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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
New Details: Mueller's Meeting with House Intel Leaders Tonight; W.H. Won't Say If Trump Believes Russia Meddled In Election; Mueller Expands Russia Probe Staff, Up To 13 Lawyers; New Activity Detected At North Korea Nuclear Test Site; Polls Just Closed in Georgia, First Results Coming In. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 20, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll see what happens on that very sad story, indeed. That's it for me. Thanks for watching. ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Special Counsel Bob Mueller and top House investigators behind closed doors at this moment. Plus, President Trump speaks out of the death of an American held in North Korea. He says Otto Warmbier should have come home a long time ago. Tonight, Obama firing back.
And more breaking news, the first results from Georgia's special congressional election moments away. It is a massive test for Trump. He's put his credibility on the line. Will he score a victory or take a hit this hour? Let's go OUTFRONT.
All right, good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, Special Counsel Bob Mueller turning up the hit in the Russia investigation tonight. Mueller on Capitol Hill this evening behind closed doors with the leader of the House Intelligence Committee.
And as the investigation picks up steam, the White House tonight is actually dismissing the very idea that Russia meddled in the presidential election. Here is Sean Spicer this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does President Trump believe that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 elections?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That comes as we are counting down to this week's deadline for the White House to produce tapes of the president's conversations with Jim Comey. Since Trump first tweeted that tapes may exist, five weeks ago, the White House has continuously dodged questions of when we will know more about them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Well, I'll tell you about that maybe some time in the very near future.
SPICER: The president made clear at the Rose Garden last week that he will have announcement shortly.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: He'll let us know. Everybody has to wait and see.
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER OF THE PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: I think the president is going to address that in the week ahead.
SPICER: The president has said that he will make an announcement on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's absurd. Either there are no tapes or there are and he should have produced them already. Where are they? We're going to get to that in just a moment.
I want to begin, though, with the other breaking story this hour. Polls have just closed a minute and a half ago in the special election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel in Georgia. It is the most important election since the presidential contest, a referendum on Trump himself.
Brianna Keilar is outfront in Georgia. And, Brianna, this is an election that matters in the White House and, frankly, around this country.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is why so many people are paying attention, Erin, including President Trump. Both of these candidates here, Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff, are trying to make this is a local election, but there are so many eyes on district six here in Georgia as an indication about how people are feeling and what is a very red district.
When you look back to November, it's pretty stunning because Tom Price, who ended up vacating this seat to be the Health and Human Services secretary and that's why they're having this election, he won re-election for his House seat by 23 points, but Donald Trump only vested Hillary Clinton by a point and change.
So this is where Democrats have seen opportunity in this 30-year-old documentary film maker who used to be a congressional staffer as he's up against in a neck and neck race with Karen Handel, who is the former Secretary of State here in Georgia. The question is though, can you really extrapolate out what this will mean on the national scale.
There is so much money here. It has broken records. Over $50 million coming from the campaigns, coming from outside groups and talking to a lot of Democrats and Republicans, they say it is tough to say because that really does mess with the math when you're looking to see how you could make this apply to the midterm elections. We'll see.
BURNETT: All right. Brianna, thank you very much.
And as I said, results could come this hour. It would be, of course, stunning upset if the Democrat were to win. We're going to get the early results in just a few moments and we're going to bring them to you. A race being watched very closely by the president in this hour who has put his credibility on the line and tweet after tweet.
I want to get now to the other breaking story. At this hour though, the Special Counsel Bob Mueller on Capitol Hill tonight, there to meet with the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee about the Russia probe.
Manu Raju was on Capitol Hill tonight. Manu, you've been breaking details on this tonight. You're learning more about this meeting and Bob Mueller going to Capitol Hill tonight.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yeah, that's right. Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee just wrapped up a meeting that lasted over an hour in a classified briefing room on the outside of the capital.
Just moments after that briefing, Mike Conaway, the Republican who is now leading this Russia investigation said that they are trying to set up a system in which their investigation could move forward and which would not conflict with what Bob Mueller, the special counsel is now doing.
Now, this comes as Mueller is making a round of meetings on Capitol Hill, meeting with the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee last week and tomorrow, meeting with leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee -- that committee now looking into the issue of FBI interference and questions about whether or not there was know obstruction by President Trump and the way he handled his firing of James Comey and the questions about his handling of the Michael Flynn investigation as well.
So, Bob Mueller now moving forward, making sure that the people on Capitol Hill do not conflict with his investigation in any way, one big reason why he's up here today, Erin.
[19:05:07] BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. We're going to be joined by a member of the House Intelligence Committee to talk about that meeting that just wrapped up in just a moment.
The amazing thing here is though that as this investigation is heating up, at the White House today, the Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to say whether the President of the United States believes that Russia interfered with the election, which of course is an established fact by intelligence agencies in this country.
Jim Acosta is outfront at the White House. Jim, you were there for what really was a stunning moment. JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. The cameras were on at the White House press briefing today, but it was still pretty opaque on the subject of Russia-White House.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer could not answer whether the president believes Russia interfered in the last presidential election. Incredibly, he said even though this is an issue that is crucial to the future of this presidency, he could not say -- or he said that he has not spoken to the president about what his belief is on this issue. Here is how it went down.
(BEGIN VIDEP CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Generally speaking, I mean this conversation about Russian interference in our elections, there is 16 intelligence agencies that say that they did. The former FBI director said that without a doubt the Russians --
SPICER: I understand. I have seen the reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president share those views?
SPICER: I have not sat down and asked him about his specific reaction to them, so I'd be glad to touch base and get back to you.
ACOSTA: Didn't he say it was fake news, Sean? Wasn't the president said that it was fake news?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And the president didn't want to answer our follow up question, Erin, because, of course, the president has in fact on multiple occasions referred to the Russia investigation as fake news.
Now, we should point out, there are other non-answers from Sean Spicer during the briefing today. He could not say whether or not the president has read the health care bill coming out of the Senate right now that is being crafted in the Senate right now.
Just yesterday he said he could not tell us whether or not the president beliefs in climate change. And as you noted at the top of this broadcast, they are still not saying whether or not the president has recordings of his conversation here at the White House so the question goes on, where are the tapes, Erin.
BURNETT: Where are those tapes? Thank you very much, Jim Acosta.
And outfront now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congresswoman, good to have you back.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: Thank you.
BURNETT: Let me start with the breaking news. Special Counsel Bob Mueller just wrapping up a briefing with the leaders of your committee tonight coming on the early hours of this evening spending about an hour with them. Are you able to tell us anything about it?
SPEIER: You know, I actually can't confirm it. But I can tell you that deconfliction is a key component of the House Intelligence Committee being able to move forward and not to in any way create difficulty toward the investigation that's being conducted by the special counsel.
BURNETT: So let me ask you this, because when you say deconfliction that's what Manu is talking about. The special counsel obviously is trying to streamline this to -- in his words, deconflict the various investigations. Do you think, Congresswoman, that your investigation in the House Intelligence Committee is interfering with Mueller's work in any way?
SPEIER: No. I actually do not. I mean, first of all, the special counsel is looking at criminal conduct and the standard is obviously much higher. We're not even looking at any kind of an action being taken civilly or criminally.
What we're looking at is what we are going to do to first improve the system in this country so that Russian hacking will never ever happen again or have any impact on our election. And secondly, to what extent there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
BURNETT: Do you think that whether the president obstructed justice in any way, including with the firing of Jim Comey, should be part of your investigation?
SPEIER: I don't think we're at a point in our investigation that we could even venture there, because we are really at the very beginning of the investigation. We have yet to interview our very first witness. So until we interview the key witnesses, we're not going to be able to make that kind of an assessment.
BURNETT: All right. So let me just ask you on that point though. When you say at the very early stages, there are some who say, "Come on, how can that be true?" This has been eight months of various investigations. We've got multiple committees, from yourself, to the Senate, to judiciary, now we've got Bob Mueller. How can it still be at the very beginning?
SPEIER: Well, because we -- you know, because you have to coordinate with the majority. You've got to agree on who is going to be called to answer, who could be on the witness list. There are questions that are sent out that they have to respond to before we do the interviews because we want to have a foundation on which to ask questions. So it does take time.
And, remember, you know, if you go back to the Benghazi hearings, that went on for two to three years and many, many interviews before they ever had their very first hearing.
BURNETT: And you just heard Sean Spicer say that he has not spoken to the president about whether the Russians hacked the election. Do you believe Sean Spicer? SPEIER: No. I don't believe Sean Spicer and that's what makes this so problematic. We have the entire intelligence community, all 17 agencies, saying with high confidence that, "Yes, the Russians hacked."
[19:10:04] And the president has done a molly amount response for -- every time he's asked the question and now Sean Spicer is for all intents and purposes saying, "Oh, I don't really even know."
I mean, this is their effort to try and move away from what has been one of the greatest impacts on our democracy ever. Imagine if we had Russians working in the election department as spies throughout our country, would we just allow that to go on? And for all intents and purposes, that is exactly what happened.
BURNETT: Part of what we'll answer questions, of course, would be whether the President of the United States has tapes of his conversations with Jim Comey, right, as he intimated that he may have on Twitter when he brought this up five weeks ago.
Your committee has put a deadline out, this week, right, this Friday. You've said, "On Friday, White House, put out any recordings you may have of the president and the former FBI Director Jim Comey." Sean Spicer was also asked about the tapes today, Congresswoman, and here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: The president has said that he will make an announcement on this. I expect it this week. And so when he's ready to make that announcement, we'll let you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The president said soon, shortly. Now, it's this week. Look, your deadline is this week. Do you have any indication, Congresswoman, as to whether they are going to give you an answer? A hard and fast answer, "Here are the tapes." Or, "No, we completely misled the entire country about having tapes." Will you get that answer on Friday?
SPEIER: Well, I think they're clearly signaling that they're going to have the answer by Friday. But this is very typical of the president. He said he was going to release his tax return all through his campaign as soon as the audit was over. And then after he was elected, "No, I'm not going to release my tax return." He always loves to create drama. And you either have tapes or you don't have tapes. And you should be able to admit that to the American people.
SPEIER: I find his lack of trustworthiness really problematic.
BURNETT: Do you think he made the whole thing up when he raised the whole idea of tapes?
SPEIER: I absolutely do.
BURNETT: And now he's just strung everybody along for the drama of it that he made up.
SPEIER: Yes. You know, we went from no drama Obama to drama every 10 seconds in this administration. It's really bringing our government to a halt because we can't do our work when we're constantly responding to, you know, the most recent tweet.
BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, the special counsel adding new lawyers to his team today, including one who has a specialty flipping witnesses. Who's the target?
Plus, President Trump suggesting Obama is to blame for the death of a young American held captive in North Korea and now Obama firing back.
And breaking news, we're moments away from those first results of the Georgia congressional race. Will Trump score a major victory or face a huge upset?
[19:16:40] BURNETT: New this hour, staffing up, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his staff for the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
There are now 13 lawyers who have been brought on to Mueller's investigation. The latest additions include Elizabeth Prelogar, an attorney with the Solicitor General's Office and also joining a man with a skill that could be crucial for the investigation getting a lot of attention.
Laura Jarrett is outfront. And, Laura, this is Andrew Weissman, veteran federal prosecutor. Why is he such a key player?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Erin, Weissman's appears (inaudible) he's not only brilliant, but he's tenacious. He's investigated everything from Enron to tough cases against the mob. But sources say he has a particular knack for persuading witnesses to flip on each other and figuring out their pressure points. Back in the Enron case, Weissman charged the chief financial officer's wife in order to put pressure on her husband to testify and it worked.
Now, up until recently, Weissman led the Justice Department's criminal fraud unit, but perhaps most importantly, this is someone who Special Counsel Bob Mueller trusts. The two worked together back at the FBI. He was Mueller's general counsel and so you could say this new team is something of a reunion.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Laura, obviously significant there with that addition. Outfront now, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem and Senior Congressional Correspondent for the Washington Examiner David Drucker.
Juliette, you heard Laura's reporting. Bob Mueller is expanding his staff for the Russia investigation. How significant is this? We're now up to 13 attorneys.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's significant just given the scope of expertise of Mueller's team now. So it's not just a group of prosecutors. They have specialties in financial dealings and financial and banking networks and now with this hiring of Weissman, the sort of a focus on the capacity of getting someone to turn on a network or a conspiracy.
So the idea that seems to be floating out there now, that, "Oh, this has just become an obstruction of justice case and there is no underlying crime or they haven't found a smoking gun yet," I think is ridiculous at this stage. This team would not be put together, would not be investigating this much if it were just an obstruction case at this stage.
BURNETT: David, you know, to that point, you know, you just heard one of the people joining is a veteran prosecutor with a specific ability to flip witnesses, get somebody to turn against everybody else. How big of a concern is this for the White House?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think any time you have a special counsel situation a White House is going to be concerned. We have seen in the '90s with President Clinton and the Whitewater investigation, it starts over here and ends over there.
And the same thing happened in a way under President George W. Bush with the Plame affair where -- that they started looking for who leaked the name and the person who did the leaking was never fingered, but somebody else took the fall for something else.
DRUCKER: So as a political matter, you have to be concerned and you have to deal with that. But, look, Bob Mueller -- I talk to Republicans on the Hill a lot and I haven't found anybody to assail Mueller's credibility or his character. And if he's going to do a proper investigation that's going to have credibility, he has to assemble a team that could it done. Otherwise, if he finds nothing, then people won't trust that result either.
BURNETT: Should people trust this? So, Juliette, I simply point to, you know, Newt Gingrich coming out the other day with a tweet, "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he's hiring. Checked the FEC reports. It's time to rethink."
[19:20:09] We checked those FEC reports. Three members at least of the legal team that Mueller has assembled have given their political donations almost exclusively to Democrats. Is that an issue? Is there bias?
KAYYEM: Bob Mueller has been appointed mostly by Republicans and then was extended by President Obama. So at least the lead has some Republican credit. But, I think it's pretty safe to say that Mueller does not read Newt Gingrich's tweets. I mean, his head is down. There's not -- he's just focused on what he can deliver and his obligation to deliver the truth.
BURNETT: If you are on Trump's team, what you want is a thorough investigation so that this will go away and the administration and the White House can actually focus on work.
So, David, this comes as some Democrats are now saying that the fired national security advisor, Michael Flynn, is cooperating. And obviously, that's significant in many ways. But one of them could be that he, in exchange for his cooperation, is willing to, well, let's just say flip or turn or dish on somebody else. How big of a risk is Flynn?
DRUCKER: Well, look, Flynn has been a problem for the president from the very beginning and I can't understand the president's loyalty to Flynn because of that, because most of the president's problems with the Russia investigation, which is a serious matter that the president should want to get to the bottom of really stems from Flynn, what he didn't tell the transition team, what he didn't tell the administration and all of the things that we continue to find out about his foreign dealings.
So, clearly, it's a concern. I think Democrats should be careful about getting ahead of themselves because if they start to insinuate that more is going on, that they are actually able to prove, then this investigation is going to look more political than maybe it is and that's going to -- it's going to make it harder for Republicans and for voters out in the country who are skeptical and worried about it to actually believe that it is above board.
BURNETT: So, Juliette, you know, when David mentions that the loyalty that the president has for General Flynn, he does. He's had it since the beginning and he's had it even after he fired him. Here's a quick clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man. I do think he's a find man.
A truly great general right here. Mike, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: If Flynn did something criminal, Juliette, is there any implication to the president because of that loyalty? And, of course, because of what the FBI director, Jim Comey, says the president asked which was for him to drop the investigation into Flynn.
KAYYEM: Yeah, I think so. You know, just picking up on what David said, I just really respect that point. I don't think even Democrats should read too much into any part of this. We don't know if this investigation is going towards financial dealings or all the way to collusion, because remember --
KAYYEM: -- Mueller also may be investigating data management in the campaign, things that implicating Jared Kushner. So this is a wide investigation.
The fact that Trump camps sort of dropped Flynn is interesting. It may have something to do with Trump's personality. And I also think we are going to have to begin to discuss the potential that Trump may try to -- or may pardon some of these characters.
He's allowed to do anticipatory pardons. They don't have to be charge with anything and you do wonder as this investigation continues and gets closer to people like Jared Kushner or Mike Flynn, what the president's move will be. Nothing shocks me anymore and so, that is I think maybe another shoe to drop.
BURNETT: Would that shock you, David, if he did that?
DRUCKER: No. I don't think anything with this president shocks me. You know, so much of the president's trouble is not so much what has happened but how he handles what has happened.
He fired James Comey. If he would have handled it differently and had things line up, he might not have ended up in this mess. But that's just, you know, what we've seen from the president over time, so it wouldn't shock me if it happen again.
BURNETT: And perhaps it would have ended up under investigation himself, which of course we understand that he now is after he fired Jim Comey (inaudible). Thank you both. Appreciate it.
And next the breaking news, U.S. spies satellites tonight spotting new activity at a North Korean nuclear test site. This comes as the president here's to blame Obama for the death of an American held by Kim Jong-un and Obama firing back.
And the results coming in from the Georgia congressional ways. We expected the first ones to come in, in just a couple of moments, a major referendum on President Trump. The first tally coming after this.
[19:28:17] BURNETT: Breaking news. CNN has learned that U.S. spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site. Officials say it is the only time that they have seen movement at the site in several weeks.
Obviously significant given the timing concern that North Korea could carry out a test tomorrow, those officials tell us, to coincide with the visit by top Chinese officials to Washington. That would be a major, major step and it comes as President Trump says the tragic death of Otto Warmbier, who was detained in North Korea, could have been prevented.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto. That should never, ever be allowed to happen. And, frankly, if he were brought home sooner, I think the result would have been a lot different. He should have been brought home that same day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jim Acosta is outfront at the White House. Jim, pretty forceful language. He should have been brought home that same day. Of course, that same day was under the watch of Barack Obama.
ACOSTA: That's right, Erin. You heard the president criticize former President Obama over the Iran-nuclear deal, the Paris Climate Agreement, Obamacare, and so on. But this takes the iciness between President Trump and President Obama to a whole new level with the president at the White House today suggesting that former President Obama was somehow to blame for the death of Otto Warmbier.
But get to this, Erin, he also seems to be acknowledging the president is that his own policy decision to have China and get itself involved in all of this may not have worked out.
We can put his tweet up on screen. It says -- this came from the president earlier this afternoon. "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help out with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried."
Erin, that's a direct reference to the president's attempt earlier this year to get China and President Xi involved in prodding North Korea to restrain itself.
[19:30:06] Obviously, that has not worked out. And keep in mind, the president traded some leniency towards China for that kind of cooperation.
ACOSTA: Remember during the campaign, he promised to get tough on China in trade and declared them a currency manipulator and so on. And so, the big question moving forward is, does the president want to go down that road when it comes to getting tough on China on trade? That would be, obviously, a very big development for the U.S. and China.
But we should caution our viewers, we did reach out to some senior administration officials early today who essentially told us, Erin, they don't know what the president was getting at in these tweets. So, we'll be digging into this further -- Erin.
BURNETT: They along with so many others on so many tweets. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. ACOSTA: Absolutely, right.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, the former deputy secretary of state, national security advisor Tony Blinken, and CNN military analyst, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colonel Cedric Leighton.
Tony, let me start with you.
The president says that Otto should have brought home the day he was taken hostage. He says the results would have been different if he were brought home sooner. It certainly sounds like he is blaming President Obama and, in fact, the former NSC spokesman has come out with an incredible pushback on this, saying it was tireless efforts, that they freed ten hostages.
What do you say when you hear the president of the United States suggest a blame for this falls on President Obama?
TONY BLINKEN: You know, Erin, this is not a time to be pointing fingers at other Americans. The fact of the matter is that North Korea is fully responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier and as you reported just a few moments ago, it also looks like they are preparing another nuclear test.
So, the president ought to be focused on the fact we still have three Americans who are being held in North Korea, and particularly egregious for our own national security. They continue to move forward in testing nuclear weapons and testing their missiles. That's where their focus should be, not on playing the blame game.
BURNETT: So, Colonel, you know, Ned Price, who is President Obama's former national security spokesman came out with a very forceful statement after President Trump said this, in which he said, referred to the tireless efforts made by the Obama administration. He says to free hostages, he says those efforts resulted in the release of at least ten Americans from North Korean custody. Ten Americans.
How can President Trump come out and seem to blame President Obama for Otto Warmbier himself when, by the way, two Americans have been taken hostage since President Trump has taken office, and neither one of them have been released?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): Well, that's true, Erin. And one of the big issues here is you have to be very careful where you lay blame in a situation like this because it can just as easily happen to any administration. The idea that an American could be taken hostage, especially by a regime like North Korea is something that has to be at the forefront of every president's mind.
And you have to be very careful of blame with playing with something like this. And I think it's very important for them to realize also that we have to get these remaining three Americans out before we do anything else.
BURNETT: So, Colonel, the new satellite images that Tony just referred to, activity that we haven't seen in weeks at the main underground nuclear testing site, how significant is this if they go ahead and do a nuclear test right now?
LEIGHTON: Oh, that would be very significant, Erin. The reason it's so significant is it would basically be a slap in the face, not only to the United States, but also a slap in the face to China, the Republic of Korea, Japan and even Russia. It would basically be North Korea's statement that they are going rogue and they're proud of it and they are going to stay rogue and they'll do whatever they want to do regardless of the world opinion and anything else that could get in their way.
BURNETT: Tony, of course, the big question here is what will President Trump do? He has to decide whether to retaliate to the death of Otto Warmbier. It is a major decision. You now have this possible nuclear test looming. We know that the president of the United States has made the decision for a military strike based on emotion already, right? The images of children in Syria, President Trump said that is what moved him to strike Assad.
Tonight, we have a moving speech from Otto Warmbier at his high school graduation. I want to play a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OTTO WARMBIER, AMERICAN STUDENT DIED AFTER BEING HELD BY NORTH KOREA: This is our season finale. This is the end of one great show, but just a beginning to hundreds of new spin offs. No matter where we go and what we do know, we will always have this group here. Even when my own class of 2013 is the thing in the past, we'll have the support of all these of people all around us. We'll have the knowledge we gained as a group, and we'll have to make reruns, the memories we have created to be played over and over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, Otto Warmbier is dead. He no longer has that to look forward to. It's an emotional thing to see, Tony. The president is emotional clearly about Otto.
Could that prompt him to act militarily?
BLINKEN: You know, Erin, it breaks your heart to hear this incredibly eloquent young man whose life was cut short in the most horrific way. But you have to be clear eyed about this, and the president's obligation is not to respond emotionally -- as emotional as we all feel in the face of his death -- but to respond very deliberately, to make sure that we have all of the stakeholders around the table laying out a strategy for dealing with the threat posed by North Korea.
[19:35:11] And it's both, as Cedric said, to get three Americans who are still there out. But even more significantly in a way to deal with this increasingly great problem, which is their development of a nuclear weapon on an ICBM that could hit the United States. We have maybe a year or two left before they have that technology, and that would be in the hands of leader who acts at best impulsively and maybe even irrationally. So, what's really critical now is for the president very calmly, very deliberately to make sure that we have a strategy in place to try to prevent this from happening.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
And OUTFRONT next, the breaking news -- polls closing moments ago in that record Georgia House race. The first results are coming in. We're going to bring them to you. John King at the wall.
And more breaking news: the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee have just released a statement on their meeting with special counsel Bob Mueller. Tonight, I have the details. We're going to bring you that, next.
[19:40:00] BURNETT: Breaking news, we have new information on that meeting between special counsel Bob Mueller and the House Intel leaders. Tonight, the heads of that committee have just issued a statement and in it, they say, quote: We had a productive meeting with special counsel Mueller this afternoon to deconflict our concurrent investigations. I look forward to continuing our dialogue with him as both investigations progress.
OUTFRONT now: John Avlon, our political analyst and editor-in-chief of "The Daily Beast", Dana Bash, chief political correspondent, Mark Preston, senior political analyst.
Dana, let me start with you. The significance here of course is the word deconflict. What does that mean?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It means that we have multiple investigations going on. You have the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, which came after what was already happening on Capitol Hill, the House investigation and the Senate investigation.
Now, you know, deconflict basically means in layman's terms, not step all over each other. Even though they're maybe talking to similar witnesses, looking at similar documentation, things like that, they do have very different missions.
So, to have -- and when I say different missions, what Robert Mueller is ultimately looking at is whether or not there are any criminal charges that are going to be brought against anybody, whether any laws were broken that reached that level. What the House and Senate, but particularly the House and those are the leaders he met with today, what they're charged with is getting the public information about the Russian attempts to affect the U.S. election.
BASH: So that's basically the discussion.
BURNETT: It's interesting, John, when they use the word deconflict, that it seems -- and Mueller, OK, he had a meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Now, he has gone over tonight at 5:30 this afternoon for over an hour-long meeting with the chairman and the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Tomorrow, it's judiciary. He is very much in a sense taking charge of all of this.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: He is doing what and in what way? That is an investigation that is taking form and gathering momentum, it would seem.
AVLON: Absolutely. He's staffing up with very serious folks and what it seems to be doing that would deconflict is the keyword of the statement and what it could mean is for example, you know, House, Senate, don't worry about obstruction of justice. I got that. You focus on more narrow missions. We'll see what he says in the judiciary tomorrow.
But it does seem to say, look, let's not both be pulling in the same direction. Let's be complimentary, not ones that are going to end up duplicating work while Mueller really steps up.
BURNETT: And what do you say, Mark, to the fact that this is now going to be the third meeting in about 24 or 36 hours that he's had with these committees, as we now have learned he's hired even more attorneys. He's got 13 in his fleet.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen, I think it's critical right now that you are having these investigations work concurrently or on parallel tracks. Could you imagine if the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee was going to war with the independence counsel when it came to information, when it came to witnesses.
BURNETT: Right. They all want to talk to the same people.
PRESTON: Correct, correct. And Dana is absolutely right. What Congress's job to do is figure out -- you know, just to gather information to then to present it to other colleagues, to figure out if there is anything that is impeachable, right? However, if you go to the other side, you know, what Mueller is looking for, is there any indictments? Has anyone done anything criminally? So, that is critical.
BASH: Can I just say one thing, Erin?
BASH: And that is that there is a history for -- history of Congress and an independent counsel in that case bumping into each other, and that's Iran Contra. Congress had a special committee. It was different because it was a big large committee looking into it, the Iran Contra investigation, but they gave Oliver North immunity.
And ultimately, that ended up really -- ended up really messing up the criminal probe into Oliver North and it allowed him to get off because of the immunity that Congress gave. So, that is probably kind of a prime example of how and why these two entities would want to deconflict.
BURNETT: All right. And, of course, proof that Bob Mueller knows what he's doing and he is not taking anything for granted or anything by chance.
Our breaking news coverage of this continues and the breaking news, the first results of that crucial Georgia special election that the president of United States has weighed in even multiple times today. John King at the magic wall with those first results, next.
[19:48:24] BURNETT: Breaking news right now, the first votes are coming in in that Georgia special election. Let me show them to you.
Republican Karen Handel is in the early lead, 51.4 percent of the vote. As you can see, though, only 26 percent reporting. That's just three counties, according to our John King. Jon Ossoff, the Democrat, 48.6. Very, very early here in the night.
But, Dana, my understanding is that this does include, what you see on your screen here, the 51.4 to 48.6, does include early voting, which was a crucial, crucial part of this election.
BASH: Very important part of this election. And early voting was much, much, much higher, we are told, now than it was even in the original election for what is now today, which is a run-off, and Republicans who I have been talking to have been really trying to step up their game in early voting.
Historically, Erin, Republicans have tried to back off of early voting because they would argue that it cannibalized their own vote on Election Day, and that has changed in a big way. And this is a prime example. They had been working very, very hard, had been to get the Republican vote out early.
So, once we have more information about where these early votes are coming from --
BASH: -- it will be a good indication as to how good the Republicans had been at early voting and that will be a big indication as to whether Karen Handel, the Republican, can keep the seat in GOP hands.
BURNETT: Obviously, when you look at that screen, John Avlon, it is still early in the night, only 26 percent reporting.
[19:50:01] But nonetheless, that puts Karen Handel in the lead in what is the most closely watched and heavily invested in congressional race in this country.
AVLON: That's right. Fifty million dollars have been spent in this congressional special election. What's so significant is, Democrats felt they would have an edge on early voting coming in, because of the enthusiasm among the grassroots base, a real frustration with Donald Trump in a district that while Dave Price carried it handily, Trump only won by just over 1 percent. So, this has been a prime knockoff.
If Ossoff is not cleaning up in early voting, that could be a sign for a tough night for Democrats.
BURNETT: And let's just say here, Mark Preston, the president of the United States has put it all on the line, right? This is seen as a referendum of his presidency. He tweeted about this seven times in the past two days. Seven times in the past two days.
Just this morning, he went out and tweeted. I mean, this, Karen Handel for Congress, she will fight for lower taxes, great health care, strong security -- a hard worker will never give up. Vote today.
Right? This is a very traditional tweet.
And then another one, slamming Jon Ossoff who wants to raise your taxes. The president has a lot on the line tonight.
PRESTON: He certainly does. And if you look at those tweets, those are basically rifle shots at Trump voters. Now, I'm struck on last where he's trying to get the masses to come out and vote, but specifically to those people who supported him back in November, that he thinks that he can get off their couches to go and vote for Karen Handel.
In many ways, you've got to give him some praise if you're a Republican for investing himself in this race oftentimes --
BURNETT: A lot of people told him not to do that, right?
BURNETT: And he's been doing it again and again against their advice.
PRESTON: We see -- we saw Barack Obama do that quite frankly if you go back to the past elections. He was very careful about what races he got in, what races he didn't.
So, Trump is all in.
Now, the question is, is it fair to say it's a referendum on his agenda? I don't necessarily think so, because if you look at what's happened so far this year, Republicans have already won two special elections. They're likely to win one in South Carolina tonight. So, in the end, even if Democrats win, Republicans would have won three houses, Democrats will have one, won one of these special elections.
PRESTON: However, messaging. And if Democrats win, then that's going to be the big takeaway. How do they speak to voters?
PRESTON: And how will that work in 2018.
BURNETT: If the Republican wins though, John Avlon, does this show -- all this concern about the president's approval rating, latest CBS has his approval rating at 36 percent. That's abysmal. But if this closely watched race, if the GOP wins, and the GOP has been winning race after race after race, does it show these approval ratings are either wrong or they do not matter?
AVLON: I think it doesn't mean they don't matter. Handel's people have been very concerned about the way her candidacy is so tied to Trump. What I think it shows, though, is that even in a district -- here's what we need to remember of this district, this has been drawn to be plus nine Republican. That means it is 9 percentage points more Republican than the neutral district in America. So, Republicans have been set up to succeed in this district.
BURNETT: Right. Even though Trump only one by 1 percent. Dana just pointed that out. Yes.
AVLON: That's right. But Dave Price, the former incumbent now, HHS secretary, won it handily by double digits.
AVLON: And so, that's the point is that the fact that Republicans are fighting so hard in a district they should win in a cake walk, cake walk, is itself significant. Now, all this money and all this Democratic enthusiasm, folks on this district, still can't -- they come to Ossoff to over the top, that's a reality check. But it doesn't distract from the fact that Republicans have a fight to hold on to this seat.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all. And we're going to keep waiting here. If we get more, as I said, 26 percent reporting right now, the lead to Karen Handel, the Republican.
And next, more on Donald Trump elbowing his way into the world of Jeanne Moos. You're not going to believe what Jeanne Moos has for you, tonight.
[19:57:34] BURNETT: Breaking news: the first results there on your screen coming in from Georgia's special election. Republican Karen Handel in the early lead. That is a 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. Twenty-six percent reporting that includes Fulton County for those watching, and the early vote. We're going to keep you updated as these votes come in moment by moment.
In the meantime, here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's call it the push and preen, an unforgettable moment from the NATO summit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who does that?
MOOS: As one headline put it, Montenegro prime minister got between Donald Trump and camera. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this guy, wow!
MOOS: But not everyone was laughing and cringing.
FRANK LUNTZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And I'm thinking, oh, my God, this is one of the most embarrassing moments. They don't see it that way.
MOOS: They refers to a focus group of Trump voters that Frank Luntz recently tested for CBS. Look at what they do with their dials when shown the shove.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brushing by the prime minister of Montenegro.
LUNTZ: Hold it.
MOOS: The approval level shoots up.
LUNTZ: What the hell?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we love it. We're America.
LUNTZ: We're rude?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. We weren't rude. We're dominant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been rude for years, sucking us dry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's our party. We pay for this party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After eight years, he made America great again on the world stage.
MOOS: Making America great sure grated on a lot of nerves back when the video went viral. You tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny little man, author J.K. Rowling tweeted at President Trump.
Someone obligingly shrank the president to fit Rowling's description.
It was a shove that launched a thousand imitations.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: What a jerk. Now, I don't get out of the way. I've got to adjust the jacket.
MOOS: Imitations by late night hosts and impersonators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, get out of the way.
MOOS: When push comes to shove, some Trump voters didn't even consider it to be a shove or a push.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw it as a maneuvering for position. MOOS: Which of these three is not a comedian?
JAMES CORDEN, COMEDIAN: Is he a president or a bridesmaid positioning to catch the bouquet?
COLBERT: That's the kind of shoving that belongs in the buffet line at Mar-a-Lago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was just going to the front of the line where he belonged.
MOOS: To his voters, President Trump is no chicken.
SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: You act like they just called your number at KFC. That's mine, the 12 piece.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
MOOS: Anderson starts next.