Return to Transcripts main page


NYT: Donald Trump Jr Met with Rep for Arab Princesses Before Election; Deputies, School Shooter Locked in 25-Minute Gun Battle; New Hazards in Hawaii as Lava Reaches Pacific Ocean; Pompeo Lays Out Plan B on Iran Nuclear Program; Wall Street Reacts to Halt on U.S./China Trade War. Aired 11:30a-12n ET

Aired May 21, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: -- the obstruction part of it might end in September, it likely means that this is going on for a while. And it also means that there's so much that we don't know about. We, alone, with the president, are sort of finding out what the Mueller investigation is looking at by reading the paper.

I think the other part of this is there's something here where you see sort of the people who reached out, the Russians clearly offered some help and probably obviously meddled. And the president's approach to Russia, right? Pulling his punches in terms of Russia. And then you see some overlap between the president's approach to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, basically, isolating Qatar, which is a U.S. ally. And so you see here that Qatar is a -- that Saudi Arabia and UAE is a country that gave some overtures to this incoming White House.

So those kinds of appearances of corruption and sort of compromising foreign policy, I think, if you're a democrat, is not, you know, a direct argument you want to make. It is in the ether about this White House, which can be damaging.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Is the special counsel interested in this meeting?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Absolutely. There's a bigger investigation into foreign influence. We have done these reports, specifically, in this case, the man by the name of George Nader, where he was pulled off a plane, FBI met him, special counsel pulled him in, he, we believe, appeared before a grand jury. All of that has happened here.

What really is go on here, and I think for a long time we have been kind of saying this, is that I think the FBI and the special counsel have been trying to figure out why did countries feel it was OK to approach the Trump campaign and offer assistance. And did anyone actually accept it? Accepting it, obviously, would be a crime, as he said. But the other thing is, there's perhaps some larger counterintelligence investigation here. What made these countries feel so comfortable, Russia, we have seen some outreach from them, Emirates, Israelis, there may be other countries, too, what made them comfortable? KEILAR: What made Donald Trump Jr comfortable, Jamil? That's the --

or Paul Manafort, someone who had so much more campaign experience than Donald Trump Jr, but still, this seems somewhat obvious.

JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Trump Jr you can write off. He was new to this. The Trump family didn't get it, whatever. It is hard to imagine Paul Manafort -- most people, you know, if a campaign -- you know, somebody comes to you from the outside, from a foreign nation and say, we want to help you, help you get your father elected, that strikes anybody as astounding and most people would run to the FBI. That didn't happen here. That's concerning in and of itself.

PROKUPECZ: There's this pattern.


PROKUPECZ: Normally, you're like any law enforcement agency says we're seeing this pattern, we need to look into this. That's what went on here.

KEILAR: I think Donald Trump Jr missed orientation day for the campaign maybe. This may be something that I suspect --


KEILAR: -- will be reviewed in all campaigns.

All right. Thank you, guys, so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, toxic gas, bits of volcanic glass? There are new hazards as lava creeps across Hawaii. We'll have a live update on this dangerous situation coming up.


[11:37:30] KEILAR: Moments ago, this was the sound that you heard across the state of Texas. Governor Greg Abbott honoring the memories of the lives lost at Santa Fe High School by ordering a moment of silence.

Friday's horrific attack left 10 people dead, more than a dozen were wounded, and it was the 22nd school shooting of 2018. The Santa Fe school district is closed today, but the investigation is far from over. Right now, investigators are pouring over school surveillance footage, piecing together a timeline. And all of this as we learn deputies and the shooter were locked in a gun battle for 25 minutes.

CNN correspondent, Nick Valencia, is joining me now from Santa Fe.

Nick, investigators, are they closer to discovering the motive here?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, if they are any closer, they haven't made it public. It was the family of the alleged gunman over the weekend that released a statement saying that the person that is accused of murdering 10 people, injuring 13 others is not the person that they knew. They called him a quiet, sweet boy.

But he was known as a problem to one family. A victim, Shanna Fish, the family saying over the weekend, tell me that he harassed their young girl for at least four months trying to be her boyfriend. Finally, last week, after he was becoming more and more aggressive that she had enough, standing up in the middle of class and evidently embarrassing him in front of classmates. The mother of Shanna Fisher telling that's why she believes her daughter was targeted.


SADIE BAZE (ph), MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: My daughter was going up to my mother, telling my mom, the past four months, and my brother that he had been making advances on her, and that she finally stood up to him because her younger sister was being bullied in school and she was showing her, look, this is what you do, you got to stand up to him and tell him, no, it is not right. And this is the outcome.


VALENCIA: So gut-wrenching to hear the pain in that mother's voice. She told me off camera she expects her daughter to walk through the front door but knows that will never happen again.

Our crew was at a vigil, Brianna, on Friday. We saw a lot of shaken faces, a lot of faces filled with tears. On Saturday, at a community potluck, they told me, residents here, they didn't want to politicize the issue. Many people in this community of Santa Fe don't blame the guns used in the attack. They blame the lack of inclusion. They saw now is the time for no strangers, to know your neighbors, and talk to classmates that you may not have talked to before.

This is not the same environment or atmosphere that we saw in Parkland, Florida, after that shooting. Here, there's no movement that is brewing here for gun control. They're focusing on grieving now. And that somber moment of silence that happened a short time ago -- Brianna?

[11:40:07] KEILAR: Nick, can you tell us more about the victims?

VALENCIA: There are eight students, two teachers that were killed in all. We know among them Cynthia Tisdale, who was a full-time substitute teacher. I spoke to her niece. At the time that I spoke to her niece, she didn't know her aunt was among the victims. She thought she was having trouble getting in touch with her aunt. She was at one of the gymnasiums that was a staging area for family members having trouble getting in touch with loved ones.

Another one was a Pakistani foreign exchange student. She was laid to rest over the weekend. She was from Karachi, Pakistan. Her family saying that she was excited about coming to study abroad in America. The irony is not lost on a lot of people here that Pakistan is thought to be a war zone, in some cases, and here, in America, she thought she would be a little safer. Instead, she was among the victims murdered on Friday -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Nick Valencia, in Santa Fe, Texas, thank you so much for that report.

Now I want to go to the growing danger that is coming from a slow march of lava that is going across Hawaii right now. Officials there warn of a new and potentially deadly problem. The Kilauea Volcano erupted two more times over the weekend. Some of that lava is spilling into the Pacific Ocean and it's creating a dangerous mix of gas and volcanic glass.

CNN correspondent, Scott McLean, is in Hawaii covering this.

An amazing scene there behind you. Tell us, though, this issue of when the lava hits the ocean, the results are toxic.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPNODENT: Yes, they absolutely can be, Brianna. First, I want to tell you, we have a great vantage point this morning to tell you -- or to see the big picture of how this volcano is changing, how the eruptions are changing.

Let me show you. This is where all of that lava is coming from. This is actually five fissures in one. It looks like an out-of-control fire hydrant, just spewing up a massive amount of material. The darker material, that's lava that is already come down and already sort of dried out, for lack of a better term. Now, this new lava is cascading down, this lava flow, and you can see near the horizon that glow there. We have been watching that glow sort of stretch out throughout the morning and create its own little path. And then on the horizon there you see that white smoke. It is not smoke. It is what you mentioned, Brianna, this mix of steam, hydrochloric -- yes, sulfuric acid and tiny bits of glass. It is called lava haze or laze. It can be irritating or potentially even deadly.

I want to show you one other thing. That's this fissure over here. We have been watching this now for eight straight days. It looks like a giant sparkler. It seems to be diminishing in size, but you can see there it is creating its own mountain beside it or its own little hill beside it. Every so often, you'll hear loud bangs, these loud explosions. And to give you a sense of how much damage they can cause on their own, we met a woman over the weekend who lives maybe a quarter mile, perhaps a half mile away from this, she had two separate windows that were blown out just because of the force of this explosion. So if it is not the lava pushing people out of their homes, it might be the gas. The sulfur dioxide, that really rotten- egg smell that can also potentially be dangerous. Well, those levels, they have tripled.

If there are any good signs, Brianna -- again, you hear those explosions and they're quite startling, they're really loud even from where we are, which is maybe about a mile away from there. But the good signs we're seeing, at the summit of Kilauea, that main crater, the explosions there, they have been getting smaller, less frequent. That might be good for now, but, of course, the big worry is that there might be more pressure building up and that perhaps a much bigger explosion that could send up an even bigger ash cloud that could potentially make air quality at that end of the volcano much, much worse. [11:44:05] KEILAR: Scott McLean, thank you so much. Truly an

awesome vantage point where you are. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Coming up, the Trump administration's new warning and list of demands for Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says, if Iran wants sanctions released, it must agree to a laundry list of tough actions. We'll have that, next.


KEILAR: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has laid out the Trump administration's new approach to handling Iran after dropping out of the Iran nuclear deal. It is called Plan B and the idea is to push Iran into a new deal that addresses more than its nuclear program.

This morning, Pompeo told the Heritage Foundation a new agreement is not the administration's primary intent.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: As President Trump said two weeks ago, he's ready, willing and able to negotiate a new deal. But the deal is not the objective. Our goal is to protect the American people. Any agreement will make sure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and will deter the regime's maligned behavior in a way that the JCPOA never could.


KEILAR: The secretary listed a dozen demands that Iran will need to meet. This includes agreeing to tougher accountability to the IAEA, the nuclear watchdog, ending uranium enrichment and closing heavy water reactor, ending ballistic and nuclear missile development, releasing U.S. citizens, ending support for terrorists and militants, respecting Iraqi sovereignty and withdrawing from Syria.

Well, some critics have called the plan a pipe dream and said the administration's true objective is regime change.

Joining me now to discuss this new plan is CNN national security analyst and former national security adviser -- pardon me -- former adviser, Samantha Vinograd.

Samantha, you were on the National Security Council at the White House when the U.N. started the secret channels with the Iranians that predated the Iran deal, the JCPOA that you hear Mike Pompeo talking about. How difficult will it be to get Iran on this 12-point plan? I think I might know the answer to your question.

[11:50:35] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Brianna, this 12-step program laid out by Pompeo is obviously a non- starter. It's really curious when you think about the steps Pompeo laid out, vis-a-vis Iran, what it would take the United States to get to the negotiating table with Iran, and then contrast that with what Pompeo and the administration are doing, for example, with North Korea. President Trump is going to sit down with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore in 22 days now, I think, when North Korea has committed to doing absolutely nothing that we're asking Iran to do. Despite the fact that North Korea has a nuclear program and is engaged in all the maligned activity that Iran is, if not more. There's a big double standard here.

KEILAR: These demands, do you think they're unachievable?

VINOGRAD: I think they are. And I think this fits in the broader frame of the speech in that Pompeo knows, President Trump knows that Iran will not be able or willing to agree to all of these demands, which were made publicly. This is a maximalist negotiating position. But let's think about where diplomacy is factored into his speech. When I listened to the speech, I actually thought it was something a secretary of defense would give and not a secretary of state. Diplomacy was literally the last thing that Secretary Pompeo mentioned when he's supposed to be our country's chief diplomat. And I think that's consistent with the administration's policy of really not having all options on the table when it comes to Iran. There's a penchant for trying to punish Iran into compliance through threats, through military means and other initiatives, and diplomacy is more of an afterthought, in let's try to check the box here, let's make unrealistic demands fully knowing that Iran isn't going to be able to comply.

KEILAR: And he said, if Iran doesn't comply, the U.S. will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the regime. Let's listen to some of what Mike Pompeo said.


POMPEO: After our sanctions come in force, it will be battling to keep its economy alive. Iran will be forced to make a choice, either fight to keep its country on life support at home or squandering precious wealth on fights abroad. It will not have the resources to do both.


KEILAR: How do you think Iran will respond to that?

VINOGRAD: I think Iran views this speech as advocating for regime change. We've seen some Iranian official already comment on that and say that Pompeo is trying to foment regime change, which is something, by the way, that Pompeo wrote about before becoming secretary of state. I'm actually thinking, as well, Brianna, about how Russia and our allies react to these statements. This is a win-win for Russia. If we go ahead and sanction Iran and we don't give waivers to our European allies, that means we're isolated from our allies. And that also means the price of oil will go up because there will be less Iranian oil that can hit the market. That's good for Russia because it's economy is still dependent on oil. I think Putin is pretty pleased with this speech because he knows it's going to help him.

KEILAR: Samantha Vinograd, thank you very much. We appreciate your insight. We have some breaking news. We're checking in on Wall Street as the

market reacts to progress the U.S. and China made on easing trade tensions and averting a trade war. The Dow Jones jumped triple digits after the opening bell. Right now, it's up.

And Alison Kosik is joining us from the New York Stock Exchange talk about this.

Alison, tell us what you're seeing.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. So the Dow holding on to some pretty strong gains. Up right now 262 points. This after, of course, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin over the weekend saying a trade war is being put on hold. At least for today, gone are the worries of yesterday about a brewing trade war between the U.S. and China.

But this is happening only after President Trump blinked. He blinked on tariffs on China, something he spent the entire presidential campaign promising that he would do. He promised he would punish China for unfair trade practices.

But at this point, investors are reaping the rewards. They are celebrating, buying into the market because you are seeing this relief despite the fact that there's really nothing set in stone, except for China saying that it is going to substantially increase its purchases of U.S. exports because of this deal that was apparently worked out over the weekend with the treasury secretary. But nothing has been set in stone, and analysts say this could be dangerous down the road because this uncertainty could wind up creeping back into the market because that trade imbalance between China and the U.S. still remains, and that even putting a trade war on hold doesn't solve that initial problem -- Brianna?

[11:55:13] KEILAR: And these tariffs on aluminum and steel, they're still hanging over these talks?

KOSIK: Right, and that's another big question because you've got those steel and aluminum tariffs that are looking to be imposed on imports from the European Union, from Canada and Mexico, and those haven't been washed away just yet either -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Alison Kosik, at the New York Stock Exchange, thank you so much.

Coming up, a new chapter in the president's battle with the Department of Justice. President Trump says he is officially demanding that the DOJ investigate whether a spy infiltrated his campaign. We'll have details ahead.


[12:00:11] DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Dana Bash. John King is off.