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Pilot Killed in Chopper Crash on Top of Manhattan Skyscraper; Interview with Bill de Blasio (D), New York Mayor and Presidential Candidate, on Helicopter Crash; DOJ Agrees to Provide Key Mueller Documents on Possible Obstruction; Ex-Nixon Aide John Dean Testifies on Parallels Between Watergate and Mueller Investigations; Interview with Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 10, 2019 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Prepared to be moved right now to Boston after being shot in the Dominican Republic last night. In a surveillance video, you can see a motorcyclist firing at Ortiz, sparking a chaotic scene.

Police now have one suspect in custody.

That's all for me. I'm Jake Tapper. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: New York rooftop crash. A helicopter crash lands on the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper, killing the pilot, sparking a fire and closing off several blocks in the heart of New York City. I'll talk to the New York mayor, Bill de Blasio.

Receiving key evidence: the House Judiciary chairman says the Justice Department has agreed to provide documents from the Mueller investigation related to obstruction of justice.

Will that head off a court fight?

Broad and multi-faceted: the Justice Department touts its own investigation of the Russia investigators, saying it will be broad in scope and multi-faceted and will examine actions by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies as well as individuals.

And ready to talk?

The failed summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un has been followed by a lot of tough talk and threats from North Korea but is Kim Jong-un now ready for another summit?

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

(MUSIC PLAYING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news: a helicopter has crashed onto the roof of a skyscraper, right in the heart of New York City near Times Square. As smoke rose from the top of the building, people rushed into the streets, as dozens of emergency vehicles responded to the scene.

A fire department spokesman says the pilot was killed when the helicopter crash-landed and a fire was are extinguished. New York's mayor says there's no indication this was an act of terrorism.

Also breaking: House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler says the Justice Department has agreed to provide key documents from the Mueller report relating to obstruction, even as the Justice Department pledges its own thorough investigation of the investigators in the Russia probe. I'll speak with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.

And our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories. Let's begin with this afternoon's helicopter crash on the roof of a New York City skyscraper. CNN's Miguel Marquez is on the scene for us.

Miguel, first of all, what are authorities saying?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're saying that the worst part is over but terrifying moments in Manhattan. This is the building where it happened, 51 floors. When you look up all the way to the sky, this is what the sky over Manhattan has been like for much of the day. It is unbelievably lucky that if it is only the pilot that is dead in this, that the city here has dodged a huge tragedy.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Tonight, one person is dead after a helicopter crash on the roof of a building in Manhattan, sparking fire and panic as people tried to escape from their offices.

MORGAN ARIES, WITNESS: There was a moment where we couldn't get out of the building immediately, because we were all just backlogged in there.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The victim is the pilot and believed to be the only person on board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rescue four Manhattan.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reported plane crash on top of the building. I have no particular information.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). MARQUEZ (voice-over): In a tweet, the New York City Fire Department saying the fire sparked by the crash had been put out but fuel was still leaking from the wreckage. Still unclear if the pilot intentionally crash landed on the 51-story building, perhaps in an effort to save lives.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: Preliminary information is that there was a helicopter that made a forced landing, an emergency landing, or landed on the roof of the building for one reason or another. People who were in the building said they felt the building shake.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Morgan Aries, who worked on the 14th floor of the building, said it took his entire office by surprise.

ARIES: We were all in our chairs and we felt a little bit of a tremor. Like, wow, that's something that's unusual. That doesn't normally happen. About another five minutes later, they said, OK, it's time to evacuate.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): About a hundred fire and EMS units responded to the scene.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK MAYOR AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to say the most important thing first. There is no indication at this time that this was an act of terror.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Now as we wait to learn more about the pilot's identity, the NTSB will be leading an investigation to determine the probable cause of the crash.

CUOMO: If you're a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD from 9/11. And I remember that morning all too well. And as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building --


CUOMO: -- I think my mind goes where every New Yorker's mind goes.


MARQUEZ: Now I spoke to one witness who was on the 29th floor; when they went down those stairs, they were not sure they were doing the right thing, because they could smell smoke in their stairwell.

I spoke to another witness who was standing about where I am. He heard the explosion, looked up and saw smoke, very heavy black smoke, coming off of that building and then a piece of debris came down about 12 inches long, about 5 feet away from him.

So it could have been -- it wasn't very heavy but it could have injured him. And then he just saw -- the building just started to -- the people started pouring out of that building as soon as that helicopter hit. But it wasn't until about 10 minutes later that all of the floors were evacuated -- Wolf. BLITZER: Very scary incident, indeed. Miguel Marquez on the scene

for us. Thank you. Let's bring in CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, I understand you're getting some new information.

What are you learning?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Yes, Wolf. So as you can imagine, the NYPD detectives have been at the helipad where this -- they believe the helicopter originated from. This is the 34th Street helipad on the East Side of Manhattan.

And they have talked to people who interacted with this pilot. And what they have learned is that he knew the weather was a concern and that the pilot was waiting out the weather. He was there for some time, waiting it out, waiting it out.

And for whatever reason, at some point decided, you know, it was safe enough for him to go up. And then he went up and they have been able to track as he flew around Manhattan, he went south from the helipad, across Downtown, around Battery Park, and then up north on the West Side.

And then what happens is, they say that somewhere around 40th Street, they could see that the helicopter starts to have some problems and that is when he heads towards Times Square, the area where he would ultimately crash.

They don't know why he headed in that direction. They believe his destination was Linden, New Jersey, where the airport is there, where he was going to land. But what they don't understand is why he went from the 40s on the West Side and then started heading towards Midtown. That is still very much something that they're investigating.

Obviously, weather is a big concern here. The fact that the key point here is that the pilot was aware that weather was an issue. He was waiting it out. The other thing, quickly, Wolf, is that they have talked to people who knew the pilot at this heliport. And they say that, from everything they know, he was well trained, he knew what he was doing, he was very well known there.

So certainly a lot of folks shocked that this would happen to someone with his experience. But obviously, still very much, things under investigation here by the NYPD and now the NTSB.

BLITZER: I understand you also got a picture of the firefighters on the scene?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, there's a photo that the fire department shared on Twitter. And you can see the helicopter. It is, as the mayor said, it's obliterated, entirely gone. There you see it there. So the thing burned. It burned down and that kind of made it a little difficult for investigators to determine if anyone else was inside the helicopter. Once they started talking to folks at the helipad and other places,

they realized that the only person inside was the pilot and that's why they were pretty confident that he was the only person that sadly died.

But obviously, big question here is, how did this wind up there and why?

BLITZER: Shimon, I know you're working your sources. We'll get back to you when you get some more information, Shimon Prokupecz reporting.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is on the streets of New York. He's at the scene of this afternoon's crash for us.

Anderson, first of all, what are you learning about how unusual, if it was unusual, the flight path of this helicopter pilot?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, it certainly was. I talked to Mayor de Blasio a short time ago and that's one of the main things he pointed out.

As you know, Wolf, you don't see helicopters flying over, you know, around Times Square, certainly anywhere near Trump Tower, even over the island of Manhattan itself. You usually see them on the periphery.

All the helipads in New York, the three in New York, they're either on the West Side, on the Hudson River or on the East Side, on the East River. Which is why often when a helicopter, in the few times it does crash, it's usually either taking off and it's in the water or it's trying to land and it ends up in the water.

So to have a helicopter landing on the top of a building, that just doesn't happen in New York anymore. They stopped having any helipads on the tops of buildings in New York long ago after a bad crash on the old Pan Am building years ago.

But you can see right now, that building -- you can't even see the top of the building where the helicopter crashed or whether they intentionally picked that building. I guess they picked that to make a hard landing on. But you can't even see it. It's covered in clouds, the weather is that bad.

So obviously for the pilot, it would have been very difficult circumstances to be flying in. And as you heard from Shimon, the pilot was certainly experienced and aware of the problems with the weather.


COOPER: But they do not know the answer at this point of why the pilot took this particular path and ended up over 51st and 7th Avenue, which is just, you know, blocks away from Times Square, a highly trafficked area; in that direction is Trump Tower.

So a lot of questions remain, of course. They hope to find out more as they talk to people who knew the pilot, as they looked at what the various air traffic controllers knew and, you know, there's a lot of answers still to be had -- Wolf.

BLITZER: There certainly are. I know you're working your sources, as well. Anderson Cooper is on the scene for us. Anderson, thanks very much.

Joining us now, the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.

Mayor, thanks so much for joining us. I know this is an awful day, a very difficult day for you, for all New Yorkers.

But first of all, do you have any more information you can share with us about why this helicopter was flying in that area?

DE BLASIO: Well, Wolf, the first thing I want to say is thank God this was not a much worse incident because it's really troubling to thinking about what might have happened had that helicopter gone down in Times Square.

And I want to say our first responders did an amazing job, ensuring that people were safe and limiting the effect of what happened. But what we know here, you heard a lot of it just in the last few minutes, there's something mysterious here.

There's something about why would an experienced pilot take this roundabout route?

We do not have an indication that he checked in with LaGuardia Airport tower, which is the protocol. If you're going over buildings in Manhattan, especially because of that restricted airspace around Trump Tower, you're supposed to check in with LaGuardia tower and get authorization or be told not to.

And something strange happened here. But we don't have all the facts yet. In the end, I think the point Anderson made is really important. The helipads are at the periphery of Manhattan, they're on the water. It is rare to see a helicopter going over the populated areas. And we have to make sure that doesn't happen again in the future.

And I think the FAA needs to look at this very carefully and ask the question, do they need to toughen up their rules or put more security or monitoring of the situation to make sure something like this couldn't happen again?

BLITZER: We have a picture, I'll put it up on the screen, of what remains of this helicopter. It looks like it's been chopped into little pieces as it crashed into the roof of the skyscraper in New York City.

What's so weird is that it took this roundabout route going from this -- the helicopter station on the East Side down through the southern part of Manhattan and making a U-turn and coming back Uptown.

Yes, Wolf, it's extremely strange. And look, we have -- as I said, the first thing I said when I held a press conference earlier, there's no indication of terrorism. There's no indication of threat.

Now every New Yorker, the minute I heard it, you know, something hits a building, you immediately worry that it's terrorism, because we've lived through that. We all feel that deeply and painfully from 9/11.

But, not, this was something very different. I've seen some of the video and this appeared to be the pilot acting very erratic, didn't look just like something that would be mechanical for some of that route. We don't know what was going on with him as a person. And I'm not going to speculate. But it may have been something personal, it may have been something affecting his psyche or you know, substances, we don't know.

But this is very unusual; if he was trying to go back to his home base in New Jersey, this would not have been the way to do it. So we need to know more about him and what might have been going on now.

But thank God, in terms of the incident itself, no indication of an attempt to harm anyone and no indication of any ongoing threat to the people of New York City.

BLITZER: Because we do have some video of a helicopter flying along the East River, just moments earlier.

Is that the video you're talking about?

Was that the video of this helicopter pilot?

DE BLASIO: As far as we understand, it is. And we need to confirm that but the NYPD sources I talked to believed it was. And it looked like very erratic actions by a pilot in control. It did not look like a helicopter that was crashing or losing altitude or anything like that. It looked like a serious of purposeful moves that were very erratic.

So we need to know a lot more about what was happening with this individual at the time he made this decision to take off. It just -- I'm having trouble following why he would have gone back up over Midtown Manhattan if his destination was well to the south in New Jersey.

Something doesn't follow here but that's why we're doing the full investigation.

BLITZER: What, if anything, can you tell us about the helicopter pilot, Mayor?

DE BLASIO: Everything I've heard is long-time, experienced pilot. I guess most of the work he did was shuttling around executives. This is the heliport where a lot from Midtown Manhattan go, so that would be normal but that would be the kind of pilot who would be working there. Apparently let off an executive earlier in the day --


DE BLASIO: -- and everything was normal. So this is really strange for a number of reasons. But it does beg

the question, thank God we have not had in the city, in Manhattan proper, a major incident since that horrible Pan Am building one years ago that really ended the practice of helicopters landing on building roofs in Manhattan.

There have been several tragedies for sure. They've happened right at the helipads or out over the water. This one, though, begs the question about the sanctity of our airspace, not just in Manhattan but all over this country, particularly in major urban areas.

And we have to make sure the FAA has this under control. We have to make sure they have the ability to really monitor closely. And if there is any pilot with any kind of problem or a situation where a pilot should not be flying, we have to make sure the federal government has the tools to make sure that happens, because, again, we had some kind of miracle today that, whatever was going on with this pilot, he landed squarely on that roof.

And as you saw the huge hit, that helicopter was obliterated. There was a fire on top of that but it was all contained on that roof.

Under another situation, that helicopter could have gone right down in the middle of Times Square. Who knows how many people might have been lost. So we have to make sure the federal government does its job and really make sure there are the safeguards in place that New Yorkers need and all Americans need to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

BLITZER: I know you got to run, Mayor, but very quickly, were there any communications this pilot had after he took off and before the crash with anyone?

DE BLASIO: So, Wolf, any pilot, any helicopter pilot who wanted to ask the permission to go over Manhattan, particularly anywhere near Trump Tower, requires the permission of tower at LaGuardia Airport. So far, very preliminary information; we have no indication that this pilot sought permission. We have now indication that he was in communication with LaGuardia tower. That adds another element of mystery to this situation.

An experienced pilot would know that they were not supposed to go over those big buildings of Manhattan without the approval of LaGuardia tower. And we're going to confirm that but so far we have no confirmation that he was in contact with LaGuardia.

Mayor de Blasio, thank you so much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you, with local law enforcement and the fire department. Obviously, a horrible situation but could have been so much worse. Thanks so much for joining us.

DE BLASIO: Amen. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll stay on top of this deadly crash. There's also other breaking news we're following. The House Judiciary Committee chairman says the Justice Department has now agreed to turn over key documents from the Mueller investigation, even as the Justice Department says it plans to open up its own probe of how the Russia probe was launched. We'll be right back.





BLITZER: We're following all the latest developments in the deadly helicopter crash on top of a New York City skyscraper but there's more breaking news we're following as well.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler says the Justice Department has agreed to provide key documents from the Mueller report relating to obstruction. Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, how significant are the documents that the Justice Department will now turn over to the committee?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democrats think they could be potentially significant, as part of the committee's investigation to potential obstruction of justice.

The House Judiciary Committee had voted to hold Bill Barr in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena to turn over the unredacted portions of the Mueller report and the underlying evidence.

Because of that, the Democrats were threatening to move forward. But in light of this agreement that allows them to see some Mueller documents, they're saying that they will hold off on those criminal proceedings at the moment.

This is what Jerry Nadler said in a statement. He said, Robert Mueller's most important files will now be acts as (sic) providing us with key evidence of the special counsel used to assess whether the president and others obstructed justice or were engaged in other misconduct.

Now at the same time, the full House is still scheduled to move forward with a separate vote tomorrow to authorize this committee, the House Judiciary Committee, to go to court to enforce their subpoenas.

That includes subpoenas for this Mueller information because they're warning that if they do not ultimately get compliance for all the documents, despite this agreement, it will still go to court and try to seek the Justice Department to turn all of this over and they're warning that they'll go to court with this new resolution, that'll be proved tomorrow, to force people like Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, to come before the committee after McGahn defied a subpoena under the instruction of the White House.

Now just earlier this afternoon, Jerry Nadler speaking before his committee talked about this agreement but warned action could still be ahead.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): I see no need to resort to the criminal contempt statute to enforce our April 19th subpoena, at least for now, so long as the department holds up its end of the bargain.

But our arrangement with the department does not extend to the full scope of our request with the full Mueller report and its underlying materials, including grand jury information, nor does it extend to our demand to Don McGahn, a key fact witness, to testify before this committee.


RAJU: Now this happened at a hearing with --


RAJU: -- John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel, as part of the Democrats' investigation in hearings to try to shine a spotlight over the findings of the Mueller probe.

Of course, John Dean has no first-hand knowledge about what happened with the Mueller probe but Jerry Nadler saying it's true that fact witness have been ordered by the White House to not appear before this committee but we will get them, warning that he's prepared to go to court to get Don McGahn and others to comply with their subpoenas, despite this agreement the Justice Department for information.

BLITZER: All right, Manu, thanks very much. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.

There's more breaking news we're following. A key figure in that Watergate scandal, whose testimony helped bring down former president Richard Nixon, appeared before Congress today, as Manu was just noting, saying there are parallels to be found in the Mueller report. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown.

Pamela, we're going to get to John Dean's appearance in a moment. But first, I want to play for you and for our viewers what the president said in response to a question just moment ago about impeachment. Listen to this.


TRUMP: You can't impeach somebody when there's never been anything done wrong. We have a no collusion, we have no anything. There's no obstruction, there's no collusion, there's no anything.

When you look at past impeachments, whether it was President Clinton or I guess President Nixon never got there. He left. I don't leave. There's a big difference. I don't leave.

We did nothing wrong, except create the greatest economy in the history of our country. We did nothing wrong except rebuild our military like nobody's ever seen before. We're doing a great job. Our country has never been stronger.


BLITZER: I know that wasn't in response to your question, Pamela, just moments ago, but what else did the president say?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Trump not only directed his ire towards Democrats but also former White House counsel John Dean, calling him a loser for many years.

As we've been talking about, Wolf, Dean has been testifying today on Capitol Hill about President Trump and how findings in Mueller's obstruction probe has parallels with President Nixon and Watergate.


JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR RICHARD NIXON: The last time I appeared before your committee was July 11, 1974.

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, former White House counsel to President Nixon testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, saying Trump's former White House counsel, Don McGahn, should testify, too.

DEAN: Mr. McGahn represents not Donald Trump but the office of the president. His client is the Office of the President. And I think he owes that office his testimony before this committee.

BROWN (voice-over): John Dean, a CNN contributor, whose testimony in the Watergate investigation helped topple Richard Nixon's presidency, telling Congress there are many similarities between Trump and Nixon.

DEAN: In many ways, the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map was to president Richard Nixon. Stated a little differently, Special Counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map.

BROWN (voice-over): Ranking member Republican Doug Collins calling today's hearing a, quote, "mock impeachment inquiry."

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): We don't appreciate the fact that here we are again with priorities in this committee turned upside down.

BROWN (voice-over): But as the drumbeat among Democrats for an impeachment inquiry intensifies, Dean's testimony is drawing the ire of the White House, calling him not credible.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: I've never been disbarred. I passed four state bars, never been disbarred, never went to jail for obstruction of justice and don't plan on it.

BROWN (voice-over): And the president himself tweeting that Dean is a, quote, "sleazebag attorney" and that "Democrats just want a do- over, which they'll never get."

Trump also on the defensive over his tariff threat with Mexico, which critics have called a manufactured crisis of his own making.

TRUMP: If we didn't have tariffs, we wouldn't have made a deal with Mexico. We got everything we wanted and we're going to be a great partner to Mexico now, because now they respect us.

BROWN (voice-over): And while Trump claimed that a fully signed and documented agreement would be revealed, Mexico's foreign minister contradicted Trump, saying no secret immigration deal existed between his country and the U.S.

And President Trump's administration pushing back on "The New York Times'" reporting that parts of the deal were hashed out months ago.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I've seen some reporting that says that these countless hours were nothing, that they amounted to a waste of time. I can tell you that the team here at the State Department believes full-throatedly that this is an important set of agreements, an important set of understandings, one that we'll continue to work on because, in the end, will be measured by the outcomes we deliver.

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight the president also turning up the heat on China trade talks, saying more tariffs will be imposed if the Chinese president doesn't meet with him at the G20 summit later this month.

TRUMP: I think he'll go and I have a great relationship with him. He's an incredible guy. He's a great man. He's very strong and very smart. But he's for China. And I'm for the United States.

BROWN (voice-over): Trump also railed against the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, saying they're undermining his negotiations with China.


TRUMP: We have people on the Fed that really weren't -- you know, they're not my people. But they certainly didn't listen to me because they made a big mistake. They raised interest rates far too fast.

Don't forget, the head of the Fed in China is President Xi. He's the president of China. He also is the head of the Fed. He can do whatever he wants.


BLITZER: And Pamela Brown reporting for us. Pamela, thanks very much for that report.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. He's a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, there's clearly a lot we need to discuss, but I need to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories. We're back with

Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, a member of both the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, are you satisfied with this new agreement between the Justice Department and the House Judiciary Committee which will allow lawmakers to access additional documents from the Mueller report?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, it looks promising. And I haven't seen all the details of it. I've been traveling today. But if the Chairman, Jerry Nadler, is satisfied with it, then I think that it's probably a good agreement.

Now, bear in mind that the Trump administration strategy this whole time has been to dodge and delay and try to not turn over witnesses or turn over documents, so I'm glad that they're finally starting to do that.

BLITZER: What specific information are you hoping the Justice Department grants access to?

CASTRO: Well, the things related to obstruction of justice because I think that's what's most relevant to Congress right now.

And as you know from the Mueller report, Bob Mueller essentially said that he couldn't do anything about any wrongdoing that the President may have committed and that that's the job of Congress. So we need all the information with respect to obstruction, especially.

BLITZER: Let's move on, Congressman. The Justice Department also says that the Attorney General's probe into the origins of the whole Russia investigation will be, in their words, broad in scope and multi-faceted. Have you seen any evidence that the Russia investigation was launched in an improper way?

CASTRO: No, I haven't. And to me, this is an attempt by President Trump to come after the hardworking men and women of the intelligence community.

[17:34:57] I mean, imagine, Wolf, if you had a situation where the FBI had reliable information that a campaign was conspiring or somehow working with or being influenced by the Russian government and they sat on their hands and did absolutely nothing.

That would be, perhaps, an even bigger scandal than what we've been dealing with for the last few years, so, no, I don't think that it was a bogus investigation. But this is a way from President Trump to send a message, that even if you do an earnest investigation on me, you're going to pay the price.

BLITZER: The House Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings today on the Mueller report, including featuring testimony today from a key Watergate witness, John Dean. You support beginning impeachment proceedings. Are the hearings being held in the Judiciary Committee effectively -- effectively -- a substitute for a formal impeachment inquiry? CASTRO: I don't think that they're a substitute, but I do think that

it represents progress. And it was so interesting. You know, I was born, five weeks, I think, after President Nixon resigned in 1974.

And I always think back about my mom's generation and my dad's generation of baby boomers and how strange it is for people to see something even, I think, worse than Watergate going on now and to see John Dean who played such a central role in that inquiry back again all these years later. It's just bizarre.

BLITZER: Well, do you think what's going, that these are effective ways, right now, or laying the groundwork for a formal impeachment process?

CASTRO: I do. I think that this is part of the process, and I think -- I think that it's a matter of time before we start an impeachment inquiry.

BLITZER: Congressman Castro, thanks so much for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, stay with us for all the latest on the breaking news in New York City. Investigators are looking for answers about why a helicopter crashed on top of a skyscraper.


[17:41:22] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories including the newly announced deal that will give congressional investigators access to Justice Department documents related to possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. Let's bring in our analysts to discuss.

How significant, Laura Coates, is this agreement between Justice and the Judiciary Committee?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, very, in the fact that it shows that there's some progress and there are concessions that are willing to be made. However, this is a subset of the full documents they're actually seeking, so it'll be interesting to see, going forward, how adamant they will be about not giving those over. But for now, it's a subset of progress.

BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria? Do you think they're -- clearly, the Democrats are going to continue pushing for more.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, they're going to continue pushing for more. What they're not getting is grand jury testimony. Will they go to court to get that? I think they'd probably will.

And of course, they're going to push. They're going to continue to push for former White House Counsel Don McGahn, Hope Hicks. You know, what they want to do is get this ball rolling, so they can make the case to the American public for impeachment if that's where they're going.

BLITZER: Did the Justice Department, Chris, cave?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I don't know if cave is the right word. They cooperated, which they had not been doing in any way, shape, or form.

I guess you could say they made concessions to some extent in that they were saying you're getting nothing, now they say you're getting something. It does speak to the fact that at least the threat, potentially, of the criminal contempt out there has some impact. But to Gloria's point -- and Laura mentioned this too -- this isn't the whole shebang.

BORGER: Right.

CILLIZZA: This is sort of a "we'll give you this little bit." Let's not assume that that means that, now, the Justice Department is going to give House Democrats whatever they want because they're not.

BLITZER: Bianna, do you think the contempt threat that was leveled worked?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, to some degree, Wolf, you could argue that this is a short-term win-win. The White House can now say, you can't accuse us of stonewalling, we are cooperating.

Although, I would caution Americans and even Congress to lower expectations somewhat because, out of all the controversy and criticism out of the Mueller report, what was redacted was not where that controversy was centered.

In fact, Bob Mueller even thanked the Attorney General and said that he released the majority of the report. There was a profile of him as well over the weekend, talking about that point. A lot of people were concerned that it may be overly redacted. I think all of the criticism and all of the description of it was that it wasn't as redacted as many had expected.

BLITZER: You know, Laura, the Judiciary Committee was holding hearings today on the Mueller report. The hearings included a panel that had a former Watergate witness, John Dean, on that panel. He's a CNN contributor, as you know.

The ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Congressman Doug Collins, he's calling this a mock impeachment inquiry. Does he have a point?

COATES: Yes and no. I mean, calling John Dean to testify to give historical context -- he's not a fact witness in this case -- is probably as subtle as a punch to the face. I mean, it's like calling, say, Ken Starr if there was a president who was accused of sexual assault or impropriety in the future. It's not very subtle and so there is that notion.

However, it's very important because the role that John Dean fulfilled was as the White House Counsel. And remember, Don McGahn, as former White House Counsel, is not testifying at this point in time. So to give context as to why it's important to hear from that person, the breadth of information available to them, that's extraordinarily important, and he can provide just that.

BLITZER: Do you think, Gloria, this is an effective staging point for full-scale impeachment proceedings?

BORGER: It's a staging point. Whether it's effective remains to be seen. I mean, what they're doing is they're treading water right now because they can't get the people they want to testify before them.


[17:44:53] BORGER: You know, no offense meant to John Dean, but he is not, as Laura says, a fact witness. So what they need are the fact witnesses and those are the people they're fighting on privilege. And so they're going to -- you know, they're doing this to kind of -- to kind of keep it in the news and tread water, as I say, but it's not -- it's not where they want to be.

CILLIZZA: And they're caught betwixt -- in between in another way, which is the whole question of impeachment or not, right?

BORGER: Right.

CILLIZZA: That word is very fraught. We know Jerry Nadler probably wants to go a little bit further than Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi still is holding the line. But to Gloria's point, they can't go all of this way, so they're doing some things to stay in the news without doing the thing that they know their base wants them to do.

BLITZER: In the meantime, the drama continues. Everybody, stick around. We're monitoring the breaking news in New York City right now. Investigators are looking for answers about why a helicopter was flying over restricted air space over Manhattan and why it crashed.


[17:50:29] BLITZER: The failed summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un has been followed by a lot of tough talk from North Korea. But could it be followed by another summit? Brian Todd has been looking into that for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there are strong hints tonight from South Korea's President that momentum could be building for a third summit between Trump and Kim. Tonight, veteran diplomats are telling us there's a lot of pressure on both men, and it could come down to who wants a summit more.


TRUMP: He's a very talented man.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the rocket-fueled bromance between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un -- TRUMP: We fell in love.

TODD (voice-over): -- seems to have lost altitude. Personal outreach between the North Korean leader and the American president has seemingly gone dark. At least for the moment.

No personal letters or other messages have been exchanged between the two men in recent weeks that we know of. And Kim Jong-un has taken to state media to insult the Pentagon and top American negotiators even while President Trump maintains his optimism.

TRUMP: I think that Chairman Kim would like to make a deal, and I'd like to make a deal with him.

TODD (voice-over): All of which is raising a key question, tonight, in diplomatic circles. How badly does Kim want a third summit with Donald Trump following his failure in Hanoi to advance a nuclear deal?

OLIVIA ENOS, POLICY ANALYST, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Kim Jong-un came out of Hanoi with zero deliverables for his people. And I think, frankly, that made him look really bad. He's looking for face-saving measures that can demonstrate to his people that he is the strong negotiator that he promises them that he is.

TODD (voice-over): According to South Korean media, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, today in Helsinki, hinted that there could be momentum building for a third summit between Trump and Kim, implying that there's dialogue going on between the two sides.

Neither the White House nor the State Department would comment on Moon's remarks. A State Department spokesperson telling CNN, the American side is ready to engage, and President Trump believes Kim will stick to his promise to denuclearize.

Veteran diplomats say if there's a third summit, there will be enormous pressure on both men to deliver something.

MICHAEL FUCHS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS: The question about a third summit, though. I think, post-Hanoi, the question is, are they prepared for a summit? They saw what happened when they got together prematurely in Hanoi. They didn't have the details ironed out, and it collapsed. And I don't think it was good for either of them.

TODD (voice-over): Wednesday marked one year since the first summit in Singapore between the two leaders. Since that moment of promise, there's been another failed summit, provocations and threatening statements from Kim's regime toward the U.S., and short-range missile launches by North Korea.

FUCHS: We're more or less where we were and probably worse off than where we were June 12, 2018. There was some semblance of hope, or at least potential, in the beginnings of the process. We've obviously seen those hopes deflated over the last year.

TODD (voice-over): Then there's Kim's seemingly erratic personal behavior recently. At least three times over the past couple of weeks, Kim has come out with blistering public criticism of city and event planners and other North Korean officials. One analyst says while the dictator's behavior may seem uneven, it may not be.

ENOS: I think Kim Jong-un is acting with great rationality. He wants to maintain his grip on power. Ideally, he'd like to maintain his nuclear program. And so he believes that calling out those officials is his way of shifting blame to them so that he can save face and continue to maintain his position as the top leader in North Korea.


TODD: Experts say that while Kim Jong-un wants a third summit with President Trump, what he may be after is what one analyst calls the mirage of success, where Kim gets some sanctions relief that he so desperately needs for his country and then he makes some vague nuclear deal, promising to get rid of at least some of his nuclear weapons arsenal. But in reality, he might stall that process for as long as he can, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Brian Todd reporting.

Coming up, the breaking news. A helicopter crash lands on the roof of a New York City skyscraper, killing the pilot, sparking a fire, and closing off several blocks right in the heart of the city.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Crash landing. A terrifying and dangerous scene high above New York City. A helicopter slams into a rooftop, killing the pilot and raising urgent questions about where he was flying and what went wrong.

Mueller's evidence. The Justice Department making a new concession to House Democrats, agreeing to provide lawmakers with key information about the potential obstruction by the President. This as Watergate figure John Dean warns Congress that Mr. Trump is a lot like Richard Nixon.

[18:00:01] Probing the probe. We're learning more about the scope of the Attorney General's new inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation. Who is being targeted?