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Trump Effect On Iranian Elections; Chaos on Capitol Hill Amid Flurry of Allegations; Questions Ahead of Trump Planned Visit to Israel. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 17, 2017 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:25] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello and welcome. You're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.

It is 7:00 at night here, 11:00 in the morning in Washington where you can hear this tune all over town.

It is a political circus there right now. There are so many political acrobatics going on and almost nonstop shots in what feels like a roller

coaster reality show.

We are on episode, no day 118, of Donald Trump's dramatic run as leader of the free world. And with so many storms of controversy, some critics

talking about just one thing: impeachment.

Not long from now we'll hear from Trump himself, including what he may say to his Russian

counterparts offer to lend a helping hand.

Well, we are across all the political pandemonium for you in. D.C. itself, of course, getting reaction from Moscow and from Jerusalem as well this

hour. We'll get to everyone there in just a second.

First, let's stay in Washington where some lawmakers are calling this a critical moment in history that could have grave consequences. Americans

now facing yet another bombshell that could be the clearest indication yet that Mr. Trump tried to influence the FBI investigation into his campaign's

ties to Russia.

Let's kick this off with Joe Johns who has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another bombshell in 24 hours. The besieged Trump White House now facing accusations of obstruction of

justice that could lead to impeachment, at least in theory.

A memo drafted by now-fired FBI Director James Comey details President Trump asking him to shut down the Michael Flynn investigation during a

February meeting in the Oval Office, saying, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He's a good guy. I hope you

can let this go."

CNN has not seen the memo. The story was first reported by "The New York Times."

The president told Comey that Flynn did nothing wrong, despite the fact that he was fired for lying to the vice president about his conversations

with a Russian ambassador. Sources tell CNN the encounter happened after a briefing involving

Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who the president asked to leave the room so he could speak privately with Comey.

Comey was reportedly so appalled by the president's comments, he documented the exchange. Just one of a number of memos he wrote out of concern that

the president was trying to stop the investigation. The White House flatly denying the explosive allegations, saying the president has never asked Mr.

Comey or anyone else to end any investigation.

This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.

In a tweet last week, President Trump threatened or at least warned Comey about potential tapes of their conversations, recordings Comey hopes exist

in order to corroborate his account, according to sources.

The Oval Office meeting happened just one day after Flynn was fired and two weeks after the president summoned Comey to a dinner at the White House,

reportedly asking him to pledge his loyalty. Comey refused. Less than three months later, Comey was fired. The president has openly said Russia was on

his mind when he made that decision.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and

Russia is a made-up story.

JOHNS: On Capitol Hill, top congressional leaders stunned at the latest bombshell and largely silent.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I think they are shaken and shell-shocked by this news.

JOHNS: But one Republican, the chair of the House Oversight Committee. Jason Chaffetz, tweeting he is ready to issue a subpoena to obtain Comey's

memo, if necessary, before sending the FBI a formal request to supply all notes and recordings detailing conversations between Comey and Mr. Trump by

next Wednesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan telling reporters he agreed with the move, adding, "We need to have all the facts."

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: I saw that Speaker Ryan said some things tonight about getting to the bottom line. Frankly, I think he should -- he

should be more aggressive. This is not a time for Republicans to hide. JOHNS: Democrats on both the Oversight and Judiciary Committees demanding

an immediate investigation as a growing number of lawmakers call for Comey to testify publicly as soon as possible. A move, sources say, the former

FBI director supports.

[11:05:12] SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The country is being tested in unprecedented ways. History is watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If these allegations, Senator, are true, are we getting closer and closer to the possibility of yet another impeachment

process?

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Reluctantly, Wolf, I have to say yes simply because obstruction of justice is such a serious offense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, that was Joe Johns reporting for you.

The entire world, then, watching to see how this all plays out and what will happen next. We're going to get to Matthew Chance in Moscow and Oren

Liebermann in Jerusalem in just a moment. First, let's get you to Jessica Schneider in Washington. This is probably the most complex question that

you will ever be asked to answer. Jessica, what happens next?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question. You know, Maggie, it really remains to be seen -- sorry, Becky -- what happens next

here. There is a lot swirling on Capitol Hill.

This morning for the first time, we did hear from House Speaker Paul Ryan. He basically reiterated what he said in a statement last night. It was a

very short statement. He did talk briefly about it today saying that we need the facts here. We do know that in a closed door session he urged

congress to continue going forward in its oversight responsibilities regardless who is in power

here.

So really what happens next this could be a long drawn out process. Democrats are now calling for the oversight committee to really take the

reins here. We know that Representative Jason Chaffetz has written to the FBI, asked for those memos from James Comey. They want those produced.

And Chaffetz had said he is ready with his subpoena pen if he doesn't get the memos to him.

So really the ire now falls on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to keep things moving, keep this investigation going forward. They already have a lot on

their plate. They've been investigating the Russian meddling in this election. They've been investigating Russia in

general. And now they're looking to this.

So a lot of questions swirling and lawmakers now finally speaking out, even some Republicans, even Senator John McCain who of course has been a critic

of President Trump, last night he said that we are getting to a Watergate moment. So he invoked, of course, Watergate back in the 1970s.

But Republicans now slowly starting to speak out about this. In fact, two members of congress this morning, they've been holding back on recommending

a special prosecutor. Two of them saying today well maybe it is time now for a special prosecutor.

So this is all rolling forward and a lot to come, I'm sure - Becky.

ANDERSON: Jessica, thank you for that. And viewers to remind you the box on the right hand side of your screen which just disappeared, it will come

back shortly, is the images that we are getting as we await the president who will be speaking a little later this hour. And we will get you to that

just as soon as it happens.

Well this story is a two-headed beast, at least. So let's go from Washington to Moscow now, that is where Matthew Chance is standing by for

us. Top Democrat on the House intelligence committee said on Wednesday, Matthew, that my, and I quote, "the last thing President Donald

Trump probably needs right now is for Vladimir Putin to be vouching for him".

Now, this was after the Russian president denied that his U.S. counterpart had disclosed classified information to Russian officials.

What is the perspective there in Moscow?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Vladimir Putin clearly not listening to that advice, because he took an opportunity today

to throw President Trump a lifeline. He is referring to the now controversial meeting that took place a couple days ago between

President Trump and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov in which there are allegation that's Trump revealed classified details to the Russian foreign

minister.

Putin said that's not true. And if you don't believe him, then they got a transcript of the meeting, a recording as he called it, which he'd be very

happy to pass on to the U.S. congress and the U.S. Senate for examination. We didn't up until that point know that there was a transcript of that

meeting. So that is something that Russian president revealed.

He also took the opportunity to take a sideswipe at the political chaos in Washington or political circus as you called it, joking about it. Take a

listen to what he had to say to his very receptive audience who laughed in response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We see that a political schizophrenia is developing in the U.S. around this. And I can't

find any other explanation for the president supposedly revealing some kind of secret to Lavrov. Incidentally, I had a talk with Lavrov this morning

and had to rebuke him to give him a telling off that he didn't share the secret with us, neither me nor the Russian special services, and that was

very bad of him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: Putin also had harsh words for Trump's critics in the United States saying they don't appear to understand that they are harming their

country, which makes them in his words just dumb, or if they do understand it, it makes them dangerous and dirty, so some very harsh words there from

the Russian president, Becky.

[11:10:46] ANDERSON: that's the view in Moscow then. Let me get our viewers to Jerusalem.

Matthew, thank you for that.

Oren Liebermann is standing by. For more on the reports that Israel was the source of that sensitive information Mr. Trump shared with Russian

diplomats.

Oren, political schizophrenia is how President Putin described what is going on in Washington.

Now, one of the leading papers in Israel today asking what else can go wrong before President Trump's trip to Israel next week? What's the

perspective among the Israeli intelligence community about how the Trump administration and the president himself treats classified information that

is shared by a strategic partner?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the current intelligence community is being very quiet about this, and they haven't

made any public statements. that's not all that surprising. It's a secretive community to begin with and this is not a time to pop your

head up and make a big show about something.

But the former intelligence community isn't holding back. We spoke with Denny Yatoma (ph), former head of Mossad, that's Israel's spy agency,

essentially equivalent to the American CIA. And he says if this is it true, if Trump really compromised an Israeli source, especially if it's a

source related to ISIS, then Israel needs to seriously consider holding back some of the intelligence when it comes

to speaking with American intelligence officials and especially with President Donald Trump.

That is an enormous statement coming from Israel which shares such a close strategic alliance with the United States, but he wasn't hesitant to go

there. He said they really need to consider this.

Now interestingly, you're hearing a very different message from Israeli politicians. If you talk to the politicians, here is nothing going on in

Washington. And that's because Trump is expected here now on Monday. So in less than a week, and they want this visit to go off without a hitch.

They want the controversy to stay in Washington. And even if it's the elephant in the room from Netanyahu on the way down, they want these

meetings to go as well as possible. They haven't really mentioned not disclosure, or the alleged disclosure or an Israeli source, an Israeli

classified information to the Russians, not the dispute about the embassy, not the conflict about the western wall, they just want this visit to go

well even as indications mount that these are all the shadows that are cast over Trump's visit

here.

ANDERSON: And they want it, Oren, to go well how? What is it that they want out of

this trip? I'm talking about the Israelis here.

LIEBERMANN: Right now it seems like they just want no surprises, nothing spontaneous from Trump. Of course, he could do something very spontaneous

that would surprise everybody. The Israeli government under Netanyahu would love to see an embassy movie and there are increasing calls for it

even though that doesn't seem likely to happen. In that sense, they just want pro-Israel statements especially with conflicts and conflicting

statements about is the Western Wall in Israel? Is it in the West Bank as well as some other confusion about what it is that Trump's Middle East

policy is.

So for the visit to go well, it would seem that it would just have to be the prepared statements, the easy statements to make about the U.S. and

Israel being such close allies. Trump has made it very clear he want to advance the peace process. There will inevitably be some statements about

that.

But at this point, especially at this point with everything happening in Washington, they just want this meeting to go well here between Trump and

Netanyahu and no surprises.

ANDERSON: Well, let's see. That trip, of course, Monday, Tuesday before that. He is in

Saudi. And he's got a number of other stops on what is an eight day trip post Jerusalem. Your reporter's, views, are in Moscow and in Jerusalem,

thank you, chaps, as ever.

Well, the American president isn't just the talk of the town in Washington, in and in Jerusalem, but also in Iran. Ahead of crucial elections. We

explore the Trump effect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:57] ANDERSON: You are with CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

Our top story this hour, the political firestorm shaking up the White House. But the Trump effect is being felt elsewhere as far away as Iran.

On Friday, Iranians head to the polls to choose a president. Their decision could radically change the course of relations with the United

States.

We've just learned officials say the Trump administration will extend sanctions relief on Iran as

called for under the 2015 nuclear deal. That report is coming to us from Reuters. We'll discuss that momentarily.

Frederik Pleitgen has more now on the Trump effect on Iranian politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iranian conservatives mobilizing days before the protection. Their candidate,

Ebrahim Raisi, looking to unseat the moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani and make Iran assertive, his supporters say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Raisi has morals, he's a good man. He's knowledgeable and he does what he says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Mr. Raisi, if being president, our relation with the United States will be worse.

PLEITGEN: Conservatives say the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and world powers two years ago, weakened Iran and hasn't brought the economic

benefits many hoped for. Despite the removal of sanctions, unemployment remains high, especially among those with university degrees.

And of course, relations with America and the west pay a major role in Iran's upcoming election. Many people in this country feel that the U.S.

has not kept up its end of the bargain in the nuclear agreement, and they want a future president to take a harder line.

Instead of detente, the Trump administration has been talking and acting tough on Iran. Slapping Iran with new sanctions after its military

conducted ballistic missile tests earlier this year.

PLEITGEN: So there's a Trump factor then, a little bit?

HAMED MOUSAVI, STAFF, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think in the last debate when issues of foreign policy were discussed, the

conservatives were criticizing Rouhani for not being tough on the Americans.

PLEITGEN: Rouhani continues to defend the nuke deal and accuses Iranian hardliners of undermining efforts to ease tensions with the west.

HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): When they wanted to jeopardize the deal, we witnessed what they did. They broadcast the

underground bunker with rockets to destroy the deal. They wrote on the missiles to destroy the deal so we could not benefit from it.

PLEITGEN: Rouhani's comments are drowned out by a wall of noise at the conservative rally, where they hope their efforts will be enough to give

Iran a new conservative government.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, we heard Professor Hamed Mousavi in Fred's piece talking about the Trump effect on Iran's election Hamed teaches political science

at Tehran University and joins me now.

Mixed messages some might suggest from the Trump administration about Iran. On the one hand, hardening rhetoric about the country and its policies, on

the other news that they are likely to extend this sanctions relief.

Now it is clear there is somewhat of a Trump effect in these elections if only the effect of the nuclear deal in sanctions on the economy. But how

much do you believe foreign policy plays in the end into what is going on at present?

HAMED MOUSAVI, TEHRAN UNIVERSITY: Well, thank you for inviting me.

Yes, the main issue in this election is the economy. In terms of foreign policy, it is important because it does have an effect on the economy which

is the main issue. When Hassan Rouhani became the president four years ago, his main mandate was to improve the economy and nuclear deal with

western powers. Now he was successful negotiating a deal and there has been minor improvements to

the Iranian economy, nevertheless, there hasn't been as much as expected by the Iranian people. So, the average person on the street has not really

felt any sort of change from before the nuclear deal.

And this is what is making Rouhani vulnerable to his opposition. They are accusing him of implementing the deal rather badly. And as a result, Iran

is not getting what it should be getting as a result of the deal.

ANDERSON: Does he have (inaudible) fear this new U.S. administration under Trump?

MOUSAVI: Sorry, if you could repeat that question. I didn't quite get it. Can you repeat that question?

ANDERSON: Does the average Iranian understand the position of this new Trump administration? If they don't, that is perfectly understandable,

very few people do. But my question is, is there a concern amongst average Iranians about what this Trump administration might do next on Iran?

MOUSAVI: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that was the main concern during the debates as well. President Rouhani was promising that in this new - if

he does get reelected - in his new term, he would even try to work to lift non-nuclear related sanctions. Yet, his opposition is telling him that is

highly unlikely with Trump in power in Washington. Also, even regarding the existing nuclear deal, they are saying, they are accusing, rather,

President Rohani of being too soft on the Americans. They're saying that the United States is not upholding its sideof the deal by imposing new

sanctions on Iran.

And they are saying that if they come into power, especially Ebrahim Raisi, he is saying if he comes into power, then he's going to be more tough on

the Americans to uphold their side of the agreement.

ANDERSON: And that's fascinating. So, should Hassan Rouhani win in the first round, let's just use that as a hypothetical, what would you then

expect his rhetoric and positioning to be with regard to the United States going forward? Will it harden?

MOUSAVI: Yes. But one of the interesting things in the debate was that none of the candidates were saying that they were -- they are going to

scrap the deal. All the candidates were saying that they would honor the deal, because the deal been ratified by the parliament and has been

approved by the supreme leader.

Nevertheless, the difference is in terms of implementation. What the conservatives are saying is if they come into power, then the United States

should expect Iran to respond appropriately if they impose sanctions on Iran. Because essentially they are saying the only reason why Iran

negotiated the deal in the first place was for the economy to improve and they are

saying that that has not happened.

ANDERSON: Sure.

With that, we'll leave it. We thank you very much indeed for joining us. Those elections, of course ,Friday in Iran.

Well, let's get you up to speed now on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now.

And ISIS says it is responsible for an attack on a television station in eastern Afghanistan. Two civilians died after five militants stormed the

building and waged a gun battle with security forces there. A local official says four attackers were killed and one was arrested.

A protest outside the Turkish embassy in Washington turned violent on Tuesday. Nine people were injured after - which was just hours after

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with U.S. President Donald Trump. The protest got bloody when two groups, Erdogan

supporters and his critics, clashed.

The U.S. soldier behind one of the largest leaks of classified material in U.S. has been released from military prison. Chelsea Manning tweeted first

steps of freedom. She had faced a sentence of 35 years, but in one of his last acts in office, Barack Obama commuted that sentence.

Well, another story that we are following closely, U.S. President Donald Trump had a long

contentious relationship with journalists, hasn't he? On our website, we have got full coverage on our top story. Trump's controversial remarks to

the former FBI Director James Comey reportedly including what he'd like to do to stop leaks and punish the reporters who cover them.

Take us with you wherever you go on the phone and on the web or on your mobile, of course. We are at CNN.com.

Well, the latest news world headlines are just ahead, plus the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives reacts to the latest

controversy surrounding the president. And we are waiting for Mr. Trump to speak as the world watches. What is growing turmoil surrounding his White

House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:26] ANDERSON: In the last hour, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan held a news conference to talk about tax reform, but reporters only wanted to talk

about Donald Trump. Well, correspondent Ryan Noble joins us from Washington.

And Ryan, some Republicans have been complaining that the controversy surrounding Mr. Trump and there are a number of them are making it harder

for them to promote their legislative agenda. Is this a textbook example of that?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about that, Becky. I mean, you are spending time up here on Capitol Hill and you see lawmakers darting

from one end of the capitol to the other. And essentially any question there being asked has to do with

Russia, has to do with James Comey, it has to do with these controversies surrounding the White House.

So, when you're dealing with answering questions about that, it makes it a lot more difficult to focus on things like health care reform or tax reform

or passing a budget.

And Paul Ryan said today in that press conference that he feels that his conference can walk and

chew gum at the same time. B ut honestly, Becky, there is no evidence of that. Their legislative accomplishments have been pretty minimal up until

this point. And there is no way they can ever get Democrats to join up on any type of substantive legislation when you

have a White House that is in crisis as it is now.

ANDERSON: Shocked, shaken, shell-shocked, that's certainly how I have heard some of the law makers in Washington describe what is going on at

present. Just describe the atmosphere if you will on the Hill.

NOBLES: You know, right now you have a hill that's really - to a certain extent in a paused situation. They really don't know what to do about

taking the next step. You know, you see a much different tone from Republicans than you saw even 48 hours ago where most

Republicans seemed content to defend the president and to give him the benefit of the doubt. Today there are much more in a wait and see posture.

They want this evidence. They want to see this alleged memo. They want to hear from James Comey in an open testimony. They want the transcripts of

these meetings that took place in the White House. And then from there, they'll make some sort of an assessment as to the future of the White House

and how they approach the White House.

So you do have a smaterring of Republicans that believe it's time to call in a special prosecutor, but much different than what you saw at the

beginning of the week where they thought to a certain extent that president was being unfairly attacked. Now they want all the information to come to

the forefront and then make some sort of an assessment after that.

ANDERSON: President Trump has a five country, eight day trip coming up, scheduled to start in Saudi on Saturday. Do you get the sense from

lawmakers in Washington that this provide some respite if nothing else, the fact that he is leaving the country on his first presidential trip for a

little more than a week? I mean, he has got a lot of big important meetings to have, but is there this sense that this

kind of period of time might be a time well spent out of the capital?

NOBLES: Well, honestly, Becky, it depends on how the president conducts himself when he's abroad. You know, he could meet with more than 40

different world leaders. You know, we have the specter of him perhaps providing classified information that came from the Israelis to the

Russians. He's going to be in Israel. Could that make for an uncomfortable conversation?

So, yes, you're right, he won't be here in Washington, and perhaps that gives the leaders here in the House and Senate some flexibility to look

into these issues without the specter of the White House, but if he goes abroad and creates another controversy, that will make their job even more

difficult. So, I think that they're cautiously optimistic that this trip could be a positive one, but you can't predict anything with this White

House.

ANDERSON: Fascinating.

All right, well that trip, as we said, started in I think Friday night out of Washington into Saudi on Saturday morning.

We will be covering that here in CNN. We are waiting for President Trump to speak. As he does so, we will get to that. But before that, as the

controversy surrounding him escalates, some are starting to use the "I" word: impeachment. U.S. Senator John McCain isn't going that far,but he is

making comparisons to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s that eventually forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I think it's reaching a point where it's of Watergate size and scale and a couple of other scandals that you and I

have seen. It's the centipede that the shoe continue to drop. And every couple of days there's a new aspect of this really unhappy situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:35:15] ANDERSON: Well, if it comes down to impeachment, what happens? Well, check our presidential impeachment 101, a CNN legal analyst breaks

down everything you need to know, that is at CNN.com

Meanwhile, the White House says a president never asked the director of the FBI to drop the Michael Flynn investigation. Well, we are left wondering

who to believe, of course: the president of the United States or the sacked director.

Well, I'm joined now by Eric Lichtblau, assistant managing editor for CNN Investigates whose has reported on James Comey for more than a decade. You

probably forgotten more about James Comey than we - most of us will ever know.

So, at this point, to your mind, what does he do next?

ERIC LICHTBLAU, MANAGING EDITOR, CNN INVESTIGATES: Well, I think the next big moment for him will be almost certainly an appearance before congress

either in the Senate or the House or perhaps both.

My sense he that he is eager to testify and to get his side out publicly, not behind closed doors, but to be questioned about his frenzied four plus

months of dealings with the president and how that figures into the Russia investigation and ultimately his firing.

ANDERSON: I know that you spoken to one of my colleagues today and you say that you are almost certain he will testify and that you said it will be

one for the history books should he do that. Get inside his mind for me if you will. Where is he at this point?

LICHTBLAU: Look, Comey is a big man in every respect. He is 6'8". And he has a big sense of self righteousness, which some see as a blessing and

some see as a curse. He is a man who's convinced that he is sort of the ultimate decider when it comes to matters of legality and ethics at the

FBI. That's what we saw in the Hillary Clinton email scenario where he gave a remarkable unprecedented public press conference to air the findings

there. At the end of the campaign, 11 days before the election, he sent now notorious letter to the committee chairman saying that they're re-

examining that. Hillary, of course, blames that for the loss, in part.

He is someone who has not shied away from the spotlight. And I think that we will see that

again here, you know, in maybe its most dramatic form yet where you have the situation of the fired FBI director publicly testifying against the

president who fired him over an investigation into Russian collusion. It doesn't get much bigger than that in terms of Capitol Hill drama.

ANDERSON: Sure.

Knowing what you do know of this man, what is the likelihood that he did tell Donald Trump on a number of occasions, three separate occasions, I

believe, that the president was not under investigation?

LICHTBLAU: That seems very unlikely to me and to everyone that I've talked to. We now know that there was an FBI counterintelligence opened last

July, so five months before the election. Trump claims that the FBI director told them that three times. He's a bit vague as to when these

happened. One apparently was in the very first dinner.

It just seems highly, highly unlikely, especially when you add to that Trump's own credibility problem hen it comes to a lot of things he said on

this and other issues, that the FBI director would let the president know, hey, you're off the hook, you don't need to worry even while he's

investigating at least a handful and probably more of the president's aides about possible involvement. I don't know anyone who thinks that that

is likely to have happened.

ANDERSON: Eric, some fast facts for our viewers. Stand by. Only two American presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson about 150

years ago over some constitutional wrangling. He survived by one vote; and there was Bill Clinton back in the 90s as for why you'll remember the name

Monica Lewinsky.

Now you may be thinking only two? What about Richard Nixon? While he was almost certainly going to be, he dodged it by simply resigning first. So,

Eric, two were impeached by the House, but both were acquitted by the Senate.

So the worst case for Trump may be isn't that bad. He could survive this, right? Should it happen.

LICHTBLAU: He could survive it. You know, we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. The "I" word, as you call it, is certainly popping up

in the last 48 hours more than it ever had before. I don't want to start predicting, you know, what the outcome of that might be if that even

happens, but, you know, I got to Washington right in the middle of the Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton impeachment saga and the frenzy in Washington

these last few weeks, and especially the last few days really feels to me that I walked into then just where every moment from the White House

becomes, you know, a moment of such high drama and really the city and the White House are paralyzed by the controversy. No one could talk or think

about anything else. It feels a lot to me like that time.

[11:40:14] ANDERSON: Eric, it's a pleasure having you on. Thank you, sir. And we are waiting for Donald Trump to speak soon. Live pictures from

Connecticut where he is going to speak at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He is sitting very patiently there in the

wind.

It will be first time we hear from Mr. Trump since the report of the alleged memo emerged and

deepened the controversy that was already engulfing the White House.

We're not sure if he's going to address that, but we will be monitoring this for you.

Lots more to come after this very short break. It's busy day. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.

Nearly quarter to eight here in Abu Dhabi. Welcome back.

and Donald Trump about to speak at the graduation ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut in the States.

But the seas surrounding the U.S. president, well, they are far from calm. The White House reeling from another major bombshell, a memo drafted by

then FBI director James Comey says that the president asked him to shut down the investigation into former national

security adviser Michael Flynn. It is the strongest sign yet that the president may have tried to influence the investigation into Russian

meddling in the 2016 campaign.

Well, he has defended the sharing of sensitive intelligence with Russian officials last week. And officials say Israel was the source for some of

the information, which covered the bomb making capabilities of ISIS.

There are growing concerns the militant group could hide explosives in laptops and other devices to bring down airliners. CNN's Brian Todd has

the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:45:04] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The threat of a bomb on a plane is what prompted President Trump to discuss terrorist threat intelligence

with the Russians. The president tweeting he discussed, quote, "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety." The Washington Post

reports it was more specific than that.

GREG MILLER, WASHINGTON POST CORRESPONDENT: It was really sensitive information about an ongoing and unfolding Islamic state terror plot that

has caused a great deal of concern among counterterrorism officials.

TODD: When U.S. officials recently imposed a ban on laptops in passenger plane cabins on flights from eight countries CNN was told there was concern

that terrorists had developed ways to hide explosives in laptop battery compartments.

Is there something specific about a given laptop that allows a terrorist to kind of more easily conceal something?

ROBERT LISCOUSKI, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, we're not getting into how they would do it, I

would tell you that the laptop contains components that would be easily -- more easily mimicked to be a real device from it might not be a real

device.

TODD: Tests show even a small amount of explosives could have devastating consequences. A laptop bomb is how this Somali plane was almost downed last

year. This photo publish by the New York Times shows the explosives on upper right, hidden where the DVD drive was but they could still be seen

under a scanner.

Terrorists have been targeting planes for year. The underwear plot in 2009, the printer cartridge plot in 2010 were masterminded, intelligence official

say by bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri who worked for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Could he have shared his expertise with ISIS?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I think it would be surprising if the leadership of AQAP took the strategic decision to share their advance

bomb-making capability with ISIS. The leadership of these two groups are at logger heads, they can't stand each other.

TODD: Still, ISIS has advanced its bomb-making capability. The group brought down a Russian jet in the Sinai Peninsula in 2015 with a bomb

implanted in a soda can. How did ISIS get better with this?

CRUICKSHANK: It had access over the last several years to urban areas, potential access to laboratories. Because there have been so many people

from all around the world that have been recruited into its ranks, the fear is it has people with a sudden scientific pedigree, a sudden scientific

know-how.

TODD: U.S. Security officials are meeting with their European counterpart this week to discuss the proposal to possibly expand the laptop ban to some

airports in Europe with flights to the United States.

A homeland security official tells us the reports that President Trump disclosed classified information about the laptop threat will have no

bearing on those negotiations.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, on a sigh note for you, viewers, travel to the U.S. may be experiencing something of a Trump slump. One study forecasts a 10.5

million declined in visitors this year and next. The drop nearly 7 percent of expected travelers will cost the U.S.

economy more than $18 billion and about 107,000 jobs, that is according to tourism economics, a forecasting firm used by the industry.

We are waiting for Mr. Trump to speak as the world keeps an eye on the controversy surrounding the White House, more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Right, you're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. If you're just joining us, you're very welcome. If you've

been us with, and I hope you have for the past 45 minutes or so, welcome back.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has broken her silence about her exclusion from the French Open tournament after serving a 15-month

suspension for using banned substances, she was ranked too low to gain direct entry into the open.

Well, fans were hoping she'd be granted a wild card slot, but the French Tennis Federation shot

that down saying that would be inappropriate for a player returning from a doping suspension.

Let's get you over to Connecticut. Donald Trump is speaking.

(DONALD TRUMP U.S. COAST GUARD ACADEMY COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS)

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