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White House Doesn't Deny Trump Discussed Comey With Russians; President Trump Arriving In Jerusalem; President Trump Versus Candidate Trump On Topic Of Islam. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired May 22, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- it's going to consume the news. As David said, they are sick of racing down the hall trying to avoid answering these questions because this is something that you defend at home and it's becoming more and more difficult to defend.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We know Steve Bannon left the overseas trip. He is back at the White House we are told this morning. Reince Priebus departing overnight too, coming back to the White House to help manage the messaging overall this week.
David Gregory, we just heard from A.B. about the news that James Comey, the fired FBI director will testify as soon as next week after Memorial Day before the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is going to be a heck of a moment, David.
DAVID GREROGY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's going to be a spectacle. I mean, you know, it's true what David said. The Mueller investigation moves forward and like Senator McCain said, it could be a drip, drip, drip aspect of that as there are leaks that will come from it from interviews they do from leads they pursue.
You've already seen that in the past week, but this Comey showdown is huge. I mean, I've never heard more pathetic spin from government officials than I heard from our secretary of state and national security adviser about the president just letting off some steam to Russian officials about the crazy nut job FBI director he fired.
And now he is a little bit more at ease so he can pursue areas of mutual interest. I mean, that is inappropriate. You are talking Russian officials, who themselves are the target of an investigation for interfering in our election.
But this is an aspect of President Trump that is so self-destructive that he would allow himself to vent in that way or worse which perhaps compromises our relationship with Russia or those areas where we're going to have to be tough with them as well as we're constructively with the Russians.
It makes no sense and that drama will play out as Comey testifies. If he testifies and testifies publicly then what the president has said versus Comey said is going to be sassed out. Whether the president told the truth or did not tell the truth after apparently threatening the FBI director in the middle of an investigation.
So there's no question it will be a huge drama and we have this contrast with President Trump sticking to script in his first foreign trip, driving a particular message that's so different from the self- destructiveness that we've seen in the past couple of weeks.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But David Drucker, how effective do you think this foreign trip is? I mean, look at all the fanfare and ceremony and media attention. He is trying to shift away from what's going on at home to what he has called the biggest witch hunt in history.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Right. Well, you know, he is the guy that controls the witch. If he calms down, maybe less hunt. You know, it's interesting watching him overseas because it's a reminder that every time he acts conventionally, doesn't stray from script, and I'm talking about Neil Gorsuch, the new Supreme Court justice. I'm talking about getting the health care bill through the House --
BERMAN: And congressional address.
DRUCKER: The joint session speech. Great examples when he sticks to the script and acts conventionally and not like a disruptive outsider, he has success. When he strays and decides to go it alone and freelances, nothing but trouble.
And so you know, the question about the foreign trip wasn't so much will the president not be able to handle it. It was will he be able to stick to a script in a message and deliver on behalf of the United States and instead making it all about him.
And he's found himself in a great situation, his hosts are making it all about him. So far, he is making it all about the United States. If he keeps doing that then it is a contrast from what the American people have seen over the last two weeks preceding, which is a president sort off of the rails.
Here is a president acting presidential. Now, look, yes, it's a low bar, yes, he set low expectations, but it is all about the visuals because what we found in his numbers, they have always been higher in Trump districts and higher in Republican districts than they were elsewhere. Even those numbers are beginning to sag. He is in dangerous territory.
CAMEROTA: All right, it will be very fascinating to see what happens today and beyond. Panel, thank you very much for being here.
Now we want to issue a clarification to a story that we brought you last Wednesday. We reported on meetings that Congressman Justin Amash was having with his staff and with the Freedom Caucus to discuss the next steps regarding the president.
We've mistakenly reported that those meetings have taken place, but it turns out that we were working off incomplete information and those meetings did not actually happen. We are always happy to set the record straight.
BERMAN: We are following President Trump's trip in Israel this morning, but first, the vice president snubbed at Notre Dame. What happened during this weekend's commencement ceremony? That when NEW DAY returns.
CAMEROTA: President Trump touching down in Israel. He was greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. About two hours from now, Mr. Trump will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Israel's western wall.
This visit coming one day after a major speech to the Muslim world in Saudi Arabia. President Trump softening his tone on Islam and calling on all Muslim majority nations to drive out terrorists.
BERMAN: Federal authorities are working to determine if a fatal stabbing on the campus of the University of Maryland over the weekend was a hate crime. Investigators say Richard Collins III who was an African-American was visiting friends when he was approached by a white man and stabbed in the chest.
Police say the student, Sean Urbanski, is facing murder charges. Apparently, he belongs to a Facebook group, which has extreme views on women and minorities. The motive for the attack is unclear.
A group of Notre Dame graduates walking out of ceremonies yesterday in protest of Vice President Mike Pence, who was delivering the commencement address. The university estimated about 100 of the 131 graduates took part in the protest against the vice president's policies as vice president and as the former governor of Indiana where the school is located. You watch them walk out right there.
[06:40:04]CAMEROTA: You read that much better than I would have. I'm glad you took that one.
President Trump arriving in Jerusalem. Up next, it is a tale of two President Trumps. On the campaign trail, of course, you'll remember, he said Islam hates us. While yesterday, he called Islam one of the world's great faiths. So which one is it? We take a closer look when NEW DAY continues.
CAMEROTA: All right. We are having breaking news all morning for you because President Trump is on his first quite historic trip. He is in Israel and we are looking up in the sky here because we are looking for -- there it is, for Marine One. The president is about to land in Jerusalem.
This is the president's first personal trip to Israel. Of course, this is in his first few months in the White House. He wanted to let all of these countries know how important they were to him particularly Israel. It is landing now in Jerusalem.
[06:45:13]BERMAN: That is not Marine One right there. It is a helicopter in advance of Marine One. Again, the president will be landing very, very shortly. And Alisyn said over the next couple hours, you will see is frankly history. Fairly high drama in terms of international trips.
The president first will hold a bilateral meeting with the Israeli President Rivlin. We will see it. After his meeting Reuven Rivlin and joint statements from the two presidents, President Trump will visit the western wall in Jerusalem.
He will not be going, we were told, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He will go on what we are calling a private visit. The reason the Israeli prime minister will not be going is that the geography of the western wall is fraught with controversy.
CAMEROTA: Yes, and John just to clarify, earlier I had said, Israel's western wall, which of course, is the very controversy over its ownership. So it is in Jerusalem and it is where the president is making a point of going which sends a message loud and clear. So his visit is the second leg of his international stop. He departed Saudi Arabia. He delivered this major speech on Islam.
So here to discuss that, we want to bring in CNN chief international correspondent and host of "Amanpour," Christiane Amanpour as well as Haroon Moghul, senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy and the author of "How To Be A Muslim: An American Story." Great to have you both here.
We want to talk about the president's shifting tone. Quite dramatic how differently he is speaking in the past 48 hours about Islam than certainly he did as a candidate. Let's remind people just of a little taste of then and now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think Islam hates us. There's something there that is a tremendous hatred there.
This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people all in the name of religion. People that want to protect life and want to protect --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Christiane, he also went on to say that Islam is a great and wonderful religion. So who -- which Trump is it that people in the Middle East are listening to?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a good question. Obviously the leaders in that room were all listening to that President Trump. Knowing that the other President Trump was left on the campaign trail and that he has shifted rhetoric back to more or less traditional American foreign policy.
So he got a very, very warm gold plated welcome as you could see with those chandeliers hanging in that big opulent room with all those leaders hanging back. He said, you know, this is not about a sectarian issue.
But of course, all of the leaders in that room were Sunnis. There were no Shiite leaders and of course, the idea was essentially in non- geostrategic (inaudible) but to gang up against Iran, to try to isolate Iran.
And while the leaders in that room really did everything that they were told they needed to do for Donald Trump, you know, show him an opulent welcome, give him the very thick pile shag of the red carpet to walk down metaphorically and literally, and then to keep praising him.
There was a really funny reality I need to read from President Sisi, who is the strong man president of Egypt. He basically said to Mr. Trump after the speech, you are a unique personality that's capable of doing the impossible.
I agree, Mr. Trump responded cheerily and a few moments later, Mr. Trump complimenting him on his shoes. Now understand that this is what is happening on this trip. There is a lot of personal flattery of boosting Mr. Trump.
Determined to give him a good trip allow him to have something to divert his attention from the political crisis that he faces at home. But of course, the reaction on the street is somewhat different. It really is. The reaction on the street whether in in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Yemen and elsewhere.
CAMEROTA: OK. So here is Marine One now. The president has just landed in Jerusalem. We will continue to follow all of his steps for you as we continue this conversation. Haroon, so many were heartened to hear President Trump take a more gentle, softer, more inclusive tone on Islam but not you. You found what some of the things that he said disturbing in the speech in Saudi Arabia. Why?
HAROON MOGHUL, SENIOR FELLOW AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR GLOBAL POLICY: Well, I mean, I want to start by saying it's always nice when your president no longer thinks that you hate him. It's a good feeling.
[06:50:04]But it is a little weird that he pivoted so fast. He went from saying that Islam hates us that Saudi Arabia was the mastermind of 9/11, attacking the Clinton Foundation for taking money from the Saudis and in the course of one speech, he suddenly pivots.
So far that this speech sounded to me like it was written by a Saudi PR firm. It was exactly what Saudi Arabia wanted to hear and it's a little bit disturbing, as Christiane pointed out, that when you flatter Donald Trump, he says exactly what you want to hear.
So it makes me wonder is this actually good for America or is this good for Donald Trump's ego.
CAMEROTA: How do you explain the pivot?
MOGHUL: I think he was flattered. I think Saudi Arabia threw a lot of money at him. They threw out the red carpet. They put in a palace. They said all these really nice things about him and he wants to get away from tanking numbers and scandals at home so he goes abroad and suddenly everybody loves him and like him, but what he doesn't realize --
CAMEROTA: But he still chose Saudi Arabia. I mean, he could gone anywhere. So he chose Saudi Arabia. So clearly he wants to establish a good relationship with Saudi Arabia.
MOGHUL: And I think it is easy because the Saudis right now are desperate for the United States to get back in the corner and they are able to throw a lot of money at him because it's Saudi Arabia, they have ton of money. But if you look at the speech he gave, at the end of the day, it wasn't really about ISIS, it is about Iran. If the U.S. is basically being dragged into fighting Saudi Arabia's wars for it, we are not focused on ISIS and that part is what's disturbing to me.
CAMEROTA: Christiane, there was no talk with Saudi Arabia as far as we know about human rights abuses. In fact, the president said publicly we're not here to lecture other countries. We are not here to impose our will. We respect that other countries live as they want.
AMANPOUR: Well, exactly right. And you can imagine everybody in the human rights business, if you like, the human rights community and democracy community are upset about that. Because generally an American president will talk about human rights and democracy a little bit despite the fact that they say, you know, we get our best business done in private and not lecturing in public.
But the truth of the matter is the speech was a lecture, but not on America's values. It was a lecture on telling them to drive it out and drive it out. You remember the famous sort of refrain that he kept saying about radical Islam.
Even though we were told that he was never going to utter the words radical Islam, extremism. He did say Islamic extremism. We were told that that was because of exhaustion that he reverted (inaudible) and quickly said Islamist afterwards.
But you know, the bottom line here is as Haroon said, it's almost ABO, anybody but Obama. They wanted both in Israel and Saudi Arabia and Gulf region, they thought that President Obama was too far towards Iran with the Iran nuclear deal.
The tact too far away from involvement in the region. In other words, pulling out of Iraq. The tack too far away by leaving Syria to burn and letting everybody including Saudi Arabia and everybody else wage proxy wars there.
So this is a chance for Saudi Arabia to get the president to be on their side and realign the Middle East in that region.
CAMEROTA: All right, Christiane Amanpour and Haroon Moghul, thank you very much for all of the perspectives.
BERMAN: You are looking at live pictures right now from Jerusalem where President Trump just touched down. He will get out of Marine One very shortly continuing this first foreign trip of his administration. We will keep on it coming up.
BERMAN: Do not count us out. The Celtics pulled off a shocker beating Cavaliers in the game three of the Eastern Conference finals. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Yes, this is the biggest NBA playoff upset in 15 years. Celtics 16-point underdogs last night in Cleveland. They had lost by 44 in game two. They are without Isaiah Thomas. He is out for the rest of the playoffs.
But Marcus Smart coming up big for the Celtics, led them an amazing comeback after trailing by 16 at the half. Game tied in the closing seconds. Avery Bradley hits the three with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. Celtics win 111-108. Lebron James was not in the best of moods in the post-game interviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Couldn't get into a rhythm tonight. Is that what it was based on defense or not feeling it?
LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: No, pretty poor. What do you want me to say? It seemed like you ask a lot of questions when we only lose. Kenny, you always come around when we lose. I swear. OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: They expect to see a much better, more motivated Lebron in game four tomorrow night.
BERMAN: That is scary. Thanks, Andy.
CAMEROTA: I like how you acted though you are on the team. Very nice.
So it is very busy news day. We are following President Trump who has just arrived in Jerusalem. He is set to speak live with Israel's president. We will bring all of that to you the moment it happens. Stay with us.