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Report: Trump on Roseanne Drama Concerned ABC Did Not Apologize to Him; Roseanne Lashes Out at Cast Members; Trump Wishes He Had Picked Another AG; GOP's Gowdy Refutes Trump and Nunes on Spy Conspiracy. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Wolf, we'll take it. Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. This is CNN. You have the president of the United States weighing in on the cancellation of "Roseanne." That's a sentence I never thought I'd be saying. Since ABC announced it was giving the sitcom the ax this country has once again been thrust into a larger conversation about racism and division in this Trump era.

But the president is instead tweeting about ABC's coverage of himself. This is what he said. Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ABC does not tolerate comments like these made by Roseanne Barr. "Gee, he never called President Donald J Trump to apologize for the horrible statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call?"

Let's back up for a moment, former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, she was the target of Roseanne Barr's initial tweet where she compared Jarrett to an ape. Just yesterday White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the president has quote, unquote, "a lot bigger things then Roseanne to focus on right now."

I should point out there going to be holding a White House press briefing this hour. As for Roseanne, she is now blaming the insomnia drug Ambien for her racist tweets, which ultimately cost her, and her staff of her ABC show their jobs. So, let's start with our CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, who I realize at some point in your past you've interviewed Roseanne herself. But just beginning with the president's tweet, where he makes it about himself.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he felt left out. You know, we've been talking about Roseanne for 24 hours now. Donald Trump had to be part of the conversation. I'm not sure exactly what he was talking about that he deserved an apology from about ABC, probably all of his grievances about fake news reports in effect that he did not like.

BALDWIN: I mean he is equating Roseanne's racism of being at the same level as whatever ABC has said about him.

GANGEL: Correct, it's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. But it's interesting I don't think we have reported this yet. Roseanne retweeted the president's tweet. So, she was happy to have his support. I think even more important is what he didn't say. He did not condemn what she had said.

BALDWIN: Right, right. What about this whole Ambien defense? The makers of Ambien throwing a little shade. What are they saying?

GANGEL: "Ambien does not cause racism." I think our own John Berman was the first one this morning who went on the air and said that. Ambien does cause side effects. The most common one is I think people get hungry from it and sometimes they get up in the middle of the night and eat. And there's been coverage of different things that happen. But racism, this is, again, not something caused by that.

BALDWIN: What about your interview with her before? So many people are saying when this all broke yesterday, good on ABC for doing the right thing on saying no to all the money that they would have gotten, this was their top-rated show. But yet, I don't know.

GANGEL: Look, I give ABC great kudos for doing this and doing it quickly. On the other hand, this was not a surprise. Roseanne has gone off for years now. She said a lot of controversial things. This wasn't the first time. There was a similar incident where she did this with Susan Rice, who is also African-American. So, they knew what they were getting into. That said, they stopped it immediately and, you know, we've heard people talking now, well, a lot of people lost their jobs. Could they bring back the show without her?

BALDWIN: Send Connor off to rehab?

GANGEL: Right. And call it the Connors and have John Goodman, the fabulous star.

BALDWIN: Is that a possibility?

GANGEL: I spoke to several people and I said what are the odds? And the answer I got was zero. Look, in television, anything can change, maybe some time will go by and they rethink it, but right now I'm told it's not in the cards.

BALDWIN: Jamie, thank you very much. Staying on all of this, my next guest had a seat at the "Roseanne" writers table during its first incredibly successful run in the 90s. He worked directly with Roseanne herself. He is Stan Zimmermann. Thank you for being here.


BALDWIN: An executive producer for the "Roseanne" reboot Bruce Rasmussen, told the "New York Times," quote, we were gut punched, it was really depressing that one stupid sentence that she sent out destroyed a whole bunch of people's jobs. I don't know how many people you're in touch with from this current reboot, but that's who I immediately thought about. Everybody from the production team, camera, grip, writers, actors. So many of them found out by watching the news. How are they handling it?

[14:05:00] ZIMMERMANN: I haven't talked to any of them personally, but just reading from what they had to say and we're all so upset that the legacy of the show has been tarnished probably forever. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to get involved in the show in its original incarnation, because it was speaking about Americans that we had never seen on television and followed them through deaths, births, loves, marriages, all different kinds of people and I wanted to be a part of that show.

BALDWIN: I want to talk about your role on a specific episode you wrote in a second. Do you agree that ABC made the right decision?

ZIMMERMANN: I think there's some opportunity to possibly go back to the show. There's a knee-jerk reaction sometimes to just push everybody away and under the rug. But to me then we'll be back here in 15 years being shocked that there's still racism. I think it's important to have the dialogue. What was so great about the show is that we were able to talk about so many issues on that show, including like the episode that I wrote, which is a lesbian kiss episode.

BALDWIN: Well, let's talk about that. You wrote this episode during the original series where it involved two women kissing and you said Roseanne used to champion issues like that. Now, granted that episode I believe is 1994. What changed?

ZIMMERMANN: I cannot get into the heart or mind of Roseanne, unless I have some Ambien, perhaps. But I don't know what happened to her. The person that I knew that we work with was a champion for the underdog, for people of color, especially the LBGT community. ABC was not going to air our episode. She went with me to Tom Arnold and said if you don't air it, I'll go to HBO and put this episode on.

BALDWIN: Calling black women, Stan, apes, would she ever use that kind of language on set?

ZIMMERMANN: I never heard anything like that. That's why it's shocking for so many people and even people that are in the writer's room or were supposed to be today but no longer have jobs.

BALDWIN: Do you think ABC was playing with fire at all? Because it's not like these conspiracy theories that she's been tweeting about happened yesterday. This has been happening for a while with Roseanne.

ZIMMERMANN: They knew what they were getting themselves into and probably down the line they knew at some point something look this would come up. I'm surprised no one officially took her phone away or any family members helped her out. It's very upsetting by so many people.

BALDWIN: Tell me about your t-shirt with the number 13 and how this relates to Roseanne.

ZIMMERMANN: Usually on TV shows you have a staff of writers maybe 10, 11. She brought in a lot of her standup comic friends, her and Tom Arnold and we had 21 writers on our show. The very first day of filming they had all lined up and they printed t-shirts with numbers because they were so known for firing people is that they could point to your number and fire you without knowing your name. I didn't understand the ramifications what that really meant. Thinking back now, it is not the best work environment to have that attitude. And we were told when we were hired don't let her see the whites of your eyes or she could point and fire you, so I always stood behind the tallest person on set.

BALDWIN: So that was her M.O., firing people?

ZIMMERMANN: And she, again, probably thought it was funny. But that was not funny. Her joke about Valerie is not funny and we cannot accept that, and we have to discuss why she would even think in this world today that something like that would be humorous because it's not.

BALDWIN: Well, Stan, you know who else is famous for firing people, Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States. Two months ago, when the first episode came out and was so extraordinarily successful, he took credit for it. A lot of folks in this country actually give ABC credit for telling a story that's more inclusive of what a sliver of this country feels are, you know, is ignored by mainstream networks. What of all of this do you think has to do with Trump?

[14:10:00] ZIMMERMANN: Well, obviously he sets the tone as the president of the United States. But she has to take responsibility for her actions and for what she said. And she's kind of been all over the map with it between yesterday and today and who knows in the next following days. I wish there was some creative way that she could step aside, give her profits to the NAACP and let the actors, which there are so many talented people on the show could keep working and still tell the stories of middle America and people that are suffering and wanting to work day to day and having to look through the couch for loose change just to get by.

BALDWIN: Last question 0 to 10, what are the chances she gives all of her money to the NAACP, Stan?

ZIMMERMANN: I'm an optimist. I'm going to give it a ten but I'm not crossing my fingers or betting on it.

BALDWIN: Stan Zimmermann, thank you so much for all of your work on the original show. Appreciate it.

Speaking of the president, once again going after his own attorney general, this time saying he wishes he had chosen someone else. Ouch. Plus, a Republican congressman completely blowing up the president's conspiracy theory that an FBI spy infiltrated his campaign. Hear what happened. And this just in, Stormy Daniels' lawyer suggests there are recorded conversations between the president and Michael Cohen and a new revelation, the government seized contents from a paper shredder in that Michael Cohen raid. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We're back on CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and once again President Trump tweeted his scorn at Sessions. This time Trey Gowdy was talking about understanding Trump's frustrations and since the president was not told about Trump's Sessions intension to recuse.

Gowdy's quote ends, "there are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else", and the president then added quote, "and I wish he did." That tweet comes just as the "New York Times" is reporting how big a part Trump/s pressure on Sessions is playing in this Russia investigation. The time to details a confrontation in which the president yelled at Sessions and told him to reverse recusing himself from the investigation. Sessions refused, in the "Times' report the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating that claim, along with any Russian influence on the Trump campaign. That brings me to our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju. And you have breaking news about one of the Senate panels investigating Russia interference in U.S. elections. Tell me what you know.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Senate intelligence committee has been the main committee in the Senate investigating Russia meddling and they've so far avoided the pitfalls that have consumed other committees in Congress like the house intelligence committee. We're learning where some of the members on the committee fall on that key question they've been investigating for more than a year, whether the Trump associates and Trump campaign in any way colluded with the Russians.

My colleague and I interviewed virtually every member on that committee. We're learning that the division still comes down along party lines despite more than a year of investigation, Republicans saying they haven't seen any evidence yet of collusion, the Democrats are saying there's plenty of concern, particularly about an intent to collude and the committee needs to continue to dig much deeper.

Now, the committee source says there is consensus about whether or not there were those problematic contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but the investigation needs to continue about whether or not there is actually collusion that occurred in 2016.

Now, this includes a breakdown of moderates like Susan Collins of Maine who said she has not seen evidence of collusion, but Democrats like Ron Widen of Oregon said all the meetings that have occurred, and the like showed a very clear intention among Trump associates to try to work with the Russians potentially to sway the elections.

Now, some of the frustration comes down to the fact that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be able to do a much deeper dive in this investigation, people like Joe Manchin of West Virginia said it will be up to Mueller to decide if there was collusion. A key question for the leaders of this committee, Richard Burr, Mark Warner, about putting out a report about what they know before the November mid terms, people like Susan Collins are resistant of the idea of putting out so politically charged ahead of a campaign, they want to put it until after the mid terms.

[14:20:00] Right now they want to work on reaffirming that 2016 community intelligence assessment that the Russians did try to help Donald Trump win the elections but that key question about whether anyone in the Trump campaign worked with the Russians, an outstanding question, still falling down along party lines and a lot of members now saying perhaps the congress will not be able to resolve this at all, it will be up to the special counsel to make that decision at the end of the day.

BALDWIN: Manu, thank you very much. The president's personal attorney Michael Cohen was back in court today for hearing regarding the more than 4 million documents seized during a raid of his properties. And among them these audio files that are now being called the quote, unquote, Trump tapes. This is all coming from Michael Avenatti. He's this lawyer who represents the porn star Stormy Daniels, who is suing Cohen as well as the president.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: Just like the Nixon tapes years ago, we now have what I will refer to as the Trump tapes. Mr. Ryan admitted that there are audio recordings that Michael Cohen was taking for years and that those recordings are to quote him, not only do they exist but they are under lock and key. Mr. Cohen and his attorney, Mr. Ryan, should release all of those audio recordings to the American people and to Congress so that they can be heard by all and people can make their own determination as to their importance relating to the president and what he knew and when he knew it and what he did as it relates to conspiring with Michael Cohen to commit one or more potential crimes.


BALDWIN: Let's start there. Daniel Goldman is with me, a former assistant federal attorney. And our CNN legal commentator, James Schultz. Dan, these are Avenatti's claims that these tapes exist between Stormy Daniels's first attorney and he's apparently also taken to twitter, almost implying perhaps Trump is on the tapes, we don't know, using the #Trump tapes. A, what can be on these tapes? B, how might they play here?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT FEDERAL ATTORNEY: Well, there are two separate issues. The tapes, if there are any between Cohen and Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels' previous attorney, would be very relevant to the investigation and would probably not be privileged tapes. The reason I bring up the privilege is that Cohen and Trump is a privileged communication almost certainly. At a minimum if they were discussing the Stormy Daniels issue, where both have said that Michael Cohen represented Donald Trump. So even if there are tapes between Cohen and Trump, there are multiple layers of review that would need to happen before they would be turned over to anyone because of the attorney/client privilege.

BALDWIN: Again, we don't know much. Is there anything that worries you?

JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Well, sure. This is Avenatti going to the press, to the public and saying, hey, you should turn these over, meaning that the government or the attorneys that have possession of these tapes should just turn them over to the public. He knows better. There's a process for this. This is a public relations stunt for this. It's another reason for him to get his name in the news today. There's a review, like you said, for privilege and there's a subpoena process or a document discovery or document and things in terms of production of tapes like this. There's a process that's supervised by the courts this turning over this information. No one is just going to turn that over. It would be malpractice.

GOLDMAN: If I could jump in, too. It's very interesting after that court hearing Michael Avenatti goes in front of the media and makes this pronouncement when he was seriously and significantly chastised by the judge at this court hearing for speaking out so much about this case and she has said you want a seat at the table here. If you're going to have a seat at the table, you cannot be off spouting accusations and other assertions outside of the narrow pathway that you are -- which then immediately after that hearing he goes out and does that. So, to the extent that he actually has a bona fide, good- faith reason for being involved in the dispute, he certainly seems to have larger aspirations.

BALDWIN: I want to get to the president's Attorney General Jeff Sessions. So, the president takes to Twitter. This is after this "New York Times" piece comes out where the news is uncovered about how the president had gone to Sessions and said, hey, I want you to un- recuse yourself and now the president latches on to what Trey Gowdy said, saying I don't want this guy as my attorney general, saying this so publicly. Why would he do that?

SCHULTZ: The president under article 2 of the constitution can appoint who he wants as attorney general. He can also ask for that attorney general's resignation if he wants to. It's been clear from the beginning that he was disappointed that Sessions recused himself. I'm sure he was disappointed that and had said publicly that he was not consulted beforehand.

BALDWIN: But because of his involvement during the campaign, Russian officials, recommendation from the council to recuse himself.

SCHULTZ: From a legal perspective, he should have recused himself. How he went about that and communicated that to the president is something that remains in question and something the president can and should take issue.

BALDWIN: So why is he demanding such a loyalist in his AG?

SCHULTZ: Let's go back through history here.

BALDWIN: But answer the question first.

SCHULTZ: I just want to talk about it. You have Kennedy, appoints his brother, Reagan appointed a lawyer who had been with him for years when he was governor of California. Bush, Alberto Gonzales with his counsel when he was governor of Texas. Eric Holder, certainly a loyalist to President Obama. There's a history of attorney generals being loyal to the president that appointed them. They're a member of the cabinet. They are not independently appointed. They're appointed by the president and it's the president's prerogative under article 2. GOLDMAN: But it takes a very different tone and tenor when the

president and his campaign are under investigation, which none of those other presidents that you've cited were. And when you then start talking about wanting a loyalist, particularly as it relates to the recusal, which Trump and his lawyer should have known was required by D.O.J. regulations. It shouldn't have been a surprise when Jeff Sessions said I was very integrally involved in your campaign, I there cannot oversee an investigation into your campaign. When he says I want a loyalist, it's not just someone who has been with me and I know well, he wants someone to protect him in an investigation to him and others.

SCHULTZ: Or he wants an investigation run appropriately and didn't think a special counsel was the way to go. Either way you look at it, the president has the ability to appoint that attorney general with the advice and consent of the

Senate. He was confirmed at that point in time, so it was certainly within his prerogative to ask for his resignation if he wanted to. He chose not to. Maybe he's having buyer's remorse at this point.

BALDWIN: Trey Gowdy said this. Roll it.


REP. TREY GOWDY, CHAIR OF THE HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I'm even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.


BALDWIN: Again, this is someone who oversaw the Benghazi hearings. We saw a lot of Trey Gowdy for a period of time. He's saying the president's repeated claims that there was a spy into his campaign, he's saying they're false. They're false.

SCHULTZ: There was a confidential informant, right?

BALDWIN: Well, the president says a spy.

SCHULTZ: But he's saying there was a confidential informant in the campaign. That was a fact.

BALDWIN: Confidential source.

SCHULTZ: A confidential source. And it is -- that is somewhat normal procedure for the FBI, right? There's no question about that.

BALDWIN: Totally.

SCHULTZ: What they're communicating back into they are communicating to, we haven't seen any evidence that there was anything nefarious going on. Certainly, it's within the president's purview to call into question, but now Gowdy has seen it and debunked it.

BALDWIN: Because we haven't seen the documents. SCHULTZ: But Gowdy said it had nothing to do with the president of

United States in his capacity as a candidate at that time. I think that is news as well. And very important that Gowdy came out and said that. Not a lot of people are talking about that.

GOLDMAN: That's absolutely right. What is clear is that the confidential informant was not having discussions with the president but was focused on individuals --

BALDWIN: Protecting the president.

[14:30:00] GOLDMAN: Perhaps protecting the president or doing what the FBI does which is ferreting out either national security threats or wrongdoers. And there were people within the president's campaign that gave the FBI reason to believe there were either threats to national security or crimes going on. So, the president may be to the side of this that is absolutely a real possibility here. But to then accuse of FBI of planting a spy for political purposes, not for legitimate purposes --

BALDWIN: Which is what the president --

GOWDY: Is exactly what Trey Gowdy has debunked. And this is not an a-partisan person, it is a quite significant development.

SCHULTZ: Absolutely true, it is a significant development. But I also think it's significant that the persons the persons they were talking about do not include the president of the United States.

GOLDMAN: Agreed.

BALDWIN: There, Jim and Dan, thank you guys so much.

Coming up, the stunning study estimating more than 4,600 people were killed by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. So, by this dramatic discrepancy in the official discount. We will talk to Bethany Frankel, real housewives of New York, about her mission to help bring hope to Puerto Rico raising more than $1 million. Don't miss this.