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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Tweeted Unsubstantiated Claim About Start of FBI Probe; Interview with Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts and Cory Gardner (R) Colorado. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired June 7, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think Rudy Giuliani is a free wheeling liar that's willing to say anything he wants to say to make himself look good in his eyes.
[16:30:08] And I think he thinks he's serving Donald Trump well and he's not.
I don't want to take -- Rudy Giuliani married his cousin. So, I want to take everything he has to say --
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That was a no, and then it was a second cousin.
SANDERS: Oh, his second cousin. OK. The facts matter, Jake.
TAPPER: Fact check.
SANDERS: I don't -- you know, I really don't want to take anything about Stormy Daniels or anybody else. You married your second cousin.
TAPPER: Well, today, Giuliani told CNN's Dana Bash, quote, if you're involved a sort of slimy business, talking about porn, that says something about you, says something about how far you'll go to take money.
One question that has been raised, you should remember Donald Trump made a few cameos in at least three so-called soft porn videos from Playboy. Here's one from 1994, he's helping the magazine search for its 40th anniversary playmate, interviewed a potential model. There are other examples from 2001 and 2003 but you'll have to go to the Betamax store on your own.
But is there an issue here of consistency and hypocrisy?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORRISM ANALYST: Give me a break. We are talking about credibility and Stormy Daniels and you have the former spokesman, Sean Spicer saying, yes, within 24 hours, I lied for the president. Hope Hicks said, yes, I told lies for the president. The president said, yes, when I started with the Obama birth certificate, he'd have to admit eventually that's a lie.
Republican governors, when the president says why don't you check about these 3 million phantom voters, Republican governors and Democratic governors, we're not funding that. That's a vote. And we are talking about the credibility of the Stormy Daniels.
Look at this client. His client acted in a film. It's called king con. He conned for a year.
TAPPER: All right. David, last word.
URBAN: Yes, hey, everyone in this situation I think needs to just get -- open the bibles. Symone, right? Go to Matthew, judge not lest you be judged.
SANDERS: Well, I believe --
URBAN: How about we leave at that, right?
MUDD: Rudy might want to read that.
TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around.
From a thread on Reddit to a conspiracy theory being tweeted out by the president of the United States, how does that happen? How does that journey go?
Stay with us.
[16:36:05] TAPPER: As a private citizen, Donald Trump trafficked in any number of conspiracy theories from Barack Obama's birthplace, to the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, wild claims about vaccines, smears against Muslims. Often, it doesn't seem as though the president really understands the difference between vetted, responsible journalism and the wild gases emanating from the fever swamps of the Internet.
A new CNN investigation looks at one of the president's most recent unfounded and unsubstantiated claims and traces it all the way back to a most disturbing place.
Our Manu Raju reports.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: It was a stunning claim from the president, a tweet suggesting that the FBI investigation in campaign actually started way back in December of 2015, something not supported by the evidence or by the testimony of the former FBI director who said it began seven months later.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: This investigation began in late July.
RAJU: The president's proof? Text messages between two FBI officials. Trump tweeted about discovery, spygate is in full force.
But this may be where the president learned about the claim.
LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS NEWS ANCHOR: Unredacted texts that reveal how the FBI may have initiated a number of spies into the Trump campaign as early as December, December of 2015.
RAJU: That Fox report came after the far right Website, Gateway Pundit, seized on a Twitter user who took a photo of the text to claim the FBI was using, quote, foreign agents against Trump. That got picked up by a Reddit forum. But a CNN review of those text messages between the officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page show no evidence to back up the claim that the Russia investigation started in December 2015.
The texts in question are not even knew, the same text messages had actually been sitting on a Senate committee website for four months.
The revelation shines a light on how Trump seizes on conspiracy theories to further his political arguments. Like when he falsely claimed Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States.
To his latest, leveling unsubstantiated charges that spies have been placed in his campaign to help Hillary Clinton.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So how do you like the fact there are people infiltrating our campaign? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?
RAJU: His critics are alarmed.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It doesn't do our country any good to put forward conspiracy theories like this. To downplay our -- and denigrate our institutions like the FBI and the Department of Justice.
RAJU: The latest conspiracy theory appears to have no basis in reality. The text messages in question focus on an exchange between Strzok and Page, a former FBI lawyer. The two traded thousands of texts while having an extramarital affair and their messages have been used by conservative critics to argue that the Mueller investigation is biased against Trump.
In December 2015, Strzok texted Page. You get all our oconus lures approved? The term "oconus" refers to outside the continental United States, and according to Justice Department guidelines, lures are first to enticing a defendant to leave a foreign country so they can be arrested and prosecuted in the U.S., a common practice by the FBI.
Page responded to that text, no, it's just implicated a much bigger policy issue. I'll explain later. Might even be able to use it as a pretext for a call.
But none of the text messages from that same time period in December 2015 discussed any kind of an investigation into Trump or Russia. Though one time Page did share a news article about Trump and called him an utter idiot. Congressional sources from both parties who have reviewed the texts
said they have no reason to believe the text is referring to counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
Still that's not how Trump friendly media portrayed it.
DOBBS: This becomes revelatory when we take a look at what is happening at the FBI.
RAJU: About an hour later, Trump sent his tweet to his 52 million followers.
[16:40:05] Then the conspiracy flourished on FOX New that evening.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: It certainly appears that they were looking to put more lures into the campaign in 2015.
RAJU: Republican Congresswoman Ron DeSantis, who has joined the president's attacks against the special counsel, said this.
REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: So, this did not just start on the 31st.
INGRAHAM: Comey testified in May of 2017.
DESANTIS: And I think he has -- yes. I think he has exposures as a result of that testimony.
RAJU: But on Capitol Hill on Thursday, some Republicans scratched their heads at the president's latest conspiracies.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I haven't looked at the evidence but I have seen no indication that a confidential informant placed in the Trump campaign that acted as a spy. I don't see any evidence of that. I'm not going down the road saying this is some kind of an exercise to frame the president. I have no reason to believe that.
RAJU: Jake, four of the five Republicans who have been briefed on the confidential -- classified intelligence about that confidential FBI source don't believe that the FBI did anything improper in the way they acted, but the Justice Department said it wants an extra step actually allow those members to see the documents and briefed on its contents last month. They have to see the documents next week.
But one Republican who's throwing cold water on the spygate theories, Richard Burr, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, told me he doesn't know what document they can show him to force him to change his mind. So, it looks like, Jake, the president's spygate is still not going to get much support from the people who've actually seen the intelligence, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks so much. My panel is back with me. Phil Mudd, you used to work another the
FBI. These are some of your people, even if you don't approve of some of the things Strzok and Page did. What is your response to the president putting out these theories?
MUDD: You know, I was talking to a teacher on the street and the teacher said, in the past two years, one thing happening in the classroom. I have to teach a child what a fact is.
When you have the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, three FBI directors, that's Comey, Mueller and Wray, you have now the speaker of the House who's been silent, came out yesterday and said, listen, it's OK to me. The chairperson of the Senate intel committee, Richard Burr, saying it's OK and the president of the United States, because he doesn't like his family being looked at, saying, don't trust the government and let me give you fake facts.
The implication is not just on the investigation, it's on a child who says, I don't know what to believe because the president who has an incredible podium tells me facts that my parents tell me are OK and they're not. It's significant.
TAPPER: David, why not just stick to the factual criticisms of the investigation, the factual criticisms of his opponents? Why make stuff up?
URBAN: Well, look, so again, making stuff up is a matter of opinion here, right? Hear me out on this, right?
URBAN: No, wait, wait. Let me a pull a string, right? So, whether there's some underlying conspiracy here, right? The president hasn't seen any of this stuff. He's not got an opportunity to review the Strzok and Page e-mails.
I think this -- I would advise the president and everyone else just to hold their breath, let's wait for Michael Horowitz's report, right, the I.G.'s report, which is going to pull the thread on a lot of these things and we'll see. The Cambridge professor who's making the approach, the Strzok and Page emails -- hey listen, if you're a supporter of the president, you're on the other side, you hear these things, right? You're already skeptical of the government.
That's why the president was sent here. People who voted for this president didn't believe that Washington is doing its job, right?
TAPPER: But do you think the FBI Director Christopher Wray who was appointed by President Trump, who has given money only to Republicans is part of this deep state conspiracy?
URBAN: No, no, no. I don't -- I'm talking about specific instances here.
TAPPER: Yes. URBAN: I'm talking about the Strzok and Page e-mails, right? The play -- you know, Cambridge professor made approaches to people in the campaign.
URBAN: To hear those things as a supporter, as a voter. People who supported this president look at those with askance. The FBI, as Phil knows, and as you said, hasn't always had a perfect record.
TAPPER: No, of course not.
URBAN: I would point back again -- listen. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvanian, his offices raided a day before his election. He lost his election. Nothing came of it.
You know, Ted Stevens was taken down by the FBI, find out only exculpatory evidence after Ted Stevens is dead, FBI made mistakes.
URBAN: It happens.
TAPPER: I want you to weight in.
SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to silt here and, quote/unquote, cape for the FBI because there have been questionable things that have happened within black and brown communities over the years. But I will say is the facts are not debatable, and what the president and his allies and a number of people trafficking him, are conspiracy theories are just lies, things that are unfounded claims that we should not be bringing from the corner crevices of the Internet out into mainstream America.
It does -- it does us no good service and someone has to get a handle on the president. Someone needs to tell him and sit him down and say, sir, this is dangerous. What you are doing is eroding the credibility of this office and of our country. And I mean, he -- look. I understand he doesn't like the investigation. Nobody being investigated does.
But there's just a bar that has --
TAPPER: I just want to give Phil the last word here.
MUDD: Look, it looks to me like heading toward imperial presidency. The president -- forget about the investigation. What the president is telling the American people is if this comes out with information that suggests there should be indictments, I'm going to tell you those indictments are inappropriate and I suspect he's going to say, I'm also going to make the judgment that the only thing I can do is to take people off the hook and that's to use my power to do this.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, thanks so much. A Republican and a Democratic Senator standing next to each other literally and figuratively actually working together. No your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Stay with us a
TAPPER: A rare sight in Washington D.C. these days. A Democrat and a Republican standing side-by-side literally and figuratively working together, any chance this is the start of a new trend. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts and Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate it.
[16:50:02] SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Glad to be here.
TAPPER: So Senator Gardner, I want to get to your new legislation but firstly I do want to ask are there other specific areas you might be able to work with Democrats to get something passed, perhaps pushing back against the President's aluminum and steel tariffs?
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: Well, I certainly think there are. There are opportunities that we've taken in the past over the past year whether it's FDA prescription drug reforms opportunities, to work together to make sure we're making progress on highway transportation bills. Those are some of the things that we've done in the past. Going forward, I do hope that we can find some common-sense trade solutions. I supported trade agreements that would benefit U.S. exporters, U.S. farmers, U.S. producers. We got to make sure that we're not penalizing people across this country through high tariffs. I don't like the tariff approach and hopefully, that's something that we can find common support -- common ground amongst Republicans and Democrats to push back on.
TAPPER: Senator Warren, several of your Republican colleagues seem to be now standing up against the President's unsubstantiated claim, something I called a lie that the Obama Administration put a political spy into his campaign. We've heard now from Paul Ryan, we've heard now from Richard Burr, do you sense any new openness in your colleagues to go against the President of their own party.
WARREN: Well, I certainly hope that we have more people standing up for honesty and transparency, and most of all standing up to let special counsel and Mueller finish his investigation without any political interference from Democrats, from Republicans, from anyone. You know the Special Prosecutor has already come up with charges 19 indictments or guilty pleas. This is a serious investigation. We need to let this investigation go forward and then make a report to the American people. And I hope Democrats and Republicans are united in that message to the President of the United States. Mueller gets to finish his work.
TAPPER: Senator Gardner, I assume you agree with that?
GARDNER: Yes, I've said all along that we need to get this investigation finished. I'd like to see it done sooner rather than later for a very simple reason. We know there were outside efforts that tried to influence the election in 2016, Russia, perhaps others. But we need that information now so that we can get the voters that information and we can protect our systems that going into this election.
TAPPER: So let's talk about the reason you two are here. Senator Garden, I'll start with you. You two have legislation that would protect the sale and use of marijuana in states that have voted to legalize it. Earlier this year you publicly oppose President Trump over his administration's efforts to crack down on legalized marijuana. You spoke to the President today, is he prepared to override his Justice Department to support your legislation? Well, several months ago the President told me that he continues to hold the bleep that he talked about during the campaign that states are the ones who should make this decision.
That was a belief that he reiterated today and I hope we can work with them to get that support for our legislation. But you're exactly right, Jake. I mean, this is a bill that says the states are laboratories of democracy. If the state decides, this isn't federal chain -- this isn't the federal government changing the law at the local level, this is the state deciding to change its law and in that scenario then the federal government says fine. States can be that laboratory of democracy. It will be allowed in that state. So this is a real big test an opportunity for federalism.
TAPPER: And Senator Warren, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said when he was a senator, "good people don't smoke marijuana." He said it poses a very real danger but you think his stance is actually helping your cause?
WARREN: He has made it clear exactly what the problem is. And the problem is when state like Massachusetts or a state like Colorado legalizes the use of marijuana, it doesn't change federal law. And so Jeff Sessions has made the statement that he intends to come in and enforce federal law under the circumstances where Massachusetts, Colorado and other states around the country have already changed their law locally. That not only creates a risk for people who buy and a risk for people who sell, it creates other crazy implications. So these businesses that are growing up that sell marijuana right now can't put their receipts, the cash that comes in into a federally insured bank because there are federal laws that say if the source of the money is illegal, which this would be under federal law, you can't put the money in a bank.
There are all kinds of tax crazy implications to this. So what Senator Gardner and I did is say look, let's just do a lot that says if the states have acted on this, whatever level they've acted, medicinal marijuana, recreational, anything in between, if the states have acted it, if the territories have acted it, if the tribes have acted it, then the federal government is going to recede and say your law is the law that controls within your jurisdiction.
TAPPER: All right, Senators Warren and Gardner thank you so much. We hope to see a lot of bipartisan work for the American people going forward.
[16:55:07] WARREN: I hope so too.
GARDNER: Exactly right. Thanks, Jake. TAPPER: New information about electronic spying devices showing up in
questionable locations including it near the White House. That's ahead, stay with us.
TAPPER: Be sure to tune in to CNN tonight. Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont joins Chris Cuomo on the T.V. show called "CUOMO PRIME TIME." That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN. And that's it for THE LEAD. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM."