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Will Trump Move to Block Comey's Testimony; Interview with Representative Ted Lieu; Anti-Trump March for Truth Protests Draw Crowds; Border Patrol Agent on Building a Wall; Climate Change Can Impact National Security; Comey Scheduled to Testify Thursday; Aired 3-4p ET

Aired June 03, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:07] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: 3:00 Eastern out West, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us.

First this afternoon, will President Trump move to silence fired FBI director James Comey? Comey is scheduled to testify this coming week on Thursday. And many in Washington are expecting fireworks.

Comey is expected to talk about his private conversations with the president and whether President Trump ever attempted to influence the man who at the time was investigating his campaign and Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.

We may also finally get an answer to the most significant question of all. Does James Comey think he was fired to stop the Russia probe?

As of right now the White House hasn't explicitly said it won't try to use executive privilege to block Comey but according to a new "New York Times" report, this seems highly unlikely. Two senior officials telling the paper President Trump plans to let the testimony to go on, meaning in less than a week we could know all the details surrounding Comey's dramatic firing and what led up to it.

At this moment however all eyes are on the vice president. Mike Pence is joining top Republicans in Boone, Iowa, for the Annual Roast and Ride. And that's where we find CNN's Ryan Nobles.

Ryan, are any Republicans weighing in on Comey's upcoming testimony?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: As a matter of fact they are, Ana. In fact Senator Joni Ernst who's actually speaking right now behind me. She is being joined by South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. And we actually asked both of them about James Comey's upcoming testimony just a few minutes. Both said that they believe that James Comey should testify.

And in fact I caught up with Senator Ernst yesterday, one-on-one, she is a Republican, someone who is an ally of Donald Trump. And when I asked her whether the president should invoke executive privilege to stop Comey's testimony, this is what she told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NOBLES: There is some thought that the president might attempt to invoke some sort of executive privilege to stop that from happening. Do you think the American people should hear from the former FBI director?

SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: I do think the American people should hear. He's been asked by Congress to testify and I think he should testify in front of Congress. That way the public is aware what's going on. And I think that is smart.


NOBLES: Now at this point we don't know exactly what the White House's plans are as it relates to executive privilege but they have signaled that that option is still on the table.

But you have to wonder, Ana, when the PR hit that they would take just from the public in large, but when you also have prominent Republican senators who say that they want to hear Comey's testimony, you'd think it would make it difficult for the White House to make that move in the next week -- Ana.

CABRERA: It will be really interesting to see what happens in just the next few days.

What else are you hearing from the folks on the ground there? Are they talking about the president and his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal at all?

NOBLES: You know, Iowa is an interesting place when it comes to the conversation about the Paris Climate Accord, Ana. This is state that leads to the country when it comes to the use of -- and the production of renewable energy. Everywhere you drive in Iowa, you see gigantic wind turbines. Of course ethanol is a big driver of the economy here. That's a corn based renewable fuel.

But Joni Ernst herself told me she doesn't think pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord is going to affect that market at all. She even argued that it could make them more competitive. But I did talk to one Democrat who told that he is very concerned about it, that it could hurt those business owners that are truly invested in this and also how it may signal what the president intends going forward. A lot of these businesses got off the ground because of very lucrative tax credits that helped keep their businesses moving. There is a wind tax credit that is currently set to expire. The senator told me she's going to ask the president and fight for that to be extended.

CABRERA: You know, what's interesting, too, Ryan, is if she thinks that pulling out could actually make their state more competitive, when you talk about that ethanol fuel, how does she see it that way in being a boost to that part of their economy?

NOBLES: I mean, she points everything back to the free market and she believes that the more that the free market can take part in the development of renewable fuels, the better off the entire world will be and she believes that Iowa to a certain extent has a head start in that department and as a result it's actually become more competitive in some of these things like coal and natural gas. So she, you know, wasn't necessarily fully behind the president's move. She said it was his an executive move. It was his decision and that Congress wasn't involved, but at the end of the day she's not worried that Iowa will be hurt by it at all.

CABRERA: OK. Ryan Nobles, thank you.

Back in Washington, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is under fire for keeping a hand in the Russia election meddling investigation even though he said several weeks ago he was stepping aside. California Republican Devin Nunes put his name on a stack of new subpoenas this week including one to former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.

[15:05:02] He also unilaterally issued three subpoenas for information about unmasking involving Obama administration officials.

Fellow congressman, also from California, Democrat Ted Lieu, tweeted today, "My Saturday morning thoughts. Chairman Devin Nunes can make history by sending a subpoena to himself."

Congressman Ted Lieu is with us now.

Thank you, Congressman, for joining us. You're obviously having a little bit of fun there on your tweet. But how concerned are you that Chairman Nunes is back in what looks like an active role in the investigation?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm very concerned. Chairman Nunes recused himself because he actively misled the American people. He went to the White House on a Wednesday evening, said he got all this secret information and he was going to disclose it, and then went back to the White House again to brief them on this secret information, and then it turns out that the White House gave him the information to disclose. That's why he recused himself and now he's jumped back into this investigation, violating the terms of his own recusal. That's inappropriate.

CABRERA: You heard from Nancy Pelosi this week, calling on the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, to do something about it, to intervene. Do you feel like the House Intel Committee investigation is off the tracks?

LIEU: I believe that Adam Schiff, the ranking member, is doing a great job for Democrats. But Chairman Nunes needs to recuse himself and then file the terms of his own recusal. He can't be half in and half out. It is totally inappropriate and it's messing up the investigation.

CABRERA: How do you see this in his eyes? You're trying to put yourself in his shoes, what do you think he's trying to accomplish?

LIEU: I have no idea. Because this whole unmasking issue, that is not the main story. The main story is, was there Russia collusion, what did Trump officials say to the Russians and vice versa. That's what we want to know, not whether or not specific people were unmasked.

CABRERA: Now fired FBI director James Comey it sounds like is going to testify in front of the Senate Intel Committee this Thursday. We know he spoke to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about this upcoming testimony. Do you think that because Mueller spoke to Comey about the scope of his testimony about the investigation, he is now leading a witness? Some people have even used that term witness tampering could be involved here.

LIEU: I believe the Comey hearing is going to be remarkable. Americans are going to watch in real time as they see evidence of obstruction of justice by the president unfold. Comey is widely expected to say that President Trump pressured him to drop the Michael Flynn investigation.

CABRERA: So you don't have a problem with Robert mueller then giving him some parameters about what he can discuss?

LIEU: I do not. I think that's entirely appropriate.

CABRERA: So what's your response to those people then who are saying that he shouldn't be coaching Comey on what to say?

LIEU: There is no evidence that he was coaching Comey. He's a special counsel. He is doing a criminal investigation to see if any criminals were committed. This is an oversight hearing by Congress. We have a duty to conduct oversight and to get the truth out to the American people. That is what Comey is going to be testifying about. The conversations between himself and the president and the American public have a right to know that.

CABRERA: Now something happened last night on HBO. And I just switched the topics for a moment. Get your take on this. Bill Maher used an offensive racial slur in a conversation with your colleague, Senator Ben Sasse. Listen.


BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO'S "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I've got to get to Nebraska more.

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: You're welcome. We'd love to have you work in the fields with us.

MAHER: Work in the fields?

SASSE: That is part of --


MAHER: Senator, I'm a house (EXPLETIVE DELETED). It's a joke.


CABRERA: I have to say we reached out to Bill Maher directly. Have not heard back. He did release a statement, though, saying, "Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I am up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn't have said on my live, and last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying, and I am very sorry."

The word that we beeped, that was not beeped at the time it aired, was the N word. And by the way we want to be completely transparent, CNN and HBO share the same parent company Time Warner.

My question to you, Representative Lieu, is what is your reaction to that exchange? I know you've been on Bill Maher's show.

LIEU: I believe that Bill Maher's comment was inexcusable and inappropriate. He should not have said it and I'm pleased that he has apologized for making that remark.

CABRERA: Some people are calling for him to lose his job.

LIEU: I'm a big believer in the First Amendment. I believe Bill Maher can say whatever he wants to say and then people can criticize him for saying whatever he wants to say. That's how we operate in America. We have the First Amendment and people go out and say different things.

CABRERA: Now I know you don't see it's a big deal, it sounds like, but Senator Ben Sasse who was on the other side of that conversation, he seems to think this is a big deal.

[15:10:06] He has been criticized a lot for this reaction or lack thereof after Maher's comment. And Sasse has been tweeting about this. I want to put up those tweets. We have a number of them. You can read them yourself. Essentially, though, he is saying that he wishes that he would have reacted differently. He wishes he would have spoken up.

Do you think Senator Sasse's response was appropriate?

LIEU: I do think it's a big deal, that remark that Bill Maher made. He should not have used that word. It was completely inappropriate. I can't say what Senator Sasse should or should not have done. It is a live show. There are lots of things going on and it was up to Senator Sasse to respond.

CABRERA: What do you think you would have done? How would you have responded in that moment?

LIEU: I would have liked to believe I would have said that was inappropriate and that he should not have said that.

CABRERA: All right. Let's talk about climate change, Congressman. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was on CNN this morning defended President Trump pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. Listen to what she said when she was pressed by Jake Tapper on a number of questions.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Let me show you what President Trump has tweeted about climate change. Quote, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," unquote.

Are you willing to acknowledge that that is nonsense?

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: What I will tell you is the regulations from the Paris agreement were disadvantaging our companies. We know that. I knew that as a governor. We know that now. The jobs were not attainable as long as we had to live under those regulations. It wasn't possible to meet the conditions under the Paris agreement. Had we even attempted to do that? And so I think we have to look at what's realistic.

We've got a president who is going to watch out for the environment. It's what we do. It's who we are. We are going to continue to be a leader in the environment. The rest of the world wanted to tell us how to do it and we're saying we will do it but we'll do it under our terms.

TAPPER: The -- the standards were set by the United States for the United States but just to be clear on this climate change that the Chinese --

HALEY: No, the standards were set by --


HALEY: The standards were set by President Obama and not passed through the Senate.

TAPPER: Right.

HALEY: Because the standards couldn't have been achieved.

TAPPER: No, but you -- my point is you said that the world was imposing standards on the United States. President Obama, the president of the United States at the time, is the one who set the standards. But moving that aside for one second I just want to be clear on this, you're not willing to acknowledge that calling climate change a Chinese hoax is just a big box of crazy?

HALEY: President Trump believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of that equation. So that is the fact. That is where we are. That's where it stands. He knows that it's changing. He knows that the U.S. has to be responsible with it and that's what we're going do. Just because we got out of a club doesn't mean that we don't care about the environment.


CABRERA: So, Congressman, that was pretty significant there when she said the president does believe the climate is changing. Does that answer the question in your mind that we've been asking for days of whether or not the president believes climate change is real?

LIEU: What Nikki Haley just said was a series of contradictions. If the president in fact believes the climate is changing, he would not have withdrew the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate agreement. And Nikki Haley is simply lying when she says that this agreement imposes regulations on the U.S. It does nothing of that sort. It does not mandate any U.S. climate bills, it does not mandate any U.S. domestic policy and we can't sue from things happening from this agreement. So I don't know what the president was saying yesterday or what Nikki Haley was saying because they clearly did not read this agreement.

CABRERA: Congressman Ted Lieu, as always, thanks for your time.

LIEU: Thank you.

CABRERA: And you can see that whole interview with Nikki Haley tomorrow morning on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. He's also going to talk with climate crusader and former Vice President Al Gore and Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman, Senator Mark Warner. That's tomorrow morning 9:00 Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN.

Still ahead at this hour in the NEWSROOM, March for Truth. Americans take to the streets in New York, Washington and Portland. What's they're demanding from President Trump, as we take you there live in Portland, Oregon, at this hour.

Plus climate deal fallout. Could President Trump's decision to exit the Paris agreement put the U.S. at risk? Why one CNN analyst says climate change is absolutely a national security issue.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[15:18:28] CABRERA: This just into CNN. Some flights are on hold right now at San Antonio Airport and here's why. Crews are trying to move a plane that is apparently stuck in the mud. This is an American Airlines jet. The FAA says it was on a takeoff roll when it veered off the runway and then got trapped by the muck.

One passenger said it felt just like a car running into a ditch. Fortunately nobody was hurt. The airport brought out the stairs to get the 38 passengers off this plane. Authorities say they aren't sure what caused the plane to abort the takeoff.

Well, this Saturday has brought out protesters and demonstrators all across the country both for and against President Trump. Crowds have gathered in more than 135 U.S. cities from New York to San Francisco in what's being billed as a March for Truth. Those taking part are calling for an independent investigation into the president and his alleged ties to Russia.

These are some pictures from New York where are anti-Trump protesters filled the streets for hours.

Now competing rallies in Washington brought a pro-Trump gathering close to anti-Trump protesters rally in front of the White House. It's billed as "Pittsburgh Not Paris." Those gathered here support the president's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Within walking distance anti-Trump protesters gathering along the National Mall. Much of the East Coast have been wrapped up now but other events are underway out west.

Let's head to Portland, Oregon, and CNN's Alexander Marquardt.

First of all, Alex, welcome to CNN. Great to have you as part of the family.


CABRERA: What are you hearing from people there on the ground?

MARQUARDT: Well, this March for Truth is fully underway here in Portland. You can see several hundred people here walking through downtown Portland, waving American flags, carrying these anti-Trump signs.

They are coming from a rally where they were listening to music and listening to speakers who are calling in essence for greater transparency from the Trump administration. That includes an impartial investigation into those potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as for the president to release his tax returns.

Alongside this call for truth, we have to say there has been a call for peace. The march organizers going so far as to put out this code of conduct telling rally-goers how to behave because this comes at a time of very heightened tension in this city -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Alex Marquardt, thank you, and keep us updated on the ground. Hopefully everything stays peaceful.

Ahead, we'll take you to a place like no other on a the U.S.-Mexico border. A spot where it's so easy to sneak across the border. One agent calls it ridiculous.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[15:25:22] CABRERA: President Trump's 2018 budget calls for $1.6 billion in funding for a border wall with Mexico but that money would reportedly cover just a very small part of the construction with the full wall estimated to cost potentially tens of billions of dollars.

Funding isn't the only challenge to construction plans. And one Border Patrol agent has something to say about it.

Vanessa Yurkevich just joining us now.

Vanessa, you spent time with Border Patrol agents along the border, months in fact, getting to know them and trying to see things through their perspective. You give us a unique look on not only how they're facing this challenge of border security but also taking us to a place that really hasn't been explored much.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right. We spent three months with three different border agents. We started in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and we moved to the deserts of Tucson and on to the metropolis of San Diego. But we found the most startling place in the area of Tucson. We found a barren border with the highest number of drug apprehensions in the country.


ART DEL CUETO, BORDER PATROL AGENT, TUCSON SECTOR: I'm Art Del Cueto, Local 2544 out of Tucson and National Border Patrol Council. We are on a Tohono O'Odham reservation down in southwest Arizona and we're pulling up on what's called the San Miguel gate. That's the gate.

YURKEVICH: That's the gate?

DEL CUETO: That's it. That's --

YURKEVICH: That looks like a gate for a corral.

DEL CUETO: That's exactly what it is.

YURKEVICH: That gate right there divides the U.S. and Mexico?


YURKEVICH (voice-over): There is no other place like this on the U.S.-Mexico border. There is the rugged terrain. And oppressive heat. But the biggest obstacle Art faces may be this.

DEL CUETO: I wanted to show you guys the reality of how easy it is to enter this country illegally.

YURKEVICH (on camera): How easy?

DEL CUETO: Yes. This is the divider. It's as easy as jumping over here. Literally half of me is in Mexico right now. This is ridiculous. This is a slap in the face, I mean, to the agency that's working, and it's a huge slap in the face I think to the American public to tell them, hey, everything is secured. This is what's securing you. This does not deter anyone.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But it took six years of negotiations with the Nation just to get this vehicle barrier. The reservation has been cut in half by the border. And elders say they can no longer get to their water source or sacred burial ground. They understand they have to work with agents, but would in no way ever approve a wall. In Tohono O'Odham there is no word for wall.

(On camera): To put something more substantial here, this terrain is incredibly difficult.



DEL CUETO: You can do it. You can't put a price on the security of the border.

YURKEVICH: Why do you think people aren't paying attention to this area?

DEL CUETO: You're probably the second group that I ever brought out here. People don't come out here. Nobody cares to see the reality.

YURKEVICH: Why? Because the reality is what?

DEL CUETO: The reality is it's not secured.


YURKEVICH: We spent a lot of time with Art on the border in Tucson. And Ana, what we saw was obviously that there wasn't a lot separating the two sides and this is actually one of the areas where Donald Trump would like to put a proposed wall. But the issue he's going to have is not with the funding or with the infrastructure, but it's going to be negotiating with the Nation. The Native Americans have said that they would in no way approve a wall and even in their own language there is no word for wall.

CABRERA: So interesting to get a look at that situation on the ground there. It's almost -- again I'm speechless to some degree when you look, just separate over that barrier. It's not much of a barrier at all. It's just a definition of where the border is really.

Now when it comes to the border wall, I know you've done a lot of work there as well, looking at kind of the timeline and the logistics. Where we at?

YURKEVICH: Right. That's the million-dollar question or the billion- dollar question. You know, when are we going to see what this Trump wall looks like. Well, the Department of Homeland Security has a tentative timeline. What they're going to be doing is choosing in the next couple weeks these finalists, the 20 finalists who are going to be building their border wall in San Diego.

[15:30:03] There are going to be proposals, there are going to be prototypes. Then at the end of July, those will be completed and once those are completed the Department of Homeland Security can really go ahead and take a look at whether or not these walls can withstand what they need to. People coming across. People driving through with cars. So hopefully, if all goes according to plan by the end of the summer or the fall, we could start to see what a Trump wall might look like.

CABRERA: All right. Keep us posted, Vanessa. Thank you so much.

And you can read more of Vanessa's reporting at CNN Politics' online magazine, "State." That's at Well, it seems like the violence just will not stop in Afghanistan.

Seven people were killed today and more than 100 others wounded. And a trio of suicide bombings at a funeral in Kabul. The man being buried was the son of a prominent lawmaker. He was killed the day before as he protested deteriorating security in the capital city. Those protests came after a suicide attack on Wednesday killed 90 people in Kabul's diplomatic zone.

Rising sea levels, powerful hurricanes and brutal drought, all threats that scientists have warned about climate change after President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Our next guest says there is another threat that could be just as dangerous.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


[15:35:26] CABRERA: Take a look at who just visited a hospital in Manchester, England. Singer Ariana Grande meeting with young victims of the terror attack that targeted her concert last week. Her fans visibly moved by the pop star's visit. One father says this gesture meant as much to him as it did to his daughter.


ADAM HARRISON, FATHER OF GIRL INJURED IN MANCHESTER ATTACK: It was really cool. Again, very surreal. It's almost like a cliche, but Ariana Grande went in there and she was just really, really good with them, really brilliant. So as a parent, it just -- you know, really, really cool sight. And you do get goosebumps thinking about it because we knew where she was last Monday and the days that followed she didn't really talk. She was just yeses and no's and she didn't want any food. She put down her drinking water. And then for last night to happen, it's just -- it just feel satisfying. It's just -- we as parents we feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more at ease.


CABRERA: That picture was just priceless, wasn't it? This visit comes just ahead of her special event tomorrow. Grande will hold a star-studded benefit concert tomorrow in Manchester. You can see all the different famous faces there, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Usher, Pharrell, and others are going to take the stage with Grande in honor of the victims.

Well, my next guest made a connection between threats of terror and war and the other big topics of this week, climate change.

Former assistant security of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, tweeted this after President Trump announced he's pulling of the Paris climate accord. She writes, "Wars often start because of limited natural resources. Mass migration in search of food, water lead to instability. This is national security issue."

CNN national security analyst and Harvard University professor, Juliette Kayyem, is joining us now to discuss this. Juliette, I know your tweet set up a whole lot of responses there on

Twitter. Do you believe that the president's move to pull out of the Paris climate accord could be a threat to our national security?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, without any doubt whatsoever. And it's not just me. Obviously the military, even as recently as this spring, noted that climate change and climate variations were a national security threat to the United States. But also to global security.

Look, why do wars start? They start often for the search for resources. Fights over resources. Why do mass migrations start? Because there is no water or food. All of those things lead to disruptions. People moving, people fighting which are national security implications for us of course because our interests will often be implicated in the consequences of climate migration or climate wars.

CABRERA: It's interesting because as you point out, members of Trump's own Cabinet not just the military, but these leaders in his Cabinet think climate change is a security threat. I want to read for you what Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, said before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March as he was going through the confirmation process. He said, "Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impact generated by this phenomenon."

Juliette, is it surprising to you the president didn't seem to take the advice of his own secretary of defense?

KAYYEM: Well, it's not surprising. You know, President Trump sort of framed this as an economic issue. But economics are related to national security. And so the fact that -- the Defense Department has been on this bandwagon for a long time. They know what is going on out there. So just think of sort -- you know, one issue, sort of the rise of the oceans. Right? So cities will begin to drown essentially. There is no question about it at this stage. That will have an impact on the movement of people. And it's not just a foreign phenomenon.

If you look at our eastern seaboard, here in Boston, New York worries about it, Miami for example. The rise of the waters or any climate changes is leading to mass disruption. So it's not just a national security issue, it's a homeland security issue. We started hurricane season on June 1st. NOAA is predicting that it's going to be above average. These changes in our own environment will lead to disruptions in the homeland as well as global changes in our national security.

CABRERA: So I don't want to be an alarmist here on our show. Obviously what you say, though, is concerning. And we know the president.


CABRERA: We saw the article from H.R. McMaster in an op-ed this week in which he talked about the number one priority is keeping America safe. What would be your advice in terms of dealing with the climate change issue as a threat when it comes to security?

KAYYEM: Well, it's advice that I think almost anyone who looks at the phenomenon that are going on in the world right now would give this administration.

[15:40:06] They tend to view the global phenomenon, the global national security as a sort of transactional thing. What does the U.S. need versus what these other countries need. Well, if you think of the threats we face today, terrorism, cyber threats, pandemics and then of course climate change. Those four primary sort of issues as related to national security are all borderless. You know, what happens in other parts of the world impact us. And so this sort of more transactional viewpoint that was related in that "Wall Street Journal" article doesn't fit into the kinds of threats we face today.

Of course China is a threat. Of course North Korea is a threat. But if you really look at the existential threats facing this country, those are the ones that don't have borders and those are the ones we have to address globally with an international community which this administration just refuses to do at this stage.

CABRERA: I want to ask you about the Russia investigation, Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and the possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Vladimir Putin has been very vocal about the subject this week in fact. Listen to how he denied being behind the hacking of the DNC.


PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (Through Translator): Hackers are free people, just like artists. They wake up in a good point and paint things, same with hackers. They woke up today, read something about the state-to-state relations. If they are patriotic they contribute in a way they think is right.


CABRERA: Kind of a change of tune there for Putin. He had initially adamantly denied Russia had anything to do with the hacks at all. Now he's saying patriotic Russian hackers may have decided on their own do it. What do you make of this?

KAYYEM: You know, it is so bizarre. And there's a couple of theories out there. I think we just don't know. I mean, one is clearly, you know, we have a whole bunch of hearings coming up. Putin is getting a little bit nervous maybe about what's going to be disclosed. He wants to get out there and sort of have deniability because remember, he is concerned not just about how the -- about the Trump White House, which he's sort of given up on, but obviously if Congress would put on more sanctions.

I think there's also another explanation which is somewhat disconcerting, which is, you know, he continues to sort of play with Trump. I really believe this. In other words that he, you know, sort of makes complaints about the Trump administration, he sort of sends out a tweet about a week about wanting the compounds back and then the Trump administration makes overtures to give those compounds back, the ones in Virginia and Maryland. And so I think we're going to hear a lot more from Putin in the next week given the Comey hearing that's coming up. He's not done with us yet. Let's just put it that way.

CABRERA: And speaking of toying with Trump, it was interesting another comments that he made this week was he had no relationship with Trump, how could you be friends if you've never met with the guy, but then he went on to say that Trump is from outside the political establishment and that -- usually that's a good thing and leads to good positive things. So it made you wonder who that message was directed at.

Juliette Kayyem, thanks as always for your expertise and insights. We appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Could President Trump try to stop the former FBI director from testifying by asserting executive privilege? We'll talk about that option for the White House and why some legal experts say the president won't be able to do it and it's his own fault.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[15:47:32] CABRERA: We're now just days away from finally hearing from fired FBI director James Comey. Maybe. Comey is scheduled to testify on Thursday but there is still a chance the president could try to stop him by invoking executive privilege.

Now the White House says Trump has not made a final decision, but the "New York Times" is reporting he is likely to let Comey testify.

Let's talk about the president's options and what we could learn from James Comey, joining us to discuss, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin. Michael also served as Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Justice Department. Of course Mueller is the special counsel in the Russia investigation.

So, Michael, thanks for being with us. If the president wanted to invoke executive privilege, do you think he has the grounds to do so?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he has the right to assert it. The "U.S. versus Nixon" Supreme Court case said that the president has the right to confidentiality in communications with his top policy advisers so they can give a free exchange of ideas. But that privilege is not absolute. President Obama tried to use it in the "Fast and Furious" investigation and lost. President Bush tried to use it in the firing of U.S. attorneys and lost.

I think that the probable outcome for this president were he to assert it against Comey's testimony is that he will lose. But he can assert it if he wants to try it. CABRERA: And Richard Nixon, you brought up, is where it all kind of

began and he also lost when he tried to assert it.

ZELDIN: That's right.

CABRERA: Not have the tapes revealed. So --

ZELDIN: That's right. And to that exact point, the one thing to keep in mind is that even were the president able to prevail with respect to Congress, which I don't think he will, he would lose in the face of Mueller's request for the same testimony because Nixon made clear that the law enforcement interests override the executive privilege interests. And so ultimately if he doesn't -- if he wins today, he still loses tomorrow. So if you're going to lose tomorrow, you might as well not put up the political muster that that's going to create for you.

CABRERA: In all fairness if he doesn't invoke executive privilege, does that signify he has nothing to hide?

ZELDIN: Well, that's what people have been, I think, encouraging him to say is that I've got nothing to hide, I did nothing wrong, Comey has misinterpreted my actions and let him testify how he wants to testify and you'll see that in the end I was not trying to obstruct justice. Because the Comey testimony at its heart is an obstruction of justice testimonial exercise.

[15:50:02] Did the president try to interfere with his investigation of Flynn in a way that is obstructive of justice? And that's what Comey's heart -- the heart of his testimony will be all about.

CABRERA: We know that Mueller has had some contacts with Comey leading up to this hearing about some of the parameters, so that there aren't any legal entanglements involved with what he says in front of the public and Congress. Do you think we will hear the exact details of his meetings with the president?

ZELDIN: Well, I think we'll hear broad outlines of those meetings. We'll understand what meetings took place, when they took place, what Comey's recollection of what was said at those meetings. I don't think we'll see the memos. The memos are in the possession of the FBI. They're not in Comey's possession. And we'll hear from Comey what was his standard practice about writing memos, why did he write memos, what was his intention in writing them here, what was his state of mind when he heard the president say to him, don't fire Flynn, or whatever else he might have said. And that's what I think we'll hear basically.

CABRERA: All right. Michael Zeldin, the world will be watching. Thank you very much for joining us.

ZELDIN: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: I want to take you to some live pictures right now of Vice President Pence. He is rolling into Boone, Iowa, on a motorcycle, we're told. I'm looking for him in the crowd. Maybe my eyesight isn't so good. Oh, wait, here they come. Let's see. Is that him in the front? Do we know? We don't know for sure. But we are told he is on a motorcycle. And we're knowing this is an event called Roast and Ride. That's been sponsored or held by Senator Joni Ernst. And again the vice president expected to arrive here any moment. We'll take you back as soon as we see him.

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[15:57:10] CABRERA: All right. Moments ago, Vice President Pence cruising into Boone, Iowa, on a motorcycle. We've confirmed now, he's the guy in the white helmet there at the front of the pack. This is also where Senator Joni Ernst is holding her annual Roast and Ride. And this was just moments ago where he took off the helmet, waved to the crowd and he just took the podium. Let's listen.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- protecting our families every day. Just yesterday the president signed two more bills supporting the men and women of law enforcement in the United States of America.


PENCE: You know, there's a lot of -- a lot of men and women wearing the uniform of law enforcement. And more than a few wearing the uniform of the United States here. Would you mind giving these police officers and all these peace officers a big round of applause they deserve? Thank you for what you do to protect our families. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PENCE: And President Trump has been working tirelessly with Iowa's conservative leaders in Washington. Every single day, to keep the promises he's made to the American people. And let me say from my heart, as the proud father of a United States Marine, I couldn't be more grateful to be vice president to a president who cares so deeply about the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.


PENCE: Already this year, working with this 23-year military veteran turned Senator Joni Ernst President Donald Trump has been busy rebuilding or military, restoring the arsenal of democracy. And Congress in fact under the president's leadership and with your senator's support just passed the largest increase in military spending in nearly 10 years.


PENCE: And, you know, working with that Iowa farmer, Chairman Chuck Grassley, President Trump has been also keeping his word to appoint principled conservatives to the courts in this land, like the newest justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

CABRERA: All right. Again we are listening in to Mike Pence speaking live in Boone, Iowa. Among the crowd there is Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride event. We'll continue to monitor, we'll bring you all the highlights here in the NEWSROOM.

Top of the hour, you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Always good to have you with us especially on the weekend. I like to have some company.

I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. And we are just days away now from hearing for the very first time from James Comey since he was fired as the director of the FBI. Comey is scheduled to testify this coming Thursday. His very words have the potential to rock Washington.