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Did Trump Give Away Too Much to Kim Jong-un?; Interview With Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey; AT&T-Time Warner Merge Approved; Mueller Asks Judges to Protect Info Given to Lawyers for Russian Company Charged with Election Meddling; Ivanka's Vast Wealth Revealed in New Documents. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 12, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Robert Mueller asks a judge to lock down documents he had to give to a Russian company charged with election meddling. Could the information be used to sow more discord here in the United States?
And clearing the way. A federal judge approves the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, CNN's parent company, ruling that the deal doesn't violate antitrust law. Will the Trump administration appeal?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: President Trump tonight is heading home from his Singapore summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and heralding their meeting as a success. But there are questions about the outcome, including what was really accomplished, what happens next and whether Mr. Trump made too many concessions while getting too little in return.
We will talk about it with Senator Ed Markey of the Foreign Relations Committee. And our specialists and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She's joining us live from Singapore.
Kaitlan, the president just tweeted -- and I'm quoting him now -- "Great progress was made on the denuclearization of North Korea."
What's the latest?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he did tweet. And he listed off a string of things he feels that he has received in return from North Korea.
But one of the things he didn't mention was the one thing that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said they came to Singapore to get, and that is complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. That is language we didn't see from the president and Kim Jong-un during their summit.
And it comes amid questions about whether or not the president made too many concessions in exchange for nothing but a vague promise.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump heading back to Washington tonight amid questions about whether he gave up more than he got in return for a historic summit in Singapore.
Trump dispatching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to iron out the details of his agreement with key U.S. allies.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. It's fantastic.
COLLINS: Both Trump and Kim Jong-un pledging to pursue denuclearization, signing a pact that was short on details, with no timetable, no means for verification and no language about ICBMs, leaving the success of the summit hanging in the balance.
TRUMP: I'm here one day. We're together for many hours intensively, but the process is now going to take place. And I would be surprised, Mike, if they haven't even started already. They have started. They blew up their sites.
They blew up their testing site. So -- but I will say, he knew prior to coming -- this wasn't, like, a surprise. It wasn't like we have never discussed it. We discussed it.
COLLINS: The president revealing he made a massive concession to Kim Jong-un, putting an end to joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, a longstanding North Korea demand.
TRUMP: We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money.
COLLINS: Criticizing the lawful exercises that the U.S. has conducted for decades.
TRUMP: We will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it is very provocative.
COLLINS: The announcement catching South Korean and U.S. military officials by surprise. Trump even floating the idea of withdrawing U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula.
The president touting the summit as a diplomatic success, but, on paper, Kim making no promises to abandon his nuclear arsenal any time soon. Right now, President Trump taking his word for it.
TRUMP: I do. I do. I think he wants to get it done. I really feel that very strongly.
Excellent relationship. COLLINS: The mood in Singapore was downright chummy, including joint appearances, handshakes and pats on the back, leaving the brutal dictator with lots to brag about. Trump showering Kim with praise.
TRUMP: He is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough.
I also will be inviting Chairman Kim, at the appropriate time, to the White House.
COLLINS: While scolding a key U.S. ally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for publicly criticizing new American tariffs on Canadian imports and the administration's combative tone during the G7 summit.
TRUMP: He learned that's going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He learned. You can't do that. You can't do that.
COLLINS: Asked what happens if he is wrong about Kim, Trump telling reporters:
TRUMP: I may be stand before you in six months and saying, hey, I was wrong. I don't know that I will ever admit that, but I will find -- I will find some kind of an excuse.
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, the president is convinced that his deal-making and his personality has convinced this rogue regime to give up its nuclear arsenal.
That statement he signed is going to face its first test when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hits the road to sell the statement to key U.S. allies, starting with South Korea in a flight here in a couple hours.
BLITZER: See how that goes. Kaitlan Collins in Singapore for us, thank you.
Let's get some more on all of this.
CNN's Will Ripley is joining us. He has been to North Korea 18 times. He is in Singapore right now, along with CNN's chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Will, I understand there's some new reaction finally coming out of North Korea to the summit. What are you hearing?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, putting out a couple of reports just within the last hour, Wolf. And, as expected, the reports downplay the issue of denuclearization. The headline inside this morning is peace and a warming of relations between Kim Jong-un and President Trump.
Obviously, there are no specifics about a timeline, about verification. Those are the things that aren't even in the actual statement put out, which North Korea did publish in its entirety. That was really the only time that you get a significant description about denuclearization.
Instead, the North Koreans are celebrating one aspect of the discussions, which is President Trump's pledge to end the joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. North Korea also reporting that President Trump accepted Kim Jong-un's invitation to Pyongyang, just as Kim Jong-un accepted President Trump's invitation in principle to visit the White House at an appropriate time.
So, obviously, from the North Korean point of view, denuclearization kind of a side note to the bigger issue for the North Koreans, which is a warming of relations and of course what they hope will be the improvement of their economic conditions inside the country as a result of these talks here in Singapore.
BLITZER: Very interesting, that first reaction.
So, Jim, was this a win for the United States?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, if you look at the simple arithmetic of what the two sides came to the table with before this meeting and what they left with, there's a clear imbalance.
The U.S. made, the president made a very specific promise to end those joint military exercises. And he described them in a way that the U.S. has never described them, as provocative. In fact, the U.S. presidents have consistently, U.S. military commanders have called them not provocative, but about the security of South Korea, the security of the region.
So, that's one. The president specifically mentioned the prospect of removing U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula, again, what would be quite a concession not only to North Korea, but also to China, because they look at those forces there as a show of force to them.
From the North Korean side, no specific pledges really for anything. There were no specifics about a timeline for denuclearization, a definition of denuclearization, what the verification would be. And there wasn't, at least to our knowledge, any accounting of North Korea's nuclear weapons.
Typically, in a nuclear negotiation, you would begin with saying what you have. Right? And then, from there, you can decide how you are going to give those weapons up. There was nothing of that.
Now, the president will claim and can reasonably claim that North Korea made concessions prior to this summit, including suspending those nuclear and missile tests. Those can be reversed. But that certainly is a concession.
And then, finally, just big picture for all of us, Wolf, a few months ago, there was a genuine prospect of military conflict on the peninsula. That prospect has receded, at least for now. And that's progress really for all sides involved.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point, indeed.
Will, as someone who has been to North Korea, I think 18 times, as we have noted, you have spent a lot of time over there. What else do you see the North Koreans getting out of this agreement?
RIPLEY: Well, look, China and Russia are already talking about easing economic sanctions. So, it seems as if the maximum pressure campaign has already reached its peak.
So, in the medium- to long-term, they are going to see their economic conditions continue to improve. North Korea has managed economic growth, despite some of the most crippling sanctions ever imposed against that country.
Now it seems as if that -- they may have turned a corner there, particularly because President Trump indicated that he had such a positive meeting with Kim Jong-un, that any steps the North Koreans take may be rewarded, even though we don't know how long that is going to take or what's going to happen.
But this also allows the North Koreans to continue to keep their leverage, to keep the nuclear program that has arguably gotten them to this point without any requirement for when they are going to have to give it up or how that's going to work.
And so, inside North Korea, you can only imagine that Kim Jong-un and his closest circle of advisers are extremely happy right now as they return to their country with the prestige of a meeting with the president of the United States, but none of the responsibility to have to get rid of their nukes in a matter of months, as the United States has been indicating was a requirement leading up to this summit.
Obviously, no more.
BLITZER: Because, Jim, in that joint statement that they signed, it says this: "Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom declaration, the DPRK, North Korea, commits to work with -- toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
But there's a lack of specificity in that agreement. What do you make of that?
SCIUTTO: Complete lack of specificity.
And, as you note there, look at the language, reaffirming. So, North Korea came to this meeting, reaffirmed a commitment they had already made. So, no progress there rhetorically. But, also, the language itself contains a qualifier, to work towards, right, to work towards denuclearization.
It's not a hard commitment. It's described as denuclearization of the whole peninsula, which would then presume some sort of concession from the U.S. side on the nuclear umbrella that it holds rhetorically over South Korea as part of its guarantee of safety.
Again, if you go back to just the last couple of weeks, what you have heard from Secretary Pompeo, from President Trump, they set the bar as complete, irreversible, verifiable denuclearization. You don't have that from this statement yet.
You may work through that over the coming months and years. But you certainly don't have that from this statement.
BLITZER: Good point.
Jim Sciutto and Will Ripley, guys, thank you very much.
Let's get some more on all of this.
Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts is joining us. He is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
And, Senator, you say -- and I'm quoting you now -- "The loopholes in the agreement are big enough to fly nuclear missiles through" -- close quote.
But the Trump administration isn't presenting the results of this summit as the end deal. Do you believe, though it's a good first step in negotiations?
SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, you know, we encourage diplomacy. But then we have to look at what the diplomacy actually produced.
And so what clearly happened here is that Donald Trump fell for the Kim family playbook going back two generations, to his grandfather and then his father, in their negotiations with the United States. Each time, they do the same thing. They try to front-end all of the rewards for North Korea and delay on the concessions which are given to the United States and the rest of the world.
And then they cloud the entire process in ambiguity. So, that's what we have right now. They get the benefit of the curtailment of the joint military exercises between the South Koreans and the United States, with the president actually saying, these war games are provocative and expensive.
Well, we engaged in those activities for a reason, to serve as a deterrent to a reckless North Korean regime. That's why we do it. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, they are provocative. But it's because Kim was provocative, detonating nuclear weapons, shooting off ballistic missiles. That's why we're there. Kim has now pocketed that benefit.
And, secondarily, the Chinese are now saying that it's time to relieve the North Koreans of the sanctions, the economic sanctions that have driven North Korea to the table.
We have no definition of what denuclearization means. We have no access to their nuclear weapons or their ballistic missiles. We have no inventory, which the North Koreans are providing, of their nuclear weapons arsenal or where they are or where their production facilities are.
MARKEY: We have none of that. And so this is not a good deal. It's weak.
BLITZER: But, Senator, you remember where these two countries were not that long ago. When President Obama left office, he told the incoming president, this is the major threat facing the United States right now, a nuclear war with North Korea.
So, do you think this first meeting at least reduces the chances of that kind of war, where hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people could die?
MARKEY: Well, it's only going to reduce the chances if there is, in fact, a reduction and removal on a verifiable basis of the nuclear weapons program in North Korea.
BLITZER: But isn't it better to be talking right now than to be hurling insults? And they did stop all their nuclear tests back in November, their intercontinental ballistic missile tests back in November. They have released three American detainees.
Aren't those steps forward?
MARKEY: They are, but they are not the big steps we're looking for.
Kim already has thermonuclear weapons. He already has a massive ballistic missile program in place. He very recently was shooting ballistic missiles over Japan. So, this is something that still is unresolved by this agreement. It's right now all one-sided, all flowing towards North Korea, all flowing towards Kim.
We don't have any definition now of what Kim is going to do, what the North Koreans are going to do. And the dangerous thing here is that China takes this as an excuse to relax the economic sanctions, which drove North Korea to the table.
So, we should actually insist that all of those economic sanctions stay on the books, that China not be allowed to relax them, so that we have maximum pressure for as long as it takes to, in fact, have a program which removes these nuclear weapons and their ballistic missiles. We don't have any of that right now.
BLITZER: One final question before I let you go, Senator. In the agreement, the North Koreans do promise to help work with the United States to recover all POW/MIA remains from the Korean War, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
I assume that's something you welcome. The families, I'm sure, will welcome that as well.
MARKEY: That is a wonderful thing for each and every one of those families. They deserve the final knowledge of what happened to their loved ones. That is absolutely a wonderful result.
But the central purpose of this negotiation is the nuclear weapons program, the ballistic missile program of North Korea. And, right now, it is shrouded in ambiguity, what the responsibilities of Kim and North Korea will be, because that's the existential threat to South Korea, to Japan, to Guam, and potentially to the United States.
And that issue has not been resolved.
BLITZER: Let's see where these negotiations head.
Thanks so much, Senator, for joining us.
MARKEY: You are welcome.
BLITZER: We will have much more on the Trump-Kim summit just ahead, including the confusion President Trump has sparked about joint military exercises with South Korea. Is he canceling those U.S. war games or not?
Plus, there's breaking news, a new filing by the special counsel, Robert Mueller -- why he wants a judge to lock down some very sensitive documents.
BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, we are getting North Korea's first official response in their state media to the summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump.
The country's state-run media is touting an end to war games involving the United States and South Korea, joint military exercises. And they are downplaying talk of denuclearization. Let's
get more from our specialists and our analysts.
We have seen these reports, John Kirby. It's a historic breakthrough they say. And the North Korean leader is looking forward to coming to the United States. The president will go to Pyongyang. They are making it sound like this was a great achievement for North Korea.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: In their minds, it is.
And it's all about legitimacy, Wolf. You will notice they don't talk much about the denuclearization process, because, again, Kim has made them convinced that their nuclear program is the key to their lifeblood and their survival.
This is all about elevating them on the world stage. And this is one of the reasons why previous presidents were reluctant to have direct meetings with North Korean leaders, because you didn't want to elevate them, that -- give them that propaganda win.
BLITZER: The -- Dana, among the things that the North Korean media is saying: "Thanks to the fixed decision and the will of the top leaders of the two countries to put an end to the extreme hostile relations between North Korea and the United States, which lingered for the longest period on the Earth on terms of acute confrontation and to open up a new future for the sake of the interests of the peoples of the two countries and global peace and security, this first DPRK-U.S. summit is held."
That's a significant statement. They are saying, this was great.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a significant statement. But, as you heard from the admiral, saying that we're -- this is the beginning of the end of hostilities is as top-line as you can get.
There's no way that you are going to hear something along the lines of -- of any really comment about the nuclear program, because the people of North Korea have been so brainwashed by him, by his father, by his grandfather, since North Korea -- since they have taken over North Korea that they believe that it's their end-all/be-all.
They believe that that's the reason why they are being starved. It's really an unbelievable, scary situation there. And so when and if the North Korean leadership gets to the point where they are going to be ready to tell that to their people, that's going to be a significant move.
BLITZER: The whole notion of this dialogue beginning right now, the president and his aides, they say, you know what? It's good to talk, let's see what happens, let's see what happens in the negotiations that follow.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, of course. It's better to talk than to be at war. And the meetings seem to have come off.
The problem is, as Admiral Kirby and Dana have both said, nothing really of substance was accomplished, other than a photo-op, a start of a discussion.
You read that statement, Wolf. It was a couple hundred words that basically was boiled down to, good meeting, team. Yay. OK?
SWERDLICK: So, now we're at a point where, will either side make any major concessions that's fundamentally going to shift the interests or the positions of the two countries?
Like President Trump says with everything, we will see. BLITZER: This is what the president said earlier in the day, Rebecca,
on the issue of trust with the North Korean leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I do trust him, yes.
Now, will I come back to you in a year and you will be interviewing me and I will say, gee, I made a mistake? That's always possible.
You know, we're dealing at a very high level. A lot of things can change. A lot of things are possible.
He trusts me, I believe. I really do. He said openly -- and he said it to a couple of reporters that were with him that he knows that no other president ever could have done this. No other president -- he knows the presidents. He knows who we had in front of me. He said, no other president could have done this. I think he trusts me. And I trust him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Rebecca, what do you make of that?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, trust is great. But verifying that trust is also important, especially with someone like Kim Jong-un, with North Korea.
And I think North Korea is going to need to show the United States over the next weeks, months and perhaps years that they are serious about moving forward with negotiations and with their actions.
And the president seems to think the meeting was a success because it took place. But as the others on this panel have noted, he doesn't yet have very much to show for it, except for he believes this great relationship with Kim Jong-un, which is only a great relationship until suddenly they want to have nuclear weapons and we want to stop them.
BASH: It was such a gamble to have this meeting in the first place. It's an even bigger gamble now for the president to go out so far over his skis and say the most glowing things about this guy, by the way, who does starve his people and kills member of his family in very brutal ways to keep and retain his power, to say these things.
And if he doesn't get anything from it, if this doesn't see fruition, it's really -- it's really horrible for the years and decades to come when it comes to American diplomacy and what other people who are even close to the kind of dictator that Kim is will expect from the U.S.
Having said that, it's a gamble that might pay off. You just never know, because he is right, no president has tried to go this far and to kill the North Korean dictator with kindness and to talk about things as if this could be actually doable. And it might pan out. BLITZER: It's interesting, because the U.S. allies, South Korea,
Japan, in the region, they are watching. And the president announced he was suspended U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises.
And then he went a step further and he says, you know what? They are very expensive. American taxpayers going to save a lot of money.
KIRBY: Yes, truly extraordinary.
And, look, all our allies are, I think, positively reviewing what happened yesterday. You have seen statements come in, support all over the world. And that includes Japan and South Korea. But they are both -- those allies are very worried about what he had to say about a military presence and military exercises, because that's the lifeblood of security in the treaty alliances that we have.
BLITZER: He said they were provocative.
KIRBY: Yes. That's right. And he used phrases that the North Koreans use, provocative, called them war games, which of course we don't call them that. We call them exercises.
But this is a fundamental aspect of our ability to preserve security and stability in the region. Five of our seven treaty alliances are in the Pacific. And these two are two of the most important.
BASH: And if I just may add, the vice president had to clarify, clean up that kind of language, the language that the president used, when he went to the Hill today to talk to his fellow Republicans in the United States Senate who are really worried about the notion of stopping these joint exercises, because it's about security and a military insurance policy.
BLITZER: There's confusion right now on that point.
Hold your thought, guys. There's more breaking news we're following.
The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is expressing concern about documents now in the hands of a Russian company accused of election meddling here in the United States.
Plus, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein's, battle with House Republicans is escalating tonight. He is now planning to call on the House, the House of Representatives, to investigate its own staff.
BLITZER: Breaking news, late this afternoon, a federal judge ruled in favor of AT&T's merger with Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. The Justice Department had tried to block the $85 billion deal. After a six-week trial, the federal judge decided the merger can, indeed, move forward. [18:33:55] Our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, was in the
courtroom when the decision was read. She's joining us live. Jessica, walk us through this ruling.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, this judge really ripped apart the government's case as he read from his nearly 200-page opinion in what really amounted to almost 30 minutes of reading from the bench here.
The judge in this case went point by point by point, knocking down all three of the government's main arguments and saying at the end of this that this deal would be approved by this judge and that the government had failed to meet its burden that this merger would substantially lessen competition. So a big win for AT&T. A big blow for the government here.
And in addition to ruling that this merger could go forward, the judge in this case also issued a stern warning to the government, saying that it would be manifestly unjust if the government asked this judge to stay his ruling, to put his ruling on hold and also cautioned the government against going forward with any additional appeal, saying that it was unlikely that they would succeed on this appeal.
[18:35:03] So again, a big blow to the government here after a six- week case where they tried to prove that this merger between AT&T and Time Warner would substantially lessen competition. The judge found against them today.
But of course, just minutes after this ruling, the Department of Justice seemed to be holding firm. They issued a statement saying that they were disappointed by this ruling and saying that they would look at their options moving forward. So leaving the door open there to a potential appeal.
Meanwhile, Wolf, AT&T says it is moving forward with their deal. They have a deadline of June 21 that they need to get this merger done by. They say they expect to close this deal by June 20, now that they essentially have a victory here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: In the coming days. All right, Jessica. Thank you. Jessica Schneider, good reporting.
Let's bring in Brian Stelter, our senior media correspondent; and CNN's chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. A pretty scathing decision by this federal judge, Jeffrey, not only ruling in favor of the merger but also warning the government, don't even think about a stay or an appeal.
TOOBIN: You know, this was such a fiasco for the Justice Department. It really raises the question of why this lawsuit was brought in the first place.
Conservatives, Republicans generally don't believe in stopping mergers. And the only thing we know about the origin of this case is that candidate Trump and Donald Trump denounced this merger in advance and also indicated, as we have heard many times, that he hates CNN. And, thus, really raises the question of whether this case was a vendetta ordered by the White House against CNN's parent company.
The judge in the case did not allow evidence on that question. But journalists certainly have the opportunity to ask that question. And the issue of why this case was brought remains very much alive.
BLITZER: You know, Brian, you're getting a new response now from Time Warner, our parent company. What can you tell us?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is the strongest language about the political questions that Jeffrey Toobin was just raising. This is a statement from Gary Ginsberg, the chief spokesman of Time Warner, which owns, again, CNN, the rest of Turner, HBO, Warner Brothers. Here's what Ginsberg said in his statement.
He said, "The court's resounding rejection of the government's arguments is confirmation that this was a case that was baseless, political in its motivation and should have never been brought in the first place."
The key words there, "political in its motivation." Ginsberg is addressing the point of view that this was all about President Trump and his disdain for CNN and his desire to kill this deal.
Now, the White House and the DOJ have always denied that. And President Trump said he did not get involved. But those questions are going to linger, even after AT&T takes control of Time Warner, which is likely to happen by this time next week, as long as there is not a stay in this case.
So there are political questions and then there are the business questions. We're going to see other media mergers as a result of today's ruling. We're going to see Comcast and other players making moves. Essentially, this was a big thumbs up for the American business world.
BLITZER: And it's interesting, Jeffrey. Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. district court here in the District of Columbia suggested that this whole process took a lot of time and he said, the whole process also cost a lot of money.
TOOBIN: Tens of millions of dollars, not just in legal fees that were imposed on AT&T and Time Warner but also tremendous amount of effort expended by the Department of Justice.
And you know, I need to emphasize how unusual it was, not only for the judge to reject the government's position but to say, "Don't even try to get a stay. I'm not giving you a stay. You can try from the court of appeals." But a stay would have the effect of killing the deal, because the deal has an expiration date of June 21. So he was really saying, "Not only was this a bad and meritless lawsuit," he was saying, "Don't prove that you are really unethical, almost, in your efforts to try to stop the deal."
BLITZER: Because you were -- you were there. You listened to the judge read the statement. You've gone through it very carefully. What else stood out to you? TOOBIN: Well, what stands out in particular is this is a 170-page
opinion. And there are tremendously detailed factual findings of why this would not be anti-competitive, why it would not hurt consumers. And that's going to be something that the court of appeals looks at if the Justice Department acts for a stay.
It's one thing to disagree about a legal -- a legal ruling which, you know, any judge can find one way or another. But appeals courts generally defer to trial courts when they make findings of fact, when they look at the facts and say, "That's how they apply in this circumstance." So I think even if the Justice Department tries to get a stay, the odds are very much against them succeeding.
Brian, how is this going to affect the American consumer?
STELTER: Certainly, in the short-term, there are minimal affects. Over the long-term, what we're seeing are these big companies getting bigger, trying to own more of the channels that people like to watch and more of the shows that people like to watch.
[18:40:03] AT&T sees itself as it's in a battle, a battle with Facebook, Google, Netflix. These Silicon Valley giants. And AT&T believes it needs to own CNN and other channels in order to keep up.
You also see Comcast out there making similar moves. These big companies that provide TV service, phone service, they feel more and more they also need to be in the business of Hollywood and the business of owning news channels.
Now, there can be legitimate consumer concerns. But I think the judge is today saying, the government has to find a different way to address those concerns. This case did not end up holding out -- holding up.
It's really interesting to see this being a clear decision: No conditions, no strings attached. It's a rebuke of the government's decision here. And it's going to raise those questions again about Trump.
TOOBIN: And it's also, you know, it's important to remember that there is a long tradition that the White House stays out of decisions about antitrust. This is very much left to the professionals in the Justice Department.
And the fact that the president interfered in this case, or at least announced his view on a subject that presidents rarely get involved in, it really does raise serious suspicions about how this case came about.
I mean, you know, none of us are -- all of us are familiar with how much the president detests CNN. But that -- and that is certainly his -- he's entitled to have that view and other people share that view. What he's not supposed to do is use his power as president to punish our parent company. And this action and the result today really raises the question.
BLITZER: Let me read the final sentences in Judge Leon's opinion. His ruling, he said, "I hope" -- when he's saying don't even try to stay or try to appeal this, he's saying to the federal government -- quote, "I hope and trust that the government will have the good judgment, wisdom and courage to avoid such a manifest injustice. To do otherwise, I fear would undermine the faith in our system of justice of not only the defendants but their millions of shareholders and the business community at large."
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, that's a very unusual way to close an opinion. Not just to say to the Justice Department, "Hey, you lost." He's saying, "You lost, and give it up, because you are essentially embarrassing yourselves and degrading the traditions of the Department of Justice if you proceed here."
STELTER: And -- and if Trump's fingerprints were on this, and if there's proof of that someday in the future, today is also a day where checks and balances worked, where institutions held. The judiciary was the check, and that's worth pointing out, as well.
BLITZER: You anticipate that there will -- we've got a statement from the Justice Department. But the president so far is silent. Right, Brian?
STELTER: Yes. But next time he tweets about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, next time he complains about the Justice Department, you might wonder if this has something to do with that.
More broadly, you know, he continues to attack the media, continues to express his views about these deals and other issues that past presidents simply have not done. To Jeffrey's point, it was very unusual when the president reiterated his disagreement with this deal --
BLITZER: All right.
STELTER: -- his opposition to this deal. If nothing else, this trial at least slowed down the process, made it take longer for AT&T and Time Warner to come together. But assuming there's no stay, the companies will merge next week.
BLITZER: Brian Stelter, Jeffrey Toobin, guys, thank you very much.
There's breaking news. A new twist in the deputy attorney general's battle with House Republicans. Why Rod Rosenstein plans to ask them to investigate their own staff.
Plus, new financial disclosures by the president's daughter and son- in-law who are also his senior advisors. How much are Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner worth?
[18:48:17] BLITZER: There's breaking news tonight in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The special counsel is asking a judge to lock down documents he had to share with lawyers for a Russian company that's pleaded not guilty to election meddling here in the United States.
Our justice correspondent Evan Perez is working the story for us. Jeffrey Toobin is still with us as well.
Mueller is concerned about how this information could be used?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This is a company called Concord Management. And they are fighting back against the special counsel in the charges. You remember, they were charged back in February. And they are a key part of what the government says was Russian meddling effort using Russian troll farms that was tied to Russian intelligence.
And so, as part of this, the government is saying that if they share information, tens of thousands of pieces of data with this company, they are concerned there will be shared with Russian intelligence essentially, and that Russian intelligence is still working to interfere in upcoming elections. And so, that's the reason why they are asking the judge to certainly make sure that this information is not shared beyond this company.
BLITZER: And amidst this, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a spat between him and House Republicans seems to be escalating, specifically members of the House Intelligence Committee.
PEREZ: Right. This goes back to back in January where there was a heated meeting at the Justice Department over the turning over of documents. Rod Rosenstein is now saying that when he gets back from a foreign trip, he is going to ask the House to launch an investigation of the staffers that were part of this meeting. Apparently, there was some things said. And the Republicans in the meeting think that Rod Rosenstein was threatening them.
So, back and forth here, we're seeing, it's going to be escalating now because he's asking for an official investigation on the side of the House.
[18:50:02] BLITZER: That's pretty dramatic. What do you make of it, Jeffrey?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if I can just go back to the Mueller thing that everyone was talking about, you know, it's extraordinary for a prosecutor who is investigating a crime in the past to say that the crime is still going on.
TOOBIN: I mean, what Mueller says in his finding is that the Russians are still trying to interfere with our election in the 2018 elections. So the fact that he wants to protective order, the fact that he wants these documents not to be shared beyond the defendants in this case is not just sort of protection of secrets in general, it's a recognition on his part that this crime is not over.
BLITZER: And the spat between Rosenstein and the House Republicans? TOOBIN: You know, Rod Rosenstein has shown a lot of courage over the
past year. I mean the House Republicans are really out to get him. They are doing Donald Trump's work. They really can't stand him. They regard him I think correctly as Robert Mueller's protector and here, Rosenstein is standing up and saying you know what, not only am I right, but you staff members are potentially even committing crimes by sharing documents you weren't supposed to share.
PEREZ: I think what we're seeing is that Rod Rosenstein is telling Devin Nunes, OK, put up or shut up, basically.
BLITZER: Evan, Jeffrey, guys, thank you very much.
There's more news we're following. How much President Trump's daughter and son-in-law are really worth? We're getting a closer look at some new disclosures tonight.
[18:56:11] BLITZER: Newly disclosures are revealing the vast wealth of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both senior advisers to President Trump.
CNN's Tom Foreman is here with details.
Tom, what are you learning?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is maybe the real definition of a power couple. When you can make this kind of money at the things you're not working at.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Money from fashion, from real estate, from investments and more, more, more. The new documents reveal Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner may be much wealthier than previously known.
IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER: Hi, everyone. I'm Ivanka Trump and thank you for tuning in.
FOREMAN: The nature of the disclosures makes precise figures hard to come by, but her assets could be worth more than $75 million. His more than $710 million. That's enough to have the presidential advising power couple closing in on a billion in the bank.
A spokesman for their ethics lawyer says the new numbers do not indicated a windfall since the election. Their net worth remains largely the same with changes reflecting more the way the form requires disclosure than any substantial difference in assets or liabilities. But political foes with worried all along about conflict of interest between Donald Trump's presidency and his private empire are once again raising unanswered questions.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: We simply don't know whether the foreign policy of the United States up for sale. We have to wonder, is Ivanka getting trademarks from China for a certain reason?
FOREMAN: He's talking about last month, when the final approval for seven new trademarks was granted to the Ivanka Trump brand by China, right around the time her father was calling for sanctions to be eased against a Chinese telecom company. The president said he was just trying to protect a market for U.S. goods.
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's part of, again, the U.S. relationship with China, which is complex.
FOREMAN: But the relationship between the private and public Trumps has been complex, too.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell you. I'm going to get -- I hate shopping, but I'm going to get some on myself today.
FOREMAN: Ivanka still makes money from her company, even though she stepped back from running it. And Jared Kushner still has ownership stakes in his businesses, but he's not at the helm now either.
Yet from the very start and throughout the Russia investigation --
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let me be very clear. I did not collude with Russia.
FOREMAN: And while their wealth brings great privilege, because they've not taken traditional steps to prevent the conflict of interest, sharp scrutiny remains.
FOREMAN: Neither Jared Kushner nor Ivanka Trump is paid as a presidential adviser, and no one has yet proven any improper link between their net worth and their influence in the White House. But last year, they reportedly made more than $82 million and that makes ethics watchdogs very uneasy, Wolf.
BLITZER: How does this compare with other presidential families?
FOREMAN: Plenty of presidential families have been criticized for cashing on the presidency. But it's almost always it's after they leave. It's for speeches and books and appearances and all sorts of things like that by former presidents and their families. Rarely have we had anything that even approaches something like this in the White House.
In fact, you may remember back in Jimmy Carter's time, there was criticism of his brother who wasn't even in the White House for in any way capitalizing on his brother's name, and now, we've advanced light years beyond that.
BLITZER: Tom Foreman, thanks for that report.
Good reporting by Tom as usual. A quick and important programming note. Tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern,
CNN's Chris Cuomo digs into the results of President Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un. Among his guest, Republican Senator Susan Collins and Michael Anton, the president's former national security council spokesman. Now "CUOMO PRIME TIME" begins 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.