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Report: Trump Said, Comey Told Me I Wasn't Under Investigation; White House Official Says Russians Tricked Them; New Interview Give Insight into Trump's Thinking. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired May 11, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] KENNETH CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Happened at all. So, the President, you know, speaks strongly, uses strong words, sometimes hyperbole, but I think he made the right decision here. And they could have gone about it a better way.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Ana Navarro, how do you see it?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I see it as somebody's lying somewhere. I think this white house is like a cat with a long tail who's stepping on their own tail. They keep contradicting themselves. And there's other people out there that keep contradicting the lies they say. And this is why it's mattered as Donald Trump was tracked as having told 184 lies in his first 100 days. Because now in his next 100 days, when he wants people to believe him, we don't, because we are so used to him being the Pinocchio of President, it becomes hard to believe anything he says, particularly when the story keeps changing over and over and over again. And my request, my plea to my party, to the leaders of my party, is that, you know, that they remain loyal to the American people, to the search for the truth. If I were a Trump supporter, I would want this to be flushed out. I would want to know the answer, because if not, this President is going to fade within his 3 1/2 remaining years, carrying the cloud around him, carrying the albatross around his neck that at least half the country thinks he's saying lies. Thinks he may have been or his campaign may have been committing collusion with Russia. Let's get the truth out! Maybe we're wrong!
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Mr. Attorney General. Jump in on his growing nose.
CUCCINELLI: Two quick points. One, all of the questions and concerns that have been raised in part about how this has been done. I mean, let's remember, it was a bipartisan effort to call for Comey to be gone. Just now, other people have other concerns. However, however, the burden is very much on the white house now to come up with a proposed nominee, who is beyond reproach. This is going to be somebody like a judge who has a track record of performing as man or woman of integrity, in difficult circumstances, and they're going to have a hard Senate hearing. That's going to be the case. And the burden is on them. Point two. Look at who the acting director of the FBI is? He's essentially a Democrat. His wife ran for office in my home state, just two years ago, he was in the political literature, got $700,000 from the Clinton machine. None of that says he will or won't do a good or bad job, but it isn't like President Trump got rid of Comey so McCabe could be there running the Russian investigation. These investigations, as now acting director McCabe said today, quite correctly, I believe, the professionals of the FBI will carry them forward, just as they would have day-to-day, regardless of the firing of director Comey.
BALDWIN: It's a good point on who they selected to be the top brass of the FBI. Ken, staying with you, do you think at the end of the day this firing was just downright personal? Do you think the President had a beef with Jim Comey?
CUCCINELLI: I don't think it was personal at all.
BALDWIN: Not a loyalty thing.
CUCCINELLI: No. When you've got people like Alan Dershowitz and me, who see the law differently, but are both committed to the law, thinking Comey should go and you saw Democrats and Republicans, Comey --
BALDWIN: But he called him a showboat!
CUCCINELLI: -- dug his own hole. And one thing Comey said beyond the Rosenstein letter, by the standards of a director of the FBI, Comey in the last year or two really had become a grandstander and that's not what you want in your chief federal investigator.
BALDWIN: So, you agree with the President's assessment in calling him a grandstander and a showboat? Let's remember, though --
NAVARRO: Which, by the way, there is such great irony about Donald J. Trump calling anybody else a grandstander:
BALDWIN: I think you're reading my mind. Let's remember when Donald Trump called out -- and many people did -- you know, Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton and their chat on a tarmac and let's remember it was his wife who was running for President who was under federal investigation. But yet, now you have, you know, these apparent phone calls, at least according to the President, between him and Jim Comey asking whether or not he's under investigation when it's his campaign that's being investigated. How do you square that, Ana Navarro?
NAVARRO: I don't. I think if you try to square it away, you are either suffering a mild case of loss of memory or an acute case of hypocrisy. Because if you find Bill Clinton sitting with Loretta Lynch on a plane objectionable, surely you should find Donald Trump sitting with the director of the FBI over dinner and asking him directly about an ongoing investigation equally objectionable? And I think one of the things that the American people are tired of is the inconsistency and hypocrisy among politicians, amongst the governing class in Washington and in government. Be consistent, if you find one thing troubling, the other thing is just as troubling, if not more. Because you're talking about the principle involved.
[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Quickly, Ken.
CUCCINELLI: Very quickly, in the Senate. The Senate Republicans are going to do their jobs here. And I'm not always that encouraging about Senate Republicans, but there is going to be a high standard for this nominee, both parties are going to hold that individual to a high standard. I think that's good for America and it will bring discipline to the choice itself. The nominee that will be advanced by the President.
BALDWIN: Ken Cuccinelli and Ana Navarro, thank you both. Here's to the truth. Here's to the truth.
Coming up next, a white house official tells CNN they were tricked. The details of how a photographer from Russian state TV actually made his way all the way into the oval office. P.S., the U.S. media, not allowed in.
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Let's talk about some concerning words straight out of the white house today after the President met with Russian officials yesterday. The quote from the white house meeting, they tricked us. From one white house official, saying that they were blindsided when a Russian state news agency posted these photographs of this will oval office meeting between President Trump, the Russian foreign minister, and the Russian ambassador to the United States. By the way, the U.S. press pool was not allowed into the white house for said meeting with these Russian leaders. And CNN didn't get any official photos from the white house until moments ago, when they posted these to their Flickr account.
Although, although there are no pictures of President Trump with Sergey Kislyak, the now former ambassador now fired Michael Flynn spoke to. Michelle Kosinski with us, and a former secret service agent himself. So, Michelle, let me just begin with you. Just even the notion that the Russian ambassador was, you know, in the white house, but I guess, not in any of these photos, and there was no mention of Kislyak in the official white house readout of the meeting.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so I think this is very interesting. It was a difficult position for the white house, because here's normal protocol. Kislyak, the ambassador, is going to be with the Russian foreign minister during his visit. He's going to be there, he's going to be in the oval office. It's not as if the white house can say, no, no, no, you stay out. The white house has welcomed this ambassador into the United States, even though intelligence sources have told CNN that he's like a spy master that he's the top Russian spy in America, that he's a spy recruiter. Still, he's the Russian ambassador to the U.S. so the white house lets him in.
Even, you know, avoiding a handshake with him would have been difficult. But what makes this strange, you see these big smiling photographs. President Trump grinning in a huge, friendly way with Kislyak in the oval office. It's the timing of this. I mean, one day after President Trump fires the FBI director who was in charge of investigating Trump campaign contact with Russia. So, it's really the sensitivity of this. And that big Washington word, the optics. So, what the white house might have done is at least, if you feel like you're going to have to take a photo with this guy who's been at the heart of so many issues --
BALDWIN: The center of the probe!
KOSINSKI: The national security adviser who had met with him prior to the inauguration, he was fired for lying about that meeting with Kislyak. The attorney general had to recuse himself from investigations involving Russia, because he didn't tell Congress during his confirmation hearings that he had been meeting with Kislyak. So there's all of this strangeness surrounding it. Bu the President probably should have taken a very serious-looking photo with him at the very least. But you have the white house saying, well, we didn't even think that the Russian's official photographs would get out there, somehow.
KOSINSKI: Yes, the quote from this white house official was, they tricked us, and that's the problem with the Russians, they lie.
BALDWIN: Well, tricked or not, Jonathan, the other concern is that photographer who apparently was said to have been Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister's, you know, photographer, turns out he's state TV.
[15:40:00] JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely.
BALDWIN: Arm of the kremlin. And all the questions and concerns he got into the oval office. How could that possibly happen?
WACKROW: Well, he was invited into the oval office as part of the official delegation. To Michelle's point earlier, this is an optics issue, this is not a security issue.
BALDWIN: It's not?
WACKROW: It's not a security issue. Here's why, the secret service, the white house, they have policies and procedures to allow foreign press toll co come on to the complex, have their equipment screened, even into the oval office as part of a joint pool spray or as an official photographer. They take their photographs when they leave. There's a very comprehensive program set up around, you know, sweeping the oval office.
BALDWIN: That's one of the concerns.
WACKROW: It's a major concern.
BALDWIN: Bug the oval office.
WACKROW: And it's not just a concern with the Russians. It's a concern anytime a foreign national enters the white house. And anytime a foreign national enters the oval office, it's a risk. But that vulnerability has been identified by the secret service and there's mitigating action that they take. The program is technical surveillance countermeasures. It's a very comprehensive and technical program to search and hunt out listening devices, whether it's in the oval office or anywhere that the President goes. So, this is something that has happened, you know, administration after administration, so in this instance, I've got to say that security policies and procedures were followed and there was no issue with allowing that photographer in. This is just an optics issue.
BALDWIN: Jonathan, thank you. It is indeed, 24 hours after what happened. Michelle, thank you, as well.
Coming up next on CNN, President Trump praising TiVo as one of the greatest inventions of all time. The crystal chandelier he personally purchased to spruce up the white house. Some of these details from a new "Time" magazine interview. We'll talk about what they tell us about the President, coming up.
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: The night before President Trump decided to fire James Comey, he invited three correspondents from "time" magazine for an intimate tour of the white house. So, they were shown the golden walls. Trump decided to fire James Comey, he invited three correspondents from "Time" magazine for an intimate tour of the white house. So, they were shown the golden walls. The crystal chandelier he personally contributed. And here to talk all things TiVo and ice cream --
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I'm an expert in all those things.
BALDWIN: I like two scoops, too. But let's start with some of the details. President Trump was apparently flipping through TiVo. Didn't know that still existed. And President said former director of national intelligence James Clapper and former acting attorney general Sally Yates said the following, "watch them start to choke like dogs. Watch what happens. They are desperate for breath." And the way the "Time" writers wrote it almost like a coach going over a game tape. What did you think?
CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean, look, this shouldn't be terribly surprising though for any other President we would be surprised. But Donald Trump likes to watch a lot of cable television. He just does. You can tell from his twitter feed. You can tell from his comments during interviews. You can tell from way back during the campaign when he was asked where he got his military advice and he said and I quote on from the shows. This is what he does. Other people bowl for a living. You know, he likes to watch television.
BALDWIN: And we just wish maybe he would do more interviews. The President touted his accomplishments, reducing cost for fighter jets, denied rumors on McMaster saying I'm happy with him, but he also talked health care. Quote, "there was a mistake. We set a date and when we didn't vote everyone says Trump fails on health care. And even responded to the combativeness of the white house," he said, quote," it could be my fault. I don't want to necessarily blame, but there is a great meanness out there that I'm surprised at. I mean I'm surprised. A meanness out there."
CILLIZZA: First of all, no one goes third person like Donald Trump. He refers to himself as Donald Trump a lot.
BALDWIN: He does.
CILLIZZA: And on the other point, look, what is fascinating is in that one sentence on him making the meanness, he says maybe I'm the blame for it, but really, it's because the society is mean. I mean that is Donald Trump in a nutshell.
BALDWIN: Not owning it.
CILLIZZA: Two things are just absolutely contradictory. He just says them back to back.
BALDWIN: And then finally Brooke Baldwin thanks you for that by the way. And finally, you know, everyone is talking about the two scoops of ice cream. And apparently, this little nugget came out of this "Time" magazine piece where the President gets two scoops and everyone else around the table gets one and no word if there were sprinkles.
CILLIZZA: Right. The broader point here is that they were trying to make in the "Time" article is the white house staff has adapted to Trump's tastes. So, when everyone else gets water, he gets a diet coke. When everyone else gets one scoop of ice cream, he gets two. My two children would gladly be President if they could get double the number of scoops of ice cream. So not a terrible platform to run on.
[15:50:00] BALDWIN: If we were getting ice cream, I'd make sure you got two scoops.
CILLIZZA: Am I your Vice President?
BALDWIN: No, you would be eating fruit if you were.
CILLIZZA: Good point. And I never ever eat fruit.
BALDWIN: Duly noted, sir. Thank you so much. Coming up next, the President's very first interview since he fired the FBI director today, he contradicted the story his white house has been telling for the last two days why he says he planned to fire Comey all along.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is horse country where betting, breeding and selling of horses is big business. 16.5 million visitors travel to Louisville every year and 1.5 million come just for the Kentucky Derby. But horses aren't the only attraction in town. Here under the Louisville Zoo is the only underground zip line in the U.S.
[15:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED ZIP LINE ENTHUSIAST: It's a former 100-acre underground limestone pit mine in the middle of metropolitan Louisville. There is a lot of zip lines that go from place to place. We hit that unique factor for them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This cavern was built in the 1930s. There are 17 miles of corridors which are the perfect temperature to house Hershey's chocolate and top secret government documents. But the biggest attraction is the mega zip, a 100 foot drop into darkness.
UNIDENTIFIED ZIP LINE ENTHUSIAST: We do have a lot of people that get nervous, they can't see how deep the ground is below them, it looks like an eternal pit. We just talk them through it, sometimes give them a nudge of encouragement.
UNIDENTIFIED ZIP LINE ENTHUSIAST: A little -- nudge -- of encouragement.
UNIDENTIFIED ZIP LINE ENTHUSIAST: Zipping. Three, two, one. Go!
BALDWIN: And before we turn things over to Jake, Donald Trump called Rosie O'Donnell -- actually I won't repeat it. But he's chosen to retweet a tweet when she said fire Comey. The President saying, we finally agree on something, Rosie. I'll leave that for you to discuss. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.