Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Mueller Wants To Question Trump About Flynn, Comey; Source: Trump Inclided To Release Nunes Memo If House Approves; Schumer Withdraws Offer on Trump's Border Wall; New Texts from FBI Agent Released: GOP Claims Bias; Evangelical: Trump Gets a "Mulligan" on Alleged Affair. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 23, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ACHOR: OutFront next, breaking news, Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to talk to President Trump before at least zeroing in or his firing to Flynn and Comey. Is Mueller preparing a case for obstruction of justice?
Plus Republicans pushing to release the classified memo that they say shows FBI bias against Trump and now Trump may be backing them.
And a major evangelical leader says Trump gets a, "mulligan" for alleged affair with a porn star. Tony Perkins will be our guest tonight. Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, breaking news, wanted for questioning. Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to talk to the President of the United States in the next few weeks, that's according to the Washington Post.
And what's incredibly telling in significant this hour is what Bob Mueller wants to talk to President Trump about. A source familiar with the investigation tells the Post that Mueller is seeking to determine whether there is a pattern of behavior by the president.
First, we know Mueller wants to talk about the firing of the former FBI Director Jim Comey, according to the Post. Now remember the White House initially said, Comey was dismissed for bungling the Clinton e- mail investigation, right? That was the first excuse given but of course we now know that, well, it was actually about the Russia investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Do you believe the Russia investigation play the role?
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: In why I was fired?
COMEY: Yes because I've seen the president say so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. He did say the president say so. Because the President of the United States in his own words explained that the reason he fired Comey was because Comey wouldn't bow to his pressure about Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost in election that they should have won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, the Post also reports Mueller wants to talk about the pressure the president put on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down after Sessions recused himself in the Russia investigation. So, again, I'll give you President Trump. Here he is, six months after Sessions recused himself from the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am disappointed in the Attorney General. He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and I would have quite simply pick somebody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Pressure on Comey, pressure on Sessions. Now, we have learned today that both Comey and Sessions have also been interviewed for hours by Robert Mueller. But Trump's question -- questionable pattern of behavior, again the word here, pattern, when it comes to the Russia probe does not end with Jim Comey and Jeff Sessions.
We are learning tonight that the FBI Director Christopher Wray, Trump's handpicked choice to lead the Bureau after he fired Comey, threaten to quit because he felt so much pressure to fire or reassign the Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Now, Trump today denied that he knew that Wray ever threaten to quit. But we know for a fact that Trump has been putting pressure on McCabe who Trump believes is biased against them, pressuring him to quit. It began last July with this, "Why didn't AG Sessions replaced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe but Comey, who was in charge of Clinton investigation but that big dollars for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and representatives during the swamp."
Trump then kept up the pressure just a month ago tweeting, "FBI Director Andrew McCabe is racing Deputy Director -- I'm sorry, is racing the clock to retire with full benefits, 90 days to go." But the White House has been saying for months for the president's anxious for the investigation to wrap 2up with this call now to question him from Bob Mueller. It would seem like they have all their docs such as they maybe in a row. You don't interview the head until you check all the tails.
Sara Murray is OutFront tonight. Sara what more can you tell us at this hour?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, I think in many ways when you look at this lines of inquiry that we're expecting, Mueller to want to talk to the president about, it's not really surprised. Obviously, we know that the firing of James Comey is a key element in Mueller's investigation into whether President Trump tried to obstruct justice.
But take another look at Michael Flynn, remember this with the National Security Adviser who was ousted after he lied about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador including lying to Vice President Mike Pence. So Mueller could see that as a window into whether there was any potential collusion along the way between these high ranking Trump officials and other Russian officials and, of course, we know that Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and he's now cooperating with Mueller's investigation.
[19:05:04] But when you talk about the timeline for Mueller to meet with the president, the Washington Post story says in the coming weeks. And I was speaking to a source who said, you know, the coming weeks that could mean in three weeks, that could mean in two months. So it's not clear exactly what timeline we could be operating under here.
I think one thing though that you can certainly draw the conclusion of this, look, this Mueller investigation is in full swing and clearly has no reservations about bringing in bigger and bigger targets. As you pointed out, he's already spoken with James Comey and we know kept his contemporaneous notes that his meetings and his discussions with the president.
And then moving on to Jeff Sessions, a sitting cabinet official, the Attorney General who is recused himself from the Russia investigation but was by the president side throughout the campaign, throughout the transition and he is obviously had a number of uncomfortable conversations with the president since he's been in the White House. But certainly tells that Mueller is not afraid of bringing in these sort of big fish as he continues to move through this investigation. I think the big question now is, of course, does he get to sit down with the president and when does that actually going to happen.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Sara and that now is the ultimate question. OutFront former Director of the Nixon Library Tim Naftali, former Counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Carrie Cordero, and the former Ethics Lawyer Professor in George W. Bush, Richard Painter.
Tim, let me start with you. It's a lot of breaking news tonight when we talk about the FBI director threatening to quit because of pressure from the president. But now there's news, President Trump could be interviewed by Bob Mueller in the coming weeks.
TIM NAFTALI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: Yes. And if you -- if any of you have looked at of their position of a Trump university case from 2015, you'll know that then candidate Trump. His predilection was to say that he forget everything. He forgot and nobody couldn't remember the name or the face of a single instructor in Trump University. That's going to harder to pull off in this instance because these are events that only happen a year or year in a half ago. And Mueller and his team are very, very professional.
So the issue for the president and his team is how can the president dance with these questions. So you got an issue of the possible of perjury if the president decides not to tell the truth and he's not just going to be asked about possible obstruction of justice, he's going to be asked about what Flynn knew before Flynn talk Kislyak. He's going to be asked about what Don Junior what have said to him after meeting with the Russians. He's going to be asked about possible money laundering.
BURNETT: And so many questions here. So Carrie, to the point that Tim just raised, that not recalling. If the president has said that he has, quote, one of the greatest memories of all times. Now, there were 35 times according to Washington Post (INAUDIBLE) said he did not remember in a deposition, to deposition that terms to bring to Trump University. That was in December 2015. In another Trump University deposition, he said 24 times that he did not recall. Will that fly with Bob Mueller, Carrie?
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, the special counsel's team is made up of really experienced prosecutors and they have a team of investigators. So, clearly, if they conduct an interview, that's a very different setting with the powers of federal law enforcement than even an adversarial civil deposition.
But, you know, we don't really know exactly what -- if the reports are true that they are getting closer to interviewing the president. We don't know at this point whether or not the special counsel's team intends to interview the president solely about obstruction related matters or whether they plan to conduct more fulsome interview that gets in to all these other categories that the investigation may be covering.
BURNETT: So, Richard, you know we went back and watch one of Trump's old depositions today. And just to get a sense for how he is because the big question here is how much is this going to be an interview or one-on-one with the president will be force himself to answer questions or how much of it maybe allowed to be written in which case lawyers can do it for and fact check it and do it and obviously to totally different sort of proposition. Here the president is in a deposition where he's answering the question. He's asked the question about how the presidential campaign may have had a positive effect on his businesses and I just want to play a little bit of his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And do you attribute that to the extent it has an effect is because people associate you with the hotels and they want to be a part of your political campaign --
TRUMP: Yes, maybe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- to the extend they are favorably disposed?
TRUMP: Well, maybe the success of the campaign. You know, people said there has never been anything like this. O'Reilly said the other night, I need something to be affect this because this is one of the great phenomenons that he's ever seen in his lifetime, you know? So, I mean, it's been pretty amazing. You have 17 people and I end up at the top of, you know, one of the two parties and a lot of wins. We've beat a lot of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. So, Richard, he goes off on a tangent but that's part of it. But it's also, that's Trump. Extreme of consciousness, it's about Trump, it's about great he is, how much he's a winner. I mean, a personal interview is a very different proposition than written testimony.
[19:10:06] ROBERT PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, in any event, Robert Mueller is going to want answers to his questions not tangents, not discussions of what President Trump saw on Fox News which he gave in that deposition testimony. He's going to want answers to his questions. And those answers had better be truthful answers or the president is going to be in a heap of trouble. That's the first thing.
Second, the president does have serious exposure here to obstruction of justice charges just based on the evidence that's in the public domain and you've just played a lot of it right now. And so he is in legal jeopardy going into this interview, this discussion with Robert Mueller.
And the other thing is it's so obvious why Jeff Sessions had to recuse. He was a witness in the matter. He himself has had discussions with Robert Mueller, has been interviewed by Robert Mueller as a witness. And the idea that President Trump thinks that his Attorney General who participated in the campaign, met with the Russians, forgot about meeting with the Russians under oath, and now is a witness in this matter would somehow unrecuse and squash the Russia investigation is yet more evidence that this president simply wants to obstruct justice.
BURNETT: I mean, Tim, here's the thing, you know, we talked about the Attorney General. So now we know what the president, they want to talk to the president. They have already, they are now saying, for hours interviewed the former FBI Director Jim Comey and also the Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Now Jeff Sessions has used "I don't recall" tactic extensively himself in Congress.
NAFTALI: Yes, he said that. BURNEET: Three testimonies about the Russian investigation. And here's just a few of the times. I think we counted dozens but here's a few.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't recall that Senator, I still do not recall it. I don't recall it now. I just don't have a real recall of the meeting. I don't recall. I don't recall. I don't recall. I don't recall of that conversation. I don't recall how that exactly occurred. I don't recall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. And it's almost humorous except of course it isn't. But, what can Bob Mueller's team to get it, to get him to say they are not the same thing, right? I mean, otherwise it would look like he lied there. So it's better to say I have a better a terrible memory here. I have Alzheimer's. I know whatever it is. I mean just I don't remember.
NAFTALI: OK, let me you tell you that he never prosecuted anything but I look at how he prepared the grand jury testimony, Richard Nixon.
NAFTALI: After he left office. But they do is they show you documents, OK, and they say does this help you remember? Can we talk to you about this? This is a -- so what they would do, what they couldn't do in Congress, because they don't have the subpoena, but they didn't use their subpoena power. But Mueller's people have documents or something new. Say, well, perhaps it can help you refresh or refresh your memory. Do you recall, and then now they may have looked to this fake (ph) diary and the, may have talk to something else.
BURNETT: They are completely prepared for this?
NAFTALI: Well --
BURNETT: And they have all of them.
NAFTALI: My friends were lawyers always told me that as a lawyer, you never ask a question which you don't have an answer already.
BURNETT: Right. You already have it built up.
BURNETT: All right. Carrie, one thing I want to ask you before we go. According to our new CNN poll today, majority of American's Democrats and Republicans do think Trump should testify under oath about Russia, right? So that is a bipartisan point of view. If Mueller wants you in there, you get in there.
But, and this is a crucial but, our poll also find 91% of Democrats see the Russia investigation as a serious matter, 75% of Republicans say it's mainly effort to discredit the Trump's presidency. Does this takeaway mean that whatever Mueller's ultimate conclusion is, it will not be fully accepted by the American people?
CORDERO: Well, that's a judgment, you know, for the political folks to weigh in on and whether or not it's legitimate, I think that Bob Mueller, he was the FBI Director for 12 years, he has an incredible amount of credibility and he has assembled incredible team and he is conducting a serious investigation.
So from my perspective having observed him for many years as FBI Director, there's really no reason why anybody should doubt the credibility of his investigation. And the word you mentioned at the beginning of the program with respect to his looking at a pattern of obstruction really is the key. Because it's not just about the firing of Jim Comey, it's about the pressuring on Attorney General Sessions to not recuse. It's about pressure that the president in the White House have placed on the White House, it's about a series of things that the president has done over the period of 11 to 12 months that have had the effect of trying to derail the Russia investigation, the Flynn investigation, and the related investigation.
PAINTER: Well, I think this is a very serious situation for President Trump and for this administration.
[19:15:04] We had a foreign power conduct criminal activity in the United States and espionage. There were meetings in the Trump tower with representatives of the Russian government. There are other contacts made with the Russians. There are clearly was collaboration. The question is why the collaboration was illegal or not. But the President has his exposure justice -- exposure to obstruction of justice charge because he repeatedly tried to derail this investigation.
And I would have to say that the majority of the American people take it very seriously, many people don't identify with either political party because they're sick and tired of the partisanship. But they take this very seriously. When a foreign government interferes with our elections, conducts espionage here, and the President of the United States doesn't want to take it seriously.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all. And next the breaking news, the White House is now weighing in on the controversial Republican memo about the FBI, whether to be released to the public. Plus, Chuck Schumer takes back his offer to Trump on the wall. Are we back to zero on immigration, as one another count down to shutdown.
In the top, evangelical leader says Trump get to pass on his alleged affair with a porn star? That evangelical leader, Tony Perkins will be "Outfront."
[19:20:04] BURNETT: Breaking news, a source telling CNN that President Trump is inclined to allow the release of the controversial memo from Congressman Devin Nunes. The Nunes memo alleges that the FBI abused surveillance laws. And it also contains classified information.
Now, the source cautions that the House Intelligence Committee has to approve the release of the memo before the President will agree.
Boris Sanchez is out front at the White House. And, Boris, this is the big deal -- this is the whole release the memo, hashtag Republicans have been pushing to release this memo and Devin Nunes wants it out there. But obviously this is hugely controversial.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Definitely. And not everyone agrees that it should be released. That division pretty much falls along party lines. Republicans have argued that the details of this memo confirm their claims that there is bias in the Intelligence Community to go after President Trump.
Democrats have argued that it is nothing but strewn together talking points that are not based in fact going as far as some Democrats. I have to say that the releases of this memo could potentially harm the relationship between Congress and Intelligence Community. Now, if it is approved for declassification by the House, as, you know, that the White House has said that the President is inclined to declassify it.
However beforehand, it would have to go and undergo a rigorous inter- agency review, as well as National Security review and that could present some hurdles, because potentially another agency like the CIA could find some issue with details in that report and can the whole thing.
We should note though the President has far ranging broad powers of declassification. He could potentially get around this entire process and release the memo himself. However, a source at the White House has told us that the President prefers to go through the proper channels and do it right. Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Boris, thank you very much.
In OutFront now, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler. Good to have you back with me, so --
REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Nice to be here.
BURNETT: -- you just heard our source telling the CNN the White House is inclined to release Devin Nunes's memo if the House proves and want it out there. Do you want to see it released?
NADLER: Well, I'm very hesitant to see it release because I've read it. And as far as I know, only the members of the Intelligence Committee and the chairman and ranking Democrat and the Judiciary Committee read the source with --
BURNETT: Right, you had to go in a room or something? And just look at --
NADLER: Yes, in a secret room.
NADLER: And more to the point I read the source documents. And I can't comment on this classified document except to say that it is profoundly misleading based on the source documents. It's a statement mostly of opinion and of distortions, written entirely by bipartisan staff. And if you read the source documents which are highly classified, they don't think that supposed into and quest (ph) by those. You would know that it is highly misleading and deliberately misleading. Now if they were to declassify the source documents that would be a different story.
BURNETT: So if they were to declassify source documents, you would be fine with it? Because then people think --
NADLER: I don't think that would be fine with (INAUDIBLE) by any source -- that leave that up to the CIA.
NADLER: But whether --
BURNETT: But if they were --
BURNETT: -- if it all came as a package, you're saying, you feel differently then it comes along.
NADLER: Then you would see that this is a profoundly misleading and dishonest memo of conclusions. And it's a political document. pure and simple.
BURNETT: So, OK.
NADLER: Designed for one purpose and that is to discredit and disable the FBI and the Justice Department and any -- it's part of a long-term campaign by the Republicans, by the administration and some of the Republicans in Congress to disable and discredit and any agency that is involved in the investigation with the President.
BURNETT: And this is obviously about the FBI, right that --
NADLER: That the FBI, yes.
BURNETT: -- for training the FBI, OK. So, I guess the question I have is if the claims in the memo are based on opinion, and they are partisan and they are written by Republicans only. There are twisted (ph) --
NADLER: And they misrepresent the source documents which are classified.
BURNETT: OK. So this may partially get to that how you're going to answer this question. But my point is if the document itself is a lie, then it wouldn't hold up to public scrutiny because it would be under reporting and the reporting that we would do in the media would not hold up to the truth. So --
NADLER: Not necessarily, some --
BURNETT: Why not just let it out there? You're saying because the source document --
NADLER: Because it's very dangerous to let out a document that purports to represent other documents when those documents are secret. In other words, you're saying this is the conclusion. If you saw those documents you would know we were telling the truth. Of course, you can't see those documents.
BURNETT: OK, so in other words, you're saying the memo may not look like a lie in the public eye, simply because no one knows and that's why --
BURNETT: -- you don't think it's really because of the source document. OK.
NADLER: That's right.
BURNETT: So the bottom line is it's the source document that you think is the issue?
NADLER: That's right. Source documents.
BURNETT: Documents, plural, OK. And you've seen all of those. All right. So, I want to turn to our other top story tonight, the Special Counsel Bob Mueller wanting to interview the President which obviously, you are now aware of.
The "Washington Post" is referring that the Trump team is trying to have this partially common and person interview other answers to come in a written statement.
Do you think a written statement will enable the President lawyers to take over and make it harder to see if the President has telling the truth? Or do you not care what the format of the questioning is?
[19:25:12] NADLER: Well, I think in general written statements make it easier to control what is revealed and make it easier for the lawyers to say rather than for the President or whoever the witness is to say. But I'll leave that up to the special prosecutor, Special Counsel Mr. Mueller. Mister Mueller is a Republican and someone of the greatest integrity that everyone agrees to. And let him decide the best method of the investigation. 2 BURNETT: We are also reporting tonight the FBI director -- the current FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to quit due to pressure from the President who fired his deputy, Andy McCabe. Your committee of course, House Judiciary has oversight of the FBI, congressman. Have you ever asked Wray about this? NADLER: No, we have not asked Wray about this. But we saw in the last day or so I think this information came out. That makes Wray the second FBI, Wray personally handpicked appointee of President Trump makes him second FBI director in a row to be pressured improperly by the President on personnel matters to get rid of people who are in convenient to the President who may tell truths the President doesn't want to.
And he was -- I notice that the report that he was pressured by Attorney General Sessions --
NADLER: -- who was supposed to be recused from this. It is no business getting involved in this at all. He's no part of the Russia investigation or the Clinton investigation --
NADLER: -- and he is supposed to be recused from both of them. So this is more evidence of a concerted attempt by the administration to discredit and disable the Russian investigation.
BURNETT: Right, so the President by the way has come out and denied that Wray threatened to quit or at least that he knew Wray try to quit, I know exactly sure what it is, but he is denying and here he is today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No, he didn't at all. He didn't. He did not even a little bit. No. And he's going to do a good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Continued when asked about the new leadership of the FBI to say let's see how it works out.
NADLER: Well --
BURNETT: Are you going to bring in Wray to testify?
NADLER: Well, it's not up to me. That's up to the Chairman Bob Goodlatte. 2But first of all, the President is known liar, so I don't any thing he says. But second of all, the President didn't deny pressuring, urging and pressing the FBI to fire the Deputy Director Mr. McCabe because he didn't approve of his role in the investigation of the President. That is highly improper. And again, it's part of a concerted campaign to undermine and to derail an official investigation here.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Congressman. I appreciate your time as always.
NADLER: Thank you. BURNETT: In "OutFront" next deal or no deal. Chuck Schumer is rescinding (ph) his offer to pay for Trump's wall. Sixteen days till the next shutdown. And President Trump weighing in tonight on missing texts between two FBI agents. One of them was involved in the Russia probe and the Clinton investigation. Do the texts prove FBI bias against Trump?
[19:30:41] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: New tonight, Senator Chuck Schumer says the wall is off the table. Schumer is rescinding the offer he made to President Trump last week before the shutdown. This was a big offer. This was I will give you your wall.
Well, anyway it didn't work in getting a deal and now, Schumer is taking it off the wall and said, forget it about the wall, and Republicans are now livid and saying it's a massive step backward. Guess what? Sixteen days until the government can shutdown again, immigration deal is obviously nowhere insight.
OK. Former White House communications Jen Psaki is with me, head of President Trump's Hispanic Council during the campaign, Steve Cortes, is back as well.
OK, both of you, thank you.
Jen, let's start with you.
STEVE CORTES, HEAD OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S HISPANIC COUNCIL: Thank you.
BURNETT: Chuck Schumer put the wall on the table. It was a big deal. It was a big offer. He has not taken the wall off the table. Number two Republican Senator Cornyn says this is a huge step backward.
Isn't he right?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, temporarily, Erin, but it's a negotiating tactic. And Chuck Schumer has negotiated before. His audience is one person. It's Donald Trump. This is largely symbolic issue.
I would bet for even Republicans like Cornyn, because this is the wall has been authorized for sometime. This is about Trump having a political talking point to have it rallied. He wants this. We don't know much what else what Trump would support or sign off on, but we know he really wants the wall. So, this is saying you want the wall, you better give us something else.
BURNETT: All right. Well, in that case, that's strategy, Steve, sounds pretty smart, right? You want to go into a new negotiation takeaway the thing the person wants the most, right, because you have to give me something for it, right?
CORTES: Right. No, listen, Erin, after the Schumer surrender, which we saw on Monday, I'm not surprised --
BURNETT: You have a way with words, Steve.
CORTES: From a stronger position. But, look, first of all, I think this is an important point. If you don't have borders, you don't have a country. This is a foundational promise of Donald Trump. It's one of the reasons, if not the reason that he won both the nomination and presidency as he promised to get control of our immigration system.
But it's not just partisan issue. Democrats have voted on multiple occasions for hundreds of miles of additional barricades at the border, including by the way, then-Senators Obama and Clinton who voted for it.
So, this should be a bipartisan issue. What Senator Schumer is trying to do is make it bipartisan when it really isn't. It's a sensible issue. Good neighbors have good fences. It's good for us. It's good for Mexico to get control of our southern border. We can no longer tolerate a porous, dangerous, open border as we have for decades.
BURNETT: Well, Jen, I guess the one thing to say, I know you'll disagree on almost all those points, but when it comes to Senator Schumer, we now know he's going to give up the wall, right? He already gave it up once, right? You can't then pretend that's not -- it's like a sacrosanct thing. You are not going to give it up, right?
PSAKI: Well, what he gave up, which was smart, was authorization, not appropriation. Now, I bet you Donald Trump doesn't understand that. I'm certain his staff does. And, you know, you can calculate that for Schumer, he's betting Democrats may win back the House. Maybe will win back the Senate. And this is a place where it's Trump can have a symbolic win. He can get chants at rallies but we're not standing -- wasting taxpayer money on a wall that nobody really thinks we need more of.
BURNETT: And yet Steve the White House still, during the way during the whole negotiation, let's not forget, the president was under personal criticism from people in his own party, from the majority leader himself, Mitch McConnell, to members of Congress like Mo Brooks because they didn't know where the president of the United States stood. They're own party criticizing him, OK? And he continues his administration to send really confusing messages.
Here's the OMB Director Mick Mulvaney just this morning on Dreamers and what the administration's position actually is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Just say what his position is on it, how did they get to say, who gets to stay?
MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Depends on what we get in exchange. What do we get for border security? What do we get for wall?
Senator Schumer this weekend said he gave the president everything he wanted on the wall. I've challenged that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Steve, my question to you, you were head of the Hispanic Council for the now president during the campaign. Is there any situation in which you would be okay with some of these 700,000 plus Americans who came in as young children through no choice of their own, any of them getting kicked out?
[19:35:01] CORTES: No, Erin I don't want them kicked out. I've been clear about that for a long time. By the way, so does the president. I guess I disagree with the premise of the question.
BURNETT: One of the things in the campaign said I'm going to get rid of President Obama's executive order.
CORTES: Yes, and he did by the way.
And here's the thing, too, I mean, I don't like too much in the weeds of it, but President Trump what he did was he thought he was king Obama and he thought he could wave his scepter and ultimately make them legally protected even though they are illegal immigrants of the United States. And what President Trump has done, and I gave him credit, and say no, let's do it the right way, the constitutional way, let's do it through the Congress.
But if we are going to do this, let's get control of our immigration system in its totality which is badly, badly broken. In the United States right now, we have a visa lottery system which endangers our national security. We have a chine migration system which endangers our economic security.
We have right now, and this is not my talking point, per "The L.A. Times" in the state of California, 55 percent of all immigrants are on public assistance.
I love immigration. I'm an immigrant son. I'm a Hispanic. We are not doing immigration right.
Let's start doing it right. Merit based. Control the border, allow the DACA people to stay. There is a reasonable compromise here.
BURNETT: All right. Jen, I'm simply going to make the point and I don't know 100 percent so I'm going to raise the question. But Melania Trump obviously is an immigrant. I don't know how her parents or her sister came here. I would presume chain migration very well could have played a part.
PSAKI: Quite likely. In all likelihood, Erin, Donald Trump doesn't understand what chain migration is. It's actually immigration. It's how most people came to this country.
BURNETT: As family.
PSAKI: Not just people who are black and brown. People who have come from Europe, people who have come from all over the world.
So, it's a big give even to discuss it for Democrats. Obviously, there's a lot of details in there. But how that is handled is particularly sensitive issue and one that will be pivotal to the whole discussion.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And next, President Trump worked up over FBI text messages that Republicans say show bias against him. The facts and Trump getting a pass from top evangelical Tony Perkins over his alleged a fair offer alleged porn star. Perkins is going to come OUTFRONT and answer questions, why is he giving Trump an out?
[19:41:09] BURNETT: New tonight, Republicans releasing new and what they see are jaw-dropping political messages from a top FBI agent. President Trump tweeting about the messages, some of which are now missing, he says: and one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI now says it is missing five months worth of lovers' historic page text. Perhaps 50,000 and all in primetime. Wow.
Now, let's be clear that the president is obviously mixing things up a bit, 50,000 is the total number of messages the FBI has on its servers, ones they have put out there. So they put 50,000 out there. Who knows how many there are in the months? The whole point is they're missing. We don't know.
Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.
And, Jessica, they are missing over crucial period of time, right? The president's, part of the transition, coming all the way through the firing of Comey and then all of a sudden, they're back available on the day Bob Mueller is named special counsel.
Do we know anything about what the new messages say?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, they are releasing them bit by bit, Erin, and what we're getting are really the months and months of back and forths between FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI attorney Lisa Page. The two were having an affair as reference by President Trump and they texted on their FBI issued cellphones. So, here are a few of the latest texts that were just released today by Senator Ron Johnson. He's chair of Homeland Security.
So, first, there's this one from May 19th, that was two days after Mueller was appointed. Agent Strzok, he talks about potentially joining Mueller's team and he writes this, he says, you and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I would be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern. There is no big there there.
So, when Senator Johnson released those today, he said that those remarks were jaw-dropping, saying that they absolutely refer to Mueller's probe and, of course, Strzok's feeling about it. But, you know, the texts that were released today, there was a batch
of them, and it's actually not crystal clear what Strzok meant by when he said there is no big there there. So, sort of open to interpretation.
Now one other text from Strzok, he referenced the Clinton email investigation, which he was part of, and it was known within the FBI as the midyear exam, or MYE. So, here's what Agent Strzok said about that. He said, I personally have a sense of unfinished business. I unleashed it with MYE. Now I need to fix it. And finish it.
So, of course Erin, Republicans are pointing to these texts as evidence of bias. Democrats just say they are distracting from the Russia probe.
BURNETT: All right. Now, you're talking about one of those messages you just referred to, Jessica, it was May 19th. Now, of course, we are missing five months ending on May 17. Now, the FBI is blaming the deleted messages on a technical system glitch where they were switching to some sort of Samsung phone. Republicans though are saying that the FBI could have intentionally deleted them.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, of course. Republicans, they're hinting to something a lot more nefarious. But it's important to note here, Erin, Republican Senator Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he even said today that he believes that it was just a technical glitch at the bureau. And when these texts were sent over, the cover letter that accompanied them, it was from Assistant Attorney General Steven Boyd and he explained it. He said that these were technical issues with the FBI's retention software.
But, you know, it is that big gap. It was from December 2016 to May 17th, 2017. And, of course, the day Robert Mueller was a pointed. So, a lot of questions for Republicans there.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.
And next, an evangelical leader says Trump deserves a mulligan over his alleged affair with a porn star. I'm going to talk to Tony Perkins, next.
[19:48:37] BURNETT: New tonight, evangelicals giving President Trump a pass on porn star. The influential and powerful president of the Family Research Council says the religious right is giving the president do-over for his past personal mistakes including reports the president's lawyer created a private company to pay for a porn star's silence about alleged affair with Trump.
OUTFRONT now, the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins.
Good to have you back, Tony. I appreciate your time.
TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: (INAUDIBLE), Erin. BURNETT: All right. Let me try to understand, you used the exact word "mulligan" to talk about this. And obviously, the most recent allegations involve an affair with a porn star that began a few months after his wife gave birth, the president's wife, and they also involved the president's personal attorney reportedly paying off the porn star for his silence. And you're saying you get a mulligan, you get a do-over here. I'm quoting you.
PERKINS: Well, if this behavior were occurring today right now, as he is president of the United States, I can assure you that my support and support of evangelicals would be dissipating very rapidly. But we're talking about something that occurred 10 years ago, among a number of things that occurred with this president prior to being president, and myself, along with a lot of evangelicals were not supportive of him in the primary. In fact, I campaigned hard for one of his competitors.
PERKINS: It was when it was down to him and Hillary Clinton, he wanted to have the support of evangelicals.
[19:50:01] And he came to them saying, I'm going to put pro-life justices, I'm picking a pro-life conservative running mate and he embraced himself in the most conservative party platform ever, and, yes, evangelical, conservatives gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do over. They said we'll start fresh with you and give you a second chance.
And there are people, evangelicals understand what a second chance means. And that's what that comment was made in the context of.
BURNETT: I want to ask you about the justices if a moment. When you talk about a second chance -- look, there is at least 15 women who say Trump harassed or assaulted them. And there is, of course, his own admission that he did these sorts of things. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It is a magnet. Just kiss, I don't even wait. And when you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tony, a mulligan to golfers is one extra shot. How many do- overs will you give him?
PERKINS: Look, this was all before he became president and before he gained the support of the evangelicals. I'm going to tell you right now, Erin, evangelical support of the president is not unconditional. Let me be very clear about that. If this president were to engage in that behavior now that he would
have alleged and admitted in some cases to be involved in before, that support is not going to be there.
But let me say this about this president. He has been actively involved and engaging with evangelicals since the general election. He's build a relationship with them. He's listened to them. He surrounded himself with him.
And more than any other president in my lifetime, he has been pursuing a conservative constitutional agenda that is in line with the values of evangelicals. But, again, Erin, let me be vey, very clear here. That support is not unconditional.
If the president stopped for some reason keeping campaign promises, and then engage in that behavior now, the support is gone.
BURNETT: OK, I understand the point that you are making. I do want to understand, because you brought the pro-life justices and now you are saying, right, that he is the most conservative constitutional agenda, that he is pursuing that, that that's what you support.
You said in the past, Tony, and I quote you, those of us who advocate for family values in the public square are held to a higher standard.
BURNETT: The president is now in the public square. You are saying he is advocating of what you see as pro-family policies, pro-life and a conservative agenda. Why not hold him to the same standard that you seemed to hold for yourself?
PERKINS: He is being held to the standard now. He is being held to that standard now. He is not doing these things now. If he does, if he were to engage in this alleged behavior now, this support is not going to be there. And I will be the first to say that.
If this is stuff that is coming up now and this -- we heard all of this during the campaign and again, evangelicals were not there at the beginning. It was only when they had a choice between Hillary Clinton, who is an anathema when it comes to her policies to them, and a guy who said, I am going to champion things you care about. I want a second chance. I want to do the right thing.
And let me tell you what, Erin? To date, he is doing the right thing and he has our support.
BURNETT: What about the hush money the "Wall Street Journal" has reported. That was paid, of course, after you were supporting him. It was paid, right, before the election. It was paid to silence for this alleged affair.
PERKINS: We'll see what comes of that. I don't know anything about that other than what I've heard.
And look, this president, everything he does, good or bad, is attacked. But I'm going to tell you about the policies that we're watching on -- we are watching. He has moved the embassy of Israel to Jerusalem, something that Republican and Democrat presidents for the last two decades were afraid to do even though it was stated law. He has ordered the Department of Justice to make sure every federal agency is respecting religious freedom. He has embraced a solid pro- life agenda.
And as long as the president continues to keep his promises and he continues to conduct himself as he has that I am aware of, then he is going to continue to have support of evangelicals. But it's conditioned upon that.
BURNETT: What about what he said about African countries, when he call them s-holes, as the evangelical Christian, are you OK with that, that racist comment?
PERKINS: Look, he is not the first president to use colorful language. I don't know that I would put that in the context of racial language, but I would not describe countries --
BURNETT: He said I don't want people from those s-holes, African countries coming to the U.S., you don't -- you don't find that racist?
PERKINS: I cannot endorse everything the presidents say. I know that there are a lot of evangelicals, in fact, I spoke to many of my radio today who called him and said, you know what, I'm with the president, I wish he wouldn't tweet some of the things he does. I wish he wouldn't say things the way he does. But when I look at what he has done, I support him. And I put myself in that same category.
BURNETT: How do you deal with what is such a crucial question for many in the country, many of whom may support Donald Trump or consider supporting Donald Trump and that is that he is the president of the United States.
[19:55:04] You have five children I believe. Am I right, five children, Tony?
PERKINS: I do. Yes, I do.
BURNETT: So the president is on talking about s-holes or grabbing women's Ps or all these things that your children have had to hear? Is he a role model for your children? What do you tell them?
PERKINS: No, my children have a role. I'm their role model and we have conversations about what the president says, and to be clear, some of those things you just stated were before he was president. We do --
BURNETT: Right, but he still said them. They're part of who he is and his character. He's 71 years old.
PERKINS: Look, I understand that.
PERKINS: I understand. And he has said I am going to do things differently. And to the degree that he is doing those things differently now, he has our support.
I -- look, evangelicals, and this is something people need to understand about evangelicals. We understand grace, we understand forgiveness. We understand that we've all got to pass.
And he has said, I want to do it differently, I want to do it better and he is surrounding himself with those people who can help him and encourage him to do the right thing. And so, we understand grace. We've all received, those who are evangelicals received from God through Jesus Christ. And so, we can have that mercy.
Now, again, let me be clear, if the president would continue to engage in behavior that's alleged to have happened 10 years ago, that support is not going to be there. It's only because he says I want a second change. And I'm thankful I got a second chance and I would pray that others would seek a second chance by changing and doing the right thing.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tony. I appreciate your time.
PERKINS: Great to be with you.
BURNETT: Next, Jeanne Moos on the name of everyone's list.
BURNETT: Tonight, the name taking the world by storm. Here is Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like the name of either a porn star or a weather woman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stormy Daniels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stormy Daniels. Stormy Daniels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stormy Daniels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, stormy
MOOS: Not to be confused with a song by the classics four, nothing classic about the adult film star linked to Donald Trumps.
Already, she's a hashtag on Twitter, plastered on protest signs, becoming so famous so fast, she is a one-name wonder like the president.
ALANA EVANS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: Donald immediately says, it's nice to meet you, but I want to meet her. Pointed to Stormy.
MOOS: When the first lady cancelled plans to travel to Davos with her husband, Daniels' name became meteorological innuendo.
Melania doesn't like flying with Trump anymore. There has been severe turbulence since things turned stormy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm guessing in two days, we're all going to forget the name Stormy Daniels. That was the hurricane that spanks the gulf coast, right?
MOOS: On Jimmy Kimmel, they featured Trump and Stormy impersonators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess who? Hey, Stormy.
MOOS: But Stormy is not necessarily what Donald Trump called her.
She told "In Touch" magazine, he always called me honey bunch. He's like, how's it going, honey bunch?
How dare he, that's what Fred called Ethel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just asked honey bunch.
MOOS: "I love Lucy", make way for "I love Storm".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, let's talk about Stormy.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey bunch.
MOOS: -- New York.
BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for joining us.
"AC360" begins right now.