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State of the Union

White House Counsel Speaking to Robert Mueller; Interview With Montana Governor Steve Bullock; Interview With Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper; Interview With Former Chief White House Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco; Interview With Former CIA Director Michael Hayden; Bannon: 2018 Election Will Be "Referendum" On Trump; Sixty House Democratic Candidates Won't Back Pelosi For Leader; Archbishop of Washington Under Scrutiny On Priest Abuse. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired August 19, 2018 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Cooperating counsel. A bombshell report claims White House lawyer Don McGahn has been dishing to Robert Mueller team for nine months.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Don McGahn was the strongest witness for the president.

TAPPER: The president now turning up the heat on Mueller to wrap it up fast.

Plus, war on intel. President Trump strips security clearance from a former CIA director...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like taking on voices like that. I have never respected him.

TAPPER: ... and threatens others who criticize him. But intel leaders are not backing down.


TAPPER: We will be joined by three former top national security officials next.

And leaning left? Polls showing Democrats primed for a huge win in November, but is the party moving in the wrong direction?

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D), MONTANA: The Democratic Party didn't necessarily change.

TAPPER: We will talk to red state Democrat and possible 2020 contender Governor Steve Bullock of Montana.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is under pressure.

President Trump, feeling the heat from a Russia investigation that just will not go away, railing on Twitter this morning that the special counsel is worse than the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, the man behind the Red Scare in the 1950s.

Trump claiming he has nothing to hide, this in response to a stunning new "New York Times" report that White House council Don McGahn has spent 30 hours over nine months talking to Robert Mueller, the special counsel, the White House lawyer effectively a cooperating witness in the investigation of President Trump.

This as the president continues his attack on former CIA Director John Brennan after the president's disdain for the Russia investigation drove him to take away Brennan's security clearance, tweeting Saturday -- quote -- "Brennan has become nothing less than a loudmouth partisan political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country."

The president now putting more of the nation's top former intelligence and national security leaders on notice that they might be next, unprecedented moves that drew a stern rebuke from dozens of the nation's highest former intelligence officials who have served both Democratic and Republican presidents.

Here with me to talk about this all, former Department of Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser to President Obama Lisa Monaco, former Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper, and former CIA and NSA Director General Michael Hayden -- more than a century of combined military, national security and intelligence experience sitting at this table right now.

Hope you're not offended by that, more than a -- more than a century.


TAPPER: But, Lisa, I want to start with you.

I do want to ask, as somebody who worked at the Justice Department, worked under Bob Mueller and also worked at the White House, what do you make of McGahn talking to the president, talking to the special counsel?

According to "The New York Times," one of the concerns was that President Trump was setting him up to be a John Dean-like patsy, though President Trump and Rudy Giuliani are saying, oh, this just shows that they have nothing to hide. What do you make of it?

LISA MONACO, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Well, look, that was really a remarkable report that we saw in the -- in "The Times" this morning.

Frankly, Jake, I was surprised that people were surprised that Don McGahn would be a witness for and talk to Bob Mueller. As a current government employee, he doesn't have a whole lot of choice about talking and sitting for an interview with Bob Mueller and his team. Now, what was remarkable about that report is just how extensive the

discussions seemed to be, and how little limits were placed on the questions that he was asked and answered.

And the other thing I think that was very remarkable is how little the president seems to understand that the White House counsel is the lawyer for the office of the presidency, the institution of the presidency, not his personal -- not his personal lawyer.

And then, finally, as a former prosecutor, I think he's going to be a very, very valuable witness. If you're an investigator, you're a prosecutor, you want somebody who's been in the room when the key discussions happened. And that's Don McGahn.

TAPPER: It's very interesting.

General Hayden, I want to ask you about a new attack from the president this morning, attack on Bob Mueller, saying -- quote -- on Twitter -- "Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we were now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby. Rigged witch-hunt."


TAPPER: An extraordinary remark to compare Bob Mueller to Joseph McCarthy.


And we haven't heard a public syllable from Bob Mueller in more than a year. And I have got to add that McCarthy's lawyer, Roy Cohn, became Donald Trump's personal lawyer -- lawyer and mentor for decades.

I mean, the irony here is just amazing.

TAPPER: It's -- it's -- all of what you said is factually accurate.


Director Clapper, I want to talk to you about the focus on John Brennan after President Trump's stripped his security clearance.

After President Trump's press conference in -- with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Brennan unleashed some pretty remarkable criticism against the president, saying it was -- quote -- "nothing short of treasonous."

Now, take a listen to how Brennan explained that comment just a couple days ago.


BRENNAN: And I did say that it rises to and exceeds the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, and is nothing short of treasonous.

I didn't mean that he committed treason. But it was a term that I used, nothing short of treasonous.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Well, you didn't mean that he committed treason, though?

BRENNAN: I said it's nothing short of treasonous. That was the term that I used, yes.


TAPPER: We will get into the president's behavior in a second.

But do you think that John Brennan's hyperbole is an issue here, is one of the reasons we're having this crisis?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think it is. I think John is subtle like a freight train, and he's going to say what's on his mind.

I think, though, that the common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up, though, is genuine concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values, and although we may express that in different ways. And I think that's what this -- this really is about.

But John and his rhetoric have become, I think, an issue in and of itself.

TAPPER: What do you think?

MONACO: Look, I think John has said that he sometimes get his Irish up.

But, really, what he talked about, I think, in that interview that you played is, he was really commenting on how stunning it was to him, as a decades-long national security veteran and intelligence professional, to see the president stand up in Helsinki next to our main adversary, President Putin, and not challenge him, not call him out for the attack on our democracy that the entire intelligence community, both in the Obama administration and the Trump administration, has said has happened and, in fact, is ongoing.

So I think that's what John was responding to, yes, in very, very pointed fashion.

TAPPER: General Hayden, I want to ask you.

Retired Admiral William McRaven, who oversaw the raid that -- in which bin Laden was killed, he wrote this in "The Washington Post" this week. This also stunning: "I would consider it an honor" -- he's writing to President Trump -- "if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who had spoken up against your presidency. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, and, worst of all, divided us as a nation."

Would you be similarly honored to have President Trump revoke your security clearance?

HAYDEN: Well, to be included in that group, sure.

And, frankly, if his not revoking my clearance gave the impression that I have somehow moved my commentary in a direction more acceptable to the White House, I would find that very disappointing and, frankly, unacceptable.

Now, Bill -- Bill's note is really, really telling, because there's two parts, all right? He said, take my clearance away. So that's the local issue of John Brennan and his clearance.

But the admiral then went beyond that and made a larger, broader comment on why he is upset with the administration. And, frankly, although John's situation is the proximate cause for all of us signing letters and protesting, I think it's kind of one additional straw that's breaking the camel's back.

It -- our complaint is not just about this. It's about the whole tone, tenor and behavior of the administration.

TAPPER: Have you heard, any of you, from current national security or intelligence officials, ones in the Trump administration, whether they're political or -- or not political appointees, expressing solidarity with what you're saying?

You don't have to give me their names, obviously. But have you been given any attaboys or attagirls? I know you have a letter that's coming out in the next day or two with other national security officials also protesting what's going on.

Have you heard from anyone?

MONACO: I have not heard personally from anyone currently in the administration.

TAPPER: Have -- have either of you?

CLAPPER: I have.

And I do know there is a lot of angst at the working levels in the I.C. work force.

HAYDEN: Look, we have got to be careful.

We -- you can't go back to press to test, because these people are still in government. We don't want to make them vulnerable.

But, Jake, I wrote a book a couple months ago broadly addressing this topic. And, informally, as I have met folks still in government, I have gotten thumbs up from them that that book, the tone there, has it just about right.

TAPPER: So, I want to read you something John Brennan wrote in "The New York Times." In part, he wrote -- quote -- "Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion with Russia are, in a word, hogwash. The only questions that remain are whether the columnist that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy."

Now, he's talking in there, in that op-ed -- pardon me -- he's talking there about press reports about meetings, Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower, George Papadopoulos with Mifsud and others.

But do you agree that collusion has been proven; it's just a question of whether or not it arises to criminal conspiracy?


CLAPPER: Well, I think -- I think we have all spoken to this.

And you alluded to the Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016. I think quite significant, frankly, is the president's exhortation on the 27th of July, 2016, exhorting the Russians to go out and find those missing 30,000 e-mails, as revealed in the stunning indictment that came out last month from Bob Mueller, indicting the 12 GRU officers, in which it appears they complied with his request that very day after-hours.

And, in my book -- we have all written books.


CLAPPER: I recount the striking parallels and similarities between the things the Trump campaign was doing and saying and things the Russians were doing and saying, particularly with respect to Hillary Clinton.

Don't say collusion, but that's why I think the completion of the Mueller investigation is so critical, because of the cloud that it -- you know, we now have over the presidency and, for that matter, over the entire country.

And that hopefully will resolve the issue one way or the other about collusion.

TAPPER: Do you think...


I mean, look, I read Brennan's op-ed to be saying that, right? He's -- he's laying out the points that are out there in the public. There was nothing that wasn't already out there in the public that he was -- that he was pointing out and saying just how important it is that Mueller's investigation be allowed to continue unimpeded.

Jim Clapper points to the indictment of just last month of the 12 GRU. I would go back even further to the February indictment of -- in this year, February of this year, laying out the conspiracy -- and that's what the overarching concept is that Mueller's indictment does in February of 2018 -- the conspiracy by the Internet Research Agency and 13 other Russia individuals and entities to interfere in our election. And the question we need to have answered from Bob Mueller and his

team is, are there any Americans who participated?

TAPPER: And, very quickly, if you would, General, is the relationship between President Trump and the national security community writ large -- with exceptions, obviously, necessarily, for his chosen CIA director, et cetera -- is that permanently broken, do you think?

HAYDEN: It's dangerously close to being permanently broken. It's badly injured right now.

Look, if we're back at our old agencies, all right, we're -- we're trying to say to our work force, we have nothing to do with what John Brennan says on TV, and we have nothing to do with what the president has done in response. We have got our basic lane. We have got to do blocking and tackling.

But that has to be harder and harder each day, as the administration takes these kinds of actions.

TAPPER: Thanks, one and all, for being here. We really appreciate it.

The White House counsel spent 30 hours talking to Mueller's team. Is that a sign of confidence or guilty conscience?

Plus, he's traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire. And he says he can win in Trump country. Governor Steve Bullock, Democrat from Montana, joins me next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Republican fears of a so-called Democratic blue wave are growing. According to fresh CNN polling, Democrats show a double-digit lead when voters are asked which party they want to control Congress.

But one potential Democratic presidential contender who has been traveling to 2020 primary states, well, he says this party has a lot of work to do.


BULLOCK: And if we can't speak the language of Iowa or Michigan or Wisconsin and others, even if you can get an electoral majority, you're never going to have a governing majority.


TAPPER: And smack dab in between trips from Iowa to New Hampshire, we're joined by Democratic Governor of Montana Steve Bullock, joining us now.

Thanks so much for joining us, Governor.

BULLOCK: It's great to be with you, Jake, for sure.

TAPPER: So that's a pretty strong statement on the Democratic Party.

Tell me, what do you think the national Democratic Party is getting wrong right now?

BULLOCK: Well, I think the way that I have run in Montana, I mean, my legislature is both almost two-thirds Republican.

So, the way I have governed and I have run is by showing up, by listening, not by going to places where Democrats are, but going all across the state, giving them a reason to vote for me as well. So, I have been traveling some around the country, but even before Iowa, places like Michigan and Wisconsin and Arkansas.

TAPPER: What is the party, though, getting wrong? Obviously, you're going to places that, for instance, Hillary Clinton didn't go, like -- like a Michigan and Wisconsin, as much as she should have, perhaps.

But what is the message coming from the national Democratic Party in Washington that is -- that is different from what you're saying?

BULLOCK: Well, first of all, I think that, when you talk about this overall message of the Democratic Party from Washington or other places, really, what's happening is, the folks out there across the country -- we have 81 days until these midterm elections.

I have seen incredible candidates talking about the things that matter in their district, making sure that people have health care, making sure that everybody has that opportunity to climb the economic ladder and a fair shot at really doing better than their parents did.

So I think, if we actually are out there and we're focusing not just in one part of the country, but if we believe that we share the values of most Americans, and we fight for those values, Democrats can compete anywhere in this country.

TAPPER: So, you're touting strong economic numbers coming out of Montana this week, unemployment in Montana down to 3.7 percent, lower than the national average.

But -- but looking ahead to the midterms, the vast majority of voters in our new CNN poll say the economy will be very or extremely important to their votes. Is it fair to say that the Trump economy is working for the voters of Montana?

BULLOCK: Well, I think, in Montana, we have actually led the country in middle-class income growth over the last five years.

What you see overall is that, in many ways, our economy is broken. Only about half a 30-year-olds today are doing better than their parents were at age 30. Go back 50 years ago, that was 90 percent of folks. So, yes, while the economy's booming, and it's sort of continued after

President Obama, there's a lot more of that because a lot of folks just aren't getting ahead in this economy. And they look at what's coming out of Washington, D.C., and it's not helping them.


TAPPER: One issue on which you seem to differ from many in your party is the issue of guns, the Second Amendment, gun control.

You only recently came out in support of universal background checks, something that most Democratic officeholders have long supported. Many Democrats think that doesn't go far enough. They have pushed for what they call an assault weapons ban, a ban on some forms of semiautomatic weapons.

Would you support a ban like that?

BULLOCK: You know, I would, Jake.

If we really step back for a minute, I think most folks that -- be it in Montana or elsewhere, that are firearm owners want to keep themselves and their families safe. It's not unlike folks that say that all of these school tragedies and everything that's been happening, what do they really want?

Those same values. Now, there are things that we could do immediately, everything from red flag laws, to closing -- sort of having the universal background check, to making sure that we're doing everything that we can, some age restrictions and magazine restrictions.

But let's begin with, everybody wants to keep themselves and their families safe. And let's try to find those values where we can move things forward.

TAPPER: These aren't the only issues where your party is becoming more liberal.

Some in your party are calling to abolish ICE. More and more Democrats are supporting Medicare for all. A new survey this week shows that, for the first time in a decade of polling, more Democrats have a positive view of socialism than they do of capitalism.

Do you have concerns that your party is moving too far to the left?

BULLOCK: You know, and, Jake, I certainly don't want to diminish the question, because I know that you and others in the media are really trying to figure out what's going on out there.

But I think it's -- sort of it presumes this divide, this us-vs.-them mentality, where, when I'm traveling around the country, I really don't see it.

I see unification after primaries. I mean, I see all Democrats turn around and saying, they need to make sure that we have affordable, accessible and quality health care, while, the same time, Republicans are trying to strip away Medicaid, they're destabilizing the ACA.

And if anybody steps out of line, from the perspective of like Senator McCain did, he gets repeatedly taunted. So, I think the Democratic Party is and has been never saying, OK, we have to walk lockstep when it comes to the ways that will improve the lives of Americans.

And there's often a good competition of ideas. But that really stands in contrast to anybody that steps out of line from the stern president on the Republican side is worried for not only the reelection, but continued taunts and tweets.

TAPPER: You were in Iowa on Thursday. You're going to be in New Hampshire next week. You're a two-term governor of a state that President Trump won by 20 points.

Many Democrats think this all means that you could compete in red states as a presidential candidate. Do you think -- and I understand you haven't announced that you're running for anything, but do you think that, if you did run, you could beat President Trump?


BULLOCK: Well, what I look at is -- and I -- those hypotheticals are a little bit challenging, certainly.

I was the only Democrat, I think, in the country to get reelected statewide in a state where President Trump won. More than that, I have actually been able to bring folks together, from expanding Medicaid, to an earned income tax credit, record investments in education, trying to get dark money out of elections, which is one of the things that I was talking about in Iowa.

Now, I think anybody that actually assumes that we share the values of folks all across this country fights for those values and tries to bridge some of the divides -- divides both in our country and in the political system, could beat President Trump in 2020.

TAPPER: That would, theoretically, though, include you, I suppose.


BULLOCK: It would include all kinds of folks.

Right now, really, what I'm doing is, I have been listening. I have been traveling the country quite a bit, listening probably more than I have been talking. I have shared what we have done in Montana. But, for now, that's as far as it goes.

TAPPER: All right, Governor Bullock, we will see you out there on the campaign trail.

Thanks so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

BULLOCK: Great talking to you this morning, Jake.

TAPPER: A stunner in the Russia investigation. A White House lawyer involved in some of the most intimate discussions with the president is reportedly talking a lot to Bob Mueller.

Stay with us.




GIULIANI: The Mueller team is panicking. They know they don't have a case.

The president wants to testify. The president wants to be open and transparent. Otherwise, he wouldn't have encouraged 30 witnesses, including McGahn, to testify.


TAPPER: That was one of the president's attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, reacting to "The New York Times"' bombshell report detailing how White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated with Robert Mueller's justice -- probe into potential obstruction of justice.

Let's discuss.

Senator Santorum, let me start with you.

What do you make of Rudy's comments? Can you, as a supporter of the president, look at this report in "The New York Times" and say, well, it looks like they're -- they're giving them full transparency, time to wrap it up?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: I -- I don't know how you look at it otherwise.

I mean, you can look at it as maybe a bad legal tactic on the part of the president and his team to allow your -- your general counsel to have unfettered me -- I mean, the -- the special counsel to have unfettered access to your general counsel.

But you certainly can't make the argument that they're covering up anything or they're trying to obstruct anything.


The reality is they provided record numbers of documents. They've let the general counsel for 30 hours be in front of the special counsel. That -- that to me this is good news story for the president.

TAPPER: What do you make of it? Because also in the "New York Times'" story it said that McGahn and his attorneys were concerned that President Trump might be laying the ground work to set him up as a patsy for obstruction of justice charges if there might be any. REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely. I'm sure that he was protecting himself. He didn't want to be thrown under the bus and he certainly knows that with Trump's track record he's willing to throw anyone under the bus.

And it's really hard to argue that they've been transparent when he spends every waking moment either tweeting, attacking the investigation and then sending Giuliani out to do it on the air. So I think it's hard to see that as transparent.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Giuliani says that that Mueller is in a panic mode but just look at the president's tweet stream.


GRANHOLM: This morning that he calls John Dean a rat, tells you that he is totally worried that McGahn is going to flip on him. And John Dean, by the way, was the hero of the Nixon, you know, administration -- at least the ability to out the Watergate problem.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's just a bizarre contradiction. On the one hand he's defending -- right, the president doesn't like to be caught looking like he's out of control of his White House. And so on the one hand he's saying no, no, no don McGahn is loyal and he's acting on my -- on my orders but at the same time John Dean was a rat and sort of laying that -- just reminding people in case your head was going there.


SANTORUM: Are we making the assumption that the president didn't know Don McGahn was talking to the -- of course he knew he was talking -- all this time he knew Don McGahn was talking. So --

BASS: Did he really have a choice? Could he really have stopped that?


SANTORUM: It's not the -- well, he could -- of course he could have stopped it.


GRANHOLM: Well, I mean, he could have fired him -- he could have fired him, but Don McGahn's client is the office of the president -- the president.

SANTORUM: No, no he --


CUPP: And, Rick, that's not the news. The news isn't that that the president didn't know. The president is admitting, he's saying, I -- this was on my orders. And according to the reporting Don McGahn is saying, yes, the president had full knowledge of this.


CUPP: The news is that the strategy was apparently shifted halfway through and so the idea of allowing unfettered access to general counsel at the beginning probably isn't looking so great now.


SANTORUM: Well, look, I think that's a legitimate -- that's a legitimate concern --


SANTORUM: -- that's a legitimate -- it's a legitimate concern of a lawyer saying, well, you know, there may be areas of privilege, there may be other areas that we should have been concerned about, and Trump -- in Trump's fashion saying, let it all out because I have nothing to be worried about, just shows I think his confidence that there's collusion is nothing to worry about.

BASS: Confidence, he panics every few minutes which is why every couple of days --


SANTORUM: -- is not panic.


SANTORUM: OK. Come on. Let's not panic.


TAPPER: Governor -- governor, take a look at the -- the president was -- has been tweeting quite a bit, this morning as you noted. He sent out a series of tweets this morning about the Russia investigation including writing this morning -- quote -- "Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we're now in a period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby. Rigged Witch Hunt."

What do you make of that President Trump comparing Mueller to Joe McCarthy?

GRANHOLM: I mean, seriously? I mean, as what was said earlier Mueller hasn't said word one since this whole thing began. Comparing him to Joseph McCarthy when Mueller is the total hero. But it is ironic that McCarthy's -- McCarthy's lawyer was Roy Cohn and every few days Trump is asking where's my Roy Cohn, who's going to defend me?

One wonders, who's the real McCarthy?

BASS: But it's also very ironic that he says that a few days after he puts out his hit list -- his enemies list.

GRANHOLM: Exactly. BASS: If anybody remembers the McCarthy period that's exactly what he did. He had a little --


BASS: -- a whole list.

GRANHOLM: Exactly.

BASS: He had all of the people he was going to take these security clearances away from.

CUPP: It's also -- it's also worse than ironic. McCarthyism was bad because it was an undemocratic project --

BASS: It is. There you go.

CUPP: -- trying to boot out differences in ideology. There's nothing undemocratic about trying to get to the bottom of whether Russia hacked our elections and had the help of people inside the White House.


SANTORUM: If -- if -- if Bob Mueller wanted to avoid claims of McCarthyism he would be investigating what's going on within DOJ and the FBI with respect to Hillary Clinton and all these other things.


CUPP: It's his job to avoid hints of McCarthyism by the president.

SANTORUM: It's -- it's his job to do a thorough investigation.


SANTORUM: And he's -- and he's ignoring a huge amount of --


GRANHOLM: How do you know?

BASS: Come on.

SANTORUM: Well, there's certainly no evidence that he's looking at this --


BASS: We don't know what he's doing.

GRANHOLM: There's no evidence because there's -- because it has been looked at and passed over.


GRANHOLM: How long does the special investigation into Benghazi have to go? I mean, really, you're going to bring that up again?

SANTORUM: A DOJ employee being a -- being a -- being a feed to the FBI of information from the Steele dossier is not something that should be looked into? There's --


GRANHOLM: They are looking into it.

SANTORUM: Well, we don't have any evidence that the Mueller investigation is looking into it.

GRANHOLM: He's looking into the Steele dossier and he's looking into the crimes that are listed in there. What's wrong with that?


GRANHOLM: That's exactly what the department should be doing looking into --

SANTORUM: I agree that the department should be doing that but Mueller doesn't seem to be doing that.

GRANHOLM: No, no, no.

SANTORUM: If you want to have some bipartisan support then show that you're willing to not just go after Trump but go after things that are not just Trump.


GRANHOLM: I know you want to move on but I have one more thing about this hit list --


TAPPER: I'm (ph) fine (ph).


GRANHOLM: OK, I saw you picking up a paper. I was just helping you along. But one more thing about --


GRANHOLM: -- the hit list thing. The thing I am really concerned about is this list of revocations, of social --

TAPPER: Security clearance.

GRANHOLM: Security clearance revocations.

TAPPER: Such a Democrat with your Social Security.

GRANHOLM: What if -- what if -- I know. It's on the brain. What if he ends -- SANTORUM: Take it away from us (ph) --

GRANHOLM: What if he ends up revoking the social -- the security clearances of the Mueller team? Is that -- will that be his way of trying to shut them down?

TAPPER: All right.

GRANHOLM: And -- and -- and -- and there is going to be a bill in Congress that would -- that would prevent that from happening. And the question will be will Republicans step up to stop that from happening?

TAPPER: We got to pay a couple of bills. Everyone stick around. We've got more to talk about.

GRANHOLM: I knew you had to move on. I knew it.


TAPPER: Of all the names on the mid-term ballots across the country is there really only one name that matters, President Trump? We'll talk about that next. Stay with us.




STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: This up or down vote on President Trump. You know, this election is going to come as a referendum on him. He permeates the entire political culture and I think those that are around him are telling him that, hey, it's OK to lose the House, you can work with the Democrats and you can run against a Democratic House in 2020 is bad advice.


TAPPER: That's Steve Bannon, the president's former chief strategist saying that the midterm elections are a referendum on Trump. But what would a less than stellar performance mean for the Democrats?

Let's discuss. First, S.E. Cupp, let's also note that you have a new CNN show that's debuting Saturday and we're all very excited about it.

CUPP: Thank you.

TAPPER: "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" starting August 25th, Saturday, 6:00 p.m.

CUPP: I didn't know that -- I didn't know you were going to do that.

TAPPER: You didn't know that? I thought that was the only reason you were here.


TAPPER: Anyway. Thank you -- thank you so much for that plug. And then let me just say --

CUPP: Thank you.

TAPPER: So I want to ask you Steve Bannon obviously he might be trying to get back in President Trump's good graces. But it seems to me like that might -- this might not be a bad strategy, convincing Republican voters, hey, the Democrats -- this is all about impeachment, this is all about Trump. It's obviously Republicans -- I mean, Democrats want it all to be about Trump, too --

CUPP: Yes.

TAPPER: -- although not necessarily about impeachment.

CUPP: Well, yes. It is -- it is a good story and it's one the president should pick up on.

Steve Bannon understands the game for midterms is turn out. When President Trump gets up and says these midterms don't matter as much as my election did, that's the opposite of the game.

When Ronna McDaniel -- Romney of the RNC gets up and says, this isn't -- this loss wasn't that big a deal, the blue wave isn't coming, that's the opposite of the strategy that Republicans should be taking.

Steve Bannon is right to install fear in the hearts and minds of Republicans who would believe that Democrats are out to get President Trump.

TAPPER: Congresswoman, if the Democrats take the House --

BASS: Yes.

TAPPER: -- are you going to -- will Democrats begin impeachment proceedings?

BASS: Well, I don't think so. But let me just tell you I think there are a lot of things on our agenda. The number one thing in our agenda is health care.

After that we have to look at jobs, it's great that unemployment is low. However, people need better jobs. They certainly need better wages.

And then all the investigations that absolutely needs to happen because we know that the Republicans have blocked every investigation. But to think that impeachment would be number one on our agenda I don't think that that's the case. We have to deal with health care.

TAPPER: Is Bannon's strategy a smart one you think?

SANTORUM: It's absolutely the right strategy. And the president should as S.E. Cupp say adopt it and to create a sense of urgency. This is a turn out election, and what you've seen in every election where Republicans have either lost or had margins much closer than they should have been -- is Democrat turnout was energized and Republican turn out is -- so the president has to get that.

On the issue, you know, Republicans are not blocking investigations. If there's anything that has been blocked --

BASS: They're just not investigations --

SANTORUM: I mean, we're talking about investigations 24 hours a day here so --


SANTORUM: -- there are lots of investigations and Republicans are actually doing things --


BASS: I said on judiciary. We are not -- we are not having the type of hearings that we should have. The investigations --


SANTORUM: -- the investigations in Washington, D.C. (ph) right.

TAPPER: What do you think about the strategy?

GRANHOLM: I think -- first of all, Trump will not adopt that strategy because he's worried that the House is going to be lost and that will then look like he is responsible for it. And so he doesn't want to embrace what he foresees is potentially --

SANTORUM: He's going to be responsible either way.

GRANHOLM: Well, but he doesn't want to do it up front, number one.

Number two, CNN did a poll this week about the top nine issues that Americans care about. Number one was health care --

CUPP: No, immigration.

GRANHOLM: No, no. Number one was health care. Eighty-one percent of people said that health care was their top issue.

Under the Trump administration 4 million people have lost their health care. Democrats want a run on that. Democrats want to run on immigration because 76 percent of Americans hate what the president is doing to separate families.

The number two issue was the economy. Yet wages have been flat or lost ground in the first two quarters of this --

(CROSSTALK) CUPP: The poll I saw had -- flipped immigration and health care as number one and two. But to your point I think this August has been lost on Democrats and Republicans.

You know it's a news cycle that's open. There's not a lot going on. And what have Republicans been having to deal with? Omarosa.

What have Democrats have to -- had to deal with? Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez.


CUPP: We are not --


CUPP: These are the stories that have taken the oxygen instead of health care, immigration, jobs, the economy. It's (ph) a (ph) shame (ph).


BASS: Let me just tell you what Democrats have been doing this August. Democrats have been in districts, Democrats have been out talking to voters, Democrats have been registering voters.


CUPP: The point is people like Omarosa and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have dominate this August news cycle that was right for other people's -- smarter people to come in and put these messages, these more important messages front and center.


TAPPER: So one other thing that Democrats have been forced to answer questions about has to do whether or not Nancy Pelosi should continue be the Democratic leader, whether a speaker or not.

Take a listen to some of the -- just a few of the 60 House Democratic candidates who have said that they will not necessarily support Pelosi.


LIZ WATSON, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: I won't vote for Nancy Pelosi because we need new leadership in Washington.

KATHLEEN WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: That's why I won't be voting for Nancy Pelosi for leader.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Will you vote for Nancy Pelosi?


(END VIDEO CLIP) BASS: Well, let me just tell you. I think that --

TAPPER: Will you vote Nancy Pelosi?

BASS: I will vote Nancy Pelosi.

Let me just tell you that with all of the races that are going on Leader Pelosi is the first one to say the most important thing you need to do is win. People are working their districts.

When we take over and I'm very optimistic that that's going to happen I am certainly hoping that it is going to be a very large number. She has postponed the elections until December but to have --

TAPPER: The leadership elections.

BASS: The leadership elections. But to have a massive change, people are going to be trying to figure out how they go about becoming a new Congress person, all of that.

There have been lots of discussions about, you know, whether or not there's going to be leadership change. I'm in my eighth year and I will tell you that those discussions have happened every single time we're in this cycle.

SANTORUM: Yes. Nancy Pelosi is going to be the next leader of the Democratic Party. But here's the interesting thing, look at Conor Lamb.

You know, Conor Lamb ran and won in my old congressional district saying he wasn't going to vote for Nancy Pelosi. Now he says I'll vote for whoever the Democrats (INAUDIBLE).

BASS (ph): Right.

SANTORUM: So, they can run all these ads saying what they're going to do, they come to Washington, the whip gets cracked, people get in line and --


TAPPER: Twenty seconds.

GRANHOLM: I am a Nancy Pelosi fan. I feel like she's a strong woman, she's been the best -- the best speaker since I've been president -- since I've been president --


GRANHOLM: But let me just -- I know I can't run for president. But let me just --

TAPPER: She's --



GRANHOLM: if it's not Nancy Pelosi then the Republicans will put up another boogeyman to be able to say oh, if it's not Nancy Pelosi it's going to be this person. So, come on.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. We appreciate it. Especially you President Granholm.

One of the most powerful Catholics in this country named more than 100 times. And a shocking report about predator priest. Where is the accountability for Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl? That's coming next.



TAPPER: Welcome back. This Sunday morning is the first mass here since this shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing allegations of widespread predatory behavior by more than 300 priests against more than a thousand children.

I'm standing here at St. Matthew's Cathedral because before Donald Wuerl, the powerful cardinal of the Washington diocese was hosting popes in this down he was bishop in Pittsburgh for 18 years and he was named throughout this report as one of the bishops who helped cover up the crimes.

The archdiocese declined our invitation to interview Cardinal Wuerl but this week in his defense the cardinal said -- quote -- "The report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse" -- unquote.

The Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro he disagrees telling me exclusively -- quote -- "Cardinal Wuerl is not telling the truth. Many of his statements in response to the grand jury report are directly contradicted by the church's own documents and records from their secret archives."

Among Wuerl's claims that do not stand up to scrutiny --


CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: I think I did everything that I possibly could.


TAPPER: Everything? Fr. Richard Zula and Fr. George Zirwas of the Pittsburgh diocese were two from a group of priests who the grand jury found -- quote -- "Manufactured child pornography," and -- quote -- "used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims."

In 1988, Zula was arrested and charged with more than 130 counts related to child sex abuse. Now, a spokesman for Wuerl notes that Zula had been removed from his ministry before Wuerl came to Pittsburgh in early 1988. And that's true.

But in 1989, Cardinal Wuerl authorized a $900,000 confidential settlements between the diocese and two of Zula's victims and that included a hush agreement. The diocese under Wuerl's leadership also hired a doctor who worked with Fr. Zula to lessen the sentence with a statement that, the grand jury found -- quote -- "blamed the child victim rather than the adult criminal." And the diocese under Wuerl helped to secure Zula's early release.


NIKKI BATTISTE, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Did you ever remove priests quietly to another?

WUERL: That wasn't -- that wasn't our -- our process.


TAPPER: Actually it was the process with Fr. George Zirwas. The diocese of Pittsburg under Wuerl who started there in 1988 -- quote -- "was aware of complaints against Zirwas for sexually abusing children as early as 1987." Additional complaints were received between 1987 and 1995 and that includes in 1988 and 1991 while Wuerl was bishop of the diocese -- quote -- "However, Zirwas continued to function as a priest during this period and was reassigned to several parishes" -- unquote.

Despite all this evidence, a spokesman for Wuerl maintains that he acted promptly in this case and removed Zirwas.


WUERL: If there were allegations, we dealt with them immediately.


TAPPER: Immediately? Really?

The predatory behavior of Fr. Ernest Paone dated back to the early 1960s and Paone was shuffled from parish to parish all over the country.

In 1991, Cardinal Wuerl approved moving Paone to the diocese of Reno- Las Vegas, even though the Pittsburg diocese knew of Paone's past. And in 1996, Wuerl refrained from sharing everything that the Pittsburg church knew about Paone's past with the diocese of San Diego.

Now, Wuerl's defenders note that as bishop in Pittsburgh, he disciplined some priests and he fought the Vatican against an order to reinstate a predator priest.


The report notes that Wuerl had previously written to the Vatican that parishioners had a right to know if their priests were pedophiles. And a spokesman for Wuerl says, he acted promptly to notify others about the claims against Paone when he learned of them.

But the grand jury disagreed writing -- quote -- "In spite of Wuerl's statements to the Vatican, the clear and present threat that Paone posed to children was hidden and kept secret from parishioners in three states. Wuerl's statements had been meaningless without any action" -- unquote.

Now those are just three stories from a report in which Cardinal Wuerl's name appears 170 times. The cardinal claims to answer to a higher authority. When will he answer on this earth for allegedly covering up crimes against children?

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.