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Intel Chiefs to Investigators: Trump Suggested They Refuge Collusion with Russians; Interview with Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 16:30   ET


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And getting to the intent, it's really difficult making any obstruction charge tough to prove, but, of course, this is likely an issue that Mueller and his investigators will continue to probe.

[16:30:06] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, President Trump, of course, had another tweet storm on Russia in light of former Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson's congressional testimony yesterday. The president tweeted, quote, Former Homeland Security Adviser Jeh Johnson is latest top intelligence official to state there was no grand scheme between Trump and Russia, unquote.

Has Jeh Johnson responded to that tweet? And what is the truth here? What did he actually say before Congress about possible collusion?

SCHNEIDER: Well, on that point, Jake, you know, to be clear, Jeh Johnson, he didn't even get into the issue of possible collusion in his testimony yesterday, his main focus really was talking about the extent of the Russian hacking and pointing out that President Vladimir Putin was the one who directed it. But today, Jeh Johnson did address the president's tweets at a forum on Capitol Hill, half of it somewhat in jest. Take a listen.


JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: As we speak, I am sure there are members of the press comparing the tweet to what I actually said yesterday in my testimony which is public. And I will leave that to journalists, the larger question that we need to address is now that we know what happened last year, what are we going to do about it in the future?


SCHNEIDER: And to that end there, Jeh Johnson stressed that even as he sat giving that talk today, Jake, he said the U.S. remains exposed to Russian cyber attacks.

TAPPER: That's the big concern among Democrats and Republicans.

As Sara Murray reported earlier, Jessica, President Trump said he made no recordings of his conversation with James Comey, now that he's confirmed what many suspected, what might that mean for congressional investigations into Russian meddling and the election? SCHNEIDER: I think it's fair to say it really has no practical

effects and these investigations are barreling full steam ahead. In fact, ranking member Adam Schiff on the House Intelligence Committee, he told reporters that he doesn't intend to take this as the last words. That was his words, and he said he would wait for an official response from the White House about the tapes, preferably in writing. So, you know, while the tapes themselves might be a moot point right now, the conversations with James Comey and intelligence officials like Dan Coats and Admiral Mike Rogers, they will continue to be parsed in what may be any obstruction of justice investigation, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss this and much more, Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. He serves on the Judiciary Committee.

And in case anybody heard your laugh, which was a very distinguished laugh --


TAPPER: -- it was you laughing and you were laughing because Jeh Johnson did not say anything about there not being any collusion and President Trump tweeted something that was not true about what Jeh Johnson said. So, tell people why you're laughing about that.

FRANKEN: Of course. You know, just, of course, the president is going to claim something that is completely hollow and false. That's what he does. So, I just -- I laugh a lot.

TAPPER: You're a laugher, you enjoy laughing.

FRANKEN: A very good laugh.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about DNI Coats and NSA Director Rogers.


TAPPER: They say that -- they told investigators, CNN's reporting, that President Trump did suggest that they stayed publicly that there was no collusion, but they say they did not feel that the president was ordering them to dismiss the probe.


TAPPER: Does that mean anything in terms of whether or not this is obstruction of justice?

FRANKEN: Well, I just heard that it doesn't -- I mean, how they felt, it was what the president's intent was. And I guess if he's saying, he's -- you know, he's -- this is what happened in Watergate, right? I mean, that they were talking -- they were just talking about telling the CIA to tell the FBI to lay off.

So, this is, you know, I think it's part of a pattern here, and that'll be up to Bob Mueller to decide, I think, whether it amounts to obstruction of justice. That's why we're glad we have him there.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about President Trump's other tweets today in which he said that he does not possess and he did not make any recordings of his conversations with James Comey, although that is not the same thing as saying there are not any tapes. So, I'm still not --

FRANKEN: Yes, he didn't personally make them. So, you know, Gus might have made them.

TAPPER: I assume you'll subpoena Gus.


TAPPER: But the one thing I want to ask is, a source told Bloomberg in trying to explain why he made that claim that apparently was based on nothing in terms of he better hope there are no tapes, was not to intimidate and not to be blustery, but he did it, quote, in a strategic fashion to ensure that Comey told the truth. That's what a source familiar with this told Bloomberg News.

So, he was trying to pressure Comey to try to adhere as closely to the tapes as possible. That was the explanation from the source familiar with, to Bloomberg News. What do you make of that?

FRANKEN: Is the source from the Trump administration?

TAPPER: Presumably.

FRANKEN: Yes, that's what it sounds like. I mean, I think that Comey was telling the truth. He took contemporaneous notes, those are actually usually admitted in court.

[16:35:01] And if I had to bet between Trump and Comey who was telling the truth, I would -- I would kind of lean more toward Comey.

TAPPER: And why do you think President Trump made that tweet?

FRANKEN: Because I don't think he thought -- I don't think he's always thinking like three moves ahead. And I think what he did was, it forced Comey's hand, which is to release these contemporaneous notes to a friend who leaked them and, you know, I think that helped toward the signing of the special prosecutor which I think is --

TAPPER: Yes, that was Comey's intention.


TAPPER: So, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee today said when it came to President Trump claiming basically there are no tapes or at least none that he knows about, I don't intend to take this as the last word on the subject. Where does this go from here? Are Democrats going to -- should they continue to pursue to try to find out if there are tapes or should they drop it?

FRANKEN: You know, I'll bet you there aren't tapes, but -- TAPPER: There are not? Or there --

FRANKEN: No, I bet you there are not tapes, but Adam Schiff is right, you're right. I think you tweeted or said something like this doesn't necessarily mean they aren't there.

So, we should do whatever you're supposed to do. And I think the special prosecutor will also do whatever he has to do to see if there are actually tapes, and if they're there, then listen to them.

TAPPER: So, the Republicans finally unveiled their health care bill today. You finally got to take a look at it, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said there's no point in working with Senate Democrats like yourself because you guys shut yourselves out of the process. Is that fair? Is that true?

FRANKEN: We said that what we need to do is fix the things that are wrong with the ACA, and that is the exchanges, costs went up too high in exchanges and a lot of reasons for that, including, sabotage by Trump and also by Republicans getting rid of something called the risk corridors. And we should work on prescription drugs. That's what we wanted to do.

They have kept some of the basic structure of the Affordable Care Act. I think Cruz says he's not going to vote for it -- because well, it's Cruz. So, anyway, the point is that they went off in secret, 13 of them, Mike Lee who is one of the 13 was complaining two days ago that he hadn't seen this.

So, I don't know of the 13 how many had anything to do with it. This is a terrible bill.


FRANKEN: It's because it cuts Medicaid to the same degree that the House bill does. It just delays it, some, and it's hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, which helps kids, the disabled, seniors, 60 percent of seniors get their nursing home care from Medicaid. And it's all, all of that money that's cut from Medicaid pays for huge tax cut for people who are doing very well.

TAPPER: The elimination of the Obamacare taxes is what you're saying. Those taxes get --


TAPPER: -- are gone and the then the money goes --

FRANKEN: Yes, the 400 top earners in this country, each gets $7 million, I think, cut. At least that was the House bill, I'm not sure if this is very similar. And, you know, they need it at 7 million a year.

TAPPER: Senator Al Franken --

FRANKEN: And this just hurts people. This just hurts people. It's mean, to quote --

TAPPER: President Trump --

FRANKEN: Well, it is quoting -- I was going to say to quote a wise person, but that was a person who quoted Trump.

TAPPER: Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, thank you so much.

The date and location are set. President Trump has scheduled his first reelection fundraiser. And guess where he's holding it? That's right, one of his hotels.

Then, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are giving a rare interview only to CNN. Why does Zuckerberg think social media should help people come together instead of dividing them over politics? Which is what happens on my feed on Facebook. I don't know about yours.

Stick around.


[16:43:45] TAPPER: Welcome back.

We're back with our conflict of interest watch. Get ready for 2020, President Trump is hosting his first reelection fundraiser, at where? The Four Seasons? Ritz Carlton? No, the Trump Hotel in D.C., money raise at the event will go to the campaign's joint fundraising committee with the RNC.

Money raised by the hotel will go to the Trump Organization. The hotel has been at the center of lawsuits, of course, alleging that the president is violating the Constitution by accepting foreign payments at the hotel, including a lawsuit filed by nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers.

Let's dive right in on this issue and much more with my political panel.

Amanda, this is not an example of the president trying to avoid controversy. He's going right for, right for the controversy, we're going to hold the event at my hotel.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, maybe he'll throw in a free $32 burger with fries and truffle oil on them on top.

TAPPER: Is that -- is that what they sell there?

CARPENTER: I heard the menu is very nice there. I mean, Trump says it's amazing, the best.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think double the price to make more money. But whatever.

CARPENTER: But he's very straight up about this. He's doing it. And to be fair, no one's really raising up opposition to him doing these kind of things to stop him.

I mean, where's the resistance? He's getting away with it again and in terms of all the scandal and controversies, this maybe is the least of it, and everyone can go and see what's going on. I don't have a lot to say about it, but he's getting away with it.

TAPPER: What do you think?

TANDEN: You know, I think the challenge for him is that there's a now legal process, people have issued lawsuits or started lawsuits against him. So it's not - it's not just an issue of the resistance, it's that he's going to have judges adjudicating these issues. Seems a little bit flagrant to me, and perhaps not the most tasteful, but that would be low on my priority of whether taste is an issue or not. I think judges are going to have to evaluate whether the constitutional Emoluments Clause is a real thing when that litigation comes forward. That you know, I think -

TAPPER: But do you buy Amanda's basic premise which is, if I'm paraphrasing you, there are so many other things to object to, this is low down on the list?

TANDEN: I mean, there are a lot of things to object to and frankly this health care bill is obviously much more impactful in people's lives -

TAPPER: We'll get to that in one sec.

TANDEN: - so you know, I do think they have a (INAUDIBLE) strategy, right? So many fronts that some way - some issues just get lost and that's why we have a vibrant press to actually focus the mind and attention on issues, any violation of law.

CARPENTER: But, I mean, Donald Trump -

TAPPER: Which you're doing.


CARPENTER: We just showed pictures of his grand hotel. This is what he bought (INAUDIBLE) for the final birther statement to his hotel for this purpose. As long as everyone sees images of his beautiful place and his children running it, that's not good for him. He does not care about the content of the story, the end.

TAPPER: All right, lets -

TANDEN: Yes, I mean, I just think profiting off the White House is kind of gross. So, you know, people can evaluate for - that for themselves.

TAPPER: Let's turn to health care because obviously, that is a very important issue that affects millions of Americans. Republicans dropped their bill today or at least a draft. It gets rid of the individual mandate and it gets rid of all the ObamaCare taxes. At least four Republican Senators have come out opposed to it, they are Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Ted Cruz. They can only -- Republicans can only afford to lose two Republicans. They need 50 plus Mike Pence to pass the bill. Is the bill going to be in serious jeopardy do you think?

CARPENTER: No. I think this is an ongoing process. But here's the thing, this is not true ObamaCare repeal. This is not what President Trump and others people promised on the campaign trail, keeps the subsidies, keeps the Medicaid expansion. So if you're a Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, you have to think about it this way, what am I going to tell constituents that they got out of this? It's not repeal. They can't sell that. So if you're on the people on the individual market who's really getting hammered, you don't give employers sponsored health care, you're not on Medicaid, you're not getting the subsidies, what relief do those people get? That's where I see the focus kind of going. I would love to see an amendment on HSA, Health Savings Account to equalize the tax treatment between people who get their employer through their workplace and the individual market. That is something that they can sell that provides relief. That would get a couple votes there, I think if they could pass it.

TAPPER: Is there anything Democrats can actually do to stop this bill? I mean, it does looks like there is some energy momentum, at the end of the day, I really don't think that Ron Johnson is going to vote against the health care. And I mean, enough changes can be made to give - to give some cover for these Republicans who are objective.

TANDEN: Sure, but you actually haven't heard the actual swing voters, swing votes on this, Senator Portman is - has raised some concerns -

TAPPER: Concerns about the Medicaid reductions.

TANDEN: And you know, the actual swing votes on this aren't these four folks. They are - they are Senators who in Medicaid expansion states whose governors have really provided pressure to them. So they're like Portman from Ohio, Governor Kasich has been a leading critic of it. He criticized the Senate version he saw today. Senator Collins has been critical on the Medicaid expansion issue and other issues -

TAPPER: And the Planned Parenthood issue.

TANDEN: And the Planned Parenthood Issue. So actually these four are not the votes people are counting on to stop this bill. These are the right folks, the moderates are the ones that are still seem to have deep concerns, Senator Murkowski does seem to still have deep concerns about this. I think the issue here is that - what's interesting about what's happened is the Senate version of this bill actually got more cruel in some fundamental ways. Hits a little bit more of the exchanges, but what happens in - to Medicaid at the end of the ten years is that you have deeper cuts to Medicaid. And that's what ironic. That the Senate bill is in some ways -

TAPPER: Or reduction in the growth rate. It doesn't go up to the rate of medical inflation, it goes up at the rate of normal inflation.

TANDEN: But the reality of that is with the population changes, and I think CBO will cover this as it did in the House, is there will be millions of people whose coverage, people with disabilities some of whom protested at Senator McConnell's office today. Those people are going to really lose coverage.

TAPPER: We are going to have much more to discuss about this tomorrow and all next week. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

In his first TV interview in years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks exclusively with CNN about social media's role in the bitterly divided political conversation. Stay with us.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: People who question whether that is good.



[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. On our "TECH LEAD" today, Facebook announcing a revamp for its nearly 2 billion users worldwide as if people didn't already overshare, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled plans to bring the world closer together. In an exclusive interview with CNN, his first on-camera since 2012, the hoodied one admits Facebook's current function of connecting people just isn't enough. CNN's Senior Technology Correspondent Laurie Segall joins us now from Chicago where Facebook just wrapped its big event. Laurie, fake news, shared on Facebook and an ugly political climate where the Facebook story of 2016, does Zuckerberg acknowledge it and what does he want to do about it?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Jake, let me start with what he did acknowledge. He acknowledged that we are divided, he acknowledged we do need a diversity of perspective more than ever, now we're politically divided. When I asked him about, you know, misinformation spreading on the platform, what he learned from it, multiple times he sidestepped it, you know, I think - and he kept going to the ideas of communities which - it is what he wants the next kind of phase of Facebook to be about. Giving these tools to people online to help them connect and hopefully help this kind of public discourse a little bit. You know, I actually, I said to him, you know, what's behind this? Like what's your real responsibility because you heard him say responsibility a lot. Listen to what he said.


[16:55:12] ZUCKERBERG: I used to think that if we just work to give people a voice and help people connect, that that was going to make the world all better by itself and I still think those are important things to do and we're still going to do them. But now I feel like we have a responsibility to do even more, right? Because I mean, today, a lot of society is divided, right? And so it's pretty clear that just giving people a voice and connecting people isn't enough. We also have to do work to help bring people closer together so that's what the new mission is all about. It's bringing the world closer together, so not just simply connecting, but also helping to close some of the gaps.

SEGALL: So let me ask you how you - how you do that because technology to a degree has always promised to help us discover and to help us learn. There's also the question of like does it make it more insular and is you know, is information being hijacked and spread. As you make the future of Facebook, these communities, how do you make sure they remain a place for authenticity and for real discourse?

ZUCKERBERG: People are connecting over something that they have in common. If you want to engage on issues that you disagree on, right, so things that society is divided on, the first thing you need to do is connect over your common humanity, right? So that can be something as simple as you know, we both have families or we both like TV show together. So bringing people together and creating these communities is, I think, a lot of what we can do to help create more civil and productive debate on some of the bigger issues as well.


SEGALL: And, Jake, the goal is to get a billion people using Facebook groups and being part of these meaningful communities. Now the hard part of that as we've seen with a lot of the hard questions that have come with Facebook is are they going to be doing, spreading hate speech and what are the tools you need to curve that? And that's what they talked about here today at this summit.

TAPPER: All right, Laurie Segall, thank you so much.

Turning to the "WORLD LEAD" now, we're getting another glimpse into ISIS' brutality and scorched earth tactics. This new chilling video shows a historic mosque and its famous Leaning Minaret towered over Mosul for more than 800 years being blown up in an instant. U.S. and Iraqi official say this is an act of ISIS wiping out centuries of history and culture as shown in these before and after images. Let's bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, and Nick, Iraqi officials say ISIS blowing up the al-Nuri mosque is a sign of desperation.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. You've given how vitally sacred this symbol is to them. Absolutely the seat of their own ideology to some degree, and that's where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave his speech. There's only one public appearance really in which he announced the declaration of a so-called caliphate, for them to blow it up in a way that U.S. and Iraqi official say they did and seems to be confirmed by the video of the moment of destruction, the explosions looked like a demolition, I'm no expert, but it certainly looks like an air strike. And what you see there is certainly I think an act of them as you said, using a scorched earth policy. They are down to a very small pocket now of the old city of Mosul, the main populations (INAUDIBLE) used control in Iraq, they're encircled by Iraqi Special Forces. They have American support pinning down on them now as well. The major problem, Jake, is if they're willing to destroy their own sacred symbols in this fight, simply not to let them fall into the hands of their enemies, what is that (INAUDIBLE) the fate of the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians trapped inside that old city with those desperate diehard ISIS fighters. They've been used as human shields, they're hiding in basements trying to keep away from explosions and sadly many will - could well lose their lives in the weeks ahead. The Iraqi government saying they hope to announce the liberation of Mosul soon. We've heard that before, that kind of optimism but there is potentially a very dark chapter ahead too, Jake.

TAPPER: And Nick, this happened of course as coalition forces are making this final push to take back Mosul as we noted. How close might they actually be from driving ISIS out of Mosul? Do we have any concrete idea?

WALSH: The closest they have been as yet, Jake, I mean, they are literally meters away from the mosque, that seems to be the motivation perhaps why it was detonated in the first place. They didn't want scenes of Iraq Special Forces clambering over what they sort of see as their own seat of power. But these alleyways are very dense, their very tight, we've seen images of children running away from small holes in the wall just to get water from advancing Iraqi troops. It's a desperate situation in there right now. It is going to get worse. The question is how quickly can they bring it to an end and how many human lives, civilians here will be lost in the process, Jake.

TAPPER: Especially the lives of innocent children that we've seen recently. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for covering that for us. We appreciate it. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or you can tweet the show @theleadcnn. We also have a Facebook page of course. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper, I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, breaking news, no tapes.