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Report: Trump Says Kushner Now More Famous Than Me; GOP Frustrated With Trump Chaos; Accused NSA Leaker Criticized Trump On Twitter. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 6, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And if you believe that we have a bridge to sell you. No. that is what you heard the President there say in the meeting with Republican Congressional leaders and another interesting moment happened towards the end, Ana. I don't know if you noticed that but at one point the President refers to his son-in-law Jared Kushner who has been in the headlines lately and said he's become more famous than me and I'm a little upset at that. The President ribbing his son-in-law a little bit there in the Roosevelt room as he's meeting with Congressional leaders about health care.

Obviously, this is something that is on the President's mind, this Comey testimony happening on Thursday. It's becoming something of a mini super bowl here in Washington. There are bars that are opening up early to bring customers in to watch on TV. It sounds like something out of the O.J. Simpson trial, Ana, honestly. But having said all of that, this white house is still scrambling somewhat in terms of how to deal with all of this and how to manage all of this. There has been reporting, including ours in the last couple of weeks, that the white house, along with its outside loyalists, were preparing to prop up this war room effort. It's been stymied somewhat but the President's loyalists are outside the white house and I'm sure it will take place within the white house as well.

They are mounting a rapid response effort that we will see unfold on Thursday. You're going to hear surrogates out there with talking points. That will be somewhat organized before all of this happens on Thursday. You may even see the President tweeting that morning. Remember the last time James Comey testified, the President was tweeting that the Russia collusion business was, quote, fake news. And so, you may see a return of that from the President as well. But it's just an indication that this is obviously very much on the President's mind as we head into Thursday, Ana.

CABRERA: Let me ask you real fast about Marc Kasowitz. He's the outside attorney who will be representing the President in all things Russia and now we've heard Sean Spicer and others within the administration who say if you have a question about the Russia investigation, then you need to ask Marc Kasowitz about that. Based on his history, will he even speak out on this issue and have you tried to ask him any questions yet?

ACOSTA: We've tried to contact his office. Part of the issue, from what I'm hearing from sources and my colleagues are hearing from sources, is that the President is looking to expand his outside counsel team. He is looking for representation here in Washington. Marc Kasowitz, while he has a very good reputation, is based out of New York, in large part, and so the President is said to be seeking outside counsel in Washington. Having said all of that, there are a number of story lines here that are almost popping up like whack-a- mole. The fact that the President couldn't say whether, cannot say whether he has confidence in Jeff Sessions, and the white house when you talk to the folks here, they feel as though they have a lid on all of this and the truth will be told on Thursday whether they indeed have the lid on things because at this point it appears that it's overwhelming everything, including the President's agenda. Although, you saw the President trying to make a public face that his agenda is doing just fine.

CABRERA: Indeed. He's meeting with these folks for the agenda at this hour. Thanks so much, Jim Acosta. The major focus in the meeting with the Senate and house Republicans was to be health care. Let me bring in Tevi Troy, the President of the American Health Policy Institute and former deputy secretary of health and human services in the Bush administration. Also with us, John Selib, a former chief of staff for Democratic Senator Max Baucus. Guys, listen to what we heard senator Lindsey Graham say earlier today on the issue of health care.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, SENATOR, SOUTH CAROLINA: In all honesty, I think it's a stalled Congress. We led off with health care which I think was a mistake. We'll probably have a vote but the chance of the house and Senate reconciling their positions on health care is pretty limited. You can't blame the President for that. That's just lack of coordination on health care within the party. But we do need Presidential leadership. He's meeting today. Hopefully this meeting will result in a more unified approach to health care and taxes. If we fail on both, we're in trouble. So, the President is going to have to lead and tweeting doesn't help but Congress is more broken than just his tweets.


[15:35:00] CABRERA: Is the senator, right? Is the GOP's agenda stalled and what needs to happen to get it back on track?

TEVI TROY, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN HEALTH POLICY INSTITUTE: I think he was right in terms of the need for Presidential leadership. I think it's very important for Presidents to show leadership, to work with The Hill, to bring members of Congress in and to have those conversations. President Obama was famously reluctant to do it. George w. Bush liked doing it. Bill Clinton used to do it. I think it's an important part of the President's role and it's a way to break through some of these logjams.

CABRERA: John, is it a mistake that they started with health care?

JOHN SELIB, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEMOCRATIC SENATOR MAX BAUCUS: It's a mistake that they started with this bill. They are having a very hard time moving this piece of legislation through because it's an atrocious piece of legislation. It would eliminate 23 million people from health care across the country, deep cuts in Medicaid that some of the poorest people in the country and a lot seniors, and it would sell policies that don't really cover important things, people that -- things that people think should be covered by insurance, like hospitalization and pregnancies.

So, I think it was a mistake to start with legislation like this. In order to make the affordable care act better and the insurance market stronger, they've been working to do that. McCain wrote a letter to the President early on this year saying just that. So, I think it was a mistake to start the way that they started.

CABRERA: But why don't you think there were any Democrats in these meetings with the President?

SELIB: He hasn't made an effort to reach out to Democrats at all and clearly, they've decided to go down a partisan road. From the outset, they've decided to do reconciliation, a budget procedure where Democratic votes are not required because it only requires 50 votes in the Senate. And they wanted to appeal to the far right-wing base rather than the center, which is where most Americans are.

CABRERA: Tevi, if Republicans don't get healthcare, does that hold up everything else, tax reform of course is something that is also on agenda but also kind of relies on what happens with health care, doesn't it?

TROY: I think if they can pass health care reform, they can show that they have a process for getting through some of these difficulties and challenges and it makes it much easier to go forward with things like tax reform. They are not going through the reconciliation process because it's more fun to do it that way. It's clear that Democrats don't want to work with the President. You saw Chuck Schumer voted against the wife of Mitch McConnell to be the secretary of transportation. She's a very talented person confirmed to multiple spots before. A lot of indications are that the Democrats don't want to work with the President and that's why they have to go through this reconciliation now.

CABRERA: Wait a minute. Republicans can't even seem to work together themselves.

TROY: I think that's what we're trying to do in terms of looking at -- the house did pass a bill. It took a while but they made some changes and it took the Democrats a while to pass the affordable care act. These things take time. You can't just snap your fingers and legislate. That's a good thing. I don't think our founding fathers wanted us to wake up in the morning and have new legislation out there.

CABRERA: Tevi, do you think the President is getting in his own way when it comes to his agenda with all of these tweets and focusing energy and everyone else talking about other -- the hottest fire, the Russia investigation, his feud with the mayor of London, his travel ban, and going after his own justice department? TROY: Well, it's not the approach I would take. The tweets did work

for him in the general election campaign, to some degree, and I actually wrote a book about the President and use of culture. He's very innovative in his use of twitter but as President you have to be more careful about what you say and so I think it's something I'd be wary about.

[15:40:00] CABRERA: Guys, got to leave it there, John, I owe you a question when you come back another day. Thank you to both of you.

New details of the 25-year-old woman leaking classified NSA documents and the criticisms she had about the President before she was arrested.


CABRERA: We're getting new information about the federal contractor accused of leaked information to the media. CNN has learned that 25- year-old Reality Winner criticized President Trump and posted about leaks on her public twitter account. She is accused now of mailing top secret information about a 2016 Russian cyberattack to "The Intercept" an online news publication. Dianne, some call her a leaker and others accuse her of a being a whistle blower. What is she being accused of doing?

[15:45:00] DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the government says that Reality Winner basically mailed a classified report from the NSA to the online publication, "The Intercept." The document detailed how a Russian military intelligence unit attempted to hack into the U.S. voting system and they gave us new details about how the Russians went after local election officials and voting software suppliers. The prosecutors claim that "The Intercept" sent a copy of the document to the government to verify the authenticity and there was a crease, indicating that it had been printed and folded, which was visible in the copy. Investigators determined that only six people had actually printed the document. That Winner was the only one with previous e- mail contact with a reporter from "The Intercept" and when confronted, she admitted that she leaked it. They don't know who leaked the document to them and the attorney general has said people trusted with classified information must be held accountable when they violate that obligation but winner has not entered a plea yet. At this point, she hasn't really made a statement on it.

CABRERA: What are you learning about her and her social media history?

GALLAGHER: Ana, she's a 25-year-old air force veteran originally from Texas. She started working in this particular position as a government contractor in February of this year. She was attached to the NSA when with the air force before. She was a linguist in the air force for six years. Her attorney says his client is not a traitor. Her mother says her daughter is an athlete, loves animals and she's not known to be wildly political. Her twitter account suggests otherwise, she only follows 50 people, Edward Snowden, anonymous and other accounts that operate as alt government agencies. Several of her tweets are anti-Trump and she even tweeted directly at him calling him an orange fascist. If convicted, she could face up to ten years in prison.

CABRERA: Interesting. Diane Gallagher, thank you. Mike Baker is joining us and captain Gail Harris. She was chosen to be the department of defense lead for the developing intelligence policy for cyber warfare. Captain, does winner have an argument here to say she's a whistle blower and why or why not?

GAIL HARRIS, CAPTAIN, FORMER U.S. NAVY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Not really. When you're assigned security clearances as part of the training, pretty intense training, you are told that you are not authorized to share that information with people who don't have security clearances or outside organizations without permission. And the punishment for that can be pretty strict. For instance, in my first assignment, not only are you not supposed to share it, but if you have custody, in my first assignment, I had a classified library and we're getting ready to do an operational deployment, my squadron and part of that you inventory have everything accounted for, when you come back you do the same thing. As fate would have it, I was in the hospital having surgery and so I did not conduct the initial inventory and when I came back I was missing several documents. I was looking at jail time. But the investigation said that the only thing they decided was that some people had destroyed as authorized some of the information before going overseas but hadn't documented it.

CABRERA: Thank goodness, that was the case you and otherwise it would have been alarming because of the serious consequences. But Mike, one of the reasons that people say the leaks are so concerning is because some of these have national security consequences. Do you see that as the case in this one?

MIKE BAKER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, yes. And here's why. There's so many troubling aspects to this. She released a document that now gives the Russians insight into what we know about their activities and details, and provides insight into how we know and the things we're doing to uncover what the Russians were engaged in. So, think about that. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or someone involved in intelligence work to understand the importance of that. That's why the document is classified top secret, because we're engaged in and all of those people out there in viewer land would like to have this investigation go forward to understand what the Russians were doing during this past election.

CABRERA: Right. There's some value to the information.

BAKER: And now it tells the Russians things that they will use to their advantage. The Russians are very good to this. Next to the Chinese, they are the number one perpetrator. So, this is a real problem. There's another problem here, which is, look, she's 25 years old and she's a contractor. So, she's working for somebody -- a company, whose job is to make money by putting bums in seats because they have clearances and can staff these government jobs for contractors. She has no investment in that agency. She's not someone who has worked there for 20, 25 years.

[15:50:00] CABRERA: She's not loyal. BAKER: Obviously. And the other part of it is the background vetting and the fact that oftentimes with contractors or even employees, we vet them when they first go in which is fairly intensive but then they slip through the cracks, and then we don't go back and say it's been two years, four years, if they had simply vetted the person on a regular basis, they would have seen the social media.

CABRERA: I was going to say, I wonder if that includes the social media.

BAKER: And then they could have had a conversation with her and possibly then moved her off of the access that she had.

CABRERA: Because she had the access to the classified information to begin with, which is your concern. It's interesting, Captain Harris, that any vote was actually affected, that it changed the voting in some way. But is this more evidence of Russia hackers ultimately succeeding in that they make people question the vote, undermining our Democratic election process?

HARRIS: Well, that was part of the aim of the Russian pack in the first place. But I'd like to kind of piggyback on something that Mike said, a very important reason that is you don't want to get in the way of how you collect information. The only way you make something classified is how you collect it. There's a lot of information that you see in classified reports that you would also see in unclassified reports. Just as the press has their sources. So, does the intelligence community, and it's fitting that we're having this discussion on the 55th anniversary of the battle of midway. The important point is we have so few navy ships left that we knew exactly where the Japanese were going to attack and the intelligence community at that time had been able to read about just less than 20 percent of the Japanese naval code, and based on just that small amount of information they were able to allow the add miller to position the naval forces for victory that turned the tide.

CABRERA: And there shows -- there shows the real-life consequences. I don't mean to step on you there. We're running short on time here, but thanks so much for joining us, also our thanks to Mike Baker for being here. Up next, CNN's exclusive reporting as coalition forces try to take back key territory from is. Heart harrowing stories of a former American special ops soldier helping to save lives on the front line.


CABRERA: There are stories that make us want to turn away, and I have to warn you this next one is difficult to watch, but it's important. CNN is on the front lines in Mosul, Iraq, where is has the city under siege. UNICEF estimates nearly 100,000 children will trapped there, some of them surviving by hiding among the dead. CNN's Arwa Damon is in Mosul. Again, a warning. These pictures are disturbing.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They stumble toward the Iraqi troops. They are breathless and their voices are shaking from fear and shock.

They use single sentences that seem to hardly encompass the scope of what it is that they have actually just been through.

And as ISIS is squeezed into even smaller territory, civilians they are holding hostage are running are out of food. It was only enough to feed the children, to try to keep them from crying out. She and her husband, they went hungry. On the front line helping the Iraqi army is Dave Eubanks. He have's American ex-special forces and with his team of free ranger volunteer medics. Just days earlier, is massacred dozens of people who were just trying to make a run for it, and Dave was called to the scene.

DAVE EUBANKS, EX SPECIAL FORCES: We saw these 13 bodies and saw movement. Here they are. Look at that wall.

DAMON: A man alive, and a little girl who creeps out from under her dead mother's hijab where she had been hiding for two days, hugging her mother's corpse. They use the tank for cover to move out, dragging those they just saved past the corpses of those who perished. The little girl, she has not yet spoken, not a single word. No one even knows her name. The next morning, they spotted even more movement.

We ran and got across the road and went through rubble like this, and ISIS on three sides of us. We could hear them talking, crawled through and up the street ISIS shooting. She tied herself, three days, no sleep, no water, wounded. Much of western Mosul, that's already apocalyptic and the fight for the last square kilometers is going to be so much worse than anything we've seen before. There's no past blueprint for this kind of warfare. No one has fought an enemy like this holding civilians hostage in a dense urban battlefield. We go to a clinic that's further back from the front line. There's an old man who can't speak from the shock. And a little girl. Her name is Marie and she's 10 and there with her older sister. They say a mortar hit their house just as they were trying to make a run for it. One sister they know is dead. They saw her lifeless body. The others are buried under the rubble of their home, but is still controls the area. The reality of what she's just said perhaps not quite sinking in, or maybe she's just looking for any distraction from a loss that she cannot yet fully comprehend. Arwa Damon, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.


CABRERA: God bless those people. That's going to do it for me. Brooke Baldwin is back tomorrow. Thanks for being with us. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.