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Soon Trump Leaves White House for Japan as Battle with Speaker Pelosi Intensifies; Trump Gives A.G. Barr Sweeping Powers in Russia Probe Review; House Judiciary Chair: Mueller "Wants to Testify in Private"; Trump Approves Deployment of More Troops to Mideast Amid Iran Tensions; Lawmaker Objects to Passing Disaster Relief Bill By Unanimous Consent, Bill Won't Pass Today; Doctored Video of Speaker Pelosi Slurring Her Words Goes Viral; British P.M. Theresa May to Resign June 7 Amid Brexit Backlash. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:19] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.

If Wednesday was, "He's engaged in a coverup," and, "I don't do coverups," and Thursday was then, "He needs an intervention," and, "She's crazy," remember this?


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The president has a bag of tricks and the White House has a bag of tricks that they save for certain occasions.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crazy Nancy. I'll tell you what. I've been watching her and I've been watching her for a long time. She's not the same person. She's lost it.

PELOSI: Another temper tantrum again. I pray for the president of the United States. I would wish his family or administration or staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.

TRUMP: I'm an extremely stable genius.


BOLDUAN: Wednesday and Thursday, so what in the world then could Friday bring? We will soon find out. President Trump is leaving the White House this hour to head off for a very big trip to Japan. But make no mistake, getting away and giving each other some space is not likely to smooth things over with the speaker of the House. Much more on that in a second.

But also this this morning, an unprecedent move, yes, another one by the president. Granting Attorney General Bill Barr sweeping new powers to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation.

Senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is in Washington with this for us. Evan, what are these new powers? Lay it out?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the attorney general now has carte blanche to be able to ask the CIA, ask all the other intelligence agencies to provide information for this review he's doing of the origins of this investigation.

Keep in mind, we've heard plenty from the attorney general that he has some skepticism about whether or not this was done properly, whether there was legitimacy to this investigation. He says the president was falsely accused.

And so that's where all of the -- I think a lot of the concern is now coming from in reaction to this, because the president and the attorney general seem to believe that there needs to be a thorough investigation of the investigation, which I don't think anybody objects to necessarily, to see whether or not government powers were abused, but it's the skepticism with which they're approaching this with.

Let me read a piece, a part of the presidential order that was issued last night by the White House. It says, quote, "The attorney general may classify, downgrade or direct the classification or downgrading of information or intelligence that relates to the attorney general's review."

At this point, the attorney general has not done any of these things. But keep in mind, a little step back, Kate, some of this has been pushed by the president and his allies. They've been asking for a lot of this information to be declassified and released. Rod Rosenstein, when he was the deputy attorney general, when he was in charge, he had refused to do this.

So now Bill Barr obviously singing a tune that's much more aligned with what the president wants. That's why he's getting all of these extraordinary powers.

You can see the reaction from Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He says, quote, "While President Trump stonewalls the public from learning the truth about his obstruction of justice, Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and declassify information against their political enemies -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: So there is that.


BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Evan. Thank you so much.

I've got a lot of questions about this. Joining me now is Jack Quinn, former White House counsel to President Clinton, and Anna Palmer is here, a senior Washington correspondent for "Politico."

It's great to see you guys.

Jack, what do these new powers really mean that Trump is giving to the attorney general? Is it more about the fear, or is there a real problem, do you think?

JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, this is really concerning. And it's also very tricky territory for the Democrats as a political matter.

But it's important, I think, to start with the understanding that we have an established way of conducting investigations of people's conduct within the Department of Justice.

Ordinarily, these things are delegated to the inspector general of the department. That's a relatively independent office within the Department of Justice, one that has a reputation for integrity and thoroughness and competentness. And here, that has essentially been taken away from the AIG, if you will, and given to the attorney general.

Traditionally, we have a longstanding delegation of power of director of National Intelligence to declassify information that had previously been deemed sensitive, that might reveal source and methods and the like. Again, the question is why take that person out of the line here.

[11:05:00] Now, I hate to sound terribly political here, but I think the answer is because, with Attorney General Barr, the president can count on getting the answer he wants.

From the moment he applied for this job as attorney general, by writing this 19-page memo that was waving his arms saying, look over here, look over here, I'll do whatever you need to do to help you get out of these legal problems, to when he issued this four-page highly misleading, some might say, borderline untruthful memorandum, supposedly undermining the Mueller report, Barr has proven himself, in my humble opinion, sort of the trained seal of the administration, willing to come to any conclusion the president needs.

BOLDUAN: It's also --


QUINN: It's really disturbing -- I'm sorry?

BOLDUAN: I was going to say, this also means when it comes to any disclosure that do come out after this, that Barr would declassify, if you will, that -- I would even say it's going to need additional scrutiny with the power given over by the president.

I do want to ask you, though, about this. While it's happening, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee is giving some indication now of how things might be going when it's getting to the man at the center of it all, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and getting him to testify.

Let me play what Jerry Nadler said on this on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): He wants to testify. He wants to make an opening statement. He wants to testify in private. And we're saying we think it's important for the American people to hear from him and hear his answers to questions about the report.


BOLDUAN: Testifying in private, opening statement, in public. Are folks going to go along with that? Is that going to be enough? What are you hearing, Anna?

ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I think it's a first step. Congress is inviting at a bit to try to get him to testify. Really not getting very far with it. So this is the first kind of nod we're going to see that Robert Mueller is going to come to Capitol Hill. I doubt it will be enough. But it's a first step to kind of assuage Democrats, in particular, that the White House and others, the FBI and the DOJ don't want him to testify.

BOLDUAN: Can I also ask you, Anna, I was laying out on top how things are going between the president and Nancy Pelosi. It's safe to say things haven't blown over between the president and speaker quite yet or if they ever will.

What are you hearing, though, from members? The position of the president has maintained, which is he's not going to work on anything with, essentially, Congress, because it would be with the Democratic House, until Democrats stop investigating him. Do -- what are members saying about this? What are Republican members saying about this?

PALMER: I think there are two points that are really important here. One, what the president did this week only strengthened Nancy Pelosi's hand. Earlier in the week, you had a lot of members starting to make public statements and murmurs behind the scenes that maybe impeachment was necessary. But then, they were all backing her after this kind of Hollywood dramatic blowup between the two of them over infrastructure. I think that's one important point.

The second point, and I think you're going to see Republicans lean into this more, which is Congress needs to be able to do two things. One, oversight. That is part of its purview. But, two, there are things that have to get done that the president is going to have to compartmentalize, which he's been bad at doing so far. He's going to have to raise the debt ceiling. They're going to have to have another government funding bill.

If he wants active positions on trade and infrastructure, he going to have to -- Democrats aren't going to stop investigating him so that they can get other things done.

BOLDUAN: Well, and just the fact of the matter is, it's going to be out of necessity, if you want to get some of this must-past stuff done, Democrats, plus Republicans, are going to be forced to call the president's bluff on this if this is what he maintains. Let's wait to see. Let's see what today brings. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Anna, it's great to see you.

Good to see you, Jack. I really appreciate it.

We have breaking news to get to out of the Pentagon right now. In a new sign of the rising tensions with Iran, President Trump is now deploying more troops and firepower to the Middle East.

CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. She has all of this for us.

Barbara, what are you learning here?


We do expect some kind of briefing in the coming hours from the Pentagon about all of this. President Trump giving his thumbs-up to a military proposal to beef up deterrence capability in the Persian Gulf in the wake of these rising tensions with Iran.

The U.S. has not shown public any intelligence about the rising threat. But military officials are adamant that the Iranians are still positioning themselves in a very assertive, very aggressive manner.

So what's on the table now is it's now likely that the Pentagon will send additional Patriot missile batteries to the region. These will be missiles capable of shooting down Iranian incoming missiles, Iranian aircraft, if it were to come to that, if they were to executive an attack against the United States, and also intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft that can fly continuously and keep a very close eye on the movement of Iranian forces.

[11:09:58] Right now, we don't know how many troops that will add up to. And we're told it's a phase. It's a first phase. They hope to add to the deterrence capability, convince Iran not to do anything that would cause a U.S. military response. The Pentagon adamant it's not looking to attack Iran. But if it comes to it, they're prepared to send additional forces after that -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: We'll keep our eye own that.

Barbara, I really appreciate the reporting.

We also have breaking news coming in from Capitol Hill. I have to get back over there. A lawmaker objecting to the way that the House is now moving to vote on a disaster relief bill. This is an important thing. It means they've all left town. It does not appear that it's going to pass. It's a really important disaster relief bill that everyone has been talking about. It's been caught up in some controversy. They thought they had gotten past it and it was going to pass through the Senate last night. Now today, it's hit nothing snag.

Let me get over to Phil Mattingly on this bill.

Phil, I came to the set thinking this was going to pass. What happened? PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you framed it

properly by saying this bill has been an utter disaster. Pun not intended. It's been a match for the course for the last couple of months as they tried to figure out a way to thread the needle with lawmakers that had questions about how much was going to be spent. The president concerned about the amount of aid that was going to Puerto Rico.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, the administration requested more money for the border, the humanitarian crisis on the southern border. That got wrapped into it, too.

Last night, or sorry, yesterday afternoon, before the Senate left for their week-long recess, they came up with a deal, $19.1 billion dollars. No money for immigration or the border, and passed it by a wide margin, 85-8. The Republicans voted against it.

But the House had already left for their Memorial Day recess. So they're planning to be gone the entire week. The only way for the House to pass the bill and clear it for the president's signature - and the president said both on Twitter and yesterday in a news conference that he would sign this bill - was for the House to pass it by unanimous consent. Meaning that every member either didn't show up to object or agree with the bill itself.

One Republican congressman, Chip Roy, a conservative Republican from Texas, did show up and he did object. His rationale, according to reports on the floor, was he didn't like that the bill wasn't paid for, $19.1 billion, and it didn't address the immigration issue. That's something Republicans have been very concerned about.

It's something that lawmakers are going to have to address in the weeks ahead. They're running out of money from the Health and Human Services Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement when it comes to dealing with the massive increase in undocumented migrants that have shown up at the border, particularly family units.

But they tried to strip that out because they figured this money was desperately needed, not just in Puerto Rico, but throughout the south because of the flooding also in the Midwest.


BOLDUAN: California.

MATTINGLY: California as well with the wildfires.

And, again, just to underscore the point here, this has been a months- long process. Kate, you have covered Capitol Hill for a long time. You know these bills, not liked by fiscal conservatives, but generally bipartisan, and they move through, and they move through in a quick manner because people need the aid. They are now going to have to wait at least another week.

To be completely clear, they will pass this bill, it will be signed into law by the president, but it underscores, at least for the moment, it's going to another week because there was an objection. And an objection shared by a number of conservative Republicans about the cost and about the fact that it did not deal with immigration -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: But it's also fascinating that there's an objection by the Republican -- when the Republican president has signed on board to this. I mean, we do know that fiscal restraint is not something that the president -- you know, something that he is championing at the moment when you look at stuff. I mean, that is, just kind of -- I guess what this is, it will eventually pass. But what this shows, you know Phil, it's just more dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And just a real quick back story here, one interesting element, the president got on board because Senator David Perdue, of Georgia, which was hit very hard, would be addressed by this bill, and Senator Richard Shelby, chairman of appropriations, was on the phone convincing him yesterday that this was the way they needed to do this. They had to do this for some key constituencies for the president.

While they were on the phone with the president, members of the House Freedom Caucus were actually in the room with the president, telling him to vote against this, telling him to not support this bill.

So the dissension continues and we'll now have to wait another week for this bill.

BOLDUAN: We will.

Good to see you, Phil. Thanks, man.

Coming up, misleading and doctored. Videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are going viral. The president's Twitter account is partly to blame. Pelosi's team calls the videos "sexist trash." The statement that this makes about the state of American politics right now is an important moment that we must mark and we cannot let pass. We'll talk about that, next.

Plus, British Prime Minister Theresa May steps down amid a heated divide over how to leave the European Union. What happens now? What happens to Brexit now? What this means as President Trump is about to be heading over to the U.K.

We'll be right back.


[11:14:47] THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have striven to make the United Kingdom --



BOLDUAN: Even in the era of everything-goes politics, this is jarring. A doctored video that attempt to make it look like Nancy Pelosi is slurring her speech, and it goes viral. It's not just that. It was shared by one of the president's closest advisers, Attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Let me show you the real video first and then the fake so you can see it for yourself.


[11:19:59] PELOSI: Then he had a press conference in the Rose Garden with all of this sort of visuals that obviously were planned long before.

And then you had a press conference in the Rose Garden with all this sort of visuals that obviously were planned long before.


BOLDUAN: YouTube removed the video, but it's still out there and has been viewed millions of times.

A spokesman for Pelosi says the speaker is not going to comment on, quote, "sexist trash."

But there's more. President Trump has jumped into all of this, now tweeting out a video. Here's a picture of his Twitter feed. That that video is edited to make it appear that the speaker was basically falling all over her words in her press conference yesterday. It aired, that video, that montage on FOX Business. And the president's tweet about it says, "Pelosi stammers through news conference."

Joining me right now is CNN political director, David Chalian.

First, the actual manipulated video and then that video on FOX Business that the president's been pushing around. David, it's so -- I don't know how to say it. This is so stupid that someone would try to push it around. But it's also super dangerous that this isn't on some far reaches of the dark Internet. This is the president of the United States saying this about any American, especially the speaker of the House.

I mean, can you just declare that politics -- American politics are broken and go home at this point?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I do think that what we see across social media platforms is, indeed, breaking American politics as we know it. It's something that every American candidate is going to have to grapple with. We saw this in '16. It's going to be more prevalent as we go into '20.

Obviously, Kate, as you're doing now with this segment, we in the press have a job to do to call out this crap when we see it and identify it as that, and hopefully, inform the public. But that's not going to stop. As you said, 1.4 million views already.

So this is a really dangerous practice. And then having it amplified by a Rudy Giuliani or a President Trump, that just puts it, you know, on turbo charge.

So I do think that this is going to be a major component of this upcoming election season that every candidate, including President Trump -- I don't take him out that --


CHALIAN: -- is going to have to guard against.

BOLDUAN: I have to say I am fearful for what's this means for 2020. And I don't -- I'm not saying that flippantly. Because Rudy Giuliani, as you mentioned, he pushed around the manipulated video. He eventually deleted it. I want to make sure to say that.

This morning, he sent out a response. His first one was completely unintelligible with some strange gift that I don't know what it was. But then he also wrote this: "First, she should withdraw her charge put out to the entire nation when she says the president needs intervention."

So basically what I take from that is that he's saying a manipulated video to send out is fine to send out because she criticized the president.

If that's what it looks like -- that is what it looks like -- we're not even close to the general election, I'm really scared, is what it means, when we get there.

CHALIAN: Yes. No, this isn't even quite a childhood playground argument where, you know, oh, he started it. What Rudy Giuliani is saying here that he's justifying the dissemination of a completely manufactured, falsely - a doctored video to create a false impression. He's trying to compare that to something Nancy Pelosi said about the president in front of a roomful of reporters at a press conference where she was taking questions. The things are not comparable.

And this is part of -- you can see what's happening here, right? You saw yesterday, the president started calling her Crazy Nancy.


CHALIAN: He said, "She's lost a step." They're trying to build a narrative now, a real negative frame around Nancy Pelosi in a way that the president had not done today because he sees her now as the most- fierce political opponent he's facing.

BOLDUAN: And just kind of, as you mentioned, media needs to do a good job, a better job by calling things out when things need to be called out.

But also this is a very stark and important reminder that voters need to be smart. They need to take it upon themselves to look at what they're watching, what they're reading, question it, question where it's coming from before they take it as fact. It's not easy when the news coming at you at light speed. But that's what's going to be required now, especially when it comes to this divisive election that we're in

CHALIAN: And the campaigns and going to have to adjust to this reality.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and do it fast. We'll see. And that will be really interesting to see who's nimble to do that and how they do that.


BOLDUAN: Good to see you. Thanks, David.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, new this morning, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that she's stepping down. Her resignation coming after she failed repeatedly to deliver on Brexit, Britain's exit from the European Europe, of course.

[11:25:03] The prime minister in making her announcement became emotional when she talked about her decision. Listen to this.


MAY: I will shortly leave the job that's been the honor of my life to hold, the second female prime minister but certainly not the last. I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.


BOLDUAN: Another wrinkle here. President Trump is set to be making a state visit to the U.K. early next month.

CNN's Phil Black is outside 10 Downing Street and has been watching all of this.

Phil, I feel like everyone, not just we, have asked this question so many times throughout the Brexit saga, but it's especially necessary now. Like what is next?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's a key question now, Kate. Certainly, what's next for the U.K. is a period of uncertainty perhaps as the Conservative Party, the prime minister's party, opens a contest to determine who will become its next leader and, ultimately, who becomes the next prime minister.

Crucially, that process will not begin until after President Trump visits in early June. So Prime Minister May will still be the prime minister in name and function when the queen hosts President Trump and his family on a state visit in just a couple of weeks' time.

It will be interesting to see whether or not President Trump expresses a view on any of the political turmoil that's taking place at the moment. He has in the past. He hasn't been shy.

And has openly expressed a preference, even admiration for Boris Johnson, the former British foreign secretary, saying he thinks he'd make a good prime minister. Johnson, at this stage, remains the favorite to take Theresa May's place after this election process by the Conservative Party members.

But the fact is, whoever becomes the next prime minister, they will inherit the same Brexit mess, the same divided parliament, the same minority government, with no obvious solution to solving this enormous political problem.


Phil, thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

Coming up, did Housing Secretary Ben Carson lie to Congress? That is what one Democratic lawmaker is saying right now and as she calls for him to resign. What was it all about? She joins me, next.