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Americans Still Don't Know Who Their President Trusts; Congressman Adam Schiff Voiced His Disapproval Of The Way The President Handled His Meeting With Vladimir Putin; Trump Jr. Is Now Confirming The Previously Undisclosed Meeting First Reported By The New York Times; Iraq Is Declaring Victory in Mosul. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired July 9, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:22] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thanks for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
On the heels of the G-20 summit, Americans still don't know who their President trusts. U.S. Intel officials who say Russia absolutely interfered with U.S. elections or Russian president Vladimir Putin who said he told Trump face to face he did not.
Well, this morning, in a tweet, President Trump commented for the first time about his meeting with Putin in Germany. While Trump did not refute Putin's repeated denials of involvement, Trump instead tweeted, "it is time to move forward," quote-unquote. Some in the Republican Party are outraged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To forgive and forget when it comes to Putin is a cyber-attack is to empower Putin and that's exactly what he is doing.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There has been no county whatsoever. Time to move forward. Yes, it's time to move forward but there has to be a price to pay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not? Why is there have to be price?
MCCAIN: Otherwise he will be encouraged to do so again, obviously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, the White House is applauding the outcome of the meeting with Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: There was significant substance. This is a very important for us to have discussions on substantive issues. And I think the President handled it brilliantly.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Adding to the confusion and bewilderment on both sides of the aisle, Trump's proposal to actually work with Russia on forming a cybersecurity unit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASH CARTER, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is like the guy who robbed your house proposing to work on burglary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk about all of this now about what the President has been saying about his meeting with President Putin via twitter, I want to bring in now CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones -- Athena.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred.
I can tell you that today the President has spent several hours at his national golf club in Sterling, Virginia. He returned here a short while ago. We don't have any word from the White House on what he got up to at that golf club. But we knew - we do know that this morning he got up to tweeting this morning.
I will read you two of those tweets. He said I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I have already given my opinion.
He also tweeted, Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded.
Well, those two tweets which are just two among several are rather curious for a couple of reasons. One, and the first one, the President says he has already given his opinion about Russian meddling. And it has not been at all definitive about that issue.
Just the other day in Poland, it was Thursday, that he said, I think it was probably Russia. It could have been other people or other countries. I think it could have been Russia, but it could have been other countries. A very muddled statement, not at all a definitive one.
That second tweet, the President talking about working with the Russians on cybersecurity. If we are to believe the President's chief of staff Reince Priebus that he absolutely did not believe President Putin when he denied Russian meddling in last year's election, then why would he make sense to work with the very people who meddled in the election on efforts to prevent meddling? It doesn't make any sense - Fred.
WHITFIELD: And then what more can you tell us about the reaction coming from folks inside the beltway there to Trump's meeting.
JONES: Well, it has been pretty strong from both sides of the aisle, the President has been criticized by members of his own party. He has also been criticized by former Obama officials like defense secretary or former defense secretary, I should say, Ash Carter who talked about how the exchange over Russian meddling went down according to the read-out in that meeting. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: The Russians pulled out the old playbook. I have seen all this going back to Russia and soviet days. When confronted with something they have done wrong, ask for U.S. intelligence's old trick. Propose a working group in this case on cyber. But this is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary, it is they who did this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So there you heard Ash Carter expressing some serious skepticism about that whole discussion. And he is not alone. As I mentioned Republicans too have raised a whole lot of eyebrows about this whole idea of working with Russia on cybersecurity.
One point, I would make, though, about Ash Carter is that it just it sounds like he is making the point that the Russians that Putin got the better of President Trump in that meeting -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: It does sound like he is saying that.
All right. Athena Jones, thank you so much.
All right. This morning on "STATE OF THE UNION," Congressman Adam Schiff voiced his disapproval of the way the President handled his meeting with Vladimir Putin, even calling the President's talk of a mutual cybersecurity unit with Moscow quote "dangerously naive." Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:05:17] REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The President just went into a meeting with a man who ordered hacking of our democratic institutions. So Putin wasn't a tangential player here. He wasn't just a disinterested party. He was the one who ordered this orchestrated effort to interfere in our democracy and do so through cyber means. And to now suggest or believe that we can count on Mr. Putin or his government to be a constructed player, ignores not only what he did in our election, but what he is doing currently in German elections, what he did in French elections. What he is doing in other parts of the world.
The Russians want to take down liberal democracy. That is what they are about right now. We are in a new ideological struggle. And I think to gloss over that, to ignore that, to try to bury that with the idea that we can work in a cybersecurity group is a dangerously ve view to take of Russian intentions of how much we can count on them.
Look. I think something constructive did come out of this meeting, it was the ceasefire in Syria so it wasn't a total loss. But on the issue of hacking, it was a loss for the country because the President went into that discussion having really undermined our own position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. And turning now to another developing story. Members of the President's team including Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer last June two weeks after Trump clinched the Republican nomination. Trump Jr. is now confirming the previously undisclosed meeting first reported by the "New York Times." It's the first known meeting between some of the highest ranking members of the Trump team and a Russian during the campaign.
CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is covering these new developments for us right now.
Elise, what more do we know about this meeting?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, Donald Trump Jr. says this was a short introductory meeting. He took at the request of an acquaintance to discuss a program for the adoption of Russian children. Now, you may remember that was ended by the Russians several years ago. The Russian lawyer at that meeting Natalia Veselnitskaya formed a group purporting to seek the removal of that adoption ban. But it's important to also note why this program ended. And the Russians put that ban in place as retaliation for an American law known as the Veselnitskaya which imposed sanctions over Russians thought to have violated human rights. And this Veselnitskaya also sought the repeal of that legislation.
Now, Trump Jr. said the adoption issue was not a campaign issue. There was no follow-up. But then it does raise questions, why senior members of the Trump team, including the campaign manager and son-in- law Jared Kushner were meeting with the Russian nationals just after Trump clinched the nomination. Now, during the campaign, Trump said there were no connections to Russia. This is yet another connection between his campaign and Russia. That is raising questions.
WHITFIELD: And so, has there been any new reaction coming from the administration as a result to this reporting?
LABOTT: Well this morning, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff downplayed the meeting on the Sunday talk shows. Take a listen to Mr. Priebus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort all want to meet with a Russian lawyer about a Russian adoption?
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I have no idea, Chris. You are going do have to talk to them. However, you know, talking about issues of foreign policy, issues related to our place in the world, issues important to the American people like adoption is something that's not unusual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: Now, a spokesman from President Trump's legal team said this meeting could have been an effort by democratic operatives set up to create an appearance of inappropriate connections between Trump family members and Russia. Mark Corello (ph) told CNN that the legal team has learned from its investigation and public reports that the participants misrepresented who they were and who they work for.
Now, we have not been able to reach Miss Veselnitskaya. But she did tell the "New York Times," she was not working on behalf of the Russian government. She never discussed these matters with any government representative. But again, she is known as someone who had worked in addition to trying to get that adoption ban lifted as someone who was trying to get this anti-Russian legislation repealed. So you would wonder why Russian nationals thought they would be reaching out to the campaign before he was even in the White House. That's still something we don't know, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thanks so much.
Let's talk more about all of this. And there is a lot to talk about. Michael Weiss is a CNN investigative reporter for international affairs. Republican strategist Brian Morgenstern. And political analyst Ellis Henican.
All right. Good to see all of you.
So Michael, you first. Let's touch on this issue with this reporting and the Russian attorney meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Jr., Manafort last June. Why would this be a meeting that someone forgot to reveal? What's behind it?
[16:10:22] MICHAEL WEISS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, Miss Veselnitskaya is not just a Russian attorney who fronts a rather eyebrow raising NGO, purporting to lift the Russian adoption ban. She is also the family attorney for the Katsivs. Who are the Katsivs? Dennis Katsivs was the owner of a company called (INAUDIBLE) holdings limited which was registered in the British Virgin Islands. That may strike a bell with some CNN readers because we reported on this company, because the New York southern district accused it of being a receptacle of money laundered by a Russian mafia organization tie to Russian government officials through a tax fraud scheme going back a decade. $230 million stolen from the Russian taxpayer, which Sergey Magnitski (ph), the other Russian attorney for whom the U.S. law sanctioning Russians was Nate.
So this is a woman who is at the very least connected to a Russian official, a Russian oligarch official I should say worth probably billions of dollars, whose family was accused of being agents of money laundering in the New York southern district. Now, that case was settled without any claim or wrongdoing. But the defendant (INAUDIBLE), the company had to pay out $6 million. That's an important point here. She is not just going around talking about, you know, allowing Americans to adopt Russian babies. She is also a defense attorney for an alleged for a cut out of an alleged Russian organized crime syndicate. WHITFIELD: So this is all very complex. And there are so many
matters involving Russia intertwined with Trump and his orbit in so many different ways. And then coming on the heels of the G-20 in this face to face between Putin and Trump, and then today you had the U.N. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley weighing in on why she thinks the President now wants to embark on this joint cybersecurity unit with Russia, this is what she had to say on that matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: We need to get together with Russia. We need to tell them, you know, what we think should happen, shouldn't happen. And if we talk to them about it, hopefully we can cut this out and get them to stop. It doesn't mean we think they will --
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think --.
HALEY: It doesn't mean we ever trust Russia. We can't trust Russia. And we won't ever trust Russia. But you keep those that you don't trust closer so that you can always keep an eye on them and keep them in check. And I think that's what we are trying to do with Russia right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Ellis, is that the bottom line rationale. A lot of these threats, you keep your enemies close, and that's largely what explains some of these relations past or even embarking on new relations in a different way with Russia. We have the cybersecurity unit.
ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Yes, all of this closeness really has added up to a bunch of hugging at this point. We don't seem to be protecting ourselves. Listen, the truth (INAUDIBLE).
WHITFIELD: Ellis, I'm so sorry, but your audio is terrible. So we have to work on audio and then try to get back with you.
So Brian, how about that question to you. I mean, this keeping the enemies close. Is that the rationale behind whether the cybersecurity unit that the President is proposing and perhaps behind some of the other explanations about all of these meetings or advocacy if you will with certain things Russia?
BRIAN MORGENSTERN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it could be. And the fact remains that no matter how contentious our relationship is with Russia, there are so many issues that are so important that we have to work with them regardless, like Syria, like ISIS, like the Ukraine. And that there are things we need to talk to them about. And so, you know, focusing on the adversarial nature of our relationship in certain context, fine. But also finding ways to work together in spite of those things is an important context as well. And so we can't just, you know, brush aside this relationship and say, they are out to get us, while in some context that may be true. There are issues that are too important to ignore and too important to just say, well, you know, draw off our hands and say we can't trust these guys. We have to work with them on some things.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still that remains suspicion if not confusion, just listen to senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he's doing the hacking.
GRAHAM: It's not the dumbest idea I have ever heard, but it is pretty close. Tillerson and Trump are ready to forgive and forget when it comes to cyber-attacks on the American election of 2016. Nobody is saying, Mr. President, the Russians changed the outcome. You won fair and square. But they did try to attack our election system. They were successful in many ways. And the more you do this, the more people are suspicious about you and Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:15:06] WHITFIELD: So Michael, what are your thoughts to that? You have these senators who are, you know, confused, if not rather upset about the approach that Trump has exhibited.
WEISS: Russian's specialist in Congress put it best I think. He said Putin's method has been - and that of course, almost two decades of being in power, create a problem then pretend to solve it then take a deep out. That's what we are seeing here, right?
Putin says he wants to work with the United States on combating radical terrorism. Yet Russian policies in (INAUDIBLE) only increased the number of radical terrorist who have gone off to Syria. Often with the help of the FSB, the security services which allowed them into the country in the lead up to the winter Olympics in Sochi. Now he is saying we need to work together on cybersecurity after perpetrating not just a major hacking of the U.S. democratic election system, but probably the greatest espionage operation even during the cold war.
The Russians never did what they did in 2016. And Putin is taking a deep bow and Donald Trump is effectively patting him on the back for it. I mean, I agree with the senators, it is insane. It is like putting an arsonist in charge of the fire brigade.
And by the way, yes, I totally understand this talking point which has become - it has reached the level of platitude. We need to work with the Russians on X. We do, indeed, the problem is the Russians don't want to work with us on x, y or z, whether it is counterterrorism, nuclear de-proliferation from which multiple treaties they have pulled out of, to now cybersecurity.
Anybody you have talked to in intelligence work or counter terrorism work over the past two decades will tell you, we have never effectively cooperated with the Russian security sources on Islamic terrorism, because they don't give us what we need. They are after going after the veterans and Chechen and Caucasian war. They are not interested in Al-Qaeda. They are not interested in ISIS. You can just talk to Bob Bear about that. You talk to anybody else who comes on CNN. They will tell you the same thing.
WHITFIELD: So Ellis, we have your mic hopefully worked out this time. Do you believe it's clear where Donald Trump is coming from? He tweeted this morning, you know, saying in his conversation with Vladimir Putin he vehemently denied it. And then he said I have already given my opinion. He makes it clear.
Is it imperative that the President find another means in which to make it clear? Where is he on the Russian meddling, what he said to Putin, and what the conclusion was if there are, you know, more sanctions or penalties or something later?
HENICAN: Fred, I don't think the President wants to. I think he has made it very clear what he thinks which is he doesn't believe it. He believes Putin more than he believes our intelligence agencies. And as long as he has that opinion, this whole notion of we are going to move forward past these problems is really a code word for saying, we are not going to do anything about it. We will let them do whatever they want. There will be no penalties for it. And we will ignore all the bad stuff that they did. So no, I have no confusion about what the President thinks and I don't think anybody really does.
WHITFIELD: OK. And you know, treasury Secretary Mnuchin and others went on the Sunday talk shows today and said, you know, a lot came from the G-20 summit. One, the ceasefire involving Syria brokered with Russia and even Jordan. And Donald Trump just tweeted saying the Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding. Many lives can be saved. Came out of meeting good.
But then I spoke with lieutenant colonel Rick Francona earlier and he had this to say about the ceasefire and whether it's holding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: What are the indicators that you would be looking forward to determine whether indeed the cease-fire just brokered during the G- 20 is in fact being honored?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It isn't. We have seen artillery strikes continuing from the moment the ceasefire was announced until the time it went into effect. And I suspect it's not going to last very long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Michael, you know, what is the White House to do about the messaging on issues, so that what comes from the White House is the last word on an issue?
WEISS: Well, yesterday you had me on and I said, you know, this is kind of a scandal, the President of the United States is not addressing what came out of the sideline meetings at the G-20. He came out of his plane and flew home. Seeding the ground completely to Putin to characterized or present the narrative the way the Russian government wanted to present it. Now, I'm actually -- I want to go back in time and say, you know, it
is probably better that Trump didn't say anything, given that he has just tweeted. Well, Mr. Putin vehemently denied he did anything naughty in our elections system. You know what my opinion is on this.
I mean, Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney said, yes, you know, when trying a murder or rapist or burglar, when they tell us they didn't do it, we just let the case go. I mean, that is good enough for us, right?
This is the President of the United States taking a strategic adversary at his own word. Now, what people say there is should be no confusion as to what Donald Trump thinks, I think there's a lot of confusion. In Warsaw, he again cast threw cold water on the idea that the Russian government solely using hackers that they themselves (INAUDIBLE) were responsible for hacking the DNC and DCC, saying it could have been the Chinese, it could have been other actors.
We are now almost what, eight, nine months into this administration. You have the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, all major national security intelligence services telling the President of the United States, we know this as a copper bottom fact. And the President saying well, I actually - I prefer to listen to what Vladimir Putin has to say.
[16:20:30] WHITFIELD: So Brian, does he have a believability problem?
MORGENSTERN: No. And that's not a fair characterization of what the President said. He said that, sure, I think Russia did it. I think other actors have been trying to hack as well, like the Chinese and others have been trying to hack cybersecurity systems for years. It has been happening all over the place. He didn't say I don't believe the Russians didn't do it. He said I think Russia probably did do it, but there are these other issues we also have to deal with.
WHITFIELD: But intelligence has said --
WHITFIELD: The intelligence has said emphatically, it did happen. And the President just has a lot of different ways that he is not been in total agreement with the intelligence. He said, you know, they may have done some, other countries may have done some, or we are not really sure yet, nobody knows.
MORGENSTERN: Fred --
WEISS: No one's denying that the Chinese and North Koreans and other states hack into U.S. systems. No one denies that. But we are talking about one specific instance - actually, two specific instances in this case, which was the stealing of the DNC emails and the passing them on to WikiLeaks for the intention of publishing them to scandalize the Clinton campaign and to bolster the Trump campaign.
On that point, the President of the United States has never categorically said we know for a fact, and I as commander-in-chief can tell you for a fact based on what my intelligence services said, that the Russian government was indeed responsible.
MORGENSTERN: He said --
HENICAN: There's no --
MORGENSTERN: Chief of staff was on the knit works this morning saying, he thinks the Russians --
WHITFIELD: We are talking about the President.
HENICAN: But how can you guys -- Michael, Michael, hold on.
Michael, how can you doubt what the President thinks about this? What he thinks is that he doesn't believe -- he chooses not to believe even though there's a mountain of evidence to the contrary. There is nobody has made any plausible explanation that points otherwise. There is no evidence by the way that any of foreign power hacked into our election in November. He chooses not to believe it. That's the reality.
WHITFIELD: All right.
MORGENSTERN: Saying they probably did it and sending your chief of staff out to say, yes, he said they did it right to Putin's face twice. It is not denying it. I mean, that's just a mischaracterization.
WHITFIELD: And so many would argue nothing is better than hearing it from the horse's mouth, the President of the United States himself. And he uses his twitter handle in which to convey his message. But you know, Brian, that's where we are, people are trying to figure out what does he really believe.
HENICAN: We know.
MORGENSTERN: But there's a lot of misconstruing it for political purposes. And focusing on this issue as opposed to, for example, his speech in Poland defending open societies and his trade negotiation and things like that focusing on this election issue is beneficial for Democrats. And so, of course, they want to focus on that. But the fact is he said he pressed Putin twice on his meeting according to himself and the chief of staff. And he said yes, I think Russia did do this. But there are other issues we need to work on.
WHITFIELD: OK. We will leave it right there for now.
Brian Morgenstern, Ellis Henican, Michael Weiss, we will have you all back very soon. Thank you so much.
All right. After nearly nine months now, a battle that killed thousands, Iraq's prime minister has announced Mosul has been liberated from ISIS. We are live on the front lines of the war torn city right after this.
[16:27:38] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
A major milestone in the war against ISIS after nearly nine months of fighting. Iraq is declaring victory in Mosul, announcing it has retaken the city from the terror group. Hundreds of people filled into the streets to celebrate the news. But Iraqi state TV says fighting is still going on in one neighborhood.
CNN international correspondent Nick Payton Walsh has more from Iraq.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, it is an historic moment for Iraq. Haider al-Abadi, of the Iraqi prime minister arriving this afternoon local time to the city of Mosul, saying he would announce the liberation of that city, the victory over ISIS.
Well, we know fighting is still ongoing in certain parts of the city. Very small areas indeed. And we haven't yet heard that awaited announcement. But Iraq state television, they are all frankly is in full celebration mode. Because nation has injured three years and ten days over ISIS' self-declared caliphate. That's how long since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, their leader, stood in a mosque in Mosul and declare that so-called states to begin to exist. They have injured great civilian casualties, huge losses and a very brutal campaign. But today, the message has been, that has really come to an end.
We have seen images of Iraqi troops reaching the river that runs through the middle of Mosul erecting flags. That marks the back end of the territory ISIS still holds in the old city of Mosul. We are down to a matter of blocks, really, but heavy resistance. And, of course, too, the sad facts that this military victory and announcement won't spell the entire end of ISIS here. They will continue as a low level insurgency. But to some degree, Iraq's sacrifice being postponed celebrated here. The nation having a great weight lifted from their shoulders.
But too now, some complicated and lengthy tasks begin this ISIS crisis began because of sectarian divide in this nation between the (INAUDIBLE). They are around the country as a minority under Saddam Hussein. And the Shiite majority who dominate now control the government and military.
They have been on the opposite sides, frankly. And many of them in the battle against ISIS and now have to reconcile, overcome their suspensions in order for some sort of new guys of ISIS representing the extremist part of that ethnicity. You feel disenfranchise to come forward again.
A lot of hard work ahead here for Iraq. But today, it's important to pause, to feel that sense of celebration we are seeing around us. And remember that the Iraqis taken a great burden on to rid ISIS of its territory here, service frankly, for the world - Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.
All right, coming up, President Trump's pick for FBI director expected to face a grilling on Capitol Hill this week, how the current Russia investigation could play a role in the confirmation process, next.
WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump's pick for FBI director will face a confirmation hearing this week. Christopher Wray will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. And if confirmed, Wray would replace former FBI director James Comey who was fired by the president in May.
Wray is a graduate of Yale Law School. He's a former federal prosecutor. Currently working in private practice in Atlanta. He headed up
[16:35:00] the Justice Department's criminal division for two years after being appointed by President George W. Bush. He also, Wray, also represented New Jersey governor Chris Christie during his Bridgegate scandal.
So let's discuss this with FBI -- talk about the FBI nominee with CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin. Michael, good to see you. So, do you expect this will be a fairly easy confirmation hearing for Wray or might it be difficult?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Wray will be confirmed and I think he deserves to be confirmed. He's a good lawyer who's well regarded by most people in the criminal justice community. He's not as experienced as Comey or Mueller or Louis Freeh, his three predecessors for that job, so he's going to have a learning curve ahead of him.
I think though the hearing itself will be complicated in that there is the Russian investigation ongoing by Special Council Mueller, and by the intelligence committees. And Wray is going to have to assure the Congress that he will let these things proceed, not only unencumbered, but with his support. So I think there's going to be a lot of requests for that promise.
WHIFIELD: And there I think -- oh, go ahead.
ZELDIN: As well, the circumstance of -- sorry, I was going to say, as well, the circumstance under which Comey was fired is, you know, always morale, you know, sort demoralizing in an agency. I was there when Meese left the attorney general position and Thornburg had to come in and reassure us that he was going to right the ship.
And I think that he has the same obligation, Wray, to make sure the people of the FBI understand that he's going to carry forward and that the mission of the FBI is going to remain undiluted and that they can count on him to have the back of the rank and file of the FBI. So I think there's a lot going on there. Hopefully McCabe will stick around for a while to help Wray make that transition.
WHITFIELD: So, rightfully there are going to be --
ZELDIN: So there'll be questions to ask one for sure -- WHITFIELD: Sorry about that. I'm sorry to interrupt you a second time. But I'm wondering likely there are going to be questions about, you know, maintaining independence versus allegiance. Remember, you know, Gorsuch received the same kind of questioning from members on the Hill about whether -- because the president, there are investigations that do involve the president or his campaign.
Whether that distance, you know, can be presented while carrying out the job. How do you see those questions being presented to Wray to see if he would be able to have that kind of distance between he and the White House, even though the White House may be nominating him.
ZELDIN: Well, that's what they have to ask him, do we have your word if you will, that you will maintain the independence of the FBI. Remember, part of the thing that Comey complained about with respect to the FBI and the White House and its communication was the White House wasn't honoring the independence of the FBI, the president kept trying to speak to the FBI director in ways and through channels that were unacceptable to the FBI.
Wray has got to say yes, Comey was right, though there are channels and that the White House is going to have to honor the traditional mechanism by which White House people communicate with FBI people and that you have my word, the congressional committees, that I will tell you if that's not being honored. So yes, that's an area of questioning and Wray essentially has to support Comey in that determination because that is protocol.
WHITFIELD: What do -- what needs to be known about Wray? He has worked at DOJ. He's been working in private practice in Atlanta, but what needs to be known about him to see if he is up for the job of FBI director?
ZELDIN: Well, judgment, independence, intestinal fortitude, backbone, these are -- this is a very hard job and it's a particularly difficult job at this point particular point in time because of the special counsel investigation, and because of the counter-intelligence investigation. And they want to know from Wray, do you understand in a sense the position that you're in at this particular point in time and are you ready for it?
And I think he is ready for it and that there is an indication in his resume that he is ready for it. When we remember back when he was the assistant attorney general in the criminal division and there was an effort by the White House to get the warrantless wiretapping approval and Comey and Mueller are there at Ashcroft's bed, so too is Christopher Wray siding with Mueller and with Comey that this is an improper thing. So he has an example in his resume where he has stood up for principle over political expediency. And I think that will
[16:40:00] stand in good stead for him in the course of his hearings and is reflection of his character which hopefully he'll bring to the FBI.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it right there. Michael Zeldin, always good to see you. Thanks so much. Still so much more straight ahead in the newsroom. But first, this
week's reminder that taking just a few moments to fill out a nomination form could turn your hero into a CNN Hero. Meet Tawanda Jones and the young woman who nominated her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was attending Washington State University. I told one of my professors about the drill team and what it meant to me. She told me like, I think that you should nominate her for CNN heroes.
TAWANDA JONES, CNN HERO: To know that someone in the program nominated me for CNN Hero, it means so much more, because they were a part of the struggle, they were a part of those humble beginnings, so that was a tremendous honor, and I wore it with a badge of honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, if you know someone in your community who should be a CNN Hero, nominate them today at CNNHero.com. We'll be right back.
[16:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right, before moving into the White House, Donald Trump decorated his hotels to look lavish and opulent. But the Trump's Taj Mahal hotel in New Jersey is shiny no more. It went bankrupt last year, and this weekend, the Taj Mahal is like a giant clearance sale center. Here's CNN's Dana Bash.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here goes nothing.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In 1990, Donald Trump opened the Taj Mahal Casino with a rub a golden lamp. A real estate wish come true.
TRUMP: Nobody's seen anything like it. The reviews have been unanimous raves.
BASH: Trump sold his stake in the casino in 2009 but was paid to keep his name attached to it. In 2014, he sued to have the logo removed saying the business had fallen into "an utter state of disrepair which tainted his brand." But Trump's trash is another man's treasure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're looking for Trump's thrown, we didn't find it yet.
BASH: A liquidation sale is underway, and everything must go. Bargain hunters won't finding anything with the Trump logo but there was plenty of his signature razzle dazzle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On our way to the sale. We found this on the 43rd floor. BASH: Want a hot pink jacuzzi tub? You got it. Chandeliers,
televisions or baby grand piano? Name your price. How about a luxury marble shower?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, how are you doing?
BASH: A New Jersey TV crew found this shopper testing the merchandise
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a liquidation sale and they're giving a sample. I wanted to see how the shower was.
BASH: An entire bedroom package could be yours for just $300.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't see anybody buying the beds or mattresses but to each his own.
BASH: Thinking of buying a piece of Trump's treasure? Get to Atlantic City and get in line. The sale ends when the goods are gone. Dana Bash, CNN Washington.
WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, a look at tonight's debut of "The Nineties." CNN's Brooke Baldwin is in Santa Monica where CNN is holding "The Nineties" beach party. We'll take off and see you then. We'll take you there live.
[16:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Wow! Lots of history made, but lots of music history made too in the '90s. CNN's Brooke Baldwin is back with this. She's got a D.J. there, the beach, Santa Monica. Oh boy, too much fun out there, Brooke.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to my Sunday. I don't know how I landed this gig, but I'm not complaining. So we've been listening to basically my favorite jams from my high school and college years in the '90s. This is all teeing up because we're so excited for the "Original Series" "The Nineties" has prepared tonight.
Now the thing if I could bring anything back from the '90s, let's be real, it would be the music. So we got a little Montell Jordan happening right now. I do have a bit of a playlist. If anyone follows me on Instagram, @BrookeBCNN, you guys have been all piling it on all this amazing music that you all want played at this '90s party.
So this is Tom, the D.J., which who has the best gig. I mean, what do we miss about '90s music other than everything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it right. Every genre -- pretty much every genre had a good song. I'd say Michael Jackson to Montell Jordan, Boys II Men which we're going to get into.
BALDWIN: I may have gone to a Boys II Men concert and they put roses out and I might have been that girl to run up and get them. OK, so from Montell Jordan, you're playing a little bit of my music. What's next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go to Boys II Men which is one of your favorites.
BALDWIN: Let's do it.
BALDWIN: Wait for it, Boys II Men. Again, anyone can come out, we're at the Santa Monica pier here in L.A. We're basically partying and listening to awesome music. Stand by for Boys II Men.
This is amazing. I'm basically in my element. This is my other life. Covering the '90s for CNN. So we're here, again, we're ahead of the debut tonight, 9:00 eastern, 6:00 here Pacific Time of the first episode of "The Nineties." It's a two-hour special all about TV.
BALDWIN: A little Sir Mix-a-Lot. I mean it's Sunday, it's CNN while Sir Mix-a-Lot is happening, Fred. I have no segue
[16:55:00] to you on that. It's just, it's an epic song of the '90s. We all remember the music video and we'll leave it there.
WHITFIELD: OK, thanks. All you need now is the company of some of those music producers from all that hot music from the '90s, to join you right there on Santa Monica. They have to leave their cozy confines in the Hollywood Hills, et cetera, and just, you know, come on down to the beach. Join Brooke and jam.
BALDWIN: Come on down. Come on down. WHITFIELD: All right, it is the debut of "The Nineties" which airs tonight, 9:00 eastern right here on CNN. Have fun, Brooke. All right, thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. "Newsroom" continues with Ana Cabrera right after this.
ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Hello, you are in the "CNN Newsroom."
[17:00:00] I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us. President Trump is revealing some details about his private meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, not in the form of a press conference where reporters could ask questions but instead there were flurry of --