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THE SITUATION ROOM

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) Is Interviewed About Grand Jury Material from the Mueller Report; Former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) Is Interviewed About Judge's Ruling A Victory For Dems; Federal Judge Rules House Dems Can See Mueller Grand Jury Materials for Impeachment Inquiry; Trump Organization Exploring Sale of Washington Hotel Because "People Are Objecting to Us Making So Much Money"; Kim's Resort Visits Reveal Dictator's Vision for North Korea. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 25, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:15]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, new subpoenas. House Democrats try to compel impeachment inquiry testimony from Trump administration officials in the Budget Office and the State Department as they also try to negotiate a deposition of former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Impeachment comparison. Speaking at a historically Black college, President Trump seemingly likens the impeachment inquiry to the unfair treatment African-Americans have faced in the criminal justice system.

Trump Hotel for sale? The Trump organization is considering selling its hotel right here in downtown Washington, D.C., amid ongoing complaints that Mr. Trump is profiting off his role as president.

And Kim's resorts. For the second time in a week, Kim Jong-un visits a North Korean resort. This time, gushing about what he saw. So, what is behind the dictator's sudden obsession with his regime getaways?

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A federal judge has just ruled that House Democrats can see grand jury material from the Mueller investigation for their impeachment inquiry.

Also new, subpoenas targeting two officials from the Office of Management and Budget and one from the State Department have been issued. And CNN has learned that lawyers for John Bolton are now in talks with the House committees leading the inquiry about a possible deposition of the former National Security visor.

We'll talk about that and more with Congressman Steve Cohen of the Judiciary Committee and Republican presidential candidate Mark Sanford. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go straight to Capitol Hill. Our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is on the scene for us. Manu, there is a very important new ruling potentially just out. MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Perhaps the most significant part of this ruling is that this federal judge said that the impeachment inquiry conducted by House Democrats is legal. This is despite what the White House has been arguing for some time. That this is not illegal or valid impeachment inquiry in part because the House has not taken a formal vote to authorize that inquiry, but in this ruling that says that the Justice Department must turn over underlying information and grand jury information related to the Mueller probe to the House Judiciary Committee by next week. The judge makes very clear that the Congress has broad latitude to determine exactly how to conduct its impeachment inquiry.

Now since this lawsuit was filed, the impeachment inquiry shifted focus to over to the matter of Ukraine. Before this was about getting information related to episodes of obstruction of justice as laid out in the Mueller report, episodes where the president tried to thwart the Mueller investigation. And now, Capitol Hill is looking into how the president handled efforts to bolster relations with Ukraine and pushing for investigations into the president's rivals urging the Ukraine government to do that, the questions about any potential quid pro quo.

What the judge says here is that Congress could essentially do what it wants in terms of deciding how to carry out its impeachment inquiry. Saying this, "Impeachment based on anything less than all relevant evidence would compromise the public's faith in the process."

Wolf, the Justice Department says it is reviewing the decision and we'll see if an appeal comes but a significant ruling that could have broader ramifications as a White House fights efforts to comply with Democrat request as part of this impeachment inquiry.

BLITZER: How big of a loss, Manu, would this be for President Trump?

RAJU: Quite significant. Because the president has made it very clear, a letter came from the White House counsel's office making clear that they will not cooperate with what they call an invalid and illegitimate inquiry but what the judge ruling says here that if that is tested in federal court, that perhaps that will not stand up to legal muster. So it could significantly undercut efforts by the White House to stonewall demands from the Democrats who have issued subpoenas for a range of information, Wolf.

BLITZER: So how does this play into the Democrats' efforts now in their impeachment inquiry?

RAJU: Well, the Democrats impeachment push is moving quickly and the House side they have a full slate of witnesses that are coming forward right now. They are in negotiations with John Bolton, the National Security adviser, the former National Security adviser. Someone who had raised concerns about the withholding of Ukrainian aid, who raised concerns about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to push for those investigations that could help President Trump politically, investigations the president himself had sought, the negotiations ongoing for his testimony. But also, other key witnesses are coming next week, including Tim Morrison, a top National Security Council official. Someone who we are told, according to multiple sources, will corroborate key elements of testimony from earlier this week in which the president's top diplomat in Ukraine raised concerns. He testified that for some time.

[17:05:01]

He had been pushing to release that aid but then had been told that the president had withheld hundreds of million dollars of Ukrainian aid to get the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation into the Bidens and as well as into the 2016 election interference and try to essentially undercut the findings that the Russians had interfered in the U.S. elections to help the president.

Now we're also told that after Morrison that we are learning today that more subpoenas have come out for the week after Morrison testifies next week along with other witnesses, the three political appointees, two from the White Office of Management and Budget and other senior State Department officials to come in the following week. We're not certain whether they will comply with that request but Democrats are continuing to investigate exactly why that Ukraine aid has been withheld.

And also, Wolf, another revelation today, we're getting clearer indication that the whistleblower, the person whose complaint spawned this impeachment inquiry to begin with is highly unlikely to testify before Capitol Hill. There have been discussions for some time to bring this person in. Perhaps employ extreme measure to guard his or her identity, perhaps do this off site but concerns over the person's safety, as well as a new op-ed today from the whistleblower's attorneys who says the whistleblower does not have any information beyond what is already out there, what is already in the complaint and can't really provide Congress any new information. And a new letter that we're just seeing today from the Senate that was sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee which is also asking for the whistleblower's testimony saying, "Given the events of just the past 24 hours, let alone the past three weeks to include threats from the president of the United States, our client is now only willing to communicate with both committees through written interrogatories." Written questions and answers. Basically, what they're saying only written questions they'll respond to, not any in-person interview. A clear sign that perhaps this whistleblower testimony is not going to happen, Wolf.

BLITZER: Breaking news developing up on Capitol Hill. Manu, thanks very much. We'll get back to you.

Let's get some more meanwhile on the ruling that just came in. Our crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is also working the story for us. So, Shimon, from everything you're hearing, what is this potentially mean for House Democrats?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It is hugely important and hugely a big success. This is a huge success for the House Democrats. Not only in terms of Russia investigation but you have to think about the Ukraine investigation, the impeachment inquiry and what is happening there. Because what we're seeing time and time again from this administration is that they're trying to use the courts to stall the House members, the Democrats, from getting a lot of this information, whether it is the grand jury information, whether it is information, documents from witnesses. And what we're seeing time and time again is that the courts are saying, you know what, the law is not on your side in this matter. We're seeing it today.

But think about also, Wolf, the taxes and the entire issue surrounding President Trump's taxes and the Manhattan D.A. Office in New York, they want his tax returns. They've been fighting that. The courts are basically so far had said that this is not the law -- the law is not on your side. It is now probably headed to the Supreme Court.

So what we're seeing time and time again from this administration is delay, delay, delay. And they're trying to use the courts to do that and what we're finding and consistently in these rulings is that the courts are not ruling in the president's favor. We've heard from the White House, just last week there was a story that we did where it said that the White House is trying to make all sorts of legal arguments regarding the impeachment inquiry. They're not winning on those. So far this is a huge loss certainly for the administration, for the Department of Justice, which has been fighting trying not to release this grand jury material. But now it seems they're going to have to. We'll see if it gets appealed.

How all that is handled by the Department of Justice, I don't know that information will ultimately be made public. It may have to be done in a classified setting. But nonetheless, everything that we have seen consistently so far from the courts is that they are ruling against the president and that is going to potentially be a problem for him down the line.

The other thing to keep in mind is does the House -- is there a way to expedite what is going on. They want to get all of these records. So far, they've not been able to. Will the courts go along at some point when the House decides to file lawsuits to try and get some of the materials? Do the courts in any way try to expedite that?

BLITZER: Very significant developments. At the same time, Shimon, CNN has learned that the Attorney General Bill Barr probe into the origins of the Trump Russia investigation is now officially a criminal investigation. Tell us potentially what that means.

PROKUPECZ: Right. So it's definitely an escalation in the entire investigation of the investigation.

[17:10:01]

Of course the Russia investigation and what this now allows is for John Durham who is overseeing the investigation along with the attorney general, the attorney general has a lot of say in this, he's working hand in hand with this U.S. attorney. It allows them to now start subpoenaing witnesses, subpoenaing records. Some of the witnesses we've been told have not been willing to voluntarily come in and meet with the investigators. But now that this has become an official criminal investigation, they can now be subpoenaed to come in and meet with investigators. Potentially even some of this being put before a grand jury. Potentially some criminal charges here. It is very unclear to us at this point what they're looking at specifically that would rise to a level of a crime, some kind of criminal activity, Wolf.

BLITZER: Shimon Prokupecz, I want you to stand by as well. In the meantime, I want to get more on all of these dramatic developments. Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee is joining us. He's a key member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Congressman thanks so much for joining us. Let me get your immediate reaction to the breaking news. A federal judge had just ordered the Justice Department to turn over the redacted grand jury material from the Mueller report. How significant is this?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Very significant. The entire Judiciary Committee in the House, the Democratic side is ecstatic about it. We've gone to court to litigate. We've been obfuscated by the Justice Department. They have stonewalled. They have obstructed our investigation, obstructed Congress and we're happy the Justice Judge Howell required them to disclose the material.

This is a proper impeachment inquiry. It is not for the administration or the Justice Department to argue about. It is within the purview of the House and we are a full-fledged impeachment inquiry and we have a right to that grand jury material and the American people need for it to come forth so that we can do our work and we're going to get that material even though they may appeal it, we will get it.

BLITZER: What do you expect to learn from that material?

COHEN: Well, I think we're going to find more likely obstruction of justice. Mr. Mueller had in this report 10 instances of obstruction of justice which most people feel that five of the cases, all of the elements were groundly -- soundly laid out and some people think as many as seven. But that is conduct that is impeachable. We think we'll find other material.

We know that Bill Barr lied and misled the American public when he came out and wouldn't release the report. But said it was no collusion and no obstruction. Well, Mueller cleared the president. Well Mueller didn't clear the president. He specifically said, I do not exonerate him. And he said there were contacts that the administration had or the campaign had with Russia and that they knew about Russia's involvement and they welcomed it.

He couldn't prove conspiracy. Collusion wasn't even the proper term. But they did that and then 30 days later they finally released it but still they had a press conference and put the same line out three hours before they released it, they poisoned the air. And I'm sure there are things in the grand jury materials they don't want us to see because they will likely lead to more information that will show illegal conduct and in obstructing the investigation that Mr. Mueller was engaged in. BLITZER: As you know, Congressman, the Trump administration has argued that this entire impeachment inquiry is illegitimate because there hasn't been a formal vote on the House floor. So what is this judge's ruling today say about the House effort?

COHEN: It says the House effort is entirely appropriate and right. It is within Article 1 that Congress is given the power of impeachment and Congress has the right and the -- to set up the rules in the way that they handle the impeachment. In fact the rules that we're basically going under particularly in -- with the investigation in Ukraine are the rules that were set up by John Boehner when he was the House speaker. So there is no difference in a partisan way. Republicans are allowed and have participated to ask questions and participate in a full manner in the Intel -- in the other two committee investigations. And the court confirmed what the House is doing with Nancy Pelosi is doing is proper and appropriate and to make it further proper and appropriate we need to get all of the materials that are available to make a judgment and that includes the grand jury materials that Bill Barr doesn't want anybody in the American public, including Congress people to see.

BLITZER: As you know, the House speaker still wants the impeachment inquiry narrow in scope focused solely on the Ukraine issue. Is that still a viable path considering all of the new information potentially you're about to get from this grand jury material?

COHEN: Well, there may be more material that comes forth and there might be a change of circumstances. Speaker Pelosi has been careful to go forward when she felt the public was with her and the facts would dictate. And she hasn't made a decision or what she'll do or what she'll recommend of what the House will do.

[17:15:04]

But I think in the Ukraine matter the public supports it and the facts are there that the president abused his power trying to get a foreign government to interfere in our elections and offered them military aid or refuse them military aid that Congress had authorized and that he's committed an impeachable offense. The American public sees that. I think 55 percent in the polls, getting close to Nixon levels that were 62 percent or 63 percent after John Dean's testimony in the Rose Mary Woods tape episode came out and the release of the tapes.

Once we have public hearings, we'll probably get to 62 percent or 63 percent and Trump knows it. But if we have this material that comes out from the grand jury, if there is evidence there that is strong evidence that shows obstruction of justice or other crimes, Speaker Pelosi might have to change her perspective because the public will then I think come to believe that we should impeach on those issues and the facts will be more evident. The facts weren't evident enough for her to move forward but the grand jury testimony which I'm sure has material -- that is what you take to get the indictment. That's the meat and potatoes. When did you get the meat and potatoes and we've already got and we've seen lots of guilty pleas, lots of convictions with Mueller and lots of indictments, you'll see more evidence and you'll see the material that will convince the American public that this needs to go forward.

BLITZER: Congressman Steve Cohen thanks so much for joining us.

COHEN: Let's go Nats.

BLITZER: I'm with you on that.

We're going to have a lot more on all of the breaking news. In an important court victory for House Democrats, the federal judge just ruled the House impeachment inquiry justifies the release of grand jury material from the Mueller investigation. And in just a moment I'll speak with one of the president's top Republican critics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:21:36]

BLITZER: Breaking news. A federal judge has just ruled the House impeachment inquiry justifies Democrats request to see the grand jury material from the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation. It is a significant victory for the Democratic-led investigation of the president that's ongoing.

Joining us here on THE SITUATION ROOM, the former South Carolina Congressman and Governor, Mark Sanford, he's running for the Republican presidential nomination against the president. Governor thanks so much for coming in.

MARK SANFORD (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes sir.

BLITZER: I don't know whether to you call you Governor or call you Congressman - Governor, I like that. It's a nice title. What is your reaction to the breaking news that this federal judge has now ruled against the president in favor of the House Democrats.

SANFORD: I wouldn't say that it was unanticipated. I mean, in politics you fight facts or you fight procedure. And the fact that Republicans are fighting procedurally right now, says that they don't want really fight on the facts front, let's stick with procedures. I don't think that the judge's decision was unanticipated.

BLITZER: You're not surprised by that?

SANFORD: No.

BLITZER: What do you think the White House is going to do? They didn't want all that material -- potentially the grand jury material that Mueller collected to be made available especially to House Democrats.

SANFORD: What you want and what you get in politics are two different things. And so I think Democrats will go through the discovery process and decide whether or not to ultimately proceed with impeachment. It seems to me that they are. I think that is the way that the movie ends. And you're going to see a number of different procedural steps from the White House and the Republicans saying no, walking into the skiff as we saw I guess day before yesterday or something like what is happening in judicial world.

BLITZER: Lindsey Graham, the senator from South Carolina, a man you know well, is leading the charge right now to defend the president. He said he has 50 co-sponsors of this resolution condemning what the House of Representatives -- the House committee members are doing as far as the impeachment inquiry is concerned. What does that tell you?

SANFORD: It says again let's fight it on procedural grounds. It also says that everybody is a hypocrite in this process. I mean what we need to be careful about is what is good for the goose ought to be good for the gander. If you look at Benghazi hearings, a lot of that was closed door. It was you know with Trey Gowdy would tell you, he could get more out of a deposition than everybody running five minutes on the clock in a hearing. So Republicans have used the procedure in the past and on the Democratic side, equally sort of crazy in that I remember back in the time of the Clinton impeachment I think House Democrats got maybe an hour, which is less time than we take to debate the naming of a post office on the impeachment vote. And so both sides are sort of flipped around. It is always a matter of perspective. This is an incredibly partisan effort which is the way impeachment trials run.

BLITZER: You've supported censuring the president as opposed to impeaching.

SANFORD: Correct.

BLITZER: Tell us why?

SANFORD: Because I think that if you want the impeachment merit badge, continue on the route we're on. This is why I think Nancy Pelosi was initially reticent about it. It is fraught with a number of different perils both for our Republican debate and this Republic - and for the Democratic Party and ultimately for what comes next in the world of politics.

I say censure for this reason. If you go through the process, at least as configured right now, the House will vote to impeach and the Senate will acquit. Well, what that does is it muddies the water in the November election because the president will say, see, I did nothing wrong and I was acquitted. I don't think that that is good. I think that it ought to be clear condemnation of the behavior that we know of right now.

[17:25:02]

It allows for a much cleaner vote for voters to say, well, no, they said it was wrong, there was not absolved of anything and let the voters decide in a matter of months. The last two impeachments that we've seen in this country occurred at the beginning of second terms. This is at the end of the first term where the voters could render their judgment in a matter of months.

BLITZER: Why do you think you would be a better Republican presidential nominee than the current president? SANFORD: Because I think we're all tired of crazy world. And that's the world we're living in. It is a reality show that doesn't stop playing and what I saw in the congressional district that I used to represent was weariness. Just on tone alone. Working moms, soccer moms, young millennials were turning off and you saw it happen across a number of other urban suburban congressional districts in this country in the midterms.

I think that there is Trump weariness. I think we need to go back to the basics of what the Republican Party was about that used to be financial sanity. You look at the deficit numbers that were just offered - you know within the last 24 hours in terms of way those numbers have absolutely ballooned under this administration. And look at -- inward versus outward civilization, look at our tear down of institutions, look at tone. I think there are a host of different reasons as to why we ought to go a different way on the Republican side.

BLITZER: As you know, the president responded to Ambassador Bill Taylor's testimony this week. He's the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine right now. And he tweeted that Taylor, who is a distinguished career diplomat, a Vietnam War veteran, he said Taylor is a never Trumper and in another tweet he said never Trumper Republicans are human scum. What do you make of that language?

SANFORD: I say let's stop playing the Trump game. What he does is he throws out something inflammatory, media and opponents respond. We spend a week in the spin cycle responding to it and he throws out next week something equally crazy. I think it is important for all of us, whether in the media, whether in politics, whether we're just talking to friends around the kitchen sink to back away from reaction to his craziness and to say where do we want to go as a country on some basic issues that impact our pocket book or wallet.

BLITZER: All right. Governor Sanford, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

Stay with us for more on the breaking news. Once again a federal judge has just ruled that the House impeachment inquiry justifies the release of grand jury material from the Mueller investigation. Also, we'll have more on the possibility of former National Security Adviser John Bolton answering questions in the House impeachment investigation. How much damage could he do to the president?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:00]

BLITZER: The breaking news, a federal judge has just ruled that the House impeachment inquiry justifies Democrats' request to see the grand jury material from the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Let's bring in our political and legal experts to discuss. And, Gloria, this is clearly a big win for the House Democrats. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, a huge win for the

House Democrats. Now, the Department of Justice is reviewing it. I don't know if they'll appeal it or not. I've got to presume that they will.

But what the judge is effectively saying is that this is a completely legitimate impeachment investigation even though the House did not take a vote on it, which is what the Republicans are claiming. And what the House Democrats wanted to see was all of this redacted information from the grand jury, a lot of which, we presume, has to do with Donald Trump.

The part of the Mueller report that was largely redacted was under the heading about contacts with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks. And a lot of that was redacted, so I think they're going to learn now whether they're going to do this in a classified setting, et cetera, et cetera.

If this continues, it may go to the Supreme Court. Who knows, right? But -- but I'm assuming it would be classified.

BLITZER: Yes, the --

BORGER: But a big win for them.

BLITZER: Huge. If -- and there could be appeals, we might find out --

BORGER: Of course, of course.

BLITZER: -- before the Supreme Court. The federal judge wrote, Susan, that impeachment based on anything less than all relevant evidence would compromise the public's faith in the process. So what does this say about the current House effort right now?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so I think that Gloria is right, this is a judge sanctioning this effort, saying that this is a valid inquiry. She's making a very important ruling, saying that it qualifies as a judicial proceeding within the meaning of the statute.

This is really important because of a recent D.C. circuit opinion called McKeever. This is a -- an opinion that is designed to withstand that scrutiny. It will certainly be appealed. And it might even go up to the Supreme Court, you know, but they actually might win on the merits here.

You know, look, I think that this -- the -- the point about having public integrity, there are key pieces of information. And this is a judge saying we cannot have this country go through the entire process of an impeachment only to later find out critical pieces of information they didn't know.

Those critical redactions are going to be related to Donald Trump's foreknowledge of WikiLeaks' releases of hacked materials and his knowledge about the Trump Tower meeting in which his son met with Russian officials promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Two critical unanswered questions.

BLITZER: You know, David --

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes.

BLITZER: -- Nancy Pelosi originally wanted nothing. Then she wanted a very narrow impeachment inquiry focusing in on Ukraine. But now, with all this potential new evidence about to come forward, if it does, that could expand the scope of all of this.

[17:35:00]

CHALIAN: Yes, but this is what I think we have to separate. While this is a significant victory in something related to the Mueller probe, don't lose sight of how significant a victory it is politically for the House Democrats in their current impeachment probe on Ukraine.

So I understand that this -- this may have something to do with the redacted information from the Mueller report, but let's be clear here. Having a court say that this is a totally justified impeachment inquiry just completely robs the President and Republicans of their effort to try to paint it as illegitimate.

So the -- I don't think this necessarily widens the impeachment inquiry into some unwieldy process. I believe Nancy Pelosi and the Intelligence Committee is still down a pretty narrow path in terms of keeping the focus on the Ukraine situation.

BLITZER: But there are Democrats, Sabrina, who do want a broader inquiry right now.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": There has been some discussion among Democrats about the scale and the scope of articles of impeachment against the President, according to aides I've spoken with on Capitol Hill.

And I think there are some Democrats who do believe that an impeachment inquiry could also include other investigations they have been overseeing pertaining to violations of the emolument's clause or whether or not the President obstructed justice looking at, of course, the allegations in the Mueller report -- or the findings, I should say, of the Mueller report.

But you have to keep in mind that a significant faction of House Democrats came out in favor of this impeachment inquiry in the context of these allegations of this whistleblower complaint and the release of the summary of the call by the White House where it was very clear that the President had repeatedly brought up this idea that the Ukrainian president investigate Joe Biden and his son.

And so, I think some of those Democrats, especially those in more competitive districts, they don't want this to potentially be too wide-ranging. And they also don't want this to drag on much longer, especially as we enter an election season. BLITZER: Gloria, how worried should the White House be right now

about the possibility that John Bolton, the President's former national security adviser who was fired in his --

BORGER: Did you say John Dean or John Bolton?

BLITZER: John Bolton.

BORGER: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: How worried should they be that he -- he may be called to -- to make a statement?

BORGER: Look, I think, in many ways, John Bolton holds the keys to the kingdom here. And I don't know if he's going to testify in public. My guess is he might, and it could be his revenge on -- on Donald Trump.

But while he wasn't on that fateful phone call with President Zelensky -- we were all asking questions sort of why wasn't he -- why wasn't he on that all? But he can really give the insider view of Ukraine policy and how the national security team viewed what ought to be done in Ukraine and how the freelancer Rudy Giuliani, in -- in tandem with the President, reviewed what ought to be done in Ukraine.

We know that Bolton is anti-Putin, anti-Russia, and this must have driven him crazy. And let's look at the timeline here also. It may be nothing, but Bolton was fired or resigned on September 10th. And the Ukraine aid money was released on September 11th.

Now, I don't know that there is any relationship, but I think that question ought to be -- ought to be asked to him. And don't forget, he was also the guy who called it a drug deal when Ambassador Sondland was meeting with Ukrainians in an office in the basement or somewhere in the White House and said he didn't want to be -- have any part of it.

BLITZER: I want to quickly totally shift gears.

CHALIAN: Yes.

BLITZER: And, David, put your sports and political hat on for a moment.

CHALIAN: OK.

BLITZER: As you know, the very important weekend starting tonight, Game Three of the World Series, the Nats, the Astros --

CHALIAN: Go, Nats.

BLITZER: Yes, of course, go, Nats.

(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: President Trump --

BORGER: Can I add to that?

BLITZER: -- says he plans --

BORGER: Can I add?

BLITZER: Hold on a second.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: President Trump says he plans to attend Game Five's, that would be Sunday, if there is a Game Five. The Nats are ahead two to nothing right now. But he doesn't want to throw out the first pitch. He says, they got to dress me up in a lot of heavy armor, I'll look too heavy.

There is a lot of politics going on right now. I want to show our viewers some -- some video, though. The President throwing out, as a private citizen in 2004, first pitch in a minor league game and in 2006 at a Red Sox game. And you can see him over there right now, but go ahead.

CHALIAN: Yes. You said he gave reasons, well, I didn't want to throw out the first pitch. I don't know if he noticed but the Nationals are giving that honor to Jose Andres, the humanitarian, the chef who, now, if there is a Game Five, will be throwing out the first pitch.

The contrast couldn't be more clear. Obviously, the two of them had a huge battle over immigration in the President's hotel. So not only is Donald Trump not going to be throwing out the first pitch if there is one, but somebody with whom he has publicly battled is actually the one being asked to do it. It could be a little awkward politically at the -- at the ballpark.

BLITZER: We all agree, go, Nats. All right, guys.

SIDDIQUI: Go, Nats.

BORGER: Go, Nats.

BLITZER: There is a lot more on the breaking news. Why is the Trump Organization exploring the idea of selling the iconic Trump Hotel here in Washington? Just blocks, by the way, from the White House.

[17:39:52]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A surprising announcement today from the Trump Organization -- it may sell the Trump International Hotel which is just a few blocks down the street from the White House.

Let's bring in our business correspondent Cristina Alesci. Why are they considering selling this hotel, Cristina? CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the

Trump Organization says that it's considering possibly selling the rights to lease this property because of all of the controversy surrounding it. But there is more to the story based on my reporting, Wolf.

Let's, first, take a look at what Eric Trump put out today in a statement. He, of course, runs the Trump Organization on a day to day basis. He said, quote/unquote, people are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore, we may be willing to sell.

[17:45:07]

But to be clear, the ethics experts who have a problem with this have a problem with it -- any amount of money that the President is making on this hotel because they believe it is a conduit for corruption.

Not to mention the fact there's also a legal question as to whether or not the President's business can be accepting payments from either foreign or domestic -- domestic governments and whether that's in violation of an anti-corruption clause in the constitution, Wolf.

Now, as for Eric's claim that the hotel is making a ton of money, look, I've covered this hotel for years. And I can tell you that, yes, after or during the inauguration, there was a huge bump up in revenue. But since then, it's really been unclear how much money this hotel is actually making.

Remember, a lot of the companies that go to D.C. for conferences or have their executives visit want to avoid this hotel because they don't want to be associated with the controversy, so the Trump Organization may be losing business to competitors in that market.

So the Trump Organization may be trying to explore how much they could actually make by unloading this -- the rights to lease this property at this juncture. However, it is not clear whether or not that really clears up a lot of headaches for the Trump Organization. Maybe on future allegations of corruption, but it's unclear how it impacts the current lawsuits in the system right now. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Cristina. Thanks so much. We'll stay on top of that story as well.

ALESCI: Of course.

BLITZER: Coming up, Kim Jong-un visits another North Korean resort. And unlike the one he went to earlier this week, he likes this one. So what's the North Korean leader up to?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:40]

BLITZER: Kim Jong-un visiting a North Korean resort for the second time this week, but there may be more to his obsession than just pleasure-seeking. CNN's Brian Todd is here with more. Brian, Kim takes his country's

resorts very seriously.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He does, Wolf, to the point where the employees at those resorts live in terror whenever he visits. Tonight, Kim Jong-un is on a roll in hitting some of his favorite tourist spots in North Korea. But as always, the dictator is doing that with some calculation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Luckily for those working there, the water temperature might have been perfect. The layout, suitable for guests. The sauna eggs, a local delicacy, ready to serve.

Kim Jong-un gushed about the condition of the Yangdok County Hot Spring Resort. After checking out the hot tubs, gardens, pathways, and villas, the supreme leader, according to his news agency, called the resort peculiar and absolutely perfect.

A contrast to his visit earlier this week to the decrepit Mount Kumgang, in such disrepair that Kim compared it to a refugee camp.

The North Korean dictator is on a resort kick, visiting two of them within the span of just a couple of days.

JEAN LEE, DIRECTOR OF THE HYUNDAI MOTOR-KOREA FOUNDATION CENTER FOR KOREAN HISTORY AND PUBLIC POLICY, THE WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: He is thinking, perhaps when I build this up, I can bring in the South Koreans when the relationship improves. I can bring in the Chinese.

So he's also thinking about the potential to make some money and some foreign currency. Perhaps he thought they'd be further along on that diplomacy than they are now.

TODD (voice-over): Investment in his resorts could come as a result of a nuclear weapons deal with the U.S. President Trump has repeatedly talked-up North Korea's potential as an economic tiger, seeing it with the eye of a resort magnate.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have great beaches. You see that whenever they're exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, look at that view. What -- wouldn't that make a great condo?

TODD (voice-over): He's referring to Wonsan, the Kim family's summer playground where they have a sprawling complex of vacation villas, which Kim sometimes converts to observation posts for missile launches and military drills.

Analysts say the dictator has long been obsessed with resorts and amusement parks. He constructed a ski resort for his elites. He has inspected the facilities, gone on the rides, and has been their most strident critic, even to the point of having to be restrained by his wife, Ri Sol-ju. ANNA FIFIELD, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT SUCCESSOR: THE DIVINELY PERFECT

DESTINY OF BRILLIANT COMRADE KIM JONG UN": Something went wrong at an amusement park that he visited, and he was about to lose his cool, apparently. And she -- yes, she was able to talk to him.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say Kim has a vision for North Korea, which goes beyond nuclear weapons and the paranoia of a secretive military state. He also needs these places of leisure to pacify the elites in his inner circle.

LEE: He is like the king, and he does rely on the court and the support of the court to remain in power. He knows that he's got to keep them happy and give them a semblance of that life at home if he wants to maintain their support and their loyalty.

TODD (voice-over): But while Kim aggressively promotes tourism, the U.N. has reported this week that nearly half his population is undernourished, that 30,000 children are at increased risk of death.

Will North Korea ever become the socialist/tourist paradise he envisions under his leadership?

LEE: He calls it the socialist fairyland, this vision of a country where the people are well-fed and well-housed. But most of it, I would say, is propaganda. Realistically, and the people know this, it is only going to be available and accessible to the political elites.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Analysts say while Kim does want to see that tourist boom in North Korea, there is also a limit to what the supreme leader will tolerate. They say that with outside investment and tourism comes information from the outside world, information that Kim would definitely see as a threat to his hold on power. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian -- Brian Todd reporting, thank you.

There's breaking news. Coming up next, a major legal endorsement for the impeachment inquiry as a federal judge rules House Democrats can see some redacted information from the Mueller investigation.

[17:54:37]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Impeachment ruling. A federal judge decides House Democrats should get to see secret materials from the Mueller grand jury. What will this mean for the broader investigation of the President?

More subpoenas. New moves tonight by House Democrats to secure crucial testimony about the Ukraine scandal. As the witness list grows, will ousted national security adviser John Bolton agree to talk?

No whistleblower. It now seems highly unlikely lawmakers will get to interview the person who helped expose the President's dealings with Ukraine.

Will that hurt the Democrats' investigation?