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White House Refuses to Explain Discrepancies on Trump Tower Statement; GOP Distances Itself From Idea of Trump Pardoning Himself; Trump Brags About Accomplishments; GOP Senators Threaten to Block Trump on Tariffs; Trump Cancels Eagles Visit to the White House; Clinton Tries to Clarify Tone-Deaf Comments About Lewinsky; Interview with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D), California; California's Unusual Primary Could Make Or Break "Blue Wave." Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 4, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Congratulations, Chris, on very, very exciting news for all of our viewers.

That's it for me. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, Sarah Sanders appears to be caught in a lie on the Trump Tower Russia meeting. And this one's on tape. How can Americans believe what this White House says?

Plus, Trump doing a victory lap, claiming he's accomplished more than any president. What does that mean when our closest allies say they've been alienated?

And Bill Clinton addressing its tone-deaf comments about the Monica Lewinsky affair. He's now saying more tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, caught red- handed. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders it appears is not being truthful. Caught saying something untrue about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

The stories about Trump's involvement in drafting a letter about this meeting have shifted again and again. And as we learn of a bombshell from Trump's legal team, an admission that President Trump himself dictated the letter.

And when confronted about this today, Sarah Sanders deflected again and again and again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said last August that the president did not dictate the statement about the Trump Tower meeting during the campaign, but the lawyers wrote to the special counsel that the president did dictate that statement. What's the reason for that discrepancy? SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Like you said, this is from a letter from the outside counsel, and I direct you to them to answer that question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said, he certainly didn't dictate the statement. I wonder if you could tell us the basis of your comment when you made that in August. And do you think that's substantial.

SANDERS: Once again, this is a reference back to a letter from the outside counsel. I understand but it's also pertaining to a letter from the president's outside counsel, and therefore I can't answer it.


BURNETT: I can't answer it. Well, at least today she couldn't, because she was more than happy to answer questions about it last August, and definitively.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you clarify the degree to which the president weighed that?

SANDERS: He certainly didn't dictate, but, you know, he -- like I said, he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do.


BURNETT: Well, of course the problem is, Trump did dictate the letter according to John Dowd and Jay Sekulow of Trump's then legal team, quote, the president dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr.

Now, of course, there's the -- whatever you want to call it -- mistruth on dictating or not dictating and then there's the point there, they say it's accurate. I mean, the Don Jr. statement itself was that's misleading, it was not accurate. It said the meeting was about Russian adoptions when we know Don Jr. took the meeting after being told explicitly he'd get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Which is why the president's lawyers admitting that he dictated that misleading, not accurate statement is so significant.

The White House is facing a crisis of competence. And it spokes people's ability to tell the truth about some very basic facts. And the press secretary cannot be trusted to tell the truth to the American people when asked direct questions from the podium.

What can we trust from the Trump administration? Well, Sanders was asked that question today.


JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": How are we supposed to know what to believe? How can we believe what you're saying from the podium if the lawyers are saying it's entirely inaccurate? SANDERS: Once again, I can't comment on a letter from the president's outside counsel and I direct you to them to answer it.

DAWSEY: But Sarah, the words are -- literally, you said he did not dictate. The lawyers said he did. What is it?

SANDERS: I don't know. I cannot respond to a letter from the president's outside counsel. We've purposely walled off and I would refer you to them for comment.


BURNETT: OK, this is not the first time the president and all his men and women have said something over and over again trying to convince the American people that what they're saying is true. You know, if you say it enough times, people start to believe it. Take for example the president's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. You know, the guy who's been indicted by the Special Counsel Bob Mueller.

Today, President Donald J. Trump tweeted in part, "Paul Manafort came in the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time." The president is ignoring that Manafort was his campaign chairman, the man his own allies admit was responsible for getting him the nomination in Cleveland.

Instead the president emphasizes how long he was there which is utterly intellectually dishonest. Manafort was not a bit player. But team Trump thinks that if they say something enough, people will believe it.


SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role.


BURNETT: No, he didn't. And the next day, Spicer was forced to say he should have been more precise in his words. Because yet again in the case of Manafort, the facts get in the way of team Trump's story. And now reporter Ken Vogel from the New York Times obtaining texts said to be from one of Manafort's daughter to another, in which one of them writes about Manafort and Trump, quote, they're living in the same building and they go up and down all day long, hanging and plotting together.

[19:05:06] But I guess it's some limited role that was only for a short period of time. Insignificant, right? No.

Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT at the White House. And Pamela, you know, with Sarah Sanders today, today, yet again, we are confronted very explicitly she said it was not dictated and now it was. Is there anything that we can take at face value if the White House?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it does become increasingly difficult when the statements she makes from the podium are contradicted, in this case, by the president's own lawyers in this letter to Robert Mueller, the special counsel back in January. And it was clear that Sarah Sanders was obfuscating when repeatedly pressed by reporters today on that discrepancy.

She just kept saying, I refer you to the outside counsel, rather than correcting the record or explaining why she said he didn't dictate but only weighed in, in the past. And the outside counsel did released a statement after. Jay Sekulow, one of the president's attorneys who was one of the authors on the letter said the statement in January -- in the January letter reflects our understanding of the events that occurred. It is worth noting that Jay Sekulow himself on at least four occasions also said early on that the president did not dictate the statement on the Don Jr. meeting.

Clearly, something changed because in the letter he was a part of in January, he along with John Dowd, the former attorney for the president said that in fact he did dictate. But it is unclear why Sarah Sanders didn't correct the record and why she couldn't talk about something she has talked about in the past.

In the past she said that he didn't dictate, so why couldn't she correct it now? Now, when there have been inconsistencies or discrepancies in the past, she said, look, I gave you the best information I had at the time. More recently she did that on whether the president knew about the Stormy Daniels payment. She said, I would never knowingly give false information as a person of human decency. So it's sort of puzzling as to why today she couldn't just say, correct the record.

BURNETT: All right, Pamela, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to the former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, along with White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan, and the former Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division at the Justice Department, David Kris. And I appreciate all of your time.

John, you know, look, you heard this today, Sarah Sanders, you know, I can't talk about it. Obviously she was very happy to talk about it and give a very definitive and explicit answer last summer. Now the lawyers have come out and said that that answer is untrue. Now she says she can't talk about it.

How significant and how big of a problem is this?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, Erin, I happened to be watching the briefing today on television. And I sort of reminisced as I was watching it on poor Ron Ziegler who found himself in inconsistent stories. And what Ron did is he finally got to a point where he declared all of his prior briefings inoperative. That could happen here.

And I also thought about how those press secretaries who've had a journalistic background have dealt with the situation, like Jerald Terhorst who was Gerald Ford's press secretary for a short while. Because when Ford pardoned Nixon, Terhorst said, I have had enough, I've told the press they wouldn't -- this wouldn't happen, so I'm out of here. So I don't know how she's going to handle this, but she has lost credibility.

BURNETT: I mean, April, this is the issue. You know, you're in that room, that press briefing room so many days. I just want to play again, Josh Dawsey, that's the Washington Post reporter when he explicitly said, how are we supposed to know what to believe. Here's the exchange.


DAWSEY: How are we supposed to know what to believe? How can we believe what you're saying from the podium if the lawyers are saying it's entirely inaccurate?

SANDERS: Once again, I can't comment on a letter from the president's outside counsel and I direct you to them to answer it.

DAWSEY: But Sarah, the words are -- literally, you said he did not dictate. The lawyers said he did. What is it?

SANDERS: I cannot respond to a letter from the president's outside counsel. We've purposely walled off and I would refer you to them for comment.


BURNETT: I mean, April, does that capture the mood in the room, I mean, of how you feel, other journalists feel, that now when you ask her a question, you just don't know whether her answer is honest or not? Never mind whether she knows whether it's honest or not, you just don't know whether it's honest.

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: It captures the mood, it's captured the mood for months, maybe even longer than that. The bottom line is the question that we need to really wonder about is if Sarah was lied to, and that's what she gave us. We do know that the president weighed in. To what extent, that's in question.

But more so now they're not, you know, she said she's been walled off purposefully by Rudy Giuliani and that is a fact. They are finding out things from watching the news themselves, or hearing what Rudy Giuliani has to say. The question is, was she lied to, and how much has she been walled off, and how long has she been walled off?

So I'm not necessarily going to say she's lying to us purposefully --


RYAN: -- but maybe giving us things that she was given.

[19:10:04] So, it's a (INAUDIBLE) where the trust factor is huge. There is a lack of trust there which leads to a lack of credibility. And we have to continue to go over and over and question her and anyone else inside and outside of that White House to find the truth and the real answers.

BURNETT: And of course, David, part of the problem here is that, what was in the statement was not accurate and it was misleading, right? So this whole meeting was about Russian adoptions and we know that the whole purpose of the -- the intent under which the meeting was taken by Don Jr. was for dirt on Hillary Clinton, right?

So if the president of the United States, now president, is the one who dictated that, this becomes even more significant. And now his lawyers are saying, don't worry about it, this dictation, it's just a private matter with the New York Times, who cares. Do you buy that?

DAVID KRIS, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DOJ'S NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION UNDER OBAMA: No. You know, legally, it's a crime to lie in court, and it's a crime to lie to an FBI agent. But politically, lying to the New York Times, to the news media, to the American people, that ought to matter.

The American people have a right to expect truth and accuracy from their elected officials and spokespersons. And while I'm intrigued by John's idea of having the White House spokesperson just declare a truth bankruptcy and start anew, I don't think that's satisfactory to the American people. And it's part of an ongoing challenge to the rule of law here. Again, it ought to be very troubling to anybody who thinks that truth and justice are both part of the American way.

BURNETT: Well -- and it should, and I hope you know some out there who say, well, you know, who cares, you in the meeting keep talking about how he doesn't tell the truth, it doesn't matter on everything. Well it does. When you keep saying something that isn't true and a lot of people believe you just because you keep saying it. It's a big issue and I passionately believe that, I hope others do as well.

I mean, John, you know, when Sarah kept saying today, I refer you to outside counsel, I just can't answer that. Another thing she kept saying repeatedly is that, stop asking me if he's going to pardon himself because he hasn't done anything wrong. And here's how that went down.


SANDERS: The president hasn't done anything wrong. Thankfully the president hasn't done anything wrong. The president hasn't done anything wrong. Once again, the president hasn't done anything wrong.

Thankfully the president hasn't done anything wrong. I would reiterate the fact that the president hasn't done anything wrong.


BURNETT: Then why is Rudy Giuliani is out there and saying the president can pardon himself, John Dean? I mean, I'm just confused.

DEAN: Well, she's obviously going to stay on her talking points.

BURNETT: Yes. DEAN: That's about the only thing that's clear there. And this whole matter of the self-pardon, again goes back to Nixon. Four days before he left office, the office of legal counsel issued a memo saying that they didn't believe a president could self-pardon. It was done by an assistant attorney general, Mary Lawton. It's never had anything other than a policy statement by the office of legal counsel. So it's never been resolved in a court.

We don't know how a court would rule. I think a court would say a president could not. And I'm actually one who hopes the special counsel does issue subpoenas and does test some of these points.

BURNETT: You know, David, what's interesting here is that, you know, on this issue when Rudy Giuliani said that Trump could pardon himself. You know, there's been reaction from Republicans in Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Trump should get a new lawyer if that is what Giuliani is telling him. And Senator Ted Cruz, just a few moments ago, I don't know if you guys have heard this but I gotta play it for you.

You know, he's a constitutional expert, right? Constitutional lawyer, you know, this is Ted Cruz we're talking about here. He's asked explicitly whether the president could pardon himself and I just have to play you the exchange, David.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, the president says he can pardon himself. Would you agree with that?


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: That is not a constitutional issue I've studied, so I will withhold judgment at this point.


BURNETT: David, that was 18 seconds.

KRIS: Well.

BURNETT: OK? There wasn't -- you heard that someone walking but it was 18 seconds that took Ted Cruz to come up with an answer to that question. Which is, oh, I don't know. What do you say to that?

KRIS: You know, Senator Cruz is usually not short on opinions on constitutional law. So that is I think what you would properly call a very pregnant pause. 2 John is right, it's an open question legally, although the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice which is generally known to support presidential prerogatives, did conclude that the president couldn't do it. You can imagine a court reaching the same result on the theory that self-pardoning is about as sensible a concept as self- judging, being a judge in your own case.

[19:15:05] And this is certainly not what the framers of our constitution had in mind.

BURNETT: I mean, from a layperson's perspective it makes no sense at all. But April, a quick final word. The 18-second, pregnant Ted Cruz pause. I've never heard Ted Cruz speechless before.

RYAN: Exactly. His silence was deafening for those few moments, for those few seconds. But the bottom line is, I'm going back to what your last guest said, the framers. Our founding fathers, they created a brilliant system of checks and balances, and it seems that the checks are not balancing out when it comes to this president.

And I'm going back to that tweet that the president said, he had the absolute right to pardon himself. Well, I asked the question today, is that an assumption that he will be found guilty by Robert Mueller? And again she said that same thing. You know, he's done nothing wrong.

The question is, what is going on? Can he pardon himself? And there's no checks and balances at this point.

BURNETT: Right, right. I mean, you know, first of all, why are you even talking about it if it's not relevant? And to any human being, it would just seem an absurd concept to even put it out there on the table, although I understand it hasn't been legally tested. Thank you all.

And OUTFRONT next, President Trump insisting he has accomplished more in his first 500 days than any president ever. So, has he?

Plus, Bill Clinton speaking moments ago, trying to do damage control after what he said about not apologizing to Monica Lewinsky and not thinking that he should in any way, shape, or form.

And are top Republican leaders just drinking the Trump Kool-aid when it comes to the Russia investigation?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I'm concerned most about like most Americans, was 2there any collusion? There was no collusion.



[19:20:17] BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump bragging about his first 500 days in office, taking a victory lap on Twitter, touting his tax cuts and more as quote, 500 days of American greatness.

So what's his top foreign policy achievement? Well, Sarah Sanders was asked about that and here's how she answered it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the president think is his top foreign policy achievement in the first 500 days? SANDERS: I think there have been a number of major foreign policy achievements. Certainly, I think the strengthening of relationships with a number of foreign leaders.


BURNETT: Sanders referring to things like the summit with Kim Jong- un. But not everyone in the president's own party thinks that what he's doing 2is so great with America's allies after the president's announcement that he's imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from American allies in the E.U., Canada, and Mexico.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: (INAUDIBLE), you know, saying they want to punish our allies and befriend our enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It increases acrimony among our friends. I mean, we're punishing our friends.


BURNETT: And America's allies themselves agree with those Republicans. Today, the British Prime Minister Theresa May telling Trump that the new tariffs were, quote, unjustified and deeply disappointing. The French president, Emmanuel Macron calling the decision illegal and a mistake. And the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls it insulting and unacceptable.

OUTFRONT tonight, the White House Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short. And great to have you on the show, Marc. I appreciate your time.

Look, Republicans have tried publicly and privately for months to get you guys not to do this. But it's happening. Why isn't the president listening to his own party and his own allies?

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Well, Erin, 01:51 to his own party. Keep in mind that this was a platform he campaigned on and won the nomination against a very crowded field and won the election on this policy. So I think he actually has united the Republican Party. I understand there are people on Capitol Hill that have some concerns. And I think that the president looks at this and recognizes the E.U. has four times the size of tariffs on cars that America does.

That our neighbors to the north have 300 percent tariff on butter, 250 percent tariff on cheese. It's not a level playing field right now. It's not. And the president does want to make sure that we can get to true free trade, but that I think is going to require in the short- term tariffs to make sure that we can level the playing field.

BURNETT: Of course the response though thus far has not been a move towards free trade, right? It's been retaliation, right? Tariffs on whiskey in Kentucky, Trump's state. Motorcycles, Harley-Davidson, Paul Ryan's Wisconsin. Pork production concentrated in several Trump- voting states. In fact all of them except for Minnesota and Illinois voted for him in last election.

Does this give him pause at all, that the retaliation here is going to hurt his voters, does he care?

SHORT: Well, I think -- of course he cares, Erin. I think that the president believes that the trade policy he's pursuing will help bring along some of the benefits that so many Americans receive right now. Well, you led in with it a few minutes ago, we do have the lowest unemployment we've had in 50 years. The president's economy now has the lowest unemployment for African-Americans in history. Lowest unemployment for Hispanic-Americans in history.

The president's instincts on what he's doing are regulatory burden and the tax relief I think has had tremendous impact. He has held off thus far on the tariffs and hoped negotiations would work. But so far we've not received the same sort of access to markets the president wants American workers to have.

BURNETT: Look, of course, you're in a situation where there's going to be a summit with North Korea. The president is talking about a summit with Putin. And yet American allies are getting tariffs, you know, one can understand how it's confusing. Just saw him on your own party, Marc.

I mean, you're used to dealing with Republicans and some of them say they're going to push back. They're going to fight you guys, right? It's not the Democrats, it's your own party. Here's what a couple of them have said.


CORKER: We're working on legislation to be able to negate the fact that he's abusing the authorities that were given to him under the national security waiver.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wouldn't that be support in the House where you sit for legislation that would require the president to get congressional approval before putting on tariffs? There's talk in the Senate about doing it. Would you support something in the House?

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Absolutely.


BURNETT: Marc, have you talked to Senator Corker or a Representative Hurd? I mean, are Republicans going to block what you're trying to do?

SHORT: Erin, I don't think it's exactly news that Congress usually wants to have more authority than the executive branch, and is always looking for another opportunity to have more congressional approval. I think the reality is, the relationship with Senator Corker is such that, you know, throughout the last 18 months it's been up and down, and there's been times where he supports the Iran deal, opposes the Iran deal, supports the president, opposes the president. And I think it's one of the reasons he's not running again for re-election. BURNETT: What about Congressman Hurd?

SHORT: Well, I think we have a good relationship with Congressman Hurd. But again, to suggest that it's news that Congress want to reclaim powers that belong to the executive branch, I don't think is exactly news worthy.

[19:25:05] BURNETT: But, I mean, if they're going to fight you, that's your problem, right? You're the guy who's supposed to be calling them up and getting them on board. I mean, are you worried they're going to be able to shut you down?

SHORT: Erin, I think the reality has been that the Republican Party has been having a debate on for a long time on trade, and it's a -- again, this president won the Republican nomination with his trade platform. He won the presidential election.

This is not a surprise. It's what he campaigned on for the American people. And I think he's delivered enormous economic benefits to the American people thus far, and I think that he's going to do the same with his trade policies.

BURNETT: Another major legislative problem for Republicans right now and for you, Marc, is immigration. Republicans, some of them now threatening to band with Democrats. Again, a problem for you, it's your job to deal with them.

They want to get a vote to the floor on a lot of immigration proposals. Are they going to embarrass the president?

SHORT: I think that the president has been pretty clear as to what he wants on the immigration front. We've been working with Republican leadership in the House to come forward with an immigration plan that will -- I think come forward in the next week to 10 days that we hope will garner 218 votes in the House.

That I think will hopefully do what the president has asked for, securing the border, providing certainty for DACA participants even perhaps the pathway to citizenship. But also he's looking to make sure we have permanent reforms in immigration system to make sure America stays safe.

And that again is one of the promises the president made for American people.

BURNETT: When you said president's promises to the American people though, I guess I want to make sure that we're a little bit more explicit here.


BURNETT: You're talking about tariffs is a promise he made to the American people. That isn't -- I don't recall that as a promise. I recall a wall. I recall fair trade. But actually slapping on tariffs that Americans are going to pay for, that wasn't a campaign promise. SHORT: Erin, I think he was pretty clear as to what he thought of NAFTA and what he thought would be the path way forward on trade. I think, again, what the ultimate result that we're aiming for is true, fair trade. We wanted to have access to foreign markets for American products, but I believe the president strongly believes that in the short-term, 15 months has not produced the results we want on this negotiations and therefore tariffs have been implemented.

BURNETT: All right. There's just some news that just crossed a few moments ago, Marc, that I want to get your reaction to. The president just putting out a statement. I hope you're aware of it, but if not, let me just make sure and our viewers certainly are.

Super Bowl champion Philadelphia eagles are not coming to the White House tomorrow. No longer coming. Because a number of players wouldn't come, because according to the statement from the president, quote, they disagree with their president over the national anthem. Who canceled on whom, Marc?

SHORT: Erin, at this point, I don't know. But I know it's disappointing. The president's hosted multiple national world champions from the Chicago Cubs to the National Hockey League champions, even the Patriots last year. So it's unfortunate when politics gets in the middle of this. Ultimately, I'm a Washington Redskins fan, so I look forward to celebrating the Redskins here next year.

BURNETT: Some members on the champions, New England Patriots obviously they came last year, some of them didn't attend but the president still hosted the team. I mean, why is this different? You know, a few have been very vocal in their feelings about how they feel about the national anthem and kneeling. And yet it appears again. I don't know whether they canceled or he disinvited them, that could be a very significant distinction here. But, what's the difference between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles?

SHORT: Well, I think with the New England Patriots, there was less politics throughout the process. They were excited to come here and just celebrate and to be honored for the world champions that they are. Unfortunately, I think in many cases, with many of the Eagles players, there's been a lot more politics to the process. But ultimately, as you said, this just broke and I don't know whether or not the Eagles decided they didn't want to come or whether the invitation was withdrawn.

BURNETT: All right, Marc Short, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

SHORT: Erin, thanks for having me.

BURNETT: And next, Trump tweets that the appointment of a special counsel is, quote, totally unconstitutional. According to whom?

And President Trump, well, it appears, disinviting the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House tomorrow even the players who stood for the anthem wanted to go. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:48] BURNETT: Tonight, Bill Clinton trying to clarify what he said this morning about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, when he said he hadn't apologized to her ever and didn't think he needed to.

Here's what the former president just said moments ago.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The truth is, the hubbub was I got hot under the collar because of the way the questions were asked. And I think what was lost were the two points that I made that are important to me.

The suggestion was that I never apologized for what caused all the trouble for me 20 years ago. So first point is, I did. I meant it then, I mean it now. I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, and to the American people, before a panel of ministers in the White House, which was widely reported. So I was -- I did that.

I meant it then and I mean it today. I live with it all the time. The second is, that I support the Me Too Movement, and I think it's long overdue. And I've always tried to support it, in the decisions and policies that I've advanced.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Keith Boykin, a former Clinton White House aide and Democratic strategist, and Rob Astorino, former candidate for governor of New York and friend of the president for more than 15 years.

All right. So, that's what he just said right now. You heard what he said. I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family before a panel of ministers in the White House, which was widely reported, talking about his public apology.

Now, let me play you the exchange this morning.


MELVIN CRAIG, NBC NEWS REPORTER: When asked if you'd ever apologized and you said you had?


CRAIG: You apologized to her?

CLINTON: I apologized to everybody in the world.

CRAIG: You didn't apologize to her?

CLINTON: I have not talked to her.

CRAIG: Do you feel you owe her an apology?

CLINTON: No. I do not -- I have never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That's very different. The apology was public.


BURNETT: It is very different, Keith.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He did say on more than one occasion that I'm sorry.

BURNETT: Publicly. He said publicly I said it, but he never spoke to her directly.

BOYKIN: Yes. I mean, I don't know whether what he means by this, and quite frankly I'm not involved directly.

But I think that it wouldn't hurt to apologize. It's not a hard thing to do. It's happened 20 years ago. He would be forgiven if he apologized and move on. It was a consensual adult relationship.

But I think he needs to learn to use a little more discretion when he talks about these things. This is something he had to expect was going to come up, certainly.

And, you know, I'm reminded someone earlier today, there's a couple examples where Bill Clinton has hurt Democrats in 2000 when Al Gore ran because of the Monica Lewinsky thing. In 2008, when he mentioned that Jesse Jackson got the same number of votes that Barack Obama did -- that hurt Hillary Clinton in her race. And in 2016, when he stepped on the airplane with Loretta Lynch.

[19:35:01] I mean, he's done three things that have hurt three Democratic presidential candidates, and you would think that the guy who is so smart politically would know when not to say certain things.

BURNETT: Yet, he was clearly angry. And, you know, you're making the point, adult consensual relationship, but times have changed. Now, you're talking about someone who was 21 years old. You know, he was president of the United States.

The world has changed in how people see that.

ROB ASTORINO, FRIEND OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: In the middle of the Me Too Movement.

BURNETT: Yes, she was an adult. But can you really call that consensual when you're talking about an intern in the White House. Now this would be held to a completely different standard.

ASTORINO: Yes, and you did have sex with that woman and you never apologized. And you know what? He owes her an apology. He owes her an apology then and he owes her an apology now.

And for him to sit there and say, I did make an apology publicly, come on. I mean, that wouldn't even be acceptable today and it should not have been acceptable then. His book is "The President is Missing", that's the title of his book. What's missing is empathy, honor, an apology, those are what's missing.


BURNETT: He also went on to say, so not only did he try to say, I didn't apologize to her, but I didn't need to, because I apologized to everybody, including her publicly. He said he suffered too.

Let me play that.


CLINTON: Nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt. But you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this, and I bet you don't even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me.


BURNETT: Sounds like Trump.

ASTORINO: Yes. And what would the standard be against Trump right now? By the way --

BURNETT: The standard is, his voters don't care and he might get re- elected just like Bill Clinton was.

BOYKIN: The problem is that Bill Clinton is not the president of the United States. He was the president 20 years ago when this Monica Lewinsky thing happened.

ASTORINO: Which is worse.

BOYKIN: And unfortunately things -- it's not worse. What's worse is that we have a president today who has 16 different women who have accused him of sexual misconduct and he's never apologized for any of those, Rob. That's far worse, by the way, than Bill Clinton's failure to say something she should have said in the interview by his conduct 20 years ago.

We have a president today, in 2018, who has still not apologized for his sexual misconduct with 16 different women.

ASTORINO: First of all, some -- most of them are alleged. The one that they -- and he's not admitting it, but Stormy Daniels said it was consensual --

BOYKIN: He said he was going to sue. He was telling them he was going to sue all of them after he was elected. He didn't sue any of them. You know what, because they weren't lying? Just like Stormy Daniels wasn't lying?

ASTORINO: But wait, exhibit A of why Trump got elected, exhibit A is Bill Clinton and exhibit B is Hillary Clinton. People were fed up with them and their shenanigans and they --


BOYKIN: How is it they're fed up with Bill Clinton for something they did 20 years ago but they're not fed up with Donald Trump with what he's doing right now?

ASTORINO: You just went through the laundry list of why he hurt Hillary. And then Hillary - remember, Hillary slammed the four women who accused her husband. Slammed them.


BOYKIN: No, no, no.

BURNETT: I just want to -- OK, I just want to jump in here because of the breaking news. You heard Marc Short today. You know, he didn't know who disinvited whom. The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. I saw the White House statement goes, it appears to imply the president didn't want them there, but doesn't come out and say he disinvited, Rob.

What he happened here? You know, he makes the whole point about -- you know, they wouldn't -- the whole issue is about not wanting to stand up for the national anthem.

ASTORINO: Look, there are a lot of teams that were invited when President Obama or Bush -- there were personal players who didn't agree with their politics, about you they showed up. Once Trump got elected, every team that won the championship, there was division, whether to show up, not show up.

You know, I think, first of all, I think --

BOYKIN: Are you blaming the players?

ASTORINO: They should not have been disinvited. The invitation should have remained.

BOYKIN: Are you blaming the players?

ASTORINO: I'm not blaming the players, but the players have taken the stance of not going to the office of the president --

BURNETT: But you're saying it was the wrong thing to do, should have kept the invitation? They could come or not come?

BOYKIN: Donald Trump is the most divisive president we've seen in my lifetime. Today, he's is out there on Twitter saying he can pardon himself. He's disinviting the NFL Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from coming to the White House.


ASTORINO: They were saying they weren't going to come. BOYKIN: It's supposed to be something that unites us.

But the people who wanted to come, he's still disinviting them from coming. This is characteristic of a man who thinks he's an autocrat, a king, a dictator. He's acting that way.

He said -- Giuliani's saying he could shoot somebody and he cannot get indicted for that, and the president still thinks he can pardon himself for his cause.

ASTORINO: You got teams in the past, the Golden State Warriors, or the Patriots, other teams, the players said, I'm not going because I don't believe in his politics or I don't like them. So, they don't show up and they made it an issue --

BOYKIN: Because Donald Trump is out there -- you forget the chicken and egg question. Donald Trump is out there telling people that --


BOYKIN: He's condemning black NFL players before they've even -- before they've even said anything. He was out there condemning African-American athletes, telling them they did not have free speech to stand up for what they believe against police brutality.

[19:40:05] ASTORINO: Do you think that when President Obama was in the Oval Office that every NFL champion or NBA champion or NHL champion or MLB champion agreed a hundred percent with him? No.

BOYKIN: When did President Obama ever disinvite people? When did President Obama ever going to attack when -- did President Obama ever attack NFL athletes or NHL athletes or MLB athletes and tell them that they were not American because they were exercising their free speech? President Obama never did that.

Donald Trump is doing that. That makes him divisive. He's dividing us even about something that's supposed to bring us together -- football. He's dividing us about sports. This man lives to divide our country.

BURNETT: Final point. You did it first.

ASTORINO: Look, I think they should have been invited and they should have gone. And there should not be a disinvitation.

BOYKIN: Tell that to Donald Trump. But they both made it back. It's not just the president. It's the players in the past who said we're not going because we don't like you.


BURNETT: Bad people on both sides?


(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: All right, thank you.

And next, this is the man who may be the next House speaker.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Was there any collusion? There was no collusion.


BURNETT: It's interesting he can make that verdict at this point.

And the one state that could dash Democrats' hopes of winning back the House.


BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump calling the special counsel probe unconstitutional, tweeting: the appointment of the special counsel is totally unconstitutional, in all caps with an exclamation point.

[19:45:06] Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!

OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Congressman, unconstitutional?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, the way that he is acting is absolutely unconstitutional. He is not, despite what he thinks, above the law.

Good evening, Erin.

And, you know, he and his White House may not be able to say he's not above the law, but we in Congress should say it. Paul Ryan should say it. Kevin McCarthy should say it. Mitch McConnell should say it.

And when they don't say it, they leave this president unsupervised. And when he's unsupervised, he pushes the boundaries and threatens the rule of law and our Constitution.

BURNETT: Well, here's what Kevin McCarthy is actually saying. He's not all saying what you're saying. He's saying that, in fact, that there was no collusion, right, coming to a conclusion, I'm sorry, that of course the special counsel has not yet come to.

Here's what he told our Dana Bash yesterday.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: What I'm concerned most about like most Americans, was there any collusion, there was no collusion, this has gone on for more than a year. It's been investigated in so many different manners.


BURNETT: This is the man who, you know, if the Republicans stay in control, could be the speaker of the House.

SWALWELL: That's right, Erin. You know, with Paul Ryan, we've seen shrinking leadership and just absolute silence. With Kevin McCarthy, we would see a parrot for the president.

And he can't say there's no collusion. He and the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have refused to look for collusion. In fact, they've done everything but take out the shovels and bury the evidence. They won't even allow the transcripts out from the investigation we were able to do.

But they didn't use the subpoena power. They took every witness at their word. People who are not worthy of being taken at their word and never followed up to challenge anything they said. Hopefully, the Senate can able -- can do this in a bipartisan way, but if not, and we win Congress, come November, we have to tell the American people what the Russians did and what we're willing to do to make sure it doesn't happen again.

BURNETT: You say that McCarthy would be a parrot for the president. Senator John Cornyn today over in the Senate side was asked about whether the White House is lying about the president's response to the Don Jr. meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian. Of course, obviously they had said he didn't dictate the letter. Now, of course, it turns out that he did. And as we know it was misleading and inaccurate.

Cornyn says, quote, I don't know whether it is that they don't go to the trouble to learn what the facts are before they start issuing statements, but it ended up being a nothingburger, so I think it's clearly beside the point.

Is it beside the point --

SWALWELL: It goes to the consciousness --

BURNETT: I mean, you know, the meeting ended up not delivering what Don Jr. thought it would, so is it beside the point?

SWALWELL: No. It's a large part of the point, Erin, because in investigations, oftentimes, you can learn a lot about a subject's conduct for the underlying crime, not by what they did and what you know about the crime, but how they acted once an investigation was launched. And whether it was the firing of James Comey, or what we see now with the dictating of the June 9th meeting, that's called consciousness of guilt.

And that may, I think, reflect on that he knew this meeting took place. And going back, Erin, to what I talked about earlier, we have the ability on the House Intelligence Committee to find out whether or not Donald Trump Jr. was in contact with his father about that meeting taking place. Because we have phone records that we were not willing to subpoena and follow up to see whether there were calls made to the candidate himself. We should have looked into that.

BURNETT: Right. We know a call was made to a blocked number, you know, very -- almost immediately after news of this meeting came. But, of course, yes, they would be able to determine if that blocked number was the president's, who has a blocked number. But we don't know that, because they wouldn't subpoena --

SWALWELL: But if you don't look, you can just say no collusion I guess.

BURNETT: So, the president tweeted he has a, quote, absolute right to pardon himself. You heard Sarah Sanders there saying, I don't know why anyone's asking whether he has the right because he hasn't done anything wrong. And, of course, Ted Cruz -- I don't know if you heard this tonight, but the constitutional expert Ted Cruz was asked about it, and he had 18 seconds of dead silence before he said, he didn't know, he hadn't looked into it.

What do you -- what do you -- what do you say? Is the suggestion of the president pardoning himself grounds for impeachment or not?

SWALWELL: You don't have to be a constitutional scholar to know that you can't pardon yourself. You can't be your own judge. That, in fact, was the opinion of the Department of Justice, the president's Department of Justice, back in 1974 as they considered that issue with Richard Nixon. They said no person in America can be their own judge.

So that still applies today. That opinion is uncontroverted. It's disappointing that Ted Cruz can't affirmatively say that to the American people. That's what's so frustrating is we're not helpless as this president tries to roll over the rule of law.

We designed, our founders designed a Constitution that puts a check on the president and we just see capitulations up and down the Republican leadership.

[19:50:00] And I don't think the American people are going to stand for that come November.

BURNETT: Congressman Swalwell, just a few moments ago, Bill Clinton came out to try to deal with the brouhaha, the hubbub as he called it that has arisen from him saying, defiantly, that he's never apologized personally to Monica Lewinsky.

He again came out tonight and said, oh, well, I did it publicly and that's good enough. Your diplomatic colleague Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said recently that with the way things have changed and the Me Too Movement, that President Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

And he was asked about this and here is how he responded.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: You have to really ignore what the context was then. But, you know, she's living in a different context and she did it for different reasons. So I -- but I disagree with her.


BURNETT: Who do you agree with? Him saying he should have stayed in office, or Senator Gillibrand saying he should have resigned?

SWALWELL: Yes. Erin, I was 15 years old when that happened. I was raised that when you screw up and you make a mistake, you say sorry and if it's not good enough for the person you are apologizing, you keep saying sorry until they feel comfortable and you are recognizing that you made a mistake.

I think the most important we can do for the Me Too Movement though is make sure that every woman in America is protected at her workplace and it's not only people in powerful positions. There's a lot of women who work for powerful people who are not regarded as powerful to the media, but they have to deal with harassment and discrimination every day and we should move quickly in Congress in a bipartisan way to protect those individuals.

BURNETT: But the bottom line is you're saying he should apologize and she should apologize directly to her. But you're not weighing in on the resignation?

SWALWELL: Again, I was 15. I don't think going backwards helps this movement, especially going back into the '90s. I think women deserve to be protected and women should be protected in the workplaces today and that's the most important part of this movement.

BURNETT: Congressman, thank you for your time.

SWALWELL: You bet (ph).

BURNETT: And the congressman, of course, joining us in California tonight. We are just hours away from major midterm votes. California front and center, eight states are heading to the polls in hours from now.

And in California, what's called the jungle primary could be the biggest test for Democrats yet. It is what might stop them from taking control of the House.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California Democrats buoyant, counting on a November blue wave and flipping several congressional seats here from Republican to Democratic.

(on camera): If a Democrat is on the ballot in November, what happens?

GIL CISNEROS (D), CALIFORNIA CANDIDATE FOR U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I think if a Democrat is on the ballot in November a Democrat wins. MARQUEZ (voice-over): But California has a jungle primary, meaning only the top two vote-getters regardless of party advanced to the general election in November.

MARIAN BODNAR, INDIVISIBLE CA39: The fear is just that the vote gets so split that no Democrat beats Republicans.

MARQUEZ: In Orange County and adjacent and astounding 45 candidates are running for just three seats. So many are well-funded, well- organized Democrats raising the prospect the Democratic vote could be split so much that only Republicans within advance to the November ballot.

(on camera): You were running in this district. Why'd you drop out?

PHIL JANOWICZ (D), DROPPED OUT OF CROWDED U.S. HOUSE RACE: I dropped out because we had too many candidates running at the time.

LAURA OATMAN (D), DROPPED OUT OF CROWDED U.S. HOUSE RACE: I withdrew from the race and not only withdrew from the race but decided to get behind the strongest candidate who I believe can win.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Janowicz and Oatman are two of nine Democrats withdrawing from the three races, hoping to narrow the field and improve the chances of the remaining 15 Democratic candidates.

POLITICAL AD ANNOUNCER: Democrats and Harley Rouda are moving us forward. And national Democrats, the DCCC weighing in, spending millions in advertising in English and Spanish, a rarely used tactic as they try to ensure a Democrat is on the ballot in every race come November.

POLITICAL AD ANNOUNCER: DCCC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

MARQUEZ: So worried, national Democrats are even running attack ads against some Republican candidates in all three districts, trying to dampen Republican turnout by criticizing GOP candidates for voting like Democrats.

HARLEY ROUDA (D), CALIFORNIA CANDIDATE FOR U.S. HOUSE: We're going to have a tough primary on June 5th.

MARQUEZ: Harley Rouda in California 48 is in a unique category, winning support from both the establishment DCCC and activist groups like Indivisible.

ROUDA: All the different aspects of the party are getting behind this campaign and hopefully that will propel us to the general.

MARQUEZ: Democrats here we'll need more than hope.

CISNEROS: We can count on your vote on June 5th.

MARQUEZ: Gil Cisneros in the 39th is banking on enormous Democratic turnout to make the difference on primary day. CISNEROS: We can get those Democrats out to vote and I think it's going to carry over. I think we're going to see good results.


Absentee ballots in the three Orange County districts so far show more Republicans than Democrats voting.


BURNETT: A crucial day tomorrow and, Miguel, what does this do to Democratic chances in November. You heard, you know, Eric Swalwell, right, they're very optimistic, but maybe not with reason.

MARQUEZ: They need every seat that they can get. There's 23 seats that Democrats need to flip in order to flip the House from red to blue. If they are locked out of two or three of these seats in Orange County, that is going to enormously complicate the math for them across the country.

It all comes down to voter turnout. That's what they are relying on, and I will tell you that in a primary off year election like we have tomorrow, Democrats rarely get out and vote -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Miguel.

All eyes on California those eight states tomorrow in crucial primaries. And we'll be right back.


BURNETT: Well, thank you for joining us. Don't forget. You can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. You just have to go to CNNgo.

Anderson Cooper with "AC360" starts now.