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THE SITUATION ROOM
Republicans Flirt With Rebellion If Trump Moves Ahead On Mexico Tariffs; Christopher Steele Agrees To Be Questioned By U.S. Officials; Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) Is Interviewed On White House Interference; House Committee Votes To Hold Barr In Contempt; White House Directs Hicks And Donaldson To Withhold Documents From House Judiciary Panel; Trump Says Republicans Would Be Foolish To Block Him On Mexico Tariffs; Biden Drops In Poll But Maintains Lead Over 2020 Rivals; Prosecutors Want Manafort Moved To Notorious Rikers Island. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 4, 2019 - 17:00 ET
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: tariff trouble. As President Trump hobnobs with the royals and inserts himself into Britain's politics, he's facing a revolt from Republican lawmakers back home over his Mexico tariffs. The president said they'd be foolish to try to block him but some senators are warning that could happen.
Ordered to withhold: the White House has ordered two former top aides not to turn over documents to House Democrats.
Could that lead to more contempt citations?
Lowering the Barr: The Justice Department agrees to work with House Democrats on lowering the bar and producing documents related to the Mueller report if the House agrees not to move ahead with a contempt vote against the attorney general.
And solitary hell: CNN has learned former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, serving time in a federal prison, may be moved to solitary confinement on New York's notorious Rikers Island as he faces what could be a pardon-proof 16-count state indictment on fraud charges.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news. BLITZER: Breaking news: as President Trump enjoys all the trappings of a state visit in London, he's getting angry protests from Republicans back here in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warns that GOP lawmakers oppose the president's planned tariffs on Mexican imports.
The president says Republicans would be foolish to try to block his move. But another GOP senator says there could be enough votes to do just that, including an override of a possible presidential veto.
And as House Democrats warn of more retaliation for Trump administration stonewalling in the Russia investigations, the Justice Department now says it will work to produce a limited set of documents to avert a contempt vote against the Attorney General William Barr.
I'll speak with Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the Intelligence Committee and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories. Let's begin with CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's in London for us.
Jim, the president has been injecting himself into British politics but, on this side of the ocean, he's facing a growing Republican revolt.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump has been throwing his weight around here in London but he is facing a revolt back home, as he is losing GOP support for his plan to impose tariffs on Mexico.
The president is also bristling at these protests in the streets here of London, calling them fake news today but they are very much the real thing.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Meeting Prince Charles in London and telling Britain how it should run its internal affairs, President Trump is facing some palace intrigue of his own back home, as members of his own party are rejecting his plan to slap tariffs on Mexican imports.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't think they will do that. I think if they do, it's foolish. There's nothing more important than borders. I've had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90 percent -- 94 percent approval rating, as of this morning, in the Republican Party.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Senate Republicans are growing increasingly anxious over the president's plan.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As some in the GOP say there could be enough support in Congress to block the tariffs, that are set to go into effect next week. SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): And I really do think that there may be enough numbers of people who think that we shouldn't be allowing one person to make this decision that we actually may have enough to override a veto on this.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The Republican revolt back in Washington comes as the president is dabbling in British politics. Standing next to outgoing prime minister Theresa May, Mr. Trump touted some of her possible successors.
TRUMP: I know Boris. I like him. I've liked him for a long time.
ACOSTA (voice-over): While he lashed out at Britain's Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
TRUMP: I think that he is, from where I come from, somewhat of a negative force.
ACOSTA (voice-over): And continued his war of words with London's mayor.
TRUMP: I think he should actually focus on his job. It would be a lot better if he did that.
SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: Yes, this is what you would expect from an 11-year old.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president also tried to rewrite history about Britain's ongoing effort to withdraw from the European Union. While Mr. Trump correctly stated that he once predicted Brexit would pass, he got his facts wrong as to where he said it, claiming that took place at his golf course in Scotland in 2016.
TRUMP: Some of you remember that prediction. It was a strong prediction, made at a certain location on a development we were opening the day before it happened.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not true. When Mr. Trump traveled to his golf resort, the Brexit vote --
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- had already happened.
TRUMP: But I think it's a great thing that's happened. It's an amazing vote. It's very historic. And I'm very happy.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president did find time to praise Prime Minister May, though he said she should have taken his advice and sued the European Union to force a Brexit deal.
TRUMP: I would have sued but that's OK.
TRUMP: I would have sued and settled, maybe. But you never know. THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I've always talked openly with you, Donald, when we have taken a different approach and you've done the same with me.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Despite that display of warmth, there was a frostier reception on the streets of London, where thousands of protesters taunted Mr. Trump, who refused to accept that these large demonstrations actually happened.
TRUMP: There were thousands of people cheering and then I heard that there were protests.
I said, where are the protests?
I don't see any protests. I did see a small protest today when I came, very small. So a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say.
ACOSTA: Now one British government official said the prime minister and the president got along much better this time around, in part because aides over at Downing Street have grown accustomed to Mr. Trump's tactics on the world stage. That is something that Prime Minister May's successor will have to get accustomed to, all in due time.
But, Wolf, getting back to the opposition inside the Republican Party, the president's plan to impose tariffs on Mexico, this one Republican aide up on Capitol Hill told me this should not come as a surprise to the White House. In the words of this senior GOP aide, "They should have seen this coming" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta in London for us. Thank you.
There's more breaking news. The Justice Department says it will work with the House Judiciary Committee to produce a limited set of documents on the Mueller investigation in a bid to forestall a contempt vote against the attorney general, William Barr. Let's go to our Congressional Correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty.
Sunlen, what does this offer reveal about the Justice Department's concern over a House vote next week to hold Barr potentially in contempt?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it certainly suggests that they are very clearly concerned about the contempt vote that is looming large right now, hanging over their head.
As you said, it is still scheduled for one week from today, next Tuesday, June 11th, here on Capitol Hill. The DOJ clearly signaling in this letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee today that they want this threat essentially to be off the table and that they are willing to make some concessions.
The letter sent to the committee says that they will work with them on responding to a narrowed subpoena, potentially producing just a limited set of documents over to the committee, not the full, unredacted report, not the full underlying evidence that Robert Mueller used in his report.
Of course, key here is that they are willing to do so if that contempt threat is off the table.
BLITZER: So will this offer, you think, go anywhere?
Or will the committee not settle for anything less than the full, unredacted Mueller report?
And they also want all the underlying evidence.
SERFATY: That's right. Well, we have not heard a formal response yet from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler. No indication yet that they will withdraw that contempt threat fully.
Significant, though, in this letter, the DOJ says that Chairman Nadler did narrow the subpoena in a recent letter that he sent to them. So potentially showing some give on the part of Democrats there. There potentially could be some calculation among Democrats that, when and likely if this all goes to court, that this could help their case if, along the way, they're trying to show that they're working with the DOJ in these proceedings, of course, we'll see how Nadler formally responds once he does.
BLITZER: Still, you know, the latest offer from the Justice Department comes as the White House stonewalls big-time the Judiciary Committee's subpoena for documents from two key former White House officials.
What will Democrats do in response?
SERFATY: That's right, these are two key White House officials among the closest and longest serving aides of President Trump. Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Annie Donaldson, the former deputy White House counsel.
The White House has directed both of them not to turn over the documents requested by the committee about their time in the Trump White House. Notably, Hicks, though, she may still hand over documents related to her time in the 2016 Trump campaign for presidential election.
That's something that Chairman Nadler today in his response really highlighted, said likely, because it's not covered by executive privilege and Nadler here saying that that shows some good faith effort on her part there.
Nadler was asked, if they don't comply with the requests, will he hold them in contempt of Congress?
He says, I assume so. But, of course, both of them have also been subpoenaed to appear before the committee later this month -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty up on Capitol Hill, thank you.
Also tonight, Christopher Steele, the former British spy behind that controversial Russia dossier, has agreed to speak to Justice Department investigators about his work with the FBI. This according to the British --
BLITZER: -- newspaper, "The Times."
Let's bring in our Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez.
Why is Steele apparently agreeing to talk to U.S. officials?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I think he notices that there's a lot of skepticism, especially from Republicans, about the work that he did and whether or not the FBI should have used it, as part of the early stages of the investigation, the Russia investigation, that became part of the Mueller probe.
Look, the Justice Department has multiple investigations now going into the beginnings of the investigation -- of this investigation, including the inspector general, one now being done under the auspices of the attorney general, Bill Barr. And so it looks like Christopher Steele has realized that he's got to defend his work.
This is something, obviously, that he's already -- as you know, he spoke to the Mueller investigators. So he's already spoken to some investigators already.
Now because of all of this skepticism of whether or not Steele's work should have even been used in this, it appears that he wants to make sure that they understand why it was that the FBI trusted him, not only for this work and the Russia investigation but in previous investigations as well.
BLITZER: That's significant, potentially a significant development. As you know, the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, serving 7.5 years in prison, in a federal prison in Western Pennsylvania.
But New York state prosecutors are trying to move him to Rikers Island, the prison in New York City. And they want to file charges against him.
They want him to be in solitary confinement in Rikers Island?
PEREZ: Right. This is actually this -- this would be a huge change for Paul Manafort. Right now he's in a, relatively speaking, decent prison in western Pennsylvania. This is a minimum security facility, Wolf.
And if he were to be sent to Rikers Island as the prosecutors in Manhattan want, to await the charges, the trial there, he would almost certainly be put in protective custody, which is for his own protection, for his own safety. Now there's a big disagreement as to whether or not it's protective
custody. Manafort's lawyers have called this solitary confinement. And they say that it's part of the reason why his health deteriorated.
If you remember, before his trial in Virginia and before he pleaded guilty in Washington, D.C., those charges in the last year, he was in protective custody, he was in solitary. So they say that's the reason why his health deteriorated. So they're saying, if that happens again, there's a concern he won't be able to withstand it.
Obviously, Wolf, you just raised a big question. The idea being that these state charges are pardon-proof, because everyone expects that President Trump will eventually probably pardon Paul Manafort. So these state charges would still be relevant and would still stand, even if he gets a federal pardon.
BLITZER: We're going to have more on Rikers Island and what goes on there later this hour. Brian Todd's working on that story for us. Thanks very much, Evan, for that report.
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York. He's a key member of the Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: So the Justice Department is willing to negotiate, apparently, with Congress over releasing more of the Mueller report in exchange for withdrawing the contempt resolution against the attorney general, William Barr.
Should lawmakers agree to negotiate under these terms?
MALONEY: Look, no one is above the law and that certainly includes this administration, this president, this attorney general. It's particularly glaring when the attorney general, who is charged with enforcing and overseeing the law, is himself resisting it.
Look, we're going to win these fights because we're right. And these standards don't just apply to this administration. They'll apply to the next one, to a Democratic one. These are the enduring separation of powers, rule of law concerns that all Americans should share.
We're going to win this fight. I think it's normal to have a negotiation. I think it's normal for there to be some give and take and there are always legitimate concerns about executive communications. But we're not even in the ballpark here.
The claims this administration has made are way out of bounds. And so I'm not opposed to a little give and take but the reason they're giving ground is because they don't have a leg to stand on and they know they're going to lose.
They've already lost in two federal courts. We'll have an expedited appeal this summer. And they're going to get destroyed on these flimsy legal arguments they've been pushing. So I think they're trying to get ahead of it.
BLITZER: Lawmakers also have issued subpoenas to former White House officials Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson. But the White House has directed them not to comply.
What happens next if the House votes to hold these former officials in contempt but they still don't comply?
MALONEY: Look, basically, the same thing. But remember, there is a difference between core executive branch White House employees and agency heads. Most administrations would have concerns about a White House lawyer or a White House --
MALONEY: -- West Wing employee whose communications with the president might be subject to legitimate objections.
But the point is, you can't refuse to show up. You've got to show up and assert those privileges and then we can work that through. So we're going to win these claims, too. But if there are legitimate claims, they need to come and sit in the chair and assert them the way every other Democratic administration has done in our lifetime.
BLITZER: You probably know this but so far 59 of your Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, we've got pictures of them there, they've all publicly stated they want to at least begin impeachment proceedings, formal impeachment proceedings, against the president.
Where do you stand, Congressman, on that specific question?
MALONEY: Yes. No one's above the law and they shouldn't be allowed to engage in a cover-up and I want the president to be held accountable. If I thought impeachment had any chance of passing, if the Republican Party wasn't morally bankrupt on this subject, then I would probably be more enthusiastic about it.
But what I want is effective accountability. I want Congress to have its traditional and critical constitutional authorities and I want there to be good oversight. I want to make sure this president is accountable, not above the law.
And that means ongoing criminal liability for when he leaves office. That means his organization and their financial dealings need to be the subject of scrutiny, if warranted. And in the Congress, I think we need to continue to do our job, which is oversight, develop the facts so the people know what happened here.
People need to read the Mueller report, by the way. It's an extremely damning portrayal of this administration. And we may get to impeachment but I'm not there yet.
BLITZER: All right, fair enough. According to the British newspaper, "The Times" -- and you're a member of the Intelligence Committee -- Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer behind that controversial Russia dossier, has agreed to cooperate with Justice Department investigators about his work with the FBI.
The attorney general is also probing the origins of the Russia investigation, which includes that Steele dossier.
Have you seen any evidence that Steele's work was either illegal or improper?
MALONEY: Of course not. And we know this is a fevered conspiracy theory on the part of the Republicans and the president but I'll tell you what, have at it. We're not afraid of the truth. I don't have any problem with Michael Steele answering questions about the work he did, how it was paid for, who did what.
Let the truth come out. He's not above the law any more than the Republicans who are resisting subpoenas are above the law. I'm not afraid of the truth on this. Every time, however, the House Republicans have gone down one of these rabbit holes, remember the Nunes memo?
Remember the midnight run to the White House?
Every time they've cooked up some conspiracy theory about how really it was the other side or somebody was doing something, it's falling apart because it's not factually true. So let them have at it. I will predict to you, this will be another dead end.
BLITZER: I just want to point out, it's Christopher Steele, not Michael Steele, Christopher Steele you were referring to. Appreciate it very much, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, appreciate your joining us.
MALONEY: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, the growing Republican revolt over President Trump's plan for Mexico tariffs. He's warning against any move to block him but do Republican lawmakers have the votes to do just that?
And the Justice Department agrees to work with House Democrats on producing a limited number of documents tied to the Mueller report if the House agrees not to go ahead with a contempt vote against the attorney general, William Barr.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, including the Justice Department's new offer to produce a limited set of documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller's report if, if House Democrats back away from next week's scheduled vote on the House floor on holding the attorney general William Barr in contempt of Congress.
Let's ask our political and legal experts about the chances of getting a deal.
Jeffrey Toobin, should Democrats negotiate with the Justice Department on these terms?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: If the Justice Department had shown any willingness previously, any Sort of good faith, they probably should have. But since the response to Congress across the board has been basically, go to hell, you're not getting anything, it seems much smarter for Congress to vote the contempt and then maybe negotiate.
Because, otherwise, they would kick the can down the road and wind up in court anyway. This way, at least, they can go to court and try to get this resolved sooner rather than later.
BLITZER: Why do you think, Kaitlan, the Justice Department is now willing to discuss this to avoid a full vote on the House floor that could lead to a contempt citation against the attorney general?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, their argument is that the new request is a little bit -- it's narrower in scope, it doesn't have the same legal issues that it had before. Because that had been their argument, it was too broad and too expansive and they essentially just wanted everything without having a purpose for some of the documents and testimony that they had been requesting.
They're arguing because it's a little bit narrower in scope, that's why they're more willing to work with them.
BLITZER: Do you think, Jackie, the Justice Department's sudden willingness to negotiate the terms of all of this suggest they're really worried that a contempt citation against the attorney general would have teeth?
JACKIE ALEMANY, ANCHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST'S "POWER UP": I know that's the thinking of members of Congress right now. I spoke to a two staffers as soon as this news came out that were present at the meeting with Speaker Pelosi last night, where the House leadership were discussing --
ALEMANY: -- how they would move forward in terms of impeachment and they view this move as the Justice Department trying to delay, delay, delay, kick the can down the road because they know this will push the contempt vote back, which will then push anything going to a civil court back, therefore pushing the I-word even further back.
And there is a really limited timeframe here for the House to decide that they actually want to initiate an impeachment inquiry before we get into 2020 primary season. TOOBIN: But even if it's not actually impeachment, if the -- they want to do an investigation and get the documents, you know, the court system is going to go slowly in the best of circumstances. If the contempt goes until next month or the month after, they really have no hope.
BLITZER: How embarrassing would it be for a senior official like the attorney general of the United States to receive this sort of contempt citation from the full House?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Under any normal circumstances, I would think this would be embarrassing but I don't think Attorney General Barr or the administration in this case are terribly concerned about being embarrassed.
What I do think in this case is that they recognize that this contempt vote will result in a prolonged court battle and that will give Democrats a lot of talking points and opportunities to keep this in the press. And I think that's part of the reason why they're looking to negotiate now, is because they don't want to have this big court fight.
BLITZER: We have a lot more to discuss on all the breaking news. We'll do it right after this quick break.
[17:31:00] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts.
And, Jeffrey Toobin, as you know, the White House, in this letter sent to Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has instructed their two former White House officials, Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, not to comply with congressional subpoenas for information about what they were doing at the White House during all this controversy. How strong of a legal argument do they make?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, if this were just starting from scratch, I think the White House might have a decent executive privilege argument because these are high-level discussions. And executive privilege, no one knows precisely what the contours of it.
The problem with the White House's positions is they already turned over those documents to the Mueller investigation and then didn't object to their disclosure in the Mueller report.
So the issue of waiver, whether the White House waived these issues, is a very serious one. So I think that's where Congress is on -- is on strong ground, sorry.
BLITZER: Kaitlan, why is the White House so worried about what Hope Hicks and Donaldson might be saying if they were allowed to come forward and testify?
COLLINS: Well, it's because they know that Democrats want to have some of these people on camera because they think it will help them make their case to the American people, potentially later lead to impeachment.
But their issue with the documents is because the scope is so wide. They don't know all the documents that they have -- maybe some of them aren't even related to the investigation -- but then the Democrats could find something else that they'd use to go after the President.
So that's kind of their sense of caution here but, also, they just don't think that the Democrats are legally allowed to get all of these documents. And that's why you've seen this fight play out.
BLITZER: Jackie, what do you make of this White House strategy?
ALEMANY: You know, I think that, at the end of the day, this is really about what Kaitlan said, trying to control the narrative and make sure that these people don't put forward a public case to litigate this and keep hashing this out.
I mean, you saw when Robert Mueller came out last week -- or maybe the week before. I don't know, it feels like ages ago already. All of the Democratic candidates running for president, all of a sudden, all switched to impeachment.
There had been a few that had already been in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings, but it changed their opinions immediately.
And I think the thinking is if you get these people up there, even someone like Robert Mueller, just to read out loud some of the passages that he already wrote in the Mueller report, that it'll change public sentiment here.
BLITZER: As you know, Shawn -- you used to work in the executive branch of the U.S. government -- the current administration seems to think that complying with subpoenas is optional.
BLITZER: What's your reaction to that?
TURNER: You know, look, I worked in the executive branch in the two previous administrations. And, look, there's no doubt that the -- there were times when the executive branch and the legislative branch certainly had conflict.
Under the Obama administration, one -- in contrast to the current administration, one of the things you often saw was an effort to avoid having subpoenas issued, to try to work through issues before you got to that point.
It didn't always work out, but there was certainly a stark difference with regard to kind of understanding that the legislative branch had an oversight function to perform and to at least try to allow them to perform -- to perform that function.
BLITZER: On another issue -- Kaitlan, I want your thoughts -- earlier today, the joint news conference in London, the President said he really isn't worried about Republican efforts right now to try torpedo his planned tariffs on Mexico because of what's going with the migrants coming into the United States. I want you to listen to what the President said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think they will do that. I think, if they do, it's foolish. There's nothing more important than borders.
I've had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90 percent -- 94 percent approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think? Does the President have a lot of reason to be as confident as he seems to be because there are plenty of Republicans now who hate these tariffs?
COLLINS: And they're angry. And we only saw their anger increase after they had that lunch today where White House officials and DOJ officials went to talk to them about it because they don't think that the President should move forward with this. And they're putting out some pretty sharp statements.
The question is, is it just going to be those statements, or are they actually going to do anything? Because if they did try to block this, which the President said would be foolish -- and, of course, we know they're supposed to go into effect on Monday -- then it would be up for a presidential veto.
[17:35:00] To override that veto, they not only have to have two- thirds in the Senate but also the House. And that's a pretty tall order to ask for those -- that many Republicans, a lot who are going to be up reelection, to go against the President. And we've seen them not willing to do that before, so it's unclear so far.
BLITZER: You know, Jackie, Mitch -- even Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, the majority leader, says there's not much support in his caucus for these tariffs. But is he really willing to take the steps to deny the President what the President clearly wants?
ALEMANY: Well, that remains to be seen as always. You know, Trump has vetoed two other resolutions so far as -- with regards to Yemen and then the national emergency declaration. But I think what makes this so different is that this is very Trumpian in that, you know, this is the President going one step forward and then two steps back here.
Because if the President does decide to use his national emergency declaration in order to push these tariffs through, a disapproval vote from the Senate means that it would nullify the funding that the President has just worked so hard in order to secure.
And so I think that if the -- if Senate actually decides to override this veto and to finally take a stand against the President really for the first time since he took office, it's going to be a pretty big deal.
BLITZER: Do you think Mitch McConnell is going to go against the President of the United States, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: I just think they're terrified of him. I mean, they're big talk in -- you know, when they're in their -- in their conference, in their weekly, you know, lunch, oh, isn't this terrible?
But let's see how many of them stand up and be counted against the President. I just don't see it happening, especially since, you know, we're talking about June 10th. It's almost upon us and --
BLITZER: Next week.
TOOBIN: And, you know, a lot of these members of Congress are going over to -- you know, to Europe for D-Day celebrations. I mean, I just don't think there's the will or the time for the Republicans to do it.
COLLINS: But there's also skepticism about whether these tariffs will even happen. We know the Vice President is hosting the Mexican Foreign Minister tomorrow while President Trump is overseas, and there are White House officials who are skeptical they'll actually move forward with it on Monday.
Even though the President is vowing he'll do it and Mick Mulvaney is saying the same, this may not even be a problem that we'll come to because they're saying there's a chance the White House could back off.
BLITZER: Because he says if -- unless the Mexicans stop these people from crossing into the United States, a five percent tariff next week; the month afterward, 10 percent; then 15, 20, 25. There are national security implications in all of this.
TURNER: And there's a -- the calculation here comes down to whether or not the President believes that he gains more bang for his buck by appearing to be strong on immigration or whether or not he suffers more because these tariffs well hurt -- will hurt the American worker.
And I think that, right now, he's looking at his base, and he's saying, you know, look, I've got to maintain this position of being strong on tariffs.
There are also -- as you pointed out, there are also national security implications here. Look, we already know the President is taking funding from the wall, at least some funding from DOD, and the Defense Department has been very vocal about that. And if he moves forward with these tariffs, that's going to -- that's going to intensify that even more.
BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following, including a new CNN poll showing Joe Biden's lead over his Democratic rivals shrinking.
Also ahead, it looks like one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who used to live in luxury, may be headed for solitary confinement in one of New York City's most notorious jails.
[17:38:10] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: A new CNN poll shows Joe Biden's support among Democrats is slipping. He's down seven points since our last poll in April. However, the former Vice President remains far ahead of his rivals.
Let's bring in our Political Director, David Chalian. Is he losing, David, at least some of that momentum?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I wouldn't say he's losing momentum just yet. Obviously, he's lost some altitude there. You showed it was a seven-point decline, Wolf, from last month.
I think the big question that hangs over that is -- for the next poll almost, is that just losing some post-announcement glow, or is this the beginning of a slide that we will see play out in future -- in future polls?
We don't know the answer to that right now. What we do know is what you said, he's still in a tier by himself. He's the clear front- runner in this race. Bernie Sanders is in that clear number two slot. The other top four of the six are in single digits.
This is a remarkably stable race, actually, when you look at those numbers, given the margin of error.
BLITZER: Yes, he went from 39 to 32, but he's still ahead of Bernie Sanders with, what, 18.
CHALIAN: That's a significant lead, yes.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a significant lead. I want to get your reaction to something else that happened with the Democratic front-runner right now earlier today on the campaign trail. Let me play this clip for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a little secret going here.
BIDEN: I want the press to know she pulled me close. I just want you to know, O.K.? All right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She had been sitting on the floor and he brought a chair over so she could sit on a chair and you saw what happened.
CHALIAN: Yes, and she then drew him in. And what is a little awkward for Joe Biden is that he wants to make clear now after -- you remember the stories from a couple of months ago about people accusing him of inappropriate or unwelcome touching.
He now -- every time he's in an environment like this and somebody asks him for a hug, he always says to the press, I want to make clear, you know, I was asked for that. It could -- it sort of brings up the story again, but it also is a way to protect himself from people accusing him yet again of the kind of touching that may not be warranted.
He said he would be aware of the current context of modern campaigning but that he wasn't going to chain the empathetic person that he is. And he continues to have to navigate this line.
[17:45:07] BLITZER: David Chalian, thanks, as usual, for joining us.
BLITZER: Coming up, why President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is looking at doing solitary confinement in one of New York City's most notorious jails.
[17:49:59] BLITZER: The imprisoned former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, could soon be transferred to a notoriously brutal New York City jail complex.
Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, what's this all about?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is about Paul Manafort's possible transfer to Rikers Island jail, one of the most violent and dangerous facilities in America.
Tonight, Manafort's lawyers tell CNN they don't want him to be sent there where he could be held in solitary and could be targeted whenever he's outside his cell.
TODD (voice-over): Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort once lived in the lap of luxury, his million-dollar homes in the Hamptons, Trump Tower, and in Florida known for their extravagance.
But tonight, life for the now-disgraced campaign operative, who is serving a 7-1/2 year sentence after being convicted on federal charges of bank fraud, tax fraud, and lobbying violations as part of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, may be about to get a lot worse.
A source tells CNN prosecutors in New York are trying to move Manafort from the minimum-security prison in Pennsylvania where he's currently housed to Rikers Island jail in New York City, where infamous figures like Son of Sam and John Lennon's killer have been held.
Rikers is a network of nine jails with about 7,500 inmates. According to critics, to say Rikers is dangerous is a gross understatement.
ALICE FONTIER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE BRONX DEFENDERS: Violence comes in all forms, from other people who are incarcerated there to violence at the hands of the corrections officers.
TODD (voice-over): Manafort's possible move from what some consider to be the cushy confines of his low-security prison to one of the country's most feared lockups comes as he awaits trial on New York State charges of mortgage fraud.
Charges, some say, that were designed to make him pardon proof because the President can't commute sentences for state crimes.
While the President has expressed sympathy for Manafort --
TRUMP: You know what, he happens to be a very good person.
TODD (voice-over): -- he has said he hasn't discussed a pardon for him.
SCOTT FREDERICKSEN, SENIOR WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE PARTNER, FOLEY & LARDNER LLP: I think there will be more pressure now on President Trump from Paul Manafort's supporters to get the President to pardon Mr. Manafort while he's sitting in Rikers.
TODD (voice-over): Sitting in Rikers could be a shock to the system for a man who once wore expensive jackets made of ostrich and python skin and who have complained about conditions in federal prison.
If Manafort is moved to Rikers, he'll likely be in solitary confinement, similar to the conditions which Manafort's lawyers say led his health to deteriorate while he awaited his federal trial last year.
Observers say he'd be in an isolated cell for about 23 hours a day, and that in the hour he's out, his life could be at risk.
FONTIER: He will be as at risk as anyone else who is at that facility when he is not in his cell. Obviously, people will know who he is, and therefore, he could conceivably be more of a target. But I have to imagine that he will have guards around him 24 hours a day.
TODD (voice-over): In 2015, prosecutors in New York reached a settlement with the city after a multiyear investigation found that adolescent inmates at Rikers were not protected from the rampant use of excessive force by guards and other inmates.
Responding to the claims about dangerous conditions at Rikers, a top New York corrections official tells CNN there's been a drastic reduction in violent incidents at the jail over the past two years.
A former corrections officer there does not believe Manafort would be in danger. ED GAVIN, FORMER TEAMS COMMANDING OFFICER, RIKERS ISLAND: He'll be
kept in a secure environment. If he needs medical treatment, he's in close proximity to Elmhurst Hospital where we maintain a prison ward so he's going to be just fine.
TODD: Former prosecutors say if President Trump pardons Manafort upon learning of his possible transfer to Rikers, the Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, will very likely then file a motion asking the judge to keep Manafort in jail in New York while he awaits trial there.
They say Vance is likely going to press the argument that Manafort has been ruled a flight risk by a federal judge. Cy Vance's office has declined to comment on any of this, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, how will Manafort's lawyers try to keep him from going to Rikers?
TODD: Wolf, a former prosecutor telling us his lawyers are likely to make an offer to the judge that he would pay a very high bond, that he would wear monitoring devices. He'd be subject to heavy security if he can be housed anywhere else while he awaits his trial in New York, maybe even a private home.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you, Brian.
Coming up, breaking news. As President Trump meets the Royals and gets involved in British politics, he faces a political revolt back here at home. Key Republican senators now oppose his Mexico tariffs and warn there could be enough votes to block them.
[17:54:37] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Crossing Trump. As the President tries to forge a special relationship with the British royals, his own party is threatening to break with him back home over his planned tariffs on Mexico. Tonight, one Republican is warning, if it comes to a vote, Mr. Trump will lose.
Withholding documents. The White House tells two former officials including a long-time Trump confidant, Hope Hicks, not to give Congress subpoenaed information. We'll tell you what we're learning about the latest stonewalling.
[17:59:57] Barr grab. As the Attorney General tries it avoid being held in contempt of Congress, the Justice Department is pitching a new compromise on the Mueller report. Is it an offer Democrats will accept or refuse?