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Trump Unleashes Flurry of Lies; False Claims of Mueller Conflict of Interest; Trump Tweets about Russia and the Election. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 30, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you come back this time tomorrow.

Don't go anywhere. Brianna Keilar in the chair, she starts RIGHT NOW. Have a great day.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, we begin with a litany of lies from the president of the United States. Just one day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller again, but this time on camera, explained he did not clear the president of a crime, and signaled to Congress the president's fate is up to them. President Trump stood before reporters ranting about Mueller, shouting insults, falsehoods and outright lies over the din of an awaiting Marine One. Here's a sample.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's totally conflicted because, as you know, he wanted to be the FBI director and I said no.

He said essentially you're innocent. I'm innocent of all charges. And you know the thing that nobody brings up, there was no crime. They're saying he's obstructing something and there was no crime. And nobody brings it up.

I believe that Russia would rather have Hillary Clinton as president of the United States than Donald Trump.

The word "impeach," it's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word and it had nothing to do with me. So I don't think so because there was no crime. You know, it's "high crimes and," not "with" or "or," it's "high crimes and misdemeanors." There was no high crime and there was no misdemeanor.


KEILAR: Now, none of that is true, and we're going to fact check all of it here today.

First, though, let's get to the White House and our White House correspondent Abby Phillip.

Abby, you were one of the reporters who was questioning the president, and the president had what seemed to be a measured response to the Mueller report yesterday. He wrote a short tweet. He said the case was closed. He even signed off "thank you." But this was very different what we saw today. What happened?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it. The president apparently slept on it last night and woke up this morning feeling very differently about what Robert Mueller had to say yesterday. He was reviving a whole long list of attacks that he's been throwing at Mueller for two years now, including a country club dues dispute between the Trump club and Robert Mueller that even Trump's own aides called petty and did not think was an actual conflict that would have prevented Mueller from being at the helm of the special counsel probe.

But it does seem that the president is on edge about the one thing that Robert Mueller did that I think that the White House is paying attention to, which is that he made it very clear that he wanted Congress to take up this issue of what -- where to go next with obstruction of justice. Mueller believed that he could not do anything with it constitutionally, and so, therefore, that the only remedy was for Congress to either do something or not. And so the president then became fixated on this idea of impeachment. And as you heard him say there, he said, I'm not sure the courts would let the Democrats impeach him.

Well, Brianna, we know that that is not true as well, but it just gives you a window into where President Trump is on this -- on this issue, that he believes that it is unfair if Democrats were to impeach him, yet, at the same time, sources are telling us that he is in some ways eager to have this as a political fight, eager to use this in a way to kind of gin up his base and -- but, in the meantime, I think he is not letting up on attacking Robert Mueller, even though the White House continues to insist the case is closed. The case is clearly not closed when it comes to President Trump and Robert Mueller, who he even accused today of being part of the never Trump movement. Robert Mueller being, of course, a lifelong Republican.


KEILAR: Yes, we'll be fact checking that.

Abby Phillip at the White House, thank you.

President Trump claimed the courts would not allow him to be impeached. There's a problem, though. The courts, they have nothing do with this. Impeachment is a congressional process. It's a process that a growing number of Democrats want to pursue after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's public statement.

Let's get to CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill covering this angle.

And Robert Mueller made it clear, Phil, he doesn't want to talk about this anymore, but that doesn't mean the conversation's over.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's exactly right. One of the big questions is, is will Democrats, at this point, subpoena Robert Mueller given he made very clear yesterday in his public statement it was his, quote, hope that he would not have to come testify, that the report would speak for itself.

Here's what we know at this point. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler earlier this month said that if he had to subpoena Robert Mueller, he would subpoena Robert Mueller. But Jerry Nadler, after Robert Mueller's comments yesterday, did not weigh in on that specifically. We do know Democrats want him to come still despite his public remarks yesterday. The speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said it yesterday. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, said it yesterday. Steny Hoyer, the majority leader, said it yesterday. And the reason why it was actually kind of put in context by Pelosi herself last night saying, it would be useful.

I was texting back and forth with a member of the House Democratic caucus earlier today who was underscoring this point, the power of these images, even, this Democrat said, if it's just Robert Mueller reading verbatim from the report, carries so much more weight in this Democrat's views than just the 440-page report in and of itself. So Democrats want that. They want that testimony. They want it to be public. That's what they're going form. The question is, how far are they willing to go to get there? We don't know the answer to that just yet, Brianna.

[13:05:21] KEILAR: All right, Phil Mattingly on The Hill, thank you so much.

The host of "THE LEAD" and "STATE OF THE UNION," Jake Tapper, is here with me to discuss.

First of all, let's talk broadly about what we saw this morning. I'm very curious about your impression of -- we know the president's a norm buster, but this was beyond that. What did you think?


KEILAR: You -- it felt like the same to you?

TAPPER: Well, I mean, this is how he behaves. I mean sometimes he's restrained and sometimes he just lets it all hang out and says whatever's on his mind, whether it's true or not. He insults people. I mean this is who he is. It's certainly not what we're accustomed to when it comes to behavior in politics, but this will be one of his legacies. I don't know if this is going to be carried on and other presidents are going to behave this way, but -- but acting this way is part and parcel of who he is.

KEILAR: What is -- and you, obviously, have covered the presidency so up close and personally previously, President Obama. When you -- when you look at how President Trump throws out one thing after another that is untrue, what is the -- what's the effect of that, and also the difficulty of the fact checking of it when it's -- so many things are thrown out in quick succession?

TAPPER: Well, I mean, one of the effects of it is that there are tens of millions of Americans who now believe things that are not true because he says them and they like him and they like what he stands for and they want to believe in him and so tens of millions of people think things such as, for example, you know, what he -- what he said about how the courts aren't going to let the Democrats impeach him. That's not -- it's not the case, as you point out. Just -- I mean according to the -- the powers of impeachment. But there were -- that's one of the things it means. And it means there is an erosion, I think, more broadly in what facts are and what truth is. And that's, you know, I think, empirically bad for the country.

KEILAR: The president earlier today posted and then retracted a tweet that read, I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.

TAPPER: Well, actually, he -- what he -- I think there was a typo in it and that's why he retracted it and then ultimately he reposted the same thing. So it's still -- I believe it's still up there. I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. But your larger point, that's a --

KEILAR: Is that --

TAPPER: That's a profound admission by the president, although he tried to walk it back.

KEILAR: He -- I got me elected, right, is what -- is what he said in person on --

TAPPER: Yes, but he said --

KEILAR: That's right.

TAPPER: Russia helped me to get elected. I mean that -- that's a --

KEILAR: I had -- I had nothing to do with this.

So, I mean, what did you think about that as a slip of the tongue perhaps?

TAPPER: Well, I mean he is -- he's -- basically he's just confirming what every national security and intelligence official of both his administration and the Obama administration have said, which is, Russia tried to help him get elected. And he's -- he admitted it in this tweet, and now he's going to try to pretend that he didn't admit it. But that's a Freudian slip. He accidentally admitted the truth.

KEILAR: Because in the Mueller report it says there was awareness. While there was not a conspiracy, it says there was awareness on the part of the Trump campaign that this was being done in a way that would aid the Trump campaign, which isn't enough to be a conspiracy. Just the expectation that it would help.

TAPPER: Right. But the fact is that the Russians, according to all national security and intelligence officials of both the Obama and Trump administrations, the Russians hacked into or spear fished into Democratic accounts, got e-mails that were release that were damaging to Hillary Clinton and also did this disinformation campaign on social media. So while there's no way to compute and figure out how many votes it affected, if any, clearly the Russians tried to help President Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. And, you know, it's -- what's remarkable is that it took President Trump or any president this long to admit it. For this president, I'm surprised that he did admit it.

KEILAR: Litigating what happened is obviously important, but they're -- Robert Mueller made this point yesterday at the beginning and the end of his remarks that Russian interference in the election is serious. We know it's ongoing.

TAPPER: Right.

KEILAR: Without the president, you having covered the presidency the way you have, without the president taking the lead on an issue like that, what is the effect of actually -- we know there are many people and agencies who are trying to do this. The intel committee is trying to counter this. But what's the effect when the president himself doesn't provide leadership on this issue?

TAPPER: Well, there's a national security apparatus and they are doing, I believe, the best job they can do in countering this. And I've spoken to some of the people running these departments and, you know, they say that regardless of what President Trump admits or says publicly or doesn't say to Vladimir Putin or whatever, they are doing their jobs and they are trying to protect the country from these kind of intrusions, not just from Russia, but also from China, North Korea, Iran, others.

[13:10:18] The one thing they say is, yes, it would be incredibly helpful if President Trump used the bully pulpit to educate the public about this. Meaning, don't believe every social media -- everything you see posted on social media, don't believe that real -- that people on FaceBook who are saying we're going to have a rally to do this are necessarily real. There's a certain awareness that the public does not yet have and the president could help with that if he wanted to. He chooses not to. And that is really where they fault him.

It's not that they're -- they're not doing their jobs at the National Counterterrorism Center. They are. They're doing everything they can. But the question of, could the president be educating the public more? That's something that they all wish he would do.

KEILAR: As an educator in chief?

TAPPER: Well, it's the reason that it's a bully pulpit is because when he says anything, people listen. And he could use the time to be educating people about PTSD for veterans, or he could be using the time to talk about cyber security and election interference, what the public needs to know, or he could be using the time attacking a senator who has been dead for a year and besmirching, you know, a Vietnam War hero like Robert Mueller. He chooses to choose -- to use his time and his bully pulpit the way he does. KEILAR: Jake Tapper, thank you so much. And we'll see you, of course,

at 4:00 p.m. on "THE LEAD." Thank you.

TAPPER: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Thank you for joining us.

Because the president's statements were extraordinary this morning, we're going to play each lie and claim and we're going fact check it.

Also, who from the White House worked with the Navy to hide the USS McCain warship, the name on the warship, from the president's view? And Meghan McCain weighs in.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF THE LATE SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: You're putting people in the military in horrific situations because they're fearful of their jobs if God forbid you're a sailor on this ship, you think there's going to be some kind of retribution. And I think it's horrible. I think it's bad for Americans.



[13:17:00] KEILAR: This morning, the president did what he's frequently done, but at a more rapid pace, he lied. For the next 30ish minutes, we're going to fact check all of his claims. And this is first up.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's totally conflicted because, as you know, he wanted to be the FBI director and I said no. As you know, I had a business dispute with him. After he left the FBI, we had a business dispute.

Not a nice one. He wasn't -- he wasn't happy with what I did. And I don't blame him, but I had to do it because that was the right thing to do. But I had a business dispute.

And he loves Comey. You look at the relationship that those two. So whether it's love or a deep like, but he should -- he was conflicted.

Look, Robert Mueller should have never been chosen, because he wanted the FBI job and he didn't get it, and the next day he was picked as special counsel. So you tell somebody, I'm sorry, you can't have the job. And then after you say that, he's going to make the ruling on you. It doesn't' work that way. Plus, we had a business dispute, plus his relationship with Comey was extraordinary.


KEILAR: There are many things to discuss here. With us now to do so, editor and chief writer for "The Washington Post" Fact Checker Glenn Kessler.

And, Glenn, the Mueller report actually addresses this supposed conflict of interest and the -- the president's claim that Mueller wanted to be FBI director. This is from volume two, page 82, quote, Bannon, Steve Bannon, recalled telling the president that the purported conflicts were ridiculous and that none of them was real or could come close to justify precluding Mueller from serving as special counsel. As for Mueller's interview for FBI director, Bannon recalled that the White House had invited Mueller to speak to the president to offer a perspective on the institution of the FBI. Bannon said that although the White House thought about beseeching Mueller to become director again, he did not come in looking for the job.

These are the president's -- this is the top aide, right, a top said saying under the threat of perjury that this is what happened. So that dispels the -- any sort of truth in what the president has said.

What's he talking about?

GLENN KESSLER, EDITOR AND CHIEF WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST" FACT CHECKER: Well, he's trying to say that there's a conflict -- he's trying to say there are all sorts of conflicts with Robert Mueller, and the Mueller report actually goes through the -- the FBI situation, us you describe. I mean apparently there was a bit of a conversation where they talked about, well, you know, if you -- they would have to pass a law to let him be FBI director again. It was not anything seriously discussed.

In the case of a business conflict, again, that is addressed in the -- business dispute. It's addressed in the Mueller report. All it was, was he asked for a refund of his golf membership fees, which he didn't get. He never -- the report says he never even got an answer back from the Trump Organization, and he never followed up.

KEILAR: Not really a business dispute, right?

KESSLER: Right. Exactly.

KEILAR: And he also -- what's this claim where he says there's deep -- deep -- or he said deep like or love between Comey and Mueller?

[13:20:08] KESSLER: As far as I know and as far as anyone has been able to tell, they were business colleagues. They're -- you know, so they're ten years overlapped at various times, but they're not personal friends.


KESSLER: In fact, Mueller has more of a friendship with Trump's attorney general, William Barr, than he would have with Comey.

KEILAR: So they had an opportunity to have a friendship, obviously, with their association at work, but they didn't have one, just to be clear?

KESSLER: Right. Yes. KEILAR: So before speaking to reporters, the president made a pretty

stunning admission. He tweeted this. I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It seems like he realized what he'd admitted there because he came outside and said this bit of revisionism.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn't help me at all.


KEILAR: Intelligence officials, lawmakers and Mueller say this.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE (July 2017): I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election, as is the entire intelligence community.

LESTER HOLT (July 2017): Is there any dissent within the intelligence community that you oversee on the question of whether the Russians interfered with the American election?

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE (July 2017): There is no dissent, and I have stated that publicly --

HOLT: Everyone's on board.

COATS: And I've stated that to the president.

MICHAEL ROGERS, NSA DIRECTOR (July 2017): No doubt at all and I stand behind the intelligence -- intelligence community assessment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (December 15, 2017): Did Russia interfere in the U.S. elections?

JAMES MATTIS, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY (December 15, 2017): Yes, I believe they did.

REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE (April 2017): I think as to the question of the interference with the election, that is fairly well-established.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA) (March 21, 2017): The fact that the Russia -- that Russia hacked U.S. election related databases comes as no shock to this committee.

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL (May 29, 2019): There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election.


KEILAR: And what's important, too, is you hear the agreement there that Russia interfered in our elections. But the intelligence community also is in agreement that they did so in an attempt to benefit president Trump, not Hillary Clinton, right?

KESSLER: Yes, correct. That -- and the Mueller report documents in great detail that it was on behalf of Trump and the Trump campaign was a willing recipient of that help.

KEILAR: That they understood they were getting help, right?


KEILAR: And so when you look at the president's tweet, is that just -- is that just in line with what the report says, that they understood that this was something that would benefit them, even if they weren't conspiring to get the benefit?

KESSLER: Yes. I mean, that's why it was significant that he actually tweet that because he seemed to be accepting the central premise of the Mueller report.

KEILAR: And, Glenn, the president made another claim about interference. He said that Vladimir Putin actually wanted Hillary Clinton to win. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that Russia would rather have Hillary Clinton as president of the United States than Donald Trump. The reason is, nobody has been tougher on Russia than me. Whether it's our energy policy, which was not hers, whether it's the pipeline, as you know in Europe going all over the place that I've been bitterly complaining about, whether it's Ukraine, whether it's a whole host of thing, there has nobody ever been more -- more tough or difficult for Russia than Donald Trump.


KEILAR: I do want to quickly point out that Vladimir Putin himself admitted that he preferred Trump for president.


QUESTION: Did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Yes, I did. Yes, I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal.


KEILAR: All right, so let's get to the bottom of this, because it's actually more complex than just the president's rhetoric, rhetoric versus actions. Has the president been tough on Russia? Has the president been tougher on Russia than anyone else?

KESSLER: No, he hasn't. And, you know, he gave it a somewhat cherry- picked descriptions there of his policies. But, broadly speaking, he is a president that Vladimir Putin has dreamed of. He's done his best to try to weaken the alliance in NATO. He has done his best to encourage splits within the European Union, witness with the Brexit situation in the U.K. He has given Russia free rein in Syria.

So it -- these are things that he has done that have been beneficial to Russia foreign policy interests and general geopolitical aspirations. And I was going -- just say, there have been some sanctions that he has -- that have been imposed under his presidency, but that was generally imposed by Congress over Trump's objections.

KEILAR: That's right.

And his rhetoric hasn't matched sort of the imposition of those sanctions.

We have a lot still to talk about, so you're going to stand by with us. Glenn Kessler from "The Washington Post."

[13:24:44] We're going to fact check the president's lie on obstruction and the claim that the courts would never allowed impeachment.


KEILAR: We've been fact checking President Trump's lie-riddled spiel to reporters earlier today on the White House lawn.

And among his lies included that Russia didn't help him get elected. That Putin actually wanted Clinton to win. That Robert Mueller was conflicted and that he actually hates Trump because he wasn't appointed FBI director.

And he also said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So he said essentially, you're innocent. I'm innocent of all charges. And you know the thing that nobody brings up, there was no crime. They're saying he's obstructing something and there was no crime. And nobody brings it up.

[13:30:07] Also, some day you ought to read.