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Trump's Ex-Doctor's Office Raided; Mueller Questions Leaked; Pompeo Addresses State Department; Trump Claims No Crime. Aired 1- 1:30p ET
Aired May 1, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 6:00 p.m. in London, 8:00 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
Forty-nine questions, but how many answers? "The New York Times" obtaining at least four dozen questions Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has for the president of the United States on everything from obstruction to his campaign activities.
Plus, asked whether he thinks a new "National Enquirer" cover is a message, the president's long-time personal lawyer, the so-called fixer, Michael Cohen, responds with a very ominous answer.
And, the White House blaming a clerical error for the very drastic change it made on language concerning Iran's nuclear program. We're digging for answers.
All that coming up.
But we start with breaking news. A rather bizarre new allegation from President Trump's former private physician. NBC News is reporting that Dr. Harold Bornstein says shortly after President Trump took office, only a couple weeks or so, the president's personal bodyguard and a top lawyer for the Trump Organization suddenly came into his office, made off with all -- all of the president's medical records going back decades. Here's more from Dr. Bornstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What exactly were they looking for?
DR. HAROLD BORNSTEIN, FORMER PERSONAL DOCTOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, his medical records, his pictures, anything they could find. I mean they must have been here for 25 or 30 minutes. It created a lot of chaos. I couldn't believe anybody was making a big deal about a drug that's to grow -- to grow his hair, which seemed to be so important. And it certainly is not a breach of medical trust to tell somebody they take Propecia to grow their hair. What's the matter with that?
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right, let's assess the breaking news. Let's bring in former assistant U.S. attorney Kim Wehle, CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin, he was Robert Mueller's former special assistant over at the Department of Justice, and CNN political analyst Julie Hirschfeld Davis.
So, Julie, let me start with you.
This is, you know, pretty extraordinary to hear the president's long time personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, they'd been -- he had been the physician for 30 years, if not longer, all of a sudden say that a few weeks -- a couple weeks or so after the election, they burst into his office and they start going through his files and take everything, all the medical records, regarding Donald Trump, who was then the president of the United States. And he says he doesn't think they had some sort of medical order that would allow that kind of intrusion.
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean it's very intriguing, first of all, that this doctor is a -- sort of an odd figure. He's appeared in various points since the president was elected saying different things about his state of health. But you do have to wonder whether this was a medical issue or a legal issue. And, you know, there are pretty robust privacy laws surrounding all these health records. So on what authority were they doing that, what were they actually looking for, I think we have a lot more questions than we do answers at this point.
BLITZER: And it followed a day after the -- the doctor, Dr. Bornstein, had suggested that, yes, the president was taking a drug to increase his hair growth.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, ROBERT MUELLER'S FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT AT DOJ: That's right. And it would seem to me that the procedure here is to say, I'm changing doctors. I'd like copies of all of my medical file so I can port them over to my new doctor. He may have, under HIPAA or other things, an obligation to retain these files himself. So it's -- in a sense it's sort of a burglary. They just sort of took out this stuff without, you know, any sort of legal process that authorized them to do that and it's a little bit frightening, honestly.
BLITZER: Sort of a burglary. Those are strong words when you're --
ZELDIN: Well --
BLITZER: Explain. You're a former prosecutor.
ZELDIN: Well, I just don't know under what authority a patient has the right to enter a medical office and retrieve folders, even though they're their -- folders of his own medical treatment, that they have the right to just take them without a civil procedure in a court that authorizes that in some way. I don't know for certain, but it strikes me that it is a theft of some sort.
BLITZER: What do you think, Kim? You're a former assistant U.S. attorney. KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, it's really difficult
to tell based on this limited information. But I think the broader picture here is whether we have another instance, potentially, of the notion that certainly people in government are above the law, can do the things they want to do for their personal reasons. And, you know, the story will come out, but that's part of a bigger picture if that is the case, where we've seen this particular administration not really adhering to the norms and rules that everybody else adheres to. So we'll see how this one comes out.
[13:04:57] BLITZER: Yes. Dr. Bornstein says he's speaking out after the whole incident over the past few weeks with Dr. Ronny Jackson, who was the White House physician, nominated by the president to become secretary of Veterans Affairs. He's speaking out now that he said he, Dr. Bornstein, felt raped, frightened and sad when Keith Shiller, the president's long-time bodyguard, who was then working in the White House, and another large man -- his words -- large man came into his office on February 3rd. This was, what, two weeks after the January 20th inauguration, and said they were taking everything. Bornstein said they must have been here for 25 or 30 minutes. It created a lot of chaos. He said he was not given a form authorizing the release of records signed by the president, that's known as the HIPAA release.
DAVIS: Well, and, I mean, we do -- Ronny Jackson came to public prominence -- I mean we -- those of us who work in the White House knew of him as the White House doctor for many years. But he came to public prominence when he went out to the lectern and made all those statement about the president's health. And, you know, sort of said that he gave him an extraordinary bill of health and said that he had been, you know, examining him, and they were making the disclosures that, you know, presidents, of many, many years have made about their own physical and well-being.
But the question was, coming in, was -- would this doctor of then -- you know, of President Trump's, who had been treating him for quite some time before he was elected and before he was in public life, knows something about his health that for some reason people around the president wouldn't want to come out. And so I think that's one of the questions here we have to figure out, what were they looking for? Was this just a routine, as you said, you know, we're going to get the records and give them over to his current physician, or was this more of an effort to make sure that the public couldn't find out something that the president didn't want to get out.
BLITZER: Yes. And what --
ZELDIN: And I'm not saying, Wolf, that anyone committed a crime of burglary or theft. I'm just saying, it has the sort of appearance of an unlawful taking. But I'm not accusing anyone of a crime.
And in this report that Bornstein said that the Trump team cut all ties with him, even though he'd been the physician for 35 years or so, after Bornstein had told "The New York Times" that Trump, as we said, was taking Propecia, that's a drug for enlarged prostates, that is often prescribed to stimulate hair growth in men as well. The story quotes Trump as saying that after -- quotes Bornstein as saying, after he told "The New York Times" about that, they completely cut ties with him. You think you're going to be the White House physician? Well, guess what, they said to him, you're not going to be the White House physician. So does this fit into a broader legal picture, Kim, that you see right now, what happened with this long-time personal physician of the president?
WEHLE: Well, I think it fits into a broader, legal picture to the extent to which we're seeing this president make attempts, prior to the election, to shield the American public from information.
Now, we've also heard about security clearances at the top levels of the White House, some problems with that. The security clearance process does not apply to elected officials. It does not apply to the president. It does not apply to members of Congress. The idea is, the American public gets to vet their candidates through the electoral process.
So from a broader democratic standpoint, the fact that this kind of information is being withheld is problematic and perhaps is something that Congress should think about in future years, actually requiring some of these disclosures of presidential candidates, if it's not getting out to the American public, because we, as voters, have a right to know where the problems are before we put somebody in office, the highest office in the land.
BLITZER: And what's ironic is that Dr. Bornstein, in that interview in "The New York Times," which he talks about Propecia, that drug, he also said the president was the healthiest guy -- would be the healthiest president ever in the history of the country. He was glowing about the president's help. We're going to -- health -- and we're going to get into more of that.
But there's other important news I want to get to right now.
Let's turn to the -- those special counsel questions for President Trump and the president's reaction to those questions being now out in the open. The questions reveal the focus and the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, from Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, fired, Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman, fired, and any possible ties between Russia to the president's own actions.
Here's the president tweet. His reaction. Quote, so disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian witch hunt were leaked to the media. No questions on collusion. Oh, I see, you have made up phone crime, collusion, that never existed -- that never existed and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice. Closed quote.
Let's go to our White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins. She's live at the White House for us, which is getting a lot -- a lot of this is getting a lot of attention. What's getting more attention, more reaction right now, Kaitlan, the questions themselves or the leak that was made public?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, that depends largely if you're inside or outside of this White House. If you're outside, it's the questions themselves because they really reveal the scope and the focus of the special counsel's investigation. Something that has been famously tight-lipped. But if you're inside the White House, and specifically the president, he's calling the leak of these questions disgraceful and raising the question of how they even got out there in the first place.
[13:10:07] Now, we should note, that when "The New York Times" published these dozens of questions, they said that the questions were read by the special counsel's investigators to the president's legal team who then compiled them to a list and they are sure to note that it's someone outside the legal team who gave them the list of questions.
Now, that seems to be "The New York Times" saying that it wasn't the special counsel who gave them the questions here. And it does raise the question of who is was that did leak these questions and why they leaked them.
Now, we do know that Rudy Giuliani, who is the latest edition to the president's legal team, did meet with the special counsel last week. But from that tweet that you just read from the president, he did incorrectly state that there were no questions about collusion in those lists that were published by "The New York Times" last night. But that is false, of course. A lot of the questions do deal with obstruction of justice. But at least a dozen here, Wolf, are about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and any Russian officials.
But the bottom line here, Wolf, is we know what the special counsel now wants to ask the president, but the question now is whether or not the president is going to sit down with him.
BLITZER: Yes, well, that's a great question. And we don't have an answer to it yet. But if you read those 49 questions, you can see, some are related to collusion, some obstruction of justice, some potentially money laundering, some potentially perjury. There's a lot you can read from those 49 questions and those are just the start.
Kaitlan, I want you to stand by, as well.
There's more breaking news we're following. We'll have more on the dozens of questions that Robert Mueller wants to ask the president of the United States and why the president's business dealings are also now in focus.
And any minute now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, there you see him, he's live at the State Department right now. He's going to be making a statement to career diplomats, foreign service officers. They're there in the diplomatic entrance, the lobby to the State Department. We'll hear what he has to say.
Stay with us. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[13:16:03] BLITZER: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressing State Department officials. Let's listen in.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: And I know for certain that America can't -- can't execute that duty, can't achieve its objectives absent you all, absent executing America's foreign policy in every corner of the world with incredible vigor and incredible energy. And I am looking forward to helping you all achieve that.
My remarks today will be relatively brief. Tomorrow the president will be here to do my official swearing in. I think much of the cabinet will be here as well. It's an important day for the president's first trip to this important place. And I'm looking forward to being there with many of you and having the honor to have the president of the United States do my formal swearing in.
I then will, sometime either later this week or beginning of next, do more to develop my commanders intent, what it is I hope to achieve with your help. I'll speak to the entire workforce. I'll lay out for you my expectations, my hopes, and, most importantly, share with you my leadership style.
And this is very different. Like, one of the first rules is, don't talk down to people, right? So I'll speak to you all right up here. Exactly.
But alongside that is that I feel like I know you. I've worked alongside you as a member of Congress when I traveled. I've had the chance to watch. When I was traveling around the world and I would go into an embassy and I'd arrive late at night and there were the folks in the political section or the economic section toiling, doing great work on behalf of America. So I have a great deal to learn about the State Department and how we perform our mission, but as people, I'm confident that I know who you are.
I know that you came here. You chose to be a foreign officer or a civil servant or to come work here in many other capacities and to do so because you're patriots and great Americans and because you want to be an important part of America's face to the world. My mission will be to lead you and allow you to do that, the very thing you came here to do.
I will get to as many parts of this organization as I can. I said in my testimony that I'll spend as little time on the seventh floor -- I think it's the seventh floor, right? Yes. I'll go up there in a minute. I'll be -- I'll travel. I'm going to get out to USAID (ph) as quickly as I can to see their important part of our mission as well. I know that every task, every endeavor that each of you undertakes is a critical part to achieve that ultimate objective, which is to deliver President Trump's and America's foreign policy around the world, to be a diplomatic face that achieves the outcomes that America so desperately needs to achieve in the world.
I've told this story a couple of times, but it's worth repeating. The best lesson I ever got was from a fellow named Sergeant First Class Pretre (ph). He was the first platoon sergeant in my first tank platoon when I was 22 or 23-years old. And I arrived there. He -- when I hopped out of the jeep, he said, lieutenant, you'll do well to just shut up for a while. And he -- actually I think he meant that. But -- but what I took him to be saying was that it's important that we listen and learn. And I know that I have an enormous amount to listen to you about and to learn from you.
I talked about getting back our swagger, and I'll fill in what I mean by that. But it's important. The United States diplomatic accord needs to be in every corner, every stretch of the world, executing missions on behalf of this country. And it is my humble, noble undertaking to help you achieve that. So I look forward --
[13:20:21] Thank you. I look forward to meeting just as many of you as I get a chance to do, to learning from just as many of you as I can, and to leading that team on to the field. I know that we will deliver for this president and for this country.
May the good Lord bless each of you.
I'll see you all around the building.
BLITZER: The new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, the former CIA director, former member of the House of Representatives. His initial statement to State Department diplomats, State Department employees, promising to work closely with them. Also a little news. He says the president, President Trump, will make his first visit to the State Department since taking office tomorrow for a symbolic swearing-in ceremony. Mike Pompeo, of course, was officially sworn in the other day before he headed off to the Middle East.
We're going to have much more on this coming up.
Also, much more on Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and the nearly 50 questions, 49 specifically, he wants to ask the president of the United States. We're going to analyze and discuss the president's response to the leak.
Plus, the other breaking news, President Trump's long-time personal physician says his office was raided -- his word, raided -- and the president's medical files were taken by the president's long-time bodyguard and another man. We have more information coming in on the breaking news. We'll be right back.
[13:25:56] BLITZER: The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has some very serious questions for the president of the United States, about four dozen of them. "The New York Times" obtained a list of those questions that Mueller wants answered by the president. Many of them relate to possible obstruction of justice, but President Trump insists that he can't be guilty of obstructing. This morning once again he tweeted this, quote, it would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened. Witch hunt. Closed quote.
Let's bring back our panel.
What do you think, Michael? The president is asserting there was no crime. As a result, there can't be any obstruction of justice.
ZELDIN: Well, the way the obstruction of justice statute works is, if there's an ongoing investigation, you can't interfere with the investigation. Irrespective of whether that investigation results in criminal charges, you can't interfere with the investigation or the new administration of justice. So as a legal matter, that is not a correct statement.
BLITZER: If you read the 49 questions, Julie, I know you have, I have, we all have, they fall into several categories, including the president's actions in office, as well as before, activity back in the -- during the campaign in 2016, his business dealings over the years, his 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant. What does that suggest about the scope of Mueller's investigation?
DAVIS: Well, I think it tells us, it confirms what we have long believed, which is that his scope is very wide. He's looking at both things that happened during the campaign and things that have happened since he became president. Both things that happened at his own behest and things that his advisers were doing and the degree to which the president knew about them.
And in terms of the real estate deals and some of the other business dealings that he wanted to ask about, I think this tells us that Mueller and his investigators are really trying to get to the bottom of whether Trump may have directed or had a motive for directing certain of these contacts with -- between his staff and Russian officials.
BLITZER: One of the questions -- several of the questions, in fact, Kim, focused in around the president's decision to fire the FBI director, James Comey. Why does he -- why does he -- you think he's so interested in that?
WEHLE: Because it goes to, as Michael was saying, the question of criminal intent. Obstruction of justice is all about the reasons why he fired Comey, the reasons why he tried to call off reportedly the Mueller investigation, the reasons why he asked Comey to call off the investigation of Mr. Flynn. So, clearly, obstruction is a core issue here.
I think the bigger and more interesting question, really, is, what's Trump's team going to do about this? I mean this is a nightmare for a criminal defense lawyer because if he goes and says things that are inconsistent, we all have to understand, Mr. Mueller has talked to Papadopoulos, he's talked to Mr. Flynn, he's talked to Mr. Gates. He has a whole lot of information about what the correct answer is to all of these questions. So the president either has to go and potentially perjure himself or do nothing. If he does nothing, then we -- well, we likely will see a subpoena. Then we could end up with a court hearing and a contempt order. And then it's a game of chicken. It's a game of chicken that involves politics, it involves law, and it also involves psychology, really, and -- with -- and which is really interesting with this particular president.
BLITZER: Because there's a couple ways the special counsel could operate. It could operate, you know, here are the questions and submit the answers in writing. That's one way of doing it. Another one is, have a meeting. And if you have a meeting, 49 questions, these are opening questions, but then you follow up with much tougher, specific questions, questions you know the answer to already because you've interviewed so many witnesses, and most of them are fully cooperating now with the prosecutors.
ZELDIN: That's right. And I think that gambit one of written questions and written answers is probably not on the table for Mueller. Unless there is something that we don't know about that allows him to feel confident that he can discern the criminal intent, as Kim said, of the president in writing. I think that we're talking about an interview. And I think that they -- both sides would be advantaged to work out the terms of it, because I think that the law is at the back -- the wind, if you will, is at the back of Mueller. That the Nixon versus the United States, and (INAUDIBLE) and all these cases seem to indicate that the president will not, in the end, be able to resist that interview.
[13:30:01] So he goes through a year and a half of fighting it and then has to submit to the interview. It doesn't look good for him. It looks as if he was hiding something.