Return to Transcripts main page


Paul Manafort Moving To Rikers Island?; Interview With Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD); Trump Doubles Down On Mexico Tariff Threat; Trump In London; DOJ Will Work With The House Panel To Provide Some Subpoenaed Mueller Report Documents If Barr Contempt Resolution Is Dropped; White House Directs Hope Hicks And Annie Donaldson To Withhold Documents From House Judiciary Panel; Ex-British Spy Behind Controversial Trump-Russia Dossier To Talk To Justice Department Investigators; House Judiciary Chair Opposes Private Mueller Testimony As Questions Of Subpoena Looms; CNN Poll: Biden Drops But Maintains Lead Over 2020 Rivals; Sources: "Executed" North Korean Diplomat Is Alive, But Envoys Being Punished For Failed Kim-Trump Summit. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired June 4, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Justice Department is pitching a new compromise on the Mueller report. Is it an offer Democrats will accept or refuse?

And back to life. We're told a North Korean diplomat who reportedly was executed is, in fact, alive, but, tonight, he's still playing a price for his role in the Kim-Trump summit that went off the rails.

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: We're following breaking news on a Republican revolt against the president's planned tariffs on Mexico.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell is openly admitting strong opposition within the party that could result in Congress blocking the tariffs. GOP Senator Rand Paul says there may be enough votes to override a potential presidential veto.

Mr. Trump, continuing his state visit to the U.K., is warning Republicans they'd be foolish to stand in his way.

Also breaking, the Justice Department is offering to work with the House Judiciary Committee to provide a limited set of subpoenaed documents related to the Mueller report, but there's a condition. The Department of Justice wants Democrats to back off of a full House vote to hold the attorney general, William Barr, in contempt.

This hour, I will talk with the number two House Democrat, the Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, lets go to CNN's Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, with the president in London.

Jim, Mr. Trump has been weighing in on U.S. and British politics, and he's facing some backlash.


President Trump has been throwing his weight around here in London, weighing in on British politics, as you said. But the president is losing support back at home, as a growing number of Republicans are bolting against his plan to raise tariffs on Mexico.

Meanwhile, the president is also bristling at the thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets here in London to demonstrate against him. He has called those protesters fake news, 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: I don't think they will do that. I think if they do, it's foolish. There's nothing more important than borders. I have had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90 percent, 94 percent approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party.

ACOSTA: Senate Republicans are growing increasingly anxious over the president's plan.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure.

ACOSTA: As some in the GOP say there could be enough support in Congress to block the tariffs. They're set to go into effect next week.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I really do think 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: 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 have liked him for a long time.

ACOSTA: While he lashed out at Britain's labor party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. TRUMP: I think that he is from, where I come from, somewhat of a

negative force.

ACOSTA: And continued his war of words with London's mayor.

TRUMP: I think he should actually focus on his job. It'd be a lot better if he did that.

SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: You know, that is the sort of behavior I would expect from an 11-year-old.

ACOSTA: The president also tried to rewrite history about Britain's ongoing effort to withdraw from the European Union. While Mr. Trump correctly stated 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: But that's not true. When Mr. Trump traveled to his golf resort, the Brexit vote had already happened.

TRUMP: I think it's a great thing that's happened. And it's an amazing vote. It's very historic. And I'm very happy.

ACOSTA: 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. I would have sued and settled maybe, but you never know.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have always talked openly with you, Donald, when we have taken a different approach, and you have done the same with me.

ACOSTA: 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 president and the prime minister both got along pretty well during this trip, unlike other trips the president has taken overseas. And according to this official, part of that is because aides over at Downing Street have gotten accustomed to Mr. Trump's tactics while he's on the world stage.

But, Wolf, getting back to the situation back in Washington with this growing opposition inside the Republican Party to the president placing tariffs on Mexico, according to a GOP source and several GOP sources up on Capitol Hill, we should say, some of the aides to the president were inside of a meeting with other Republican lawmakers at a GOP luncheon earlier in the day, and during that meeting, those White House officials seemed unprepared to deal with the questions coming from some of these GOP senators.

According to this one GOP source I talked to earlier today, the White House should have seen this opposition coming because so many Republicans up on Capitol Hill are free traders and don't share the president's view when it comes to punishing Mexico to try to clamp down on what's happening down at the border, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the summit in Britain -- the state visit, I should say, in Britain, reporting on the latest developments, Jim, thank you very much.

There's more breaking news we're following on the Justice Department's new offer to work with the House Judiciary Committee on its subpoena to see more of the Mueller report.

But the Department of Justice wants something in return. It's asking for the contempt resolution against the attorney general, asking that it be withdrawn.

Let's go to our Congressional Correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

Phil, what does this offer reveal about the Justice Department's concern over a House vote next week to hold Barr in contempt?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, it underscores the Justice Department is not only aware that the threat of the full House voting to hold the attorney general in contempt exists, but it is now, as you noted, scheduled, and that's important here.

They are trying to offer to deal with House Democrats in their request for the unredacted, full Mueller report and the underlying investigative investigation, investigative materials from the investigation, but only on the condition that that vote be postponed or dropped altogether.

At this point in time, there's no clear idea whether or not that's going to happen. But it's worth noting this was a strategy the Justice Department also tried to deploy before the House committee voted to hold the attorney general in contempt. It didn't work then. We will have to see what happens now, but they have made clear they are trying to stop this from happening.

It just depends on whether Democrats will go along with it. BLITZER: So, will this offer go anywhere, you think, or will the

committee not settle for anything less than the full unredacted Mueller report?

MATTINGLY: Yes, Wolf, we're still waiting to hear back an official response from the committee, but based on what we have seen over the course of the last couple of months, just the back and forth between the Justice Department and the committee itself, while negotiations have often taken place, they have almost always fallen apart.

And it's worth noting that the White House has continued its strategy of basically stopping every single request related to the House- controlled Democrats. Now, it's worth noting the House Intelligence Committee did actually reach an agreement on their subpoena related to underlying information in the Mueller report earlier on.

So, there's some kind of a paradigm of success here. But based on what the requests has been, based on how House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has been very stout throughout that he wants the full unredacted report, and based on the fact House Democrats are more uneasy than they have ever been about what they have gotten in return for their requests from the White House, right now, it appears unlikely that anything but the unredacted report and the underlying materials will suffice -- Wolf.

BLITZER: At the same time, this latest offer from the Justice Department comes as the White House continues to stonewall the Judiciary Committee's subpoena for documents from two key former White House officials.

What will the Democrats do in response to that?

MATTINGLY: It's still an open question, but it's very likely or at least very possible that Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, one of the closest aides to President Trump during her time in both the campaign and in the White House, as well as Annie Donaldson, who was in the White House Counsel's Office, a deputy to White House counsel Don McGahn, may eventually be held in contempt.

Now, it's worth noting Hope Hicks, according to the Judiciary Committee, did say or is willing to hand over some of her pre-White House materials that have requested from her time on the campaign. But, as of now, executive privilege still stands, the White House still saying no to whatever House Democrats want -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

Joining us now, the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: And let's get right to this Justice Department statement saying it will offer the House Judiciary chairman, Jerry Nadler, some documents related to the Mueller report, if the full House backs off the plan to vote to hold the attorney general in contempt.

Would you advise the chairman, Jerry Nadler, to accept that deal?

HOYER: Look, Wolf, I had a discussion with Mr. Nadler, the chairman, over the weekend.

And, as you know, I announced yesterday that we would be scheduling the contempt vote for this coming week. The fact of the matter is, as you have pointed out and your reporters have pointed out, that offer is a very limited offer.


Clearly, the whole House voted to get the unredacted copy of the Mueller report, which we think is absolutely essential for us and for the American people to have the opportunity to make a decision based upon the facts that are disclosed.

As long as they continue to refuse to respond properly to constitutionally protected requests by the Congress of the United States to oversee the executive department, I would advise Mr. Nadler that we're not going to pull that bill.

I'm the one that schedules the bill. It's going to remain on the floor. We will see what happens over the next few days in terms of negotiation, but, very frankly, the administration has got to get off this position of, we are not going to respond to proper requests for documents, for testimony, for information regarding the operations of the executive department.

I think it's -- I can't believe that there is another instance where there has been this broad a refusal to give information which is legitimately asked for by the representatives of the American people.

So, at this point in time, I would advise Mr. Nadler that we are not going to take any action to stop the vote this coming week.

BLITZER: Let me just be precise.

Are you still also demanding that, in addition to the full Mueller unredacted report, you also get all the underlying evidence?

HOYER: I want to talk to Nadler about that, but I think the answer to that is yes, but it's not just the report.

What you have is a blanket refusal directed by the president of the United States to not respond to questions and requests for testimony and documents from the Congress of the United States. That's unacceptable under the Constitution. It's unacceptable for representatives of the American people, who deserve that information so that they can make informed decisions, it's unacceptable that the administration continues that position.

So it's not just the Mueller report. That's a key part of it, but it is this blanket refusal to cooperate with the Congress in exercising its constitutional duties.

BLITZER: Are you also, Mr. Leader, still demanding that Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, also come up and testify and appear and bring documents along with him?

HOYER: The answer to that is yes.

And, very frankly, we're going to go to -- if required to do so and if we proceed, we're going to go to the courts to ask them to enforce those requests.

BLITZER: Because, at the same time, as you know, the White House is now directing Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Annie Donaldson, who was the chief of staff to the former White House counsel Don McGahn, not, repeat, not to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents.

If Hicks and Donaldson refuse to cooperate, what's going to happen? Do you support holding them in contempt as well?

HOYER: Look, Wolf, we can ask about a lot of different people, but the fact of the matter is, we have a constitutional responsibility to oversight.

Now, we're also passing substantive legislation. We're going to pass the Promise and DREAM Act in just a few minutes. That's a very important piece of legislation. So we're doing both, but we're exercising our constitutional responsibility.

It's not a question of Hope Hicks or something else or McGahn. It is a question of this blanket refusal to respond to constitutionally authorized questions to the executive department and asking for witnesses and documents. A blanket refusal is a blanket refusal.

It's a refusal to respond, and the Constitution is put at risk under those circumstances. So it's not just a person that we talk about, Hope Hicks or McGahn or somebody else. It is the refusal of the president of the United States and the direction the president has given to his executive department to not cooperate with the Congress of the United States in exercising its constitutional duties.

That's unacceptable.

BLITZER: Because, as you know, the type of stonewalling we're seeing from the Trump administration has led many of your fellow Democrats to call for impeachment proceedings, formal impeachment proceedings, to at least begin, 59 Democrats, to be exact -- we have got their pictures up on the screen.

But the day the Mueller report was released, you said that, based on what we have seen to date -- and I'm quoting you now -- "What we have seen to date, going forward with impeachment," you said, "is not worthwhile at this point, at this point."

HOYER: At this point was the critical phrase, Wolf.

BLITZER: So what has changed since then?

HOYER: That was the day the report was released.

And, very frankly, I said, at this point in time, we have to look at it and we need to continue, as I have said subsequently -- as a matter of fact, the next day, I said we need to continue to investigate. We need to get the Mueller report, unredacted.


And, very frankly, I think we need Mr. Mueller's testimony before the Judiciary Committee or other committees that have legitimate reasons for hearing his testimony, so that when I said that original statement, it was at this time. That was the immediate response to the report, but since that time...

BLITZER: So, let me just interrupt for a second, Mr. Leader.

Why was it, in your words, impeachment not worthwhile at this point immediately after the Mueller report was released, but it is potentially worthwhile now?

HOYER: Well, I didn't say it was -- Wolf, I know that you and other reporters keep asking and want us to say we're for impeachment.

What we are for is continuing our investigations, making sure the administration gives us the information that we are constitutionally authorized to receive from the executive department to make decisions on behalf of the American people. We want to continue those investigations.

And I have said and Speaker Pelosi has said, we're going to go where the facts take us. We think that's the appropriate process. This is a very thoughtful, measured, responsible course for us to follow.

And Mr. Nadler is doing what we ought to be doing. And Mr. Schiff is doing what we ought to be doing, other committees. And I think Mr. Neal needs to pursue getting what the law says we shall be entitled to, and that is the president's tax returns.

Why do we want those tax returns? To assure the American people and ourselves that the president's policies are acting on behalf of the American people, and not on behalf of his personal interests.

BLITZER: I just want to point out, I'm not asking you to do anything or support anything. I'm just asking some questions, trying to get precise information.

HOYER: No, got you.


But, as you know, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, she's being trying to keep your fellow Democrats in line. She still says every option is on the table, so what does that mean?

HOYER: I think that's correct.

BLITZER: What does that mean? Can she be convinced that impeachment proceedings in the end are necessary, or is the strategy to push this off until the election?

HOYER: No, Wolf, there's no such strategy to put this off until the next election.

There is a strategy, if you want to call it a strategy, there is an intent to proceed in a measured way, but a forceful way to get the information we need to see where that information leads us.

There are obviously members who are increasingly frustrated by the administration's cover-up, by the administration's refusal to respond to authorized subpoenas for testimony, for documents, for information. And there is no doubt that there's a growing frustration.

However, what we need are the facts.

BLITZER: So what do you say to those 59 Democrats, 59 out of, what, the majority of 235 Democrats in the House of Representatives? What do you say to them when they continue their call for formal impeachment proceedings?

HOYER: I'm not so sure that the formal impeachment procedures would be much different than we are pursuing now in trying to get information. That's what those proceedings would be about, getting information as to see whether or not such action was justified.

But, having said that, Wolf, the reports of the members is overstated in terms of their demands on either Speaker Pelosi or myself. They are thoughtful discussions, measured discussions. They think -- some think it's time to move on a more formal way, and some say, well, I think that may be warranted, but I think the way you are proceeding is justified and may well lead to the results that I want.

BLITZER: I know you got to run. There's an important vote on the House floor on the DREAM and Promise Act.

HOYER: You bet.

BLITZER: So, I'm going to let you go, but let's continue this conversation down the road.

Steny Hoyer, thanks so much for joining us.

HOYER: Thank you, Wolf. Appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Just ahead: It looks like one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who used to actually live in luxury, may be headed for solitary confinement in one of New York City's most notorious jails.

And more than a year after the Parkland shooting massacre, the school guard accused of standing by and doing nothing now faces criminal charges.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the Trump administration's battle with House Democrats investigating the president, this as an infamous figure related to the Russia probe reportedly has agreed to be questioned by the Justice Department.

That would be the former British spy behind the Trump-Russia dossier, Christopher Steele.

CNN's Sara Murray is joining us right now.

Sara, why would Steele agree to talk to U.S. officials?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, the dossier publicly has certainly gotten plenty of criticism already.

There's an indication that the inspector general's report sort of looking into the origins of the Russia investigation could also be critical of the way the Justice Department relied on Christopher Steele's work in the dossier for some of sort of the early inklings of the Russia probe.

We also, of course, have Attorney General William Barr looking into how this investigation initially got started, so this is an opportunity for Christopher Steele essentially to defend his work, and I think that's the reason that after so long he's willing to talk to officials, because he wants to make sure his side of the story is told and that he is able to sort of explain the work that he did and defend it before all of these investigations into the investigation reach their conclusions -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're just learning now that the Justice Department is now off the hook in providing the transcripts of conversations that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to the president, had with Russian officials, including with then Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.


What are you learning?

MURRAY: That's right, Wolf.

I mean, remember, these are the conversations that Michael Flynn, then the national security adviser, ultimately got fired for having with the former Russian ambassador. He lied to the vice president about them. He lied all over the White House essentially about them and then got canned.

And a judge said that he wanted to see the transcripts of these conversations that Michael Flynn was having with the former Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. The Justice Department in their latest filings essentially just didn't turn them over. Now the judge is saying he's fine with that. He doesn't need to see the transcripts.

That's all we have seen publicly. But it seems like there's more going on behind the scenes here. There may be some sealed filings from the Justice Department explaining why they don't want to hand those transcripts over, Wolf.

BLITZER: And, Sara, tell us why New York state prosecutors want to move the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who's serving a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence at a minimum security federal prison in Western Pennsylvania, and move him to the notorious Rikers Island prison.

MURRAY: Well, Wolf, he's also facing state charges in New York.

And so, if prosecutors get their way, they want to move him to Rikers potentially to appear in court for his initial appearance, but also potentially to await trial if he decides to go to this point.

Now, Rikers Island is obviously a very different situation than this minimum security prison that Paul Manafort is currently in. It's infamous for its conditions. It's infamous for its violence.

And so the concern, at least from Paul Manafort's party, is that this could mean essentially he's spending a prolonged period of time in solitary confinement. At a minimum, he's likely to be in some kind of protective custody that keeps him apart from all of these other inmates because he's so high-profile, Wolf.

BLITZER: Significant development indeed on that front.

Sara, thanks, as usual, for joining us, Sara Murray reporting .

Just ahead: While President Trump gets the royal treatment in London, congressional Republican -- a revolt is perhaps under way over his tariff threat involving Mexico. Tonight, he has a warning for those fellow Republicans.

Plus, new information about the North Korean official who was reportedly executed over that failed Trump summit -- Trump-Kim Jong-un summit in Hanoi. CNN has learned he's alive, but far from well.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news including a new offer from the Justice Department to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman to turn over a limited set of the Mueller report documents, a limited report, a limited set of the Mueller report documents if Democrats drop efforts to hold the Attorney General, William Barr in contempt. David Swerdlick, will this be enough for the House Democrats?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Wolf, I don't think so because they probably are going to get to a point where they ask the Attorney General, if you can now give us the unredacted report or less redacted report, why couldn't you give it to us before we voted to hold you in contempt in committee and scheduled this vote?

But the issue to me is not going to be so much about this unredacted report and the underlying info, not because it's not important and not because Democrats don't want to get their hands on it, but it should be clear to everyone now that this fight is playing out in terms of who testifies when in public and what information goes to the American people in front of the TV cameras. And Democrats, it seems to me, are going to put more pressure on Attorney General Barr to come back and testify, which he refused to do the last time around.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, Gloria, to see the Justice Department at least appear to be willing to compromise over this contempt citation?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. You know, it was Jerry Nadler who sent them a letter on May 24th and said, look, you know, we're willing to deal with you a little bit, and the Justice Department then sends a letter back and says, okay, here is what we're willing to do, and Nadler late today just said, well, this isn't going to hold up the contempt vote.

So what you're seeing play out in public is usually what you see play out in private, but it's in everyone's political interests, I think, to play that out publicly because it doesn't hurt Barr with Republicans or with his boss, the President, to be fighting with the Congress, and it doesn't hurt the Democrats in Congress to be fighting with the Attorney General at this point.

BLITZER: At the same time, Susan Hennessey, the White House is now directing the former Communications Director at the White House, Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, who worked in the Counsel's Office, she was Chief of Staff to the former White House Special Counsel, Don McGahn, not to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents. How do they justify that?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the basic claim here is that documents related to the work that these two individuals did while they were in the White House are covered by executive privilege. Now, that might be true for some of the documents, but, again, this is a very broad assertion saying that they shouldn't turn over any documents, whatsoever.

Now, both Hicks and Donaldson have left government service, so if they were inclined to want to provide those documents to Congress, the White House certainly couldn't do much to stop them. That said, like Don McGahn, they have both sort of signaled that they intend to comply with the White House request, at least for now.

Hope hicks has said that she is going to turn over documents related to her work on the campaign. That's a period of time where Donald Trump wasn't President of the United States, and so there really isn't any claim for executive privilege.

But the really significant documents here are Annie Donaldson's notes. Donaldson was Don McGahn's Chief of Staff. She took meticulously detailed notes of conversations, meetings, what occurred in the White House.


The notes have been compared already to the Nixon tapes. And these potentially are a way for Congress to get real insight into what occurred in the White House, specifically the President's interactions with Don McGahn at really critical periods.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a significant development if they get their hands on that, potentially very significant.

Phil Mudd, as the Attorney General investigates has ordered this new investigation of the origins of the entire Russia probe. We're learning from The Times, the British newspaper, that Christopher Steele, the Author of that so-called Russia dossier, is a former British spy, has agreed to speak to the Department of Justice investigators about his work, his cooperation with the FBI. How significant is that?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: If you go to car races looking for car wrecks, this is significant. This will be a car wreck. Look, this isn't about the Mueller investigation per se. It's about the origins of the investigation and how the Department of Justice and Attorney General Barr has talked about this repeatedly, his suspicions about how the Department of Justice originated the investigation.

Obviously, one of the documents was Christopher Steele, former intelligence operative, the information he uncovered about Donald Trump from Russian operatives. Let me give you how this game ends. Christopher Steele shows up in front of the Department of Justice and I'm guessing doesn't have terrific answers for the quality of the information in that Steele dossier.

I'm telling you, Wolf, this is not going to go well. I can't believe he has perfect answers about the origins of the Steele dossier. I'm not even sure why he's showing up. If I were him, I'd go to Disney world. I would not go to the Department of Justice, because it will not end up well.

BLITZER: Well, why do you think he is? What's your speculation?

MUDD: Reputation. He's not -- you know, he's a fairly young man. If I'm looking at him, I'm saying if I ever want to do this business again. He's out of government. His entire business is selling people that he can find inside information. Right now, I think it's tough for him to do that until he clears his name.

BLITZER: What do you think, David?

SWERDLICK: Yes, just reputation and also the fact that if he refuses to talk to the DOJ, it makes it look like he was making up information. And I'm sure if you're in Christopher Steele's position, you don't want that information to be out there.

HENNESSEY: But let's keep in mind, what's important is not whether or not Christopher Steele had good or bad information. What's important is what the FBI did with that information. People give tips to the FBI all the time, sometimes anonymously, sometimes from disreputable sources, sometimes from highly credible sources, and so a little bit I think some of the President's supporters are attempting to hope that if Steele can't come up with answers sort of defending his information, that that's going to sort of impeach the FBI generally.

BORGER: Well, and wouldn't you rather -- if you were Christopher Steele, and maybe this is for Phil, wouldn't you rather talk to the Inspector General's folks than you would to, say, Barr? You know, I mean, there are two investigations going on right now. The Inspector General, one would think, is less political and that perhaps he feels he has a better shot at giving them the answers than anybody else.

BLITZER: Well, the other investigation, Phil, is this U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John Durham. He's been ordered by the Attorney General to launch a separate investigation into the Russia investigation.

BORGER: Okay, so three. So which one would you talk to?

MUDD: Well, I would talk to Durham before I'd talk to the Inspector General. The Inspector General is going to find something wrong. Durham is looking at a bigger picture beyond whether T's were crossed and I's were dotted about the origins of the investigation.

But either way, either way, I'm going back to what Susan Hennessey said. I would sign up to what she said any day. The question here is not just what Steele found. If it's determined that Steele had a bit of questionable information, that's fine. If it's found that that questionable information played into, for example, the FISA warrant to look at Carter Page's emails, that is a hot mess, and I think that's where we're headed here.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point.

Gloria, quickly on this Robert Mueller testimony. Now, all of a sudden, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, says he doesn't want Mueller to testify in public. It's got to be in private. It's got to be in public.

BORGER: Yes, I'm not surprised. What they want from Bob Mueller is somebody sitting there who's got credibility. Even if he is just telling you what he said in the report, most of the American public hasn't read the Mueller report. So he's got to say this is what my report says. This is why this report is important. He did that in his nine or ten-minute statement the other day.

But I do think that Nadler believes, and I would agree with him, that it's important for the American public to hear it from the horse's mouth. The man who has spent the last two years of his life investigating this and who, by the way, has a good reputation with the American public. It's gone up and down and up and down, as the White House tried to discredit him.

But at this point, they believe that he has done a credible job. And so it is really important to give voice to that.


BLITZER: And it would be an opportunity if he does testify in public, Susan, for him to respond to the President's latest accusation that he's a never Trumper.

HENNESSEY: Absolutely. So, certainly, you would expect Bob Mueller to defend the integrity and conduct of his investigation. But I think Gloria is right. In those eight minutes, Robert Mueller did more to shape sort of public perception about his report than essentially six weeks of Congress grappling with the written materials.

And so I do think that Congress really got some insight into how potentially electrifying, even sort of him sitting there just reading the report would be how effective it is communicating the contents of the report.

SWERDLICK: Either to shape it or to un-shape what the Attorney General had done weeks ago when he came out and just gave those top line findings, no coordination, no conspiracy without sort of enhancing some of the specific findings of Special Counsel Mueller.

BLITZER: And we would have live coverage of that testimony, I am sure. Guys, thank you very much. Don't go too far away.

Just ahead, the former Vice President, Joe Biden, slips a bit in our exclusive new CNN poll. We're going to show you where all the Democratic candidates stand tonight.

Plus, a former sheriff's deputy charged for what he didn't do during a high school massacre. We have details on that.


[18:45:56] BLITZER: Tonight, our exclusive new CNN poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden down slightly but still leading the Democratic pack of White House hopefuls.

Our Political Reporter, Arlette Saenz is on the campaign trail with the former vice president in New Hampshire.

Arlette, Biden rolled out a new policy today and responded to criticism from his rivals.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Wolf, this is the second formal policy rollout from Joe Biden, this one focusing on climate change. And Biden has faced criticism in recent weeks from progressives who have suggested he may take a middle of the road approach, but Biden today hoping that his plan will satisfy those critics.


SAENZ (voice-over): Joe Biden back on the campaign trail in New Hampshire rolling out had his plan on climate change. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Day one as president, I'd

rejoin the Paris climate accord, which we, Barack and I, put together.


SAENZ: His 22-page proposal calls the green new deal a crucial framework for combating climate change, aims to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and estimates a federal price tag of $1.7 trillion over 10 years.

BIDEN: We'll hold polluters accountable for the damage they've caused.

SAENZ: Biden's climate rollout comes as he's faced criticism from progressives that his plan won't go far enough.

Today, Jay Inslee, who has focused much of his campaign on fighting climate change, knocking Biden.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm disappointed that his plan doesn't have teeth to really make sure that we get off coal in the next ten years.

SAENZ: And Elizabeth Warren on a tour of the Midwest explaining how she would implement the Green New Deal with a $2 trillion federal investment for green manufacturing, research, and exporting.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to be all in to fight this climate crisis. All in.

SAENZ: On his second swing through New Hampshire as a 2020 candidate, Biden helping one voter sitting on the floor find a seat.

BIDEN: I want the press to know she pulled me close. I just want you to know, OK?

SAENZ: One month into his campaign, the former vice president still riding high in the polls. A CNN survey found Biden dropped seven points in the last month, but still leading the pack with 32 percent support, followed by Bernie Sanders at 18 percent, but Biden continues to take heat from some of his Democratic rivals.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot go back to the old ways.

WARREN: Some say if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses.

SAENZ: As he made his pitch to voters today, Biden pushing back.

BIDEN: I'm not talking about going back to the past, I'm talking about avoiding a terrible future. There's people who say that you can't work with the other side. Well, if that's the case, prepare your children for a totally different U.S.

SAENZ: After the event, Biden weighing in further. REPORTER: What do you say to those Democrats who took swipes at you

in California over the weekend?

BIDEN: See you around.


SAENZ: Our CNN poll also found that 44 percent of Democratic primary voters have already made up their minds about who they'll support in 2020. That's up eight points since April and comes before those 23 Democratic candidates appear on their first debate stage just less than a month away -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Arlette Saenz reporting for us -- Arlette, thank you.

Just ahead, he played a key role in the failed submit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, and one report said he was executed because of it. Tonight, we're learning what really happened.


[18:54:05] BLITZER: Tonight, we're learning that a North Korean diplomat is alive, despite at report he had been executed. But he and some other key envoys are facing serious consequences for their roles in that failed Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi.

CNN's Will Ripley has reported extensively from inside North Korea. He's joining us right now from Hong Kong.

So, will, what are you hearing from sources?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it has taken me days to get to the bottom of this after that South Korean newspaper report last week saying that a diplomat had been executed. I checked with source after course source and couldn't confirm that. But what I did learn, he is alive, but he's in a bad place.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Tonight, sources tell CNN Kim Hyok Chol, the North Korean negotiator who sat in the Oval Office next to President Donald Trump is alive, but he's in custody, under investigation, potentially facing heavy punishment for his role in the failed summit with President Trump in Hanoi.

[18:55:02] The special envoy to the U.S. was not executed by firing squad, sources say, despite a South Korean newspaper report last week. CNN spent days checking with numerous sources and was not able to verify the "Chosun Ilbo" report. One source told us, the news was wrong. We reached out to the paper for comment.

The same South Korean newspaper also reported another man, lead negotiator Kim Yong Chol was doing hard labor, a claim disputed by our sources. They stay despite the state media photo showing the ex-spy chief with his hands covering his face, sitting near Kim Jong-un at an art performance, he's now been stripped of nearly all his power. Once, one of the most influential figures in North Korea who delivered

a letter from Chairman Kim to President Trump earlier this year, now punished by being kept silently in his office writing statements of self-criticism. The ex-spy chief vanished from public view for nearly two months, unusual for a high ranking official, reappearing in the photo over the weekend.

A source tells CNN this photo is a deliberate signal to the U.S. that Kim Jong-un is not breaking off negotiations over denuclearization despite escalating tensions -- including two short-range missile tests last month, first of their kind since 2017.

CNN also learned negotiator Kim Sung Hye, and Kim's translator Shin Hye Young are also in custody and under investigation.

Much of the team tied to the failure in Vietnam disbanded and disgraced.

It's a dramatic fall from February when the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his team were so confident going into Hanoi, state media took the unprecedented step of touting February's summit as a success before it even happened. When Trump walked away without a deal, he left Kim and his team without a backup plan a source said at the time. In a nation where the supreme leader's dignity trumps everything else, somebody had to pay the price.


RIPLEY: Tonight, while my sources are telling me that North Korea still holds out hope of a denuclearization deal with the U.S. there is a new warning from North Korea's foreign ministry tonight saying time is running out, saying that the agreement that Kim Jong-un and President Trump signed in Singapore could become in their words as worthless as a blank sheet of paper if the U.S. doesn't give up demands for North Korea to unilaterally give up all nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. North Koreans continue to say that's a non-starter, Wolf.

BLITZER: Will Ripley with excellent reporting for us -- Will, thank you very much.

Just ahead a former sheriff's deputy charged for failing to protect students during a high school massacre.


BLITZER: The former Broward County Florida sheriff's deputy is now facing 11 charges in connection with the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year that left 17 people dead. The state attorney says Scot Peterson failed in his duty to protect students by not going inside in the building during the rampage as seen in the surveillance video. He is charged with child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury. Peterson retired after the shooting and has been collecting a pension, but he was fired after the arrest today which could affect his pay. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION

ROOM. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNsitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.