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THE SITUATION ROOM

Barr Praised By Trump But Faces Backlash From Democrats And Some In GOP For Remark About Spying On Campaign; U.S. Charges WikiLeaks Founder In Hacking Conspiracy; Julian Assange Allegedly Plotted To Steal Military Secrets; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Interview about Joining Crowded Field In 2020 Presidential Race; Feds Charge WikiLeaks Founder In Hacking Conspiracy; Julian Assange Arrested And Likely To Be Brought To U.S.; Ex-Obama White House Counsel Indicted In Case Tied To Mueller; Feds Probe Bezos Claim Of Extortion By Trump Ally; Trump Has Kind Words For Kim Jong-un Despite Hostile New Tone From North Korean Dictator. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 11, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:04]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper. You can Tweet the show at The Lead CNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Happening now, Wiki-plugged. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is dragged out of the London Embassy, where he'd taken refuge for years. He faces extradition to the U.S. where he's charged with conspiring to hack military secrets. Are more charges ahead?

I know nothing. President Trump praised WikiLeaks dozens of times when it was publishing stolen democratic emails during his campaign. Now he says, I know nothing about WikiLeaks.

Backing Barr. The President says he's pleased with Attorney General William Barr for saying there was spying on the Trump campaign. But democrats are furious and some key republicans take issue with Barr's remarks.

And threatening retaliation. Kim Jong-un warns about dealing a serious blow to those who are imposing sanctions against North Korea. But President Trump has kind words for the dictator. Could the two leaders meet again after their failed summit?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in The Situation Room.

Tonight, the man who published democratic emails hacked by Russians faces extradition to the United States where he's charged with a more serious offense, plotting to help a former intelligence analyst steal military and diplomatic secrets also published by WikiLeaks.

After years of refugee in Ecuador's embassy in London, WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange wore out his welcome with increasingly bizarre behavior and today was dragged out by British police. There are indications of more charges to come.

President Trump said today, I know nothing about WikiLeaks. But when WikiLeaks was publishing those democratic emails during the 2016 campaign, President Trump praised the group dozens and dozens of times saying he loved WikiLeaks.

I'll be speaking with Congressman Eric Swalwell. He's a member of the intelligence committee. And our correspondents and analysts have full coverage of the day's top stories.

We begin with CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. And, Kaitlan, when WikiLeaks was publishing these stolen democratic emailed, the President openly celebrated them. It's a very different response now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Brianna, remember that day that the Access Hollywood tape surfaced? That was the same day that WikiLeaks started publishing those damaging emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta. Now, the President had no problem praising the organization effusively in the days leading up to the election, but today here at the White House, when asked about WikiLeaks, he was tight-lipped.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing.

COLLINS: President Trump distancing himself tonight.

TRUMP: I've been seeing what's happened with Assange.

COLLINS: Offering no comment on the arrest of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange despite repeatedly praising the organization when it released damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Today, the President said he's leaving the matter in Bill Barr's hands.

TRUMP: Look, I don't really have any opinion. I know the Attorney General will be involved in that and he'll make a decision.

COLLINS: While top officials in his government have denounced WikiLeaks as a hostile intelligence service, Trump didn't see it that way during his campaign when WikiLeaks was publishing thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.

TRUMP: This just came out. WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks. Another one came in today. This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove. I love reading those WikiLeaks.

COLLINS: Trump quiet about Assange today but he had plenty to say about the stunning assertion his Attorney General made yesterday.

TRUMP: Hard to believe it could have happened, but it did. There was spying in my campaign. And his answer was a very accurate one.

COLLINS: Bill Barr is now facing backlash from democrats, including one of the three who voted to confirm him because they say he's feeding a conspiracy.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I think that was a horrible choice of language and it was a horrible statement to come from our Attorney General.

COLLINS: Even some republicans are skeptical about his choice of words.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): If he had to do it over again, I imagine the word spying wouldn't be used but there was most certainly surveillance.

COLLINS: At least one person was pleased with the Attorney General's performance.

TRUMP: I think what he said was absolutely true. There was absolutely spying into my campaign. I'll go a step further, in my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying.

COLLINS: Former FBI Director James Comey said he had no idea what Barr is talking about and doesn't consider court-ordered surveillance spying.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: If the Attorney General has come to the belief that that should be called spying, wow, that's going to require a whole lot of conversations inside the Department of Justice.

COLLINS: Trump in the Oval Office today with the President of South Korea who is hoping to get stalled U.S. talks with North Korea back on track.

[17:05:01]

TRUMP: The big deal is we have to get rid of the nuclear weapons.

COLLINS: One day after Kim Jong-un vowed North Korea will withstand the pressure from sanctions and should deliver a telling blow to those who oppose them, Trump said the sanctions will remain in place but added he won't ramp them up for now.

TRUMP: I had the option of significantly increasing them. I didn't want to do that because of my relationship with Kim Jong-un.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now back to Barr's assertion that the Trump campaign was spied on. The President made clear today, Brianna, that he felt vindicated by those remarks from Barr but he also said he does want the DOJ looking into this. Brianna, he said if they don't, he feels it would be a disservice to the country.

KEILAR: Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you.

And we have more on the stunning public arrest of Julian Assange. After years of refuge inside Ecuador's embassy in London, he faces extradition to the U.S. Let's turn now to CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider. Take us through this, Jess.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it was a stunning court appearance in the U.K. today with the judge calling out Julian Assange as a narcissist who can't get beyond his own selfish interest. The judge also found Assange guilty for violating the terms of his bail. And now, Julian Assange is in custody while he awaits that extradition hearing on May 2nd when he'll find out if he'll be send here to the U.S. to face what could be the first of many charges.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Tonight, Julian Assange is detained after being dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy by British police. The now long-bearded WikiLeaks founder shouted before being stuffed into a police van. He's been holed up in the embassy for nearly seven years and he now faces extradition to the U.S. on one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The single charge has been sealed for more than a year but it revolves around WikiLeaks's publishing nearly a million documents in 2010, including classified material about America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and secret state department cables. Assange's attorneys insist he's always acted as a journalist and is protected under the first amendment.

JENNIFER ROBINSON, JULIAN ASSANGE'S LAWYER: This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the United States.

SCHNEIDER: But federal prosecutors say Assange broke the law when he conspired with then-U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who is now in jail, to crack a government password and steal the classified documents. U.S. officials have said the leaks created a serious national security risk, in part, because the leaked documents exposed details about a 2007 U.S. air strike in Iraq that killed journalists and civilians.

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): Julian Assange has put American lives at risk. And I hope he gets a fair legal process, but one that judges him based upon the national security breaches that have happened in this country.

SCHNEIDER: So far, Assange is not charged for WikiLeaks' role in the Russian hack of thousands of democratic and Clinton campaign emails that were posted on WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: We have more material related to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

SCHNEIDER: But a U.S. official tells CNN more charges against Assange are expected.

TRUMP: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.

SCHNEIDER: The President praised WikiLeaks as it dropped the stolen emails during the campaign. Roger Stone, a former adviser to Trump, was indicted in January for lying about seeking out the stolen emails from WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange.

Assange's arrest comes after his bizarre behavior prompted Ecuador to end his asylum at the embassy. Ecuador's interior minister said Assange spread feces on the walls inside and believed his physical and mental health were deteriorating.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: And Ecuador's Foreign Minister said Assange's wellbeing would only have further deteriorated had he stayed inside the embassy where Assange's behavior had apparently become aggressive and where he also tried to block security cameras, accusing the staff at the embassy of spying on him on behalf of the United States.

As for now, Assange will stay locked up until that next court appearance that's on May 2nd. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Jessica Schneider, thank you for that report.

I want to turn now to CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez. And so WikiLeaks has been implicated in Russia's hack of the democratic emails during the 2016 election. You're learning that Assange will face additional charges in the U.S. Could these be related to that?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they could be. I mean, we do know that this is just the beginning for Assange. We expect Justice Department officials to say -- tell me that they expect that there are going to be additional charges. Obviously, there's a lot of things that WikiLeaks was involved I, not only the Chelsea Manning issue but, you know, the 2016 election interference, as well as this 2017 leak of CIA hacking tools which I'm told was one of the things that really propelled this case.

[17:09:58]

Now, one of the interesting things that I think now that the Ecuadorians apparently are cooperating with the United States, they are the ones who expelled him from the embassy, it's going to be interesting to see whether the U.S. can get their help in perhaps building some of these cases against Julian Assange. Obviously, they had access to his communications. They would have been able to watch some of this.

The U.S., by the way, was watching a lot of his communications. But if there's other ways that he was communicating that the U.S. did not know, it will be interesting to see whether or not they are able to help with that. It's clearly -- the Ecuadorians have flipped from being supporters of his to essentially the ones who turned him in.

KEILAR: Cooperating. And the President after Bill Barr testified this week that he believed there was spying on the Trump campaign, he didn't offer specific proof. But he said that, and the President really grabbed on to that today in the Oval Office. And it's interesting though to hear Jim Comey, the former FBI Director, who is someone I think the President will consider in his box of people who have committed treason, right? He's throwing that word around a lot. He says he doesn't know what Barr was talking about.

PEREZ: Yes. And I think -- look, I think a lot of people were puzzled by what exactly the Attorney General was doing. And, look, I think some of this sometimes you can look at Bill Barr and his -- he believes that his job is to sort of lower the heat on the Justice Department from being a place where they are sort of being attacked by the President and sort of being essentially attacking the President himself, right? The president is attacking them, and back and forth.

So I think one of the things that he was trying to do at this hearing was to not have video of him essentially contradicting the President. I think he was happy to annoy some members of Congress if that helped lower the temperature. I think perhaps it didn't work that well because I think he's caused a lot more questions about what exactly he means by the spying, despite his efforts to clean it up.

KEILAR: It's interesting if you go back and watch him because he pauses and he carefully considers what he's going to say and then he says -- he sort of goes all in and says, I believe there was spying. So you felt it was -- it seemed that it was an audience of one?

PEREZ: I think you can consider it that way. I mean, one of the things the Attorney General, I think, is trying to do also is, obviously, he was trying to make sure that he would clean up a little bit of some of the things he said the previous day. I don't think it went that well, but he considered himself to be media savvy in his own way, and i think perhaps he got a little ahead of himself there.

KEILAR: All right. Evan, thank you so much. We really appreciate your reporting.

And joining me now, we have Congressman Eric Swalwell. He announced this week that he is a democratic presidential candidate. He's also a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Sir, thank you for being with us.

And you did --

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Congratulations on your next move here which is announcing that you are going to run for president. I do want to ask you about that in just a moment.

I want to begin though with our top story, this indictment against Julian Assange. It has nothing to do with his alleged role in the Russian election interference. I wonder, do you think he's still going to face legal jeopardy on that front?

SWALWELL: Certainly possible. And everything that we know from the Mueller team is that they are still working. In fact, someone was indicted today related to the Mueller investigation. And so it is heartening to see that Mr. Assange will be brought to justice.

And I also want to respect the role of journalists and distinguish him from a journalist. He is somebody who works with state actors to obtain our country's and other countries' intelligence information and interfere in elections. So I have no sympathy for Mr. Assange with respect to what he did.

But what is really frustrating, Brianna, is that the President of the United States, when approached about this arrest, his reaction is what you would expect from my toddler when I find that he colored on the walls. He says, I don't know nothing about nothing, essentially. He doesn't commend the Department of Justice for working so hard on this case, doesn't commend the British for working with us to extradite Mr. Assange. Instead he says something that's completely unbelievable that he doesn't know anything about WikiLeaks when we know that for a year-and-a-half, all he did was praise WikiLeaks.

KEILAR: Why do you think that Robert Mueller didn't move to prosecute Assange as part of a conspiracy with Russia?

SWALWELL: Well, I would like to answer that question by seeing the full report, Brianna. I think if we did see the full report, we would be able to answer that. And that's all the more reason that Attorney General Barr should give that to us now that Mr. Assange is in custody. It is an issue that is very ripe.

KEILAR: Assange now being out of the Ecuadorian embassy is interesting and that the government, the Ecuadorian government appears to be cooperating. So do you think that they're going to turn over evidence like visitor logs? They also would have access to surveillance footage, things that could be useful certainly to the investigation into Russian election interference.

[17:15:02]

SWALWELL: We want to know what the Russians did in 2016 and protect against what they could do in 2020. As long as this is always about the future, I think the American people are with us, and that would include understanding whether Mr. Assange did meet with Paul Manafort, the President's campaign chairman, whether he was communicating from that embassy with Roger Stone, a longtime adviser of Donald Trump. And so, hopefully, they do cooperate in that manner.

But we still have an election coming up. And I don't think anyone can say that we are better protected in this election than we were in 2016. And so that's going to require getting all of the evidence to understand what the Russians did, who they worked with and whether our government response at the time was adequate.

KEILAR: You mentioned the President and what he said today that he knows nothing about WikiLeaks, that that's not his thing. We know that he enthusiastically embraced WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. He talked about it dozens and dozens of times, especially in the last month before the election. Does his history as a cheerleader for WikiLeaks hurt the government's case against Julian Assange even though their case doesn't have to do with the 2016 election?

SWALWELL: Donald Trump certainly is a fan, a cheerleader, an advocate for WikiLeaks, and they are a fan of his. He may say he knows nothing about WikiLeaks, but they know a lot about him. They sought to help him get elected. But I have faith in the American people, if this case is as solid as it has been presented so far, I have the confidence that the American people will give Mr. Assange a fair trial but will hold him accountable if he did cross the line of journalism into actually taking direct steps to hack into U.S. national security secrets.

KEILAR: Do you have faith in the Justice Department that they will prosecute him to their fullest ability considering the President has praised the person and entity that they are prosecuting?

SWALWELL: I expect the President will probably continue to meddle or attempt to, you know, indirectly tamper with the jurors, as he did in the Paul Manafort trial. If you remember, he was Tweeting as those jurors were hearing the case. I don't have faith in the Attorney General but I have faith in the men and women who toil away everyday on behalf of the cause of justice. And they are the ones who should be commended. So the President won't commend them. I will commend them. Thank you for bringing Mr. Assange to justice, thank you for working with our British allies, allies we need every single day and let's hope justice is finally brought for someone who worked to disrupt a presidential election.

KEILAR: You said you want the full Mueller report. Does the Attorney General's testimony yesterday, does that weigh on you one way or the other raising concerns about the version of the report that you're expecting he's going to provide to Congress?

SWALWELL: The Attorney General should recuse himself immediately. He has no business touching any part of this investigation. The letter that he wrote to Congress, his opinion letter about the Mueller investigation, was 15 pages shorter than the letter that he sent to the Department of Justice asking essentially for the job and stating that he didn't think a president could be charged with obstruction of justice.

He also is doing the exact opposite of what Jeff Sessions did. Jeff Sessions was recused. Attorney General Barr is completely embedded. He's putting forth the Trump line here when it comes to the Mueller investigation.

KEILAR: Well, Jeff Sessions recused himself in part because he had Russian contacts that he had not reported to Congress, which, to the best of our knowledge, we don't know that Bill Barr has had. So why should he recuse himself?

SWALWELL: Because he sent an unsolicited letter that detailed why the President of the United States could not be charged with obstruction of justice and then he was presented with a 400-page two-year investigation with 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 37 indictments and he made a decision about obstruction of justice, which is exactly the reason that we had a Special Counsel, was to take away a conflicted person, a presidential appointee from having to do that. I don't think we need him on the case a second further.

KEILAR: Just to challenge you on that, just that it was Robert Mueller who decided not to make a decision on the issue of obstruction. It appears, based on the quote that is in the summary, he did make a call on collusion, not that that was not established. But on the issue of obstruction, you're right, Robert Mueller didn't make the call, but Robert Mueller didn't make the call. Is that something you hold Bill Barr responsible for?

SWALWELL: I hold Bill Barr responsible for not telling us what indeed happened with the Special Counsel with that call because, Brianna, I imagine part of the reason he may not have made that call was because it is Department of Justice policy to not indict a sitting president, which would essentially leave Mr. Mueller with two hands tied behind his back. And so -- but he also now is in a position where his analysis on obstruction of justice has been shielded from the public.

So the best thing we can do, the public paid for this investigation, release the results of this investigation, and the President of the United States, who says he's 100 percent cleared should welcome 100 percent of the report being put out to the American people.

[17:20:08]

KEILAR: We are waiting that report, almost 400 pages, and we've only seen, I think, 101 words out of it. So we're awaiting that hopefully soon here.

I want to talk about your campaign for presidency. You have vowed --

SWALWELL: I'm in Iowa.

KEILAR: You're in Iowa, there you are. I think that's an important state, right? You vowed to include republicans in your cabinet. And as you know, President Obama also named republicans to his cabinet. But it didn't really seem to do anything to promote bipartisanship during his eight years in office. Why do you expect that that would be different if you become president?

SWALWELL: Well, it won't be easy. And I recognize that having a team of rivals may pose some difficulties. But we're in such a deep, dark hole for our democracy, that the next president, to have credibility to lead, I think is going to have to demonstratively put in place republicans who can help him put the reforms that our democracy will need that have been exposed by this President through nepotism, through graft, through corruption, also the influx of outside money into our campaigns. So to pick ourselves up and move forward, I'm going to work with republicans.

And it's something I've done my whole life, Brianna. My parents are both republicans, before Donald Trump came to Congress. I worked a lot of times with republicans to get bills passed. And it's something I want to do again and it's something I really believe the American people will welcome in the next president.

KEILAR: You began your campaign this week with a Town Hall in Florida, which was near the site of the Parkland shooting, talking about ending gun violence. And given the hold that guns have on America and gun supporters have such an influence in America, do you -- how do you expect to get traction on this issue that has been very difficult for democrats to get traction on?

SWALWELL: It's not difficult for me, Brianna, because I went to 26 states in the last 18 months to help us win the House. I was born in Iowa. My wife is from Indiana. I talk to republicans all the time. The overwhelming majority of NRA's supporters and members want background checks.

But we're held back by the noise, the Tweets, the shouting, the bullying by a vocal, vocal minority. I am not afraid of that minority. And so what I'm going to do is I'm going to work with the moms and students and parents of the survivors and we're going to build a coalition of republicans and democrats to protect our kids in their schools, to protect people at their churches, to protect shoppers at the mall. This issue just needs boldness, and I'm ready to lead on it.

KEILAR: You are among 18 democrats running at this point. That's a huge number.

SWALWELL: Water is warm.

KEILAR: It sure is. And how do you stand out in such a crowded pool?

SWALWELL: Well, I'm offering a vision of going big on the issues we take on, not just putting them aside, on healthcare, gun violence, education, being bold with the solutions, coverage for all, bringing student loan interest rate down to zero, banning and buying back assault weapons and doing good in the way we govern, having a collaborative process with republicans at the table, making sure we get the dirty money and the dirty maps out of politics.

But just as a person, Brianna, I think I can add states in the general election. Being born in Iowa, educated in the south, elected in a diverse part of California, someone who brings generational optimism, but experiencing Congress, especially in the last few years, as our democracy has been on the ropes. I know who our enemies are from abroad. I've defended our country against them from the intelligence committee. But I also have stood up while the rule of law has been attacked here at home. So I'll be ready on day one.

KEILAR: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you for joining us.

SWALWELL: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Up next, WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange is charged by the U.S. with plotting to hack military secrets. Are more charges on the way?

And Amazon Chief Jeff Bezos is to meet with federal prosecutors on his claim of extortion by a tabloid publisher. Could that publisher, a Trump ally, now lose immunity granted in the 2016 campaign hush money scheme?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:00]

KEILAR: Tonight, after the arrest of Julian Assange in London, President Trump says he doesn't know much about WikiLeaks despite all the videos from the 2016 campaign where he's telling crowds how much he loved WikiLeaks. Assange is facing charges in the U.S. And I want to talk to our political and legal experts about what is ahead here.

Okay. So how strong is the government's case, Laura, against Assange?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's pretty strong on a weak charge, right, compared to all the things that he's done. And remember, the United States has multiple areas to be concerned about with Julian Assange, including the 2016 election, including the issues involving Ed Snowden. But the one they've chosen to connect to is Chelsea Manning, which, of course, involved her displaying both classified and secret material which is a lower classification.

So I think what they've done here is called the kind of the Al Capone moment. It's not that he has not actually having a case against him, which on a relatable scale of things he could have done wrong, they chose the one they probably have the most information.

And, again, it's important here to distinguish. Everyone has been saying it's very a sad day for journalists. Well, it is because people think that Assange is a journalist, and he's not.

KEILAR: His lawyer is -- not everyone is saying that. We just have to be clear, not everyone is saying that. I mean, we just had a Congressman on who is definitely not -- democratic congressman who is distinguishing. His lawyers are saying that it's a sad day for journalism.

COATES: And the reason they're saying that is because they want to hang their hat on a first amendment issue and say, listen, you don't want to hold accountable those who simply publish who were passive percipients. But in this case, Assange is quite different in a sense of it wasn't him just saying, hey, there's private documents behind a closed door. It was them saying, I'm going to help you pick the lock to go behind that locked door.

KEILAR: Computer intrusion, right?

COATES: And that is, in and of itself, a hacking, and that's serious crime.

KEILAR: Yes. It's not just -- it's the method, which is illegal.

COATES: Yes, it's complicit.

KEILAR: So the Ecuadorians, Phil Mudd, are suddenly cooperating.

[17:30:03]

He has spent almost seven years in this embassy. What all might they provide if they decide to provide it? PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the first is, what's with the cat, all these stories about the cat? I mean, once we get beyond the cat, there's a couple of things I want to know.

KEILAR: That may not be incriminating, but it's going to satisfy folk's curiosity.

MUDD: Just a couple of things. First, obviously, I'd say, who has visited? Do you keep a visitor log? I want to know everybody who walked in there. Then you get into some technical issues. For example, what's in that room? Does he have a laptop? Do we have access to that laptop? Where is his cell phone? I would also want to know whether he used any technical facilities in the embassy. Let me be specific. Did he use your phone? Can we get access to your phone logs from whatever service provider you have in the U.K.?

So I'm going to guess he's not going to talk too much, but beyond whether he talks or not, there's a lot of technical stuff, including a visitor log, which I presume they have there, that I might get access to that give me a picture of what we call pattern of life for him.

KEILAR: The President today was in the Oval Office with the leader of South Korea. Of course, he was going to be asked about this, and he was. And what was stunning was that he said, this is the quote, I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing. Okay. Well, it was his thing.

MUDD: WikiLeaks, not my thing.

KEILAR: It was very much his thing during the presidential election. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks.

This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You've got to read it.

It's been amazing what's coming out on WikiLeaks.

This WikiLeaks is fascinating.

This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.

Getting off the plane, they were just announcing new WikiLeaks. And I wanted to stay there, but I didn't want to keep you waiting.

Well, I love reading those WikiLeaks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: He loves reading those WikiLeaks but it's not his thing. Why is he distancing himself now from Assange?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, because it's disadvantageous now. It was politically advantageous for him then because they were publishing things that were negative -- cast his opponent in a negative light. Let's remember, Donald Trump at the opening of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia in 2016 urged Russia to try to find Hillary Clinton's deleted emails. I mean, he is -- he is 100 percent situational. If it is good for Donald Trump, he likes it. If it is bad for Donald Trump, he either hates it or doesn't know about it. That's what we're seeing here.

KEILAR: Bianna Golodryga with us as well. When you're watching this, I mean one, this is incredibly awkward for the President, but also this is the United States government that is prosecuting Julian Assange for helping to retrieve military and national security secrets. Were you surprised by the President's kind of tepid response to that action?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, nothing surprises me these days. Nothing surprised me in a couple of years now, Brianna. But I will just say the President was likely focusing on what his Attorney General had said earlier about the government spying, intelligence agencies spying on his campaign rather than WikiLeaks. Yes, it's awkward. I mean, we have the tape. We have him saying, I love WikiLeaks. We have reports of Don Junior Tweeting and DM'ing with WikiLeaks.

But that having been said, talk about another awkward moment, you have his own Justice Department indicting 12 Russians the day before he has a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. One would have thought that would have been awkward too, and yet, we know the result and the President came out and said that he believes Vladimir Putin. So I think whereas most people may find the situation awkward or may go back on their previous words, especially when they know that they're on camera, this President views things differently and has gotten away with it thus far, I will say.

CILLIZZA: Just one other thing. Remember, Roger Stone is still charged with not telling the truth to Congress about the nature and breadth of his relationship with WikiLeaks, Roger Stone, who was a foundational member of the Trump campaign, though he was dismissed early on. So, I mean, the idea that Donald Trump has -- that it's a word he's never heard before, I mean, it's just patently and ridiculously false.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And on that point, too, I would doubt that they're going to have this one count remaining. They're going to have multiple -- given Roger Stone's testimony, given the idea that Michael Cohen also said that he was present in the room the day that Roger Stone told Trump that he had access to the information as well. I suspect in this indictment was sealed from a year ago, imagine all that's taken place under the Mueller probe that may come out through this. I bet that they've brought him in because he is a treasure trove of information.

KEILAR: Assange?

COATES: Assange.

KEILAR: But you think he's not going to talk?

MUDD: I don't think so. I mean, if --

KEILAR: What would it take, do you think, to get Julian Assange to actually sit down and share information, have a discussion with authorities?

MUDD: Well, there's a couple of pieces you've got to look at. First is how many years? I'm not a lawyer. I don't think this charge is going to be, unless we get additional indictments that are a lot more significant, a ton of years. So a lawyer is going to say, shut up. You're not going to get a ton of time.

The second is you can't predict ego. Paul Manafort goes into an Alexandria, Virginia courtroom based on a documentary case where you presume somebody would say, son, you need to talk. The jurors later said, we saw the documents, he lied.

[17:35:02]

He decided not to talk. So you've got to figure out ego here. And if you want ego, Julian Assange.

KEILAR: Bianna?

GOLODRYGA: Yes. I read one interesting analysis was that this was actually a relief for WikiLeaks in a sense that the organization can finally be separated from Julian Assange. Obviously, that's the first thing you think of, the first name you think of when you think of WikiLeaks. He's not the only one that works at the organization. One could wonder if the company itself could start releasing information, whether or not Julian would comply on his own.

KEILAR: What do you think WikiLeaks looks like, Bianna, without Julian Assange?

GOLODRYGA: I don't know. I mean, that's all that I've known of WikiLeaks. But, obviously, we know that there's so much -- only so much that he can do carrying out the company and being sort of the name recognition and the head of the company. There are others that work there and it will be interesting if we start hearing from them at all if the brand, it's interesting to see him call it a company, the brand itself, it's interesting to see if it can Survive with him now being in the predicament that he finds himself in.

KEILAR: Bianna, thank you so much. Phil, Laura and Chris, I appreciate it. And we have an important reminder. Tonight at 10:00 P.M. Eastern, Don Lemon will moderate a CNN Presidential Town Hall with democratic candidate Julian Castro. That is tonight at 10:00 P.M. Eastern here on CNN.

Coming up, breaking news. A former Obama White House adviser facing charges connected to the Mueller probe and his dealings with Paul Manafort.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos is expected to talk to federal prosecutors soon. Could that publisher, a Trump ally, now lose immunity granted in the 2016 campaign hush money scheme?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:40:00]

KEILAR: Breaking news now. The President has attacked the Special Counsel's Russia investigation as a witch hunt of his administration, but today an official from the Obama White House was indicted on charges that stem from Mueller's probe.

Let's bring in CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez, to give us the latest on this. Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I mean, this is actually a case that came out of the Mueller investigation. And as you mentioned, the President has attacked the Mueller investigation, saying 13, now, 18 angry democrats, he says, were going after him because he's a republican. It turns out Greg Craig worked with Paul Manafort and that's the reason why he got in trouble. Because, according to this indictment today, Brianna, Greg Craig lied to the Justice Department unit, the FARA unit, which is the Foreign Agent Registration Act unit, when he met with them back in 2012, 2013, about some work that he was doing on behalf of Ukraine. So this is everything that got him in trouble. Again, he was in business with Paul Manafort at the time. And now, he's been charged with making false statements to the Justice Department.

So now, he's going to be before a judge tomorrow. Again, this is a democrat, worked for the Obama administration as a White House Counsel. We got a statement from his lawyers that says in part this indictment accuses Mr. Craig of Misleading the FARA unit of the Justice Department in order to avoid registration. It is, itself, unfair and misleading. It ignores uncontroverted evidence to the contrary. Mr. Craig had no interest in misleading the FARA unit because he had not done anything that required his registration. That is what this trial will be all about.

And I think you can bet that one of the things that Greg Craig and his lawyers will point out is that they believe he was being targeted because he's a democrat.

KEILAR: Really?

PEREZ: Yes.

KEILAR: Interesting. All right, Evan Perez.

PEREZ: What a twist.

KEILAR: What a twist. We'll be looking for that.

So in another major legal story we're watching, Amazon Chief Jeff Bezos is expected to meet with federal prosecutors on his claim of extortion by a tabloid publisher. This meeting has big implications for that publisher, Trump ally David Pecker. I want to bring in CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz to talk about this. So could Pecker lose that immunity deal that he had for cooperating with the government in the investigation of hush money payments to keep a former Playboy model from going public about her affair with Trump?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: He certainly can, and that is what the prosecutors here in New York over at the Southern District of New York, which has been investigating the hush money payments and other Trump issues, that they could very much, if they decide that Pecker and AMI, National Enquirer here, violated a non- prosecution agreement, that is that if they did engage in activity that the prosecutors said they needed to stop, they could lose it. They could lose that and they could -- charges could be brought against them in the hush money payments.

KEILAR: And does that mean that we might learn about the President's involvement in hush money payments.

PROKUPECZ: We can certainly learn more about it. We know a lot already when you think about what we've seen coming from prosecutors here in New York. We certainly could learn more. We can learn more about the President's perhaps communications with David Pecker and National Enquirer, perhaps other dealings that they may have had. It could really open up a whole new window into what the National Enquirer was doing here, what their role was, and other people, certainly, even the President, what his role here was with the National Enquirer and David Pecker. So all that could very much happen.

And the Southern District of New York is very much still interested in this aspect of this investigation. It's one of the things that they were going to ask Bezos about, his claims that David Pecker, AMI, National Enquirer were trying to extort him essentially.

KEILAR: What are the next steps? Where does this case go from here?

PROKUPECZ: So there're two things going on. You have the National Enquirer issue and the AMI stuff.

[17:45:01]

And then the other thing is the Saudis, right? Bezos has claimed that he believes, based on information he has gathered, that the Saudis hacked his devices and were able to get a hold of photos and text messages, and this was all part of this extortion scheme.

Now, all of that is being investigated, as we reported yesterday by Southern -- by the Southern District of New York. They want his devices. They want more information that they can, on their own, look through and try and corroborate some of what he says his investigators have found. And that's where things stand. Bezos was expected to meet with prosecutors. They want his devices, the FBI wants to go through it. He is supposed to negotiate that with them. We'll see where that goes. But one thing this certainly indicates to us is that the investigation perhaps is escalating here with the fact that Bezos is meeting with prosecutors here in New York.

KEILAR: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you for that report.

And coming up, an ominous new tone from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:00]

KEILAR: Six weeks after walking out of his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, President Trump today had kind words for the dictator, despite a belligerent a new tone from the north. Brian Todd has been looking into that. And tell us what you've been learning.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORESPONDENT: Brianna, the President's positive tone towards Kim Jong-un came just hours after the North Korean dictator insulted Donald Trump's team. Kim is frustrated with continuing sanctions on his country. And tonight, observers are wondering if that's going to jeopardize his relationship with the President.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: After months of handshakes, back slaps and positive talk between the U.S. and North Korea, tonight, analysts are watching to see whether Kim Jong-un, North Korea's 35-year-old ruthless dictator, might appear to be shifting into a more hostile stance toward the U.S. According to North Korea's news agency, Kim says, nations spearheading sanctions against North Korea, which would include the U.S., have, quote, bloodshot eyes and should be retaliated against.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must deal a telling blow to the hostile forces who are mistakenly determined to bring us down with sanctions.

TODD: Tonight, analysts say they don't believe this is an immediate threat to strike militarily. Instead, Kim's regime says, it will strike back by building up its economic self-reliance. But the new warning comes as the diplomatic outreach between Kim and President Trump is, if not dead in the water, at least stalled. If that doesn't change, Kim's statement could have a more ominous meaning.

DEAN CHENG, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Up to and including North Korea is not going to pay attention to these sanctions and we will test these domestically developed missiles and weapons at a time and place of our choosing.

TODD: 42 days after Trump abruptly walked away from the Hanoi Summit with Kim with no deal on denuclearization, he met with at the White House today with South Korean President, Moon Jae-in. The President didn't address Kim's new threat but said he was happy with the current level of sanctions.

TRUMP: We want sanctions to remain in place. TODD: The President also appeared to be open to incremental progress, but says, quote, the big deal is for Kim to get rid of his nuclear weapons, but at another moment, saying, incremental progress would work.

TRUMP: I enjoyed the summit. I enjoyed being with the Chairman. I think it's been very productive, and it really is. It's step by step, not going to go fast. I've been telling you that for a long time.

TODD: But tonight, with Kim Jong-un wrapping up his rhetoric, key questions are still looming with both sides still feeling the sting from Hanoi, and holding their ground, how does this relationship get back on track? Can Moon Jae-in help kick start it or is the South Korean President merely flailing around, showing limited diplomatic chops?

SCOTT SEAMAN, EURASIA GROUP: I think the only two players that matter aside from China are Kim and Trump. I think Moon is well-intentioned. But, honestly, I don't think he has a great deal of influence. This still comes down to what can Kim and Trump agree to together.

TODD: And analysts have a warning tonight for the White House that if President Trump can't sustain his personal relationship with Kim, the dictator could have a menacing partner waiting in the wings.

CHENG: I think one of the things that has not been looked at enough is the possible relationship between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin of Russia. Kim is expected to visit Moscow, to pay a visit to Putin. The Russians have also laid a fiber optic line into North Korea. This is really striking because, of course, North Korea has very few computers and I doubt very much people are gathering to watch the eighth season of Game of Thrones in Pyongyang.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And tonight, this is another indicator that might jeopardize the relationship between Trump and Kim Jong-un. These are new satellite pictures of a key parade training ground in Pyongyang. These pictures analyzed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They show that hundreds of military vehicles are massed on this parade ground. CSIS says this could indicate there may be a big military parade in the works for this coming Monday, April 15th, which is the birthday of Kim Jong-un's grandfather. Analysts say if they do stage a big parade and they show off new weapons, well, the dynamic between the U.S. and North Korea is really going to take a hit. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Brian Todd, thank you so much.

And coming up, WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange is dragged out of the London Embassy where he had taken refuge several years. He faces extradition to the U.S. where he's charged with conspiring to hack military secrets.

[17:55:01]

Are more charges ahead?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Happening now, Wiki-drained. WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange arrested and dragged from the London Embassy where he has been hold up seven years and now facing extradition to the U.S., where he's accused of conspiring to steal military secrets. Are more charges coming.

It's not my thing. President Trump denies knowing anything about WikiLeaks despite repeatedly praising it on the campaign trail where he called WikiLeaks fascinating, a treasure trove, and said -- quote -- "I love WikiLeaks."

[18:00:00]