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White House Not Backing Down From Trump's Spygate Claim; Giuliani Says Trump Won't Fire Sessions At Least Until the Russia Probe is Over; W.H. Not Defending Roseanne But Targeting "Media Bias"; NYT: Former Acting FBI Director McCabe Wrote Memo Detailing Comey Firing. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:00] ANDREW POLLACK, DAUGHTER KILLED AT PARKLAND SHOOTING: -- and he just planned how he's going to go floor to floor and shoot this -- shoot my daughter and shot her nine times.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, very emotional and just horrible, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Horrible indeed. All right, (INAUDIBLE). Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, ignoring the facts. The White House brushes off a key Republican who just debunked Donald Trump's conspiracy theory.

Plus, we have breaking news. Rudy Giuliani suggest that President Trump won't fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions at least not until the Russia investigation is over.

And President Trump is breaking his silence on Roseanne Barr. How he turned a racist tweet into an attack on himself.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, deflecting and defiant. The White House refusing to back down on the president's latest conspiracy theory that the FBI planted a spy in his campaign for political purposes. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders brushing off the comments by Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, someone who was actually briefed on the intelligence and says he believes the FBI acted appropriately in its investigation into Russian meddling in the election.

In summary, no spy in the Trump campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that Trey Gowdy who has actually seen all the classified information on what the FBI was doing says that there is nothing to the allegations that they were spying on the Trump campaign. And in fact, Gowdy says that the FBI was doing exactly what they should have been doing. Given what Trey Gowdy has said, is the president prepared now to retract his allegation that the FBI was spying on his campaign?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No. Clearly, there's still cause for concern that needs to be look said at. Let's not forget that the deputy director of the FBI was actually fired for misconduct. The president is concern about the matter and we're going to follow the issue.


BOLDUAN: There's still cause for concern. But Trey Gowdy literally debunked the theory last night and this morning. And notably no one else who was briefed has come to the president's defense on this. But that is not stopping the president at all. Here he was last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So how do you like the fact they had people infiltrating our campaign? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?

Can you imagine people infiltrating our campaign? Is there anybody in this big, beautiful arena right now that's infiltrating our campaign? Would you please raise your hand? That would take courage, huh?


BOLDUAN: Courage there. But does it take more courage to admit when your conspiracy theory is just plain old wrong?

Boris Sanchez is OUTFRONT live at the White House for us. So Boris, clearly the White House will not be letting the truth get in way of this narrative right now?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate, the White House not letting the lack of evidence takes the wind out of their sails. Sarah Sanders not backing down from the president's conspiracy claims despite the assertions made by Trey Gowdy, a Republican on the Intelligence Committee who has seen the underlying evidence. The truth that the president is spinning into this conspiracy claim.

But we should point out, a source tells CNN today, it is the president himself who is directing this strategy to attack Robert Mueller and the special counsel's probe. That echoes what we've heard from Rudy Giuliani just over the weekend. He told CNN that he wanted to undermine the Russia investigation in part as a strategy to try to sway public opinion towards the president sides and to protect the president from the threat of impeachment. That source indicates that the president wants to weaponize the Russia investigation to use it in his favor. Adding -- telling our colleague Jim Acosta that that is bad for the country and will likely get worse as the Russia investigation moves forward. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Weaponize the Russia investigation. All right, Boris, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, New York Times White House Reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and retired FBI special agent James Gagliano. Thanks for being here.

Julie, so, when it comes to the informant, the spy, the conspiracy theory, the sky is blue. Trey Gowdy says he's seen the intelligence and the sky is blue but the White House says we don't care, we think the sky is green and classified information. Otherwise, it's not enough for us.

What do you do with it, Julie?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, you know, we -- you report what you have in the Times and other publications and outlets have reported that, you know, there was an FBI informant that was involved here. There is a kernel of truth here. They were actually following up on information that they had that Trump campaign aides were communicating with Russians and there was a counter terrorism investigation into whether Russia was trying to meddle in the election.

So, the president has taken that and twisted it into this suggestion that he's not -- has doesn't seem to be letting go of despite the fact that Trey Gowdy has said that, you know, there's no evidence to suggest that that's what happened.

[19:05:02] The difficulty here for people who are trying to disprove this is that, you know, this is classified information. It's not like there's a report out there for anyone to see and read. And the White House and Sarah Sanders today refused to say whether the president himself has reviewed this classified information as undergirding what happened here or whether he would declassify that potentially to the public.

So it's impossible to prove it negative. And so he's basically running with that and saying what he wants to say about it.

BOLDUAN: But -- and John, to Julie's point, Sarah Sanders was asked if the president would just declassify the information about the intelligence source if he was so concerned about it as he said last night, as they said about -- as they continue to say and Sarah Sanders, she wouldn't answer it. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the president received any classified briefing on the details of the intelligence presented to Trey Gowdy? And if he still believes that there's cause for concern, why doesn't he just declassify the documents?

SANDERS: The president receives a number of classified briefings. But I'm not going to get into those certainly not here and not today. Thanks so much, guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Is that something that the president could declassify if he wanted to and just get it out there?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Indeed, he could. He could unilaterally do that. While there are a number of executive orders that have been written over a number of years, to my knowledge Trump has not added anything to the procedures for declassification. Still, he's the one person who can preempt all the executive orders out there and do whatever he wants with classified information including instantly declassify it.

I don't think he wants to in this instance. It'll certainly hurt his conspiracy theory when there's no basis to it from those who've looked at it. Not only Trey Gowdy but Adam Schiff and others have said the same that there's no "there" there. So he's not going to -- he rather -- he's better with the classification rather than declassification.

BOLDUAN: And so then all of the claims of transparency in this process were pretty flimsy to say the least.

James, Gowdy -- Trey Gowdy was pretty definitive today that the FBI acted appropriately. And Gowdy has also made the point that -- in his words, it had nothing to do with Donald Trump what he'd seen. Wouldn't you think that that could be good news that Donald Trump could take and run with?

JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Sure. And representative Gowdy is a member of that, you know, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and as a former federal prosecutor --


GAGLIANO: -- understands law enforcement processes and protocols. I'm sure he knows his way around AFTS, Title III applications and probably has come across his fair share with his FISA applications. So when he comes out and says there was no spy inserted, let's take him at his word out there.

The president is flat out wrong. The FBI does not use spies, we use confidence and human sources. Those could be an informant, somebody inside they're supporting about criminal activity back to reinforcement. It could be a cooperating witness, somebody that comes forward and is willing to testify or an asset.

In this instance, the confidential human source was an asset. I think what's important to recognize here, the president is flat out wrong in what he's saying. He's ginning up the base, he's doing what he does --

BOLDUAN: And it's not just a word choice here. He says that a spy was put in there for political purposes.

GAGLIANO: Right. Now, if you distill that down, yes, every cooperate -- every cooperating human source has a motive. Is that motive payment, is it John Q or Jean Q a citizen? They just want to do the right thing. It is somebody motivated by revenge or political or partisan views? That's what's got to be distilled. That's what got to be gotten in the bottom of.

I think it's going to be difficult. The president has broad classification and declassification powers. But whether or not he can do that without putting sources, methods, and the techniques in peril, I don't know if that's a good idea.

BOLDUAN: In considering the -- whoever thinks the identity of the sources has long been out there by a lot of folks. I don't know even know what it matters at this point.

But Julie, to be clear, Gowdy is -- Trey Gowdy is not someone trying to take down Donald Trump. What does it say that it's Trey Gowdy is the one that's out there today?

DAVIS: Well, you know, Trey Gowdy is Republican. He happens to be retiring, but he is, you know, the Republican who ran the Benghazi inquiry into Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. This is not anybody that I think any -- one whom credibly accused of being, you know, siding with Democrats or trying to take down a Republican president.

He is as James said somebody who has seen his fair share of law enforcement operations and knows what he's looking at, knows what he's hearing about when he gets briefed on matters like this. So, you know, I guess it's possible that the president feels that Gowdy has somehow gone after him personally, but the fact is he was at this briefing, other members of Congress were at this briefing, they got this information and he's made a pretty definitive statement that there just wasn't the basis for the claim that the president made. So it's hard to see this as a partisan issue at this point for him.

BOLDUAN: And John, Rudy Giuliani was asked today about President Trump's claim that Robert Mueller would be meddling in the midterm elections. Of course that was another tree -- tweet.

[19:10:03] Here's how Rudy Giuliani responded to it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is Robert Mueller meddling in the midterms? What was the president thinking -- the president said he's going to meddle in the midterms.

claim that Robert Mueller would be meddling in the midterm elections. Here's how Rudy Giuliani responded to it.

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: Well, if he doesn't file his report by September 1st, mid-September, he's clearly doing a Comey.


BOLDUAN: He's clearly doing a Comey. We've coined a new phrase. John, it sounds like the very least trying to force Mueller to wrap this thing up by September. Are they going to be successful?

DEAN: Well, this seems to be the next conspiracy they're cooking up is that Mueller is going to interfere with midterm elections in 2018 and that is not what he's doing at all. In fact, it's contrary to the Department of Justice policy. At some point they're going to stand down, won't even think of taking actions. I doubt now that there'll be any really definitive action before the midterms, so it's going to be hard to build this theory up.

BOLDUAN: James, I've just been thinking since there's a lot of talk about apologies today (INAUDIBLE) where Donald Trump says he's owed an apology and never got an apology when it comes to bad things said about him. Does someone owe the FBI an apology for all of this?

GAGLIANO: I think when -- first of all, nobody in the FBI is going to be looking for an apology. They're going to do their job, they're going to expect that there's going to be attacks. Some of those attacks are legitimate, some of them -- it's just partisan noise.

The 35,000 men and women of the FBI are going to go to work every day, they're going to buckle up their pants, cinch them up and go to work and this is not going to affect them in any way. I think that we need -- all we need to take a step back and wait and see what comes out of this investigations. And wait to see what happens after that.

And I trust that Robert Mueller is going to get to the bottom of this on his end. I trust that the I.G. report that is probably going to be released, if not at the end of this week or next week is going to get to the end of this and some of those other things and hopefully restore the FBI's place in American public -- their mindset so that they don't fear that the FBI is not doing their job. That's just simply untrue.

BOLDUAN: James, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thanks all, I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next, we have breaking news. Rudy Giuliani speaking out tonight about the future of President Trump's embattled attorney general. What he's telling CNN now.

Plus, President Trump response to Roseanne Barr's racist tweet. But why is he now the one asking for an apology?

And a Russian journalist and Putin critic said to have been murdered, even his wife believed he was dead just walked into a press conference alive and well today. Why he faked his own death.


[19:16:14] BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Trump unloading on his attorney general. Yes, again. Tweeting today that, quote, I wish I did pick a different attorney general.

So what set him off this time. A comment by Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy who criticized Jeff Sessions for not warning the president that he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation way back when. This, of course nowhere near the first time the president has targeted Sessions in a very public way.


TRUMP: Sessions should have never recused himself.

I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself. And we would have instead put a different attorney general in.


BOLDUAN: So what's the president going to do about it? His attorney general -- his new attorney Rudy Giuliani was asked today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has he ever said to you, "Man, I'd like to get rid of Jeff Sessions"?

GIULIANI: I decline to answer that one.


BOLDUAN: No laughing matter, though. OUTFRONT tonight, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler here. Congressman, thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: We've heard this before, and Jeff Sessions is definitely still serves at the pleasure of the president. Why do you think that the president, if he is so basically over Sessions, why he hasn't fired him?

NADLER: Well, because it would be viewed I think since he is recused and if he were replaced, it would lead to a new attorney general, it might be a confidant or (INAUDIBLE) of the president who would not be recused and that would take the ability to supervise the special counsel's investigation away from Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and give it to this new attorney general. It would be viewed and I think improperly so as a move either to get the ability to fire Mueller or to reign in the investigation and control it. Because Mueller has to report to the attorney general, and the attorney general can decide how broad or how narrow the inquiry is and what he can do or what he can't do.

So this would be viewed by a large part of the country as an attempt to limit the investigation because the president is afraid what would be revealed in this, because of the political fire storm.

BOLDUAN: But that hasn't stopped the president in a lot of the moves with regard to how he's handled or presented himself or handled himself with the Russia investigation. I mean, Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has warned that if Trump would go this route and fire Jeff Sessions, they would not -- he would allow -- it would not happen -- they would not let another attorney general get confirmed.

Could that be the reason, the only reason Sessions is keeping his job?

NADLER: That could also be the reason. That would be highly embarrassing for the president. But bottom line is it doesn't matte matter. What matters is that he keeps that job and that the integrity of the special counsel's investigation be continued and the special counsel be allowed to do his work.

(INAUDIBLE) say, the president has done everything he can -- as he feels the wall is closing in on him, the president has done everything he can in trashing the special counsel, you know, 13 active Democrats when in fact the special counsel, Mueller is Republican, Rosenstein is a Republican. They're, you know, they're terrible, they're unfair, et cetera, and it's a witch hunt. He's done everything he can to attack the FBI, to attack the Department of Justice, to attack the special counsel, all with a view of either giving him the political ability to get rid of the special counsel because he wants to eliminate the investigation or as Giuliani has told us, to discredit the special counsel enough with nonsense, with all this nonsense about the FBI and these secret spies and so forth, nonexistent in order to -- so that whenever the special counsel does issue a report, he's got a lot of the country prepared not to believe it.

[19:20:04] BOLDUAN: And -- but the New York Times is reporting now that Mueller's team is looking into the fact that Trump asked Sessions in this March 2017 meeting to -- for lack of a better term, unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation. Rudy Giuliani was asked about that today, and he answers pretty much any question that's posed to him right now. He was asked if it was obstruction, he argues this, he says that it's not even close to obstruction he said. And wouldn't even be obstruction of justice if the president had commanded him to do it. His words.

Do you agree?

NADLER: Commanded him to do what? I'm not sure --

BOLDUAN: To unrecuse himself.

NADLER: That very well might be obstruction of justice. Look, the president has the ability to fire the attorney general, has the ability to order him to do things. But if he does so with the corrupt intent of interfering with an investigation, that's obstruction of justice. So you have to infer that corrupt intent from the totality of circumstances, from all the things he does of which these are a few things and there are other things, too.

Now, I know there are people who argue that well the president has the ability to fire the special prosecutor, to fire Comey and it doesn't matter what his motive is. It's nonsense. I had the absolute right to vote for against any bill I want. And if I vote for a bill because I think it's a good idea for the country or because it's the right -- it helps me politically, that's fine.

But if I voted for a bill because someone gave me $20,000 to vote for that bill and therefore it's corrupt intent. That's a crime. That's bribery. So the president may have the absolute right to do lots of things but if he does it with a corrupt intent to interfere with the investigation, that's obstruction of justice.

BOLDUAN: Giuliani also today was pushing for Mueller to wrap up the investigation. By mid-September is how he said it. And he was actually asked if Democrats want to see the investigation continue on in past the midterms in November. If that's what Democrats would like to see, and he says absolutely yes. Listen to this.


GIULIANI: Maybe it's a mistake. But maybe the American people have concluded that impeachment is not proper. They're going to do everything they can to say they aren't going to impeach him. Everybody on this town (INAUDIBLE).


BOLDUAN: Are you holding off calling an impeachment because of the midterm elections?

NADLER: No. We haven't got -- listen, the president has done a lot of things which I think are wrong and unconstitutional. And if in fact you can prove (INAUDIBLE) that was clearly collusion with the Russians on the part of the campaign. If you could prove that the president --

BOLDUAN: Every Republican says no.

NADLER: Well, the evidence is there in plain sight. When the president's son asks in a meeting with Russians yes -- or sends an e- mail, yes, let's hold a meeting because I want that dirt on Hillary that the Russian government is offering as part of its attempt to swing the election for Donald Trump and he says that's wonderful, that's attempted collusion at the minimum or attempted criminal conspiracy I should say.

And there are a dozen other things all of which are admitted and clear. Now, whether the president was involved and the extent of that, that's not clear. Now, I would not call for impeachment unless the evidence were overwhelming that the president has committed constitutional major crimes that threaten the constitutional order. And we don't know that that's happened yet. So I'm not holding off on impeachment for political reasons. I'm holding off on impeachment because we don't know whether it should happen or not. We may know that one way or the other after the special counsel's report and we'll see.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in.

NADLER: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next, President Trump speaks out about Roseanne Barr but fails to condemn her racist tweet. Why?

Plus, a historic meeting underway as we speak between the U.S. and North Korea's former top spy chief. Could tonight seal the deal for the president's historic nuclear summit?


[19:27:49] BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Trump breaking his silence on Roseanne's firing. But instead of condemning her racist remarks, the president made it all about himself. Calling out Disney's CEO Bob Iger with this tweet.

"Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ABC does not tolerate comments like those made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the horrible statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call."

Maybe that's it or maybe not. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders echoing the president and offering up a list of grievances the president has against ABC.


SANDERS: Where was Bob Iger's apology to the White House staff for Jemele Hill calling the president and anyone associated with him a white supremacist. To Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness? Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the president on the view after a photo showed her holding President Trump's decapitated head? And where was the apology from Bob Iger for ESPN hiring Keith Olbermann after his numerous expletive-laced tweets attacking the president as a nazi and even expanding Olbermann's role after that attack against the president's family. This is a double standard that the president is speaking about. No one is defending her comments, they're inappropriate, but that was the point that he was making.


BOLDUAN: So, what did all of that have to do with Roseanne Barr (INAUDIBLE).

OUTFRONT now, former Republican candidate for governor of New York and friend of Donald Trump for more than 15 years, Rob Astorino, CNN Political Commentator Marc Lamont Hill is also here.

Marc, what do you make of how the White House, how Sarah Sanders explain the president's tweet today?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Again, it's snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I mean, like they could have either said nothing or said, you know what, racist tweets are bad, this is unfortunate, move on. Instead it becomes this narcissistic spectacle about himself and becomes a distraction from the real point.

It may play to the base but I think it turns off more, more American.

BOLDUAN: Is it -- what was it, narcissistic spectacle?

ROB ASTORINO, FRIEND OF PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR OVER 15 YEARS: Well, it was an alley-oop and he missed the dunk. You know, I think he's right -- Marc is correct, it was right but it should have been dot, dot, dot, OK. The dot, dot, dot really should have been first. And that was completely wrong what she said, horrible what she said, denounced what she said.


BOLDUAN: But, Rob --

ASTORINO: But the double standard is an issue.

BOLDUAN: Why can't she do that? Why can't you do that? You condemned it, it seems, you haven't --

ASTORINO: I'm pretty clear, right?

BOLDUAN: Evaporated into air or something horrible has fallen on your head since you condemned the remark.


BOLDUAN: Why can't the president do that? Please take me inside the site.

ASTORINO: I can't, and I do think it was a missed layup, it really is, because this is something that is easy but the point he's now getting to is one that he's forcing us to talk about and that is the double standard.

You know, look there's been a laundry list -- I'm not going to repeat all the names, Sarah Sanders, I've said them on the air too. But, you know, if we've talked about corporate America and the double standard -- what about Apple and iTunes or YouTube promoting songs that my kids and every kid has listened to and mimicking and singing with terrible, terrible words in it? The same kind of words used.

I mean, this is the discussion that we got to have.



ASTORINO: We're talking about -- we're talking about ABC and the double standard and firing and tweets and all this other stuff, and I think we've got to have a broader discussion if it's wrong, it's wrong.

HILL: But --

ASTORINO: Let's not pick and choose one is right and one is wrong.

HILL: But the questions with it is, and it isn't saying things that we disagree with. It isn't saying things that might be objectionable to some people, as a choose your Apple, but sure, people can make music that we don't like, cool, that's free speech. Roseanne Barr can use free speech to say whatever she wants, but ABC as a company can say, we don't want to stand next to this.

ASTORINO: I agree with that decision. I agree with ABC's decision.

HILL: So, I'm saying, there's no contradiction here. There's a consistent thing of saying, hey, say what you want, but there may be consequences and in this case.

ASTORINO: But the point is, others have said things that were completely inappropriate or racist and, they didn't suffer the same consequences. So that's the question, like where, where is -- where is it? Objectively, where is it?

HILL: So I think it's not entirely objective, but I do think there might be a difference for example in Keith Olbermann saying, hey, Donald Trump is racist, right? And someone saying, you look like a monkey. In fact, one could argue his support for the person who said someone looks like a monkey supports the initial argument that he might be racist.

And that's the other piece is that we're doing all these rhetorical contortions. How could Trump do this? Why is Trump's remaining silent? How was Trump handling this so poorly?

Maybe it's as simple as it looks. Maybe he's supporting Roseanne because he's in the same ideological camp with Roseanne. Maybe he supports racist stuff because he's a racist. I mean, it could be that simple.

BOLDUAN: Is there -- is this does Rob -- do Rob and Sarah Sanders have a point though? Does Donald Trump -- is Donald Trump owed an apology because things that Keith Olbermann said about him, really bad things that have been said on that network or really bad against Trump? Like he's talking about a double standard --

ASTORINO: Forget Donald.

BOLDUAN: I mean, is there a point?

ASTORINO: He's the president. Forget him. Let's just talk about others, you know --

BOLDUAN: No, but I actually don't think we can forget him. That's why this is a big deal. That's why this isn't just --

HILL: (INAUDIBLE) talking about.

BOLDUAN: Some -- right, some actress, she said something really crazy, and so now she doesn't have a show anymore, it's now a comedian with the top show in the country said something --

ASTORINO: Bill Maher, the terrible language that Bill Maher used, OK, next show. So, where -- where is? I'm trying to say objectively, where is the standard here?

If it's bad for someone to say it and it is -- BOLDUAN: Sure. We can have a -- we can have a -- are you not saying

it -- trying to say -- are you not saying it -- are you nervous to say that you think that there's a liberal bias and that you think that --

ASTORINO: Oh, I'm not nervous to say there is a liberal bias, there's no question. In the media and in Hollywood, yes, there is.

BOLDUAN: Conversation to be had for sure, but I actually think the reason we're talking about it tonight is because the president has talked about it, because of the president and the fact that on what planet does the president take this moment and want to make it about himself?

ASTORINO: No, that's wrong, it's stupid.

HILL: That's what's bizarre to me.

ASTORINO: That was wrong. I agree. I think we're all in agreement. That was wrong.

HILL: Right.

BOLDUAN: This is a strange place. I don't normally agree with anybody.

HILL: So, to me, if we were to advise Donald Trump and you had the best shot of doing that, it would say, hey, when you see a moment like this --

ASTORINO: Take it.

HILL: Take it. Just say, hey, this was racist, this was bad. Or if you don't want to do that and Trump won't do that, just say nothing, which is also difficult for him.


ASTORINO: No, but if he said nothing, everyone really questioned why he didn't say anything.

HILL: I don't think so, not in the Roseanne Barr issue.

BOLDUAN: Is he not saying something because he believes Roseanne --

ASTORINO: No, I don't think so at all. I think he -- I think he thinks it's reprehensible, but he should say that.

HILL: That seems like an easy thing to speak out against, when you speak out against Black Lives Matter protesters in Charleston, when you can speak out against Colin Kaepernick, when you can speak out against fairly innocent and decent people, you think you can speak out against someone who said something that was violent racist.

I mean, that seems like getting low-hanging fruit --

BOLDUAN: And also someone who did the national anthem, grabbed her crotch and spit on the ground, like, is Colin Kaepernick bad for taking a knee? I don't know. That might be a problem as well.

ASTORINO: And, by the way, the ABCs of the world and others who hire people who are controversial and provocative and then when they are controversial and provocative don't know how to deal with it, why did you do it in the first place? She's always been a lunatic.

HILL: Yes, but --


[19:35:00] BOLDUAN: We'll leave it there.


BOLDUAN: Great to see you. We can fight that in the break. We will do right now.

Coming up next in the next hour on CNN, Roseanne's ex-husband Tom Arnold is going to be talking with Anderson Cooper in his first television interview. That's on "AC360" starting at 8:00 p.m.

But OUTFRONT for us next, breaking news, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo currently meeting with a top North Korean official here in New York. How crucial are tonight's talks.

Plus, a Russian journalist and Putin critic stages his own murder. The elaborate plot that even his own wife did not know about.


BOLDUAN: More with some breaking news, a secret memo reportedly written by former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe about the firing of James Comey now in the hands of Robert Mueller.

According to "The New York Times", McCabe wrote his own confidential memo last spring. In it, McCabe describes a conversation at the Justice Department with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein reportedly saying the president originally asked him to reference Russia in his memo that recommended Comey's dismissal. But Rosenstein ultimately did not include that reference.

McCabe, according to "The Times", feared Rosenstein was providing a cover story by writing about Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation.

OUTFRONT now, back with me, John Dean is on the phone, and retired FBI special agent James Gagliano. He's back with me as well.

John, according to "The Times", the problem for Rosenstein is that he is overseeing the special counsel investigation.

[19:40:03] Is he in trouble here, you think?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL (via telephone): I don't think necessarily so. He's -- what I see is he's clearly showing what Trump's intent was, was to try to incorporate somehow Russia justifying the firing which he refused to do.

I have a read story but as I hear the summary of it, it suggests to me just another drop of water that shows us a little bit more of Trump's steady intent as to why he fired Comey and it was to -- because of the Russia investigation and that was very much on his mind.

BOLDUNAN: Well, there's been so much spin, James, that tangled web of why did President Trump really end up dismissing James Comey? Trump ultimately had said himself that it was Russia that was on his mind when he was firing James Comey.

He said that to Luster Holt. I think we have that. Let's play it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said -- you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.


BOLDUAN: So, since the president brought himself, do you think that clears Rosenstein?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, not necessarily. Here's the important point right here --


GAGLIANO: The president really, really, really wanted to have put out there that the FBI director apparently told him, in Trump's view, three times, you're not the subject in the investigation. The FBI Director James Comey who's fired May 9th of last year put together nine separate documents, memos, FBI electronic communications, and e- mails back and forth to some of his senior leadership chronicling those meetings. I mean, in depth chronicling of those meetings.

Now, you have a leader, Andy McCabe, who on May 10th is appointed the acting director of the FBI. But he's very close to James Comey and the two of them probably from the beginning of the Trump administration had talked about making sure that they chronicled all of these meetings, you know, inappropriate ones, what they thought might later on be necessary if there was going to be a special prosecutor appointed.

In this instance, it's going to be important to understand that you've got to be able to prove intent in obstruction of justice. How did McCabe word those emails? I read "The New York Times" reporting as well. It's fairly detailed, but it doesn't use the specific verbiage.

How did Rosenstein tell him that? Did Rosenstein say that Donald Trump told him, you must put this in there and you've got to put this cover story or did you say I just want to be clear from the Russia thing, make sure that that's in there?

BOLDUAN: Do you think this gets to obstruction, John?

DEAN: Well, we don't have a -- in one incident, there's no smoking gun.


DEAN: Let's say that.

What we do is we have a pattern of evidence that has emerged that I think this further documents that Trump -- and I have no reason to doubt Rosenstein. As I say, I haven't read "The Times" story that he decided he didn't want to put that in as a legitimate reason for the explanation for the firing, that he was also asked to use the Hillary claim as well.

So, I don't think this is -- is itself a evidence of obstruction. But we've just seen a broad pattern of behavior and with this obstruction, there's two types. There's one that what comes under the statute where even in an endeavor to obstruct can be criminally charged, and we have political obstruction, which is what the Congress will be considering as they did with Clinton when he was addressed with a charge of obstruction, as was Nixon who had a very clear case, a strong case against him.

BOLDUAN: Well, also -- I mean, as we got to go, but it also makes me think, you know, Rob Rosenstein is one of the people that Donald Trump has been hammering, you know, that he doesn't trust them and all of a such. But if Rosenstein put it -- really did try to give him cover, a cover story to fire Comey, I wonder why -- I mean, talk about repaying a favor, I'm just saying that's pretty amazing how this is all turning out and now this is of interest and in the hands of Robert Mueller, adding to the investigation.

James, thank you so much. John, thanks so much appreciate jumping on the phone.

OUTFRONT for us next: a former Russian journalist and Putin critic stages his own murder. The shock from his colleagues when he turns up alive.


BOLDUAN: And a man also reportedly wanted dead by Vladimir Putin, Bill Browder, is my next guest.

Plus, President Trump's new weight loss plan -- yes, weight loss plan, quarter-pounder. Hold the bun.


[19:48:16] BOLDUAN: New tonight, back from the dead. A Russian journalist and top Putin critic appearing today at a news conference one day after Ukrainian police said he'd been murdered.


BOLDUAN: That was the shocked and surely confused reaction of the journalists gathered when then when they saw Arkady Babchenko walk into the room alive and well.

And here were his colleagues' reaction.


BOLDUAN: Ukrainian officials now say they faked his murder to thwart an assassination plot against him by Russians. And forget the media and his co-workers, Babchenko says his own wife was left in the dark. In fact, she was the one who found him lying in a pool of blood in their apartment.

Today, he asked his wife to forgive him for putting her through hell. No kidding. There are now two people in custody.

This as another top Putin critic Bill Browder was briefly detained in Spain today on a Russian -- on a Russian arrest warrant. He was later released after Interpol told police to ignore the Russian warrant.

Bill Browder is OUTFRONT now.

Thanks so much for coming in.


BURNETT: I want to talk about your arrest, but first, this amazing thing that happened today, the Russian journalist and that elaborate plot to fake his murder, the Russian government says this was a propaganda exercise by Ukraine. Who do you believe?

BROWDER: Well -- well, first of all, let me just back up and say that that I was very upset last night when I heard the news that he was killed. It was what -- I thought it was one more Putin critic killed and it's just too many people being killed.

[19:50:00] And so for me, my first reaction today when I heard the news that he was still alive was one of joy like his colleagues that thank God, that he's not dead.

As far as -- as far as this whole operation goes, the other thing which I'm happy about is that instead of having a dead journalist and then looking around for his killers, the fact that they've actually thwarted an assassination of him and apparently others by arresting these two individuals I think is a pretty strong -- a pretty strong sign against Putin and his people by actually catching the killers before they kill.

BOLDUAN: Bill, Ukraine says that how this went down is that Russia recruited a Ukrainian citizen to pull this off, paid tens of thousands of dollars to do it. Does that sound like something the Russian government would do?

BROWDER: Yes. I mean, the Russian government -- they use all sorts of hit men, assassins, poisoners --


BROWDER: -- exploders, et cetera, that's exactly what they would do.

BOLDUAN: Do you think now -- I mean, one thing that amazed me is this was just a day after everyone said he was dead. Do you think Babchenko is now safe? I mean -- or is Russia going to leave him alone?

BROWDER: No, when Russia goes after somebody, they tend not to leave them alone. I think that he's particularly unsafe in Ukraine. I mean, the most dangerous place for him would be Russia. The second most dangerous place in the world with him for him would be Ukraine.


BROWDER: The Russians are knocking people off left right and center in Ukraine, kidnapping them, killing them, et cetera. You know, it's not a safe life to be a Putin critic. He knows that. I know that. A lot of people know that.

Ukraine's probably not the best place for him to be. He'd probably be a lot better off if he was someplace further away from Russia.

BOLDUAN: Well, let me ask you about your arrest and what all is going on. You were basically were live tweeting it as it happened in the back of a Spanish police car, then the actual arrest warrant, and then your eventual release.

What was going through mind then? I mean, how nervous were you that Russia had finally got you this time?

BROWDER: Well, so I was -- I was in Madrid, Spain, this morning. I was supposed to be having a meeting on the Magnitsky case. Sergei Magnitsky was my lawyer, and we've discovered funds from the -- from the crime that he discovered and was killed over going to Spain. I was going to meet with the Spanish prosecutor.

And then at 9:40 a.m., I got a knock on my door in the hotel and it was two police officers from the Spanish national police. They asked me for my identification. I gave them my identification. They confirmed that I was who was on this Interpol, this Russian Interpol arrest warrant.

They then told me, Mr. Browder, you're under arrest. They put me into a police car with flashing blue lights and quickly went through the streets of Madrid, and we ended up at the police station and then we sat there as I was being processed.

And about an hour and a half into it, then they got a call from the Interpol general secretariat in Lyon, France telling them that they shouldn't honor this Russian arrest warrant and that's when I was released. At no time did I ever think that I was going to be sent to Russia because -- you know, we have an unbelievably strong case that any judge in any decent court would have thrown Russia's arrest warrant out.

But I did think that there was a good chance I'd be stuck in a Spanish prison for the next three months, and I'm glad that that the sort of political explosion that happened and from my tweeting led to a two- hour release instead of a three-month release.

BOLDUAN: I mean, Bill, you have also -- you've been called Putin's number one enemy. I mean, has it ever crossed your mind that -- I don't even like to even ask the question -- but that what could have happened, the assassination plot against Babchenko, that that same thing could happen to you?

BROWDER: Yes, it's an entirely likely possibility. I've been threatened with death. The prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, when he was asked about the murder of my lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, he said it's too bad that Sergei Magnitsky is dead and Bill Browder is still alive and running around.


BROWDER: These people don't mean me well at all.

BOLDUAN: Geez. Well, it's great to see you and thanks for coming in. I really appreciate it.

BROWDER: Great to be here. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

OUTFRONT next, the man who hates to exercise shows kids how to get it done. Jeanne Moos with President Trump's fitness day extravaganza.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Trump is working some new muscles or is he?

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The only thing on the president that got a real workout? His hands.

The event was organized by the president's council on sports, fitness and nutrition -- three things not instantly associated with the president.

Though he did start a race and swing a golf club as he mingled with sports stars like pitcher Mariano Rivera.

TRUMP: Does winning it boring to you, Mariano?


TRUMP: Never, right? MOOS: But the president may think his diet has gotten boring. Five months ago, Dr. Ronny Jackson proclaimed --

DR. RONNY JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: I think a reasonable goal over the next year or so is to lose 10 to 15 pounds.

MOOS: And now, we're hearing the president is occasionally trading in a steak --


MOOS: -- for a Dover sole and leaving off the top bond when he eats a burger. The chefs in the White House kitchen have been told to reduce calories in fact.

Keep in mind that this is a guy who has expressed the view that exercise is bad for you.

Some call it the Energizer bunny theory.


MOOS: Trump's apparent belief cited in "Trump Revealed", the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercised only depleted.

He once suggested to Dr. Oz that rallies are a workout.

TRUMP: I'm up there using a lot of motion and I guess that's a form of exercise.

MOOS: From the kiddie lift to the fist pump to the hat toss, we've seen no indication President Trump is hitting the White House gym, as he once told "Reuters": I get exercise. I mean, I walk. I this, I that.

Not to mention --

JACKSON: He has incredible genes.

MOOS: -- to keep him running like the Energizer bunny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep going and going and going --

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and going and going and going and going --


BOLDUAN: I this, I that.

Thanks so much for joining us, everybody.

"AC360" starts right now.