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THE SITUATION ROOM
Parisians Crowd Streets in Vigil outside Notre Dame; Current and Former White House Officials Fear Trump's Wrath if Mueller Report Exposes Their Testimony; Interview with Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), on the Mueller Report; House Dems Zero in on Trump's Finances. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 16, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news. Vowing to rebuild: it's been devastated by fire but much of the Notre Dame cathedral has been saved. Now as efforts are underway to salvage its treasures, the French president vows to rebuild the Paris landmark within five years.
Mueller exposure: President Trump may be showing anxiety about the Mueller report but some White House officials are really worried, fearing the president's wrath if the report reveals damaging details of their cooperation with the special counsel.
Follow the finances: the White House digs in as congressional Democrats demand the president's tax returns, records from banks that loaned money to the Trump business and financial documents from his longtime accounting firm.
And sister axed: has Kim Jong-un carried out another shake up within his regime. Did his sister and close confidante, who was so visible at the failed summit with President Trump, suddenly fall out of favor?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news: Parisians are holding a vigil right now after a raging inferno gutted the iconic Notre Dame cathedral. Now the struggle has begun to salvage the cathedral's priceless treasures. Donors have already pledged $700 million to restore the landmark.
And the French president, Emmanuel Macron, says he wants the cathedral rebuilt within five years.
Also breaking, as President Trump's frantic tweets reveal some anxiety about the soon-to-be-released Mueller report, some White House officials suggest they're more worried about facing the president's fury if the redacted report reveals what they told the special counsel in hundreds of hours of interviews.
I'll speak with Congressman Denny Heck of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with the breaking news in Paris. CNN's Melissa Bell is outside Notre Dame for us, where experts are getting their first good look at the damage caused by this horrendous fire.
What are you learning, Melissa?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, Wolf, that inspection of the site, trying to get to the bottom of how substantial the damage to the edifice has been continues. You can see behind me, Notre Dame, the flashlights of the firefighters that are still inside, trying to get an idea of what structural damage has been caused.
We heard a little bit earlier from authorities that it might take another day to get a full idea of the extent of the damage that was caused. And yet we're hearing that they believe the structure is largely going to stand. And that had not been the case yesterday evening.
When we watched those flames engulf Notre Dame, there was no sense that as much of the outer work of the building would be saved. And even as that inspection continues, those questions about precisely how this devastating fire began, tonight, Wolf, as you were just saying, that vigil, that emotion, that outpouring of emotion continues.
Hundreds of Catholics have gathered in the Saint Tropez Church here on the Left Bank, making their way to Saint Michelle to express their grief, their mourning but also their sense of coming together.
BELL (voice-over): Tonight, the full scale and extent of the damage to the iconic Notre Dame cathedral becoming clear, as investigators sift through the rubble after a devastating fire on Monday evening that engulfed the landmark in flames, leaving onlookers stunned.
Paris prosecutors starting an investigation into the cause of the fire but they believe that it was accidental. Experts are now identifying vulnerabilities in the infrastructure, attempting to preserve what's left and evacuating nearby buildings until it's deemed safe.
Overnight, 400 firefighters battling more than nine hours to bring the fire under control, pumping water from the Seine River to combat the flames. Inspectors say the fire began in the attic and spread across the ancient beechwood beams in the cathedral's roof, which collapsed, along with the spire.
Dramatic video of sparks falling from the roof as police worked to contain the crowds, leaving a gaping hole in the vaulted ceiling. Remarkably, it seems that much of the interior has survived. Striking photos show the huge gold cross, shrouded in smoke, still hangs over the altar and pews still stand in the aisles.
BELL: Priceless art and artifacts, like the crown of thorns believed to have been placed on the head of Jesus, are being stored in the Paris city hall and the Louvre museum to be preserved. The famous stained glass rose windows also appear largely intact.
The 850-year-old landmark was already being restored when the fire began, wrapped in scaffolding up to the spire. Architects admit it will take months to comprehend the scale of the reconstruction. The French president tonight vowing to have it rebuilt within five years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): We will make the cathedral of Notre Dame even more beautiful. We can do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL (voice-over): International companies and private citizens already pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the restoration as tourists and citizens mourn the loss of a monument.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was passing by it several times a day, every day, for years and never got used to it. I guess it's never going to be the same again.
BELL: Wolf, we've witnessed, over the course of the day, these vast crowds continue to filter through, as closely as the police cordons would allow them to get, Catholics but others as well, just coming to witness, to see for themselves what had happened to this iconic building, leaving flowers, like the ones behind me.
And with those outpourings of emotions, those very concrete promises of donations. Those vast sums that have already been promised for a relief effort that experts say might last for decades. And yet very ambitious of the French president on live television tonight, speaking to the nation, saying he hoped to have it done within five years.
BLITZER: Melissa Bell in Paris for us, thanks very much.
Let's stay in Paris. Our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is joining us.
Nic, the French president is promising the cathedral will be rebuilt in five years.
What are the folks over there saying?
Is that realistic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, experts are saying this could take much longer, 10 to 15 years, they're saying. For example, that beech forest that was used to build the roof all those centuries ago, those trees don't grow in France today. So that is something that would have to be sourced. You can imagine that alone takes time.
What the president is being is very aspirational. This is typical of President Macron, that he is also talking about trying to bring the country together, that we can come together and do this, pointing out this part of French history, that it's in the nature of nations that the unexpected will happen and nations will rebuild and recover from that damage and loss. So he's sort of bringing people together there.
But this is a president who's suffering politically; there are weekend protests in the country that have arisen because of changes he wanted to bring, he talked about during his campaign to become president. His popularity has dropped, his aspirational hasn't been able to deliver.
And I think maybe over time, people may come to question, was five years too fast?
That said, in his speech, President Macron also said, let's not try to do this too quickly. The idea more to get it right rather than speed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There's still hundreds of people participating in a vigil tonight on this day after. Tell us about the mood you're seeing and hearing.
ROBERTSON: Wolf, 24 hours ago, we were listening to the fire chief say, the next 1.5 hours will be critical. If the bells fall, the towers could come down. We learned later last night from the French president that wasn't going to happen, hasn't happened. That moment of terror where people watched the spire fall, some dropped to their knees, began singing hymns. It was very sorrowful.
There's a greater sense of relief tonight that there's been a horrible tragedy but, as bad as it has been, it's not as bad as people had perhaps feared. So I think we're seeing that reflected in the vigil that we're seeing tonight, very moving, very powerful. Yes, it's sorrowful but there's something of relief in there. It is not as bad as it could have been -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson on the scene for us, thank you very much. We'll have much more on the horrible developments in Paris, that's coming up later.
But there's more breaking news we're following, as anxiety is building over at the White House, just ahead of the release of the Mueller report. Let's go live to our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlin, what are you learning? What's the latest?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Trump is feeling confident that, when this report comes out on Thursday, it's going to back up his claim that he's been exonerated.
But the people around the president are not so sure about that. Instead, they think the damage is going to be in the details in that report and they think, increasingly, that those details are going to be very difficult for the White House to deny.
COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump is telling allies he's ready for the release of the redacted Mueller report.
COLLINS (voice-over): But inside the White House and around Washington, current and former officials say they're dreading it. The president believes Thursday's release will clear his name. But former aides fear it could be politically damaging.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: There's 400 pages of information and someone like the president would have the sense to know that in 400 pages, there's more than syllables, there's likely paragraphs that probably are going to look not great for him or people in the administration or people in the transition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS (voice-over): While they aren't expecting bombshells, sources tell CNN the damage will likely be in the details. The almost 400- page report won't be based on anonymous sources but instead come from hundreds of hours of interviews with people who were closest to Trump, including statements made and details given under the penalty of perjury.
Trump is trying to define the report before it comes out, tweeting today, "No collusion, no obstruction," even though the attorney general said Robert Mueller didn't make a decision on whether Trump obstructed justice. For weeks, Democrats have called for the release of the full report.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: We have very smart people who will be reading it from the standpoint of our committees and the rest. And we'll go to the next step. It depends on what is in there.
COLLINS (voice-over): They're now in wait and see mode but they don't sound hopeful about what they'll see.
PELOSI: I respect protecting sources and methods. I don't support hiding the truth from the American people. COLLINS (voice-over): As Washington counts down to Thursday, the White House is escalating its fight with Capitol Hill over the president's finances.
Multiple House committees issued subpoenas this week to financial institutions as part of their investigations and Trump is preparing to fight back. His attorneys told an accounting firm yesterday it would be improper to turn over the tax documents that Democrats want.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I guess the president watches your network a little bit, right?
SANDERS: Hey, President Trump, my wife and I just released 10 years. Please do the same.
COLLINS (voice-over): The White House also facing another fight on immigration. Today, the House Judiciary Committee requested information related to a CNN report that Trump told now acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan he would pardon him if he was sent to jail for breaking immigration laws.
Trump made the comment during a trip to the border earlier this month. And now House Democrats want to know who was there and what was said.
In a letter to McAleenan, Jerry Nadler wrote, "These allegations, if true, would represent a grave breach of the duties of the president."
COLLINS: Now Wolf, one White House official tells CNN they don't expect President Trump to read the Mueller report page by page. Instead, his legal team is going to go through it and then they'll brief him on what the key findings in it are and any stories that pop out.
But you can expect the president to be watching how this plays in the media and reacting accordingly.
BLITZER: I'm sure he will. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you.
Joining us now, Democratic congressman Denny Heck of Washington State, a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. I want to begin with this upcoming release of the Mueller report, now expected Thursday. Inside the White House, the president's allies are nervous, clearly, about potentially politically damaging details about to be made public.
If this -- if there's so much anxiety in the White House, even before the report is released, what does that tell you, potentially, once again about its contents?
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Well, Wolf, let me tell you what's going to happen.
But first, if I may, I want to remind your viewers that, in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives hangs two very large portraits. On the left-hand side of the chamber is a portrait of George Washington. On the right-hand side of the chamber is a portrait of Marquis de Lafayette, reminding us of the incredibly critical role that the French played in the American Revolution.
I'm reminded of when President Kennedy went to Berlin and declared that we are all Berliners.
And as somebody who stood in the attic of the Notre Dame, I am heartbroken and I say, for this week, we are all French.
Now here's what's going to happen with respect to the Mueller report, Wolf. It's going to come out, it's going to be more redacted than we would like. It's going to raise questions as to why it is so much must be withheld.
We're going to issue a subpoena. It's going to be resisted. We're going to go to court. I like our chances but it is going to take a very long period of time.
But it will beg the question, why is it that, at least the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee, both of whom are subjected to lots of top-secret classified material, cannot review this material in its entirety?
BLITZER: I know there's going to be, potentially, as you point out, a big legal fight on that specific issue. An interesting development unfolding: the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, actually joined with the top --
BLITZER: -- Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, to request all the counterintelligence information gathered by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
What is your committee hoping to learn from that information?
HECK: So we won't know until we see it. That's the entire point and why transparency is so important. And I want to extend kudos and plaudits to Congressman Nunes for joining with Chairman Schiff in this regard.
I think it speaks to, despite all the other enormous differences in opinion about what happened in 2016 and the like, that they have joined together in the assertion of our Article I constitutional responsibility to provide oversight.
BLITZER: Should all of that information be made available to all members of Congress or just the members of the Intelligence Committees?
HECK: I'm willing to withhold an answer to that question based on a reading of the Mueller report in the first instance. But at the end of the day, I think transparency is better than not. So it will depend on what it is that we see and read and can evaluate within the context of the redactions.
But at a minimum, again, the members of the Intelligence Committee and the members of the Judiciary Committee should see this material in its entirety, including the underlying documentation.
BLITZER: Let's turn to the subpoenas your committee just handed down this week.
Why do lawmakers need to see these documents from these major financial institutions who have done business with Donald Trump over the years?
HECK: What do they have to be afraid of, Wolf?
Why shouldn't we see this?
When there have been legitimate questions, counterintelligence questions raised as to whether or not the president or people around him have been compromised -- and certainly they have; as a matter of fact, we know this because, well, by golly, a whole bunch of them are going to jail -- then we need to be able to see this material in order to fulfill our oversight responsibility.
Are there financial entanglements, which have compromised the president or his businesses or those around him in such a way that it would help us to better understand the position that he is in and the reason why he makes decisions that he does?
BLITZER: Do you think Congress will be able to uncover information that Robert Mueller and his team chose not even to pursue?
HECK: So that's very possible. I mean, at the end of the day, the Mueller investigation was principally focused as a criminal investigation. That's not the purpose of the House Intelligence Committee's work.
We want to understand the counterintelligence nature of what went on. We want to understand precisely and fully it is how the Russians interfered hour election, so we might protect ourselves against it in the future. After all, we are exactly 567 days away from the next election on November 3rd of 2020.
BLITZER: As you remember, back in 2017, the president told "The New York Times" that if the Mueller investigation begins to pursue his personal financial interests and to investigate that, that would be, in the president's words, crossing a red line. His son, Eric Trump, is calling this latest subpoena an unprecedented abuse of power.
What's your response to that charge from the president's son?
HECK: Well, what's unprecedented is that the president refuses to release his tax returns, like every other president in modern history, dating back 50 years has done. That's what's unprecedented, not that Congress is seeking to fulfill its oversight responsibilities.
BLITZER: Congressman Denny Heck, thanks so much for joining us.
HECK: You're welcome, sir.
BLITZER: Up next, there's more breaking news. White House officials say they're dreading the public release of the Mueller report, fearing it could reveal details of their personal cooperation with the special counsel and infuriate the president.
Plus, as congressional committees demand information on the president's finances, the White House is now digging in.
Will either side budge?
BLITZER: As the White House braces for the Mueller report, the administration is also fighting multiple congressional subpoenas for information on the president's finances.
Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.
Manu, what's the latest?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The White House and Congress are battling on all fronts and fights that could lead to court battles that could test the role of Congress in overseeing the executive branch.
On one front, the fight over president's finances: at least six different inquiries have been launched into different aspects of the president's finances, including some that are subject to congressional subpoenas, including one from the House Oversight Committee chairman, Elijah Cummings, who has issued a subpoena to the firm Mazars for 10 years of the president's finances in order to look into those allegations by Michael Cohen, the president's attorney.
The president, when he was an individual, may have improperly or illegally inflated his net worth in order to try to buy the Buffalo Bills football team. The president's legal team warning Mazars not to comply with the House Democrats, saying they could take legal action to prevent that from going forward.
Also subpoenas to several banks, including the bank, Deutsche Bank, as part of what Maxine Waters, House Financial Services Committee chair, warns is illicit activity that may have occurred by private individuals, including the president.
But this fight between the House Democrats and the White House also extending, Wolf, to non-financial matters. Today, the White House informing the House Judiciary Committee that it would not turn over documents related to the Democrats' look into whether the president improperly interfered to block the merger between AT&T and TimeWarner, the parent company of CNN.
The White House saying that those were confidential discussions and it would not comply with the Democrats' request. So all of these efforts, Wolf, ratcheting up as the House Democrats demand information, the White House is saying no.
BLITZER: Manu, a quick question, when the Mueller report is --
BLITZER: -- made public, the Democrats certainly will focus on getting access to the redacted information and we know there's going to be several major redactions.
How quickly will action be taken?
RAJU: Expect it pretty swiftly. The House Judiciary Committee signaling a subpoena for the full Mueller report. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the committee, says he wants to go to court to force the release of the grand jury information.
And also, Wolf, look out for five subpoenas going in to former White House officials who participated with the Mueller report, probe and may have received documents from the White House. All parts of the House Democrats' investigation into potential obstruction of justice.
BLITZER: And the fallout is going to be enormous. Manu, thank you very much.
Coming up, we're going to have more on the apprehension inside and outside the Trump White House, just ahead of the release of the redacted Mueller report.
And later, a brazen new series of ultimatums from Kim Jong-un, aimed at the United States.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Our breaking news. As Washington counts down to Thursday's release of the Mueller report, current and former administration officials are apprehensive about President Trump's reaction when he sees what they actually told Mueller investigators.
Let's bring in our legal and political analysts. Several of them, we're told, current and former officials, are basically dreading what could be in this report.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they are, because they recall what they told the Special Counsel. And according to our White House team, they are worried about the President's reaction to what -- to the truth, because they obviously told the Special Counsel the truth, one would presume. And If Donald Trump thinks that they were -- that they were talking about his temper, for example, or the way he behaves in the White House, or some of the events that occurred, that he has not spoken publicly about, they're worried about his wrath, even if they're still in the White House or now outside the White House. You don't want to have the President coming down on you publicly. And he uses this little thing called Twitter to do that. And he just might.
BLITZER: Well, those current and former officials, they had to testify under -- they were under oath.
BORGER: Under oath, under oath, right.
BLITZER: And if they lied or didn't tell the truth, that's perjury.
BORGER: Right. But I don't think they're worried about the lying part of it, because I think they think they told the truth, they were there with their attorneys. So I think they're worried about Trump's reaction to the truth.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERRORISM ANALYST: And can we take for a moment on the democrats' sort of requests or requirement that this report be released in full? I mean, how about going to one of those witnesses before they spoke to the Special Counsel and say, hey, by the way, at some point, this will be released to the public and the President will see what you're going to say. I mean, for every American, and there are like 90 percent of Americans who think this should all be released, who think it should be released, one of the challenges I would give them is, if you're standing in front of the Special Counsel, if that's an investigation into your company and your boss is going to see everything you're going to say, would you like that to be released?
BLITZER: Well, don't you think they assume that that's eventually going to happen? Given the experience, the history of previous reports by independent or special counsels, so much of that information is always released.
MUDD: I mean, I suppose so, but we still at the same time are seeing people who are appearing before federal judges in D.C. and nobody even knows who is appearing before the judge, because that's guarded by the court. I think you should have the right before going in front of a Special Counsel to say, my boss, the President of the United States doesn't get to see whether I said maybe he made some mistakes down the road. I think that's a --
BLITZER: What do you think, Laura?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think you should respect on those voluntary interviews that were given. There were many that were voluntary to say, listen, I didn't give you any indication I would not actually tell anyone this. And, frankly, you were aware of the Special Counsel probe being with the eye towards telling the American people whether there was interference.
I understand what the point is though that I'm going to be far more forthcoming and candid if I think they're going to keep it close to the vest. It's the reason you have grand jury rule secrecy, because you want to be to have the person to be able to tell.
However, even a judge is well aware that when it comes down to a cross-examination or taking the stand or even in an instance Like this, we are going to have to reveal certain aspects of your testimony. But for the voluntary people, they are probably thinking of repercussions with Donald Trump, but does not excuse us from having all the information in front of us.
BLITZER: Well, there are different rules if somebody goes and appears before a grand jury as opposed to somebody just goes and speaks to investigators.
COATES: True, but the pressure is still the same. An investigator, you can also not lie to, but the expectation of privacy, I'm sure, was probably implied. But, listen, tell us everything you want to tell us. We'll be able to, you know, follow this trail if we need to, if they made some promise, which I cannot believe they would do to keep it secret, it would be awesome to do. But I suspect they are just hoping that the person be forthcoming on the assumption, and it was theirs, it will be kept secret.
BLITZER: I suppose, Sabrina, we're going to learn a lot about the inner workings of the Trump White House once this report is released. How politically damaging potentially is this going to be?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, a lot of that is hard to say until we see what exactly is in the report. But I think there are two ways to look at it. One is that the battle lines in some ways are already drawn. You've had consistent polling, showing that a majority of the American public does support the investigation and they do want to see the full report made public. But at the same time, opinion of the investigation and what it's turned up is split sharply along partisan lines. I don't think that's going to change. In fact, the CNN poll conducted just after William Barr's initial letter summarizing the findings of the report found that an overwhelming majority of Americans, I think it was 86 percent, said that this would not change how they would vote in 2020.
At the same time, there could be perhaps more revelatory information that we didn't previously know, and that's a big question.
We've talked a lot about the counterintelligence with respect to the contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow, as well as potential efforts by the President to obstruct justice in isolation. When you put that all together in totality, a lot of it will depend on what portrait that paints of the President, both his campaign and his administration.
BLITZER: Usually, when the President sees some unflattering information that's been released, he attacks the journalist, the source, an author. What do you think his approach is going to be if there's unflattering information that emerges from the Mueller report? MUDD: Oh, come on. We went through the campaign. We had low-energy Jeb Bush. I mean, if you had gone to the campaign and said the President is going to take out everybody, little Marco Rubio, lying Ted Cruz, who later said, please come represent me in Texas, if you look at what the President has done over time, including members of the cabinet who were very well recognized going in, Rex Tillerson, for one. The President trashed Rex Tillerson when Tillerson attacked him after leaving office. I think aside from Robert Mueller, who can't get beaten, anybody in the White House who's information is public after this is going to get trashed by the President and I think the President is going to win.
GLORIA: Well -- and I wouldn't be surprised. I mean, although he has called Mueller honorable at one point, sort of, and he kind of took it back, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up doing that to Mueller, trashing Mueller, because he could always say, well, this is -- this report is out of context or something like -- you know, if the President doesn't like something, he will find a way to criticize it.
BLITZER: As he Tweeted it earlier, Laura, in the days that this is the greatest scam in political history. If the mainstream media were honest, which they are not, this story would be bigger and more important than Watergate.
COATES: Well, his Twitter thumbs keep on talking, but we haven't seen what the Mueller report is actually going to say. And the most important aspect of this in terms of Thursday will be how they are redacted. And the key is the peripheral third parties. That line, that category of information, is what I think has people's knees knocking in Washington. Who are the peripheral people who may or may not like Don McGahn, never have even known they actually testified in front of a grand jury or Mueller or anyone else, and who would the President talk about this great media conspiracy. I think he'll find that people who were under his own wings that were a part of it as well.
BORGER: Well -- and the President knows that Don McGahn testified for, what, 30 hours, 40 hours. The former White House Counsel had a very strained relationship with the President of the United States, testified for some time. You know, if I were in the White House, that would be the testimony that I would be the most concerned about.
SIDDIQUI: And just one thing that's important to point out is, in terms of the anxiety within the White House, about, you know, the President learning what they told investigators, what's revealing about that is that what they're fundamentally concerned about is that they told the truth. And that what the President ultimately fears the most is that the people who work for them, for him, told investigators the truth about his actions, and that tells us a lot.
BLITZER: We have a lot more we need to discuss. We've got to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:40:00] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal analysts. And, Gloria, the House Intelligence Committee, the Financial Services Committee, they've subpoenaed several major financial institutions, banks, part of their investigation of the President's finances. This makes the President really, really angry, as we remember in that interview in The New York Times. He says, this would be crossing a red line if the Mueller team were to do that. But what are they looking for when they -- they're getting -- they want information from Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America?
BORGER: Well, I think they want to look into any potential connection with Russians, and money laundering is part of the Russia investigation. Eric Trump, I'll point out, has called this an abuse of power. But in particular, in terms of Deutsche Bank, it's been the only big bank, the mainstream bank, to continue to loan the Trump organization money. And they have loaned him, according to our reporting and The New York Times, they've loaned him over $2 billion. So when he became president, he had $300 million in outstanding loans to Deutsche Bank. So I think they're trying to look into this relationship and see whether the bank should have flagged something that perhaps the Trump organization did not.
And, again, you know, I think that the Trump organization is going to try and fight this. They're going to try and get these subpoenas quashed and have -- and they do not want the banks to cooperate with the democrats in Congress and that has to be played out.
BLITZER: Will this flexing of the muscles by the democrats with subpoena power be successful?
COATES: Well, it will be after a long, litigious battle perhaps. Because, of course, they can always ask for it and compel and demand it, but somebody actually has to comply with it. And in order for that to be enforced, if they don't, the courts have to intervene. And they'll have to assess whether there's some sort of legislative purpose for it or whether, as they are articulating, like Eric Trump, some partisan job of trying to infiltrate the President's finances.
It so will be a battle, one that he already think he will have because of that red line. But remember, it would actually be improper if they did not pursue it given Michael Cohen's testimony. Remember, he actually said that he believed the President had inflated his salary to try to buy the Buffalo Bills among other things. If Michael Cohen knew this, then perhaps the bank who let him loan would actually know it as well and were to flagged in some way. So I'm trying think to think about the oversight role here. So I think they have to follow that particular line of inquiry, regardless.
BLITZER: The oversight role is the congressional responsibility to have oversight of the executive branch.
MUDD: Yes, sort of. But if I were them, I would be careful. Look, the Southern -- we keep thinking of this about Mueller and Mueller didn't give to congressional democrats what they want, so there are follow-on investigations. Keep thinking about the Southern District of New York, which is more money investigations. They have access to some of the same data and they have access to people like, remember, the President's accountant, who has around since the early '70s, that Congress presume he doesn't have access to and has had not had access to as long as the Southern District.
My point is that Congress is getting into this late. I think they risk looking like they're going after some sour grapes here. And I think if I were them, I would be say, if we're trying to do the same thing the Southern District does, let's make sure we don't get ahead of ourselves.
SIDDIQUI: Well, look, I think you know that the White House is going fight this and we're going into what is potentially another protracted legal battle. I think it's worth pointing out that the President's attorneys wrote a letter to the General Counsel of the Treasury Department just this week, arguing that the agency is under no obligation to comply with the democrats' request.
They've also reached out separately to an accounting firm that prepared several years of the President's financial statements, trying to urge them to also stonewall the requests that we're seeing from democrats. But, you know, ultimately, what this all goes back to is the fact that it's the President who broke with precedent by not releasing his tax returns, and that was a first in 40 years of major party candidates, so you won't see democrats stop the request anytime soon.
BLITZER: Yes. There's a very, very disturbing story emerging out of Colorado right now. Police say it's very serious. They're looking for a woman who has apparently made some extreme threats at Columbine High School in Colorado. We're going to have details right after this.
BLITZER: There is breaking news out at Colorado. Multiple schools, including Columbine High School, are now on what authorities call a lock-out amid a search for a woman who has made threats. The woman is considered armed and dangerous. This Saturday is the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre.
Let's go to our National Correspondent, Scott McLean. He's joining us from Denver. Tell us more. What are you learning?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. So all the schools in Jefferson County were on lock-out. As you mentioned, that means the students were asked to stay inside the schools. It was business as usual, inside, but no one was allowed the come on go. And the reason for this is because of this woman that police are now saying is a credible threat. Her name is Sol Pais. She is 18 years old. They consider her to be armed and dangerous. Now, as to the specific threat that she may have made, we are told that it is not specifically against Columbine and it wasn't made in public per se but the FBI got a hold of this information somehow. We're not told exactly how. And that is why they're asking people to be on the lookout for this woman.
She is not from this area. Though police are not saying where she is from. There is no reason for people to stay indoors to be alarmed but they are asking for people to be on the lookout for this woman if they see her.
Now, what's interesting that all of these schools were let out in a controlled release. There was extra security this afternoon. All of the afterschool activities were allowed to go on with one exception, and that was Columbine High School.
And the reason that the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says that was, is perhaps because of all of the threats that there are around Columbine. She says that it gets a lot of threats, credible or otherwise. And, obviously, this is one that they are considering credible, again, not against Columbine specifically but enough to raise red flags.
Police are looking for her in the foothills area just outside of Denver. But, of course, they say they haven't found her yet. Wolf?
BLITZER: Scott McLean, we'll get back to you as you get more information. Thanks for that report.
Other important news, after the failed summit with President Trump, North Korea's dictator is boldly warning that any further negotiations will have to be done his way.
Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, a tough new line from Kim Jong-un.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A tough line indeed, Wolf, one that President Trump and his team are publicly ignoring, at least for the moment. Kim does say that he and President Trump have a good relationship, but he also seems to feel he is the one who can lay down the conditions for a future summit.
TODD: It's a brazen move by an emboldened young dictator, Kim Jong-un now apparently trying to dictate negotiating terms to America. In a speech to his Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's leader recently laid out a series of ultimatums if the U.S. wants to resume denuclearization talks.
The U.S. has to, quote, stop the current way of calculation and approach us with a new way of calculation, Kim said. If the U.S. doesn't, he says, the prospects for problem solving will be dark and very dangerous. As for a third summit between Kim and President Trump, it would have to be, quote, with the condition that the U.S. has the right attitude. PATRICK CRONIN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: Kim is talking to trump as though he's a teenager who has to be told, look, you are out of control. Come back to being my child. I'm in charge here and come to the table. What he's saying is that deal has to be agreeable to him. And based on Hanoi, that's a pretty bad deal so far.
TODD: During their second summit in Hanoi, President Trump walked away from Kim with no new deal on denuclearization after Kim asked for almost all sanctions on North Korea to be dropped. But as he rattles his saber; Kim also appears to be hedging his bets, playing up his personal chemistry with President Trump, saying in his latest speech that the men, quote, still have a good relationship, something the President echoed in Monday.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un.
He just said the other day he looks forward to more talks, so it's okay.
TODD: But experts say, no matter how much Kim wants to talk, the North Korean dictator will always feel he needs his nuclear weapons to maintain his strength.
MICHAEL GREEN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The bottom line is there's nothing you could really see that suggests the North Koreans have any intention to give up their nuclear weapons.
TODD: Tonight, as Kim works to restart negotiations internationally, at home, he appears to be shaking things up in his leadership and his family. On Saturday, Choe Ryong-hae was elevated to the top position in North Korea's legislature, essentially making him North Korea's second highest official.
Choe is reportedly the father-in-law of Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo- jong, who, until now, appear to be consolidating power seeing just feet away from Vice President Pence during the Winter Olympics. Just a few weeks ago, she was seen as a key player at her brother's summit with President Trump, spotted ducking out of view as the two men met, even getting off Kim's train first to make sure everything was in place for his arrival.
But on Saturday, experts say, she was not mentioned by name in state media coverage of the gathering of the legislature and she was no longer listed among this year's alternate members of palette (ph) bureau, although she did appear in this big group photo of party leaders. Experts on North Korea's leadership say, while they can't explain Kim Yo-jong's sudden absence from the spotlight, they believe, behind the scenes, her power is undiminished.
KEN GAUSE, NORTH KOREA LEADERSHIP EXPERT, CNA: The blood tie is everything. She is his most trusted adviser. At the end of the day, she is the person that he can rely on in a way that he cannot rely on any other adviser. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TODD: Kim Jung-un now says he is willing to, quote, be patient and wait until the end of this year for the U.S. to decide if it wants another another summit. Analysts say one reason he is saying that is to buy his time to try to work on his nuclear bomb and missile capabilities in secret, so that maybe in 2020, he'll have more powerful weapons to unveil if this process with the United States takes a turn for the worst. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you.
Coming up, it's been devastated by fire but efforts are now under way to salvage the treasures at the Notre Dame Cathedral as the French President vows to rebuild the Paris landmark within five years.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. After the fire, the French President vows Notre Dame will rise from the ashes despite extensive damage, including gaping holes in the cathedral's burned out roof. Tonight, Parisians are in the streets. They're honoring the historic house of worship and mourning what was lost.
School lock-out. New precautions tonight in all Denver area schools, including Columbine High School, after what the FBI is calling a credible threat.