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Senate Rebukes Trump over Border Emergency; Judge Sets Roger Stone's Trial; Interview with Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) about Senate Vote to Overturn National Emergency. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 14, 2019 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It airs at 9:00 pm only on CNN. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: rebuking the president. A dozen Republican senators joined Democrats in delivering a stunning rebuke to President Trump, voting to reject his declaration of a national emergency on the border with Mexico. The president is vowing a veto.

Mueller support: an extraordinary show of support for the special counsel Robert Mueller as the House votes -- get this -- 420-0 to urge the Justice Department to make the Mueller report public.

Beto believe it: another Democrat squeezes into the 2020 race as former congressman Beto O'Rourke announces his presidential run and immediately starts a swing through Iowa.

And rocket attack: air raid sirens sound in Tel Aviv and residents rush for shelters as rockets are fired into Israel from Gaza.

What's behind the sudden attack?

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news: the Senate deliveries a sharp bipartisan rebuke to President Trump, voting 59-41 to overturn his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. A dozen Republicans joined in rejecting the president's end run around Congress to fund the border wall. The president is warning he will veto the measure.

Meantime the House voted overwhelmingly, 420-0, pretty overwhelming, to urge the Justice Department to make the Mueller report public. GOP Senator Lindsey Graham just blocked a similar move in the Senate.

That comes as a key part of the Mueller investigation moves toward resolution with a federal judge setting a November trial date for Trump ally Roger Stone.

I'll speak with Republican congressman Jim Banks. And our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

First, let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

The Senate vote was a bipartisan smackdown against the president but he is getting ready to hit back.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is, Wolf. Trump appears poised to use his veto pen for the first time after a sizable group of Republican senators voted to break ranks and supported a resolution to block Trump's plan to divert taxpayer funds to build his border wall.

The president is making it clear he will veto that measure. Still, for a president who has successfully kept his party in line, this was a surprising defection.


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was the latest sign of cracks in the president's wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The joint resolution is passed.

ACOSTA (voice-over): After a dozen GOP senators joined forces with Democrats to bloc Mr. Trump's national emergency declaration to redirect already appropriated money for his border barrier. The president is gearing up for his first veto, tweeting as only he can, in all caps, "VETO."

Mr. Trump sounded as if he warming up the veto pen earlier in the day.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll probably have to veto. It won't be overturned. It's very important. It's really a border security vote. It's bureaucracy, pure and simple. It's a vote for border security. It's a vote for no crime.


ACOSTA: Even though there aren't enough votes to override a veto, top White House officials have been lobbying wayward Republicans for days, with the president tweeting, "A big national emergency vote today by the United States Senate on border security and the wall. The southern border is a national security and humanitarian nightmare but it can be easily fixed."

Aides to the president dramatized their case by posting this sinister- looking and sounding video of migrant crossings on the official White House Twitter account. But it wasn't enough for Republican senators like Mitt Romney, who insisted the president was trying to pull a fast one by going around Congress to get what he wants.

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Well, he would rather have me vote in a different direction. But I let him know that this, for me, is a matter of defending the Constitution and the balance of powers that is core to our Constitution. And I believe he respects that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Trump ally, Lindsey Graham, led a small group of GOP senators to the White House, barging in on a Trump family dinner Wednesday night in a failed attempt to broker a compromise.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I said I don't expect you to give up any power as president that you think is necessary but if you could find a way to sit down and bridge the gap here, prospectively, it would be in everybody's interest.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Democrats suggested Republicans are worried about defying the president out of fear of retaliation.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: He has been vindictive, contemptuous, calling out people who oppose him. So it's not an easy vote.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president has a new Democratic foe on the border issue with former El Paso congressman Beto O'Rourke announcing his run for the White House with Mr. Trump already seizing on a personal criticism --


ACOSTA (voice-over): -- of the Democratic contender...


TRUMP: I think he has a lot of hand movement. I've never seen so much hand movement. I said is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?

I watched him this morning a little bit during what I assume was a press conference. Study it. I'm sure you'll agree.


ACOSTA (voice-over): -- that's despite the president's long history of using exaggerated hand gestures of his own.

TRUMP: We're talking about the southern border.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Trump declined to tip his hand on who would be the stronger candidate, O'Rourke or Vice President Joe Biden.

TRUMP: So I think it will be tough for somebody. Whoever it is, it makes no difference to me whatsoever.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: No tipping of the hand there. The president's veto of the border resolution may clear the way for his national emergency declaration but not for long. Mr. Trump's plans for his wall is almost certain to be tied up in the courts, forcing the White House to perhaps seek funding the old-fashioned way and go through Congress. Make no mistake, Wolf, they are getting almost giddy with excitement at the White House over the president's plan to use his veto pen.

I talked to a GOP source close to the White House this afternoon, who said, absolutely, the president wants to use his veto pen, that it plays very well with his base -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House. Thanks.

Our congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty, is up on Capitol Hill.

The president has been unequivocal on this, saying he will clearly veto the resolution. Now there's a push in the House to try to override a presidential veto.

What's the latest?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. Democrats are making it very clear tonight that they are essentially not done with this yet. House Democratic leadership is already moving to schedule a vote to override the president's very likely and anticipated presidential veto.

House Democratic leadership aide telling me tonight they will schedule a vote likely on Tuesday, March 26th. That's the week after next. Notably here it takes two-thirds of a majority to override a presidential veto in the House and Senate. Importantly, those are numbers that Democrats do not have at this point.

But Democrats certainly saw some encouragement in the fact that you had 12 Republican senators defying President Trump today, voting against him over here in the Senate. And they are certainly looking to capitalize that.

Notably, among those Republican senators you're seeing up there on screen right now is a member of the Senate Republican leadership, Senator Roy Blunt. We certainly heard from many of those Republicans who voted against the president today, saying they felt this was executive overreach.

They felt they were worried about the precedent that it would set in the end and speaking about what future presidents, particularly Democratic presidents, could do. This, no matter how you slice it, is a significant rebuke to President Trump and, notably, it is the second in two days, following that vote over Yemen, where again the Republican-led Senate defied President Trump.

BLITZER: Sunlen, there was another stunning vote in the House of Representatives today, 420-0 in a call to make the Mueller report public. But it was clearly a different story on the Senate side. What happened?

SERFATY: Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer wanted to follow the House and bring this up for a very quick vote this afternoon but it was blocked by one senator, Republican senator Lindsey Graham.

He explaining afterwards said he wanted this bill to bring the Mueller report public to be amended, he says to call for a new special counsel to also investigate how the FBI carried out probes into the Clinton email server and he says how the FISA warrant against Carter Page was also carried out. Here is what he told me moments after he blocked that.


GRAHAM: I want everything looked at, not just Mueller. Mueller will be able to do his job. He's just about finished, I think. But nobody has lifted a finger to call for an investigation to the other side of the story.

Was there two systems of justice, one for the Democratic candidate, one for the Republican candidate?

I think a special counsel is more than warranted. Let's see if people will agree with that part of the resolution.


SERFATY: I asked Graham afterwards if he felt that, outside of this specific nonbinding resolution, if he felt that the Mueller report should be made public and he answered just, "We'll see."

All of this underscores how we see the anticipation growing in Washington over the Mueller report. We also see this battle brewing over how much will be potentially made public up here on Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: Surprised all those Republicans voted to make the Mueller report public, given the fact that the president keeps calling the entire Mueller investigation a witch hunt and a hoax. But they voted to make it public. We'll see what happens when it's completed and given to the new attorney general.

Sunlen Serfaty, on Capitol Hill, thank you.

A day after Paul Manafort received his second prison sentence and learned of new charges, President Trump's long-time ally Roger Stone has now learned when he will be going on trial.

Shimon Prokupecz, what happened in court today?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Yes, so it's going to be a day where we thought possibly that --


PROKUPECZ: -- the judge would take up the issue of the violation of the gag order. He went in today thinking perhaps maybe he would not walk out. But the judge decided today was not the day that she would take up this issue. Instead, she wanted to keep it to the scheduling conference, which it was always supposed to be about.

So she set a trial date, November 5th. There was also some scheduling issues she took up. But that was it. The big question on whether or not Roger Stone violated the gag order concerning this release of a book that he never notified the court about, that's still an issue that's on the table.

The judge saying today she just hasn't had time to dive into the issue. Keep in mind, she just came off the Manafort sentencing. So perhaps that could be why she needs a little more time to decide on whether or not he violated it.

BLITZER: Another key member of the Mueller investigative team has all of a sudden announced that he is leaving.

Potentially, what does that signal?

PROKUPECZ: Andrew Weissman has been around Mueller for a very long time. He worked with Mueller at the FBI. It signals that a large chunk of this investigation, certainly, that Andrew Weissman has been involved in, is over. He would not be leaving if parts of this investigation are not over.

He oversaw the Paul Manafort investigation, the Rick Gates investigation. He has been overseeing, obviously, other Russia related parts of this investigation. So certainly, with him leaving, he is a senior member of this team, has been involved from the very beginning, has been at Mueller's side from the very beginning.

It just means that a lot of the parts of this investigation have been wrapped up and whatever it was that he is dealing with is probably now over.

Keep in mind, it doesn't mean that there aren't things that are still ongoing with the Department of Justice that are now being handled, like, for instance, in the Southern District of New York. That's the thing that we always have to remember. There could be still parts of this investigation that live on with these people leaving.

BLITZER: Speaking of Rick Gates, he has what they call a status report tomorrow in federal court. He has been cooperating with the special counsel. He has been cooperating with the U.S. attorney, the Southern District of New York. He was Manafort's top deputy.

PROKUPECZ: He has turned out to be probably the biggest cooperator for the special counsel team. Andrew Weissman has been working with him, hand in hand. Tomorrow we'll see whether or not, if they come out, if the special counsel comes out tomorrow and says we're done with him, he's ready to be sentenced, that will also tell us that his cooperation is coming to an end, they don't need him for anything else.

They're comfortable now to say you know what? Let's set a sentencing date. So that's going to be significant and an indication to us and also parts of his involvement in this investigation are over.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens tomorrow together with you, Shimon. Thank you very much.

Let's discuss all of this and more. Republican congressman Jim Banks of Indiana is joining us, he's a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, thank you for joining us.


BLITZER: Let's begin with today's vote in the Senate blocking the president's national emergency declaration. When the House voted on this last month, you tweeted your own reservations about the president's decision. I'll put your tweet up on the screen.

"I support the president 100 percent on the need for stronger border security and a wall. But I can't deny my reservations about the precedent and implications the president's large-scale emergency declaration and its abuse by potential future Democrat administrations."

So despite your reservations, you voted against the resolution.


BANKS: I think a lot of us have reservations about the emergency powers authorities of the president. The way we're approaching it in the House, at least among a number of conservatives, is a look at ways to rein in that authority, not to cancel this particular emergency action the president has used to build the wall at the border.

I know if it were a matter of policy, that's what my constituents in Indiana want. They want to build the wall and they want greater border security. But the right way forward is to do what the president also agreed with today, that we should reform those authorities.

There will be efforts by Republicans and Democrats moving forward to do just that.

BLITZER: But you say let the president have this one but then go ahead and change the law, is that what you're saying?

BANKS: I hate to appear intellectually dishonest about this, Wolf. That's not the case. In this case, the president has exercised the authority that he has, that Congress granted him. I believe that that's very clear.

But the way forward for those of us who do have reservations about that authority that the president clearly has is to rein in that authority. That's why I'm working on legislation with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House to look at ways that we can reform that Emergency Powers Act and take much of that authority back away from the president and give it back to the legislative branch of the Congress. (CROSSTALK)

BANKS: -- the Senate or the House accomplishments that in either way.


BANKS: I think there's a better way to do it.

BLITZER: What do you say to the 12 Republican senators who voted against the president today?

BANKS: I don't know each of their groundings in doing so. I know they've expressed the same types of reservations that I explained, that I attempted to explain in my tweet to my constituents and which you shared with your viewers, Wolf.

But at the end of the day, the president did what Congress gave him the authority to do years before I became a congressman, exercising those emergency powers authorities. The best thing we can do is put a bill on the floor of the House or the Senate that would rein in those authorities and the president even tweeted today that he agreed with that way forward.

BLITZER: So would you say, assuming that no additional new legislation is passed, that a future Democratic president would have the authority to declare a national emergency, as the president has done, and to take Defense Department funds, for example, and use them for something else that the president considers to be a national emergency, like, let's say, gun control or climate change?

BANKS: Sure, Wolf. As a conservative, I am concerned about that precedent. But the precedent is already there. Presidents have declared since this authority was given to the president in the late '70s over 55 times that presidents have used the emergency powers authorities.

Even President Obama using those authority authorities for matters related to transnational gangs and President Clinton using those authorities for illegal drugs coming over the border as well.

So the precedent was already there before President Trump exercised it in this case. Again, I don't think canceling this particular emergency action by the president is the best way forward. Let's put legislation on the floor that reins in those authorities overall for him and future presidents. That's what I would support.

BLITZER: Because those 12 Republicans in the Senate that voted against the president, are deeply concerned this undermines the House of Representatives and the Senate, the legislative branch of the government, and gives added power to the executive branch, namely the president of the United States. He is now going to be forced to use his first veto since becoming

president because members of his own party refused to back him on what is clearly his signature issue, this border wall with Mexico.

Was this a significant rebuke to President Trump?

BANKS: I don't know if I would take it that way. But back to my earlier point, obviously if we put a bill on the floor that would rein in these emergency powers authorities, you're going to get a majority in the House and the Senate that would vote for those actions.

So why not move forward with legislation that does that?

That would accomplish a whole lot more than just in this one case, where clearly Democrats disagree with the wall funding, which is what this is all about at the end of the day.

BLITZER: I want to move on to another legislative issue. The House unanimously passed a resolution, demanding the full release of the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report to Congress and to the American public. That resolution passed 420-0.

You were among those voting in favor. As you know, the president keeps calling the whole Mueller investigation a witch hunt and a hoax.

Why did you vote in favor of releasing the final report?

BANKS: It's the right thing to do. It's what the vast majority of American people want. They want to draw their own conclusions from the final Mueller report. Whether they're Republicans or Democrats, conservative, liberal, whether they like President Trump or hate President Trump, almost all Americans want this to be public so that they can determine for themselves whether or not there is anything serious in the report that actions should be taken up on.

I've said from the very beginning, Wolf, that this investigation is important, that the actions by Russia to meddle in our election process in 2016 is real and serious.

And hopefully this report gets to the bottom of many of those matters so that the American people can see what really occurred and we can decide what to do about it moving forward.

BLITZER: Transparency is always good. Congressman Jim Banks, thanks for joining us.

BANKS: Great to be with you.

BLITZER: More breaking news. President Trump is vowing to use his veto power after the Senate's stunning rebuke of his national emergency declaration.

Are there enough votes on Capitol Hill to override a presidential veto?

And is the Mueller investigation drawing to a close? We may get a key clue tomorrow with a status report for a key figure in the special counsel's probe.





BLITZER: Breaking news: after a dozen Republicans joined Senate Democrats on a resolution blocking the president's declaration of a national emergency in order to build a border wall, the president responded with a one-word tweet, all in caps, "VETO."

Let's talk about that.

Is this vote against the emergency declaration so far the biggest congressional rebuke, Gloria, of the president?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's big. And it's the second one that happened this week after pulling back American aid to Saudi forces in Yemen. So that's twice.

It is a rebuke, because it comes from Republicans across the spectrum, libertarian like Rand Paul, a moderate like Susan Collins or Senator Murkowski. I think yes because the president lobbied hard for this. He told people, A, this was a matter of loyalty to him. And this is his biggest campaign issue.

And members of Congress just said these Republicans said, you know what?


BORGER: If we don't have the power of the pursestrings, who are we and what are we doing here?

And they consider it congressional prerogative, because they're right and a constitutional prerogative, because they're right. And when this gets challenged in court, the president is going to veto it. He will succeed. This will -- this vote will bolster arguments in court against it.

BLITZER: As Gloria says, Jackie, this border wall issue has been the president's signature issue, going back to the campaign. Build a wall and let Mexico pay for it. Mexico's not exactly paying for it.

Why did this emergency declaration by the president cross the line for so many Republican senators?

JACKIE ALEMANY, "THE WASHINGTON POST" ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, I want to echo what Gloria said. I think we should view this as a rejection of the president's signature campaign promise. Trump phrased that himself. If you are voting against this, you are voting against me and you are voting against the wall.

But I talked to a number of senators and their aides this week, including some of those who supported the termination resolution and they said again what Gloria just said, which is that they're appropriators. If they're giving Trump this power to appropriate himself, why are they in Congress and why are they serving?

There is a serious disconnect and there has been for months now between the president and Congress. The White House believed that the president was on solid constitutional grounds to do this. And Congress has consistently disagreed with it.

But I think at the end of the day, the way we saw the decision split, Thom Tillis flip at the very last minute, there were political implications for the senators here.

BLITZER: There's a lot of political implications. The president will veto this legislation. He made that clear today. There are not enough votes in the House and Senate to override a veto. This will wind up in the courts, right?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think absolutely and I think the president has known that from the very beginning. We saw sort of the messaging, even as he was tinkering with whether he wanted to rule it out or not. He knew he would get blocked in the lower courts, he would get blocked in the 9th Circuit and go to the Supreme Court.

The idea here has always been the courts will ultimately decide a constitutional question like this in the first place. But to Gloria's point, just from an optics standpoint, the fact that there was bipartisan support for this resolution of disapproval, I think, speaks to the fact that Congress had no intention of wanting to approve this type of appropriation in the first place.

BLITZER: So how's it going to play out in the courts?

This could go on potentially for a long time, months and months.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY ATTORNEY: Yes, this is nowhere close to being concluded as a legal matter. The legal question was never about whether or not Trump had the authority to declare a national emergency.

It was whether he could do so offering precontextual reasons and more specifically whether or not he could use the funds for that purpose. A national emergency declaration is not a magic wand by which the president can spend money for whatever he wants.

He has invoked statutory authorities that allow him to use construction funds for military necessities. So to the point that Laura was making, I do think that the fact that the president had to veto this, is that courts are going to be less likely to defer to the president in court there. They see this as a rejection.

I do think this is the worst fears coming true or one of the worst fears about the president coming true. It's not that he won't be too strong in his use of the office but that Congress might come and pass the very types of legislation.

We heard the congressman earlier suggesting it essentially leaves the office in a even weaker condition than he found it.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens with the veto.

Stick around. We have much more on all the breaking news, right after this.


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: We're back with our political and legal analyst. And Laura, the House voted 420 to nothing. All of the Democrats, the Republicans, a few people didn't vote on a resolution demanding that the Justice Department eventually release the entire Robert Mueller Russia report. Does this vote have any teeth as far as influencing the new Attorney General Bill Barr and convincing him to do the right thing and let the American public and Congress see the results?

LAURA JARRETT, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: So clearly Congress has strong feelings about this. I don't know the last time you saw 420 to zero on something on a bipartisan basis in Washington, no less. I think look the Attorney General knows that the public wants a full accounting of what Mueller has found. He said that during his Senate confirmation hearing. The question is just how much he's going to reveal.

Now, the House vote here in some ways is more symbolic, I think, than anything to show how much that people feel strongly about this. They know their constituents want that. The Senate does not appear poised to take this up. So from a realistic standpoint, query how much that will really happen here, but I think it is meaningful, and I think obviously the Justice Department is paying attention to what Congress is saying here.

BLITZER: Well, do you think there's public pressure, Susan, from Congress is going to have a real impact on the Attorney General.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY ATTORNEY, CNN: So I don't know how much of an impact Barr's individual thinking. With that said, I do think that it's going to impact whether or not the report comes out and that's because politics really is the name of the game here. There is nothing that prevents Bill Barr from making this report public with a very limited exception of some sort of Grand Jury materials.

Now, the new Trump administration is not going to get away with just stonewalling. This is not the President's tax returns. This is not Jared Kushner's security clearance.


This is single most important political documents since Watergate and so this is absolutely going to be litigated. I do think that is an initial matter we might see Barr attempting to not produce all the information and then later we'll have Congress actually fight this. I think it's going to be a case that goes all the way up to the Supreme Court.

One thing worth noting is that Nixon strategy in Watergate, he knew what was on those tapes. He knew that it was the end of his presidency. He fought to keep them secret saying, "It's not about protecting me, it's about protecting the office." We might see a similar strategy here. With that said, the harder the administration fights, the stronger the suspicion is going to be that there's something really, really bad.

BLITZER: It didn't exactly turn out that great for Nixon.

HENNESSEY: It did not.

BLITZER: All of that fighting. The President keeps calling the whole Mueller probe a witch hunt, a hoax or witch hoax he once called it. And all of these Republicans seem to have at least a vote of confidence in Mueller, they want it to be released.

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, I'm not so sure it's because their vote of confidence in Mueller. I think what they'd like to do is see the document and then describe it perhaps as a political document rather than a legal document. I mean, they're going to be searching for very different things. Then, the democrats are going to be searching for in this document and who knows what they're going to find.

I mean, you have a conservative like Matt Gaetz of Florida who said, "Let it all hang out and let's just see. Let's put it under a microscope." Because if there is going to be any kind of impeachment inquiry, the Republicans are looking in this Mueller report for ammunition just as the democrats are quite frankly. And so then calling for transparency, the question that I have is what's their influence on the President of the United States.

I would assume that right now they're thinking we want it truncated, we want a summary, et cetera, et cetera. But if enough conservative Republicans go to the President and say, "You know what? We want to see this because we think we can help you in any kind of impeachment inquiry." Who knows what they'll say?

BLITZER: My suspicion is Jackie that the President doesn't want this entire report to be released because there could be some awkward points in there, may be no hard evidence of so called collusion or anything like that, but there could be some other embarrassing nuggets and he wouldn't like that to be released. The Republicans are now saying at least publicly release every word.

JACKIE ALEMANY, ANCHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST POWER UP: Unfortunately for the president it's not up to him about whether or not this report is going to be released, no matter how many tweets he issues on the matter. But I do think that actually what republicans run the risk of doing with Lindsey Graham trying to block this resolution from being agreed upon even though there's obviously overwhelming bipartisan support to see the Mueller report is that I think Graham - there's not enough foresight here.

He, I think, runs the risk of kicking the can down the road and exacerbating the tug of war between Congress and the Department of Justice. And ultimately resulting in potentially subpoenaing Robert Mueller and coming before the House Judiciary Committee and having yet another blockbuster hearing and sort of adding another theatrical dramatic level to this whole thing. And I think if the Senate did just decide to take this up, it's one thing that they could push aside and move on.

BLITZER: We could learn a bit more about the status of the Mueller report tomorrow. There's supposed to be a status report on Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's long time deputy. He's been cooperating, pleading guilty, has been cooperating with Mueller, the U.S. Attorney, the Southern District of New York, what do you anticipate happening tomorrow?

JARRETT: Well, I think there's a big question about whether they say, "Look, Judge, we need some more time. We're not quite ready for sentencing yet." Or whether they say, "We're all done with him, whenever you want, we're ready to go." If they say that, I think that is yet another signal that we are in the end game here.

And it may be the fact that they still need him for the Southern District of New York. That may not be fully fleshed out. But to the extent that Manafort is now going to prison, his cooperation on that piece of it should be done. So if they do hold back anything, I think that's what we should look for.

BLITZER: All right, guys thank you very much. There's more breaking news. We're following a breaking news story coming into the situation right now. Standby for a live update on the rockets fire from Gaza targeting Tel Aviv in Israel. We'll have a live report. Also, former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke joins the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination and draws the attention of President Trump.


More breaking news now, siren sounded in Tel Aviv tonight and residents rush for shelter as the Israeli military says two rockets were fired at Israel, Tel Aviv specifically from Gaza. Let's go live to CNN's Melissa Bell. She's joining us from Jerusalem. Melissa, what are you learning?

MELISSA BELL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Wolf, what we know for the time being is that these two rockets were fired from Gaza. We know that they were not intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome system, but that no casualties ensued. And I think that what matters here, Wolf, is that this does represent a serious escalation not since 2014 have rockets been fired from Gaza towards Tel Aviv.

And so really the question tonight is what the response will be. I don't think there's much doubt that there will be a response to question is what sort of response it will be and one of the big questions tonight is who my have been responsible for the firing of those rockets. [17:45:03]

For the time being, we don't have any clarity on that. We don't know who precisely was involved, whether it was Hamas or whether it might have been one of the other groups that are present in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Jihad, for instance. That is one of the questions that Israelis will be looking very carefully at trying to get an answer to.

In the meantime though, it is clear that there has to be a response to this. It does represent a serious escalation. What sort of response we're just coming up to midnight here in Jerusalem. What kind of response will come from the Israeli Defense Forces is the big question tonight here in Israel. Clearly, that decision will be a political one.

And bear in mind, Wolf, the fact that we are in an election period. We're coming up to that election on the 9th of April, what will Israel decide should be the appropriate response? I think that's what everyone is looking to see and this is what we will be looking for in the next couple of hours to try and determine precisely what will come, what kind of response towards Gaza will come from Israel.

For the time being though clearly those sirens sounding in Tel Aviv will be extremely worrying to Israelis. We've heard tonight from the Mayor of Tel Aviv telling people to go about their business, but to expect the fact that there may be more to be prepared for, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we'll stay very close touch with you, Melissa. You'll update us as you get more information. Thank you. And stay with us for more breaking news here in Washington. A dozen Senate Republicans join with Democrats to block President Trump's national emergency at the border and the President responds with a veto threat. Also ahead, we'll have the latest Democrat to join the presidential race. He's drawing the President's attention. He's drawing the President's criticism. We'll update you on that as well.


Newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is shrugging off the President's criticism that he moves his hands too much when he talks. O'Rourke, a former Texas Congressman gave up his seat last year to make an unsuccessful challenge to Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Now, he's taking on an even bigger challenge. CNN's Leyla Santiago is joining us live in Iowa right now where O'Rourke has been campaigning already. So Leyla, what's the reaction so far?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I'll tell you what, Wolf, this room was packed not too long ago as O'Rourke spoke here to the IBEW. And when I spoke to one man who I asked his reaction after the fact, I said, "What was it that you took away from the conversation?" There was a corporate local agg issue that came up and Beto O'Rourke admitted that he did not know much about it. He said he liked that he admitted that he didn't know much about it and that he asked for more information, for more understanding.

Another woman at a coffee shop we went to walked in undecided came out saying she wanted to vote for Beto O'Rourke. When I asked her why, she said because she felt inspired. But here's where they can all agree, almost every single one of them will tell you it's still very early.


BETO O'ROURKE, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running to serve you as President of the United States of America. Thank you.



SANTIAGO(off-camera): Beto O'Rourke's official campaign announcement coming via video after months of speculation.


O'ROURKE: The challenges that we face right now ...


SANTIAGO: With his wife Amy, the former Texas Congressman from El Paso laid out his motivation for getting into the race. First stop, Keokuk, Iowa.


O'ROURKE: Good morning. Good to see you.


SANTIAGO: The Southeast part of a tour today that includes stops in three counties that flipped from President Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump four years later. It's his first visit to the State.


O'ROURKE: This is my first time to ever visit Iowa.


SANTIAGO: O'Rourke hoping to win over many undecided Democrats on key issues like healthcare.


O'ROURKE: In my opinion, it is guaranteed high quality healthcare.


SANTIAGO: Climate change.


O'ROURKE: We face catastrophe and crisis on this planet ... (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: And trade.


O'ROURKE: I want us to be successful in holding China accountable.


SANTIAGO: He's promising the largest grassroots campaign ever.


O'ROURKE: There's no sense in campaigning if you already know every single answer, if you're not willing to listen to those whom you wish to serve.


SANTIAGO: It's what he says helps shape his thoughts and policies in an already crowded field of presidential hopefuls. We asked him how he plans to differentiate himself.


O'ROURKE: I'm just going to be me, you know?


SANTIAGO: That means unscripted town halls and engaging with voters through social media. It's how he energized Texas voters and raised $80 million during his Senate race against Senator Ted Cruz. An election he lost by three points.


O'ROURKE: Thank you for allowing me to be here with you.


SANTIAGO: Within hours of today's announcement, O'Rourke staff says he received donations from all 50 states. The focus for Democrats whether the former Texas Congressman is the party's best hope of taking back the White House in 2020.


O'ROURKE: It is fundamental to our chances of success that we defeat Donald Trump in 2020.


SANTIAGO: President Trump weighing in on O'Rourke's announcement this morning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's got a lot of hand movement. I've never seen so much hand movement. I said, "Is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?"


SANTIAGO: CNN asked O'Rourke about the President's comment at a later stop in Burlington. His response ...



O'ROURKE: I have nothing to say to that. I think people want us to rise above the pettiness, the smallness.



SANTIAGO: And this is day one of a three-day trip in Iowa. Later this month, he plans to be back in El Paso, his hometown for a big launch party there, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Leyla Santiago in Iowa for us. Thank you. Coming up, breaking news, President Trump is vowing a veto after a dozen Republican senators joined Democrats in delivering a stunning rebuke to the President.

Happening Now breaking news, forcing a veto.