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THE SITUATION ROOM

Grand Jury Info is "Primary Obstacle" to Release of Mueller Report; House Intel Republicans Call on Chairman Schiff to Resign; Interview with Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Member, Oversight Committee, on Congressional Feuds; Trump Calls Smollett "Absolute Embarrassment" to U.S. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 28, 2019 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news primary obstacle: as Democrats demand to see the full Mueller report, a sources says the primary obstacle is the presence of grand jury information.

Will the attorney general allow lawmakers to see that material?

Fiery exchange: the battle rages over the Mueller report as President Trump and GOP allies demand the resignation of the House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who says Republicans are OK with what he calls immoral and unethical behavior by the Trump team.

Demanding an apology: lawyers for the actor Jussie Smollett demand an apology after Chicago's mayor says he should reimburse the city for the cost of the investigation.

And President Trump says the Justice Department should review the case following Smollett -- I'm quoting him now, "an embarrassment to the country."

Nuclear football: he's now feuding with Puerto Rico's governor but when President Trump toured the hurricane zone, he was consumed by his feud with Kim Jong-un and even pointed to the briefcase known as the nuclear football, threatening to use it.

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

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

BLITZER: Breaking news: while Democrats are insisting on seeing the complete Mueller report, a source now says the primary obstacle is the presence of grand jury information, adding Congress is entitled to view it. That comes as an all-out fight rages over the Mueller report.

President Trump saying House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff should be forced to resign from Congress.

On his way to a campaign rally, the president again insisting that Mueller found no obstruction and no collusion, taking their cue from the president, Intelligence Committee members, they're calling on Schiff to step down as chairman.

But Schiff is standing firm, calling the Trump team's behavior immoral, unethical and unpatriotic. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress must see the full report, calling attorney general Bill Barr's decision to summarize it -- I'm quoting her now -- "arrogant and condescending."

I'll speak to congressman Gerry Connolly of the Oversight Committee. Our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage.

Our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

You're getting a key explanation for what's holding up the release of the Mueller report.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A Democratic staffer with knowledge of a call between Gerry Nadler and Bill Barr that occurred Wednesday night that says that one reason why that the Congress and the public may not get the full report from Bob Mueller is the presence of grand jury information that's in the report.

Now according to the source, Nadler offered to Bill Barr the prospect of going together to court, to get a court order in order to release this grand jury information. Now Barr apparently, according to the source, was open to the idea.

But that's not as far as Nadler wanted to go. He got a commitment. Democrats believe they're entitled to this information. They say that there's precedent on their side, like in the case involving the Watergate scandal, grand jury information coming to Congress.

They believe they're on firm, legal ground. And they say that they could even go to courts themselves to demand this grand jury information.

Now also on this call, Democrats came away with the information from Barr that he does not plan to go to the White House and give the White House the opportunity to review it first.

There's still a lot of questions among Democrats about how those executive privilege questions will be answered and whether there will be any effort whatsoever by the administration to assert executive privilege.

One other aspect, too, Wolf, from this call, there's been a lot of questions about why Bob Mueller did not make the decision about whether to charge the president with obstruction of justice, instead kicking it to the top two Justice Department political appointees to make that decision, Rod Rosenstein and Bill Barr.

According to the source I asked, whether Nadler pressed Barr about this very question, why Mueller didn't charge the president with obstruction. A source says he did not answer that question.

So one of the major unanswered questions still remaining about this four-page summary and why the special counsel did not move forward on that obstruction question.

BLITZER: Important information, Manu.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are echoing the president's call for chairman Adam Schiff to resign. He is standing firm, making for a rather dramatic, almost unprecedented exchange today we heard during a hearing of the Intelligence Committee. Tell us about that.

RAJU: A lot of fireworks at the House Intelligence Committee hearing and a committee that's --

[17:05:00]

RAJU: -- been rife with partisan conflict, stemming from the last Congress. Today after Republicans demanded Schiff resign from his chairmanship and after the president called Schiff a disgrace because of his claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, in the aftermath of Bill Barr's letter, saying that the Mueller report did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.

Adam Schiff made it clear he was not going to take the Republican punches lying down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R-TX), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Your willingness to continue to promote a demonstrably false narrative is alarming. The findings of special counsel conclusively reviewed in your past and present assertions have exposed you as having abused your position to knowingly promote false information.

Having damaged the integrity of this committee and undermined the faith in the U.S. government and its institutions, we have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation as chairman of the committee.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CALIF.), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: My colleagues may think it's OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that's OK.

But I don't think it's OK. I think it's immoral. I think it's unethical. I think it's unpatriotic and, yes, I think it's corrupt and evidence of collusion. And the day we do think that's OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: I will not yield.

Mr. Ambassador --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the gentleman yield because you just made -- ?

SCHIFF: I will -- I will --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- all of us that I think --

SCHIFF: I will not -- I will not yield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- we think you ought to allow us to speak of what we --

SCHIFF: You've used your five minutes to speak. You attacked me in your opening statement and I --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not had an opportunity to respond at all, especially to your statements of what we think. Because no one over here thinks that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: And, Wolf, also today, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in- law and senior adviser, unexpectedly appeared at the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their Russia investigation. So at least one investigation is still moving forward at the moment on a bipartisan basis.

BLITZER: Seeing that exchange, Manu, reminded me of what the House -- what Mueller concluded, what the U.S. intelligence community concluded, that one of the Russians objectives in interfering in the U.S. elections was to sow political dissent here in the United States.

If that was one of their objectives, as they all concluded with the case, clearly they've done exactly that by raising this issue. Manu Raju, thank you very much.

President Trump is on his way to a campaign rally, where he may try to fan the flames over the Mueller report. He has a good start just now as he left the White House. Abby Philip is on the scene for us.

Update our viewers.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president just left here a few minutes ago for Michigan for the first campaign rally since the Mueller report was summarized in that Barr letter. The president for days has been taking a victory lap over what he calls a vindication but also going on the offense.

This rally tonight could be one of those opportunities for President Trump to really ramp up his supporters. And he gave us a little preview of what he might say tonight on the South Lawn.

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TRUMP: Well, look, I've been going through that for almost two years. It's really much more than that. If you look back, you could probably look at the insurance policy area in terms of timing. It's a disgrace what happened. This was a terrible thing that was put on to our country. Nobody has seen anything like this, probably never happened before. Beautiful conclusion. I haven't seen the report. Beautiful conclusion. And there was no collusion at all. There never was. Everybody knew it. I wish he could have gotten it in one week instead of taking almost two years but the result was great. No obstruction. No collusion. No anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And I need to note that the president is also traveling with two of his outside advisers. David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski, but Bossie has been one of the voices urging the president to go after the people who have been investigating him over the past two years.

So he's clearly surrounding himself with people who are urging him to go on the offense. And at the same time, while the president is dealing with this Mueller fallout, he's also trying to change the subject to health care.

This week the administration announced they are seeking to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act law. Sources tell us the White House has no plan. The president says now that they are in no hurry. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So ObamaCare has been an absolute disaster. I have asked John Barrasso, senator, bill Cassidy, who is a terrific health care person, Rick Scott and others to take a look, form a really great plan.

[17:10:00]

TRUMP: We're winning the lawsuit to terminate ObamaCare in Texas. We are winning the Texas lawsuit and right now we're on the winning side. Hopefully, we'll win at the appellate decision, to terminate ObamaCare. The cost of ObamaCare to people is far too much. The deductibility is ridiculous. It averages more than $7,000, meaning it's unusable. ObamaCare has been a disaster. We will take care of pre-existing conditions better than they're taken care of now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: The president is suggesting a small committee of Republicans on Capitol Hill tasked with coming up with a new health care bill. As of this moment, though, we know that there is no plan that the White House has at the moment.

While Republicans undoubtedly do not like ObamaCare, many of them on Capitol Hill are nervous about what happens if the Affordable Care Act gets thrown out and there is nothing there to replace it.

But sources are also telling us this could also be about politics for President Trump. He's trying to shore up his supporters on a major vulnerability for him, making it clear that he's still working on this issue, knowing full well that it's not very likely that an Affordable Care Act replacement will make it through a divided Congress any time soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: Health care will be a huge issue in the 2020 contest. Abby Phillip, thank you very much.

Gerry Connolly of Virginia joining us.

Thank you very much.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA.), MEMBER, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Thank you.

BLITZER: That exchange at the House Intelligence Committee, they used to have a strong tradition of bipartisanship, nonpartisanship, Republicans and Democrats working together. That is gone.

CONNOLLY: At least for now, I think that's right.

BLITZER: Have you ever seen something like that in the House Intelligence Committee, where the chairman -- I know they have had problems with Devin Nunes. Last time he was forced to remove himself over some issues. It's getting worse. It's pretty extraordinary.

CONNOLLY: Yes. I think this is a pattern that has not only affected the Intelligence Committee but frankly the entire Congress. Increasingly, my Republican colleagues have decided that their sole function with respect to this president is to enable and justify and rationalize his behavior.

As you heard, obviously for a lot of Democrats, Adam Schiff key among them, this is profoundly offensive, given the stakes. It isn't normal. It isn't OK to be collaborating with, coordinating with Russian operatives about the presidential election. That's not normal. We don't do that. You'll have to explain yourself.

The fact that Mueller, apparently, based on a four-page summary -- we haven't seen the 300-page report -- has concluded that there was no criminal conspiracy of collusion, doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of unusual, if not inappropriate contacts.

BLITZER: Can Adam Schiff continue to be effective as the chairman with almost half of the Republicans saying he should resign?

CONNOLLY: I really don't think we can have a situation where the Republican minority will decide who the Democratic majority chairman will be. We're not going to concede that power, having just won.

BLITZER: Even if it undermines the credibility and effectiveness of that committee?

CONNOLLY: Well, frankly, that's -- what would be the alternative? Some milquetoast person who offends nobody and pleases nobody and the committee does nothing?

BLITZER: Because here is one ramification, as someone who has covered the intelligence community. The Trump administration, every executive branch, always share the most sensitive, national security information, classified information with what's called the Gang of Eight. That would include the chairman and the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

There's going to be a reluctance right now on the part of the executive branch to share information with Adam Schiff.

CONNOLLY: I don't know that. I don't know what his relationship is with, say, the head of the CIA. I will point out to you that there's a reluctance between the intelligence community and the President of the United States in terms of at least conclusions with respect to intelligence. After all, it's not Adam Schiff who disagreed with our intelligence organizations. It was Donald Trump, about whether there was Russian interference in our election.

So if we're going to look at that standard, then we ought to call for noncooperation between the intelligence community and the president of the United States.

BLITZER: So a bottom line is, as I've just said, if the Russian -- one of the Russian objectives was to sow political dissent, undermine democracy in the United States by interfering in the 2016 election, as the U.S. international community has concluded and the Mueller report has concluded, according to the Bill Barr letter sent to Congress, that was mission accomplished for them.

CONNOLLY: Tragically, yes --

[17:15:00]

CONNOLLY: -- I think that's right. I think they got far more than what they invested in that operation than they even expected.

BLITZER: A House Democrat tells CNN that the primary obstacle right now in releasing the full Mueller report is the presence of grand jury material. That normally is not made available.

Is that something you're going to demand to see?

Obviously if it's redacted for classified information, you understand that.

But what about grand jury information?

CONNOLLY: I think here we have to weigh public interest. Normally, of course, there's reason to protect the testimony done in secret before a grand jury.

In this case, that has to be weighed against the right of the public to know one of the most important special prosecutor reports ever filed about a President of the United States. Apparently it's 300 pages. We've only got a four-page summary.

I think the latter trumps the former. We've got to err on the side of release, even if it compromises grand jury testimony.

BLITZER: The Oversight Committee has now requested 10 years of statements from President Trump's accounting firm, following the accusations from his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Donald Trump, in his words, routinely misled lenders and insurance companies. "The Washington Post" released a report today, detailing what they call several instances where the president reportedly, allegedly inflated his net worth, inflating a number of home lots for sale at a golf club, adding 10 stories to Trump Tower, exaggerating the size of a Virginia vineyard, exaggerating the value of a Westchester County estate, hiding buildings with loan debt.

In your opinion, does that amount to outright fraud?

CONNOLLY: I think this depends on the nature of the document. If you're producing a brochure that you make available at some kind of fair or festival or promotion setting, that in and of itself, I don't think, would constitute fraud. It's deceptive marketing but it might not rise to the level of crime.

On the other hand, if you are presenting that as documentation to justify a loan from a financial institution and you knowingly falsify the information you're providing to inflate the value in order to qualify for more money for a loan, that is called fraud.

BLITZER: One document says Trump Tower in New York states it's 68 stories; it's 58 stories. So that's an issue that people are looking at.

CONNOLLY: Well, we do know size matters to this president.

BLITZER: Congressman Gerry Connolly, thank you for joining us.

CONNOLLY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're watching other news that's unfolding right now, including some breaking news. Lawyers for the actor Jussie Smollett are demanding an apology after Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel says he should reimburse the city for the cost of the investigation.

And the president says the Justice Department should step right in, calling the Smollett case -- I'm quoting now -- "an absolute embarrassment to the country."

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[17:20:00]

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BLITZER: Breaking news over the controversy of actor Jussie Smollett. This afternoon President Trump labeled the case, I'm quoting now, "an absolute embarrassment to our country."

His remarks came after the City of Chicago sent Smollett a request for $130,000 for covering the cost of investigating his claim of being assaulted.

CNN's Ryan Young is following the story.

Update us, Ryan.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's sort of unreal, Wolf. From the White House to Michigan Avenue, everyone wants to know what Jussie Smollett knows. They want to know, is it a hoax or was he really attacked?

I can tell you the city believes it's a hoax and now they're saying pay up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG (voice-over): The pressure building against embattled "Empire" star Jussie Smollett.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Jussie. Welcome back to L.A., Jussie.

YOUNG (voice-over): Back in L.A. today with his lawyers in Chicago, no longer fighting to get his record expunged or raising the eyes of the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

YOUNG (voice-over): And there may be a lot to see. Media outlets requesting sealed documents relating to the actor's hate crime case to be unsealed as more questions mount about the stunning decision to dismiss charges.

Why were all 16 felony counts against him dropped?

TINA GLANDIAN, SMOLLETT ATTORNEY: We have nothing to be concerned about because there was nothing on our end to request this, to do anything improper.

YOUNG (voice-over): The lead prosecutor says his charges were dropped after a review of this case, he had no prior felonies, wasn't a danger to the community and agreed to a $10,000 bond forfeiture.

GLANDIAN: He had asked if they would do that and we advised him that he should do that.

YOUNG (voice-over): Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel insisting Smollett lied about the attack and wants him to pay the city back $130,000 for the investigation. RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: Given that he doesn't feel any sense of contrition, remorse, my recommendations, when he writes the check, in the memo section, he can put the word I'm accountable for the hoax.

YOUNG (voice-over): Smollett's team firing back, saying in a statement, "It is the mayor and the police chief who owe Jussie, owe him an apology for dragging an innocent man's character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough."

Some Republicans piling on, state lawmakers pushing a bill to prevent any filmmaker to make money off a production featuring Smollett.

MICHAEL MCAULIFFE (R), ILLINOIS STATE HOUSE: Someone like Justin Smollett or someone else that would commit the same type of ad should not benefit from this generous, robust tax credit.

YOUNG (voice-over): President Trump also weighing in.

TRUMP: I think that case is an absolute embarrassment --

[17:25:00]

TRUMP: -- to our country and somebody has to at least take a very good, hard look at it.

YOUNG (voice-over): Earlier tweeting, "FBI and DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago.

When asked today about the FBI's role, the Justice Department refused to weigh in. There's also growing scrutiny on Cook County state attorney Kim Foxx, who recused herself from the case.

KIM FOXX, COOK COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY: At the time I recused myself, the two persons of interest that CPD was looking at had not yet been in custody, had not yet been talked to.

YOUNG (voice-over): The top state Republican wants the Illinois attorney general to review how her office handled the case saying, quote, "For someone to falsify a hate crime and to be let off the hook is not only unfair but sets a dangerous precedent for a high-profile cases."

Kim Foxx also called out by a national district attorney's group, saying, in part, "Her recusal should have applied to the entire office, not just her."

Prosecutors insist there was a credible case against Smollett. But Smollett's attorneys pushed back and say the actor was, indeed, attacked and point the blame at the two brothers involved.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the chances that that's the case, that he saw somebody with light skin?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there is -- obviously, you can disguise that, you can put makeup on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG: Yes, actually suggesting that maybe they had white face. Never heard that one before. Of course we're still talking to detectives about this case, to see what new information is coming.

But Wolf, just to give you an idea of how charged this is, on Monday, the Chicago police union will be protesting this out in front of the courthouse. Will be interesting to see how this twists and turns again.

BLITZER: Amazing developments in Chicago. Thank you very much. Ryan Young on the scene for us.

Much more ahead on all the breaking stories this hour, including new details about what's keeping the Justice Department from sharing the full Mueller report with Congress and the country.

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WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: President Trump is on his way to a political rally in Michigan right now. You can see the crowd is already gathering in the Grand Rapids, Michigan. The President will be there fairly soon. Earlier, the President and his Republican allies in Congress unleashed a ferocious attack on the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Congress Adam Schiff. Let's ask our Political and Legal Analyst for some serious analysis.

And Sara Murray starting with you. I'd like you to listen to the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN MCCARTHY, Minority Leader: Does American truly believe or does Adam Schiff truly believe he knows something more than Mueller that 40 FBI agents, 19 attorneys, 1,800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses, looking into 13 different countries and saying no collusion at all. He needs to resign from the Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Why do Republicans feel so emboldened right now to go after Adam Schiff?

SARA MURRAY, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I mean look Adam Schiff has been a thorn in the side of the President for quite a while now and so it's pretty clear that he's the president's top target. But I also think you have Schiff out there essentially saying he still believes there's collusion after we got Barr's assessment of Mueller's findings saying there's not an indication that there was actually collusion or coordination between Donald Trump and his associates with the Russians.

Now, I think you're hitting the loggerhead of a political question versus a legal question. Bill Barr drew a legal conclusion from what the Special Counsel gave him and the Special Counsel drew a legal conclusion. But we have Schiff out there saying, "Look, he still behaved unethically." That's not the same as collusion legally, but I think that's enough to spark the ire of Republicans and clearly we've seen many calling for his resignation.

BLITZER: Chris Cillizza, how do you see it?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN: Sarah is exactly right. I think that this is a political maneuver. Kevin McCarthy calling for Adam Schiff to resign from the Intelligence Committee is not going to make Adam Schiff resign from the Intelligence Committee. Nancy Pelosi said he should resign that's another thing. In fact, it's likely to embolden Democrats to rally behind Adam Schiff.

So I think we are now where we always, I think, knew we would be at some point in the Mueller report after the Mueller was finished, I'm not going to say came out because it hasn't come out yet. But we've gotten to it faster than I thought we would, which is just the political back-and-forth. At this point, Donald Trump from the Sunday afternoon until now, no collusion, fully exonerated.

And, again, there's like many things she says, there are elements of the truth, it's the Stephen Colbert truthiness thing. There are elements of the truth in there, but it's not the whole truth and so what you're seeing I think really is just this fight over 2020. We've written stories, other people have written stories about how the Trump campaign is already weaponizing the Mueller reporter, trying to raise money off of it, trying to make it look as though, "See, the media was wrong all along."

I always point people back to this, 199 charges filed against 34 people and three entities. That's not nothing. That doesn't mean Donald Trump colluded with the Russians, but the idea that this was all the big hoax and a witch-hunt, tell that to Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, it's not just because it didn't bring down the President of the United States doesn't mean it wasn't a credible investigation launched by the way by Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein, a Trump appointee.

[17:35:01]

BLITZER: That's correct. Now, Kevin McCarthy, Sabrina, and the other Republican Members of the House Intelligence Committee, they want Schiff to resign as Chairman of the Committee. The President goes one big step further, he tweeted this morning, "Congressman Adam Schiff who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking should be forced to resign from Congress." From Congress, he goes one step further.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think he feels emboldened based on Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report. There's no question that Adam Schiff will not resign neither from his chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, nor from Congress.

I think that Adam Schiff actually came out very forcefully in his defense of his own conduct and the statements he has made, the point that he made today in public was that while the Special Counsel report may not have established a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow, that does not mean that the pattern of contacts, that Chris was just pointing out, between members of the Trump campaign or associates of the President and the Russian government or individuals with known ties to Russian intelligence were somehow now irrelevant. There are still so many unanswered questions about that 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York about the conversations around a potential Trump Tower Moscow project. Of course, Paul Manafort sharing internal polling data when he was at the helm of the campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik.

So I think that sort of reinforces the ways in which Democrats are going to continue to push for the full release of the report, because they believe that the Special Counsel may have made other determinations on aspects of coordination even if they did not find evidence of collusion.

CILLIZZA: Sixteen Trump associates, these numbers are important, 16 people associated with Donald Trump had contact with the Russians during the campaign or during the transition. Six of them lied about it to either Congress or federal investigators. Again, that doesn't mean that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians but the idea that Donald Trump pushes day in and day out on Twitter that this is nothing, it's a witch-hunt, this can never happen again.

What can never happen again? An investigation that led to a number of guilty pleas with people for a variety of crimes?

BLITZER: But Joey, let's not forget we've only seen a four-page summary of what is a - maybe a 300 or even longer Mueller report. There could still be a whole lot of very embarrassing damaging information involving the President of the United States. Are Republicans potentially getting ahead of themselves?

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, they are, Wolf. And yes, I would go one step further not that there could be damaging information, there is damaging information and let me explain. I don't say that as a partisan, I say that as an objective evaluator of what we know and what do we know. We know that there is no exoneration. There could be no collusion, no diversion, no whatever the branding the President says, but it explicitly says that he has not exonerated.

So if someone is not exonerated, to me that means that there's damning information there that could certainly hold him accountable and that's certainly problematic.

BLITZER: Everybody stick around. There's more news we're following. We'll do that right after a quick break.

[17:40:00]

We're back with our Political and our Legal experts. Sara Murray, CNN has learned that the Mueller report is more than 300 pages. We got a four-page summary so far. Give us a little sense what you're hearing about the scope of this report.

MURRAY: More than 300 pages plus exhibits. And I expect that the exhibits probably run for many, many, many more pages and who knows if we'll ever see those. Look, we know that Bob Mueller's report was comprehensive. That's how it was described substantive, but also you just have to remember all of that stuff we learned about Michael Cohen from his original search warrants, how they had been backing his email back to 2015 that they've used all of these various warrants to keep track his phone calls, not to listen to them, to keep track of his phone calls and to collect data on his computer.

Mueller knew so much about all of these witnesses and I think we're going to see some of those details in whatever version we see publicly, but it shouldn't surprise us to know that this is a very substantive - substantial report. And again, I want to know how many pages those exhibits run, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker said that Bill Barr, the Attorney General summary in four pages was condescending, arrogant. It wasn't the right thing to do.

CILLIZZA: Here's what's difficult, if Bob Mueller - I keep doing that, if William Barr, Bill Barr, had issued nothing and spent all of this time between Sunday when we knew he - or Friday when we knew he had it till now going through it to offer a more fulsome summary, Democrats would criticize that too. For me, you have to see - we have to see more of the report to judge what Barr's letter did and did not say.

I'm with Joey and that the does not exonerate the President of the United States seems to suggest there's more in there even if it's not criminal, there's more in there than Barr led on. But I don't know how you could make a conclusion. I assume Nancy Pelosi is not seeing the report. I think you can make a conclusion that he was disingenuous and condescending if you don't know the source text, which I don't think we have seen, I don't she - or we have seen that. Maybe he was, but I just don't know that.

BLITZER: Sabrina, how aggressive are the Democrats going to be to get the whole report?

SIDDIQUI: Well, Democrats are making clear that they're going to keep on demanding the release of the full report and they want an entirely and redacted version of the report to be made available to them and available to the public. I think one of the main concerns that Democrats are raising is that they fear that there may be an effort to withhold some portions of the report under the guise of it being classified.

[17:45:02]

But that would instead perhaps be vehicle designed to protect the President or prevent the release of information that might incriminate the President and/or his associates. This is ultimately something that I think may well be litigated in the courts. It's something that could make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court, if it is not resolved by the Justice Department within and of itself.

BLITZER: But legally speaking, Joey, you're a legal expert. Is Congress entitled to see a very sensitive Grand Jury material?

JACKSON: Wolf, I wouldn't say entitled, I would say though that there's an interest for them to see it. So what I mean is by as a matter, of course, Grand Jury material wouldn't be given to Congress. But I think here and the congressman that you had on early, Connolly said it, I think, and I agree with him, that you have to balance the secrecy of a grand jury proceeding.

And to be clear, there are very good reasons why those proceedings a secret, protecting the integrity of the investigation, the target of investigation, don't want them to abscond from justice, want people to be clear and accurate therein. There are all kinds of good reasons to have secrecy on the other hand you want and when there's a significant public interest here, there could be released. And we saw that in 1974 where they released to the House Judiciary Committee on Watergate the Grand Jury proceedings. So I think they're on pretty firm ground.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stick around, there's more news we're following, including a CNN exclusive sources say President Trump made nuclear threats against North Korea during his controversial trip to tour Puerto Rico's storm damage.

[17:50:00

A CNN exclusive now, President Trump is locked in a bitter feud with Puerto Rico's Governor over disaster aid. But when the President toured the hurricane zone, he was consumed by his feud at that time with Kim Jong-Un. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. Jim, you're learning the President was distracted by what was then a war of words with the North Korean leader? What are you finding out?

JIM ACOSTA, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Oh, that's right, Wolf. Sources tell CNN President Trump was using some startling language when talking about North Korea when he visited Puerto Rico back in 2017. That's when he toured the island to see the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. That was the day when we remember the President was tossing paper towels out the storm victims.

Well, according to our sources, this comment that the President made came up in a conversation between Mr. Trump and Puerto Rico's Governor, Ricardo Rossello. This was on the same day as those paper towels. Now, the sources say during this conversation, the president pointed to an aide carrying the nuclear football, that's the briefcase used to authorize a nuclear strike and said that was something that he had for the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

The President said according to our sources, "This is what I have for Kim." That remark shocked the Governor who couldn't believe what he was hearing we are told, but during an exclusive interview with CNN Rossello did not want to discuss the matter saying that was a private conversation that he had with the President, but he did not deny the comment. Here's what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR: There were other topics that were being discussed and my view is that the sole focus of that trip should have been on Puerto Rico.

ACOSTA: But he was distracted by North Korea when he was there.

ROSSELLO: He was talking about a whole host of other issues, but I would rather leave those conversations internal.

ACOSTA: Do you deny that that happened?

ROSSELLO: I don't confirm or deny. I'd rather keep those things internally. But again the focus should be on Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, Rossello was in Washington today to lobby Congress for disaster relief money for Puerto Rico as their island is still waiting 10s of billions of dollars in funds to rebuild the island. This week, we're told Rossello's aides went to the White House to appeal for a meeting between the President and the Governor. Those aides tell us top White House officials, including Trade Advisor Peter Navarro threaten them to stop their complaining, adding the governor's, "Effing things up." That is in the words of aides to Governor Rossello.

Now, when asked about that, Governor Rossello told us his team will not be bullied and here's what he had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Does it feel that way, sometimes? Are you dealing with the bully?

ROSSELLO: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth.

ACOSTA: Just like that.

ROSSELLO: Just like that. It will be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, the President told Republican Senators earlier this week behind closed doors that Puerto Rico wasting disaster relief money. Rossello says that is not the case and that people in Puerto Rico believe they've been treated as second class citizens, Wolf.

BLITZER: As you know the President earlier just a little while ago, he pushed back hard. He's touting the billions of dollars in aid. He claims for Puerto Rico saying he's given more money to Puerto Rico than either Florida or Texas.

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. And that is not the case. Puerto Rico has only received the fraction of the billions of dollars that they need to rebuild the island, a fraction of the money that has been authorized and appropriated by Congress. And the President, you're right, was just asked about some of the Governor's comments earlier today. Mr. Trump insisted to reporters that he's done more for Puerto Rico than anybody else. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being and I think the people of Puerto Rico understand it. But you do have a Mayor of San Juan that frankly doesn't know what she's doing and the Governor, they got to spend the money wisely. They don't know how to spend the money and they're not spending it wisely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:55:02]

ACOSTA: Now, Puerto Rican leaders say that is simply not the case, Wolf. Rossello believes the only solution to give all of this basically kind of care that is needed down in Puerto Rico is for that island to have statehood, so they have been fighting for this up on Capitol Hill. Started that fight today. They believe they need to have that power up in Congress where right now their representatives have almost no political power, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House. Thanks for that report. Coming up, the breaking news as Democrats demand to see the full Mueller report, a congressional source says the primary obstacle is the presence of Grand Jury information. Will be Attorney General allow lawmakers to see that material?

[18:00:00]