Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Attends Swearing-In Ceremony For New CIA Director; Trump Demands Feds Look For FBI Infiltration Of Campaign; NYT: Trump Jr. Met With Representative Arab Princes Before Election. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 21, 2018 - 11:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: -- job and for giving Gina that unbelievable support that she needed. It took courage for her to say yes, in the face of a lot of very negative politics and what was supposed to be a negative vote, but I'll tell you, when you testified before the committee, it was over.

There was not much they could say. There was nobody more qualified than you and you are going to do a fantastic job, Gina. Thank you very much. Thank you. So, with that, I'd like to ask our great vice president to administer the oath of office. Thank you, all, very much. Thank you.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Raise your right hand and repeat after me. I Gina Haspel do solemnly swear.

GINA HASPEL, CIA DIRECTOR: I Gina Haspel do solemnly swear.

PENCE: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

HASPEL: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

PENCE: Against all enemies foreign and domestic.

HASPEL: Against all enemies foreign and domestic.

PENCE: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

HASPEL: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

PENCE: That I take this obligation freely.

HASPEL: That I take this obligation freely.

PENCE: Without any mental reservation.

HASPEL: Without any mental reservation.

PENCE: Or purpose of evasion.

HASPEL: Or purpose of evasion. PENCE: And I will well and faithfully discharge.

HASPEL: And I will well and faithfully discharge.

PENCE: The duties of the office on which I'm about to enter.

HASPEL: The duties of the office on which I'm about to enter.

PENCE: So, help me God.

HASPEL: So, help me God.

Good morning, everyone. And thank you, Mr. Vice President, for administering the oath. Let me begin by thanking President Trump for joining us today and for offering those kind words. Mr. President, it means a great deal to me and to the agency that you made time to come out to Langley for this ceremony.

You have placed enormous trust in CIA throughout your presidency and the men and women of CIA do not take that for granted. So, thank you, Mr. President, for your confidence in me and your steadfast support of our mission and our people.

I am truly honored to have this opportunity to lead the best workforce in government. It has been nearly 50 years since an operations officer rose up through the ranks to become the director and after the experience of the last two months, I think I know why that is.

I look out in the crowd today and I see a strong representation of the CIA's past, present and possibly even the future. I am looking at two young ladies, special guests who join us today. CIA has been more than a career. It has been for me like many of you a calling.

In this building and around the world today, there are officers carrying out a vital mission sometimes at great personal risk. I want each of you to know that I took on the position of director because I want to represent you as well as lead you.

My years at CIA have rewarded me in ways that I could never have imagined, and I will continue to give it and you my all. There are countless role models and mentors who paved the way for me to stand here today.

As the director, I want the current CIA leadership team to be role models and mentors for our next generation of officers who will walk the streets of far flung capitals and work the late nights here at headquarters and abroad.

For me, being director is about doing right by all of you. So that you have the tools and support needed to carry out our sacred mission. Every CIA officer has taken the same oath that I just did to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies.

[11:05:10] And today, I recommit that I will do everything in my power to justify the faith that President Trump and the American people have placed in us, and to make sure that CIA continues to provide the intelligence needed to keep our country safe.

I would be remiss if I did not also note the tremendous pride I take in being the first woman to serve as director. I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations of OSS and agency women in roles both large and small, who challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us.

I am deeply indebted to them and I am extremely proud to follow in their footsteps and to carry on their extraordinary legacy. I stand on the shoulders of heroines who never sought public acclaim but served as inspirations to the generations they came after them.

I also want to express a special thank you and welcome to Eliza and Zoe who have joined us today. The notes from these two young ladies, ages 6 and 7, sent to me, sat on my desk these last two months and motivated me daily.

And in their own words and pictures they expressed their excitement about the opportunity my nomination represented and to Eliza and Zoe I would simply say we did it.

Lastly, allow me just a moment to talk about the future of this agency. A little over a year ago, Secretary Pompeo first spoke to me about becoming the deputy director. At that time, he said CIA is the world's preeminent intelligence service and I want to make sure we position it to stay that way.

Mike was right, we are the best, and our challenge is to always be the best. We cannot rest on our laurels. We must learn from the past, but we cannot dwell on the past. We must constantly learn, adjust, improve and strive to be better. We demand it of ourselves and America deserves nothing less.

That includes boosting our foreign language proficiency, strengthening our partnerships overseas and here at home, and deploying more of our officers to the foreign field. We are a foreign intelligence service and our workforce, and our priorities need to reflect that.

We also need greater focus and effort on the strategic threats our nation faces as well as the persistent threat from global terrorism. As always, the key to our success against these challenges will be empowering the incredible talent that resides within CIA.

The men and women who serve here are a national treasure, from the operations officers who collect our intelligence to the analysts who contextualize and evaluate it for senior policymakers to the support officers who enable every aspect of our mission to the scientists, engineers and cyber-specialists who give us a decisive edge over our adversaries.

The only way to confront these threats is to forge ahead with determination and with the same expeditionary spirit that has defined our agency since its founding more than 70 years ago. I am profoundly honored to lead you in that fight, and to work alongside each one of you as we advance our vital mission. So, Mr. President, thank you again for giving me the opportunity to serve, to represent the men and women of CIA, and to carry out the critical work of helping protect our country, our people, and our way of life. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, thank you to our distinguished guests, and to each and every one of you for participating in today's ceremony.

As we close the ceremony, I would just ask the audience to please remain in place while the presidential party and Director Haspel depart the lobby. Once they depart the lobby, those in the lower lobby, please exit the front by the seal.

[11:10:07] And our guests that are here in the upper lobby, please adjourn to the portrait gallery to my right to join the director for a reception. Thank you, again, for being with us today.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Gina Haspel sworn in as the first female CIA director, also a career officer in the CIA as you see President Trump there and Vice President Pence looking on. She was sworn in by -- with the assistance, I should say of the former CIA director, now the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back.


KEILAR: On the president's agenda today, making it official, at any time he's going to formally demand an investigation into whether the FBI tried to infiltrate his campaign. The Justice Department is already responding saying its watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, will expand its review to determine if the Russia investigation has been corrupted by political bias.

[11:15:08] CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live for us at the White House. Kaitlan, what do we know about the president's plan to officially demand this investigation today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brianna, we haven't heard anything from the president or the White House today. I will note that just there during the swearing in for the new CIA Director Gina Haspel at the beginning of his remarks, the president did praise Devin Nunes.

That is the Congressman who has been at the center of this entire fight between the White House and the Department of Justice over this document request. The president praising him calling him a courageous man before moving on to those remarks.

But back to the president's tweets yesterday, he was venting on Twitter, certainly nearly a dozen tweets about this. But the one that was different, the one that stood out was this demand that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the Department of Justice or the FBI were surveilling or infiltrating his campaign as he alleged on Twitter. Now, of course, that makes it different because instead of just airing his political grievances here, he's actually instructing the Department of Justice to do his bidding here, which is something we have not seen from the president before.

The DOJ responded rather quickly saying they were going to include it as they expanded that ongoing inquiry into the surveillance of that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issuing a statement that said if anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate reasons, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.

Now, the question here, Brianna, is whether or not that's going to be enough to satisfy President Trump or whether he's going to take it a step further today as he seemed to allude to on Twitter yesterday.

So far, he's been silent on that, but overall, Brianna, we are seeing this president go where very few other presidents have gone to get this involved instructing the Department of Justice what to do.

But this is something that the president forewarned essentially a few weeks ago when he said he may have to get involved and use his presidential powers if he wasn't pleased with what the Department of Justice was doing.

KEILAR: Kaitlan Collins live for us at the White House, thank you.

And joining me now we have Nia Malika Henderson, CNN senior political reporter, Jamil Jaffer, a former associate council in the Bush White House, and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN crime and justice reporter for us.

OK. So, Shimon, the president and his supporters have used this word spy, right? Reports say informant. That's the word they're using. What do we know about this FBI source?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right, so, look, I think what is going on here basically is the president is trying to say that the FBI implanted -- used the word implanted, planted some kind of a spy into the campaign to try and soak up information and then that information was somehow then relayed to the FBI and perhaps maybe folks at the Obama White House, which is completely ludicrous and not true.

What did happen here is there was a concern, a valid counterintelligence investigation by the FBI that was raising concerns about Russians that were trying to infiltrate the campaign. And they were using people, there was concern by the FBI that they were using people like Carter Page to infiltrate the campaign, using people like George Papadopoulos to infiltrate the campaign.

And so, the FBI based on reports introduced a source, someone that they have known, someone who they have worked with before, to try and get information from these individuals about their communications with the Russians, about communications with others, and exactly what was happening. This idea that somehow this person was put there to spy on the campaign, you know, certainly people that I've talked to just say that's not true. And what it is doing is it is in a way politicizing again this entire investigation, calling into question what the FBI was doing.

Hurting the FBI and the effort that they have been trying to put together here in investigating, yes, some of the folks that were in the campaign. But also, the Russians, and what were the Russians here doing?

They're still a very active counterintelligence investigation by Bob Mueller, by the FBI, into what the Russians were doing. The ultimate goal is that the FBI, the Department of Justice, it does want to hold someone accountable and does want to make arrests here, as it relates to the Russians.

KEILAR: As Nia, Shimon said, it is politicizing it. Is that the endgame here from Trump to muddy the waters?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I think that's exactly the point. You see in some ways that it is already working. If you look at the polls, particularly among Republicans and how they feel about this investigation, how they feel about Mueller, about 30 percent were sort of OK with this investigation thought it was a legitimate investigation back in March.

It is down to 17 points at this point. So, you can see the erosion among -- it is working. You can see the erosion of trust and confidence at least among a particular group. Republicans, you know, in terms of this investigation.

And you see people on the Hill, people like Devin Nunes, who Kaitlan pointed out that got a shout out oddly in this speech at the CIA, he is in some ways helping the president delegitimize this investigation.

[11:20:09] The hope, of course, being down the line, whatever Mueller comes out with, a report that would go to Congress, to essentially say it is political, these were Democrats, we know that Bob Mueller is not a Democrat, so that is the end goal for this president and so far, it is working, at least around the edges.

KEILAR: Jamil, when the Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is hearing this complaint from President Trump, and he's saying that the inspector general at DOJ will expand its look into what is going on, especially with Shimon reporting, this is not going on. What is Rosenstein doing? Is he just placating the president or is he saying, look, we're going to be very open about this to prove maybe that it didn't happen? What is he trying to do here?

JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE COUNSEL, GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE: Well, the inspector general's role in the Justice Department is to investigate waste, fraud and abuse. That's literally what's in their job description. So, they previously had assigned the responsibility to look into the FISA and find out if there were problems, the whole discussion on whether it was based on the Steele dossier, what was going on there, this is an expansion of that.

And, look, the president is entitled to ask the Justice Department if he thinks something illegal has happened, he's demanding, a little more aggressive, a little more problematic. But at the end of the day, the right thing to do here is to hand over to the independent IG, who reports to Congress and to look into this across the board.

You might wonder if the Justice Department can be trusted to investigate itself, which is why you have IGs to go look into these things from sort of the outside. Even they are in the Justice Department, they're an outside entity.

KEILAR: When Rosenstein takes that -- takes that perspective, that position of basically OK, fine, have a look at it, what to you is that saying about his approach here?

JAFFER: Well, I think what he's trying do is say, look, let's be above the board. The president has a concern. Expresses from the Hill about the FISA, let's go look at it. Let's see what happens, let the inspector general look at it.

Now remember, the last time they had the inspector general look at something, the FISA, the president got very upset, there were things they said about the AG, he attacked the AG on Twitter. So, we'll see what happens. Might not satisfy the president. We'll see over the next few hours after that.

KEILAR: Yes, it really may not. All right. Jamil, thank you so much. Shimon and Nia, really appreciate it.

Coming up, the other Trump Tower meeting that is raising new questions about the Trump campaign's contact with foreign actors. A new report says Donald Trump Jr. met with a representative from Middle East nations offering to help the campaign. We'll have details ahead.

Plus, a new warning and list of demands for Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlining a laundry list of actions Iran must take if it wants to avoid the, quote, "strongest sanctions in history." But will the Iranians play ball? Stay with us.



KEILAR: Another meeting at Trump Tower involving Donald Trump Jr. in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign is on the special counsel's radar. The "New York Times" reports that Robert Mueller is looking into a meeting that a prominent and controversial Trump supporter arranged between the younger Trump and a representative for two wealthy Arab princes, who were eager to help the elder Trump win.

"The Times" reports an Israeli social media specialist was there too with a multimillion dollar idea to help Trump get elected? So, what does the president have to say about all of this.

Well, here's the tweet, "The witch-hunt finds no collusion with Russia, so now they're looking at the rest of the world, oh great." Bringing our panel back more to talk about this. OK, so Shimon, tell us what this report is alleging in "The New York Times?"

PROKUPECZ: So, essentially, this is another outreach by a foreign nation, as you said, there was an Israeli social media expert there. There was also this guy. We've talked a lot about George Nader, who is this Lebanese American, a U.S. citizen, kind of a deal broker here in Washington, D.C., kind of works behind the scenes to sort of set up meetings.

He has been into and with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he's cooperating. So, they had a meeting at Trump Tower in August of 2016 where the Israelis were pitching this help to the campaign to help perhaps with social media, somehow targeting voters with specific issues, perhaps.

It is not entirely clear as to what exactly the Israelis were offered, but the importance of this, I think, is that it is another example of foreign outreach to the campaign, foreigners, non-U.S. citizens offering help to the campaign. That is perhaps the issue that Robert Mueller and the special counsel have been looking at.

KEILAR: And Jamil, it is interesting because noted in this report is sources saying that those on the campaign, they didn't seem troubled at all by the idea of working with foreign nationals on issues like this, social media persuasion or manipulation in this case. Foreign governments, individuals, they're prohibited from being involved in elections. This is a problem.

JAFFER: Right, the law prohibits foreigners from providing any item of value to a campaign. If it is information, it can be a contribution in kind, that's a huge problem. That's not allowed under the campaign finance laws.

KEILAR: And so, you look at this tweet, Nia, the president pounces on this, and he says this, now that the witch-hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the ref the world, they should easily be able to take it into the midterm elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party.

Don't worry about Dems, FISA abuse, missing e-mails or fraudulent dossier. Politically what does it mean to have this other meeting with a foreign actor, foreign actors?

HENDERSON: Well, I mean, it totally means that Mueller's investigation is expanding, right? Even though there have been assurances that at least part of it, the obstruction part of it might end in September, it likely means that this is going on for a while and also means that there is so much that we don't know about, right.

We alone with the president are sort of finding out what the Mueller investigation is looking at by reading the paper.