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Inspector General Report on FBI's Handling of Clinton Email Probe to be Released Publicly; President Trump Continues Preparation for Russia Probe; Michael Cohen Changing Legal Teams. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 14, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: All of us know he shouldn't testify unless we get everything we want.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's lawyers plotting their next moves as Michael Cohen splits with his legal team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks to me like it's moving in a direction of cooperation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The agreement made very clear that this would be the complete denuclearization.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we understand each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president needs to understand who a threat is and who are friends are.
TRUMP: We'll see what the report says. So that will be maybe a nice birthday present.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Justice Department's inspector general report on the Clinton email probe to be released today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it will reassure the American people that some of the concerns that have been raised are not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota on John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, it's going to be a big one.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, yes?
BERMAN: I'm talking about -- yes, exactly, this hour. The news day. There's a lot going on. Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY, it is Thursday, June 14th, 8:00 in the east.
Fresh from the North Korea summit, President Trump appears to be gearing up for potential showdown with special counsel Robert Mueller. CNN has learned that as the president was flying back from Singapore, he was working the phones with his lawyers to game out the next steps including whether to sit down with Mueller or face the possibility of a subpoena.
CAMEROTA: President Trump continues to praise North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un. In an interview the president called Kim tough and very smart and a great negotiator. And the president brushed off Kim's record of human rights abuses, simply saying a lot of other people have done some really bad things too.
Let's start our coverage with CNN's Abby Phillip. She is live at the White House. What's the latest there, Abby?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Now that that summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un is over, the president is now talking to his lawyers about refocusing on the potential for an interview with Robert Mueller. The president and his lawyer strategizing for what's next in a potential showdown with the special counsel. Meanwhile, the president's long time personal lawyer Michael Cohen faces some legal troubles of his own.
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: All of us know he shouldn't testify unless we get everything we want and he wants.
PHILLIP: President Trump's legal team gearing up for a potential showdown with special counsel Robert Mueller over whether President Trump will sit down for an interview with investigators.
GIULIANI: We should get it done within the next week or two, the decision done, which means then we go to battling over a subpoena or getting him ready for a small tailored limited interview.
PHILLIP: Rudy Giuliani telling CNN that the legal team is eager to get the president's input now that he's home from Singapore in anticipation of a meeting with the special counsel later this week or next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you changed your mind at all about willing to sit with Robert Mueller?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me.
PHILLIP: This as the president's long time former lawyer Michael Cohen prepares for a potential legal battle of his own. Cohen is at the center of a New York based criminal investigation into his financial dealings, including a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels on President Trump's behalf just days before the 2016 election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the president still has your back?
PHILLIP: A source tells CNN that Cohen would not be shocked if he was indicted. Cohen has split with his legal team, and a separate source says he spent Wednesday meeting with at least three firms with experience in the southern district of New York which is handling the probe. CNN is told that money is also a big part of Cohen's consideration.
MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER LAWYER: They say I'm Mr. Trump's pit bull, that I am his -- I'm his righthand man.
PHILLIP: The legal shake-ups sparking concern that Mr. Trump's fixer could flip on his longtime client, with one Trump ally remarking Cohen is facing the end of a barrel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of talk about you flipping, any possibility for that? No?
PHILLIP: Giuliani insisting that Cohen is not cooperating with investigators.
GIULIANI: I checked into this last night. It's not so. He's not cooperating, nor do we care because the president did nothing wrong.
PHILLIP: As recently as Friday, President Trump would not rule out a potential pardon for Cohen.
TRUMP: I haven't even thought about it. I haven't even thought about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you're not ruling it out?
TRUMP: Certainly it's far too early to be thinking about that. They haven't been convicted of anything. There's nothing to pardon.
PHILLIP: And today is President Trump's 72nd birthday, and while he has no public events on his schedule yet, we know that he's going to be briefed on that inspector general report that is supposed to give us more information about the FBI's handling of the Clinton email probe. Back to you, John.
BERMAN: All right, Abby, thanks very much. That is a window into your news future. This will be a huge day one way or the other. The Justice Department's inspector general about to release the highly anticipated report on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. Before it goes public, the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein will brief President Trump and members of Congress. Our Shimon Prokupecz live in Washington with the latest on this. This is going to be a big day for the president, for James Comey, and maybe for Hillary Clinton.
[08:05:03] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, absolutely right, John. The FBI, the department of justice, really this sort of dark cloud that's been over them since the investigation into the handling of this investigation began. This is a report that's going to come out today we expect at 2:00. It will be made public. It's been a year in the making. And the key issue is how the inspector general handles the question of whether any decision by the FBI or the Justice Department were actually motivated by politics.
Now, the president has said the investigation was rigged and biased in Clinton's favor, but in just hours, as we said, we will finally get to see if that's supported by any evidence in this 500 page report that we've been told will show that the FBI and its former leaders along with the leadership of the Justice Department, frankly, mishandled parts of the investigation.
The report we're told will be critical of the then FBI director James Comey for holding that press conference where he announced the results of the Clinton email investigation. The report also looked at the decision, this was a big one, by Comey to tell lawmakers just days before the November, 2016, election that the FBI had reopened the Clinton investigation. That was, of course, because, as you'll remember, the FBI found emails on Anthony Weiner's laptops.
We're also told that the report is critical of former attorney general Loretta Lynch. She, as you will recall, had that infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton during the campaign as the FBI was conducting this investigation of his wife. We're told the deputy attorney general, as you said, will brief the president on the report later today. And then members of Congress will get a preview of it before its finally made public.
Now, John, certainly we should expect allies of Hillary Clinton to seize on some of these findings, and obviously ultimately everyone will be watching for how the president who has been hypercritical of the FBI, of the Justice Department, and certainly and some of its former leaders and how he reacts will be something that most folks probably will be watching for today.
BERMAN: Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much. Let's bring in CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us now. Mr. Chairman, I want to start with you. This I.G. has been a long time coming. I think that the speculation is it's going to be very tough on James Comey, Shimon was just saying it there, in how he handled the Hillary Clinton email probe. What are you looking for specifically and what questions do you think this will answer?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: For the first part of this, all that really sharp edge partisanship that's been coming off on Capitol Hill on who did what and when, this probably will be the one that calls the balls and strikes on what actually happening. Inspector General Horowitz has a great reputation. I think this will be probably the definitive argument on what happened. I don't think it's going to be good for the senior levels of the FBI, unfortunately, and I don't think it's going to be good for the DOJ. If you look at the way they're trying to warm up the framing of, I think there are lots of bad decisions. Criminal decisions, probably not, but bad decisions, probably a lot of them.
CAMEROTA: So Jeffrey, we talked a little bit, but I think we should play again of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions alluded to when he was asked about what he's expecting to see in the -- or maybe what he has actually seen in the I.G. report because he's saying that the public's perceptions may not be borne out. So here is the attorney general. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think it'll be a lengthy report and a careful report. It will be released soon and I think it will help us better fix any problems that we have and reassure the American people that some of the concerns that have been raised are not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: How do you interpret that? It will reassure the American people that some of the concerns we've heard about for all of these weeks are not true?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's an example of the attorney general trying to reingratiate himself with the president. I think the big message that the president will certainly get out of this is I was right to fire James Comey, that I fired James Comey because he was incompetent, because he was dishonest, not because I was trying to disrupt or interfere with the Russian investigation. I think that will be a message that the president will certainly take from this report, and that will be something he will really welcome on his birthday.
BERMAN: It is his birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. President, 72 years old today. Mr. Chairman, if I can ask you about Robert Mueller and some news we learned overnight about the president's legal team. We heard he was on the phone on Air Force One on his way home from Singapore trying to plan out what to do next. Rudy Giuliani claims they're one week or two from deciding of whether or not they're going to sit down for an interview, the president will sit down with an interview with investigators or fight it, which would mean a subpoena, potentially, that could go -- be fought all the way to the Supreme Court. I know you actually would like to see a conclusion here.
[08:10:00] You think this has been going on for a long time, but isn't part of this in the president's court. Doesn't he need to get off the pot here and either sit down for an interview or fight this. They're the ones who have been dragging this out.
ROGERS: Well, I'm going to disagree with you there. The president has been doing the job of president. I worry about the office of the presidency. Take out what your feelings are about Donald Trump, this has been going on really since he's taken office. There is lots of offshoots of the original intent of the investigation, all of which I think are fair game, by the way. I don't think any of that is off the table. I just worry what are we doing to the institution of the office of the presidency. And I do think they've got to wrap it up. I think if the president decides he's not testifying and, and by the way, if I were his legal counsel I would say, never, no way. He's a big personality, and as a former FBI agent you love it when big personalities come in for those interviews because you can get them to say things they probably shouldn't be saying.
BERMAN: Why? ROGERS: Because that self-confidence can work against you. It works
for you in a lot of circumstances, but in a case like that when you're talking about possible criminal violations -- and again, a perjury charge, we call that the 1,001 investigation lying to an FBI agent, boy, you can really screw -- you can get to the point of that pretty quickly by testimony of other folks of which you don't know when you walk in the room. So I would argue, why would you go in that minefield. I wouldn't do it if I were the legal counsel.
And I think Giuliani is doing the right thing. As a legal counsel he's setting up the argument, you're either going to agree to a very tailored set of questions which I'd be surprised if Mueller agreed to or we're going to fight this thing. We're going to go out, and by the way, he's going to be president of the United States.
So I think at some point we have to come to a conclusion on the Russia portion of this and the collusion part of this which I think is where the president gets wrapped up in it. It needs to come to an end just for healing the nation. We've got elections coming up. And, again, I worry about the institution of the office of the presidency in this thing.
And here's my biggest fear. If we don't kind of bring this to wrap up, every party whoever takes the presidency will be subject to some kind of crazy investigation. I worry about that because this becomes engrained in the political nastiness of this town, and I think that's very unhealthy for the country.
CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, what do you think about the length of the Mueller investigation? Do you think this has been unusual pro-attracted?
TOOBIN: No, I think it's been short by white collar standards. He was appointed in May starting from absolute zero, and it's just a little more than a year. These investigations take time. And look, the Trump lawyers have been jerking Mueller around for months about this interview. It is not that complicated a decision about whether he should testify. It's how long will the interview take place, what are the subjects that will be covered, where will the interview take place? It is not that complicated.
And Rudy Giuliani has been saying we're going to have a decision on this shortly since he was hired. I don't think you can blame Mueller for the fact that the White House legal team has just been jerking Mueller around on this question. And it's got to be resolved one way or another, and you can't blame Mueller for how long the Trump team is taking.
BERMAN: Jeffrey, quickly, Michael Cohen is switching legal teams right now. What do you think that tells us? Do you think he is facing new pressures to maybe cop a plea and cooperate?
TOOBIN: I don't think the switching of lawyers is all that significant. I do think he is under enormous pressure to cooperate because every defendant facing federal charges, if he faces federal charges, faces a lot of pressure to cooperate. The U.S. attorney's office doesn't mess around. They got a search warrant to search his office. That means they have probable cause there were crimes were committed there. They are going to be leaning on him heavily regardless of which lawyers he has, and Michael Cohen is in a world of trouble.
CAMEROTA: All right, Mike Rogers, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you both very much.
BERMAN: So is the president's latest praise of Kim Jong-un a justification of human rights abuses? We're going to get reaction from a member of the president's party next.
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN NEW DAY: All right, President Trump heaping praise on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un not only dismissing concerns about human rights violations but really seeming to justify them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: You call people sometimes killers. He is a killer. He's clearly executing people and...
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, a tough country with tough people and you take it over from your father, if you can do that at 27 years old, I mean, that's one in 10,000 that could do that. So he's a very smart guy, he's a great negotiator and I think we understand each other.
BAIER: But he's still done some really bad things.
TRUMP: Yes, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done. Now, look, with all of that being said, the answer is yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joining us now, Republican Congressman Scott Taylor from Virginia, who just won his primary, the congressman's a former Navy Seal and Iraq War veteran.
Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. What do you make of what the president just said there? Do you think that inheriting a nation at age 27 justifies executions, starvations, human rights violations?
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR, R-VA: No, of course, it doesn't justify. I don't think the president was actually justifying it. But what I would like to say is, look, my background spending years overseas in different countries, my education, military service, I'm a realist when it comes to international relations. And the reality is that the most important thing right now is reducing the nuclear threat to our homeland.
So I don't think that most nations are driven by in terms of how they act or in their best interest are necessarily driven by morality or ideology. So we have to deal with the world as it is, not how we'd like it to be. That being said, of course, we should have espoused our values, we should push to talk about and bring up human rights violations. But the reality is the most important thing right now is to reduce the nuclear threat to our homeland.
BERMAN: That's realpolitik and I get that. I understand that. And you can say the reason we need a nuclear deal with North Korea is because Kim Jong-un is a brutal dictator. We've got to get those weapons out of someone's hands like that.
TAYLOR: We wouldn't even be speaking to him right now, right, if he wasn't. You know what I mean?
BERMAN: Right. But that doesn't mean you have to sit there and say there are a lot of countries that do what he does. It's just being tough. He's very talented, all that executing. I mean, Bret Baier was asking a question about executions and the president said he's very talented. That has an impact, doesn't it, congressman?
TAYLOR: Look, I don't agree with that statement, of course. I just don't. The reality is he is correct in the world that that type of thing does happen even today and we may not -- in America, a lot of times we sort of live in a bubble sometimes, but the reality is there are bad people all around the world and they do brutal things like that.
So I don't agree with the statement itself, but again, to me the underlying concern is reducing the nuclear threat to our homeland and quite frankly world stability. So we should focus on that, all of us should desire for the president to be successful in that regard.
BERMAN: Do you think as the president does that there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea?
TAYLOR: Of course, not. And I don't know what the context the president was saying, if he's speaking about like right now immediate threat, right, because obviously we were on a trajectory towards war. We're not right now, but there's no question about it that that nuclear threat remains which is, again, why we should, of course, hope for success, for American success in reducing that threat to our homeland.
BERMAN: The context was he put out a statement, a tweet, he says, "I'm returning back from this long trip. We feel much safer now than the day I took office." He says there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. His flight out, the context was he says there's no nuclear threat. You say that's not the case.
TAYLOR: There's still a nuclear threat in North Korea. There's no question about it. And, again, I don't know if he meant short-term right now or if he meant total, but clearly there's still a nuclear threat in North Korea.
BERMAN: Do you think verification needs to be a solid part of the future of this nuclear deal?
TAYLOR: There's no question about it. I mean, you have to, otherwise who cares, right? You have to be able to verify. We have to have rigorous verification and accountability there quite frankly. And it behooves us to do so to have, to reduce the nuclear threat but also to have world stability. There's no question.
BERMAN: Because when the secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was asked about it he said it was a foolish, insulting question.
TAYLOR: I don't know the context, I didn't see that. So if you want to elaborate, I'm happy to answer.
BERMAN: Yes, he was asked. There's no mention of the word verification inside this agreement that was signed with Kim Jong-un. And they do say complete denuclearization and when the secretary was pressed on, where's the verification, what are you going to do to verify, he said that was an insulting question.
TAYLOR: Well, it's pretty clear that what was designed is kind of a framework, right?
TAYLOR: I mean, the hard work begins now. I mean, there's no question. There was work leading up to this in terms of rigorous diplomacy and then you have this framework that's there. But this is not the end of the deal, quite frankly, I mean, they still have a lot of work to do to figure out what it looks like, how do we remove those nukes, how do we hold people accountable, how do we know what's going to happen, who does what by when and how do we know it's done.
And any deal that gets signed quite frankly I think has to come back to the Senate to be a treaty. I mean, you had the mistake under President Clinton who crafted it in a way not to bring it to the Congress which is a mistake, same thing with President Obama in regards to the Iran deal. So I think this president, as he's done under this administration, has pushed things back down to Congress on our purview via the Constitution.
So what you saw there, that communique or whatever it's called, I mean, that is a framework. It's not a detailed deal and that's fine. It's a good first step. To think that that meeting right there is just going to solve the whole problem is naive. Of course, that's not, I mean, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done.
BERMAN: Congressman, congratulations on your primary victory.
BERMAN: Everyone's talking about State of Virginia as being really crucial in the 2018 midterm elections.
TAYLOR: They're a good state.
BERMAN: It's a terrific state, the commonwealth. We love Virginia. Listen, you have your nomination. The Republican nominee for Senate in your state is Corey Stewart as you know. He's controversial. Do you support his candidacy for Senate in Virginia?
TAYLOR: I don't know yet. I haven't decided. Corey hasn't called me and he hasn't asked me for my support and I haven't given it to him so we'll see, yes. As you well know, I just won my primary with almost 80 percent of the vote. We're focused on that. We're quite busy. We got more votes than both my Democrat opponents combined, so we're very busy on focusing on our election. And I like to bring people together, that's my type of politics. I believe in issues, not distractions.
BERMAN: Does Corey Stewart like to bring people together?
TAYLOR: That hasn't been so far. He hasn't done so. I hope maybe he'll change. We'll see. Like I said, I haven't spoken to Corey. I imagine he'll be calling me soon and I haven't decided yet.
BERMAN: And I appreciate this, that you want to worry about your own race.
BERMAN: But this is going to be a subject.
TAYLOR: You have to -- sorry.
BERMAN: This is going to be a subject in your race. It already is. You know that. By saying you haven't decided yet...
BERMAN: ... you haven't decided whether you're going to vote for the Republican nominee for Senate in your state. This is a guy you know.
TAYLOR: I don't know him very well at all actually.
BERMAN: You know his record. You're a voter in the State of Virginia.
BERMAN: You at this point presumably have seen enough to know. Did you vote for him in the primary?
TAYLOR: I did not. I did not. So, like I said, we'll see. Nick Freitas was the one who won in my district, of course, but you have to respect the will of the voters. Virginians elected Corey to be the nominee. So, again, I'll wait for his call. But I know that folks will try to make my race about someone else, but I've run eight elections and I've never run my race with someone or about someone else. It's always about me and what I'm going to do and what I have done, so I'll continue to do that. It doesn't matter who ask me questions and tries to tie it.
I'm sure the Democrats have already talked about that, trying to make it about race-baiting and stuff like that. Not going to work in my district. People know me back home and they know that I'm an independent voice and I am absolutely focused on my race and saying what we've done, what we will do and we're going to represent the good people of the second district of Virginia.
BERMAN: All right. When you make a decision on whether or not you are going to vote for the Republican nominee for Senate in your state, Congressman, please let us know. We'd like to having you on here. You are a friend of the show. We appreciate it, sir.
TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.
BERMAN: All right. Congressman Taylor, thanks very much.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, ANCHOR, CNN NEW DAY: Okay, John.
The inspector general's report on the Hillary Clinton email probe is set to be released today. Who will it blame and how will Capitol Hill respond? We have a Democrat on the House Intel Committee coming up next to talk about this and so much more.
CAMEROTA: The Justice Department's inspector general report on the Hillary Clinton email probe will be released publicly today. It is expected to place blame on fired FBI Chief James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
So joining us now to discuss this as well as what's going on --