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Giuliani Preparing Report to Counter Potential Mueller Findings; Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Funneling Foreign Money to Trump Inaugural Campaign; Trump: Sessions Will Stay On, For Now; Justice Official Testifies Russia Said it Had Trump 'Over a Barrel'; Giuliani Preparing Report To Rebut Potential Mueller Findings; McCain Honored In Capital Rotunda. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 31, 2018 - 17:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Fredericka. Our coverage continues now on CNN with my colleague Wolf Blitzer. He's in THE SITUATION ROOM.

[17:00:13] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. "Over a barrel." A top U.S. Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him Russian intelligence thought they had Donald Trump, quote, "over a barrel." Is that why the president has been targeting the lawyer, who learned the explosive information?

Guilty plea. A U.S. lobbyist with ties to an alleged Russian intelligence agent admits to illegally steering foreign money to the Trump inaugural committee and agrees to cooperate with the special counsel. That comes as CNN learns the president's lawyers are already preparing a rebuttal to any conclusions drawn by Robert Mueller.

Disapproval. With his former campaign chairman and former lawyer now convicted felons, a new poll finds President Trump's disapproval rating at a new high. And nearly half of Americans say they want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to his removal from office.

And lying in state. After his final return to Washington, Senator John McCain lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, where political leaders from both sides of the aisle salute his leadership and his service to the nation.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We have multiple breaking news stories. President Trump's legal team is preparing a report to rebut potential conclusions from the special counsel, Robert Mueller. The document will push back on any findings of collusion and obstruction of justice.

And that comes as a Washington lobbyist with links to an alleged Russian intelligence agent pleads guilty to channeling foreign money to the Trump inauguration and pledges to cooperate with Mueller and federal prosecutors.

I'll speak with Congressman Ted Lieu of the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees. And our correspondents and specialists are all standing by with full coverage.

First, let's get to the breaking news. Our CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez and CNN political correspondent Sara Murray, they are here.

Evan, first to you. CNN has now learned that Rudy Giuliani is preparing a report to counter Mueller's findings. What's the latest?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We know that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is still working on his investigation, still talking to witnesses. But the president's legal team is not wasting any time. They say that they're working on a report. Rudy Giuliani in particular says that he's here in Washington right now, working on that report as we speak.

Now, what this report will be is essentially a rebuttal or a prebuttal of what we expect will be the findings of Robert Mueller. And the report that Giuliani says his legal team is working on will attack the issues of collusion, the collusion between -- the allegations of collusion between people connected with the Trump campaign, and Russia. Michael Flynn -- the Michael Flynn firing and the obstruction of justice allegations, which the special counsel we know is still investigating.

Wolf, at this point we still don't know how much longer the special counsel has in his investigation. But clearly, the -- the Trump legal team believes that they need to try to get ahead of some of the allegations that they're expecting to be in this report.

One last thing: we do know that they're still waiting to hear from the special counsel as to whether or not they're going to sit down for an interview and have the president sit down for an interview with the special counsel's team. They said that they've been waiting for several weeks now for an answer to that proposal.

BLITZER: It seems to me, Sara, as if the Giuliani legal team suspects that Mueller might be getting close to issuing some sort of report. So they're preparing their so-called rebuttal right now.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that could be part of it. Rudy Giuliani was on the Hill just a few minutes ago, talking to some of our colleagues. And he basically said he has no idea when Mueller is going to wrap this up, but he thinks it should be soon.

And this is really what we've seen from Giuliani. He is itching to get this over with in any way possible.

And you know, there has been this sort of longstanding practice at the Justice Department that when you're 60 days out from an election, like for instance, the midterm elections, that prosecutors are not going to make any big public announcements about an investigation. They don't want to influence the -- you know, the way that could be perceived for one candidate or another, the way it may impact the outcome of an election.

But this isn't a hard and fast rule. There is some discretion for U.S. attorneys. And so there is no guarantee that, you know, Mueller is going to be completely dark from now through the midterms. And there's certainly nothing that says that Mueller has to wrap things up, finish his report and put that out in the next couple of weeks, even though that seems to be what Rudy Giuliani would prefer.

BLITZER: That's a good point. You know, and Evan, tell us about this case of this American lobbyist who pleaded guilty today to funneling -- illegally funneling money from some sort of foreign source to the Trump inaugural campaign, and also not registering as a foreign agent.

[17:05:07] PEREZ: Right. His name is it Samuel Patten. He's a longtime Republican operative -- political operative here in Washington. And he pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent here in federal court here in Washington.

One of the things that's interesting about this case, Wolf, is that it was referred from -- by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to the U.S. attorney here in Washington to investigate. And as part of his guilty plea today, he admitted not only to -- to lying to Senate investigators when he appeared there in January; but he also said that he, essentially, helped a couple of oligarchs from -- Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs attend the inauguration of Donald Trump by, essentially, buying tickets for them to hide the fact that they were foreigners, you know, which is illegal for them to be able to donate to the president's inaugural.

So he had this scheme, essentially, where he had someone else buy the tickets in order to -- for them to be able to attend. And keep in mind, Donald Trump's inaugural raised $107 million, which is twice as much as any of the previous presidents have raised for their inauguration. So it is something we know that the special counsel has been investigating; in particular, their connections with oligarchs who were asked about this.

BLITZER: These are pro-Russian oligarchs.

PEREZ: Pro-Russian oligarchs.

BLITZER: Ukrainian. This is potentially consequential. First of all, pleading guilty to not registering as a foreign agent. That's a felony. Could go to jail for five years, half-a-million-dollar fine for that. But also, illegally funneling money to the inauguration, that's pretty significant, as well.

MURRAY: Yes. This is the first piece of proof we have of a big missing part of this puzzle. Which is we've had this conversation for months of whether there was foreign money that somehow either flowed into Donald Trump's campaign or into his inauguration.

We know Robert Mueller's team stopped Russian oligarchs and asked them questions about, you know, whether there was any way their money could have made it into the campaign or into the inauguration. And now we finally have someone who is admitting, "Yes, I did help a

foreigner funnel money through an American, this sort of strawman, into Donald Trump's inauguration."

The other part of this that's really interesting is remember that Robert Mueller has another important cooperator still. And that's Rick Gates, the man under Paul Manafort on the campaign. Well, Rick Gates also happened to be one of the top people who was running the inauguration. And when prosecutors began talking to him, they said, "Look, we don't necessarily even need your cooperation on Paul Manafort. We want your cooperation on other things, things that go to our broader mandate."

So it's possible that Rick Gates is also playing a role in helping to flesh out what went on with the inauguration. You know, we know now that this one person has admitted to buying a couple of tickets, essentially, with foreign money. But we don't know if there could be a number of other instances like that. And I think that that's what we're still looking for clues for.

BLITZER: I find it interesting that Mueller, the special counsel, he referred the Michael Cohen case to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York; and now he's referred this case to the U.S. attorney here in the District of Columbia. But as you know, Evan, they're all on the same team, the same Justice Department team.

PEREZ: Right.

BLITZER: So they're working together, I'm sure, hand in glove. Tell us about this other -- this other -- this new information we're learning now about this Justice Department lawyer who has testified before Congress, before the -- what the House Judiciary -- was it the Judiciary Committee?

PEREZ: Correct.

BLITZER: And he's providing new information, as well, about what he learned, this Bruce Ohr, what he learned from Christopher Steele, the author of that so-called dossier.

PEREZ: Right. Bruce Ohr has been sort of a flashpoint for the president. He has mentioned him at rallies. He's talked about him and said that he's looking into removing his security clearance and has openly questioned as to why he still works at the Justice Department.

Well, Bruce Ohr, now we're learning, has these deeper ties to Christopher Steele. Apparently, they had breakfast. And during this breakfast, Christopher Steele said that he had information that the Russian intelligence agencies believed they had Donald Trump over a barrel. That's the phrase that he used

BLITZER: What does that mean, over a barrel?

PEREZ: So it appears to be a similar allegation that Steele has made in the dossier. That you know this breakfast occurred in July of 2016. And a few months later, the FBI was able to get ahold of these memos that Christopher Steele had prepared, which makes the same allegation, by the way. The allegation is that -- that the Russian intelligence agencies believed that they had compromising information about the president of the United States. The candidate for president of the United States, Donald Trump.

So the fact that they had this breakfast is something that I think will of course reawaken this controversy for Republicans and for the president.

BLITZER: And the allegations of compromising material, they're throughout that so-called dossier. Only some of it has been confirmed. A lot of it is still unconfirmed.

Thanks very much, guys, for that report.

President Trump, meanwhile, will head back to the White House shortly from a fund raiser in North Carolina. It's a brief pause in his almost non-stop attack on the Mueller investigation and his continuing attack on his own attorney general.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. So, Jeff what's the latest.

Wolf, there is certainly going into the Labor Day weekend at the White House as much uncertainty as ever about the real status of the Russia investigation.

But the president is saying he is going to leave the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in place at least through the midterms elections. But he's also saying something else. He said he'll get involved if he needs to in the Justice Department.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not commit to Jeff Sessions past November, sir?

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump flashing a thumbs up but giving no answer today on why he's offering his favorite punching bag, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a bit of a reprieve. Consumed with anger over the Russia investigation the president has berated, badgered and all but blacklisted his attorney general.

But in an interview with Bloomberg News, he says Sessions's job is safe, at least through the midterm elections. After that, he wouldn't say.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd just like to have Jeff Sessions do his job, and if he did, I'd be very happy. But the job entails two sides, not one side.

ZELENY: Yet that didn't stop the president from railing against the Justice Department at a rally last night in Indiana for what he perceives as unfair treatment. TRUMP: Our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their

job and doing it right. And doing it now. Because people are angry. People are angry.

ZELENY: Once again, he suggested he could intervene in an investigation, which would be highly unorthodox and politically explosive for a sitting president.

TRUMP: I wanted to stay out. But at some point, if it doesn't straighten out properly -- I want them to do their job -- I will get involved, and I'll get in there if I have to.

ZELENY: It's unclear whether he's blowing off steam --

TRUMP: Disgraceful.

ZELENY: -- or seriously threatening to stop the Russia probe that's hanging over the White House. He told Bloomberg, "I view it as an illegal investigation."

Yet that's not how a majority of Americans see it. A new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll today finds 63 percent of Americans support Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump and his associates, while 29 percent oppose it.

Beyond his loyal base of supporters, the president's standing is taking a hit, with 60 percent saying they disapprove of the job he's doing, while only 36 percent say they approve.

The country is far more split on the question of impeachment, with 49 percent saying proceedings should begin and 46 percent saying they should not.

It's one of the reasons the president and Republicans are bracing for the midterm elections.

TRUMP: Very, very big vote. It's very close. People say we have the majority. By how much? Like, by almost nothing. Somebody has a cold, we no longer have the majority.

ZELENY: All this as the president is searching for a replacement for top White House lawyer Don McGahn, who's soon to leave the West Wing.

The president has been in talks with Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone, CNN has learned, a veteran of the George H.W. Bush administration who has been informally advising team Trump on the Mueller probe.


ZELENY: So even as the president decides who his next White House counsel will be, there's so many questions here hanging over this investigation, hanging over the midterm elections.

There had been a bit of anxiety here at the White House. Would something happen before the close of business on this Friday before Labor Day? We have moved beyond that. So it does not seem like that will happen.

But the president, of course, as you said, Wolf, speaking at a fundraiser in Charlotte, North Carolina. He'll be spending the weekend here and perhaps on the golf course. But again, now just two months before those midterm elections, the Russia investigation hanging over the White House. A lot of uncertainty here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is. All right. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. He's a member of both the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Let's get right to the news. In his testimony before your committee, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr said that the author of the Russia dossier, Christopher Steele, told him back in July 2016 that Russian intelligence believed they then had the then-candidate Donald Trump quote, "over a barrel." What's your reaction to that?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Wolf for that question.

Two things. First, that's a very alarming statement, which means we need to to have that transcript released to the American public. And we also should have an open hearing with Bruce Ohr. The American public needs to hear his story. And I urge the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee to have such a hearing and subpoena Bruce Ohr to testify publicly.

BLITZER: Well, do you know what he meant by over -- over a barrel when he appeared before the Judiciary Committee behind closed doors? I know there were Republican lawmakers there. Democratic staffers were there, as well. Have you received a full briefing?

LIEU: I have talked to my staff. And what Bruce Ohr meant is that the Russians had information that would compromise Donald Trump, that they could leverage Donald Trump. And we absolutely need to get this information, to have Bruce Ohr explain himself publicly to the American people. And I call on my Republican colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee to have a full and open hearing with Bruce Orr testifying publicly.

BLITZER: How does this assessment from Christopher Steele line up with the conclusions of the American intelligence agencies?

LIEU: We know that with the FISA application, the relevant parts of Christopher Steele's dossier were corroborated. That was in the Democratic memo about the FISA application.

And we also know that, as time goes on, more and more parts of the Steele dossier get corroborated. And even the very partisan GOP Nunes memo does not say the Steele dossier was false.

And all the president is doing in terms of highlighting Bruce Ohr and his crazy conspiracy theory about Bruce Ohr shows me and the American public that he's scared of what's in the dossier.

BLITZER: Congressman, I want to you stand by a moment. There's other -- there's other developments I want to show our viewers throughout the day. CNN has been showing viewers the funeral of the queen of soul, the singer Aretha Franklin. Jennifer Hudson is now participating.


BLITZER: What a beautiful musical tribute to Aretha Franklin by Jennifer Hudson. She is simply amazing. So, so powerful to a truly wonderful woman, Aretha Franklin. We're standing by. Stevie Wonder is going to be doing his own musical tribute. We're going to have much more on this. All the day's important news. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:28:04] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories right now process, including the revelation that a Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, told House lawmakers of a conversation he had with dossier author Christopher Steele back in July of 2016.

Ohr says in that conversation, Steele said Russian intelligence thought it had the president candidate Trump over a barrel.

Let's bring back Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. He's a member of the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Among other things, yesterday, Congressman, the president called the entire Russia investigation an illegal investigation. Do you think he'll use this news to continuous his efforts to basically try to undermine, as much as possible, the entire Mueller probe?

LIEU: I think Donald Trump will try to do that. But it's not working. A new "Washington Post" poll today said not only is Donald Trump's disapproval at a 60 percent high, but also nearly two-thirds of Americans want Special Counsel Mueller's investigation to continue. And when you look at the president's tweets and statements, it's clear that the president is not acting as someone who is innocent. He's showing consciousness of guilt, and it's really highly disturbing for our president to be acting in this manner

BLITZER: Just two days ago, the president tweeted this, and I'll put it up on the screen, Congressman. "How the hell is Bruce Ohr still employed at the Justice Department? Disgraceful." That's his tweet.

Does this new information that we're learning today help explain why the president has specifically targeted Bruce Ohr, this Justice Department official, so aggressively?

LIEU: Well, let's just talk about what Bruce Ohr actually did. Bruce Ohr had a relationship with Christopher Steele, because Mr. Steele had previously provided reliable information to the FBI. Bruce Ohr was an expert in the mafia as well as organized crime. And Bruce Ohr passed along information from Christopher Steele to

other FBI officials. That's what he did. That's what you expect a law enforcement agent to do. And for the president to go after Mr. Ohr shows, to me, that he's very scared of the information that he passed along to other FBI officials.


BLITZER: And I want to get your thoughts on this other story that's developing today. This associate of Paul Manafort, the convicted former Trump campaign chairman, this associate named Samuel Patten is not cooperating with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And this was referred to initially by the Senate intelligence committee to Mueller who then referred this entire case to the U.S. Attorney here in the District of Columbia. What does that tell you about this investigation?

LIEU: All right. Today was another good day for the rule of law. We see the dominos around those close to Donald Trump keep falling. People get keeping either indicted, convicted or they plead guilty. In this case, Mr. Patten's guilty plea is significant for at least two reasons. First, he pled guilty to illegally funneling foreign money to Trump inaugural committee. That's a pretty big deal -- at least $50,000 worth. And second, he's agreeing, as you said, to cooperate with prosecutors. We're going to find out more about what Mr. Patten knows, about who else in the White House or the Trump campaign knew about these illegal foreign payments.

BLITZER: And he also has pleaded guilty to not registering as a foreign agent which you got to do if you're representing foreigners. How concerning is it, Congressman, that Patten also acted as a strawman to buy the tickets to the President Trump's inauguration for these pro-Russian/Ukrainian oligarchs. CNN has reported in the past that Mueller stopped Russian oligarchs on their planes to ask about money that went to the Trump investigation.

LIEU: You begin to see a pattern here where you have foreign countries trying to funnel money into the United States. We have this case here with foreign money going into the Trump inaugural committee. We also have Russian money flowing into the NRA. And the NRA still has not explained what they did with all this Russian money. I think it's really important to understand how much money flowed into the United States illegally through foreign countries, and that's why we need to change and Congress to have actually hearings into these very extremely important subjects.

BLITZER: What do you make of Rudy Giuliani's efforts to discredit Robert Mueller with his own report, a prebuttal or prebuttal. Whatever he's doing, he's trying to prepare a report, we're told, right now.

LIEU: It would not surprise me for Rudy Giuliani to provide a rebuttal to the report. But to do a prebuttal seems, sort of, ridiculous because he doesn't have any idea what kind of evidence Robert Mueller has. I think Rudy Giuliani needs to wait until the report comes out and then he can try to rebut it. But right now, the special counsel has a lot of information and the American people will see that when the report comes out.

BLITZER: Congressman Ted Lieu of California, thanks so much for joining us.

LIEU: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, there's more breaking news, a top Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him that Russian intelligence thought they had Donald Trump "over a barrel." And the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani telling CNN he's already preparing that rebuttal to whatever Robert Mueller comes up with, but how can he refute something he hasn't seen? Stay with us. You're in the situation room.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.



[17:37:53] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, including the revelation that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr told house lawmakers of a conversation he had with the dossier author, Christopher Steele, back in July of 2016. Ohr says, in the conversation Steele said Russian intelligence thought it had then candidate Donald Trump "over a barrel." Let's talk about this with our political and legal experts: Mark Preston, over a barrel, how concerning is this?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's very concerning. What is -- what's particularly concerning is that Ohr is basically saying what was written in the Steele dossier. He hasn't moved off that. Remember, this wasn't Bruce Ohr's dossier. He just acted as a conduit to move information back to the FBI. You know, nobody in America knows who Bruce Ohr is. Nobody knows who he is. And it's interesting how Donald Trump goes continues to go in and reach into the angles of the Justice Department and troy to talk about collusion or the dark state or how everyone's against him. It's not a very winning strategy.

BLITZER: You know, Laura Jarrett, you're a justice reporter, Bruce Ohr got as Mark says not very well-known outside of the Justice Department. Based on all of your reporting, has he done anything to warrant the president's repeated criticism of him and does that strategy work?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN REPORTER: Wolf, Bruce Ohr's sole sin at least based off everything that we know right now is that he had all of these contacts with Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous Trump-Russia dossier that obviously aggrieves the president so much. But as Mark Preston noted, he reported those contacts to the FBI which is exactly what you would hope and expect that he would do. And obviously, Trump's allies on Capitol Hill had pointed to the fact that his wife worked for Fusion GPS which commissioned Steele's work and that he had contacts with the FBI after the FBI had cut off their own relationship with Steele. But that's a problem for the FBI, not a problem for Bruce Ohr, if it's a problem at all. And so, it appears to be at most his sole issue is that he acted outside of the chain of command and he didn't tell the deputy attorney general at the time, Sally Yates, that he was doing this. But he didn't do anything illegal based on what we know of.

BLITZER: And he's still working at the Justice Department and still has security clearances as far as we know. Rebecca, the president, as you know, often attempts to discredit anyone who may have some compromising information about him or his supporters. Are his attacks against Ohr, Bruce Ohr right now an example of that? And does the strategy work.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, absolutely, we've seen this tactic by the president, Wolf, time and again, even since before the Mueller investigation. But it's not about any one of these people that the president necessarily tries to target. It's not about Bruce Ohr. It's not about Strzok, who we've talked about recently as well. It's about the president trying to sow doubt about the broader investigation, to try to sow confusion about what is important versus what is not, and just to create this totally separate narrative for his supporters to latch onto, sort of an alternate reality from what is actually transpiring. It's almost, like, a magician slight of hand -- on the one hand, he's over here creating this distraction, but what's important is the Mueller investigation, it takes away your attention from that. So, that's what the president is trying to do. And if you look at Mueller's approval ratings and how they've eroded over time, that seems to suggest that the president is having some success.

BLITZER: It certainly does. And Jackie Kucinich, in another win for Mueller and federal prosecutors a D.C. lobbyist with ties to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted on eight counts not that long ago, this associate, this Washington Lobbyist, Samuel Patten, he pleaded guilty today to various counts. He's not cooperating with Robert Mueller. How significant is this?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN COMMENTATOR: It's significant. One of the things that he did: He allowed a Russian political operative and Ukrainian oligarchs to -- he helped them purchase inauguration tickets, which isn't allowed. Foreign money, you're not allowed to do that. The fact -- so that in and of itself sort of shows the, the lengths they are going to, to get close to the president. In addition, he's cooperating with prosecutors as a part of his plea agreement. So, we don't know what he's saying. But he could -- Mueller will be able to ask him about the -- about what he might know, what some of the inner workings are, were there contacts with people in the Trump orbit and Russian -- and Russians and these Ukrainian oligarchs. So, it really is -- it is significant.

BLITZER: You know, and what's significant, also Laura Jarrett is that we know the Trump inauguration committee, they raised a record $106 million twice with their predecessors raised. That's significant. But what does Patten, Samuel Patten who pleaded guilty today to felony counts? What is his involvement in all of this? Tell us where the Mueller investigation is heading right now.

JARRETT: Well, what's really interesting about some of the revelations that we saw in today's court filings is that Mueller has been sort of going through this, but then, referred it to the D.C. U.S. Attorney's office. And now, as Jackie said, Patten will have to cooperate, which the timing of course is really just noteworthy considering Paul Manafort is about to go to trial within just a couple of weeks, and he has ties to Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, who Mueller's prosecutors has said have connections to the Russian intelligence agency. And so, of course, we do not have any evidence here that Trump's inaugural committee knew about these payments, Wolf. He appears to have used another American straw purchaser who is unnamed but we may learn more about that person. And because of the cooperation agreement, Patten may have to be involved in what happens in Manafort's upcoming trial.

[17:43:53] BLITZER: I suspect he will be. You know, Mark Preston, it's very interesting because Mueller referred the case, the Patten case, to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. But originally, the information came from the Senate Intelligence Committee on a bipartisan basis, they referred this information to Mueller, and I think that's significant.

PRESTON: Sounds like it's the deep state to me, Wolf. I'm kidding. That's what we hear from those who support President Trump. You know, an interesting little nugget that came out of this court hearing today is that Mueller's team -- this is from our reporting on the ground -- Mueller's team was sitting in the front row of the sentencing hearing and spoke to the defendant's lawyers afterwards for some time. So, when we talk about whether or not he is cooperating with Mueller's team, you know as we have learned seems to be cooperating with Mueller's team.

BLITZER: Yes, they're all part of the Justice Department team, whether you're working for the special counsel, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia or the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, they're part of the same team, they're working on different cases but they're cooperating. No doubt about that, guys. Stand by. There's more news we are following including John McCain's family members, including his 106-year-old mother, Roberta, they join with dignitaries here in capitol, over at the Capitol Rotunda, as Washington begins saying it's final goodbye to the late senator.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I remember thinking more than once, yes, he really does talk like a sailor. But, you see, with John, it was never feigned disagreements. The man didn't feign anything. He just relished the fight.



[17:50:08] BLITZER: Throughout the afternoon here in Washington, members of the public have been passing by Senator John McCain's casket as it lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. You're looking at live pictures right now. The senator's family, including his 106-year-old mother, Roberta, they took part in a very moving ceremony earlier in the day. CNN's Ryan Nobles is up on Capitol Hill. Ryan, tell us more about this extraordinary day.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really was incredible, Wolf. And you know, Senator McCain is said to have planned every second of this event today, and it seemed with every moment, there was another poignant reminder of his remarkable life. And more importantly, how he hopes his country will remember him.


NOBLES: Members of Congress bidding farewell to one of their own.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNEL (R-KY), SENATOR MAJORITY LEADER: On behalf of the Senate and the entire nation, thank you. Thank you for lending him to us longer than we had a right.

NOBLES: Senator John McCain returned one last time to a place he loved so much. His arrival marked by a flash rainstorm centered over the capitol, where he was honored by colleagues that reflected on his contribution, his service, and his singular ability to communicate.

RYAN: I, myself, from time to time, found myself on the receiving end of John's distinct brand of candor.

NOBLES: Senator McCain himself meticulously planned each stage of his final goodbye to his fellow Americans, and he made sure to include symbols of themes important to him. Today, bipartisanship was on display as leaders of both parties from both Congressional chambers laid wreaths near his coffin. While President Trump has been kept at a distance from these memorials, today Vice President Pence was in attendance.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president asked me to be here.

NOBLES: He had a warm relationship with McCain, and spoke of his resilience as a prisoner of war.

PENCE: Then as now, Americans marveled at the iron will of John McCain. But captivity did not diminish John's sense of calling.

NOBLES: McCain became the 31st person to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. His 106-year-old mother there to see the outpouring of admiration and love. Services continuing tomorrow at the National Cathedral. The two men who beat McCain in his bid for the White House, former President George W. Bush and Barack Obama will eulogize him, a request McCain made before his passing. Then, a private burial at the U.S. Naval Academy next to his classmate and best friend, Admiral Chuck Larsen. His wife telling CNN that her husband has his wingman back now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NOBLES: And to go back to that moment when the senator's casket was carried up the steps into the capitol, it's important to keep in mind today was a very hot and sunny day in Washington for almost the entire day. But that moment when the casket made its way out of the hearse, it seemed as though the skies opened and the rain started falling. Wolf, that was certainly something that Senator McCain couldn't have planned, but it fits into this narrative of the life of a remarkable man and this last goodbye to John McCain.

BLITZER: It really was amazing, Ryan, because it's all of a sudden started pouring around the capitol. But elsewhere in the Washington, D.C. area, no rain. It really was amazing. Ryan Nobles, thank you very much for that report. An important note to our viewers, CNN will provide live coverage tomorrow morning as the senator's casket will be taken from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington National Cathedral for a service that Ryan just mentioned will include eulogies by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Our special coverage will begin tomorrow morning, 8:00 a.m. Eastern.

[17:54:01] And coming up, there's breaking news. Rudy Giuliani tells CNN he's preparing a report to rebut potential conclusions from the special counsel, Robert Mueller. The document will aim to push back on any findings of collusion and obstruction of justice.


[18:00:00] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Compromised? Russian intelligence officials believe they have Donald Trump over a barrel, according to a top Justice Department official. We're going to tell you what we're learning right now about Bruce Ohr's testimony with Congress about that --