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NEW DAY SATURDAY
House Intel Committee To White House: Hand Over Tapes By June 23; Trump" No Collusion, No Obstruction, Comey Is A Leaker; Trump And Comey Accuse Each Other Of Lying; Criminal Law Expert Joins Mueller's Russia Probe; Trump and Team Send Conflicting Message on Qatar; Cavaliers Avoid Sweep with Record-Setting Performance. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired June 10, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I didn't say that. I will tell you, I didn't say that. There would be nothing wrong if I did say that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump versus Comey, one of them is lying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would be willing to speak under oath to give your version of --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: One hundred percent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he said-he said situation. Both guys say the other one is lying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you tell us about the recordings?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Over a short period of time, you are going to be disappointed when you hear (inaudible).
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The House Intelligence Committee says enough is enough. Demanding to know whether or not these tapes exist. That deadline is June 23rd.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker. We want to get back to running our great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We are so grateful to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. What a week it has been, which means we have a lot to talk about.
PAUL: We have a lot of people who are talking with us this morning. President Trump waking up at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey. You are right, just a chaotic week in Washington. Former FBI Director James Comey had his stunning testimony, his memos, possibly secret tapes of President Trump's conversations with him, dominated the headlines here. Now, lawmakers are demanding all those records by June 23rd.
SAVIDGE: And that's not all. Senator Dianne Feinstein is asking the Judiciary Committee to investigate potential obstruction of justice. But the president is not backing down, calling Comey a liar and a leaker, and saying that he would be willing to testify under oath 100 percent. CNN's Jim Acosta has details.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Speaking as he tweets in short bursts, President Trump tried to have it both ways, clinging to the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey as his salvation while also slamming the man he fired in the same breath.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker.
ACOSTA: During a news conference with the Romanian president, Mr. Trump denied he tried to shut down the Russia probe, specifically when it comes to former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that, I mean, I will tell you I didn't say that.
ACOSTA: The president also rejected the notion that he asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty as the former FBI director said in sworn testimony.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance, who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean think of it, I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's response when asked whether he would speak under oath on the matter?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: One hundred percent.
ACOSTA: But the president dug in his heels on the question of whether he has recordings of his conversations with Comey and others at the White House.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'll tell you about that maybe some in the very near future. I'll tell you about it over a very short period of time. OK? OK. Do you have a question here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you tell us?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Over a fairly short period of time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there tapes, sir? PRESIDENT TRUMP: You are going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.
ACOSTA: In their response to the Comey testimony, Democrats are eager for the president to tell all he knows under oath with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would expect at some point, not right away, but at some point that Mr. Mueller will feel he has to depose the president.
ACOSTA: Once subject the president was not asked about his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The White House has danced around whether the president has confidence in the attorney general. Even some Republicans say it's time to know more about Sessions' interactions with the Russians during the campaign.
SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We, on the intelligence committee want to know the answers to those questions. We have begun to request information from the attorney general to allow us to get to the bottom of that.
ACOSTA: The president was asked by a Romanian reporter whether he's committed to NATO's Article 5, which would mandate that the U.S. come to the defense of the alliances more vulnerable nations on Russia's border.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm committing the United States, and have committed, but I'm committing the United States to Article 5. Certainly, we are there to protect. That's one of the reasons that I want people to know we have a very, very strong force by paying the kind of money necessary to have that force. Yes, absolutely, I would be committed to Article 5.
ACOSTA: The president gave no indication as to when he plans to answer the question, whether he has any recordings of his meetings at the White House. The president will be spending the rest of the weekend at his golf course in New Jersey. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
PAUL: All right, let's bring in our panel, Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Gabby Morrongiello, Washington bureau chief for the "New York Post," Joey Jackson, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, and Tom Fuentes, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, and former FBI assistant director.
[06:05:02]Thank you all so much for being with us. We certainly appreciate it. I want to ask you, first and foremost, Errol, any indication that if there are no tapes because the president just said there you are going to be very disappointed, which makes it sound like there are no tapes. If there are no tapes, at the end of the day, what does it mean for this whole thing? Was it strategy, distraction? ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I wouldn't rule out the existence of some kind of recordings. We should get away from the antiquated terminology involving tapes because I don't think we are going to find a cassette player somewhere in the White House.
PAUL: Very good point.
LOUIS: But I think it's very possible that there are recordings. If you look into it, you'll find that almost every call that the president makes, if it goes out over an internet line, all of those calls are recorded. They are transcribed. There's a great deal of not even hostile surveillance, but just routine recording of important conversations.
The president's, you know, sort of, showbiz-type appeals, stay tuned, you know, you'll find out, you'll be surprised, tune in tomorrow, we will find out one way or the other. I don't know that it really affects it.
Because these esteemed attorneys that you have here, my fellow panelists will tell you, a contemporaneous accurate recording that's done -- that this is what former Director Comey has done, taking notes right after a meeting, doing it consistently, creating a sort of reliable record is almost as good for legal purposes and I think in the eyes of public opinion.
SAVIDGE: So Joey, when it comes to the heart of the testimony that was given by the former FBI director, do you think that lawmakers now have a case for obstruction of justice?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know what, Martin? Good morning to you, Christi, and the panel. Obstruction of justice, Martin, taking a step back really means what Congress says it means. And so ultimately, we could wax poetic about what obstruction is, he intended to interfere with an official proceeding, was there an official proceeding, what is his intent to be corrupt?
But ultimately, Congress, if they have no appetite to move forward in any obstruction case, there will be no obstruction case, and from looking at the Comey hearing, where you have the Republicans essentially, take Marco Rubio, for example.
So essentially what you are saying, sir, is that he asked for loyalty. OK, what president doesn't, and you know what, he asked you to tell what we already know, the American people, you told us in Congress that the president is not being investigated. He said back off. Is that really what it is?
So if you look at the tenor of the Republican questioning and the tenor of the Democratic questioning, it appeared that the Republicans were supporting their president and the Democrats were trying to find something nefarious in terms of the president.
And why that matters at the end of the day, Martin, is because you need a majority in the House who have again the appetite, it's a Republican House, to vote articles of impeachment and then you need two-thirds, 67 senators to ultimately convict him in the Senate.
And so in terms of an obstruction case, in terms of this political climate, I don't think so.
PAUL: OK, Gabby, what about the consequence if this June 23rd deadline is not met? As you know, the House Intel Committee has asked both Comey and the White House for any evidence they may have.
GABBY MORRONGIELLO, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "NEW YORK POST": Well, look, I mean, if this comes down to a he said-he said situation as President Trump hinted yesterday that it would, he might be willing to testify under oath in a way that would push back against the testimony that we heard from James Comey earlier this week, those tapes that he once claimed to have are really going to be the deciding factor.
I have to disagree with Errol here. I think that having recordings of the conversation would lend a certain amount of credibility to whatever President Trump is claiming he said or didn't say. That would be absent, even in the meticulous notes James Comey took in his -- after his conversations with the president.
And so I think that if there aren't tapes, there's going to be a question of which man has a greater reputation, which man has more credibility going into this.
I would err on the side of saying that congressional investigators are going to lean toward somebody like James Comey, who has been in government for decades, who is seen regardless of how he handled the Clinton e-mail investigation, and everything that has transpired with Russia as a credible individual, somebody who is honest and forthright. And President Trump maybe not as much seen as having those characteristics.
SAVIDGE: Tom, let me ask you this. The president came out quite strong, boldly, yesterday saying that Jim Comey was lying, not only lying, lying under oath. This is a man who is the former head of the FBI, you can say, at one time, he was America's lie detector. Now this accusation is leveled against him by the president. Did that shock you in any way?
[06:10:00]TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Not really, Martin. I think that what shocked me even more was Director Comey or former Director Comey's testimony itself, when he talks about basically cowering to the attorney general when she says don't call it an investigation, call it a matter, he didn't know what to do, and he kind of acquiesce to it.
When he should have said, you know, sorry, but it's the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not the federal bureau of matters. Then the president, he talks about being almost afraid and admits to being cowardly in his reaction to this.
And I think that to me, it was a very embarrassing situation on the part of Director Comey doing that. On the other hand, you know, President Trump is celebrating in the end zone thinking that's it, I'm completely vindicated and it's over. I don't think it's going to be over yet, but you know, clearly, I think that Trump had the better day.
SAVIDGE: Do you think that there are tapes?
FUENTES: I don't know. I don't know. That's a good question. But even if there are tapes -- if there are tapes, that's government property. Getting back to the memos that Director Comey said he took out of the office and gave to a law professor friend to leak to the press.
They are not his -- it's not dear diary, today, I had dinner with the president, he's recording meetings with essentially his boss and it's pertinent to an ongoing investigation, the business and the FBI at the time. That's government records.
That has to stay within government property. So I think that -- you know, I was shocked to hear that admission that he stooped to that low of a level that he should know better to not have done that.
PAUL: OK, we are going to talk more about that. I'm sorry, we have to take a quick break. The whole panel is sticking around with this. We have more to discuss, not just that point that Tom was just making, but also the fact that the president saying he's willing 100 percent to testify under oath. We'll talk about that in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he said those things under oath, would you will willing to speak under oath to give your version of (inaudible).
PRESIDENT TRUMP: One hundred percent. I didn't say under oath. I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean, think of it, I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that and I didn't say the other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: A defiant President Trump there challenging James Comey's claim that the president demanded his loyalty and asked him to, quote, "let go of the investigation into fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn."
SAVIDGE: The fired FBI director made those claims while testifying before Congress. The president said he's 100 percent willing to also testify under oath. Would that bold move open the president to even more legal and political risks?
We want to bring back our panel now, Joey Jackson, let me start with you. Joey, first, is it a gamble on the part of the president to say, a 100 percent I'll take an oath. JACKSON: It certainly is, Martin. Now if you parse the language and we as lawyers do that, we parse the language, but listen to what Mr. Trump said, what he said was, why would I ask him to pledge allegiance, why would I do that? It doesn't make sense. I didn't say that.
So what is he referring to? Is he saying pledge allegiance? Well, potentially, the president is telling the truth, he didn't say pledge allegiance, he asked for loyalty. What did he say, exactly?
But when you get into the specifics of raising that hand and giving sworn testimony under oath, now you are in another sphere legally because if it can be determined that what you said is a lie, OK, now you have other issues and you are not only obstructing justice, but into perjury.
As a result of that, I think it's a bold and risky move, which is to me, another indication that there would be no such tapes, because in the event that there were tapes and he was saying something like this, bang!
I think he would expose himself to something very significant. So this demonstrates to me, I doubt, I'm one of the doubters that there's any tape out there.
WHITFIELD: All right, so Errol, with that said, let's remember August of 1998 with Kenneth Star, Bill Clinton. It started this perjury. It ended as he said/she said with Monica Lewinsky. Remember that the House impeached him. The Senate did not convict him. But what is the plausibility that if the president speaks under oath, it could evolve into something completely different?
LOUIS: Well, you put your finger on a very good point, Christi, which is that these things have a way of going out of control. You start in one place, you know, initially the Clinton White House thought Whitewater was going to last for six months, it lasted for six years. And as you suggest it went in all kinds of different collections.
Certainly in Watergate, they thought they were going to have the Watergate burglars quickly cop a plea, go to jail and then that would be the end of it. It took an entirely different direction, especially when the Senate, in the course of the questioning a witness, found out that there was a taping system in the Nixon White House.
So yes, all of this can go in a lot of different directions. I'd like to go on record as saying I think there's almost no chance that the president will allow himself to be questioned under oath. You know, just as he said he would release his taxes, I think this is a promise that is simply not going to be kept. It's not in his interest legally or politically.
SAVIDGE: Gabby, let me ask you about that. The statements that the president made yesterday when he was having that press conference with the president of Romania, do you think it was scripted or do you think that was the president going totally off cuff here? MORRONGIELLO: It was absolutely President Trump going off script, making claims that he's probably going to not follow through on in the future, like Errol was saying, I highly doubt that the president is going to put himself in a situation where he could then possibly perjure himself if he is testifying before Congress.
[06:20:09]And says something that it doesn't end up being true and that congressional investigators are able to prove wasn't true. I think that the White House counsel is probably advising him against doing anything of the sort.
And I would be dismayed if President Trump ends up testifying before a congressional committee on anything having to do with the Russian investigation and his conversations with James Comey, considering how likely this president would be to go off script even in a testimony and say something that would make things even more complicated for him.
PAUL: So Tom, when we talk about whether there's a recording or not a recording, is there a way say could the Secret Service determine if there some sort of recording operation in the White House that was being utilized?
FUENTES: I don't know about the Secret Service, Christie, but certainly some technicians would have had to have installed it for doing that. We have had pretty much every president for the last 20 or 30 years record their conversations, record their phone calls.
When you watch these documentaries, the CNN documentaries of '60s, '70s, and '80s, you hear president after president having tape conversations not just Nixon, but all the way to the present day where their conversation were recorded.
Either they were meetings in the White House or oval office, or their telephone calls. So I think that to me, it would be unusual if there was no taping system in the oval office.
SAVIDGE: But if there is no recording, Tom, and it does come down to he said/he said, you have the president of the United States versus the former head of the FBI. Who wins?
FUENTES: I think at this point, unless they come up with evidence and they haven't yet, to show that the president engaged in collusion or his team engaged in it, I think that's still the missing link in this whole entire thing.
You know, I think, as I mentioned, the president is celebrating the fact that Comey said he was not a subject, isn't a subject. As of the time I left the FBI, he wasn't the subject of investigation. You know, imagine the frustration.
If you are President Trump and you have been told you are not under investigation and meantime, the rest of the political world and media are calling for your impeachment, calling for your head and you know, you are not even under investigation, but you can't say it. You want Director Comey to say it out loud. He finally did that during this hearing.
PAUL: Tom, let me ask -- sorry, Joey, I wanted to ask you, if the president says he's 100 percent willing to testify under oath, who will Mueller want to speak with first? Certainly he's not going to call the president first and foremost.
JACKSON: Well, you know, no. The reality is, who knows what type, if any presidential cooperation he gets. I think there's a long list of people who Mueller would want to speak to, including the members who were involved. I guess you would say the principals, the subordinates, the emissaries --
PAUL: What about Michael Flynn?
JACKSON: Yes, but the problem with that is that Michael Flynn has something called a Fifth Amendment right. That is to not say anything if you are subject of an investigation or otherwise are not but believe that what you might say, Christi, could incriminate you.
The problem is, you can exercise your right not to testify. There is a whole slew -- there's a long list, we could spend all morning in terms of who I think the independent council would want to bring before him to reveal and otherwise give pertinent information to a number of things.
Michael Flynn, was there any collusion, how did it exist, what was the campaign's involvement if any, who was having discussions with whom, why were there omissions on forms when they shouldn't have been? There's just a whole lot of questions to a whole number of people that I think will add some light to what's going on.
SAVIDGE: There is so much to talk about. Errol, Gabby, Joey and Tom, stick around. We want to continue our conversation. We'll do that after the break.
PAUL: New development in the President Trump and Russia probe. This special counsel just asked the top Justice Department official to help investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. There is a new player in the game, essentially. We'll talk about it.
PAUL: An early 6:28 on a Saturday and you are up already. We are glad for it. I'm Christi Paul.
SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. The Trump/Russia probe is moving full speed ahead with House and Senate investigators. Now firing off a litany of request for former FBI Director James Comey's memos and for his sworn testimony that he gave against President Trump, the president's response, Comey is a liar and a leaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you hope the Flynn investigation, you could like --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn't say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he lied about that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I will tell you, I didn't say that. No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker, but we want to get back to running our great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So independent special prosecutor, Bob Mueller, we should point out appears to be paying complete close attention here, as you would assume he would be doing. So according to the "National Law Journal," though, he has now recruited Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, from the Justice Department.
Dreeben is a top criminal law expert. He's argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court. His addition to Mueller's team signals the probe could be looking at obstruction of justice by the president.
So let's bring back our panel, CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, Gabby Morrongiello, Washington bureau chief with the "New York Post," CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson, and CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.
[06:30:06] So I want to start with you, Tom, what does the addition of Michael Dreeben mean for -- what does it tell you where Mueller's head may be?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think Mueller wants the best advice he can get from, you know, the soundest legal expert that he can find but still part of the Department of Justice. So I don't think it signals that this is leading to obstruction of justice or away from it. I think he wants an objective, knowledgeable expert to be on his team regarding, you know, where this case could go and what it means. And he'd like that kind of authority at his side, especially, you know, when he announces whatever decision he is going to announce at the conclusion of the case.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Joey, let me ask you the same question, though. I mean, when you see the makeup of the team that is coming against you, the prosecution, can you make a pretty good assumption of which way they're going based upon the personnel that are on that team?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hey, you know, Martin, you really can't, I think. And I would agree with Tom's assessment, Tom Fuentes' assessment, and that is that when you investigate something, what you want to do as in any capacity where you're the leader of something, you want the best mind you possibly can. And so I don't think it gives us some insight into where the investigation goes. I just think it gives us insight with regard to the significance, the seriousness of the investigation, and how solid it is.
I mean, you want to have a team who gets to the heart of the matter. And ultimately, what that also does, Martin, is it gets you to a credible finding. When you do retake conclusion one way or the other, whenever that is, interviewing all the witnesses, and it's not only interviewing witnesses, it's getting documents, it's reviewing them, it's looking at any paper trails. And so once you do that and you have an assessment, you want a number of credible people around you so you can point to them and say, listen, we've done our job, we've done our due diligence, these are our findings, respect them.
PAUL: All right. Gabby, there is -- a lot has been made about the president's comment that he's been vindicated by Comey's testimony. Is there anything that Comey said that really is beneficial to the president?
GABBY MORRONGIELLO, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, NEW YORK POST: Well, I think more or less it's what Comey didn't say during his testimony on Thursday that has -- that the White House views as positive for them. I mean, President Trump said that, you know, James Comey pointed out that on three separate occasions as he submitted those in his written testimony ahead of the panel on Thursday and also said again in front of these congressional -- in front of these senators that he did tell the president that he was not under investigation on more than one occasion, not under a counter intelligence investigation.
That is something that the president had claimed. And so I think that, in that sense, it definitely proves what President Trump was saying did have some truth to it. There were a number of other things that Comey said during his testimony that may help President Trump make a case that, look, I -- as we were saying earlier, may not have said specifically, I need your loyalty, but perhaps said something different or phrased it differently.
I also think, though, that there were a number of outstanding questions after the testimony on Thursday that only President Trump could answer under oath. And so that is why this is going to be so important going forward. It's why we're seeing Mueller, the special counsel, bring in additional hands to pursue this investigation. And I think it also signals that there is, you know, a number of outstanding questions about this question, who is involved? Who is being questioned? What evidence the Justice Department has? What evidence they're looking for.
That's certainly something that I've been hearing. I spoke with a few former Justice Department officials yesterday who said that, you know, bringing in Michael Dreeben as a hand on this case, almost signals that this is more complex than Mueller thought going into it, and that's why he needs back up.
SAVIDGE: OK. Let me bring this into our discussion here. It's going to go to Joey. Fired U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, I believe, who was let go by President Trump despite being assured that he could stay on, tweeted this in reaction to Dreeben joining the investigation. Quote, "Michael Dreeben is careful, meticulous nonpartisan and fair minded. His loyalty is to the Constitution alone." So, you know, given this kind of very high praise, how do you think he
is going to add to this investigation?
JACKSON: I think he'll add significantly to it. And you know, let's look at who Preet Bharara is. You know, southern district, just a fierce U.S. attorney. I have cases pending against that office and have in the past. And certainly they're meticulous in doing their job. And more importantly he knows the players involved.
And I think it's very important, Martin, we should say this, and Christi, that ultimately we know in a very partisan atmosphere, right, the Democrats are hardened in their position and the Republicans are hardened in theirs, that you want an investigation to be viewed as nonpartisan.
[06:35:05] You want it to be evaluated based on the fact, not a witch hunt, not something that they're simply going after the president just to do it. If there's nothing there, it's there and will say so. If there's nothing there then we'll say there is nothing there. But ultimately, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you are going to respect what we do and what we find. And that's why I think that tweet is significant because the loyalty is not to Democrats, not to Republicans, not to the president, but to the Constitution. And so let the investigation go where it may.
PAUL: Errol, the longer the investigation goes, good or bad for the president?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, bad. I mean, the president himself has said, and we have reliable testimony from multiple sources including from some people who are not so friendly to the president, that he feels that there is a cloud over him. That the legitimacy of the election is called into question, that some of his top aides may have to leave the way he had to get rid of General Flynn.
He's unable to sort of, like, drive a legislative agenda in part because Congress is so busy with all of this. And certainly, the press will not stop asking these questions so that whatever the issue of the day is, whatever point that the White House wants to get across on any given day, they are also going to have to answer questions. So yes, they are greatly bogged down by this.
The fact that people now have to lawyer up and take time with personal attorneys, pay those personal attorneys, gather documents, it's an enormous burden for any White House to bear. And this administration, let's keep in mind, has not even really been fully staffed. So, you know, they are in a terrible, terrible position and they really have to do something to try and learn how to live with this because it looks like it is going to go on for quite a while longer.
PAUL: So, Errol, I just have to ask one more question about that because we saw Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that she had no idea earlier this week when she came out to talk whether there is a taping system or a recording system in the White House. And then kind of made a flipping comment about, sure, I'll try to look under the couches. And she was asked whether she could find out that answer.
What do you make of the president seemingly or the organization or somebody putting out there people who cannot answer these questions? Is that part of why these issues aren't going away?
LOUIS: I think some of it has to do with the staff having learned the hard way just in this first 140 odd days, that if they're not 110 percent certain of something and certain has to mean certain that the president will not come behind them and undermine them with a subsequent statement or a tweet or an insult of some kind, that for their own professional reasons, they have to be very careful about what they say. And you've seen Sean Spicer do the same thing.
A number of aides to the president who say you'll have to ask him that or I'm not authorized to tell you that because he keeps a lot of stuff, the president does, close to the vest, subject to change his mind at any point. They have had a very hard time getting a consistent message. And I think that, alone, accounts for a lot of the strange statements you hear from some of the press staff. They'll try and joke about it, they'll try and slip around it because they know the president might sort of contradict them just minutes later.
SAVIDGE: Well, I mean, somebody has to know --
PAUL: Couldn't imagine that job.
SAVIDGE: Somebody has to know that there are tapes. And it's just a matter of when they are going to reveal it.
PAUL: Well, they have to know what questions are going to be asked. You would think that they -- I don't know.
SAVIDGE: Anyway, we'll take a break. Joey Jackson, Tom Fuentes, thanks very much. Errol Louis and Gabby Morrongiello, stick around.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that he wants to go easy on Qatar. They're a very valuable ally. But then a few hours later his boss speaks and seemed to say the exact opposite.
We'll be back with more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:42:41] REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The blockade is also impairing U.S. and other international business activities in the region. It has created a hardship on the people of Qatar and the people whose livelihoods depend on commerce with Qatar. The blockade is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding. They have to end that funding. And its extremists ideology in terms of funding. I want to call in all of the nations to stop, immediately, supporting terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: All right. So you heard there, President Trump, it seems that he is not quite on the same page as his own secretary of state and what was said earlier in the day. At issue here -- at the end of the day, where to come down on the blockade again Qatar by several of its neighbors?
SAVIDGE: Three Gulf nations have aligned with Egypt against Qatar, accusing the country of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. But earlier in the day, Tillerson said the blockade could hurt the U.S. fight against terrorism.
Now Qatar hosts 11,000 U.S. troops at an airbase there. I have been to it, it is a massive facility. And it is an important hub in the aerial war against ISIS. The White House official says the president's statements were consistent with what the secretary of state said even though it didn't sound that way.
Let's bring back our panel, CNN political commentator Errol Louis and Gabby Morrongiello, the Washington bureau chief with the "New York Post."
Gabby, are we just making too much of this or did it really sound like these two men were not talking about the same thing?
MORRONGIELLO: Yes, I mean, I don't want to say that this is a direct contradiction of what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said earlier in the day, but I do think that there needs to be a meeting between President Trump and his secretary of state to discuss where they stand on this because it seemed as though in the Rose Garden what President Trump was saying wasn't consistent with what Tillerson had said earlier in the day.
I mean, President Trump said that Qatar is a high level sponsor of terrorism. Secretary of State Tillerson said that, you know, we are really seeing areas of our campaign against the Islamic State organization being damaged by this standoff.
[06:45:06] And so I think that there are a number of discussions that need to take place. And look, this isn't the first time that this has happened, where you've had Secretary of State Tillerson's boss undermine what he has said hours later in a subsequent tweet or subsequent statement or off-the-cuff remarks. And so I think this is one of the challenges that this administration has faced in a diplomatic endeavor.
PAUL: So, Errol, let's listen to -- I want to read something here, "New York Times" reporting this morning that this is what a senior adviser to Tillerson, (INAUDIBLE), had to say about it. He said, "The president is focused on ending terrorism. The secretary is focused on diplomacy that will return GCC focus to fighting terrorism."
So is it essentially the same thing just coming out of from different viewpoints? LOUIS: Well, I -- I think that's a kind way of putting it. There's a
certain amount of disarray there. There's a certain amount of contradiction or at a minimum, lack of coordination between the White House and the State Department, but, you know, let's keep in mind that this is not just a dispute between a president and his secretary of state or a sort of confusion. This is also a humanitarian crisis.
Something like 40 percent of the imports to Qatar come through Saudi Arabia. That port has been closed. Amnesty International has been issuing fairly dire warnings about what is happening and what is going to continue to happen as families continue to be separated. People are separated from employment. The economy of the nation is sort of dwindling. And the Gulf Cooperation Council is in fact sort of falling into disarray in a part of the world where we can ill afford to have more shooting wars happen.
You know, it's really extraordinary that the portion of all of this that needs I think the most attention is the fact that it appears that cyber hackers, possibly Russian, this is what CNN is reporting, are behind this. That we're going from cyber war to shooting war or on the brink of it at least with real consequences for real people and then we have, you know, sort of a U.S. policy that either didn't anticipate this or doesn't seem to be able to react to it in a coherent and sort of responsible way.
SAVIDGE: And Gabby, only a few seconds left, but this seems to be an example of words really matter. In other words, in the American side of things, we may take the president either directly on his word or sort of what he says. But other nations following and listening to him take every word he says as true.
MORRONGIELLO: They absolutely do. And these are nations that met with him during his first overseas trip as president and are really looking to him for his leadership going forward. So it's important for him and Tillerson to be on the same page, to be disseminating the same message. And I think that that's one of the greatest challenges that this administration has faced so far is the inconsistencies that we've seen on messaging between departments, between agencies and even between the president and his own Cabinet officials and White House officials.
SAVIDGE: Right. We've seen it on a number of levels, and especially on the international side as well.
PAUL: Yes. Errol Louis, Gabby Morrongiello, we appreciate both of you being here. Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Some breaking new details this morning about the London Bridge terror attack one week ago. :Police now say that the ringleader, that is (INAUDIBLE), was free on bail at the time.
PAUL: He's been arrested last October on fraud charges. But British counterterrorism officials tell CNN his arrest was part of an effort to crackdown on known Islamic extremists for minor non-terror related crimes just to get them off the street. Well, London police are also confirming this morning they've gotten a call through the anti-terror hotline about that at one time but at that point found no evidence that he was planning an attack.
SAVIDGE: Well, I've got to say, I am a little bit sleepy because I stayed up very late watching my Cleveland Cavaliers and was it ever worth it.
PAUL: Andy Scholes --
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was, Martin. Yes. It was a game worth staying up for if you're a Cavs fan. The defending champs are firing off one of the greatest offensive displays we've seen in the NBA Finals. But find out why LeBron James says he's stressed.
We'll have that coming up next.
[06:53:36] SAVIDGE: All right. So this is no lie. Last night, I went to bed around 8:30. Got a good night sleep. 10:00, I awake in my house to this incredible screaming. It's my wife, downstairs shouting at the television, rooting for her Cavs.
PAUL: She is --
SAVIDGE: I have to say I just watched the game.
PAUL: She is loyal, people.
SCHOLES: A lot to root for this week if you are a Cavs fan.
SCHOLES: You know, they not only got the win to stay alive in the series, it was one of the most impressive offensive performances the NBA Finals has ever seen. LeBron and company just coming out absolutely on fire. And this one scoring an NBA Finals record, 49 points in the first quarter alone. They hit 24 threes which is also a Finals record.
Now the second half saw a bunch of heated exchanges. Look, LeBron and Kevin Durant getting into each other's face. Then later a Cavs fan with close ties with LeBron he got kicked out of his courtside seat for jawing at some of the Warriors.
Now the Cavs they kept rolling, though. Look at LeBron, the alley-oop to himself in the fourth quarter. Cavs win 137-116. And LeBron was asked afterwards what is it about this team that makes them play their best with their backs against the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, CAVALIER CAVS: I don't know. I mean, I don't like it. It causes too much stress, man. I'm stressed out. Been doing this every year. Getting swept is something that you never want to, you know, happen. And you know, especially at this point, you get all the way to the finals, you know, you hate to get swept, lose two games and you're on the floor.
[06:55:06] So I think a lot of guys had that in their mind today and, you know, they came out playing like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Cavs down 3-1 now, just like last year. Gave five is going to be Monday in Oakland.
All right. Tom Brady now officially has a Super Bowl ring for every finger on one of his hands. The Patriots handing out the hardware last night in a private ceremony in Robert Kraft's home. The rings are huge, weighing 5.1 carat. And get this, they include 283 diamonds.
SCHOLES: As in, the Patriots were down 28-3 at one point to the Falcons in the Super Bowl last year. They also have "the greatest comeback ever" engraved inside. So not the best ring if you're an Atlanta Falcons fan to look at. I imagine.
SAVIDGE: You can find so many of those.
SCHOLES: Bit it's creative.
PAUL: No doubt. Andy, thank you.
SCHOLES: All right.
PAUL: So, listen, ahead, I know it has been a heck of a week already but we have to look ahead and see what is coming in this Russia investigation, including who else wants the memos James Comey wrote and whether there's an investigation yet into obstruction of justice. Is that to come?
SAVIDGE: We'll be back after a short break.