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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump White House; Health Care Reform; London Fire; Trump: No Recordings of Comey Conversations; Bill Cosby to Hold Town Halls on Sexual Assault; Zuckerberg: Facebook Has a New Mission. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 23, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Amara Walker. This is NEWSROOM L.A. We're following two major stories out of Washington.

Senate Republicans have unveiled their secret health care reform plan. Several dozen people opposed to the bill were arrested for demonstrating outside majority leader Mitch McConnell's office Thursday.

VAUSE: And the bill isn't exactly getting a warm reception elsewhere on Capitol Hill. Four conservative Republicans, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, say they will not support the bill because it does not do enough to lower insurance premiums.

WALKER: Meanwhile, President Trump is admitting he does not have recordings of his conversations with James Comey. It has been 41 days since the president tweeted Comey better hope there are no tapes before he starts leaking to the media.

VAUSE: Now Mr. Trump says with all the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversations with James Comey but I did not make and do not have any such recordings.

WALKER: Earlier we spoke to CNN political commentator, Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas, along with senior reporter for Politico, David Siders.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: OK. Let's start with the first for this White House, the first presidential retraction of a presidential untruth. And if this original tweet hinting about the recordings, Dave, if it was an attempt to intimidate James Comey, then it backfired spectacularly.

DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Exponentially. I mean, the -- obviously we know after that tweet came out, James Comey, because he testified last week about it, a couple of weeks ago, basically leaked the memos of his notes, of course, that sprung up this outside special counsel investigation.

But look, it was Donald Trump that kickstarted this whole speculation and controversy over these so-called tapes. It was also Donald Trump who said Mexico was going to pay for the wall. He also, by the way, said that he was being recorded by President Obama.

This is the guy, of course, who creates falsehood after falsehood and begs the question of like why he's misleading the American public day after day. And that's why today Adam Schiff, who's the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, of course, raised the question that, look, the response that we got from the president today raises many questions as it did answer answers.

VAUSE: Yes, we talked to Noel Ison (ph) of the ethics -- within the Obama administration a little later this hour. So that's a legal implication.

WALKER: Yes, the other big news is that Trump was also talking to FOX News today and he said that he was considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel. Here's what he said. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he recuse himself?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he's very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome. But he's also -- we're going to have to see. I mean, we're going to have see -- in terms -- look, there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey.

But there's been no collusion, no obstruction and virtually everybody agrees to that. So we'll have to see. I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: John, do you think President Trump is really considering firing Robert Mueller?

Because, if that -- if he actually does that, then that can be used as evidence of obstruction of justice.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I doubt that he would get to that point. I'm sure he's frustrated that there's this special investigation going on. And in fact, the points that he's making, I'm sure he feels are accurate.

Will it lead to termination?

I don't think so. And to the tweet, I mean, I interpreted that completely differently. I thought it was he was telling Comey, you know, I hope you didn't wiretap me. That would be terribly unfortunate. I didn't think that he was saying I have tapes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But don't you think --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: You're the only one.

(LAUGHTER)

WALKER: You're (INAUDIBLE) alone on that one.

VAUSE: One of a very few number -- I just want to bring David Siders in because, David, legally for the president, it's a pretty steep hill to climb, to try and fire Robert Mueller, isn't it?

DAVID SIDERS, POLITICO: Well, I think politically it's a steep hill to climb. Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington --

[02:05:00]

SIDERS: -- hold that person in really high esteem. And I almost think that might be a bridge too far for the president.

VAUSE: The acting attorney general would have to fire Mueller and Trump would have to tell the acting attorney general to do it, right?

SIDERS: That's right. And that would be complicated for a number of reasons, not least of which the political support for those people.

VAUSE: What is your take, David, on President Trump's mea culpa?

If you look back at his history, President Trump does have a history of making unfounded claims.

SIDERS: And it's so interesting how he resolves this one, right?

The -- one of the huge unfounded claims he's famous for making is the conspiracy theory about President Obama's birthplace and the way he resolved that was with a big show.

And that's the way he's handled a lot of other major announcements recently. And, yet on this issue, he chose to do something with two fairly crafted tweets. He could have announced something in Iowa last night. He didn't do that.

So I think this was a concerted effort by the president to put this issue to bed and to do it on the day when many people are talking about something else instead, which is health care.

VAUSE: Yes, it started with a tweet but it may not end with a tweet.

Dave, essentially, the president has admitted he was bluffing, right, and that claim or that bluff will be heard around the world -- you touched on this, the credibility issue. It'll be heard by North Korea, it'll be heard by China, by Iran, by Russia.

And there will be a perception that, when the president talks tough, those words are hollow.

JACOBSON: That's where it's dangerous because when it comes to our military operations, when it comes to life and death, when it comes to war or diplomatic relations with other countries, they don't know that Donald Trump's going to stay true to his word.

And I think that really undermines his ability to perform as president, for the United States to execute our agenda across the country, whether it's with our allies or with our adversaries. So I think it's a real problem for the Trump administration.

THOMAS: Trump's been more strong than Obama ever was in his presidency. He's dropping the mother of all bombs. He -- pulling out -- he's been consistent. He said he was going to pull out of the Paris climate accord; he did.

I think he's largely consistent. And in terms of showing force, I think foreign leaders and foreign terrorists sponsoring nations fear Trump far more than they ever believed or worried about President Obama.

WALKER: But, John, don't you think that what President Trump did, I mean, doubling down on this false claim and standing by it for six weeks and dangling this out there, doesn't that damage the credibility of the presidency?

THOMAS: No. I just -- terrible timing. I mean, he should have done this earlier. I don't know exactly why he waited. Some say because there's congressional hearings that would demand via subpoena that he turn over whatever the White House has. So he had to get rid of it now.

This is something -- look, President Trump's timing has never been great with this stuff. He should have done it earlier. There's no question about that.

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBSON: Another thing, if I could just add, I think it undermines his justification. When he blames all of these controversies on so- called fake news, I mean, this is fake news that we're getting from the White House.

VAUSE: OK. You're right. I kind of agree with David. Initially, though, I thought that Trump made this admission on Twitter as a diversion away from the Republicans revealing their draft bill on the health care reform assurance act and -- but then I thought, well, that may be giving the White House too much credit.

But anyway, so they're --

JACOBSON: And it is.

VAUSE: Yes, OK --

(LAUGHTER) VAUSE: -- we agree on that one. OK.

Bottom line here is that it cuts health care, spending for lower and middle income earners, makes big cuts to Medicaid, gives a large tax cut to the wealthy.

There is some provision here for financial assistance for those who can't afford the ever-increasing cost of health insurance.

John, the president said that he wanted a health care bill that had more heart in it. But if you look through this, it doesn't seem that heart implants are actual covered by the Republicans.

THOMAS: Well, if heart means government subsidy, you're right. It doesn't have heart. What it does is shift a lot of the responsibility from the federal side to the state side. It allows states that know what their citizens need better than the Feds to make those important decisions.

WALKER: But four Republican senators are saying that they're not on board. Here's what Rand Paul had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KY: And I think the federal government shouldn't be giving any money to insurance companies. Insurance companies made $15 billion in profit last year. The new Republican bill will give them $110 billion to bring down prices.

But to me that's sort of a ludicrous economic concept. That would be like telling America new cars cost too much so we're going to have a stabilization fund so your new car will cost less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: So, David Siders, is this bill going to pass, especially with Mitch McConnell trying to get this vote out on Thursday?

SIDERS: I think it's too early to tell and I think the big turning point for this and what we should be watching for isn't today but it's early next week, when we get an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. I think that will drive a lot of the late rush negotiations into the middle and end of next week. And then we'll know.

VAUSE: What's interesting though is that the president told FOX News he believes he can win over these four senators. Listen to this.

SIDERS: He certainly --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Health care --

[02:10:00]

TRUMP: -- is a very difficult situation. If you look the Clintons tried to get it and, after years and years, they couldn't do it. ObamaCare was murder for them to get and now it's failed. It's virtually out of business. ObamaCare is a disaster. And we're trying to do something in a very short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The interesting thing is that Donald Trump is now describing these four senators as his very good friends; this will be Ted Cruz and Rand Paul among them, exactly, Rand Paul with the funny, moppy hair.

But, John, is the president actually actively involved in trying to -- ?

THOMAS: He is. From what I hear, he's going to help close this. They've delegated everyone else to McConnell but these last four, McConnell and the president, are going to try to tag-team them and get it done.

Remember, they only need two. They don't need all four.

And Ted Cruz, I saw CNN interview him today. And he seemed open. He was involved in the formation of that document and he seemed that he wants to get to yes.

This isn't just an obstructionist play. If they can get it done, I mean, I think McConnell's feeling confident. He had a meeting later today on tax reform and how to drive that through. So I think they're looking after Georgia that maybe there's more a little more wind behind their sails that can drive their agenda.

JACOBSON: I think here's the political calculus. There's somewhat of a political tug-of-war that's going to go on right now because Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are going to want to appease these more conservative extreme Republicans.

But as you do that, simultaneously, you got be to cognizant of Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Dean Heller, by the way, Rob Portman, who's from Ohio, John Kasich, of course, came out against this bill.

So I think you're going to have this dynamic with this tug-of-war, where, as you appease these conservatives, you're going to lose some of those more moderate votes on the other side of the aisle.

VAUSE: But the moderates always --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- don't they?

JACOBSON: That's the question, right, like a lot of these folks are --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

WALKER: What about Trump's base, though, John?

How do you think President Trump's going to get them on board, especially when we're talking about major cuts to Medicaid?

THOMAS: Well, I think the proof will be in the pudding. If it doesn't lower their premiums, they're going to hang him. If they feel a measurable -- like that they get to keep their doctor, that their premiums or their insurance providers they have more options, I think they'll be with him.

The reality is, he has to get something done here. If he doesn't, inaction is more dangerous than action here.

JACOBSON: I think it's balance act. There is fresh polling that came out today by "The Wall Street Journal" and NBC that said 16 percent of Americans think that the GOP -- it was House bill, by the way -- is a good idea but simultaneously 41 percent said that they approve of the Affordable Care Act, the ObamaCare.

So I think they're going to have to ultimately live or die by whatever they pass come '18.

VAUSE: There may be no recordings of the president's conversations with the FBI director, James Comey, but there is lots and lots of tape of Donald Trump during the campaign talking about health care like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.

I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.

You're going to end up with great health care for a fraction of the price.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So David Siders, is it a fair question to ask right now if the president ever intended to keep those campaign promises?

SIDERS: I think that that's a fair question. I'm not sure that the voting public cares so much if he keeps those promises. I don't think that we're in the same political era that we were, say 20 years ago, when it was maybe less common for a politician to get away with saying they were going to do something and then doing something else.

The president has made it his M.O. to say things and then to change direction and I think when that becomes your style and that's what the public becomes accustomed to, that's less of a liability.

So I think that there are liabilities with the health care bill for the president but I'm not sure that tape from the campaign is what that -- the biggest liability is. WALKER: Fair point.

President Obama weighing in as well. He posted something quite lengthy on Facebook. But I wanted to read just a part of that statement.

He said, quote, "I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope there are senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what's really at stake and consider that the rationale for action on health care or any other issue must be something simply more than undoing something that the Democrats did."

David Siders, will anyone in the Senate be listening to the former president?

SIDERS: I think that we'll hear form when will the Senate will be listening will be later on this week and then next week. And I think that listening to the president is much less important than their districts and these are Republicans who, whatever is in that bill, John is right. They need to come out and have something done when they face the midterms next year.

And I think that that's really driving all of the discussion for them, as we saw in the House negotiations earlier.

VAUSE: OK. We've been saying it was such a big day for politics on Thursday and then this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Unfortunately, you saw Sarah Huckabee Sanders walk up --

[02:15:00]

BLITZER: -- to the lectern there, on the podium. But the White House rules are that none of the cable networks, none of the broadcast networks are allowed to carry this briefing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So for the second time in four days, cameras were banned from the White House briefing, live broadcast of audio was also banned. CNN played it in its entirety when we got it turned around.

And we should note that, on Friday, the briefing will also be off- camera with Sean Spicer.

But John, there is a pattern here with the administration ducking the spotlight in the middle of a big story.

THOMAS: You know, I was wondering about this because we talked about it last time I was on. So I spoke with some friends in the administration. And their take is that they're doing anything they can to cool the temperature level of those briefings because, for them, it's -- they feel that they've lost control in terms of disseminating information.

And it's about the reality show and the gotcha moments. And anything they can do to cool the temperature and killing the video is one of those. I think that's an effective thing to do --

WALKER: And Sean Spicer said -- you know, he talked about why he thinks banning TV cameras was a good idea. He thinks that creates meaningful discussion. Take a listen to what he said on Laura Ingraham's radio show.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: The nice thing about turning the cameras off sometimes -- and I find this is that when you -- when you -- when it is not performance art, as you call it, that you end up having a more, I think sometimes a more substantive discussion about actual issues because they're not trying to get their clip, they're not trying to figure out, how do I get on TV?

How do I make -- ask some snarky question.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

WALKER: David Siders, your reaction to what Sean Spicer had to say and how significant this move is by the White House?

SIDERS: It's interesting. I'm not sure that we hear from reporters that they feel that they're getting more substantive conversations with the White House, given the recent blackout or the recent soundout.

And so I think that -- there's reason to question that. The White House reporters, I don't think, feel that way.

VAUSE: David, comments being made that this is an erosion of your access to the White House, to the message and it's a double-edged sword, you know, they cut the briefings down, they can't get their message out.

JACOBSON: One of the core pillars of our democracy is a free, open and transparent press. They ask the tough questions. They hold politicians' feet to the fire. That's what makes this democracy work. And that's why we are a beacon for democracy, democratic republic, for the rest of the world.

These actions undermine our ability to function as an open and free country.

VAUSE: OK. I very quickly want to finish up with Johnny Depp, who made some very controversial remarks at a film festival in the U.K. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? I want to clarify, I'm not an actor.

(LAUGHTER).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, so he was referencing Abraham Lincoln who was shot by John Wilkes Booth. He was taking questions from the crowd, he got a big cheer for that one.

But, John, a pretty stupid comment to make at any time, even more so days after Republican --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- Scalise is still in the hospital --

VAUSE: -- came under fire --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- tone-deaf.

THOMAS: You know, it's so tone-deaf, I think the only thing -- and not surprised to hear this coming from Johnny Depp. I don't hold him really in high regard to begin with.

But I'm surprised that the audience didn't boo him for something like that. That's what's disappointing to me.

VAUSE: Dave?

JACOBSON: Whether or not you like Donald Trump or you hate Donald Trump, that comment was flat-out disgusting.

WALKER: Yes.

VAUSE: Final word, David Spears (sic) -- Siders, sorry, David Siders?

SIDERS: I think I have to agree with your panelists. The remark was out of line.

VAUSE: OK. And that is a good point where we'll leave it.

Thanks to all of you for coming in. We appreciate you being with us.

WALKER: And just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the city of London tries to look forward after a preventable tragedy as it works to ensure it won't happen again.

VAUSE: Also Facebook has a new mission. We'll hear exclusively from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:20:00]

WALKER: London is grappling with the aftermath of a deadly apartment building fire in West London. It left dozens dead with many still missing. Investigators believe it may have been the building's siding or cladding that allowed the fire to spread so quickly.

VAUSE: Prime Minister Theresa May has already apologized for the government's response to this disaster, says a judge will be appointed within days to lead a public inquiry. The focus, she says now, is on the potential risks facing other high-rise buildings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As a precaution, the government has arranged to test cladding in all resident tower blocks. Mr. Speaker, shortly before I came to the chamber, I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible.

The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed. And as I speak, they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: But even if a similar fire never happens again, the question still remains why it even happened once.

VAUSE: Our Nick Glass has this report. And a word of warning: you may find some of the images in his report disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The image is utterly indelible, a blackened monolith among the tower blocks, a desolate burnt-out shell, a stump, an accusing finger.

How and why did this terrible fire happen?

Why, oh, why were so many lives lost?

JOE DELANEY, RESIDENT EYEWITNESS: I mean the speed and the ferocity of it was just unreal. I've seen places in war zones that have been hit with napalm or white phosphorus and things like that and I've never seen anything go up like that.

Within about three hours, there was nothing left of that building, nothing at all.

GLASS (voice-over): Joe Delaney lives just a few yards from the tower; witnessing the tragedy unfold has clearly traumatized him. The residents have long complained to the council about the likelihood of a catastrophic fire. DELANEY: There's nothing around here now but still it doesn't even have sprinklers or at least an alarm that worked. All you could hear that night was people screaming. That was it. There were people at windows up there, who were just screaming the whole time for people to help them.

GLASS (voice-over): As the flames spread, Delaney started filming on his mobile phone with disbelief and then growing horror.

DELANEY: I honestly don't -- it looks to me like it's only the outside -- oh, my God.

Oh, Jesus, that's where the stairs are.

Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

GLASS (voice-over): On the streets around the tower, we detected a palpable rawness of emotion, a sense of shared anguish. The place has become a memorial.

In their desperation, in the first few hours and days, relatives of the missing pin photos, wherever they could.

Jessica Urbano, age 12, was home alone on the 20th floor. She rang her mother, who had just begun her shift as a night cleaner. She apparently screamed, "Mommy, Mommy, come and get me," then the line went dead.

A week after the fire, new photos were still going up. But with all hope long gone, this man was remembering his father.

[02:25:00]

GLASS (voice-over): One woman fears that she's lost six relatives, including her mother and sister and three nieces. They all lived on the 22nd floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you want your family to be remembered?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Loved: memory, pictures and everything.

GLASS (voice-over): Some 40 fire engines were called out on the night, some driven on this very same road. Like Joe Delaney, one fireman filmed on his mobile phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, it's a towering inferno.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is that possible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's jumped up all the way along the flats, look.

GLASS (voice-over): Firemen struggled for over 24 hours to put out the blaze. The tower was built in 1974 but refurbished by the council just recently. There was new insulation and cladding on the outside and the government inquiry will examine whether this was the reason the fire spread so quickly.

Some reports suggest it may have started in the kitchen on the fourth floor but the new exterior materials are thought to have effectively turned the tower into a chimney.

Grenfell Tower is about half a mile away from Notting Hill in West London but a world away in terms of affluence. Some of the victims were among London's poorest, multiracial, of many faiths, families among others of Iranian, Lebanese, Somali, Moroccan and Ethiopian descent.

There was a community; there still is but it's now numb with grief and clustered around a mausoleum. The charred shell is being painstakingly searched flat by flat, floor by floor. There are many questions. The police are treating this as a crime scene -- Nick Glass, CNN, by Grenfell Tower in West London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: A very big crime scene. We will take a short break. "STATE OF AMERICA" with Kate Bolduan is next for our viewers in Asia.

WALKER: And for everyone else, coming up after the break, Donald Trump finally admits he did not record his conversations with the FBI director.

So why did he suggest he might have?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:12] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Amara Walker.

The headlines this hour --

(HEADLINES)

VAUSE: It took the U.S. president 41 days to confirm what many had suspected all along, that his suggestion of secret recordings of his conversations with FBI Director James Comey was a bluff.

And it was Comey who called Donald Trump's bluff earlier this month during his Senate testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in and the only thing I could think to say -- because I was playing in my mind, because I could remember ever word he said, was playing in my mind, what should my response be? And that's why I very carefully chose the words. And, look, I've seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: A carefully worded statement with no typos or spelling mistakes, Mr. Trump tweeted, "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking, and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are tapes of recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make and do not have any such recordings."

But that statement raises even more questions. And what are the legal implications for a president being investigated for obstruction of justice.

Norm Eisen is a CNN contributor, former ethics czar in the Obama administration. He joins us from Washington.

Good to see you, Norm.

NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me, John.

VAUSE: One line in that statement really seems to stand out. That is this, "I did not make and do not have any such recordings."

Nor, that's not exactly saying the tapes never existed. Raises the possibility that someone else may have made the tapes.

EISEN: That's right, John, or that somebody else has them. And it also leaves open questions of whether they existed in the past of who may have some idea about this. It really raises as many or more questions as it answers.

VAUSE: So why include the wiggle room here?

EISEN: Well, this was not one of the president's spontaneous tweets while eating ice cream in his bath robe at 3:00 a.m. This was a heavily lawyered tweet down to the complicated syntax of this two-part Twitter statement. So he's attempting to get out from under. I think like every part of this Russia investigation, it's like the Matryoshka dolls and now we're going to have to dig further and see what is what.

VAUSE: The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says the statement put out by the president does not mean the issue is over. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The president's denial of these tapes raises a lot of questions. If he didn't make tape recordings, then why did he essentially threaten James Comey there might be tapes? Why did he keep the country waiting so long and with the suggestion he had made about the existence of tapes? I wish we could say everything the president tweets is, in fact, true but sadly I've seen on repeated occasions, the president tweeted things patently untrue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So when it comes to proving intimidation, is the legal onus on the intent of the president or the impact on Comey?

EISEN: The primary question that the special counsel, who's now handling the Russia investigation, former FBI Director Bob Mueller, is going to have to assess what was the intent of the president putting this original tweet out about the tapes? Was there an intent to harass or intimidate or block Jim Comey from testifying? It had that flavor to it. That this was a shot across Comey's bow. But if we were only talking about this isolated tweet, probably that would not be enough for an investigation.

[02:35:19] VAUSE: But the original tweet did not happen in a vacuum. So how does this fit into the bigger picture?

EISEN: Well, I have always been of the view that the obstruction of justice case against the president is a pattern case. It starts with the president demanding loyalty from Jim Comey. Jim Comey declines. The case evolves with the president saying to Jim Comey, I hope you can see your way clear to dropping the investigation against Mr. Flynn. Comey understood that as a demand, and when that demand was not met, Comey was fired. So there's an action on top of it. This fits into that pattern. The president is trying every which way from the totality of the evidence to stop this investigation. And the key question that Bob Mueller needs to answer under the obstruction statute is, was this a corrupt intent? Was it a bad, wrong or evil intent, or a legitimate one? I think there's a lot of evidence that it was improper.

VAUSE: Quickly, what you're saying is that because the president has admitted this falsehood in a case of "he said/he said," Trump verses Comey, then this tilts the scale in favor of Comey?

EISEN: It does in favor of Comey in two ways. One, it's more evidence the president is not honest, that he cannot be trusted. Two, it's more evidence of corrupt intent. Why lie if your intentions were pure? So I think it's additional harmful evidence against the president.

VAUSE: Norm, we'll leave it there. But as always, thank you very much. Good to see you.

EISEN: Good to see you.

WALKER: And still to come, Bill Cosby has big plans for the next step in his career now that his sexual assault trial may be behind him. We will tell you what he wants to do now, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALKER: Bill Cosby has some big plans for the next step in his career now that his sexual assault case has ended in a mistrial.

VAUSE: His publicists say the comedian will soon hold a series of town hall meeting on how to avoid being accused of sexual assault. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW WYATT, BILL COSBY SPOKESMAN: We talk to young people because this is bigger than Cosby. This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today. And they need to know what they are facing when they are -- they are hanging out and partying and, you know, when they are doing certain things that they should not be doing. And it also affects married men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin, joining us now to talk about this.

I have to say, when I first saw this story, I did a double take, I could not believe what I was reading. Your reaction, you have a man here who had dozens of women accusing him of sexual assault and now he is holding these education workshops?

[02:40:09] AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The message is right, and the messenger is wrong. Educating young people about sexual assault is also a good thing to do. And his publicist mentioned athletes and that is wonderful. Hopefully the teams are talking to young men and women about the sexual assault. But the messenger is a problem. So, first of all, he is not a lawyer. When he talks about educating people about the law, that makes had me nervous as a lawyer, I don't want nonlawyers outs there talking about the law. And secondly, he is awaiting a second trial on sexual assault charges. So I know his lawyers are cringing because any statements he makes in these town halls can be used against him.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: Do you think his lawyers are cringing or do you think it's part of a strategy, again, Cosby, he is planning a five-city tour to hold these town halls. And I just happen to see Gloria Allred, who is representing the women who is accusing Cosby of sexual assault, and she was saying it's a move on Cosby agent's part to influence the jury pool.

MARTIN: It could be, but it's a dumb move. He has a very aggressive publicist that is out making statements. It's hard to know which statements are coming from Cosby and the publicist and the legal team. I know they may want to influence the jury pool. So they have to be careful about the comments and statements. The first 100 questions I can guarantee you are going to be about the charges he is facing in the second trial. So, he has to be very careful about what he says and what he, you know, communicates in the town halls because it could be used against him in the second trial.

WALKER: I want to talk about the second trial in a bit. But let's talk about the first trial where the jury was deadlocked with a mistrial.

I want to play sound of an anonymous juror who talked about the deliberations and what happened. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED JUROR: It was hopeless. From the first time on. The statute of limitations was running out.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did that really bother you?

UNIDENTIFIED JUROR: Yes, it does. I think they created this whole thing, a case that was settled in '05, and we had to bring it up again in '17.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: So, you hear the juror there saying, you know, it was hopeless from the beginning and he was questioning why the charges were brought forward, you know, a decade or so later. I guess the fact that they deliberated that long, 52 hours, it was a positive sign for Bill Cosby.

MARTIN: We are hearing conflicting statements from two different jurors. There was an earlier story reported by ABC that a juror said that they were pretty much 10-2 --

WALKER: Right.

MARTIN: -- in favor of conviction and now, this juror is coming out saying, no, those numbers were not right. We were 7-5, 5-7, so we are getting different stories. And they're very different stories. One is a story of close to conviction on at least two charges and the second coming out and saying, he questioned the credibility of Constand, he was worried about the time that had expired, and he thought the civil suits had solved the issues.

WALKER: Quickly, on the second trial, what do you think the prosecution will do differently?

MARTIN: First, I would make a motion to get the fact witnesses admitted. There were 13 witnesses that the prosecution wanted to bring fourth. The judge only allowed one, Kelly Jackson. We should look for the prosecution filing that same motion and asking for more similar fact witnesses to be able to testify. That is key to this case. And I think if you had two, three, four voices telling the similar story, you may see a conviction.

WALKER: Areva Martin, I appreciate your legal expertise. Thank you very much.

MARTIN: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, having over a billion friends, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook has a new mission. Our exclusive interview still to come.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ZUCKERGERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Today, a lot of society is divided, so it's pretty clear just giving people a voice and connecting people isn't enough. We also have to do work to help bring people closer to together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:46:03] WALKER: Facebook could be making big changes. Its CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the social media giant is taking on a new mission that goes beyond connecting people.

VAUSE: he explained it all to our Laura Segall in this CNN exclusive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: It's an incredibly big deal that Facebook is completely overhauling its mission and has a new mission. So what is the new mission of Facebook?

ZUCKERBERG: So our new mission is to bring the world closer together. And for the last decade, our mission has been to make the world more open and connected. And we've been really focused on these ideas, helping to connect people, especially with their friends and family, and we're going to keep doing them. We're not done with that mission yet. But now I just feel like we have a responsibility to do more in the world. When you look at the world today, giving people a voice and helping people connect are good and they've made the world better in a lot of ways but our society is still very divided and that means that people need to work proactively to help bring people closer to together. It's not enough to help us simply connect. We need to work to bring the world closer to together.

SEGALL: And you've always had such an interesting utopian view of things and it seems like this mission now, looking forward, is something a little bit like fakebook's grown up.

ZUCKERBERG: When I look at the greatest opportunities and challenges for our generation, things like stopping climate change, ending disease, stopping climate change, those are things he no one group or country can do by themselves. So we have to build a world where people can come together to take on these big meaningful efforts. That change won't happen top-down. There's no one in the world that can snap their fingers and make that happen. We need to empower things like church groups and neighborhood groups and groups of people who love dogs and new moms and dads. Those are the groups that bring people together. And once people are coming together in these smaller groups, that grows, and it ends up with much bigger changes in the world.

SEGALL: So how exactly do you do that?

ZUCKERBERG: If what you're trying to do is run a group that has thousands of people, you need tools to help manage that. That's what we're announcing today. We have 300 people who have built the strongest communities on Facebook. A woman here, named Lola, started the secret group called Female In (ph). She started it. She describes it as a no judgment support group for women to talk about whatever issues matter the most to them, whether it's issues in their marriage, their job or health or anything. And what she's found is that people come and start talking about basic issues, but then it actually has given people an outlet for really important things too. And now they come and talk about domestic violence, and within minutes, she says people get thousands of messages of support, offers of places to stay, and help with child care. She didn't start off try to build a community that was going to change the culture around domestic violence, but when you give people a way to connect, that's the kind of thing this can lead to. So that's what we want to try to unlock in the world. Our view is, if we can build those tools and give more people like Lola in the world the power to build those communities, it's going to be a better place.

SEGALL: Take me inside Mark Zuckerberg's head to the moment you decided to change fakebook's core mission. Was there an event that happened or a moment you said we got to change something?

[02:49:57] ZUCKERBERG: Well, for most of the last 10 years this idea that the world should be more connected was not very controversial but now I think there are starting to be people who question whether that is good. There's been this evolution where for me and a lot of the people I work with at Facebook, we feel like giving people a voice is a really important thing to do but it's not enough to give people a voice, you have to build common ground so that way people can move forward together and aren't sharing a lot of different opinions. You have to help reconcile that so people can come together as well. That's a lot of the responsibility we feel now, and the mission that we want to take on for the next 10 years of the company.

SEGALL: We keep hearing we've never been more divided, more polarized. Was it the political climate that led to this awakening?

ZUCKERBERG: I think it's the feeling that simply connecting the world is not enough. You have to do proactive work to bring people together. You need to do work to help build enough common ground so we can make progress as a society together. You want to help people stay connect would the people they know and care about and make it so people get access to new people and new perspectives, too. We're going to do everything we were before, to connect friends and family and help people share, but now we also want to help people build communities and other ways they can connect and help people bond and come together and spread tolerance and a lot of the values I think we all want to see in the world.

SEGALL: How do you do that, because technology, to a degree, is always promised to help us discover and help us learn? There's also the question of, does it make us more insular? Is information being hijacked and spread? As you making the community of Facebook, these communities, how do you make sure they remain a place for authenticity and real discourse?

ZUCKERBERG: People are connecting over something they have in common and there's lot of research that shows if you want to engage on issues that you disagree on, things that society is divided on, the first thing you need do is connect over your common humanity. It could be we both have families or we both like a TV show together or the Chicago Cubs or whatever it is. So bringing people together and creating these communities is a lot of what we can do to help create more civil and productive debate of the bigger issues as well.

SEGALL: What have you learned from the spread of information or what have you learned to make sure that people can really connect?

ZUCKERBERG: I mean, the biggest thing that I've learned as I've travelled around is that great communities have great leaders who are engaged and feel an ownership of taking care of the people in their groups. One of the things we can do is empower leaders and all these folks who want to start communities around the world to do this.

SEGALL: You spent a good amount of time traveling around the country, at the dinner table with people in Ohio, going to factories. Are we as divided as it seems?

ZUCKERBERG: On some political issues, I think we are. But on more things than are usually covered, we are not. People have lot of the same interests. A lot of people like the same sports teams and bond over the same things in their neighborhoods. We all want the same things for our families and the people we care about. And one of the things that has been inspiring to me is I've seen people I might disagree with but you really come away with a feeling that people genuinely do care about helping and caring for other people. And that gives me a lot of faith.

SEGALL: Facebook is nearing two billion users. So how do you insure for the next billion that Facebook is a good place for democracy?

ZUCKERBERG: We want to give everyone in the world a voice to express what matters to them and bring people to together to solve important challenges. One of the things we need do is help connect the other half of the world to the Internet and you and I probably take that for granted. But for a lot of people in a lot of parts of the world, just having access to share your opinion or send a message to your partner or your friend or learn what the prices are for products at the market. Those are important things that a lot of people don't have an equal opportunity and access to do. There are lot of things we can do to solve this. We're building technology like solar powered planes to beam down Internet access or in the middle of a rain forest. We're working on new business models to do this.

This remains one of the things that I'm most excited about for the next decade and beyond, just unlocking access to the Internet for the next three or four billion people. If we can do that, all these folks who, today, don't have the tools to start businesses or create new tools, they'll now be able to make our lives better, too. And that's going to be a very powerful thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[02:55:25] VAUSE: He has very grand plans and a big vision. WALKER: And yeah, he's doing well for himself with those visions.

VAUSE: Absolutely.

We will finish now with our top story, the tale of the tapes.

WALKER: And the president's admission there are no recordings of his conversations with the FBI director, and that has his critics and supporters all fired up.

Here's our Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN ANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tapes? What tapes? As President Trump shrugs this one off, Twitter reaction ranged from a laid back, "Oh," to, "Are you kidding? You literally threatened Comey with tapes and now you say you don't have them?"

"The man's mind games are exhausting," tweeted someone else.

Sorry Mr. Comey.

COMEY: Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

MOOS: The actual Trump tapes, according to this tweet, "are duct, scotch and masking, all misspelled."

The president's supporters fired back.

"Trump did what was necessary to make Lyin' Jim Comey speak the truth."

Tweeted another defender, "Lordy, POTUS just bluffed one of the most powerful men in the world, and it paid off. Imagine playing poker against Trump."

Actually, he revealed his hand early.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are there tapes, sir?

TRUMP: Oh, you're going to be disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.

MOOS: Maybe disappointed isn't the right word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, this is nutty.

MOOS: You've got to keep your eyes on the magician's hands at all times.

"I never believed there were tapes but now Trump says there weren't any, I'm not so sure."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is a national version of Candy Crush, wasting our time whether we like it or not. MOOS: Some Trump critics took the president admitting the obvious in

stride.

"It's OK. He'll take care of it."

Referring to special counsel, Robert Mueller.

After the president tweeted, "I did not make and do not have any such recordings," one critic used a previous Trump tweet to reply, "What a load of covfefe."

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

TRUMP: P, P, P. Yes?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Covfefe, indeed.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. It's getting late. I can't even say my name.

The news continues to Natalie Allen right after this.

VAUSE: This is your last night.

WALKER: It's been lovely.

VAUSE: You're heading back.

WALKER: Yes. Back to Atlanta.

VAUSE: OK. Safe travels.

WALKER: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)