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Trump Hires Powerhouse New York Lawyer; Comey to Testify About Trump Confrontation; U.S. Forensic Teams Looking into Deadly Blast in Kabul; LeBron James Victim of Hate Crime; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 1, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:32:19] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, if you have questions about the Russia investigation today, don't ask the White House press secretary. Sean Spicer says that any of those queries should be sent to one man and one man only, the president's outside attorney, Marc Kasowitz.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So who is he? We know one thing, he's known the president for years. He has been fiercely loyal to the president. And here's more that Tom Foreman dug up.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At $1500 an hour, Marc Kasowitz is widely acknowledged in the legal profession as a powerhouse attorney, the toughest of tough guys, and he will be enlisted by the president to beef up his legal team after a special counsel was chosen to lead the Justice Department's probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, and after a former CIA director talked about --

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.

FOREMAN: Kasowitz was seen with first daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump over the weekend, even as reports swirled about her husband's Russian contacts. Jared Kushner is a presidential adviser, too.

Kasowitz's firm has represented some big names, former FOX News host Bill O'Reilly, actors Robert De Niro and Mia Farrow, and for about 15 years, Donald Trump. When journalists wanted to see records of Trump's divorce from his first wife, Ivana, Kasowitz kept them sealed. He handled a lawsuit over the author of a book on Trump, financial battles over Trump's Atlantic City casinos, disputes about Trump University. And when "The New York Times" wrote a story about two women who said Trump touched them improperly, Kasowitz demanded a retraction. He did not get one, but for a president who prizes loyalty, Kasowitz is a proven ally with a difference.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's a perception that many of President Trump's employees are kept around because they tell the president what he wants to hear. That's not the case with attorney Marc Kasowitz. This is a top notch attorney who will tell President Trump the way things are. Whether or not the president wants to hear it or not.

FOREMAN: One potential issue, Kasowitz also represents a Russian bank as well as a company controlled by a Russian billionaire with ties to the Kremlin. In a previous statement, Kasowitz's firm says it has "never relayed information or facilitated communication" between that client and the Trump team. But for a White House being scrutinized over every brush with Russia, the political optics are not good.

(On camera): Unlike the White House counsel, which is primarily tasked with protecting the office of the presidency, Kasowitz will be looking after the personal interests of Donald Trump the individual in a probe that could go on for a very long time.


[10:35:12] BERMAN: All right, our thanks to Tom Foreman for that.

Former FBI director James Comey could testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee as soon as next week. It will be a very, very important occasion.

HARLOW: It will. And our reporting is that he is expected to confirm publicly that President Trump pressured him to end the investigation into former National Security adviser Michael Flynn. We've seen it before, Comey is not afraid of being candid.

Walter Mack is here with us. He's a friend of James Comey. He is also a former federal prosecutor.

It's nice to have you here.


HARLOW: So as we watch this public testimony we're expecting any day next week, how candid will he be?

MACK: It would be very hard for me to imagine Jim Comey in any situation in which he was not candid and accurate and precise. I think the better question is, what is he going to feel comfortable in specifying and being accurate about, and that's a matter of probably negotiation between himself, people who are advising him, and the other -- Mr. Mueller and probably others. So I think whatever he has to say will be candid and precise, but whether it covers the full gamut of all the interests the public has in what he knows, I would doubt that.

BERMAN: Why do you think he wants to talk?

MACK: Because he's in a setting in which he can say, as almost anybody with his experience would say, is that the public is asking for information on a topic of great significance and importance.

BERMAN: Well, is there anything personal here he feels like that he is being number besmirched in some way by the things the president has said or the fact that he was fired by the president? MACK: I think it would be natural for him to feel that way, but my

knowledge of him personally is that he rises above that. And as almost all assistants are trained, hey, take yourself out of the subject in terms of a personal situation and be a professional at all times, no matter what provocation.

HARLOW: So Comey's friend, another friend of his, Benjamin Wittes, has done the media rounds.

MACK: Right.

HARLOW: And he has been an incredibly detailed in describing Comey's state of mind, his reaction, his aversion to these conversations with the president, how uncomfortable he was. He even described a moment when Comey hid next to the blue drapes when the law enforcement officers were at the White House. Is there any question in your mind that Benjamin Wittes would have gone out there without the blessing of Comey? Do you believe he was a messenger for Comey to the public before this testimony?

MACK: I don't know the answer to that, but knowing Jim, I would be surprised if he had asked anyone to speak on his behalf. And as I --

HARLOW: Do you think he would have given the blessing to speak on his behalf? There is a difference, right?

MACK: There is a difference. But I doubt it. I think Jim knows, having given his experience, that he never wants to be in a situation that he has asked someone to speak on his behalf. And so I'd be surprised. I don't know what -- I read Mr. Mr. Wittes' column and get it and I've been reading that, but knowing Jim as I do, I would be surprised if he actually told him, be a spokesman for me out there because, I mean, I think he would look to be able to do this on his own under the rules that he is obliged to perform.

BERMAN: The president and the White House has suggested that James Comey is a something of a showman. There's been a heated debate over that over the last few weeks and the last 24 hours even here at CNN. Is there any truth in it?

MACK: Well, there is always some truth that people want to present themselves in the best light, but knowing -- Jim is, as I say, a true believer in what the function is of a prosecutor and/or investigator and keeping yourself personally out of it as best you possibly can is the advice that we're all trained to be, because you're in trouble when you do that.

HARLOW: So is James Comey the memo man that he has been made out to be? Does he incessantly write memos? Is he known to be a great note- taker after meetings?

MACK: Well, I would say this, I don't know him as such. I know -- in other words, as a note-taker. But I do know him as an ultimate professional who would, in fact, you know, work very hard at trying to figure out what was the best thing for him professionally to do. And as I think I've said before, every prosecutor and/or FBI investigator is trained that, hey, if you are denuded of your other investigator who's there to take notes, you'd better be certain that you write a very accurate, selfless description of what just happened when you're talking to someone who could be a subject or a target of the investigation.

BERMAN: As a lawyer, Robert Mueller, you know, the special prosecutor, how interested will he be in the content of those memos? How much sway will they have?

MACK: Well, you know, they're both former directors. Robert Mueller, I have to say, is a former Marine.

[10:40:04] And basically accuracy and the ability to make distinctions between show boating and what is an accurate description of a conversation, you're pretty good at doing that.

HARLOW: Walter Mack, thank you very much.

MACK: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: Nice to have your perspective.

MACK: Bye, Poppy. Be well.

HARLOW: All right. Coming up, American forensic teams are now on the ground in Afghanistan. That's where the bomb ripped through rush hour and killed 90 people, injuring hundreds more in Kabul. What they're finding, next.


BERMAN: All right, new this morning, police released body cam video from the Pulse nightclub massacre. It has been nearly a year since the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States. Some of this footage is difficult to see.


[10:45:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I see your hands now? Let me see your hands. Come out with your hands up or you will die.


HARLOW: This footage was obtained by "The Orlando Sentinel" and you can see police trying to rescue victims at the same time that they're searching for the gunman. You also see the final shoot-out on this video. 49 people and the killer died in that massacre, 53 others were injured.

Right now American and German forensic teams are at the site of that huge blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. There are a lot of questions right now about how this suicide bomber was able to get inside of Kabul's heavily guarded diplomatic corridor. Newly released video -- look at this -- it shows the blast the moment that it occurred.

BERMAN: More than 90 people were killed, more than 400 wounded, including 11 Americans. The wastewater truck had to get through several checkpoints before it exploded.

CNN's Muhammad Lila at the site of the blast joins us now.

Muhammad, what's the latest on the investigation?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we know that the forensics teams are on location trying to figure out more about how this blast happened and, more importantly, how this truck was allowed to penetrate one of the most fortified areas of Afghanistan.

Look, usually when Afghanistan makes headlines, it's when bad things happen, and I can tell you this is about as bad as it can get. I've been covering explosions here for a number of years, I have never seen anything this bold or this daring. I mean, some estimates suggest that that truck was filled with more than 3,000 pounds of explosives when it went off. And when you look at that footage, it's just terrifying. You can actually see the shock wave as it spreads throughout the city. There were people that were miles away and that their windows were completely shattered as a result of this.

Now the U.S. State Department did confirm that 11 Americans were injured as a result of this attack, and that's obviously a reminder that even though it may not be on the radar of people in America, there are still thousands of Americans here who are risking their lives to keep this country safe. And increasingly, that's an uphill battle.

Now, overnight, we know that President Trump did speak with Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani to offer condolences, but it really puts the administration in a bit of a difficult spot because, you know, if you think about America's involvement here, so many people lost their lives trying to keep this country safe. So many American troops made that ultimate sacrifice, and now what we're seeing just in this last year alone is a resurgence of the Taliban.

There are some areas that Americans lost blood and lost their lives to move the Taliban out of those districts, but the Taliban are now back. And we know that there are discussions that have taken place at the Pentagon for quite some time now about the possibility of sending more American troops, but it's a really difficult proposition. Because on the one hand, the administration would say, yes, we will send more troops and that would put more American lives at risk, or you accept the alternative, which is to not send American troops and accept that many of those gains that Americans fought so hard for have now been lost. And in some of those regions, the Taliban is in charge. So it really puts the Trump administration in a difficult spot.

BERMAN: All right, Muhammad Lila for us in Kabul. Thanks so much, Muhammad. Appreciate it.

All right, we are hours away from the tip-off of the NBA Finals. And while LeBron James should be focusing on winning another title, police are investigating a possible hate crime at his home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Hate, you know, in America, especially for an African-American, is living every day.



[10:52:26] BERMAN: All right, LeBron James speaking out after someone spray-painted a racial slur on the gate of his Los Angeles home.

HARLOW: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy and John. LeBron James admittedly not able to completely focus on game one against the Warriors tonight in the finals. He says he wishes he could be with his kids, who are old enough to understand that they were the target of this act of racism.

Now police say the racial slur was already painted over when the officers arrived, and the Los Angeles Police Department studying security camera footage to try to identify the vandal. LeBron's words powerful as he spoke out about the incident with ESPN.


LEBRON: No matter how much money you've got, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, at the end of the day, being a black man in America is very frightening, and it lets us know that we've got so much farther, so much farther to go to be equal in this country.


WIRE: And Florida police releasing dash cam video of Tiger Woods' arrest on suspicion of DUI. Officers say they found him asleep at the wheel on the side of the road early Monday morning. Tiger slurring his speech and stumbling in the video. Despite the breathalyzer test showing no alcohol in his system. Woods says he had a bad reaction to prescription medications.

How about those Pittsburgh Penguins? Just two wins away from repeating as Stanley Cup champs. What a game. Tied with the Predators starting the final period last night. Then the Penguins caught fire, almost melted the ice. Three goals in just over three minutes. They win 4-1, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 series lead. Next game is Saturday night in Nashville.

Tennis action at the French Open, and Borna Coric not happy after being defeated by American Steve Johnson, but the reaction that truly moves people, that of Johnson. Just weeks after his father, mentor and tennis coach who introduced him to the sport he loves, suddenly and unexpectedly passed at the young age of 58.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE JOHNSON, TENNIS PLAYER: I just know he was looking down on me at that last point and gave me the strength to finish it off. Physically I'm OK. Emotionally I'm a mess, so. I -- you know, I just know this is what, you know, he always taught me to just, you know, be a fighter, be a competitor. So, you know, that's what I'll go do day in and day out. And that's -- I mean, that's the only thing I can do.


WIRE: Such emotion from Johnson. He was there with his mother, his sister and his fiancee. This was a planned family trip to France for them to celebrate his sister's college graduation. We wish Steve the best in the next round of the French Open.

[10:55:05] BERMAN: Sure do. All right, Coy, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Pretty amazing. Thank you, Coy.

Coming up, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking out, opening up about his relationship or non-relationship with President Trump, saying they are not friends. Plus, what he said about hacking of the U.S. election. You'll hear it here next.


HARLOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he's ready to work on the U.S.-Russia relationship, but he also said he's not a friend of President Trump and, quote, "How can I be friends with someone I've never met? I think Mr. Trump can't call me a friend either. We've never met." The two are due to meet at the G-20 summit in July.

BERMAN: Or in the day he compared hackers to artists and patriotics saying they fight against those who say very bad things against Russia but he also said they're not government-backed and the hackers want to make attacks appear government-supported.

HARLOW: Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts now.