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Trump Denies Temper tantrum, Calls on Aides to Defend Him; Trump Allies Attack Pelosi after Trump-Pelosi War of Words; British Prime Minister Theresa May to Resign; Trump Grants Unprecedented Power to Barr to Declassify Intel for Russia Origins Probe. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 07:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

[07:00:06] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's a beautiful morning over Hudson Yards. Happy Friday, everybody. Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

President Trump is giving his attorney general unprecedented power to declassify intelligence and do his own version of a Russia investigation. Yes, another one.

Meanwhile, the president's allies are peddling this doctored video that tries to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look like she's slurring her speech. So we'll show you the real one, and then we'll show you the fake one.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The speaker says President Trump is crying out for impeachment and suggests a Trump family intervention might be needed. A source close to the White House claims to CNN that Pelosi has not gotten under the president's skin. The evidence might suggest otherwise.

The president demanded that top aides, including at least one who was not in the room, deliver public testimonials that he was calm when he walked out of an infrastructure meeting.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kellyanne, what was my temperament yesterday?


TRUMP: What was my attitude yesterday at the meeting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melissa (ph) is right. Kellyanne is right. You were very calm.

TRUMP: What was my attitude when I walked in? Did I ever scream?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. You were very calm and you were very direct.


BERMAN: "And your hands were very big, also." I mean, that seems to be the subtext.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN political analyst.

That makes me break up in hives a little bit. That video makes me break out in hives, because I also once worked for an extremely stable genius who reminds me of that moment. Roger Ailes has some things that are similar to Donald Trump. And that having to kiss the ring --


CAMEROTA: -- publicly, is an interesting practice.

HABERMAN: I'm sure when Larry Kudlow was tapped to come in and be the top economic adviser, this is not the scenario that he imagined, which was telling Donald Trump how calm he seemed the day before in public.

Look, we know that Donald Trump has a big need for affirmation publicly. This is like these scenes with these cabinet meetings where he has them go around and talk about how great he is. It was sort of reality TV like, right, so it's not a huge surprise.

But it is a reminder that, for all of the idea that Pelosi is not getting under his skin, she is getting under his skin. I don't even understand why somebody would say something about that. Because other aides acknowledged that her comment about him being involved in a cover-up is what caused him to go out and cancel this meeting in the first place.

So look, he is, as you know, very attuned to the media coverage about his behavior. And there are certain story lines and coverage -- pieces of coverage that bother him, and one is about his temper and about his moods.

BERMAN: And again, just to point out, he asked Hogan Gidley to testify on his behalf there. Hogan Gidley wasn't in the room, right?

HABERMAN: So I don't know the answer to that, because I saw Hogan tweet last night that he was in the room. I don't know the answer. I wasn't in the room.

BERMAN: Right.

HABERMAN: So I can't speak to it.

Look, his aides were saying that day, the day of the -- it feels like it was eight years ago, I guess it was two days ago -- right after this meeting, you know, the president didn't yell. They're saying he yelled. I mean, I don't -- he's not always the most self-aware of how his words sound, so I have no idea what was really happening.

But I don't see on what planet you come in and cancel a planned meeting, and it seems completely calm and breezy.

CAMEROTA: Well, but I also think that, if he was depicted as he has been, on the other side, as having a temper tantrum and he didn't, I can see why he would be frustrated.

HABERMAN: I can, too. Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: For sure. And so I'm sure he doesn't think that he had a temper tantrum. So he's frustrated.

HABERMAN: Correct.

CAMEROTA: However --

HABERMAN: You said it very well. I think that's right. He does not think that he did.

BERMAN: But the public testimonials go way beyond --

HABERMAN: Well, I mean, it's "Rashomon," right? So it's Nancy Pelosi thinks that he was blowing his stack, but he maybe even had a planned entrance and exit, so he doesn't feel that he was, OK? So there's these two different psychologies.

But I think that your point of what's bothering him, what's getting under his skin in a way that Nancy Pelosi does is able to in a way that other people have not. And we saw that really come to a head yesterday where, for the first time, he started calling her names publicly and going after her and trying to depict her as something that she's not. So something tipped yesterday.

HABERMAN: No question. And I think that he was -- he was escalating, and that doesn't surprise me, it reminded me a lot of those few final months with him versus Hillary Clinton. Where it went to, you know, she's crazy, she's unstable. Her health is bad.

I mean, it's a very similar litany of words that he brings out about people generally. He called, you know, James Comey a nut job. But about women in particular. And I don't think it was a surprise to see him go to that.

I think the question is going to be, does Pelosi avoid doing what other people have done, which is start trying to call him names back? And nobody really wins when they try to do that against him.

CAMEROTA: Hasn't she already done that?

HABERMAN: She did --

CAMEROTA: Didn't she try to do that. Didn't she try to depict him as unstable?

HABERMAN: She -- she was doing it in this kind of calm way of, "I pray for him. You know, I worry for him."

There was a tweet from her account yesterday, after somebody tweeted out describing her as a mess, and her tweet was, "If the" -- quote/unquote --"'extremely stable genius' wants to to deal with me" -- that's not a way that anybody ever really bears him. Remember, we saw Marco Rubio try out insulting him during the 2016 primaries.

[07:05:06] Her best option is sort of just head patting him and dealing with her own caucus. But it's hard. It's not an easy thing to deal with.

BERMAN: What we seemed to see last night was the troops fall into line with what seems to be a clear presidential, if not White House, strategy to battle back against Nancy Pelosi on this. You heard the president talking about Nancy Pelosi, questioning whether or not, you know, she is sane. And then, of course, you saw this video -- and I actually don't want to play it again, where they slowed down --

CAMEROTA: Play the real one.

BERMAN: Well, let me play -- play the real one. All right, play the real one.

CAMEROTA: And then we'll play the fake one.

BERMAN: I think it does their work for them. So play the real one.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA); And 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 he --


BERMAN: Stop it, stop it, stop it. So I'm not going to play where they slow down her speech to make her sound drunk. This has been posted by some conservative group that makes fake videos.

Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, tweeted it out last night. He pulled it down, but he put it out there.

HABERMAN: This is what they did in 2016. It's the exact same thing. It's the same playbook.

BERMAN: Right. So it's an entire movement here to discredit Nancy Pelosi with what was, I could use the word lie, you think in some ways "lie" is overused at this point, but it's a fake video.

CAMEROTA: It's a doctored video, and it's manipulated and it is, I think, really important to highlight to everybody, because this is -- this election is going to require a lot of critical thinking. So when you see something that doesn't exactly smell right, it's going to require everybody to do double checking. Because they're out there. It's already happening. We're seeing it with this video, and Rudy Giuliani tweeted it out. HABERMAN: Well, so Rudy Giuliani tweeted it out, and the president

tweeted out a not doctored, I guess, technically, but spliced video of Nancy Pelosi.

CAMEROTA: Manipulating, yes.

HABERMAN: Which was done in such a way to make her seem goofy, off, you know, and not quite all there.

And at a certain point, when you have all these videos out there, if one is more real than the -- what's the difference? They're all -- they're all trying to do the same thing.

It's interesting that, as the president talks about fake news as much as he does, he is then tweeting out content like that.

The president's biggest asset is that he's not going to be shamed over things like this. So as much as people are criticizing him for it, he doesn't care. And so if you have one party that does worry about that stuff and then another that doesn't, I can tell you which one's going to succeed. And it's the one that doesn't -- doesn't mind playing by a different set of rules.

BERMAN: So you noted when you stepped back last night and watched this on the one hand and then also what happened with William Barr, where the president granted William Barr unprecedented authority to declassify intelligence and unprecedented authority to get the cooperation of the other intelligence agencies, it's clear that the president, to me, is trying to retake the initiative here.

HABERMAN: No question. And I think that -- I don't think that we should understate how big a deal this was that this happened.

And to be clear, there are legitimate reasons to look into how this investigation began. I do think that that is important to talk about.

I think that the question -- and people who have worked in the intelligence space have expressed this concern and certainly critics of the president have -- is, is Bill Barr going to selectively declassify information so that it then gets into the public sphere, painting a certain light?

And whether it's that or whether it's videos that sort of are momentary, you know, edits that are made to paint somebody a certain way, there is a narrative that gets portrayed. And I think the concern is, is this really going to be showing everybody, the general public what happened in 2016? Or is this going to be done to harm the president's political opponents.

CAMEROTA: Do we know the answer to this? Based on experience --

HABERMAN: I mean --

CAMEROTA: I'm not guessing. I'm saying, based on experience with how Bill Barr has misrepresented the Mueller report, don't we have some experience that he will not depict this in a completely objective way? HABERMAN: I'm really reluctant to predict what he's going to do. And

I will say, in his favor, he did release almost the entire Mueller report. And that was not a guarantee, at all, that that was going to happen several months ago.

We have to see what happens, but I mean, I think that it raises a host of questions, including what this means for human sources whose identities are protected. And will they be revealed and possibly endangered because of it?

Again, I understand why people want to look at how this began.


HABERMAN: I think that that is not unimportant. There are already two other -- three other reviews of how this investigation began. So it's not clear why you need this other one, but it is an enormous amount of power for Bill Barr.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, particularly for somebody who hates the Russia investigation, who claimed that he wanted it over with. This is the president, who has said it's gone on much too long. Why are we still doing this? Why are we still using taxpayer dollars? The idea that he's doing yet another redundant Russia investigation, look at this. Because isn't the I.G. also covering some of the origin?

HABERMAN: The I.G. is covering some of it. There's a U.S. attorney in Utah who's covering some of it. Now there's a U.S. attorney in Connecticut that is covering some of it. Those are the three investigations. And I do think also the intelligence agencies, I think, are going to be very worried about what this means.

BERMAN: A career officer here, I wonder what she thinks about this. Your story, you do note, there are some signs that Barr isn't finding everything -- or may be limited in scope of what he's going after.

[07:10:11] HABERMAN: Well, I don't know that he's necessarily limited in scope or they're not really finding that much.

BERMAN: That's what I mean.

HABERMAN: I don't know what the answer is. I mean, there are reasons to believe that they have not found criminality. Remember, the two poles of this are the president says treason. The president says people committed treason. He said it again yesterday, that same meeting, and then you have the -- the data. And, you know, it could be that we are dealing with a gamut of human behavior that is improper, but that is not illegal conduct. And I guess we're going to find out.

BERMAN: Durham's investigation isn't a criminal investigation right now.

HABERMAN: Durham is the Connecticut guy.

BERMAN: And if they had already found criminal activity, it would be a criminal investigation, one might suspect?

HABERMAN: Correct. That is the assumption. There's a reason to believe that, yes.

CAMEROTA: By the way, the Mueller investigation also looked into the origins of it. I mean, what Mueller did in looking into the origins of how it all started was -- concluded that it was what we had all heard reported: George Papadopoulos being drunk and talking to an Australian diplomat who was then so concerned by what we heard, he called his U.S. counterpart and the FBI. So that's what Mueller found. I mean, maybe there's more digging, obviously, to be done.

HABERMAN: There might be more. I mean, certainly, Mueller looked at this and Mueller concluded that there were -- there was a legitimate reason to conduct this investigation.

BERMAN: In closing, Maggie, the president gets ready to get on a plane and go to Japan. Given what we saw last night with these two separate strains -- the Barr thing and the Pelosi video -- does that give you the sense the president thinks he didn't win this week, that he needs to play catch-up as he has in Japan?

HABERMAN: I mean, I think that they know this was not a good week for them. And I think that I would not understate the degree to which the two court losses over his financial documents, I think, are on his mind.

And he's certainly well aware of them. He has a way of taking things and spinning them into a positive for himself. And I do think that that is what he's trying to do here. Let's see what the next couple of days bring. He's got a lot of foreign travel this month.

CAMEROTA: Maggie, have a great weekend.

HABERMAN: You too.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Maggie.

We have major breaking news from the United Kingdom.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, announced that she is resigning.

CNN's Mack [SIC] Foster -- Max Foster is live at 10 Downing Street in London with all the breaking details -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, an uncharacteristically emotional Theresa May came out today making this announcement, and a huge amount of sympathy for her, as well.

But ultimately, her fate was tied to this deal she'd negotiated with the European Union about leaving the European Union. And it became pretty clear this week that that deal was dead, along with her prime ministerial career. Let's hear from her.


matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit. It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honors the result of the referendum. To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in parliament where I have not.


FOSTER: The only way of describing British politics, really, is a broken mess right now. If you would consider that nearly three years ago, Brits voted to leave the European Union. Shortly after that, Theresa May came into power, and were meant to be leaving by the end of October.

But we're pretty much back to square one. And a new leader won't be elected until probably mid-July. So the front-runners, well, probably Boris Johnson. Everyone agrees it has to be a leaver this time around. Boris Johnson is the clear front-runner, but things could change very quickly.

Theresa May actually leaving, or announcing her resignation, on the week or at the end of the week that Donald Trump is here. He's very close to Boris Johnson. So we're all wondering whether Donald Trump will support and endorse Boris Johnson when he comes over.

CAMEROTA: That is definitely another wrinkle in this very interesting puzzle. Thank you, Max Foster.

All right, so a top Democrat accuses the Trump administration of conspiring to, quote, "weaponize law enforcement and classified information," end quote. Reaction from a former federal prosecutor next.


[07:18:08] BERMAN: Overnight, the president gave the attorney general unprecedented power to declassify intelligence and the president ordered all the intelligence agencies to assist the attorney general in his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.

Joining us now is Elie Honig, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Elie, we just had Maggie Haberman on, and she is not prone to hyperbole. And she made clear this is a big deal, giving Barr the unilateral power to declassify, selectively, if he wants to. What's the meaning of that?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it undermines national security at the expense of creating political theater. The main thing that this move yesterday enables Bill Barr to do is to declassify national security information, including information about the means and methods, the way we do our national security investigations. Sources who may be providing information about national security information. Now understand, Bill Barr as attorney would have had access to that

information anyway. But now, if he can declassify it, it throws it into the public realm. The public knowing about that gets potentially very dangerous. And I think what's really going on here is it's political theater, and it's intended to divert attention away from the many problems that still do face the president and those around him.

CAMEROTA: Well, look, as journalists and just curious people, we do want to know all of the information. And I, you know, a part of me is intrigued to see what Bill Barr unearths.

The problem is, is that since we've all learned since the Mueller report, Attorney General Barr doesn't accurately represent what his findings are. I mean, we just saw the difference between what the Mueller report really said and how he selectively lifted some phrases, how he made an assessment that was not accurate.

So if we're counting on Attorney General Barr, I'm not sure that we're going to see the real information.

HONIG: I started off with a degree of confidence in William Barr, based on his resume, but by now, I think he has completely destroyed his credibility and his independence by the way he has mishandled the Mueller report. And we heard that from Mueller himself. And by the way he has tried to spin things. And I think it's a real problem.

[07:20:09] I think -- I don't think it's a mistake that the president has made Bill Barr the filter once again.

BERMAN: All right, we gave you a homework assignment, Elie. We asked you to look at the ongoing investigations and sort of rank the top five in terms of how threatening they are to the president. I'm not sure we'll get through all five. But let's start with the most threatening.

HONIG: Sure. So let's start with the Southern District of New York, my former office, and the investigation of the Trump Organization and the campaign finance payments.

Let's not forget about this. Right? There's already been significant results here. Michael Cohen was convicted of this. This is the hush- money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. He is behind bars as we speak, in part because of that.

Individual One, we know to be Donald Trump. And let's remember: the Southern District of New York said on record that Michael Cohen acted in coordination with and at direction of Individual One.

Now Donald Trump is not going to be indicted by DOJ while he's in office. That's the DOJ policy. But Mueller went out of his way in the report to stress that the president can be indicted when he's out of office.

Now, there's more to come here, and we know that because information about this investigation has been redacted. We saw the Michael Cohen search warrants unsealed this week, but that information about the Trump Org and these payments remains redacted. There's other people who could be in trouble here, including the people identified as Executive One and Executive Two within the Trump Org, who made and authorized those payments.

CAMEROTA: That would be interesting to unveil who Executive One and Executive Two are.

HONIG: Everyone wants to know.

CAMEROTA: Number Two investigation is the inauguration --


CAMEROTA: -- because they spent so much money.

HONIG: They spent an unprecedented amount, I think almost double what the Obama inauguration spent. This is sort of a prosecutorial dog pile. Everyone's jumping on this one: Southern District, where I worked; New Jersey A.G., where I worked; the New York A.G.

So look, there's a lot of smoke here. We reported at CNN earlier this week that, as a result of the subpoena, the Southern District is now going through tens of thousands of documents.

And let's remember: Rick Gates, he's basically the only cooperator in this whole case who is not going off the rails. He was the deputy chair of the campaign. And he will do, I believe, he's in position to do what the best cooperators do, which is to give prosecutors a guided tour of the inside of that operation.

I think what are they looking at? The most interesting thing is potentially contributions by foreign nationals to the inaugural, which that would be a federal crime.

BERMAN: All right. Trials we know about of Trump associates like Roger Stone.

HONIG: Yes, let's not forget about Roger Stone. He loves the limelight. He's been out of it. But he'll be back. November 2019, United States v. Roger Stone, that trial is going to happen.

We're going to learn a little bit more about Roger Stone's efforts to connect with WikiLeaks. Did he ever succeed in that effort to coordinate? It appears he probably did not, because I think there would have been different charges if he had.

But what's going to be really interesting is this. In the Roger Stone indictment, he said he was directed by Trump -- senior Trump campaign officials. OK, senior, meaning important people, officials, plural, to get in touch with WikiLeaks, to try to learn more about what was coming.

And remember: there was that very interesting phrasing that one of the senior Trump campaign officials was directed by some unstated person to have Stone do all that. So when that trial happens, that's going to be really interesting to learn about who was involved in that within the campaign.

CAMEROTA: OK. This week, we've seen these two court cases, Deutsche Bank and Mazars, involving the financial records of the president. So you say that the financial fraud is another investigation you're watching?

HONIG: Yes. Two huge court wins. Bigger picture: they reaffirm this notion that Congress has very broad authority to go out and get information.

Focusing on this narrow issue, it goes to whether the president was involved in financial fraud. Did he -- Michael Cohen testified, and look, Michael Cohen certainly has got credibility problems. That's why you go get the documents from the banks.

Did Donald Trump inflate the value of his assets in order to get bank loans that he was not entitled to? If so, that is textbook bank fraud. That's the kind of thing you do as a beginning prosecutor.

So you take the information from Mazars, which is Trump's accountant, and then you take the information from Deutsche Bank, who he submitted the information to, does it match up? Or did he inflate it in the loan applications? If so, that's a pretty straightforward bank fraud.

BERMAN: Counselor, Elie Honig, thanks so much for being with us today.

HONIG: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Have a great weekend.

CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump's allies are peddling a doctored video meant to make Nancy Pelosi look as if she is slurring her speech. We'll show you what is real, and we'll show you what's fake, next.


[07:28:49] BERMAN: Overnight, allies of President Trump were engaged in spreading a provable lie. Allies including the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who tweeted out a doctored video meant to demean House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is live with what's real and what's fake here -- Donie.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, we want to show you this video.

First, we're going to show you the real video of Nancy Pelosi speaking a couple of days ago, and then we're going to show you the fake one, which has been slowed down, the audio slowed down to make it appear as if Speaker Pelosi has been slurring her words.


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


O'SULLIVAN: So you can hear that edit there. You know, when you see it side by side, it might seem obvious, but when you encounter this on your Facebook news feed as a stand-alone, it might not seem as obvious.

And look, you know, doctored videos, hoaxes online are as old as the Internet itself. What is unprecedented, though, is social media. It gives people the ability to put a fake video out there and have it quickly.