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THE SITUATION ROOM
Heat Wave; Interview With Rep. Steve Cohen (R-TN); President Trump Now Praising Crowd Who Chanted 'Send Her Back'; Iran Seizes Two Tankers in Strait of Hormuz; House Democrats Holding Mock Hearings, Honing Questions Ahead Of Mueller Testimony; House Judiciary Committee Asks Hope Hicks To Clarify Testimony About Stormy Daniels Hush Money Scheme; New Protests Tonight Against Puerto Rico Governor, Private Investigator Shares Disturbing Details of Epstein's Alleged Sex Crimes. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 19, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And defending his supporters who echoed them, even as world leaders condemn his words.
Under oath. House Democrats are digging into the Mueller report and holding mock hearings as they gear up for the former special counsel's highly anticipated testimony next week. We are learning new details of the questions they will ask and the answers they're seeking.
And under the sun. Warning for almost 200 million Americans tonight, as a brutal wave of extreme heat blazes over much of the U.S., and now more dangerous weather is possible, including tornadoes, thunderstorms, and hail.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: The breaking news tonight, Iran seizing at least one oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, sharply escalating tension with the U.S. and Western allies.
CNN has learned that members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard boarded a British ship and a Liberian ship 30 minutes apart and that armed American military planes are now protecting U.S. ships in the region.
We're also learning new details tonight of House Democrats' intense preparation for next week's testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Sources tell CNN they have been holding mock hearings and honing their questions, in the hopes of shifting public perception of the Russia investigation.
We will be talking about the breaking news and more with Congressman Steve Cohen of the Judiciary Committee. And our correspondents and our analysts are also standing by. First, let's get to the latest on the breaking news with CNN chief
national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.
And, Jim, you're learning some new details about Iran's hostilities in one of the world's most important shipping lanes.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna.
Here at the Aspen Security Forum, where some of the most senior military commanders, U.S. military commanders, other administration officials, gathered, this news from the Persian Gulf hit with a thud. This is what we know at this hour.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, essentially a paramilitary force of the Iranian regime, boarding two international tankers in international waters around that key choke point of the Strait of Hormuz under arms. They boarded both of these, one a British-flagged vessel, the second a Liberian-flagged vessel.
At this hour, that second vessel apparently has been released after a short time, but the British-flagged vessel still in Iranian custody with the sailors on board. They are not British citizens, but a collection of nationalities. At the time that these ships were boarded, a British warship was some 20 miles away, but an escalation of the tensions in the Gulf there after a series of hostile acts -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And, Jim, how is the U.S. responding to this?
SCIUTTO: Well, right now, armed U.S. aircraft are escorting U.S.- flagged tankers through the Persian Gulf, particularly through the Strait of Hormuz, again, that choke point there.
Remember, this is part of a pattern of behavior and attacks in recent days and weeks. Of course, you had Iran, they shot down a $110 million U.S. drone a couple of weeks ago. Prior to that, they were also attacking other tankers with explosive devices, according to U.S. intelligence. And now you have this.
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to speak to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. This is the intelligence agency that monitors intelligence around the world, supplies that intelligence to the U.S. military.
I spoke to the director, General Ashley, and he told me that, in his view, Iran's activity now is at an inflection point. Have a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. ROBERT ASHLEY, DIRECTOR, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: They're going into recession, and the glide path that they're on is more of the same.
So what is it they have to do to kind of change the status quo, which was to ramp up the level of activity? And we saw this coming a couple weeks out before it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The strategy here perhaps from Iran to raise oil prices, to create tensions there, nervousness about those tankers, the many tankers, dozens of them going through the Persian Gulf, raise oil prices, put pressure and attempt to create a split between America's European allies and the U.S.
But I also asked General Ashley if he believes Iran wants war. His answer to that question was no. But the danger, of course, here, Brianna, is the war that no one wants or the military action that no one wants. Is there an escalation? Is there a misreading of signals? Is a shot fired where someone is injured or killed? That is the danger now. That is the concern -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Jim Sciutto in Aspen, thank you so much.
Let's go now to CNN senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown.
And, Pamela, the president talked about this new aggression by Iran as he was leaving town for his New Jersey golf resort.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Brianna.
President Trump says this latest behavior by Iran proves what he's been saying, that the regime is nothing but trouble. And we have learned from sources that the president has adopted a more hawkish view of Iran in recent days amid the recent tensions.
Now, this as the president tries to go back and renew his attack on the so-called Squad, while pivoting away from the criticism of the racist rally chant.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump has gone full circle, again defending his racist attack against four congresswomen.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they call our country garbage, I don't care about politics. I don't care if it's good or bad about politics. You can't talk that way about our country, not when I'm the president.
BROWN: And defending his supporters.
CROWD: Send her back! Send her back!
BROWN: Who chanted "Send her back" at a North Carolina rally.
TRUMP: Those people in North Carolina, that stadium was packed. It was a record crowd. And I could have filled it 10 times, as you know. Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots. BROWN: This despite concerns raised from aides, including his
daughter Ivanka Trump. But, today, the president downplayed their advisement.
TRUMP: I talk about it, but they didn't advise me.
BROWN: Vice President Pence also taking heat from Republican lawmakers over the inflammatory chant. And there was the president's attempt to clean up on his own yesterday.
TRUMP: I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. But, again, I didn't say -- I didn't say that. They did.
BROWN: But now Trump is back where he began, retweeting his previous tweets, asking for the congresswomen to apologize to our country and threatening Democrats he will carry this fight to the ballot box in 2020.
And after Congresswoman Ilhan Omar returned to Minnesota yesterday for a town hall...
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): ... it sure feels good to be home. We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president, because his policies are a nightmare to us.
BROWN: ... Trump tweeting today that the welcome was a -- quote -- "staged crowd."
TRUMP: I'm unhappy when a congresswoman goes and says I'm going to be the president's nightmare. She's going to be the president's nightmare. She's lucky to be where she is, let me tell you. And the things that she has said are a disgrace to our country.
BROWN: The chant fallout spreading to the international stage too, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel telling reporters:
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I distance myself from this decidedly and stand in solidarity with the women who were attacked.
BROWN: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denouncing the comments.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: I want everyone in Canada to know that those comments are completely unacceptable.
BROWN: And British Prime Minister Theresa May also calling Trump's language completely unacceptable.
TRUMP: Hopefully, we're in good shape on the debt ceiling.
BROWN: The president tonight also taking a firm stance on the debt ceiling, telling reporters Democratic leadership shouldn't use it to negotiate.
TRUMP: I can't imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge. That's a sacred element of our country. They can't use the debt ceiling to negotiate.
BROWN: Changing his tune from 2013, when President Obama was the one facing a debt ceiling crisis.
TRUMP: The debt ceiling is a very powerful weapon. Oh, I think they should play the debt ceiling card. It's a very powerful card.
BROWN: Now, Brianna, looking ahead to next week, with the highly anticipated congressional testimony of Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, President Trump says he won't be watching it.
But even if he doesn't, Brianna, I'm told White House staffers will be watching it so that they can brief the president on any highlights -- back to you.
KEILAR: All right, CNN's Pamela Brown, thank you.
And House Democrats are engaged in intense preparations for that highly anticipated public testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller.
CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is here with the details.
And, Jessica, the Democrats really see this as their chance to maybe finally or the only time get Americans fired up about this.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right.
These are two back-to-back high-stakes hearings. And even though special counsel Robert Mueller is a reluctant witness, members of these committees note that Congress isn't necessarily bound by the limits that Mueller might try to impose.
Now, as such, Democrats really want to seize the moment to highlight key portions of Mueller's report, including five areas where they think the president clearly obstructed justice.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, Democrats are undergoing intense prep, plotting pointed lines of questioning for former special counsel Robert Mueller for the few hours they will be able to grill him.
Democrats want to seize on Mueller's in-person appearance, hoping to shift public perception and hammer home the stark conclusions of the special counsel's 448-page report that most Americans haven't read.
ROBERT MUELLER, RUSSIA PROBE SPECIAL COUNSEL: I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
SCHNEIDER: Mueller has indicated he will let the report speak for itself. But Democrats aren't deterred.
Sources tell CNN congressional Democrats have been holding mock hearings with senior aides playing Mueller to sharpen their questions ahead of the back-to-back grillings. Lawmakers are also rereading the report.
MUELLER: The attorney general's the boss. Absolutely, I would discuss it with the attorney general.
SCHNEIDER: And staffers are studying Mueller's past congressional appearances. The Judiciary Committee plans to focus on obstruction of justice, while House intelligence will follow with questions on Russian election interference.
Judiciary Democrats will connect the dots of what Mueller laid out on obstruction, focusing on five key episodes, Trump's direction to White House counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel, Trump's then telling McGahn to publicly deny that account, Trump's direction to former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to tell former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the investigation to exclude Trump and focus only on future campaigns.
Trump's follow-up to Lewandowski to tell Sessions Trump would fire him if he didn't meet with Lewandowski, and Trump's alleged witness tampering of Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and others, encouraging them not to cooperate, dangling pardons, and congratulating Manafort for not flipping.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If you just list those off, one, two, three, four, five, you can essentially make it clear to the public and to Congress that Mueller found substantial evidence to charge obstruction.
SCHNEIDER: Republicans plan to press the special counsel about whether his team was biased.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We have got a lot of questions about how Robert Mueller's team was assembled.
SCHNEIDER: And probe why the investigation even started in the first place.
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Some basic questions of understanding a conclusion, you have got to understand where it started.
SCHNEIDER: Little has been released about how the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is preparing, though, if past is prologue, he's more than ready.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: Director Mueller will be impeccably prepared. That is part of his strength as a witness. I remember those sessions. They were kind of legendary.
The hallway that led to his office on the seventh floor would be lined on both sides with briefing teams. He is very studious. He's not a verbose and dramatic witness. But he knows his stuff. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SCHNEIDER: And we also know that Democratic staffers are preparing a carefully tailored script to split up those questions among members, all in an effort to present a cohesive narrative that will illuminate the key details and then catch the average American's ear.
But, Brianna, some Democrats are worrying that maybe some will go off- script, not stick to that strict narrative, and possibly muddle the message. But we will see when this high-stakes hearing, the set of hearings, happens next Wednesday.
KEILAR: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.
Let's get more on all this with Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee. He is a member of the Judiciary Committee.
And I do want to ask you about this upcoming Mueller testimony.
First, though, Iran has now seized a British tanker. This is an important American ally. What does the U.S. need to do?
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Well, what we need to do is get back in the Iran nuclear agreement.
We never should have left it, and now we're talking about getting back in it in the same basis that we were in it, which is Trump saying, I want to get out of what Obama did, but now I want to get in to do what Obama did.
Trump has been very inconsistent in his policies. I'm sure the Iranians aren't quite sure what he's doing either. The British and the Iranians are at it. It's a difficult situation that could result in some unfortunate activities, including war.
But we don't have a president we can trust. We don't have a president that we know, when he tells us something, that it's the truth. So, it's difficult for me to make a statement without having some confidential hearings from some people in intelligence that I respect and trust.
KEILAR: I want to talk about this preparation for the Mueller testimony.
Your committee is focused on the obstruction portion of the Mueller report. Intel is focused on the Russian meddling. There are five incidents of alleged obstruction, potential obstruction you that want to highlight.
Why zero in on this? What is the strategy?
COHEN: There are about 10 instances of obstruction that are cited in the Mueller report. I think five are the ones that counsel think are the most likely to be locked down, where Mueller will say, yes, all the elements were met and, yes, they are there. There might be others. And when you read the report, the other five
are also good cases. There was just a smorgasbord of obstruction by Trump, whether asking staff to lie for him, whether asking staff to do deeds that were obstructive, and asking Mueller to resign, or asking Sessions to unrecuse himself, dangling pardons before Manafort, dangling a pardon before Michael Cohen at one time.
He tried to obstruct justice. Why was he obstructing justice is a good question for the American people to ponder. If he didn't do anything wrong with the Russians, if he didn't do anything wrong in the election, if the meeting in Trump Tower was all innocent and about adoptions, why would he and all of his people lie about activities with Russia?
Flynn lied about activities with Russia. So you have got obstruction.
And you have got issues that Intelligence is going to get into, the Intel Committee, concerning Russia. And I think maybe one of our members will too, because she has a particular expertise there.
But the Mueller report is a strong condemnation of the actions of the president of the United States and strong report on what Russia did to interfere with the election in 2016 and turn it towards Donald Trump.
And Donald Trump went on television and said, "Russia, if you're listening," and said, "I love WikiLeaks." Donald Trump encouraged and accepted and did not report Russian activity.
KEILAR: You each only have a few minutes really to ask questions.
And because of that, the committee is trying to build between each of the Democratic members of Congress, so that this isn't just the same questions asked over and over. I understand you're planning to ask a few of your own questions, though.
What do you say to Democrats who are concerned about members going off-script and not using that time effectively to build on the previous member?
COHEN: I'm going to use my time to effectively build on the previous member and to effectively set up the next member.
KEILAR: So you don't have any questions? You're sort of playing just on the team, or do you have some specific questions personally you that think are important for you to ask?
COHEN: We're all on the team. I have been on the team for 13 years. I have asked and will ask pertinent, important and appropriate questions that will help the team.
KEILAR: It is odd actually to see this kind of strategy. We don't see this every day. We don't see this with every hearing. Why has the committee decided this is so important?
COHEN: Is that kind of a Passover riff? Why is this hearing different from all other hearings?
Well, we did prepare...
KEILAR: Well, there have been a number -- I mean, not to say that this hearing isn't more important than others, but there are many important hearings, and yet we don't see this strategy.
COHEN: That's just a Jewish joke. It's just -- it's a Jewish joke. It went over. I'm sorry.
KEILAR: It did.
COHEN: But, yes, there's -- but, anyway, neither here nor there.
We did prepare for a previous hearing in a similar manner, and we stayed on our method and our course, and we were successful. And it wasn't covered as well by the networks. But we did that.
KEILAR: Does Robert Mueller, does he need to go beyond the scope of his report?
COHEN: He says he won't. He probably won't. There might be a few places where he will. I don't know.
There's a few places where I think he should. But we will find out. That's why we're going to have...
KEILAR: Is it necessary, do you think, for him to go beyond the scope of the report to make more Americans take notice of what's in the report?
COHEN: Not to make people more notice of what's in the report.
The people don't know what is in the report. They heard a month of stonewalling and lying by Barr and Trump and trying to say no obstruction, no collusion, when, in fact, he specifically said he couldn't clear him of obstruction and if he could say didn't commit a crime, they would have said it.
And there are elements of obstruction in those -- at least those five cases, if not more. And Mueller will talk about that. And that's important, because the American public only heard Barr's four -- three-and-a-half-page summary that he came up with and used his own perverted and contorted legal theory on obstruction, a very, very minority theory.
And he applied it. And he jumped into the breach and decided at the last minute a man who hadn't been involved in the special counsel's investigation and probably hadn't completely read it and understood it to jump in and give the summary and the analysis.
And then Trump did it. And every time he had a chance to go before the reporters, the reporters got him every chance he can, and he went no collusion, no obstruction, that's what it says.
And then, even when he released the report, Barr gave a press conference two or three hours before the report was released and said the same hocum.
So this was set up, staged to deceive and mislead the American public. And Robert Mueller needs to set the course straight. And, hopefully, it will be an important day that people will listen to, get the news, and understand that the Mueller report is an indictment, truly an indictment of our president, even though, legally, he cannot be indicted.
KEILAR: Congressman Steve Cohen, thank you for joining us.
COHEN: You're welcome.
Sorry about Passover, but it's just the way I think.
KEILAR: That's OK.
All right, thank you so much, sir.
KEILAR: And we have some more breaking news ahead, a new forecast for deadly high temperatures gripping much of the country tonight.
Plus, more on Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker and what the U.S. is doing to protect American ships tonight.
KEILAR: More breaking news tonight.
Much of the U.S. is sweltering in a brutal heat wave that may get worse before it's over.
CNN national correspondent Miguel Marquez is in New York with the latest.
And, Miguel, the city's triathlon and a major cultural festival have been canceled because of these temperatures.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is absolutely brutal here.
Canceling the triathlon. People across the entire city being told just to try to keep cool, like these kids are doing right now. This brutal heat, it is not the last we will see of it. We are likely to see much more in the years ahead.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): From New Mexico to New England, intense heat. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting too old for this heat.
MARQUEZ: Nearly 200 million Americans sweating it out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice cold. Ice cold.
MARQUEZ: Roads buckling from the heat in Shawnee, Oklahoma and Hays, Kansas. In Chicago, a thermometer inside a car hit 129.6 degrees, in Washington, D.C. tourists wilting in the hot air, the real stuff.
Deadly heat, 32-year-old former NFL offensive lineman Mitch Petrus dead from heat stroke, young, elderly, and those susceptible to heat gathering in cooling centers in New York City.
ELIZABETH PENNIMAN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: With this kind of heat, we want people to stay inside, to stay in air conditioning if at all possible, if you're not in an air conditioned space, to find one.
MARQUEZ: Heat and humidity prompting the threat of tornadoes across parts of the Midwest.
Heat waves like this becoming more common, spring nationwide starting earlier and earlier over the last three decades, compared to the previous century, says NOAA. More troubling, since the 1960s, the number of heat waves have tripled in the nation's largest city, the length of the heat wave season tripling as well.
New York City's main supplier of electricity, Con Ed, on high alert after an outage knocked out power to a huge swathe of Manhattan's Upper West Side this week.
And in Madison, Wisconsin, two electric substations catching fire, not the day for it. Animals feeling the effect too, from pets too overheated to take another step on New York's Fifth Avenue, to this emu keeping cool at Zoo New England. At Illinois' Brookfield Zoo, the bears and tigers staying close to their icy treats.
MARQUEZ: Now, the temperature is meant to get up in here in New York this weekend, so temperature and humidity very, very high. The heat index for New York City this weekend could be as high as 110 degrees.
That is being played out in many places across the country. The only thing we can do is try to stay cool and wait until the heat breaks -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.
Let's get the latest forecast now from CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.
And it looks, Allison, like this dangerous heat is going to last through the weekend.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. And what separates this heat wave from perhaps the majority of them
that we usually see, usually, when you get these domes of high pressure, it comes with dryer air. That's not the case with this one.
You're getting the high temperatures and also very humid, very muggy conditions. And that makes it very hard for your body to cool back down. Look at all of these people under either excessive heat watches, excessive heat warnings or even heat advisories.
Look at the feels-like temperature right now. In Minneapolis, it feels like, the heat index is 115 degrees. Yes, you heard that correct, in Minneapolis. Dallas feels like 102, Saint Louis 105. Even Washington, D.C., feels like 104 right now. And,
again, it's that combination of the heat, but also the moisture in the air. And that moisture is also helping to fire up some pretty intense storms across portions of the Midwest, where we may even have the potential for some tornadoes as well.
For a city like Chicago, the feels-like temperature today, 108. But, finally, we start to see some relief when he get into Sunday. However, other areas, like the Mid-Atlantic or the Northeast, it's not expected to cool down until we get to next week.
And that's going to be a concern, because that prolonged heat that lingers can have its impacts on the body, especially overnight low temperatures, where, in some cities, it may not get below 80 degrees.
That's when you start to have to keep an eye out for things like heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Again, Brianna, one thing with heat exhaustion, you get headaches. Heatstroke, you become a bit more confused.
One thing to note, when your skin turns from cool pale to red and hot to the touch and you start to notice you're not sweating anymore, that's when you need to call 911 immediately.
KEILAR: All right, thank you for that information, Allison Chinchar.
And just ahead, House Democrats and Republicans prepare for Robert Mueller's testimony next week. We're going to go inside their strategies.
Plus, the breaking news that we're following in the Persian Gulf, where Iran has seized at least one oil tanker.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: It's the most anticipated congressional testimony in years. On Wednesday, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will publicly answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee, from the House Intelligence Committee as well. And democrats are preparing intensely to ensure they underscore alleged crimes by President Trump uncovered by the Russia investigation.
Let's talk more about this now with our correspondents and our analysts. And, Jeffrey Toobin, to you first. As you see democrats dividing up the question, the questions, they're trying to build a narrative, building on the person before them who has asked questions, do you think this is preparation that will pay off for them?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's better than not preparing. But what they're not doing is what good congressional committees have done throughout congressional history, which is give the questioning to lawyers who know how to ask questions. In the Senate Watergate Committee, the famous Sam Irving Committee, In the Iran-Contra Committee, the lawyers did most of the initial questioning so they could establish a narrative.
Here, you're going to have five minutes of democrats, five minutes of republicans. It's going to be very hard to tell a story that way. But the members of Congress don't want to give up their moments in the limelight. That's the real story here, not the fact that they're doing their homework.
KEILAR: That's a very good point. Republicans are going to want to put their own narrative forth, Phil Mudd. So what are you expecting from them?
PHILLIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Bring me some popcorn and milk duds. I've got to watch my boss on this one. There're two categories you need to look at. I completely agree with Jeffrey. I don't think they're going to get this right. There's the factual category. And I think they'll get what they want, which is Mueller saying, if you want me to characterize how the report says I didn't charge on this case, I didn't charge on that case, I can cite you chapter and verse.
If they start going down the path of integrity, this stuff about didn't you have angry democrats, didn't you have people on your team who were inappropriately texting between each other, if they try to attack his integrity, I know Director Mueller, watch out. Watch the jowls. Watch his posture.
KEILAR: What happens to the jowls? Do they flair?
MUDD: Oh, yes, he'll flair. Watch him move forward. Watch him take a moment. And I'll be sitting there saying, you can't pay for this on Netflix. This is going to be a show. If they go after integrity, it's going to be a show.
KEILAR: So, Sabrina, I mean, with that in mind, what are you expecting? Are you expecting the republicans to tread lightly? Because it seems like they would be likely to take a page out of President Trump's book. He believes this is a witch hunt.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that you might see them get into some of that more aggressive line of questioning where they're really trying to reinforce the President's claims, which, of course, are unsubstantiated, that this was all just a witch hunt.
But I think realistically speaking, for both sides, the importance will be on just having Robert Mueller lay out the facts and not getting into too much of that partisan spectacle that you get from most congressional hearings.
Certainly for democrats, it will be very important because a lot of Americans have actually not read this report. Frankly, a lot of members of Congress have not actually read this report. It will be very important to kind of just have Robert Mueller offer some of the most damning revelations within the report in his own words.
Now, I think where they don't want to get stuck is in a matter of process because this is really about the President's efforts to derail the investigation. I know members I've spoke with on the Judiciary Committee, democrats say, we want to know more about why he didn't compel the President to testify, we want to know what he thinks about William Barr's handling of the report. All of that is important to members of Congress but it doesn't do a lot to shift public opinion.
KEILAR: The President says, Kaitlan, he's not watching this.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President claims he's not going to watch it.
KEILAR: Do you think the President will watch this, Kaitlan?
COLLINS: Yes. I was actually talking to some White House people about this, and they're like, not a chance. Of course, he's going to be watching.
So, I mean, the President is not going to not be tuned in. He's going to be repeating what he's been saying, they're trying to do a do-over. But he's counting on those republicans to embarrass Robert Mueller or make the investigation look like a sham. So he's going to be watching that. Not only is he going to be aggravated seeing what the democrats are saying, talking about, of course, things he's denied have even happened, firing -- attempting to fire the Special Counsel through Don McGahn, and He's going to be watching that. But he also wants these republicans to come out there and come to his defense.
The question is they've got a pretty limited amount of time. So it's kind of hard to overstate how stressful this is not only for the democrats but also for the republicans who are trying to make a point there. But I highly doubt that the President will not be watching.
TOOBIN: Brianna, there's another point here, is that we don't know exactly how Mueller is going to answer these questions. For example, the issue of whether the President directed his former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to obstruct justice, to fire Mueller himself. When asked about that, is Mueller going to say, well, you can just read my report or is he going to describe the underlying events himself? If he just says you can read my report. The democrats are going to be really angry and the hearing is going to be a big bust. But they can't force him to --
KEILAR: They can't force him. But is it going to be a bust, Jeffrey, and all of you? Is it going to be a bust if more people are actually paying attention to what is in the report? As I spoke with one legal analyst earlier today, they said no one reads the book, everyone watches the movie. What do you guys think?
TOOBIN: Well, I think the movie is valuable. But, you know, not every movie version is The Godfather.
A lot of movie versions of books are terrible. And if Mueller doesn't want to engage with the committee, he can simply refer to the report and say, you know, I dealt with that in the report, rather than describing what's in the report. That's really going to be up to Mueller.
And, you know, maybe my brother Mudd knows how --
SIDDIQUI: The only public statement Robert Mueller has said about the Mueller report thus far, he's said, my report is my testimony. And so I don't think he's really going to necessarily go much beyond the scope of what he already outlined in the report. This is really about what members of Congress choose to highlight within the report, picking out those instances that are the most damning for the President and about how they ask the question that could potentially have them reveal some new underlying information.
KEILAR: Even if they reveal no new underlying information, won't people be watching this that have not read a lick of the report?
COLLINS: Yes. Their argument is going to be that it's for people who haven't read it. He's going to be reading what's in it. The most damning parts is that they actually think looks pretty bad for the President. His critics and democrats do. So they think it's going to be enough having him there.
One thing that's interesting is these lawmakers have been watching Robert Mueller's past testimony to prepare for this and watching how he answers questions. And they say he's pretty good at filibustering questions.
So that's one thing that both sides will be looking at, because, of course, democrats want him to say -- talk about potentially indicting the President and republicans want him to talk about text messages between FBI agents. So you're going to see two very different stories from those groups.
KEILAR: Are Americans going to care? Are they tuned in? Does it matter? Will it change any minds, Phil Mudd?
MUDD: No, absolutely not. I mean, you have a bunch of amateur politicians who are going to try to play prosecutor, to Jeffrey's point, they're going to try to pretend that they're smarter prosecutors than a guy who has not only been doing this for 50 years but is one of the most noted prosecutors and investigators of the past generation, and may think that by practicing for a couple days, they're going to win. Mueller wins. And I would say both sides, republicans and democrats, will lose. The biggest loser, democrats, they're not going to get what they want.
KEILAR: We've learned -- sorry, go on, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Well, no. I mean, this is -- it's going to be a very big deal. I mean, this is going to be a defining moment of the President's term in office. But will it change the polls? Nothing changes the polls about the President. I mean, he's been between 42 and 46 percent approval since day one. It's just polling noise in between there. I mean, so I think anyone who thinks the polls are going to jump in some meaningful way is kidding themselves.
SIDDIQUI: But what it does potentially change is the conversation around impeachment among democrats on Capitol Hill. Remember, after Mueller made that one public statement, you had a series of democrats come out in favor of launching an impeachment inquiry, particularly when they actually saw Robert Mueller stand up there and say that we could not actually absolve the President of criminal conduct. They didn't obviously reach a determination themselves.
And so there's a possibility that you may have some more democrats after his testimony come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry, which obviously poses a problem for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who thus far has, of course, resisted those efforts from members of her caucus.
COLLINS: Interestingly, in Maureen Dowd's profile of her when she spoke with Nancy Pelosi, 4th of July, she was at home rereading the Mueller report.
KEILAR: Very good point. Okay, so you have some new reporting when it comes to Hope Hicks because, look, she's got a mound of legal bills, we're learning a little more about that. We're also learning about -- she gave testimony to the House about hush money payments, what she did and didn't know.
COLLINS: And now, new questions are being raise about what she said. Now, we've got these newly unsealed documents that talk about these conversations that were happening between Hope Hicks and Michael Cohen right around the time that Michael Cohen was negotiating that deal with Stormy Daniels.
We've been looking at the FEC filings that show you what the campaign is spending money on. They just got a new one that came out a few days ago. And that one shows overall in the last 15 months that the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee has spent over $600,000 on legal fees to the firm that's representing Hope Hicks.
Now, we don't know that all of that is going to just Hope Hicks's legal fees, maybe they're representing someone else, but they haven't gotten back to us on that yet. But we should note that in the second quarter of this year that they spent about $50,000 to that firm that's representing her right around the time that she was being threatened with these congressional subpoenas, being asked to come up on the Hill. And now, we know that House investigators want to re-examine what her answers were and whether or not she was truthful.
KEILAR: Jeffrey, is that an issue, is that whether -- you know, maybe not legally but in terms of conflict, ethically, if they're paying the law firm for or maybe not for Hope Hicks? It seems like it's very possible it is for Hope Hicks's legal costs.
TOOBIN: Well, it is ethical and it is legal. I mean, the law is very clear that campaign committees can pay the legal fees of people affiliated with the campaign. I'm not sure the contributors would be so thrilled.
They think they're paying for Facebook ads and television ads for Donald Trump and they're getting, you know, big shot lawyers paid with their money. But I don't think there's any ethical or legal prohibition on it.
COLLINS: Now, they're spending a lot of money on legal fees. In just the second quarter alone, the Trump campaign spent over a million and a half dollars on legal fees.
KEILAR: Do you think that contributors care?
COLLINS: I think some people might. I think some people might take the Trump defense, that hey, these people need to be defended in what they view as a witch hunt, and they might be on board with donating $20 to Hope Hicks's legal fees.
KEILAR: What do you think?
MUDD: I don't think they care. Look, this is going to be portrayed as a deep state coming after our people, what are we supposed to do except defend them? I think the Trump people are going to have a way to say, what are we supposed to do when our people are on the line against these Democrats, who are anti-American, which is what the president was saying all day today? They're anti-American. We've got to defend ourselves.
COLLINS: And maybe voters don't care, or supporters who are donating, but I do know some of the campaign officials I've spoken with are annoyed that one of their biggest expenses is legal fees.
KEILAR: It's really interesting.
Hope Hicks, the House Democrats want to hear from her again, Sabrina.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
KEILAR: Do you think we'll see that?
SIDDIQUI: Well, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has invited Hope Hicks to come and clarify her testimony, which was behind closed doors last month. And they say that it's inconsistent with the evidence that was unsealed this week, in particular about what exactly she knew of those hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal who had alleged to have been having affairs with Donald Trump.
Now, Hope Hicks told the committee she didn't really know, but she left some wiggle room where she said, you know, she was getting press inquiries. So, she didn't really have all of the context. But obviously, there is a pattern of her being involved in some of these discussions on some of these phone calls with Michael Cohen and that's what the committee wants to hear more about.
COLLINS: But we should note, her lawyer has denied that she was involved in any of that since these new documents have come out.
KEILAR: All right. Kaitlan, thank you so much. Sabrina, Phil, Jeff, really appreciate the conversation.
We have some breaking news next. New protests in Puerto Rico tonight putting more pressure on the governor to resign. And we have live pictures you're seeing from downtown San Juan.
Also, an investigator who spent a decade looking into Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex crimes, tonight, he shares disturbing details in a CNN exclusive.
[18:50:25] KEILAR: There is more breaking news we are following. New protests tonight calling for the resignation of Puerto Rico's governor.
CNN's Leyla Santiago is in San Juan for us.
And, Leyla, this is the sixth day of protests against the governor. Tell us what you are seeing tonight.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we are seeing the crowd starting to grow in size. And I understand thousands more are on the way right now to La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion.
I'm going to sort of step out of the way so you can get a better idea what these people are feeling right now. There is a lot of anger. But yet, there is a festive and peaceful environment. This is how it's starting. We'll have to wait and see how it ends tonight.
I have asked several people, what is this really about for you? Let me let you listen to what one person told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He made one of the people who died after he lied about the quantity of people who died after the hurricane, after he lied about so much about -- I mean, it's unacceptable (ph). And still he is holding onto power. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTIAGO: And so that -- that sentiment has been echoed by all the people -- or by many of the people we have seen here. There are growing calls for his resignation, not only for -- from those in his party, but also the crowds in old San Juan and they're saying they're not going to leave until he resigns.
For his part, he says he is not stepping down. But many here say his names are -- excuse me, his days are numbered. This is an island that has had an economic storm, an environmental storm, Hurricane Maria, and now a political storm on this island that is defining an administration, they are saying enough, but the governor says he is going nowhere.
KEILAR: Yes, it's a lot to withstand, though, CNN's Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.
And now, a CNN exclusive, disturbing details of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex crimes from a private investigator who's been on the case for a decade. He talked to CNN's senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.
And, Drew, he told you he is still haunted by what he uncovered.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Brianna. And a little bit of breaking news on this as well. So many questions have just been raised about how easy it was for Jeffrey Epstein to serve his short work release prison term in the Palm Beach County jail, that even though it took place ten years ago, the sheriff today ordered an investigation to see if his agency's rules and regulations were violated.
But when you hear this story, you may wonder why Jeffrey Epstein was ever allowed to leave jail.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Mike Fisten was a cop for 30 years, homicide detective, worked narcotics. He'd seen it all and thought he would retire to an easy live life as a private detective in South Florida. His first case brought to him by an attorney 10 years ago: investigate Jeffrey Epstein.
MICHAEL FISTEN, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: I started going out interviewing witnesses that became victims. I was interviewing one after another. The three girls turned into four girls, turned into five, six, seven, so on. I couldn't help but think that this could have been my daughter, or your daughter or my next door neighbor's daughter.
GRIFFIN: The case is now infamous -- a secret sweetheart deal with federal prosecutors, a slap on the wrist jail sentence from the state of Florida.
FISTEN: If you had to see the pain on their faces when they found out about this plea deal, not only that, the fear factor that he was going to be out was pretty tremendous.
GRIFFIN: Fisten says he and attorney Brad Edwards sought justice through civil suits on behalf of alleged victims, winnings settlements against the multimillionaire. Victims were so young he says it's inconceivable those in Epstein's social circles could not have at least suspected the girls were underage.
FISTEN: Once the girls lost braces and their pubescent look and they started becoming 16 years old or 17 years old, they were too old for him. So then he starred using them for recruiters to bring the younger girls.
GRIFFIN: Epstein did plead guilty in 2008 to two state charges, including procuring a person under 18 for prostitution, a charge so demeaning to the children he victimized Fisten says it silenced many.
FISTEN: These were girls that were not of age of consent in Florida. They couldn't be prostitutes.
GRIFFIN: One victim told Fisten she was just 13 when it started.
FISTEN: But she looked nine. And she started telling me the whole story about how, you know, she tried to live a good life.
[18:55:00] She was blaming herself for what Jeffrey did to her. And she was in such pain this girl that, listen, nothing fazes me after spending like 13 years in homicide, nothing really phased me anymore, but that really fazed me. I mean, I teared up during this.
GRIFFIN: Court documents obtained by CNN detail how Epstein intimidated, frightened and threatened potential witnesses against him, including the girls he had abused. The U.S. attorney's office knew the FBI was investigating but chose not to prosecute.
Fisten witnessed that harassment first hand.
FISTEN: They were on the bumper everywhere they went. They pull into a gas station, they pull you up behind them. They pull up to a grocery store, they'd pull up behind them.
GRIFFIN (on camera): So, this is happening while he is supposedly serving his 13 months.
FISTEN: While he's serving it and after he gets out, while he's on probation.
GRIFFIN: You know, if you look at this from a law and justice point of view, whatever that prosecution was doesn't sound like it sent any message to Jeffrey Epstein.
FISTEN: Well, it did send a message. He could do what he wants. And no one is going to mess with you.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): And Fisten says, anyone watching Epstein during his 13-month jail sentence would have seen Epstein allowed to leave jail during the day, head to his office, where young women would come and go.
FISTEN: They were bringing lavish lunches and food into his office.
GRIFFIN (on camera): And you saw girls going in?
FISTEN: Saw girls going in.
FISTEN: Couldn't tell if they were underage or not.
GRIFFIN: They looked young?
FISTEN: They looked very young.
GRIFFIN: You have no doubt he has been abusing since his plea.
FISTEN: Absolutely. He can't stop.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Epstein's attorney says Jeffrey Epstein has had a spotless record since getting out of jail in 2010.
(on camera): You mention you have proof that just recently he has been abusing girls. What is the proof?
FISTEN: Well, we had some people come forward.
GRIFFIN: And you have their names.
FISTEN: I have their names. And we have turned that information over to the federal authorities.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Which is why Fisten says the victims of Jeffrey Epstein known and unknown are rejoicing in his recent arrest.
FISTEN: This is all they wanted. They didn't want his money. They don't want -- they wanted -- this is what they wanted. This is all they wanted.
GRIFFIN: Brianna, a federal judge in New York yesterday ordered Epstein to be held behind bars until his trial on the current charges. Fisten says the victims are hoping that Epstein spends the rest of his life behind bars -- Brianna.
KEILAR: CNN's Drew Griffin, thank you so much.
And this Sunday night, on an all-new episode of CNN original series "THE MOVIES", it focuses on films from the 2000s.
CNN's Tom Foreman has a preview.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new millennium started with an explosion of stars, big names writing big box office returns.
NEAL GABLER, FILM HISTORIAN: Stars become for a while the most dependable element in movies, which is why their salaries go up and also changes the whole context of movies, because the power balance in movies change. And by changing balance is changes the kind of movies we go to, ones that ultimately centralize the star.
FOREMAN: The superstars made potentially mediocre scripts into hits and forgettable ones much more memorable.
TODD BOYD, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA STUDIES, USC: Training day is an otherwise small film without Denzel's presence.
FOREMAN: And all that made the studios happy, especially as they started building on that. Film series were soon everywhere, from "The Fast and Furious" to Transformers, to the Bourne movies, to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senior executives are saying, that's the direction that we want to go. They're not looking for a single project. They want the next franchise.
FOREMAN: Some franchises were themselves the star attractions. "The Lord of the Rings", for example, and the story of a magical boy.
DANA STEVENS, FILM CRITIC: The Harry Potter film franchise like the Harry Potter book franchise was just something that really defined a generation.
FOREMAN: But nothing rivaled the success of the Marvel films.
GABLER: Marvel is arguably the biggest star in the history of movies.
FOREMAN: With one hit after another, they brought in young and old fans alike.
JACQUELINE COLEY: My uncle and aunt, who I don't think have been to the movie theater in 20 years were like, we're going.
FOREMAN: Simply put, the new century began with the stars aligned.
For many movie fans, it's been a blast.
KEILAR: CNN's Tom Foreman, thank you so much.
And our new original series "THE MOVIES" airs Sunday night, at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.
I'm Briana Keilar, in for Wolf Blitzer. Thank you so much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.