Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Demands DOJ Find Out if it of the FBI Spied on Campaign; Hillary Clinton Brings Russian Hat to Yale Graduation Speech; Clues to Possible Motive Behind School Massacre. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired May 21, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That may be good news for this time being, but it may also mean that a much bigger explosion could be coming.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Scott McLean, I assure you nothing about that looks or sounds benign. Please be careful out there and we do thank you for bringing us that report. Thank you, Scott.
All right, good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman. President Trump is headed to the CIA very shortly. This is the first time he's been there since the day after the inauguration. You're looking at live pictures. Remember that time when he railed against reporters and bragged about his inauguration crowd size, all before the CIA memorial wall. This morning, he's there for the swearing in of Gina Haspel to be the new CIA director. But the question is will he address his new demand for the Justice Department to investigate the investigation into him. He promised that today. He would officially demand, he said I hereby demand that the Justice Department investigate whether his campaign was infiltrated or surveilled for political purposes and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama administration. Our Kaitlan Collins, live for us at the White House with the very latest. Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, John, here the president is making good on that threat that he may have to get involved with the Justice Department. This tweet, this demand came in a series of tweets where the president was venting about his political enemies, the Department of Justice and so forth, but what was different about this one, and what made this one stand out is that it wasn't just the president airing his political grievances online. He actually went a step further instructing the Department of Justice essentially to do his bidding here, to find out if the Department of Justice or the FBI surveilled his campaign at the behest of the Obama administration.
And the Department of Justice, John, actually responded rather quickly to the president saying they were going to expand an ongoing probe into the surveillance of the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page to include this with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general saying, "If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action."
But there, Rosenstein seems to be threading the needle essentially here with the president and it is unclear if this is going to be enough to satisfy President Trump because we haven't heard from him yet on this today. Of course, we could hear from him from this as he heads to Langley for the first time since that speech he gave at the CIA headquarters after he was first inaugurated, a speech that, John, was widely criticized as you'll recall because the president was standing in front of the CIA memorial wall, a speech where typically not very political speeches, they thank the CIA officers for their sacrifice to the country, instead it was a very campaign style speech from the president where he was going after the media, talking about these exaggerated crowd numbers at his inauguration. He has not been back since then. He's going to return there today and we have to note that the president -- on the president's Twitter feed this morning, he's criticizing the former CIA director John Brennan, quoting someone who was going after Brennan saying he did a political hit job on the president.
The president is tweeting that as he's about to leave the White House to go swear in the new CIA Director Gina Haspel. It is just an irony, John, you can't ignore here.
BERMAN: Watching that very, very closely throughout the morning, Kaitlan Collins at the White House thanks very much.
Let's go to our CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett right now to get a sense, Laura, of what exactly the deputy attorney general has promised to happen.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, John, it was not a quiet Sunday for top Justice Department officials, jumping into action just less than four hours after the president called for an investigation via tweet. But this issue actually date back months ago, with Republicans in the house and Senate calling for an investigation into how the FBI and the Justice Department went about monitoring former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. And they wanted to look into whether the Justice Department properly obtained those warrants for surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, saying they weren't fully transparent about how in fact all of it was paid for.
And the Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced back in March that he was actually going to look into how those surveillance warrants were obtained, but he was also going to look into how exactly the FBI used Christopher Steele, that former British intelligence agent, who put together the infamous dossier on Trump and Russia. But the big question, of course, is how the president is going to react to the deputy attorney general tapping the inspector general to look at this.
You'll remember back in actually late February when Sessions tapped Horowitz, the inspector general, to look at the FISA abuse - so-called FISA abuse amid calls from Capitol Hill, the president actually lashed out, again on Twitter, calling the inspector general an Obama guy, even though he has served under multiple Republican and Democratic administrations. Also, saying that he has no prosecutorial power and his reports have been late, referring to a report on former FBI Director James Comey. So no word from the president yet reacting to the Justice Department's move here, but, of course, the day is still young, John.
[10:05:12] BERMAN: You know, will the inspector general be enough? That is a huge question. Laura Jarrett thanks so much.
Joining me now, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem and former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman. Daniel, I want to start with you here, the Constitution does seem to give the president executive authority over the executive branch and the Department of Justice in there. So there may not be a strict legal issue here. But what is the normative issue here? What is the potential problem with the president ordering an investigation into an investigation of him?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, there are a couple of problems. You're right that technically he has the constitutional power, but for the last 40 plus years, really since Watergate, there has been a pretty clear divide between the political arm of the executive and the Department of Justice. And that was intentional in order to keep them separate and to maintain the apolitical nature of the Department of Justice. So he's defying those norms that we have come to expect --
BERMAN: People have sued over those norms. To be clear, these are not small norms.
GOLDMAN: Absolutely, absolutely. No, but this is then taking it to another level, which is not just to say I order you to do an investigation. This is to say, I order you to do an investigation into an investigation of me. So he's using now his political bully pulpit and his position as the executive of our country and ordering an investigation into an ongoing investigation into himself.
So in many respects he's using his position for personal reasons, in part you have to believe that because if there were a political purpose for this investigation into Russian meddling, one would think it would have come out before the election and had a political impact. Of course, as -- nothing came out, so this is not a, oh, we need to look into it kind of thing. We know there was nothing public about that investigation, so this seems to be a first step down a very dangerous path.
BERMAN: So, Juliette, as you look at some of these accusations that are being hurled around by the president, somewhat casually by his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, by allies of the president inside Congress and on other cable news outlets here. Do they raise any legitimate questions? Is there a scintilla of evidence that there was any kind of infiltration for political purposes?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, there's not. But that is not the point. I mean, in other words, having failed so miserably I think in trying to stop this investigation and trying to narrow it and hoping that it would just go away, all that is really left for Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and their proxies is to basically now hurl mud at the investigators. And I think that's exactly what they're doing. So we have to take everything that they're saying, in particular Rudy Giuliani with a grain of salt.
What they're trying to do is set the conditions not of the substance of what is going on, because the substance is looking pretty bad for the president right now, but at least on process. So I agree that I think this is a -- was a very disturbing move by the president in terms of sort of directing the Department of Justice. I'd like the Department of Justice's response. It was, OK, we'll put it to the IG. It was sort of like giving candy to a toddler just to get them to be quiet for a little bit. And you know we'll just continue these salvos, until Mueller is done with the investigation or until there is more indictments and we get more information.
BERMAN: So do you see it as giving candy to a toddler here or do you see Rod Rosenstein to some extent validating the question by saying that the inspector general will look into this. Does it validate the questions into possible impropriety?
GOLDMAN: So I think Rod Rosenstein is trying to deflate the issue a little bit. He's trying to sort of kill the president with kindness, oh, you're going to do this and this may be inappropriate, but I'm not going to confront you about this now. I have bigger fish to fry. And I think what he's doing is he's trying to build capital with a significant part of the country that believes this investigation is a witch-hunt, et cetera. And he's recognizing this is not the issue I want to go to the mat on. So I'm going to roll this into an already existing investigation. I'm going to do what we should do because the IG does do the initial investigation into any misconduct by the FBI or the Department of Justice.
This is the proper protocol and most likely nothing will come from it, but I've at least placated the president. The risk as you point out, John is that this is just the first of many of these requests and if the president thinks that he can get what he wants or at least something close to what he wants, he has shown and demonstrated a willingness to push the envelope further and further.
BERMAN: Generally speaking, we also don't have an investigation unless there is any evidence of impropriety here and it is unclear if there is any evidence of impropriety here, yet the inspector general will look into it. What is a confidential source? We're talking about here, we're not talking about the identity, also don't have an investigation unless there is any evidence of impropriety here and it is unclear if there is any evidence of impropriety here, yet the inspector general will look into it.
[10:10:03] Juliette, what is a confidential source? You know we're talking about here, we're not talking about the identity, CNN has not reported the identity, others have, of this person, this confidential source who had meetings with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. What is that type of person that does it and what does it mean to have that identity revealed, which it has been in other places.
KAYYEM: Well, that type of person may be just someone who as being told by the FBI or learning about, you know, possibly very illegal conduct by the Trump campaign with the foreign government would be willing to assist the FBI in terms of assessing the information about what is going on with the Trump campaign. So his motivation is less significant than what motivated Trump and Giuliani and their camp which is exposing the identity of this person. And it doesn't just have to do with this informant, although he's relevant, and most people who look a little hard, you know, and on the web may figure out who he is.
It actually has to do with the ability of the FBI to ensure other informants in whatever cases. Think about Myspace, in terms of counterterrorism and national security, whatever it is to assure them that their identity will be protected. That is going to be harder. And I just find it so ironic that when this is happening, and this sort of outrageous behavior about outing an informant during an investigation, that the president is going to the CIA today, the very agency that is absolutely dependent on informants and people telling secrets to be able to protect the United States. I guess ironic may be the wrong word. I mean, it is a little bit scary what they're doing right now.
BERMAN: Juliette Kayyem, Daniel Goldman, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
Still to come, a second Trump Tower meeting under scrutiny, Donald Trump Jr. reportedly met with a gulf emissary who was offering to help the campaign months before the election.
Plus, a state wide moment of silence, minutes from now, Texas will honor the 10 lives lost during the shooting at the high school in Santa Fe. We have some new developments into the investigation.
And the president set to speak for the first time since he says I hereby demand the Department of Justice investigate the investigation into me. Will he address this issue live? Stay with us.
[10:16:30] BERMAN: All right. We're watching the CIA. There is the CIA headquarters in Langley. President Trump set to arrive there very, very shortly to attend the swearing in of Gina Haspel as CIA director. We're waiting to see if the president chooses to bring up what he's been talking about for the last 24 hours, his demand that the Department of Justice investigate the investigation into him.
Joining me now, CNN political commentator Scott Jennings and Patti Solis Doyle. I hereby demand, Scott, I know you missed the royal wedding, coaching baseball over the weekend, but that's the type of thing we might have heard for instance, you know, at a royal event. I hereby demand that the Department of Justice investigate the investigation. Do you think there is a need for that investigation, Scott?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I do. And here's why. Because at the conclusion of the special counsel investigation all Americans, all Democrats, all Republicans need to accept the results and in order for them to accept the results, no matter how it goes, there cannot be any questions left about possible political motivations inside the Department of Justice or inside this investigation. There have been some troubling materials put out there. The text messages between Strzok and Page have revealed some troubling banter. And Director Comey himself on his own book tours said that he had politics in polling on his mind as Patti is painfully aware when he was making decisions about the Clinton investigation. So there are relevant questions about politics that must be answered for the purpose of giving Americans confidence that the investigation was handled fully and impartially, no matter how it concludes.
BERMAN: Patti, are there legitimate questions about this confidential source, his discussions apparently with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who by the way, this whole investigation was launched because he was bragging that the Russians had e-mails from Hillary Clinton.
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Look, I think the president needs to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation given that the Mueller investigation is investigating the president. Bottom line. End of story.
I think there is no evidence that this informant was spying on the Trump campaign as the president claims. They were under investigation in terms of Russia trying to affect our elections and that's why he was sent in to talk to members of the Trump campaign. So bottom line is the president is undermining the investigation by attacking the investigation, by attacking the investigators, and it is all being done for political purposes. We see this in the sort of frenzied, unnerved tweets over the weekend and this morning that the president is now turning from a legal strategy to a political strategy, trying to save this presidency.
BERMAN: Scott, is it working? That's the question. Is the political strategy working?
JENNINGS: Well, I think that the American people want two things. Number one, I think they are wanting a conclusion to this investigation because fundamentally they want to know, did the Russians try to meddle in our election, how deep does that go and are they still doing it? How do we protect our democracy?
Number two, if you look at the polling, yes, there is some skepticism about what is going on in this investigation and it is principally because the president has raised -- I think, and his supporters in Congress, some legitimate concerns. So If I were the DOJ, if I were the Special Counsel Mueller, I would want to get these questions investigated and answered because when I come up with a conclusion, I don't want half the country thinking well, that conclusion is biased. So I think that there are legit questions that have to get answered so people have confidence.
[10:20:05] BERMAN: The questions are largely being asked by the president and people loyal to him. It is not as if there are people looking at the objective, you know, fact pattern here and saying, oh, my gosh, this raises a ton of questions. But I get your point. Scott, while I have you, I'm going to come back to you, Patti, in one second here. This Donald Trump, Jr. meeting, the second Donald Trump, Jr. meeting that happened what this is rarely social media expert, George Nader, an expert in the Middle East, where George Nader goes in and says, hey, these gulf princes, they want to help your campaign. Any problem here, Scott?
JENNINGS: Well, certainly questions have to be answered about these contacts. Frankly, I think you had some foreign governments, some foreign operators that saw a presidential campaign that didn't have a lot of experience at this level of American politics. And they tried to reach out and take advantage of it. That doesn't mean necessarily anything nefarious happened. But if we're going to be in the business of investigating investigations and having full transparency and something like this deserves to be questioned as well so that we know what kind of contacts happened and what was the result of that. I don't think any American wants foreign meddling of any kind in our elections. And so at the end of the day we need a clear resolution to all of these questions about any foreign government intervention in the presidential campaign.
BERMAN: Scott Jennings with a consistent call for an investigations across the board here, completely. Patti, if I can, Hillary Clinton, for whom you worked for and ran her campaign in 2008, she was speaking over the weekend at a commencement exercise, and she made a joke which one does during commencement speeches but I want you to watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I see looking out at you that you are following the tradition of over the top hats. So I brought a hat too.
A Russian hat. But, I mean, if you can't beat them, join them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, is this successful trolling, Patti?
DOYLE: You know, look, I think she enjoys getting under the president's skin and why not? Frankly, I think it is all -- it was in good fun. She was at Yale where she graduated from for law school. But I don't think it really has any impact on anything that we're discussing and certainly no impact on the investigation.
BERMAN: No investigation into the hat -
DOYLE: Can I just address what Scott -
BERMAN: Go ahead.
DOYLE: -- said in terms of the meetings with Saudi Arabia, with Donald Trump, Jr. I've been involved in five presidential campaigns. I ran one of them. Never, ever, not once, has a foreign government tried to meet with me to help me win an election. Never, ever, ever and if they ever had, I would have called my lawyers immediately.
BERMAN: Scott, would you have called lawyers immediately?
JENNINGS: Oh, sure. I mean, these kinds of contacts were highly unusual. Now it is true that foreign governments do have diplomatic staff that routinely reach out to presidential campaigns, to try to create relationships before the election, that does happen. But these contacts were at a very high level and we're being done with people who didn't have a lot of experience, which is why I think they deserve to be questioned and investigated. So I'm not saying anything nefarious happened. But again, at the end of the day, Americans want Americans deciding who won the presidential election and any other election for that matter. And so, I think transparency and answering questions is a good idea across the board here.
BERMAN: Scott Jennings, Patti Solis Doyle, thanks guys for being with us, appreciate it.
We're getting some new information about the 25 minute gun battle between police and the Texas high school shooter. Next, why a mother says her daughter stood up to the suspect and was targeted by him.
[10:28:08] BERMAN: In just a few minutes there will be a state wide moment of silence in Texas to remember the eight students and two teachers killed in Friday's shooting. We're learning new information about what happened that day.
Our Nick Valencia, live this morning for us in Santa Fe. Nick, what do you have?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. We're standing by for that moment of silence, which is expected to happen across Texas at the top of the hour. This while we're learning more information from investigators, who say it took them four minutes to respond to the 911 calls here from Santa Fe High School and for the next 25 minutes they were engaged in a gunfight with the gunman.
What is still unclear, though, is if any of those that were injured or killed on Friday were caught in that crossfire. Also unclear is motive at this point. But I did talk to one mother, who says she knows why her daughter was targeted. Her daughter, Shana Fisher, she says, was the love interest of this alleged shooter and for four months he harassed her, trying to date her, and she finally had enough. Last week the mom told me she stood up in the middle of class and evidently humiliated the gunman in front of his classmates. She says that one of those shotgun shells was meant for Shana Fisher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIE BAZE, DAUGHTER MURDERED BY SCHOOL GUNMAN: My daughter was going up to my mother, telling my mom for 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: First of those victims was laid to rest over the weekend. We expect more funerals to happen in the coming days. Also, again, John, we're expecting that moment of silence to happen in the next 30 minutes or so. John?
BERMAN: All right. Nick, we'll go back live when that does take place. Nick Valencia in Santa Fe, thank you very, very much.
The numbers we want to show you right now, the number of high school shootings in the United States as compared to more than a dozen other countries around the world since January 1st, 2009. There had been at least 288 shootings in the U.S. alone.