Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Mar-a-Lago Security Breach; Interview With Rep. Jackie Speier (D) California; Congress Investigates White House Security Clearances; Rep. Jerry Nadler (D) New York And Rep. Adam Schiff (D) California To Wolf: Can't Give The Attorney General The Benefit Of The Doubt On Mueller Report; Trump: Ridiculous To Subpoena Full Mueller Report, Anything We Give Democrats Will Never Be Good Enough; House Oversight Committee: All Four Subpoenas Served In Investigations Of Security Clearances And Census; Trump To Offer No Plan To Replace Obamacare Until After Election. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 2, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, more subpoenas are in the works, and President Trump is fuming.
Illegal entry. The feds unseal charges against a woman who got into the Mar-a-Lago resort while the president was staying there this past weekend. She was carrying Chinese passports, multiple phones, and other devices. What was she up to?
Investigating the FAA. A Senate panel is launching a probe into whether safety inspectors were properly trained to evaluate the now- grounded Boeing 737 MAX. Were problems with the jet overlooked or ignored, leading to two deadly crashes?
And blood money? Exactly six months after the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, we're learning about multimillion-dollar payoffs to his children. Is the Saudi government trying to buy their silence?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the rapidly escalating warfare between the president and House Democrats.
Tonight, the Oversight Committee has voted along partisan lines to subpoena a former White House official seeking testimony about the handling of security clearances. Democrats are expected to authorize more subpoenas tomorrow as part of their fight to get the full unredacted Mueller report.
President Trump is lashing out about that, calling the move ridiculous and a disgrace. I got reaction a little while ago in my interviews with the chairmen of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. They're standing by their demands, saying they can't give the attorney general the benefit of the doubt, as he reviews how much of the Mueller report to make public.
This hour, I will talk to Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a member of both the Intelligence and Oversight Committees, and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president spoke out today about a lot of the hot-button issues, including the Mueller report.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. He's been on a victory lap as of late, but he was angry today about this subject.
President Trump railed against his Democratic critics today, claiming that he will never be able to meet the demands of his Democratic critics when it comes to releasing the findings from the Mueller report. The president also unveiled what could be the new GOP strategy for replacing Obamacare. It now sounds like repeal and retreat.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In his latest showdown over the Russia investigation, President Trump ripped into top House Democrats, who were insisting that the administration release the full report from special counsel Robert Mueller.
TRUMP: Nothing you give them, whether it's shifty Schiff or Jerry Nadler, who I have known -- he's been fighting me for half of my life in Manhattan, and I was very successful, thank you. But Nadler's been fighting me for years and years in Manhattan, not successfully. I will tell you, anything we give them will never be enough.
ACOSTA: The president then accused unnamed forces of treason for launching the probe in the first place.
TRUMP: People did things that were very, very bad for our country and very, very illegal, and you could even say treasonous.
ACOSTA: But Mr. Trump was circling the wagons on Obamacare, confirming he's postponing any GOP plans to announce legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, undercutting aides who said the White House would do just that.
TRUMP: I wanted to delay it myself. I want to put it after the election, because we don't have the House.
ACOSTA: The president previewed the pullback on Twitter, saying a vote will be taken right after the 2020 election, when he predicted Republicans hold the Senate and win back the House. Democrats say that's because the GOP is all repeal and no replace.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Last night, the president tweeted that they will come up with their plan in 2021. Translation, they have no health care plan.
ACOSTA: On immigration, the president is amping up the rhetoric, warning he's prepared to close the border over the recent spike in asylum seekers.
TRUMP: If we don't make a deal with Congress, the border is going to be closed, a hundred percent.
ACOSTA: But the president left himself some wiggle room.
TRUMP: Or we're going to close large sections of the border. Maybe not all of it.
Mexico, as you know, as of yesterday, has been starting to apprehend a lot of people at their Southern border, coming in from Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador, and they have -- they're really apprehending thousands of people.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump conceded shutting down the border could put a big dent in the economy.
TRUMP: Trading is very important. The borders are very important, but security is what is most important. Security is more important to me than trade.
ACOSTA: The White House is also busy answering new questions about granting security clearances to top officials like Jared Kushner, after an administration whistle-blower came forward to accuse the West Wing of making too many exceptions.
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I can't comment for the White House's process, but what I can say is that over the last two years that I have been here, I have been accused of all different types of things and all of those things have turned out to be false.
ACOSTA: Democratic critics counter these are valid questions, given that some aides like Kushner have been accused of using private messaging to do government business.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I mean, really, what is next? Putting nuclear codes in Instagram D.M.s? This is ridiculous.
ACOSTA: Now, the president made mention of an inspector general report that he hopes will reveal how the Russia investigation got started, but the president keeps forgetting he's the one who fired FBI Director James Comey, which led to the appointment of the special counsel.
That's likely to be a big part of the release of the other findings from the Mueller report, as the president told reporters he will live with whatever the attorney general, William Barr, decides in terms of what is released from the Mueller report. But, Wolf, as the president is taking this victory lap, they have been
doing this for well over a week now, there was a level of anxiety in the president's comments today as he was talking to reporters about all of this -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
Let's go to Capitol Hill now for more on the subpoena showdowns, pitting Democrats against the Trump administration.
Our Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, is joining us right now.
Manu, first, let's talk about today's vote in the Oversight Committee investigating security clearances. There were plenty of fireworks.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it.
This -- the fireworks came before the vote along party lines to authorize a subpoena for a former White House official who was in charge of the security clearance process for personnel, that individual, Carl Kline.
His name came into the news after Democrats said they had a whistle- blower by the name of who works in the White House and raised concerns about the security clearance process, saying that there were at least 25 individuals whose security clearances were denied, only to be overruled by Mr. Kline.
The question for Democrats is, who overruled and why did Mr. Kline have those orders to do so? Now, what -- we have learned that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were on the list of those 25 individuals.
And earlier this afternoon, I asked Elijah Cummings, the House Oversight Committee chairman, about what he hopes Mr. Kline will tell them about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's security clearances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: What I do know is that he apparently got certain information that was contrary to the decision that was finally made to give them the security clearances.
And so I need -- once I know that, then I can figure out, well, whether this was a decision on his part, a decision on the president's part, but, more significantly, why that decision was made. I just don't know.
RAJU: Do you take any of those concerns seriously?
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I think we take seriously the process that should be played out when we're doing an investigation.
And the idea the Democrats are going to interview one witness and then do a big press conference like they're getting ready to do, issue a big press statement yesterday, and then subpoena someone who's already said they would come in voluntarily, I think that's a problem with an investigation that's -- that's being run in the manner that it's being run by the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, what the Republican Jim Jordan there was saying was that Mr. Kline's attorney said that he would come in, Kline would come in voluntarily, but Democrats said that what he'd agreed to talk to was not what they were asking for.
They wanted individual questions about individual security clearances. They were not getting any commitments, according to Elijah Cummings, which is why they issued a subpoena over what they say are serious concerns about national security, Wolf.
BLITZER: Serious concerns, indeed.
Manu, tonight was also the deadline set by House Democrats to receive the unredacted Mueller report from the attorney general, Bill Barr. Where is this going from here?
RAJU: I expect tomorrow to be a contentious session in the House Judiciary Committee, when they will vote to authorize subpoenas for the full Mueller report, the underlying evidence, and for five White House officials who may have gotten documents from the White House as part of their preparation to speak with the special counsel.
Jerry Nadler just told you, Wolf, that he would issue those subpoenas as necessary, suggesting that he would not wait until mid-April, when Bill Barr plans to release a redacted version of the Mueller report, a significant ratcheting up of this fight that could end up in court, Wolf.
BLITZER: And that could be a long, long legal battle.
Manu Raju, thank you very much.
Also breaking tonight, we're learning about a very disturbing security breach at the president's Florida resort this past weekend, while the president was there.
Let's bring in our Justice Department Correspondent, Jessica Schneider.
Jessica, charges have now been filed. Tell us what happened.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a woman holding two Republic of China passports, she actually got through that first initial security at Mar-a-Lago. That happened around noon on Saturday.
And she allegedly made it all the way to the main reception area of the club, all while carrying several electronic devices, one of which carried malicious malware.
So, federal authorities say Yujing Zhang presented herself at that initial checkpoint, she showed her passports, and then she gained entry under the guise that she was the daughter of a Mar-a-Lago club member.
So, she made her way into the club reception area, where she was actually questioned by a receptionist about why she was inside Mar-a- Lago. Well, when Zhang mentioned an event that wasn't actually happened, the receptionist then flagged a Secret Service agent, who eventually questioned her off-property.
Now, agents say she became verbally aggressive and claimed that her Chinese friend Charles told her to travel from Shanghai to Palm Beach, Florida, to attempt to speak with a member of the president's family about Chinese and American foreign economic relations.
Now, Zhang says that she had communicated with this so-called Charles over the popular messaging app in China called WeChat. And Zhang was also found by the authorities to have several electronic items, including four cell phones, one laptop computer, one external hard drive, and one thumb drive.
And authorities say that that thumb drive actually contained the malicious malware. Now, this woman now faces two felony charges. She had her initial appearance in court, and she will be back for a detention hearing in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday.
But, Wolf, it's important to note here that President Trump wasn't actually at Mar-a-Lago when this was all happening, right around noon on Saturday. We know that he was about 10 minutes away at his Trump International Golf Club. So there was no immediate danger to the president, since he wasn't there.
But, of course, this whole incident does raise a lot of questions about how tight and good the security is at Mar-a-Lago and, of course, Mar-a-Lago being this place that the president frequents. He goes there pretty much every weekend during the winter.
BLITZER: He certainly does. And I guess they're trying to investigate the malicious malware. That seems like the most disturbing element of this mysterious case.
SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right.
BLITZER: Jessica Schneider, thank you very much for that report.
Joining us now, Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She's a Democrat, serves on both the Intelligence and the Oversight Committees.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Great to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: I want to get to the latest on the subpoenas, the Mueller report. But, first, what's your reaction to this report we just heard from
Jessica about this apparent security breach at the president's Palm Beach, Florida, resort?
SPEIER: It's astonishing.
And it is yet another example of how willing this president is to violate the rules when it comes to cyber-security and cyber-hygiene, whether it's him carrying his cell phone that could be hacked easily by the Chinese when he does his midnight calls to one of his colleagues, or, in this case, where a woman was able to get through, under the guise of being a member, and then wanted to talk to one of the family members about economic relations.
Again, we can't forget that shortly after President Trump became the president, his daughter miraculously received over 30 trademarks in China that they had been trying to get for many years.
I think the economic interests of the president oftentimes play out in a way that may jeopardize the United States of America.
BLITZER: But, in fairness to the president, you can't blame him if the Chinese -- and we don't know if there was a -- this was an official government intrusion or what it was -- you can't blame him if someone is trying to hack or do whatever they want to do with some phones or computers at Mar-a-Lago.
SPEIER: Well, I think we can, in part, because, why did she even get in, in the first place?
And let's not forget that I believe the prime minister, Xi, or President Xi was in Mar-a-Lago at another point in time. There's a reason why there's Camp David. There's a reason why it is created for the presidents to be able to retreat there on weekends.
It's costing us millions of dollars a year to operate, and the president doesn't like it, so he doesn't go there. And so, once again, we have a porous Mar-a-Lago that we spend a lot of money. Every time he goes down there, it's $3 million, and all the attendant costs associated with him playing golf on the weekends.
BLITZER: Let's turn to some other work of your committee, the House Intelligence Committee.
I just spoke with the chairman of your committee, Adam Schiff. He says he doesn't give the attorney general of the United States, Bill Barr, the benefit of the doubt on publishing the full Mueller report. Do you agree?
SPEIER: I would agree with Adam Schiff.
I would say that, you know, 420 members of the House voted unanimously seeking to have the full Mueller report made public. And that's what we expect. The taxpayers paid for it. The taxpayers deserve to have all of that information. We don't need to be spoon-fed by the attorney general as to what he
thinks is in the Mueller report. We're adults. We can read it ourselves. And there's plenty of information, I'm sure, in there that will pique a lot of our interests.
BLITZER: The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, he just told me he won't commit to holding off on a subpoena until Barr publishes his redacted version of the Mueller report. Supposedly, that's coming by mid-April.
But Barr promised. He promised to do so. And he promised to be as transparent as possible, although he said there were four categories of redactions.
Why not wait, though, and see what Barr makes public before going ahead with these subpoena threats?
SPEIER: Well, I think that Mr. Nadler is taking action to allow him to issue subpoenas. Whether or not he actually issues them would be a question to ask him.
But this would give him the official authority to do so. But let's be clear about this. Mr. Barr wants to redact a sizable amount of information. And I don't think that's acceptable to us.
If, in fact, it's just grand jury testimony or third parties, well, many third parties, frankly, may be persons of interest that we would want to investigate. So I'm not at all sanguine with the idea that we're giving the attorney general, who has already said that he thought the Mueller investigation was bogus -- so, he's not a third- party independent voice here.
He is a -- he is an attorney for the president, which has never been the case for the attorney general of the United States.
BLITZER: Let's turn to the work of your other committee, the Oversight Committee.
You voted today to subpoena Carl Kline, a former White House official, who apparently played a key role in granting security clearances to officials who had initially been denied those clearances.
What do you hope to learn from him?
SPEIER: We need to find out, first of all, why they were denied.
You know, typically, they are denied because someone has a conflict of interests, has foreign financial interests, has a criminal record or bad behavior. So, under all of those circumstances, we want to know, of those 25 people, why is it that, even though they were declined, that that was overruled by the White House?
This is a civil servant, someone who has served for 18 years in both Republican and Democratic administrations, who has come to Congress because it's her last hope, is what she said. She is fearful. She's already been retaliated against. She started making a list of 25 people.
There may be many more who were basically given security clearances, but were not persons that should have gotten security clearances. So we need to know why they weren't going to get the security clearances and why, in the end, they did.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thanks so much for joining us.
SPEIER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, breaking news: A Senate panel will investigate whether safety inspectors were properly trained to evaluate the software on Boeing 737 MAX airliners. Was the FAA aware of the problems before two fatal crashes?
BLITZER: We're following breaking news.
The House Intelligence and Judiciary Committee chairmen telling me tonight they can't give the attorney general of the United States the benefit of the doubt, as he reviews how much of the Mueller report to release.
House Democrats preparing to authorize subpoenas in their battle to get access to the complete report without any redactions.
Let's bring in former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. He's now a CNN senior legal analyst. He's also the author of the new bestseller "Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law."
Preet, thanks very much for joining us.
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Sure.
BLITZER: So you just heard two Democratic leaders, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, telling me they won't give the attorney general the benefit of the doubt on his redacted version of the Mueller report.
And the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Nadler, tells me he can't make any promises that he won't issue a subpoena for the full report, even before Barr puts out his redacted version.
What do you make of that?
BHARARA: Look, I think it's committee chairmen who have recently come into possession of the gavels, you know, laying down the gauntlet and doing an oversight job that was largely left undone over the prior two years.
And it may be that the report is minimally redacted and is to the satisfaction of the general public, members of the media, and those chairmen. But I think, you know, it takes a long time to figure out who you're going to subpoena, get the process rolling. If you're going to fight about it, I think you want to lay the groundwork for that, and I think that's what they're doing.
On the question of whether or not the attorney general deserves the benefit of the doubt, you know, I don't know the answer to that question. What I do know is, there's an independent branch of government called the Congress, that it looks like Bob Mueller was signaling he wanted them to decide the issue of obstruction, because he was not prepared to make a final decision on it, and that they should assert their responsibilities as a co-equal branch of government.
BLITZER: I want you to watch how President Trump reacted to the news that Democrats are planning on issuing a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will rely on the attorney general to make decisions, but I will tell you, anything that's given to them will never be good enough.
You could give them more documents than they have ever seen, and it would never be good enough. So I think it's somewhat of a waste of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you think the president could still change his mind, try to limit what's revealed, what Congress gets in the Mueller report that the attorney general will submit?
BHARARA: Yes, certainly. I mean, the president changes his mind from one minute to the next.
He also says he said things that he didn't say from one hour to the next. So, it seems that he's saying something now that makes it sound like he doesn't care about things becoming public, and he's said that before.
He said on previous occasions that he was happy to sit down and talk face to face with members of the special counsel's team. And he went back on that. So I don't think what he says in this moment means a whole lot.
BLITZER: The former -- the fired FBI director, James Comey, told our Christiane Amanpour today that he doesn't think a lot will need to be redacted, because he says Mueller likely wrote the report knowing it would become public some day.
How do you expect the redaction process to go forward now?
BHARARA: That's a great question.
I am not comfortable enough to predict as specifically as it sounds like Jim may have. You know, one thing that sometimes happens that I have noted that's different in this case -- and I know this is not a court case. It's a special counsel providing a report to the attorney general.
But in my office -- and we saw this with the Mueller investigation -- when they put in court documents, knowing there's going to be some basis for redacting classified information or rather sensitive material that relates to ongoing investigations, you sometimes prepare two versions of a document.
And you file one under seal with the court, and then you file another version that has limited redactions that can be made public, so that the public interest in wanting to know what's going on in court proceedings can be vindicated.
You know, you could have imagined Bob Mueller doing something like that. So I'm not so sure, you know, that he was paying a lot of attention to what was in the report that needed to be redacted or not. My sense is that the most important thing to Bob Mueller was to be able to show for posterity, such as it is, that he was thorough, he was detailed, and that every finding and conclusion that they have in there is backed up by actual testimony, actual documents, actual e- mail, you know, actual evidence.
BLITZER: And we do know that the -- that Bob Mueller is consulting with the attorney general on this redacted version, so there's a collaborative effort, at least according to the attorney general, Bill Barr, which offers some reassurance to you, I suppose, right?
BHARARA: It does.
I was initially a little bit critical of the fact, based on the reporting, that the attorney general, Bill Barr, wrote that four-page letter summary, which he says was not a summary, but, of course, it was a summary, that he did that without consulting with Bob Mueller, which would have been, I think, a better idea, so that you would have had the imprimatur of the special counsel basically saying, this seems to be an accurate and not misleading representation, although, you know, small, of the larger work that we did.
So at least now it looks like, you know, he will be consulting with Bob Mueller. And I think that should reassure everyone.
BLITZER: Preet Bharara, thanks so much for joining us.
BLITZER: And congratulations on your new book. It's a "New York Times" bestseller, "Doing Justice." It's now number four. But let's see what happens in the next few days. It's number four on "The New York Times" bestsellers list.
You have got a big smile. You should have a big smile. You should be very proud of this excellent...
BHARARA: Thanks, Wolf. I really appreciate it.
BLITZER: You have some great stories in there. I recommend it very, very highly to all of our viewers here in the United States and around the world.
Thanks so much for joining us.
BHARARA: Thank you, Wolf. Thanks a lot.
BLITZER: All right, we got some more breaking news.
A woman is charged with illegally entering President Trump's Mar-a- Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Prosecutors say she had Republic of China passports, along with four cell phones, a laptop, a hard drive, and a thumb drive with malware.
Plus, as House Democrats push forward with their investigations, President Trump is pushing back. But, with subpoenas on the way, will the White House have to give in?
[18:33:11] BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the battle over the Mueller report, as House Democrats are now poised to authorize subpoenas. Tonight, the Chairman of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees tell me they can't simply let the Attorney General, William Barr, make decisions about how much of the report to release. They say he doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Let's bring in our analysts. And, Bianna Golodryga, let's start with you. Watch what the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, told me just moments ago about the Attorney General, Bill Barr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), C.A.: If he told came to the job clean, without any history in this investigation, I would say, yes, give him the benefit of the doubt, but he didn't. He wrote a 19-page legal memo, which was basically a job application, saying if you pick me through A.G., I will have your back on the obstruction of justice case. And that's exactly what he's done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And the chairman of the judiciary committee, Bianna, Jerry Nadler, just told me he's not committed to wait until he gets this redacted version of the 400-page Mueller report from Bill Barr before issuing any subpoenas. What do you make of all of this?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, on the one hand, Wolf, a lot of it shouldn't be surprising, right? You had much scrutiny and skepticism over Barr coming in as Attorney General from the get-go. You have ammunition, the Democrats do, when it comes to the length we now know that the Mueller report was, over 300 pages.
So one can question how he was able to come up with a four-page summary of that report in just a weekend's time. And now compare that to the 14-page memo he wrote to the President unsolicited saying he can't be charged with obstruction of justice in his opinion. So you could see where we would end up here from the Democrat's standpoint.
BLITZER: What do you make of it, Jeffrey?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think everyone is just so anxious to get their hands on this report, and that includes republican as well Democrats, I think, because since it was a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives.
Let's see what Barr does. I mean, Barr says he's going to release the Mueller report in some form within about a week, and then we'll know. And if it, in fact, is unduly redacted, the subpoenas will go out and there'll be a big court fight. But, you know, it's all posturing before then, it seems to me.
BLITZER: You know, Susan, I want you to listen and watch how the President responded to the news that the Democrats are moving forward with subpoenas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We could give them -- it's a 400-page report, right? We could give them 800 pages and it wouldn't be enough. They'll always come back and say, it's not enough, it's not enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Clearly angry. I suspect he's beginning to realize that in the 400 pages, whatever Mueller releases, there's going to be potentially some damaging information as far as he is concerned.
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I think it's pretty clear that the President's starting to have some second thoughts, it's starting to dawn on him that this full report could contain really devastating, damaging information. Even if the report doesn't include new information, the mere fact of confirming reporting, requiring Congress to actually engage with some of the conduct that's been recording -- reported, that alone could be incredibly damaging.
You know, in some ways, I think Trump is realizing he may have overplayed his hand a little bit in this sort of exoneration narrative, no collusion. Because not only has he, you know, convinced himself, but he convinced huge parts of the republican base that this report should come out. And so he's now going to be in a difficult position of attempting to convince people, including his own supporters, that, actually, never mind, instead of having laid the groundwork.
I was thinking the President may have been surprise by that revelations and Bill Barr's summary letter, in which the Attorney General said that he was going to rely on the President's public comments about deferring to Barr on executive privilege. We don't know that Donald Trump intended for his public comments to then tie his hands with respect to his Attorney General.
BLITZER: Bianna, go ahead.
GOLODRYGA: I would just add, I'm not sure how much of the republican base really cares about seeing the Mueller report. You know, the President has gotten what he wanted, no collusion. That has been something that he had been stating from the get-go, from when this investigation began for his base. And for a lot of Americans, it's either enough or at least time to move on.
So for the Democrats, while it is a worthy cause, one would argue, that they continue to fight and demand to see the report, I'm not sure, given the polarization we are in right now, that many voters, particularly republican, would care to see it.
BLITZER: You know, David, the President says it's up to his Attorney General, Bill Barr. He trusts him completely, whatever he wants to release is fine for him. But theoretically, he could change his mind and he could decide what to release.
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR OF THE WASHINGTON POST: It is, right. Special Counsel Mueller reports to the Attorney General, the Attorney General serves at the pleasure of President Trump. I agree with Bianna that republicans, up to and including President Trump, probably aren't substantively interested in all of those details in the report.
But I also agree with Susan that we're at this point now where the White House and the Attorney General got all the bang for their buck that they're already going to get out of that four-page summary letter, where they were able to say for a few days, no collusion, nothing to see here, let's move on to the next episode. And now, that they see that it's dawning on them, that Democrats are going to continue to perform their oversight function, and Democrats are going to say, no, Mr. President, to that clip you played, Wolf, we don't need 800 pages, we just need the 400 pages of this report minus any redactions for grand jury, et cetera.
BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, it's interesting because Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told me he thinks Mueller will be called to testify, at least before his committee, but Jerry Nadler, the Judiciary Committee said, maybe, maybe not. He wasn't convinced.
TOOBIN: Well, I find it very hard to believe that Mueller will not testify in public in some -- before one committee or another. You know, there is too much interest particularly, on the part of Democrats in getting a narrative of what went on here to take that -- to pass up that opportunity. And why not?
I mean, Mueller did this investigation. He was working for the taxpayers. People want to know what he found, or a lot of people, anyway, and that's why we have oversight in Congress. I think he will be testifying before one committee or another.
GOLODRYGA: And I -- I agree. And I think one clue we got was what Mick Mulvaney said on this network over the weekend to Jake Tapper, when he said that this isn't a test of the President's character, right, sort of anticipating that we may have some negative information that comes out, untoward information that comes out from the Mueller report. I think maybe they're setting the new narrative that this isn't about the President's character because people voted for him anyway knowing a lot about it.
BLITZER: And I'm sure we will have live coverage of that once Mueller is ready to testify, if, in fact, he does.
We're just getting some breaking news from the House Oversight Committee on subpoenas that have just been issued moments ago. We'll have details right after this.
[18:44:42] BLITZER: We're back with our analysts. We're covering multiple breaking stories. Right now, only moments ago, the House Oversight Committee announced all four of the subpoenas it authorized earlier in the day have now been served.
A written statement from the committee just now says, quote, we have been informed of grave breaches of national security, but to date, the White House has not produced a single piece of paper or a single witness requested by the committee.
[18:45:07] Susan, let's talk a little bit about this. The decision to go ahead and subpoena the official over at the White House was in charge of reviewing security clearances. Apparently, this official overruled someone else, who said maybe 25 White House officials were not really cleared for top-secret security clearances. But they were granted, nevertheless.
HENNESSEY: Right. So, it's not surprising that we're seeing House committees moving to subpoenas. The White House has made perfectly clear that they have no intention of cooperating with this form of oversight.
These allegations are extraordinarily grave. Up to 25 individuals with access to some of the nation's most sensitive secrets, who career professionals have determined are not suitable for access, that that group includes the president's daughter and son-in-law, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Now, keep in mind that reportedly, for Ivanka and Jared, it's not just
for the career civil service officers that we're concerned. Donald Trump's own White House counsel, his own chief of staff also reviewed those files and said, we don't believe that these are individuals who are suitable for access. We believe they pose some kind of threat to the national security of this country.
And frankly, it is the obligation and the duty of members of Congress to exercise oversight and figure out what exactly is going on.
BLITZER: Let me get Bianna to weigh in. What do you think, Bianna?
GOLODRYGA: Well, this is where I think you'll get unanimous support for continuing this investigation. I mean, typically, maybe, in an administration, you'll have one or two people who maybe got a pass because they had extraordinary information or ability and were able to overcome any sort of hiccup they had in getting their security clearance.
Here you have 25 people and most of them not for something that they may have done while they were in college, drug use, what have you. This is information that the intelligence community had to bring forward to say, either they were compromised or new information from other countries and had relationships with other countries that would not qualify them for the access that they were privy to. So, this is very serious. And I think something you're going to see from both sides of the aisle, really hone in on.
BLITZER: So, Jeffrey, now that these four subpoenas served by the House Oversight Committee have actually been served on the administration, what happens now?
TOOBIN: You want -- you know what my guess is? Nothing. I mean, I think that they'll just ignore them. I mean, I think -- you know, what the best way the White House can deal with this, in the most cynical way, is simply to try to run out the clock.
And, you know, eventually, they'll write a letter saying it's inappropriate and then Congress will have to make the decisions about whether to try to find people in contempt, but I think what you're seeing, and you saw it in the chairman's letter there, is that they're not responding at all. They are simply ignoring all of these requests from Congress. Congress is trying to do its job.
And I think, you know, eventually, we're going to have some court fights. But I think the strategy of the White House, which is already in evidence, is simply to defy Congress' ability, and essentially dare Congress to go to court, but once it's in court, things generally are on a slow boat to nowhere.
BLITZER: You know, David, three of the subpoenas involved why a citizenship question was added to the 2020 census. One of the subpoenas going to the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, another to William Barr, attorney general, a third to the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore.
Explain why this is so sensitive?
SWERDLICK: Well, I think Democrats are rightly concerned that if you change the way the census is done, you may wind up undercounting in various areas where there are people who are let's say, undocumented immigrants, and that might have an effect on how congressional districts are districted or redrawn. It might have an effect on, for instance, how federal resources are allocated.
Both parties have taken their turns at gerrymandering. In recent years, Republicans, Wolf, have taken a turn at trying to find various means of doing voter suppression efforts. And I think this all ties in and is of a piece.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We don't know if there's anything wrong necessarily with adding this question to the census. But it hasn't been done for years and years, because the primary purpose of the census is to count people, not to count citizens. This could change.
BLITZER: This is an extremely sensitive issue, indeed.
Everybody, stick around.
There's more news we're following.
Breaking news: lawmakers will investigate whether safety inspectors were properly trained to evaluate the software on Boeing 737 MAX airliners. Did the FAA know of possible problems before two fatal crashes?
And six months after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his family is receiving millions of dollars in what's being called blood money from the Saudi government.
[18:54:33] BLITZER: We have breaking news involving Boeing's grounded fleet of 737 MAX jets. The Senate committee is the now launching an investigation, questioning whether the FAA investigators were properly trained and whether the FAA was aware of this problem last summer.
Our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is joining us live from Seattle. He's got details.
Drew, what are you learning?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This is from Senator Roger Wicker, Commerce, Science and Transportation. That committee launching an investigation, trying to determine, Wolf, if the very federal workers, those FAA safety inspectors assigned to look at, certify and make sure that Boeing 737 MAX and all its systems were safe before launch actually had the credentials, the expertise and the training to even make that call.
The senator saying his information coming from whistleblowers suggests they were not. In his letter to the acting administrator of the FAA, Senator Wicker writes that allegations from these whistleblowers include information that numerous FAA employees, including those involved in the aircraft evaluation group are for the Boeing 737 MAX had not received proper training and valid certification.
Wolf, he goes on to say that the FAA may have been notified about the deficiencies as early as August 2018. That would have been two months before the first crash of the 737 MAX. These inspectors would have had oversight over that anti-stall system, the MCAS as it's known, which is being looked at as possibly involved in both that Indonesian crash and the crash of the Ethiopian jetliner. The committee demanding all records pertaining to this from the FAA to determine if these federal inspectors were actually up to snuff in their work -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Let's not forget 346 people men, women and children were killed in those two crashes.
I understand, Drew, that of an aviation expert has been served with the grand jury subpoena?
GRIFFIN: Yes, kind a surprise move. It shows how serious the federal criminal investigation is. This is from the Securities and Fraud Division of the Department of Justice. They have subpoenaed all the records of a former Boeing flight control engineer and current blogger. He's written extensively, Wolf, about the 737 MAX and its problems.
Now, the Feds want to know everybody he's contacted, all his communication, who he's talked to. The man's name is Peter Lemme. I talked to him in afternoon.
He is a bit shocked he was subpoenaed for his particular records. But he says it just shows the scope of the investigation and just how far the federal government is looking for possible criminal involvement in these -- in these two crashes. CNN did report earlier that multiple subpoenas had been initiated after that October 2018 crash of the Lion Air jet -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Drew Griffin reporting for us, thanks, Drew, very much.
Also tonight, exactly six months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, we are learning that his children are receiving lucrative compensation, millions and millions of dollars from the Saudi government.
Let's go to our International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson. He is joining us right now.
Nic, what are you learning?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Wolf, significant payments. One payment of about $266,000 to each of Jamal Khashoggi's four children, two sons, two daughters. They're also receiving a monthly stipend from now into the future of between $10,000 and $15,000. They have had houses to the value of $4 million purchased for them in Saudi Arabia. Also, they do stand potentially to get a lot of money through what's
known as blood money. Sharia law, religious law in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities are charging 11 people with murdering Jamal Khashoggi. Five of them face the death penalty.
They could -- those who get the death penalty could appeal for clemency to Khashoggi's children under Sharia law. That could amount to a total payment by those convicted to the family for clemency of between $26 million and $35 million, Wolf.
BLITZER: Wow. Do we know, Nic, whether the children are indeed accepting the compensation from the royal family? And do they actually plan on living in Saudi Arabia?
ROBERTSON: Well, they haven't responded to our requests for comment on this. But we do know that Salah, the eldest son , is living in Saudi Arabia. But what I understand is he is the only one who has been able to take out the option on the house. The others, the other three can't move into the house, they don't want to live in Saudi Arabia and can't benefit from that particular payment by the Saudi authorities.
But as far as we know, Saudi authorities were not confirming this either, not responding to requests for comment. But as far as we know the children, yes, are getting this money, Wolf, money the king intends to show that their father's death was a tragedy. That's the Saudi perspective, Wolf.
BLITZER: And still the individuals have been arrested. But no one is accepting responsibility on behalf of the crown prince, right?
ROBERTSON: No, no responsibility accepted by that leading member of the royal family, even though the CIA believes he was the one that orchestrated it, Wolf.
BLITZER: That's the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community with high confidence.
Nic Robertson reporting for us from London -- Nic, good reporting. Thank you very much.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNsitroom.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.