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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Contradicts Own National Security Adviser On North Korea Missile Tests, Says He's Not "Personally Bothered;" Trump Backs North Korea's Kim Jong-Un Over Advisers, Ally; Trump Echoes Kim Jong-un, Calls Biden "Low IQ;" Freshman Dem: Dem Rep. Tlaib Predicts Majority Of House Dems "Moving Towards" Impeachment Despite Opposition By Pelosi; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Is Interviewed About House Dems "Moving Towards" Impeachment; American Climber Dies On Everest, Death Toll Rises To 11; Army Tweet Prompts Raw And Painful Replies From Veterans. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for watching. Wolf Blitzer will be back tomorrow. In the meantime, Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, President Trump takes sides with North Korea as a dictator who runs that country. What does he gain by doing that? Plus, the push to impeach President Trump, is it now picking up steam? And the second American loses his life climbing Mount Everest. Why are so many people dying on the highest mountain in the world? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erica Hill America Hill in for Erin Burnett tonight and welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. OUTFRONT tonight, President Trump backs a dictator siding with North Korea's Kim Jong-un over his own National Security advisor and over a major U.S. ally while he's standing just feet away, as the President refuses to condemn North Korea's recent testing of short range missiles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people think it could have been a violation, as you know, I view it differently. I view it as a man, perhaps he wants to get attention and perhaps not, who knows? It doesn't matter. All I know is that there have been no nuclear tests. There have been no ballistic missiles going out. There have been no long range missiles going out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: "It doesn't matter," says the President. His own people think it could have been a violation, but not the President. Those people include National Security Advisor John Bolton who said just two days ago there's, quote, no doubt the missile tests violate UN resolutions. Japan's leader who was standing right next to President Trump today in Tokyo shares that view and it's important to note, these short-range missiles we're talking about aren't capable of hitting the U.S. but they could hit Japan. So what's the President think?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not bothered at all by these small missiles.

TRUMP: No, I'm not. I am personally not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Again, Japan's Prime Minister at that moment standing right next to President Trump and while Mr. Trump may not be bothered, others are including members of the President's own party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Japan does have reason to be concerned and I am concerned as well. We need to see North Korea, back off of those activities and we need to take a very strong stance on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: So why is the President ignoring his own National Security Adviser, members of his own party and a closed U.S. ally? Why is he backing a murderous dictator who killed his own uncle and his own half brother? A murderous dictator who has imprisoned thousands of political enemies in gruesome conditions, including starvation and torture. A murderous dictator who imprisoned American student, Otto Warmbier, finally returning him to the U.S. in a coma only to die days later?

It's not the first time the President has sided with someone whose interest run counter to the U.S. Remember, when the U.S. Intelligence Community determined Russia had in fact meddled in the 2016 election, this is what the President had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: OUTFRONT tonight, Kaitlan Collins is live in Tokyo where the President is set to depart in about an hour.

So Kaitlan, this visit was supposed to be about the strong alliance between President Trump and Shinzo Abe. But instead, it seems to now be about the President siding with Kim over Abe and over his own National Security Advisor.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The last several days was full of pageantry, all of this pomp. You saw that on display and it was meant to reinforce the relationship between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, but when the reporters started asking questions at that press conference, Erica, that's when you saw the sharp divide that exists underneath all of that pomp that we've seen over the last several days.

And North Korea was front and center, because the President had no problem brushing off those missiles fired from North Korea dismissing the concern even though he knows that the Prime Minister Abe shares a great concern for those and actually wants to make sure that America does take a hard line stance against North Korea. He had had conversations with John Bolton just two days prior where they agreed that yes, those missiles did violate those UN resolutions. And then the President was on stage and said, "No," he disagreed. He actually didn't think that they violated the resolutions and he wasn't that worried about them.

So you really saw that even though Prime Minister Abe has gone to great lengths not only to impress President Trump, but to keep him in his good graces by having him be the first foreign leader here to visit the newly crowned emperor. You could still see their differences. So the question going forward is what does Prime Minister Abe gained from what he does with President Trump, this chummy relationship that you see between the two of them.

And even though, Erica, Prime Minister Abe said that yes, he does believe this violate the resolutions. He does find that that these acts from North Korea are regrettable. He still found a way to praise President Trump and the approach that he takes when it comes to North Korea.

[19:05:18] HILL: Kaitlan Collins live for us tonight. Kaitlan, thank you. OUTFRONT tonight, Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World," Juliette Kayyem, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama administration and David Gergen who served as an Advisor to Four Presidents.

David, if we begin with you, the President is once again contradicting his own folks, his own team. He's contradicting an ally, the one he's standing right next to and as shocking as some of that may be, there's also a part that makes you say, "Well, we've seen this movie before," but I'm wondering how it ends.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: Well, it normally ends when somebody has as many disagreements that John Bolton does with the President, that John Bolton is on a short list for leaving. He's been undercut now on his views about North Korea. He's been undercut on his views about Iran. He's been undercut about his views on Venezuela and what the Russians are doing there.

When you have three strikes against your own President, that's not good news for him. But I must say I think the President is playing politics with this. I think he's less interested in the technology than he is in trying to convince people back home that he's making progress with North Korea and he wants to make that a big deal.

He wants to be able to show that for all of this time he's working with the North Koreans, if he were to acknowledge that they're testing ballistic missiles, for example, even short range, that would heavily suggest that after all of this time, he's back at square zero, that he really hasn't accomplished anything and I think that's not in his playbook for 2020.

HILL: Which is a fascinating way when you put it in that context. Gordon, we learned obviously the flattery goes along way with President Trump. He seems to reciprocating when it comes to Kim. I just want to play a little bit more of what he had to say take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He's very much into the fact that he believes like I do that North Korea has tremendous economic potential. Like perhaps few other developing nations anywhere in the world. And I think that he is looking to develop that way. He knows that with nuclear, that's never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man, he gets it well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: He's a very smart man, he gets it. He's got the flattery going on there. But to David's point, President Trump also doesn't want to be seen as someone who could not make this work. Is he being played in this instance by Kim?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR: I think that Trump is being played by Kim, because Kim has not reciprocated Trump's gestures and one of those gestures is just not enforcing UN Security Council resolutions. Those short range ballistic missile tests that we've seen recently are violations of UN Security Council resolutions and Trump is not acknowledging that.

He's also given passes to the Chinese and the Russians and the South Koreans on sanctions violations. And I think what's happening here is that essentially Trump wants to give Kim an opportunity really to sort of reciprocate it. And also he also tries to peel North Korea away from China, so that's, I think, is also involved here.

HILL: And it leads to, Juliette, though for this administration, it leads to a lot of cleanup.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Yes. It absolutely does. Look, I have been struggling to figure out how you described the Trump doctrine and I think after today, I now know how to describe it. It is the Trump doctrine. In other words, it is all about Trump.

When you did those clips earlier, I counted how many times he used I, me, my and personally as if Trump is the national interest. And I think that's how the President actually sees it. And once you can now understand that, there's no talk of a U.S. interest. There's no talk of an allied interest. There's no talk of an intelligence community interest.

It is about his perception, is he being flattered, is he being criticized, is he being undermined and how he can save face. In this instance, I will say Trump is just trying to save face. Kim clearly did something that he did not anticipate. It's like the boyfriend who breaks up with you and you're shocked and then you say, "I didn't really like him anyway." This is where Trump is right now and the Trump doctrine is just the best name for the Trump doctrine. It is just about him.

HILL: Well, in terms of that Trump doctrine we got a sense as to what his thoughts are at least publicly on where everything sits. This is what else he had to say about Kim today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I view it as a man, perhaps he wants to get attention and perhaps not, who knows? It doesn't matter. All I know is that there have been no nuclear tests. They have been no ballistic missiles going out. There have been no long range missiles going out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:09:54] HILL: David, to Juliette's point if we listen to that and we put into the context of what she's describing as this Trump doctrine, it's all about how does it impact me. Maybe in the broader context of the United States but I think more how does it impact me. But he's saying this as he's standing next to his ally in this country that could directly be affected by those short-range missiles. So what does that message of indifference, I mean, what kind of message does that send out only to Japan but to America's other allies?

GERGEN: Well, I'm sure we've been here many times before and I like Juliette's description of Trump, the Trump doctrine. Juliette, I would almost call it the Trump anti-doctrine. He doesn't have a strategy and therefore he doesn't have a doctrine to go with it.

But I do think the first 24 hours of his visit, that was fabulous for Japan. It was very good for him. He looked more presidential than we've seen him in a long, long time. I thought he might come out of this whole thing with a high. But he didn't keep his mouth shut.

And when he started talking, he got himself into trouble. He have been showing, "I would be concerned if those missiles were going to hit the U.S., I'd be very concerned. But thinking it would hit Japan, not so much. I'm not so worried about that. Not my problem." Well, you can imagine what that says to the Japanese government down deep, about how much they can actually rely on America in the event that they're attacked by China or by others.

This is the same issue we had with Germany way back when after the Second World War, about whether they could really rely on us from stopping the Russians from coming in and they learned over time they could rely on us and it was major for our leadership in the world. And if we really want to be a leader in Asia, as your two other guests better than I, if we want to be a leader in Asia, you've got to be able to stick with your friends and do it in a way that they can rely upon.

HILL: Gordon, how damaging was that then today? Because we are seeing too publicly as you point out from Japan, they're not necessarily coming out against President Trump. They get to how they need to play this and play their hands.

CHANG: Yes. I think that Trump really got a long-term strategy. It's a wrong strategy, but it's a strategy to give Kim time. So I think the Japanese at some level understand that. Everything that David said is right that there is this difference that short-range missiles do hurt Japan. But remember, they also target U.S. forces in Japan, so it's not exactly we're on different pages. So long-term probably the Japanese don't like this, but they're willing to give Trump some lesson other than sometime because they know that they could work out.

HILL: Juliette, last word?

KAYYEM: So I think Trump believes that America is relevant simply because we're American. I think what you're starting to see now after two-and-a-half exhausting years of sort of non-commitment and unreliable foreign policy is you are starting to see the orientation of whether it's Europe or Asia, Canada and Mexico all heading elsewhere, whether that is China, which it seems to be at this stage or not.

So we should not believe that America is relevant and strong simply because we are America. It takes a president to lead us that way and I think what you're seeing with this sort of circle of events that we've been through before and we'll go through again, our lack of reliability is actually a sign of our weakness and that will have long-term consequences well past this administration.

HILL: Juliette, David, Gordon I appreciate it. Thank you all. OUTFRONT next, the President takes another swipe at Joe Biden, backing up the comments of a dictator. Plus, the I word, Nancy Pelosi doesn't like it, but are Democrats now coming around on impeachment? And the rising death toll on Mt. Everest, 11 now dead this climbing season. Is a traffic jam on the world's highest peak to blame?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:17] HILL: Tonight, President Trump taking a swipe at his latest political target, former Vice President Joe Biden while also siding with a dictator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it give you pause at all to be appearing to side with a brutal dictator instead of with a fellow American, the former Vice President Joe Biden?

TRUMP: Well, Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: The president echoing North Korea's Korean Central News Agency which speaks for Kim and recently referred Biden as a, quote, full of low IQ. OUTFRONT now, CNN Political Commentators Rob Astorino, Member of President Trump's 2020 Re-Elect Advisory Council and Karen Finney who served as Hillary Clinton's campaign senior spokesperson.

Good to have both of you with us tonight. So Karen, the President doubling down on a tweet that he sent on his way to Japan with the same message about Biden. How much stock you're putting in this?

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER SENIOR SPOKESWOMAN, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Not any. I'll tell you, it makes the President seem very weak and it makes you ask the question what is it that you're so afraid of, if you have to take the word of a murderous dictator, when you're on foreign soil nonetheless, on Memorial Day nonetheless when they're attacking a potential rival, but also a fellow American who has served this country.

You may not agree with everything that Joe Biden has done, but he has certainly served the country with honor and distinction. He's been a public servant for so long and like I say it makes you wonder, "President Trump, what are you still afraid of?"

HILL: Rob, I'll let you answer that.

ROB ASTORINO, MEMBER OF THE PRESIDENT'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: The answer is nothing. I think everybody just needs to lighten up. I mean really the faux outrage on the left about something like this. Come on.

I mean he made those statements himself, the President did about Joe Biden. And this is the way he is, we know what he did to all the other Republicans running against him in the primary two and a half years ago. And he's going to hit and hit very, very hard just as the Democrats are all taking shots at the President. This is what we do in America. This is called a presidential campaign and we're going to see much harder hits as we go forward.

But I think Joe Biden, the hardest hits he's going to get are from 23 other Democrats who have yet to really aim their arrows at him, but they've got a lot to work with Joe Biden through a course of a lifetime when Jimmy Carter was president and that's when Joe Biden started in Congress. So I mean there's a lot of things that go after Joe Biden on him. Believe me, the 23 other Democrats are going to hit him much harder than Trump will for at least the next six months.

HILL: I'm sure the Democratic hits are coming, but I do just have to pressure on one thing, Rob, even Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger weighing in. He put this tweet out, quote, it's Memorial Day weekend and you're taking a shot at Biden while praising a dictator. This is just plain wrong. Doesn't he have a point here, because it is Memorial Day.

[19:20:06] ASTORINO: He didn't praise a dictator.

HILL: But how is any of this, Rob, to your point, yes, there's politics and yes we're going to see more infighting certainly among Democrats that we can agree on. How though is this helping President Trump? You're on the advisory council, how does it help him with this reelection? ASTORINO: Well, because I think half of the country sees it for what

it is like, "OK." Another comment that he makes that people agree with or didn't agree with. But it wasn't the comment that the North Korean agency made, it was the comment that President Trump had made first.

I mean this is part of his nicknames. He tries to swat people down with the various nicknames, Creepy Joe, Sleepy Joe, whatever you want to call him, but that's what Trump will do. So when it was said by somebody else, he didn't praise Kim Jong-un. This is what he said and I agree, because he said it first.

HILL: We should say though he has been calling him a smart man over the weekend. Go ahead, Karen.

FINNEY: Yes. I mean, Rob, come on seriously, your best defense is that President Trump called them name first so that makes it OK when a dictator called them by name. I mean come on like what are we, five? Here's the problem with it, it's not the first time that President Trump has sided with someone who is either a dictator or a foreign leader whose interests are not aligned with the United States.

He has taken the word over Vladimir Putin over our National Security agents who have given him plenty of data and information about Russian hacking and he stood, he stood there several times and said, "Well, Putin told me, so I believe him."

And more horrifyingly, he defended him when the Warmbiers came out. I mean what a heartbreaking video to see Mrs. Warmbier talk about her child. And we know the horrible condition that their son Otto was in when he was returned to the United States. I mean there was a time in this country where people would be afraid to return in America in that condition.

Clearly, Kim is not afraid of Donald Trump at all, so it's not just this one name-calling just one time and it doesn't really matter who said it first. What matters is that this president, time and time again, will side with whoever it is convenient for him to do so to make himself look good rather than to be presidential, to be more magnanimous.

HILL: Go ahead, I think want to jump in, Rob.

ASTORINO: No. I mean look, Karen and I can go back and forth on this all day long.

HILL: You and Karen can go back on anything. I think we know that. That's why we have you here.

ASTORINO: But, again, this is part of a presidential campaign. OK. And it cracks me up to hear the Democrats go, "Oh, look at him. How terrible. He's siding with the dictator." Give me a break, OK. We've got people like Bill de Blasio who --

FINNEY: Rob --

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: But let me ask you about siding --

ASTORINO: No. No. No, with a Bernie Sanders who can't even bring himself to go after Maduro in Venezuela as it's falling apart and people are dying. That's where the Democratic Party itself is going, the comment that the President made first by the way.

FINNEY: That's not actually true.

ASTORINO: So to me it's hysterical that this is the issue of the day.

HILL: Well, it's an issue that I think may come up again which is good news for the two of you, because we are out of time tonight but there will be another opportunity.

ASTORINO: I'll see you again.

HILL: Good to see you both, thank you.

ASTORINO: OK.

FINNEY: All right. Take care.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, Nancy Pelosi has kept the impeachment talk in check so far, but is that about to change? And an American becomes the 11th person to die on Mt. Everest this climbing season by overcrowding and inexperienced climbers are being blamed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:27:59] HILL: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT. Tonight, one of the most vocal Democrats in favor of impeaching President Trump claiming that majority of Democrats will soon be onboard. Despite opposition from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Here's freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: This is not about a 2020 election, it's about doing what's right now for our country.

CHUCK TODD, THE DAILY RUNDOWN, MSNBC: Why do you think you can't convince a majority of House Democrats that it's time to impeach him?

TLAIB: No. I think it is moving towards that. It's going to demand it. It already is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT. So Phil, are there more Democrats today in the House that are moving toward impeachment?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there's no question, there are more Democrats, Erica, that are moving in that direction than there were perhaps, say, two weeks ago. And I think part of that is just frustration. Sheer palpable frustration he picked up a lot on last week where you just looked at what the Trump administration was doing related to witness testimony, related to document requests, related to subpoenas basically saying no at every single turn.

And Democrats last week, particularly early on last week were saying there has to be something else we can do to try and get the information they say they need to conduct the kind of the wide-ranging investigations they have now. At the same time last week we saw two court cases come down at least on the district level on the side of House Democrats and that's where you've seen Speaker Nancy Pelosi say in private meetings and in public to the press that that was kind of evidence that their strategy at least at this point was working.

And there's something key to remember here, one thing to note on launching an impeachment inquiry, you've seen a number of Members on the Judiciary Committee. The crucial committee on this issue start to move towards the direction of an impeachment inquiry. But as long as the Chairman, Jerry Nadler, is not quite there yet and frankly as long as the Speaker is not there yet and Nancy Pelosi has made clear she's not, likely they will not move in that direction.

It's also important to keep in context the numbers. While more Democrats are clearly moving in that direction, the numbers are still not a majority of the caucus and until that critical mass really forms, you're likely not going to see the speaker move in that direction.

[19:29:56] A couple of key things here to keep in mind, one, the reason why people are thinking about pursuing an impeachment inquiry is they think that'll give them a stronger case in court. Pelosi's response to that is, "Hey, we're winning in court at this point in time."

From Pelosi's perspective, it's not just the politics of it, it's also, what's the end game here? Knowing the Senate is run by Republicans, 53-47, knowing those Republicans are likely not going to vote against the president on this, she doesn't want to turn what she calls a very divisive political issue into the only thing people discuss when a lot of Democrats in 2018 won in districts Trump won.

The big question now is, the momentum we saw sort of building last week, will that carry over or will those court hearings have the effects Speaker Pelosi wants? We have to wait and see. Obviously, a long time left to go on this one, Erica.

HILL: Phil Mattingly with the latest for us, Phil, thank you.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic congressman from Maryland, Jamie Raskin. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee which would oversee potential impeachment proceedings.

Sir, good to have you with us.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Thanks for having me. HILL: We just heard -- just heard some of the reporting there from Phil. We heard Representative Tlaib say she believes Democrats are moving towards impeachment. Phil talked about the momentum that there was last week.

Where do you think that momentum stands today based on your conversations?

RASKIN: Let me distinguish between impeachment articles and which is an indictment, and impeachment inquiry into whether or not there have been high crimes and misdemeanors against the American republic, and whether we should proceed to articulate the standards and then apply them. I think that there is a lot of momentum towards an impeachment inquiry. And even as people go home over this break, they're hearing more and more from their constituents about it, and every day I think more people are signing onto it.

But I think we should be very clear what they're signing onto. I think that whatever divisions are in the caucus has really been overstated. I think that there's a convergence of view we need everything on the table at this point, including the 25th Amendment, including the impeachment clause, including speech and debate clause, including the emoluments clause.

We have a very unstable fluid situation with this president who is the most reckless and norm-destroying president of our lifetimes. And we need every tool in the constitutional tool kit on the table in order to respond effectively. And I think that the caucus has maintained a lot of cohesion, a lot of sense of focus and purpose about this, as have millions and millions of American people who are really very anxious about what this president has been doing to our democracy.

HILL: When it comes to an impeachment inquiry, which correct me if I'm wrong, you're in favor of, yes?

RASKIN: Well, I want it to be on the table, and I think, look, those of us who are in the Judiciary Committee have seen up front, close and personal, tremendous evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors and presidential obstruction of justice both through the Mueller report but also through all of the misconduct of the administration since then when the president made history in a completely unprecedented way by saying -- by ordering people in the executive branch not to cooperate with Congress, to violate subpoenas, to not turn over evidence.

What we're seeing is contempt of Congress being imposed in a systematic and wholesale way by the administration.

HILL: So, when it comes to this impeachment inquiry, right, and you see, you want to have all the options on the table, we know that Speaker Pelosi is not there, and she's saying and I quote, she's not sure you would get any information with that. What do you think specifically think this impeachment inquiry could bring you in terms of information, and what do you think it would take to convince Speaker Pelosi that that was the right path? RASKIN: Well, first of all, Speaker Pelosi said this past week what

we're seeing is a presidential cover-up and that is an impeachment offense. So, I don't know how much distance there is between her and people who are moving on this. But, look, the information that we're getting --

HILL: So, are we misunderstanding what she's saying? Because she's still come out pretty clearly saying she's not there yet. This is not what we need to focus on, right?

RASKIN: I think she's correctly pointing out as the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives that impeachment is, always has been and remains a remedy you only use under extraordinary circumstances. And if it's going to be divisive or polarizing, it should be disfavored. If it's going to be unifying people behind the Constitution and behind the rule of law, then the calculus shifts there.

But the point about information is really important. What we're winning on is our Article I power under the Constitution to collect evidence, to engage in fact-finding. So we're winning on the accountants, the Mazars case in the Oversight Committee. We're winning on the Deutsche Bank in financial services and so.

But all of that is just evidence that we're collecting, it's evidence that pushes us more towards an impeachment inquiry because it's revealing more and more high crimes and misdemeanors. Winning evidentiary skirmishes on their own is not a goal unto itself. All of it is instrumental to get the goods that we need in order to understand the criminality and the lawlessness of the administration.

HILL: I do want to quickly get your take on something else. In terms of Attorney General Bill Barr's investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, Sarah Sanders was asked about specifically this weekend whether the president would accept that outcome. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We already know there was an outrageous amount of corruption that took place at the FBI.

[19:35:04] CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": So the president is not going to accept exoneration if that's what Bill Barr finds?

SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to get ahead of what the final conclusion is, but we already know that there was a high level of corruption that was taking place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: So, she was asked if she would accept the conclusion everything was done legally. Do you think the American -- well, quick two-part question. Do you think, A, the American people will know? And B, will you be able to tell whether what was given by Attorney General Barr is, in fact, an honest finding or whether it's the outcome that the president wants and apparently has already decided on? RASKIN: Well, both President Trump and Attorney General Barr had already pronounced that there was spying that took place and it was an illegitimate and it was a deep state conspiracy and it was a witch hunt and it was angry Democrats and all this nonsense. I mean, it's an absolute paranoid conspiracy theory that the president has sold the attorney general on, and the attorney general shamefully, in a disgraceful show of sycophancy to the president has agreed to go along with it and say he's going to investigate the investigators.

And everything that we saw about that over the last two years, because remember this was the theory that Republicans were proceeding on in the judiciary committee inquiries into Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, is that all of these are complete nonsense, all they had against Strzok and Page was that they had called the president a moron or an idiot. And we can find you lots of comments by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio where they said he's a compulsive liar and he's a serial philanderer and unqualified for office.

You know, wait until we bring up everything all the Republicans said about him which are just exactly what these FBI agents, likely half of America or more have said.

HILL: Congressman Jamie Raskin, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

RASKIN: Delighted to be with you. Thank you, Erica.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, the 11 deaths already this climbing seen on Mt. Everest. Is there simply too much traffic at the world's highest peak?

And in a Memorial Day gesture, the Army asked veterans very personal questions. Their answers have many doing some soul-searching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:40:49] HILL: Tonight, a second American has died on Mt. Everest, bringing the death toll this season to 11. The family of Christopher Kulish, a lawyer from Colorado, says the 62-year-old died doing what he loved.

This has been an extraordinarily dangerous and crowded season on Everest.

Robin Haynes Fisher, a British mountaineer who died on Saturday, wrote in his last social media post he chose that day to summit for one reason: I am hopeful to avoid the crowds on summit day, he wrote, and it seems like a number of teams are pushing to summit on the 21st. With the single route to the summit, delays caused by overcrowding could prove fatal. So, I am hopeful my decision to go for the 25th will mean fewer people, unless of course everyone else plays the same waiting game.

OUTFRONT now, mountaineering expert, Alan Arnette, who's climbed Mt. Everest four times. He runs a blog that covers climbing season on the mountain. Alan, we appreciate you being with us.

There's been so much talk about why the death toll is so high now at 11 this season. Is it the overcrowding? Is it too many permits? What do you attribute it to?

ALAN ARNETTE, CLIMBED MOUNT EVEREST 4 TIMES, REACHED SUMMIT IN 2011: You know, this is week of celebration for people with lifelong dreams but the grieving back home for 11 families just trumps that.

You know, there's a combination of three different factors all the way from a limited number of suitable days to summit. It was down from 11 last year, down to five this year, to a record number of permits issued from the Nepal government and a requirement that every climber has to hire a Sherpa guide to an increase in the number of inexperienced people on the mountain.

HILL: So, you add all that up and we see sadly what the result has been. I also have to say, we've been looking at these pictures and there's one in particular that just shows this thin line of climbers snaking up to the summit. Just -- I mean, help us understand -- when you're there, we know the oxygen is thin. I think you're taking maybe a third of what you normally do on the ground at that point. So, there's that challenge.

But looking at a line like this, how is there even room to pass for those who are coming down and others who may be trying to go up? How does that work?

ARNETTE: Well, Erica, you nailed it. That particular line, that particular picture is showing them go through the Hillary step, and that is a notoriously steep section. It used to be rocky and now it's a snow slope. But still, it's somewhat narrow with a 3,000 foot drop off on either side.

There's only one safety line that everybody is clipped into for safety. So passing coming up or going down is almost impossible. On the 23rd of this year, we saw the most crowds this season because that was the day predicted to be the best weather. You had a lot of people that had already summitted (ph) while many people were still trying to go up, approximately 300 that day alone.

And that picture just captures just an unacceptable situation.

HILL: What do you think needs to change, and do you think these 11 deaths will in fact lead to change?

ARNETTE: Well, I looked at all 11 deaths to get an analysis of them, and in my opinion only 4 of the 11 were related to the crowds. The rest were result of either a heart failure, some type of health issue, altitude sickness or a fall.

You know, in terms of how to address this, this is not the first time this has happened. It happened in 2006 and then again in 2012 when they were 11 deaths in a very similar shortened weather window season. In my opinion, the only way to address this because you're not going to address the crowds, you have to address the competency of both the climbers as well as the guides.

You know, there's zero requirement to be able to climb Mt. Everest on the Nepal side. All you have to do is give the government $11,000 and find a guide that will take you up there. And there are plenty of guides out there that are more than happy to charge you $30,000 and cut corners in a lot of different places compared to the old guard that used to charge $45,000 and $60,000.

So, it's become a buyer beware market and people are being seduced by the low prices.

HILL: Alan, I really appreciate your expertise tonight. Thank you.

ARNETTE: Thank you.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, ahead of this Memorial Day, the Army asked veterans how has serving impacted you? The responses were full of pride and lots of pain.

And President Trump gives the emperor of Japan with his trademark signature.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:48:52] HILL: Tonight, the nation is posing on Memorial Day to pay tribute to men and women who gave their lives while serving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: For the story of those remembered today is one of extraordinary sacrifice. It's a story of lives cut short, of hopes and dreams never realized. It's also a story of sacrifice for the families left behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: This tweet from the Army, "How has serving impacted you?" generating thousands of responses. Raw, emotional, many of them heartbreaking responses.

I'm in constant pain every day, and I think about killing myself.

Another reads: Depression, anxiety, still can't deal well with loud noses. I was assaulted by one of my superiors.

Also this: A combat cocktail, PTSD, severe depression, anxiety, isolation, suicide attempts, never ending rage. It cost me my relationship with my eldest son and my grandson.

OUTFRONT now, the founding director of the New York City Veterans Alliance, Kristen Rouse, who served three tours in Afghanistan with the Army. She's given 25 years of service to this country.

We appreciate you coming in today.

KRISTEN ROUSE, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, NYC VETERANS ALLIANCE: Thanks so much for having me.

HILL: This really started quite a conversation.

[19:50:00] And the question itself a great one. How has your service? These responses, did you think this is what the Army expected?

ROUSE: We're going on 18 years of war, continuous war in multiple countries. The cost of these wars has been borne by our military, by our veterans community, by their families, who often feel invisible, ignored, and I think with this tweet, it's so evident that veterans have so much to say that they haven't been heard on over these 18 years.

And we also heard this Twitter thread from individuals who served or whose families served well prior to 9/11. It shows that our veterans and military community really needs to be heard.

HILL: They need to be heard. We know too -- I mean, the numbers are staggering every time we hear them, but these are coming from the V.A. As many as 20 percent of veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are now living with PTSD. And then they also give us the numbers on suicide, from 2008 to 2016, more than 6,000 veterans have died as a result of suicide every year.

This is becoming more of a conversation. How much, though, do you think these tweets and even the conversation we're having right now may lead to a more constructive conversation in actually dealing with things?

ROUSE: We can't talk enough about it. It's wonderful that this is getting attention, that this really struck a chord with people to see the individual stories. These are the stories that we see in the veterans community all the time. It's why veterans have -- they came back from Vietnam, and they formed organizations to advocate for veterans who were being left behind or unserved by the resources that were there for them.

They created resources that they needed. Veterans returning from the wars that feel especially forgotten in the '80s and the '90s, they've needed resources this whole time. But veterans en masse have come back from our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to advocate for the veterans who are telling these stories, for the family members left behind by veterans that we've lost to suicide, to overdose, to all of these issues.

But also veterans can feel isolated, and they can come home and be the great leaders that we've been trained to be and come home and work great jobs and do great things, but still feel very isolated and forgotten by a nation that barely remembers that it's still at war.

We have colleagues, friends, families, loved ones who are still overseas because that's part of our community. And so much America, while well-meaning in saying we support our troops, we appreciate our veterans, they're not learning these stories.

HILL: Uh-huh, and that's what they need to know. We have about 30 seconds left, but I want to make sure you have the time. When you pause on Memorial Day, who is it that you think of?

ROUSE: There are so many. There are so many that I think of. In three deployments there are so many stories, so many names, individuals who I worked with in our task force, Americans, coalition nations, Afghan forces, names and faces I remember.

But what I wear on my wrist is the name of Sergeant Roger P. Pena. He died by enemy fire in Afghanistan in 2006, and I remember him especially today.

HILL: Thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you for coming in today, and thank you for lending your voice to the conversation. I hope we can continue it.

ROUSE: Thank you so much.

HILL: Thank you.

OUTFRONT next, on a lighter note, Jeanne Moos on President Trump's gift to the emperor of Japan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:58] HILL: President Trump is wrapping up his trip in Japan, one that included a traditional exchanging of signed photos with the emperor. But there's nothing traditional about one of their signatures.

Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a big one.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not just big. It's enormous. It's colossal. It's huge.

Marking his territory. When it comes to President Trump's signature, even oldsters won't be needing their reading glasses.

Why? Why is his signature so big, someone tweeted. Author J.K. Rowling responded, I didn't believe in graphology until about three minutes ago.

She linked to a site analyzing what large handwriting means. An independent handwriting expert confirmed.

BART BAGGETT, HANDWRITING EXPERT: The size of the signature correlates with narcissism, with ego, with a grandiose sense of self- importance. The size alone equals I'm so important, I don't need to obey margins. I can just scribble like I'm a movie star or a rock star.

MOOS: Or a president or a best-selling author? Trump supporters dug up J.K. Rowling's signature. I guess you're no different then?

BAGGETT: You know, it's funny because she is throwing stones about Donald Trump, but she also has a really big signature, which I think is a success trait.

MOOS: That goes for both of them, but graphologist Bart Baggett says Rowling exhibits a fluid, feminine flow, while President Trump's signature looks like a hacksaw.

BAGGETT: It's sharp, angular, scissor-like M's and N's.

Which basically is a lack of compassion.

MOOS: Tweeted one critic, it looks like the result from a polygraph. He's lying of course.

A polygraph, a seismograph.

Since we're comparing size, the handwriting expert's signature is no shrimp, though perhaps not Trumpian.

BAGGETT: It's really the epitome of narcissism.

MOOS: Internet pranksters keep changing the president's signature.

When it comes to presidents and authors, the writing's not just on the wall. It takes up the whole wall, and it can take big hands to sign a big signature.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts right now.