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Deadly London Apartment Fire; Londoners Donate Food, Clothes for Fire Victims; Six Wounded, Rep. Scalise in Critical Condition; At Least 12 Dead After Apartment Building Fire; Special Counsel Meets With Senate Committee Heads; Muslims Awake for Early Prayers Came to Aid of Many. Aired 12mn-1a ET

Aired June 15, 2017 - 00:00   ET


[23:59:56] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In the 1800s Congressman John Hinds and Cornelius Hamilton were shot and killed just about a year apart from each other.

We often forget how much our public officials sacrifice in their service and they do so sometimes at great personal exposure and sometimes risk. It's no doubt an unsettling day to be an office holder. And we at CNN are thinking of you and all of your families.

I'm Jake Tapper. I'll be back tomorrow for "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for joining us.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to our viewers around the world.

You're watching NEWSROOM L.A.

I'm Amara Walker.


We will begin with the very latest on the fire which engulfed a west London apartment building. At least a dozen now confirmed dead and there are fears that number will almost certainly rise.

And now more than 24 hours on since the fire started, the cause remains a mystery. Also unknown, just how many are actually missing.

WALKER: Firefighters are still searching for victims. Many may have been asleep when the fire broke out early Wednesday morning. Almost 80 people are being treated at hospitals and 18 in critical care.

Now what is baffling is just how quickly that fire spread. The building now is so gutted, you can see right through it.

VAUSE: Prime Minister Theresa May says there will be a full investigation, promising to learn any lessons from one of Britain's deadliest fires.

Residents say they had worries for years about fire safety at Grenfell Tower.

WALKER: Yes. Now there are questions about whether recent renovations to the building's exterior caused the fire to spread.

Fred Pleitgen has more.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The first fire crews that arrived at the Grenfell Tower said they were surprised at how quickly the flames were spreading -- eating their way up the side of the high-rise so fast many couldn't escape in time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard people screaming, you know, "save my child," things I don't want to repeat. But they were screaming in stress.

PLEITGEN: People who were trapped in the building?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were trapped in the building. They were under duress.

PLEITGEN: But in all the sorrow, serious questions about the building's emergency plan and its safety. The most recent guidance by the office managing the property from a newsletter to residents from 2014 telling occupants to stay in their apartments if there is a fire. That guidance, while not uncommon for high-rises may have proved deadly this case.

DAVID COLLINS, FORMER CHAIRMAN, GRENFELL TOWER RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION: The lights in the fire escape didn't work for the first ten floors. It was in complete darkness. There's no evacuation -- the evacuation procedure was to stay in your property.

PLEITGEN: A local advocacy group went even further, repeatedly calling the building's fire safety inadequate in the past years after the local counsel invested millions refurbishing the tower. Writing in its blog on Wednesday, "All our warnings fell on deaf ears, and we predicted a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time."

Residents who escaped the blaze and other witnesses say they believe the cladding on the building's exterior may have fanned the flames. The company that installed the cladding on the exterior of the London apartment building said in a statement that it is not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower.

A councilwoman telling CNN she believes local authorities are not to blame.

CATHERINE FAULKS, COUNCILWOMAN: Yes, people have been flagging up their concerns about this building. But as you probably know, the council has just done a $3 million refurbishment on it, during which obviously we hoped and we felt with our contractors that we had dealt with all those concerns.

PLEITGEN: The main contractor for the refurbishment says the work met, quote, "all the required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards." This community has been devastated by the Grenfell Tower fire. Many residents still unaccounted for. And for those who escaped, all are now displaced.

The authorities here say for the moment their main priority is still dealing with the fire and its aftermath. But they acknowledge that the many people who were affected will have some serious question, and that officials will need to provide honest answers.

And as the grief mounts, so does the anger. Many here feel that authorities they believe neglected their concerns until tragedy struck.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: There are so many unanswered questions in all of this. So to help us work out what may or may not have happened, we're joined by Robert Rowe, a fire investigator and president of Pyrocop, Inc. Robert -- you were with us when all this was happening. So we appreciate you coming back to try and work through all of this.

One of the big questions now is this advice which residents were given. In the United States they call it "shelter in place". In Britain they basically say "stay put". This is the fire action plan which the management company posted on their high-rise buildings in the area, presumably at Grenfell Tower as well.

About a third of the way down, it reads, "If you're in your flat and fire is elsewhere in the building, you should be initially safe to stay." So this advice, despite what happened in London in the past 24 hours, this is typical for high-rises not just in Britain, but pretty much everywhere, right?

[00:05:07] ROBERT, FIRE INVESTIGATOR: Yes, pretty much. I mean the safest thing to do actually is to stay in your apartment unit and avoid going into a hostile environment, a smoke environment, and do whatever you can do to keep that smoke from encroaching into your apartment unit. So, yes, that's the wise advice.

VAUSE: And that advice is also there because they want to avoid unnecessary evacuations. Let's take a look at the plans for Grenfell Tower because what we can see from the plans, you know, that's essentially the single stairwell. And that's what firefighters would have used. They would have been wearing breathing gear. They would have had to climb those stairs, 20 stories maybe more, possibly in the dark as well.

ROWE: That's correct. And you know, when you're sharing a staircase for firefighting purposes and for evacuation it is very difficult, number one, for the occupants to the building to get out of the building but also for the firefighters to make access into that staircase.

A lot of buildings, high-rise buildings have two staircases. In this case, that wasn't -- that wasn't the case.

VAUSE: Ok. So take us back to what happened at Grenfell Tower because the buildings are designed for the fire to be isolated in one flat or one apartment. Everyone stays in their individual homes, the firefighters get access, put it out, and should it be fine.

The question is why did the building fail in this case? I guess, why did the fire spread so quickly?

ROWE: Well, my understanding based on some of the video that I've seen and some of the historical fires that I've been involved with, there is a cladding that was attached to the outside of the building during the renovation process which is highly combustible.

And when you have a fire starting very low on the exterior of the building, and there is a wind-driven fire at that point going up and outside around the building, it's going to be consuming all of that combustible cladding and growing in intensity exponentially.

VAUSE: So if you look at this cladding, it's sort of made from aluminum or aluminum as they say, and some kind of expanded foam interior? And this is combustible. I was always under the impression it was meant to be actually kind of a fire retardant.

ROWE: Well, one would think, yes. And in some cases they do have fire retardant cladding. A lot of it has to do with cost. I don't know the particulars of this particular construction, but that is a factor. And it is more expensive to have the fire retardant product.

VAUSE: Which gets us to the issue of cost because we're told this building just went through, you know, a very expensive refurbishment last year -- 10 million pounds, about $12 million also. That gets to the question, if you're going to spend that sort of money on a face- lift, essentially, new hot water system, I think, and some landscaping, shouldn't there be some requirement or at least some moral requirement by the managers of the building to invest in a sprinkler system which this building did not have? You know, maybe better fire retardant cladding, that kind of thing?

ROWE: Well, there are codes in place to address those particular fire-related components. Personally, yes, I am a true believer in fire sprinklers. And in this case it would have completely been a whole different story.

But, yes, you're absolutely correct. Why wasn't that factored in to the renovation? That's a very good question. And I'm sure they're going to be looking into that in the future.

VAUSE: (inaudible) We heard from residents that there was not even a real fire alarm system in place, either.

ROWE: That's my understanding as well. And that's the early warning system.

VAUSE: So a lot of people could have got out if that had been there.

ROWE: That would have definitely helped these folks, yes.

VAUSE: Ok. Robert -- good to speak with you. Thank you.

ROWE: Thank you.

WALKER: Well, a sports club in west London has become a shelter for victims of the fire.

VAUSE: People have been donating food, clothing, bedding -- almost anything they have. CNN's Nina Dos Santos has more now on how a community is coming together to help.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Across parts of west London, community centers likes this one less than half a mile away from the Grenfell Tower have been opening up their doors to offer people what shelter they can, as well as the basic essentials that they will need for their first night outside of their homes.

Members of the community have been arriving right throughout the course of the day in large numbers, well into the night, offering water, food, clothing -- anything that people may well need. And they've also been offering accommodation in their own homes as well.

Across buildings like this, you'll see message boards with people putting their phone number down saying I have a spare room for you to borrow for today, for as long as you may need it. And that's offering some small comfort to those who have been so badly affected by this terrible tragedy.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN -- in west London.


WALKER: And you can help the victims of the London fire. Learn how by going to our Web site,

VAUSE: We will take a short break.

When we come back, a gunman has opened fire on U.S. congressmen playing baseball. We'll have the latest on his apparent target and the motives in just a moment.

[00:10:03] Plus, the President Trump's attorneys respond to a new report claiming he is under investigation for obstruction of justice.


WALKER: U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise will need more surgery after he was shot and wounded at a baseball practice game. President Trump and first lady Melania later visited the hospital where the Louisiana Republican is being treated. Mr. Trump sat by his bedside and spoke to his family.

VAUSE: The hospital says Scalise is in critical condition with injuries to his internal organs. The shooting left five other people hurt. The gunman was shot and killed.

CNN's Anderson Cooper reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have shots being fired, and there are people running -- possibly victims involved.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 7:09 a.m. -- shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've still got shots being fired.

COOPER: It was a congressional baseball team practice for a charity game -- that abruptly turned into a morning of terror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walking around the baseball field, I saw a man with a very large gun.

REP. CHUCK FLEISCHMANN (R), TENNESSEE: Within a few seconds, all of a sudden there were multiple gunshots being fired.

COOPER: The gunman firing bullets on a quiet suburban baseball field in the community of Del Ray, located in Alexandria, Virginia just seven miles from the Capitol.

Four people were struck, among them House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the number three Republican in the House of Representatives.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Congressman Scalise was playing second base and fielding some of the batting practice there. He had just batted a few guys before. And he dragged himself off of the infield into the outfield about 10 or 15 yards.

COOPER: Representative Scalise hit in the hip then crawled his way out of the line of fire. But it was multiple acts of courage, colleagues helping colleagues that helped save the day. Representative Brad Wenstrup, who served as a combat surgeon in Iraq, attended to Scalise.

REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R), OHIO: I felt like I was back in Iraq as a surgeon. Steve was conscious and ok.

COOPER: Representative Mo Brooks provided a tourniquet for a colleague bleeding badly.

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: You can see the bullet hole in his calf, and you know that's not ok. Took off my belt and myself and another congressman -- I don't remember who -- applied a tourniquet to try to slow down the bleeding.

COOPER: The heroes of the day, Capitol police officers who were there already on protective duty for Representative Scalise. They immediately returned fire.

Alexandria police arrived minutes later, and also exchanged bullets with the gunman. [00:15:07] FLEISCHMANN: Thank God from the Capitol police who were

there guarding our Majority Whip because we were sitting ducks in that dugout. When I got in the dugout, I realized there was blood all over the place. It was not a good place to be.

COOPER: Along with Scalise, three others were shot and injured -- Capitol police officer Crystal Griner, also Matt Mika a Tyson Foods lobbyist and former congressional staffer, and Zachary Barth, a staff member for Representative Roger Williams.

The President today calling for unity.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country.


WALKER: Let's bring in former FBI special agent Bobby Chacon now. Thanks so much for joining us.


WALKER: Obviously, a lot of the signs point to this attack being politically motivated. The shooter reportedly asking a congressperson before going on this rampage whether or not it was Republicans or Democrats who were on the baseball field. So how are investigators going about this investigation right now? What are the big questions that are being asked?

CHACON: Well, the big questions I think for me would be to see who else he had been associating with. He has been living from what we understand, either alternatively out of a van or at the local YMCA where he's been known to hang out. So you want to know who he has been frequenting with, who he's been associating with, hanging out with.

You really want to know if, you know, it looks like obviously, hopefully an isolated event from a deranged individual and we can speculate on that. But the investigators, they need to nail that down. They need to make sure. They don't have the luxury of saying yes, this looks like what it is. They need to make sure that's what it is.

And so they're going to be looking at his friends, his family, any associates that he has been hanging out with, people back in his hometown in Illinois, people who he might have been associating with here. You know, how recently did he move to the Virginia-D.C. area?

There is combing obviously his social media. I saw one quote today from where he actually mentioned Congressman Scalise by name in one of his posts.

WALKER: Right. CHACON: So I mean they're looking at all of that. Mainly, the big

thing now is to see if he acted alone, if he had, you know, any counterparts or any associates that, you know, harbored similar feelings.

WALKER: You talk about social media and the suspect's Facebook page is filled with anti-Trump postings, anti-Republican comments as well. He also had this one post where he wrote, quote, "Trump is a traitor. Trump has destroyed our democracy. It's time to destroy Trump and company."

It almost sounds like a threat against the President. Obviously that would be a crime if that were a threat. So the question is, you know, was this a missed opportunity, or not, considering we live in a very polarized environment. And I'm sure there is a plethora of angry social media postings out there, and you can't flag every single one.

CHACON: You're exactly right. You know, that's exactly right. In the old days, maybe this would have been picked up by the Secret Service. But now with the polarization that we have, with the advent of social media where everybody, you know, is a keyboard cowboy and can go out there and be brave and say these things, it would be impossible to track everybody down and be thought police on the Internet.


CHACON: You know, a guy like this -- you're right -- it would just be impossible.

WALKER: And clearly, people are angry. I mean I don't have to tell you this. In the United States it is a very polarized and tense political situation. I just want to show you some video of just recent Republican town halls where there has been a lot of yelling and anger leveled at lawmakers. Take a look at this.


CROWD: Shame on you. Shame on you.


WALKER: So obviously, there is a lot of concern now amongst congress people about their safety when they go out to these town halls, meeting their constituents, having these rallies. And the question is how can they be protected? I know some congress people have been talking about tele-town halls where they call in so they can be, you know, shielded from any dangerous people.

CHACON: And that's the shame of this all. It's that, you know, I actually look at some of those town halls and think that's one of the healthy parts of our democracy is when people can, you know, speak up, especially with their, you know, unhappiness with their representatives.

However, now because everything is so polarized, and because of this movement of everybody has to be villainized, if you don't agree with me you're the enemy and you have to be destroyed or you have to be stopped, you know.

[00:20:01] So, you know, I wouldn't like to see, you know, congress people have to get protection because we're, you know, we're supposed to be a citizen government, and we're supposed to be governed by the people. And people, you know, citizen representatives.

And you know, that's a long history in this country that we don't have a ruling elite and so I think that that would be a terrible road to go down to start. But at the same time, I sympathize.

I saw one of the congressmen today who survived the shooting. I don't think he got injured today. But he said since his stand on some of the Obamacare reforms, he would get e-mails saying they hope his six- month-old daughter dies. So I think the rhetoric has reached an all- time high. And I think it's time for national leaders on both sides of the aisle to come together and start lowering, you know, the vitriol that has been plaguing us for, you know, too long.

WALKER: And we definitely should mention it was the Capitol police, the couple of them who were there that were the true heroes in this.

CHACON: Absolutely.

WALKER: And luckily they were there as part of Congressman Scalise's security detail. And if they weren't there, like Rand Paul said, it would have been a massacre.

Bobby Chacon -- we're going leave it there. Really appreciate your expertise. Thank you very much.

CHACON: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Well, we will continue now with political commentator and talk radio host Mo Kelly and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist John Thomas. Good to have you both here.

Sad day. This was an important moment for the President. This is his first sort of consoler-in-chief or sympathizer-in-chief moment. His tones, his words were measured. They were meaningful.

Mo -- were you among those who were anxious before Mr. Trump made that address that maybe he wouldn't hit the right tone?

MO KELLY, RADIO HOST: I was not anxious. I think he does very fine work when he is in front of a teleprompter. I'm more concerned what he may say in the coming days.

I hope that we don't have a post London moment where he is either trying to make a partisan remark or make political hay. The tone he struck today was just fine. I just want more consistency as far as how he presents himself publicly.

He has a great opportunity to set the tone going forward for how we deal with each other as Americans and politicians in America. I just want more consistency.

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, I thought Trump's remarks were measured and appropriate. And I thought Speaker Ryan's remarks were good as well and same with Nancy Pelosi's. But I think the bigger struggle I'm having as I learn more about this shooter is that the rhetoric that he used is the same rhetoric that much of the Democratic Party is using to resist and stop Trump.

I mean I live in downtown Los Angeles. And we see protests everyday where they're burning Steve Bannon's head, you know, marching pinatas with knives in Trump right in front of our street. And that's ok to resist Trump.

I hope that the Democratic Party takes a deep look and thinks that hey, it's not ok at your conventions to give the middle finger to the President because it just isn't the right kind of show.


KELLY: With President Obama, they burned dummies and effigies. I mean we can't talk about this shooting today in a vacuum. There is the pizza gate shooter. There is another time as far as the Portland train stabbing.

We are a violent, angry nation, regardless of political affiliation. And we're wrapped in a gun culture so we should not be surprised when it bears itself out.

WALKER: So clearly as we're seeing just between the rhetoric between you two, I mean this shooting will -- the reality is the shooting is only going to inflame the political tensions that we're seeing in this country, rather than keeping this political unity that seems to be fleeting.

THOMAS: Yes. I don't see the unity sticking. I mean, you're already seeing the cracks in there. The Democrats are using an opportunity to call for gun control. Republicans are using it as an opportunity to call for more guns.

So the debate is already shifting. People are already taking their sides. I wish we could stay in the moment that we are today that we saw unity but I don't see it lasting.

VAUSE: Well, to your point, that is exactly what happened just moments after the shooting. There was the former house speaker, Trump supporter Newt Gingrich. Listen to this.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER REPUBLICAN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The intensity on the left is very real whether it is somebody holding up -- a so- called comedian holding up, you know, the President's head in blood. Or it's right here in New York City, a play that shows the President being assassinated.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: And then on the left it was all about gun control and blaming the NRA. Listen to Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia governor.


GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: I think we need to do more to protect all of our citizens. I have long advocated -- this is not what today is about -- but there are too many guns on the street. I've long talked about this. Background checks, shutting down gun show loop holes.

That's not for today's discussion. But it's not just about politicians. We worry about this every day for all of our citizens.


VAUSE: Mo, is it so ingrained now, at least for, you know, a small percentage of both sides that they just can't stop what they've been doing for so long?

KELLY: Yes. And this I think applies to both sides of the aisle too --



[00:25:00] KELLY: -- if only because the other side has been cast as not only the other side, but the enemy. And when you see them as the enemy, you see them as less than human. And this would be the likely result of that.

Once again, this is not something we should talk about in a vacuum. We have been moving towards this for many years. We can go back and talk about Gabby Giffords. We can talk about Newtown.

There is a fundamental anger in America which is not being addressed, which supersedes politics.

WALKER: John -- what is your reaction to what Newt Gingrich had to say? Is this the time and the place to be pointing the finger at this time? And what he says, doesn't it undermine the President's message of unity?

THOMAS: Look, Trump -- Newt Gingrich is not a spokesperson for Donald Trump. He was on Fox News. I mean what do you expect from him?

VAUSE: He's an official adviser.

THOMAS: But look -- I do think it's fair. I don't think today is the right place for it. But I do think it's fair to really analyze why did we get to this point? I think that's fair.

VAUSE: Part of it. Ok. On the flip side of all of this, the managers of the Republican Democratic baseball teams, they had a joint press conference. It was especially emotional for the Republican Joe Barton -- his 10-year-old son was with him at the baseball field when the shooting started. Let's listen to some of the news conference between these two guys.


REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: When my son Jack was born, I was chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. And Jack got as many presents from the Democrats as he did from the Republicans. And he still has some of those. He was at practice this morning, and not only -- he had 25 dads. Everybody out there was looking out for him. Not just me.

REP. MIKE DOYLE (D), NEBRASKA: First thing I thought about when that happened was Jack.


DOYLE: And that he was going to be ok.



KELLY: Long gone are the days of Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan. We've moved through a period of incivility. And now we're just moving into a period of violence. And I don't believe that either side really wants to get back to those days. It's about being right as opposed to being righteous.

And unfortunately we have a generation of folks now who only know this political rancor, don't remember the days in which we actually liked each other.

VAUSE: John -- very quickly -- was that a moment or is this just a moment?

THOMAS: I mean it hits so personally these people. Of course it's emotional. Of course, they're going to share that moment.

VAUSE: Just a moment.

THOMAS: It's not going to last.

KELLY: It's impossible.

WALKER: That's the reality. Yes.

VAUSE: Gentlemen -- thanks.

WALKER: Thank you -- John Thomas, Mo Kelly.

VAUSE: Well, President Trump could be facing new legal trouble. How his personal attorney is responding to reports of a possible obstruction of justice investigation.

WALKER: Also, families are desperately searching for missing loved ones after the deadly apartment building fire in London.


[00:30:20] AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. 12 people are confirmed dead after a massive fire destroyed an apartment building in West London.

Dozens more are receiving care in the hospital, and London's fire brigade says the flames started burning on the lower floors and then moved up fast.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Residents had raised concerns about fire safety a number of times in the past. But it's not clear yet what started the fire, which overtook the entire high-rise.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan offered his condolences in the aftermath.


SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: My thoughts and prayers, as I'm sure the thoughts and prayers of the entire country are with the family and friends of those in the building and affected by this tragic and horrific fire.


VAUSE: Well for many there is anguish and uncertainty now. They just don't know what has happened to their friends and families.

WALKER: You know, witnesses have been talking about what they saw and their concerns for their loved ones.


MOHAMMAD BOVIYA, WITNESS: From eight floor or sixth floor, I could just see the whole thing just shoot up. It was like someone poured gasoline over it. This ain't your normal fire or burn. This is somewhat like it's burn from the bottom to the top.

From where I was standing, all I could hear was screams, help, get me out. I think about 2:20. I saw two people jump from the right-hand side. And I still have friends on 18th -- well, relatives that are still on the 18 floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Have you heard from your friends?

BOVIYA: I have not heard anything from the people in the 13th or the 20th floor. And from what we were told, the people that got my friend out on the 11th floor, that said from the fire brigade said from the 15th to up, there was no way they could get into the building at that time.

SALAH CHEBKOUNI, GRENFELL TOWER RESIDENT: I heard people say help. I see someone jumping from the window. A child. My brother-in-law live in the 20th floor. We call them. We say we need to get out. And he said, no, we can't because someone told them to stay inside door, it's more safe. But the flame come from all side. And I don't know now what happened to him. We tried to call him, but I don't know what happened.

HABEBA HOUSAN, FRIEND OF MISSING PERSON: A friend told me that they have been looking for her since 2:00 in the morning, and they couldn't find anything. And they just told me in hospital. And as you see, we don't know nothing, what's happened. And they don't know. We don't know if they're alive or dead or if they're in hospital or not. We have no any clue. Just waiting and hoping.

I don't want to say anything. I just want everything to be -- I just don't want to say anything and wait. Because she -- I just -- I just want her to be well with the kids. I don't want to miss her. I want her to come back. That's all.


WALKER: The probe into Russian election meddling reportedly is now targeting the president of the United States for possible obstruction of justice. According to "The Washington Post," Special Counsel Robert Mueller has expanded his investigation to include U.S. President Donald Trump.

VAUSE: It's a dramatic shift for when former FBI Director James Comey said Mr. Trump was not personally under investigation.

A reporter who helped break the story explained to CNN what has now changed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Comey spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, he had assured -- he explained how he had assured Trump that he wasn't being investigated personally. And so what we've learned here is that in fact there was a change within the FBI. And they were investigating him for potential obstruction.


VAUSE: Back with us now political commentator, talk radio host Mo Kelly and CNN political commenter, Republican strategist John Thomas.

This is probably the last thing the president wanted. It was his birthday on Wednesday, turned 71.

"The Post" is reporting this could be a major turning point in the FBI investigation. Sources are telling CNN that Mueller's team plans to talk to senior intelligence officials soon about their role in the obstruction of justice case.

John, clearly, this is everything the Republicans had feared about a special counsel and the investigation moving way beyond anything to do with Russia and last year's election.

[00:35:00] JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: 100 percent. And that's the risk is that a special counsel first of all needs to find something, right? And so if they can't get what originally they were tasked with was Russian collusion, it seems to be no there, there are at least as it relates to the president directly.

You know, this -- the problem with this is it's an unforced error, right? President Trump caused this on himself. And I think we're going to now publicly discuss what the word "hope" means and whether or not that is obstruction. The good news as I was telling Mo earlier is --


THOMAS: Yes. The good news is Trump doesn't do things behind closed doors that he doesn't do on his Twitter account. He doesn't do it publicly.

VAUSE: Well, we will find out, I guess.

THOMAS: You know, what's going on.

WALKER: It's quite ironic, though, right. You had Trump telling Comey to go public, that he was not under investigation, and then he fires Comey, and it's public that he is reportedly under investigation.

THOMAS: That's what is so strange.

WALKER: Yes. But I mean, Mo, if you can talk about is this a huge turning point? Do you see it that way?

KELLY: He should have been able to see this coming. If only because when President Trump said he wasn't personally under investigation, do we look at Enron, we look at the Madoff investigation, they were investigating the companies. And then the CEOs of the companies were implicated.

The investigation on the Trump campaign by definition is going to include Steve Bannon. It's going to include Donald Trump and other advisers.

Donald Trump got out in front of this, but he got too far out in front or at least alleging that he had been exonerated. And here we are.

THOMAS: But they are looking at obstruction, right? I mean, that's where they're going. And it's so stupid because he was obstructing something that he didn't allegedly -- he was obstructing something that he didn't -- that was never there.

VAUSE: Right. Mo, we should have seen this coming if anybody was watching James Comey testify before the Senate last week.

Listen to this.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that's a conclusion I'm sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offense.


VAUSE: You know, Comey can try his best he is, just the facts man impersonation there. But he laid out the entire case.


KELLY: Absolutely. He was playing chess. And our president, as they say, was playing checkers. There was an opportunity for President Trump to your point to not step in his own mess. But he did. And now we're in a situation where if you go back to President Clinton, it started with white water. It ended with Monica Lewinsky.

So, also to your point, we don't know where this is going to go. But it's only because President Trump put him in a situation where they had to choose a special counsel and a prosecutor.

THOMAS: But it also opens up questions about the alleged obstruction. I mean, if Comey felt so strongly that obstruction was occurring, why did he not tell the White House counsel? You know, why did he not sound the alarms in the moment?

VAUSE: Well, we could talk about that -- we had talked about that before. That's not exactly what we're looking at here.

WALKER: I mean, now you have...


VAUSE: But that's right.

WALKER: ...the Intel chief saying that they are willing to cooperate and talk to the special counsel. Are you concerned about that at all? Considering that Dan Coats and Mike Rogers, they weren't exactly very forth coming in their testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. And it doesn't look like they'll be able to use executive privilege this time around, especially when it comes to a criminal investigation.

THOMAS: No, I want the truth to come out. So I'm not concerned about it at all. I think it's the right thing to do.

KELLY: Good. Because we're one step away from the president being possibly subpoena and have to then either exert executive privilege or plead the Fifth. I don't want to get too far out in front.


KELLY: But now since you're looking at obstruction of justice, it is then reasonable to have the president come forward and speak on his own behalf.

VAUSE: OK. Well, a spokesman for the president's personal lawyer issued a statement about this, a very brief one. Here's what it read.

"The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal."

Mo, that is straight from the Republican talking points. You know, attack the story, you know, attack the leaks, muddy the waters.

KELLY: Yes. My thing is, is there a leak? Because if there is, that means the information is true or credible. You can't be leaking something which is not fake. I mean, we still have to deal with both. Is there a crime which has been committed? And then they leaked that information to the press? Or is there no crime and they're making it up? So, ultimately, we have to deal with both.

THOMAS: Yes. They weren't denying the truth of the leak. But leaks are a huge issue. And we haven't dealt with that. Even Comey appears to be a leaker.

VAUSE: Everyone is a leaker it seems.

John and Mo, thank you.

WALKER: A quick break here. And then how people in the Muslim community were among the first to help their neighbors as that deadly fire tore through an apartment tower in London. More after this break.


[00:41:41] VAUSE: Well, the fire at London's Grenfell Tower may have killed even more people if it was not for the holy month of Ramadan.

WALKER: Yes, many Muslims who had been up for early morning prayers. They saw what was happening and jumped to the rescue.

Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please find yourself a place to sit down, share the food with everyone. Wait for the call of prayers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it wasn't for Ramadan and people having their last supper (INAUDIBLE), lives were saved because of that, because they were awake and they fled the fire quickly. So they just run up.

If it was like a normal day, they would be asleep and it would cause a lot of casualties.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you can see just behind me, there is a communal ritual taking place. And everyone is standing together. And I think that's the most important thing that has come out of this tragic event, that at least we are here standing together, supporting our community members in this tragic day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a lot of people that are Muslim. There is a lot of people that are Christian. You know what there is, though? There is a lot of people. That's all that matters. Forget everything else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best thing about today has been seeing how generous people are, especially at a time when things are quite tense. The beautiful thing is everyone has come together and everyone has come here to support the people. It doesn't matter what color skin we. It doesn't matter where we're from, what chapter we represent. Every single person is here to make sure the people who are affected and the people who need help the most have that help.


VAUSE: Great story.

WALKER: Absolutely. And that is our time for now. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Amara Walker.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next. And then we will be live in London with more on the deadly high-rise fire at the top of the hour. You're watching CNN.