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NEW DAY SUNDAY
CNN: Trump Increasingly Concerned About Don Jr.'s Exposure in Mueller Probe; Category Three Storm Churning Toward Hawaii; WaPo: Trump Associate Interacted with Alleged Russian Spy; Melania Trump Sides with LeBron James, Contradicts Husband; Leonhardt: "Trump Will Attack Anyone Who Threatens Monopoly". Aired 7-8a ET
Aired August 5, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:00:01] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, right next door to Akron, home of? It all goes back to the Buckeye State.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Coy.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You're welcome.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got to stop it. We got to stop meddling. We got to stop everybody from attacking us. Russia is there. China is there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to sources close to the White House, the president is scared for his son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lying about whether the president knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, that could be perjury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they have taken this very seriously and their denials and what do we have on the other side? It's just the word of Michael Cohen.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Do you think he uses black athletes as a scapegoat?
LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: At times. At times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the first lady is underscoring it is an option.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no greater mystery in the world than a relationship between husband and wife, but it is astonishing and it once again gets to the wondering about the marriage.
PAUL: Well, good morning to you, 7:00 on a Sunday morning! We are happy to wake you up here. I'm Christi Paul.
SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell. Good morning. And this morning, a glimpse into why President Trump is so anxious
about the Russia investigation, and increased his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller.
PAUL: Sources telling CNN now that the president is worried his son Don Jr. could be caught up in the probe from a legal standpoint. The president's son under scrutiny of course to helping set up that 2016 meeting with Russians who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
CNN's Sarah Westwood is in live in New Jersey where President Trump is on a working vacation here.
So, this 2016 meeting is not new. Why now is the president showing such concern about this?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, we have known about this meeting for a very long time, but what's only recently come to light is the fact that Trump may have known in advance knowledge of this meeting or, very at the least, may have been told about it shortly after the fact. Michael Cohen is preferred to testify to special counselor Robert Mueller that Trump had a heads-up about that meeting, which, of course, would contradict what the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., has already told congressional investigators. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's current attorney, is denying that Trump Jr. is in legal jeopardy, telling CNN in a statement, it's not so.
After over a year or more of investigating, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part or for that matter, POTUS, that's the president of the United States. Nothing has changed. We are not worried about Michael Cohen because he has no knowledge of wrongdoing and recorded it in one version or another so often that he can't be believed or relied on.
Now, sources tell CNN that Trump's concern for his son is part of the reason why he'd been so aggressive toward Mueller in recent weeks, particularly on Twitter. And even though lawyers for both Donald Trump Jr. and the president are denying that the president's son is in any danger, Trump has privately been telling confidants that he's concerned about the investigation's potential effect on his family -- Christi.
PAUL: All righty. Thank you so much, Sarah. Appreciate it.
SAVIDGE: President Trump did mention the Russia investigation as he rallied the base in Ohio last night. The president campaigning ahead of special election that will be held there on Tuesday, where Republicans risk losing a seat in a district that they have controlled for three decades.
Here is CNN's Boris Sanchez.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump making his way outside to Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday to 12th congressional district to campaign for a special election candidate that is in a dead heat with a Democrat. Troy Balderson is running against Danny O'Connor in a race that should not be this close. Frankly, we wouldn't be talking about this were it not for President Trump as it's ruby red for decades. President Trump won it by 11 points.
But a recent Monmouth University poll shows that the two candidates are in a virtual tie, one percentage difference point between the two, so President Trump came here on Saturday to try to prevent a new wave that many have speculated is headed to Congress in the midterm elections. Now, President Trump spent the majority of his speech touting his, success in the economy, and bashing his enemies, including Democrats, and, of course, the media.
President Trump did mention the Russia investigation, yet again calling it a hoax and pushing the idea that the United States has to be prepared from cyberattacks from a lot of different actors.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now, we got to stop it. We got to stop meddling. We got to stop everybody from attacking us but there are a lot.
Russia is there. China is there. Hey. We are doing well with North Korea but they are probably there. We got to stop everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: There is also an unexpected guest here for president Trump's speech. Former communications director Hope Hicks who, of course, resigned from the administration in February. White House officials say that her presence here should not signal a return, essentially telling CNN that it doesn't mean much more than just a friendly visit.
Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president, outside of Columbus, Ohio.
PAUL: So, Washington bureau chief of the "Chicago Sun Times", Lynn Sweet, is with us now, as well as CNN legal analyst Page Pate.
To you first, Lynn, what did you make yesterday of the president's rally and how significant is it on this special election on Tuesday?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, in terms of rallying the base, it's significant because anything to get out the vote is important. I listen to that and there is, like, three ways to listen to that. Part of it, I have to say, that just the facts that president Trump got wrong, he talked about the Tallahassee trail, instead of Appalachian trial, he complained when he was corrected on a number of points that he won Ohio by, and he had just other factors where he did, though, talk about his election night victory once again. Now, I -- you know, it's like he is stuck in time every rally, he kind
of replays that night. I don't know when he can ever possibly move off of it, but don't discount the importance of rallying the base and that there's no Democratic figure out there who has the same sway and who could come in at the last minute and rally the troops in that way. So, Christi, there is something to it and this is a district that should be red, as we have noted, and everything that Trump hit on in his speech last night, you know, we are the forgotten people, the Democrats don't want you. He also said things were not true about Democrats, you know, they want crime, that is just ridiculous and not true.
But he said it. And he believes it will be effective and he pushed, pushed as far as he could about saying -- about painting the Democrats as people who were not law abiding and who wanted everything that the people he was talking to did not want.
PAUL: OK. So, Page, let's get to what else the president, as we are understanding is concerned about his son Don Jr. being incriminated some sense in this Mueller probe. How vulnerable is Don Jr., based on what we know thus far?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Christi, any time someone makes statements to a congressional panel or investigators or certainly law enforcement officers, there's always the risk if they give a false statement, if they say something that is not true, they can later be prosecuted for either making a false statement, which is a separate crime, or perjury, if the testimony is given under oath. The question is, does the special counsel have enough evidence to prove something Don Jr. said was false?
I don't think they will rest simply on what Michael Cohen may be saying now. I think they are going to need more. But there if there is corroborating evidence that Don Jr. said anything about that meeting or in addition anything else that is not true, then he does face the risk of being prosecuted for making a false statement or possibly for perjury.
PAUL: I mean, the president is a father. You understand his concern for his son, Lynn.
PAUL: Is there anything that the president -- I mean, just talking about it and being out there, he is actually, in some sense, do you think, Lynn, making it worse for Don Jr.?
SWEET: No, because I think Mueller and his probers just follow the trail. And I know, page, you talked about what seems to be a potential obstruction of justice charge. I think the exposure lies is that Don Jr. could speak to the collusion charge. Whether or not the meeting took place, how it took place, and why it took place are very important -- we know it took place -- are pieces of the puzzle.
Was it because it was not just to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, it was also this code word that they used at the time to talk about Russian adoptions, that's another way, code, of talking about the sanctions against Russia because the Russian retaliation was to ban adoption. So that was one and the same. And if one did not know it, if you want to play naivete, that still doesn't mean it's a piece that is important in the Mueller charge of looking at the Russian collusion aspect in the election.
PAUL: All righty. Page, I need to ask you about Paul Manafort's trial that starts again tomorrow, full force. Is it too late for him to plea?
PATE: No. It's never too late to enter a guilty plea but the incentive for doing so at this point seems a little remote and not so beneficial for Paul Manafort. I mean, normally, in a federal criminal case, even if you can't strike a deal to cooperate, if you plead guilty early, you'll get some credit for that. You will get a lower sentence.
During the trial, that's not necessarily true. But if he has something to offer the special counsel's office, then he could always strike a deal. Now, looking at the evidence we have seen so far in the trial, it is moving fast, I think much faster than most people expected.
[07:10:02] There is a pile of documents building up that the prosecution has laid out for people to see that show false statements were made, money was being moved, and Manafort knew about it.
The real question is, what are we going to hear from Rick Gates next week? I do anticipate he will be called early in the week. Will he be able to show that Manafort knew about all of these false statements, all of the money movements and all of the failures to disclose the bank accounts? Because Manafort's team, of course, is saying this is all Rick Gates and he did it all and did it so he could steal money from Paul Manafort.
Now is the crunch time for the defense. Will they be able to show that through cross-examination?
PAUL: All righty. Lynn Sweet and Page Pate, we appreciate you both being here so much.
PATE: Thank you.
SWEET: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: The search for a missing toddler from Georgia led to a rescue in New Mexico. Coming up, what we're learning about the 11 children found living in deplorable conditions.
PAUL: And there's a category three hurricane headed toward Hawaii. Residents are being told, prepare now. We're going to have the latest for you here.
SAVIDGE: Plus, the First Lady Melania Trump breaks for her husband over LeBron James. She distances herself from his criticism and praising James' charity work. We'll have more on that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[07:15:21] PAUL: This just in to CNN we want to let you know. Three NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan. Officials say it's suicide bomber attacked the service members as they were patrolling in Eastern Afghanistan just this morning. One American and two Afghan soldiers also injured in that. The service members were part of a Resolute Support, that's a NATO train, advise, and assist mission.
SAVIDGE: Also in to CNN this morning, the World Health Organization says it's responding to an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So far, 33 people have died in North Kivu, including two health care workers.
PAUL: Now, officials say they are treating 13 confirmed case of Ebola, 30 other probable case. The World Health Organization says this Ebola outbreak is even more challenging because experts are having to respond, of course, in the middle of a war zone.
SAVIDGE: The search for a missing toddler from Georgia led investigators to an incredibly shocking discovery in New Mexico in the desert. Nearly a dozen children living in filthy conditions.
PAUL: Reporter Shellye Leggett from our affiliate KOAT takes us there.
SHELLYE LEGGETT, KOAT REPORTER: Sheriff's deputies got a missing child bulletin in May. Other agencies across the country got the same one.
JERRY HOGREFE, SHERIFF, TAOS COUNTY: Specific to us that there was information they might have been traveling to northern New Mexico.
LEGGETT: They learned about a compound being built in a Costilla Meadows.
HOGREFE: Pretty much completely off the grid and right up just literally only a mile or so from the Taos County and Colorado border.
LEGGETT: The initial investigation didn't turn up much.
HOGREFE: We just continued trying to learn what we could about it and, at some point in there, we kind of believed that this might have an access to the missing child in Georgia.
LEGGETT: Surveillance continued on that compound and two adults were identified Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morton.
HOGREFE: We were able to get a search warrant for the property to search for the child, the father, and the welfare of anyone else on the property.
LEGGETT: Eleven children ages ranging from 1 to 15 were found inside horrible conditions. The sheriffs describe the kids as looking like starving refuges, people passing through were surprised to hear this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These people must be really sick to do something like that to these kids.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It scares me because the safety of my own children who are teenagers, you know? You never know what can happen at any given point.
LEGGETT: Wahhaj and Morton were arrested.
SAVIDGE: Our thanks to Shellye Leggett from our affiliate KOAT in Albuquerque for that report.
PAUL: Yes, the children we understand are now in the care of Child Protective Service. No word on where the missing child from Georgia is, but we're told that child was not one of those 11 found in the compound. Just to be clear there.
I want to talk about this manhunt now in Texas, where a father accused of killing his two young children, Houston police say the children's mother found them stabbed to death in their own beds yesterday afternoon. The woman told police after dropping off the 8-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl at their father's apartment he called saying he was going to kill them. Police say the couple had been married but recently separated.
Yes, it's that time of the year. Hurricane Hector has weakened slightly, still a category 3. And the thing it's taking aim at Hawaii.
SAVIDGE: Emergency management officials are telling people there to, of course, prepare and get their survival kits ready now.
Meteorologist Allison Chinchar has the very latest on Hector's path.
Good morning, Allison.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's Hurricane Hector winds right now about 125 miles per hour, but it's gusting to 155 miles per hour. Its movement is west about at 12 miles per hour.
Now, it's still very, very far away from Hawaii at this point. It's just moving in that general direction. Category three storm right now, but it had been a category 4. The thing is, it's been slowing moving in to some very dry air and that's what's been causing that system to weaken as it makes its way to the west.
Now, it is expected to remain a major hurricane for at least the short term, say until about Tuesday mid-day. Then we expect some more weakening as it continues its trek off to the west. Notice here, it is expected just to clip the very southern edge of the big island of Hawaii. Two similar storms in the last four years both Hurricane Esell and Hurricane Darby formed in the Eastern Pacific and a similar trek toward the big island and impacted that big island in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
[07:20:04] So, just in the last four years. Now one thing to note is this particular track really just clips the very southern edge of the big island. The volcano we have been talking about for months, Kilauea, that is just to the north of where that cone line ends up dropping off, so it is expected to be outside of that cone of certainty that would end up having the direct hit.
Now, at this point in time, the main concern going forward really is going to be the rainfall, because even if it does not make a direct hit on the big island of Hawaii, those outer bands will still provide some pretty significant moisture. At this point in time, not out of the question to get two, three, four, even perhaps as much as six inches of rain.
The good news is that going to be focused on just one of the islands. The remainder of the islands to the north and west of that will likely get lesser amounts, say, under about two inches total as this system slides off to the west -- guys.
PAUL: All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you.
SAVIDGE: Well, there is a report now that a Russian woman charged with spying got really close to a former Trump campaign aide and we will have the details of that story in a minute.
PAUL: And a "New York Times" columnist says the president's attack against the media sheds light on his entire campaign to monopolize information.
[07:26:00] PAUL: Well, happy Sunday to you. Glad to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.
SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell. Good to see you.
This -- there is, rather, a new report from "The Washington Post" that Maria Butina, the Russian charged with spying, interacted with former Trump campaign aide J.D. Gordon in the run-up to the 2016 election.
PAUL: Yes, Butina and Gordon were in contact over email in September and October of 2016.
Now, Gordon even invited her to attend a concert and his birthday party that month.
Here is CNN's Sara Sidner.
MARIA BUTINA, ALLEGED RUSSIAN SPY: I would like to present Russia --
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For an alleged Russian spy, Maria Butina skills weren't particularly impressive. She liked to communicate via widely available platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp. Her overly flirtatious approach left men wondering what she was really after and sources say she bragged about her ties to Russian intelligence when she was intoxicated.
Two of her classmates found her comments so alarming, they reported her to law enforcement, sources tell CNN. Butina pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent in the U.S. after her July arrest. Her lawyer insists she is not a spy and says she won't cut a deal with prosecutors if it means saying she is one.
ROBERT DRISCOLL, MARIA BUTINA'S ATTORNEY: I mean, that's always the problem. People are talking about cutting a deal, but if you're not an agent for a federal government, you can't lie and say you are in order to get rid of this.
MURRAY: Intelligence experts see Butina's far from subtle approach to allegedly trying to infiltrate GOP political circles as just one of the tools in Moscow's arsenals as Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to meddle in American democracy, an ongoing effort.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States.
MURRAY: Past Russian spies have adopted fake identities, used invisible ink, communicated with coded messages over radio transmitters but the under radar approach didn't seem to suit Butina.
BUTINA: We promote gun rights.
MURRAY: She touted her gun rights group in a racy Russian "GQ" photo shoot in 2014. In 2015, she questioned then candidate Donald Trump about sanctions against Russia at a Nevada political event.
BUTINA: I'm a visitor from Russia.
TRUMP: Ah, Putin.
BUTINA: So, my question --
MURRAY: As an American University student, Butina defended Putin, and even claimed in class to be a liaison between the Trump and the Russian campaign, a source says. People who met her through school and political events say she was a little too friendly. She was quick to start playing footsy under the table and boldly sidled up to older men at political events and asked them to be Facebook friends.
Her lawyer admits her activities and contacts caught the attention of the FSB, one of Russia's security services.
DRISCOLL: I think that anyone who is Russian has to meet with the FSB when they go back and forth and frequently asked at the airport what they are doing in America if they have information from the FSB.
MURRAY: And experts say she was probably a valuable asset for Russia. STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think Maria Butina would
have been valuable to the Russian government despite the fact that she wasn't a classic -- you know, a classically trained intelligence officer like perhaps someone like Anna Chapman. So, I would expect to see other versions of Maria Butina.
MURRAY: When investigators searched the home of Butina and her political operative boyfriend, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, they found a note in his hand writing, how to respond to FSB offer of employment. It's unclear which of them it was for.
Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.
SAVIDGE: All right. Joining me now is Kimberly Dozier of, CNN global affairs analyst and contributing writer for "The Daily Beast."
Good morning to you, Kimberly.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Good morning.
SAVIDGE: Let me start with the basic question, which is, you know, how worrying is the fact that an alleged Russian spy got really close, it appears, or attempted to, to a Trump aide?
DOZIER: Well, what it shows us, if she was, indeed, directed by the Russian government as the U.S. government is trying to prove, that Russia understands the most important part of changing the mind of your opposition is to get to know people, to build relationships.
[07:30:02] They have several different levels of operative that reaches out in different countries to put forward the Russian point of view.
Where Butina would fall is an agent of influence rather than an official spy and that is probably why the U.S. government is not trying to make a case against her for espionage, but, instead, as than unregistered agent of foreign influence. And in that role, what she would do is much like an intelligence officer, a diplomat, or a journalist, build relationships with her target audience.
SAVIDGE: What I find interesting about this is there has been, you know, of course, no end of talk about Russian meddling and we look at this as a cyber world. This is very old school. This is sort of classic in which we talk about the possibility of a person being used as a spy and a female spy in this way.
President Trump, as we know, does not seem to agree with his intelligence. You saw that very distinctly this week. And I'm wondering, I'm referencing, of course, the Russian meddling in what may be this forthcoming election, how does a community prepare or fight off these kind of attacks if the man in charge of the nation doesn't seem to be on board?
DOZIER: Well, it's tough for national security professionals who are laboring in the trenches trying to track down Russian spying and Russian influence. But as they find these plots, and as they convince agents overseas to spy for them, to have the message coming from the top of the White House, that, oh, this is all a hoax. So, it's both embarrassing for the leaders who went out on Thursday, the cabinet members who went out and said, yes, Russia is trying to meddle actively to this day, to then have their commander in chief go out that night to an audience and say, oh, this is all a hoax.
But it's also disturbing for the people who are in the trenches who are getting originals, especially in foreign countries, to risk their lives and then they have to wonder, OK, if we find a smoking gun type evidence of something, will the president allow us to act on this? Or is he too much -- is he good friends with Vladimir Putin and that's going to make all of our work worthless?
SAVIDGE: The president did actually talk about the possibility of Russian meddling last night when he was speaking in Columbus, Ohio. But you got to hear how he spoke. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got to stop it. We got to stop meddling. We got to stop everybody from attacking us.
But there are a lot. Russia is there. China is there. Hey. We are doing well with North Korea but they are probably there. We got to stop everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: That doesn't ring with real sincerity. And I'm wondering just, you know, what is this kind of message that we are hearing?
DOZIER: Well, what I hear from Donald Trump is this desire to preserve his two tracks. He seems to be playing the good cop track with Moscow, with China, with North Korea, where he tries to maintain the open door with their leaders, while using his national security team, his economics team to deliver the hammer. So, that is also what I hear -- it also goes back to, he is talking to his base about an election that he won and he doesn't want anything to besmirch that and admitting that Russian election meddling might help him win in 2016 is a blow to his ego.
SAVIDGE: And you're right. Of course, it has to be noted as to the audience he is reaching out to. When it comes to the midterm elections coming up, are you more concerned about, say, direct meddling to try to alter the mechanics of the vote, or is it more a concern about altering people's mindsets as they go into vote?
DOZIER: You're absolutely right. I think Moscow is much more sophisticated than trying to actually hack into voting machines, though there is evidence that they have tried to do that. But, really, they have already changed the game in terms of how part of America thinks towards Russia, especially the part of America that supports Trump and you can see on Facebook, throughout social media, says that the liberals are just trying to tear Moscow down and Moscow is a potential ally.
So, those minds have already been changed and won.
SAVIDGE: And, you know, it's fascinating because I talk to so many people who support the president and they will tell you one of their greatest sources of information is either from their friends or from the internet. Clearly, the Russians have figured this out?
DOZIER: Exactly. They know that the game that they are playing for their monopoly board people's hearts and minds, and that's what they have been aiming for a long time.
[07:35:04] You could say, though, the U.S. has been doing the same thing, according to Russia, with things like the national endowment for democracy and the CIA also talks to U.S. businessmen who are willing to talk to them who have traveled to Moscow to collect information from them. So, from Moscow's point of view, this is just, you know, turn-about is fair play.
SAVIDGE: Kimberly Dozier, thank you very much as always.
DOZIER: Thank you.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Still to come, First Lady Melania Trump praising LeBron James for his charity work. The thing is this happened just after President Trump insulted the NBA star on Twitter.
[07:40:01] PAUL: Thirty-nine minutes past of the hour right now.
First Lady Melania Trump praised LeBron James for his charity work. The thing it was in direct contradiction to her president's criticism of the NBA star just hours earlier. Her spokeswoman put out a statement saying this, LeBron James was, quote, working to do good things on behalf of our next generation. And that the first lady would actually be open to visiting his school for at risk children, the I Promise School.
So, we got senior politics reporter from "The Huffington Post", Laura Bassett, with us now.
Thank you for being here, Laura.
It seems as though she is saying, listen, what my husband thinks is not necessarily what I think, exerting her independence. But this message was highly intentionally on her part, was it not?
LAURA BASSETT, SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Absolutely intentional. Look, she didn't have to put out a statement. She doesn't have to put out a statement on everything the president does and she certainly doesn't.
But I think Melania that has this Be Best campaign. It's her signature cause as first lady. It's an anti-cyberbullying campaign. So, if she were to just kind of stand by and say nothing while her husband kind of humiliates her by bullying people online all the time, as he does, it would make her look really stupid and she knows it.
So, I think this is just the latest in a series of ways that she's not only tried to distance herself from him and assert her independence but actually publicly contradict him.
PAUL: Yes, in January, she traveled separately from the president to his state of the union address which was noted. Also noted in March, she talked about the criticism you're talking about from people who -- I don't want to say make fun of by any means -- but they question the authenticity of the Be Best campaign. And she came right out and said, listen, you can criticize me all you want, I'm going to do what I know is right is exactly what she said.
It is surprising. It's unconventional, especially coming out of, you know, the George W. and Laura Bush years, and Barack Obama and Michelle Obama years when there was such a cohesive unit there.
But with that said, historically, is it really that unusual for a first lady to put herself out there?
BASSETT: I think it's extremely unusual to have these -- it's regular contradicting statements coming from the first lady and coming from the White House. A couple of weeks ago, I'm sure you guys remember, there was reports that Donald Trump criticized her for watching CNN. And her press team put out a statement saying the first lady watches whatever she wants.
And then, of course, everyone remembers the jacket controversy. She wore that jacket to visit migrant children that said I don't really care, do you? And her press team put out a statement saying there is no hidden message on the jacket and then Trump later came out and said actually, it's a message against the press, it's talking about the press. There was some speculation that I don't really care message was about migrant children.
I'm starting to wonder if that message was directed at her husband or about the politics of the White House in general, because she seems now intent on having her own voice and being her own person.
PAUL: Do you think it would be smart for her to go to the LeBron James school if she is invited?
BASSETT: I think that -- I think it would be a real message -- a real message.
PAUL: You're trying to figure that out, right?
BASSETT: Words I can't say is what it would be to her husband.
PAUL: OK. So, let me ask you this -- do you think there is a space, say, for Melania Trump to join in some sort of charitable effort with LeBron James?
BASSETT: I think she should. I think if she is going to have this Be Best campaign, I think if she's going to profess to really care about children -- visit migrant children at the border, say that she really cares about, you know, about schools, about all of the things she professes to scare about -- sure, I think a really nice move and way for the White House, the whole White House to extend an olive branch to this person who is deeply insulted by the president.
PAUL: So with that said, when we look at how she moves forward with Be Best, she has to be very intentional in that, but how does she get away from the criticism of her husband when she clearly has a very genuine interest in doing something for children.
BASSEETT: I think that the criticism is going to keep on coming as long as she stands by her husband, as long as she stays married to him and as long as she doesn't -- and the statements she's putting out are veiled, you know? She is saying: I support LeBron James. That is pretty easy thing to say.
She's not saying, I denounce my husband for bullying him online. So, until she does that, I think the criticism is going to keep coming.
PAUL: All right. Laura Bassett, it's just so baffling on one hand and, at the same time, you know, she's really fighting to stand on her own and, you know, there's respect there certainly.
Thank you, Laura. I appreciate it.
BASSETT: Thank you.
PAUL: Take good care.
SAVIDGE: Still to come, we're going to talk to a guest who reveals that the president's attacks on the media are actually his campaign to try to monopolize information, the president's campaign that is.
[07:45:06] We'll tell you why he finds that very worrisome, next.
PAUL: Forty-nine minutes past the hour right now.
And according to "New York Times" op-ed columnist David Leonhardt, President Trump's attacks on the press aren't just about his disdain for the media but rather about his need to control information, he says.
SAVIDGE: He says the threat to democracy becomes greater if the media and Trump administration cannot at least have a shared sense of information.
And back with us to discuss this is CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.
[07:50:01] Brian, you talked to David about this this morning and I believe got other news as well. Good to see you, by the way.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you too.
I think this is an interesting way to think about the president's rhetorical exercises. You know, when he says polls are fake but then he highlights certain polls he likes or when he says he supports law enforcement but then attacks Robert Mueller, he's trying to control what information is acceptable. That's what David Leonhardt suggested to me in this interview. He said this was an especially bad week when it came to the president's campaign against independent information.
Here's a part of what David said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LEONHARDT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: He essentially is on a campaign against anyone who represents an independent source of information. The media, Mueller's investigation, the FBI, the national security apparatus, the Congressional Budget Office, scientists in the case of climate change, I could go on and on. But Trump essentially wants a monopoly on information and he wants to attack anyone who threatens that monopoly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Kind of an interesting framing and interesting way to think about the president's criticism of the media, his criticism of the Mueller investigation, et cetera. If you view it all as an attempt to control what information is OK and acceptable, that might all start to make sense.
PAUL: So, Brian, the latest tweet from the president really kind of takes it to a whole new level though, doesn't it?
STELTER: Yes, he's just posted something in the last few minutes, once again here attacking the press as the enemy of the people. You know, you all can read on screen for yourselves, it's pretty ugly. He says the press can sow great division and distrust and also cause war. He also journalists are very dangerous and sick.
Look, he does continue to ratchet it up a little louder every time. I think of it as a verbal form of poison, slow acting poison. It trickles through the veins. It's intended to cause people not to trust what they hear, and what they read and what they see.
And, in fact, he's been pretty explicit about that recently, saying you can't believe what you're reading. I also notice one line in the rally last night that sums it up really well, he said we're doing so many things that you don't even know about it. Now, he was saying that in a positive way to his supporters saying, hey, the media is not telling you about all the great things we're accomplishing.
You can also view that in a negative way, about the scandals and controversies that plague his administration. But he believes the press is out to get him and he acts very much like he's in a bunker, like he's on the defense. It is one of the defining themes of this presidency.
SAVIDGE: Other presidents though have of course tried to monopolize information or control their message, their version investigation of events, much more difficult, though, in a modern world when you have social media and many more different media outlets.
STELTER: Yes, the president supported by a pro-Trump media universe that could not have existed 20 years ago and did not exist 10 years ago. Largely, it's Fox News and a variety of websites that prop him up and support him almost no matter what. And again, at the rally last night, this is really telling, the president was giving shout- outs to his favorite Fox News host and he used the word we, as we are winning, we are in this together. He thinks of himself almost as a part of Fox News at this point, at least that's how he was talking at the rally last night.
But make no mistake, when he says enemy of the people, this is extremist rhetoric. This is the kind of rhetoric used by Stalin and other dictators many, many decades ago. It has its roots in an ugly part of our shared history on this planet. And so, the president when he brings that language back, when he tries to use that language to divide people, it's going to end up being a sad chapter of his presidency.
PAUL: All righty. Brian Stelter, always appreciate you. Thank you so much, sir.
PAUL: And be sure to catch him on "RELIABLE SOURCES," of course, today at 11:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.
PAUL: So, are you really aware of the dangers of texting while walking? Because the numbers of distracted walkers is way up and this week's "Staying Well" looks at how you really can keep yourself safe and what the injuries are. It could be severe.
JESSICA SCHWARTZ, AMERICAN PHYSICAL THERAPHY ASSOCIATION: When we're walking and testing we either can't walk well or text well. Most of the distracted walking injuries are actually from younger generations. We've seen upwards of 50 percent increase in the last ten years with distracted walking injuries both in the emergency department and clinics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was texting and I tripped on the stairs and ended up tearing off part of my toe nail.
SCHWARTZ: We have people coming in with hand injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, concussions. Nearly half of all traumatic brain injuries or concussions actually derive from falls. People have milliseconds when they fall. If you're walking and texting and about to fall, the number one thing
you want to do is protect yourself with your hands and your arms and roll into the fall and land on the softest part of the part. If you fight the fall, then you tend to fall with an outstretch hand or wrist, which essentially ends up with breaking a wrist or hand. The best thing you can do is actually be aware of your environment, which means actually drop the phone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something keeps buzzing and buzzing in my pocket. It feels urgent, like I've got to answer this now.
SCHWARTZ: Whatever you need to do, it can always wait.
SAVIDGE: Great advice.
Hey, they wanted an up close look at the wildlife but a family touring a safari park in Mexico got a whole lot more than they bargained for. This rhino --
SAVIDGE: -- charged the family's van. It was all caught on video.
PAUL: Oh, my goodness. The man who was recording this says the rhino was initially running towards some zebras -- it's still going. The zoo says the rhino was actually demonstrating aggressive behavior for a nearby female rhino. Thankfully, no one was injured.
SAVIDGE: See that -- try explaining that to the rental car company.
PAUL: There's some that will believe it.
Hey, listen, we hope you have great memories today. Thank you for being with us.
SAVIDGE: John King, "INSIDE POLITICS", right now.