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Trump and South Korean President at the White House; Trump Comments on WikiLeaks; Assange Charged by U.S. in Hacking Conspiracy; Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) is Interviewed Regarding Barr's Spying Remark. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired April 11, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because they know it's all a big scam, a big hoax. And it's called politics, but this is dirty politics. And this is actually treason. It's a very bad thing that people have done. And I just hope that law enforcement takes it up because if they don't take it up, they're a doing a great disservice to our country.
Yes. Go ahead, please.
TRUMP: No, we're talking about long term. And we always talk about long term. We want to have long term. Our relationship with South Korea is extraordinary. And we only think in terms of long term with South Korea, OK?
QUESTION: Mr. President.
TRUMP: Yes, sir, go ahead.
TRUMP: Explain that to me, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much do you support the president -- my president's push for economic concessions (ph) with -- which include the resumption of the joint inter-Korean industrial complex and perhaps even the --
TRUMP: Well, at the right time I would have great support. This isn't the right time. But at the right time I'd have great support with North Korea. Great support.
I think that South Korea and I think Japan and I think that the U.S., I think a lot of countries will be helping. China, I really believe, will help. I think that Russia will help. I think a lot of countries will help. When the right deal is made and when the nuclear weapons are gone, I just think that North Korea has potential as great as anything I've ever seen in terms of potential. They have an unbelievable location, surrounded by sea on two sides and on the other side Russia, China and over here South Korea. You just can't do better than that. And they have magnificent land. It has tremendous potential. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the question was, if North Korea actually submits a road map regarding complete denuclearization, are you two -- are the two presidents, will you be discussing this issue at the summit meeting today?
TRUMP: Yes, we will. We will be discussing it. Certainly that's a very prime topic for our meeting today. And we hope that's going to happen. Yes.
QUESTION: Is your position still that sanctions should stay in place on North Korea until there is denuclearization, or are you willing to consider easing sanctions to keep the talks going?
TRUMP: No, we want sanctions to remain in place. And, frankly, I had the option of significantly increasing them. I didn't want to do that because of my relationship with Kim Jong-un. I did not want to do that. I didn't think it was necessary. As you know, a couple of weeks ago I held it back. But I think that sanctions are right now at a level that's a fair level, and I -- I really believe something very significant is going to happen. We could always increase them, but I didn't want to do that at this time.
QUESTION: Mr. President, would you accept a smaller deal to keep the process going as President Moon going?
TRUMP: I'd have to see what the deal is. There are various smaller deals that maybe could happen. Things could happen. You can work out step by step pieces. But at this moment we're talking about the big deal. The big deal is, we have to get rid of the nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, guys.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you.
You know, there are 15 players capable of winning, and I guess you could say there are a lot more than that. They're great players. I don't think a field for the Masters has ever been this deep.
And I was watching late last night and they were going over the different players. I think the field has never been so deep. But always Phil and Tiger and Dustin and -- I mean you have so many great players. But they were just saying, they're younger, they're stronger, they've never hit the ball this long, they've never hit the ball this accurately, they've never putted than they do now. You know, the whole thing is pretty incredible.
But the field is very, very deep. I think it's going to be a great Masters. I hope so.
Thank you very much, everybody.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, President Trump there in the Oval Office meeting with South Korea's leader, making news on several topics.
He complimented North Korea despite Kim Jong-un's threat last night. He also praised Attorney General Bill Barr for using the word "spying," saying that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign without, as he did, offering specific proof before Congress. And as the founder of WikiLeaks is charged by the U.S. and arrested overseas, President Trump says he doesn't know anything about WikiLeaks. It's not his thing. But maybe you remember when it was.
[13:05:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.
This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You've got to read it.
It's been amazing what's coming out on WikiLeaks.
This WikiLeaks is fascinating.
This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.
Getting off the plane they were just announcing new WikiLeaks! And I wanted to stay there, but I didn't want to keep you waiting.
Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: He mentioned it dozens and dozens of times, just really in the final -- final moments, final weeks of the election.
And our Abby Phillip is at the White House.
This was -- tell -- walk us through this. Walk us through what we saw and what stood out to you?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this is not the first time that President Trump has sought to side step that long history that you just played there of him praising WikiLeaks during the campaign, praising Assange during the campaign and, frankly, his campaign utilizing the information that was stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign server as a weapon in that race. And I think the president now has totally changed his tune saying he doesn't know anything about it. He doesn't know anything about Assange. And he's repeat that had repeatedly over the last year or so whenever he's been asked about this issue.
But he's never expressed any sort of remorse about -- the idea that as a candidate he believed that WikiLeaks and that Assange and whoever was behind the hacking of e-mails was useful to him. And he was willing to use it as tool in his political arsenal during 2016. But now he's saying it's up to his Justice Department to sort out what kinds of charges that Assange might face in connection with any of the incidents in the past that are a part of this case.
But President Trump is, you know, he's trying to obfuscate what's clearly obvious based on what we just saw in that video, and what everybody remembers. This became such a staple of the campaign toward the end. He would go up at his rallies and say, I love WikiLeaks. He would hold up the documents and wave it at his supporters saying how great it was of a read, these stolen documents. So this is a president who, at one time, I think, thought he thought a lot -- that he knew a lot about WikiLeaks. Now he's saying the exact opposite.
KEILAR: He is indeed.
Abby Phillip at the White House, thank you so much.
I want to bring in Gloria Borger and Laura Coates to talk about this.
It is pretty stunning when he says, I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I have no opinion, he said. I mean --
KEILAR: He's had so many opinions.
KEILAR: Very positive opinions of WikiLeaks. He's not defending Julian Assange, but it's almost surprising that he's lot.
BORGER: Well, there's hardly anything Donald Trump doesn't have an opinion on. And suddenly now he does not have an opinion. He's -- right, exactly, because his -- you know, in leaving it up to his attorney general, who, by the way, he has a lot of respect for and who he also went on to say did the right thing yesterday in saying there was illegal spying on him during the campaign -- during his campaign. So suddenly he -- he wants to put a little bit of distance between himself and Julian Assange.
KEILAR: And it -- it can't exactly be a Russian hoax if Julian Assange is being arrested for, you know, the hacked e-mails.
KEILAR: If he's a piece of that.
KEILAR: Even though that's -- it's computer intrusion on a different issue that he's being -- that is really the issue for him here legally.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Which is why it's so interesting not to have an opinion. He had an opinion on Chelsea Manning, who is the person who is tied to Julian Assange in this one count indictment. That commutation of his sentence -- of her sentence, excuse me, by Barack Obama in 2017, Trump had a lot to say about that issue. Now he has his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, being very involved in thinking about how to actually pursue it up to a year ago a sealed indictment about Chelsea Manning. So now you've got a president saying, now when you actually have him within your snares possibly, there's no opinion any longer, when Chelsea Manning has been complicit, when a man has talked about how he does not want anyone leaking information? That's what's so surprising. This is almost a gift to President Trump to talk about this issue and he's staying away from it, which leads me to believe, based on what you're saying, Brianna, as well, maybe it's that 2016 DNC hacked e-mail connection that he says that's the ten-foot pole I want to stay away from.
KEILAR: Let's talk about Bill Barr, because he was asked about his comments. And Steve Collinson (ph) wrote an analysis piece --
BORGER: A great piece.
KEILAR: About how this use of Bill Barr saying the spying, use that word "spying" on the Trump campaign, because he actually left open the possibility that it was adequately or appropriately predicated, right? But so using that description instead of saying "surveillance," instead of conclusively saying it wasn't something that shouldn't be done because he couldn't and he didn't have proof, he gave a giant gift to the president saying spying on the campaign. And you can tell just by the president's reaction there, he said he agreed with him and he said he'd go a step further and call it illegally spying, Gloria.
[13:10:01] I mean this is -- this is exactly playing into the president's narrative.
BORGER: Well, look, the president has been saying this for quite some time, that he was illegally spied upon, that for some reason he knows that. And what he's talking about, of course, is the FBI. What he's talking about is the FBI launching a counterintelligence investigation into his campaign because they were observing so many meetings apparently between campaign people and Russians and that they were trying to kind of figure out what was going on here because they've never observed anything about it -- like it in the past. And Barr went on to say sort of, why wouldn't you tell them about it. And, you know, they did generally, but Comey -- James Comey, former FBI director, has testified this was an ongoing investigation and we weren't sure how far up the ladder it went, right? So they didn't.
KEILAR: Trump used the word "treason." He was -- he called it "treason."
KEILAR: He's been throwing that word around, not just on this issue, but also how Democrats are handling the border situation is how he's describing that. He said he hopes law enforcement takes it up. If they don't, it's a disservice to the country.
COATES: Well, it's surprising yet again that the head of the executive branch, charged with enforcing laws, is not actually -- there's a legal implication to the word "treason." It's not as colloquial as he'd like it to be. There doesn't appear to be that hook of treason here. He wants to throw it out in that direction. But the idea here, which is so surprising to me, is everyone's focusing on the word "spying." To Gloria's point, it's the word "genesis" I took issue with because that's the part of it Bill Barr is talking about, about the Steele dossier, about the FISA warrants and Carter Page, about the discussions that were had before George Papadopoulos. He's actually fanning the flames in a number of conspiracy theories perhaps that have been waged by people and parroted by supporters of the no Mueller probe movement to suggest that it was the genesis, the reason behind it, that should actually be called into question, which is why the pejorative term "spying" is really problematic because that actually saying that there was something nefarious going on, that there wasn't legitimate -- looking at based on the surveillance issues.
And so when I look at that I think to myself, the focus is on spying. But it's also the idea of the president has been focusing on the dossier and Christopher -- and Carter Page for so long, he gave them all of that. He -- that's why the president is supportive of this particular attorney general.
BORGER: What was so stunning to me yesterday about Barr was that, you know, he said, we're going to launch an investigation into this. The inspector general --
BORGER: Is already doing an investigation on this very thing within his own department. Why the need to launch something separate unless you're trying to please your boss, as in the president.
KEILAR: No, it's a good point.
Gloria, Laura, thank you so much.
We have more now on our breaking news.
Charges filed by the United States against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Authorities took Assange into custody this morning at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had been holed up for nearly seven years. He resisted and had to be restrained as officers dragged him out of the building.
Chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is live for us from London.
And, Clarissa, Assange appeared before a judge just a short time ago. Tell us what happened there and tell us what's next.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, according to people who were in the courtroom, Assange appeared calm, he appeared confident. He entered his not guilty plea. The judge, however, breaking with traditional protocol, was not afraid to speak his mind. He call Assange, quote, a narcissist who cannot go behind his own selfish interests.
He also said that the extradition hearing will take play on May 2nd. That gives the U.S. about 65 days to put together their case for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
Now, after the court proceedings, we did finally hear from Assange's lawyer and also the co-editor of WikiLeaks. Essentially Assange released only one statement, which is, I told you so. The co-editor of WikiLeaks saying this isn't about conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. This is about conspiracy to commit journalism. You can see the thought behind here is creating a narrative whereby this becomes an issue of freedom of speech.
But I think, Brianna, and you can hear these protesters, noisy protesters, behind me here at the Ecuadorian embassy, this was the real story today, seeing Julian Assange walking out of this embassy after seven years holed up inside. He looked completely disheveled, large beard. He had to be draged out and restrained. He was sort of shouting and gesticulating, carrying a cop of Gore Vidal's "History of National Security State." Essentially contributing to the theatrics of this.
And the Ecuadorians saying, for their part, you know, essentially Assange was behaving aggressively, he was discourteous. They believed he was trying to foment regime change inside Ecuador. One Ecuadorian minister actually saying he had gone so far as to smear feces on one of the walls inside the Ecuadorian embassy. And so you essentially have two components to this story, Brianna. You have the very real, legal issues confronting Julian Assange, and also the kind of extraordinary story of this highly unusual man and his seven years inside this embassy.
[13:15:33] KEILAR: Thanks so much, Clarissa. Clarissa Ward in London.
And the president, moments ago, complimenting Kim Jong-un after the North Korean dictator made a big threat.
Plus, President Trump's sister, a federal judge, retiring over a fraud investigation involving their family.
And how the president is escalating the use of the word "treason."
[13:20:14] KEILAR: Democrats are railing against Attorney General William Barr and his planned probe into the origins of the Trump Russia investigation. Trump characterizing Barr's review of the Russia probe beginning as fight back against what he describes as an attempted coup.
Barr's independence from the White House called into question when he said that he believes the Trump campaign was spied on by U.S. intelligence agencies without offering specific evidence.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded by saying that Barr had, quote, gone off the rails. She said Barr is the people's attorney, not the president's personal lawyer.
California Congressman Ted Lieu is a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. He's joining us now.
Sir. Thanks for being with us.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: Joining us from Leesburg, Virginia, where the conference for the House Democrats is, I should say.
So, former FBI Director James Comey was asked a short time ago about the AG's spying comments, and Comey said he had no idea what Barr was talking about.
I wonder first, what did you think of Barr use this word "spying" to describe surveillance of the Trump campaign Russian contacts that, in his word, could have been properly predicated?
LIEU: I thank you for your question.
With every passing day, Bill Barr looks less like an independent thinker and more like a pawn of the president. We know that it's been nearly three weeks since Robert Mueller completed his report. Bill Barr still hasn't release it. We know that Bill Barr believes it is the mission of the Department of Justice to defend congressional laws, yet he's doing the bidding of Trump by suing to overturn the law that protects pre-existing conditions. And now he's engaged in conspiracy theories by saying that somehow the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. That's not what happened at all. These were surveillance warrants approved by the deputy attorney general, who happens to be Republican, authorized by four judges, FISA judges, who also happen to be Republicans. This was authorized surveillance.
KEILAR: Barr said he didn't know if this spying was adequately predicated or justified. Barr's loaded language aside, is this an important question to answer because there was no collusion that was found in this when you look at Barr's summary of the Mueller report.
LIEU: So we know that Robert Mueller believed that there was not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the president engaged in a conspiracy with the Russians. That doesn't mean that members of his campaign didn't engage in activities that were collusive or the president may have engaged in collusive type activities that did not rise to the level of a federal crime.
KEILAR: No, it actually -- sir, in fairness, quote, this is Robert Mueller's words, quote, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. That's in the summary. But that's actually a quote from Robert Mueller. LIEU: Yes. That is correct. I do not challenge that. What I'm saying
is, they can engage in activities that don't rise to a level of beyond a reasonable doubt of engaging any federal crime. We need to see the entire report to know.
Now, in terms of what we're talking about, what they're alleged surveillance of Trump campaign officials. Again, these were approved by four FISA judges, appointed, and they're Republicans, and it was approved by a deputy attorney general who also happens to be a Republican.
KEILAR: So when it says did not establish that they conspired or coordinated, it doesn't say reasonable doubt. You're extrapolating that from this quote?
LIEU: Absolutely. I'm a former prosecutor. The charge of Robert Mueller, who is also a former prosecutor, is before he indicts anyone, he has to have evidence he believes can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a person committed a crime.
And we haven't seen the report. That's very important to note. You have almost 400 pages and we haven't seen that. Congress hasn't seen that.
I want to the talk about WikiLeaks. Julian Assange, as you know, is under arrest in London. The U.S. Department of Justice has announced he's charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. And this stems from the Chelsea Manning case, not the release of DNC and Clinton campaign e-mails.
What's your reaction to this?
LIEU: Yes. So as a former prosecutor, I believe no one is above the law. And I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment and of press freedoms. But what Julian Assange did was a step different. He is wanted in multiple countries for multiple crimes. He originally went to Ecuador, the embassy, to seek asylum because Swedish prosecutors charged him with rape. He is now coming to the United States because U.S. Department of Justice officials have charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
Regardless of what you think of their First Amendment, it does not authorize anyone to engage in computer hacking of a classified computer system.
[13:25:00] KEILAR: You're talking to us, as I mentioned, from the summit. You're there in Leesburg, Virginia. And I want to ask you about some comments that were made there by House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth. He's describing the Democratic caucus. And here's what he said. Quote, two-thirds of our caucus hasn't been in the majority. They're used to rhetorical exercises and not actually doing the governing work. Then you've got 70 percent of our new members who have never been in public office. Do you think that's an accurate description of why there are many
let's say competing and sometimes out-of-sync voices that are coming from your party?
LIEU: We have over 235 amazing members of the Democratic caucus. We represent different districts. And we're going to have different priorities. But, at the end of the day, as we work through different issues, we always come together. And we've had a stunning success in the first 100 days, passing off universal background checks on guns, passing the Violence Against Women Act, as well as engaging in hearings on reduce health care costs.
So it's going to take some time, but, at the end of the day, we're passing off votes on a majority basis to move America forward.
KEILAR: Do you think that some of the folks in your caucus are -- they aren't bringing some institutional knowledge to this situation as they engage in some of these debates, and also just the awareness of how you govern and what it takes to have maybe a fight with someone versus what it takes to actually get something done?
LIEU: Right. So the way our entire government is set up, it's not set up to be efficient. It's set up to have a lot of voices to be heard, to have a lot of discussions, and at the end of the day, we're going to move forward and our Democratic caucuses, our strength is our unity. And as you saw in the government shutdown, we were unified. As you've seen in their major votes coming off the House floor, they've been very unified votes. So, at the end of the day, we are passing legislation for the people that's moving the American family forward.
KEILAR: I like how you put that, though, that the government isn't set up to be efficient, because truer words were never spoken.
Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much for being with us.
LIEU: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: After North Korea's Kim Jong-un threatens to deliver a serious blow to those imposes sanctions, President Trump praises him and says that sanctions will stay.
Plus, why freshman Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is once again at the center of a controversy. This time it's over her comments about 9/11.