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THE SITUATION ROOM

Pelosi vs. AOC; Interview With Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH); Trump Backing Down on Census Citizenship Question?; Tropical Storm Targets Louisiana; Hurricane Warning Just Issued As Tropical Storm Barry nears Louisiana Coast, Threatening Millions; Angry Warning Threatens Peace Prospects on Korean Peninsula; House Judiciary Authorizes Subpoenas For Kushner, Kelly, Sessions, Other Admin Officials; Biden Says, The World Sees Trump As Insincere, Ill-Informed, Corrupt. Aired on 6-7p ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, he says he is using his executive powers to get the controversial information another way.

Arresting thousands. Weeks after the president threatened nationwide immigration raids, officials now say the crackdown is set to begin this Sunday. CNN is at the border getting reaction from undocumented families who are now living in fear.

Squabble with the squad. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tries to shut down questions about her feud with the so-called squad of progressive freshmen in her caucus. She is accusing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of taking the rift to a new level with remarks about race.

And rising danger. A new hurricane warning was just issued for parts of the Louisiana coast, where Tropical Storm Barry is threatening millions with pounding rains and epic flooding. CNN is on the ground in New Orleans, where some streets already look like lakes tonight.

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.

President Trump says he's ordering U.S. agencies to provide information residents citizenship immediately as an alternative to asking a formal question in the 2020 census. The president retreating from his demand to add the question to the census, citing the possibility of lengthy court battles and delays.

Also tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to defuse party infighting that's boiling over in public, as Democrats head into a pivotal moment in their investigation of the president. We're told Pelosi told House Democrats behind closed doors to show restraint and avoid theatrics during Robert Mueller's testimony next week. Tonight, Pelosi's clash with progressives in her own caucus is even

more contentious, after Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused her of singling out freshman congresswomen of color.

This hour, I will talk to Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, we just heard from the president out there in the Rose Garden. He says now that that census question on citizenship will no longer be an issue for him.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, a political retreat for this president, as he is dropping his quest to add that citizenship question to the 2020 census.

He just talked about this in the Rose Garden a few moments ago, joined by the attorney general, William Barr, and the Commerce Department secretary, Wilbur Ross, the president saying he is now going to instead order all departments of the federal government to hand over to the Commerce Department everything that they know, all of the data that they have on undocumented people here in the United States, so the Commerce Department can essentially try to cobble together an accurate count, they say, of the number of undocumented people in this country.

That is the president's aim, he is saying, in all of this, but the big headline out of all of this is that the president is dropping this quest that he's been on for months now to add that citizenship question to the 2020 census. His administration went to the Supreme Court, was handed a defeat there.

And then, in recent days, people like the attorney general, William Barr, were saying, well, they might be able to find another way to approach this question in the census and perhaps have it tested in the courts. All of that was dropped, as the president said he is now going to try to gather this data on the undocumented by other means.

Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I will be issuing an executive order to put this very plan into effect immediately.

I'm hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country. They must furnish or legally accessible records in their possession immediately.

We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete and accurate count of the non-citizen population, including databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

We have great knowledge in many of our agencies. We will leave no stone unturned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, after the president finished speaking, he brought forward the attorney general, William Barr, who did a little damage control on the president's part and claimed that the Justice Department could potentially bring forward if they wanted to a different legal challenge to the Supreme Court to try to insert that citizenship question in the 2020 census.

But, according to the attorney general, it is not a legal question at this point, it's a logistical question, as the Commerce Department has already started the process of printing up forms and beginning the 2020 census.

[18:05:00]

And so the attorney general there, Wolf, at the very end of those remarks in the Rose Garden, was essentially saying that, if they wanted to fight this out in court, they could, but they have simply run out of time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly have.

All right, Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

Now to the southern border and the growing fear among undocumented immigrants here in the United States, as the Trump administration is set to launch raids on thousands of families.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us from El Paso, Texas.

Ed, what are you learning, first of all, about these raids and how they will play out?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are told by immigration officials that the focus is on about 2,000 people who have orders of deportation, and these are believed to be migrant families that have come in recently.

But that is not enough to stem the fears and the concerns of many undocumented immigrants across the country, and not just undocumented immigrants, but immigrants as well, because many of the homes that they live in, you have essentially mixed situation, where you have undocumented citizens living with U.S. citizens.

And that is a great deal of concern. And also there is concern on the local levels, like in the cities where these raids are scheduled to happen. Like, in Houston, Texas, for example, the police chief there, told me this afternoon that they will not be involved in any of the ICE raids. His quote to me was, "We chase crooks, not cooks."

And that is a sentiment that you see in a lot of these communities, as they're urging and they're concerned about people not reporting crimes because they're going to be bottled up in their homes. In fact, we have spoken with several undocumented immigrants throughout the course of the day, Wolf, who say that they're essentially treating this as if they were preparing for a hurricane, buying up food and water, and staying inside their homes for the foreseeable future.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera on the scene for us in El Paso, Ed, thank you very much.

And an important note to our viewers. Be sure to watch Ed's special documentary, Undocumented in America." It airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night only here on CNN.

Now let's get to other important issues we're following, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, appealing for party unity. She's embroiled in an escalating feud with an outspoken group of progressive freshman women, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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

Manu, the speaker is facing some serious questions about the growing rift within her own Democratic Party Caucus. What's the latest?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this has been intensifying, Wolf, in the aftermath of the House passing a compromise bill to provide billions of dollars in funding to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the border.

That bill that passed got pushback from a number of liberal members in that caucus, and some very outspoken members as well, including four freshman Democratic House members led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat.

Well, Nancy Pelosi took to the pages of "The New York Times," pushed back on those four members. And, in response, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez pushed back on the speaker and said that she appears to be unfairly singling out women of color.

So when I caught up with the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier today, I asked her, do you stand by those remarks? And she did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Do you stand by your comments that the speaker unfairly singles out women of color?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Well, I think it's really just pointing out the pattern, right? It's -- we're not talking about just progressives. It's singling out four individuals.

And knowing the media environment that we're operating in, knowing the amount of death threats that we get, knowing the amount of concentration of attention, I think it's just -- it's just worth asking why.

RAJU: Do you think she has racial animus? Is she racist? OCASIO-CORTEZ: No, no, absolutely not, absolutely not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now, trying to quell this uprising, Nancy Pelosi went behind closed doors yesterday and talked to the House Democratic Caucus and said keep these disagreements within our family.

She said that don't go out on Twitter, attack other members. Try to engage constructively, because people come from different districts. They have different constituencies. And if we engage in this partisan infighting, then it could lead to risk our majority come 2020.

When she was asked about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's comments today, she made very clear those comments within the caucus would stay within the caucus and also wouldn't address the freshman Democrat head on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I said what I'm going to say in the caucus. They took offense because I addressed, at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the member's offices that referenced our Blue Dogs and our New Dems essentially as segregationists.

Our members took offense at that. I addressed that. How they're interpreting it and carrying it to another place is up to them, but I'm not going to be discussing it any further.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now, a number of Democrats are siding with Nancy Pelosi, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

One, Lacy Clay, accused of Ocasio-Cortez of using the -- quote -- "race card."

[18:10:03]

Karen Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told me that Nancy Pelosi is -- that's not correct criticism of Pelosi and wanted to have further discussions.

And I expect, Wolf, we're hearing that there probably are going to be additional discussions, particularly with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, next week and the House speaker -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm sure there will be.

Also tonight, Manu, the House Judiciary Committee has voted to authorize a wave of new subpoenas involving current and former members of the Trump administration. Tell us about that.

RAJU: Yes, roughly a dozen individuals could be soon hit with a subpoena after the committee authorized subpoenas for people like Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, the former Chief of Staff John Kelly, the former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, among several who are expected to get subpoenas, if they do not ultimately comply.

Those subpoenas also could go to David Pecker, who is head of the parent company of "The National Enquirer," as Democrats are going to dig into that hush money scandal, the president apparently directing payments to keep quiet those alleged extramarital affairs before the 2016 elections.

But like all of these, Wolf, the question is whether or not the White House would ultimately comply with these requests. So far, they have pushed back on these. These could end up in court.

And, Wolf, Jared Kushner was in the House Judiciary Committee office spaces just moments ago, but not on this issue, about criminal justice reform. And I asked the Democrats who were in the meeting whether they brought up the notion that that same committee authorized a subpoena for Jared Kushner. They said it did not come up -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Manu, thank you very much, Manu Raju up on the Hill.

Joining us now, Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's start with the breaking news.

President Trump's announcement just moments ago on the census. This may be an admission of defeat on his part in the courts. But can he still spin this as a political win?

RYAN: Well, he's certainly going to try, but it's a big loss for him and I think a big win for the country.

But he wants -- you see what -- his pattern here, Wolf. He wants to keep these issues in play. And that's what he's trying to do, just keep these issues going around immigration, around the border, around the raids. That's where he thinks, politically, he can benefit from it.

And that's why he wants to keep it going. But the reality of it is, he lost in court, and he's going to keep losing some of these things if he keeps going.

BLITZER: The president is vowing to compile this data now, to have a full and complete picture of non-citizens in the country.

This is what the Commerce Department, by the way, more than a year ago recommended, before the whole battle over a formal question on the citizenship -- on the census forms even came up.

Are you worried, though, about what the administration will eventually do with all this new data?

RYAN: Yes, I mean, that's a real concern. We hear about it with Facebook and Google and a lot of the companies, the tech companies. Data is a huge issue. Privacy is a huge issue.

And now the president is saying he's going to go in and start digging in? Again, I think the president uses and sometimes abuses power and the power that he has. And I think this is something that we're going to have to watch very, very closely.

BLITZER: The citizenship question will not be on the 2020 census. But is it still safe for immigrants to participate in the census?

RYAN: Well, it's hard to say with this president, because he clearly has it out for immigrants. He clearly doesn't like immigrants. He doesn't like immigration. He sees it as a weakness, when many of us that we're all -- we all come from immigrants -- we see it as a strength.

And so there's no telling what he will do. There's no telling what line he will cross. We see what's happening at the border. He hasn't solved that problem. He hasn't galvanized the American people to try to solve that problem, calling doctors and nurses and health care professionals down there.

We see what's happening to children. And he doesn't care. That's the reality of it. And so there's no question what he will do. And so we have just got to keep an eye on him, which is why you see aggressive oversight on behalf of the Article 1 of the Constitution, which creates the Congress to oversee the president.

He's not a king. He's a president. And we are supposed to oversee him. So we got to keep an eye on all this.

BLITZER: All this comes, Congressman, as the administration is gearing up to conduct deportation raids in 10 cities beginning this Sunday, we're told.

And there you see them. I will read the names of all these cities, New York, Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

How concerned are you about this new operation beginning this Sunday?

RYAN: Well, I'm very concerned, Wolf.

And I think every American should be, when the federal government is raiding people's homes, raiding neighborhoods, and not trying to solve the problem.

Look, the country, we got to heal at some point, Wolf. We can't keep going down this road of division, of suffering. We have got to come together.

[18:15:01] Is this a complicated problem? Yes. But we can both secure the border, be compassionate, and bring people into the American way of life through a pathway to citizenship, and do that in a compassionate way and also a way that makes us economically competitive.

But this president is hell-bent on keeping us divided. And we need a leader in the White House that can actually help this country heal, so that we can begin to transform our country in the direction we want it to go in.

And so I'm very concerned. I know there's a lot of scared people out there now. And I will just say, we want people to love America. We want people to want to come to America. We want people to take advantage of the American system by coming here legally or through asylum or refugee status or whatever it may be, and become a part of the American family, like my great-grandparents did when they came from Italy, and many others did.

They enriched the country. And so we have got to create that pathway for people to come in. We can do it if we come together. I think everybody's tired of being divided. I know I am. And let's come together and fix this, so we don't have a president raiding people's homes in the United States of America.

BLITZER: And, obviously, all of us are concerned what happens to the children of these undocumented immigrants...

RYAN: Yes.

BLITZER: ... who were born here in the United States, are U.S. citizens. Do they have a plan to make sure that the kids aren't separated from their mothers and fathers?

Do you know if they do?

RYAN: Well, they didn't have a plan last time they separated kids. And they still don't know in some instances of how to connect the parents with the kids.

This is -- I can't believe we're even having this conversation in the United States, that we literally separate kids from their parents, and not know how to reconnect them back together, even if we -- grotesque as it is to do that, then not even be able to bring them back together.

That's a real problem. And so to do this again through these raids -- and here's the other thing, Wolf. At the end of the day, we want people to love America. We talk about this in the context of a war usually, but the reality of it is, we have got a lot of people who are not going to think very kindly of the United States of America, a lot of young kids that we're traumatizing.

We're damaging them psychologically. Obviously, we see the health issues as well. These are young babies. These are kids. And it's -- this is tragic, that the president is so emotionally out of touch to even be touched by what's happening, and just completely ignore it, and play the political game with it.

It's tragic what's happening to our country right now.

BLITZER: I know you got a vote. You got to run.

But let me quickly get your thought on this dispute between the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and some of the freshman Democrats that has emerged. It's getting better out there.

You yourself tried to oust Speaker Pelosi at one point. Where do you stand on this fight that we're witnessing right now?

RYAN: Well, I agree with Leader Pelosi that this needs to stay behind closed doors. We need to have these family discussions together.

Look, you're always going to have disagreements. I have been here since 2003. The Iraq War, the TARP program, the -- everything we did in 2006, '7, '8, health care, the energy bill, there's a lot of internal wrangling when it comes to trying to pass legislation.

And so those conversations are best kept behind closed doors, kept in the family. I agree with Leader Pelosi when she said that.

And, look, there's always going to be contentious issues that we're going to have to work through. This is not easy. We have got 230- some members of our caucus, and that gets hard.

And I think Leader Pelosi is doing a very good job trying to keep things together with a Republican Senate that doesn't want to cooperate and a president of the United States that's completely out of control.

BLITZER: Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan, thanks so much for joining us.

RYAN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news just ahead. A hurricane warning is now in effect for parts of the Louisiana coast, as Tropical Storm Barry closes in and intensifies. CNN is in the danger zone in New Orleans.

And President Trump backs off a battle with the U.S. Supreme Court, but is he keeping the controversy over his citizenship question alive?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:23:35]

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news.

President Trump drops his demand to add a formal question about citizenship to the 2020 census. But he denies he's backing off the issue. The president announcing just a little while ago that he's ordering federal agencies to provide citizenship data to the Commerce Department. Let's bring in our analysts.

And, Susan Hennessey, he specifically said, we are not backing down.

But he was backing down.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He was backing down.

Not only were they backing down. He was making a pretty astonishing admission. Right? So, essentially, what he was saying was, the representations of the Department of Justice before the Supreme Court were false. They were admitting that they not only had access, other means -- ways to get this data, but that it would produce better data, exactly what the litigants had been arguing all along in this case.

Not a single mention of the Voting Rights Act from the attorney general or the president. That's the reason why the government had claimed that they wanted to have this question in the first place.

Trump also made an additional admission. He said some states want to draw districts based on eligible voters, rather than population. That actually strengthens the case for the House of Representatives who are currently pursuing censure procedures -- proceedings against Bill Barr and Wilbur Ross, for saying that they were not being honest in giving the reason why they wanted to add this citizenship question to the census.

And so, really, this was sort of a complete reversal and cave. It was the right decision. There was no path, there was no lawful path to add this. But I really can't imagine that anyone in the White House is particularly happy tonight.

[18:25:04]

BLITZER: David Swerdlick, he could have done this from the beginning. The Commerce Department recommended more than a year ago that they use existing government data to determine how many citizens there are in the country.

But he was insisting that there be a formal question on the 2020 census. Why did he want that so badly? And he lost on that issue.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Right, because it brings attention to the issue, Wolf.

You could have some government researchers do this behind closed doors scientifically or quiet, but that doesn't give them the political boost they need. Why do you do this, and why do you go out in the Rose Garden today and declare defeat? It's because they like this issue. They like this topic at the White House.

It's better than Jeffrey Epstein. It's better than Iran for them. Whether they're winning or losing, talking about immigration for them, they think, is a winner.

BLITZER: And, David Chalian, when you couple this issue with the beginning of these deportation raids beginning this Sunday in these 10 large U.S. cities, affecting thousands of undocumented immigrants here in the United States, this plays directly to his political base.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There's no doubt about it.

As David was saying, this is an issue that Donald Trump's entire political identity was based in. It is why he believes he's sitting in the Oval Office. He doesn't take the cues that they leaned into this issue, his party did, in the 2018 midterms. And that did not work out for them as well, when they thought this would be the issue, immigration, that would keep the House in their hands.

That didn't work out. Donald Trump pays that no mind. He believes this is it. And I will just -- when you say that, why they bring this up, in Washington, Wolf, you know, it's a classic battle. Do you want the resolution to the issue or do you want the issue to go out there and campaign on and fight?

And there are lots of times that you make the calculation. And they admitted, there would be no resolution in their favor to this issue, but they want this fight to take to the public.

BLITZER: Let me get Bianna to weigh in.

How do you see it, Bianna?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, I think David and the panel are absolutely right.

Regardless of what the outcome in this particular loss, despite the fact that the attorney general congratulated the president -- I don't know what the congratulatory comments were in regard to, other than the president continuing to say, we're going to find other avenues.

But it is something that now puts this issue of immigration on the forefront. And you think about the upcoming debates where now you're forcing Democrats to address this issue, many of them taking an even more progressive view, and you're seeing the internal dynamics at play there.

You have the Mueller hearings coming up in a couple of days as well. Now the president's adding more fire in with the announcement of these ICE raids. It keeps the conversation on immigration, which prior to Trump was not at the forefront of a national discussion.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. We have a lot more to discuss.

We need to take a quick break. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Let's get back to our analysts. And, Bianna, what do you make of the rift that has developed between the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the so-called squad of progressive freshmen members? What does it reveal about where the democratic caucus of the House ius right now?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It reveals a lot of tensions, underlying tensions that we have seen coming, and I think are now coming out to the open. I think it highlights a lot of the generational issues that we have seen going back to even prior to Nancy Pelosi being elected to House Speaker.

And you are seeing this come forward where the nation and the Democratic Party as a whole is having a real discussion and debate as to the direction that the party is taking nationwide is this sort of the Twitter verse where you're seeing many of the progressives, as Nancy Pelosi likes to point out, perhaps just these four, versus the moderates that Pelosi is trying to protect or is this squad and others a trend we're going to see going forward.

All of that having been said, this is something that the White House, I'm sure, is loving, and seeing this play out in the public ahead of these continued debates and the Mueller testimony next week is something I am sure the President and others of his aides will be talking about and highlighting.

BLITZER: I'm sure they will. David Swerdlick, Congresswoman Ocasio- Cortez, she is standing by with rather controversial comments about the Speaker that the Speaker was going after members of Congress, freshmen who are women of color.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And, look, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right to point out that there is this generational and ethnic and gender divide within the party. She and Congresswoman Tlaib and Omar and Presley are the new stars, they are not traditional backbenchers, and demographics has something to do with what's going on in the Democratic Party.

But in terms of the split, I think what they're really doing is showing that there's a little bit of a pox on both Houses here. In terms of the Speaker, it's strange to me that she is chastising her members in a way that's going to get out there publicly and it's also strange to me that the young guns are sort of challenging the Speaker in a way that's coming out publicly.

When you have a situation where you just had Congressman Ryan on, someone who challenged Pelosi for the speakership, and now he's telling you, I think she's doing a good job and he is basically on her side on this, that suggests to me the democrats have to knit this back together if they want to get into the 2020 elections.

BLITZER: Well, how is this going to play out, because Congresswoman, you know, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she said, I was just pointing out a pattern, but then when Manu Raju asked her, do you think she has a racial animus, is that why, referring to Nancy Pelosi, she said, no, no, absolutely not, absolutely not?

[18:35:03]

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I would imagine this episode is going to come to a close real fast and there will be more to come, because there is a generational difference, and there is, as David was saying, a group of new members who are not going to be okay and just say, okay, whatever the leaders want, we're going to sit back. This is not also a new story in Congress. We have seen both on the republican and the democratic side, leadership have to wrangle some factions.

One thing that is key here to note, and I -- this is a little different than we've seen in the most recent republican iteration, where the House freedom caucus had big numbers. Paul Ryan or John Boehner would be rolled by that faction. They would have to change what leadership is doing.

Nancy Pelosi doesn't have that kind of political problem in terms of the head counting in her caucus, and all of the votes are on her side, she is not letting these people win internal fights, but she does have a perception issue that she has to deal with because a party that looks split like this is not where they want to be heading into an election.

BLITZER: You know, Susan, what do you make of the House Judiciary Committee all of a sudden issuing new subpoenas for 12 current and former members of the Trump administration, including some individuals who are not current or former members of the Trump administrations, like David Pecker, for example, of the National Enquirer?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So it's incredibly significant to see names like David Pecker and Corey Lewandowski on that list, in part because they have never been government officials and they are not current government officials. We've seen this White House stonewall tactic, in which they have asserted executive privilege. We might see them do that for people like Kushner, former DHS Secretary John Kelly. There is no basis for them to do that for people like Lewandowski and Pecker.

It is also a sign that the House is not just going to sit around and wait for Robert Mueller's testimony to tell the full story. They are continuing to press to get those primary witnesses who actually saw and participated in the events described in the Mueller report. They are planning on calling those people to tell their story.

BLITZER: Everybody stick around, there is a lot more news we're following.

Joe Biden puts the focus on foreign policy and labels President Trump incompetent and worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: Tonight, Joe Biden is promising to undo President Trump's foreign policy if he is elected president. Our Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is in New York, where Biden delivered a speech.

Jeff, the former Vice President tried to keep the focus on Mr. Trump, not on his own fight against his democratic rivals.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he did indeed. And Joe Biden aimed his remarks squarely at President Trump, saying he's alienated us from the world.

It was a blistering assessment of Trump's foreign policy but it also came with an optimistic sense for America. With Biden saying no army on earth can match the electric idea of liberty, he said the U.S. must harness that power and rally the free world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Make no mistake about it, the world sees Trump for what he is, insincere, ill-informed and impulsive and sometimes corrupt.

ZELENY: Joe Biden outlining his foreign policy doctrine today, offering a world view that revolves almost entirely around defeating President Trump and dismantling his America first agenda.

BIDEN: Donald Trump's brand of America first has too often led to a America alone.

ZELENY: In a speech in New York today, the former Vice President pledged to restore fraying U.S. alliances, calling the 2020 election an urgent turning point for the world.

BIDEN: We have to restore our ability to rally the free world and we have one opportunity to reset this democracy after Trump. And we have to be prepared to make the most of it.

ZELENY: But Biden is also seeking to reset his own campaign, trying once again to present himself as the best democrat to confront Trump and hoping to relay (ph) any concern about the strength of his candidacy.

The contrast with Trump was stark in both policy and presentation as Biden delivered a sober lecture rather than a more boisterous talk the President favors.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: President Obama and Vice President Biden, they didn't have a clue. They got taken advantage of by China, by NATO, by every country they did business with.

ZELENY: If elected, Biden said he would convene a summit of the world's strongest democracies during his first year in office, signaling to allies a return to an American normalcy.

Tonight, Washington Governor Jay Inslee calling out Biden for not reconciling his Iraq vote.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): I think the Vice President in this particular case, if he is going to address foreign policy, he really does have a responsibility to address his support for the Iraq War and his vote for the war authorization.

ZELENY: At the first democratic debate, Bernie Sanders also reminding voters of Biden's Iraq vote.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): Joe voted for that war. He helped lead the opposition for that war, I helped lead the opposition for that war, which is a total disaster.

ZELENY: The closest Biden came was this.

BIDEN: American leadership is not infallible and we have made missteps and mistakes.

ZELENY: As he pushed for an end to the longest conflict in U.S. history.

BIDEN: It is long past time we end the forever wars. I have long argued that we should bring home the vast majority of our combat troops.

ZELENY: Biden also implored those worried about America's place in the world to take a long and optimistic view.

BIDEN: This is not a moment to fear. It's a time for us to tap into the strength and audacity that took us to victory in two World Wars.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Well, Biden had barely finished speaking when a top adviser to Bernie Sanders called Biden out, saying, forward-looking policy must grapple with the continuing impact of Iraq.

[18:45:08] Of course, it's an open question if that old Iraq vote or Trump's current world view will be a more motivating factor for Democratic primary voters -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: A question, indeed. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much for that report.

Just ahead, a report of the new hurricane warning and flooding fears as Tropical Storm Barry nears the Louisiana coast. Stand by, we have an updated just-in forecast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:50:10] BLITZER: Breaking news this hour: a hurricane warning now in effect for parts of the Louisiana coast as Tropical Storm Barry intensifies and churns toward land. Millions are at risk and flood waters are rising.

Let's go to the CNN Center, our meteorologist Allison Chinchar is joining us.

Allison, what's the latest forecast for Barry?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. So, the latest forecast now continues to push the landfall point no into Louisiana sometime on Saturday. But we do still expect some intensification with the storm before we get to that point. Here's a look at the latest track. Again, right now, it looks to be

late morning early afternoon on Saturday for that landfall point as it makes its way into Louisiana. One of the biggest concerns with this storm is going to be flooding. From two aspects, one from the rain coming down but also in the form of storm surge.

You can see as it begins to approach, it's going to produce a lot more of those outer bands, even for states like Alabama, Mississippi, even portions of Arkansas as well, dealing with a huge amount of rain. Look at these widespread totals, about five to 10 inches. Some areas exceeding a foot of rain.

In addition to that, again, we talked about the storm surge as well. You see this darker pink shade, that's where we are talking three to six feet of storm surge, two to four feet for the pink area.

Look at this. This is the Mississippi River at the gauge Reserve, Louisiana. It's already in minor flood stage. But now, we are going to see that push into the moderate flood stage because of the storm surge that's going to come in.

So, Wolf, that's one of the main concerns, not only the rain coming down but also the storm surge and the impacts that will have for flooding as well.

BLITZER: Very dangerous situation unfolding. We'll watch it closely with you.

Allison, thank you very much.

Just ahead, we're going to tell you which North Korea's Kim Jong-un is furious tonight and who he is calling pitiful.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:34] BLITZER: Tonight, a sharp new warning from North Korea's Kim Jong-un could spell trouble for President Trump's dreams of diplomacy on the Korean peninsula.

Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, why is Kim so upset?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he is incensed because while South Korea is talking peace, it's also upgrading its weapons arsenal and it's not just with any weapon. The South Koreans are purchasing a war plane from the United States, a fighter jet that Kim genuinely fears.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Tonight a stinging verbal attack and a warning from North Korea's merciless young ruler to his neighbor to the south. Kim Jong-un is apparently furious over South Korea's purchase of sophisticated war planes, F-35 fighter jets, from the United States. In a new statement, Kim's foreign ministry calls South Korean

officials impudent and pitiful for talking about reconciliation while buying the jets, and says North Korea has no choice but to develop and test the special armament to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea.

PATRICK CRONIN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: There could be another missile test. There could be a provocation, but it would be limited.

TODD: This comes less than two weeks after one of the most promising moments in the denuclearization talks between North Korea ant U.S. President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone, Trump's brief stroll into North Korea and words of harmony.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Stepping across the line was a great honor, a lot of progress has been made, a lot of friendships made and this is in particular a great friendship.

TODD: So, why would South Korea's purchase of the fighter jets, a deal in the works for about five years, get Kim riled up now?

CRONIN: He now needs to show strength again, that he is not negotiating away the security guarantees of North Korea, the jewels, the nuclear weapons, he has to show he is standing up to try to reduce the threat posed to North Korea.

TODD: But analysts believe there is another factor at play tonight. The jet South Korea is buying, the F-35 is a stealth plane and can often go undetected by radar which experts say strikes at a particular fear of Kim Jong-un's.

FRANK AUM, FORMER PENTAGON ADVISER ON NORTH KOREA: North Korea believes that it will allow South Korea to conduct decapitation operations that takes out the North Korean leadership and can do so covertly without giving North Korea a chance to conduct a retaliatory second strike.

TODD: A top State Department official recently spoke to CBS about Kim's paranoia.

ELLEN MCGARTHY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INTELLIGENCE: Based on our understanding of the media, and things that he has said, he really does think that the U.S. is looking for regime change.

TODD: Something U.S. officials have consistently denied. But will the South Koreans purchase of the menacing fighter jet and Kim's anger over it derail the diplomatic dance between Trump and Kim?

CRONIN: It is an impediment that's going to be repeated with other statements, other systems in North Korea, in South Korea, in the United States for the coming years. This is part of the terrain of negotiating down an adversarial relationship. We have to get used to this process. We have to have more resilience and a thicker hide.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Analysts stay despite the latest threat. President Trump and Kim Jong-un can keep denuclearization talks alive with the unique personal relationship. But experts do worry that time is running out because of Kim's ultimatum to advance nuclear talks by the end of this year or bust, and because of Trump's re-election campaign where he may have to appear like he is getting tougher on North Korea -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good report. Brian Todd, thanks very much.

And to our viewers thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNsitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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