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THE SITUATION ROOM

Rep. Steve Cohen (D) Tennessee Interviewed About Voicemail from Trump's Lawyer; Annoyed and Frustrated; Barr Attacks; Source: "Frustrated" Trump worried About Impeachment; Thousands Threatened by Historic Flooding, Levy Breaches; Report: North Korean Senior Officials Involved in Failed Hanoi Summit Executed. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 31, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:15]

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

Annoyed and frustrated. Rather than relishing the ultimate battle with Democrats, President Trump is said to be worried about the impeachment threat. A source says he's annoyed and frustrated by the ongoing Russia investigations and does not see impeachment as good thing.

Transcript released. The Justice Department releases the full transcript of a call from President Trump's then-attorney to a lawyer for Michael Flynn, pushing hard for information about Flynn's discussions with Robert Mueller. Is it an example of obstruction?

Barr attacks. Attorney General William Barr echoes President Trump's attacks on the Russia investigation and defends his own review of the Mueller report, saying Justice Department lawyers didn't agree with Mueller's legal analysis.

And North Korean purge? U.S. Intelligence is looking into a report that Kim Jong-un has unleashed a purge of top diplomats held responsible for the failed summit with President Trump. One reportedly executed, another sent off to forced labor.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: Breaking news. The Justice Department releases a transcript of a phone call from President Trump's former attorney to a lawyer for Michael Flynn seeking information about Flynn's discussions with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The call was part of Mueller's probe into potential obstruction. Tonight, sources indicate that a frustrated President Trump is dreading the threat of impeachment rather than welcoming the chance for a new battle with Democrats. And the president has quickly come up with a distraction. A surprise announcement threatening tariffs on Mexico unless it acts to stop the flood of immigrants that send stock markets plunging, and it could hit American consumers hard. But Republican lawmakers are criticizing the move, which has split the president's top advisers.

Tonight, Attorney General William Barr is standing by the president on another front, defending his attacks on government institutions and adding his own criticism of the Mueller report. Barr tells CBS News Mueller's legal analysis did not reflect the views of the Justice Department. We're told the White House is enthusiastic about Barr's interview.

I'll speak with Congressman Steve Cohen of the Judiciary Committee and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the president, I take it, isn't too happy with the way the Mueller story is playing out.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. A source close to the White House told CNN President Trump is dreading the idea of being impeached. Pushing back on any notion that Mr. Trump is goading House Democrats into taking that dramatic step. This source said the president does not think it's a good thing if he's impeached, saying that he's annoyed and frustrated that the Russia story is dragging on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): A source close to the White House who spoke to the president after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's comments this week says Mr. Trump does not see impeachment as a good thing. That's contrary to what House Democrats fear the president is somehow daring them to impeach him. The president's sense of dread was all too clear as he seemed sickened by the mere mention of the word "impeachment."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To me, it's a dirty word, the word impeach. It's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word and it had nothing to do with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The president is said to be, quote, "annoyed and frustrated" and has come to see the Russia story as, quote, "so much BS all the time," a feeling he appeared to share with reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No, Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn't help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump has managed to change the story line in Washington from Mueller to Mexico, one of the U.S.' closest trading partners. The president has warned he will start imposing escalating tariffs on Mexico in June until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico and into our country stop. Back in April the president raised the prospect of tariffs on Mexican coming into the U.S. We backed off the idea of shutting down the border.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're going to give them a one-year warning and if the drugs don't stop, or largely stop, we're going to put tariffs on Mexico and products in particular, cars. And if that doesn't stop the drugs, we close the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Aides to the president are selling the proposed tariffs as a way of punishing Mexico without hurting American consumers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why raise American consumers' prices on all of that stuff coming from Mexico.

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: So this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Trump tariffs. China, for example, bears the burden of the tariffs in the form of lower exports, lower prices for their products, lower profits for their companies.

[17:05:07] These people who say that somehow American consumers are going to pay for this, it's simply not true. These countries are paying for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: But that's not quite true. As big U.S. retailers and brand names are warning prices will go up for shoppers. The White House is rejecting complaints from the president's fellow Republicans, many of them free traders, who complain that they're surprised by the tariffs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president didn't blindside his own party. If Republicans weren't aware, then they haven't been paying attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: But a growing number of GOP senators are raising concerns, with Iowa's Charles Grassley saying, "I support nearly every one of President Trump's immigration policies, but this is not one of them."

While Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey added in a statement, "A blanket tax increase on everything Americans purchase from Mexico is the wrong remedy."

The White House revealed to reporters on a conference call that it hasn't quite worked out what Mexico will have to do in order to have the tariffs removed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: We did not set a specific percentage, did not set a specific number. It's a very fluid situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, one senior administration official said the Department of Homeland Security is currently working on specific metrics that Mexico will have to meet to prevent these tariffs from going into effect. As that official put it, one would think the White House would have thought of that before putting out these tariffs from the president last night in that statement, in that tweet that went out to the world last night, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House. Thanks. Also breaking, the Justice Department released the transcript of a phone call from President Trump's former lawyer to a lawyer for Michael Flynn, seeking information about Flynn's cooperation with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

I want to bring in our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, and our justice reporter, Laura Jarrett. Shimon, I take it we now have the full transcript.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: The full transcript, which is what we've been waiting for. A judge here in D.C. ordering the Department of Justice to release the entire voice mail message, a transcript of it. This was a message from John Dowd, the then personal attorney for the president, to Michael Flynn's attorney, basically telling him, you know, how the president viewed Michael Flynn at the time. He wanted information about whether or not Michael Flynn was cooperating. He suspected that Michael Flynn was cooperating. And so he -- what happens here is he basically, John Dowd tells Flynn's lawyer, hey, you know the president still views Michael Flynn in a favorable way.

The concern here for the attorney for Michael Flynn was that somehow this was being done to affect Michael Flynn's decision to cooperate. And he said as much to the special counsel's team when they interviewed him. John Dowd, the former personal lawyer for the president, just released a statement in response to this, basically saying that the Department of Justice and that the Special Counsel's Office here is just trying to ruin his reputation. And what he says in statement is that, "This is clearly a baseless, political document designed to smear and damage the reputation of counsel and innocent people."

Most importantly, now, in all of this, is that we now have the name of who it was that was communicating with Michael Flynn about this. They didn't mention his name in the documents, in the report, in the special counsel's report, but now, because of this judge ordering the Department of Justice to release the name, we now have who this person was. And that is significant, of course. And also, it now becomes part of the public record. It's now in a court document and the way this was viewed by Michael Flynn's attorneys.

BLITZER: They haven't released the audio, just the transcript of this. But didn't the federal judge also want the transcript of conversations that Michael Flynn had with Russian officials, including the then Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

PROKUPECZ: That's right. And that was the whole point of this investigation of Michael Flynn. This is what alerted everyone, or concerned folks in the Obama administration at the FBI, it is why the FBI ultimately went to interview Michael Flynn about his interactions with Sergey Kislyak. The judge also did order, as you said, Wolf, the Department of Justice to release those conversations, transcripts of those conversations. They did not. They simply say, they don't really offer a good explanation on this, but they simply say that this is not something that was part of Michael Flynn's sentencing. It was not something that was part of ultimately his guilty plea. And so therefore, they don't need to release this information. I don't know if the judge is going to buy this.

BLITZER: How unusual, Laura, is all of this?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: I cannot think of the last time that a government lawyer essentially told a federal judge, yes, we saw your order. We don't think it's relevant.

And to Shimon's point, Judge Sullivan does not play around with this stuff. He is exceedingly tough on both sides of the coin here. And I imagine he's going to come back to the Justice Department and say, you better give me a better explanation than this.

PROKUPECZ: One of the things I would have thought maybe they would have said because of intelligence reasons and security reasons, perhaps they couldn't release this information because it would indicate how they gathered it. Remember, this was intelligence gathering intercepts from overseas, perhaps.

JARRETT: They don't offer any explanation.

PROKUPECZ: But they don't offer any explanations. It's a very strange way to handle this.

[17:10:00] BLITZER: I want to get to some more breaking news right now. The attorney general's vigorous support of the president in the wake of Robert Mueller's report and public statement. White House officials are enthusiastic, we're told about William Barr's interview on CBS News, where he defended the president's attacks on government institutions.

Laura Jarrett is still with us. What are you learning, Laura, about all of this?

JARRETT: Well it's interesting. Barr's comments on the special counsel's investigation have attracted the most attention. But it's really the attorney general's new investigation, the one that's looking back in time at the origins of the Russia probe that could pack the greatest punch for the president. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Things are just not jiving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT (voice-over): The attorney general offered a fresh defense of president today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: One of the ironies today is that people are saying that it's President Trump that's shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: In an interview with CBS, Bill Barr provided a new gloss of sophistication for an old line of attack on the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: These efforts in 2016, these counterintelligence activities that were directed at the Trump campaign were not done in the normal course and not through normal procedures, as far as I can tell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Where Trump uses slogans --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction, no nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: And rhetoric --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There was spying. There was spying on our campaign. I'll tell you what. If that ever happened to the other side, this thing would have been over two years ago and you know it would have been treason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Barr instead put forth a more carefully worded defense of his review into the start of the Russia probe. An investigation the president's demanded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: The use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign to me is unprecedented. And it's a serious red line that's been crossed. I think if the shoe were on the other foot, we'd be hearing a lot about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: And like the president's past attacks on the FBI --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you look at what was going on at the top of the FBI, it is a disgrace and everybody in this room understands it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Barr took aim at those that started the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: I think the activities were undertaken by a small group -

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're talking about James Comey, McCabe --

BARR: I'm just not going to get into the individual names at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Still, the attorney general stopped short of echoing Trump's refrain that the FBI's work amounted to a federal crime, but just barely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think that they've committed treason?

BARR: Not as a legal matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Barr dismissed criticisms that he's doing the president's dirty work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: Everything is gauged by politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: But said Trump is being treated unfairly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: From my perspective, the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and, you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that's where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: Speaking of institutions, when asked about the special counsel's cautionary statement this week that all Americans should be concerned by Russia's attack on the 2016 election, Barr told CBS that he recently spoke with the director of the FBI to put together a high- level working group to prepare for the election in 2020, an effort one might expect was already underway with the first primary already eight months away, Wolf.

BLITZER: Not too long away, starting very soon, as well. Thanks very much for that, Laura Jarrett, reporting.

Joining me now, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, he's a member of the Judiciary Committee. Congressman thanks so much for joining us. You just heard that John Dowd, the president's lead lawyer at that time, you heard what his reaction is. Do you view this voice mail, and we got the transcript of it now, as possibly an effort to obstruct the Russia investigation?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Indeed, I do, Wolf. And I think there have been so much. Most of it was in the Mueller report. And Robert Mueller made it clear that there were ten instances of obstruction of justice and but for the legal counsel's policy of not being able to not indicting a president during his term, but the possibility, as Mueller said, to preserve evidence when people's memories were good for possible prosecution after he left office, and the fact that Congress is the proper body to look into misdeeds -- criminal misdeeds by the president through impeachment. It's obvious, there was lots of obstruction. And that's all that Trump and his team were doing. They were trying to get Sessions fired, get Mueller fired. They fired Comey. They've now gone further and tried to stop people from giving over documents requested by the Judiciary Committee, testifying before the Judiciary Committee. This is an assault, really, on the American political system and the rule of law.

BLITZER: As you also just heard, the Justice Department has decided not to hand over the transcripts of Michael Flynn's phone calls with the Russian ambassador at the time, Sergey Kislyak, even though the federal judge asked for those transcripts. Is there a legal justification to do that?

[17:15:08] COHEN: Not that I can foresee. I was shocked to hear that. And I'm sure Judge Sullivan will be shocked. The federal district court judge should be honored -- his request at all times. And for him to cavalierly say they're not going to give it to him or there's no need for it is just amazing. They put themselves above the law and the law is the federal judge. You could appeal some rulings and it goes all the way to the Supreme Court. But they didn't do that at all. They just basically thumbed their nose at him. And this is a serious breach of the rule of law, of our values, of our Constitution. And that's why impeachment's on the table.

You know, I don't know what -- some people think there's a method to Trump's madness. I think it's just madness. And I think people give him too much credit to think that he has somehow come up with some type of a way to entice Nancy Pelosi and/or the rest of the Democrats to impeach him and that he want that. He doesn't want that. That would hurt his ego. He's a narcissist. He wants to go down in history as the greatest thing -- well, he thinks he is the greatest thing, but the greatest president ever. And he doesn't want to be thought of in the same terms as Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon and he's right now in my opinion a little bit underneath them. He might be right there with Buchanan. But he doesn't want that, I don't think he wants that to be next to his name and he's concerned about history. He's also concerned about what would come out in an investigation.

BLITZER: Congressman, you've also heard these new details about how the president is reacting to seeing Robert Mueller on TV and hearing what the Attorney General Bill Barr is saying. He's very enthusiastic we're told about what Bill Barr, the attorney general is saying.

COHEN: Bill Barr is apparently gone to some -- something's happened to him. He had a good reputation. His reputation is gone. And I don't understand it at all. He's got some kind of an agenda that has required him to become, basically, Donald Trump's Roy Cohen, Donald Trump's lackey, Donald Trump's consigliere. And everything -- all of that collusion talk on the day that he made his -- released the report, that's not legal terminology. His refusal to accept the conditions that Jerry Nadler set up for him to testify before the Judiciary Committee was ridiculous. The attorney general does not set the guidelines. He accepts and attends and testifies. And all of this, it's just amazing what Barr's saying. And he's attacking. He's hurting the Justice Department that he's in charge of and the FBI. And these are institutions that have played great parts in the rule of law and Democracy.

BLITZER: The attorney general also says he analyzed Mueller's conclusions on obstruction, he determined that -- and I'm quoting him now, that many of the instances would not amount to obstruction. How do you interpret that comment from the attorney general?

COHEN: Well, I think, you know, he has an opinion that there has to be an underlying crime to have obstruction. And that's a very minority opinion. And he may be sticking to that. That may be the basis of it. But it's a very minority opinion off the wall and most people don't ascribe to it. There were almost 1,000 former United States attorneys that signed a letter and said there was obstruction of justice. I would take a 1,000-1 rule as a pretty good margin about what the reality is about the legal elements present that can constitute obstruction of justice. And I think Robert Mueller was saying that in his report.

I mean, he said, no man should be above the law. The closing part of the report is about no person being above the law, not even the president of the United States. And the closing of his press conference last week about the American people need to be concerned about foreign interference in our elections. Bill Barr doesn't seem to be interested nor does Trump about foreign interference in our elections. They seem to be concerned with some thought that the origins of this investigation, in thinking there was some political activity. There wasn't.

I mean, there were some people on the team, Peter Strzok and somebody else there, that thought that Trump was a bad guy. But you get most people that work for FBI or the Justice Department, they've got college degrees and if most people with college degrees thought that about Trump. I don't think it was any abhorrent conduct and certainly not reflective of the Justice Department or the FBI in general, but it was two people and they had discussions and their discussions were typical of people of their educational background.

BLITZER: Congressman Steve King, thanks so much for joining us.

COHEN: Please, not King! Cohen!

BLITZER: Did I say Steve King? Steve Cohen thanks very much. Thanks for the correction. Appreciate very different two guys.

[17:20:00] Thanks very much for joining us.

COHEN: Very different.

BLIZTER: All right. Thank you.

There's breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. You're looking at live pictures. Take a look at this. We're following an active shooter situation at a government building in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We'll update you on that. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:05] BLITZER: We have breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. An active shooter situation is unfolding right now in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Reports say multiple people have been injured. At least one person, we're told, is in custody. The FBI is responding. Our correspondents are working their sources. We're going to have more details shortly. Stay with us on this very disturbing development in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Also breaking news right now, a just-released transcript, a voice mail. A lawyer for the former national security adviser Michael Flynn received from one of the president's attorneys is raising new questions about possible attempts to obstruct the Mueller investigation. I want to get reaction from our legal experts and our legal analysts and Laura Jarrett. This transcript shows it was the president's personal lawyer, John Dowd, who tried to put, it seems like in this transcript that has been released, at least some pressure on Michael Flynn's lawyer about what's going on. But you've read all of this carefully. You've seen what was released just now, as opposed to what was released in the Mueller report.

JARRETT: And one of the interesting parts that we're just seeing for the first time now is Dowd trying to say to Flynn's attorney, Rob Kelner, that it could be a national security issue. And that's part of the reason they need to have this information sharing back and forth, even though they don't have a formal joint defense agreement between lawyers. It seems to me that he was really trying to get information out of Flynn's lawyer and trying to figure out whatever nugget of information he could extract about what exactly Flynn was telling the special counsel. Obviously, Flynn's lawyer perceived it as pressure. Dowd, of course, thinks that this is baseless and all of this is nonsense. It doesn't matter. It's perfectly appropriate to do this type of reach out. Obviously, no one was ever charged with obstruction on this issue, but it is still interesting to see the pressure.

BLITZER: What does it say to you that the federal judge's request to get the transcripts of Flynn's conversations with a then Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and other Russian officials, was denied?

JARRETT: I think that's exceedingly unusual. You know, it's really rare to have the Justice Department buck a federal judge's order. And Judge Sullivan, I imagine, is going to come back and say, I need some explanation. Because in the current filing, the Justice Department only says, well, essentially it wasn't relevant to Flynn's guilty plea, which we know was about lying to the FBI, not about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, per se. So I think we'll see more on this. And the judge will want to know way more. He's not going to take "no" thanks" for an answer.

BLITZER: Let me get Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in. What do you think about this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's astonishing, because this is highly relevant to the case. I mean this is sort of the core conversation that he was accused or admitted to lying about. What this really goes back to is the national security agency, which has you know -- which is so understandably concerned about secrecy, but everybody at this point knows that the NSA taped this phone call. So I don't understand why there is any government interest at this point in preserving secrecy about a phone call that clearly was taped. And everybody knew it.

BLITZER: What do you think, Phil?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, I'm a secrecy guy and I can't even figure this out. I mean so what are we going to tell the Russians, by the way, nobody knows this, but the Russian ambassador was tapped? We've known this for years. So all you have is the details of the transcript of the conversation. Well, the Russians know about that, too. This is about a little bit of we don't want to cooperate with a judge. I can't see a national security reason for doing this, when the adversary knows what the judge does. That doesn't make any sense to me.

BLITZER: Samantha, what do you think?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that at this point, it's quite evident that the Russians know everything that happened between Ambassador Kislyak and Michael Flynn and as Phil mentioned, you don't have to work in national security to know that the national ambassador to the United States is wiretapped by the U.S. government. Ambassadors are typically high-value collection points. And again, Russians had the benefit of knowing everything that Michael Flynn said to Sergey Kislyak when now the American public isn't going to have that information. And we know that Donald Trump doesn't want this released. And we know that Donald Trump likes to accuse John Kerry and others of violating the Logan Act. This phone call is directly relevant to a number of his transition team, trying to undercut the U.S. government and the Obama administration by speaking to the Russian ambassador and lying about it.

BLITZER: I want to see that transcript, too. I'm curious, just to read it. Everybody, stand by. There's a lot more on all the breaking news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're back with our experts and our analysts.

Jeffrey Toobin, as more details of this investigation clearly emerge, a source close to the White House tells CNN the President is, quote, annoyed and frustrated. We've certainly seen some of that frustration emerge in the course of this week, involving the President's behavior.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, and for the first time, we saw Robert Mueller say what was in the Mueller report.

But, you know, most people get their news from screens, not from the printed word. And you had Robert Mueller saying there was no way, based on the evidence before me, that we could exonerate the President from obstruction of justice.

That is a profound thing for a prosecutor to say. That is something the President certainly didn't want to hear. And it is clear, I think, that Robert Mueller is going to be testifying before Congress at some point, though he doesn't want to do it.

[17:35:06] So the -- this story, this report, investigation, is not going away, and you can see why he's annoyed by it. I'd be annoyed if someone was saying I committed crimes, too.

BLITZER: Yes, he's obviously annoyed. Earlier in the week, though, Samantha, we were told the President was actually eager for some kind of impeachment fight.

I think even if he were impeached in the House, he'd be acquitted in the Senate. And, politically, that would be beneficial for him going into his re-election campaign. But now he sees impeachment as not good. He's angry and frustrated.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, when most people get angry and frustrated, they take a walk around the block or take a deep breath. When President Trump gets angry or frustrated, he acts out and does things like puts tariffs on Mexico because he's in a bad mood.

And he's perfected the art of the flip-flop on every issue, including impeachment. And he probably watched something else on television that led him to change his mind on whether or not this would be a good idea or not.

And again, in the interim, his reaction to this is to make massive policy missteps that are going to cost the American people billions of dollars if he actually implements these decisions. Rather than sitting down with his team and coming up with a strategy, he's tweeting about tariffs on one of our closest allies.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Laura, because the Attorney General is defending his review of the Mueller investigation. He says things are just not jiving as far as the origins of the Russia investigation, and he's formally ordered an investigation of the investigation.

Explain what Barr is hinting at right now. What is he suggesting?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's such an odd comment because it's throwing his own team under the bus. It's throwing the intelligence community, the FBI. It's saying, I've been asking them for weeks and months to tell me about the origins of the probe, and he's saying, I can't get answers.

I mean, it -- and he doesn't explain why. He doesn't explain the basis of his concern. He's said for weeks that he's doing this review because he is troubled by something. We still don't know what it is.

And it's just unusual to have the Attorney General of the United States, who does not typically talk about ongoing investigations, talking about this investigation. And the President has a lot invested in it.

BLITZER: That's a good point. You know, Phil, without naming names, Barr criticized what he called a small group, his word, small group over at the FBI. He stopped short of calling their actions, though, legally treasonous. What's your reaction?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: He's got some ammo for this. So for everybody who wants to attack him, be careful because you got the Inspector General, with both James Comey and with James Comey's deputy, Andy McCabe, coming out and saying, these people did things that were not only outside guidelines but that deserve legal investigations.

So anybody who go -- wants to go after Barr saying, he's just parroting the President, he's going after FBI leadership, the Inspector General before Barr got there, said some things about the FBI leadership that were damning. And I assume that's what Barr's -- that's what Barr is talking about.

BLITZER: The Inspector General's report is supposed to come out very fairly soon.

MUDD: That's an additional report. And I think that's going to give Barr more ammo to say, I have questions about how this has proceeded.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: But Barr has gone so far beyond that. He said the people who are violating the norms of behavior are the President's critics, not Donald Trump, who says that Michael Cohen's in-laws should be criminally investigated, who says the press is the enemy of the people.

I mean, talk about violations of norms. It's not Trump's critics who are violating norms, it's the President. And the idea that the Attorney General doesn't see that is really chilling.

BLITZER: And what do you think, Phil?

MUDD: I would agree with that. I mean, if you step back and look at what we've had from day one, we've had a president who said on Air Force One, look, I didn't commit an illegal act, I didn't participate in the payment of someone that looks like a campaign finance violation.

We've got an ongoing investigation under Barr of the Trump Organization from the Southern District of New York. And Barr continued to say, I don't really understand what's going on here. It seems pretty significant to me.

BLITZER: Everybody --

JARRETT: But why not just stay quiet about it, right, Phil?

MUDD: Yes.

JARRETT: Why not just quietly do this, look into it, and then move on?

VINOGRAD: Because he wants to introduce bias to please the President. There's really only one explanation for this.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more breaking news we're following as historic flooding makes its way downriver in the Midwest. Entire communities are now threatened by weakening and failing levees.

[17:39:22] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The shooting incident in Virginia Beach, Virginia, very disturbing development. Police say there are multiple injuries, but they haven't described the severity of those injuries.

Also breaking, as historic flooding makes its way downriver in the Midwest, especially the Arkansas River and the Mississippi River, thousands and thousands of people are now threatened by weakening and failing levees.

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is monitoring the situation for us. Allison, what's the latest? ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, yes. Right now, the

Arkansas River that you just mentioned is relatively holding steady, but the concern is, while that may sound great, it's still above the previous record.

We are still dealing with major flooding at this point, and we don't really expect it to come back down even a little bit until we get to Monday of the upcoming week.

So, again, we've got some progress to make, but here's a look. That is just one of the countless rivers that we are dealing with here across the central portion of the U.S. A lot of flood warnings in effect across that same region because we still have over 300 river gauges either at or above flood stage across that same region.

Now, many of them are expected to crest this weekend and then finally start to come back down. But that isn't necessarily a good thing in the sense that you might think.

[17:45:05] Take, for example, the Arkansas River at Dardanelle. This one, you can see that blue line start to come down. You think that looks great. That means the river is coming down.

What you don't realize is it's coming down because that levee broke, and all of that water is now flowing into the communities around it. So a lot of times when you look at this data, it can be deceiving.

Now, one thing to note as we are looking, Wolf, at next week and, unfortunately, a significant amount of rain is expected in this region as we go Monday through Friday of next week.

BLITZER: Yes, not over with yet. Allison Chinchar, thanks for that update.

Also coming up, a shocking new report points to the possibility of a purge, including an execution in the wake of Kim Jong-un's failed summit with President Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:26] BLITZER: We continue to monitor the breaking news. There's been a shooting incident in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Police say there are at least four people who have been injured. They're in the hospital. They haven't described the severity of those injuries, at least not yet.

Stay with us for all the late-breaking developments. We'll update you on that.

And in other important news, the collapse of the summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump may have led to grim fates for senior North Korean envoys.

Brian Todd has been looking into this disturbing development for us. Brian, what are you learning? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, there is a report out

that Kim Jong-un has conducted another ruthless, and violent purge, exacting punishment for the breakdown of that summit in Hanoi. We're told the dictator was furious over that failed summit and made his top envoy to the U.S. his fall guy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, U.S. intelligence is monitoring a chilling report of another brutal purge by North Korea's ruthless young dictator.

Kim Jong-un, who was all smiles with President Trump at their summit in Hanoi in February, reportedly unleashed his anger once it was over, allegedly making one of his top diplomats pay the ultimate price for the failed summit.

The South Korean newspaper "Chosun Ilbo" says that Kim Hyok-chol, North Korea's special envoy to the U.S., was executed. Put to death at an airport in March, the newspaper says, for betraying the supreme leader.

Tonight, officials at the top levels of the Trump administration are scrambling for information.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've seen the reporting to which you're referring. We're doing our best to check it out.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can tell you we're monitoring the situation and continuing to stay focused on our ultimate goal, which is denuclearization.

TODD (voice-over): CNN cannot independently verify the South Korean newspaper's story, and South Korean media reports of North Korean executions have sometimes been inaccurate.

But a senior diplomatic source with knowledge of the situation tells CNN tonight that Kim Hyok-chol and another top North Korean negotiator, Kim Yong-chol, quote, have certainly disappeared.

Kim Yong-chol who was the point man with the Trump team, seen here hand-delivering letters from Kim Jong-un to the President, has been sent off to do forced labor, that same South Korean newspaper says.

MICHAEL GREEN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR ASIA AND JAPAN CHAIR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Diplomats in North Korea are weak and vulnerable in the best of times and have a bad habit of going back to leadership and overselling what they've accomplished with the Americans to try to improve their position. And it's possible that happened this time.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say Kim Jong-un could be carrying out a purge to counter internal turmoil and discontent over the failure of his summit with Trump.

By most accounts, that diplomatic debacle surprised, embarrassed, and angered the dictator who, experts believe, is looking for a fall guy.

LINDSEY FORD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Kim needs to be looking for some kind of explanation to say what went wrong, other than I made a bad choice and believed that I could negotiate with these guys and, at the end of the day, maybe that wasn't really the right choice, to begin with.

TODD (voice-over): If Kim did kill a top diplomat, analysts say it wouldn't be surprising. Kim had his own uncle executed in 2013 and, according to South Korean intelligence, ordered the assassination of his half-brother using V.X. nerve gas at the airport in Kuala Lumpur.

Pyongyang has denied any wrongdoing, but analysts believe Kim has executed well over a hundred senior generals and officials since coming to power in late 2011.

GREEN: Look, he's got the DNA and the pedigree to be brutal and cruel. His father and his grandfather were sadistically cruel. Particularly his grandfather, who many people say he resembles, would take great pleasure like the worst, you know, Soviet secret police chiefs in torturing and watching people suffer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Analysts say whether the report of this execution and the other purges is correct or not, there are signs that no one is safe in North Korea's top echelons of power.

"Chosun Ilbo," that newspaper, reports that Kim Jong-un's own younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, who's often been the face of many of these diplomatic breakthroughs, that she has been removed from public view since the Hanoi summit and told to lay low.

One analyst says she may have been told that by her own brother -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting on that. Thanks very much.

Coming up, the breaking news. We're following a shooting incident at the municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia where police report multiple injuries.

And President Trump is said to be worried about impeachment. We'll have more details when we come back.

[17:54:56] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Shooter in custody. We're standing by for an update on the shooting at the municipal center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Multiple injuries are being reported. The news conference is just minutes away.

[18:00:03] Scared of impeachment. After the President railed that the "I" word is dirty and disgusting, we're told he's increasingly --