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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Russians Discussed How To Use Aides To Influence Trump; Israel Admits "Pointed Correction" After Trump Intel Leak; New Pictures Show Shrapnel And Detonator Outside U.K. Arena; Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 24, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: Breaking news. Next, OutFront, Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitting critical information about contacts with Russians when applying for top secret security clearance. Plus, breaking news, on Russians trying to use Paul Manafort to influence Donald Trump. And more breaking news this hour, we have pictures of the powerful bomb that killed 22 people at that concert in Britain. It's a sophisticated bomb maker on the run tonight. Let's go OutFront.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news. A crucial security clearance emission. CNN is learning at this hour that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had with Russian officials when he applied for top secret security clearance. This is the form Sessions filled out. On page 76, which I hold here in my hand, it required Sessions to list "any contact with a foreign government or its representatives over the past seven years."
It includes specific mention of embassy and consulates. Sessions met at least twice with the Russian ambassador last year alone. On this form he didn't list either meeting. This comes as The New York Times reports Russians tried to use then Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to influence Donald Trump which adds to CNN's reporting that the Russians also sought to recruit Former National Security Michael Flynn.
We are covering these breaking stories from all details and we begin with Phil Mattingly standing by in Capitol Hill. I actually want to begin that with Manu Raju on the breaking news about Attorney General Sessions. Manu, you broke the story along with our Evan Perez. What are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, justice department officials tell CNN that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for the security clearance. Now, this new information from the justice department just the latest example of Sessions not listing contacts he had with Russian officials. Remember earlier this year, he came under weathering criticism from democrats after it was revealed that he didn't disclose the same contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation hearing.
Sessions had met twice with Kislyak last year including at the Republican National Convention. Now, he didn't note those interactions on this form, which does require him to list, "any contact he had or he or his family had with a foreign government or its representatives over the past seven years." Now, Sessions' initial failure to disclose these meetings to the Senate Judiciary Committee led Sessions to recusing himself from all matters related to the Russian investigation.
But Erin, he said that he does not recall discussing campaign matters with Kislyak which is why he said he actually didn't disclose it to the judiciary committee.
BURNETT: Right. Of course, that's what it said but I mean, here, you know, looking at the questionnaire, Manu, which you've seen, it says complete the following if you or any member of your immediate family in the past seven years have had any contacts with a foreign government, its establishment such as an embassy or its representatives whether inside or outside the U.S. It doesn't say in what capacity or what you talked about. It says, did you have a contact? How could he not have disclosed those meetings?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL TRUMP Well, my colleague Evan Perez is telling -- was told by a justice department spokeswoman that initially Sessions did list a year's worth of meetings with foreign officials on the security clearance form. But then he and his staff were told by an FBI employee who was assisting, filling out the form that he didn't need to list those meetings with the foreign ambassador that happened in his capacity as a senator.
Now, the FBI would not comment but we did get a comment from a legal expert, Mark Zaid who does assist in filling out these forms with -- including with some senators. And he said that "senators would to -- still have to reveal the appropriate foreign government contacts, assuming they were not at a foreign conference," which, Erin, these meetings were not at a foreign conference.
BURNETT: No. They were not. And just to be clear, when initially he listed meetings, do we know if the Russian Ambassador was among those listed or not?
RAJU: We don't, Erin. And we also know that there's actually been other issues here with other Trump associates, including Trump's son- in-law with his own security clearance form. He -- remember, Erin (INAUDIBLE) submitted his own security forms without listing foreign contacts and the Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn also being investigated for not disclosing payments from Russians entities on his own security clearance form.
Now, lawmakers on the senate and House Intelligence Committee tell me that it's possible that Sessions could be questioned about these meetings he had with Kislyak including in the - during the campaign season. Now, this testimony is something that actually Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for an interview with me last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK SCHUMER, SENIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM NEW YORK: Yes. I think -- look, I -- there are lots of questions about Jeff Sessions. That's why I called for him to resign. Yes. I'd be happy if they brought him before the committee and had him testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And of course, Erin, the big question lawmakers have is also over Jeff Sessions' role in firing of FBI Director James Comey. It was a question that was even brought up last week at a classified house briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Now, Rosenstein, I'm told was asked about this but declined to discuss Sessions' role. But we are told that he suggest that something that Special Counsel Bob Mueller may look into as well. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu. And I want to get to the other breaking story at this hour. Russia tried to influence Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. This is according to a new report in The New York Times in the past hour and it comes on top of CNN's reporting that Russia tried to do the same to the former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Phil Mattingly is OutFront on Capitol Hill. And Phil, what are you learning?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this report comes on the heels of that CNN reporting which basically showed that intelligence officials, Erin, were aware of intercepts of Russian officials talking about how they could influence top Trump advisors in order to get closer access to the president himself. Now, the basis for this actually first became public yesterday when John Brennan, the former CIA Director discussed how last summer he became aware of intelligence and information that made clear there were potential contacts here.
Now, that wants the FBI investigation, I asked Adam Schiff, the top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee who is at that hearing yesterday if he had seen the intelligence and if he could confirm what John Brennan said. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, it is the case. And we have been able to review it and I think the director quite appropriately provided that information to the FBI and I think the FBI investigation was initiated for good and sound reasons and I think it continues for good and sound reasons, but yes, the agency has been very cooperative with our request for information and documents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And his perspective on what that information contained and I know you can't talk about classified issues but was the way he summarized things, the concerns that summarized, is that kind of an accurate assessment based on your read of things?
SCHIFF: Certainly. I think his testimony was very accurate and I think based on what he was privy to it was perfectly appropriate for him to provide that information to the FBI for its analysis and further investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And Erin, this all comes as it becomes increasingly clear that for Michael Flynn, the issues here in congress aren't going away anytime soon. Obviously the senate intelligence committee issuing two new subpoenas trying to gather documents from him even after he asserted his fifth amendment privilege. Adam Schiff telling me that the House Intelligence Committee will also be issuing subpoenas soon as well. The effort really only ramping up after the special counsel Bob Mueller was named.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks you very much, Phil Mattingly as Flynn upping his defiance tonight. OutFront now, David Gergen who served as adviser to four presidents, Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, and Jason Miller who serve as senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign. I want to talk about this breaking news about about Paul Manafort and General Flynn.
But first, the news about Jeff Sessions. Juliette, you had filled out the same security clearance form, right? I'm just - let me just read it to everyone again here. Complete the following. If you or any member of your immediate family in the past seven years have had any contact with a foreign government, its establishment such as an embassy or its representatives inside or outside the U.S. Is there any question in your mind as to whether multiple meetings with the Russian ambassador would be included?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Not in my mind. Those are pretty rigorous reviews. And I do think that this is significant in and of itself because if those were one-on-one meetings in particular in his capacity as an adviser to the Trump campaign, which it appears that they are, then that's very different to say, well, I was on a senate committee, which you can imagine there is an exception.
What I would like to know and it would be good to figure out is if other senators or congressmen or women who became members of the Trump administration, what they disclosed because if they disclosed meetings that they had and Sessions did not, then it undermines Sessions' argument that everyone was doing this, in other words, no one was saying anything. I think also cumulatively, Erin, this is one of those other things where this data point with other data points matter.
Cumulatively you also have the fact that fill to disclose it in the hearings. So, once again, Sessions becomes a focus in terms of this investigation and in terms of his influence during the campaign.
BURNETT: And just -- let's just be clear, David, because Sessions did make the same claim, right? When he -- in the confirmation hearings for his position as attorney general. He excluded this information and here's how he answered the question to Senator Al Franken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL FRANKEN, JUNIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM MINNESOTA: If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator
Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: David, of course, the reality as we know, is that he was a surrogate for the campaign when these meetings happened. He's saying the campaign didn't come up. Nonetheless, those two things were concurrent. Advisor for the Trump campaign, meetings with the Russians, not disclosed there and not disclosed on this form. Does it add up to anything to you?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Sure. Heads-up to the fact he wasn't truthful. He didn't - he didn't fully disclose right in his defense. I must tell you I haven't filled out some of the those forms for a long, long time. But they're exhaustive. And you have to go hour after hour going over, you need legal help frequently. And just remember, Erin, when you read that question out it was on page 76.
GERGEN: Page 76. I mean there are 75 - at least 75 other pages in this disclosure. But, I think Juliette is right on the right point and that is this particular question is a serious question. It jumps outs out of the form, they're saying, were talking to a foreign government? I think in the form it does not give you - it does not exclude you, does not give you a pass. If you're a senator or a house member of the House of Representatives.
It is every citizen fills out the form has to disclose that information. They've had two recent meetings that were pretty obvious, so I'm baffled why he didn't list it, especially since he said he was innocent. But it adds -- it adds to the sense of these guys weren't playing straight.
BURNETT: Jason, if -- how do you get around that, that it adds to the sense that they weren't playing straight. He had these meetings while he was advisor to the Trump campaign. If there was nothing to them, why wouldn't you list them?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it would be remiss if I didn't start off by mentioning this again as another is an example of a leaked document that was put out there. This would most certainly result in jail time for whoever went and leak this out there. This wasn't something the DOJ --
BURNETT: That's a fair point. That is a fair point.
MILLER: And even as we talked in a moment here about The New York Times story, they even go out of their way to point out that whoever leaked the information could be prosecuted under law. But getting back to Senator Sessions for a moment here, this was a form that was filled out last year in 2016 in anticipation of coming in to the administration and I think the important point here is the fact that Senator Sessions had dozens of interactions with folks who -- whether they be ambassadors or different emissaries from foreign countries and the FBI employee he was working with said a number of those didn't need to be listed, so he followed that counsel.
Clearly they should have been listed on there. I think there's a - look, if this was a real problem or if this was an issue they would brought it to him right away but this is - they're trying to package this up, hand it off to the media and say, let's go and have another breaking news story to make it sound like a scandal.
BURNETT: But Jason, don't you think - don't you think if it involves the Russians and he knew that was a big issue at the time, you would just say, you know what, I'm just going to put that one on there, so it never have this problem, right? I mean, if there's nothing to see there, then put the there out there. Is there anything to that for you?
MILLER: But again, when we're talking 2016 when this form was filled out, the senator followed the guidelines that were put out in front of him and the recommendation from the FBI employee who told him and I think at a certain point here at these meetings, there's a - there's a relevance factor, an importance factor about what was actually discussed. I got to go back a moment ago to I believe it was Juliette who made the comment that this was -- a lot of this was while he was a surrogate for the campaign.
Look, if he meets with someone in his senate office and doesn't discuss that at all with the campaign in any sense, he's not acting a surrogate. He's acting as a U.S. senator. And so, look, I think the way that this came out today tells you everything that you need to know. This is a deliberate effort by - here we come again with the administrative state leakers who are specifically trying to attack the president and they're doing it by going after Attorney General Sessions.
GERGEN: Let me - can we just -
GERGEN: - and that is, do you think that these form going to filled out truthfully?
MILLER: I'm sorry. Was that for me, David? Oh, absolutely. And I think --
GERGEN: Yes. Do you think these forms should be filled out truthfully by someone applying for a security clearance?
MILLER: Oh, absolutely. And I think it -- it's also smart to go and get counsel, whether it's legal counsel or whether someone in the FBI to work with you on that to make sure that you're fully filling it out. And if - now, Attorney General Sessions was given the advice to not go and list some of these meetings, and again we weren't in the meetings, we don't know what all was discussed, although we know that the former senator and our attorney general said that the campaign was not discussed but he was advised not to go list some of those, they didn't rise to a relevance level, I'm assuming. And so, he followed the advice that he was given.
BURNETT: In his judgment, I mean, Juliette, do you buy that at all or do you buy that look? It involved Russia, Russia was an issue, just put that on there.
BURNETT: Because people are going to be interested and then you can say there's nothing to see there.
KAYYEM: You would -- you would think. It wasn't like Russia was a big surprise nor their influence - or attempted influences on the elections. And I think just, you know, with the other stories today if we could just, you know, on The New York Times story, I think there's a --
BURNETT: This is to Paul Manafort.
KAYYEM: The Paul Manafort, so it was their -- Russian -- we picked up Russian intelligence that they were trying to focus their efforts on changing policies. What needs to be clear and -- is there are series of things that Russia did, right, that we know. The WikiLeaks, the fake news that trying to get Manfort, the meetings, all that stuff. There is a group of things that the Trump campaign and his surrogates and maybe Trump himself did.
Those include promoting WikiLeaks, hiding these meetings, bringing the Russian ambassador through the back door, not disclosing financial dealings. Those two things are different pieces of evidence. And what this investigation is doing is figuring are there linkages to this.
KAYYEM: So rounding all of it, it's now these claims of obstruction of justice.
BURNETT: Jason, are you surprised to learn that Paul Manafort and General Flynn as we've reported and now The New York Times is reporting were actively being sought after by the Russians to influence Donald Trump?
MILLER: Well, again, let's be clear with what the story says, what the story says is that again, from highly classified information that was illegally leaked out, what it was saying that there was a group of Russians who thought that they could be potential targets. Now, that's a whole referendum on them and obviously they're having their interactions with the senate committee and the special counsel and things like that.
But it doesn't even say in the story that there was even any action to go and try to do anything with them or to try to go after them. And so, I almost have to stick up for him in a sense here and that it's saying that some folks essentially conspired to go and try to use them in some gamers, some pawn - some pawns but they never actually anything happened there. I mean, it doesn't say anything of the story --
MILLER: But here's, David, one final point, again, this though goes to the broader narrative of what we're seeing I think in the media right now where it become for too many in the media and for too many in this administrative state for the folks who've been here in Washington for years and want to be here for a long time afterwards, this has now become a beyond thunder dome death match where a binary choice where only one of two things can happen.
Either President Trump can lose or the administrative folks and many members of the media can win. And this is a very specific effort to go and attack President Trump. And I think most people reading the story get that.
BURNETT: Or is this, David, an effort to get at the truth because people have not been completely forthright so that people can decide for themselves, whether there's anything to be concerned about.
GERGEN: Well, the deputy attorney general, an appointee of the Trump administration decided that you needed a special counsel in order to investigate and get to the bottom of this. He does not think this is a great war between the administrative state and the president, one has to win, and one has to lose. What he's trying to figure out is are there individuals who have crossed the line and what were the Russians up to and did they collude with -- did they persuade, did they manipulate people?
And it seems to me, we don't know where this is going to end up. But what if there are two or three people who were singled out in the end, and Mueller -- Manafort may be one of them, Flynn may be one of them but the president didn't anything to do with it. It seems to me that is a very - that's a - there are lot of different outcomes which will not going to be a clear victory for the administrative state, quote or the president, you know, which more likely in the long run but I think we have to wait and see.
And I don't - you know, look, if somebody fails to fill out a form properly, that - you know, his violation of the rules of getting a security clearance and the public deserves to have some knowledge of what's going on behind the scenes. That's what we have in most investigations in the past. It's not some administrative state just laying for President Trump. It is the way we operate our legal system in order to bring people to justice and -
MILLER: And David, how do you explain these leaks?
MILLER: How do you explain illegal leak after illegal leak?
BURNETT: Well, maybe Jason because the people involved haven't been forthright and the people -
MILLER: Well, these -- look, these are - these are illegal leak after illegal leak with a specific intent of trying to terror down President Trump. I'm assuming it's -
MILLER: So, you didn't like it when it was attacking Secretary Clinton because that was terrible but now to this "telling the truth" or in other words, getting at President Trump, now it's OK.
BURNETT: Juliette? Final word.
KAYYEM: Jason, yes, I think another way to look at the leaks, we can have that debate, I think we should have a debate about the facts and where the evidence is going. I think another way to look at the leaks is that -
MILLER: There's no evidence.
KAYYEM: -- there are serious --
MILLER: There's no evidence.
KAYYEM: Excuse me. Excuse me. That there's - that what this also is about is concern about potential obstruction of justice at this stage. We know that that is what is likely part of the investigation. We have a lot of sort of bodies on the side at this stage now including Comey and yates. And so part of this is, so long as the White House continues to try to undermine or stop an investigation, whether it's the senate and house leadership or the administrative state leadership, you would anticipate these leaks. So it's not -- you can't just throw out, leaks are all bad or all good.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. I want to go straight now to the Republican Congressman Will Hurd, he's a former CIA officer, he's filled out all of these forms that's on the House Intelligence Oversight and Homeland Security committee. A lot to talk about. Congressman, I want to start with this form that we now know Jeff Sessions did not include information about his meetings with Russians. When -- you filled out this page, right? I would - I would assume. You were a CIA agent. Does it surprise you to hear that he did not include - he did not list any contact he had had with the Russian Ambassador?
WILL HURD, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE FOR TEXAS: Well, because I think the intense scrutiny that he knew he was going to go under, oversharing is probably better than undersharing. Also, you know - and a lot of these forms you talk about close and continuing contact, that those are the kinds of people that you report on the form because, you know, you don't report -- let's say you have a favorite restaurant and you go there every night and the person that is your favorite server is somebody from Spain. That person is not going to go on this form.
HURD: But in this - in this instance -- so we have to remember that and we also have to remember that 23 million of these forms were stolen by the Chinese a year and a half ago and everybody was outraged. Whether it's 23 million of those forms being revealed or one, we should - we should have -- we should - we should discourage this kind of sharing of information of leaking.
BURNETT: Yes. And I want to ask you - I want to ask you about the leaks --
HURD: The leaks was coming really bad.
BURNETT: Yes. Sorry, I just want - so on page 59, you know, they ask you about close and continuing for yourself. This is, you know, professional activity, so on this page, page 76, I just want to be clear, it actually doesn't ask whether it's closed or continuing. It's just have you had any contact? So this is I guess where you're getting up the point of oversharing, right? A one-on-one meeting which we know he had multiple times, more than once, at least twice with the Russian ambassador would certainly fit this description.
HURD: Again, knowing the focus and the scrutiny that you're going to receive, oversharing is probably a good strategy and especially now this in line with the revelations earlier where he had to go back to the senate to talk about his mischaracterization of some of the context, you know, this fits a broader narrative that many want to drive but I think this is, you know, an issue that ultimately Robert Mueller would be looking into to - when he do a broad review of the Russians involvement in our elections.
BURNETT: And I want to ask you also the development news tonight as of course we now know that Paul Manafort, that the Russians were hoping use him to influence Donald Trump, we've reported they also tried to recruit General Michael Flynn. And tonight, as you know, General Flynn is refusing yet another request of yours and your committee to provide documents. At this point, do you think he is covering something up? He has refused request after request after request. He's pled the fifth amendment. He's giving you guys nothing.
HURD: Well, I can't speak to his motivation on why he's making this decision, he is pleading the fifth. And I think when, you know, former FBI Director Mueller comes knocking, there will be a conversation about the extent of his - of his contact and what happened when and where. Also, just to mention, the Russians saying they're looking to go after somebody, it's just that. The Russians showing their intention. But that does not reveal whether or not -- BURNETT: The person acquiesced.
HURD: -- they were - they were acquiesced or whether they were successful. So in that case, we have to give people the benefit of the doubt but this is why it's important to have someone like Bob Mueller doing a thorough and meticulous investigation and looking down all these different rabbit holes.
BURNETT: Congressman, I want to ask you because Jason Miller raised this point and you just referenced the issue of leaks here. You know, it's a complicated issue, if we didn't have these leaks, we wouldn't know a lot of these things and these are pretty important things to understand about the people who are running some of the most institutions in this country. So without leaks, we wouldn't know this. And yet, these leaks as the New York times points out in its story tonight about Paul Manafort.
Current and former officials agreed to discuss the intelligence only in the condition of anonymity because much of it remains classified and they could be prosecuted for disclosing it, right? That acknowledgement. Today, Israel, the defense minister said they had to make a change, they had to make a pointed correction in their agent dealing with ISIS after the president shared highly classified information with the Russians which of course leaked to the Washington Post.
And today the United Kingdom very upset at the United States over leaked information related to the Manchester bombing. Do you think the people involved in these leaks should go to jail?
HURD: Providing classified information that is outside of your ability to share information is a violation of the law. And direct - former CIA Director Brennan who served under the Obama administration made it very clear yesterday that the leaking of classified information, you know, is a threat to our national security and people should be punished to the full effect. And I think this is something that everybody agrees.
And I would - I would push back a little bit on an earlier assumption that this information would not have come to light had it not been for these leakers, knowing that there are - there is a criminal investigation ongoing. There's two oversight hearings ongoing and our goal is to -- when all this is set and done, be able to make public as much of the information as possible so the American people can understand this.
BURNETT: But do you think that would even be a special prosecutor if this information hadn't been leaking out and causing the outrage or the confusion, the consternation that it has?
HURD: It's a good question. And I don't think we'll ever know but we have a special prosecutor, we have two oversight investigations and I think based on the hearing yesterday, I think it shows that the house investigation is on track and we're doing this in a bipartisan and thorough manner because at the - at the end of the day we have to make sure that the American people are confident in whatever turns out. And that's you have -- we have to be thoughtful. We have to be patient. And we have to follow the truth, wherever it may take us.
BURNETT: All right. Congressman Hurd, good to have you and I appreciate your time.
HURD: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And OutFront next, the breaking news. The first images of the bomb that killed 22 people in Manchester. You can see there the detonator which was found in hand of the terrorist. Is this the work of someone alone or is there a bomb maker on the loose tonight as officials now believe. And more breaking news, did a possibly fake Russian document actually make Jim Comey come out and talk about the Hillary Clinton investigation? Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she's at the center of this whole document and she is my guest.
BURNETT: Breaking news. New images tonight of the bomb that tore through a crowd outside the entrance to the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England killing 22 including children. These images, these are the first images here first obtain by The New York Times, they appear to be taken by British authorities, following the Manchester terror attack.
From what you look at, they appear to show the remnants of the backpack that was used to carry the bomb. Also, all that's left, of course, as you can see, shreds of fabric there with the name of it.
And in the next image, we're going to show you as a possible detonator, which was actually found and the severed hand of the terrorist which suggests that it could have been a more sophisticated weapon, which, of course, has officials fearing when it comes to building these bombs, as we saw in Paris, there are people who have that expertise and do that, and that person here could still be on the run.
Clarissa Ward is OUTFRONT with the breaking details.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, investigators say they do not believe the 22-year-old British bomber Salman Abedi, who blew himself up outside of this concert hall Monday killing 22 acted alone.
CONSTABLE IAN HOPKINS, GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE CHIEF: I think it's very clear that this is a network that we are investigating.
WARD: Hours ago, Abedi's brother was reportedly detained by a militia in Libya, which alleges that he was plotting to launch his own terror attack in Tripoli. The Libyan militia claims Hashem Abedi told them that he and his now dead brother were members of ISIS.
CNN is reaching out to the military and Western authorities for verification. U.S. military sources tell CNN, Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber had been in Libya for several weeks before the attack. Police say he was known to both U.S. and British intelligence officials. And investigators are now trying to piece together whether Abedi met with ISIS or al Qaeda operatives or received terror training while abroad. They also want to know who he was in contact with here in England.
Tonight, police continue to raid buildings across Manchester. They say they have made arrests in connection with the bombing in a frantic race to find anyone who may have helped Abedi build his bomb or plot his attack.
HOPKINS: This extensive investigation is going on and activity taking a place across Greater Manchester as we speak.
WARD: The prime minister has raised the terror threat to its highest level, critical, for the first time in a decade. Police have increased security at major sites across the country, including at Buckingham palace and St. Paul's Cathedral and armed officers continue to patrol Manchester.
WARD: With regards to those images that were published by "The New York Times", Erin, Manchester City Police said they would make no comment but British counterterrorism police said that this is damaging to the relationship, to the intelligence sharing relationship. They didn't specify the U.S. but they said it undermines the relationship and undermines the trust and perhaps most importantly, it undermines potentially the investigation to have sensitive information like this, photographs of a crime scene being leaked to the media.
And, Erin, this is not the first time we've heard British officials complaining about U.S. leaks from officials to the media, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Clarissa.
The leak issue is deeply significant across the board. I want to go to Paul Cruickshank, our terror analyst. Phil Mudd, former CIA counterterror official.
And, Paul, I want to start with the images "The New York Times" obtained. However they obtained them, they obtained them. They are now crucial here.
You see on this one what appears to be a detonator. According to "The New York Times", they said it appears to contain a small circuit board soldiered on the end. It was found in the hand of what is believe to be the terrorist.
They also found a battery. Obviously, a battery that they say is one more powerful than one often seen in whatever backpack bombs that these teams have seen in backpack bombs or suicide vests. When you put this all together, do you think this is the work of a sophisticated bomb maker?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, from "The New York Times" analysis, there seems to be some sophistication in these devices. Always difficult to make a determination based on a few pictures. And nothing we know about Salma Abedi, who was 22 years old, who was basically flunking out of university, they didn't have any sort of technical background in chemistry or anything suggests that it would be obvious that he would be the type of person that could put something like this together.
It's not impossible. He could have got some training in Libya or somewhere else. Given that there appears to be some degree of sophistication in this device, that may suggest that there could be another bomb maker or, rather, a bomb maker still at large, still alive who could still pose a threat.
[19:35:04] The British counterterrorism officials are telling me they haven't made final determination yet about who made the device, Erin.
BURNETT: So, Phil, you know, we also have, as you saw, those images. We have images of some of the nuts and screws that were used as shrapnel. According to "The Times", they actually were able to show these penetrating metal doors, deep scuffs and brick balls, which are obviously incredibly solid surfaces.
What does this tell you about the planning or sophistication of this bomb?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm with Paul. It's not clear that that would be a sophisticated device. That would not be a question I would have today.
I'd have two other questions. Number one, whoever built this device, if it was built by somebody else is in the business of building this. My experience is watching bomb makers around the world is, once they start down this path, they're not going to stop.
The second point is there is a ton of intelligence on that sidewalk. Where those items were manufactured and especially whether there are serial numbers on those items, you're going to go to the manufacturer and say exactly where are these sold? Are they sold in Libya, Germany, France, the U.K.? Are they sold to people over the counter, over the Internet?
A ton of intelligence along with fingerprints and, obviously, the residue from the device which you might find in the apartment when you start doing searches in Manchester.
BURNETT: So, Phil, I mean, you know, if there is someone else who build these bombs, who is building others of them, how likely, how quickly is it that he strikes again? We know that they have now the terror level at imminent threat in the U.K. We also know with the suspected Paris bomb maker, it was five months later with those Brussels attacks, right? So, they were able to evade, build and do something five months later as opposed to five days later.
How concerned are you now that there are more of these being built, that there are imminent attacks being planned?
MUDD: If there is somebody who built this device, I'm going to guarantee you that they have either built them or will build them. Let me give you the basic question I would have, is that individual in the U.K., or is that individual oversee somewhere where the British security officials might have less reach? If it's in the U.K., that individual is watching the news tonight, along with these photographs saying, they're on to us, we better move quickly?
The British are excellent at these kinds of investigation but they'll have to move quickly. If the individual is overseas, in an unreachable place like Libya, my first question is, whether this individual carry the backpack back from the Libya, really tough to get to and it might be months or years before we find the bomb maker.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And as this strategy unfold, we are learning tonight the names of a few more of the victims killed in the Manchester terror attack. Michelle Kiss was a mother of three. Also a daughter, a sister, relatives say family was her life.
Martyn Hett, 29 years old, close to his mother and active on social media where a friend wrote, he left this world exactly how he lived, the center of attention.
Nell Jones, one of her teachers saying Nell was a very popular girl, always smiling and always positive. Nell was 14.
Jane Tweddle was a school worker and the mother of three children. Co-workers called her bubbly, kind and generous. Three children without a mother tonight.
Marcin and Anjelika Klis, parents, they were there together waiting to pick their daughters. Their daughters are safe and now, of course, with no mother and no father.
Olivia Campbell, 15 years old was reported missing by her mother who now confirms that her daughter died in the blast.
And next, the breaking news. A possibly fake and secret Russian document that may have influenced the FBI director's decision about Hillary Clinton. The woman at the center of this alleged e-mail, Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and she's my guest with the answers.
And the president and the pope. Devout catholic, Sean Spicer, nowhere in sight, left in his hotel room.
We'll be back.
[19:42:25] BURNETT: Breaking news: "The Washington Post" reporting tonight a possibly fake Russian intelligence document may have been what drove the former FBI Director Jim Comey to go around Loretta Lynch instead of letting her Justice Department talk about Hillary Clinton and charges. At the center of the document is the former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Now, the document cites an e-mail that she allegedly wrote and
apparently said that Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a top member of the Clinton campaign that the Justice Department would not look deeply into whether Clinton reveals classified information on her private e-mail server. Obviously, that's stunning. A violation if true, right? That would be the Justice Department admitting we're not looking there because we just don't want to see it.
Well, Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is now OUTFRONT.
And, Congresswoman, look, this is obviously a significant breaking story here from the "Washington Post". Let me just get -- cut straight to the chase here. This memo says you wrote this email. Did you write any such email?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), FORMER DNC CHAIRWOMAN: Not only did I not write any e-mail, nor have I ever seen any memo or spoken to anyone at the FBI about this. But I don't even know the people that are supposedly, both the ones that the e-mail was sent to by me nor do I know any of the people that were referenced in the email. I have no relationship with any of them nor do they have one with me.
It's -- the entire -- this entire thing, revelation is disturbing. I also -- it wouldn't be responsible of me to speculate about whether or not the FBI or Director Comey made any decisions based on this false memo and nonexistent e-mail. But all I know is they also never spoke to me about it.
BURNETT: So, that let me just be very clear here, right? So, if they had this and, of course, "The Washington Post" is reporting that they did and it may have influenced the FBI director, right, to come out and make his announcements and say, not even let Loretta Lynch go ahead with as protocol would have it, a Justice Department announcement.
You're saying they never called you, they never have asked you, not then, not now, nobody's ever reached out to you about this to this point?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's right. The only conversation that I've had about this supposed memo is with "The Washington Post" reporter who asked about it. I have never seen the memo. I certainly never authored the e-mail that is supposedly referenced in it. I have not seen the memo as I said and I don't know the individuals that were referenced in the memo and they do not know me.
BURNETT: So, let me just be clear so people understand, right? The e-mail that the document cites does refer to an exchange between you and a man named Leonard Bernardo who is a member --
[19:45:06] WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Supposedly.
BURNETT: -- of a foundation founded by the billionaire George Soros.
So, you're saying tonight you've never heard of, you've never met, you've never emailed -- WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right.
BURNETT: -- this Leonard Bernardo?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I've never heard of this person. I don't know him. Have absolutely have no relationship with someone by that name. Wouldn't know him if I fell over him.
BURNETT: So, when Jim Comey came out and said he wasn't going ahead with charges against Hillary Clinton, right, instead of allowing Loretta Lynch to make that decision, he said in part, although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there's evidence they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive highly classified information. There is evidence that Secretary Clinton or any reasonable person should have known that in an unclassified system was no place for conversation.
We all know he wasn't going to charge her but he was incredibly critical, slammed her in these comments. Do you think that if this document didn't exist, anything would be different right now?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Erin, it would be completely and utterly irresponsible of me to speculate on whether this so-called memo, which would be a false document, manufactured, because it's certainly not referencing anything that actually is valid or factual. But it would be irresponsible of me to speculate why Director Comey made decisions and what he made those decisions on related to the dismissal or his belief that the case against Secretary Clinton should not be pursued.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What is clear is that the Russians were doing everything they could in a wide variety of ways to influence the outcome of the presidential election and this is yet another example of why we need an independent commission to really dive deeply and examine independently how the Russians tried to influence the outcome of our election and with whom they cooperated in order to accomplish that goal.
BURNETT: I want to ask you about the other news today, the CBO, right, coming out with the score of the current plan to replace Obamacare. OK, 23 million fewer Americans are going to have no insurance. That's what they say. The original bill was 24. So, this is one million better than that. But they're saying it would reduce federal deficits by about $120 billion.
What do you think this means for its fate in the Senate where they are looking at cutting the deficit?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think the Senate's already made very clear that they are going to ignore what came out of the House and start from scratch. Many senators on both sides of the aisle have said that they weren't going to look at a bill that had no hearings, that had not come out with a CBO score, which it now has that we voted on it before it had one. Now that we can see the devastating impact of this legislation, no wonder the Republicans didn't want a CBO score before they voted on it. In addition to that, people with preexisting conditions lose their protections, annual and lifetime caps can be restored so that people would be medically -- potentially medically bankrupt if they have chronic illnesses. People between 54 and 64 years old would see their costs skyrocket.
This is devastating legislation that would really gravely harm people and the CBO score today proves that.
BURNETT: Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
BURNETT: Sean Spicer, a very devout Catholic, was not invited to the president's meeting with the pope. A lot of other people were there, many of whom are not Catholic. Why did the president exclude his press secretary from a meeting by all counts that would have been the highlight of his life?
And Melania making small talk with the pontiff about what the president eats.
[19:52:40] BURNETT: New tonight, Spicer sideline. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, a Catholic, was not asked by President Trump to come to today's meeting with Pope Francis.
When asked about the snub, a source close to the White House told CNN, quote, wow, that's all he wanted of Spicer.
The Vatican limits the number of people who can visit the pope at one time. And, well, the president had plenty of people on that list. His wife, Ivanka and Jarrett, the secretary of state, the national security adviser H.R. McMaster, there were others. Also, Hope Hicks, the communications advisor, the president's former bodyguard and his social media advisor, all were on that list, but not his press secretary.
Mark Preston is our senior political analyst is OUTFRONT.
Mark, you got to the same parish as Sean Spicer. He is not just a Catholic. He's a devout practicing Catholic, as you've been saying. I mean, this is a very significant statement, that he was included.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No doubt about that. And let me just say this about Sean Spicer -- very well thought of within the church. And, you know, somebody who doesn't necessarily talk about his religion, Erin, but somebody who absolutely follows it and is observing -- and the -- his inability to actually be in that audience with the pope is really hurting him.
But it just says more about Donald Trump and his lack of loyalty to those who he surrounds himself with and his pettiness than it does about Sean Spicer not necessarily being in that group that met with the pope today.
BURNETT: I mean, you say pettiness, because a source close to the White House said it should be very much seen as a slight. We obviously know Jared and Ivanka went. They both, of course, happen to be Jewish. Sean Spicer, of course, for him, on a personally religious basis, this would have been an incredibly significant moment, in a different way than it would for them.
This does beg the question of why the president would be so petty?
PRESTON: Right, and it could be him sending a message that we've heard rumors that Sean Spicer is going to be removed from giving the daily briefing and will move to another position within the White House. You know what's interesting about this is that the reporters who Sean Spicer has been sparring with over the last three months came out very sympathetically and called out President Trump for not having Sean Spicer.
[19:55:00] And for our viewers out there, who look at his jobs, there are very perks, there are very long days. And for something like this to happen to Sean Spicer I think really is an indictment against Donald Trump and, again, his lack of loyalty.
If Donald Trump, Erin, plans to remove Sean Spicer from his current role, you certainly don't do it this way --
PRESTON: -- where you publicly try to humiliate him, and I think that's what's seeing here.
BURNETT: Look, go ahead and get rid of him. But he's done a lot for you, this deeply mattered to him, you just think, on a human level.
BURNETT: It was clear what the right thing to do was.
All right. Thank you very much, Mark Preston.
And next, Melania Trump making headlines. We'll be back.
BURNETT: First Lady Melania Trump has been getting a lot of headlines during Trump's first foreign trip. Today, they were for her dress, she wore black and a veil for her audience with the pope.
Kate Bennett is OUTFRONT.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): While this week marks the first overseas trip as commander-in-chief for Donald Trump, one can't overlook, it's also the first journey abroad for Melania Trump, and she's taking it by storm. This evening, touching down in Belgium, the fourth stop on a nine-day tour. Earlier today, she met the pope at the Vatican, where the pontiff joked with her about whether she's feeding her husband too many Slovenian sweets.
POPE FRANCIS: What do you give him to eat?
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Potizza.
BENNETT: Both Melania and Ivanka Trump wearing the required long sleeves, formal black clothes and head veil, which is protocol for women who have an audience with the pope.
The White House confirming the first lady packed a suitcase for each stop on her trip, and met with State Department officials to make sure she wouldn't make any cultural slipups. While visiting a children's hospital in Rome, she greeted them in Italian, hugging the kids, making drawings and evening posing for a few selfie selfies.
The trip has been Melania's moment to shine, even in the midst of a moment that got everyone talking, with the hand swat heard around the world, a questionable respond to her husband's gesture that quickly went viral. Even Pete Souza, Barack Obama's former White House photographer, was quick to troll, taking a picture of the first couple clearly holding hands.
But it's Melania's own nonverbal cues abroad that have given the world a clue as to who she is. Right from the start, in Saudi Arabia this weekend, the first lady was taking steps on her own, visiting a school and also stopping at a female operated GE service center. She tweeted she was impressed with the great strides being made towards the empowerment of women in that country, even with the attached image featuring women dressed in the traditional very conservative attire worn by most Muslim women in the region.
In Israel, she accompanied President Trump touring holy sites in Jerusalem, and took a moment to herself, when the couple later stopped at the holy western wall. And Melania even picked up some advice from the Netanyahu son on how to help Barron adjust to life inside the White House in the public eye.
YAIR NETANYAHU, SON OF ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I can relate a lot to what Barron is going through because I have been his age in my dad's first term.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look how it turns out.
BENNETT: Now, we should have more outings and events from Melania Trump, we'll actually hear from her as a final stop in Sicily, she's supposed to give remarks to U.S. military service members and their families, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kate. And, of course, we got to see that she speaks so many languages.
Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT any time anywhere on CNN Go.
"AC360" begins right now.