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Report: FBI Chief and Deputy AG to Meet Trump Soon; No Reason Given for Another Day Without White House Briefings; Kelly Clarkson Calls for Moment of Action. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired May 21, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray in about an hour from now. As president Trump demands the Department of Justice investigate whether the FBI spied on his presidential campaign. That and a lot more, that comes up right now.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Thank you so much. Hi everyone, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Good to be back, thank you so much for being with me on this Monday. Here's the breaking news this afternoon. On the president's power play that is threatening to push the nation into a constitutional showdown. In order to investigate the investigators of the Russia probe.
Moments ago, we learned from a source that the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray will meet with the president on this very issue in about an hour, and they are specifically going to address this confidential informant, confidential source that made contact with Trump campaign members prior to the election in 9 November of 2016. This meeting was scheduled before the president's explosive tweet storm Sunday.
Quoting him, I here by demand and will do so officially tomorrow that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ, that's the Department of Justice, infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for political purposes and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama administration.
Now big picture. The president is reacting to these unproven claims that the FBI confidential source in the Russia probe could have been a spy by the Obama administration to damage the Trump campaign. However, unfounded the reason here, do Department of Justice is now reacting on the record. It has now asked it's inspector general to review the president's surveillance accusation, and the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the Russia investigation said this, quoting, Rosenstein here, if anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it, and take appropriate action. In the meantime, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is more than troubled by the president's move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think that's actually very disturbing assault on the independence, the Department of Justice, politicizing what is a legitimate activity on the part -- and an important one on the part of the FBI. They use informants and have strict rules and protocols under this, the big thing here is, this is not about spying on his campaign. It's about what the Russians are doing. Were they attempting to infiltrate the campaign. That was the concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's talk to Elie Honig about all of this, a former federal prosecutor in the southern district of New York. Elie, so nice to see you. Thanks for swinging by. When you go back to the intent of the FBI in the confidential source. The irony of this whole thing is that they were there to protect Trump.
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: IT does appear that the initial intent of using this confidential informant was to protect the Trump campaign as well as the American people from Russian interference by hackers and meddlers. Now you see the Trump people complaining they were quote on quote, spied upon.
BALDWIN: What Trump is demanding here, let's all be clear. What he's demanding is perfectly legal, right? If you think about it, you have the president here asking for an investigation into the investigators themselves.
HONIG: And that happens. And the Department of Justice has referred it to its inspector general. Which is like internal affairs within the Department of Justice. Certainly, the president can request or demand whatever he wants. The question is, how is DOJ going to react. DOJ is within the executive branch. I think if you talk to the men and women, they do serve this president or any president, they certainty American people.
BALDWIN: And the constitution. We're talking about Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, he was speaking today on ethics and compliance within the justice department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We stress the need to act ethically and do justice. We expect our prosecutors and other personnel to be thinking about their ethical obligations with every decision we make. We have integrated that into the daily operations of our business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Is the president succeeding in breaking down America's judicial law enforcement in this country.
HONIG: He's certainly trying.
BALDWIN: He is trying.
HONIG: I think that's clear. And this is one of the norms we see, there's no law per say, saying, the Department of Justice must be independent. But it's a long-Established norm that -- BALDWIN: They're acting separately.
HONIG: Yes. That they are independent and separate, and again I think the career prosecutors and law enforcement agents who work there were brought up that way. That's how I was brought up as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. We're seeing a huge cultural shift in what the DOJ should do.
[14:05:00] BALDWIN: Elie, thank you so much. Gloria Borger is here. Our CNN chief political analyst, and Gloria, good to see you. First off, as we said, nothing illegal about what the president is asking or demanding from his justice department, he cannot do this for political purposes. Although when you look at this tweet, the mention -- the allegation that it was the Obama administration who inserted a spy, right? Which he calls a spy. Why is he doing this?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Because I think, you know, Donald Trump has always believed that this entire Russia investigation is a product of the deep state. And by the deep state, he means people who are out to get him from previous years, whether they're in the government, formerly the Obama administration or other Democrats, and I think what's going to be interesting for us to look at today, Brooke, is when the president meets with Rosenstein and Wray, whether he accepts what Rosenstein has done.
Which is essentially try to thread the needle here, and say to the president, you know what, I'm going to have the inspector general look into your complaint. And that's the way he's decided to handle it. The inspector general, I was speaking on the phone with an attorney representing somebody within this sort of circle of this whole Russia investigation, who said, well, that doesn't make us happy because an inspector general doesn't have subpoena power. So, who is going to talk to James Clapper? Who is going to talk to Sally Yates?
For conservatives, Rosenstein's way of handling this may not be enough, and we haven't heard from the president on that yet.
BALDWIN: What's the biggest -- since this really significant meeting is happening in the next hour. What is your biggest question to be answered by the meeting.
BORGER: Whether -- number one, whether the president says, OK. If this is the way you want to handle this, guys, I'm fine with it, as long as we get to the bottom of it.
BALDWIN: Or not.
BORGER: And if he says no, this is not the way I want to handle it, I'm going to demand something more intense. An investigation where you can subpoena people. How do Rosenstein and Wray react?
BORGER: What do they do in response to the president? And we don't know the answer to that either. BALDWIN: To be continued on that they are meeting in the next hour.
I have to get you on the Don Junior news. We're learning of another meeting with foreign countries in the run up to the election. The president's son, Don Junior, met with representatives from Saudi Arabia and UAE. You see the date on the screen and that was 2016. It's now April of 2018, why are we just now learning about this?
BORGER: Well, because I think the whole story is unspooling here. And we're learning about it, as we reported through attorneys or others who perhaps have testified before Mueller, et cetera, et cetera. And that's how we're finding out about this stuff. And it happened a couple years ago, I guarantee you, there's a lot more stuff that bob Mueller knows about that we don't know about. That we have only scratched the tip of this story. Even though the Trump folks say it's going to be over by September 1.
BALDWIN: That's what they say. That's what they say. We shall see. Thank you so much on that. And yes, to the whole Mueller knowing a lot more than we know thing.
Coming up next, inside the mind of Roger Stone, the Republican operative says he's prepared to be indicted by Robert Mueller, but he says the charges might have nothing to do with the 2016 election.
Also, ahead the White House briefing not happening today. The reason, well, we don't have one. Is this one way to avoid answering tough questions from that White House press corps.
A rare and chilling attack. Two men are out riding their bikes in Washington state stalked by a cougar on this remote dirt road. The attack leaving one man dead, what we're learning about why this cougar attacked and why this encounter is so entirely unusual. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We're back on a Monday, you're watching CNN. This is the time of day we would be anticipating a White House briefing. As the controversies are on the rise, those briefings have seemingly gone away. Or are less frequent. There is no briefing today, and the White House has given this much of a reason. Zero. And when we did last hear from Sarah Sanders, she took reporters questions for a total of 11 minutes. Let's go to CNN political analyst Brian Karem he's the executive editor for Sentinel Newspapers. Good to see you, my friend.
[00:15:00] BRIAN KAREM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR FOR SENTINEL NEWSPAPERS: Good to see you. I hope you had a happy wedding and honeymoon.
BALDWIN: Honeymoon was good, but I'm back. I see not much has changed. So, on what's happening at the White House, I know you wrote a letter today to Sarah Sanders about the lack of transparency, what was the crux of your message?
KAREM: The crux of my message is there is no transparency, and the problem is, is that what the president has done is -- I call it a bunker mentality, he's reverted to Twitter litter, just tweeting out what he wants. And not having these briefings, which is one of the few times we get to interact with the administration and find out what is actually going on He hasn't been in this press briefing room ever. If he wants to walk in right now, while we're up live, I encourage him to do so, I'd love to ask him questions. Probably won't do it.
BALDWIN: Keep waiting.
KAREM: The crux of the letter was, what they've done is in an attempt to control the message. They've used the press pool, the spray pool, in methods that no president has used them before. Those are meant to be used when you can't get reporters into a room. They bring people in, they shoot video, a couple shots will shout a question and out you go. He's conducting mini-briefings with a small number of reporters and controlling when they come and go out of the room, so if it gets too intense, he can go all right, enough, and you can hear the shrill cries of the wranglers in the back going, get out.
BALDWIN: That's when you cherry pick which questions you get to answer. To the point about no briefing today, what's the explanation?
KAREM: You got the explanation. I haven't gotten one yet. I don't think we'll get one. The briefings have come more infrequently, shorter in duration. What we usually get from the podium, I'm going to take one question and move on, we have a lot to do today. We always have a lot to do today. The briefings are late starting, early ending and because of all the controversy raging -- there was one statement put out by the press secretary today that is so unpresidential in its scope, so horrific, the whole MS-13 that came out, that begs questions, the Mueller investigation begs questions. There's a host of issues that this administration doesn't want to deal with directly, so the best way to deal with it is to dodge, dip, duck, whatever they can do in order not to face the American public in this briefing room. The most exciting thing happening here today is someone adjusting the flag a few minutes ago. And that's it.
BALDWIN: Hang in there, and when she's there --
KAREM: We'll keep trying.
BALDWIN: Keep asking those tough questions, that's our job. Thank you so much. And keep writing those letters to her.
As the White House continues to call Robert Mueller's investigation a witch hunt. Roger stone says he's quote, prepared to be indicted should that happen. Mueller recently subpoenaed two of Stone's associates a sign the investigation could be zeroing in on Stone. Here's what Stone said over the weekend on "Meet the Press."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ASSOCIATE: I can guarantee you they have found no evidence whatsoever, of Russian collusion, nor trafficking of allegedly hacked e-mails with Wikileaks. It's not inconceivable now that Mr. Mueller and his team may seek to conjure up some extraneous crime pertaining to my business or maybe not even pertaining to the 2016 election. I would chalk this up to an effort to silence me. So, I am prepared should that be the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Dylan Bank is here, he's the director of Netflix's "Get Me Roger Stone." Welcome back, nice to see you.
DYLAN BANK, DIRECTOR, NETFLIX'S "GET ME ROGER STONE": Great to be here.
BALDWIN: You heard -- it's fascinating how he's evolved over the past year, right? Roger Stone, when you hear the clip on "Meet the Press" and he's saying, no, it didn't relate to the election, outside business, what do you think he's referring to?
BANK: Roger has a myriad of businesses ranging from his ties to presidents and presidential all the way down to sheriff races in Florida.
BALDWIN: But to be indicted. What do you think he's referring to?
BANK: Only Roger knows what he's done. Roger loves to operate in the gray area of legality, where on paper, according to Roger from his angle it is legal. Perhaps the FBI might disagree.
BALDWIN: I want to play a clip, this is your doc digging into the foreign lobbying efforts of Stone's past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lobbying had been considered kind of a sleazy business.
[14:20:00] But Roger Stone unabashedly came out and said, I'm going to make a pile of money off of this, and no apologies.
STONE: Black, Manafort and Stone was the biggest [bleep] most powerful lobbying operation in Washington. We did things no one else had done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black Manafort and Stone saw a business opportunity in being the torturer's lobby. In representing the most distasteful dictators. Mobutu, Marcos. They did not care about being acceptable in the salons of Georgetown. They cared about making money.
STONE: One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: There's been all this speculate that it was Roger Stone that contacted Russia or Wikileaks. Would that surprise you?
BANK: It wouldn't surprise me if he wanted to. It would surprise me if at this point he actually had the power to. Roger in many ways may have lucked out by having been kicked out/quit the Trump campaign. Immediately after the very first Republican debate. He was trying to get back into Trump's graces it seemed to us by making a lot of noise in the public hemisphere. It was only through Paul Manafort later, when he got him his connection to come back in, did he even have a direct impact on the campaign.
BALDWIN: So, you mentioned Paul Manafort. Tell us how intertwined Black, Manafort, Stone and Donald Trump were?
BANK: Black, Manafort and Stone met Donald Trump through Roy Cohn if you are fans who know his name, they are bristling right now. He's one of the most infamous people and in many ways who Roger has aspired to be like over the years.
And when Black, Manafort and Stone in that era, they began to realize there was great money to be made in foreign lobby and going out when the Berlin wall fell. And to create the new democracy there. Roger got scared off by people whose candidacy through him and other people he was working with, when they won, they got their car blown up, and Roger decided to come back here where politics was hardball, not quite as hardball. Paul Manafort didn't have that reaction and he stayed.
BALDWIN: Paul Manafort to be continued on him as well. Right?
Dylan, thank you so much. The film is "Get Me Roger Stone," if you haven't seen it on Netflix.
No more moments of silence. One celebrity's call to action after the latest mass school shooting in America. We have new information this afternoon on the people who matter most in this story. The victims.
And why does this keep happening here at a pace unlike anywhere else in the world?
[14:25:00] COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: No more moments of silence. That is the message music fans shooting in the Billboard Music Awards heard last night from host Kelly Clarkson. The country singer who is from Texas delivered a powerful and emotional tribute to the victims of Friday's shooting in the Texas town of Santa Fe. Clarkson told the audience she was asked to come out and hold a moment of silence for those in the community and victims, but she didn't. And she tearfully explained why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY CLARKSON, COUNTRY MUSIC STAR: And once again, y'all, we're grieving for more kids that have died for no reason at all. And tonight, they wanted me to say that obviously we want to bray for all the victims, pray for all the families. They wanted me to do a moment of silence. And I'm so sick of moment of silence, it's not working, like obviously, so -- sorry. Why don't we not do a moment of silence, why don't we do a moment of action, a moment of change. Why don't we change what's happening, because it's horrible? And ma's and daddies should be able to send their children to school without that kind of fear. We need to do better as people are failing our children, we're failing our communities. We're faming their families. I can't imagine getting that phone call or that knock on the door. Instead of a moment of silence, I want to respect them and honor them, where you live, let's have a moment of action. Let's have a moment of change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Kelly Clarkson last night. In Texas, they held a statewide moment of silence earlier today to remember the students and teachers killed in Friday's school shooting. Among those killed, 15-year-old Angelique Ramirez. The pastor of Santa Fe's Days Spring Church says Ramirez was an active member of the church youth ministry, and her youth minister is with me now live.
Thank you so much. My heart goes out to you and this community. If I may I would love to focus on the life of this young girl.
[14:30:00] Can you just tell me about Angelique. Tell me about her uniqueness and that pink hair of hers.
ROBERT POURCHOT, PASTOR, DAYS SPRING CHURCH: I've known Angelique and her family for a long time. I've had the honor and privilege to see her grow into a young woman. She had a unique style of her own, her parents raised her to be a strong independent young lady. And it showed in how she loved people, how she cared for people. She never met a stranger, she had a smile always from ear to ear.
BALDWIN: That's wonderful to hear and thinking about her parents. It's my understanding you were with her right around the time when they got the news, is that correct? And how are they holding up?
POURCHOT: They're doing as well as expected. A lot of family and friends are around them right now and supporting them, and it's what we're all doing is just supporting everyone, because we're all affected and that's what this town is doing, we're supporting one another, the families, the mom, the dad, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles and we're coming together and going to support one another.