us.

So, what did Florida's governor reveal today?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact, Wolf, that two Florida counties, not just one mentioned in the Mueller report, but two Florida counties have been hacked into by Russian military hackers in 2016. This is according to the FBI that briefed Governor Ron DeSantis. He did some nondisclosure agreement today, so he hasn't named those counties.

Now, the Department of Homeland Security has said they suspected that Russians targeted all 50 states. But prior to the Mueller report, there had been no evidence of any sort of actual successful hacking in Florida. We do know that the they did try to carry out what's called a phishing campaign for election officials to hand over private information in order to get into these election systems.

Obviously, Wolf, this raises all sorts of questions about 2020. Here we are on the year before 2020 still grappling with the aftereffects of 2016.

Now, of course, President Trump famously just spoke with Putin on the hour and did not raise this question of Russian election meddling. That changed today with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who went to Moscow, who visited not just with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov but also with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said that he did warn the Russians not to get involved in 2020. He was asked whether he thought his warning actually landed. He said, I don't think it can be -- that Putin can be mistaken about elect America, finding that Russian interference is unacceptable in the 2020 election.

Of course, American officials have a very spotty record when it comes to verbal warnings that President Obama had warned President Putin to knock it off ahead of the 2016 election. We should note just because it's not an election year now, doesn't mean that the Russians aren't meddling.

[18:50:04] They are continuing to try to sow division. They continue to carry out these disinformation campaigns on social media. What is clear now is that the intelligence community plans to be not just on defense but also to be on offense.

And the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, was specifically asked about this today. He said: I have pushed for and received enhanced authorities to empower the intelligence community to respond to cyber attacks and foreign influence campaigns.

Now, Wolf, we did get through the 2018 election with relatively no incident. I spoke with a top election official. He called that an exhibition game, whereas 2020 is the Super Bowl.

BLITZER: Alex Marquardt, good reporting. Thanks very much.

Much more news right after this.


[18:55:25] BLITZER: Tonight, America's houses of worship are clearly vulnerable to deadly attacks by extremists. It's the focus of part two of a CNN special report on the rise of anti-Jewish violence.

Our National Correspondent, Sara Sidner joining us once again.

Sara, there are clearly urgent security concerns after very two high profile synagogue attacks.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Violence against Jews is seeing a spike, according to the ADL. And now, worshippers even the smallest of cities are asking for help they say they need security so they can pray in peace.


NOYA DAHAN, WOUNDED AT POWAY CHABAD: The synagogues are always a safe place to be. We're not supposed to be worried about anything.

SIDNER (voice-over): But Noya Dahan will always worry now. She was a victim in a deadly attack her at California synagogue. Her father who witnessed the attack wanted to send this message to the president.

ISRAEL DAHAN, POWAY CHABAD CONGREGANT: I know Donald Trump is supporting Israel. But there is more problem in the U.S. than anywhere in the world. Instead of looking for a problem outside of the country, it's better to look inside the country.

SIDNER: Over the past seven years deadly attacks by mass shooters on places of worship have been a recurring nightmare in the U.S. In 2012, six people are gunned down at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. That same year, a prayer leader is killed at a church in College Park, Georgia.

In 2015, nine worshippers are slaughtered at a predominantly black church in Charleston. In 2017, 26 killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And in Antioch, Tennessee, another person is gunned down at church. In 2008, 11 are murdered in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Six months later, one person is killed at a synagogue in Poway, California. Police say four of the attacks were perpetrated by men with white supremacist or neo-Nazi ideals, targeting their victims because of their skin color or religion. This pattern of deadly extremism is forcing religious leaders like Poway's Rabbi Goldstein to confront their new reality.

RABBI YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, POWAY CHABAD: After the Pittsburgh event, the Poway sheriffs department hosted an active shooting workshop which we attended.

SIDNER: In his synagogue, everyone one but one congregant survived the shooting. He was injured. But he said if it wasn't for the shooter's gun jamming, a congregant who charged him and an armed off- duty border patrol agent who fired at the suspect, it could have been a bloodbath.

GOLDSTEIN: If we would have armed security guard at the door, there is a very good chance the shooter would have been neutralized. Why didn't we? The answer is simple.

SIDNER (on camera): You couldn't afford security.

GOLDSTEIN: There is no budget for it.

SIDNER (voice-over): After that shooting, California's governor pledged $15 million in grants to help religious and community-based non-profits to strengthen security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One rescued at this time.

SIDNER: After the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, Pennsylvania's governor is working with the legislature to increase funding for security for more than $3.6 million in grants the state secured from DHS since 2014 for Jewish groups.

In 2019, the federal government set aside $16 million in security grants for non-profit organizations but they must be able to demonstrate they're at high risk of a terror attack.

CARLY PILDIS, TABLET MAGAZINE: I cried so hard that day. I cried so hard.

SIDNER: Carly Pildis writes for "Tablet Magazine" which concentrates on Jewish news and culture.

PILDIS: You know, I feel a sense of loss for what it used to be like for Jews here.

SIDNER: As hate crimes rise, the sense of safety is being stripped away.

PILDIS: Anti-Semitism is a real threat. It is a threat to you if you're not Jewish. Anti-Semitism has a history of breaking democracies.

SIDNER: Pildis, an expert who tracks anti-Semitism say we probably have not reached the pinnacle of the hatred yet.


SIDNER: I have talked to church pastors who are locking doors now ever since some of these attacks have occurred. I talked to people at synagogues who are arming themselves for fear and in this particular case, as you know, Wolf, there was an armed off-duty border patrol agent who actually shot at the suspect there in Poway, helping save some of the people inside of the synagogue. But right now, people are extremely afraid just to go and pray -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we'll have your third report tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Sara, excellent reporting. Thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.