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FBI now has intelligence suggesting Russian operatives tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign; President Trump calling the 100-day marker of a presidency, quote, "Ridiculous."; Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: In "The Situation Room". "Erin Burnett OutFront" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next breaking news, the FBI now has intelligence suggesting Russian operatives tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign, our exclusive report coming up.

And more breaking news this hour, new satellite images of the North Korean Nuclear site is another nuclear test imminent and a top Obama White House staffer opening up about her old boss, President Trump and Ivanka's job. Let's go out front.

And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. Out front on this Friday, breaking news, our CNNs exclusive. We are learning tonight that U.S. intelligence officials have gathered information that suggests Russia tried to use Carter Page and other Trump advisors to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Page is a former investment banker. He's described himself as a junior member in his words of Trump's foreign policy team during the campaign. This development tonight a major one in the ongoing investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

Pamela brown has been following this story, breaking news from the start. She is out front tonight from Washington and Pamela, what more are you learning this evening?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we learned the FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggested Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisors, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign. This is according to multiple U.S. officials.

Now, Carter Page's critical speech of U.S. policy against Russia back in July of last year at a prominent Moscow university is part of what raised concerns of the bureau that he may have been compromised by Russian intelligence but this new information add to the emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election, not only through e-mail hacks and propaganda, sometimes, referred to as fake news, but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit.

Now, the intelligence that was gathered led to this broader FBI investigation into the coordination of Trump's campaign associates and the Russians but the officials we spoke to made clear, they don't know whether Page was aware the Russians may have been using him because of the way Russian spy services operate. Page could have unknowingly talked with Russian agents, Erin.

BURNETT: So, what is Page saying in response to this report, Pam?

BROWN: Well, we reached out to him today. He disputed the idea that he's ever collected intelligence for the Russians, in fact, he said at times he, actually, helped U.S. intelligence.

And this is what he said, quote, "My assumption throughout the last 26 years I've been going there, as in Russia, has always been that any Russian person might share information with the Russian government as I have similarly done with the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies in the past."

But, Erin, U.S. officials say the intelligence does suggest that Russia tried to infiltrate the inner workings of the Trump campaign by using back door channels to communicate with people in the Trump orbit, people like Carter Page, but he is one of several Trump advisors whom U.S. and European intelligence detected was in contact with Russian officials and other Russians known to Western intelligence during the campaign.

It was the scope and frequency of those contacts that raise the interest of U.S. intelligence agencies and, Erin, it's important to note that within the Trump campaign, Carter Page was viewed as someone who had little or no influence.

So, there is, of course, the scenario where the Russians may think that they are able to use someone to get into the campaign and influence the campaign but in Carter Page's case the campaign says he had very little influence, Erin.

BURNETT: Right and that's, of course, what they say and as you point out, there could be been others who were targeted in similar ways. I mean, where do things stand now with the investigation, Pam?

BROWN: Well, it's ongoing, Erin. Intelligence analysts and FBI investigators, they have been analyzing various strands of intelligence from human sources to electronic intercepts, financial records and they have found suggestions of coordination, collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials but we're told that there's not enough evidence to show and prove that crimes were committed.

These officials we've speaking with say, now, part of the problem for investigators has been that they lost their opportunity to conduct the investigation in secret after several leaks last year revealed the FBI was looking at people close to the Trump campaign and then, after those reports people that the U.S. was monitoring changed their behavior which made it more difficult for the FBI to monitor them, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Obviously, that could end up being extremely crucial here in all of this. Pamela, thank you very much with that breaking news and now, Juliette

Kayyem, former assistant secretary of Homeland Securty, Bob Baer, former CIA operative and Steve Hall, the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations.

So, Steve, let me start with you. This reporting, you heard Pam, Russian operatives tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign targeting multiple people. How big of a deal is this?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS, CIA: It's a pretty big deal and it's completely consistent, I think with the Russian modus operandi.

They would have been looking at the Trump campaign, other campaigns as well but they would've been looking for people inside that they could recruit or, somehow, come to, sort of, an agreement with to provide them with inside information as to what was going on.

If it was Carter Page they would, you know, they had a whole different or whole set of different responsibilities. They might wanted of him to carry out from simply identifying other people in the campaign, what the Russians referred to as an access agent, people perhaps more senior to him.

It's actually being a full-blown, you know, reporter from the inside, so -- but, it's very consistent with what the Russians do all the time.

BURNETT: And Bob, you know, we know Carter Page met with a Russian spy and he says, oh, he didn't know the guy was a spy when he met with him. How does Russian recruiting of Americans happen? I mean, in the case of someone like Carter Pages, what would they have offered him? How would they have gotten him on board?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER OPERATIVE, CIA: Well, there are a couple of things. They could offer him, Carter Page, money, business opportunities. They could even appeal to his ego. KGB officer might approach him and say, hey, listen. We need better relations with the United States. How would you like to be, sort of, a back door as, you know, and then you get someone talking about the Trump campaign, about Trump and, ultimately, Steve is absolutely right. They were trying to place Carter Page as a source inside the Trump administration and it's a scatter shot.

They go for anybody they can get to but they have access to and you can't blame the KGB. That's what it does for a living. They go after Americans, recruit them, put them in high level jobs, they report.

BURNETT: So Juliette, you know, here's the thing, we're talking about Carter Page, but we know, from the reporting tonight, that this is not just one person, right, it's not just Carter Page.

We know that this is several people, right, we don't know, necessarily, who those other people may be in the Trump campaign, but, how big could this attempted infiltration have been? JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY: Well,

it would defy all expectations of the KGB to think that they would have just relied on Carter Page.

My sense is that they, spending five minutes with Carter Page, they would have also known what a unique character he is and maybe, have been unreliable.

They're not going to stop with him though. So, the -- so, it's both interesting that we know that it's Carter Page because he's, sort of, the weak link but he's definitely not the last link and so, I think this investigation will continue to determine whether anyone else was approached and then, of course, the ultimate question is was there any collusion.

BURNETT: Right and this -- and that, Steve, is, of course, the big question because you heard there at the end of the report, Pam, saying intelligence officials have found, and the word that we use is, suggestions of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

I mean, that's a pretty stunning thing to say, not just investigating it but suggestions of it. Not enough, though, at this time to prove any crimes were committed. Do you see this going in that direction?

HALL: You know, I've long said about this, I think there's way too much smoke for there to be absolutely no fire but there's, sort of, two different thresholds and I don't envy the FBI its job because it has to prove, you know, in front of a judge the collusion happened.

But from somebody for more of a counterintelligence background that I come from, you look at things analytically more as opposed to, you know, a factual proof base thing and I think it's simply silly to say that somebody like Carter Page or even a Mike Flynn would say, yes, I've been traveling to Russia for all these years.

I have these, sort of, pro-Russian policies but I have no idea why the Russians would want to talk to little old me. Why is it? I just can't think of it. That's kind of silly. It's -- they must have known that there was any -- indeed, he said it himself, right? He said, look, I know that the things that I say will get back to the Russian government.

So, the groundwork is already there. What the FBI will have to work very hard to do is to prove that.

BURNETT: Bob, crimes?

BAER: Crime, Flynn worked for the Russians. He took money from R.T., the television station. It's an outlet of the Kremlin, of the FSB if you like and the FBI, Erin, doesn't get a FISA warrant unless it has some pretty good proof.

If Carter Page had just been a developmental and nothing had happened, they would approach him and say, "Hey, guess what? The KGB is after you," and they would've warned him off. So, they saw something in the intercepts or whatever they have that

suggested that he crossed the line. That's the way it works.

BURNETT: And Juliette, so then they get that FISA warrant which we now know they had a on Carter Page but we also now understand is that when there was leaks that came out, that there was an investigation at all, people close to the Trump campaign that were being monitored by intelligence changed their behavior. Do you think they were able to evade U.S. monitoring from then on? Is that -- those leaks, perhaps, what could save them from formal, sort of, crime or indictment?

KAYYEM: It could but the FBI would have been willing to pivot to see -- you know, to be able to follow the lead but, also, in any court or, let's say, in any interview in which someone is under oath, an FBI agent can say, look, you were using this phone number until December 20th.

Then, on December 20th The New York Times or CNN came out with this story and on December 21st you dumped that phone number and you're using a new number. Why is that?

Well, if that person lies, that's your -- that's the beginning of your case, right? You may not get them on the crime but you're going to get them on the lie. That's why these cases take a long time because each individual person will eventually probably work in their own self- interest.

So, while I agree with Steve that these are harder cases from the FBI side, there is nothing so far that is moving us in the direction of it's all a coincidence. Every single one of these stories is moving us in a different direction away from benign and I don't -- we're not at collusion yet but we're definitely not heading in the other direction.

BURNETT: Right and again, Steve, just to empathize the reporting tonight is suggestions of collusion but not enough, at this time, to prove anything criminal.

Of course, Steve, and the other question is how high does it go, right? Bob mentioned General Flynn and you've got Carter Page, you have Paul Manafort, of course, who had long ties to the Russians. Ultimately, the question, though, will be, right, did this go to Donald Trump?

HALL: Well, that is indeed the question and although I'm not aware of any specific, you know, allegations with regard to Trump, a lot of people have been positive. OK, so when he was in Russia for one of his beauty pageants or something like that, is it possible the Russians collected compromising information, Kompromat, on him that could be used later or that has already been used?

Again, it's stuff that the FBI needs to get to the bottom of but all of it is completely consistent. Have seen this time and time again on the Russian side with how the SVR and FSB, the Russian intelligent services, do business and it's all -- it all looks very familiar.

BURNETT: Bob, what do you think, in terms of -- do they have these files there?

BAER: Well, the big question is what, sort of, communications, encrypted communications were there between Russia and the Trump tower? There was a "New York Times" article a couple of months ago, it was talking about Alpha Bank which is one outlet to the FBS and where is that going? I don't know but there is certainly something very strange going on here.

BURNETT: Thousands of contact attempts. Yes.

BAER: Yes.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it on that breaking news this hour. And next, President Trump made big promises for his first 100 day days. Now, he calls that time frame in and of itself completely ridiculous. Could this be the biggest flip-flop yet?

Plus, new satellite images of a nuclear site in North Korea breaking this hour. We're going to show you exactly what you're seeing on the screen. These are just in to CNN. Is Kim Jong-Un getting ready to conduct his sixth nuclear test?

And after more than five weeks on the run, a teacher accused of kidnapping his 15 year old student is caught and we are going to go inside the remote cabin where they were found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): "Erin Burnett OutFront".


BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump calling the 100-day marker of a presidency, quote, "Ridiculous." Now, that may be true but in his case it comes after having campaigned on, well, his hundred days and how much he was going to accomplish by next Saturday which is day 100. So, why is he flip-flopping? Jim Acosta is out front.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a critical milestone for any president but nearly 100 days in office, President Trump complains this is no time to judge his performance. "No matter how much I accomplished during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, and it has been a lot, including Supreme Court, media will kill." But, in the lead after the 100-day mark, the president has repeatedly tried to make the case he's putting points on the scoreboard.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're now in the process of rebuilding America and there's a new optimism sweeping across our country.


ACOSTA: But, the president has yet to follow through on many of the promises he said he could accomplish in his first 100 days in office such as health care reform, imposing term limits on members of congress and tax reform. During the campaign the president promised there would be so much winning, the American people would grow tired of it.


TRUMP: We're going to win so much you may even get tired of winning and you'll say please, please, it's too much winning.


ACOSTA: In fact, the president laid out his 100-day agenda and an event just weeks before the November election.


TRUMP: Coming up, just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration. We are going to have the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan.

On the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington.

Ethics reform will be a crucial part of our 100-day plan as well. We're going to drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, D.C.


ACOSTA: So far, much of what the President has done has come through executive orders not legislation.

The White House is taking another stab at repealing and replacing Obamacare, something the White House hopes can actually pass the house before Mr. Trump hits that 100-day milestone next week.


TRUMP: The plan gets better and better and better and it's gotten really, really good and a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon.


ACOSTA: But, standing in the way, the prospect of a government shutdown. Congress has until next week to pass a bill to fund the government. One potential obstacle, the White House is still insisting on money for one of the president's biggest promises, a wall on the Mexican border.

In the Oval Office, the president didn't sound worried that a shutdown could actually happen as he hits 100 days in office.



TRUMP: I think we're in good shape.


ACOSTA: Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters he does not think the government will shut down because, at the very least, the White House has confidence congress will pass a short term spending bill to keep federal departments and agencies open but Mulvaney was clear-eyed about the difficulties in dealing with congress these days saying, quote, "We're going to learn a lot about the next four years over the next four days." Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim. In "OutFront" now, David Gergen, former presidential advisor to four presidents, Mark Preston, our senior political analyst and John Avlon, the editor-in- chief of "The Daily Beat".

So, John, you know, President Trump before and after Election Day was very consistent about this. Here he is.


TRUMP: On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our country.

Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration. Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days. There are those that say I've done more than anybody in 100 days.

I don't think that there is a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone's done nearly what we've been able to do.


BURNETT: So, look, he's the one talking about it but then, today, he says the whole thing about 100 days is ridiculous.

JOHN AVLON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAT: Yes. You don't get to do that. I mean, he wouldn't have to think about what the first 100 days will bring, we know. We got a pretty good idea.

There's the historical standard which is objective, applied to all presidents since FDR. By that standard, certainly, in terms of legislation, he's fallen short and then his own rhetoric.

So, you know, I'm sorry. No do overs Mr. President. It's not a great track record in the first 100 days.

BRUNETT: And Mark, you know he laid it on thick. Here he is in Gettysburg, which he chose as his location, to say this.


TRUMP: Fully funds the construction of a wall on our Southern border. Don't worry about it. Remember, I said Mexico's paying for the wall. Fully repeal Obamacare. I will direct my secretary of the treasury to label china a currency manipulator. Establish tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers.


BURNETT: Mark, those promises that he just said have not been kept, right? Obamacare not repealed. China not a currency manipulator, he said directly, tariffs not there. The wall not paid for, certainly, not by Mexico. Does it matter?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It does matter and we should say a couple of things. One, we're using, in some ways, a false yardstick to judge how he's doing in, you know, in his presidency but it's a yardstick that, as John has noted, we've used historically to see how presidents are doing and how they're coming out of the chute.

It's not only the media, it's the candidates themselves. So, as we saw Donald Trump, you know, said he was going to get all these things done in the first 100 days, the fact of the matter is, he is fallen far short and all of his success, Erin, we've been saying this for -- from day one since he was sworn in January, all of his success has been through executive orders.

It hasn't been through legislating. It hasn't been through his great skills as a business negotiator. It has been the power that's been given to him in the constitution that allows him to bypass congress to get certain things done, rolling back regulations, and that's where he's hanging all his success on. Real success is working with congress in getting major legislation.

BURNETT: And to the point you just made, I mean, David, to date, President Trump has signed 27 executive orders, OK? Three of them were today. President Obama had signed 19 orders by this time in his first 100 days. Is this something the president deserves credit for or not?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: Well, his conservative base will certainly think so, Erin. He promised he would reverse some of President Obama's policies and he's been doing that through executive order. He's been working on, you know, for example, in climate change which was very, very important to the Obama administration.

Conservatives can also be appreciative and they are of the Gorsuch appointment. I think more moderate is mainstreamers can be pleased at when he reverses himself, at least, in foreign policy.

BURNETT: It's the way they wanted it to be.

GERGER: He has to be able to move away from the extremes or the mainstream. So, if you look at that, there are some things he's put on the board but I said some weeks ago that it looked as if he were going to wind up with the worst 100-day record of any contemporary president.

We're nine days away and I think that -- every day, I think it becomes clearer. That's where he's headed. He has no major legislation passed. All of his major initiatives, health care, tax reform, infrastructure, wall, you can go down the list, you know, nothing is moving on any of those fronts and the government may shut down the end of this week.

What's been stunning is that on one hand his White House agents said we got to get the house to pass health care reform before the 100-day mark and he comes out and says some ridiculous (INAUDIBLE) they still haven't gotten themselves straightened out about their messaging.

So, they're still in their -- you know, in terms of learning how to govern well, they're in preliminary stages and I don't think his 100 days will be well remembered.

AVLON: And what's so stunning about what David just pointed out is this is all with unified control of government, right? This is republicans controlling the house, the senate and the White House and they're still playing footsie with a default and a government shutdown.

They still haven't gotten legislative done. It makes that a much harder standard to judge his failure to get success up to this point. You can't spin your way out of it.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all.

And next, Hawaiians outraged, Jeff Sessions losing his cool tonight when asked about his "Island in the Pacific" remark and President Trump promising the biggest tax cut ever. Really?


BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump promising a huge announcement next week.


TRUMP: We'll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform. The process has begun long ago but it really formally begins on Wednesday, so (INAUDIBLE)


BURNETT: Trump also telling the A.P. that the tax cuts quote will be -- let me quote here, quote, "Bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever."

Jason Carroll is Out Front at the White House. Jason -- OK, so, we have, you know, a lot of, perhaps, hyperbole, maybe, not. I mean, is this going to be an actual plan or not?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's what a lot of people are waiting to see. You heard what the president had to say there about this big announcement on Wednesday but then, Erin, shortly after that the White House, basically, stepping back on some of that.

Basically, saying that what the president was trying to say is that he was meaning to have some, sort of, a tax reform plan out all along, maybe, it will be Wednesday, maybe, it will come a few days after that. What is really looming above this administration is what you and your

panel were talking about before. It's this 100-day mark. It's been very clear that the White House has been trying to get out ahead of this.

Trying to say, look, here are some of the things, in terms, of executive orders that the president has been able to accomplish but he's been unable to get through some of those signature measures that he talked so much about out on the campaign, repealing and replacing Obamacare, immigration reform.

If he was to, in some way, get at least an announcement out about tax reform that would be a feather in this administration's cap, one, that some say it's badly need before the 100-day mark, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you so much and I want to go straight now to our senior economics analyst, former economic advisor to Donald Trump, Stephen Moore and president of the Economic Future Group, Jonathan Tasini.

So, Steve, you know, you spent a lot of time with Trump. You helped him on a tax plan which he says he's been working on for a long time. So, when he comes out today and says, it could be the biggest tax cut ever, do you buy it?

STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, it's music to my ears if it is because I think the economy does need a tax cut and you know, the heart of the plan that we put together for Donald Trump back during the campaign, and I don't think they are deviating too much from this is, to get those business tax rates down.

As you know, we've got the highest business tax rates in the world. We're shooting ourselves in the foot with a 40 percent rate when the other countries are about 20 percent. So, that I think is going to be the heart of it.

What's going to be interesting to see, Erin, is whether they go for the long ball. And they also try to reform the 60,000-page individual income tax system which is a mess. But, you know, you're taking a lot of special interest groups onto try to do that.

BURNETT: Jonathan, do you believe it, biggest tax cut of all time?

JONATHAN TASINI, PRESIDENT, ECONOMIC FUTURE GROUP: Well, Donald Trump always talks about size because he's inherently insecure, whether it's his biggest electoral victory or crowds. That's the narcissism in him.

But we can look at Donald Trump's plan during the campaign and Paul Ryan's plan and we can derive this. This will be, again, the Republican playbook to rob the people. It will mostly shovel a huge amount of wealth to the very wealthy who don't need a tax cut and are quite rich.

And Stephen was respectfully wrong. The tax rate of most corporations and this is a study by Citizens for Tax Justice is about 21 percent. In fact, corporations pay higher rates in many -- half of those corporations that were studied, 258 of the Fortune 500 pay higher tax rates in foreign countries.

It's just not true that corporations are at a disadvantage. It's false.

MOORE: Why are they leaving then?

TASINI: They're not leaving.

MOORE: I mean, you can look at the statistics. We have seen Burger King, Medtronic, (INAUDIBLE) Walgreens wants to leave. Pfizer wants to leave.

TASINI: They're leaving --

MOORE: I could list 20 major Fortune 200 companies that have left the country.


TASINI: It's not because of the tax codes. It's because they have slave labor they can find in other countries and rob people because they can employ people.

BURNETT: No, we're talking about headquarters.


BURNETT: Hold on. I hear your point, both of you on corporations. But I want to talk about individuals because you made a point, Jonathan, when you said this is going to be tax cut for the wealthy.

TASINI: Yes, I can actually talk about numbers if you want.

BURNETT: OK. So, let me play what Donald Trump said. I actually talked to him the day he released his first tax plan in 2015. And there weren't many specifics at that time either. He did, though, say he would take on the rich. Here he is.


TRUMP: I will probably end up paying more money but at the same time I think the economy will do better so I'll make it up that way. I will probably end up paying more money. I believe in the end I might do better because I really believe the economy is going to go boom, beautiful.


BURNETT: What do you say, Jonathan?

TASINI: It's false. It's never been true that under Republican tax cuts plan. In fact, the economy has done better under Democrats going back to actually Nixon when you had pro-growth efforts where you had higher tax rates than what Republicans had. So, this whole notion you're going to cut taxes is false based on the record.

BURNETT: What about the point he could pay more? Steve, is there any reality to that or is that just a whole lot of hot air?

MOORE: Well, two things. I mean, first of all, the two biggest rate reductions in taxes we had in the last 50 years, Erin, were under JFK in the '60s and under Ronald Reagan in the '80s. And those were of the biggest --

BURNETT: JFK was cut from 90 percent or something.

MOORE: Yes, we went from 90 to 70 and Reagan took it from 70 to 28 percent.

By the way, you guys know this. In the '80s, when Reagan cut the highest tax rate from 70 to 28 percent, the tax receipts to the government doubled because the economy did so well.

Now, I helped write the original tax plan that Trump talked about during the campaign. It is not true that rich people are going to get a tax cut because the way we devise that plan is every dollar reduction in terms of lower tax rates were offset by getting rid of the special interest tax provisions in the code.

That's not much different, by the way, than what Bill Bradley wanted to do, Dick Gephardt, Ted Kennedy in the 1980s. They were all in favor of that.

BURNETT: What do you say, Jonathan?

TASINI: Top 1 percent, $88,000 tax cut. That's for the top 1 percent meaning --

MOORE: That's not true.

TASINI: Let me --


BURNETT: Jonathan, finish your point.


TASINI: Stephen has to interrupt. Are you done interrupting?

Forty-four percent of the tax cuts will go to the top 1 percent. This is factual. Citizens for Tax Justice, I urge people to go to the website. They're the most respected organization analyzing.

BURNETT: A quick final word, Steve.

MOORE: You know, on this issue about the corporations not paying the high tax rate.

[19:35:00] TASINI: He's not talking about the personal tax rate.

MOORE: We have the highest statutory rate in the world.


BURNETT: That doesn't matter.

TASINI: The effective rate is 21 percent.

BURNETT: Sorry, Steve. You get the final word.

MOORE: What I'm saying is some companies pay tax rates of close to zero and other corporations are paying 40. That's a terrible tax system. We want to get rid of the loopholes and maybe everybody company pay a low, flat rate but everybody is paying their fair share. That will bring jobs back to the United States.

BURNETT: All right. We'll leave it there. Thank you both very much.

And we'll see what happens next week, whether we actually got a plan or the announcement of the plan coming up.

And next, breaking news: new satellite images of a North Korean nuclear site. There are big changes tonight. We're going to go through the images just in to CNN.

And Obama emerges. The ex-president preparing for his first public remarks since he left office. Why now? A former top staffer my guest.

And you're looking at a cabin where police caught up with a missing teacher and student on the run for 39 days. We're going to go inside that cabin with a story that's been gripping the nation.


[19:40:06] BURNETT: Breaking news: new satellite images from a nuclear test site in North Korea showing new activity taking place there. What is Kim Jong-un planning?

Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT, at the Pentagon tonight.

And, Barbara, this is a known nuclear testing site. Obviously, we know they could be readying for their sixth nuclear test. These images show something seems to be going on.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, I think it's fair to say tonight, the problem for the United States is they don't know. It's the unpredictability and the uncertainty that causes so much concern right now.

These images have continued to show actually that there are key signs. Some cabling has been put in underground. That would monitor a test. Water has been pumped out of tunnel. Dirt has been dug out. All the signs that would lead you towards a test being imminent, all the preparations being completed for a test. But there's other areas of the site that don't show activity that seem very stable. So, the big question tonight is, is the test off? Is the site somehow

in a standby status? Or these some of the final signs that a test could be imminent? There's no real answer tonight, Erin.

BURNETT: And, obviously, the big question will be what would President Trump do about that. I mean, that is a major concern.

You also, tonight, Barbara, are learning new information about some of the weapons. The weapons that Kim Jong-un put on parade last week. What have you learned about that?

STARR: So, the parade is over for several days. Those weapons have to go somewhere. And all indications are we are being told that they are headed back to their bases.

So, this is now the second thing the U.S. is watching very carefully as these missiles head back to their bases. Will they be readied for launch? Will there be additional test launches from the regime.

And as you just said, Erin, the big question, if there are test launches of the missile, if there's a sixth underground nuclear test, how will President Trump react? No indication of military action, but he's been trying to press the Chinese to stop all of this. And how he reacts and deal with China may be the big question.

BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you.

And new tonight, Attorney General Jeff Sessions angry, having a heated exchange with reporters. He's under fire, as you may know, for his slam on a judge in Hawaii, which means, a U.S. judge, of course. A judge in Hawaii for those keeping track in the states.

Sessions called the judge, quote, "a judge sitting on an island in Pacific." But Sessions is angry and says he has no regrets.

Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Attorney General Jeff Sessions refusing to apologize for this comment he made about Federal Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional powers.

SCHNEIDER: Judge Watson halted the Trump administration second try at the travel ban last month. Sessions refused to back down from his remarks while on the Mexican border tonight.

SESSIONS: I share with you my concern that we have 700 federal judges in America. I made the point that one of them not subject to having the advice of General Kelly, the attorney general, the secretary defense, the CIA director. One judge overruled the constitutional authority of the president of the United States to protect America through his executive order.

SCHNEIDER: Sessions further explained his comments this way on CNN.

SESSIONS: I wasn't criticizing the judge or the island. I think it's a fabulous place. And had a granddaughter born there.

SCHNEIDER: But the backlash was swift and lawmakers in Hawaii pounced. Senator Mazie Hirono tweeted, "Jeff Sessions' comments are ignorant and dangerous."

Senator Brian Schatz telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer --

SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D), HAWAII: We're appalled. We're disgusted. We're not happy. But, on the other hand, we really love our state.

SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump was the first from his team to lash out at the judiciary, accusing the judge who oversaw the Trump University fraud lawsuit of bias.

TRUMP: I've been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall, OK? I'm building a wall.

SCHNEIDER: In an ironic twist, that same judge, Gonzalo Curiel, has just been randomly assigned an immigration case involving the Trump administration. Conservative media sites like Breitbart and the Daily Caller have joined in the attacks on the judiciary, accusing judges who have ruled against the administration of playing politics.

Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller has said criticizing the judicial branch is perfectly appropriate.

STEPHEN MILLER, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: It's ludicrous to say that the Congress can criticize the president and the president can criticize Congress and judges can criticize the president, but the president can't criticize judges.

SCHNEIDER: But Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal countered on CNN's "NEW DAY".

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This kind of talk is fundamentally disrespectful to the independence of our judiciary.


[19:45:05] SCHNEIDER: President Trump also slighted the federal judge in Seattle who put a halt to his first travel ban. The president called him a, quote, "so-called judge" via Twitter. And politicians are now pointing out when it comes to Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he was a senator voted to confirm Watson to the federal bench -- Erin.

BURNETT: Irony. All right. Thank you.

And next, Barack Obama, he's going to be coming out giving his first public appearance since leaving office. His former top aide is my guest.

And inclusive access, we're going to take you inside that remote cabin where a schoolgirl and her 50-year-old teacher were caught after alluding police together for more than five weeks.


BURNETT: Former President Obama about to step back out into the spotlight. For the first time since leaving office, the former president will hold his first public event. He's going to speak in Chicago. All eyes, of course, will be on what he says about Trump.

Earlier I had the chance to speak with Obama's former deputy chief of staff, Alyssa Mastromonaco. She's also the author of "Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?"


BURNETT: There's the picture of you on the front of the book, of course, with President Obama. You worked side by side with him for nearly a decade.


BURNETT: And now, he's vacationing. I mean --

MASTROMONACO: He's living his best life.

BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty amazing. You know, he's parasailing. He's jet-skiing. He's wearing jeans. He's going to Starbucks.

Is he ever going to come back to politics?

MASTROMONACO: I mean, I don't know -- he has to, right? I mean, he needs to come and pay for the vacation, I assume.

But, no, he'll be back. If there's anyone who deserved a vacation, it was -- it was those two.

BURNETT: Even as we say President Obama has been very quiet and, you know, I mean, off on vacation --


BURNETT: -- he did speak out. Most presidents don't speak about their successors. Very early on, President Obama did and it was related to the travel ban, specifically.


BURNETT: When Trump put that in.

And he -- a statement from his spokesperson read, I'll read a little clip to you, "The president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion."

[19:50:07] Do you know why he felt so compelled to say that and does he regret that? Because we haven't heard him since.

MASTROMONACO: So, I cannot imagine that he regrets it. This is not like Barack Obama coming out and talking about a bill that's on the floor, or even health care, which meant so much to him. This was racist. And how could the first African-American president, a country that he, you know, presided over for eight years and not say anything?

I would have been more surprised if he didn't say anything.

BURNETT: So, when you think about the Democratic Party right now --


BURNETT: -- and, you know, you've left, you're now of Vice Media --


BURNETT: -- you are writing a book, but the party itself has been in turmoil. And now trying to get momentum with these town halls. But Hillary Clinton, she's kept a low profile. Maybe she's writing a book, but she's not out there very much.


BURNETT: Bernie Sanders is out there. Is he the leader of the Democratic Party?

MASTROMONACO: Bernie? I mean, I think if you ask Bernie, he would say no. I think he even said he wasn't a Democratic the other way.


MASTROMONACO: Tom Perez, I think -- you know, he is -- I think Barack Obama is probably still the leader of the Democratic Party, even though he is sort of on hiatus right now. I hope Hillary comes back, but she more than deserves some time out, to sort of regroup.

Tom Perez I heard is sort of cleaning house at the DNC, and sort of starting from scratch. So, hopefully, this will be -- you know, going into 2018 will be a moment where the Democratic Party's identity crisis is over.

BURNETT: You know, now, it's different in the West Wing, in many -- in many regards. But one of the biggest is Ivanka Trump.


BURNETT: You know, it was an informal role and now it is a normal role. And I don't think any question who the most important advisor is for Donald Trump. She has been at world leader meetings.


BURNETT: She's going to be going to Germany, representing Donald Trump at a G20 women's meeting.


BURNETT: She has an office in the West Wing. What is she doing?

MASTROMONACO: I wish I knew. Can you tell me what she's doing?

I mean, she -- here's what I know, working in -- working in public service isn't a hobby. And we were up every morning and in the office, and even the most senior people, we knew what we were expected to accomplish every day.

BURNETT: And what advice would you give her?

MASTROMONACO: I would say, she'd really define her portfolio and tell people what she hopes to accomplish. If she could make some promises, if she made -- if she asserted what she wanted to do, then I think people would give her more of a pass and wait -- give her time to do some of those things, but, you know, right now, it's just -- it's just a hobby.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you so much. We really appreciate it, Alyssa.

MASTROMONACO: Thank you, Erin. Thanks.


BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, inside the one-room cabin, where authorities finally arrested a teacher, on the run for more than five weeks with his 15-year-old student.

Our exclusive reporting, next.


[19:56:42] BURNETT: New details tonight on a story that has captivated the nation, a 50-year-old teacher in custody, after running away with his 15-year-old student.

I'll show you the suspect. His name is Tad Cummins. He's been on the run, evading authorities for more than five weeks.

He had been suspended from his job in Tennessee and the reason was allegations that he and that teen had been seen kissing.

Days after disappearing, the two were seen at a Walmart in Oklahoma. This is the last anyone saw or heard from them until they showed up in this remote community, deep in the wilderness near California's border with Oregon.

The man who tipped off police telling CNN the former teacher introduced the 15-year-old as his wife, adding that the two were supposedly looking for a new start.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRIFFIN BARRY, ALERTED AUTHORITIES TO TEACHER: He came by and I was helping him out, he said they had a house fire in Colorado. And out of money.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did he ever tell you what the relationship was between himself --

BARRY: The first time he said it was his wife, but she was in the car, always looking away.


BURNETT: Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT and she's in the very cabin where Cummins and the 15-year-old were found.

I mean, Sara, it's a stunning story. You have had exclusive access, though, to the cabin. Take us inside and show us what authorities found.

SIDNER: I want to give you a look quickly outside, to show you how remote this is. We're in the mountains, in Siskiyou County, in a place called Cecilville. Most people have never been here before. It is a bit hard to get to.

Now I'm going to come inside so that you can kind of see where Tad Cummins and his 15-year-old victim spent the night. We understand they were in a commune first for a few days. That's about an hour and a half into the mountains, very remote area. Then they came here.

Look at this place, this is about an 11 by 11 feet. You can see there's no electricity. It is bare bones. The owner gave us permission to come in after the FBI left and took all the evidence that they wanted.

And what we noticed down on the ground is the paperwork from the FBI, leaving it here, saying this is a search warrant describing the things that they were able to take from here, including thing like coconut oil and KY Jelly. Those important because authorities are trying to prove that he intended to try and do sexual acts with this minor who was just 15 years old, you can also tell that they were spending time here, planning to spend maybe a little more time, there is a place to cook, they bought plenty of food.

And they had intended to be in this place that is very, very remote, hard to find by any stretch of the imagination -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. So, you spoke to the young man who tipped off authorities. How did police eventually get to where you are in that incredibly remote place?

SIDNER: Griffin Barry, the caretaker of this cabin, the property owner is gone, told us that he noticed some strange things with these two that showed up out of nowhere. And so did his friends, they noticed they didn't have a license plate and eventually, he himself called police.

And he was the one that got Tad Cummins to come out so police could take a hold of him and arrest him -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much. And, hopefully, this will have a happy ending obviously. That girl will have a lot of healing and recovery to do in her family. Thank you so much, Sara.

And thanks so much to all of you as always for joining us. We'll see you back here on Monday. Have a great and safe weekend.

"AC360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.