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Source: John Kelly Told Officials Trump Becoming "Unhinged;" U.S. Official: Trump May Be Too Eager For A Deal With North Korea; Trump Raising Nobel Prize Talk In Conversations; DOJ Charges 11 Possible Caravan Members With Illegally Entering The U.S.; Interview With Rep. Eric Swalwell (D), California; Trump Targets Dem Who Revealed Allegations About White House Doctor. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 30, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good reporting, Michelle. Thanks --

KOSINSKI: Thank you.

BLITZER: -- very much. That's it for me, thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly calls the president "unhinged." As NBC reports, Kelly called Trump an idiot. Kelly denies that. Is Kelly the next to go?

Plus, talk of the president getting the Nobel Peace Prize for North Korea as Trump himself now buying into that.

And Trump threatening the U.S. senator even as a top Republican distances himself from the president on that fight? Who wins?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, "unhinged," a senior administration official telling CNN tonight that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is growing increasingly frustrated with the president, telling senior national security officials that the president is becoming, quote, unhinged. Kelly making that comment specifically to the Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, and Senior National Security officials -- Security Council officials. And this all happened very specifically during a discussion about Syria.

This comes as NBC news is reporting Kelly referred to Trump as a, quote, idiot multiple times. That is an accusation Kelly denies, releasing a statement, saying, quote, I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know the story is total B.S.

But CNN is reporting, tensions between Kelly and the president have been brewing for some time. The president has been ramping up his personal cell phone use, one source saying that's in part because he doesn't want Kelly to know who he's talking to. We're also reporting tonight that the president has been bypassing Kelly by having two of his new hires John Bolton and Larry Kudlow basically report to him and not to Kelly.

Kelly, though, wouldn't be the first person to Trump's staff to call him names out of frustration. In fact, that is the rule, not the exception. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a, quote, moron, something that Tillerson never, despite being asked again and again, denied.


REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that.

This is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo, and they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way. I don't work that way.

I'm not going to dignify the question. We got so many bigger issues that we could be talking about.


BURNETT: As we know, Tillerson of course is no longer working for Trump. He was fired. And according to Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury," he's not alone. The former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus called the president an idiot. Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called the president a dope. Former Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn called him dumb as bleep. Priebus, McMaster, and Cohn of course they're all gone too.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, who once called the White House, quote, an adult daycare center publicly, said there are just three people who matter in the White House.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. And I support them very much.


BURNETT: Tillerson, of course is gone. And if Kelly, like Tillerson, Priebus, McMaster and Cohn is pushed out, that would leave only the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT at the White House. You know, Jeff, look, we've all talked to people close to he president, these sorts of words and descriptions are consistent with what many of us have heard. The president, though, is now firing back.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is indeed, Erin, firing back with a couple different messages. One just literally a few seconds ago as you were speaking. But first of all, let's look at this tweet he sent a few minutes ago. He said this, "The fake news is going crazy, making up false stories and using unnamed sources who don't exists. They are totally unhinged and a great success of this administration is making them do and say things that even they can't believe they are saying. Truly bad people."

And he went on just a couple moments ago, as I said, to tweet again, basically the same framework there, saying everything is doing fine in this administration, everyone has good energy, stamina, things are going well. But, Erin, the reality here is, you did lay out a pattern there. I am told that there is one difference, though, between White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and that comment from the secretary of state.

John Kelly went into the president's office, he denied it to his face. He said I didn't do that. That is something that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson never did. He never would deny the fact that he called the president a moron. And I was told at the time, the president was more furious about his refusal to apologize than him actually calling it to him in the first place.

So we will see how this develops. No question that many people around here believe that John Kelly is a short-timer, likely potentially to leave this summer.

[19:05:02] But who knows? The president makes these decisions himself. But there certainly is a pattern emerging here of so many staff shake-ups, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Jeff, thank you very much. And OUTFRONT now, Editor of the "National View" Rich Lowry, and national affairs correspondent for the Nation, Joan Walsh.

John Kelly is the president's right -- I'm sorry, Joan, right hand. Of course there's been, you know, there's been some issues.


BURNETT: John Kelly has challenged him on substantive policy issues.


BURNETT: But, you know, putting aside "idiot", they do have eight sources saying idiot, but he says he didn't say it. OK, that back in forth. We're reporting "unhinged" --


BURNETT: -- we're reporting it happened on a meeting on Syria, we're reporting who was in that meeting. That's pretty serious.

WALSH: It's very serious. It all has the ring of truth. I mean, we know that John Kelly went out publicly, said that the president's position on the wall, et cetera had evolved. He talks publicly kind of condescendingly about the president, which has annoyed the president before. We know that he did. He's also purported to say in that NBC piece that the president doesn't know anything about DACA. And I think that that sounds pretty close to the truth because the president was ready to make a DACA deal with the Democrats that -- it was bipartisan, but a lot of Democratic folks were driving it. That Kelly, you know, had to put up a roadblock to.

So, these -- both these sets of stories have the ring of truth to me, Erin.

BURNETT: And Rich, look, you know, out of -- speaking to people close to the president over time, these are the sorts of words and descriptions that come. There's a reason people don't want to put their name on them. Because, you know, he'll be mad and won't talk to them. But I mean, we've all heard it. It has a very clear ring of truth because we all have spoken to people who know the president well who have said those words.

LOWRY: If John Kelly flatly denies that he called the president an idiot, I believe him. I don't think he is an operator --

BURNETT: What about "unhinged", which hasn't come up at all?

LOWRY: Well, I don't know specifically what was said in that meeting --

WALSH: Unhinged is a little bit worse, actually.

LOWRY: -- but when the president of the United States is just going out there without any preparation or notice to anyone, saying we're going to pull our troops out of Syria, all the professionals are going to be banging their heads against the wall. They can be immensely frustrated by that and they should.

But, I mean, one thing that's going on here, Erin, clearly --

BURNETT: So you're saying that's where "unhinged" could have come from?



LOWRY: I mean, the president shouldn't be doing that. Because that undermines us in all sorts of ways.

WALSH: Right.

LOWRY: But, I think this leak against Kelly just shows there is a clack inside the White House that is out for his head. There's a clack outside that wants him gone. And this is a kill shot, because if the president of the United States actually believes he said this, that he's going to be gone sooner than later.

BURNETT: Any atone, I mean, look, we -- I went through the list of times that this has happened, you know, apparently, right, reportedly --

WALSH: Reportedly.

BURNETT: -- to your point, but we're talking about Kelly, we're talking about Cohn, we're talking about Tillerson. I'm going through the list here. We're talking about --

WALSH: Priebus.

BURNETT: -- McMaster.


BURNETT: We're talking about Priebus. We're talking about everybody but Mattis.

WALSH: Right. Right. Who -- that's a very interesting point, Erin. I don't know what --

BURNETT: So who --

WALSH: -- I mean, you know -- but I mean, to your point, like I mean, they're leaking on every single one of them.

BURNETT: They are.

WALSH: Who is this person doing all --

BURNETT: It's a snake pit.

WALSH: It's a snake pit inside. It's a snake pit -- then there's snakes around. There's a moat. I don't know how to describe it, but they're all gunning for each other, and right now, they're all gunning for Kelly.

All -- I mean, the knives are coming from all directions. People who seem loyal to Trump, people who seem not so loyal to him. So he's made a lot of enemies. And if he's made one in the president he won't be around long. It's just a question -- we've been, you know, we've been discussing this for months. It's been there -- we've been hearing reports that he's soured on Kelly, that he's tired of being controlled, that he's now using his cell phone, which I think raises national security concerns, but whatever.

He's getting around Kelly kind of like a child and that other people are happy to collude with the president to get around Kelly. So I don't see how Kelly stays, I really don't.

2LOWRY: Well, everyone has an expiration date. And he's been there --I guess in July, it'll be a year. An incredibly taxing position, even in the best of circumstances, and this isn't always the best circumstances --

BURNETT: I mean, this will be the third chief of staff here in what, 15 months? Priebus lasts what? LOWRY: And someone who wishes him well, the president well. I hope Kelly lasts as long as possible. Because I don't think he's a getting a replacement. He's going to be nearly as good at the job, and there might not be a replacement. That's one rumor (INAUDIBLE) a good arrangement.

BURNETT: Well, if the president wants to have people who aren't going to say these sorts of things about him behind his back, he needs full "yes" -- he needs "yes" men and "yes" women. I mean, because with all the people that have all the sophistication in their areas, whether it be Gary Cohn or Tillerson or, you know, Kelly --

LOWRY: I just think that given the way the president operates --

BURNETT: -- say these words.

LOWRY: -- given how immune he is to a plan and discipline, there's going to be muttering, there's going to be eye-rolling, there's going to be banging their heads against the wall occasionally. I mean, it just built into this process.

BURNETT: And yet, Joan, to your point, I guess that Kelly -- Kelly, I assumed he knows this is going to leak out.

WALSH: Right. He knows --

BURNETT: Whether he said "idiot" or not, OK, they have multiple sources saying he did, he's saying he didn't. "Unhinged", we're being very specific, right --

WALSH: "Unhinged" is worse.

BURNETT: -- this is in a meeting with Dunford, this is in a meeting with people on the National Security Council.

[19:10:02] Did he -- he should know it's going to leak. He obviously didn't care.

WALSH: I don't think -- I don't know that he does care. I mean, he has said -- he has denied it to the president, so that indicates -- unlike Tillerson, so that indicates some level of caring.

I also want to point out the NBC report has him saying nasty things about women were way more emotional then men. Rob Porter's ex-wife should have gotten over the domestic abuse and moved on. I mean, he hasn't denied saying those things. So that's kind of interesting.

BURNETT: And this is a guy who off-the-record talked about the secretary of state being on the toilet when he fired him.

LOWRY: You know, I think that's widely misreported and misunderstood. My understanding, I wasn't there in the room but he's actually defending Tillerson and saying the poor guy was sick, and he didn't mean to insult him or humiliate him in that way. And that's why there's -- I have a big dose of caution about any of these off-the- record unsourced stories. Maybe they're true, but maybe they're not. And all the people talking to reporters, they have their own agendas as well.

BURNETT: They do but that -- let's just be clear, you know this, as both of you with the feat you have in journalism. That's what journalism has been about for a thousand years.

LOWRY: It's gotten worse, though.

BURNETT: But it --

LOWRY: It's gotten worse.

BURNETT: -- everyone always has --

LOWRY: There's more of the stuff --

BURNETT: -- a dog in the fight.

LOWRY: -- on trivia and unsourced stories than ever before.

WALSH: It's gotten worse too because this White House is worse. It's worse than anything we've ever seen. So there's that.

BURNETT: The president is obsessed with trivia, I mean, they got --

LOWRY: Right. And --

BURNETT: -- everything from (INAUDIBLE).

LOWRY: -- I mean, that you have clashing factions, so you get more leaks. But I always take all the stories with a grain of salt.

BURNETT: All right, thank you both.

And next, Trump insists he will not get played by Kim Jong-un, but behind the scenes, is he just too eager for a deal? And we got new details on that.

Plus, the "National Enquirer" going after Michael Cohen. No secret there. They're not hiding it. That is a big cover. Is Trump using his friend's tabloid to threaten Cohen?

And breaking news, the Department of Justice charges suspected caravan members as the president slams immigration law.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are obsolete, and they are weak. And they are pathetic.


[19:15:29] BURNETT: Breaking news, a possible win for Trump in the North Korea summit. CNN reporting South Korea's leader convinced Kim Jong-un that the best place for the meeting is Trump's preferred venue, the DMZ. Sources telling CNN, the president loved the images from the summit between Kim and the South Korean president. So much that he wants his own cross-border handshake like that one beamed around the world. And he wants pictures if he decides to just get up and walk out of the talks with Kim.

But skeptics within the administration tell CNN President Trump may be too eager for a deal with Kim. Those same skeptics worrying that holding the meeting at the DMZ will appear conciliatory towards the North Korean leader.

And Trump himself who called Kim honorable last week, today continued to sing his praises in the Rose Garden.


TRUMP: Kim Jong-un, who has been very open and very straightforward so far -- I can only say, again, so far, but he's talking about getting rid of the site which was their big site. He's talking about no research, no launching of ballistic missiles, no nuclear testing. And he has lived up on that for a long period of time. Longer period of time than anybody has seen.


BURNETT: A longer period of time than anybody has seen. Well, that's not exactly true. The country's last nuclear test was in September, that's eight months ago when Kim tested his most powerful nuke to date. In the past, the Kim regime, Kim and his father have gone years actually in between nuclear tests.

Now, Trump, though, says, don't worry, I do not have rose-colored glasses when it comes to Kim. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: I think it would be a great celebration, if it works out well. And if it doesn't work out well, that's the way it goes. Got to get rid of the nuclear weapons. If it's not a success, I will respectfully leave, it's very simple.


BURNETT: The bottom line is this. Promising to give up nukes is nothing new from the Kim regime. In 2005, as part of the North Korean talks agreement, Pyongyang said it was, quote, committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. And that the DPRK and the United States undertook to respect each other's sovereignty.

If that sounds familiar, it's because it is. According to the denuclearization that Kim Jong-un signed last week, he said he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the Korean War and promised not to invade his country. So, same words.

Now Kim is now inviting experts and journalists to witness the closing of that nuclear test site the president referenced next month. New, right? No. Deja vu. Go back to June 2008, you can see it, North Korea inviting experts and journalists from across the world, including CNN to witness the destruction of a cooling tower at a nuclear plant.

So will this time be different? OUTFRONT now, Michael Anton, recently stepped down as spokesperson for President Trump's National Security Council, and Phil Mudd, former CIA counter-terror official.

Michael, great to have you on. So, you know, you've just been --


BURNETT: -- on the inside here with the Trump administration, and obviously I know you parted on good terms. Is President Trump at risk of making a bad deal, of getting conned by North Korea, as some skeptics in the administration say, because he's too eager for a deal?

ANTON: I don't think so. I think the administration from the president on down, knows what they're getting into. They know North Korea's track record. They know its history. It's all been laid out in the past, explained.

They went into this with eyes open and I think they're aware of the nature of the country that they're dealing with and its past history.

BURNETT: Phil, do you agree? Are the president's eyes wide open? Is he too eager?

PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: Well, this is not going to be a success. I think he should take the meeting. I don't see anything wrong with going to the DMZ. But success means we have certified that the North Koreans have taken steps that it will take us years to certify. This meeting, in my judgment could be a step.


MUDD: The certification we need to see is really detailed over years, Erin. I need to see, what are the list of sites, do we have access to those sites, down to the nitty gritty detail. How do you certify destruction not only of sites but of documentation of missiles? How do you get into the details of things like, how long does it take people to get into the sites? And does North Korea resist access to some sites?

The meeting is important, I think the president should do it, but let's not talk about a success until we actually have evidence that the program is destroyed.

BURNETT: Well, are you talking about 48-hour warnings and things? And wow, I'm having a little bit of a flashback to the Iran nuclear deal.

OK, Michael, the Nobel Peace Prize talk has reached the president. He apparently, according to our reporting has raised it in conversations over the past week. It's not clear if he's telling people he deserves it, but the idea has definitely been planted in his head, and the president of South Korea, as you know, said President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize.

[19:20:09] And here's what happened at the president's rally on Saturday night. So there's no chance he doesn't know about this talk because loves his crowd. And here they are, chanting "Nobel, Nobel."


CROWD: Nobel, Nobel, Nobel!

TRUMP: They were saying, what do you think President Trump had to do with it? I'll tell you what. Like, how about everything.


BURNETT: He is so humble, Michael. OK, Nobel Prize?

ANTON: Well, look, I agree with the comment that this is going to be a long process, this is only a first meeting, and we will know whether these talks are a success based on the North Korean regime's behavior going down the line and real, full true denuclearization is a process of months and years. It's going to require very intrusive inspections, you know, complete verification, and all of that. So this is going to take a long time.

However, I think it is correct, as President Moon said, all the way back in February, that the reason we got to this point, where the North Korean regime wants to talk, and remember, they're the ones who asked for the talks, is because of the extraordinary pressure brought on them that's greater than any amount of pressure that's ever been brought to bear against them. And that included enlisting China which has often been reluctant to engage to the extent that it has. And that is absolutely due to the pressure brought by this administration and this president.

BURNETT: So, Phil, you know, this goes back to the Iranian deal, right? You had Netanyahu today coming out --

MUDD: Yes.

BURNETT: -- and saying that the Iranians are brazenly lying about their pursuit, and, you know, I mentioned the 48-hour rule, but there's all kinds of questions that have been raised about access and when you can get access and warning and confirming, et cetera.

The president said though that if he pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal, that that will not send a bad signal to Kim. Here is what he said today.


TRUMP: No, I think it sends the right message. You know, in seven years, that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and create nuclear weapons. That's not acceptable. Seven years is tomorrow. That's not acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Does it send the right message, Phil, if he gets out of the Iran nuclear deal? No? We're serious, we're only going to do a better deal with --

MUDD: This is more complicated than it looks. There's two ends of this spectrum. One, you would look at this on the surface and say, hey, anybody negotiating with the president is going to say, what if the next guy steps away from it? What are the Chinese whispering in the North Koreans' ears about ensuring that the North Koreans get a good deal not only for North Korea, but also to ensure that the president doesn't back out?

That said, there's another piece of the story. I'm told in this town today as the conversation between the French leader and the Iranian leadership about how to amend the nuclear deal, is that because the Iranians got the message from President Trump that he's serious? I think this is pretty interesting. You could argue, Erin --


MUDD: -- that the North Koreans are going to be more serious about coming to the table because they're worried that if they try to sort of dance around this, they'll get the same deal at the end of the day that Iran got.

BURNETT: And that could work. And Michael, before we go, Netanyahu today literally pulled back a curtain on a 100,000 pages of documents. That the Israelis -- there he is -- I mean, you know, you can't -- you got to say he's rather Trumpian in his ability to present information.

Look, he said it's all about nukes. And the big question of course is how do the Israelis manage to get this amount of information? It's a pretty incredible thing. Whether it was hacking or going in or how did they do it. Do you have any sense of how?

ANTON: I don't have any sense of how. I will say, though that it proves what a lot of us have believed all along, that the Iranian regime's denials over the years that they ever had a nuclear program, that it ever had any intent to build a nuclear weapon were not just credible, they were not serious, they were not true.

We now know without a shadow of a doubt that they were lying all along. I personally always believed they were lying. They were caught trying to enrich uranium illicitly, they were caught with weapons designs in their possession, and, you know, working the black market to get that -- those kinds of materials that have no civilian application, whatsoever.

So, it just goes to the inherent flaws any -- around nuclear deal that it is based on a false premise, which is that the Iranians only want civilian nuclear power. And I'm just coming back to inspections, I think that's a really important object lesson for North Korea. One of the flaws in the Iran nuclear deal is that the Iranian regime itself gets to determine what sites are open for inspection and what aren't. They can deny inspectors access.

We can't -- a good deal with North Korea would not allow for that. It would require full and free access to inspectors.

BURNETT: All right, and of course, you know, the jury on these things takes a lot longer than the Nobel Peace Prize time winning time frame. Thank you both.

And next, Stormy Daniels sues the president for defamation. Does her case stand a chance in getting him to testify.

Plus, breaking news, the Justice Department tonight, charging 11 suspected people -- members of that caravan as the president slams America's immigration law.


[19:28:14] BURNETT: Breaking news, a law enforcement official telling CNN the Department of Justice has filed charges against 11 suspected members of the migrant caravan, with entering the United States illegally. It comes hours after President Trump slammed this country's immigration laws, saying they must be stronger.


TRUMP: Just look at our southern border and our weak and obsolete immigration laws. They are obsolete and they are weak. And they are pathetic. And there's no country in the world that has laws like we do. They've got to change, and they've got to change now for the safety of our country.


BURNETT: So we got 11 charged tonight. We understand there are 100 migrants roughly who are part of this particular caravan which traveled from Central America to the U.S. border, awaiting entry to an immigration processing center. Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Underscoring the pledge of a law and order administration, Vice President Pence inspected construction at the U.S. border. Thirty-foot bollards replacing 20-year-old metal fencing stretching just over two miles in Calexico, California. To a packed room of border patron agents, the vice president made this vow.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are building a wall on the southern border of the United States of America. And let me make you a promise, when it comes to the border wall, we're going to build it all.

LAH (voice-over): Tough talk as the migrant caravan drama unfolds south of the border. Pence calling the mainly Central Americans here victims of a broken system.

PENCE: This situation is a direct result of our weak immigration laws and our porous border. This caravan like those who have gone before is also rightly understood as a deliberate attempt to undermine the laws of this country and the sovereignty of the United States.

LAH (voice-over): Central Americans make up the bulk of the migrants traveling together, safety in numbers.

Isabel Rodriguez is fleeing the violence of El Salvador with her two grandchildren, terrified the notorious gangs will get her grandkids. She and the children are among the approximately 100 migrants who just arrived at the border, hoping for asylum in the U.S.

Mr. Trump, she says, just like you allowed our fellow brothers and sisters from Central America to live in the country, allow us the opportunity. We want to work. We don't want handouts. We want a better future for our family.

The weeks-long caravan is a yearly event. So what's different this year? It's drawing the administration's attention as Congress failed to fully fund Trump's wall in this year's federal budget. A month ago the president tweeted these pictures, saying the Calexico border was the start of the southern border wall.

It's not. Listen to the vice president's words.

PENCE: This is the beginning of the southern border wall. From fiscal '17 budget, this is a replacement project. But if you will, look at the border wall, this new wall is roughly two or three times taller than the wall that was here today.


LAH: And you hear the vice president there acknowledging that this is, quote, a replacement project. So let's give you a look at this replacement project. What you're seeing over my shoulder, I've been watching it grow as the day has gone on, that is the new replacement fencing. That is replacing existing wall, this gap that you see, as my cameraman sweeps across, that is the gap. All the way to the left, that fencing there, that is the old fencing.

This plan has been in place since 2009. The funding, though, did not come through until 2017 in the Trump administration. And Erin, we should point this out as well. The U.S. Congress has not passed any legislation specifically funding Trump's wall -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung, thank you very much.

So, pretty amazing you can see the whole issue of new versus replacement. The old wall, the new wall, which as you can see -- sorry, fence -- is about two and a half times, it looked like, of the cab of that truck sitting in front of it.

OUTFRONT now, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat from California, who sits on the House Intel and House Judiciary Committees.

Good to talk to you, Congressman. I appreciate your time.

So, first the breaking news, you know, there are about a hundred people, we understand, in this particular caravan, which is now on the border. That right now, the Justice Department is charging 11 suspected members of it with illegally entering the United States. Unclear if there's more to come what they're going to do.

What do you think is going to happen here? Do you think that some of these people are going to come into the country illegally? Or they'll just go home? What happens?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, Erin, this is an opportunity for us to go back to the table and pass bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform. You know, we should recognize, though, that these are mothers carrying babies, they're fleeing violence. They don't have clean water and clean air or access to food. And so, you know, we should not be inhumane in how we treat them.

If they have an asylum case to make, we should, as every country does, allow them to go through and apply through that process. But we should also understand the root causes, that if we do not work to provide economic aid to these countries so that there are economic opportunities and clean water where they live and that we fight the cartels who cause a lot of this, that it will continue to persist, whether we build a wall a hundred feet high or ten feet high.

So, the president should sit down in a bipartisan way so that we can address this crisis.

BURNETT: So, immigration law, you heard the president today when he was speaking with the president of Nigeria, he described U.S. immigration laws as weak, pathetic and obsolete. Obviously, as you referred, we do have immigration problems. We have a lot of problems with our laws.

Is he right to call them out in those terms?

SWALWELL: No. He's not right, because he has ignored and actually refused to take on these issues. I thought his best day as president was when he had Republicans and --

BURNETT: And it looks like we just lost Congressman Swalwell's shot. We'll give it a second here to see if we can get it back from California.

All right, as we -- we'll try to get it back. As we try to do that -- oh, we got it.

Congressman, you're back. Sorry, you froze in the middle of your comment. You were saying the president was wrong to use those words.

SWALWELL: He was wrong to use those words, Erin. His best day on the job was when he convened Republicans and Democrats at the White House and he said, you solve the immigration crisis, I will sign the bill.

Well, Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin brought him solutions and he refused to sign the bill. He actually insulted the Nigerians as well as other countries. So, he needs to reconvene Democrats and Republicans so that we can come together and address this crisis in a humane way, but also a way that we keep our southern border secure.

[19:35:09] BURNETT: So would you, Congressman, give everyone in that caravan asylum?

SWALWELL: No, I would hear their cases on a case by case basis. And if there are smugglers, or people who have criminal records, I would make sure they get turned back, or that they're taken into custody so that we can protect the people who are around them and U.S. citizens. But to just -- the president heads enflamed the situation by essentially accusing all of them of, you know, being the rapists and, you know, the bad individuals that he called them out to be in June 2015.

Those are not who they are. There's a humane way to address this.

BURNETT: Before we go, Congressman, "The Washington Post" with breaking news at this moment, reporting that the House conservatives allied with Trump have drafted articles of impeachment against the Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein who is the person overseeing bob Mueller and his investigation into Russia. This obviously would ultimately be preferred to your committee, the Judiciary Committee.

What do you say?

SWALWELL: It's sickening to hear that, Erin. There are no limits, or no length that they are not willing to go to just torch the Department of Justice, and every single floor that would work independently to uphold the rule of law in our country.

You know, voters will have their own say at the ballot box this November and I don't think they're going to look too kindly on people who think their job is to protect the president rather than to protect our democracy.

BURNETT: Congressman Swalwell, thanks for your time tonight.

SWALWELL: Yes, my pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, "The National Enquirer" says Trump is in the hot seat because of Michael Cohen. Trump's close friend is the tabloid's publisher.

And Trump attacking Senator Jon Tester, tweeting about him moments ago, suggesting, you know, he's got dirt on him. So, will it cost Tester his seat? It's a crucial seat, and we went to ask the voters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pardon the language, but I think it's bull. I don't think it's right.



[19:40:43] BURNETT: New tonight, read between the lines. "The National Enquirer" going after President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen. This is the latest issue of the tabloid, take a look, the cover story. You can't miss it. Trump's fixer's secrets and lies.

Make no mistake, the timing of this attack comes as speculation grows that Cohen may turn on Trump because of the criminal investigation into him. Timing here is no coincidence, because the man who runs "The Enquirer," David Pecker, is a long time friend and ally of the president. He's faced multiple accusations of buying stories that would portray Trump in a very bad light and then never publishing them. It's a practice known as catch and kill.

One of those accusers if former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with the president. Now, Pecker denies any wrongdoing, after all, right, he's just helping out a friend. And there are other headlines involving former top Trump allies. A month after Trump fired Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, for lying to the vice president, the world exclusive cover story was Trump catches Russia's White House spy, who it said was Flynn.

And the same day it was reported that the FBI raided former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's home, "The Enquirer" posted this story, Trump adviser sex scandal, Paul Manafort's sicko affair.

OK. To be clear, neither man has ever confirmed these stories are true.

OUTFRONT now, the former Senior VP of Corporate Communications for American Media, Stu Zakim, and American Media, of course, owns "The National Enquirer" and former U.S. assistant attorney for the Southern District of New York, where Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation here, Harry Sandick.

Stu, let me start with you. Do you have any doubts "The Enquirer" with this secrets and lies, Michael Cohen front page is sending a message to him with this cover?

STU ZAKIM, FORMER SVP OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, AMERICAN MEDIA INC.: Hi, Erin. Absolutely, I don't think -- their message is loud and clear, that if you turn, this is only the beginning of what we can do to you.

BURNETT: So, it's in a sense a threat. I mean, the threat from -- a threat to Michael Cohen, watch out, it can get worse?

ZAKIM: Well, it a not so subtle way of delivering that message. You have to understand the power that David Pecker and "The National Enquirer" have in this country. So whether or not Cohen does decide to testify and what he says, this is a simple way of delivering the message that we want you to play by our rules or else.

BURNETT: You know, or else, because here's the thing, as Stu says, the power they have. Everybody can say, well, "The National Enquirer", everybody reads the headline when they're checking out at the grocery store. You know, people do see it.

What does this cover story say?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I think it says a couple of things. One, I think it says that, as we've all been assuming that the Trump administration is very concerned that Michael Cohen is going to cooperate. I think it secondly says they're already starting a public campaign, first in this form and maybe soon in other places to discredit Cohen, to say that he's a liar. So, if he comes forward with something about the president, already the story, don't trust this guy, he's a liar. There's no reason to take his testimony at face value.

BURNETT: Which is interesting. That's what the president's long-time attorney, Jay Goldberg, said here, was, OK, flip isn't the word I'd use. I'd use turn, because he'll lie and make it up, to defend the president.


BURNETT: It's that angle.

I mean, Stu, "The Enquirer" regularly went after Trump's rivals. I mean, I just mentioned Flynn and Manafort, you know, post-election. But, you know, sensation stories, remember Ted Cruz's father linked to the JFK assassin, which, of course, Ted Cruz seems to have forgiven the president for. Ben Carson leaving a sponge in a patient's brain, and over the years, Trump has made his affection for "The National Enquirer" very clear.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "The National Enquirer" did a story. They actually have a very good record of being right.

I've always said, why didn't "The National Enquirer" get the Pulitzer Prize for Edwards and O.J. Simpson and all of these things?

I mean, you can't knock "The National Enquirer," it's brought many things to light, not all of them pleasant.


BURNETT: Stu, in your experience, how close were Pecker and Trump?

ZAKIM: Pecker and Trump were very close. They've been friends since the '90s and when magazines ruled the universe in New York City. And Trump made a conscious effort to go after David Pecker, to make him his friend, because once again, Pecker at that point, controlled a lot of eyeballs and a lot of public opinion, and what better way to influence public opinion than having a media friend.

[19:45:04] BURNETT: That's for sure.

Now, Harry, you know, this comes as we have more news on Stormy Daniels. Her lawyer going ahead with the lawsuit, suing the president for defamation, which really basically centers in on the president's reaction to the sketch, right? She put out a sketch and said this is the guy who threatened my life and my daughter in the parking lot if I talked about my affair with you.

Trump responding on Twitter, a sketch years later about a non-existent man, a total con job, playing the fake news media for fools.

Con job, is that -- is there any way you can get a defamation lawsuit out of this? Obviously they want to get him to testify.

SANDICK: I think it's hard to get a defamation lawsuit out of this for a couple of reasons. One reason is you're suggesting, this is within what we call the opinion privilege in a defamation context. You're allowed to express opinions without running afoul of a defamation law.

BURNETT: Even as the president?

SANDICK: Even as president. And, in fact, there's a question about whether because he's doing this as president, if this is somehow within his role and scope as a president, there's an absolute immunity from the Supreme Court case in 1982, when the president acts as president. It's not clear here whether he's acting within the perimeter of his role as president, but if he is, that would be another immunity. I think we're going to see a motion to dismiss in this case, that would be my prediction.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, both of you.

And next, Trump declares war on Montana's Democratic senator.


TRUMP: Well, I know things about tester that I could say too. And if I said them, he'd never be elected again.


BURNETT: The thing about Trump is, if he knew them, he'd say them. Anyway, Jeanne Moos is digging into the disappearing tree that Trump just planted on the White House lawn. Why is it gone?


[19:50:29] BURNETT: Trump out for revenge. The president once again attacking Senator Jon Tester tonight, this time for his position on immigration, tweeting in part: Yet Democrats like Jon Tester continue to support the open borders agenda, Tester even voted to protect sanctuary cities.

Now, Tester has been a target of Trump's ire since he released the details of the allegations against Trump's former V.A. nominee, Ronny Jackson. Trump saying he, quote, knows things about Tester. So is Tester's seat in jeopardy?

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Big Sky State, big controversy brewing. It's senior Democratic Senator Tester in the crosshairs of the president

TRUMP: I know things about Tester that I could say too. And if I said them, he'd never be elected again.

MARQUEZ: The president even calling for the senator's resignation.

TRUMP: I think Jon Tester has to have a big price to pay in Montana.

MARQUEZ: All this over the senator's airing of allegations against Ronny Jackson, the president's failed pick to lead the Veterans Administration.

SEN. JON TESTER (R), MONTANA: This doctor has a problem because he hands out prescriptions like candy. In fact, in the White House, they call him the candy man.

MARQUEZ: There were also claims of Jackson drinking heavily overseas and fostering a hostile work environment. The Republican chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Johnny Isakson, did not take issue with Tester's handling of the allegations.

But the president won Montana by 20 points, Tester who was already a Republican target in November, may now be a bigger one.

(on camera): So what degrees does this turn you off to him, the Ronny Jackson stuff?

ROGER HAGAN, REPUBLICAN VOTER IN MONTANA: It's pretty much reinvigorated me to work to oppose him.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Montana with a population of just over a million has some 100,000 veterans. Republicans here sense an issue that will dog Tester all the way to November.

(on camera): What did Tester do that was wrong in your view?

RICK LINEFELTER, REPUBLICAN VOTER IN MONTANA: Not a full investigation. They brought it out in the open without doing a thorough investigation.

MARQUEZ: Tester in a statement saying he was just doing his job sticking up for vets. But even some of his most ardent supporters --

(on camera): The president is calling on Senator Tester to resign, saying he has secret information on him, what do you make of that?

BILL BOLAND, SEN. TESTER SUPPORTER: Pardon the language, but I think it is ball butter.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Bull butter or not, he says Tester's handling of Ronny Jackson won't set well with some veterans.

(on camera): Do you think that this controversy will have legs to November?

BOLAND: Yes, I think it will. Yes, I think there will be some people that vote.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Veteran and farmer Richard Liebert says Tester has done more for veterans than any other senator, but concedes the Senator's handling of the Jackson nomination complicated the road to re-election.

RICHARD LIEBERT, MONTANA FARMER: I would say it makes it all more precarious, but that should, you know, make other voters more reflective on getting out to vote and saying this is important.


MARQUEZ: Now, that is the big question, just who will come out to vote. You know, the president's support may be eroding. A recent University of Montana poll shows that Montanans give the president fairly poor marks, 4.1 people -- percent of people living here, say he is doing a poor job as president.

Back to you.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Miguel.

And next, how does a tree suddenly go missing in the front lawn of the White House. Jeanne Moos is on the case.


[19:58:03] BURNETT: Tonight, a gift rooted in friendship given to President Trump by the French President Macron is MIA or is it?

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What kind of sap would kidnap such a famous sapling a gift from the French, planted by Presidents Trump and Macron? OK. Maybe planted is too strong a word. They basically moved dirt around.

But a few days later --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may notice something missing, gone.

MOOS: That's tree-son, punned the "Daily Mail."

Yellow grass marked the spot where the oak recently stoked jokes, hands photoshopped, reaching out from the earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of that shoveling is great practice for when Trump has to hide Michael Cohen's body.

MOOS: Read one tweet, the new Soprano season is the best. Someone dug up the tree just like the crime family dug up a body. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was cleaned shaven and he's got a beard now.

MOOS: Actually, what happens is skin shrivels, making facial hair seemed longer. Wonder if the little oak is growing.

But it didn't take much digging to discover where the tree went. The French ambassador to Washington tweeted it is in quarantine, which is mandatory for any living organism imported to the U.S. It will be replanted afterwards.

Authorities have to make sure the tree carries no pest. U.S. officials tell CNN the plan was always to quarantine the tree after the photo-op.

But you know what makes even less sense than planting, unplanting and replanting a sapling?

Wearing towering high heels on grass at a tree planning ceremony. The first ladies preserved, but will the tree?

CHARACTER: I have killed it.

MOOS: No. An official from Macron's office is saying the oak tree is doing very well. Someone else noted it's just under going some good old fashion extreme vetting.

CHARACTER: Maybe it just needs a little love.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: What is the point of all of that? You know, you could have shaken off whatever organisms it had on the grass. But, you know, put it in quarantine.

Thanks for joining us. "ANDERSON" starts now.