Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Scott Pruitt Target of 11 Federal Probes Discussed; Scott Bourdain on Uruguay; Federal Judge Talks on Mueller Investigation; Discussion on Trump's Views on Immigration and Tax Reform; France Disapproves of Trump's NRA Speech; CNN Top 10 Heroes; Kentucky Derby Rain; Hawaii Volcano Spewing Lava And Toxic Gas; CNN: Pruitt Reimbursed Himself $65K From Two Prior Campaigns. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 05, 2018 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned billionaire, Tom Barrack, spoke to Mueller's team back in December. The president's friendship with Barrack dates back more than 40 years. Trump tapped him to chair his 2016 inaugural committee. Barrack spoke to CNN back in October. Watch.


TOM BARRACK, LONGTIME TRUMP FRIEND, CHAIR OF 2016 INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: It's a president who has managed his whole life for the 40 years that I have known him, he's been successful at everything, but he manages by conflict.


CABRERA: Let's head straight to Boris Sanchez at the White House. Boris, Tom Barrack has enjoyed rare access to Trump for years. What do we know about his interview with Mueller's team?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. Yes, according to a source who spoke with my colleague, Gloria Borger, the focus of the special counsel's questioning of Tom Barrack had to do with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, that is, the former Trump campaign chairman and his deputy.

Manafort, of course, is being charged with a litany of financial crimes and fraud, as is Gates. Gates has pled guilty, while Manafort denies any of those charges. We understand that Tom Barrack was not asked about his personal relationship with the president, whom, as you noted, he's known for more than 40 years.

He actually introduced Donald Trump to Paul Manafort, so he knows the two men well. Further, Barrack was asked to join the administration in a senior role, but he reportedly turned that down.

Also, the source indicates that Barrack was not asked about his role on the inaugural committee. He was not asked about any financial issues, and further, he was told that he is not a target of their investigation. Still, it's notable because it shows you just how broad the special counsel's investigation has become -- Ana.

CABRERA: And meantime, "The New York Times" is reporting on a separate issue about the president and the Stormy Daniels hush money. The president apparently denying when he may have actually known about that payment. Give us the update.

SANCHEZ: Right. "The New York Times" indicating that President Trump was aware of the arrangement between his attorney, Michael Cohen, and Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, well before he denied knowing about it on Air Force One. The president has had multiple opportunities to explain that denial and to respond to this report.

However, he has declined those opportunities. He returned here to the White House a short time ago and did not answer reporters' questions speeding past them, I should say. We've seen the White House go back and forth on this.

There have been denials from Sarah Sanders, Raj Shaw, the president himself and we've seen pseudo-admissions from Rudy Giuliani who earlier this week contradicted the president. You had Donald Trump the next day saying that his newly hired attorney didn't have all his facts straight.

Even though the president on Twitter just a few days ago acknowledged that he reimbursed Michael Cohen after the campaign. A lot of questions to be answered, Ana. Frankly, that are not being addressed by this White House.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thank you.

Meantime, a federal judge openly questioning the motives of the Mueller team this week. It happened in a Virginia courtroom where he is presiding over the bank fraud case of Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. That case was brought to him by Mueller's special counsel team.

But in court, the judge says Mueller is not really targeting Paul Manafort and that his real goal is getting President Trump out of office.

Joining us now to discuss this is David Kris, a former assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department and an expert on FISA and also with me is CNN contributor, Larry Noble. He is the senior director and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.

So, David, you have spent a lot of time in federal courts. What is your reaction to the judge's strong criticism?

DAVID KRIS, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, I think it's pretty easy to overread the tea leaves from Judge Ellis. He is a very experienced judge. He's known to question aggressively the attorneys who appear before him, particularly if he's not familiar with them, because they're not from his district, which is the Eastern District of Virginia. So, I wouldn't overread that. I mean, to be sure, he did, you know, ask hard questions and make hard comments about the scope of the remit for the special counsel and this idea of getting Manafort to sing like a -- would be done in a drug case.

But I think Judge Ellis knows from his experience that it is standard prosecutorial and investigative procedure to follow the money, and the money that is involved in the bank fraud and tax fraud charges that are lodged in his court is, if you believe the allegations in the indictment, directly linked to Manafort's work for Victor Yanukovich (ph), the pro-Russian president of the Ukraine.

And it's squarely within the August 2017 memo from Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, setting forth the limits on Mueller's investigative scope, so I think again, you can overread this.

I think there are a lot of reasons to doubt that when push comes to shove, at the end of the day, Judge Ellis will rule against the government here and in favor of Manafort. Frankly, if he did, I think some reason to think it might not survive on appeal.

[17:05:07] CABRERA: Some of the comments that really stand out is him saying no one has unfettered power. He also goes on to say, quote, "prosecution or impeachment, that's what you're really interested in," as he was talking with the prosecution, Larry, should the judge's comments be seen as a setback for the special counsel or a wake-up call to do a better job of making their case against Manafort?

LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think they can be seen as, you know, some frustration by the judge. Some of them are gratuitous comments, but I've seen judges come down hard on the government and then rule in favor of the government. So, you can't read too much into this.

He is clearly frustrated by this, but it doesn't mean that the Mueller investigation is gone beyond its authorization. And I think at the end of the day, he will come out in favor of it. Now, what he has done, though, is he has given Trump and Trump supporters, you know, language that they can use now to attack Mueller.

To say that a federal judge has said that Mueller has -- is just really trying to get Trump and has accused the lawyers of lying and that's unfortunate, and that's where I say the comments were gratuitous and weren't really necessary.

But at the end of the day, what we're going to have to look at is what the judge ultimately says about the authorization. And then, as he pointed out, Mueller can appeal any ruling, if the judge decides that the indictment has to be dismissed.

And even if at the end of the day, it is decided Mueller did not have the authorization for this, the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia can bring the case or the Department of Justice can bring the case. So, I don't think --

CABRERA: There are multiple.

NOBLE: -- that this is great news for Manafort.

CABRERA: All right. So, Larry, let me switch real quick to "The New York Times" reporting that Trump knew months before that denial on Air Force One that his attorney paid hush money to adult film star, Stormy Daniels. Does the timing matter when it comes to possible campaign violations?

NOBLE: It does. If Trump knew that Cohen was paying Stormy Daniels, and if he knew that the money he was giving Cohen or Cohen's law firm was going to Stormy Daniels, then we have the issue that this was a campaign expenditure and it should have been reported by the campaign.

Also, if Cohen advanced the money and Trump knew that Cohen was advancing the money, then Cohen was making an illegal contribution to the campaign. Despite what Rudy Giuliani says, the campaign law is clear that an advance is a contribution.

So, if Trump knew about all of this, then clearly this was something that the campaign should have been doing, should have been reporting and so it is very important. What's really disturbing about this is that they can't get their facts straight.

There's a simple question here. What did Trump know and when did he know it and the fact that the story keeps changing is disturbing. But at the end of the day, I think what they're going to find is that this was done for the purpose of the campaign.

And it was done to stop Stormy Daniels from talking right before the campaign and Trump did know about it and that's what it looks like right now.

CABRERA: And, of course, we can remember Barack Obama also was hit with that FEC violation so important to note that it has happened before when you're just looking at those types of infractions.

David, Mueller's team, we've now learns had questioned Tom Barrack, one of the president's closest friends and confidants, and chaired his 2016 inaugural committee. A source tells CNN that Barrack was asked about his relationship with former Trump campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates.

But he wasn't asked about his relationship with Trump and he was reportedly told he's not a target of the probe. So, what is all that tell you?

NOBLE: That tells me --

KRIS: There, too, I think --

CABRERA: Go ahead, David.

NOBLE: I beg your pardon.

KRIS: I think there, too, I want to sound a note of caution and avoid overreading. You know, it is a routine and responsible practice for investigators to cast a wide net, as you've noted. They want to talk to everybody.

They don't want to leave a stone unturned and miss something, but there's a real big difference as you pointed out between being a witness in a federal investigation and being a subject or a target of the investigation.

And Barrack is pretty clearly a witness. Even within the realm of witnesses, you know, there's a difference between someone who is approached to get sort of a general take on a topic if he introduced Manafort to Trump, then it would be clear why the investigators would want to talk to him.

But there's a difference between that kind of an interview and a much more focused confrontational interview, you know, concerning a particular transaction that's come into focused attention for the prosecutors.

So, at this time, based on what we know publicly, I think you just have to be careful about overreading it. It seems to me like it's more a practice consistent with good housekeeping by prosecutors than it really reflects a shift or an emphasis.

CABRERA: OK. Meantime, Larry, we just heard, again, from Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as outside counsel brought in to help with the Russia probe and it's been a controversial week of controversial remarks from Rudy Giuliani as remarks have been all over the map. What exactly is his job?

NOBLE: Well, he supposedly counsel to the president for the personal liability issues, for the -- and he should be acting like that.

[17:10:11] The part I really don't understand about this is where President Trump said that, well, Giuliani really hadn't gotten up to speed yet and he doesn't know all the facts. Well, you don't send your lawyer out to talk to the press unless the lawyer knows the facts, knows what he can say and what he can't say.

And as a lawyer, you don't go out and talk to the press unless you know all the facts, so this reflects some disorganization and also some inability to get their facts straight. Hopefully, they will clear this up, but right now, this is not -- I don't think this has been a very good week for Giuliani or the president when it comes to this issue of Stormy Daniels and the campaign finance law violations.

CABRERA: David, how is Giuliani helping the president?

KRIS: Well, not very well right now. I mean, I think Larry captured perfectly the exposure that they're now facing. I do think there just isn't a clean way for the president and Rudy Giuliani to get out of the box that they've gotten themselves into.

So, no matter which way they turn now, no matter how they try to characterize or recharacterize this, that or the other thing from the past, I think they're going to take a hit, whether that hit sounds in campaign finance law or financial disclosure law or loss of the attorney-client privilege or some combination of those, this is a first class mess that they're in here.

And frankly, I think it would be almost comical if it weren't so awful. You know, it's awful in part because I think it's predictable. Not that one could have predicted the particular facts of Stormy Daniels.

But this sort of thing, I think, is predictable, because the president and the people who prosper in close orbit around him seem to operate under a principle that things like facts and law are for little people to worry about.

And not for them, and frankly, that the institutions of government are properly harnessed to the president's personal agenda, and when those institutions push back, as DOJ has, they are subject to very withering criticism from the president himself, from his proxies in Congress, and in a total lack of broad support for the long-term prerogatives of law enforcement.

So, it's a very unusual state of affairs, and I do think Rudy Giuliani has not been very helpful in lending clarity and focus to the efforts.

CABRERA: David Kris and Larry Noble, thank you both for being here.

Straight ahead, absolutely frightening images out of Hawaii as lava comes spewing from the ground, flowing into neighborhoods. We'll head to the big island next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: Look at this. Molten hot lava shooting up from the ground on Hawaii's big island. These random fissures just feet from our cameras, and they're the biggest fear for residents right now, following the eruption of the infamous Kilauea Volcano and take a look at this astounding time lapse video capturing the scale and the spread of the lava there.

The residents that we've been talking to have described it as a curtain of fire. Another said eruptions have been as high as 100 feet and making matters worse, more than 450 earthquakes in the last 24 hours opening up cracks in the road for more lava to fill.

Joining us now from the big island is CNN's Stephanie Elam. Stephanie, you and your crew were right there, so close to some of those fissures. What was that like?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Surreal. It's hard to really explain it to see that close. Because when you are there, the sound of that escaping lava and the gas coming along with it, you can feel the thunder of it in your chest.

You can smell it, that sulfur dioxide, when it blows, the wind changes and it comes your way, it almost takes your breath away. That is why they're saying people need to stay away and on top of it, the magma, the color is so intensely orange, and pieces of lava rock are flying around you and over you and there's ash.

It's nothing to play with. It is very serious situation, and that is why they've evacuated these neighborhoods nearby. We spoke to one man who lives in one of these communities that has been evacuated. He built his house all by himself.

He's a contractor by trade, a carpenter, and he said it was so quick when the fissure opened up, there was the earthquakes and then the gas. He said then the lava was billowing out just four doors down from his home. Take a listen to what else Steve Gebbie had to say.


STEVE GEBBIE, LEILANI ESTATES RESIDENT: Life is completely turned upside down aAnd I think it's just starting to set in. You know, yesterday, everybody looked like Beverly Hill Billies, everybody had everything in their trucks and was on the run. Now it's the first morning after evacuation and now it's time to figure out what the future brings.

ELAM: Starting to feel it today.

GIBBIE: Yes. I kind of said farewell to my house yesterday, but now I'm starting to think about my future, my work, my job, am I going to move, am I going to have to move to somewhere else on the island? You know, it all might be forever changed.


ELAM: And at this point, he doesn't know whether or not his house is standing, but to be clear, authorities have pushed these boundaries out that they are no longer allowing people to go into these areas further out because of that sulfur dioxide and that smell, that gas that's billowing.

In some places, you can see the white smoke over the roadways. It is that thick so because of that, they've pushed this perimeter wider as they are unclear at this point where there could be more fissures.

They don't know but they are likely to see more of them. There's seven so far right now and then on top of it, these earthquakes, which have knocked out power on parts of the island. It's a very precarious situation and that's why they're asking residents to stay away.

[17:20:12] CABRERA: It looks scary, to say the least. Incredible pictures. Thank you for that reporting, Stephanie Elam.

Just ahead, another day, another Scott Pruitt scandal. New allegations against the embattled EPA secretary have some asking, how much longer can he hold on to his job? You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CABRERA: The list is growing longer and longer, another round of bad headlines for embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to close out a rough week. CNN is now learning Pruitt paid himself nearly $65,000 in reimbursements from his two campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general.

[17:25:13] This as "The Washington Post" is reporting another travel scandal that Pruitt made a list of countries he hoped to visit and he urged his aides to help him find official reasons to travel to those countries and just a reminder, what you are seeing on the screen there, those are just the headlines from this week alone.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN contributor and former director of the office of government ethics, Walter Shaub, and CNN political commentator and former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings is back with us.

So, Scott, any other administration -- you've served under previous administrations, would Scott Pruitt still have a job?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think some of the things that have happened to Pruitt are not good. The one good thing that's happened to Pruitt that is good is that Trump still likes the job that he's doing and that is principally what is salvaging Pruitt right now.

CABRERA: But what happened to Pruitt or what he did?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, you know, he's certainly suffering an image damage right now because of all the headlines. I mean, some of the things that have been reported about Pruitt, to be fair, never actually happened. They never turned on the lights and sirens. They never made the coins. He didn't actually buy the furniture.

So, there's been a lot of reporting about what Scott Pruitt wanted to do but didn't actually do but it was reported anyway. All that having been said, the guy clearly has questions to answer. He clearly has to come clean on some things and he's got more work to do on the transparency front.

I was going to say that the issue that I think is on the White House's mind would be the confirmation issue. Is there bandwidth in the senate to confirm another EPA administrator. Wheeler is a good person and doing a good job but I'm not sure they could confirm an EPA administrator this year.

CABRERA: Scott, we have seen a lot of other top White House officials resign after a controversy. This is not even a complete list there on the side of the screen in terms of the controversies involving Pruitt. This is all we could fit, though, in the graphic. Pruitt seems to be held to a different standard than other Trump appointees, no?

JENNINGS: Well, he's, again, like I said, he has been in the president's favor because I think the president believes he has done one of the most effective jobs in the cabinet of enacting the president's agenda on the deregulation front. I actually think a lot of the rage against Scott Pruitt has nothing to do, frankly, with ethics or scandals or whatever you want to call it.

It has to do with the fact that he is effectively deconstructing the Obama-era rules at the EPA that were anti-growth, anti-business and that President Trump railed against on the campaign trail. So, the one thing he's got going in his favor, the president thinks he's doing a good job on the policy front, although no one at the White House could be happy about the headline or PR front.

CABRERA: We know Pruitt is the target of at least 11 federal probes. Walter, give us a sense of how these probes work and how they could play out.

WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's just shocking, the sheer volume, and I honestly can't imagine anyone else in any past administration surviving this. I think it is true that he's still in the job because Trump thinks he's being effective.

Now, you know, it will remain to be seen if he actually has been effective, because some of these deregulatory efforts might be challenged in court, and if you don't follow rules and ethics, let's hope you're following rules in the regulatory process, because if you're not, you're going to lose those lawsuits.

But the investigative process is multifaceted because he's being investigated by the House, the Senate, OMB, the Government Accountability Office, and the inspector general. The most straightforward one of all of those is the inspector general. They just simply go out and ask questions and federal employees absolutely have to comply.

So, they're going to get to the bottom of this. The defense that a lot of Pruitt's defenders float out there, though, that this is somehow politically motivated is -- just doesn't hold water with the fact that nobody would ever behave this way in the Bush or Obama administration and keep their job.

And Trump could just simply replace him with somebody who is equally in favor of deregulation and perhaps more effective at it because maybe they're a rule follower.

CABRERA: I wonder, Scott, what message does it send if this individual is allowed to keep his job, despite what he is doing in the abuse that is alleged in terms of his position with taxpayer money.

JENNINGS: Well, you brought up the correct word, Ana, and that's alleged. I mean, everybody wants to get rid of Scott Pruitt because investigations exist, not because investigations have been completed.

It may be that the White House wants to see what the results of the investigations are before making a decision, and it may ultimately be that they want to get rid of Scott Pruitt and put in somebody else.

I still think one of the political, logistical issues they have is whether there's the bandwidth for a confirmation this year, so I think the White House would have to be comfortable with the concept if Pruitt is gone, Wheeler, the deputy who is, again, an effective operator, are they comfortable with him running the agency in perpetuity. Because I think you would be unlikely to get a confirmation this year. It could drag into next year. So you'd have sort of a Deputy Interim Director running it and then the White House would have to be comfortable with that concept if they sack Pruitt right now.

CABRERA: Last word Walter go ahead.

SHAUB: Ethics just simply has to matter. At some point there's got to be enough of this behavior that the answer is you've got to go. I mean, they didn't wait for an investigation on Tom Price out of HHS and that's certainly not the standard this Administration or really past Administration used. I mean, the bottom line is President Bush would not have put up with this. He would have removed this guy.

Now he would have replaced him with somebody conservative and that is certainly what Trump can do. But he would not have tolerated this guy continuing to behave this way. And under the Vacancy's Reform Act, he's not limited to be Deputy Administrator. He can pick any senior employee at EPA or any Senate confirmed employee anywhere else. And we saw when he moved Kelly to the White House that he is willing to move Senate confirmed appointees.

CABRERA: Walter Shaub, Scott Jennings, good to see you guys. Thank you so much for coming on.

SHAUB: Thanks.

JENNINGS: (inaudible)

CABRERA: Next. A Federal judge overseeing the case of Trump's Former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort taking a jab at Robert Mueller's team. What he's accusing the Special Counsel of doing. And now Anthony Bourdain shows us how traveling off the beaten path in Uruguay could be just the edgy travel experience you need.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: So from the first time I came down here years ago looking for a sort of disgraceful, possibly gun running relative. I fell in love with this place. You've got to be out of your mind not to love this place. There are little bits of - - that remind me of other countries but it it's own thing. It is definitely it's own thing and it's definitely unlike any other place I've been. Under populated, beautiful, it's really a true hidden gem of Latin America. Place called Uruguay.


CABRERA: To see more, tune into "Parts Unknown" Sunday at 9pm Eastern only on CNN.


[17:37:34] ANA CABRERA: Special Counsel Robert Mueller may have a problem in the Russia probe. A Federal judge overseeing the case of Trump's Former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort is now accusing Mueller of being out to harm the President. Judge T.S. Ellis telling one of Mueller's prosecutors quote, "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud. Prosecution or impeachment of Trump, that's what you're really interested in." And in a bizarre twist President Trump decided to read CNN's story on Judge Ellis out loud at an NRA Rally supporting gun rights in Texas. Yes this actually happened. Watch.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: On CNN they have a headline Judge in Manafort Case says Mueller's aim is to hurt Trump. Do you believe that? I just said give me that article. I want to read it. Just happened a few minutes before I walked on stage. A Federal judge Friday questioned Special Counsel Robert Mueller's authority to bring tax and bank fraud charges unrelated, unrelated - - nobody knows that. Everyone thinks, oh, unrelated to the 2016 election against Former Trump Campaign Manager Chairman Paul Manafort.


CABRERA: Let's talk it over with Democrat Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Thank you for being here.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL, WASHINGTON (D): It's great to see you Ana.

CABRERA: What do you make of the judge's comments?

JAYAPAL: Well, I think that - - first of all I think it's funny that Trump seems to now like CNN so maybe you guys aren't fake news after all.

CABRERA: Exactly.

JAYAPAL: I think that - - I think that the judge didn't rule on any motion. In fact, what he said is that Mueller probably has the right to do what every prosecutor, frankly, often does. Which is leverage the criminal activity of witnesses that can testify in a particular case. And I think it's far more troubling that there are so many witnesses who have criminal activity that could be leveraged. And so the judge was not really making any - - he didn't make any kind of a formal motion - - ruling on the motion. All he did was talk about some legal technicalities and what Mueller's intent might be. But the reality is he - - you know, he - - he even seem to say that Mueller would likely be within his rights in bringing this - -this evidence forward around Paul Manafort.

CABRERA: I'm wondering how you read that - -


CABRERA: I'm sorry I didn't mean to step on your toes. But the - - he - - he said the American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power and as we've mentioned. He even went on to suggest that this - - this team, Mueller's team was after impeachment- - [17:40:15] ANA CABRERA: - - of the President.

JAYAPAL: Yes he did say that. But I think that, you know, I - - I would just say that that is counter to so many other judges who have really ruled on the merits of the Mueller investigation over and over again. So, of course this gives a little bit of heft to the Republicans who want to tell this story that Robert Mueller is out for - - you know to get Trump. But the reality is Trump lies about this all the time. He said Robert Mueller was - - was a Democrat or worked for a Democrat. He forgot to mention that Robert Mueller was actually appointed by Bush and served under - - you know for 10 years under Republican presidents, is a Republican himself. So I think that this is going to be a - - a short little story.

It got Trump to read and quote CNN at a rally which, you know, probably the - - the real news here. But I don't think that it effects the - - the variety and the severity of Mueller's case which is proceeding and has numerous Federal indictments already and is really tightening the noose around Trump. And that's what I see over and over again is the evidence just continues to mount. Rudy Giuliani's, you know, I don't know what that was but his rant on television I think hurt Trump substantially because he basically said that Trump fired Comey because Comey wouldn't - - wasn't going to tell him whether or not he was part of the investigation. He wasn't willing to let that go. And even though Trump - - even though Giuliani came back later and said oh, I made a mistake. The reality is he was probably reflecting exactly what the President has been saying to him for months as a close legal confidant of the President. So I think the President knows he's in a lot of trouble here and I don't think he's going to be able to change the story on that with this one set of comments from - - from this particular judge.

CABRERA: Let me shift to something the President said today. Because you've been a critic of this Administration's Immigration Policy. Listen to what he said.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We may have to close up our country to get this straight. Because we either have a country or we don't. And you can't allow people to pour into our country the way they do. You just take a look at that mess that's on television right now. It is a total catastrophe.


CABRERA: The President there at the top saying we may have to close up our country for awhile. What's your reaction.

JAYAPAL: He is absolutely out of his mind to think that that is any kind of reasonable solution for our economy or compassionate or in line with our values. And you know, this President has done everything he can every time he's in trouble to turn around and try to turn it against immigrants. And it really deeply saddens me Ana. As you know, I've worked on immigration issues for a long time. I am an immigrant myself. I'm one of maybe just a dozen members of Congress who were born outside of this country. And what he is doing to try to fire up a shrinking minority of his base.

The majority of American people understand that immigrants are good for this country. They understand that their ancestors came over as immigrants and they understand that the economy would collapse without the labor of immigrants. And so it's just a ridiculous suggestion that he's somehow going to close down immigration and that somehow we would be better off. I mean those things are all insulting to the American people, to all of us frankly and to our values as a country.

CABRERA: Trump supporters will say critics will find anything to attack. Meantime the economy is booming, unemployment reached an 18 year low. We've got peace talks with North Korea moving in the right direction. Is this President being unfairly scrutinized?

JAYAPAL: I think this President lies a lot, and that has been documented. I think it's something like five or six lies a day since he came into office. Neal Cavuto from FOX News, here I am quoting FOX News on CNN. But, you know, Neil Cavuto went on his own, sort of rant about the President but I think he was telling some truths about how do you believe somebody who is in the Oval Office that continues to challenge the idea of what is a fact and what isn't a fact. Who continues to lie continually. And so I think he deserves to be under high scrutiny. He is in the highest office of the land.

We expect much more from a President. And I think we really have not seen, you know, I - - I think that if he does things that - - that deserve credit then that's fine. But we all knew that the tax scam, the Republican tax scam was going to give a very temporary boost to the economy. All the economists predicted that. The problem is the $1 trillion deficit that they have created and the fact that 85 percent of those tax cuts went into stock buy backs. Only 5 percent of the tax scam has actually gone to workers. So I think when you look at the economy, you - -

[17:45:15] JAYAPAL: - - have to look at the long term sustainability of what he's done. Where the benefits of this $1 trillion deficit that he's created have gone to and how are we investing in real jobs. How are investing in education and healthcare and infrastructure? And none of those things have happened. So I think that this President is being appropriately critiqued and I think he needs to step up his game and be held to a much higher standard in terms of who he is, what he says, how carefully he monitors his language. I don't think that's something that's going to happen unfortunately Ana.


JAYAPAL: America is at a detriment for it.

CABRERA: And just very quickly because you brought up the taxes. To be fair, have you personally benefited from the tax reform?

JAYAPAL: No, I don't. I think that - - I'll have to go back and look at our tax return but I - - I don't think that we benefited very much from it. But we're actually in the sort of middle of the road spectrum. The question is, where are the people at the bottom? Where are the people who really - - the majority of the country? CABRERA: Right.

JAYAPAL: And I think that that's, you know, that's really what we need to be looking at. And even the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, I mean all of the reports have looked. And frankly I think voters don't believe it either, Ana, that they're going to benefit from the tax cut. They know they're not. You know in Pennsylvania - -


CABRERA: - - Connor Lamb's district.


CABRERA: And we will see what the voters think about that and a host of other issues. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you very much for joining us.

JAYAPAL: Thank you Ana. Thanks for having me on.

CABRERA: We'll be right back.


[17:51:20] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They have took their time and gunned them down one by one. Boom, come over here. Boom, come over here. Boom. If you were in those rooms, one of those people, and the survivors said it just lasted forever. But if one employee or just one patron had a gun. Of if just one person in this room had been there with a gun aimed at the opposite direction the terrorists would have fled or been shot.


CABRERA: France now expressing quote, "It's firm disapproval" of President Trump's comments there at the NRA Convention and calling for respect for the memory of the victims of the 2015 terrorist attack that killed 130 people. The Former French Leader Francois Hollande who was President during that attack also sent out a tweet calling President Trump's comments shameful. Coinciding with that NRA gathering it is prom night for Seniors at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And many of them see it as a chance to move forward after the tragic shooting that took 17 of their classmates in February. They are planning a tribute to the four seniors who should be part of their big night but were among those killed. Here's something else the President said last night.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You have an Administration fighting to protect your 2nd Amendment and we will protect your 2nd Amendment.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: The President not mentioning any of the changes he calls for in the wake of Parkland and the protests that followed. This morning survivor and student activist Cameron Kasky had this to say.


CAMERON KASKY, STUDENT AT STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: He is a professional liar who will say anything to appease whatever crowd he's at. If he's in front of families he might say something in - - in support of common sense gun reform. But then when he's at the NRA he'll say something to get a big cheer.


CABRERA: Tomorrow on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper, President Trump's legal battles and the Stormy Daniels case continue. But is his newly added attorney Rudy Giuliani now adding to the chaos. How will the changing story impact the case? Congressman Adam Schiff joins Jake to discuss on State of the Union, tomorrow morning at 9 Eastern and Pacific.


[17:58:12] CABRERA: Last year we shared the story of Coach Khali Sweeney, a Top 10 CNN Hero from Detroit. He uses boxing to lead kids on a path to academic success and his story of perseverance and sacrifice has inspired many. But it really struck a chord with one Social Studies student from Alton, New Hampshire who wrote Khali a letter as part of an assignment. She had no idea of the power she had to inspire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) come up here for a second. Remember we said that you wanted to Skype with us?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You decided to do a little more than that. Can I introduce Mr. Khali Sweeney from Downtown Boxing Gym and Youth Program in Detroit, Michigan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so honored to meet him. Meet somebody like Khali Sweeney who changes lives every single day.


CABRERA: To see the full story of Khali's surprise or to nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero. Go to Well the Kentucky Derby's about to get underway in Louisville and the smart money is on well mud. No? Not a horse named mud actual mud. It's the only sure thing going into the race with rain soaking the track at Churchill Downs and Derby hats doubling as umbrellas today. The rain is a curveball for gamblers changing the odds. Because some horses perform better than others on wet ground. Right now race watchers are looking to horses with a record of winning

in this rain, including Frenzy Fire, Freedrop Billy and My Boy Jack just to name a few. I have a boy named Jack. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here. I'll be back tomorrow night at 5 Eastern. Still ahead tonight on CNN, Van Jones sits down with actress and activist Tracy Ellis Ross that's at 7. But first, Smerconish starts right now. Good night.