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Putin: I'll Give Congress "Record" of Our Trump Meeting; Ivanka Trump Meeting Lawmakers on Human Trafficking; Trump Commencement Speech at Coast Guard Academy. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired May 17, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:34:24] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, Russian president Vladimir Putin weighing in on the latest crisis surrounding President Trump and the White House. Putin saying President Trump did not share any classified information with Russian officials last week. Putin even offering to give a transcript to Congress of the president's conversation in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Listen to what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was asked what this would mean if the Russians bugged the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, Vladimir Putin is offering a transcript to that Lavrov Oval Office meeting. Do you think the Russians are bugging the Oval Office?
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I would have no way to know that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:35:12] BOLDUAN: There you have it.
Let me bring in right now Joshua Walker, former aid to John Kerry and a fellow of the German Marshall Fund. And Nina Hachigian, a former U.S. ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Thank you so much for being here, you guys.
We're keeping an eye on the Coast Guard ceremony, so just keep that in the back of your mind as we're watching and waiting for President Trump to make his first remarks since this latest crisis has fallen on the president.
Nina, first to you.
This offer from the Russian president to provide a transcript of that Oval Office meeting between Trump and the Russian foreign minister, first off, do you believe the Russian president?
NINA HACHIGIAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS: I don't believe much that President Putin says. It's clear that he's enjoying all of this immensely, which should sadden all of us. And I think he's just trying to insert himself into this situation. I mean we're really through the looking glass when President Putin is offering a White House transcript. It's just a sign of how down the rabbit hole we are.
BOLDUAN: Joshua, on a basic level, there's been a question as to if there's a transcript or isn't there a transcript. We have new reporting from an administration official that said full transcripts are not traditional of meetings in the Oval Office, and audio recordings are not traditional. There would be someone there taking notes. A note taker would be quite obvious. Also, a foreign leader involved would also have someone there. When you were at the State Department, would you have taken notes from the Russians on the meeting?
JOSHUA WALKER, FELLOW, GERMAN MARSHALL FUND & FORMER AID TO JOHN KERRY: No, I agree with Nina on this. The fact that President Putin is basically having fun with us at this point in time, this is a very serious charge that's been leveled. And the question here is who was in that room. We know that Secretary Tillerson and General McMaster were there. They seem to be playing a kind of clear line here, they're saying factually this is not correct, we're not going to say any more than that. So the American people and Congress, as we've seen throughout today, are going to be demanding this. This is not normal in terms of state protocol in any way.
BOLDUAN: As all of this is happening, Nina, the president is heading off on this huge trip overseas, going to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Belgium, Sicily. How would the crisis kind of unfolding like this impact a trip like this?
HACHIGIAN: I think, you know, for the most part, his counterparts are going to try to be on their best behavior and to try to stick to the script as they have been determined, but at every press availability, this will be what everybody is asking about. And so, in terms of, you know, United States foreign policy, we're not going to get nearly the most out of this trip that you would want a president to get out of it because this scandal will be following him at each and every stop.
BOLDUAN: And, Joshua, as he meets overseas with allies, what do allies need to hear from the United States as to this, the news that, of course, the White House is disputing, but the news that the president shared highly classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister in this meeting? I mean, just today, we know that foreign allies have been asked about it. The prime minister of Britain has been asked, kind of about this episode. What do you think foreign allies need to hear right now?
WALKER: This is completely overshadowing this trip. The fact that this source might have come from Israel makes it even more awkward as president when Trump goes to Israel on part of this. And our European allies at NATO allies and G-7 are going to be asking can we trust you. We had a very interesting meeting yesterday between Turkish President Erdogan and President Trump. Turkey's in the fight with ISIS, too. Can they trust their sources are not being compromised? I don't know if you can say anything. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Everybody's going to say all the right things in public, but behind the scenes, is it going to hurt intelligence and our national security apparatus moving forward?
BOLDUAN: And looking at it, since he's leaving on this trip on Friday, Nina, I have seen some opinionators in the opinion pages saying he should cancel this trip. Would you advise that at this point?
HACHIGIAN: That would signal even further chaos. If I were in the White House, no, I don't think I would.
HACHIGIAN: I think that would really be signaling defeat, and that's the last thing they are trying to do. They're trying to pretend everything is normal.
BOLDUAN: That would raise a lot of red flags not raised to this point.
Nina, Joshua, great to have you guys with me. Thanks for walking through this with me. Appreciate it.
WALKER: Thank you, Kate.
[11:39:51] BOLDUAN: Any moment from now, the president's going to speak live for the first time, since this new crisis erupted. He's going to be speaking live from the Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony. We'll be bringing it to you. Any moment now, we'll bring it to you live.
Plus, new video just in of the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, holding down the fort of sorts while he's away. We're going to learn who Ivanka Trump is meeting with right now inside the Oval Office, what's the topic, what are they addressing. We'll bring that to you next.
BOLDUAN: All right, moments from now, we'll be hearing from President Trump for the first time since this crisis has fallen on the White House like a hammer regarding the Comey memo. He will be speaking at the Coast Guard commencement ceremony in Connecticut. A lot of introductions going on with others happening at the moment. We're keeping our eye on that and bring it to you as soon as it begins.
At the same time, we have new video from the White House. Ivanka Trump holding down the fort of sorts, meeting with lawmakers. You see Kevin McCarthy there and Amby Klobuchar. A bipartisan group of lawmakers meeting with Ivanka Trump, talking about how to combat human trafficking. This will be a big topic on Capitol Hill next week. So that is happening at the very same time. At the very same time, we're keeping an eye on both these things, let
me bring in Chris Cillizza, CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large.
I find this kind of optics fascinating. We have President Trump at the Coast Guard commencement and Ivanka Trump meeting there, a very weighty meeting, an important topic, with big names from Capitol Hill at the White House.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Kate, this is in keeping with what Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy to Ivanka's left, the House majority leader. What they tried to do at that press conference earlier today on Capitol Hill, which is to say, look, we're doing a lot of other things that have nothing to do with what Donald Trump is tweeting or saying or what James Comey is alleging in a memo. We want the American people to know they're working for them.
The trafficking issue is what Ivanka Trump has been active on before she came to the White House. It makes perfect sense for her to do it.
That said, this is all getting overwhelmed, including what Trump's speech at the Coast Guard Academy in my home state will get overwhelmed, in the same way that the foreign trip will get overwhelmed at some level, but all the questions out there about the Comey memo. We're now going out there and looking at the clock, hour 21 of Donald Trump not tweeting anything, which is, if not a record, darn close to a record and speaks volumes, I think, that silence.
BOLDUAN: But in the context that he had no problem, and he had a lot to say about the kind of crisis that when the reporting came out about his Oval Office meeting with Russian officials.
CILLIZZA: That's right. And H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, came out almost immediate to -- rebut is the wrong word -- but to address that story, although he never really debunked it. He dismissed things that weren't in the story, but you're right. Look at almost every past controversy Donald Trump has caused either as a candidate or as president. He almost always takes to Twitter, early in the morning, between 6:00 and 7:30 in the morning, to respond. Nothing today, which is, again, I think a telling sign of the gravity of what is alleged in the reporting by "The New York Times" and CNN and others about the existence of the Comey memo.
BOLDUAN: A really interesting point.
Right now, you're looking at the secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly. I believe he is the speaker just before President Trump.
We'll get a quick break. Up next, we'll hear from President Trump live for the first time since this crisis has broke out. We'll be right back.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)
Thank you, John (ph). (APPLAUSE)
Thank you. Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2017. Great job.
And General Kelly, I want to thank you for your leadership as the Coast Guard's service secretary. You've really been something very, very special to us as a country and to me and our administration. You've done throughout your entire life an incredible job defending your country. Thank you very much, General.
And John (ph) and all of his folks are also doing an incredible job protecting our homeland and our border. And I'm thrilled that my first address to the service academy is the graduation ceremony, the United States Coast Guard. Believe me, it's a great honor.
I've been here before, and it's a very, very special place. Every cadet graduating today, as your commander in chief, it is truly my honor to welcome you aboard.
And you should take a moment to celebrate this incredible achievement.
Governor Malloy, thank you for being here. Governor, thank you. We're glad you could join us. And I know how busy the governors are nowadays. They're out there fighting. It's never easy. Budgets are a little tight, but we're doing a job. All of us are doing a job, working together.
I want to also thank Admiral Zukunft and his leadership. His leadership has been amazing. Today's graduates will be fortunate to serve under such a capable and experienced commandant. He really is fantastic.
Thanks also to Admiral Rendon, the academy superintendent. Admiral, I understand you come from a true Coast Guard family. Two brothers, a nephew, a cousin have all passed through these halls. That's very impressive. I guess you like the place, right?
Somebody in your family has been doing something right, I can tell you that. I'm sure that they all are very proud, just as we are very proud of the fine young officers who are graduating today, Admiral, on your watch.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express appreciation to all of the parents and the grandparents and family members who have supported these amazing graduates. Give your parents and everyone a hand. Come on. (APPLAUSE)
Because America has families like yours, and we'll keep all of those families safe and very, very secure. You're keeping your families safe now. If you are not already, you're about to become military families. So starting today, I hope you feel the full gratitude of our nation.
These fine young cadets are about to take their rightful place on the front line of defense for the United States of America. Cadets, you deserve not only the congratulations, but the gratitude of each and every American. And we all salute you, a proud nation.
And you're a part of a very, very proud nation, which salutes the 195 cadets of the Coast Guard Academy class of 2017. Good job.
And I understand from the admirals that this has been a very special class. You've been trained here to handle the toughest of situations, the hardest of moments, really, that you can experience, and the hardest in people's lives, and to help the weak in their hour of need.
But even for the Coast Guard, this class has been exceptionally dedicated to public service. You served breakfast at the local food bank every single weekday.
[11:55:01] You rebuilt a home with Habitat for Humanity. Last year, you led cadets in donating a total of 24,000 hours, a lot of time, to community service.
You've done amazing work. And in the true Coast Guard fashion, you had fewer people and fewer resources, but you accomplished the objectives, and you did it with skill, and with pride, and I'd like to say, under budget and ahead of schedule.
We're doing a lot of that now in the United States government.
We're doing a lot of that.
I won't talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. I won't even talk about it. Or how much we're about to save you on the Gerald Ford, the aircraft carrier.
That had a little bit of an overrun problem before I got here, you know that. Still going to have an overrun problem; we came in when it was finished, but we're going to save some good money. And when we build the new aircraft carriers, they're going to be built under budget and ahead of schedule, just remember that.
That will allow us to build more.
Now, of course, there are always a few slip-ups from time to time. You know that.
For example, I understand that once or twice, First Class Cadet Bruce Kim -- Where is Bruce? Where is Bruce? Oh, Bruce how do you do this to yourself, Bruce? -- as regimental parking officer, might've accidentally caused a few tickets to be issued, or a few of your cars to be booted.
Bruce, what's going on with you?
But cadets, from this day forward, we want everyone to have a clean slate in life. That includes Bruce, right?
(LAUGHTER) And so, for any oversights or small violations that might have occurred this year, as tradition demands, I hereby absolve every cadet serving restrictions for minor offenses.
Now, Bruce, stand up once again, Bruce.
They saved you, Bruce, because they all wanted me to do that, OK? Thank you, Bruce. Congratulations, Bruce. Now, you're -- everyone's (inaudible).
By the way, Bruce, don't worry about it, that's a tradition. I was forced to do that, you know that. Don't worry.
This is truly an amazing group of cadets that are here today for commissions. You could have gone to school anywhere you wanted, and with very, very few responsibilities by comparison.
Instead, you chose the path of service. You chose hard work, high standards, and a very noble mission to save lives, defend the homeland, and protect America's interests around the world. You chose the Coast Guard.
Good choice. Good choice.
You've learned skills they don't teach at other schools, right here on the grounds of this academy and also on your larger campus, the open sea. That is a large, large campus, isn't it? A beautiful campus.
But the greatest lesson you've learned at this proud institution is the knowledge you've learned about yourself. It's the knowledge that each and every one of you is something very special. You are leaders.
For (sic) the first stormy days of your Swab Summer, to your final weeks as a first-class cadet, you have been expected to take responsibility, to make decisions, and to act. And I, like all leaders --that's exactly what you have to do, you have to act. And you have to act properly, and you have to learn how to act under great, great pressure. You're all going to be under great pressure. You have to learn how to respond and to act under great pressure.
Just days from now, you will put this vital skill into the service of your ships, your sectors and your country.
You'll serve as deck watch officers on our amazing Coast Guard cutters. You'll bring law and order to the dangerous waters as boating officers. You will block illegal shipments of cash, weapons and drugs. You will battle the scourge of human trafficking.
[11:59:55] Something that people haven't been talking about, one of the big, big plagues of the world, not our country only, the world, human trafficking.