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Lied to the Public; Cashing In; Trump Takes Questions with Japanese PM; Trump Taking Swipes at Biden; Rep. Madeleine Dean (D) Pennsylvania Interviewed About Joe Biden. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 26, 2019 - 17:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Breaking news.

Lied to the public. New poll numbers just out show 58 percent think President Trump lied to the American people about matters at the heart of the Mueller report, which he continues to try to discredit. Tonight, he has a new line of attack.

Running scared? President Trump defends his response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, trying to re-write what he said after Joe Biden makes it a centerpiece of his campaign announcement. Is the president running scared of his newest Democratic challengers?

Cashing in. The Biden campaign says it hauled in $6.3 million in just 24 hours, following the former vice president's announcement. But in his first interview, Biden gets emotional and struggles with apologizing.

And playing mediator. Russian president Vladimir Putin inserts himself between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, offering to help them get back on track with denuclearization talks. Tonight, we're learning what Kim told Putin about it at their summit.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Troubling new numbers for President Trump, a just-released national poll shows 58 percent of those asked say they believe the president lied about matters that Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated. Only 31 percent of people asked think Mr. Trump told the truth. And tonight, he's still trying to discredit Mueller's findings, even going so far as to call the entire investigation, and I'm quoting the president now, an "attempted coup."

We'll talk about that and more with Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of the Judiciary Committee. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the president has a new line of attack on the Mueller investigation. JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. As you were just mentioning a few moments ago, the president is describing the Mueller investigation as an attempted coup. I tried to ask the president about this just a short while ago in the Oval Office. He didn't really offer any additional explanation as to what he meant by calling the Mueller investigation an attempted coup to topple his presidency. But he also made other mind-bending and truth- bending comments earlier in the day when he tried to re-write history in terms of his handling of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Without providing any evidence, President Trump fired up a crowd of gun rights enthusiasts at the National Rifle Association's Annual Convention, by alleging Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe was an attempted coup, aimed at toppling his administration.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They tried for a coup, didn't work out so well. And I didn't need a gun for that one, did I?

A disgrace. Spying, surveillance. Trying for an overthrow and we caught them. We caught them.


ACOSTA: It's an unfounded claim he also shared on one of his favorite TV shows.


TRUMP: Bigger than Watergate, because it means so much this was a coup. This wasn't stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup.


ACOSTA: The president also tried to knock down one of the most remarkable findings in the Mueller report, that he ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn, to fire the special counsel.


TRUMP: I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I would have done it myself. But I'm a student of history. I see what you get when you fire people. And it's not good.


ACOSTA: Mr. Trump is now savaging Mueller, a man he called honorable a few weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We had 18 people that were Trump haters. That includes Mr. Mueller. He was a Trump hater.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Very fine people on both sides?


ACOSTA: The president is also re-litigating his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, after former vice president Joe Biden slammed Mr. Trump for saying there were very fine people on both sides.


TRUMP: If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.


ACOSTA: But that's not true. There were also neo-Nazis and other white nationalists chanting anti-Semitic slogans. CNN pressed Mr. Trump on this nearly two weeks ago in the aftermath of Charlottesville.


QUESTION: So the neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest the removal of that statue --

TRUMP: But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

[17:05:03] You had people in that group -- excuse me! Excuse me! I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.


ACOSTA: Still, the president seems to relish a matchup with Biden. The president would rather have the 2020 race turn on the economy, as he tweeted out the latest government data showing the nation's GDP grew 3.2 percent in the first quarter, far above expectations.

He's also defending his handling of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died after being imprisoned by North Korea. Despite Warmbier's death, the president is describing himself as the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States. Mr. Trump weighed in on reports that North Korea asked for $2 million for Warmbier's release.


TRUMP: We don't pay money for hostages. The Otto case was a very unusual case, but I just want to let you know, no money was paid for Otto. (END VIDEO CLIP)


ACOSTA: And the president's comments on Charlottesville come two years after he made those initial remarks about very fine people on both sides. He didn't talk about that in this Oval Office spray that we just had with the president a few moments ago, Wolf.

But I did ask whether or not he believes the former White House Counsel Don McGahn, should be charged with perjury, since he has been telling reporters that he is of a different opinion as to what happened in that whole episode, he claims that he did not order Don McGahn to fire the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or have him removed. The president did not want to go much further into that, did not want to explain what he would like to see happen with Don McGahn, as a result of all of that.

But the president, also, Wolf, did not want to really bite at the apple when it comes to this notion of an attempted coup. He's been making this charge over the last 24 hours. But when I asked him about that, whether or not he believes an actual coup attempt took place in this country, he declined to really comment on that, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're about to play the tape. You were there in the Oval Office, the president has been meeting with the prime minister of Japan, Prime Minister Abe and you had a chance to ask him those questions. It seems clear to me, based on conversations I've had with his supporters, they fear, potentially, a Joe Biden run for the White House.

ACOSTA: I think that's right, Wolf. When you talk to people inside Trump world, they will say, you know, out of all of the candidates, Joe Biden matches up with the president pretty well when you put them up, toe to toe. But they're also concerned about other candidates, like Kamala Harris, like some of these fresh faces, who have come into the race. And, Wolf, one thing we should also point out, when talking about this notion of an attempted coup --

BLITZER: All right --

ACOSTA: We have some video of that to show, I believe, coming out of the Oval Office.

BLITZER: Let's watch the videotape right now.


TRUMP: I think it can go quickly, yes. I think it can go fairly quickly. Maybe by the time I'm over there, maybe we sign it over there. But it's moving along very nicely. And we'll see what happens.

QUESTION: Mr. President, is there a situation that you can see where Don McGahn is charged with perjury? You seem to be contradicting what -- TRUMP: Well, I don't want to talk about that now. We have other things that we're talking about. But I'll respond to that question at a later date, OK? Thank you.

QUESTION: And just to follow on your comments earlier today and last night about, you said there was an attempted coup --

TRUMP: Oh, I think absolutely. If you look at -- If you look at what's been happening and all of the things you've been saying with the insurance policy statement from two agents that are now gone. If you look at many of the elements of intrigue and frankly, we're going to be seeing a lot over the next couple of weeks, things that a lot of people haven't seen, what took place here was a very, very terrible situation. How this whole ridiculous $35 million unlimited personnel, how this all started, I think you will find of great interest. Most of you know the answer to it anyway. The fair press. The good press. Really, the people that know what they're doing or the people that are, indeed, fair. They know the answer to it.

So, we're going to see. It's going to be very interesting. But what took place over the last period of almost two years, and really, before that. It was really much before that. In all fairness to Robert Mueller, things happened along before he even started. And what took place is a disgrace to our country and it hurt our country and a lot of people have been let go and I don't mean by me. They've been dismissed. They've been fired. They've left in disgrace. And it really is a sad moment for the country, but I think ultimately, it's going to be very good. It's going to be a healing factor. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press, right this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. Right this way. Thank you, press. Right this way.




[17:10:07] BLITZER: All right, so there we have the president in the Oval Office meeting with the Japanese prime minister, Prime Minister Abe, but answering some reporters' questions. Jim Acosta was there. You were asking some of those questions. The president of the United States saying that there was a failed coup d'etat here in the United States. Does he realize what that means, when people around the world hear about an attempted coup in the United States? You hear about coups in third world countries, but here in the United States, he's suggesting over and over again, there was a failed coup attempt to remove him from office.

ACOSTA: I don't think he understands what he's saying, there, when he says an attempted coup. I suppose, he understands what the literal definition of an attempted coup is, but I think he is obviously engaging in hyperbole. He knows he's engaging in hyperbole. And when he uses those kinds of words, he's hoping that when he's insulated inside his own conservative media cocoon that nobody is going to challenge him on that. That's why he was saying there in those comments.

Well, the fair media, they know what's going on, they know what really happened. That is code word for, well, when we start asking questions about whether or not he actually means that there was an attempted coup, that he can't really defend those comments. And you just saw that demonstrated there. He could not defend that comment, when I asked him about it, just a few moments ago, whether or not he believes an actual attempted coup happened with that Mueller investigation, because, obviously, one did not occur, Wolf.

BLITZER: Does he say anything -- and he's been doing a lot of talking over the past 24 hours about the Mueller report. Does he say anything at all about the initial reason for that investigation? Russia's interference in the U.S. democracy?

ACOSTA: He doesn't really seem to grasp that there was a legitimate, valid reason for the law enforcement and counterintelligence community to try to get to the bottom of what Russia was trying to do during the 2016 campaign. He keeps trying to make the case that this was some sort of nefarious plot to thwart his run for the presidency.

Wolf, both you and I remember during the 2016 campaign, while he did very well against the Republican field, it was widely expected that he was going to lose the general election. And so this whole notion that there was this grand conspiracy to deny him the presidency just doesn't hold up in that regard.

And also, Wolf, I think if you have the Russians meddling in our Democracy, trying to meet with members of the Trump campaign, members of the Trump family, it would be law enforcement and court intelligence malpractice not to try to get to the bottom of that. And the president, my understanding talking to Trump advisers is that he sees this as a way to make political hay and score political points and that's why he's talking about this. So he hated the Mueller investigation for so long, but he loves talking about it now because it scores points with his base, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House. Thanks very much. There's more breaking news. The president's newest Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, is announcing a rather sizable fund-raising haul, as he faces new questions about his handling of an old controversy.

CNN's Jessica Dean is following the Biden camp for us. Jessica there's reporting of some impressive numbers in terms of fund-raising numbers coming into the Biden camp.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. These are some big numbers coming out of the Biden campaign today. And the big question surrounding his announcement was how would he fare and stack up to numbers from Beto O'Rourke and Bernie Sanders? Well, today we got our answer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DEAN (voice-over): The early numbers are in for Joe Biden. The former vice president's campaign saying it raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours since it launched. The highest number yet for a 2020 Democrat.


JOY BEHAR, HOST, "THE VIEW": Please welcome former vice president, Joe Biden.


DEAN: Biden appeared on "The View" earlier today in his first sit-down interview and again went directly at President Trump.


BIDEN: It's about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, honey, it's going to be OK, and mean it.

Think of how many people don't think they can do that today.


BIDEN: And this president has done nothing to help that group of people.


DEAN: The former vice president said he plans to connect with working class voters, hoping to get the support of those who supported Trump in 2016. A clear rivalry developing between Biden and the president, who at 72, is just four years younger than Biden's 76.


TRUMP: I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him. I don't know.

BIDEN: If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.


DEAN: Biden's entry into the race has changed its dynamics already. He's drawing attacks from some competitors, including Elizabeth Warren, who criticized Biden for his closeness to the financial industry.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-OK), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got in that fight because they just didn't have anyone. And Joe Biden is on the side of the credit card companies.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DEAN: And Senator Bernie Sanders sent an email to supporters, taking aim at Biden's Philadelphia fundraiser, held at the home of a Comcast executive. Sanders saying, quote, "not with a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist."

During his interview on "The View," Biden was pressed on his handling of Anita Hill's testimony during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas.

[17:15:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


BIDEN: I am sorry she was treated the way she was treated.

BEHAR: I think what she wants you to say is, I'm sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated. I think that would be closer.

BIDEN: Well, but I'm sorry the way she got treated.


DEAN: Biden then going further.


BIDEN: There are a lot of mistakes made across the board. And for those I apologize that we may have been able to do and conduct it better. But I believed Dr. Hill, from the beginning. From the beginning.


BIDEN: And I said it.


DEAN: Biden was also asked to explain his reaction to the women who have come forward and accused him of unwanted touching.


BEHAR: Nancy Pelosi wants you to say, I'm sorry that I invaded your space.

BIDEN: I'm sorry I invaded your space. And I'm sorry -- I'm sorry this happened. But I'm not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate.


DEAN: He also spoke of his son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: This sounds stupid, when I get up in the morning, I think about, you know, I hope he's proud of me. I hope he's proud.



DEAN: Up next for the former vice president is a big rally in Pittsburgh on Monday. We're expecting to hear him talk about rebuilding the middle class in the United States of America. And Wolf, of course, Pennsylvania playing a critical role in 2016, you can bet it's going to play a critical role in 2020. A lot of attention is going to be put on the state of --

BLITZER: President Trump carried Pennsylvania. But the Democrats are hoping they can carry it this time.

DEAN: That's right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jessica Dean, reporting for us.

Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Congressman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania is joining us. She's a member of the Judiciary Committee. Congresswoman thanks so much for joining us. And you just heard the former vice president. He's really focusing in on Pennsylvania, your home state, as he launches his presidential bid. Do you think he can win Pennsylvania in a presidential election, if he is the Democratic nominee?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Thank you for having me on. And we were delighted here in Pennsylvania that Vice President Biden chose in day one to come here, signaling how important Pennsylvania is to our Democracy, to our electoral system. And so, I'm delighted that he came here. And we have a rich pool of talent. And I think it's the richest pool of talent that's ever been seen, with 20 people already in the race, great diversity, terrific women. And if Joe Biden and Vice President Biden is our nominee, I am confident he will win Pennsylvania.

BLITZER: You attended the former vice president's fundraiser in Philadelphia last night. So why are you holding off on a formal endorsement?

M. DEAN: Thanks for asking. I think it's early. We're only at April. And as I said, I love all of the incredible talent that we see in the Democratic candidates. So many women who were extremely talented. Such diversity of experience. But what they all share in common, I would say, is exhibited in Joe Biden. It is a heart and it is apprising of the values of our Democracy and it is a fight for the soul of our Democracy. So for me, it's too early to endorse and I think we've got a long way to go, but I'm just extremely heartened by the talent of people who have stepped up.

BLITZER: In his statement, his announcement statement, Biden pointed to the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That President Trump at the time defended his comment that there were very fine people on both sides. He defended it again today. He says some of those people were simply there to protest the removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue. What message does that send?

M. DEAN: What it sends to me is an absence of outrage over the rise of white supremacy and in fact, a president who seems to cheer it on. And we know the connection between that and violence. It could not be a more serious time in this country to make sure we call out white supremacy, anti-Semitism, bigotry of any kind, and associated violence. For the president today to try to triple down and say his words were perfect, because everything this president does, in his mind, is perfect, history will judge it very, very differently.

BLITZER: Let me get your reaction to this new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll. More than half of the American public, 56 percent, say Congress shouldn't start impeachment proceedings, and among independents, it's actually a little bit higher, 59 percent. So how much do those numbers factor into your thinking, Congresswoman, when it comes to impeachment?

M. DEAN: I think the numbers are interesting, and always changeable.

[17:20:02] They do not guide me, because I have a role to play. I'm a member of Congress. I am a member of the Judiciary Committee charged with oversight. And so while I am interested to know what my constituents want, what I'm told by my constituents, the artificial poll that I take is they want me to uphold my constitutional obligation, as a co-equal branch of government and get to the facts. Tell us the story.

What actually happened here. We have a report that reveals a sweeping and systemic interference with our election in 2016. We have a president who has ignored it, played that down, instead of being outraged and guaranteeing us that that will never happen again, and then a president who went on to obstruct justice. What my constituents tell me, which is the more important poll in my mind is do my job, do my constitutional duty and tell us the full story.

BLITZER: The president, once again today, doubling down on his claim that he never told the former White House Counsel Don McGahn, to fire the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Your committee has subpoenaed McGahn to come before the committee and testify. But the White House is considering fighting you on that. What do you think? Is McGahn going to comply?

M. DEAN: I certainly hope he will comply. It's amazing that after the Mueller report, the president, rather than saying, absolutely, shine the light of day on this report, I have nothing to hide. I didn't obstruct justice. Well, obviously, the report shows 10 instances of obstruction of justice, including the direction of Don McGahn. I look forward to Don McGahn coming before us and telling us the truth.

The credibility of the president on any of these matters is very, very weakened over the course of his own activities and behavior that we've seen. And I look forward to talking with Don McGahn and finding out exactly more of the sworn testimony that he gave Robert Mueller, that Robert Mueller says shows obstruction of justice by the president of the United States.

BLITZER: The Attorney General William Barr, will testify before your committee next Thursday morning. He testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning. What's specifically do you want to ask him about the Mueller report?

M. DEAN: One thing I would like to ask is why he mischaracterized it so much. Another thing I would like to know is why he mischaracterized the cooperation of the president. The president did not cooperate, refused to come in and testify, answered more than 30 times, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. And why would Attorney General Barr stand at a press conference and act like the lawyer for the president instead of the lawyer for the people.

The people had a right to the truth. We also will be asking, of course, what was the process of redaction. What made you choose to redact? Did you compare notes with the president or the president's counsel before submitting us the redacted report?

There's an awful lot to know, because, unfortunately, this top law enforcement official in our country is carrying the water of this president, offering cover to the president by claiming no collusion and allowing the president to claim exoneration. And sadly, this attorney general, as he stepped into this role, has poured away his own credibility in buckets.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean thanks so much for joining us.

M. DEAN: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, President Trump taking new swipes at Joe Biden's age, appearance, intelligence, and more. Is the president afraid of his newest Democratic challenger?

Plus, we'll have more on the new poll showing almost six in 10 Americans thinks President Trump lied about matters at the heart of the Mueller investigation.


[17:28:05] BLITZER: Breaking news. The former Vice President Joe Biden, has announced a major fund-raising haul, just one day after launching his campaign, with a broadside of President Trump. But Biden is struggling to tamp down some questions about his handling of the Anita Hill hearings as well as claims from some women that he invaded their personal space. Let's discuss with our political experts. They're here for some analysis.

Let's discuss with our political experts here for some analysis. Let's talk about Charlottesville, first of all. This is the president earlier today, once again, trying to defend his remarks about there being very fine people on both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. Whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals. People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.


BLITZER: He was responding to Biden, who had made a major point in his announcement about the president's comments after Charlottesville.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. And you have a president there, really trying to rewrite history. The sole purpose of that rally, organized by Unite the Right, was to celebrate white supremacy. There was basically neo-Nazis there, who were defending the legacy of Robert E. Lee, also a white supremacist, who the president there praised today on the south lawn of the White House, as well.

This, I think, goes to show that Biden is getting under Donald Trump's skin a little bit there. He basically fell into his trap. And you see the president there taking the bait and trying to rewrite what was a really dark day for this White House. You had officials back in August of 2017, really thinking about whether or not they wanted to continue in this administration, after the president's words there, where he really tried to draw a moral equivalency, between white supremacists and people who were protesting white supremacy.

BLITZER: Why is he even bothering talking about, it was a low point after Charlottesville, when he said, very fine people on both sides. But why does he keep talking about it, just because the former vice president raised it?


But the president was actually irritated because he made those comments in New York at a press conference with reporters, but then when he came back to the White House and he offered essentially this - what amounted to an apology in their eyes, sources told us afterward the president was angry about the remarks he made, that people had advised him to make.

They said essentially you need to correct this. And the president after he gave those remarks was annoyed that he did that because he thought he had not said anything wrong and the president clearly still feels that way today by saying that those people were there protesting taking down the monument, but of course that's not what the people were chanting.

They weren't chanting about Robert E. Lee, they were chanting Jews will not replace us and comments like that. So when the president says that it's because he thinks he's right and did not need to apologize or amend his statements.

BLITZER: And there were plenty of Neo-Nazi posters all over the place in Charlottesville that we can't forget either. Let's talk a little bit about the money, David Chalian, $6.3 million raised by the former vice president over the first 24 hours.

DAVID CHALIAN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, CNN NEWS: Yes, so not only does he get into the race, he's already leading in the polls, he's now showing that he has that muscle for that first 24 hour fundraising period to compete with Beto O'Rourke and Bernie Sanders who put up roughly $6 million in their first 24 hours.

We have to ask a lot of questions around this which is if you frontload everything in that 24 hours to get a big number in that 24 hours, are you robbing from what you need in the rest of the quarter?

We won't know Joe Biden's fundraising until July 15th so there's a long way to go here. But obviously he's got a big donor base, there's no doubt about that. But I think it was something like 96,000 individual contributions to add up to that amount versus on Bernie Sander's first day, Wolf, it was 200,000 plus individual contributions.

So he doesn't yet have that grassroots, online, big donor base that he could keep going back to again and again. He's being fueled by large dollar, big bundler checks.

BLITZER: Brian Stelter is here, our chief media correspondent, the host of "Reliable Sources". How did he do? How would you rate Biden's performance on "The View" today?

BRIAN STELTER, CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR, CNN NEWS: Yes he was choosing "The View" because he's surrounded by women - several women who may support his candidacy, want to cheer him on.

I think if you watch the full hour you see a statesman, you see a grandpa, you see someone who in some ways is an antidote to President Trump. If you only see the clips, however, that come out about Anita Hill and about other topics then he doesn't come across so well.

And so it depends on if you see the full hour or if you only see the clips. I think in the full hour it was very different. And by the way it's hard to imagine President Trump on that show.

So going forward as we think about this and this contest between Biden and Trump, are we going to see the president on shows like "The View" and these softer formats? It's hard to picture him and that may be an advantage for Biden and for the other Democrats because President Trump very rarely if ever tries to appear on those kinds of talks shows.

BLITZER: He spent 40 minutes last night on the phone talking to Sean Hannity.

STELTER: Yes, and that's pretty much the only place he goes, that's his safe space. But he doesn't appear on these other places where he can show a softer side. So I think for Biden that was valuable, but of course the takeaway - the headline was about his behavior treating women and that's not a positive story. BLITZER: How did he do on the - on "The View", Nia?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLTIICAL REPORTER, CNN NEWS: You know, in terms of the Anita Hill portion of it, I talked to some Democrats on this and they essentially say he's got to fix the Anita Hill thing and fix it fast.

If you listen to Joe Biden, he's been in the same place really for years in terms of talking about Anita Hill, it went sort of from she's owed an apology, he finally picked up the phone 28 years later and called her and said he's sorry for what happened to her.

He's still not able to take any responsibility for his role in that, critics at the time, critics now essentially say he could have done more. He could have called corroborating witnesses, he could have called expert witnesses, he could have controlled the tone a little bit more.

They basically say he was run over by the GOP who wanted to control it a bit more, even though he was the chairman. So he is going to have to fix it. I think the image of Anita Hill, a black woman, and remember the Democratic primary won (inaudible) southern states which are dominated by African Americans, particularly African American women.

So I think this moment is a very uncomfortable one for him and he's got to fix it.

BLITZER: What are you hearing - Kaitlan you cover the White House for us, how concerned is the president and his political supporters that if Biden becomes the Democratic nominee, he would represent potentially among the Democrats the greatest threat?

KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWS: The president is concerned and right now he does see Biden as the greatest threat out of all the Democrats who have said they're running for office.

A lot of that has to do with how close they are in age, how they have a similar appeal trying to say to voters that they're very authentic and also he thinks that Biden could go for some of the people in the states that he won in 2016, those Rust Belt states, the Midwest.

So that is why the president is so concerned because he also knows Joe Biden has name recognition and that's something that the president has been worrying about and based on our reporting we know that behind the scenes, the president is often asking allies and advisors do you think Joe Biden could beat me?

BLITZER: Because he's concerned, Kaitlan, that Biden would be very formidable in states that the president won in 2016 like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

COLLINS: Wisconsin, and that's why you see the president already traveling to states like that, he's going to one of them on Saturday night for a campaign rally because the president wants to make sure he's got those voters. [17:35:00]

And he's watching Joe Biden like a hawk, after Joe Biden spoke to some electrical workers recently, the president was clearly paying attention because then he tweeted that he's done so much for those workers.

So you can see the president keeping tabs on Joe Biden more than he is any other candidate.

BLITZER: And it's interesting Biden right now, he went after the president in this announcement clearly today on "The View", he's not going after the Democratic rivals, the other Democratic candidates, but some of them are beginning already to go after him.

CHALIAN: Yes, I thought this was really interesting that not one day went by with Biden in the race without Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders immediately going after him.

Bernie Sanders for the fact that on his first night, Biden held a big fundraiser at a corporate executive private home, and Elizabeth Warren for this decades old battle that they've had over bankruptcy and credit card companies.

She said by name after she sort of referenced him not by name Monday night in our town hall, Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies. I thought not - none of the other Democratic competitors.

So it's interesting to me that the most progressive left-wing folks, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren saw it to their benefit to immediately try and frame Joe Biden in this Democratic nomination race as the centrist corporatist establishment Democrat.

That is - that is where they see their path to the nomination.

HENDERSON: The other person who did that a little more subtly is Pete Buttigieg. He sent out info to his mailing list essentially saying that he's going to give back money from corporate lobbyists, that's a knock on Joe Biden.

CHALIAN: But Joe Biden doesn't take corporate lobbyist money so -

HENDERSON: Right, but it was organized, right, I mean there were corporate -

CHALIAN: Right, by a contest (ph) executive, but I'm just saying Pete Buttigieg was alone in the Democratic field in taking lobbyist money and he needed to get to the right place.

BLITZER: You know, Brian, listen to the president today speaking at the National Rifle Association gathering. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They tried for a coup, didn't work out so well. And I didn't need a gun for that one, did I? (END VIDEO CLIP)

They tried for a coup.

CHALIAN: This is Sean Hannity's language, this is Fox's language being perpetuated by the president. We all at this table know that it's nonsense. I think that's fair to say. We all know that a word like coup shouldn't be used in this context.

But I do think that the president's base is in touch with this term because it's been used for months and by the time Trump says it they've been hearing it for months on Fox.

That is a real challenge for all the Democrats that we're talking about. None of them are willing to go that far. What did Biden do last night at the Comcast executive's home? He talked about the media and lying and trust, all of those issues that Trump exploits.

And we're seeing it right now getting more extreme in the wake of the Mueller report.

BLITZER: We'll see you Sunday morning, 11 a.m. Eastern for "Reliable Sources", guys stick around we have more news coming up, including the latest on a suspected plot to kill politicians and journalists.

The alleged mastermind has been granted release by a federal judge, now the FBI director is weighing in.



BLITZER: Tonight FBI Director Christopher Wray is speaking out after a federal judge ordered the release of a man who allegedly plotted to murder Democratic politicians and members of the news media.

Our Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is working the story for us. Give us the latest, Jessica.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWS: Well Wolf, the FBI director was asked about Christopher Hasson's immanent release saying that he hopes the judge does the right thing.

But tonight, Hasson's release is still in the works, despite prosecutors accusing him of plotting mass murder, the judge saying he has no choice but to let him out with strict conditions while he awaits trial.


Tonight FBI Director Christopher Wray seeming to cast doubt on a federal judge's plan to release Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Hasson from detention, who prosecutors say intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: We had an individual Coast Guard lieutenant who wanted to commit an attack right here. Well I hope the judge does the right thing.

SCHNEIDER: Federal Judge Charles Day told prosecutors Thursday that despite his concerns, his hands are tied since the government has only charged Hasson with weapons and drug charges, the alleged crimes don't meet the standard for continued detention.

Judge Day stressed he still had grave concerns about Hasson's plot, but emphasized his upcoming release would be accompanied by strict conditions. He's got to have a whole lot of supervision, somebody who's got eyes and ears on him like nobody's business.

The 49 year old Coast Guar lieutenant is alleged to be a white supremacist who compiled a hit list naming several prominent Democratic politicians as well as journalists from CNN and MSNBC in a draft e-mail obtained by prosecutors, Hasson allegedly wrote I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.

Hasson also searched for the home addresses of two unnamed Supreme Court justices and sought out the best gun to kill African Americans. Investigators took photos of the 15 firearms inside Hasson's Silver Spring, Maryland apartment where they also found more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

But Hasson's public defender says the charges are overblown, disputing Hasson had a hit list and saying the compilation of Democratic and media targets looks like the sort of list that our commander in chief might have compiled while watching Fox News in the morning, adding that the racial slurs Hasson wrote are now part of the national vocabulary.

Donald Trump uses similar epithets in his everyday language and tweets. Prosecutors though insist Hasson is a real threat, telling the judge this is comeback year, there is no reason to have this, the defendant intended to take his weapons and go.


But with no more than plans on a page and a stockpile of weapons, prosecutors are stuck. There are no domestic terrorism statutes in the U.S. so prosecutors are forced to use other violations like hate crimes or in this case weapons charges to stop people who appear to only be in the planning stages of plotting domestic attacks.


And because no federal statute exists, Hasson's release really isn't surprising, but Wolf, the FBI Agents Association, they have repeatedly called on Congress to pass a specific statute to address domestic terrorism that would presumably address cases just like this one.

BLITZER: Well it's about time they did. This seems like a open and shut development, but obviously there are some - there's some problems here.

SCHNEIDER: We'll see what happens when the judge puts out the conditions for his release. BLITZER: A lot of people are going to be nervous once he's released.

All right, thanks very much for that, Jessica Schneider reporting. Just ahead, Vladimir Putin offers to mediate the recent tension between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Could the Russian president really play peacemaker?



New details are coming out tonight about the Kim Putin summit and how the Russian president is inserting himself into the tense ties right now between the U.S. and North Korea. Brian Todd is working this story for us.

Brian, Kim Jong-un didn't hide his frustration with President Trump during their summit.

BRIAN TODD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He not only didn't hide it, Wolf, it seemed like he kind of went off on Trump when he was talking to Putin. Kim was blunt in his assessment of where he stands with the Americans.

He was very critical of Trump and his team and that seems to have given Vladimir Putin an opening.


North Korea's ruthless young dictator is angry and venting tonight. During his summit with Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, Kim Jong-un gave the Russian president a brutal, stark view of where he thinks he stands with Donald Trump.

According to his news agency, Kim told Putin the situation on the Korean Peninsula is, quote, "now at a standstill" and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state.

More damning, Kim accused President Trump and his team of acting in bad faith at the recent second summit talks.

BILL RICHARSON, FORMER U.S. NORTH KOREA NEGOTIATOR: Kim Jong-u is frustrated, the last summit in Hanoi was a failure for him.

TODD: A failure, experts say, because Trump walked out after Kim asked for most of the sanctions against North Korea to be dropped. Tonight, Bill Richardson, who often negotiated with North Korea is worried about how Kim might take out his frustrations.

RICHARDSON: My worry is that Kim because he had such a bad summit in Hanoi might make some provoking steps that might start a bad trip wire military effect, diplomatic effect in the peninsula.

TODD: What makes Kim's frustrations all the more interesting is that he chose to share them with another of America's foes, Vladimir Putin. Putin now says Kim Jong-un asked him to play the role of mediator and tell America where Kim stands.

And Putin says he's happy to oblige.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA: (THROUGH TRANSLATOR) We will also discuss this matter in today's meeting with U.S. leadership in the same open and candid manner. There are no secrets here, Russia always voices an open position. There are no conspiracies.

TODD: President Trump who's been more trusting of both strong men than veteran diplomats would advise, is positive about Putin's overture.

TRUMP: I appreciated President Putin's statement yesterday. He wants to see it done also.

TODD: Putin does share the American's view that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons, and experts say despite being an adversary of the U.S., Putin could help with Kim.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY, THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER: To the extent that Putin is North Korea's last best hope when it's otherwise isolated, if the United States and Russia are communicating, if the United States and Russia have some degree of agreement about where the negotiations could go, that means a lot more joint leverage on Pyongyang than we would otherwise have.

TODD: But with Vladimir Putin, experts caution, there's always an ulterior motive, one which often works against America's interests. They say Putin could be trying to drive a wedge between Trump and Kim and Putin could derail the nuclear talks by persuading Kim he doesn't need the U.S.

ROJANSKY: If the Russians say to the North Koreans you don't actually have to give up what the United States is asking you to give up, we will help you weather the storm of international sanctions.

After all, we're under sanctions too, we're doing just fine, we can continue to help you out, then Kim may not have an incentive to meet with Donald Trump let alone to make any concessions.


And analysts say there are other ways that Vladimir Putin could be a destructive actor in this entire equation with Kim Jong-un. They say the Russian president can and probably already has offered more Russian cooperation with North Korea in cyber warfare against the Untied States and they say that weapons and military cooperation are always on the table here and the Russian president can also help Kim as always evade sanctions and get what he needs on the black market.

Also so far tonight no response from the White House or the State Department to Kim's accusations that the Americans acted in bad faith in Hanoi. Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you. Breaking news next, President Trump getting some troubling new numbers tonight in a new poll that shows the majority of Americans say the Mueller report did not exonerate the president. [17:55:00]


Happening now, breaking news, not exonerated. A majority of Americans say the president was not cleared of wrongdoing in the Mueller report as Mr. Trump comes up with another conspiracy theory about the investigation.

New poll numbers and more unfounded claims by the commander in chief. Reopening the wound, the president insists his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia was perfect while praising Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

We'll break down his latest attempt to rewrite history.