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President is in Saudi Arabia On the First Leg of A World Trip; Robert Mueller Appointed as Special Counsel for Russia Investigation. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 20, 2017 - 16:00   ET



[16:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cancer or no cancer I finished the race.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Welcome to the weekend.

Day one of President's first foreign trip is now finished. And it if nothing that was grand that's for sure starting with a red carpet welcome this morning ended with dancing and savors tonight.


CABRERA: But President Trump has eight more days to go, four more countries to see and dozens of leaders yet to meet, all while explosive stories continue to race questions without the future of his presidency.

One of the latest revelations comes from "the New York Times." The paper reporting this weekend that President Trump bragged about firing FBI director James Comey during this oval office meeting with Russian official last week telling them quote "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russian. That's taken off."

Today, Russia denying that conversation never happened.

CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is joining us now.

Shimon, Russia is denying this but the White House isn't.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Well, that's right. And you know, this sort of have been the pattern with Russia after these conversations. You know, they have said that if we can provide, you know, our own transcripts to you if you want of the last time this came up, which was earlier in the week when some of the conversations were made public by "the Washington Post".

So you know, this is like sort of the pattern that Russia goes. You know, they go ahead and deny it. And then, you know, it's really interesting that the White House base who did not shoot down these reports yesterday, they basically admitted. Yes, this was said and they stood but it. And you know, today again, Russia continues to deny. And this is how they have been throughout this entire investigation that the FBI has been conducting, the U.S. officials have been conducted. It's just been their pattern to deny.

CABRERA: We also expect to hear from James Comey himself very soon, right. He is going to testify in front of the Senate intelligence committee.

PROKUPECZ: Yes. So that was the, you know, the senate intelligence committee let us know yesterday that that was plan. That he plans to testify after -- sometimes after Memorial Day. We don't know when. The only thing I would caution people is now that there's a special counsel investigating this, the former FBI director Bob Mueller that could kind of throw things off a little because we don't really know what his position is going to be. What this special council's position is going to be on Comey testifying because presumably, he is now investigating whether or not anyone at the White House may have tried to influence the FBI in their investigation.

So it's going that part of it is still unclear. There have been talk, you know, we have been told by someone close to Comey that he looks forward to talking to the special counsel about what he knows and what ultimately happens.

You know, Comey would like to talk. He wants to come out. He wants to say what he can say. You know, as we know, he have memos that sort of moralize all these meetings.

CABRERA: And that's one of the big question. People want to hear from him himself about why he wrote those memos, if what the reporting is out there was true, and what he was thinking in terms of the President's intention.

Shimon Prokupecz, we don't have those answers yet, but we hope to get them. Thank you for joining us.

PROKUPECZ: You bet. Sure.

CABRERA: With me now live from Washington, Michigan Democratic congressman Dan Kildee.

Congressman Kildee, thank you for being with us. I know you called for an in dependent investigation of the President- Russia ties even before Robert Mueller was named to do exactly that. Are you happy with the choice of Mueller to lead the special counsel?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Well, I was pleased that there was a special counsel name and I'm happy that Mr. Mueller is the choice. He has a great reputation. I had some interaction with him when he was leading the FBI soon after I came in to Congress. And I think he has the kind of credibility that the American people will accept the outcome of his investigation.

I think it is important to keep in mind that the scope of the investigation while it might be broad in terms of subject and should go wherever the facts take him, it will be focused on counterintelligence or the potential criminality. It won't necessarily reveal many of the other large questions that we have about the nature of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians. That should be take on by an independent commission much like the 9/11 commission. It wouldn't be so in a focus on the question of criminality.

CABRERA: But isn't that what these other congressional committees are doing? We have the Senate intelligence committee, the Senate judiciary committee, the House oversight committee, the House intelligence committee, all doing their investigations as well?

KILDEE: They are. And I know colleagues of mine so I know some of them might not share my view, but I just don't believe at this point in time given the highly political nature of this town that the American public will accept the conclusion that might come down to a party divide. Even though the committee members may work well together now, when it comes down to drawing any conclusions they may have a different point of view.

I think we have other things we should be focusing our attention on. We have big issues in this country that we are not making any progress on whatsoever because this is taken up all the oxygen. We really should take this out of political process. Let Mr. Mueller pursue his aspect of this. But a point of sort of elder state person led bipartisan commission to draw whatever conclusions they may, report to Congress and the American people and then we can make our judgments at this point in time.

[16:05:52] CABRERA: Got you.

KILDEE: In the meantime, we should deal with healthcare and taxes and infrastructure and America's place on the planet. Those are big questions that are not getting the attention they deserve.

CABRERA: OK. I want to get your reaction to the past 24 hours because there is a lot of new information that is coming fast and furious regarding the President, regarding the Russian investigation, regarding what we are learning about conversations that have happened up to this point. First, we have some new reporting with CNN that an intercepted conversation of Russian officials during the campaign, sources now say that these Russian officials were bragging about the relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn. They believe that they could use him to influence Donald Trump and his team. Does this at all move the ball forward in terms of possible collusion?

KILDEE: Well, yes. It certainly raise a serious questions. And you know, I can't draw legal conclusion as to whether this kind of interaction meets a legal standard. But you know, collusion is a term that might have a particular meaning. There's certainly evidence of serious interaction and a serious relationship between Mr. Flynn and the Russians and perhaps other members of the Trump team. And this is why whether or not that interaction rises to the level of a criminal act, the American people have a right to know what the nature of that relationship was. And it's especially difficult to accept when we hear these reports about the conversation that Mr. Trump had in the oval office with very senior members of the Russian government. It sure seems a lot friendlier than what you would expect to see between the President of the United States and an adversary that does not share the interest of the United States.

CABRERA: In that conversation, some of that coming in the "New York Times" latest reporting, again in just the last 24 hours say the President Trump bragged about firing FBI director James Comey during that meeting with Russian officials as we telling them quote "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off." Is that evidence to you of obstruction of justice?

KILDEE: It could be. I mean, it is evidence that the President clearly connected the firing of Mr. Comey with his anxiety about this Russian connection and any investigation that was ongoing. It's pretty difficult for him to deny that. But it's troubling in so many other ways for him to denigrate the head of the FBI, our, you know, one of our chief intelligence gathering agencies to these Russian leaders.

CABRERA: Some Congress members --

KILDEE: Who is side is he on?

CABRERA: Some colleagues brought up impeachment, are you there yet?

KILDEE: You know, I think the facts have to determine. I think we need to be very careful about drawing any conclusions. The process we should be engaged in right now is embracing transparency, get the facts. You know, anybody who goes to the conclusion before we gather all the facts I think might be getting ahead of themselves. Now, you know, whatever the conclusion might be I may get to that point but we are certainly not there yet.

CABRERA: What do you want to hear from James Comey when he reportedly is going to testifies in an open hearing?

KILDEE: Well, I think he is now is essentially obligated to let us know about his nature of interaction with President Trump. You know, the contemporaneous notes that he took after his dinner at the White House, you know, if I had to take the word of Mr. Comey or Mr. Trump I know where I would go with that based on his past. But there are other interactions that may have taken place and Mr. Comey I think owes it to the American people and the government that he has spent so many years serving to come clean and let us know about the conversations that he had with Mr. Trump. The American people have the right to know that information.

CABRERA: Congressman Dan Kildee, our thanks to you for joining us.

KILDEE: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: The President on his initial leg on his first overseas trip, but will the new arms deal and new partnership be enough to quiet the controversy swirling at home. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:14:16] CABRERA: The Saudis are celebrating President Trump. Watch this.


CABRERA: This is in Riyadh, the capital city of the dessert kingdom. The U.S. President being herald at really on his first visit to another country since taking office and showing no sign of any concerns that his lawyers back in Washington are reportedly brushing up on impeachment proceedings just in case.

Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is in Riyadh.

Jim, it certainly looks like the President has been having a good time. We know he was given this special medal of honor of sorts when he first got off the plane, a much different welcome for him than predecessor there in Saudi Arabia.

[16:15:04] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Ana. I can remember a few years ago when I was here with President Obama. We had to hop on helicopters and go about 30 minutes into the desert so the President that time could meet with the Saudi king at his dessert palace. Very different situation and a very different rolling out of the red carpet for President Trump. Mainly because the Saudi kingdom really sees much more I guess clearly an eye to eye fashion with this President than they did with President Obama when it comes to issues like Iran and security in the region and so forth. Never mind the fact that when President Trump was a candidate, candidate Donald Trump had some extreme things to say about the Muslim faith and about Islam. That, obviously, did not play well in this part of the world. But when it comes to security issues, counterterrorism issues they do see eye to eye.

Now, we should point out today is basically been really about pop and circumstance. You saw all day long the Saudis just sort of lavishing all sort of attention on President Trump. That undoubtedly went over very well with the President. He likes that sort of thing. Take for example this evening, the secretary of state Rex Tillerson, the commerce secretary Wilbur Ross doing this traditional sword dance, that's grabbed all of our attention in the press file as we were watching it unfold on Saudi state television. Even the President at one point got into it swaying a little bit. It didn't pick up the sword and dancing with it the way secretary Tillerson did. But still, he seem to be having a god time.

And it took I guess a trip of thousands of miles away from Washington to get the President in good spirits because of all the questions about Russia going on back in the nation's capital. We should point out Ana that subject did come up here today in Riyadh at a press conference with secretary of state Tillerson, his Saudi counterpart foreign minister (INAUDIBLE). They were asked about -- the secretary was asked about the Russian investigation. He essentially just brushed off the question, said he didn't know much about it. But all eyes are going to be on.

Today was pot of circumstance. Tomorrow is the meeting of this trip to Saudi Arabia. And all eyes are going to be on the President's speech to the Muslim world tomorrow. His aides have been building up this speech for days talking about how it is going to be a challenge to the Muslim world to do more to combat terrorism. And the question will ultimately be will the President utter the phrase radical Islamic terrorism that something he said time and again, talk about time and again out in the campaign trail. There are some questions as to whether it will be in the speech tomorrow.

We caught up with the national security official just before the secretary got in his motorcade earlier this evening. He said the speech was still being worked on at this point. So it's unclear whether we'll hear that phrase or not and how that will shake up things here in this part of the world.

As you know, Ana, you know, how the President talks about this issue in the speech tomorrow I think will really lay out the tone for the rest of this trip. President is going to be facing some other diplomatic landmines when he steps in Israel. It has to do with the Israeli-Palestinian issue there when he goes to Rome and meets with the Pope. The Pope and the President had been at odds with one another over the last couple of years. But if the President can lower that tone, could handle on that rhetoric tomorrow, I think that will certainly set the tone for the rest of this trip, Ana.

CABRERA: Jim, you talked about how secretary of state Rex Tillerson was asked about some of the events of the past week and the past 24 hours, what's happening here at home with the Russian investigation, he said no information, no knowledge about the recent report of the Russian investigation. Do you sense that what is happening here at home is having impact at all on the President and his interactions with these foreign leaders in other countries?

ACOSTA: I think it has had to some extent an impact on the news coverage of this trip. Keep in mind, from what we understand at this point, Ana, there is no news conference scheduled for this trip that we have been informed of that will take place on this trip.

All day long today, typically in these sessions where the President goes in and has a bilateral conversation with this foreign leader and that foreign leader, there will be an opportunity for the reporters in those settings to ask a questions of the President -- that did not happen. And you heard the President makes some general remarks about how today was a tremendous day. That no questions were asked.

One of the critical things we are looking at over the next several days is will the White House press shot? Will the President allow the news media who are paying big bucks to follow on this trip, will he give them an opportunity to ask these sorts of questions. I think it's very tightly controlled when it comes to putting him out in front of cameras. You may not hear those opportunity where reporters get to ask those types of questions which may lead to folks like myself shouting question at the President whenever we get within an ear shot of him. But that is one way that that has -- the whole Russian investigation has impacted this trip. It has really put a lid on press access to this President so far from what we can tell in terms of what we are going to be seeing in the days ahead. That could change --.

[16:20:00] CABRERA: Did you shout any questions, I just can't believe that.

ACOSTA: Who would thong it? Right, exactly.

CABRERA: Now, well, we appreciate your coverage. Sounds good. Thanks, Jim Acosta reporting again from Saudi Arabia tonight.

ACOSTA: Thank you. You got it.

CABRERA: One of biggest moments in the President's trip comes in just a few hours. He will be speaking now to the leaders of more than four dozens Muslim nations about driving out extremist. How President Trump's message could differ from the rhetoric he delivers at home.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:24:45] CABRERA: We are continuing to follow our major story this afternoon.

The Saudis today rolling out the red carpet for President Trump as he embarks on his first trip overseas. Now, the world is closely watching President Trump for whatever rhetoric he may use on this trip. Because of CNN's Brianna Keilar reports, the President has been known to use strong language against Muslims and their religion.


[16:25:10] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As a candidate Donald Trump through wide criticism when he falsely claims Muslims (INAUDIBLE) collapsed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.

KEILAR: Just weeks later in December, 2015 Trump first announced his proposal to ban Muslims. It came in the wake of the ISIS inspired attack in San Bernardino, California by a U.S. born Pakistani-American and his wife.

TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

KEILAR: As Trump surged in the primaries, he said the religion as a whole was anti-American.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think Islam is at war with the west?

TRUMP: I think Islam hates us. There's something there that's a tremendous hatred there.

KEILAR: A message heard loud in clear in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Trump is now there to give a speech intended his top aide say to unite the Muslim world against terrorism.

TRUMP: And it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries.

KEILAR: He will have a lot of explaining to do particularly on his travel ban of several Muslim majority countries now tied up in the court system.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: First of all, it's not a travel ban. He has been very clear that it is in extreme vetting.

KEILAR: And also clear that it was indeed a ban.

TRUMP: We are going to have a very, very strict ban and we are going to have extreme vetting which we should have had in this country for many years.

KEILAR: That ban authored with significant input from top White House aide, Steven Miller, who is also the main author of the remarks that Trump will deliver on Islam. As a college student, Miller worked at the terrorism awareness project. The group considered an anti-Muslim hate group by the southern poverty law center.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: While President Trump makes his first trip overseas, the flourish scandals here at home now keeping his attorneys busy prepping for worse-case scenario in his presidency.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:31:55] CABRERA: More breaking news today about President Trump's oval office meeting with Russian officials. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov now denies discussing the firing of former FBI director James Comey. But the White House is not denying it.

"The New York Times" reports President Trump called Comey a nut job and says firing him ease great pressure on him from the FBI Russia pro. Sources tell CNN White House attorneys are now covering the basis preparing for the worse-case scenario for President Trump, impeachment. Here's CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: White house lawyers have begun researching impeachment procedures. Now, this is simply an effort to prepare for what officials still believe is a distant and unlikely possibility that the President could have to fend off attempts to remove him from office.

Two people briefed on the discussions tell CNN the research efforts are informal and being done out of an abundance of caution. White House officials believe that the President still have the firm backing of Republican allies in Congress. And that impeachment is just not in the cards according to the people briefed on this legal discussion.

Now, we should know that even Democrats have tried to calm this impeachment talk this week out of concern that it is premature. But Lawyers in the White House council officers have consulted experts in impeachment and began collecting information on how such precede this could work. Now, a White House official tells CNN that it's not true that White House lawyers are looking into impeachment. But all of this is happening and made a broader internal effort to bolster the President's legal defense. And in particular, hiring a personal lawyer for the President.

Evan Perez, CNN Washington.


CABRERA: Thanks, Evan.

Now, the White House is hoping President Trump's nine-day trip abroad will help everyone move past the controversies that he is facing here at home. The Saudis are lavishing the President with pump in circumstance. The two countries signed deals worth billions today.

Let's bring in Eric Pelofsky. He is the former special assistant to President Obama and former senior director for North Africa and Yemen at the national Security Council.

Erik, thanks for being with us. What do you see as President Trump's top priority for his visit?

ERIC PELOFSKY, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think Ana, you got it exactly right. Their top priority is to change the subject. I think the goal here is to visit some key allies of the United States and warm the relations, reset the relationships under the Trump administration and to change what everybody in Washington the talking about.

CABRERA: President Trump has this reputation of being unpredictable. If you were the Saudis, how do you handle President Trump? What would you see as victory in their minds eye?

PELOFSKY: Well, I think their goal is almost identical. They want him to have a great visit. They are rolling out every red carpet they can find. They had a fly over that was impressive. They have given him their highest civilian honor. They want Trump to go home happy. And they want the President to have walked away with warm and new relationships focused on the economics, focused on the military relationship, and they want some things in the foreign policy sphere. Those are a much higher tempo of opposition to Iran and support on their efforts in Yemen.

[16:35:19] CABRERA: Is this mutually beneficial do you think, or are they getting more out of it than the U.S.?

PELOFSKY: Well, the interesting thing about that is we really don't know on the foreign policy piece. We saw a read out from the White House tonight that said, mentioned Syria, mentioned Iran, mentioned Yemen but really didn't give any kind of details about where the policy is headed. So what we are left with is what the President said in his one encounter with the press today which was job, jobs, jobs. You know, even though he's abroad, he is still got his domestic perspective front and center in his approach and that played itself out at the one time he got to talk to the press.

CABRERA: The economics are a big thing. We know there was $110 billion arms deal, investment in Lockheed Martin, black hawk helicopters, General Electric helping with some of the infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, U.S. oil company also investing or getting investments from Saudi Arabia as part of this deal.

On the other side of this trip, we know the President wants to address terrorism and extremism with Saudi Arabia, how crucial is this country in the battle against terrorism?

PELOFSKY: Sure. Just one point on that arms deal. You know, over the course of the last eight years in the Obama administration, there were about 42 deals amounting to $115 billion worth of arms deal. So it's not exactly unprecedented. What's unprecedented is doing it all at once.

But to your question about terrorism, Saudi Arabia is absolutely a key ally in that fight. And the speech tomorrow is going to be - I think all eyes are going to be on that. And whether he says the magic words that all of his base wants him to say.

CABRERA: Radical Islamic terrorism?

PELOFSKY: Exactly. And so what I have heard as of yesterday was it wasn't in the speech. But obviously, the White House, as you reported and your colleagues are reported, that the speech is still being edited.

CABRERA: What would it mean? If he were to use those three words, what message does that send to the people he is addressing there? We hear there are more than 50 leaders from these Muslim majority countries who will be in the audience.

PELOFSKY: Well, I think that's not language that's going to go over well. It's not probably a disaster but even his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster has reportedly encourage the President not to use that terminology. And so, I think if he is wise he will find other ways to get out the issues that he is concerned about underneath that. But there are certainly part of his base that are pulling for the inclusion of that.

CABRERA: I want to ask you a quick question about the Russia investigation. I know you were staff member for the Senate Intel committee. How do you think members of that committee are reacting privately to a special counsel being appointed? Robert Mueller now leading his own investigation.

PELOFSKY: Well I suspect and I haven't talked to any of my former colleagues or the senators themselves, but I suspect that there is some relief that there's going to be a serious and credible investigation by a special counsel. But I suspect they are also weighing the complication that his involvement creates when a committee is trying to do its own investigation.

What typically will have to happen is some kind of de-confliction because obvious no member of the intelligence committee, at least that presumably the Democrats would want their committee efforts to have (INAUDIBLE) effect on what Robert Mueller is able to do in his role as special counsel.

CABRERA: I'm trying to figure out why they would be conflicting at all, if their end goal ultimately to get to the truth and they share that same objective?

PELOFSKY: So the challenge is that if you have Robert Mueller say certain things in public that will guide various people on what he thinks happened, you could end up with problems prosecuting -- it's not really what necessarily he would say but it's the people that it would lead to. And if they testified -- I guess the best example is Oliver North, when he testified by the investigatory committees. Then he was prosecuted and they got - he was able to get his conviction thrown out because of testimony that gave the prosecutors a running head start.

[16:40:18] CABRERA: All right, it all gets more and more complicated.

Eric Pelofsky, thanks for giving us your opinion and your expertise tonight.

PELOFSKY: Happy to do it.

CABRERA: A special counsel is now in place investigating possible Trump administration ties to Russia. But take a look at what kind of real power Robert Mueller now has.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:44:51] CABRERA: A special counsel looking into possible Russia ties to the White House marks a major escalation and they are already contentious probe.

CNN's Brian Todd looks at what that appointment means and how former FBI director Robert Mueller is being received.


[16:45:07] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If President Trump thought firing James Comey might ratchet done the Russia investigation and rid him up some headaches, the move might have just boomerang on him.

PAUL ROSENZWEIG, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: The President has lost control of the investigation. The way it is being sets up now, Mueller is completely independent of the department of justice control.

TODD: When Comey led the Russia investigation as FBI director experts say he didn't have many of the powers that new special counsel Robert Mueller is about to wheel.

ROSENZWEIG: Authority to convene a grand jury, authority to issue grand jury subpoenas, authority to bring charges and prosecute cases and seek to put people in jail. All of those are things that a department of justice prosecutor can do that an FBI investigating agent cannot do.

TODD: Now, the President is also dealing with an investigator who many believe is none political and above reproach.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL UNDER ROBERT MUELLER: I think he is person of absolute integrity. He is a marine.

TODD: Robert Mueller, a decorated Vietnam veteran was appointed FBI director just days before 9/11. He served in the job for 12 years, longer than anyone except Jay Edgar Hoover. FBI directors typically served ten-year terms. Mueller was so respected that when President Obama asked him to stay on past that, the Senate voting 100-0 to extend his term.

And Mueller and Comey have a history with each other. In March 2004, when the Bush White House wanted to reauthorize a controversial surveillance program then attorney general John Ashcroft and Comey, his deputy, refused saying it was illegal.

When Ashcroft was hospitalized shortly thereafter, Bush's chief of staff Andy Card and White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez went to the hospital to try to persuade Ashcroft to sign the order. Comey raised to the hospital to intercept them and stood by Ashcroft's bed.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.

TODD: Ashcroft deferred to Comey his acting attorney general. Another player who had Comey's back, Robert Mueller.

ZELDIN: Bob Mueller, FBI director, backs Comey all the way through the process. Taking his own notes on the conversations as he learn them, and when the matter came to fruition and the conversations of what occurred and who did what to whom transpired Comey and Mueller were completely aligned with what actually occurred and prevailed.

TODD: The Bush White House team backed down.

Analysts say Robert Mueller's long standing reputation for integrity, for (INAUDIBLE), for attention to detail could also help President Trump. They say if Mueller digs and finds no collusion with the Russians among Trump's team then Mueller gravitas could likely vindicate the President.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: Thanks, Brian.

Now, as scandals swirl around the Trump White House, the President is in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of a world trip. Five countries, nine days, the sights of three major religions. President Trump has a lot of goals for this first trip abroad. As president, many of them involve national security, also establishing an alliance to really fight terrorism.

And global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has much more for us now from Washington.

Elise, first, I want to get your takeaway from today. What does it really mean what we saw today in terms of accomplishing the President's goals?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think one of the President's major goal was to really reassert that relationship with the Saudi Arabia and the Gulf allies. And it certainly got off to a good start today, not just with that welcome that he had but the meeting with the king, those investment that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia signed. I think the U.S. is showing that it is a traditional Gulf allies that might have felt neglected over the past Obama administration have really been reasserted. And I think he is going to continue that tomorrow in this effort really to rally the world against the fight against terrorism which you will hear much tomorrow, but you will also I think of the theme throughout this trip.

CABRERA: What are we to make of these deals that were signed today? Billions of dollars, the President says jobs, jobs, jobs?

LABOTT: Well, I think it is two things. Certainly, the arms deal on one center about this fighting terrorism. And also countering Iran. You are going to have a million dollars, hundred million-dollars missile defense system, a lot of black hawk helicopters, this Lockheed Martin agreement. But you also have investments in Saudi Arabia and back in the United States.

And so when President Trumps talks about an America-first foreign policy and he has able to talk about jobs, jobs, jobs, U.S. and Saudi saying hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created on both sides, I think he can go home and claim that as a victory.

CABRERA: And you mentioned the speech tomorrow, much anticipated speech on Islam. The read out from the White House today was kind of interesting in notes that they discussed how to quote "counter violent extremism." Now, that's different rhetoric than the President used on the campaign trail.

[16:50:05] LABOTT: Very different. He talked about radical Islam terrorism. He talked banning all Muslims from the United States, Islam being at war with America. I think you are going to hear him talking about it. At least I think that's what people are hoping is Islam as an ancient and diverse and very deep tradition and a religion that spans the world, including America. But that I think he wants to get the message across that some radicals or extremist as he might say are perverted the religion and that is up to Islamic countries, Arab countries, he will be speaking 50 heads of states from Arab and Islamic countries. It is out them to make sure that they are not letting these extremists pervert Islam. And I think that's the message he is going to hopefully get across tomorrow trying to ease some of that ugly rhetoric that was on the campaign.

This is a difference between campaigning and governing. He was campaigning to a base. Now he has to govern to the U.S. and to the whole world. So I think it will be a much different tone than you heard on the campaign trail.

CABRERA: We will watch and see. Thanks so much, Elise Labott.

Most people aren't shy about giving their opinion on the commander in- chief. But one person who has not released that a whole lot is former President Obama, that is until now.

But first as a Marine Corp medic in Vietnam, this week's CNN hero put his life on the line for his men in some of the worse toughest battles. But when he returned home he endured another fight struggled for years with alcohol, drugs and PTSD. And when Bob Adams got his life together, he realized many of his fellow vets still needed his help.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I began to see veterans on the street, marines do not leave anyone behind. We take our debt and I wounded with us or we don't go. And that pledge means the world to any one of us. And so to see that code being broken shocked me into action.


CABRERA: What a guy. If you want to see more of Bob's work to help his fellow veterans go to where you can also nominate someone to be a CNN hero.

We are back after this.


[16:57:05] CABRERA: We are learning more now about the man who tried to disrupt a flight from L.A. to Honolulu. The FBI is now involved and says the man is a Turkish national and will likely face federal charges for interference with the flight crew. This is a video shot by a passenger and you can see the man in this video being escorted off an American airlines flying when it landed in Hawaii.

Passengers say the suspect who reportedly was in the U.S. on a student visa was subdued after trying to head towards the cockpit. Flight attendants reportedly used a drink cart to keep him from getting up front. There was no breach. The passengers say the man had to be duct taped to his seat until the plane landed. Fortunately, no reports of any injuries.

We are getting an idea of what former President Barack Obama really thinks of President Trump. According to a new "People" magazine article that just hit newsstands. The former President used a word I can't even repeat here.

CNN Jennie Moos has the story.


JEANNIE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They went from this house to this house and now they are just people in a cover story on him, a magazine quotes two friends a former President saying Obama said of Donald Trump he is not but a bull (bleep). But that was before President Trump tweeted Obama had my wires tapped.

Obama's opinion now, it hasn't gotten any better says a friend.

Obama isn't the first to apply that term to Trump.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: He has spent his whole live bull (bleep). He has succeed by bull (bleep).

MOOS: Michelle Obama seems mad at the Trump administration for messing with her healthy school lunch program.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: But think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap. What is wrong with you?

MOOS: The Obamas look at though there is nothing wrong post- presidency. "People" magazine says she is taking soul cycle classes and putting her own lunch. Barack has admitted, I have been trying to figure out how the coffeemaker works.

Until recently, they have been specializing in tropical islands, going kite surfing, writing his memoirs at a south pacific resort. Barack was photographed taking photos of Michelle for David Geffin's (ph) yacht with passengers Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks and Oprah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine what it could have been like tripling.

MOOS: Even out of office, President Obama ended up at the center of a hot button issue. He went from a buttoned up President to a guy showing a lot more flesh, couple of buttons deep. Tweeted one reporter, Obama undoes an additional button for each month since he has been out of office. Michelle couldn't keep her lips buttoned.

M. OBAMA: President is good, running around out there in the world with his shirt unbuttoned.

MOOS: Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.