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Mueller Seeking to Question Trump in Coming Weeks; Senate Votes to Reopen Government, Immigration Battle Looms; FBI: Nunes Won't Reveal Memo on Alleged Surveillance Abuse. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 23, 2018 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Closing in. The special counsel's Russia probe closes in on the president and his inner circle. Robert Mueller is reportedly seeking to talk to the president in the coming weeks. This as CNN learns he's already met with the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the fired FBI director, Jim Comey. Is the Russia investigation now heating up?

[17:00:35] Threatening to quit. President Trump denies that his hand- picked FBI director, Christopher Wray, threatened to quit because of pressure from the attorney general. As the FBI comes under renewed attack by the White House and its congressional allies.

Walled off. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer takes his offer to fund the president's border wall off the table as the White House declares a bipartisan immigration deal dead on arrival. What does that mean for negotiations?

And Stormy warning. A watchdog group questions the legality of a reported payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep silent about an alleged sexual relationship with President Trump. Could that payment be an illegal campaign contribution?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news, there are several stunning developments in the special counsel's Russia probe, reaching all the way into the Oval Office. Tonight the White House -- "The Washington Post," I should say, says the special counsel is poised to question the president himself after interviewing former FBI director Jim Comey and the attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

I'll speak with Congressman Jim Himes of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and specialists, they are all standing by with full coverage.

Let's begin with our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown. Pamela, what are you learning?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've learned through "The Washington Post" that Robert Mueller, special counsel, is seeking to interview President Trump in the coming weeks about two specific topics: the firing of former FBI director Jim Comey and the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. And this indicates that Mueller's probe is now really intensifying its focus on obstruction of justice.

What the president's mindset was. His intent when he fired Jim Comey and Michael Flynn. Was to it obstruct justice in the Russia probe?

As you'll recall, he fired his national security adviser, because he misled the vice president about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Kislyak. As we know, according to James Comey' memos, he allegedly asked him to drop the Flynn investigation. Those are things that Robert Mueller and his team are likely going to be looking at, if and when they are able to question the president. Those terms are being -- are still being worked out.

And Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, addressed this today during the press briefing. Here's what she said.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we've said, probably just about every day this year since we've been here, that we're going to be fully cooperative with the special counsel, and we're going to continue to do that throughout the process. But we're also not going to comment on who may or may not or could be interviewed at any point. But we're going to continue to be fully cooperative with the process.


BROWN: And what Sarah Sanders repeatedly says there is no collusion, but it's clear that Robert Mueller's focus, as it pertains to the president, isn't on collusion. It's more on obstruction of justice, especially in light of ths "Washington Post" reporting about what the questioning will be about.

Now, as I mentioned, the terms are being negotiated. I can tell you for a couple weeks now that the lawyers for the president, for the White House, have been trying to figure it out. The lawyers are leaning toward asking for written questions from Robert Mueller's team. Perhaps a hybrid. Looking at the model of President Reagan and Iran-Contra. It's also being worked out -- nothing has been agreed to, as far as we know, from sources.

But of course, this will be a significant development, to say the least. If and when Robert Mueller and his team are able to question -- question the president, how that plays out -- and also a signal, Wolf, that the Russia probe is nearing its end, at least as it pertains to obstruction of justice -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Pamela Brown at the White House for us. Thanks, Pamela, very much.

The special counsel's probe clearly is heating up. Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider.

Jessica, what are you learning?? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know

that the Russia probe, it is now zeroing in on the president's inner circle. In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he spent several hours talking with the special counsel's investigators last week. A key witness with likely important information to share about two key components of this probe. The campaign's possible ties to Russians and, of course, whether the president may have obstructed the Russia investigation.

And also new tonight, Mueller's team has also talked to fired FBI Director Jim Comey.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): CNN has learned Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team for several hours last week, the first of Trump's cabinet secretaries and third cabinet-level official to be interviewed in the probe. But the president says he isn't worried.

[17:05:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you concerned about what the attorney general told the special counsel?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I'm not at all. Because -- I'm not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you talk to him about it?

TRUMP: No, I didn't. But I'm not at all concerned.

SCHNEIDER: Sessions was involved in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Part of the special counsel's investigation into possible obstruction of justice.

Comey was also interviewed at some point last year, detailing his interactions with the president, according to a source familiar with the matter.

News of these interviews come as details emerge about Sessions' oversight of the Department of Justice. FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to quit after Sessions pressed Wray to reshuffle senior staff at the FBI, according to a source familiar with the conversation.

Sessions specifically referenced deputy director Andrew McCabe, who the president has been openly attacking on Twitter for months, as well as top attorney James Baker, though it's unclear if Sessions meant they should be reassigned or outright fired. Baker was reassigned late last year.

And tonight, CNN has learned chief of staff to both former FBI Director James Comey and current director Wray, James Rybicki, is leaving, with plans to move to the private sector. In a statement, Wray thanked Rybicki for his years of service, writing, "Jim will be dearly missed by the FBI family and by me personally."

Wray testified in July that he would resist any request from the president or otherwise he found to be unlawful or unethical.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I would try to talk him out of it. And if that failed, I would resign.

SCHNEIDER: And the FBI is under Republican fire once again over private communications between Agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page. New texts revealed today appear to show Strzok, a senior counterintelligence official, considering whether to join Mueller's team, in an apparent reference to the Clinton e-mail investigation, known within the FBI as the mid-year exam, Strzok texts, "I personally have a sense of unfinished business. I unleashed it with MYE. Now I need to fix it and finish it."

And as the inspector general's investigation reviews approximately 50,000 texts between the pair, it is also probing why more than five months of text messages are missing. President Trump blasting the agency for the missing texts, tweeting, "In one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI now says it is missing five months' worth of lovers Strzok, Page texts, perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow!"

In a statement, Sessions vowed to do everything possible to recover those messages, saying, "We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced."

Though the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee tells CNN he believes the missing texts were merely the result of a technical glitch.

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The fact that they have provided the rest of them certainly doesn't show an intent to try to withhold anything. We've just got to wait until we find out.


SCHNEIDER: Now, the Department of Justice has already handed over hundreds of pages of these text messages. And while some Republicans are seizing on those five months of missing texts as more evidence of wrongdoing, top Democrats on several House committees continue to say that the focus on those texts are just an effort to undermine the special counsel's investigation which, despite that, Wolf, it seems to be going full steam ahead with the interviews of Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, James Comey last year and now "The Washington Post" reporting they hope to interview President Trump soon, as well.

BLITZER: Yes, within the next few weeks. Indeed, that will be very, very significant. Thanks very much, Jessica Schneider, for that report.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Good to be with you, Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Let's begin with this new report from "The

Washington Post." According to "The Post," the special counsel wants to interview President Trump during the coming weeks and plans to focus in his inquiry on the president's decision to push out the FBI director, James Comey, and his national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

What does that tell you about Mueller's probe right now?

HIMES: Well, Wolf, and I should start by saying that there is little or no communication between the FBI's probe, Mueller's probe and the congressional investigation of which I am a part on the House side.

But that said, I'll make the observation that, you know, if you think of traditional investigations, they tend to start low, and they climb. As, you know, people who get into trouble at the lower levels maybe assist in the investigation against people who are at the higher levels. And of course, we've got a report that Attorney General Sessions spent time with Robert Mueller. That obviously is as big a fish as they have been talking to for a very long time.

And as we've known for a couple weeks -- well, not known but certainly has been reported for the last couple of weeks -- there's lots of thinking going on about exactly when and how to interview the president.

It does not surprise me, because of course, there are questions. If nothing else, the fact that Jim Comey, the fired FBI director, said that Trump asked him to go light on Michael Flynn, you know, demanded loyalty. You know, there are real questions about the president's behavior, and of course, the president has denied what Jim Comey said.

[17:10:06] Now, the American people will form their own judgment, and maybe the FBI can get to the bottom of who's lying in that case.

BLITZER: Well, does it look like these late-breaking developments suggest to you that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is honing in on obstruction of justice?

HIMES: Well, I wouldn't necessarily use the word "honing in" or phrase "honing in." But look, if Comey has been interviewed, if Sessions has been interviewed, and if the president are being interviewed, that could all have to do with the Russia investigation and who made what contact with Russia.

Of course, Michael Flynn lied about the contact he had with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. So it's a little hard to parse exactly how much of this is Russia-related, how much of this is obstruction-related. But it certainly could be.

Again, when you've got the well-respected former FBI director, Jim Comey -- people who know him will tell you that this is not a guy who ever lies -- saying one thing, and the president of the United States, who lies on a fairly regular basis, saying another, it would be interesting to find out exactly who's telling the truth about what was said to Jim Comey and why he was actually fired. BLITZER: So do you think Robert Mueller should ask the president to

appear under oath in front of a grand jury?

HIMES: Well, I think whether it's in front of a grand jury or in front of investigators, I do think the president needs to sit and answer truthfully questions that this investigation has.

You know, in the congressional investigation, we always get all whipped up about whether somebody's under oath or not. Look, you cannot lie to the federal government, under oath or not. You can't lie if you're in front of a grand jury. You can't lie if you're in front of Robert Mueller's people.

I do think, given all the questions and the discrepancy between what the president says and what lots of other people say, I do think that the president has to answer questions. This, of course, is hardly unprecedented. Ronald Reagan answered questions. Bill Clinton famously answered questions. So I have some confidence this will happen.

BLITZER: CNN has learned that the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, met with the special counsel, Robert Mueller's team for several hours last week. What light could he shed on this entire investigation?

HIMES: Well, he would know the kind of pressure that is being placed and that has been placed on people like Rod Rosenstein, on people like Jim Comey. He was attorney general when many of these conversations that are very, very questionable between President Trump and Jim Comey occurred when it is possible -- and again, these are allegations -- that the president was pressuring the deputy attorney general, pressuring Jeff Sessions.

Look, we've seen the pressure on Jeff Sessions. I mean, I've never seen, I don't think any of us have ever seen a president openly humiliate his attorney general on Twitter. If he's openly humiliating his attorney general on Twitter and calling him weak, boy, I sure would like to know what he's saying behind closed doors.

So yes. I think that conversation with Attorney General Sessions, where Sessions is forced to be honest, and not -- you know, not to maybe put spin on things, could be very, very instructive about the kinds of pressure, which are inappropriate from moment one but could ultimately rise to the standard of obstruction, that this White House, this president has put on the Department of Justice and the FBI.

And Wolf, if I might just add, you know, I'll tell you what I do see. I see the House Intelligence ongoing effort, and in particular, Chairman Nunes' effort to damage the credibility of the FBI. Most recently with this memo, with this constant drum beat of idea -- of allegations that the FBI has not been straight up in its dealings. So you know, all this is happening, of course, not just the White House but the House Intelligence Committee has been doing everything that they can to discredit the FBI and the Department of Justice.

BLITZER: The president says he's not worried about Sessions talking with Mueller. Do you think he should be worried? HIMES: I don't know if he is worried or not. The one thing I know,

having watched him for a year, is that if he were worried, he would not admit to that. I don't think we'll ever see this president apologize for anything. I don't think we will ever get this president to acknowledge any weakness or any errors, and I don't think he will ever acknowledge worrying about anything. So I don't -- I don't put a lot of stock in -- in what he says.

I do suspect that he is spending a fair amount of time with his lawyers, discussing exactly the terms of his -- of his participation in this investigation.

BLITZER: CNN has also confirmed that the FBI director, Christopher Wray, the new FBI director threatened to resign under pressure from Sessions to shake up senior staff over at the FBI.

During his confirmation hearing last summer, Wray told senators he would resist pressure to do anything unethical or illegal and would resign, in fact, in protest if necessary. You heard the clip earlier. Do you have confidence in the FBI director, Christopher Wray?

HIMES: Well, again, I don't know exactly what Christopher Wray said. But again, if this is a "he said. she said" between the president who did say that he never threatened to resign and the possibility that Wray threatened to resign, I'll tell you whose side I'm going to take on that one.

[17:15:05] But if you step back away from that particular charge, Wolf, think about the position that the director Wray is in right now. He runs an organization of probably demoralized people. They have been attacked by their own president. They've been attacked by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. They've been likened to, you know, the Gestapo and the Russian intelligence services.

These are people who get out of bed in the morning and know that their job may kill them that day, that they may not come home, keeping Americans safe. And they have the president of the United States besmirching them, throwing mud on them, suggesting that they're politically motivated simply because they have political opinions. I can't imagine the kind of tension, the kind of pain that Wray must feel as he tries to manage this organization of very, very good and courageous people, while his boss, the attorney general, and his boss's boss, the president of the United States, wake up every morning with the intention of throwing dirt and delegitimizing this group of amazing people.

BLITZER: As you mentioned just a moment ago, some Republicans are now -- they're taking direct aim at the FBI after the release of newly- revealed text messages between two employees who were removed from the Mueller probe. Republicans say those texts and others are proof of bias against President Trump. How do you see it?

HIMES: I see this as the latest installment of Benghazi, where you know, some little thread of a fact is used to create some massive scandal. How many people were punished or went to jail for anything related to Benghazi? What did the Benghazi hearing actually turn up, in terms of actually, you know, bad behavior?

Uranium One, you know, the other famous hobby horse of the right wing and FOX News. Uranium One, when Uranium One is studied, as it will be, it will show that there was no misbehavior by Hillary Clinton.

The e-mails, I mean, again, they seized on one thing.

In this case, they seized on the fact that, lo and behold, shockingly, well-educated, thoughtful members of the FBI have political opinions, and they share them with each other. You know, wow! That is hardly news.

The question is, and what they will never show, is whether political opinions that are held by FBI agents actually, in any way, shape or form, affected the work that they did.

Now, think about what Mueller did. When it turned out that the political opinions of these two particular agents were exposed in texts -- and, again, they're humans. They have opinions. What did Mueller do? He immediately took them off the investigation, which is, you know, probably exactly the right thing to do.

But Wolf, this is all part -- and the House, the famous House memo is just the latest and most dangerous installment of trying to save this president's bacon by damaging and throwing mud on a storied institution. In this case, the FBI and the Department of Justice.

BLITZER: The inspector general over at the Justice Department is probing now why five months of text messages between those two individuals apparently have gone missing. Do you have confidence that the FBI is being fully transparent?

HIMES: I don't know. And I hope that -- I have no way of knowing. I don't know what the policies are for text retention. Again, we've seen a lot of these text messages. The FBI has produced a lot of text messages that would indicate that they're not, you know, trying to hide anything here.

But you know, it's sort of hard to imagine. You know, these people had opinions. They expressed these opinions to each other. You know, there's no scandal there.

Of course the right wing and Republicans will do their best to create the sense of scandal, as they always do, around Hillary's e-mails, around Benghazi, around Uranium One. But when these allegations are exposed to the light of day, as they were in Benghazi, as they will be in Uranium One, as they will be in the -- when we finally get a chance to unpack and explain what was in this outrageous memo that came out of the House Intelligence Committee, the light of day will show that this is evidence-less conspiracy done, you know, to fuel you know, mouth breathers like Sean Hannity and to excite the Republican activist base.

BLITZER: Congressman Jim Himes, hanks as usual for joining us.

HIMES: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: Let's bring in our specialists for some analysis. Phil

Mudd, what does it tell you about the Mueller investigation right now? Apparently, it's focusing in on James Comey. He was fired. Michael Flynn, former national security advisor for President Trump, he was fired. What does it tell you about the direction, where it's going right now of the Mueller probe?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: We've got to be at end game. You don't go in talking with someone at the level of attorney general and, potentially, a president of the United States unless you've done your homework beforehand. Looking at phone and e-mail information from other subjects, financial information, and also, talking to dozens, maybe even more than dozens of people.

So one, it gives me a time frame end game. Two, it gives me a sense of the breadth of the conversations you're going to have with White House officials, potentially, but also with the attorney general.

[17:20:04] James Comey, that's about obstruction of justice. You're going to talk to Comey about what exactly happened. Not only what did you write down after those. We know who wrote memos after that. But who did you speak with afterwards? Because then you're going to go speak with them and say what did Comey tell you?

The other conversations, for example, with General Flynn are going to be about what happened in terms of your conversations with the Russians about sanctions? So we've got an end game in terms of timing, and we've got the breadth of the investigation in terms of both obstruction of justice and any potential cooperation with the Russians.

BLITZER: So does it mean -- and I know you're watching this very closely, Laura, yourself -- you're our legal analyst -- that questions involving collusion and money laundering may be secondary right now? The focus is largely on obstruction of justice?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. I think you can't rule anything out. And think about obstruction of justice as kind of like when you get a speeding ticket when you're driving away from the scene of a crime. That's not the end game for most prosecutors. If you were to do so, it would really satisfy many a defendant to say, "OK. Here's a speeding ticket. I'll ignore what happened that got you to this point." That's not the end game here.

But the most important thing to think about in these cases is it's like a jigsaw puzzle. How many pieces do you need to have in place before you get a clear picture of what you're seeing? We heard to interview the big fish, like Donald Trump and other people like Comey and Sessions. It seems to me they have a very clear picture of where they're going. They're trying to fill in the gaps here. And you don't do it unless you have this very, very clear picture.

It might include obstruction of justice. It may include money laundering, but I wouldn't rule anything out at this point.

BLITZER: Listen to what the president said, what, about two weeks or so ago, when he was asked about all of this. Listen to this, Rebecca.


TRUMP: We'll see what happens. I mean, certainly, I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion, and nobody has found any collusion at any level at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview.


BLITZER: So he's pretty confident. No collusion. He keeps saying that all the time, no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. But the focus might be on obstruction of justice, right?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. That's absolutely true, Wolf. And the president has also said that he is not guilty of anything, broadly. Not just focusing on collusion.

But this is clearly a case that has progressed. The president is going to have some very tough questions to answer, if he does sit down for an interview, as opposed to some other ways he could try to answer Mueller's questions, potentially a written question, that sort of thing.

But the president is basically saying in public that he's not guilty of anything based on what Comey told him when he was in the transition, when he was taking the presidency for the first time. It might not be relevant anymore, when we're looking at obstruction of justice.

BLITZER: Here's a potential problem. Our legal analysts have suggested this, Jackie, that the president might have Michael Flynn. He's already pled guilty. He's cooperating with the prosecution, with the special counsel, in hopes of getting a reduced sentence and not have them go after his son, for example. He may, potentially, have some documentation that could be very damaging to the president.

How worried should the president be about Michael Flynn's cooperation?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I don't think the specter of Michael Flynn is going to go away. He's someone that was there at the very beginning of the campaign, through the transition, into the actual White House. So he has this breadth of time that a lot of people, particularly the Trump administration, does not have. And he was involved in all these issues.

So they should be nervous when it comes to Michael Flynn, based on what we know right now.

COATES: And remember, Michael Flynn is still on the hook. He has every intention to keep cooperating. Because he's got a lot of things over his head. Just because he pled guilty to one count of lying to the FBI does not mean that he's not vulnerable to many other charges. And if fails to continue on -- keep up his bargain of the cooperation agreement, he still is vulnerable to all of those claims, as well.

BLITZER: Because he hasn't been sentenced yet, so there's a lot of vulnerability that he has.

MUDD: There is. But if you're looking at vulnerability, I give the president greater vulnerability than Flynn.

The president goes into these situations thinking he can talk his way out of it. If he goes into a conversation after many months, a year plus, maybe going into two years of an investigation, where Special Counsel Mueller has interviews, financial information, e-mails, et cetera, and thinks that he can talk better than Michael Flynn can talk, when I guarantee you, Mueller is asking him questions, that is asking the president questions where he already knows the answer.

COATES: Right.

MUDD: "Mr. President, did you ever have a conversation about whether we should talk to the Russians about easing sanctions on them?"

"No, I never talked to anybody."

Meanwhile, not only has Special Counsel Mueller spoken to Flynn, he's got e-mail information. He's got interviews with other witnesses. I think the president is highly vulnerable here. Because I'm going to guess he's going to walk in there thinking this is a campaign event and that he can talk his way out of it. He can't.

BLITZER: Yes. The "Washington Post" just reporting a little while ago that he wants, that Mueller wants to question the president in the coming weeks about Mueller [SIC] and Flynn.

There are various options he has. Q&A, does he do it in writing? Does he go to the White House for questioning? Is there a grand jury via video link that he testifies under oath, as Bill Clinton did...

MUDD: Yes.

[17:25:07] BLITZER: ... during the Whitewater investigation? What do you think Mueller should do? What kind of format should this questioning be?

MUDD: Two things. You cannot do this in writing. That's a black and white, Wolf. I'm a gray guy. You cannot do this in writing. Because you offer Trump's lawyers to provide the answers and not Trump and because you don't provide the answer -- the opportunity for follow-up.

As soon as you have information, for example, that says the president talked to his staff about sanctions relief for the Russians, if the president writes back, "No, I didn't do that," how do you follow up?

And the second thing is I'd like to get out of the grand jury and have a personal conversation. I want to give the president rope to make a mistake if I were Mueller. If you make a mistake, if you lie during that conversation, it's still a federal legal violation. You don't have to be in front of a grand jury to be charged with lying.

BLITZER: Which format do you think Mueller wants to use? COATES: I think Mueller wants to use an in-person interview. And the reason for that is what Phil was talking about. Because what you cannot get from black and white paper and a highly vetted response through his lawyers, is whether or not he had the mens rea and nefarious intent to do the crimes he's being alleged to have committed in this case. You have to know whether or not he had the intention to do things in a nefarious way. You can't get that from a vetted statement. You have to get that from the old credibility gut check that comes about wondering if you're following the right leads and kind of checking off the box of what you already know.

You've got to have that in person. It's the same reason we allow trials when you have the defendant on the stand answering questions via text message or Twitter in front of a jury. They want to see you. They want to understand. They want to believe or disbelieve.

BLITZER: You know, and it's not like doing an interview with "The Wall Street Journal" or "The New York Times". The president of the United States, his lawyers, I'm sure, are going to warn him, you can't exaggerate; you can't bluff. You've got to tell truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

BERG: And what's interesting, Wolf, is that the president, although we know him pulicly as someone who is given to hyperbole, exaggeration, outright lies, he does have experience sitting for depositions. He's someone who's been involved in a lot of lawsuits...

KUCINICH: It hasn't gone well.

BERG: It has not gone well. But oftentimes, what has happened, in one case, "The Washington Post" wrote about one deposition where he was caught in 30 different lies. That is to say, they brought him statements he had made publicly and got him to admit that he had not been truthful in what he said publicly. So that could be a sort of situation we see in an interview with Mueller.

BLITZER: But Jackie, at times, the president can be very candid, to his own detriment. And I'm referring, for example, to that interview he did with Lester Holt of NBC News, when he said flatly that he fired Comey because he didn't like what Comey was doing in the Russia investigation.

KUCINICH: But to Phil's point, candor might exactly be what he needs in this situation. Because if he goes there and tries to talk his way out of it, and/or lies, he's going to find himself in a mess of problems that's much worse than, you know, lying about a real-estate deal.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's a lot more we're watching.

Also, the White House declares a bipartisan immigration agreement dead on arrival as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer withdraws his offer to fund the president's border wall in Mexico.

And a watchdog says the reported payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged sexual relationship with President Trump may amount to an illegal campaign contribution.