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CNN NEWSROOM

Biden Pushes Message of Unity in Campaign Kickoff Rally; Rep. Dwight Evans Discusses Importance of Pennsylvania in Election, Biden and African-American Voters; WAPO: Acting DHS Chief Threatened to Quit over Stephen Miller; Democrats to Respond with Lawsuit after Mnuchin Defies Subpoena for Trump's Tax Returns; 70 Million Under Severe Weather Threat this Weekend; While Cooperating with Mueller Flynn Sent Messages to GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz Telling Him to "Keep the Pressure On" Mueller; ; Flynn Told Mueller People Connected to Congress or Trump Administration Tried to Influence Him Not to Cooperate with Probe; Trump Leans on Twitter Guru for Advice & Information; Tiger Woods Misses Cut, Brooks Koepka Setting Records. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 18, 2019 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:28] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It's 3:00 eastern, noon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

With more than 500 days until Election Day, Democratic candidates are storming the campaign trail this weekend to get the message out to the masses. From coast to coast, 10 of the 23 Democratic presidential hopefuls are holding events.

Most notably, is former Vice President Joe Biden, who just wrapped up his campaign launch with a big rally in Philadelphia, where he made his strategy clear, bring unity back to America.

But that doesn't mean he's going to hold back against the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are we a nation that believes there's a moral equivalence between white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and those with the courage to stand against them?

(SHOUTING)

BIDEN: No, we don't, but Trump does. Trump said there's a moral equivalence.

Are we a nation that believes ripping children from the arms of their parents at the border?

(SHOUTING)

BIDEN: No, we don't, but Trump does.

Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like Putin and Kim Jong-Un?

(SHOUTING)

BIDEN: No, we don't, but Trump does.

Look, every day we're reminded, in this election about we have to remember who we are, what we stand for, what we believe. Every day, we're reminded, there's nothing guaranteed about our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Biden is hoping to turn his birth state of Pennsylvania blue. In fact, he's picked Philadelphia as his home base for his campaign.

CNN political reporter, Arlette Saenz, is joining us now.

Arlette, how did Biden's message of unity land there?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Ana, you heard Joe Biden stressing the country needs to come together and unite. But he was also hammering away at one other point, saying that they must defeat President Trump.

He talked about certain issues important to voters, like civil liberties, a woman's right to choose, climate change. And the priority in his plan for climate change, he says, is defeating the president.

I want to play for you another moment where Biden took another swipe at President Trump when it came to the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I know President Trump likes to take credit for the economy and the economic growth and the low unemployment numbers.

(SHOUTING)

(BOOING)

BIDEN: Just look at the facts, not the alternative facts.

(CHEERING)

BIDEN: President Trump inherited an economy from Obama/Biden administration. That was given to him.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Just like he inherited everything else in his life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: Now, Biden also pushed back on those who argue that he may be naive in saying that the country needs to return to consensus. He said that he's willing to take on Republicans at times, but he also knows how to make government work because he's actually been there in office.

You heard him multiple times, pointing back to his collaboration, his partnership with President Obama. That's something that Biden has been stressing throughout this campaign so far.

Really, Biden was trying to project that message of unity, saying that the country needs to stop fighting and start working, and that the priority will be defeating President Trump -- Ana?

CABRERA: Arlette, let's talk a little bit more about the location of this big launch and the final rally of his kickoff. Just how crucial is Pennsylvania for any Democrat in order to win the presidency?

SAENZ: Well, you'll remember that President Trump won Pennsylvania back in 2016. That was central to his campaign.

This is a state that has typically trended, dating back to the 1980s, to voting for Democratic presidential candidates. This will be a very important state going forward in 2020.

Biden is placing particular emphasis here. He started his campaign events over in Pittsburgh two and a half weeks ago, and he is ending this three-week rollout tour here in Philadelphia. He serves next door in Delaware for 36 years. Biden believes that he can appeal to some of those working-class voters here in the state that voted for President Trump last time around.

Now, Biden is here in Philadelphia. But come Monday, President Trump is actually coming to the state for his own campaign rally, which just shows you how important to both sides this state is going to be going forward.

Of course, Pennsylvania is a little bit later in the primary process, but already, candidates are looking forward to that general election.

[15:05:00] CABRERA: All right. Arlette Saenz, in Philadelphia, thank you.

It's no secret, Pennsylvania is a hugely critical state for Democrats going into 2020. Back in 2016, Donald Trump, as she mentioned, took it by an extremely close margin, beating Hillary Clinton by less than 1 percent.

As the crowded Democratic field sets their sights on this state, how do they stack up against the president in Pennsylvania right now?

We have some polling that shows, according to Quinnipiac, Pennsylvania native, Joe Biden, leads President Trump in a potential head-to-head matchup, right now, by double digits.

The former vice president is also well ahead of his Democratic rivals in his home state among registered Democrats there. You look at these numbers, Biden is at 39 percent. The next closest is Senator Bernie Sanders with 13 percent. Other Democratic candidates are all in the single digits.

Where do the Democratic candidates, besides Biden, stand in a potential head-to-head matchup with Trump? Here, the numbers get closer. Senator Bernie Sanders comes out ahead by seven percentage points. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a more-narrow lead. Senator Kamala Harris is tied with Trump at 45 percent.

My next guest knows all too well just how crucial Pennsylvania will be in 2020. Pennsylvania Congressman Dwight Evans joins us now.

Congressman Evans, thanks for being here.

When Biden talks about unity over division, is he speaking to progressive Democrats or Trump supporters? Who does he need more?

REP. DWIGHT EVANS (D-PA): He's speaking to the American people. Pennsylvania is that kind of state. It is one of the original keystone states, and it is very important that it brings people together.

Understand this is where the Constitution and the birth of the American democracy is. It couldn't be a more appropriate place that the vice president would be doing the event at this location. Had a fantastic, enthusiastic crowd. People are ready for a change.

He's right, the only thing that stands in the way of that change is the current occupancy of the White House.

CABRERA: When you say change, it is interesting, because this is a man who has been in Washington, spent so many decades in Washington, even though he isn't serving currently. How is he presenting himself as the candidate of change?

EVANS: Well, he's presenting is that he understands what it takes for that change. He knows, first and foremost, you have to bring people together. He stressed that throughout his discussion, the importance of bringing people together. And he made it very clear, he is going to unite people. That's the message.

I've been in Washington for two years and four months. I can tell you, in order to address the issues we have to -- like health care, he's not trying to take away health care, he's trying to build on what President Obama established. He worked with President Obama. That's very important. When it came down to the economic recovery issue, he brought it together. He worked with President Obama.

He understands the importance of uniting. I believe in the Democratic primary, that message will go across not just in the primary but the general election.

CABRERA: I'm glad you bring that up. It seemed Biden's strategy is to run like he is already in the general election, to run against Trump. Could presenting himself as the inevitable Democratic nominee backfire? I mean, that could rub voters the wrong way, no?

EVANS: Well, no. Because he also made it very clear, he's not speaking negative about any Democrat.

CABRERA: Right.

EVANS: This is about concentrating on the issues that are most important to the people of this country. He made that very clear.

He is talking about setting a tone, particularly around the world. Leaders need to understand that we have somebody with character. Vice President Biden is that kind of person. He has demonstrated it.

We know his record. We've seen him in action. He understands we have to move forward and fight for the future. That's what he will be doing.

CABRERA: You talk about him not saying another negative word about any other Democratic challenger. On one hand, someone could say, well, it seems he is dismissing the rest of the Democratic field. I mean, it is easy to do that, perhaps, when you're way up in the polls, but can he be held to that if the race tightens, or if another Democrat maybe overtakes him in the race for the nomination?

EVANS: I don't view it the way -- the question you're raising that way. Look, it is a competition. He understands he has to go out and work for the people.

As a matter of fact, if you look, vice president Biden is still here going out shaking hands, every single hand. He says no one is going to out-work him. It is important to understand that we have a lot in the future of this country. Not just the Democratic Party but we're talking about the nation. I think that's important to understand.

So for the first time, here's someone who is talking about uniting and bringing people together, and taking on the issues that are important to us, health care, global climate. All those issues are issues we have to confront.

CABRERA: Let me ask you, as an African-American member of Congress, why do you believe Biden would be a better president for African- Americans in this country than Senators Cory Booker or Kamala Harris, two black colleagues of yours on Capitol Hill, also running to the president?

[15:10:04] EVANS: Well, see, again, I'll say this, look, they obviously have a right to run. At the end of the day, it is the person who can bring people together. I think that he has demonstrated.

He was a United States Senator for 29 years with the neighboring state of Delaware. He was like the third Senator of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was raised in northeast Pennsylvania. He knows Philadelphia well. He knows Pittsburgh well.

Biden is a Pennsylvanian-type person. It is very clear, this state knows him. I know him. I've understood it. I've been strongly out there for him from the day he announced back when he had the fundraiser here, as well as what he did in Pittsburgh. I don't take that lightly.

I don't think he's minimizing my colleagues who are in the race. They have a right to compete. At the end of the day, we must beat Trump in order to move this country forward. I think he is very clear, he has the vision and the electability. He has both those combinations in order to move this race forward.

CABRERA: You and I both heard him really embrace President Obama, talk about his service alongside President Obama, praise him as a president. If his stance on policies is in line and mirrors Barack Obama's, what risk is he facing by not taking a more progressive approach to issues, given where the Democratic Party is today?

EVANS: Well, he said something -- or health care, for example, the Affordable Care Act, he said there needs to be a public option, right, regarding het care health care. That is a step different from President Obama. President Obama, the Affordable Care Act, which we all support, he said there should be a public option. We don't minimize in terms of how he's trying to move things forward.

I stress to you, he understands what's necessary to get things done. I believe people want us to make things work and make government work. He has the ability. He has the relationships with Republicans. That's not a bad thing. You have to have relationships with Republicans to get some things done, but you have to have somebody who has a vision and electability. I believe Vice President Biden is that one to make it happen.

CABRERA: Congressman Dwight Evans, of Pennsylvania, thanks so much for being here.

EVANS: Thank you for inviting me.

CABRERA: Trump aide, Stephen Miller, reportedly trying to meddle with the Homeland Security Department. The new guy in charge there pushing back hard. The clash being called a, quote, "immigration knife fight." Details next.

Plus, look at this video from a tornado outbreak in the Midwest. We will tell you when a second round of severe weather could hit this area.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:10] CABRERA: The president's go-to aide on immigration, Stephen Miller, reportedly trying to meddle with the Homeland Security Department. The new guy in charge there almost quit over it.

The "Washington Post" reports Miller tried to engineer a departmental shakeup this week and was blocked by acting Homeland Security chief, Kevin McAleenan, who threatened to leave unless he got more control over his own agency.

Miller is no stranger to DHS meddling. His behind-closed-doors classes created plenty of tensions with previous DHS chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, who eventually resigned.

The new guy, McAleenan, has only been on the job for six weeks.

Let's get to CNN White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez.

Boris, we know Miller and McAleenan clashed over the fate of Mark Morgan, the president's choice to head Immigration Customs Enforcement. What happened?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, according to the "Washington Post," the two men had it out specifically over Mark Morgan. It appears Stephen Miller wanted Morgan to lead Customs and Border Protection, while McAleenan felt strongly he should stay on as the acting director of ICES.

According to sources who spoke to the "Washington Post," McAleenan threatened to design over it, making the case that he should have say over who gets hired at his own agency.

Ultimately, it appears McAleenan got his way because Morgan is set to start as the acting director of ICE next week, according to sources who spoke to "The Post." Though one Trump aide, as you said, described this as an "immigration knife fight."

It just goes to show two things. First, the influence that Stephen Miller has over this issue. And just how contentious the issue of immigration is within this administration.

Neither anyone at DHS nor the White House wanted to comment to CNN about this story though -- Ana?

CABRERA: Another contentious issue and another big development, we're learning Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump's tax returns.

Boris, how are House Democrats responding? What's next?

SANCHEZ: Well, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, who had been leading this effort to get six years of the president's tax returns, said he wants to see this wind up in court.

He is not taking a route that other Democrats, like Jerry Nadler, had before, in holding administration officials in contempt of Congress. He says he doesn't want to do that with the Treasury secretary. Instead, he wants to see this wind up in a courtroom.

There are two ways to get there. Essentially, Neal could have the House vote on potential litigation, or he could have the bipartisan legal action group, essentially the top-five leaders in the House, vote on this. Democrats hold a majority in both, Ana. This is just a formality.

This will wind up being another front in fact legal battles between congressional Democrats and the White House.

CABRERA: OK, Boris Sanchez, at the White House, thank you, sir. Stunning video from the Oklahoma/Kansas border. Take a look at this.

These are the moments after a tractor trailer slammed into a tornado, knocking a semi over and trapping the driver. We'll tell you what happened, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:22:51] CABRERA: If you're in the central U.S. right now, brace yourself. More than 70 million people, from Texas to Minnesota, are in a severe weather zone right now, with storms packing tornadoes and golf-ball sized hail rolling across the country's midsection.

Watch this from Kansas late last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In front of us. Semi over in the road. Good night! Look at that! It just now knocked a semi over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: A tornado did that. Storm chasers were able to get the driver out.

This is just one of 30 tornado reports over the last 24 hours. Danville, Illinois, got the hail part of the storm. A Toyota dealership there says 300 vehicles were damaged. And 75 miles away, in Clinton, Illinois, an Instagram user posted this.

Buckle up. We're told this is just round one.

I want to bring in CNN Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.

Ivan, is round two upon us?

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We are talking about round two. I've actually lost count, I'll tell you, Ana. The last few days, we've been tracking this over the last two, three days at this point here.

What we're looking at is a relentless and very dangerous pattern setting up across the U.S. right now. I want to update you on what's happening on the ground. Tornado watches in effect. Conditions are favorable for tornadoes, San Antonio, Little Rock, part of southwestern Missouri. You can drive 650 miles and not be out of the tornado watches. That continues into the evening.

Look at the line of storms that's blown up here. Dallas, are you watching from Dallas? Perhaps not. Power may be out. We're talking about the potential here of tornadoes, damaging winds, and also torrential downpours. Dallas under a severe thunderstorm watch. We just check the warning. That's current. We checked the airport, two and a half hour delays. Planes are not getting in or out for good reason.

We go further north, this is where it really gets dangerous. The pink you see there, those are tornado warnings. One actually reported on the ground, passing by Fort Smith, Arkansas, Airport. This is going to the northeast.

Took a chance with a local forecast. Stay tuned to the weather alerts. This is a developing storm system as it continues pushing off to the east over the next several hours.

[15:25:01] As Ana mentioned, we're on day two. Yesterday, was the first day that things really blew up. There we are for Sunday. There they are for Monday. Monday looks particularly dangerous across the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma. We'll get to that when we get to that. Because we still have this to get there. And it'll continue this afternoon and into the evening. Watch the clock, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00.

My concern is, as it always is with the storms, they continue into the overnight hours, and folks are going to go to bed. If you're in the area, make sure your weather alerts are working. You want that to wake you up, and not a tornado or a damaging wind gust that could come in 60 or 80 miles an hour.

We'll continue to follow that. It'll be a busy afternoon for all the wrong reasons at the Weather Center -- Ana?

CABRERA: Scary situation. Could be a long evening.

Brother Ivan, thank you. Keep us posted.

He first met Donald Trump as a 16-year-old golf caddy, but now Dan Scavino holds one of the most powerful roles in the West Wing, the president's so-called Twitter guru. The story behind Scavino's "Let Trump be Trump" philosophy is just ahead.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: New this weekend, we've learned, at the same time Michael Flynn was cooperating with Robert Mueller, he was reaching out to a critic of Mueller, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Here are the Twitter messages obtained by CNN that Flynn sent to Gaeta. In one, Flynn tells Gaetz, quote, "You stay on top of what you're doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on."

[15:30:00] Just before he got that message, Gates was on FOX News, criticizing Mueller and the Department of Justice. Flynn also sent Gates a message as recently as February of this year, on the same day William Barr was confirmed as attorney general. Flynn sent Gaetz a picture of a bald eagle and a flag.

I want to bring in attorney and CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin.

Areva, Congressman Gaetz frequently criticized Mueller. He called for him to resign. The fact that Flynn was messaging him, telling him to keep it up, does it make you wonder how willing Flynn was to cooperate and whether he really told Mueller everything he knew?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it is very troubling, Ana. If you recall, back in December of last year, when Michael Flynn appeared before a federal judge, a federal judge questioned whether Flynn was sufficiently loyal, I would say, to, you know, the prosecutors with respect to the information he provided, and if he was sufficiently remorseful for the conduct that he had engaged in.

When you hear this information, that he is sending direct messages to Gaetz, really encouraging the kind of Republican rhetoric we've heard about the information, and suggesting that it is somehow illegitimate, I think it really emphasizes or confirms what the judge questioned, which is, where is Michael Flynn.

He is vacillating between, you know, working with the special counsel, but at the same time, encouraging this kind of undermining of the special counsel's office that we've seen from many Republican congressmen, particularly Congressman Gaetz.

CABRERA: It pulls back the curtain to why the judge in his initial sentencing hearing suggested perhaps Flynn wasn't as cooperative as prosecutors had suggested.

Now, I also want to ask you about something else we learned about Flynn. He told Mueller that there were multiple instances where someone either connected to the Trump administration or Congress contacted him and potentially tried to influence him not to cooperate. Is that obstruction or witness tampering?

MARTIN: Under any other circumstances, absolutely. What we've seen with Donald Trump, President Trump is -- his team and him specifically, engage in the contact we have seen 800 former federal prosecutors say is absolutely obstruction of justice and absolutely the kind of conduct that any other citizen would be charged with a federal crime.

This conduct seems to, you know, be acceptable by GOP, by Republican congressmen, when it comes to Donald Trump and folks of his administration.

The thought that someone from the president's team, from his administration, would be contacting Michael Flynn, trying to influence his testimony or influence his cooperation with the Department of Justice or with the FBI, is really appalling.

When you think about the role of the president and think of his job, to uphold the Constitution and uphold the law, to think that he would be doing something, or someone associated with him, because it is not clear he directed the conduct.

CABRERA: Right.

MARTIN: But someone associated with him would be trying to undermine the rule of law and influence the testimony or cooperation of someone like Michael Flynn is really shocking. CABRERA: Yet, it doesn't appear that Flynn gave Mueller anything

tangible to implicate the president. Trump obviously isn't charged with anything. Why so much concern from the Trump administration officials and people connected to Congress over Flynn's cooperation?

MARTIN: It does raise the question about what Michael Flynn knows.

I think you said it correctly at the start of this interview, which is, has Michael Flynn really been cooperating 100 percent with the special counsel and the FBI with respect to this investigation. Is there information about Donald Trump that he has not revealed, which Donald Trump knows, which has his team and has him on edge?

I think when we see the kind of outreach from Michael Flynn to this congressman, suggesting that he's encouraging this undermining of the special counsel, it does raise the issue about whether he is fully cooperating.

We'll see what this judge thinks about this information and if he's willing to follow the prosecutor's recommendation of no jail time for Michael Flynn. This really complicates his case, I think, from a legal standpoint.

He'll be back in front of the same judge with the prosecutors asking he not serve any jail time, but the judge having to weigh the conduct he's engaged in since he has been, you know, engaged in this cooperation agreement with the special counsel.

CABRERA: Attorney General William Barr says even he was surprised Mueller didn't reach a conclusion on obstruction. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS HOST: Were you surprised that he came back with no recommendation on that obstruction charge? Did that surprise you?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, that surprised me.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS HOST: How come?

BARR: The function of a prosecutor is to make a call one way or the other.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS HOST: Did you ask him why?

BARR: Yes, we discussed it.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS HOST: What'd he say?

BARR: I already have said we met on March 5th, before he delivered the report, and he gave an explanation for it. It is pretty much reflected in the report.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[15:35:08] CABRERA: OK, so let's go back to the report. How do you interpret Mueller's explanation for his handling of obstruction based on the report?

MARTIN: Well, it was pretty clear from the report, Ana, that Special Counsel Mueller was saying to Congress, here is information, here are 10 instances where the president engaged in conduct that can definitely be -- that can meet the standard of obstruction, and it's up to you, Congress, to take the action.

Here's Barr. Barr -- it is hypocritical for Barr to say he is surprised. Yet, he had the same information that Special Counsel Mueller had. He could have clearly reached the conclusion that Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, like so many others in the legal community have reached. Yet, he came out, as we know, and put a spin on the 400-page report to support the narrative that the president has been pushing, no collusion, no obstruction.

Barr continues to support the narrative of the president rather than report out accurately what that report said, which is we should not forget what Mueller did say, is there's nothing in this report to exonerate Donald Trump.

#: Yes.

MARTIN: So as they're pushing this narrative of no obstruction and no collusion, that report actually says the president has not been exonerated.

#: Areva Martin, good to see you. Thank you for being here.

MARTIN: Thank you, Ana.

#: Tonight, a powerful primetime special. CNN journalists revisit stories they've never forgotten that continue to inspire them today. "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE," tonight, at 8:00 Eastern.

And speaking of amazing people, meet two "CNN Heroes" who join forces to help a young girl. Amanda Boxtel assist people who have mobility impairment. And Ricardo Pun-Chong provides free housing and support for sick children and their families while they receive medical treatment. Together, they work to deliver the gift of mobility to a child at Ricardo's shelter in Peru.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA BOXTEL, CNN HERO: He sent me a video of a little girl who is 8 years old, named Doleska (ph). She has cerebral palsy. She's been in a stroller for her whole life. It's time, don't you think, for her to have a wheelchair to call her own?

Look what we have for Doleska (ph). We had to think of everything because, you know, she's going to grow with this wheelchair.

RICARDO PUN-CHONG, CNN HERO: This chair is fantastic. Doleska (ph) is going to be so happy. She's going to have a better life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: How does that not make anybody smile? To nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to CNNheros.com.

We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:41:52] CABRERA: The president's Twitter guru playing a major role in relaying Trump's message to the masses. Dan Scavino is one of Trump's closest confidants and one of the remining original and completely trusted insiders still at Trump's side. He started out as Trump's golf caddy.

Here is CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a president obsessed with polls, ratings and adulation, there's nothing he loves more than the popularity barometer in his pocket, his Twitter account.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess we have 60 million, almost 60 million on Twitter.

TODD: The president has become so reliant on Twitter that "Politico" says, in a meeting earlier this year, he stopped a conversation with frustrated lawmakers about his decision to pull troops out of Syria in order to consult his Twitter account.

Quote, "Get Dan Scavino in here," the president reportedly called out. Scavino, Trump's social media advisor, walked in.

"Politico" said Trump then instructed Scavino to, quote, "Tell them how popular my policy is." Scavino reportedly then took the congressmen through the popular response Trump had gotten to the Syria decision on social media.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR: I think the thing that matters most to the president is he be affirmed by the people who love him, the people on Twitter who follow him and respond every time he says something. He uses Twitter almost as a personal polling service.

TODD: The president has often relied on Twitter to share his grievances and announce major decisions. But those who study him say, more and more, he seems to be using Twitter to gauge the reaction of his base over the advice of his administration. A far cry, historians say, from presidents who relied on polling, intelligence briefings, and background documents.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Donald Trump gives us the impression that he doesn't really use any of the work, or not much of the work that the institutions provide him and seems to rely on Twitter. Not only for a sense of how well his policies are doing but for what those policies ought to be. That's -- well, that's actually unprecedented.

TODD: Twitter is where the president goes to take the pulse of his base, analysts say, before he makes a decision.

But it's also a vehicle to validate his viewpoints, illustrated by his frenzy binges of re-tweeting others.

D'ANTONIO: He has all the power that comes with the office and, yet, he's insecure. He's so insecure that he's going to his Twitter feed to pump himself up.

TODD: Sometimes, the sources from which the president retweets have questionable credibility or are downright dangerous, like his 2017 re- tweet of three videos from a British anti-Muslim Twitter account.

What does his Twitter dependence say about Trump's view of reality?

D'ANTONIO: A president who spends most of his time either watching TV or tapping out tweets on his phone is going to have a warped sense of reality. He's not in the everyday existence that the rest of us share.

TODD: The president, on Friday, touted his use of Twitter as a way to circumvent traditional media.

TRUMP: I have to go through a different source. It is called do speeches and go with our social media stuff, which is quite powerful, I must say.

(CHEERING)

[15:45:05] TODD: And aides defend Trump's practice of not reading thick briefing papers or relying solely on advisers, saying Twitter gives Trump an effective way of having two-way communication with voters.

CLIFF SIMS, AUTHOR: He's able to control the news cycle through Twitter and other things. It allows him to see that and then react to it in real time.

TODD (on camera): But historians are warning of the dangers of Trump's reliance on Twitter to inform so much of what he does as president. One historian says, to solve an international crisis, a president often has to find out what the other side is looking for, to understand that, and find a common interest. He says you don't get that kind of information when you're only tapping into your Twitter feed and seeing your followers encouraging you to be tough.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Tiger Woods missing the cut at the PGA championship just a month after his amazing comeback at Augusta. But he's not the only one generating headlines on the course this weekend. We'll go live to Bethpage, next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back. He stunned us all with one of the greatest comebacks in sports histories at the Masters, but this time around, Tiger Woods just missed the cut at the PGA championship in his first tournament round since clenching his fifth Masters title. Woods was just one stroke away from continuing on this weekend.

The new front runner? Woods' playing partner, Brooks Koepka. He's setting major records on a fearsome course.

And CNN sports reporter, Andy Scholes, is joining us now.

Andy, where did this come from? Is Koepka swinging his way to a championship win?

[15:50:13] ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I tell you what, Brooks Koepka, he has been playing some of the best golf we have seen lately in the PGA tour. He's trying to win his fourth major in his last eight major appearances. This is really no surprise.

It's another beautiful day here in New York. Ana, it's 70 degrees and sunny. And it's supposed to be nice again tomorrow. If you want to come to the PGA championship, now is a great time. Tiger Woods missing the cut, ticket prices plummeting, about 50 percent. You can get in tomorrow for, like, 30 bucks.

Good time if you want to see some historic golf because that's exactly what Koepka is doing right now. He played with Tiger Woods in rounds one and two. And all the fans here pretty much came to see Tiger and they accidentally maybe saw the passing of the torch in golf as Koepka is having a phenomenal tournament, just dominating the field, 13 under par right now. And he's looking for more history this weekend.

Koepka, the reigning PGA champ and also the two-time U.S. Open champ. And no one has ever held back to back titles in two majors at the same time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKS KOEPKA, PRO GOLFER: I mean, I would like that lead to grow as large as it possibly can. I'm going to go out there and do what I can do, keep putting the ball in the right spot, and I should have a good chance of winning the championship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Koepka has a seven-shot lead right now in round three.

Adam Scott, one of those golfers out there, hoping that Koepka falters and comes back to the field.

This is what he said about Koepka yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM SCOTT, PRO GOLFER: I know he has won three majors. I know he seems impenetrable at the moment in this position. But at some point, he has got to think about it. Well, it has to come to an end eventually, that good frontrunning. Let's hope it's not 12 years like Tiger's frontrunning lasted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: So far, Koepka continuing to dominate here in round three.

Before I go, Ana, I want to show you a funny moment from round two yesterday. Dustin Johnson was getting ready to take a shot in the fairway, and the camera, they caught his playing partner, Jon Rahm, running off to find a tree to use the bathroom, and the camera guy saw what was happening and tried to frame him out, but didn't quite work. I guess, you know what they say, you got to go, you got to go.

#: You're supposed to go behind the tree, not in front where people can see you.

SCHOLES: He thought he was.

(LAUGHTER)

Didn't go far enough into the woods, yes.

CABRERA: Oh, man. Somebody needs to give that guy a little lesson.

Andy Scholes, that is too funny. Thank you for sharing.

SCHOLES: Right.

CABRERA: All right.

A 9/11 first responder donates a kidney to a firefighter with cancer. But the story gets even better. It doesn't end there. How another life was saved that same day.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:56:52] CABRERA: OK. I know this starts off sounding like a joke perhaps but bear with me because this is a sweet story. Three Irishmen walking around taking a picture to commemorate their vacation. Between the three of them, they have no camera or Smartphone. So they ask a passerby to take their picture and she does. But she asks how was she supposed to get the picture to them? Their response, we'll find it one day.

It turns out their faith paid off. A week later, that woman who snapped the picture posted it on Twitter explaining the circumstances and asking if anyone knew who these guys are. She had her answer in less than an hour. These three lads touring the Big Apple are apparently from northwest Ireland. Someone knew them, saw the photo, and so now they have their souvenir picture, the one you're looking at right there. A 9/11 first responder went "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY" by donating a

kidney to a firefighter who needed it. But he is not the only one who saved a life that day.

CNN's Tom Foreman explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ANNOUNCER: The two-one pitch.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could say the story started way back in 1969 when the New York Mets upset the heavily- favored Orioles to win their first World Series.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ANNOUNCER: The Mets are the world champions.

FOREMAN: You could say that, but that was before Brian Cooney's time.

(on camera): You didn't even know about the Miracle Mets.

OFFICER BRIAN COONEY, PORT AUTHORITY, LAGUARDIA AIRPORT: No, I'm too young to know. I was born four years after.

FOREMAN (voice-over): So, we'll get back to the ballgame. For now, what you need to know is Brian is a Port Authority police officer at LaGuardia Airport. He was also a 9/11 first responder, a guy who knows about going "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY."

COONEY: I've always been excited about helping people.

FOREMAN: So when he heard a call for organ donors, he stepped up and said he would give a kidney, no matter who needed it.

COONEY: There's no real impetus. It's not that someone, in particular, was sick or any one story. Knowing that it's going to make such a big difference is a pretty good feeling.

FOREMAN: It turns out the recipient was, surprisingly, a fellow public servant, Al Barbieri, diagnosed with kidney cancer and waiting for a donor more than a year.

AL BARBIERI, VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER, KIDNEY RECIPIENT: I was a young, healthy guy. I was a firefighter. I was active duty and responding to calls.

All of a sudden, here I am, you know, I'm the guy who's sick, and you're not used to being the guy that's sick.

FOREMAN: Al's wife, Debbie, was going to give him one of her kidneys.

DEBBIE BARBIERI, WIFE OF AL BARBIERI: Like, I wasn't compatible.

COONEY: All right, it's game day.

FOREMAN: But then, something else surprising happened.

COONEY: We're here, ready for surgery.

FOREMAN: Since her husband was being saved by Brian, a stranger, Debbie decided to pay it forward and offer her kidney to anyone who needed it.

DEBBIE BARBIERI: I never thought I was going to even be a match to anybody and then we got the phone call and I was shocked.

FOREMAN: Shocked because the day Brian, Al, and Debbie all went into surgery, so did 74-year-old Ed Kranepool -- the last stop on this short chain of remarkable kindness. He got Debbie's kidney.

And who is he?

ED KRANEPOOL, FORMER METS FIRST BASEBALL WHO RECEIVED KIDNEY TRANSPLANT: I've done to good things in my life and that's the fight today.

FOREMAN: That's right. Ed was the first baseman for those miracle Mets so long ago.

(CHEERING)

FOREMAN: Local hero.

AL BARBIERI: I'm a Yankee fan.

(LAUGHTER)

[16:00:00]