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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Rep. Chris Stewart (R) Utah About Mueller Report, Redactions And Trump's Zero-Tolerance Policy; Rep. Jerry Nadler Says He Will Subpoena Unredacted Mueller Report As Attorney General Barr Says To Expect Redacted Report Within A Week; Donald Trump Has No Plan To Restart Family Separations At Border And Blames Obama For The Separations And Use Of Cages; Actress Lori Loughlin Among 16 Parents Facing Additional Charges In College Entrance Scandal; "New York Times" Says Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) Vermont Says He Now Is A Millionaire And Will Release 10 Years Of Tax Returns Before Monday; Experts Detail Mar-a-Lago Intruder's Sophisticated Spyware. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 9, 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]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Excellent reporting, Scott. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. We actually read them. Don't forget to watch the Gillibrand Town Hall this evening. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: no holds barred. A showdown over the Mueller report, as a top House Democrat says he'll issue a subpoena for the full, unscrubbed Mueller report, after attorney general William Barr says he'll release a redacted color-coded version within a week.

Blaming Obama: President Trump denies his administration is planning to resume the separation of parents and children in the Southern border and he's blaming former President Obama for the separations and the chain link, the enclosures, which he calls cages.

Tax return showdown: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tells Congress his agency consulted with but did not take direction from the White House on President Trump's tax returns. Democrats call that troubling. They've demanded six years of tax returns by tomorrow.

And spy tools: a closer look at the electronic devices possessed by the Chinese woman arrested at the president's Mar-a-Lago resort.

What could she have done with those tools?

We'll ask an expert on high-tech spying.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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

BLITZER: Breaking news: a powerful House Democrat says he'll move to subpoena the full, unscrubbed Mueller report after attorney general William Barr said today he expects to release a redacted version within a week. The report is still being scrubbed for sensitive material.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler says he'll subpoena the Justice Department after that redacted version is released. Barr won't say if the report has been shared with the White House. Nadler calls that disturbing.

President Trump, meanwhile, is denying that he plans to resume the separation of migrant families over at the border, despite reports that the Homeland Security Department is considering a policy to allow just that. He blames former president Barack Obama for the separations, including what he describes as the use of cages.

I'll speak with Republican Congressman Chris Stewart. And our correspondents and analysts, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories. Let's begin with CNN's Senior White House Correspondent, Pamela Brown.

Pamela, the attorney general opens up about the Mueller report and now the battle lines are clearly drawn.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right, Wolf. For the first time, the attorney general, William Barr, answering questions on Capitol Hill about the Russia investigation. And facing scrutiny from Democrats over redactions he's making to the report that he says are mandatory for public consumption.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, attorney general William Barr setting the stage for a showdown with Democrats on Capitol Hill, who are demanding the full Mueller report.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I don't intend, at this stage, to send the full unredacted report to the committee.

BROWN (voice-over): Barr insisted redactions are necessary to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, grand jury and sensitive intelligence materials and individual privacy. The attorney general told Democrats they'll only get explanations for any blacked out sections.

BARR: We will color-code the excisions from the report and we will provide explanatory notes, describing the basis for each redaction.

BROWN (voice-over): House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler now promising a fight if his committee doesn't get the full report. REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: I presume we're going to get the redacted report within a week. When we do so, if we don't get everything, we will issue the subpoena and go to court.

BROWN (voice-over): Nadler has demanded that Barr go to court to seek the release of grand jury material. But today, Barr said he sees no exception in the rule to allow him to release that material to Congress.

BARR: Unless there is a provision that permits it. And the chairman of the Judiciary Committee is free to go to court if he feels one of those exceptions is applicable.

BROWN (voice-over): Barr faced criticism from Democrats over his letter summarizing the main Mueller findings, submitted less than 48 hours after he received the over 300-page Mueller report.

REP. NITA LOWEY (D), NEW YORK: All we have is your four-page summary, which seems to cherry-pick from the report, to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the president.

BROWN (voice-over): Barr defending his work and his intentions.

BARR: I was not interested in putting out summaries. I felt that I should state the bottom line conclusions and I tried to use special counsel Mueller's own language in doing that.

BROWN (voice-over): Though only about 100 words of Mueller's report are used in the four-page letter. Barr downplayed reports the prosecutors for the special counsel are frustrated with his summary of --

[17:05:00]

BROWN (voice-over): -- principal conclusions.

BARR: I suspect that they probably wanted, you know, more put out. Any summary, regardless of who prepares it, not only runs the risk of, you know, being under inclusive or over inclusive but also, you know, would trigger a lot of discussion and analysis that really should await everything coming out at once.

BROWN (voice-over): And the attorney general revealed that he offered the special counsel a chance to review his summary letter before sending it to members of Congress but Mueller declined though Barr did not say why. And the White House, he said, did not make any changes to his letter.

But Barr wouldn't say if the White House has been briefed on the full report.

BARR: I'm not going to say anything more about it until the report is out and everyone has a chance to look at it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: And the attorney general also said he has no plans as of now to withhold information on the report on the basis of executive privilege. But, Wolf, he also said he wouldn't say whether he has consulted with the White House on the matter since he released that four-page memo to Congress.

I asked a White House official about this and that official declined to comment on any communications between DOJ and the White House.

BLITZER: He says we'll see the redacted version of the report within a week.

BROWN: That's right.

BLITZER: Those were his words.

Pamela, thank you very much.

Let's go to Capitol Hill right now. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, is on the scene for us.

Manu, you had a chance to speak with the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler.

What'd he say?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's ready to fight this in court. He said that a subpoena will be issued after the redacted report is received on Capitol Hill. He said that, soon after that, they would issue a subpoena, demanding the full report, demanding the underlying evidence and he said they're prepared to go to court.

And he also said that his committee is entitled to the grand jury information that Bill Barr said he had no intention of seeking a court order to provide to Congress. He said that there's ample precedent behind his effort.

Now Democrats are raising a lot of concerns, including the top Democrat, the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who told me just earlier this afternoon that Barr has, quote, "no business redacting information." She said that we all believe in protecting sources and methods but she said, the only reason to redact is for security and that's not a subjective thing.

But you're hearing Republicans line up very closely with Bill Barr's decision. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, says he trusts Bill Barr's judgment to follow the regulations, to release information and McCarthy said if that information were provided to Congress, he believes it would leak out and it would undermine people who should be protected.

But nevertheless, we've seen this play out along party lines as Democrats gear up for what could be a protracted legal fight over the full Mueller report -- Wolf. BLITZER: As you know, the attorney general, Manu, he seemed to tap

dance around the very sensitive question of whether the White House had been briefed on the Mueller report. You asked the chairman, Nadler, about this.

RAJU: Yes, I did. I asked him specifically about that comment from Barr, saying that he would not discuss whether or not the White House had been briefed in any way about the full Mueller report. Nadler raised concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADLER: Well, that's also disturbing, because, certainly, the White House should not be briefed before Congress sees the entire -- sees the entire document. It indicates that the attorney general sees the president as his client, not the country at his client.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: What had caught a lot of people by surprise is that he did discuss other interactions with the White House. He did say that the White House counsel got a heads-up before the four-page Barr summary came out. He said they didn't change it but they raised a lot of questions about why he would not answer that question about the full Mueller report.

But tomorrow, Wolf, he'll be back on Capitol Hill before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. Expect that question to come up again -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm sure he'll be grilled on a lot of those questions. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

President Trump tonight seems to be backing away from the idea of once again separating migrant families at the Southern border . Let's go to our chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

So what's the president now saying, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Trump appears to be slamming the breaks on at least part of his immigration plans, claiming his administration is not looking at resuming its policy of family separations at the border.

The president tried to falsely blame Barack Obama for the policy, which is widely regarded as highly inhumane, a moment that showed some separation between Mr. Trump and the truth.

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ACOSTA (voice-over): It could be a trial balloon that's already popped, as President Trump denied what administration officials were telling reporters, that he was considering a return to a zero tolerance policy of separating migrant children from their families at the border.

TRUMP: We're not looking to do that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president then tried to rewrite history, falsely claiming that Barack Obama had started the policy.

TRUMP: President Obama had child separation. Take a look. The press knows it. You know it. We all know it. I didn't have --

[17:10:00]

TRUMP: -- I'm the one that stopped it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not true. Top administration officials made it clear family separations could be a result of the zero tolerance policy. Then attorney general Jeff Sessions --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS (R), FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you. And that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally.

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- to chief of staff John Kelly.

JOHN KELLY, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: We've heard this. I am considering, in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network. I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal their parents.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even as he was denying a return to zero tolerance, the president also appeared to justify family separations as a deterrent.

TRUMP: Once you don't have it, that's why you see many more people coming. They're coming like it's a picnic, because let's go to Disneyland.

ACOSTA (voice-over): A senior administration official told reporters a different form of zero tolerance has been under consideration, something called binary choice, which would let migrant parents decide whether to be separated from their children or be incarcerated as a family.

That official told reporters, "Binary choice is a policy option that is being pursued as an area for contemplation by ICE but it's not at a point where it's been fully developed enough."

But at a hearing, attorney general William Barr appeared to close the door on separating families.

BARR: I support the president's policy, which is, we're not going separate families.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The Trump administration is also crafting plans to make asylum requests more difficult at the border, including creating strict new requirements for migrants who claim they fear conditions back in their home countries.

The president will have a new team at DHS to pursue that agenda, though he denies he's been cleaning House at the department to make that happen.

TRUMP: Well, I never said I'm cleaning House. I don't know who came up with that expression. We have a lot of great people over there. We have bad laws.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Administration officials were scrambling to answer other pressing questions on Capitol Hill, as the attorney general barely defended White House support for a court ruling that could scrap ObamaCare.

(CROSSTALK)

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT (D-PA): -- validated and, if you succeed, that many people will lose their coverage nationally for Medicaid and 750,000 from Pennsylvania alone, right?

BARR: I'm just saying that if you think it's such an outrageous position, you have nothing to worry about. Let the courts do their job.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin acknowledged his department had been in touch with the White House in anticipation of demands from House Democrats to see the president's tax returns.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I believe that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational; that we, obviously, had read in the press that we were expecting this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Getting back to immigration. A senior administration official said the incoming acting secretary at DHS, Kevin McAleenan, has the complete support of the president. That official also said one of the problems at the department is that it's overrun with career officials.

But guess what?

Kevin McAleenan is one of those career officials. He worked under Obama. As for family separations, there were exceptions when that happened during the Obama administration but it wasn't Obama's policy.

As for the current administration, Trump administration officials admit, it could take up to two years to locate some of the children who had been separated from their parents under President Trump.

Wolf, some of these children may become orphans as a result of the zero tolerance family separation policy under President Trump -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's so, so heartbreaking to hear about that. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah. He's a key member of both the Appropriations and the Intelligence Committees.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: Good evening, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's begin with the breaking news. You heard it, the attorney general, Bill Barr, telling lawmakers today, he plans to give Congress what he described as a redacted version of the Mueller report.

You told me earlier this year you didn't want to see a single sentence redacted.

Are you disappointed in what you heard from the attorney general today?

STEWART: Well, I'm disappointed in this sense and that is the reason I didn't want to see any redactions is because I knew that some conspiracy theorists and others who were grasping at straws to, frankly, still cast a shadow over the president, conspiracy and obstruction, that they would point to any redactions and say, see, the evidence is hidden in there and we've certainly seen that over the last few weeks.

It was deep in your reporting here of people implying that. But the reality is, Wolf, is legally, they can't do these -- release the entire part. They have to protect some of this information. Grand jury information has to be protected. Sources and methods have to be protected.

My heavens, as you know, the special counsel has ongoing prosecution and cases that have to be protected. So I'm disappointed, because I think it carries on some of the foolishness and the accusations but I'm not disappointed in the sense that I'm not surprised. I expected this would be the case.

BLITZER: Well, it's one thing to redact certain sections of this Mueller report from the public, because you correctly --

[17:15:00]

BLITZER: -- point out, sources and methods, intelligence information, that's very sensitive and other information, grand jury information, for example, is sensitive.

But shouldn't Congress, a co-equal branch of government, on a confidential, secret basis, get to see it all?

STEWART: No, Wolf, I don't know of a single example and I suppose some historian could illuminate me on some. But Congress doesn't demand to see grand jury testimony. I'm not aware of us ever requiring to see grand jury testimony. Throughout this entire process, for two years-plus, if there has been

ongoing prosecutions or ongoing cases, we have always recognized that and had a hands-off approach.

BLITZER: I will point out that a court can allow grand jury testimony to be released if the administration, if the Justice Department, the attorney general, decides to go to court, they could release that grand jury information, just as they did in the Ken Starr report involving former president Bill Clinton.

STEWART: Well, Ken Starr was operating under different instructions and that's the primary difference here. His mandate, his charter was very different.

And you're right, the Congress or the attorney general can ask for this information, grand jury information to be released. But as a matter of course, they don't and they certainly don't because Congress has asked them to. There has to be a compelling legal necessity, a compelling legal reason, not just a political reason.

And, Wolf, at the end of the day, it comes down to this.

And I would ask you, do you really believe that there's anything in those redacted portions that changes the underlying assumption or the underlying analysis and presumption and that is, there was no conspiracy here?

And I truly believe, as someone who's saying, well, I think the evidence of conspiracy is in that grand jury testimony or if it's in some of these other redacted, whether sources and methods or whether interactions with foreign governments, any of these kinds of things.

I think if they really, truly believe that they can look there and find evidence of conspiracy or collusion with Russians, that otherwise isn't available, I just think they've lost their entire perspective on this process.

Mr. Mueller did a thorough job. Attorney general Barr has given us and has promised to give us all of the information that he legally can. I think the conclusions will be obvious when he does that.

BLITZER: Let's see what is released in the redacted version and the attorney general says it will be released within a week and there will be chunks, as he points out, that will be redacted.

After Barr's testimony today, the Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, said he now plans to subpoena for the full report. Those subpoenas have already been authorized by the Judiciary Committee.

Do you support Chairman Nadler's decision?

STEWART: Well, I think it's political silliness. I mean, my gosh, they said they were going to subpoena this, yet they didn't provide the report by April 2nd.

And Mr. Barr said, I'll give it to you by the middle of April. It takes him a few weeks to go through this.

And if they arbitrarily choose this day, give it to us by April 2nd or we're going to subpoena you. Their objective was to issue the subpoena. It wasn't to work with the attorney general. They could have waited another 10 days to get the redacted portion and I think that's what we're seeing here.

They want to subpoena regardless because they want the court battle and the political battle regardless. They want to keep this narrative alive. They don't want to say what the attorney general has said, what Mr. Mueller has concluded. They don't want to say there was no conspiracy.

Let's be honest with the American people, admit that and move on. They want to continue the fight. And I truly believe the American people are so exhausted by it. I think they're so weary by it that most of the American people have moved on, even if some Democratic leadership hasn't.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens over the next week, as this report is released. Let's go to the situation along the Southern border with Mexico, Congressman. The president today falsely claimed that he ended a migrant family separation policy that he says was started under President Obama.

In fact, the separation policy was initiated, zero tolerance policy, during the Trump administration. You heard John Kelly, the then Homeland Security Secretary, tell me that they saw this as a deterrent, you heard Jeff Sessions make the same point when he was attorney general. They said all of this was a new policy to deter illegal immigration into the United States.

Do you worry that the president, at this point, might try to re- initiate that family separation policy, separating these kids from their moms and dads?

STEWART: No, I really don't. I don't think there's a chance in the world he's going to do that. And, Wolf, I remember, I think I was on your show and I was one of the very first Congress people to say to the president, Mr. President, you have the authority to change this policy.

You know, we need to change this family separation policy, the zero tolerance policy that he has initiated.

And so I've been really pretty consistent on that. I don't think there's a chance in the world the president would go back to that, for a number of reasons. And I think, look, we've got an enormous challenge on our border. It truly is a crisis. But that policy isn't going to fix it.

I think there's such a deep political and cultural price to be paid and I think the president recognizes that.

BLITZER: And it's so heartbreaking for you, for me, for everyone to know there are still some little kids who are being held -- [17:20:00]

BLITZER: -- here in the United States, who are still separated from their parents and it might be another two years, if ever, that they're reunited and our hearts go out to those families.

STEWART: I understand. Real quickly on that, Wolf, in some of those cases, it was absolutely appropriate they were. In some of them, they were being trafficked, they were being smuggled by drug traffickers and other things. Some of those separations were absolutely for the protection of the children.

And I just think it's fair to recognize that that was the case.

BLITZER: Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah, thanks so much for joining us.

STEWART: Thank you.

BLUMENTHAL: Still ahead, there's still more breaking news; 16 parents including, Lori Loughlin, face more charges in the alleged bribery and fraud scheme to get their children into top colleges.

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BLITZER: There's breaking news --

[17:25:00]

BLITZER: -- in what's becoming multiple legal battles between President Trump and congressional Democrats. Let's go through it all. Our political and legal experts are here.

And, Laura Jarrett, you cover the Justice Department for us. The attorney general says, within a week, he'll give the Mueller report redacted -- four categories of redactions -- to Congress. The Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, says he needs all of it, unredacted. And he says he's getting ready to serve a subpoena if he doesn't get it.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So this is going to be a fight. We always knew this was going to be an ugly battle. I think it's shaping up to be a pretty long and protracted one because, in the next couple of days, Barr will issue this report. It's going to be redacted for various categories of information.

Nadler and other Democrats say, that's not sufficient so they'll serve the subpoena. Barr will not comply with the subpoena. Then they'll run to court. Then it will be a matter of whether the Justice Department can get that subpoena quashed so they don't have to comply.

And as we've seen, Barr is pretty clear, he thinks he's constrained under a federal rule of evidence that doesn't allow him to share grand jury information without an exception. Obviously, Jerry Nadler, other Democrats, have a different view of that but it's going to be a fight.

BLITZER: Are we, Gloria, when all is said and done, going to have two versions of the nearly 400-page Mueller report, one that the public will see with all of the redactions and another that the Congress will see fully without any redactions?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Not necessarily. Given what Laura is saying, you might have one report with the redactions and you may -- and we don't know this for sure and Laura knows more about this than I do -- you may have Barr eventually decide that he can brief the Intelligence Committees.

But I don't think he's made that decision yet. And then they're going to go to court to release everything. They could lose or they could win, saying there's precedence for this. You know, looking at Watergate, for example.

But they could lose. We just don't know how the courts are going to rule. And, clearly, the attorney general today was saying, I dare you. Go to court. I think I've got a pretty good case. I think I can win. But he's holding firm.

BLITZER: The Senate minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, Samantha, he says, Congress can't be trusted with the full, unredacted report, because members would leak sensitive information to the public.

Does he have a fair point?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, hypocrisy dies in darkness. And I really want to point out here, this was not a claim that the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy made in his previous position, when I was working for the Obama administration, when he wanted the full disclosure of highly classified information on Benghazi and other issues related to Secretary Clinton's conduct.

So he is certainly not being consistent on how he views the release of highly sensitive information to the U.S. Congress. And just because it may leak does not mean that Congress isn't entitled to it and that Congress doesn't need it in order to do its job.

Congress has important oversight functions to perform, including but not limited to impeachment and just because it may leak doesn't mean that Congress should just wave its hands and say, OK, we're done, we're going home now.

There needs to be a process to stop the leaks. And as House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy could take some actions to try to encourage members of his party to behave more.

BLITZER: Yes, as someone who's covered Washington for a while, I can tell you, there are leaks from Congress all the time, the legislative branch of the U.S. government but certainly, over the years, the most explosive, damaging leaks to U.S. national security have come from the executive branch of the U.S. government.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: We didn't know during the election; there was a counterintelligence investigation against the president of the United States and members of Congress knew. The Gang of Eight knew. We didn't.

BLITZER: Bianna, the attorney general made a point, dodging questions about whether or not officials at the White House, the president, had been briefed in advance of his release of that four-page principal conclusions from the Mueller report.

What did you make of that?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, this attorney general has had this job before and it showed. He came across as unfazed, seasoned and prepared to fight and prepared to defend his work as well.

Look, he even went out to say that he gave Mueller's team the opportunity to review his four-page memo and they chose not to. Now I interpreted that as him saying this is Mueller and his team having the faith in me and my ability to look at this information, to look at this report and objectively come up with my own conclusion.

He was asked why he didn't include any of their own summaries that we later found out were provided. He said he didn't want to include anybody's summaries, he wanted to read it all himself and come up with his own interpretation of the report.

This is clearly a man who knows that there's going to be a fight ahead of him but he's also a man who's ready to defend his actions and knows that there's going to be a legal challenge that he's ready to take on.

BLITZER: There's a lot more we need to cover. We'll take a quick break. Much more right after this.

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[17:30:00]

BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts. And, Laura, it's interesting that Bill Barr, the Attorney General, said today that Mueller had been keeping him abreast of what's going on, even before the final report was submitted. I thought that was pretty significant of the fact that Mueller didn't even want to read those principal conclusions, the four-page document that the Attorney General eventually sent to Congress.

JARRETT: Yes. I think part of what you saw there was Barr trying to dispute this idea that he came up with his four-page principal conclusions memo over the course of a weekend.

[17:35:01] He was trying to say, look, we knew for quite a while where Mueller was going. Justice officials had been filled in for weeks, so we had a very good idea of what it was going to show. And so that's how we were able to come up with it.

But the idea that Mueller chose not to read that four-page memo, I think, is interesting. And we don't know exactly why. Eventually, I'm sure he will be testifying about it. It could be he didn't want to put his stamp of approval on it. It could be that he thought, you know what, it's really not my role. This is a confidential report that I've delivered. And after that, I'm done. We don't know what his motivation was.

BLITZER: Well, let me get Bianna to weigh in. What do you think, Bianna?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, I agree with Laura 100 percent. The only interesting thing to counter that argument is that, for the first time, we started to hear potential leaks from the Mueller team as well after the four-page Barr report had been issued. Remember, we had not heard anything out of them for two years. And all of a sudden, you start hearing reports that they may be disputing some of that interpretation from Bill Barr.

So you see both sides here. Barr clearly choosing the former by saying, listen, this team had enough faith in me that they didn't even want to review or feel that they needed to review the report before I issued it to Congress.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, the fact is, and Barr said this today, Mueller and his team are helping Barr right now come up with the redactions.

BORGER: Right. I think Mueller is sitting there on Barr's shoulder, one way or another, and involved in this. Whether that is because he wasn't involved last time and he didn't like what occurred, that could be the case. What's so fascinating to me about Mueller not being involved or saying, I choose not to, is that I think that, in a way, maybe he didn't want to endorse it and that maybe he thought that Barr would use his summaries and that would be that. And of course, you know, that did -- that did not occur. So we have to find out why Mueller decided to stay away. I mean, maybe he didn't want to get in an argument with his boss. You know, the Attorney General is his boss. We don't know.

BLITZER: From the counterintelligence perspective, Samantha, how do you see this playing out?

VINOGRAD: Well, I'm glad you asked that, Wolf, because there's been so much focus on the obstruction of justice part of Barr's CliffsNotes. I don't want to call this a summary. It's CliffsNotes of the Mueller report and the counterintelligence section. The President has really misrepresented what the Barr CliffsNotes, the Barr summary said, about the counterintelligence investigation.

For starters, we don't know if the counterintelligence investigation into President Trump has ended. We know that the original FBI investigation was folded into the Special Counsel's work. We have no idea if that's continued beyond the Special Counsel's specific focus on issues related to the 2016 election.

What we also don't know is what underlying evidence there was related to President Trump's potential counterintelligence risks. We know that there was not a basis for a criminal complaint. That is very different, Wolf, than saying that President Trump is not a counterintelligence risk.

And, frankly, his behavior since this report has come out makes a lot of us with any counterintelligence training scratch our head and ask why he continues to do things that really advance Russia's mission, whether it's because of his narcissism, whether it's because he's trying to make Putin happy or he just doesn't care, that actually raises more counterintelligence flags, not less.

BORGER: But one other thing that -- one other question Barr would not answer was about the White House and how much of this they have seen, and how much of this they have not seen. I mean, we have seen a sudden change in the President's tone about whether he wants the whole report released, which he did just a couple of weeks ago, as did a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives. Now, he says, you know, whatever we give them won't be enough and made it very clear that he's not interested in seeing this report released. So the question I have is, what do they know about it?

And Jerry Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said he found that very troubling too, that Barr just wouldn't answer the question about what the White House knew about the entire report.

BLITZER: You know, on another sensitive issue, Laura, the President in the Oval Office today with the Egyptian President, he denied CNN's reporting, other reporting that he is thinking of reinstating that zero-tolerance family separation policy. And he repeated this accusation against President Obama. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obama separated the children, by the way. Just -- just so you understand, President Obama separated the children. Those cages that were shown, I think they were very inappropriate. They were built by President Obama's administration, not by Trump. President Obama had child separation. Take a look. The press knows it. You know it. We all know it. I didn't have -- I'm the one that stopped it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He stopped it after he authorized the zero-tolerance policy that was announced by John Kelly here in The Situation Room only, what, six or eight weeks after he was inaugurated. And then the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, at the time, he implemented that policy. The policy no longer exists right now, but that was a new strategy, a new policy that they had implemented to deter illegal immigration. [17:40:00]

JARRETT: Right. But let's be clear on the facts here, is that the Obama administration did not have a wholesale policy of zero tolerance at the border, which is what led to the family separations in the first place. So Obama's Attorney General, unlike Jeff Session, did not have a policy of prosecuting 100 percent of families. And as a result, did not systematically break apart family units.

Now, the Trump administration has said, we're not going to break apart family units, which means we have choices. We can keep the families together or we can do what has derisively called catch and release, and allow them into the United States throughout the pendency of their immigration proceedings.

But let's also be clear that there were Tweets that were out there from 2014 that were misleading, that did attribute those to the Trump administration and those were from the Obama administration, and those had to do with children who came under here who were unaccompanied. And so it's all been sort of jumbled and sort of misreported on that issue.

But to be clear, systematic zero tolerance under the Trump administration was a policy the President advocated for and still exists.

VINOGRAD: And President Obama separated children from their families, Wolf, or from adults, Wolf, it was for their protection. It was as if there was a risk of trafficking or other kind of harm that might have been incurred. But even if he did do that, why is Donald Trump saying that two wrongs make a right? Again, Obama wasn't right, but so he's saying that because something happened under President Obama, he's repeating in upping the ante. That is an incredibly poor excuse. He has systemized that inhumane treatment that, again, Obama was doing to protect the children.

BLITZER: Bianna, go ahead and weigh in.

GOLODRYGA: It also appeared to be some sort of afterthought that perhaps the President had just been reminded that there had been a couple of isolated cases before. And all of a sudden, as reporters were leaving the room, he just said, this is Obama and had nothing to do with me.

It seems there's another big issue that's percolating now is that there's no real policy, there's confusion, there's no leadership. You have the successor now to Kirstjen Nielsen who just, a few months ago, before the senate, made arguments that one way to stop illegal immigration is to help fund some of these nations, in particular, those in the northern triangle.

Well, what has the President announced and threatened over the past few weeks that he would cut funding. So there does seem to be mass confusion and a complete vacuum on leadership in terms of border security and homeland security. And that is really disconcerting from a national security standpoint, as well. BLITZER: He likened the journey that these migrants make from their countries, whether Guatemala or Honduras or El Salvador, through Mexico to coming to the United States to Disneyland.

BORGER: Disneyland. I mean, the bottom of it, the bottom line here, Wolf, is that President Trump has been saying over and over again, as recently as today, that he thinks it works, that family separation policy is a good thing. He said, I'll tell you something. First, he said, I'm the one who stopped it, that was because there was a public outcry, including from his own daughter. But he said, I will tell you something. Once you don't have it, that's why you see many more people coming. So he's saying, oh, it was Obama's fault, but, by the way, I actually think it works.

JARRETT: And that was the heart of Jake's reporting.

BORGER: Exactly.

JARRETT: He just wants to separate the families.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: Everybody stick around. There's more news we're following, including more breaking news. The actress, Lori Loughlin, is among those facing new charges in the college entrance cheating scandal. We have details, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:45:00]

BLITZER: There's breaking news in the college cheating scandal. Federal prosecutors this afternoon announced 16 parents, including the actress, Lori Loughlin, face additional charges, related to the alleged bribery and fraud scheme to get their children into elite colleges. The new charges likely are intended to put pressure on the defendants to make a plea deal, like the ones that the actress, Felicity Huffman, and a dozen other parents have agreed to.

There's other breaking news in the 2020 presidential race. In a new interview with The New York Times, Senator Bernie Sanders revealed he now is a millionaire. He's also promising to release ten years of his tax returns.

Our Political Director, David Chalian, is here with us. David, Sanders has repeatedly criticized the wealthy. Now he, himself, says he's a millionaire. How is this going to play?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He has indeed. You remember, you pressed him on this at a Town Hall about releasing his tax returns. He said soon. That was a couple of months ago, Wolf. He still hasn't done it. Now, he says we're going to get to see them on Monday, if not, before ten years' worth and he's a millionaire. I don't expect his supporters to actually abandon him because of this. I really don't. But I do think it is important to note Bernie Sanders' political identity has been about bashing the millionaires and billionaires. He does it over and over again and he bashed them all the way to joining their ranks.

I doubt he's going to change his policies because of it. That's why I don't envision his supporters are going away. But it is a discordant note, obviously, that Sanders is keenly aware of which is why he's trying to get out ahead of his tax returns being released.

BLITZER: And he said one of the reasons he has that money is because his book or books were best sellers. He made a lot of money with the books.

Tell us more about CNN's Presidential Town Halls that begin with a new chapter tonight.

CHALIAN: Yes. In the next few days, we're going to see five more of these presidential candidates. You know, the field is 18 big now. Starting tonight, we're going to see New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Tomorrow, you're going to be with Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington. We'll see Julian Castro on Thursday. And on Sunday, we'll see Marianne Williamson, an author and speaker, and Andrew Yang, who's been getting a little bit of a bump right now.

[17:50:02]

He had a pretty decent fundraising number for not somebody that many people know.

These, all five of them, what they have in common, none of them have really had breakthrough moment yet. So an opportunity like a CNN Town Hall is a real opportunity for these lesser known folks to try and jump in to the next tier of this race.

BLITZER: And after this batch of five, there will be more because there are more democratic presidential candidates. David, thank you very much.

Once again, be sure to tune in later tonight, 10:00 P.M. Eastern when CNN's Erin Burnett moderates our live Presidential Town Hall with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. I'll moderate tomorrow's Town Hall with Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. That's also 10:00 P.M. tomorrow night.

We're learning more meanwhile about the woman arrested at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. She had the array of sophisticated electronic equipment with her. CNN's Brian Todd has been consulting with experts. What are they telling you, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, a former spy and a former spy hunter tell us that if this woman was a spy, she did have many of the tools she needed to collect intelligence at Mar-a-Lago. She even had a device designed to help her avoid detection.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Tonight, this woman, Chinese national Yujing Zhang, is behind bars in Florida charged with infiltrating the President's private club. But it's what she had on her when she was caught by Secret Service that has national security experts concerned.

ANTHONY FERRANTE, FORMER FBI CYBER COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT: She was able to carry in to Mar-a-Lago a modern day burglar's tool kit.

TODD: Among the high-tech devices Zhang had on her, a thumb drive, a laptop, an external hard drive and four cell phones. When they searched her hotel room, investigators found even more, another cell phone, five SIM cards that change a phone's number, nine USB drives and a signal detector, a device for detecting hidden cameras. Experts say a signal detector is a device as simple as this one that can be used to scan a room for telltale radio frequencies from spy cams and bugs that show up like this.

But Christopher Costa, who runs the International Spy Museum says a signal detector can also be concealed.

CHRISTOPHER COSTA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM: A device that you describe could be built into something as simple as a notebook, where built inside the notebook, there is an ability to collect from the spectrum to look for crystals in a video. And then you will know that there will be some kind of detection capability where the person would know that, okay, there is video inside this room.

TODD: A useful device, Costa says, because cameras can be embedded virtually anywhere.

COSTA: The cameras would be built in to innocuous normal looking things, such as a TV or a pinhole camera on the walls.

TODD: It's not clear if Yujing Zhang is a spy. So far, she's only charged with lying and entering restricted grounds, she has not entered a plea. But prosecutors said in court they are investigating a possible espionage operation. They say when the Secret Service examined the thumb drive she carried, the agent found a malicious file that began to install itself a computer being used to test it.

COSTA: Here is an example of a thumb drive that's built into this Swiss army knife. If I simply open this up and put it in the computer, you see that it automatically begins self-executing the code that is prewritten on this device. And in this case, the code has been written to collect files on the computer and send them to a remote location.

TODD: Tonight, national security experts are asking if Mar-a-Lago could be a target for spies. The President travels with secure communications equipment and a portable SCIF, a sensitive compartmented information facility, like a tent that can be set up in a room to block eavesdropping.

But President Trump has been seen conducting sensitive talks in plain view of other guests. Some guest witnessed him talked to Japanese leader, Shinzo Abe, in 2017 about how to respond when North Korea launched a missile. Another photo posted online that same night shows a guest posing with an aide, who the guest said, held the President's nuclear launch code satchel. FERRANTE: I think it's extremely concerning that those types of conversations are happening in an environment like that. And I also think that this is wakeup call to the U.S. government.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: If Yujing Zhang is a spy, our espionage experts offer a cautionary tale regarding this story at Mar-a-Lago. They say that spies going into a place like that should avoid carrying so much equipment that it would get them into trouble or at least get them noticed. Don't go in, they say, with much more than a phone, maybe a camera hidden in a wallet or a pen. Objects you can easily access and operate and objects that you can actually explain if they're found by a security person. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. Brian Todd, thanks very much. Coming up, breaking news. Democrats say they will issue a subpoena for the full, unscrubbed Mueller report after the Attorney General says he will release a redacted version within a week.

Plus, the actress, Lori Loughlin, and other parents face more charges in the alleged bribery and fraud scheme to get their children into top colleges.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:55:00]

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Barr fight. Attorney General William Barr tells Congress he expects to release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report within a week. But House Democrats want the see the whole thing and they're vowing to use subpoena power to get it.

Cage match. President Trump falsely claims his controversial family separation policy for migrants at the Southern border started under President Obama.

[18:00:01]

And he denies he's considering bringing it back while at the same time appearing to justifying it as a deterrent.

Stars indicted.