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Trump: We'll Have An FBI Director Pick Soon; Capitol Hill Source: White House In "Meltdown Mode"; Source: Comey Is "Not Worried About Any Tapes"; Trump Facing Contradictions And Mixed Messages; Clapper: Could Be Evidence Of Trump-Russia Collusion; Massive Cyber Attack Halted, Experts Fear Copycats; Support Still Runs Strong with Trump Voters; Proposed Electronic Device Ban Sparks Confusion; Cap Hill Source: White House in "Meltdown Mode". Aired 12-1p ET

Aired May 13, 2017 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Meltdown mode, that is how one congressional source is describing the inner workings of the White House this weekend amid the growing fallout from the president's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

President Trump is offering more conflicting narratives on his decision to fire the man who was investigating his campaign and whether it had any ties to Russia. This as interviews are under way to find Comey's replacement. This morning, the president says a decision will come sooner rather than later.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you might make a decision or announcement before you leave for Saudi?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These are outstanding people that are very well-known, highest level. So we could make a fast decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the trip next week possibly?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Even that is possible.


WHITFIELD: All right, those comments on Air Force One moments before the president gave the commencement address at Liberty University this morning. Did he weigh in on this FBI firestorm? You decide.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: In my short time in Washington, I've seen firsthand how the system is broken. A small group of failed voices, who think they know everything and understand everyone want to tell everybody else how to live and what to do and how to think. But you aren't going to let other people tell you what you believe especially when you know that you are right.


WHITFIELD: We have team coverage tracking this story's ripple effects now. Let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles, who is live for us at Liberty University where now the crowd has cleared out. So Ryan, have the president's comments, you know, evolved any further on his decision to fire James Comey and this private dinner that apparently happened just seven days after inauguration?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really hasn't, Fredricka, and the president didn't offer any insight into his decision making process here at Liberty University focusing just on a message of encouragement for the graduates here.

So we're still left to wonder exactly what the president was talking about in this tweet that really sent shockwaves through Washington where the president wrote, quote, "James Comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

Now the White House has been pressed repeatedly over and over again asked specifically is there someone or something recording conversations in the oval office, in the residence, anywhere in the White House.

And we're not getting any straight answers on that and in fact the president was asked about this specific topic last night on Fox News, and this is how he answered.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the idea that in a tweet you said that there might be tape recordings.

PRESIDENT: That we can't talk about. I won't talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be. And I'm sure he will be I hope.


NOBLES: Now our reporting tells us that James Comey and associates close to him telling our justice team that he is not at all worried about this conversation that he had with the president, that he is prepared to be honest when the time comes.

He's turned down an opportunity to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in a closed session, but we imagine at some point, we will get James Comey's side of the story.

Meanwhile the president says that he is moving closer to picking his next FBI and as you showed on the plane coming down here to Lynchburg.

And we know there are four candidates being interviewed, Senator John Cornyn from Texas, the current acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, Alice Fisher who is an attorney, worked in the George W. Bush administration, and Judge Michael Garcia, who works in the Court of Appeals in New York City.

So a lot of work for the president to do next week before he heads out on a big overseas trip -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much. Ryan Nobles there in Lynchburg, Virginia. So this whirlwind questions, contradictions, doubts and answers swirling around the White House this week starting with the dismissal of the FBI Director James Comey and then ending with President Trump publicly threatening Comey in a tweet. CNN senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, has the latest.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump adding new fuel to the fire today in his escalating fight with the FBI, making a veiled threat on Twitter to James Comey.

The president saying the fired FBI director better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. Stunning words from the commander-in-chief directed at the nation's former top law enforcement official.

The man who was leading an investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives before being fired Tuesday. The president refused to answer the question he raised himself in an interview tonight with Fox News.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the idea that in a tweet you said that there might be tape recordings?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I can't talk about it, I won't talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be and I'm sure he will be I hope.

[12:05:07]ZELENY: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also refused to answer whether there is a recording system in the oval office or whether the president is taping his conversations there or elsewhere.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've talked to the president and the president has nothing further to add on that.

ZELENY: When asked again and again, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, ended the daily White House briefing with a question whether any tapes exist still hanging in the air. Spicer disputed the suggestion the president's warning to Comey was a threat.

SPICER: That is not a threat. He's simply stating a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. I'm moving on.

ZELENY: But it's unclear whether the president is moving on. He aimed another one at Comey today after making his feelings clear in an NBC interview Thursday. PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, he's a showboat, he's a grandstander.

ZELENY: At issue is a dinner the president invited Comey to seven days after taking office. It was there CNN has learned that the president asked his FBI director about loyalty.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We had a very nice dinner and at that time, he told me you are not under investigation.

ZELENY: The president's obsession with the investigation in the Russian meddling in the 2016 election is what led to Comey's firing. Tonight the credibility of the president and his advisers is in question as the White House becomes increasingly consumed by chaos and a crisis of leadership.

The president is isolated and agitated associates tell CNN. He finished a full week barely seen at the White House before making this brief afternoon appearance with the first lady.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: What a friendly beautiful group.

ZELENY: But his views have been heard in a roaring Twitter storm. He acknowledged conflicting explanations in the time line of Comey's firing offering no apology, but bluntly conceding accuracy seems optional.

"As a very active president with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at the podium with perfect accuracy." He went on to say, "Maybe the best thing do would be to cancel all future press briefings and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy." Today at least that didn't happen.

SPICER: A full house today.

ZELENY: The White House press secretary was back at the podium under siege after a perilous week for the administration.

SPICER: Time and time again, an attempt to parse every little word and make it more of a game of gotcha.

ZELENY: Looking to point blame elsewhere, the president is frustrated by his communications team telling Fox News he might take matters into his own hands.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sean Spicer, he is a wonderful human being. He is a nice man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he your press secretary today and tomorrow? Will he be tomorrow?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, he's doing a good job, but he gets beat up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he be there tomorrow?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, well, he's been there from the beginning. ZELENY: For now Spicer remains in place, apparently just in time to be lampooned again on "Saturday Night Live." Melissa McCarthy, Spicer's impersonator, spotted today in Midtown Manhattan filming this week's episode.


WHITFIELD: All right, CNN senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this with my panel. Back with us, Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles, there in Lynchburg, Virginia. We're also joined by CNN political commentator, David Swerdlick, and CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.

OK, good to see all of you. So David, let me begin with you because you know, your paper, "Washington Post" is reporting today that Trump is known to record conversations at Trump Tower and even listen in on talks at Mar-a-Lago. So I guess the suspicion is wouldn't he be recording conversations at the White House, too?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think there is sort of an evolving debate right about the legality of those recording at the White House, the tendency that I'm hearing so far from legal experts seems to be on the side of it's possible that that is legal.

The president has said -- hasn't said much about it and certainly the implication of the president's tweet was that he may have been reporting conversations including between him and Director Comey, although I did hear Michael Smerconish this morning say another theory is that he was sort of threatening Comey with the possibility that Comey might have been recording those conversations.

That being said, Fred, I don't know any legal authority that would suggest that it would be legal for the president to surreptitiously record folks at Mar-a-Lago before he was president and maybe not even after he was president.

It's not clear to me if that is considered a secure government facility, but I'm not an expert on that. That will play out. But I think the bigger issue here, Fred, is about the optics and politics and the really terrible week that the White House had in terms of bungling its rollout of this, casting further cloud of suspicion, not the legal particulars at least not yet.

WHITFIELD: And I wonder, too, David, if the sequence of events has led this president into a place of isolation and if that is indeed the case, if that -- how much more problematic that makes it for his leadership of the White House, leadership of the Republican Party?

SWERDLICK: Well, if he's isolated at least in the case of this week, Fredricka, it's self-inflicted. I mean, everything that rolled out this week was this unique combination in the Trump administration of hubris and inexperience or even if you want to say amateur hour.

[12:10:13]Even if you were going to fire Director Comey which would -- no matter what would cast a cloud of suspicion, why go out there and hang everything one day on the Rod Rosenstein memo and then the next day directly contradict that and suggest all but say to Lester Holt that President Trump wanted to do this related to what he feels is a bogus Russia investigation.

But here is the catch. To your question in terms of the politics, he's still at 41 percent in the Gallup daily tracking which is not much different from where he started on inauguration day. He's always been between 45 percent and 35 percent.

There is a base of support that so far is not willing to let go of President Trump and will stand by him even though the optics are so bad.

WHITFIELD: And Ryan, you're there in Lynchburg, Virginia. The president just wrapped up his commencement address to the graduates of Liberty University there. And you can't help but notice in his language he used a lot of words of foreshadowing because he was talking about, you know, the future, painting a picture of the future of some of these graduate, they will be assigned to fixing broken government. I mean, he is maintaining this, know, jargon that a lot has to be fixed, so it sounds as though he feels like he is undeterred if not defiant in how he is running the White House.

NOBLES: You're absolutely right, Fred. And this crowd ate that up. The president certainly at times seems fatigued by what is happening inside Washington. The criticism that he has received from people inside the beltway.

But when he leaves and goes into these areas of the country where the support that David was talking about remains so many lid, it seems to give him energy. He received a standing ovation from the first moment that he was on stage.

There were no protesters in this crowd. There were plenty of people with a make America great again hats on. He was well received. And I think that makes him feel as if the work that he is doing in Washington is for the greater good.

And what he told this crowd here is that when you are being deterred by people, embrace that outsider status. He said it's only outsiders that change the world. So he continues to view himself as an outsider and if we can take anything from this message here today, I don't expect him to change course anytime soon.

WHITFIELD: So Nic, you know, receptive audience there from Lynchburg, Virginia, but what about on the global stage. What are people thinking and feeling about all that has happened this week, the sequence of events and the president's handling?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. I mean, it's a U.S. domestic issue, so you're not finding governments around the world making comments about it, but put yourself in the position of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, fighting an election.

She was actually meeting with President Trump just the day before about that dinner with the FBI Chief James Comey. She was embarrassed by President Trump immediately after that trip because of the travel ban that reflected badly on her quick to form a strong relationship with him and now she's in an election campaign.

This issue comes up and you have the leader of the opposition who frankly isn't doing very well here, but he is lambasting the prime minister again for her relationship with President Trump saying that Britain shouldn't acquiesce its security to the United States, I.e., we'll have a good relationship, but it won't the relationship the prime minister wants.

It's critical that the prime minister take in the opportunity of what's happening to President Trump and political points will be scored around the world against leaders who put themselves close to President Trump. That would be the concern.

So there are some of the optics look very bad. You think as well about what Theresa May said when she was in Washington and then Philadelphia at the Republican retreat when she talked about Russia, she talked about engage but beware. What did we hear from the White House this week from sources --

WHITFIELD: She gave him a warning.

ROBERTSON: She gave him a warning and what did we hear from White House sources this week that they felt that they were tricked by the Russian's release of the photographs that the Russians were essentially lying. So you have somebody who is giving advice like Angela Merkel has as well and then it bounces back and reflects badly on them. So this is how world leaders will have to calibrate their engagement with this leader who might have pluses but for them they are maybe minuses, too.

WHITFIELD: Right. And those photographs of a meeting between President Trump, Russian foreign minister, and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. the day after the firing of Comey, the optics also very questionable.

And in fact, David, there were many people who were polled on the president's handling of the firing of James Comey and you can see right here, according to this Gallup poll that at least among the GOP, 79 percent approve.

[12:15:07]And again on party lines 14 percent of Democrats were in on which position of that, and 78 percent disapprove as a whole. So is this how it will go as it pertains to talks about the ongoing investigation of Russian ties to the White House, will that be along partisan lines as well as the confirmation the next FBI director?

SWERDLICK: Perfect point about the next FBI director. Fredricka, I do think this is the way it will go for the foreseeable future. The problem for Democrats going forward, if you look at those phone numbers and see how 78 percent or 79 percent of Republicans are standing by the way President Trump has handled the firing of Director Comey, Democrats should disabuse themselves of the notion that there will be some sea change in Republican support or that Republicans in Congress will start standing up ram rod straight against President Trump or that there would be an impeachment in the offing anytime soon.

That is something Democrats need to sort of think of as a dream and get over it. On the Republican side, they have to realize even though they are standing by Trump right now, that everything the president has done if the last week and a lot of things in the first 100 or 120 days or so has allowed the Democrats to oppose him at every turn.

He's made it easy for Democrats to just stand back and say, Republicans, we're not helping you at all with pushing your agenda in Congress including no matter who he nominates for FBI director. I don't expect Democrats to take it easy on that nominee when they come before the Senate committee for confirmation.

WHITFIELD: But still that nominee would likely to go through with the Republican majority.

SWERDLICK: They will pass, yes.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. David Swerdlick, stay with us. Thanks so much, Ryan Nobles, Nic Robertson. Appreciate your input as well.

All right, coming up, it was a week to remember in Washington, the former director of National Intelligence saying he never ruled out possible evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. This as the president says he's not under investigation.

And more calls are pouring in for a special prosecutor. We'll comb through all of that with our panel next.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. A number of high ranking former U.S. officials are reacting to the White House claims about James Comey and the Russia investigation. The former head of National Intelligence in the U.S. is among those challenging President Trump including the suggestion that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump team and Russia. CNN's Jim Sciutto has the story.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The nation's former top spy says that he has never ruled out evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign.

Directly contradicting President Trump who tweeted just hours earlier when James Clapper himself and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt says there is no collusion, when does it end.

In an interview with MSNBC, the former director of National Intelligence says he believes --

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There was no evidence that came -- that rose to that level at that time that found its way into the intelligence community assessment, which we had pretty high confidence in. That is not to say that there wasn't evidence, but not that met that threshold.

SCIUTTO: But during the White House press briefing, Sean Spicer insisted it is James Clapper who is changing his story.

SPICER: It is interesting how the story has changed and now suddenly he's saying I wasn't sure about it. The burden seems to be on him, not us.

SCIUTTO: Director Clapper also expressed doubts about Mr. Trump's version of a dinner with fired FBI Director James Comey in January.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. We had a very nice dinner at the White House --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He asked for the dinner?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: A dinner was arranged. I think he asked for the dinner.

SCIUTTO: But Clapper says it was Trump who invited Comey.

CLAPPER: He had been invited to the White House to have dinner with the president.

SCIUTTO: And that the former FBI chief was uncomfortable with the invitation.

CLAPPER: In a difficult position to refuse to go, but I do know he was uneasy with it just for the appearance of compromising the independence of the FBI.

SCIUTTO: The dinner came just one day after then Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn could be compromised by Russia. That timing raising concerns about White House interference in the FBI's ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign associates colluded with the Russian government.

CNN has learn that Comey was, quote, "Taken aback" when Trump asked him to pledge his loyalty during the dinner. A source close to Comey tells CNN, the FBI chief refused and instead promised to always be honest with the president.

In fact, FBI employees pledged to be loyal only to the U.S. Constitution, not to any individual including the president.

JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI CHIEF OF STAFF: All of us in the FBI are focused, hyper focus is on fealty to the mission, not fealty to a politician, not fealty to any person.

SCIUTTO: The president has claimed that Comey assured Mr. Trump that he was not under investigation related to the Russian probe and that Comey asked Trump to keep him on as FBI chief. A source tells CNN this is a fabrication. That Comey did not ask to keep his job and that in fact just three days earlier, the president told Comey he would stay on as FBI director.

The source adds the former FBI chief is, quote, "not worried" about any recorded conversations between him and the president after Trump issued a thinly veiled threat to Comey tweeting, quote, "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the presss."


SCIUTTO: Now James Comey was invited by the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify next week. We learned that he has turned down that invitation. I'm told by someone with firsthand knowledge of his thinking that he wants to take some time off and lay low for a while. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

[12:25:03]WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk more about this with my panel. With me now, Page Pate, CNN legal analyst, who was also a constitutional attorney and a criminal defense attorney. Also back with me is David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator and assistant editor at the "Washington Post."

All right, so Page, let me begin with you. We heard, you know, Clapper say he has never ruled out possible evidence of collusion between the Trump administration and ties with Russia, but how difficult is to prove collusion?

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It can be very difficult. I mean, collusion itself is not a crime. What they are looking sat whether there was a conspiracy, an unlawful agreement between people in the Trump team and people with the Russian government.

WHITFIELD: To potentially impact the election.

PATE: Exactly. Now that could be done by hacking Secretary Clinton's e-mails at that time. So if Trump urged and I think we all heard publicly the Russians to go ahead and hack her e-mails that could be evidence of an agreement between the two of them to try to accomplish an unlawful purpose which is computer hack.

WHITFIELD: Is it equally difficult to prove obstruction if as people dissect the tweet if indeed there are tapes or no tapes that the president would use language that some are interpreting as threatening language to James Comey that before you go talk to the press or anything, remember there are tapes?

PATE: Well, I don't think we've heard enough yet to get to the point of obstruction, but it is critically important if there are tapes to know what is on those tapes. We need to know what Trump and Comey talked about.

To commit the federal crime of obstruction, there has to be an official proceeding and we're past that, clearly there is an investigation, subpoenas have gone out, but then you have to show criminal intent. Did Trump intend to influence corruptly influence that investigation? What we've seen and heard so far, I just don't think it's enough to get there.

WHITFIELD: OK, and so David, you have 20 Democrats attorney generals calling on road Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint an independent prosecutor. They sent out a letter. One of those prosecutors was on CNN this morning explaining why he signed take letter.


KARL RACINE, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's clear that we're talking about a serious investigation. You're talking about the potential of meddling in a democratic presidential election with the Russians. What we need is a thorough investigation that doesn't have anything to do with politics or partisanship.

The only way we can do this is to do what Janet Reno did many times during President Clinton's tenure, and that is to go outside of the Department of Justice, hire a special counsel, a special counsel who has not been hired by the president and cannot be fired by the president. It's only that type of special counsel who can restore the public confidence in the justice system.


WHITFIELD: So David, is there any way of knowing the loyalties of Rosenstein and whether he would appoint an independent special counsel?

SWERDLICK: So Fred, my own view is that we're at a stage where it would be appropriate for the appointment of a special counsel. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein is not obligated to do so. And everything that I've heard, I don't know him, I have not interviewed him.

But everything that I've heard about him, everything that I've read about him, we have a piece by someone who knows him tomorrow in the outlook section of the "Washington Post," someone extolling his credibility and his honesty and integrity, everything about him says that he's a stand up upright guy with high degree of integrity and professionalism.

That being said, in my view, Fred, he got rolled by President Trump. He was asked to produce that memo and it seems to me that if you look back on everything that has happened in the last two years, what could he have thought? Not applying the legal standard, using a common sense standard, what could he have thought that he was preparing that memo for?

I want to be clear, he didn't break the law. Nothing he did was dishonest. But why would you prepare that if you didn't think the president was going to use it as a pretext for what we saw last week?

WHITFIELD: Except that Page, reportedly he was upset that he was the unwitting fall guy and that if that is the case, it would sound as though he might be looking strictly at the letter of the law, that's his loyalty as opposed to loyalty to the White House, which would mean he would lean toward a special prosecutor, yes?

PATE: I think that's true. I trust that he will appoint a special prosecutor. He is the man that everybody says he is. He's worked for Republicans, Democrats. And you're right, he works and is I think upholding to the rule of law.

He is the type of person that is willing to be independent, to stand up to this president. He has got to realize that the only way to restore credibility in this investigation is to bring in someone from the outside.

WHITFIELD: I've heard some legal analysts talk about the federal witness protection and as we talk about that tweet and whether it's threatening or not, and if this has laid the ground work for the case of Comey potentially being treated as a witness who would need some sort of federal protections. Is that off the charts, do you see that as reasonable?

PATE: I think it's probably off the charts. I think President Trump sometimes tends to be full of bluster. I don't think he really intends to threaten the former director of the FBI. But putting pressure on a potential witness either in a congressional hearing or in a Department of Justice investigation, that can be obstruction.

[12:30:09] WHITFIELD: All right, Page Pate, David Swerdlick, thanks so much, Gentlemen. Appreciate it.


WHITFIELD: All right, James Clapper will weigh in again on all of this tomorrow morning on State of the Union. The former director of national intelligence sitting down with Jake Tapper at 9:00 a.m. Only right here on CNN and we will be right back.


WHITFIELD: We're getting new information on that massive cyber attack that has hit users in nearly a 100 countries. Cyber experts tells CNN the spread of the malware called "wannacry" has been halted at least for now. And here's what we know.

[12:35:02] A cyber security firm says there have been more than 75,000 ransomware attacks. Key institutions like hospitals and government offices have been affected. Let me bring in now CNN Technology Correspondent Samuel Burke. So Samuel what did this malware do exactly? What was it, I guess requiring or threatening to users?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: This was completely different than the hacks that we usually talk about. Passwords being stolen or credit card numbers being stolen. This is ransomware that takes over people's computers and literally is demanding a fee, $300 in Bitcoin for you to get access to your files again.

The other way that this is different Fredricka is actually affecting people's lives because we had hospitals that you were mentioning that had been hit and so they were having to cancel outpatient appointments for instance. Now, the interesting thing here is a security researcher has actually inadvertently or accidentally you could say stopped the spread of this virus. But we're not out of the woods yet because if you're computer was already infected, you might show up at work on Monday and see one of these messages demanding the $300 in Bitcoin and a lot of researchers are very afraid that there could be plenty of copycats out there and other strains of this virus.

WHITFIELD: And so this use of the Bitcoin, you know, currency, that's what makes if so difficult right to really hunt down the villains here.

BURKE: It makes it very difficult to trace where the money is going, where it is even coming from and that is why they're choosing to use Bitcoin. And it's interesting because the experts aren't pointing their fingers at anybody yet. But I just want to bring back that map that you showed at the beginning of this segment because if you look at it, it shows that there are infections all around the world.

Nobody should assume that the Russians or the Chinese are to blame here. The places that have been worst affected according to that are Taiwan, Ukraine, and Russia. So Russia one of the biggest victims here likely according to many sources a group of cyber criminals really just looking for money, not a state or a government.

WHITFIELD: All right, Samuel Burke, thanks so much.

All right, Donald Trump's firing of James Comey had Washington spinning this week. But what about the rest of the country? We check in on how his supporters outside the beltway took the news, next.


CAROL SOSSAMAN, BUSINESS OWNER: You know, but after a couple years if nothing gets done and it's drama all the time, then I don't think he'll have many supporters left.


[12:41:23] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We're learning four people are being interviewed for the FBI director job today. This morning the president seemed very optimistic that he will find the next director soon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you might make a decision or announcement before you leave?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are outstanding people that are very well-known. Highest level. So we could make a fast decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the trip next week?

TRUMP: Even that is possible.


WHITFIELD: A source tells CNN the four candidates being interviewed for the job are Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, Andrew McCabe, the current acting FBI director, Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, and Judge Michael Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals. But do Trump supporters back the president on his dramatic firing of James Comey? Here now is Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): They get (inaudible) so well.

HENRY LEWIS, BUSINESS OWNER: (Inaudible), this is Texas county.

LAVANDERA (on camera): For more than 50 years, Henry Lewis has sold Chevy cars and trucks in Canton, Texas.

(on camera) You wrote this book for your grand kids?


LAVANDERA (on camera): This is full of life lessons, right.

(voice-over) But in his spare time, he wrote a book with short life lessons for his granddaughter and he says page 10 can help explain a lot these days especially Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.

TRUMP: He's a showboat, a grand stander.

LEWIS: If your presentation is on a sixth grade level, it will be understood, read, listened to and appreciated. That's kind of fitting.

LAVANDER (voice-over): Do you think Donald Trump has mastered that?

LEWIS: I think Donald Trump would agree with that statement. You know, we may make him a book.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Lewis still strongly supports Trump. He's not bothered by the president's tweets seeming to threaten Comey. But Lewis acknowledges some of Trump's antics are starting to wear thin.

LEWIS: It bothers me a little bit. I mean, I think he'd be better served if he were more presidential, if you take the high road and more presidential.

LAVANDERA (on camera): But your faith in him is still solid?

LEWIS: Yes, it's great. He's a businessman and that's what the country needs and I voted for him and I'd vote for him again.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Canton, Texas sits in the heart of Van Zandt County, the antique shopping capital of the world, where Donald Trump won 85 percent of the vote. As we wondered around town, we found support still runs strong.

Carol Sossaman runs her own antique shop and this exchange with her offered unique insight to why Trump's most ardent supporters haven't lost faith.

(on camera) But with all the crazy headlines we've seen here over the last few months, if you replaced the name Trump and you put in Hillary or Obama, do you think his supporters would have the same reaction, kind of dismiss things like the Russia investigation, questions about taxes?

SOSSAMAN: No, no. Because there's so much hope with Trump being in office. I think that is what drives people to believe in him. Because he's a businessman. He gets stuff done. You know, that is a proven fact.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sossaman voted for President Obama in 2008, didn't vote in 2012, and then voted for Trump. She says the clock is ticking and that Trump supporters can handle the drama as long as work gets done on issue like health care. Is that a sign there is a crack in Trump's armor?

SOSSAMAN: You know, but after a couple years if nothing gets done and it's drama all the time, then I don't think he'll have many supporters left.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Donald Trump's act might not seem presidential to even some of his supporters, but in the antique shops of this east Texas town, the act hasn't gotten old, yet.

[12:45:09] Ed Lavandera, CNN, Van Zandt County, Texas.


WHITFIELD: Up next, as the White House electronics ban at airport looms, the airlines are scrambling to iron out the new protocols. Details next.



JASON BURR, GEORGIA QUARTER GUITARS, FOUNDER: This is somebody on something that we made. It's nothing but pride. Hi, I'm Jason Burr.

FRANK SCHELY, GEORGIA QUARTER GUITARS, FOUNDER: And I'm Frank Schley with Georgia Quarter Guitars, the custom guitar company where we make electric guitars out of historically significant wood.

[12:50:02] And this wood is really special. It was born in the 1400s, so it's older than a country. And in 1856, it was cut down to be used in a dam in the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia.

BURR: The materials matter because it makes the connections to help weave the story around that guitar and make a piece of history come alive. And that really gets at the spirit of what we're trying to accomplish here, giving this material a second chance at life and really a chance to sing and become something even more beautiful than it was before.

SCHLEY: The burning is a special thing that brings the sap out of the guitar and cooks it and that really adds a lot of character and depth to the wood that you wouldn't normally see.

BURR: One of our main strategies is to really put the guitar in the hands of musicians. It really gives us a chance to shine along with them. And the social media piece plays back into it then as well.

SCHLEY: Absolutely.

BURR: We promote them and they promote us. To be able to be financially successful at doing something that you're passionate about, that's been the real measure of success for us.

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

So, airlines are preparing for a massive expansion of the Trump administration's electronics ban. And airlines are moving quickly because the ban could be implemented soon on flights from Europe to the U.S. And while airlines are waiting for the order to come down, they are trying to iron out a few new policies and protocols.

But Delta airlines accidentally jumped the gun on Friday, briefly posting a sign at its Cincinnati terminal that told international passengers the policy had already been implemented and they could only carry mobile phones on flights returning to the U.S. Delta apologized for the confusion.

CNN's aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, helps break it all down.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATIONCORRESPONDENT: Fred, as the United States moves towards expanding its ban on all electronics larger than a cellphone from the main cabin of U.S.-bound aircrafts, airlines are in preparation mode. The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to announce, it will expand its electronics ban to Europe. Right now, the ban is in place for flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim majority countries. An expanded ban though could impact more than 350 flights a day. The Europe to U.S. track is the world's busiest international corridor.

Delta United as well as American Airlines are the U.S. carriers that would be impacted the most. They have the most flights on this route.

Right now, airlines are trying to figures out new protocols and policy for about how to check passengers for compliance. They are also working with international airports to reconfigure the setup to isolate passengers and flights bound for the U.S.

DHS says that the ban was put into place because intelligence suggests that terrorists have perfected their ability to hide explosives in the battery components of these electronics. Now, European officials, they are voicing safety concerns that there will be a large number of electronic devices with lithium-ion batteries in the cargo holds.

But the FAA says, the dangers associated with these batteries are reduced because they are spread out in bags, in pieces of luggage, and they are not actually stored all together. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Rene Marsh.

All right, still ahead, our exclusive report of never before seen images from the moments surrounding a chemical attack in Syria. We'll take a look at the regime's war on its own people.


[12:57:57] WHITFIELD: When two CNN heroes joined forces, amazing things can happen. Here is a look at a unique project that is helping women in a Greek refugee camp use the very life vests they wore during their desperate journeys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the project is making welcome mats from the life vests. So, they're weaving these and getting paid to weave them, and we are going to sell these in the U.S. And the idea is that we are laying down the welcome mats for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can do so much better in welcome being people into our country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a direct way to give empowerment and hope in something as simple as purchasing a mat.

WHITFIELD: And to find out more about the welcome project and how you can buy a welcome mat or nominate as CNN hero, go to

All right, the next hour of the "Newsroom" starts right now.

All right, hello again everyone and thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

President Trump isolated and agitated. A Republican congressional source also telling CNN, the White House is in "meltdown mode" this weekend amid growing fallout from the president's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. President Trump, also offering more conflicting narratives on his decision to fire the man who is investigating whether his campaign had ties to Russia, this as interviews are underway to find Comey's replacement.

This morning, the President said the decision will come sooner rather than later.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you might make a decision or announcement before you leave for --

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We can make a fast decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- before Saudi, before --

TRUMP: These are outstanding people that are very well-known, highest level, so we could make a fast decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the trip next week, I mean, possibly?

TRUMP: Even that is possible.


WHITFIELD: Those comments coming moments right there on Air Force One, moments before the President gave the commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Let's go to CNN's Ryan Nobles who was there for the commencement address. And now, everyone has cleared out. They're enjoying their day as now graduates, class of 2017.

All right, so Ryan, what do we know, you know, about the FBI interview taking place not far away on 995, there on the nation's capital at the --