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Former CIA Director Confirms Russia-Trump Campaign Contacts; Terror in Manchester. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 23, 2017 - 15:00   ET



SAM WARD, EYEWITNESS: We immediately rushed to the balcony just to see what was going on. And it all unraveled from there, from police coming at 100 mile an hour down the road, to the ambulances lining up on the 5 station 4 court in perfectly orchestrated single file, and then proceeded down to the arena.

Every time six ambulances left, another six came in to replenish them. And that was the same with all the emergency vehicles. It was so well-orchestrated by the emergency services.


WARD: Yes, absolutely.


BALDWIN: Kudos to police, the first-responders 100 percent.


BALDWIN: But as I have been to some of these young girls and their mothers who are inside, the notion of thousands of people, those who could get out, racing out, and a lot of kids without parents.

WARD: Yes. Yes, totally.

So, when it first started to kick off within about five minutes of the first police vehicles coming past the apartment, the roads turned into mayhem. And there was lots of young families. You could see all the people carriers. You were stacked five or six people deep.

I seen two grown men sprinting, absolutely going on foot down the road away from the arena. It was -- it was -- there's no words to describe it. I have never seen Manchester like that, cutting like lights, everything. It was every man for himself.

BALDWIN: Were you just frozen? Were you paralyzed on your balcony looking down just at the sheer terror?

WARD: Yes, exactly. We didn't know what was going on at that point. There had been nothing on social media.

We hadn't seen anything. We hadn't even heard that there was an explosion. And then one of my flat mates just said that it's supposed to be an explosion and apparently a terrorist attack, and for a moment everyone just froze. You don't expect something like that to happen on your doorstep, let alone 200 meters away.

BALDWIN: What did you do?

WARD: We just froze. We just were trying to gather our thoughts.

We were texting family, letting them know that we were all right before they started to panic. And then it just became, what's happening next, what's happening next? Do we need to leave? We were paying very much attention to the Twitter feeds of Great Manchester police, the news outlets that we trust and just getting ready to move.

We was all ready to go.

BALDWIN: I was just talking to one of these police officers just in commercial break. And he was saying we can't move closer simply because there is still debris, pieces of clothing, bandages, blood just on the other side of that bridge. So, that is essentially your front yard right now.


WARD: Yes, literally.

BALDWIN: Then, today, you were at the vigil.

WARD: Yes, I was at the vigil, yes.

BALDWIN: I was there for -- I wanted to stay longer. But I needed to come back and do television. But it was incredible.

You are walking through people like this.

WARD: It was an incredible turnout.

BALDWIN: It was full. Tell me about it.

WARD: I have never seen Manchester turn out like that before. I live and work in the city center. And the show of force, the Mancunians coming together, it was just incredible to show that this happened 12 hours ago, and, all of a sudden, we are all here showing support. We won't be defeated. We're Mancunians and we're going to prosper together.

BALDWIN: Some of the stories I am hearing, I think it was your prime minister, Theresa May, saying terror attacks like this bring out absolutely the worst in the human condition, but also the best as well, and acts of kindness from all these little girls and children who needed rides home and were stranded and taxi drivers coming out to hotel rooms.

WARD: Yes, it was incredible.

The free taxis were the start of it from a lone woman taking in 50 children into the travel lodge just up the road, to even throughout the day today, you could tell there was a sense of community on the streets of Manchester today, something that we have not seen for a while.

And everyone was looking over their shoulder, but also looking out for each other. It was really nice to see. I have just come from a soup kitchen up in the northern quarter there. And...

BALDWIN: Doing what?

WARD: So, every Tuesday -- obviously, it hit today. Every Tuesday, we get together with the restaurant in Manchester, cook once a quarter. They bring out loads of restaurant-quality food. The turnout is incredible.

We provide mental health support, first aid. And it all comes together. And, tonight, the show of force tonight at the soup kitchen was incredible, people genuinely just wanting to have a conversation with the homeless. As you are probably aware, a lot of the homeless last night were the first-responders.

BALDWIN: Jumped in and helped.

WARD: Yes.


BALDWIN: So glad you brought that up.

WARD: Yes, we've heard some incredible stories tonight at the soup kitchen.

Two guys rushed to someone who had been caught on the side. They had been lifting their legs up, stopping the blood, until the ambulance arrived and they took over. And there's 100 of those stories tonight at the kitchen. And it's just everyone came together, no matter from what walk of life.

BALDWIN: Sam Ward, thank you so much for taking the time.

WARD: Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Your city has been just beautiful to us. We just saw some random woman giving food to the police officers. Thank you very much for taking the time with me.

WARD: Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: I'm so sorry that this has happened here.

We have been talking not just to people who are eyewitnesses and live in the area, but also a number of families. I have talked to moms who gave their daughters Ariana Grande tickets for Christmas, and the daughters were literally at home counting down, scratching off the days to finally be able to have this date arrive here in May to see their idol. And to think that these young people went to this concert in hopes of

the best night of their young lives so far, 10, 11, 12 years of age, some of whom didn't leave, people are heartbroken.


In addition to that, some people haven't actually heard from their loved ones. And the issue is, there are some 60 injured, eight different hospitals and a lot of these young people aren't conscious yet in the hospitals. And so you have parents who can't reach their sons or their daughters, including two parents who have not heard from their daughter still.

Her name is Olivia Campbell. She is 15 years old. She went to this Ariana Grande concert, and we have just talked to the couple.


CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL, MOTHER: Olivia is just a bubbly child, cheeky, as cheeky as anything. And if you are feeling down, she will make you laugh. If she can't make you laugh, she will hook you until you're smiling again.

She is always there for everybody, no matter how she is feeling. She will put everybody else first. She is just adored by so many people that knew her. Just cheeky.

PAUL HODGSON, STEPFATHER: Me and Oli have a love-hate relationship.


HODGSON: We love to hate each other, but we still love each other.


HODGSON: And it's -- we have a good relationship. And it is all done in humor.

CAMPBELL: You can't stay angry with her because she will just say something stupid to you and you just start laughing at her.


CAMPBELL: And you can't -- I can't shout at her when she has been naughty or anything, because she just makes me laugh.

HODGSON: And she is a very, very grown-up teenager, which we -- having no problem at all with her going to see the concert.


HODGSON: The young lad got the tickets for his birthday and asked Oli to go, knowing Oli loved to sing it, always a singer herself. And she likes singing her type of music.

CAMPBELL: Yes. HODGSON: Yes. Yes. It was...

CAMPBELL: It was like a dream come true to her.


HODGSON: She wanted to do it. She wanted to see it.

And as far as we were concerned, Manchester on the metro, 20 minutes away, a young girl.

CAMPBELL: Hundreds of people.


HODGSON: Hundreds of people. It should be safe.

CAMPBELL: It was half past 8:00.

She has said the supporting acts, she said they were amazing. She was waiting for Ariana to come on. And she was so happy. And she thanked me and said she loved me. And that was the last I heard from her.

I got a phone call from her dad about at 20 past 11:00. He asked if Olivia was home. And I said, no, why? The concert is obviously over. (INAUDIBLE) He said; Charlotte, stop. There has been an explosion at the arena. I am heading to Manchester now to try and find her.

I straight away got on the phone to the police. Then I phoned Paul, because Paul was in North Hampton working, and informed him of what was happening.

I was told by the police there wasn't much they could do at the time because it was so fresh. I just had to sit and wait. I eventually got news that they were starting to be transferred to hospitals.

So, I started calling hospitals. I was constantly on the phone to her dad, to Paul, to everybody. It was on Facebook. And the police said get it out on social media, so somebody can find her. Somebody might see her, which we did.

A good friend of ours got it on to Twitter for us. It has gone mad from what she has done. At 3:00, I think it was, they finally released a number (INAUDIBLE) gave a brief description of Olivia. And she was then registered as a missing person.

HODGSON: Number 13.

CAMPBELL: Number 13.

At that point, I phoned Paul and told him. And he said he, enough is enough, I'm coming home, because we thought she would have just walked home by that point.

And we are no further on than we were then. She's just no...

HODGSON: The police are trying to track her phone. She has an iPhone 6s. We have got the...


HODGSON: Number, even though the phone is off, switched off.

CAMPBELL: They are hopeful that they can still track it.

HODGSON: They can still track it. By tracking the phone, we can prove one of several things.


Did she lose the phone in the place, or does she still got the phone on her? If she has still got the phone on her, then we have a good chance...

CAMPBELL: ... of finding her.

HODGSON: ... to find her.

But we need to find that phone to find -- to solve where -- is she there or is she not there? And then at least we can get a start to answers, because we got no answers at the moment.

We have got to a point where we have searched and searched and we've searched. We can only do so much tonight. Tomorrow -- we are going to be back out again tomorrow. I'm going to be back out. And we're going to do it all over again. And we will do it every single day until we find that little girl.

Whatever it takes, I'm going to find her. I'm going to bring her home, whatever.

All we ask is if anybody -- we're sharing the pictures. There are several pictures out there now of her -- that people carry on sharing. I know it might be getting boring for people. And I know it might be getting repetition. But if one person who hasn't seen it sees it, and that one person sees her, then we get her back.

That's all we ask. We don't want much. Our thoughts also go out to all the other parents who are in the same position as us, and, sadly, to the parents that have lost their children (INAUDIBLE) our hearts go out to them as well.

At this present moment, we just need our Oli back.

CAMPBELL: We are hearing absolutely nothing at the moment.

We have given a full description of her birthmarks, markings, piercings, everything, what she was wearing, everything. And we've now just been told to wait. She knows -- if she has lost her phone, she knows my number off by heart. She knows to find somebody. She knows to jump in a taxi and come home.

HODGSON: We've always said, if anything ever happens, you can't get home, you jump in a taxi. CAMPBELL: Yes.


CAMPBELL: She knows to find an adult, a police officer, anybody.

HODGSON: And she has got the guts...

CAMPBELL: To do it.

HODGSON: ... just to walk up to somebody and go, I need to use your phone.


HODGSON: And this is a stumbling block that we can't get over. (INAUDIBLE)

CAMPBELL: I love her so much. And I want her home. I need her home. She is my baby. And I miss her so much. If she is out there, just phone. Just phone. I will be there. I don't care where she is. I will be there.

HODGSON: I would just say one final thing. We would just like to say thank you to every single person that shared, that has commented, that send their love.

We do appreciate it. And (INAUDIBLE) all you thank when that little girl is back.


BALDWIN: I have no words, two grieving parents, nearly 24 hours now, and they want Oli home -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: There are no words, Brooke. Thank you so much.

We're going to be back with you in a moment as you continue to cover that story there in Manchester.

We do have breaking news, though, out of Washington, the former director of the CIA saying the Trump campaign did have contact with Russia. Here what is we are also learning, that the White House inquired about whether President Trump had the power to shut down the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign.

This is CNN's special live coverage.



KEILAR: Welcome back. I am Brianna Keilar.

And we will soon go to Brooke live. She is reporting from Manchester, England, on the latest there on the terrorist bombing, but first to the deepening intrigue in the investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Another incident appears to show that President Trump tried to influence the outcome.

Multiple current and former officials confirm what was first reported in "The Washington Post," that President Trump asked two top intelligence chiefs to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia.

The intelligence leaders were Director of the National Security Agency Admiral Mike Rogers there on the right of your screen, and the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. Director Coats would not confirm the story when he went before the House Intelligence panel today.


DAN COATS, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I have always believed that given the nature of my position and the information which we share, it is not appropriate for me to comment publicly.


KEILAR: And joining me now, our CNN chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, of course, the anchor of "THE LEAD" and "STATE OF THE UNION."

Give us some context to this story and also those comments are interesting, because he could have said, we didn't discuss anything.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Right. He could have denied it. He did not. He also didn't confirm it. But one would think, with such a stark accusation out there and sources telling CNN and "The Washington Post" and others about this, that, if it were not true, he would have denied it.

The context, at least according to a U.S. official who was briefed on the matter who spoke with Evan Perez, appears to be that White House officials were unsure of whether or not the president's power over the FBI extended to getting him to stop an investigation or stop the investigation into Michael Flynn more specifically, as well as they also didn't know whether or not it was appropriate for the president to enlist the intelligence chiefs in an effort to rebut or undermine such an investigation, which is certainly unusual.

KEILAR: And we have all of these data points, back in February, the chief of staff talking to the FBI.


Just they were trying to clearly get some cover to have people out there, but inappropriately so, say, look, nothing to see here. Now we know that President Trump talked to the DNI, talked to the NSA, looking into this I guess legal cover to maybe do something. At what point does this become obstruction of justice, or is it

falling short of that?

TAPPER: Well, first of all, obstruction of justice is a specifically legal term that has the word corruptly within it.

And that for a lot of people is a bridge too far. But we should differentiate two different things. One is the public case, people like Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, trying to get people in the intelligence community to say publicly there is no evidence of collusion or whatever they were trying to get him to say.

Same thing with the intelligence chiefs. That is just -- in one account, according to Evan Perez and the official he spoke to, they were trying to get current intelligence officials to say what James Clapper had said in March, which was that by the time he left the intelligence -- DNI, he was not wear of any evidence proving collusion.

That said, that is the public case. More concerning, I think, is the private case being built up, telling the Russians -- President Trump telling the Russians that he just fired Comey and he used to have a lot of pressure, now that pressure is gone, and account after account, President Trump, what he told Lester Holt.

When he was making the decision, he was thinking of the Russia investigation. The account, according to a Comey memo, that he tried to get Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn, all of these are behind the scenes or in some cases admissions in front of the cameras, but of decisions made behind the scenes, in which a decision was made to fire James Comey.

And, in that firing, that is the big question. Was that firing the -- was the reason for it to stop an investigation? And if that can be proven, Republicans are saying that that's going to be a big problem.

KEILAR: Republicans are saying?

TAPPER: Marco Rubio said that to me.


TAPPER: Not specific about President Trump, but if any president would stop an investigation to try to -- were to ask for an investigation to be stopped and that could be proven, that would be a big problem.

And people -- remember, an impeachable offense doesn't actually have to be against the law. You don't have actually to break the law to commit an impeachable offense. It is just what Congress decides they consider to be an impeachable offense.

KEILAR: Very good point.

Jake Tapper, thank you so much for that. And, of course, we will see you in a few minutes on "THE LEAD." This news is dropping as another bombshell is coming out today from

Capitol Hill, the former director of the CIA testifying that people involved with the Trump campaign had contacts with Russian officials and that those contacts -- quote -- "worried him."

John Brennan went before the House Intelligence Committee, saying this:


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.

And it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals. I don't know whether or not such collusion -- and that's your term -- such collusion existed. I don't know.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What was the nature of the information?

BRENNAN: It's classified. And I am happy to talk about it in a classified session.

GOWDY: And that would have been directly between the candidate and Russian state actors?

BRENNAN: That's not what I said. I'm not going to talk about any individuals.


GOWDY: But that was my question. And you answered it. You didn't answer it that way.

BRENNAN: No. Yes, I responded to your query. I am not going to respond to particular elements of your question, because I think it would be appropriate for me to do so here.


BRENNAN: So, I can only repeat what I said, which is that I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and that served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion, cooperation occurred.


KEILAR: I want to turn now to Jeffrey Smith, the former general counsel at the CIA. He also advised Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.

I want to ask you about John Brennan.

But, first, Donald Trump asking two of the top intelligence officials to basically give him cover when it comes to this investigation into ties between his campaign and Russia, what do you think of that, as an intelligence professional?

JEFFREY SMITH, FORMER CIA OFFICIAL: It is deeply disturbing. Excuse me.


We saw this once before in the Nixon era, where President Nixon tried to use the CIA to stop the FBI investigation of the Watergate break- in. And that activity was deeply offensive then. It is still offensive now.

And what's unsettling is that the president tried to do this. And it suggests to me that he doesn't have a very good grasp of history, nor does he have a very good grasp of why his powers are limited. The notion that the president could somehow stop or interfere with a criminal investigation involving him is deeply distressing, and he should not do it.

KEILAR: I have talked to Republicans who know Don McGahn, counsel, White House counsel, very well. And they have a hard time placing blame with him when it comes to this. They just say, it is not like him to mess something up like this.

But what do you think -- and, obviously, I know we are operating with some limited information here -- about that President Trump should be getting some counsel on these things? But is it also possible that he is freelancing, that he's just calling people up on a whim?

SMITH: I don't know whether Trump. I don't know Mr. McGahn. But that seems to be what's happening.

And what one reads about the president is, his grasp of history is shallow and that if -- in fairness to him, he needs to get a better understanding of why his powers are limited, not just that they are limited, but why they are limited.

We have a republic that is based on the rule of law. Independent investigations are critical. Independent intelligence is critical. And we just have to maintain that. He cannot interfere.

KEILAR: An inquiry into the ability to stop this investigation between Russian intelligence officials and whether there could be ties, substantive ties, with the Trump campaign, are you surprised that someone would even ask that? I mean, on its face, it seems pretty obvious that you wouldn't want to go there.

SMITH: One would think.

And I don't -- it is very hard to know why he is doing what he is doing. I think he is undermining his own presidency, he is undermining his credibility in the rest of the world.

And we all want this president to succeed. And one has to hope that he begins to learn and that he begins to listen to people who know what they are doing, because whether one agrees with him on policy or not, we don't want a president who is undermining the presidency and generally the position of the United States as really the great leader of the world.

KEILAR: Jeff Smith, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time today.


KEILAR: And, next, we are back to our breaking news, investigators in Manchester are calling this case a fast-moving investigation. Police say they have identified the bomber. Was this the act of a lone attacker or part of a wider network?

CNN's special live coverage from Manchester next.