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Report: Trump Unleashes on Mueller Investigation Calling It Rigged; Trump Suggests Summit with North Korea Is Back on; Severe Flooding in Maryland; Trump HHS Loses Track of 1500 Immigrant Children. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 28, 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] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi everyone, I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you so much for being with me on this Memorial Day. As the nation pauses to remember its fallen heroes. The president is not taking a pause from his attacks on the Russia probe and its investigators. In the last 30 hours he has a sent a string of tweets pushing the unfounded claim that the Obama administration deployed an FBI spy in the Trump campaign. This whole conspiracy theory now part of the president's reasoning to undermine the Russia investigation.

That is appoint his own attorney Rudy Giuliani just admitted to CNN. What's more here Giuliani said the takedown of Mueller's work was all about influencing public opinion. More on that in just a second but first let's go to the White House and CNN's Jeremy Diamond. And Jeremy, the president is now saying that this Russia probe is quote, rigged. Are there facts to back these claims up?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There do not appear to be any new facts certainly to back these claims up. And certainly, the president is continuing to level his unfounded allegations that there was a spy planted inside his campaign during the 2016 election. Those claims, there is no evidence to back them up.

Democrats received a briefing from the Justice Department just last week, there still is no evidence to back up those claims of a spy. It has not stopped the president from continuing to allege the Mueller investigation is rigged in his words or illegitimate in the words of his attorney Rudy Giuliani. The president doing all of this amid Memorial Day. This morning he tweeted once again the word spy gate that he's used to try to brand his attacks on the Mueller investigation. That came during Memorial Day as many Americans are honoring fallen service members. The president honoring them today at Arlington National Cemetery, but it didn't stop him from in a tweet as he said he was honoring those troops also referring to his own personal accomplishments in office, touting the economy.

Touting low unemployment among Blacks and Hispanics as he said. So clearly the president not just focusing on the fallen service members but also bring it back on himself and his own accomplishments. But beyond simply juggling Memorial Day honoring the troops and his attacks on the Mueller investigation, the president is also of course dealing with the situation in North Korea.

He tweeted just yesterday that a U.S. team is now in North Korea trying to negotiate there. Our United States team has arrived in North Korea. I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential. And will be a great economic and financial economy one day. Will this summit happen on June 12th? They're there to try to figure out if the United States and North Korea can close the issues. Can they agree on denuclearization? That is the effort that's currently underway. Brook?

BALDWIN: Depends on what side you're talking to. To Jeremy's first bit of reporting, on president's attorney Rudy Giuliani, he was asked about the Trump team strategy knowing that the target of their attacks Robert Mueller can't respond back. The whole investigation is underway. Here is what Giuliani told Dana Bash this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR THE PRESIDENT: They're giving us the material. I couldn't do it, of course we have to do it in defending the president -- we're defending to a large extent. It is for public opinion. Eventually the decision is going to be impeach, not impeach. Members of congress are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. Our jury is the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I have Honig with me here, a former federal prosecutor who worked in the office where Giuliani was a U.S. attorney, southern district of New York. Nice to see you again. First just on Trump unleashing. Jeremy ticked for a lot of the tweets, in the last 24 hours the president has attacked an active investigation involving him, accused the, DOJ and Democrats of colluding with Russians, called the Mueller probe rigged without evidence again, and attacked the Russia probe here on Memorial Day before he goes to Arlington national Cemetery.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Brooke, the drumbeat goes on and what we are seeing from the president and Rudy Giuliani as his legal team is really something sort of out of the playbook of desperate defense lawyers. They are going with the strategy of denial loudly and repeatedly and over and over again. And distract.

[14:05:00] They don't teach us in law school, but it is something that you see in common criminal courtrooms, the last thing that a defense lawyer wants you to focus on when he knows his client is in trouble is what his client did and is accused of. The distraction kicks in. And what Rudy Giuliani is trying to do is take things that are really quite common and legal in criminal investigation and scandalize them, whether it's the spy claim or the storm trooper's claim and execution of a search warrant.

I don't think it's having an impact on the Mueller people, it remains to be seen as an impact on the American people.

BALDWIN: But on the whole what you do and don't learn in law school, the fact that we heard from Rudy Giuliani was essentially saying, they're dragging this out in the court of public opinion. You talk about delegitimizing. No one knows what Mueller's findings are going to be. He is basically saying that their strategy, it's political. It's not legal.

HONIG: That's a remarkable admission from Rudy Giuliani, he seems to be taken as a given there will be referral from the Mueller team, he said that surprisingly --

BALDWIN: He kept saying when. It wasn't like a matter of if, he's correct in saying it comes down to Congress ultimately to impeach or not to impeach, but sending phraseology, when they impeach. For a White House lawyer to say that.

HONIG: Rudy Giuliani has done a lot of things that are surprising to people who practice in the criminal world. He is saying things, it's unclear if it's been vetted by his client. It's a remarkable admission to make essentially.

BALDWIN: Why say that? What's the strategery?

HONIG: There may be none. Rudy Giuliani was quick to announce that the Mueller team had conceded they cannot indict a siting president. I think he wants to make that a foregone conclusion and take that option off the table. Mueller hasn't said that, of course, as he said in the beginning.

BALDWIN: He can't say anything right now.

HONIG: He's run a tight ship, I don't know that that's necessarily out of play. There are legal scholars who differ. Ken Starr back in the 90s actually got an opinion from his counsel saying, you can indict the president. That's a legal issue that Mueller may choose to challenge. It would be up to a court. Giuliani may be trying to say, let's put that aside. There is no way the president can be indicted. Let's look at it to the next step. He gave away a lot of ground in doing that.

BALDWIN: Elie Honig. Thanks so much. Enjoy that BBQ. Thanks for coming by.

Days after President Trump cancelled his summit with North Korea, and Kim Jong-un. There are signs this whole thing may be back on. Both of these negotiators you see here, the U.S. rep is on the left the North Korean official on the right were reportedly part of the 2005 negotiations between the two nations. And we're also learning a sure sign will be of Trump meets with the Japanese leader Shinzo Abe. Abe just said this on Japanese TV, quote, we have also agreed that we will have a Japan/U.S. summit before the U.S./North Korea summit. With me now Lindsey Ford who is the director of political security affairs for the Asia Society Policy Institute. Lindsey, reading your piece earlier, it seemed the thrust of it was your words, Trump got outplayed. Tell me why.

LINDSEY FORD, DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL SECURITY AFFAIRS FOR THE ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE: The problem we've seen over the past year, the president puts optics before substance. And the problem with that is, he's never thinking more than a step ahead. He's treating this last like a summit, he's treating it more like a photo op. Because of that, all of the other countries have a clear sense of what they want. And they're going after it, they're running circles around him.

BALDWIN: Since that letter that he called this thing off last week the North Koreans are suddenly warming to the possibility of a meeting that could be back on right now. Is it possible the whole I'm cancelling the summit letter brought North Korea back to the table?

FORD: It's possible. You have to ask yourself, one, are we coming back to the table having -- with any ability to resolve the differences between the two countries. The president's approach keeps undermining the leverage he has. He said it's off, I'm willing to walk away, within 48 hours he's tweeting again, it's wonderful, and it's all back on.

Any seriousness that there was about I'm just willing to trash this thing he totally undermines his own position here. And in the meantime, he's really strengthened the hand of both Kim Jong-un and the Chinese, while making our allies in South Korea and Japan even more nervous than they already are.

[14:10:00] The statements you saw from the Moon administration, are trying to figure out what the president means, this is not the kind of stuff you want from your allies when you're in a negotiation together.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you about leverage in a second. For people who haven't seen the North Korea tweet from the president. We're talking about North Korea, a dictator who holds people captive, murders them in these prison camps and starves his own people and yet on twitter you have the president in the last 24 hours tweeting that North Korea has brilliant potential. Lindsey Ford. Brilliant potential.

FORD: Yes, Kim Jong-un I think has walked away in this whole situation over the last few months with so much stronger of a hand than he had before. What does he want at the end of the day? He wants legitimacy at the world stage. The reality is, the president is helping to give him that. He's offering him a platform to look like he's on equal footing with the United States. And two leaders who are going to sit down and talk together like peers.

BALDWIN: Then there's this whole notion of denuclearization. What does that mean? It depends on which side you're talking to. Marco Rubio said he doesn't think Kim would ever denuclearize, here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: I remain convinced that he does not want to denuclearize. He will not denuclearize. He wants to give off this perception he's an open leader, peaceful, reasonable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: You say Kim may be walking away with a stronger hand. Kim would never denuclearize, and on the leverage point you say the U.S. has less leverage than it thinks in the negotiation, why?

FORD: On the first question, I think there's a good chance that Marco Rubio is right here, I think most experts would tell you that the north has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons, and if you look at the statements they've had, made recently, it's pretty clear on that point. The question is, are you willing to talk about something that is less than full denuclearization, that's where the problem comes for the United States on this question of leverage, right? Is what leverage do we actually have to force the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons if we don't want to do it.

BALDWIN: Money, western investment?

FORD: They've been quite clear again if you look at their recent statements that they're not depending on that. It's not what they're after. Would they like economic investment, yes. At the end of the day, what they want more is security. That's what they need nuclear weapons for.

BALDWIN: Lindsey Ford, come back.

FORD: Thanks very much.

BALDWIN: The Trump administration under fire after losing track of nearly 1500 immigrant children. So, where are they? Let's talk about that.

And a retired English teacher gets a letter from the president and is so appalled by the grammar, she takes out her red pen and marks it all up. Hear the story behind this.

It's being called A once every 1,000-year flood. And this city has had two of them in two years. See the chilling video and the incredible search and rescues near Baltimore. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin.

[15:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We are back, watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. This monster holiday storm has devastated the small Maryland community of Ellicott City. Torrential rains set off flash flooding so strong, the waters collapsed buildings, people trapped in their homes reported seeing water seep through their walls. Others posted white SOS flags out their windows, in an effort to be rescued. The governor has declared a state of emergency. And officials calling this episode actually worse than a catastrophic 2016 flash flooding. At least one man is missing, friends and eye witness say Edison Herman slipped into the rushing water while trying to save -- help woman save her cat. He is it a sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. He was not on duty at the time. Herman also served in the U.S. Force. Suzanne Malveaux is our CNN national correspondent, she is live for us in Ellicott City. I know you're family lives there. Are they OK? You tell me what's happening?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for asking, Brooke, my parents do live in Ellicott City, outside the historic district, on higher ground. The thunderstorm was pretty brutal. There was a bolt of lightning that hit a bush in their backyard. It caught fire, so the fire department had to put it out and it just barely missed the house. But thankfully they are okay, they are the lucky ones.

I want you to see here this is what we have been following in the historic district the bulldozer cleaning up what was a parking lot full of cars there, you can see the asphalt with those white lines like puzzle pieces. That was part of the parking lot and debris. The water rushed through here, you can see furniture that's been swept up along with fencing and a tree. This blue dumpster and trash cans. At least the first level or so. We've been talking to a lot of businesses, residents, how did they manage to escape. What did they do? A lot of people, it was totally unexpected. I had a chance to talk to a woman who went to a tea room. She was celebrating a late Mother's Day with her family. Here's how she describes her escape.

[14:20:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHLEEN SENYARD, RESCUED FROM FLOOD: So violent, it was rushing the whole time. And we were all trying to decide what do we do next? And so, try not to have everybody panic, and we're in this little room. It subsided a little, it started rising again.

It was pretty scary, people were crying and stuff, because they were scared. A lot of people didn't know how to swim. And finally, it receded enough that the first responders broke down the door and helped us out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: There were 30 of those kinds of rescues she was talking about. The tree uprooted by the powerful water and winds, cascading down below. You can imagine how fright thing that was when that tree came down. The governor has given us an update, there are emergency funds, they're going to allow for people to pay for their rentals. Renovations and businesses that want to go ahead and repair. I talked to the HOWARD COUNTY executive. He also said, look, he would understand if there were businesses that were taking a second look at whether or not there's been a comeback at all, Brooke?

BALDWIN: Especially when you rook at the pictures in 2016, you think, that will never happen again, and then it does. Suzanne Malveaux thank you. Also, any moment here, tropical storm Alberto is expected to barrel down the Gulf Coast, parts of Florida and Alabama are likely to get the worst of it, it's expected to hit between Panama City and Pensacola. Tom Seder is tracking the storm for us. Tom, where is it right now, is it right there?

TOM SEDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's pretty close to being right there, Brooke, it's been putting on the brakes. Only moving 8 miles an hour, about 30 miles away, south-southwest of Panama City. If we do the math, it's probably 3 1/2 to 4 hours. It looks ominous on a visual satellite picture. This is really becoming more of a nuisance storm, it has its threats, but nothing that they encountered in Maryland. We will see encountered with Alberto here. There will be a few isolated tornados, mainly, we're worried about the Florida peninsula, as the storms move to the north. Believe it or not, most of the flooding we've had has been in north and South Carolina. You can almost catch where the center of this storm is, we're thinking

landfall in about 3 1/2, four hours, just west of panama city, between the two, the exact location really means little, because this is not a hurricane, I know we're all shell shocked from last year, and there's a reason, I think the three governors put out declaring a state of emergency, they want to get resources in place, the holiday weekend, the track carries it up quickly, it will lose its punch, it's going to produce a lot of rainfall. This is the forecast model for the next 15 hours, we're going to watch these bands pretty good.

Flooding can occur, you get 4, 6 inches, maybe 8 to 10, parts of Alabama and Georgia, northward into Nashville, Tennessee, that can pose a problem. This is a three-day outlook, it gives you an indication, maybe taking the rainfall all the way up toward the great lakes. For the first one of the year, it's nice to have a weak one, hopefully they'll all be like this. It lets us know, the season starts June 1st.

BALDWIN: We'll take the weak one, won't we? Thomas Seder keep your eye on that for us.

The Trump administration under fire for separating undocumented children from their parents at the border. Now, new outrage after officials lose track of nearly 1500 kids. The fact check and the search ahead.

Plus, a wild story, this pilot and his assistant are accused of kidnapping a Chinese flight student and trying to deport him back to China. Those details coming up.

[14:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: New questions and new outrage today after the U.S. government admitted it lost track of nearly 1500 migrant children last year. The Department of Health and Human Services says the undocumented kids were placed in sponsor homes after crossing the border. Immigration advocates are demanding answers about these missing children. The federal government is insisting it is not legally responsible.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live in San Antonio, Texas. Rosa, when you look at this it is 1475 kids. How did they become unaccounted for?

[14:30:00] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, that is the $10,000 question here, how does the United States, the best country in the entire world lose about 1500 children? Here's the background, here's what we know. In the physical year of 2017 Health and Human Services who had custody of about 40,000 unaccompanied children checked on them, in December.

And they made phone calls and called about 7600 of those children, and they couldn't find 1500 of them. They couldn't find the children or the sponsors, it's unclear exactly where those children are, the documented community lives in a shadow community. That might have to do, there are concerns of a potential these children could be in the hands of traffickers, that's been documented in the past. Here's what Health and Human Services is saying, once that child is

placed with a sponsor, then quote, he or show ceases to be in the custody of the U.S. government. And all HHS provided subsistence and at that point, and the child becomes a responsibility of his or her parents, guardian or sponsor. And Brooke the big question is should the United States do more? Is there a moral obligation here to do more?