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President Trump Meets Pope Francis; Cavs One Win Away from NBA Finals; Brennan: Sufficient Evidence to Warrant Russia Probe. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 24, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:23] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump holding an historic face-to-face meeting with the pope, Pope Francis, of course, at the Vatican. The president receiving a warm welcome after clashing with the pontiff a little bit during the campaign.

CNN's Sara Murray live in Rome for us.

What a moment for the president and for the pope.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was a big moment. Certainly from what we have seen and heard out of that meeting, it was a much warmer meeting than maybe some had expected when the two of them got together after they met privately. President Trump, in fact, said, I won't forget what you told me. Unclear what they shared in their private meeting. But they talked about the promotion of peace.

President Trump, of course, gave a gift to the pope. He shared with him a first edition of the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Among some other trips. So, this was a very big ceremonial stop for them.

After that, the president and first lady visited the Sistine Chapel. They toured that. They toured St. Peter's Basilica.

And remember, this is against a backdrop of President Trump and the pope in a very sort of surreal moment exchanging barbed words during the presidential campaign. It was then candidate Trump who called the pope's rhetoric disgraceful after the pope appeared to take issue with the candidate Trump's immigration and refugee policies at the time. Saying anyone who promotes building barricades instead of building walls is not a Christian.

This is just the beginning of a busy day for President Trump. He and the first lady will head on this evening to Brussels, ahead of that meeting with NATO leaders tomorrow.

Back to you, guys.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Sara, very interesting to watch all of that video from the visit with the pope. Thank you very much for being there reporting.

So, while the president is away, Washington is crunching the numbers of his first budget. Who are the winners and the losers in the Trump's spending plan? This affects every single one of us and our panel is going to break it down, next.


[06:37:15] CAMEROTA: President Trump wrapping up the third leg of his overseas trip in Italy where he met with Pope Francis. The two clashed publicly before on climate change and refugees among other things.

Let's bring back our panel. We have Errol Louis, Jackie Kucinich and David Gregory.

There was a lot of question about how this visit was going to go. They don't see eye to eye on things. And, in fact, when Chris interviewed Donald Trump during the campaign, Donald Trump made some ominous predictions for how it was going to go.

Should we recap that?

CUOMO: Yes, and I think it was a good look at the change between the candidate and the president that we saw in the meeting with the pope. Take a listen when we talk about the pope who had strong words for Trump during the campaign.


CUOMO: You meet the pope. Pope Francis comes.


CUOMO: There's a translator there.

TRUMP: Right.

CUOMO: And he says, oh, Mr. Trump, this is very nice. And then he says, you know, I want to tell him something. The translator says to you the pope believes that capitalism can be a real avenue to greed. It can be really toxic and corrupt. And he is shaking his finger at you when he says it.

What do you say in response to the Trump?

TRUMP: I'd say, ISIS wants to get you. You know that ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican. You have heard that. You know, that's a dream of theirs to go to Italy.

CUOMO: He talks to you about capitalism and you scare the pope?

TRUMP: I -- no, no. I'm going to have to scare the pope.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: OK. By all accounts, that did not happen, David Gregory, he did not say to the pope ISIS is coming to get you. He said I will never forget the words that you said. Basically he said something very gracious.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, yes, as we Catholics say, barux hashem. Thank God.


GREGORY: That he didn't say that ISIS is coming to get you.

But by all accounts, this was an appropriate, respectful, reverential meeting with a head of state and the head of the Catholic Church, a man of enormous significance around the globe as voice of moral conscience and humility. I think the pope plays just a really important role and I think it's important for a president to go see the pope and I'm sure they had a constructive conversation.

Look, I think, in some ways, too, this is a very clear example of how there are areas where the president evolved as a candidate.

CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: And now that he is president is going into situations understanding he represents America, understanding that he has something to learn and to gain from these encounters. I hope that's the case.

It doesn't mean there weren't areas of disagreement that perhaps happen in subsequent meetings, not necessarily the meeting with the pontiff, but in other meetings that we had today.

CUOMO: Look, and you have to give -- they didn't have to meet with the pope on this trip. The president wanted to do it. This is not a great match up for President Trump. I mean, I spent a lot of time studying Pope Benedict and we went down to Argentina and took a look at his time as Bergoglio and the cardinal there. I mean, he is against so much of what President Trump represents.

[06:40:01] And yet, the president went there as a representative of the United States, did it the right way. And that deserves respect.

CAMEROTA: All right. So, let's talk about what's happening today and particularly with the budget that President Trump has put out, because it is not getting a warm reception, Errol. The budget, let's put it up for people so that everybody understands what the latest is.

Here are the winners are losers.

Winners: the U.S. military get 10 percent more in the budget. Border security. There is money in there for the border wall that the president wants. Law enforcement gets money. School vouchers as you know are important, school choice to the president. New parents because of some of Ivanka's family leave ideas. Here are the losers in this: Medicaid billions of money, of dollars

slashed from over the next decade. Programs for poor children and the poor. Student loans are going to be harder to pay back. Disability payments. The EPA and farmers.

What do you see, Errol?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, it's devastating. It's not just cuts. It's not just simply reduction in SNAP, which we colloquially refer to as food stamps. It's a major cut.

And it's sort of shifting a lot of the burden back to the states, along with some vague, but sort of ominous language about giving states the ability to sort of change their eligibility requirements on something like the earned income tax credit, which is one of the big successes of the last generation, talking about restricting use to it, cutting the absolute amount as well as restricting it to people with a Social Security number, which kind of throws off some of the logic and calculus of it.

So, yes, there's a real fight kicked off. A number of Republican senators pronounced it dead on arrival.

CAMEROTA: It is grim.

LOUIS: These are programs -- I mean, you cannot tell a U.S. senator that Meals on Wheels, money of -- food for seniors is now going to be off the table.

CUOMO: And the rationale is the problem. You have problems on two levels, Jackie. One, Larry Summers, go online yourselves, read what he said and his analysis of this budget. It seems to double count savings. It hasn't been manifested yet in their tax program to offset his spending cuts.

And then you have the second larger problem, which is political one that goes back to the difference with the president and pontiff. You know, when you cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, food stamps, really targeted towards kids, and the explanation is, we're going to be measured by how much money we give to Medicaid for the states, and SNAP. We are going to be measured by how many people we get off the program.

Now, those are heavy words because it seems, yes, you're going to get them off the program --


CUOMO: -- by having them dropped. And where will the safety net be for the most vulnerable? It seems to send the message that god will help those who god has helped already. And everybody else, good luck.

KUCINICH: Well, right. As you said, it is not they are raising them up and making their lives better, which is what candidate Trump promised. They are dropping them from the program. It's also dropping them in states where governors have to deal with this. And that is not getting a very good reception from that avenue.

But it's telling when you have someone like Mark Meadows, a very conservative Republican from North Carolina, saying that, we can't get rid of Meals on Wheels. That is too conservative for us.

Also telling, the president is not here to sell his own budget. He's abroad. Now, the White House is saying it is a timing thing. That said, for a president who is not into policy and who needs to back up people, Republicans, who stand up for his budget, he is not really giving them much incentive to do that by being across the Atlantic.

CAMEROTA: All right. Panel, thank you very much. We will see how it unfolds today.

CUOMO: All right. Big basketball news. Everybody is getting really for the finals and seems the Cavs are back on track, now one win away from a third straight meeting with Golden State for the big NBA final.

Details in the "Bleacher Report", ahead.


[06:47:58] CUOMO: The Cavs just a win away from heading back to the finals.

Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report".

And a nagging question even after last night: Is LeBron taking his foot off the gas making his team step up or is he just out of his groove, my brother?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I don't know, Chris. He's gotten foul trouble last night. That caused him to have a kind of a subpar game in terms of LeBron standards.

But you know what? Pretty much, everyone expects the Cavs to go on, to win the series, move on and play the Warriors. In the game four, the fans in Cleveland, they were nervous. They were down 10 at the half. Like I said, LeBron was in some foul trouble.

And this happened, Kyrie Irving rolled his ankle in the third. But check him, after the fans fan is panicked for a second, he just laces those shoes up even tighter, get back out there. He has 21 points in the quarter, helping the Cavs build a big lead.

He ended with a playoff career high 42 points in this one. LeBron would chip in with 34 points. Cavs win 112-99. Game five tomorrow night in Boston.

The Ottawa Senators meanwhile holding a moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester attack last night before game six of the Eastern Conference Finals. Senators had to have this one to stay alive in the series, and they were doing whatever it took to slow down Penguin star Sidney Crosby.

Check it out: even squirting him with a water bottle. This game tied at 1-1 in the third. Mike Hoffman comes through with the goal. Senators win 2-1, forcing a winner take all game seven tomorrow night.

You know what they say, Alisyn, in sports, where the most exciting thing we have is a game seven in the Stanley Cup playoffs. So, definitely something to look forward to tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure the squirting of the water bottle was that effective.

SCHOLES: Well, Sidney Crosby didn't have that great of good game. So, maybe it was.

CAMEROTA: Maybe it is. Yes, good point.

All right. Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: So, former CIA chief John Brennan testifying about connections between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign. We will break down his testimony and Washington's reaction.



[06:53:25] JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I don't know whether or not such collusion and that's your term, such collusion existed. I don't know. But I know there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.


CUOMO: Former CIA Director John Brennan testifying before the House Intel Committee about the investigation of the contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. This testimony was forceful. It wasn't his job to develop evidence of collusion. It was to give intel and he said, as the time he left, he hadn't seen any proof of collusion. But the investigation must go on. Those are his words.

Joining us is CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd.

Phil Mudd, to those who do not want to believe there is any collusion. They say John Brennan just said it. There is not proof. They have been investigating this forever. There are leaks all over the place and no evidence of actual collusion.

This is a hoax. The president is right. Your response?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, Chris, it's painful that you're the first person I speak with in the morning. But let me give you a clear picture --

CUOMO: When you laugh. CAMEROTA: I know I encourage him, because I think it's funny.

CUOMO: But when he turns it on you --

CAMEROTA: He never turns it on me.

CUOMO: Mudd, you'll only be on the show after this.

CAMEROTA: And we're going to happen.

MUDD: Let's -- Chris, let's watch over the next day or two because Sean Spicer and the White House have consistently misportrayed what officials are saying. Let me give you a clear distinction between intelligence and investigations.

The intel guys are going to get the intelligence. That is, for example, intercepts of Russian communications showing at most one half of the story and more than likely significantly less than one half.

They do not have visibility that is intel guys like the DNI, the director of national intelligence, and CIA director, into the significant part of the investigation that's conducted by the FBI. Interviews of American citizens. Looks into travel, into their financial records. So, of course, the intel guys are going to say, I saw some smoke when Russian people talk about their interactions with the Americans.

But there's no way you can look at one half of the conversation and draw conclusion abou8t collusion.

CAMEROTA: I don't know, Phil.

MUDD: Oh, yes, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I hear you. I understand exactly what you are saying and, of course, you are right. But it ends up being frustrating to people listening, because it devolves into this debate over semantics. Intel versus evidence, and, in fact, it got a little heated with Congressman Trey Gowdy.

So, let me just play for this for you and then you can respond. Watch this.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did you have evidence of a connection between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors?

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: As I said, Mr. Gowdy, I don't do evidence.

GOWDY: I appreciate that you don't do evidence, Director Brennan. You and I both know what the word evidence means. It's a really simple question. Did evidence exist of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors at the time you learned of 2016 efforts? BRENNAN: I encountered and I'm aware of information and intelligence

that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.


CAMEROTA: So, Phil, that's what's so frustrating. Did collusion exist? That's the burning question everybody wants answered. And Brennan says, well, I know of contacts and communication.

MUDD: Well, Trey Gowdy ought to have his ass kicked. He knows the difference between intelligence and evidence. Let me tell you something, Alisyn, if you are an American citizen, and the National Security Agency collects intelligence that is intercepts of Russians who report what you've said, do you think it's fair to go to court and say that is evidence that you did wrong? That's why the FBI is going to take a year or more to investigate this, because the American citizens involved in this have a right to have evidence presented in a court, beyond a conversation of a Russian official reports.

In my world, this distinction is black and white. It is a hard line. I know it's frustrating for the American people, but I hope they don't want evidence perceived as something that a Russian official says, and that's it. You can be convicted on that. It's not.

CAMEROTA: OK, you win. You win.

CUOMO: He does. And I'll tell you what, we're seeing it this morning, even here, people are saying, well, look, Brennan said, he saw no proof. He did not say that. He said, I don't know.

And that's a huge distinction. And while it maybe frustrating, a lot of things in life are frustrating, Phil Mudd, especially when they are complex. And if you cheapen them, you wind up distort what they actually are.

But at the end of the day, what do you make of the suggestion that I think is a little bit more forceful? There had been so many leaks. Everything we learned, we learned from leaks thus far. Nothing about any real collusion.


MUDD: I don't think there has been significant leaks related to investigation. Do we know a heck of a lot about FBI interviews of the American citizens involved in this? How do we know about what they said behind closed doors? Has anybody flipped? How much do we know in detail about financial transactions?

As someone who's witnessed these investigations, I have seen embarrassing leaks, but they're not leaks at the heart of what the FBI is learning. That said, every time I see a door open here, whether it's General Flynn resigning, whether it's the FBI saying that they opened the investigation, whether it's repeatedly intel officials, including the director of national intelligence and CIA director saying that they saw substantial intelligence about contacts between Americans and the Russians, whether it's American officials saying that the president of the United States tried to get them to knock this down, every door that opens closes.

And the walls around the president and the White House I think continue to get more and more tighter. There's nothing that suggests there's no fire here to me.

CUOMO: Mudd, well argued. We have to wait and see how Camerota digests that beat-down you just gave her on her own show.


CAMEROTA: But always polite and doesn't make one --

CUOMO: He certainly didn't say what he said about Trey Gowdy. That's for sure.

CAMEROTA: Not publicly.

CUOMO: Thank you, Phil Mudd.

Thanks to you as well, our international viewers. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, we have new information about the investigation into that Manchester terror attack. The latest on the casualties.

NEW DAY gets after it. Come with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suspected Manchester bomber was known to intelligence services.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems likely possible that it wasn't doing this on his own.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The threat level increased from severe to critical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot defeat us because love in the end is always stronger than hate.