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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Lawmakers Briefed On Trump's "Spy" Claim Amid Russia Probe; Top Dems: White House Attorney's Presence At DOJ Meeting "Entirely Improper;" CNN: Trump's Legal Team Rejected January Date For Special Counsel Interview at Camp David; New Video Shows Alleged Dismantling Of North Korea Nuke Site; North Korea: Trump Canceling Summit is Against World's Wishes; President's Longtime Personal Attorney on Trump's Legal Strategy; Lava Flow Now Blocking Some Evacuation Routes. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 24, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in The SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUFRONT next, breaking news, Trump's Russia attorney showing up at the Justice Department briefing today, the same briefing about claims of an FBI spy in the Trump's campaign. One Republican calls it the craziest bleep he's even seen.
Plus more breaking news this hour, new details about a potential interview with a set date, an actual date, between Trump and Mueller, but it fell apart. Why?
Plus live in North Korea, our Will Ripley back from a nearly 20-hour journey watching North Koreans blow up what they say is left of their nuclear site. He's going to tell us firsthand and show you what he saw. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight going rogue. That is how the top Democrat on the Senate's Russia investigation is describing one of today's confidential briefings, a briefing that was about President Trump's unproven claim that the FBI put a spy in his campaign, he says to help Hillary Clinton.
Senator Mark Warner telling reporters, "I call the noon meeting a rogue meeting." Why rogue? Well, let's just show you who was there. The noon meeting was the first of two of these briefings from the FBI and DOJ today. At this one, it was one Republican -- I mean I'm sorry, one Democrat and three Republicans. Those included Congressman Devin Nunes who, of course, supposedly stepped down from leading the House Russia investigation last year. Well, so much for that.
And then making remarks at the top of the meeting were two White House representatives, the president's Chief of Staff John Kelly, and you see them walking in together, White House lawyer Emmet Flood. There they are walking in. Flood's presence truly surprising, leaving Democrats and Republicans alarmed, because Flood is one of the lawyers defending the president on the Russia investigation. So the president is making all of these accusations and conspiracy theories, then his own lawyer walks in the meeting. His presence at the start of that meeting leading a GOP congressional staffer to use a word I won't say on this show, telling CNN, "It's the craziest bleep I ever heard." And Flood did not just attend the first meeting. He also stopped by the second confidential briefing along with Kelly and the bipartisan Group of Eight.
Senator Warner saying that he's, "Never seen a Gang of Eight meeting that included any presence from the White House." And it was a strange set of meetings. Because let's be frank, the only reason these even happened is because the president for nearly a week has been peddling a conspiracy theory that he insists is potentially the worst scandal in American history. He says the spy was there to spy for political reasons, to help crooked Hillary win. He said that on a tweet. One of many tweets on this issue.
But the president's conspiracy may be losing steam because just moments ago, the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, he was there today at the second briefing, got all the information, just went on television said, "Nothing particularly surprising came out of the briefing." Which echoes what Democratic Senator -- I'm sorry, Congressman Adam Schiff said after he attended the briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: No evidence, no failure to follow appropriate procedures or protocols, nothing surprising from McConnell. In other words, a big nothing burger which may be why a source close to Republicans Gowdy and Nunes are tonight claiming, according to a source, that they just didn't get the documents they requested. So they're not disputing that nothing happened. They're just saying, well, it must be because we didn't get what we wanted. They wanted a smoking gun, a whiff of a corrupt FBI.
But tonight, the GOP speaker, Paul Ryan, says the FBI and DOJ are cooperating and giving everything necessary over. And, of course, even the president's own attorney, Rudy Giuliani, isn't even sure that any document about this spy claim even exists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Here's the issue that I really feel strongly about with this informant, if there is one. First of all, I don't know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Sure not what the president has been saying on Twitter and saying to the American public. But hey, Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.
And, Manu, you know, you've been talking to people close to this, people going into this meeting, Mitch McConnell now coming out and saying, well, nothing really came out of this that surprised him. What else have you learned about these briefings?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Republicans who attended these briefings are telling me, not saying that there was any evidence to substantiate the president's claims. They're actually not even commenting. They're refusing to say one way or the other whether or not there was anything that could give some fodder to the president suggesting that there was a spy implanted in the campaign, that this could be the biggest political scandal in history, other than saying that they want to investigate the matter further.
Now this is obviously much different than what Democrats are saying coming out of this meeting, saying there was no evidence presented at that meeting that ultimately could back up the president's claims.
[19:05:02] Now, this all comes as both sides, Erin, were very surprised to see Emmet Flood, the president's top attorney, at this meeting today after the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, said earlier this week there would be no White House official at this meeting. But not only Flood but also John Kelly attended this meeting.
Now, the White House said that was just simply remarks at the beginning of those meetings to say that the president supported transparency, the president supported the protection of human sources and intelligence-gathering. But still questions tonight from both sides about why that was even necessary to come to a meeting, particularly something of such sensitivity dealing with the president's own campaign, but questions tonight, Erin, about what Republicans do next, if they drop this push on Capitol Hill, particularly Devin Nunes as intelligence chairman who declined to comment, yet to issue a statement about whether or not he is satisfied since he's the one who's been leading the charge on this issue, Erin.
BURNETT: Right. Silence from Nunes, who, again, supposedly is not involved with the investigation. But, obviously, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell saying they are satisfied and nothing seemed to come out of this.
Thank you very much, Manu.
I want go now to Democratic Senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
So, Senator, you know, you're hearing all of these little pieces start to come out from the likes of Senator Warner, Senator McConnell, Congressman Schiff. Have you heard anything about the briefing?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I know with great certainty about the briefing that it broke all the norms of grand jury secrecy, of rules protecting covert intelligence sources for there to be any disclosure to anyone at those meetings. And let's be very clear. This presence of the White House, not the White House counsel, but the White House in the sense of the president's personal lawyer --
BURNETT: Right, representing on the Russia investigation, which is what the briefing's about fundamentally.
BLUMENTHAL: Representing him personally.
BURNETT: Yes, yes.
BLUMENTHAL: Not the White House counsel, but John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, and the president's personal lawyer, really is like a gut punch to federal law enforcement. It says we're going to enable the president personally to obtain information. The fear was that information would be funneled secretly to the president's personal lawyer. But now, they're overtly saying the White House's and president's personal lawyer are going to be there.
BURNETT: So Rudy Giuliani just, you know, came out and talked about this, right? Obviously, you know, Flood and Kelly giving those remarks at the start of each of those meetings. Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, coming out and saying, "I can't understand why it's inappropriate for White House counsel to be there, maybe it would be for me or Jake Sekulow but not the person representing the president inside the White House."
You're a former prosecutor and attorney general, right? He's making the case, right, because this person work for the White House, even though he's working to defend the president, it's the White House, not the personal lawyer, so therefore, this is fine and he should have been there. Do you buy it?
BLUMENTHAL: I certainly can't buy that argument. It's the president's personal lawyer. It's not Don McGahn, the White House counsel. It is Emmet Flood, who represents the president as a potential criminal defendant, I stress potential. But it is still an ongoing criminal investigation where secrecy and confidentiality are absolutely essential. And in a sense, it's a little bit like the president having a progress report as a possible defendant in an ongoing investigation.
BURNETT: So you heard what Mitch McConnell said. Nothing surprising coming out. A source telling CNN Devin Nunes' take on this is not to dispute what McConnell or Schiff are saying but to say, we didn't get what we wanted. In other words, to imply that it's still out there, right? That seems to be the implication.
Speaker Ryan says Republicans are getting the cooperation necessary, being very clear to say that the DOJ and FBI are cooperating. Do you think that they need to provide more information? Or is Nunes' sources that are talking about Nunes trying to stir the pot? BLUMENTHAL: Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee are responsible for oversight. But it's oversight of the intelligence community, not of an ongoing criminal investigation in the Department of Justice. In fact, I'm on the Judiciary Committee. We have oversight responsibility over the FBI and the Department of Justice. There is no evidence, none, of any spy placed by the FBI in the Trump campaign to benefit Hillary Clinton, nor any other improper activity.
BURNETT: And have you had conversations with Republicans on your committee? I mean is it a bipartisan statement that you're making, that you're saying over in the Senate we don't see what Devin Nunes says he sees?
BLUMENTHAL: That is a really good point, Erin. In fact, my Republican colleagues are embarrassed and alarmed by this whole spygate episode and by the president's in effect voicing on them some seeming responsibility to look into something that is nonexistent. A product of his imagination and fantasy, but more important, an effort to deflect and distract.
[19:10:14] BURNETT: Interesting, you talk to them, they're embarrassed and alarmed by what he's claiming.
All right. So if you found out, though, that the FBI was using an informant to get information about campaign staffers, right, on a campaign that you ran, right? So FBI finds out they're linked to Russia, so they send someone in to check it out. You don't find out about it until well after the fact. Would you be upset and want to know more?
BLUMENTHAL: I'd want to know more about Russian meddling and the interference. And that's the reason that we have a Judiciary Committee --
BURNETT: But you trust the FBI did what they said they did?
BLUMENTHAL: I trust the FBI barring any evidence of their doing anything wrong. The FBI is responsible for catching spies and covert agents who are subverting our electoral process. That's what they were doing. They do 2not spy or subvert our electoral process.
BURNETT: So Ari Fleischer, former presidential secretary for George W. Bush, came today and took this even a step farther. So not just Trump saying there was a spy to help Hillary Clinton. He's saying President Obama would have been aware of this because there's no way that you would have had an FBI informant put into a campaign without the president of the United States knowing it. Here's how Ari put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We need to know why did it begin and who authorized it, what role did Barack Obama have, did he know that the FBI was going to put informants there? I'll guarantee the answer is yes. No FBI would put informants in another presidential campaign without permission from the White House, including the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Anything to that?
BLUMENTHAL: There's no indication that Barack Obama knew about a spy placed by the FBI in the Trump campaign, because there's no evidence that the FBI did it. Proving a negative is always difficult. But an investigation has to begin with some factual predicate.
You know, as a former federal prosecutor, as a U.S. attorney for Connecticut, I know that FBI agents have to provide some factual predicate for moving forward, either to the head of their office or even on paper. And here there was none. And there is no reason for the president to know something that doesn't exist.
BURNETT: That did not happen. Right. Just putting out something out there with absolutely no basis doesn't mean that therefore needs to be investigated or pushed.
BLUMENTHAL: And there was no reason even for this meeting, as Senator Warner said, there was no reason for the FBI to be present at this normal group of the so-called Gang of Eight that has oversight responsibility.
BURNETT: All right. Senator Blumenthal, thank you so very much. I appreciate your time.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, breaking news, Trump's legal team and Bob Mueller, they actually had a date, a date for a sit-down between Trump and Mueller. But then something went very wrong. You're going to hear the date and why.
Plus also breaking, the first video just coming in this moment of North Korea's alleged destruction of a nuclear test site.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We have that video because there were no weapons inspectors or officials there. There was a journalist, though. Our Will Ripley, he was there. He saw this and filmed it and he's going to speak to you live from North Korea.
And the situation growing more desperate tonight in Hawaii, lava now starting to block evacuation routes. We're live on the scene.
[19:17:10] BURNETT: Breaking news, we are learning tonight that an interview between President Trump and special counsel Bob Mueller almost took place months ago. We now know crucial details. Location, how long the interview were going to be, all of this was discussed. Then the president's legal team rejected the plan.
I want to go to our Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.
Evan, you got a lot of details. I mean this was not just, you know, we're going to have a summit. This was date, place, time, everything, right?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly. They had worked 2out even the details, January 27th, it was Saturday. And the interview was supposed to take place at Camp David. They were trying to figure out some logistics. Now, it appears that at some point the president's legal team, led by John Dowd at the time, rethought this entire thing and decided not to go ahead.
But, Erin, look back at what we're talking about. January, the president's team was pushing for this investigation to be over with. And so that's when the special counsel said, all right, let's come on in, let's do this interview. And so they talked about perhaps a five- hour interview with the president. And they even had that, you know, 16 topics that they were going to cover in this interview. And then suddenly the --
BURNETT: Sixteen topics?
PEREZ: Sixteen topics was part of the discussion here. Now, some sources that we talked to, Gloria Borger and I talked to, differ on exactly how close they were to agreeing to this. Some say that, look, this was something under discussion but that they never really had a final or firm agreement. But it's very clear that, look, if this interview had gone ahead, perhaps, perhaps at this point the obstruction inquiry that the special counsel still has going on would have been over. And, you know, all of the attacking of the investigation that the president is now doing, he's clearly very agitated, would perhaps not be happening.
And one last thing I want to mention to you, Erin, is that, you know, the president's legal team now seems much farther away from doing an interview than they were back in January.
BURNETT: Which is incredible. And, Evan, the reason I picked up on 16 topics was just, you know, we always hear about topics, it always seems like it's kind of three or four things, right? It's depending how you categorize it, right? The obstruction of justice or the firing of Flynn, or the firing of Comey.
BURNETT: But you're not saying 16 questions, you're saying 16 topics, which actually could have meant they were close to talking about in much wider range of things than we might have thought, right?
PEREZ: Right, exactly. And now, like I said, you know -- like I said now, it appears that they've drifted much farther apart from doing this interview. You've heard -- you were covering earlier the comments from Rudy Giuliani who seems to indicate that they're raising new hurdles to doing an interview.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Evan. Obviously, very significant details and just all the specifics here, right? Five hours, gosh, Rudy Giuliani would be thrilled with that. What was he saying, a couple but no more than 12? I mean my goodness.
[19:20:00] OUTFRONT now, National Affairs Correspondent for "The Nation," Joan Walsh and former Senior Communications Adviser for the Trump campaign, Jason Miller.
Jason, January 27th, five hours, Camp David. This could all be in the rear-view mirror. Are you bummed they didn't just get it done?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: well, what we don't know is how close the sides were. And obviously, we don't know if -- really what the full terms were. And this could have been something where maybe the president's team didn't feel that it was that advantageous of a situation for them.
BURNETT: But I mean, Jason -- I know we don't know how close, and you and Evan are both right to emphasize that. But a lot closer than we've ever 2thought anybody was. We had a date, a time, and a place. That's pretty specific is all I'm saying. You don't get to that point unless you're done a lot of the preambles. That's all I'm saying.
MILLER: But again, from the staff end or from the legal team end, you're absolutely right, Erin, that that could be the case. But we don't know if the president had signed off and if he had gotten there. The other thing too is there's always the, we don't know what we don't know. Clearly, there are aspects of the Mueller investigation that have gone on that we haven't found out until much later.
And so for us to hypothesize that all could have been wrapped up and could have been done, that might not be the case. What I do like now is I do think that with Mayor Giuliani and with Marty and Jane Raskin, I do think the president has a much stronger team. I think they're putting up a much stronger defense effort around them. And I think they will sit down and try to get the best deal for him however he does proceed forward to sit down.
BURNETT: Sixteen topics, Joan.
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, "THE NATION": Sixteen topics, that's daunting. And there may well be more now. I would venture there are more now.
BURNETT: And by the way, we've never heard that. It's always been three or four broad areas.
BURNETT: Now, again, depends on how we'll segment all of this out but 16 topics does open the door to the fact that there have been on the table a lot more things to talk about that the president's team was willing to consider. WALSH: I think that's true. I think that is part of what happened. We really know some of this, the details are very surprising, this is great reporting. Some of it isn't surprising, Erin, and that we know that the president's former legal team, John Dowd and Ty Cobb, really did want to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. They thought that the way to make it go away quickly was to cooperate. They did provide a lot of data, a lot of documents. And they really were working to get the president to sit down and talk with him.
So -- and there was a time President Trump, he still says it occasionally, he might be delusional enough to think it would be a good idea. So we knew they were trying to get it wrapped up. Remember they were saying thanksgiving, first of the year. They really wanted to move along. I can see them doing this and then becoming, in the little bit of discovery process you get as you look at these 16 topics, realizing that they are really putting their client in a dangerous situation because he can't keep his mouth shut and because Mueller knows way more than anybody thought.
BURNETT: Jason, do you believe the president when he has said, again and again, the following?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of events in.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One hundred percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?
TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To reach a higher standard, you would do it under oath?
TRUMP: I would do it under oath.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you still like to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller, sir?
TRUMP: Thank you. I would like to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All talk, Jason? Because I mean right now, it is all talk, it hasn't happened, but does he actually mean it?
MILLER: Absolutely. Because I think the president knows that neither he nor anybody else on his team were colluding with a foreign entity and all this entire investigation is a complete nonsense.
So I think the president will go and ultimately sit down with the special counsel, but I think they want to make sure that the terms at which they go and sit down is what this is supposed to be about. Keep in mind this was supposed to be about the supposed coordination between the campaign and a foreign entity. We're so far out into deep sea fishing expedition now, who knows where they're even going.
BURNETT: Well, Rudy Giuliani is now saying, we won't talk about obstruction of justice, we won't talk about what's happened since he took office and some of it it's got to be in writing, I mean some of these requests are, I think he knows absurd, it's a negotiating tactic but go ahead, Joan.
MILLER: And that's smart for Rudy to do.
WALSH: We have campaign leadership that's been indicted. You know, we've got Russians who've been indicted. It's not that nothing has come of this investigation. I know we're talking about it later so I'm not going to say much about it but we have new information about Roger Stone coordinating, trying to coordinate with WikiLeaks.
So there's a lot more to be known about this. And it's understandable that the president's now -- his strategy is to discredit this, call it spygate, and frankly to lie about what's being done.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. You get the last word as Jason had the first.
And next, breaking news, for the first time, we are seeing what North Korea says was the destruction of its main nuclear test site.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Our Will Ripley was there. He witnessed it. He is live just as North Korea's breaking its silence, responding to Trump canceling the summit.
[19:24:52] And the president's former long-time personal attorney, whether he approves of Rudy Giuliani's strategy.
BURNETT: Breaking news. New details and images just coming in to CNN of what North Korea says is the dismantling of its only nuclear site.
The explosions taking place just hours before President Trump abruptly canceled his meeting with Kim Jong-un. And North Korea tonight is responding for the first time to Trump's cancellation.
Will Ripley is OUTFRONT, he's in North Korea.
Will, you saw all that, that is your video, you just had 20 hours of a journey with a high blacked-out train windows. You get there. You're allowed to film it. You've been completely out of communications. Let's start with what you -- did you see? WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, after we traveled, you know, more than 15 hours to get to the Punggye-ri, the nuclear site, Erin. It was actually surprising how much time we spent on the site. We spent more than nine hours on the ground.
First, we got a briefing from the deputy director of North Korea's Nuclear Weapon Research Institute. And then they put this tunnel by tunnel, they opened the doors, it's the first time we've had a look inside the tunnels the North Korea has used to conduct six nuclear tests since 2006. And we saw that they were rigged with explosives as far back as the eye could see.
Now, we didn't have any experts in our group, it was only journalists, so couldn't verify how deep those explosions went and if this really does render the tunnels permanently unusable as the North Koreans claim. We also saw them blow up all of the buildings, in Punggye-ri buildings that were used to house equipment, house officers that were stationed on site and they say they're going to be shutdown the entire area, clear it out, and keep people from going in there.
BURNETT: And so you watch all of this happening and, you know, we can hear the kind of three, two, one and the detonations happen.
[19:30:05] You know, I guess I'm curious, Will. Did they let you go into the tunnels to see any of this or sort of only from the outside? How far in, I guess, did you get to penetrate to the site?
RIPLEY: Yes, (AUDIO GAP) but there were guards (AUDIO GAP) because the explosives were right up to the doors, literally, it just wasn't possible for us to go inside the tunnels to see how far they went.
RIPLEY: How they were set up.
And, you know, obviously, there weren't any tunnel experts in the group. But I can tell you that the explosions, the strength of them, was really extraordinary. The ground was actually shaking at the observation post at the top ravine that we hiked to as we watched them blow up each of the tunnels.
BURNETT: And you did have to hike, right, that hour-long hike that you had to take after the train ride. I mean, it's pretty incredible what you went through to get there. And then, you know, as you're watching this, Will, then the president of the United States comes out and calls off the whole summit. You find out about it.
You ask the North Koreans that you're with about it.
BURNETT: Who were at the nuclear site, supposedly dismantling it, and they had no idea?
RIPLEY: We actually had just left the nuclear site, and we were on the train. It was very late at night here when the news broke. And, yes, we were sitting around kind of talking about the day, getting ready to go to bed.
And then I get the phone call from our international desk. And, you know, there was no on the record immediate response, but a lot of phone calls were made. You know, there was a lot of stunned silence.
It was a really awkward and uncomfortable moment. And, you know, I know that we have a response now that's just been issued by North Korea's foreign ministry, excuse me, actually surprisingly restrained, Erin. I thought we were going to get an angry response from the North Koreans.
But what they're saying is that they don't think that President Trump's decision is in line with someone who wants peace on the Peninsula. They say they're still willing to sit down and meet with the U.S. face-to-face, they think this situation shows just how severe relations are between the U.S. and North Korea, and they say that's why the summit is necessary.
So, it sounds like the North Koreans still want this summit to happen even if it doesn't happen on June 12th, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Will Ripley, for your incredible reporting of which we're going to see a whole lot more on our program.
I want to go now to the former U.S. Ambassador to the NATO, Nicholas Burns, Senior Diplomatic Correspondent for CNN, our own Michelle Kosinski, and former CIA Operative, Bob Baer.
And, Ambassador, let me start with you. What you heard from Will Ripley, right, so he's with the people at the site, what they say is their only test site for nuclear weapons, they've used it for their six most recent tests. Here he is, he asks them about the summit being called off. They clearly found out from him.
I mean, that is pretty stunning, isn't it?
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, it seems to be an impulsive decision by the president to call off this summit. Obviously, the first the North Koreans heard about it was when they read the letter on CNN or on some other network. That was also true, Erin, of a South Korean and Japanese governments.
So, one thing you don't want to do is surprise your allies. You saw the shock in President Moon and his cabinet.
You know, Erin, I think at the end of the day, neither of these two governments was ready for this summit. The United States -- the Trump administration couldn't stick to a single message to what they wanted to achieve. You saw the president being fairly relaxed in his language. You saw this draconian, take no prisoners, John Bolton/Mike Pence line. They want to use the Libyan example.
The North Koreans have issued two really tendentious, aggressive statements in the last week. They ought to just take some time, maybe it's good they're not going to meet. They have to go back to first principles, take this out of the public eye, let Mike Pompeo lead this on the American side, take some time to see if they can put this back together.
BURNETT: Clearly, Mike Pompeo's the one with the relationship with Kim Jong-un. I know the president likes to say the two of them have a relationship, but, you know, I think it's fair to say Pompeo is the guy who has it.
Bob, you know, I want to show this video again, because we're just getting the first video. There were no weapons inspectors, there were no officials. There was Will Ripley is a journalist, right? He was there, he was viewing this.
So, he sees these tunnels imploded. He asked to go inside, they said no. But he said the explosions were so significant, they could feel them from their perch, which by the way they've had to hike to an hour to get to this mountainous site. Do you think they really dismantled this site?
And, by the way, I understand we don't know what's they've got. But this is their main one, do you think they really dismantled it?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, Erin, it's sort of irrelevant, these caves, and the fact that they set off explosions in them, they can be easily rebuilt anywhere in North Korea. All you need to do is pull out the coaxial cables, you take the sensors, you move them somewhere else, you've got the plans and the rest of it.
You know, symbolically, it was important. It's a signal from the North Koreans -- yes, we want to deal. Yes, we want to have an agreement. But, you know, very easily, they could rebuild this in a week somewhere else and test another bomb any time they wanted. This site was disposable. It was half destroyed in any case.
BURNETT: Right. Well, I mean, of course, it was seismically, you know, incapable, I guess, of doing more tests, as they had admitted.
[19:35:03] You know, Michelle, coming inn today, though, right, they do this, then president Trump drops his unexpected shocker of calling off the whole summit. Which flies in the face of everything he has been saying lately, which has been incredibly complimentary, s to the very least, of Kim Jong-un. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will guarantee his safety, yes. We will guarantee his safety. And we've talked about that from the beginning. He will be safe. He will be happy.
He'll get protections that will be very strong.
I want to thank Kim Jong-un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people.
Kim Jong-un was -- he really has been very open and I think very honorable. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And then today, Michelle, all of a sudden it's, hey, we're done, summit's off. What happened?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, we saw the jitters from the North Koreans more than a week ago, I guess it was, when they threatened to pull out. They talked about denuclearization, what it means in their view, versus the United States. They threatened not to talk to the South Koreans either.
And since then, even though you do have a hard line and the reiteration of that Libya model from certain members of the administration, which we know from sources truly does anger the North Koreans, you know, worried about their own safety -- we've seen Trump seem like he's trying to salvage this.
So, the U.S. knew there were problems. We see Trump talk about guaranteeing safety, which was one of the things we know that Kim Jong-un wanted. We even see Trump start to bend on -- well, maybe denuclearization would have to have some kind of phasing-in process, which was against what the administration had been repeating over did and over, that no, this needs to be quick, then North Korea can get its reward for that.
So, you saw them trying to save this. But we know that this big sticking point has been North Korea wanting it to be slow and phased, each time they take a step, they want something in return.
BURNETT: And, you know, Ambassador, as we see these explosions, right, the images here are very powerful. But do you agree with Bob Baer that it's easy to test somewhere else, plus look at what we saw with Iran, right? Giving up a test site is far from giving up know- how and ability to build a nuclear weapon, especially when Korea had gotten a lot further and had the ability according to U.S. analysis of striking a city in the U.S. as far as Chicago?
BURNS: Well, I do agree with Bob, this was a symbolic gesture. But, frankly, it could be meaningless.
The North Koreans have nuclear weapons. They have the ability to test them, nuclear tests. They have the ability to test their ballistic missiles. That will continue.
And the big problem, Erin, has always been here, was it realistic for the administration to think that in one meeting in Singapore in June, Kim Jong-un was going to say, I'll give it all up on some schedule? It was never realistic.
This, if there's going to be a negotiation, it's going to be months or years. And so, does Donald Trump have the strategic patience to do that? Will he accept something less than perfection? Will he compromise at all? Or will he insist on getting everything he wants?
I think John Bolton and Vice President Pence have signaled they want everything from Kim Jong-un the first day, and it's completely unrealistic to insist on that.
BURNETT: This isn't how human nature works.
All right. Thank you all so very much.
And next, mixed messages from team Trump over this interview with Bob Mueller. What is the strategy? The president's long-time attorney, Jay Goldberg, my guest next, who speaks often with the president.
Plus, we're live in Hawaii where hazardous gases are spreading from the violent volcanic eruptions.
[19:42:28] BURNETT: Breaking news, the Justice Department briefing a group of lawmakers on a confidential intelligence source who had contact with members of the Trump campaign. So, was there a spy planted by the FBI to help Clinton as President Trump claims?
Well, not according to the Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who attended the classified briefing. He told reporters afterwards, quote, nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence a spy was placed in the Trump campaign.
As for Republicans at the meeting -- well, here's the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you surprised at what you learned?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Nothing particularly surprising. But again, it was classified. So there's no real report I can give to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Jay Goldberg, long-time attorney, personal friend of the president, who represented Trump in both of his divorce cases.
And, Jay, good to see you again.
JAY GOLDBERG, LONG-TIME ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good to see you.
BURNETT: So, the president obviously has said there was a spy there, the spy was there to help Hillary Clinton, right?
BURNETT: He has put this conspiracy theory out there. Rudy Giuliani says, I don't know, I don't have any evidence of it, who knows? Obviously, that's consistent with what we're hearing today out of the meetings.
Does the president need to stop making baseless claims like this or not?
GOLDBERG: No, I think with his implanted spy in his campaign, he doesn't have to take the word of the FBI or the Democratic Party operatives that nothing was garnered from the implanted spy. All that was garnered from this implanted spy is A, B, C. He has a right to look into the question of E, F, G, H, I was garnered.
Nothing was done by him of a similar nature with respect to Hillary's campaign.
BURNETT: Right. Well, we understand though this person wasn't implanted in the campaign.
BURNETT: The FBI found out, hey, there's a bunch of guys with ties to Russia and Russian operatives, that's concerning to us, let's ask an informant to check it out. That would be completely consistent with a counterintelligence investigation.
GOLDBERG: It would be. People know who the counterintelligence agent is.
BURNETT: Yes, we do.
GOLDBERG: There's no reason why the inspector general can't put the gentleman under oath to find out how he got there --
BURNETT: Well, his name was leaked by somebody, right? It's not we know but we shouldn't know.
GOLDBERG: But why was he there? And why did he have to assume an informative role when all he sought was information of a nature that the Trump side was entitled to know?
[19:45:05] BURNETT: So you're saying it's OK that the president of the United States, without knowing anything, as Giuliani has said -- without any evidence at all, is coming out and saying that the FBI and the DOJ, the highest law enforcement in this country --
BURNETT: -- are corrupt?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think the case is such, and so cloudy, that warrants an examination from top to bottom by an impartial source. And that would be the inspector general. I'm not willing to take the word of the FBI.
BURNETT: Paul Ryan says they're giving the information. Mitch McConnell says nothing's come out of this.
GOLDBERG: Well, no, Mitch McConnell said he can't tell you what came out because it's classified.
BURNETT: He said nothing surprising. GOLDBERG: Nothing surprising. But president Trump has been through
this before. And he has a right to have this analyzed by an impartial person, namely the inspector general, against whom no claim is made of partiality.
BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about other breaking news this hour. The president came close to sitting down at Camp David for five hours on January 27th with Bob Mueller's team.
BURNETT: Close but it didn't happen. I want to ask you this in the context of Rudy Giuliani. Today, he said Trump should not talk to Mueller. He told "The Huffington Post", quote, I would not like to talk to Mueller at all.
BURNETT: Yesterday, he told "The Washington Post", quote, I guess I'd rather do the interview.
BURNETT: Does Rudy Giuliani have a strategy?
GOLDBERG: No, no, no. In fact, I wrote a book on this that's coming out shortly. There's a definite risk of perjury, false swearing, trap -- it's not just perjury, it's false swearing, which is much broader than perjury. And the president is a sitting duck.
He's not sought to be examined for them to get information. He's sought to be examined for them to get him. And everybody knows it.
And as you sit here, Erin, you don't know the elements of his staff. You don't know the person in his staff who's described as a pit bull. You don't know the people who are framing the questions designed to put him in a spot where he could be contradicted albeit by somebody who's trying to win the favor of the government and would --
BURNETT: So, you wouldn't do it. But why is Giuliani saying one day he should, one day he shouldn't? I mean, does he have a strategy? Is he doing a good job?
GOLDBERG: No, he is doing a good job to the extent that one thing is clear. He has an experienced record of being a prosecutor behind him. And he knows what a perjury trap is. He's probably had members of his staff engage in perjury traps. And he knows how risky it would be for the president to subject himself to examination.
It is absolutely incredible for anybody to come out with the idea that he should cooperate. There was some mention that a good friend of my opinion, Ty Cobb, said that he ought to testify.
BURNETT: Yes. GOLDBERG: People have said if he had nothing to hide, he should
testify. That's not true. He could be telling the truth, and I'm sure he will be, but they'll find somebody to contradict him, who will try to avoid the risk of going to jail, and how they do that is they win the favor of the prosecutor.
GOLDBERG: And they don't hesitate to change their testimony to win the prosecutor's favor.
GOLDBERG: Well, I want to pause here, because speaking of that, I want to ask you about Michael Cohen. We're going to do that in just a moment. Jay Goldberg is going to weigh in on the latest bombshell to drop in the Michael Cohen case. We have that right after this.
Will Cohen's former business partner's plea deal forced Cohen to turn on the president?
Plus, breaking news out of Hawaii, lava spewing into the streets, some evacuation routes now completely blocked.
[19:51:24] BURNETT: President Trump's long-time attorney Jay Goldberg back with me.
Jay, I want to ask you about Michael Cohen.
BURNETT: But, first, I know you do speak with the president regularly. You see him. You spend time with him.
GOLDBERG: I wouldn't say I speak with him regularly. I think that's an overstatement.
GOLDBERG: I think there are being calls from time to time when he sees fit. But I don't speak to him regularly.
BURNETT: So when's the last time you spoke to him? I mean, I know you've spoken to him obviously in light of all this stuff going on. What is --
GOLDBERG: I happened to know it since I got a letter. It was April 30th.
BURNETT: Yes, and what did you -- what are you advising him right now?
GOLDBERG: Well, I'm not going to say what he said. I just say that, you know, to stay away from Michael Cohen. The southern district has a technique of wiring people up to sound and gets them to engage a person in conversation.
In addition, the staff of Mueller contains a person, Andrew Weissmann, who is described as a pit bull and is very favorably oriented towards Hillary Cohen (ph), and these are people who seek to delegitimize you and it would be nothing better from them to get you in a perjury trap.
BURNETT: So, Michael Cohen, obviously, you know, had this former business partner, Evgeny Freidman --
BURNETT: -- who was facing a sentence of up to 100 years in jail if convicted.
BURNETT: He is now cooperating and they're going to go ahead and not go with that.
GOLDBERG: They'll squeeze him, it's called.
BURNETT: So does this mean Cohen's toast?
GOLDBERG: Cohen will be toast.
BURNETT: OK. So what does he do then? He'd turn on the president?
GOLDBERG: Toast -- this piece of toast turns to his parents and turns to his wife and thinks about his children and realizes that if he goes to jail, the wife goes to jail. She got to travel four hours with the children, subject herself to a search, see the husband for an hour every month, and that causes a break down in the toughest of people.
And if a judge sentences him to 12 years, he'll cooperate as quickly as the door shuts to the cell.
BURNETT: So you're worried about that. You also think George Papadopoulos who's cooperating, Mueller is going to go ahead and sentence. But you're worried about him too?
GOLDBERG: Yes, I think I'm worried about him. Yes, he's a young guy. He fits the profile of not feeling that he belongs in jail.
There are certain people who are of the view that they do not belong in jail. And don't ask me the race or color, but there are people who don't see themselves in jail even if they're guilty of wrongdoing.
BURNETT: But Papadopoulos you think could turn on the president? Do you know anything about him?
GOLDBERG: I know nothing about him. He's a young guy. Yes, I'm just worried about him.
I never mentioned him to the president. This is just my personal view. And not much has been heard of from General Flynn and I worry about him, too. And none of these things have been put before the president. That's my own personal view.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much for it, and, of course, perhaps he saw this and now knows what you think about that.
Jay Goldberg, good to have you.
GOLDBERG: It's good to see you.
BURNETT: And next, breaking news, desperate situation in Hawaii. We're live on the ground.
[19:58:26] BURNETT: Tonight, a desperate situation in Hawaii getting worse. The lava flowing from that volcano which is now blocking some of the roads being used to evacuate residents. The Hawaii National Guard preparing for the possibility of air vacations.
Stephanie Elam is there. She's been there watching this.
And, Stephanie, I know there's a spot inside a residential area that's become active again tonight. You're seeing all of this.
What are you learning?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, what we've just learned, Erin, is that there is a fissure that had slowed down in productivity of lava, that has increased its productivity now. It's at the middle of this fissure system that they're saying is producing lava and this is inside Leilani Estates, on those streets where you've seen us walking, talking to residents. They are saying now that is encroaching on some of the streets there, so they're keeping there eyes on that.
On top of that, the lava has entered the ocean in three different places, crossing over highway 137. Obviously, for people who live in this remote part of the island, if issues come up with that, they could airlift people out there. But most people have been dealing with this for three weeks and have been out.
But they do let residents in every day, that's just one of the concerns. And then up at the summit, they've been dealing with more ash explosions as well as earthquakes there. So, they're keeping their eyes on it, but again, this Kilauea eruption that is happening here, it is affecting a very small part of this island. This is just about four square miles, but still, for the people living here, Erin, it's just a nightmare that does not end.
BURNETT: Those pictures are just incredible. And we don't know where it's going to go from here.
Stephanie, thank you so much live on the ground there. And thank you all for joining us.
"ANDERSON" starts now.