Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump Gives Barr Unique Powers to Investigate Russia Probe; Interview With Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA); Pelosi Getting Under Trump's Skin?; Trump Orders Intel Community To Declassify Info On Russia Probe; Democrats Say He's Going After Enemies; Current And Former Officials Tell CNN Being On Air Force One With Trump Like Being Held Captive; Man Who Kidnapped Teen And Killed Her Parents Sentenced To Life Prison After Victim's Emotional Statement; Terror Probe Under Way After Explosion in Busy Shopping Area. Aired on 6-7p ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That led to the Mueller probe and ordering intelligence agencies to help. But he insists it's not retribution.

Responding in kind. The president defends and continues his personal attacks on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, accusing her of making horrible statements about him. Did the president know a disparaging video of Pelosi was fake?

Inside Air Force One. As the president takes off to Tokyo, current and former White House aides privately reveal details of the grueling reality of traveling with Mr. Trump. They say he rarely sleep, frequently complains and keeps his staff at his beck and call.

And kidnapper in court. Emotional words from a 13-year-old girl to the man who murdered her parents then abducted her, holding her captive for three months. Tonight, we learn the price he will pay for his crimes.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight: President Trump defending his move turning tables on the Mueller investigation. He's ordering all U.S. intelligence agencies to assist the attorney general, William Barr, in a probe of surveillance of the 2016 Trump campaign, which ultimately led to the appointment of the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

The president calling all of it an attempted coup.

Also, the president is denying knowledge of a video he retweeted that had been edited to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear to be slurring her words. And he questioned her fitness, while accusing her of saying horrible things about him.

I will talk about that and more with Congressman Madeleine Dean of the Judiciary Committee. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's already in Tokyo, where the president is now heading.

Pamela, the president has left multiple controversies in his wake.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right.

President Trump did not hold back, Wolf, as he left the White House today for Japan. This is a trip that could serve as a reprieve for the president from all the pressure he faces in Washington. And he talked to reporters sharing with him what's top of mind for him, taking shots once again at Nancy Pelosi, also once again saying without evidence that officials conspired against him in the Russia probe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Facing mounting pressure after a week of multiple court losses and a public brawl with Nancy Pelosi, President Trump tonight unloading before his long flight to Japan.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I declassified everything, everything they want. You will learn a lot. I hope it's going to be nice, but perhaps it won't be.

BROWN: Trump defending his decision to give Attorney General Bill Barr sweeping new access to top government secrets, ordering U.S. intelligence agencies to assist Barr as he investigates the investigators who launched the Russia probe.

TRUMP: They will be able to see how this hoax, how the hoax or witch- hunt started and why it started. It was a -- an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States.

BROWN: Democrats quick to pounce. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff saying the move allows Barr to weaponize and politicize the nation's intelligence and law enforcement entities.

This extraordinary move comes as Trump shifts again on whether special counsel Robert Mueller should testify before Congress and after saying it was up to his attorney general to decide.

TRUMP: They want to do a redo, like even the fact that they're asking Bob Mueller to come and testify. He just gave them a 434-page report which says no collusion, which leads to absolutely no obstruction. He just gave that report. Why does he have to testify? It's ridiculous.

BROWN: The president's frustration building as his feud with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi takes a personal turn.

TRUMP: I have been watching her. And I have been watching her for a long period of time. She's not the same person. She's lost it.

BROWN: In the latest attack, Trump tweeted a heavily edited video of Pelosi supposedly slurring her words and made the baseless claim Pelosi has lost it.

TRUMP: Look, you think Nancy is the same as she was? She's not.

BROWN: The hostility boiling over publicly in the last 24 hours. The president, though, says Pelosi drew first blood.

TRUMP: Did you hear what she said about me long before I went after her? Did you hear? She made horrible statements. She knows they're not true.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Again, I pray for the president of the United States. I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.

BROWN: As the president heads to Japan for the Memorial Day weekend, he announced the Pentagon will deploy an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East in response to a growing threat from Iran, a big step for a president who campaigned on pulling troops out of foreign entanglements.

[18:05:03]

TRUMP: We want to have protection. The Middle East, we're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective, and some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we will see how and we will see what happens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Now, President Trump is expected to arrive here in Japan at 5:00 p.m. local time.

But it's interesting to note, ahead of his arrival, the president's national security adviser, John Bolton, has been here in Tokyo meeting with Prime Minister Abe. A U.S. official tells me it was Japanese officials who asked for that meeting.

So it shows, Wolf, that even though the White House says this is a trip for the president that's more about ceremony than substance, that there are significant issues, like trade and defense, that both the administration and Japanese officials want to work through -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Pamela, thank you, Pamela Brown in Tokyo for us.

Let's get more on the attorney general's new investigation.

Our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, is working the story for us.

Shimon, Barr seems to have carte blanche right now to order whatever he wants from the intelligence community to be declassified as far as this probe is concerned.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And certainly unprecedented, Wolf, when you think about it. In the intelligence agencies, it's their information. Whatever it is

they collected, whatever sources, whatever methods that they have used to collect some of this information as it relates to the Russia investigation, they would ultimately -- in a perfect scenario, where you didn't have what's going on, they would ultimately decide what happens to that information, what gets declassified.

But with this new order from the president, it's something that the attorney general wanted. He now has the power to do whatever he wants with this information that he's going to ultimately demand from these intelligence officials.

BLITZER: Because he was widely criticized the way he handled the release of the Mueller report. How much concern is there now that he might not be objective in this new investigation?

PROKUPECZ: Right, and cherry-picking what is helpful perhaps for the president in terms of putting that information out there.

It's something that the president has wanted out there because he believes there is information within the intelligence community that is helpful to his belief and his argument that this was some kind of a coup, that they were trying to take over. So that is going to be the big question.

And that's certainly something that members of Congress are concerned about to allow him to have all this power now, the attorney general, to go ahead and release this information. And you know what? You have to assume he is going to work with DOJ attorneys, attorneys at these other agencies, as well as the intelligence officials.

And they're going to try to sway him not to do some of this. But, ultimately, as we have seen with the attorney general, it's going to be up to him. And he is not afraid to make some of the tough decisions and some of the tough choices. And if he wants to put this information out there, he is going to be able to.

BLITZER: The president said before leaving the White House he didn't know what or how many documents really he was making available for the attorney general to declassify. How much concern is there that national security interests could be compromised?

PROKUPECZ: That is the number one concern in all this, that somehow some information is going to get out there that's going to release a source, that's going to identify a source, or how something was collected.

And so what happens is, the director of the national intelligence, Dan Coats, he actually put out a statement addressing this concern. And here's what he said.

He said that: "The intelligence community will provide the Department of Justice all of the appropriate information for its review. As part of that process, I am confident that the attorney general will work with the I.C. in accordance with long established standards to protect highly sensitive classified information that if publicly released would put our national security at risk."

That is what everyone here ultimately is concerned about, that somehow something is going to get out that shouldn't get out. There are still ongoing intelligence gatherings methods. Right? We know the Russians are still trying to do this. That is the concern, that somehow they're going to let something out and therefore it's going to hurt national security and hurt our ability to collect some of this information.

BLITZER: I'm sure the intelligence community, including Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, are concerned. That's why he said in that statement -- he used the word appropriate information.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

BLITZER: So we will see how far he goes on that front.

Thanks very much for that, Shimon Prokupecz, reporting for us.

PROKUPECZ: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's get some more on all of the breaking news.

Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania is joining us. She's a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Thank you.

BLITZER: How do you think the attorney general will use this extraordinary declassification authority the president has granted him?

DEAN: What a dangerous conversation that you all had to just report, as I sit here listening to the news of the day, the dangerous, erratic behavior of this president, the petty schoolyard bullying that he engages in.

And then, when he doesn't like the outcome of the Mueller report, he covers it up. And when the cover-up isn't enough, and he's been told by two federal courts that he has to produce these documents, he then tries another distracting and dangerous tack of saying to the Attorney General Barr, disclose all kinds of information.

[18:10:00]

Let's remember where this started. This was a counterintelligence investigation about Russia, our foe, interfering with the 2016 election. That's where it started.

It did not have to involve Mr. Trump or his associates or his campaign at all, if they had chosen not to be connected in any way. Instead they chose 180 contacts with the Russian government or persons connected to Russia in terms of interfering with this election on behalf of Mr. Trump, to the harm of Mrs. Clinton and, frankly, to the harm of our American election system.

That's where this started. And then where did it grow, sadly, and metastasize? It metastasized into what was volume two of the Mueller report, a president now under investigation, so worried about himself being under investigation, that he has to go and try to cover it up. He has to try to obstruct.

BLITZER: What impact does it have when the president directs the attorney general to investigate what the president earlier in the day described as United Kingdom, Australia and Ukraine ties to the origins of this investigation?

DEAN: I don't know, to be honest.

I didn't follow that line of argument by the president, as I often have a hard time following his line of argument. And, of course, you ask a central question, which is the actor whom he put in charge of doing this, and it's Mr. Barr.

Sadly -- I mean sadly -- Mr. Barr, who has sworn an oath of office to uphold the Constitution on behalf of our rule of law, the highest law enforcement officer in our country, is not acting on our behalf. He is acting on behalf of a president in search of cover-up after cover- up after cover-up.

I hope -- and I know how important it is that you document the president's behavior and erratic decision-making and, of course, what he's doing globally that is harmful.

But I hope also -- I just came back from a week in Washington. We have been passing substantive legislation after substantive legislation. And we have a Senate sitting on their hands doing nothing with it. We passed important gun legislation that will save lives, two background check bills that will save lives. Nothing there.

We passed For the People.

BLITZER: Right.

DEAN: We had a nine-hour committee hearing for Judiciary passing three important bills regarding dreamers and temporary protective status, particularly for those vulnerable folks here from Venezuela.

We're doing substantive work. The president is involved in distraction and cover-up. I'm optimistic we will continue our work.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: The president says, Congresswoman, it's ridiculous, his word, ridiculous for Robert Mueller to testify before your committee, the Judiciary Committee, when he already published his 450-or-so-page report.

This comes after the chairman of your committee, Jerry Nadler, said Mueller would like to testify, but only privately, behind closed doors, maybe make an opening statement in public.

Are you open to that option?

DEAN: Well, I know that our committee, Mr. Nadler, the chairman, is talking directly with Mr. Mueller and Mueller's people.

What I heard was the latest iteration was -- and I'm sympathetic to this -- that special counsel Mueller doesn't want to come and have a spectacle, as we have seen members of the other side of the aisle entertain a circus-like atmosphere when we have anybody in when we're doing our duty of oversight.

So, I understand his interest in doing that. However, one of the reasons he said he would have it in private was that he would also make sure that a transcript would be provided.

My preference is that it become -- it is before the American public. The public will see the circus for what it is, and it will see the creditability and the extraordinary work that Mr. Mueller did.

The other thing that your reporting suggests and the language of the president is, the president has not read this 448-page report, which we've only seen in redacted form, because, if he read it, he would understand that his false banner in the Rose Garden the other day, no collusion, no obstruction, is simply a falsehood. And he posted a billboard of falsehood in our Rose Garden.

BLITZER: Your committee, the Judiciary Committee, has issued these subpoenas to former White House officials Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson for documents and testimony, Hope Hicks, the former communications director.

Annie Donaldson, she was chief of staff to the former White House counsel Don McGahn. And they want her contemporaneous notes, which, as you know, featured prominently in the Mueller report. How likely is it that you will get that testimony?

DEAN: Again, I hope that they will understand that it is our constitutional duty of oversight to make sure that we get the facts before the American people and hold this president accountable before the law, because no man is so high as to get above the law.

[18:15:00]

But I have to tell you, we have a pattern here. And so we have asked for documents early in June, and then later in June, to have the two women come in and testify before our committee. We have a pattern where we have seen nothing but obstruction by this president, by this administration, by this attorney general.

So I don't hold out a whole lot of hope, and I hope they do the right thing. They're American citizens first.

BLITZER: You have seen over the past couple of days how things have escalated between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They used to actually have a fairly civil relationship. Does that worry you?

DEAN: It worries me on behalf of the president because it shows a strange, erratic nature in this president.

The president is under investigation. Unfortunately, he has to just accept and face that. And why doesn't he let everybody in so he can clear his name?

But we also have to run our government. We have to pass laws like the dreamers act, like the gun violence act. We passed out of the House important health care legislation to protect preexisting conditions. Imagine. We are being met -- the American people have asked us for this, and we are about being met by a president who only cares for himself.

So I worry on behalf of the president. I hope he can calm down. I don't worry on behalf of Speaker Pelosi. I was with her today at a local community college with my colleague Mary Gay Scanlon, who also serves on Judiciary.

And she was asked about all of these things and how can you possibly get along with this president? She's a better leader than that. She will shepherd this Congress through. And I hope the president is persuaded to actually do the work of the people, not the work of his own self-interest.

BLITZER: What do you think, realistically, Congresswoman, you can accomplish between now and the 2020 election? The Democrats have the majority in the House. The Senate is controlled by a 53-47 Republican majority, the White House obviously, the president of the United States.

What is realistic?

DEAN: What's realistic is, I think over the course of the next two years or whatever we will have left of this, this Congress and then the upcoming election cycle, is that the American people will see a House controlled by Democrats robustly passing legislation for the good of the people, not for self-interest, being obstructed as much as the minority can, but they're not being very effective.

But they also will be observing very, very closely the operation of this Senate. That's what we must shine a light on. We are passing important legislation after important legislation to protect America, to move Americans forward, to grow our economy, to improve health care.

BLITZER: All right.

DEAN: And we have a Senate being paid and sitting on their hands. I hope they will address that.

BLITZER: Congressman Madeleine Dean, thanks so much for joining us.

DEAN: Thank you for having me. BLITZER: All right, the breaking news continues here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are going to take a closer look at the potential consequences of President Trump's move declassifying millions of top-secret documents as part of the new probe into the Mueller investigation.

And as the president travels to Tokyo tonight, current and former White House aides reveal what it's really like to be with him aboard Air Force One.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:22:45]

BLITZER: All right, we're following the breaking news, President Trump defending his decision to give the attorney general, William Barr, sweeping new access to top-secret government information and ordering U.S. intelligence agencies to help as Barr investigates the investigators behind the Russia probe.

Let's dig deeper with our experts and our analysts.

Susan Hennessey, here's what the president said today about his decision. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As you know, I declassified, I guess, potentially millions of pages of documents. I don't know what it is. I have no idea. But I want to be transparent. Everybody wanted me to declassify. I have done it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: This is a very serious decision on the part of the president. What are the potential consequences of the decision? And I ask you as someone who once worked at the National Security Agency.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we shouldn't beat around the bush here.

There are reports that Bill Barr is especially interested in the CIA's human assets in Russia. That's the kind of information that, if improperly revealed, could actually lead to somebody being killed. So this is really sort of the most sensitive possible category of information.

You know, the mere fact that we're having this discussion, that we're raising questions about whether or not the United States is fully committed to defending -- to protecting classified information, that's going to make assets less likely to want to help us in the future, allies less likely to want to share information with us.

And so that itself is a form of compromise. Now, ordinarily, the director of national intelligence oversees an interagency process to ensure that, when we're making those decisions, we fully understand all the consequences.

The fact that Trump is now vesting this unilateral authority to declassify in the attorney general, someone who is not in a good position to understand the consequences for the CIA, the Department of Defense, the NSA, I think is a pretty clear indication that the president doesn't imagine these decisions being made for national security purposes, but instead for political purposes.

BLITZER: Samantha, you used to work at the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

I want to you listen to what the president said about the origins of this investigation, and he said he has some ideas about the United Kingdom, Australia and Ukraine. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He can look. And I hope he looks at the U.K. and I hope he looks at Australia and I hope he looks at Ukraine. I hope he looks at everything, because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:25:06]

BLITZER: The U.K. and Australia, two of America's closest intelligence partners.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the president just named three U.S. allies he now wants to investigate.

I have yet to hear him say that he wants the Department of Justice to investigate Russia. That would be a decent place to start. But the president is really just putting another nail in the coffin when it comes to our intelligence-sharing partnerships.

He is not transparent with declassifying information. He does it willy-nilly in the Oval Office with the Russian ambassador sitting there. He does not go through established protocols.

So our foreign intel partners, even before today, were likely deeply concerned that their sources and methods would be revealed when the president had a personal agenda or just forgot that something was classified.

And we know that several foreign intelligence services provided information that was the genesis for the Mueller investigation at the get-go and then help support it along the road.

So now he's not just saying, I might expose your sources and methods because I have a political bone to pick. He's saying that he wants to investigate our intelligence partners, which could really rupture the relationship, Wolf.

And this is going to mean -- and I have seen intelligence from foreign intelligence partners. There will be a lot less intelligence crossing the president's desk, because our intel partners have even less reason to share with us.

BLITZER: That's an important point.

Democrats in Congress also think, Ryan Lizza, that the attorney general, he could frame the narrative any way he wants, and not necessarily be all that objective about it.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think that argument is a little bit stronger than just generally we should be so scared of declassifying information, especially some of this information that's old and is historically significant.

So I'm not really that concerned about declassification. I think I'm -- as most people who have worked in government often learn -- correct me if I'm wrong -- a lot of stuff is overclassified. There's a lot of stuff that...

(CROSSTALK)

VINOGRAD: I'm going to disagree with that when we're talking about a foreign intelligence investigation, Ryan.

(CROSSTALK)

VINOGRAD: These are sources and methods that our -- the U.K., Australia and the Ukraine classify.

LIZZA: But we don't know what's being declassified.

I do -- look, we have been through a lot of -- we have been through State Department cables being exposed to the world. We have been through...

VINOGRAD: Which put sources and methods at risk, by the way.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: What Snowden revealed. The world is still standing.

So, anyway, just -- that's a small point. I don't -- I think sometimes people get worked up at, oh, it's classified and the public can't know about this.

We need to know everything about what happened in this investigation. Trump seems to believe in this conspiracy theory.

BLITZER: So, you welcome the decision by the president?

LIZZA: Yes.

The problem is that it's not being consistently applied, right? What Democrats are asking for on the Mueller report is being rejected.

And he's putting it in the hands of an attorney general who's proven himself to be a political actor, and mostly interested so far into defending the president.

So, look, I'm a journalist. I think more information out there, especially about what went on with Russia and this investigation, is important. The problem is the politicization and not being consistent.

BLITZER: David, you're a journalist as well. What do you think?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes.

So, just one thing I would add to what Ryan is saying is that part of the problem is not just the politicization or the not evenhandedness of the application of the transparency standard that the president articulated, but, also, what is the predicate for this whole inquiry in the first place?

In other words, maybe we will learn something new. But if the predicate for this is stuff that we have already talked about in public, going back to when Devin Nunes was chair of the Intelligence Committee on the House side, the idea that the FISA warrant that was obtained to look into Carter Page in 2014 somehow was politically motivated, we're not learning anything new from this.

And it mostly then serves to perpetuate the Republican narrative that, in fact, the president...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But the Carter Page FISA warrant was in 2016, right, not in 2014.

SWERDLICK: I may have the date wrong on that, Wolf.

The point I wanted to make about that was is that, yes, there was always a point about that FISA warrant that, yes, in my view that the fact that information may have come from Fusion GPS should have been disclosed to the FISA judge.

That doesn't mean anything untoward happened. That doesn't mean there shouldn't have been a FISA warrant. But Republicans have used this and again to take the focus off the White House and put it on Democrats, which if again they were applying the standard evenly would be a different thing, but they're not.

BLITZER: The director of national intelligence, Susan, Dan Coats, he responded to the president's decision as he was leaving the White House with this statement.

I will read a portion of it.

"The intelligence community I.C. will provide the Department of Justice all the appropriate information for its review. As part of that process, I am confident that the attorney general will work with the I.C. in accordance with the long established standards to protect highly sensitive classified information that if publicly released would put our national security at risk." Does it sound like he has some reservations in that carefully drafted statement?

HENNESSEY: Yes, coming from Dan Coats, this is essentially Coats slapping back at Barr and reminding him that there are rules, that there are serious security equities and that he expects Barr to follow them.

Now, keep in mind, one of the risks here is that Barr might actually selectively declassify information, right, release bits of information for the purposes of misleading.

[18:30:07]

The fact that Bill Barr has a unilateral bill to declassify means he could leak information, classified information, and then determine that it wasn't classified, and that's -- insulate himself against accusations that he committed a crime, somebody who was not trustworthy.

And I think Bill Barr has proven him to be untrustworthy could do a tremendous amount of damage. And that's why I do think we should expect the congressional intelligence committees to be looking to get answers out of DNI, out of CIA and other intelligence agencies now to understand whether or not they were consulted in advance of this decision, did they raise objections and are they concerned? Do they have ongoing concerns, which I think Coats hinted at about their ability to secure American interests moving forward?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: But don't you think that before the Attorney General releases any sensitive classified information, representatives from the DNI, the Director of National Intelligence, would go over to the Justice Department and they would go through all this information very carefully and if necessary would tell Barr, you can't release that?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's normally how the process works. And, Susan, you and I have lived through this, but we now have a situation where the Attorney General has been told by the President he does not have to follow that process. The President delegated declassification authority to Bill Barr. Bill Barr can listen to Dan Coats and say, DNI Coats, I don't agree with you, I'm going to release this information.

To Susan's point, there is also a risk to ongoing intelligence operations. We are all well too aware that Russia has not stopped attacking our country. Some of the same sources that were used in the 2016 investigation may be used for ongoing operations today. We don't know that. And if Bill Barr does not heed the DNI's warning, it is very possible that those operations may be at risk.

HENNESSEY: And one thing to keep in mind is that declassification decisions, even under the ordinary process, are often very contentious. Parts of the intelligence apparatus actually fight with one another over these and they tend to be close calls. And so the idea that the Attorney General is the appropriate person to be making these decisions, sources and methods are fragile.

Ryan mentioned, well, this is historical information. It's not the information itself. It is the manner in which the information is collected. Intelligence collection is extraordinarily fragile and it really is. It has genuine and life and death consequences.

VINOGRAD: And the DNI understands that, which is why the DNI typically has the authority to declassify information.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the concern is not that Barr is going to release information that's going to get someone killed. Does anyone think that that is his --

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we don't know.

LIZZA: Is that he's essentially a politicized Attorney General who will make decisions that are in the best interest of the President.

VINOGRAD: Which could get someone killed if he lacks the appropriate judgment and the appropriate expertise to make these decisions, right?

LIZZA: If we think that his job is to be a political actor. That would not be a politically wise thing for him to do, right? And I don't think nobody is going to cheer him making declassification decision that actually gets someone killed. I don't think that that's what you have to watch out from this guy. I think what we have to watch out for is similar to the -- is he being -- spinning -- lots of spin on the ball.

But my question is where did Trump get this idea? The President just woke up one day and decided to delegate this decision power to Barr?

VINOGRAD: No. Barr proved himself as being an acolyte of the President, which is why he's the now the President's personal investigation and the DNI is not the ultimate decision maker on declassification. Dan Coats has the expertise. Bill Barr does not.

BLITZER: David, you wanted to say --

SWERDLICK: No. I was just going to say, I lean towards what Ryan is saying about, you know, as a journalist wanting to know more rather than less information. My question is why -- and this goes to what you just said a moment ago. Why is the President of the United States or the Attorney General leaning in that direction where their job, it seems to me, is to be, yes, transparent but also safeguard the nation's secrets and the national security apparatus.

LIZZA: Completely politically motivated.

HENNESSEY: But we have actually like that (ph).

SWERDLICK: No, it is, and that goes back to the -- you said, if there was spin on the ball, there is spin on the ball.

HENNESSEY: To Ryan's point, the idea here is not that the Attorney General is going to go out and out CIA assets just for fun but we just went through an episode in which whenever the House was controlled by republicans, they demanded the identity of a confidential informant by the FBI staff and helper, that was disclosed to Congress. It was promptly leaked to the public. That's the concern.

BLITZER: Let me your thoughts on this, Ryan. The President, as you know, he's now on his way to Japan. Our Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, they have some really exclusive reporting on just how these unfold, not just for the President but for his staff aide. They note that the President spends much of his time, travel time, aboard Air Force One, a long 16 hours, 17-hour flight to Japan, for example, watching TV. He doesn't like to sleep that much. When he arrives, the hotel room needs to have Fox News. He gets grumpy when he's not the guest of honor on these trips. That doesn't sound like the ideal necessarily preparation for a high stakes international meeting. This reported from Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak.

LIZZA: Yes. It's great reporting from them. And, look, sounds very much like Trump. The fact I still -- I don't think I'll ever get used to this as long as President Trump is president that he spends a huge amount of time -- his time watching TV and watching cable news.

[18:10:07]

I mean, on cable news, you know, most days, and I don't watch as much as the President of the United States, that is not shocking but certainly newsworthy. And the other fact if he gets grumpy when things are not about him, that sounds like Trump.

BLITZER: You have a traveled aboard Air Force One?

VINOGRAD: I have, and it's great. There are big TVs, there are great snacks and presidents do relax on Air Force One. President Obama played cards, so I don't have a problem with the fact that presidents want some down time when they're at 50,000 feet.

The real question though is when is President Trump not relaxing. This Air Force One reporting and when he's on foreign travel, this is business as usual for President Trump. And the fact is he doesn't prep when he's on the ground. I doesn't prep when he is 'on the plane. He just mean Tweets and watches television. We're seeing the repercussions of those actions when he goes in a foreign meeting with Vladimir Putin and potentially with Shinzo Abe this weekend.

LIZZA: What happens if they don't Have Fox at the hotel?

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's more news we're following.

The man who kidnapped the teen and killed her parents is sentenced after an emotional statement from the young victim. Plus, new details emerging right now of an apparent terror attack that injured people in a very busy shopping area.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:00] BLITZER: There is breaking news in the case of Jayme Closs, the Wisconsin who was teen kidnapped and held captive for months by a man who killed her parents right in front of her. CNN's Jean Casarez is joining us with the latest.

Jean, the kidnapper has just been sentenced following a very emotional statement from his young victim.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was such an emotional day in that courtroom. It all began with victim impact statements from the family of Jayme Closs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LINDSEY SMITH, JAYME'S COUSIN: You took so much from Jayme. You took her parents, her home, her childhood and all of her happiness.

CASAREZ: A packed courtroom in Barron, Wisconsin listened as family members of Jayme Closs told the court how her kidnapping and the brutal murder of her parents devastated their family.

MIKE CLOSS, JAYME'S UNCLE: My wife came down screaming, your brother is dead, Denise is dead they can't kind Jayme.

CASAREZ: The 21-year-old man who pleaded guilty to the entire attack, Jake Patterson listened as they relived the horrifying experience. Jayme not in the courtroom had prepared a statement for the man who took her parents' lives.

CHRIS GRAMPSTRUP, ATTORNEY FOR JAYME CLOSS: My parents and my home were the most important things in my life. He took them away from me in a way that will always leave me with a horrifying memory.

CASAREZ: Patterson spoke through tears.

JAKE PATTERSON, JAYME CLOSS' KIDNAPPER: I would do like absolutely anything to take back what I did, you know. I would die.

CASAREZ: Then it was Circuit Judge Babler who had the last word before sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of release.

JAMES BABLER, JUDGE, BARRON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: And these crimes rank as the most heinous and dangerous that I have seen.

CASAREZ: It was an early Monday morning last October, James and Denise Closs were asleep but their only child, Jayme, woke up, her dog was barking. Jayme later telling police she alerted her parents that someone was at their front door. Armed with a shotgun, the masked assailant shot and killed Jayme's father at the front door, Denise Closs called 911. She and Jayme hid in a bathroom where Patterson found them. He bound Jayme and fatally shot her mothers.

Weeks before, Patterson had seen Jayme get onto the school bus from her home. He later told police when he saw Jayme, he knew that was the girl he was going to take. Patterson then drag Jayme from the bloody scene, put her in the truck of his car and held her captive at his remote cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin.

A massive search began, everyone trying to find Jayme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe she is still out there. And the hope is what we're riding on.

CASAREZ: 88 days later, she had the courage and ability to escape when Patterson left the cabin for a few hours. With no coat in the frigid temperatures, she bumped into a local resident walking her dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She just sort of fell into me and said, I am Jayme. And I said, I know.

CASAREZ: The community rejoiced. Patterson was apprehended. Charges were brought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is currently being held on two counts of first degree intentional homicide for the murder of Jayme's parents and one count of kidnapping.

CASAREZ: As Jayme remained in seclusion with her family.

Finally, this month, she appeared before the Wisconsin legislature accepting the hometown hero award.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her courage, her bravery and her spirit are things that inspire us and make us stronger and better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: And the judge sentenced Patterson to two life terms for the two murders along with 40 years for the kidnapping all to be served one after the other consecutively. Jayme's family said today for the first time, because we have not known how she is doing, that today is a very important day for Jayme, that she has come very far since January but there is so much more to do, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's life without the possibility of parole, is that right, Jean?

CASAREZ: Life without the possibility of ever getting out, yes.

BLITZER: Okay. Jean Casarez reporting for us, thank you.

[18:45:02]

There's breaking news next. Investigators have just released a suspect's photo following an apparent terror attack in a busy shopping area. We have details of the explosion. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There are breaking news in France tonight. A terror investigation following an explosion that injured at least seven people in the city of Lyon.

[18:50:02] Our correspondent Melissa Bell is working the story for us. She's joining us live from Paris.

Melissa, I understand there is now a photo of the suspect?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's been distributed in the hope that someone will provide authorities with the hint or clues, something that might lead them to this man. It's a fairly grainy photograph but one that was captured off some of the CCTV footage.

Now, the man struck at 5:30 p.m. It was rush hour, the very heart of historic Lyon, the time when people have been coming out of work, Wolf. They would have been sitting down for a drink. It would have been very busy.

Now, according to what we hear from authorities, that CCTV footage of which there is a quite a lot in this very busy part of town, shows a man righting up in a bicycle, depositing what looked like a suitcase which turned out to be full of nails and metal and glass and knows are the sorts of injuries the people sustained and riding off before the thing exploded two minutes later.

Now it had been some time, Wolf, since France had had any successful terror attacks. Of course, we are always reminded by authorities that they are regularly foiling attacks. But the last one that got through was in December. A man went on a rampage, the same thing, the manhunt lasted for several days before he was apprehended.

Now, this time no one died in the attack. We understand that most injuries sustained are fairly superficial, Wolf. And that is something to be thankful for. But clearly, the manhunt continues to try to allow authorities to get their hands on this man work out what he was hoping to achieve.

Now that investigation that's been launched is an anti-terror investigation. They are looking into the possibility of a terrorist conspiracy. But that for the time being is all we know as large parts of the city have been locked down in the search for the man believed to have placed this bomb tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Melissa Bell reporting from Paris. Melissa, thank you very much.

And stay with us. There is more news just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:39] BLITZER: On Monday night, CNN presents a comedy special that's bigger than both political sides. "Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State". Here is a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN QUINN, COMEDIAN: So the problem is not out there. The problem is in here. We have met the enemy. It is us.

And now, we are at risk of a civil war. And you don't want to see a civil war in this country. This country is not built for another civil war.

It's going to be the first time in the history that you see fat refugees.

(LAUGHTER)

That's not going to be a good look. Refugees in shorts, in flip-flops and Dunder Mifflin t-shirts, pulling cooler to the Canadian border. It looks like a giant cattle drive.

There's nothing glamorous 50 years from now, kids in history reading about the battle of Six Flags, the siege of Dave and Busters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The comedian and "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Colin Quinn is joining us live right now.

Colin, this is CNN's first comedy special. It's very funny. But you are dealing with a rather divisive topic, namely politics. What do you hope people get out of the show?

QUINN: Well, I hope they'll realize until we start having like a serious -- unless we realize this we are going to break up, and unless you have some kind constitutional convention, this country is really going to break up.

BLITZER: So, is this a sort of a by-product of what's going on now with the Trump administration for example?

QUINN: No, I mean, that's just a symptom. But, I mean, it's been going on for years in my opinion.

BLITZER: Looking at the 2020 political landscape, is there someone out there that you think could actually unify the country, that's what you'd like to see.

QUINN: I don't know. Not -- so far, I don't know. I mean -- Joe Biden is saying something I think of people would like to hear. Centrist is like a curse word now for most, you know, most people. But I mean, centrist is really the only away to go in a country like this, you know?

BLITZER: What was the most surprising thing that you learned in the course of working on this show?

QUINN: That people -- I've done a couple of shows similar. But the surprising thing now is -- like I did the snow a few years ago where people like, the country shouldn't break up and everybody goes, yes, we should. That's surprising.

BLITZER: Originally, what, you were doing this on Broadway comedy clubs? But now, it's going to be on TV, on CNN. That's sort of different, right?

QUINN: Yes, well, I mean, I love that it's you know -- people -- it will have some gravitas.

BLITZER: You think it will?

QUINN: Well, I hope so.

BLITZER: It got a lot of good laughs. I mean, I've seen -- I've seen excerpts but really looking forward to this show.

QUINN: OK.

BLITZER: It's going to make -- especially on this Memorial Day weekend, it's going to be fitting. That was the timing, right.

QUINN: Yes. It's almost like hopefully not a eulogy but, you know, it definitely is -- it's a serious undertone to it.

BLITZER: Yes, we will learn something. I'm sure we all will have a good appreciation.

Thanks so much for that, Colin Quinn.

QUINN: Thank you. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much for joining us. Happy Memorial Day to you.

To all of our viewers out there -- and remember you can finish this Memorial Day weekend with Colin Quinn and "Red State Blue State," Monday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

[19:00:00]