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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  May 2, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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health officials point to one reason for the spike, the rise of the anti-vaccination movements. you can following me on facebook and twitter. tweet the show. our coverage continues right now. vaccinate your kids. happening now, breaking news, law school exam. cnn has learned that even as president trump was publicly praising robert mueller, behind the scenes the white house was gearing up to attack him. there is a letter from a white house counsel calling it a law school examine paper and accusing mueller of not doing his job. and he lied. nancy pelosi accuses attorney general barr of lying to con. she is calling it a crime. this came after the attorney general refused to testify before the house judiciary committee turning today's
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hearing into a show. featuring an empty chair and bucket of chicken. tonight democrats want to hold barr in contempt. under cover operative, a blockbuster new report from the "new york times" reveals the fbi was so concerned that the trump campaign had been infiltrated by the russians that seasoned investigator undercover to question george papadopoulous. will the revelations help or hurt the president? and moore is less. a second trump pick for the federal reserve board was just forced to back out. and he blames the unrelenting attacks on my character. were both democrats and republicans right to call moore unqualified for the job? i'm wolf blitzer. you are in the situation room. we're following multiple breaks
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stories in the battle between house democrats and president trump's attorney general william barr. cnn has obtained a white house letter to the attorney general accusing robert mueller's team of playing politics with the russia investigation. the letter also describes the mueller report, and i'm quoting, as a prosecutorial curiosity and part law school exam paper. this comes as nancy pelosi is accusing the attorney general of committing a crime saying that he lied to congress on wednesday. democrats are furious that he skipped today's hearing. also breaking, the "new york times" is revealing new details about the counter intelligence investigation of the trump campaign back this 2016, including that an fbi investigator went under cover posing as a researcher to question trump campaign adviser george papadopoulous help hakim
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jeffries is standing by to take our questions. and our correspondents will have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's begin with indicate lynn co -- caitlin coal lins. the white house leak this had scathing letter from emmet flood saying that robert mueller did not do his job. >> yeah, a letter written over ten days ago, but it just got released today one day after bill barr appeared on capitol hill. and it is a scathing evaluation of robert mueller and his investigation. and in this letter, they are accusing the special counsel of playing politics. they are also turning an eye toward the fight with democrats. the ongoing ones and upcoming ones saying just because the president did not assert executive privilege over this report doesn't mean that he won't do so in the future. with the russia investigation still on president trump's mind --
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>> people say how do you get through that stuff, how do you go through the witch hunts and everything else. and you know what we do? we just do it, right? and we think about god. >> reporter: new cnn reporting reveals his white house sent attorney general bill barr a letter last month blasting the special counsel claiming its report suffers from in-extraordinary legal defects and accusing robert mueller of playing politics and straying from his commission, alleging his team failed in their duty to act as prosecutors and only as prosecutors. the white house lashing out at the zrk for a onspecial counsel. flood said that mueller needed to either ask the grand jury to return an indictment or decline to charge the case adding the one thing that the special counsel was only gated to do is
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the very thing that the sco refused to do. but mueller said that that doj guidance had a major impact on how he conducted the investigation. arguing that even if he failed concrete evidence against trump, he couldn't charge mueller mak wanted to preserve the facts. yet barr testifying yesterday repeatedly disagreed with his long time friend mueller and the actions he took during the investigation. >> i think that if he felt that he shouldn't go down the path of making a traditional process could y prosecuting decision, he shouldn't investigate it. >> reporter: the white house telling barr that mueller overstepped his mandate because some democrats now want to use his report as a road map for
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impeachment. under oath yesterday, barr stood by his assertion that the trump campaign was spied off. >> i won't back off the word spying. all right and tod are the. >> reporter: and today kugd to the "times" the fbi sent an investigator posing as a research assistant to meet with george papadopoulous in 2016. as part of its efforts to look at the campaign's links to russia. the bureau's moves are now under investigation by the inspector general. >> many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a
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and vie fay a warra fisa warrant. i'd like to find out that that is true. >> reporter: and stephen moore will no longer be on recommended to the federal reserve board. he was going to have a very tough confirmation fight and th that they were not ready to throw their weight behind him thp about . this is the second percentage in addition to her main conta-- hr saying need to vet their nominees better. >> a much better job vetting pfr all right. thank you very much. the testifying wattorney ge supposed to answer questions today but infuriated democrats by simply refusing to show up.
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manu raju is on capitol hill. so what is next in this increasingly bitter standoff? >> reporter: the attorney general could soon be held in contempt of congress and he could soon be served with a subpoena compelling him to appear before the house judiciary committee. this comes as the white house has defiled a number of requests. democrats trying to figure out whether to support the subpoenas, whether going to court, levying fines or even impeachment. the clash between the trump administration and house democrats took a dramatic turn today after attorney general bill barr was a no-show at a highly anticipated hearing about his handling of the mueller report. >> we but to hold him in contempt. >> reporter: this after barr defied a subpoena to turn over the full unredacted report to
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capitol hill. democrats saying he was too scared to appear. steve cohen bringing a glass chicken and a bucket of kfc for effect. >> it shows that the fact that he is a coward and a chicken. that is his new name, chicken barr. railro >> reporter: barr boycotted because they wanted him to be questioned by staff lawyers. which is extremely rare. republicans accused democrats of sabotaging the hearing for preliminary gain. >> what are the democrats sdcard you have? they don't like what is in the report. >> reporter: but some say this strategy could backfire since they may have lost their best chance to question the attorney general. haven't you made it harder to get the answers that you have been asking for? >> we cannot concede to the administration the act to control the manner in which congress does its i don't think.
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>> reporter: the rhetoric intensified outside of the hearing room.i don't think. >> reporter: the rhetoric intensified outside of the hearing room. nancy pelosi saying that the attorney general lied to congress. >> that is the attorney general of the united states of america. he is not telling the truth to the congress of the united states. that is a crime. >> reporter: a charnlg that the justice department called reckless, irresponsible and false. republicans said that the real goal is to impeach president trump. >> nadler has been wanting to impeach the day after the election. he can't have the facts to prove of why he should but he will not stop. >> reporter: yet while pelosi tamps down calls for impeachment, a growing numbering of democrats say that the continuing defiance of congressional demands means that may be their only option . >> if the trump administration wants impeachment, they are doing a good job of pushing the democrats there. >> reporter: and there are new questions about what barr has been discussing with the white house including concerns that
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trump or others in his administration have directed barr to open investigations. >> has the president or anyone at the white house ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? yes or no, please, sir. >> the president or anyone else -- >> seems you'd remember something like that, be able to tell us. >> reporter: nancy pelosi wants to continue to focus on oversight and they hope to bring in robert mueller by mid may. and even republicans are ready to move on, but mitt romney told us that he would like to see robert mueller testify in public. that is something that the republicans are not willing do at this moment. >> manu raju oi, thank you. and we're joined by hakim jeffries of new york. he is a member of the house judiciary committee. congressman, thanks so much for joining us. let's get to the news of the day. you heard our reporters, instead of spending today quiiquestio t
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the attorney general, you had an empty chair. you could have asked pretty tough questions. was that a mistake? >> it was not a mistake because the house is a separate and co-equal branch of government. we don't work for donald trump. we work for the american people. we won't take orders and dwrekts directives from the trump administration, his minions or the so-called attorney general. we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out of control executive branch. we won't overreach or overinvestigate, but we won't run away from our constitutional responsibility to do meaningful oversight of the administration on behalf of the american people. >> do you think your committee could have done more to accommodate the concerns of the attorney general? >> no. there will be ongoing discussions and hopefully the attorney general will see the
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light and he will agree to come forward and testify before the hous judiciaew dish house jew a committee based on the rules of engagement that we set nofrt. i think jerry nadler did the right thing. >> will jerry nadler subpoena the attorney general to appear and testify? >> that is certainly a possibility. but the next step is to make sure that the attorney general supplies with the subpoena that he has already chosen not to follow which is the one that called for the unredacted mueller report that was due yesterday. they failed to provide that document. they failed to provide the underlying evidence that we also requested on behalf of the american people so we can understand the full story in advance of his testimony. we will move on as well to make sure that we secure the testimony of robert mueller so he can tell his story to the
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american people. that will highly relevance. >> and i'll get to that. but what can your committee do if they refuse to comply with the subpoenas? >> one of the things that is being contemplated is holding the attorney general in contempt of congress. that will be a decision that will have to be made by the chairman of the house judiciary commit in consultation with the staff and of course with speaker pelosi and the leadership team. that is certainly one way to go. we have to make sure that we do not allow this administration to move us away from our democrat republic and to speed to a dictatorship because we have an individual sitting at 1600 pennsylvania avenue who clearly has authoritarian tendencies. is this not a republican or democratic issue, it is an issue about whether we have going to tiffin to be a government of the people by the people and for the people. >> but if nadler moves forward and your leadership moves for ready with contempt, and they
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still refuse to comply, what do you do next, how do you get it moving? do you approach fines, maybe even as some have said jail time for the attorney general of the united states? >> jail time is not something that i believe is being seriously contemplated. and look, we understand that we will have to continue to proceed along two tracts. just this week even though a disagreement about the failure of the attorney general too t t testify, there was a high level discussion around a meaning testimony infrastructure plan to repair our crumbling bridges, roads tunnelle ls mistransporta and public housing. the very same house judiciary committee on tuesday passed four bipartisan bills designed to address the anti-competitive practices of the pharmaceutical industry. so we will continue along the tracts of trying to find common
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ground on the issues that improve the lives of everyday americans while at the same time understanding that there is another lane which will require for congress to hold the administration accountable when it steps over the line and we're not going to shirk that responsibility either. >> let's hope you guys can work out some sort of bipartisan deal on infrastructure spending because as all of us know, the country really needs that badly. representative, thanks so much for joining us. up next, will the president and his allies be helped by the latest "new york times" revelations about the fbi using an undercover operation targeting his campaign? and now that speaker nancy pelosi is accusing the attorney general barr of lying to congress, will democrats take legal action? [music playing] (vo) this is jerry.
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let's get to breaking news. cnn has obtained a letter accusing robert mueller of politicizing the russia investigation. laura coats, this letter, we have all read it, it is scathing. it was dated april 19, so it has been there for a while. but only released today. and it really goes after the special counsel. >> it really does . he says yea or nay, prosecute or not prosecute, nothing else to should have been permitted, all
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the 400 plus pages essentially was fodder and a roadmap to give to the congress and democratic house in particular to give them fodder to have a roadmap to impeach. now, of course it is ironic to condemn the report for being thorough after all the millions spent to conduct the investigation. and of course people would have been enraged, the public, members of koccongress and proby white house congress if there had been a yea or nay and not the context. you would think that they would want to be holistic as possible especially since the president thinks he is totally exonerated. >> and jeffrey toobin, you read the five page letter from emmet flood. not one of his personal attorneys, this is white house counsel. is it legally the sound that he
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makes here? >> the thing that is so particular about this is that robert mueller would you say as to indict the president. he was pound he was bound by the opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. so how you can criticize him for not asking for an indictment is amazing to me. robert mueller was trying to be fair, he was trying to say look, you because of the president can't defend himself, if i say he should be indicted, i'm not going to come to a conclusion so ilg layout the evidence and just let people draw their own conclusions. in return, he gets slammed by the white house here for failing to come to a decision. so i don't think that any of
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this will change people's minds particularly. but it does seem like a particularly unfair criticism of mueller. >> and the white house counsel echl mitt flood emmet flood is accusing robert mueller of playing politics. >> i mean you can accuse anyone of anything that you like. i don't know where the the politics would be here about if someone is playing politics, it strikes me that donald trump saying total exoneration, no collusion no obstruction the day that the barr -- i guess not summary letter anymore, a top line letter. sorry. words are important. and saying we won at a rally. if emmoet flood is saying is
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true, you can't say on the one hand this is nothing more than a law school hypothesis and on the other i'm using said law school hypothesis to declare myself go exonerated. >> will this change any view on going forward with impeachment proceedings? >> i think nancy pelosi and the leadership have been pretty dug in on this essentially saying that they would rather see investigations play out. they are not taking impeachment off the table, but they want to focus on these investigations. and we saw the back and forth today with barr refusing to testify and the house still wantsing the unredacted mueller report. two problems with impeachment, one is the procedural problem. they control the house, they don't control the senate. the other is that the public isn't on their side. 56% of the public at this point is against impeachment, it is
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about the same among incidents. but again, they only control half of the legislative branch. so i think that we will stay right here if you listen to nch and she is controlling it 37. >> why do you think flood white house counsel put his concerns that are in detail here in writing while his client, we are talking about the president of the united states, continues to tout that the mule lir report completely which on rated him? >> i would guess emmet flood read the entire report and his client probably db. a did not. and he saw that there were areas of deep concern. and i agree with the panel this is a lose/lose situation that mueller was put into. imagine the outrage if he had just issued a one sentence report that said no obstruction, no collusion, or vice serversa. his opinion was not anyone
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throughout this piece. it was layer by layer of thorough investigation of the two years the same as in part one about russia's involvement. you have the retails as you would have in any investigation. s timing is interesting that this comko comes out after barr horrible day yesterday. so i think this is the white house trying to throw him a bone given what we saw today and yesterday and finding out the night before that not one, not two, but three interactions, two letters, one phone call with robert mueller. >> and it got worse today when nancy pelosi accused him of lying under oath before congress and she said that is a crime. much more on that when we come back. you need a hair smoother. get fructis sleek & shine with moroccan argan oil
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the attorney general refused to face the house judiciary committee this morning. and as that was happening, nancy pelosi was having a news conference. she is not mincing any words. the speaker of the house about his previous -- barr's previous testimony. listen. >> he lied to con congress. if anybody else did that, it
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would be considered a crime. nobody is above the law. not the president of the united states. not the attorney general. >> pretty serious. so what are the consequences? >> it is hard to say. i mean what can they do. they can't impeach him, although you have some folks like hul i can't be castro call for his impeachment. again, it is a problem. they can call him a liar, about what he knew about the mueller four page letter. at most he was misleading. whether or noter perjured himself is unclear. but i think this is what democrats want to talk about, the idea of not only barr thinking he is above the law, but tie it to the president too. and essentially just paint republicans, paint donald trump as someone who is corrupt and this is -- i think this is the broad fwr broad framing that they will go with. they don't have power to oust
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trump are are barr, but they can continue to try to frame how they think about the republicans and saying that they are unfit to run the country. >> and one of the options congress has, first of all, there is at groundhog's day element. jeff sessions also trying to decide whether he committed per injur injury. but congress has certain limited functions. contempt is a vehicle to hold anybody account think and there the impeachment process. but one way is to do it through the criminal process which relies on the 90 plus u.s. attorneys across the country. and guess who their boss is in william barr and the president who won't be eager to do so. so himmed to what happened in the civil course saying that that takes a very proceed tractsed process. ask eric holder and george w. bush when it came time to -- it all goes in to the next
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administration. so their hands are tied but to make these accusations. >> it is not 100% tied. mine it is the democrats really wanted it play hard ball, and i haven't heard many people talking about this, but congress still has the power of the purse. and congress can say we are not allocating money to the justice department unless the following changes are made. we are not allowing the white house to have the budget it wants unless the following documents are produced. this is within the power of the congress. i don't think even nancy pelosi is ready to play that kind of hard ball. but these meaningless contempt citations and frankly i think there is no doubt that it would be meaningless is not the only remedy available to the house of representatives. >> and no did you tell that the ball is in the democrats' court right now. one thing they want to avoid is going too far. and one tactic that they could take is to follow up on what
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nancy pelosi thus far has said with regard to impeachment. she says the president is not worth it, i'm not ready. you could make the argument that you won't get nid more from barr. he's been before congress multiple times for hours at length. he has made position clear it c willing to say. so let's hear from mueller. you can clearly seeing more and more tension between the two. one thing i noticed the few time that the you did see barr become irked yesterday was when he had to remind everyone that he in fact was mueller's boss. and there were contradictions that he made about mueller's assessment. so there could be an argument of saying bar is or is not worth i let's go straight to mueller. >> and his refusal to appear this morning, several moments yesterday when he was struggling
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as they asked him pretty pointed questions. watch this. >> when congressman chris asked you that question a few days late sner. >> no, i'm saying this was -- the -- i don't recall for sure. >> has the president or anyone at the white house suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? yes or no. >> could you repeat that question? >> i mean yeah, every time that he was asked specifically about what seems to be as willful misrepresentation at best, were you at all aware of dissatisfaction, he did that. and there is a reason for that.
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because he is under oath. and he knows that if he says straight out, no, i never -- he can't do that. because of the penalties there. it seems to me there were obvious places where there were weaknesses. ongoing investigations takes relates to the white house. his seeming contradiction in not telling the full truth when it came to whether or not he knew the special counsel was unhappy but i'm with you, let's say heared before the house today, he won't suddenly say you know what, that is my bad, guys. i should have told -- i'm sorry, is it cool? he has said what he is going to say. and so in some ways it is sort of -- you can keep beating that dead horse, but bill barr is not going further than he went yesterday. >> we really want to hear from mueller right now. we want to hear from don mcgahn, former white house counsel. coming up, a new report sheds light on the extraordinary steps
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that the fbi took to probe suspicions that russia had infiltrated the trump campaign. but which of the 21 democrats running for thas the best chanc of unseating president trump? we have a you into cnn poll. new. s just one free hearing test at
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concerned, but not necessarily translating into his over-august job approval numbers. >> but those economic numbers are a big deal. take a look at this. 56% his handling of the economy. and we've never in cnn's polling history during the trump presidency seen the president this high on the economy. but that didn't necessarily translate into his overall approval rating which is still under war. 52% disapproval. and that 43% that afternoapprov. and that is also a high water mark. so a good moment for president trump, but not necessarily an ideal approval rating that you would want. >> and on these early numbers between the president and democratic challengers, biden
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may not be his only problem. >> yeah, bernie sanders besting him 50% to 44%. you mentioned joe biden. he is beatings president right now 51% to 45%. and take a look at pete buttigieg 47% to 44%. kamala harris, 49% to 45%. elizabeth warren actually is the only democrat who comes up just one shy of the president. and it is beto o'rourke the former congressman from texas who is besting him 52% to 42%. again, you are talking about 5.5% margin of error. this is a baseline snapshot at the beginning of this race, this is going to be close. and the president has a big challenge ahead. >> david chalian, thank you very much. coming up, new details emerging about a bizarre attack on north korea's embassy? spain and the u.s. based activist accused of organizing it.
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we're following the breaking news on the president's white house counsel sending a scathing letter to the attorney general complaining special counsel robert mueller didn't do his job. i'll be talking with the top democrat on the senate intelligence committee, senator mark warner, that's coming up. his first tv interview since the mueller report came out. but there's other important news we're following first. new details emerging tonight of
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a bizarre attack on north korea's embassy in spain and the u.s.-based activist accused of organizing it. cnn's brian todd has been working the story for us. lots of questions surrounding this case. >> reporter: the case keeps getting more bizarre at every turn. tonight the alleged ringleader of the raid is being hunted by u.s. marshals. for first time we're hearing a startling claim from the man's lawyer about why his team went into the north korean embassy. >> my name is -- >> reporter: tonight adrian hang is on the run. his face posted on a wanted poster and allegedly armed and dangerous. he strangely uses the name as oswaldo trump, is accused of being involve in the attack on the nebraska in madrid. according to documents just unsealed in los angeles, u.s. and spanish officials accused him and several others of breaking into the north korean embassy using knives, iron bars, machetes, and fake guns.
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they tied up embassy staff members and beat them, court documents allege, before making off in embassy vehicles with a stash of thumb drives, hard drives, computers, and at least one cell phone. the north koreans call did a grave terrorist attack. spanish authorities have asked the u.s. to find and arrest adrian hmong, his the u.s. marshals aren't the only people hunting for him. >> we know from credible sources that the north korean government has -- is seeking adrian hmong and some of his associates from the provisional government and is seeking to target them for assassination. >> a brutal totalitarian regime ruled -- >> reporter: the goal of the provisional government of free josan is overthrough ki-- ove overthrow kim jong-un's regime. his lawyer says he's scared for his life and denies roughing up anyone at the north korean
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embassy. he said they were invited and points to surveillance photos of another member of the group entering. attorney lee walosky said members of the group had contact with someone at the embassy in the days before the incident. but why would members of a group which wants to overacross -- overthrow kim jong-un be there? >> it is individuals who are posted outside of north korea who when given the opportunity will choose to defect. >> reporter: so did they go to the embassy to help someone defect? >> they have said that they were responding to an urgent situation in that embassy. and i really, you know, out of the concern for the safety of some people who may still be in that embassy, i would prefer to just leave my answer for now at that. >> reporter: u.s. prosecutors now say hong's group tried to get someone to defect but he wouldn't be tray his country. hong's group has embarrassed the
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north korean dictator. >> he would see it as a threat, if he's -- he's assassinated any number of officials that he saw or perceived to be a threat, he would go after these members as much as he could. >> reporter: tonight, hong's attorney is slamming the u.s. justice department for exercising warrants against americans he says based on the accounts from north korean officials. justice officials promise the suspects will get due process. wolf? >> brian, this embassy is now being hunted by u.s. marshals. but didn't he also meet with the fbi? >> reporter: the ringleader, yes, he did. adrian hong shared material taken from the embassy with the fbi shortly after flying to the u.s. after the raid. he did come face to face with fbi agents not long ago. then not long after that, the u.s. marshals were after him. the fbi is not commenting on any of this. >> the embassy raid suspect being hunted by u.s. marshals right now. brian todd, thank you so much. coming up, breaking news, more details emerging from the white house letter attacking the
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special counsel robert mueller's investigation in a moment. senator mark warner, the top democrat on the senate intelligence committee, joins me for his first tv interview since the mueller report came out. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. we're the tenney's and we're usaa members for life. call usaa to start saving on insurance today. and we're usaa members for life. need a change of scenery? kayak searches hundreds of travel sites - even our competitors - so you can be confident you're getting the right flight at the best price. kayak. search one and done.
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here'sshow me making it. like. oh! i got one.
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the best of amy poehler. amy, maybe we could use the voice remote to search for something that you're not in. show me parks and rec. from netflix to prime video to live tv, xfinity lets you find your favorites with the emmy award-winning x1 voice remote. show me the best of amy poehler, again. this time around... now that's simple, easy, awesome. experience the entertainment you love on x1. access netflix, prime video, youtube and more, all with the sound of your voice. click, call or visit a store today. happening now, breaking news, extraordinary defect. the white house blasts robert mueller's investigation and accuses the special counsel of playing politics by failing to determine whether president trump obstructed justice. that's a crime. house speaker nancy pelosi accuses attorney general william barr of lying to congress in his testimony on the mueller report
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as barb r refuses to show up foa house hearing. clandestine meeting. details of the counterintelligence probe of the trump campaign reveal the fbi sent an undercover agent to meet with adviser george papadopoulos as part of the probe into possible ties with russia. and crossing the barr. the attorney general under scrutiny by house democrats as he avoids answering lawmakers' questions and refuses to hand over notes. could he face an investigation by his own inspector general? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." breaking news tonight, the white house slamming special counsel robert mueller for not dein

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