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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Mueller Set To Testify Publicly; Border Crisis; One-On-One With Senior Trump Adviser Jared Kushner. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 26, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: 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 reaction to Robert Mueller's blockbuster congressional testimony now set for July 17.
Tonight, President Trump is complaining that -- quote -- "This Mueller thing never ends."
He's going to new lengths to try to discredit the former special counsel, falsely accusing him of deleting text messages exchanged by two former FBI officials.
Also breaking, the president is responding to that stunning photo of a father and daughter who drowned at the southern border. He's trying to blame Democrats and their policies for their deaths, this as billions of dollars of humanitarian aid for migrants remains in limbo tonight after the House and Senate pass competing bills.
This hour, I will talk to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, whose committee will question Robert Mueller. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's in Osaka, Japan.
Jim, the president is on his way to where you are for the G20 summit. And he had a lot to say before he left the White House.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
President Trump is on his way the G20 summit here in Osaka, Japan. He left Washington with a swirl of domestic problems on his tail, including the return of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and the situation down on the border, where there was a heartbreaking image that may damage his legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA (voice-over): As President Trump left for the G20 summit in Japan, he unloaded on the upcoming testimony of special counsel Robert Mueller, who's been called to appear before Congress next month.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know anything about it. I just heard. And my only response to Mueller is, does it ever stop? After all of these years and times and people, does it ever stop?
ACOSTA: Of all the meetings with world leaders at this week's G20, Mr. Trump's planned discussion with Russia is Vladimir Putin is likely to draw the most attention.
But the president won't say whether he will tell Putin to butt out of the 2020 election.
TRUMP: I will have a very good conversation with him. What I say to him is none of your business.
ACOSTA: It will be their first face-to-face encounter since the president appear to accept Putin's denials on election interference.
TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
ACOSTA: On immigration, the president made it clear the buck doesn't stop with him when it comes to the safety of migrants at the border.
TRUMP: Open borders mean people drowning in the rivers. And it's a very dangerous thing.
ACOSTA: The president blamed Democrats, who are battling with Republicans over a border bill, as he spoke about what may become one of the most lasting images of Mr. Trump's hard-line record on immigration, a migrant father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande River, dying in each other's arms.
TRUMP: I hate it. And I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law. They have to change the laws. And then that father, who probably was this wonderful guy, with his daughter, things like that wouldn't happen, because that journey across that river, that journey across that river is a very dangerous journey.
ACOSTA: But as Mr. Trump is heading to Japan, he took some jabs at the country hosting the G20 summit, complaining the Japanese have taken advantage of the U.S. for too long.
TRUMP: If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III. We will go in and we will protect them and we will fight with our lives and with our treasure. We will fight at all costs, right?
But if we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television, the attack.
ACOSTA: Before leaving Washington, the president sounded as though he may have taken a swipe at the late Senator John McCain for blocking Mr. Trump's efforts to scrap Obamacare.
TRUMP: We needed 60 votes. And we had 51 votes. And, sometimes, we had a little hard time with a couple of them, right? Fortunately, they're gone now. They have gone on to greener pastures, or perhaps far less green pastures. But they're gone.
ACOSTA: In a sign that no slight goes unnoticed, the president also responded to U.S. women's soccer player Megan Rapinoe, who recently said:
MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYER: I'm not going to the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) White House.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump tweeted: "I'm a big fan of the American team and women's soccer, but Megan should win before she talks. Finish the job."
BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us from Osaka, Japan.
Also tonight, as President Trump is lamenting Robert Mueller's upcoming testimony, some Democrats are celebrating. Lawmakers are eager to launch an impeachment inquiry. They are hoping that Mueller's appearance will help them make their case. Others are trying to downplay expectations.
Our Political Correspondent, Sara Murray, is joining us right now.
Sara, Mueller's testimony, what, is about three weeks away. What can we expect?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I think you're going to see Robert Mueller trying to be as conservative as possible and stick to the report.
Of course, that is not going to stop lawmakers from asking truly whatever they want.
MURRAY (voice-over): Democrats hope Robert Mueller's public appearance before Congress, now scheduled for three weeks from today, will reenergize their investigation of the president and reintroduce the former special counsel's report to the American people.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): So I think it's very important that the American people hear from Mr. Mueller as to what he did find. Given the nature of what he has to say, given the nature of what was in the report, he will be a very compelling witness.
MURRAY: But Mueller, who appeared before Congress many times while FBI director, this time will be a reluctant witness.
ROBERT MUELLER, RUSSIA PROBE SPECIAL COUNSEL: I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner.
MURRAY: The 74-year-old has said repeatedly he did not want to testify publicly.
MUELLER: Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony.
MURRAY: The announcement overnight of a deal for him to answer questions came only after both the House Judiciary and Intelligence committee subpoenaed him.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Certainly, the outlines of what he's going to talk about are in the report. So, many Americans haven't read the report, but, again, I think we should be realistic about our expectations.
MURRAY: The committees are expected to question Mueller in back-to- back hearings that will be televised gavel-to-gavel, followed by a closed-door session with the House Intelligence Committee.
That hearing will include Mueller's staff to focus on counterintelligence issues. Among the questions Democrats say they want to ask, why Mueller never subpoenaed the president to testify, and why Mueller chose not to say outright that Trump obstructed justice.
Mueller's report concluded there was not enough evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russians. But he left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, writing: "If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state."
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Bob Mueller be prepared, because I can tell you he will be cross-examined for the first time. And the American people will start to see the flaws in his report.
MURRAY: Tonight, Republicans say they are jumping at the chance to question the special counsel's conclusions and publicly scrutinize the origins of Mueller's investigation.
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): The American people deserve a full accounting of what he did, not only just the conclusions, which, in the end, showed nothing. And, again, we're doing a redo of his report. It has been out for two months. But I think now it's appropriate to see where it came from.
MURRAY: One of President Trump's attorneys is already blasting the hearings as political theater put on by angry Democrats and offering a line of questioning to Republicans.
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The biggest question Bob Mueller is going to have to ask himself is -- or be asked is, do you really think it is the job of the special counsel to exonerate someone?
He specifically said, we're not saying the president committed a crime. We're not exonerating him either.
But the job of the special counsel is not to exonerate.
MURRAY: Now, it'll be interesting to see how Bob Mueller parries these questions about the origins of the investigation.
Wolf, we know that that is something Attorney General William Barr is already looking into -- back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you, Sara Murray reporting.
Joining us now, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- that's the committee that will hear testimony from Robert Mueller, in addition to the Judiciary Committee -- Congressman Adam Schiff.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
SCHIFF: Pleasure. Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Is there a time constraint? I'm hearing suggestions that Mueller agreed to testify in public before your committee and the Judiciary Committee, but he set a strict number of hours he's willing to appear.
Is that true?
SCHIFF: Well, in our committee, he's agreed to appear until all the members have a chance to ask their five minutes of questions.
Now, we may divvy up the time differently than that. But he is committed to making sure that we can have a full hearing and all our members are allotted that kind of time.
BLITZER: So, as long as it takes, he will stay there; is that your understanding?
SCHIFF: He will stay as long as it takes for all the members to get through their five-minute questions.
So that's the commitment, not to do a second round, essentially, but to do a normal hearing, where we have one round of questioning.
BLITZER: And then he will go behind closed doors and continue the discussion with you?
SCHIFF: We will have a continued discussion with his staff, but he will not be present for the closed session.
BLITZER: Is it your understanding the Judiciary Committee has that same requirement, five minutes for each member, he stays throughout? SCHIFF: I will leave it to Judiciary Committee. I think they have a
different arrangement. But that's what we negotiated or worked out in terms of our committee.
BLITZER: And the Judiciary Committee will go first, and the Intelligence Committee goes second?
SCHIFF: Yes, the Judiciary Committee will do their open hearing component with the special counsel, immediately followed by the Intelligence Committee.
And then we will have the closed session with the Judiciary Committee, potentially, but with the Intelligence Committee.
BLITZER: What are some of the most important questions you think Robert Mueller needs to answer?
SCHIFF: Well, we have a great deal of questions.
On the Intel Committee, we will probably focus most on volume one. That is the numerous interactions, over 100 interactions, between the Trump campaign and the Russians, why Bob Mueller reached certain conclusions that he did. What witnesses made themselves unavailable? Why weren't certain people interviewed?
Why did he reach certain conclusions in terms of the conspiracy charges, particularly around the Trump Tower meeting where you had the Russians offer dirt, the president's son accept the offer, an overt act in that Trump Tower, in furtherance of the conspiracy?
But will also want to know, what happened to the counterintelligence investigations and what were the findings? And what was the process there? We will want to know, where were you stymied? What other avenues were you not allowed to pursue? Did you follow the money? Were you seeking to follow the money? Did Rod Rosenstein put any restrictions on the scope of your investigation?
We will want to know basically anything that we need to protect the country. Is there still a risk of compromise here, such that the president or people around him are acting for financial interests or other interests and not in the national interests?
BLITZER: What are your expectations? You think we will learn something new, beyond the 448-page Mueller report?
SCHIFF: I think we will.
And, again, underscoring the compromise issues, the president said today that whether he talks about wouldn't about the upcoming election is none of our business.
It is very much our business. And, frankly, we have concerns that they not be talking about his business. And we do know that, during the campaign, Trump was talking to the Russians, or his staff were, trying to make this deal happen and make him money in Moscow, and they were seeking the help of the Kremlin.
So this is very much our business. And that is, is the American president acting in our interests or because he has some financial motivation?
BLITZER: Are you surprised it took a formal subpoena to get him to appear before your committee and the Judiciary Committee, as opposed to simply a letter inviting him to come up?
SCHIFF: I am surprised.
Look, he took the job. We should be grateful he took the job. This comes with the job. The Republicans would like America to believe that when a special counsel or special prosecutor does their investigation and presents it to Congress, that's the end, instead of the beginning.
If it were up to the Republicans, there would have been no Watergate hearings. They would have said, OK, we don't need to look into any of this because the special prosecutor did.
That's not how the process is intended to work. That's certainly not how Bob Mueller envisioned it when he said that he was providing this to Congress because he was not empowered to indict.
And for Jay Sekulow, in that clip you just played, to say it's not the job of a prosecutor to exonerate, he's assuming that the prosecutor can do what they normally do, which is indict. But he was not allowed to indict.
And so this is what Bob Mueller decided to do.
BLITZER: The president says simply you're going after more harassment of him. You simply want a do-over.
What's your reaction to that?
SCHIFF: This is the president, as always, as victim: They're treating me so unfairly. They want to look into whether I broke the law. How dare Congress investigate whether the president of the United States broke the law.
Yes, we're going to look into whether president of the United States broke the law. We're going to look into whether the president is compromised. The president's acknowledged that seeking business in Russia was a conflict of interests. And yet he lied to the country about it.
So you're darn right this is the business of the Congress and the country. And we're not going to be deterred by his mantra of harassment.
BLITZER: Republicans will have very different questions than the Democrats have in your committee and the Judiciary Committee. Are you concerned it will become politically very contentious, and this whole thing could simply backfire? SCHIFF: Look, I think it's going to be the GOP strategy to make a
circus out of these hearings. And you heard some of the clips there of some of my GOP colleagues saying that just wait until we get ahold of Bob Mueller.
That's been the strategy from the beginning. Certainly, in our committee, when we began the investigation, the strategy on the GOP side was, we are an extension of the president's legal defense team.
We're going to see that, I suspect, played out in these hearings. But we're going to do our best to keep them civil, to keep them focused on the facts. They can ask about whatever facts they're interested in.
But we want to make sure that Bob Mueller is not subjected to improper or unprofessional treatment.
BLITZER: Will you rotate, five minutes for a Democratic member, five minutes for a Republican member, five minutes for a Democrat, five minutes for a Republican, go back and forth?
SCHIFF: We're going to sit down among the members and discuss how we want to structure the hearing.
When we have a fact witness, we often do those interviews, sometimes staff-led, sometimes members and staff with one hour for one side, then another hour for the other side. We will have to have a conversation among the members about how we want to proceed.
BLITZER: But you haven't reached an agreement on that yet?
I mean, it's up to the committee how they want to conduct the hearing.
BLITZER: Because the concern -- a lot of us who have watched these hearings over the years -- and I'm sure you're concerned about it as well -- if every member gets five minutes, a lot of those members simply are going to speak for four-and-a-half minutes, and then ask one question, and it's going to be a waste of time.
SCHIFF: Well, we have to make sure that's not what happens.
And, in addition to making sure that whoever does the questioning, in however and whatever manner we do it, that we get through the most important points.
But, also, we want to make sure that what we do in the Intel Committee is not duplicative of what the Judiciary Committee is doing. We have a limited period of time overall, and we want to make sure we maximize the use of it.
BLITZER: Do you think this Mueller appearance will change attitudes as far as launching formal impeachment hearings, an impeachment procedure? So far, you're opposed to that.
SCHIFF: I don't know whether the hearing will have that effect.
I come into this with, I think, a realistic expectation. We know most of what Bob Mueller is going to say. It's in his report. But, nonetheless, hearing from him, not just the dry page, but hearing the prosecutor who looked into this talk about multiple acts of obstruction of justice, that can be powerful.
And the effect on the country, we will have to wait and find out.
BLITZER: Your committee has issued subpoenas for two witnesses to appear, Michael Flynn and Rick Gates.
The deadline for the documents that you wanted from them is today. Have those individuals complied with your requests?
SCHIFF: I'm not prepared to speak to that yet.
But if we have to speak to enforce those subpoenas through court, as we have seen other committees have had to do, then we will take whatever steps are necessary. We're going to make sure that the Congress enforcement power is validated.
If we have to use litigation, we will do that.
BLITZER: It sounds like -- as if they haven't complied, at least not yet.
SCHIFF: I really don't want to comment on that at this point.
BLITZER: What about the situation along the border, the U.S.-Mexico border?
You have seen, we have all seen that horrific photo of that father and that little daughter of his.
There's two different bills now that have passed, a House bill passed by -- largely by the Democrats, a Senate bill passed largely by the Republicans. Are you going to be able to work out a compromise?
SCHIFF: We have to work out a compromise.
And, Wolf, I have to say, every now and then, there are images that just -- that just are shattering. And this is one of them. To see that father and daughter embrace until the end, it just is absolutely devastating.
We're going to have to work this out. But, again, I have to say that the president's effort to deflect responsibility, this is the product of this policy. Part of the point of his policy is to make conditions cruel enough to deter migration, cruel enough to get the Congress to build his wall.
And the results are tragic. They're tragic. And for him to try to deflect responsibility -- he's the president of the United States. The buck stops with him. It's time for him to stop acting like a victim and to start acting like the president of the United States.
BLITZER: He's blaming you, the Democrats. You know that.
SCHIFF: Oh, he blames everyone but himself.
But this is the result, the tragic result, of his policy of making people use -- using metering to force people to wait to try to slow the flow artificially of those who are seeking refuge from violence and hardship.
There's no need for this. And it's had the most disastrous consequences.
BLITZER: Congressman Schiff, thanks so much for coming in.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, I will speak with Jared Kushner about Robert Mueller's scheduled testimony. We will speak about the president's angry reaction to that. Stand by. I have an in-depth interview with one of the president's closest advisers.
I will also get Preet Bharara's take on what Mueller will and won't say. The former U.S. attorney -- there you see him -- he was fired by President Trump. He's standing by to join us next.
BLITZER: We're back with a breaking news on President Trump, attacking Robert Mueller just ahead of his congressional testimony some three weeks from today.
Mr. Trump throwing out a brazenly false allegation, that Mueller illegally deleted text messages of two former FBI officials.
Joining us now, the former U.S. attorney CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Preet Bharara.
Preet, so what are the most important questions you believe Mueller needs to answer for the American public?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So there are a lot of things that I think he needs to talk about. There are a lot of things that Congressman Schiff and others need to ask him about.
Those include, most importantly, really, how vulnerable the U.S. was to interference with in the election in 2016 and what, if anything, he's learned from the investigation to prevent that from happening in the future to protect democracy and to protect future elections, when he came to certain conclusions, what he thinks about the role of Congress in all of this. But I will say something different. And another thing I think is important about Bob Mueller's testimony is that, for a long time, there had been a lot of misimpressions about the report, misimpressions about the investigation, misimpressions about him.
And for a short period of time, at least that day, on July 17, Bob Mueller will have -- even though this is not his purpose, Bob Mueller will have an equal voice and platform to compete with the president, who, on a daily basis, says false and scandalous and sometimes libelous things about Bob Mueller and the investigation.
And he will have an opportunity to show people who are skeptical about the report, even if they won't change their mind, look, he doesn't have horns. He's a fair and honest guy. He served his country. He did the best that he could do.
And I think that's an important service. He can be asked simple questions, like, when the president says you found no collusion, is that a correct statement? When the president says you did not find obstruction, is that a correct statement?
Now, the president says those things, and no one can really compete with him because he's the president of United States. And for that period of time on July 17, sometimes, I think those simple questions and answering them in a way that's forthright and credible will go a long way to have people understand what the report was about, and to have confidence in that investigation.
BLITZER: How should Mueller respond to questions that go beyond the scope of his report?
BHARARA: Well, it depends on what those things are.
I know Bob Mueller really didn't want to testify. And, as a way of trying to get him not to be able to testify, said, look, I'm not going to give you anything new, so it's a waste of your time.
And I don't think it'll be a waste of time. I think he might get questions about when he came to the conclusion that he could not make a charging decision with respect to the president because of this OLC opinion.
He may get questions about how he dealt with certain difficulties during the case. Look, to the extent Republicans are going to be asking him questions that are tough and challenging, how he dealt with Peter Strzok and those texts and some other things, those are outside the scope of the report. And I think he should answer those questions.
But he's not going to talk about classified information. He's not going to give more facts than were in the report, but I think he can do a lot by way of explanation.
So any questions that go to how you were thinking about it or what was the process, and how many people did you talk to, and who was compliant and who was not, I think he should answer those questions.
BLITZER: Were you surprised Democrats had to issue a subpoena?
BHARARA: No, not really.
I think Bob Mueller did not want to become either a pawn or a pinata at a hearing. He sees how -- because he has eyes, he sees how these congressional hearings unfold. And he doesn't want to be giving a basis for Democrats or Republicans to make political arguments.
And so he never wanted to be an overly willing participant in I think what he views as sometimes looking like a circus. And so it's not that surprising that he wanted to subpoena before he would come. He's not going to shy away from it. But he also wasn't dying to go testify.
BLITZER: The president falsely accused Mueller of illegally deleting anti-Trump text messages exchanged between two former FBI employees.
In fact, those messages were wiped from government phones, phones, by the Justice Department, in accordance with longstanding department policy. What's your reaction to that baseless personal attack from the president on Mueller?
BHARARA: It's disgusting behavior that we have come to expect from the sitting president of the United States of America.
And it's ironic. I mean, there are lots of things that are ironic. What Donald Trump complaints about a lot is whether or not there was sufficient evidence or sufficient process with which to make certain findings in the Mueller report or in the Southern District cases or in other criminal cases.
And yet he goes about tossing off allegations right and left that have no basis in reality, no basis in fact, no basis in logic.
Think about what kind of special counsel -- shudder to think about it -- Donald Trump would have made, if he thinks he can just sort of go before cameras and make all sorts of spurious allegations and impugn the integrity of something -- of someone else, based on nothing, because he can get away with it, at least with a certain segment of the population, because he has no voice of equal volume to challenge him.
BLITZER: Preet Bharara, as usual, thank you.
BHARARA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, my one-on-one interview with the White House senior adviser Jared Kushner on the drowning of a migrant father and little daughter, Robert Mueller's testimony, the Middle East peace process, and a whole lot more.
Will Mueller's appearance before Congress push Democrats closer to an impeachment inquiry? Our legal and political experts, they are also standing by. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. President Trump lashing out again at a House Democrat subpoena of the former Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, who will testify before the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees next month. The President Tweeting moments ago that Mueller said, he was done speaking publicly about his investigation but the Democrats simply want a do-over, adding, and I'm quoting the President now, does it ever end?
Let's get some more from our correspondents and our analysts. And, Laura Jarrett, are you surprised it took a subpoena to get Mueller to appear before Congress?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: No, he didn't want to do this. He didn't want to come, as much as Democrats said it was his duty to do so. He didn't want to. His staff didn't want him to. They were worried about him being thrust into the politics of this. Of course, it's all politics. But now that they've actually managed to get him to come and get him to come in public, Democrats better figure out a way to make the most of this opportunity. This is a make or break situation for them. And so they should figure out some lines of questioning for the man who is the author of this report.
For instance, you said that if you Had confidence that he didn't commit a crime, you would have said so, but you didn't. You didn't exonerate him. What did you mean by that? Why did you say that? It's something he has gotten a lot of flak for. He should answer that question.
BLITZER: I'm sure he'll be asked that question.
Jeffrey Toobin, if you were given the opportunity to question him, what would you ask?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: We, if I were a Democrat, you know, I would ignore the high-minded questions that Preet suggested and then Adam Schiff suggested and go right at say what did Donald Trump do that was, period? Like talk about the evidence against Donald Trump and why you didn't say he committed a crime. I mean, that's what's important about these hearings. Lots else is important, but don't lose focus on Donald Trump.
BLITZER: The President, Gloria Borger, is complaining, quote, this Mueller thing never ends. Do you think he's afraid of the impact of these televised hearings?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. You know, this president understands television. He knows that a lot of people are going to be tuning in, particularly because they've only heard from Bob Mueller for about, what, nine minutes over the last two years. And the American public does want to hear from him.
[18:34:57] I think the question that we all have, and to follow up on Jeffrey, if Bob Mueller gets asked the question, what did you find that Donald Trump did that's criminal, why wouldn't his answer just be, well, you saw what we said in our report? We listed ten ways that he might have obstructed justice. But because the Office of Legal Counsel, we could not prosecute.
I think they're going to have to hone in on would you have prosecuted were it not for that Office of Legal Counsel decision? And when did you decide that you couldn't prosecute? But Jeffrey's questions are great. I'm just not sure that Bob Mueller is going to answer any of them.
TOOBIN: Yes, neither am I. but the facts of the case are not known to a lot of people. You know, Don McGahn is obviously a crucial figure and the Democrats have tried in vainly to get him -- McGahn himself, the former White House Counsel. What did Don McGahn say that the President did? Let him read the report out loud if necessary. I mean, the difference between a report and a television show is big.
BLITZER: It's enormous.
TOOBIN: And I don't see why the Democrats need to --
BLITZER: David Swerdlick, do you think his testimony will change the calculation of the Democrats, those Democrats specifically who are reluctant to begin impeachment hearings?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, Wolf, I think it depends on what happens at the hearing. And I think Jeffrey and Gloria are exactly right. If Democrats cut through all the procedural haze and ask questions like, you know, in volume one of the Mueller report, you know, the Trump Tower meeting, June 2016, why wasn't Donald Trump Jr. indicted for a crime? Can you explain? Or in volume two, if they say, you know, if President Trump were not President of the United States, would he be indicted for obstruction of justice?
And if Special Counsel Mueller gives answers to those questions beyond, like you're saying, beyond just sort of, you know, well, it's all in the report, I've said all I have to say, then maybe the tide will start to turn a little bit and you'll start seeing a majority of the Democratic majority go for impeachment. If not, I think we're still on the same trajectory we've been on.
TOOBIN: But can we please stop with the predictions that public opinion is going to change? Public opinion never changes about Donald Trump. I mean, if you look at every poll basically since inauguration day, it's been about 40 percent in favor, 55 percent against. And the idea that Mueller's testimony will change that seems absurd to me.
BLITZER: Over the general public. But what about among Democrats who are the majority in the House?
TOOBIN: You know, I think the -- no, not in enormous numbers. I mean, what are the numbers, about 75 now. It's important to remember, the number of Democrats in the House of Representatives is well more than 200. So the fact that it's 70, 80, I don't think Nancy Pelosi is worried about that.
BORGER: Well, the question is, and we've seen these questions being asked in the polls of the American public, what do you think about impeachment? And by a majority they're saying, no, we don't want to go through it. So I think the only question is, will those polls change a little bit. I think Jeff is right, that it only changes at the margin, if at all.
But the American public does deserve some kind of recitation of what Mueller found and maybe the committee would save a lot of time by putting it up in some graphics and asking Mueller to comment on each particular thing.
Mueller doesn't want to turn into James Comey, whom they have all criticized for doing what they say he should not have done, which is when he declined to indict, then he said, well, Hillary Clinton was reckless in her use of emails. They don't want to -- you know, Mueller doesn't want to do that, from all we know about Bob Mueller. But I would argue this is a different situation. And the stakes are very high. And he spent two years working on this at great cost. And you ought to be able to feel that he can fill in the blanks a little bit here.
BLITZER: You know, the President is directly accusing Mueller, and you covered the Justice Department for us, Laura Jarrett, of wiping these messages from these two former FBI officials, the former FBI agent, Peter Strzok, the former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page. Does the President have any evidence to back up that assertion?
JARRETT: No. It's a lie, plain and simple. He can say it with a lot of force but it's still a lie. Look, the man was the head of a multimillion dollar investigation, and the President is treating him as if he's some rogue I.T. specialist. And the Justice Department's watchdog, the Inspector General, looked at this entire situation thoroughly, involving the text messages and what did he find? He found the phones, iPhones, were wiped when they left, just like every single Justice Department employee. In other words, Page and Strzok are not special in this way.
And there are other phones, their Samsung phones, that Justice Department's Inspector General was able to recover the text messages. So there were none that were missing on those phones but it hasn't stopped him from repeating this lie over and over again and banking on the fact that nobody is bothering to read the Inspector General report (ph).
BLITZER: It is a pretty horrendous thing for the President to accuse Mueller of that.
TOOBIN: It sure is. But, I mean, it's not different from how the President has accused, you know, the Mueller investigation of all sorts of misconduct that has not been -- that has not been born out. But, you know, it's just like the rape allegation against the President last week from Jean Carroll, is that, you know, we've heard these things so many times that we lose our ability to shock and be focused on them, and we have to live with it.
BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There is more breaking news we're following. I'll speak about this and a lot more with President Trump's Senior Adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
BLITZER: We have breaking news tonight, President Trump slamming former Special Counsel Robert Mueller ahead of his testimony before two House committees next month. I want to talk about that and more with a key member of the President's inner circle and his family who's in the Middle East tonight trying to revive the peace process with a confidence (ph) on economic support for the Palestinians.
And joining us now, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and Senior Adviser to the President. Jared, thanks so much for joining us in Bahrain. I want to ask you some in-depth questions about the confidence (ph) in Bahrain in a moment. But let me get your reaction to some of the news of the day, involving specifically Robert Mueller, who has agreed to testify publicly before Congress. President Trump is calling this harassment. But if the President believes the Mueller report totally exonerates him, why wouldn't he want Robert Mueller to testify publicly?
JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Now, look, when this whole nonsense with collusion with Russia came out, I was the first person to say I'm happy to cooperate with any investigations. We did testify with everybody and the conclusions came out exactly like we said we would.
So, again, I think at this point, this whole thing is a waste of time. But we're here in Bahrain, focused on trying to move forward America's policy and doing good things to strengthen our country.
BLITZER: But they did interfere with U.S. election, the Mueller report did conclude the Russians did interfere. So, it wasn't a complete waste of time, was it?
KUSHNER: Yes, I don't think that's why they're calling him, but it's kind of neither here nor there.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get to another sensitive issue right now. I know you've also been tasked by the president to work on immigration. I'm sure you've seen the horrific photo of the father and daughter who drowned trying to cross the southern border in to the United States. You've also seen and heard these reports about the truly deplorable conditions at some of these detention centers for migrant children, kids don't have toothpaste, or soap, toddlers don't have diapers.
You're a father. You're a man of faith. Why isn't the Trump administration doing more to protect the lives of these kids?
KUSHNER: Yes, I don't think that's a fair question, Wolf. The president has been very clear about the fact that it's a very dangerous journey to cross the border. He is trying to get people to cross legally and come into this country in a legal way.
Right now, our border patrol agents who really do an amazing job for this country, trying to keep all of us safe, are totally overwhelmed. The numbers that we've seen have been extraordinary. We've got a great economy. A lot of people want to come.
But over the last months, we've put some measures in place. We're starting to see those numbers go down, thanks to the president's leadership and the deal we made with Mexico. But if we can change the laws in this country, which we're working on -- we have some proposals and we've been talking to the Hill, and I think we'll see that people who want to come to this country can come in a safe way.
President Trump is in favor of legal immigration. He wants people to come to this country, but he wants him to come legally. And, obviously, paying coyotes and making these crossings, people are putting their lives at risk and they should not do that. It is not a safe thing to do.
BLITZER: But in meantime, as these kids are here in the United States, whether they came in legally, illegally, shouldn't they at least be able to take a bath, or shower or have clean water and soap? Shouldn't they at least be taken care of?
KUSHNER: Yes, absolutely. I know Border Patrol is doing the best they can to accommodate. They were not set up to deal with the unusual flows that they're getting right now. They've asked Congress for more resources to be able to do the job in the way that the president wants them to do it, which is humanely. And they're doing their best. But it's obviously an unusual circumstance and we're working hard with them every day to try to improve the situation.
BLITZER: I want to move on. But will the president sign this House passed bill to give more funding, to make sure that these kids are taken care of?
KUSHNER: I know it's something he's looking at. There's a bunch of different versions and bunch of different clauses being discussed but he's looking at it.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move to the conference of Bahrain where you are right now. You've been working to build support for your Middle East peace plan. Why -- first of all, why are there no official Israeli or Palestinian representatives at the conference?
KUSHNER: Yes. So, first of all, we had representatives from all the Muslim countries in the region. We had a lot of European countries. We had a tremendous conference where we laid out our economic plan a couple of days ago. And it got a lot of great acclaim from people.
The consensus here from the finance ministers and business community is that it's an achievable plan. It's an ambitious plan when you're looking at it from a political sense, but bring all these great business leaders together who are here. They look at this and they say this can be done.
So, I think we're all here, very enthused that we can really make this region better if there is a peace agreement.
BLITZER: But the two parties that matter the most aren't there, the officials from the Israeli government or Palestinian Authority. Why?
KUSHNER: Yes. So we invited the Palestinian and Israeli business communities. They both attended. When we invited the Palestinian business community, the Palestinian government made a statement they didn't want to attend. Based on that, we did not invite the Israeli government as well, because we wanted to keep it balanced.
But I think that was a big strategic mistake and I think people are leaving here, seeing this is a very thoughtful plan. It's very detailed plan.
Again, the president in this region is known for keeping his word. He promised he would move the embassy -- he did it. He promised to get out of the flawed Iran deal -- he did it. He promised to defeat ISIS and take back the caliphate -- he's done that.
The president said that he wants to improve the lives of Palestinian people and make sure he can do everything he can to keep Israel's security strong in the long run and that means trying to approach a deal. And he's been very serious about the efforts to do that.
BLITZER: Of the proposed $50 billion price tag you put forward for the Palestinians and also some of that money going today in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, how much is actually coming from the United States?
KUSHNER: So, it's something we're going to look at. We were big donors to the Palestinians in the past. We've stopped that, since we stopped communicating with them, we didn't feel America's aid is an entitlement. So, we're looking at that.
I do think we would be willing to be a contributor if there is a peace deal. But what I know today from all the countries that were here, is that there's a lot of enthusiasm about doing it. The money that goes into this plan is actually less money than the Palestinians are getting now on an annual basis.
The problem is that there's not a lot of accountability with where that money goes. This would be much more productive, would go into industry, would trickle down. Right now, the money that's going in now benefits a few and really doesn't solve the problem.
So, we're trying to get people to look at this, this problem through a different lens, and I think over the last two days, we've been incredibly successful with that.
BLITZER: Let me press you on that because the conference is clearly designed to improve the economic life of the Palestinian people. So, why did the Trump administration cut off U.S. aid to Palestinians on the West Bank, including aid for hospitals and schools? KUSHNER: Yes. So, President Trump is obviously a businessman and
he's a serious negotiator. When we made the move to move the embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority made the decision that they did not want to engage with the administration. And we said that's fine.
But you can't not engage with us and then expect us to keep giving money. So, I think it was a rational move the president made and he said he's open to reconsidering that at the right time if there is progress on a peace deal.
But I will say this, Wolf, you've been covering this situation for a very long time, a lot of people had ideas. They brought effort forward but we really haven't gotten very far. And I think that we are in a position where the president is putting forward a political plan. He's just put forward a very detailed 140-page plan with a lot of detail that's getting very, very wide acclaim. People think it's very competent, very smart, very thoughtful and it could solve the problem.
And the president is trying to take a problem that's been stuck for too long and trying to find a way to create a new paradigm to move forward.
BLITZER: Why did the administration, Jared, also cut off aid to the United Nations agency that has traditionally helped the Palestinians? We're talking about UNRWA, the U.S. Relief and Works Agency, reversing U.S. presidents have been doing for 70 years.
KUSHNER: How has that been working, Wolf? Has it been working? Has it been an effective use?
The average population of a refugee is usually about 10 years. The only group that's been a refugee class for 70 years is the one that has the special organization at the U.N. called UNRWA: So, UNRWA perpetuates the problem. We put forward a proposal that actually will take money, get the Palestinian Authority to self-sustainability, empower the private sector and get people jobs.
Right now, what they're doing is they're giving handouts to people and they're paying them not to work. They have a 30 percent unemployment rate in West Bank. They have a 50 percent unemployment rate in Gaza. That's because of bad governance.
The major consensus that we had at this conference is that this plan if complemented is very doable, can work, but in order for that to happen, you need the right environment. You need security, but you also need good governance. And if you look at Poland, you look at South Korea, you look at Japan, you look at the great examples of where they've been able to create economic transformation over the past 70 years, they've had a willing government that really had the ability to execute these plans.
It's not easy to achieve prosperity. It's very hard. But what we've done is we've now created the framework to give them this opportunity. And, you know, we're hopeful that they will do the right thing and if they care about their people they'll really embrace them and try to find ways to make compromises so they can move forward with it.
BLITZER: Does the United States still support what's called a two- state solution, Israel living alongside a new state of Palestine? As you know, that was the position President Bill Clinton announced when he signed the Israeli-Palestinian agreement in 1993 with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin joining him on the South Lawn of the White House.
KUSHNER: Yes. So, in coming new to this approach two years ago, I realized that there is a lot of vernacular people use that has not effectively led to a solution to the problem. So, let me tell you what we want to see. We want to see very good security for the Israelis. We want to see very good security for Palestinians.
We want an environment where people feel like they can live and have opportunity. We want an environment where capital can come in and invest where jobs can be created. We want to see an area where people can respect each other's religions and worship freely and we want a place where people can live with dignity and have all the opportunities that people deserve to have.
So, again I think while roll out the political plan that will have all the details about a 60-page document at this point. And again, it's probably the most detail proposal ever put out, hopefully after seeing our economic vision that we put out, which is the first work product we have released which was 140 pages, full with very specific details. You'll recognize that the peace plan that we put out is of a similar quality work product.
BLITZER: But are you saying Jared that the Palestinians in the end won't necessarily have an independent state?
KUSHNER: Yes, what we're trying to do is figure out not just the signing ceremony would like. We're trying to figure out what could be a sustainable situation where people can live together and have opportunity going forward. That's why we led with the economic plan.
If you don't have a pathway forward as something to get excited about, then it doesn't matter the peace agreement you make, it won't be sustained. So, we wanted people focused first on what the ended game is from there we'll lay out the proposal on the political issues. I don't want to get ahead of it by giving you details. But what I can tell you is that it's really an operational document for how the two people can live together in a harmonious and respectful, prosperous way.
BLITZER: But can you at least say there will be a state of Palestine.
KUSHNER: What I can say is that the plan that we're putting out will dramatically improve the lives of the Palestinian people, improve the lives of Israeli people, will allow everyone in the region to focus on the two priorities, which are the same priorities that President Trump has for America, which is keeping everyone safe and giving everyone the opportunity to be prosperous.
[18:55:02] Right now in the region, the president's laid out that the biggest threat is Iran. And what's happening now is countries tend to work on their interests. We're seeing a lot of the Arab countries and Israel have a very similar threat to security in Iran. And they have similar aspirations for their people which is to allow them to have economy, have investment and to be able to create more jobs and have opportunities to live better lives.
And so, I do think there is a lot of common interest in the region. And thanks to the president's leadership, I think there is a lot of will from people to try and see if they can get this problem solved after so many years of it staying unsolved.
BLITZER: But how will the economic plan work when all is said and done if the Arab states and all Arab states even if knows who want to fun the initiative, they all insist that there should be what is called a two-state solution with at least part of a new Palestine having at least part of Jerusalem as its capital? If they don't see that, are they going to continue to fund the program?
KUSHNER: I guess you've been Wolf Blitzer because you're not a patient man. I think that what we have to do is we laid out our economic mission. I hope you spent time to go through it. I think that the Gulf States and people here are enthusiastic about it.
When we laid it out, we said that this could only be implemented if there is an acceptable peace agreement. We're going to lay out our principles, our peace proposal. Again, this wasn't just our ideas that we're cooking up ourselves. We traveled extensively through the region. We've spoken with Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs and Europeans and we looked at all the work that's been done in the past and we've tried to come up with what we think is the most viable, realistic option that will lead to people getting a better life.
And so, again, I don't want to get caught in old school vernacular but I do think the principles and concepts will be ones that will lead to progress. So, you know, at the right time the president will decide to release that and we'll come back on the show and we'll talk about it then.
BLITZER: As you know, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, he says that Israel potentially could annex at least some of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Do you agree? Is that the official position of the United States?
KUSHNER: Yes, we'll be putting out our official position with the peace plan. I think that if you go into his statement I think that it was in a different way. But I think that we'll see what happens over the next couple months and I think the next thing happening will be that we'll hopefully release our peace plan and people react to it accordingly.
And hopefully, both governments will be rational and constructive and put the prioritization how to make their people's lives better first. First, if they do that, I think that we can make progress on an issue that's very, very hard where people have not made progress in a very, very long time.
BLITZER: Are you currently right now talking about any officials of the Palestinian authority?
KUSHNER: Wolf, you know I don't disclose who I talk to. Again, I -- one of the reasons I think we've gotten this far is nothing leaked from our discussions. Nothing is leaked from the plan. There's been many instances in the past where discussions or parts of the plan have leaked and that's killed efforts.
Over two years, we held one of the most coveted documents in the world confidential. And we're going to continue to keep the documents confidential and also the people we talk with confidential.
BLITZER: As you know, the president of the United States has been in office two and a half years. And he's enacted a lot of foreign policy. Is there what we call a Trump doctrine?
KUSHNER: I do think so. I think he is looking to find a way to get the world to focus on problems. I think that the president has fundamentally re-shifted the way the world thinks. There were a lot of things people were pretending weren't problems that were real problems. The president is calling those out allowing people to finally come together to solve them.
I think the president is focused on America first, which is he assumes that every other country is fighting for their citizens and he wants to be doing the same thing for us. He has been rebalancing trade deals. He's had some historic successes. We just got a successful deal with the USMCA where we made a great deal with Canada and Mexico. They're saying it's one of the best trade deals ever done for America.
It will bring almost half a million jobs back to our country and increase our GDP. And so hopefully Congress will pass that soon. But these things are very hard to do.
And the president campaigned on these things. He's been talking about these things for a long time and he's been executing these things. Right now, we're in talks with China. The president thinks that we've been treated unfairly in that relationship and we are looking at a way to find something good for China but good for America to rebalance that relationship too.
So I think the Trump doctrine is about, how do you make sure that America's place in the world is one where we get a fair deal with other people? And when we're not, the president is going to talk about it. He's gotten NATO to pay over $100 billion more and he's getting in our allies to pay their fair share.
BLITZER: Jared Kushner, I know you're busy over there. Good luck with this peace process. We'll watch it very, very closely. Thanks so much for joining us.
KUSHNER: Great, Wolf. A pleasure to be with you. Have a great day.
BLITZER: Finally, tonight, some breaking baby news. Check out the newest member of our SITUATION ROOM family. Ella Rose McGarry. She's now one day old and the pride of and joy of senior producer Jennifer Rizzo and her husband Jeff McGarry. Ella Rose couldn't wait to meet her parents. She arrived early but at
healthy 6 pounds 12 ounces. Jen tells us everyone is doing well and feeling strong. We can't wait to meet Ella soon. Congrats to Jen, Jeff and their whole family.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.